French Military Mission, Secret Information Concerning Black American Troops

Only available on StudyMode
  • Download(s) : 1031
  • Published : October 29, 2010
Open Document
Text Preview
During World War One, French military leaders sent a sensitive memo to lower-ranking officers with instructions on how to shape relations between French officers/troops and black American troops to avoid offending the United States. This communiqué wished to make French officers aware that blacks were second-class citizens in the United States and were considered inferior to white Americans.

Since the United States was a crucial French ally in the war, the French did not want to irritate or alienate American troops and officers, or American public opinion, by treating black troops with too much fondness. Evidently, there must have been widespread reports that indicated that French troops and black American troops were getting along too well: “This indulgence and this familiarity [with blacks] are matters of grievous concern to the Americans”. If French troops were treating black American troops well, then some may have been led to believe that the French believed in racial equality, and that this notion would make the American government look bad, especially since the United States was supposedly an equality-affirming democracy. The memo exhorted that “every effort be made” to avoid embarrassing or irritating the United States and alienating American public opinion.

To avoid a possible backlash from the United States regarding favorable French treatment of American black troops, lower-ranking French officers were urged to regulate their relations with black soldiers, according to the document. Circumspection was needed: The French could not “deal with them [blacks] on the same plane as with the white American officers without deeply wounding the latter.” French officers were advised that they could praise black American troops for a job well done, but not too highly as to arouse jealousy among white American troops. Both troops and officers were not to associate with black troops outside of their “requirements for military service”. Eating meals with...
tracking img