The French in the heart of North America? ‘Civilisation rallying’, national unity, and the geopolitical significance of 1917

With David Haglund


This article addresses the role that ‘civilisation rallying’ (sometimes known as the ‘kin-country syndrome’) had in the orientation of both North American countries, Canada and the United States, towards the First World War, with special emphasis upon how France was being reconceptualised in debates taking place in each. France may have been ‘ousted’ from the geostrategic reality of North America back in 1763, but it had an uncanny way of failing to disappear. In fact, you could almost say that as strategic actors about to play an ‘independent’ role in global and European affairs, for both Canada and the US it was a case of France’s having been ‘present at their creation’. But while France figured in both North American countries’ kin-country rallying, it did so for different reasons. Notwithstanding the differences, the pull of a transatlantic ‘collective identity’ whose European point of reference for the North Americans was France (along, of course, with Britain) was packed with tremendous policy significance, and never more so than in the critical year, 1917.


Haglund, D., Massie, J. (2018). « The French in the Heart of North America? ‘Civilization Rallying,’ National Unity, and the Geopolitical Significance of 1917 », Journal of Transatlantic Studies, vol. 16, no 2, p. 117-136. DOI:

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