Fraternal French

Charleston opened its arms to a new wave of French immigrants during the late 18th and early 19th century. These were refugees from the French colony of Saint Domingue (Haiti), who found a vibrant French heritage in the Holy City from previous migrations of French Huguenots and French Acadians. Although many of the new arrivals quickly adapted to their adopted city, there were some inherent difficulties. Some of the refugees escaped war-torn Saint Domingue with little more than the clothes on their backs, and there was reluctance and suspicion among some Charlestonians over the fact that most of the newcomers were Catholics, spoke little English, and were technically still the royalist subjects of Napoleon. A Comite’ de Bienveillance (Committee of Benevolence) was created in 1804 by a Charleston priest at St. Mary’s Catholic Church named Angadreme LeMercier , to assist with clothing and monetary donations, and the charitable concept continued with the creation of La Societe Francaise de Beinfaisance (The French Charity Society) in 1816. For more than two hundred years, our benevolent society has provided for those in need, as well as honoring the considerable contributions of those with French heritage in Charleston

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