A Distinct Alien Race

The Untold Story of Franco-Americans, Industrialization, Immigration, Religious Strife


Pre-order now; pub date 15 Sept. 2018

“The French number more than a million in the United States….
They are kept a distinct alien race,
subject to the Pope in matters of religion and of politics.
Soon…they will govern you, Americans.”
— British-American Citizen
(Boston), 1889

Americans don’t think of Canada as a source of potential terrorists—speaking a foreign tongue, serving a foreign religion, and invading their country. But when a million French-Canadians crossed the border between 1840 and 1930, many seeking work in New England’s burgeoning textile industry, they were cast as foot soldiers in an alleged Roman Catholic plot.

A Distinct Alien Race places these Franco-Americans in the context of contemporary issues: the rise and fall of manufacturing in the U.S.; Nativism and the fear of the Other; emigration to the U.S. across land borders; and the construction of race. Vermette traces individuals and families, from the textile barons whose profits in the Caribbean and China trades financed a new industry, to the rural poor of Québec who crowded into fetid tenements after the Civil War. His social history exposes the anti-Franco-American agitation of Protestant clergy, the Ku Klux Klan, and the eugenics movement.

David Vermette is a researcher, writer, and speaker on the history and identity of the descendants of French North America. He was born and raised in Massachusetts.

NOTE: For a complementary book that deals with the cotton textile industry in Canada and emigration from Quebec, see Through the Mill, Girls and Women in Quebec’s Cotton Textile Industry, 1881-1951.

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