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Paris was at the center of the French Revolution which broke out in 1789. On the morning of July 14, 1789 Parisians seized cannons and guns from the Invalides (a hospital for military veterans). They then surrounded a fortress and prison, the Bastille. The governor was forced to surrender. To the ordinary people the Bastille was enormously important as a symbol of royal power and arbitrary government.

From September 1793 the Great Terror swept France. In the next 9 months thousands of people were guillotined in Paris. Meanwhile in September 1793 a movement called De-Christianization began. Churches were vandalized and closed. The church of Notre-Dame was renamed the 'Temple of Reason'. However the Terror ended in the late summer of 1794. Thousands of prisoners were released and life gradually returned to normal.

Napoleon became ruler of France in 1799. He built Pont des Arts. He also built the Arc de Triomphe and La Madeleine. However allied armies occupied Paris in 1814.

Until locks were installed along the Seine in the 1800's to artificially raise the levels of the this river, the levels did fluctuate, but today, the depth is tightly controlled and the entire width of the river between the built-up banks on either side is normally filled with water.

When Paris prospered through extensive river trading and expanded to the Left Bank in the days of the Roman Empire, the Seine became a great commercial artery, which was linked by canals to the River Loire, River Rhine, and the River Rhone.

Where the river forks in the centre of Paris it creates two small islands: the Ile de la Cite and the Ile Saint-Louis.

Robert Fulton in Paris

In 1797, American engineer and inventor Robert Fulton traveled to Paris to continue his research on canal construction. He became intrigued with the idea of building "plunging boat," a precursor to the modern submarine.Robert Fulton in Paris. Kirkpatrick Sale. Fulton sought funding for the project from the French government, which was at war with England, proposing to build a submarine-like ship that could be used to place powder mines on the bottom of British warships, somewhat like a torpedo.

The French agreed, and Fulton launched the first submarine, the Nautilus, at Rouen, France.

Although the ship performed well during testing, it wasn't fast enough to engage the nimble sloops of the British navy and the program was scrapped. He later tested several military inventions for the British government but met with limited success as well.

Seemingly undaunted by these failures, Fulton refocused his engineering creativity on the use of steam power.

While in Paris, Fulton met Robert Livingston, the American foreign minister to France who also owned a twenty-year monopoly on steam navigation in New York state. After listening to Fulton's ideas for a steam powered ship, Livingston agreed to a business partnership in 1802 that would provide Fulton with the resources necessary to build his ship. One year later, they launched a modest steam-powered boat on the Seine river that was based on the design of fellow American John Fitch, who seven years earlier had demonstrated his steamboat on the Delaware River at Philadelphia, but was unable to make it a commercial success. While Fulton's steamship on the Seine River traveled at only 3 mph, he proved the technology could work with some modifications.

In 1830 another revolution took place in Paris. Louis Philippe became constitutional monarch of France. In the mid 19th century the Industrial Revolution began to transform France. Paris boomed but many of its inhabitants lived in dire poverty. In 1832 cholera killed 20,000 people in the city.

In 1848 discontent in Paris resulted in another revolution and Napoleon III took power in France. During his reign, which lasted until 1870 parts of Paris were rebuilt. Baron Haussman was responsible for demolishing much of Paris and building new streets. Economically Paris boomed and its population grew rapidly.

July 22, 1854, Daily Alta California, San Francisco, California, U.S.A.


We translate the following additional items of news from the Courier des Etats Unis:

It is reported at Paris that it is proposed in Windsor Palace to withdraw from the Czar the right of wearing the star of tbe Order of the Garter. Nicholas will no doubt feel very bad about it.

The Pont-Neuf and the Ile de la Cite
Henri Jean-Baptiste Levis

Pont-Neuf and the Ile de la Cite.

There are in Paris a number of artists, of celebrity in different branches of art, who have been at St. Petersburg, and had received pensions from Nicholas. Lately these pensions have not been paid. The conscription, or forced enlistment of soldiers in France for the Turkish war, causes some queer scenes. Among the conscripts was Leon Reynier, one of the first artists of the Conservatoire. Any person can avoid the service by paying $800, but Reynier had no money. Alexander Dumas got up a subscription and Reynier was saved from carrying the musket.

The high price of wine in Paris has been the occasion of the invention of new kind of liquor called "motpogreb." It resembles whiskey in taste and color, but is cheaper.

The Count of Chambord, the Bourbon pretender to the throne of France that fixed up his establishment at Frohsilort, in Germany, in regal style. Louis Napoleon, thinking himself more secure than ever on his throne, he reduced the garrison of Paris.

Generals Baraguay, d'Hilliers, d'Hautpoul, and Ornane, are to be appointed Marshals.

Franco-Prussian War. German Conquest of France. 1870-1872. Geoffrey Wawro.

On September 19, 1870 during the Franco-Prussian War, Prussian troops reached Paris and laid siege to the city. In the next 4 months Parisians were reduced to near starvation and the city surrendered on 28 January. The French government made a formal peace treaty with the Prussians but the Parisians objected to its terms and they rose in revolt on 18 March 1871. A government called the Paris Commune was formed in the city. The French government sent troops and after weeks of street by street fighting the rebellion was crushed. Afterwards thousands of Communards were executed.

November 13, 1882, Sacramento Daily Union, Sacramento, California, U.S.A.


A disagreeable feature of Paris is the number of "genteel beggars." Foreign residents are especially exposed to this nuisance, for these beggars are mostly foreigners. Their nationality, or at ieast their language, is generally German; but there is a sprinkling of persons professing to be English, or, at all events, English subjects. If unable to speak English they pretend to have been brought in infancy by a widowed mother to France or Germany, but insist on their English paternity or birth, or they give themselves out for natives of Heliogland, Malta, or even Canada. The people of Heligoland, indeed, would be surprised to hear of the number of artists and others who have migrated from their little rock and settled in Paris. I have mentioned artists, for these generally profess to be artists, journalists, or teachers of languages. If journalists they are sure to be victims of Prince Bismarck's tyrannny or of the anti-Semitic movement. They rare offer to tell their residences, and if pressed on this point are accustomed to give a high numer (quite imaginary) in a street at a safe distance from immediate verification.

Emigration from France

1785: Some exiled Acadians shipped from France to Louisiana.
1789 to 1791: About 500,000 refugees flee the French Revolution for neighboring nations and the Americas. About half later returned.
1804 to 1832: Additional Alsatians emigrate to Ukraine, Bessarabia, and Banat.
1815 to 1817: Political turmoil after the fall of Napoleon leads to a wave of French emigration to neighboring countries and the Americas.
1830 to 1962: French colonize Algeria (Africa).
1830s, 1840s, 1850s, and 1860s: Agents go from town to town recruiting emigrants, mostly in Alsace-Lorraine. Some went to America, others to Russia.
1871: A wave of French emigrants, largely to North America.

October 23, 1887, Daily Alta California, San Francisco, California, U.S.A.

Artists' Models in Paris.
Galignani's Messenger.

Gauguin's Intimate Journals.

It seems that Paris contains 8,000 artists of the brush, of whom 2,000 or 3,000 are women and 300 are foreigners of various nationalities. About seventy of these are famous, while the others are made up of wealthy persons who paint for pleasure, of people who are specially employed by the government, and of the producers of "pot boilers," who paint portraits and landscapes for cheap picture dealers or for foreign exportation.

The army of painters' models in Paris is a large one, and increases day by day. Many of these models are educated, and sometimes become painters themselves or efficient art critics whose judgment is often consulted even by eminent artists.

The Kiss. Toulouse LautrecTououse Lautrec in bed.

The models are only employed between the ages of eighteen and nineteen by painters of the nude, but some of them find work until they are twenty-five or twenty-six, after which their forms completely lose the grace and contour of of early growth. The women who "pose" in the studios are generally paid at the rate of from 10f. to 25f. per diem.

The most numerous of the models are the Italian women, who are preferred to French, because they are more tractable, for the model has often to sit or stand immovable for hours, and this the Parisienne is particularly disinclined to do.

The Austerlitz

Napoleon and Austerlitz.The Austerlitz was a late 100-gun ship of the line of the French Navy. Laid down as Ajax, she was renamed Austerlitz on 28 November 1839, still on keel. In 1850, her rigging was changed for that of a 90-gun, and a steam engine was installed. She took part in operations in the Black Sea in 1854.

From 1871, she was used as a prison hulk of prisoners of the Paris Commune. Between 1874 and 1894, she was used as a school ship.

She was broken up in 1895.

1899. World's Fleet. Boston Daily Globe

Lloyds Register of Shipping gives the entire fleet of the world as 28,180 steamers and sailing vessels, with a total tonnage of 27,673,628, of which 39 perent are British.

Great Britain10,990 vessels, total tonnage of 10,792,714
United States 3,010 vessels, total tonnage of 2,405,887
Norway 2,528 vessels, tonnage of 1,604,230
Germany 1,676 vessels, with a tonnage of 2,453,334, in which are included her particularly large ships.
Sweden 1,408 vessels with a tonnage of 643, 527
Italy1,150 vessels
France 1,182 vessels

For Historical Comparison
Top 10 Maritime Nations Ranked by Value (2017)

  Country # of Vessels







1 Greece 4,453 206.47 $88.0
2 Japan 4,317 150.26 $79.8
3 China 4,938 159.71 $71.7
4 USA 2,399 55.92 $46.5
5 Singapore 2,662 64.03 $41.7
6 Norway 1,668 39.68 $41.1
7 Germany 2,923 81.17 $30.3
8 UK 883 28.78 $24.3
9 Denmark 1,040 36.17 $23.4
10 South Korea 1,484 49.88 $20.1
Total 26,767 87.21 $466.9

The Project

Maritime Nations, Ships, Sea Captains, Merchants, Merchandise, Ship Passengers and VIPs sailing into San Francisco during the 1800s.



Merchant Shipping

Merchant Shipping.Merchant Shipping and Ancient Commerce.  
History of Merchant Shipping and Ancient CommerceMerchant Shipping and Ancient Commerce.
W. S. Lindsay

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Sources: As noted on entries and through research centers including National Archives, San Bruno, California; CDNC: California Digital Newspaper Collection; San Francisco Main Library History Collection; and Maritime Museums and Collections in Australia, China, Denmark, England, Finland, Germany, Ireland, Wales, Norway, Scotland, Spain, Sweden, etc.

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