Brest and the Franco-American Relations


Brest and the Franco-American Relations

Alain Boulaire
Doctor in History

Melissa Ryan
Project Manager at the Ocean Technology Foundation

Tuesday, June 3rd, 2014 at 6:30 pm
Consulate General of France
934 Fifth Avenue New York, NY 10021
(btw. 74th and 75th Streets)

Brest has played a major role in the history of Franco-American relations. Alain Boulaire will discuss two key moments in this relationship: the American War of Independence and the First World War. Brest is where Lafayette arrived in 1779 to convince Louis XVI to help the Patriots. Brest is also where more than a million American soldiers disembarked in 1917 to bring support to France. Lastly, Brest is where President Wilson landed for the Peace Conference and the signature of the Versailles Treaty on June 28, 1919, before embarking on the USS George Washington the next day. As for the Bonhomme Richard, a famous Revolutionary war ship offered by Louis XVI to sailor John Paul Jones, it is a symbol of the strong alliance between France and the U.S., and our shared maritime legacy. Melissa Ryan will discuss the multi-year search for the remains of this historic ship, and the prominent role of the French Navy in helping to find it.

Alain Boulaire holds a Doctorate in History, for his work on Brest and the Marine Royale from 1660 to 1790, and teaches in “Preparatory classes” (French college-level courses). An honorary Frigate Commander, he is also an auditor at the IHEDN (Institute of Higher Studies in National Defense) and a former Defense Advisor for the head (“Préfet”) of the Finistère department (Brittany). He is also a Scientific Advisor with the Musée Lapérouse in Albi, and President of the Scientific Council for the Finistère Departmental Committee, in charge of the Centenary of World War I. A Chevalier in the National Order of Merit and “Commandeur des Palmes Académiques” (the highest academic distinction in France), he has published several books and curated numerous exhibitions, including in Brest.

Melissa Ryan is the Project Manager at the Ocean Technology Foundation, a not-for-profit organization based in Mystic, CT. She manages all aspects of the search for the Bonhomme Richard, a historic Revolutionary warship that sank off the coast of England in 1779. Ms. Ryan also works as an Education Specialist for NOAA’s Office of Ocean Exploration and Research, where she teaches workshops for educators on ocean science and exploration. She developed and instructed the US Naval Academy’s first online course, which focuses on the search for the Bonhomme Richard. She has supervised and instructed midshipmen at sea as part of the search.

Last modified on 22/05/2014

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