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Pi Delta Phi

UNH French Honor Society Dedicates Plaque in Portsmouth

Recognizes participation of French in the Revolutionary War

By Erika L. Mantz
UNH News Bureau

June 26, 2003

DURHAM, N.H. - The University of New Hampshire's chapter of Pi Delta Phi, a national honor society for students studying French, earlier this month unveiled a commemorative plaque marking the presence of French military officers in Portsmouth in 1782.

Plaque dedicated by the UNH chapter of the French honor society Pi Delta Phi
The plaque, displayed at the entrance to the offices of Millette, Sprague & Colwell, Inc., on "The Hill" in Portsmouth, identifies the building known as the John Hart House as the temporary residence of several French officers who participated in the Revolutionary War in support of the American colonists.

The new historical marker includes the name of the Marquis de Chastellux, who was third in command of the French forces at Yorktown and whose portrait, painted by Charles Wilson Peale, hangs in Independence Hall in Philadelphia, and the Marquis de Vaudreuil, whose father and grandfather were both governors of what was then known as New France and is today the province of Quebec.

Vaudreuil was a naval commander who participated in a battle on the Chesapeake that resulted in the defeat of General Cornwallis. Both men were in Portsmouth awaiting construction of a ship that would take them back to France following their service in the war.

Portsmouth Mayor Evelyn Sirrell declared June 18, 2003, French-American Alliance Day to coincide with the unveiling of the plaque donated by members of the UNH chapter of the French honor society. The text of her proclamation was read in a ceremony led by Professor Barbara Cooper, faculty moderator of the chapter.

The plaque was purchased with funds raised through a campus raffle and by donations. Donations and merchandise for the raffle were received from Le Provençal Café, in Rye; the Lindt Chocolate factory outlet store in Portsmouth; The Music Hall in Portsmouth; the Atlantic Culinary Academy in Dover; the Association Canado-Américaine, a fraternal organization linked to ACA-Assurance, in Manchester,; the Quebec Delegation in Boston, MA; and individual donors in the community.

The inauguration of this plaque is meant to lead to a deeper appreciation of the contributions of French-speaking peoples and cultures to Portsmouth's and the nation's history.

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