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Speaker: Elizabeth Hyde (Kean University)

While numerous scholars have examined the ‘colonial machine’ constructed by the French to gather botanical specimens from around the world in service of geopolitical gain, less well known is the Franco-American plant exchange that occurred in less public and political venues. In 1785, Humphry Marshall published his Arbustrum Americanun: The American Grove, or, An Alphabetical Catalogue of Forest Trees and Shrubs, Natives of the American United States, arranged according to the Linnaean System. The volume was one of the first books published on American plants by an American. But Marshall targeted an international clientele writing, “The foreigner, curious in American collections, will be hereby better enabled to make a selection suitable to his own particular fancy”. Indeed, the volume was translated into French, and Marshall would serve a number of French customers, for whom he furnished American plants. This paper explores the contours and scope of private plant exchange in the Franco-American Atlantic as set against the backdrop of national and imperial perspectives in both countries.

Elizabeth Hyde is Acting Associate Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Professor of History at Kean University. Her first book, Cultivated Power: Flowers, Culture, and Politics in the Reign of Louis XIV explores the collection, cultivation, and political importance of flowers in early modern France. She edited and contributed to A Cultural History of Gardens in the Renaissance, 1400-1650 and is currently writing Of Monarchical Climates and Republican Soil: Nature, Nation, and Botanical Diplomacy in the Franco-American Atlantic World, an analysis of the North American mission of French botanist André Michaux. She has received funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities; is a past Mellon Visiting Scholar at the New York Botanical Garden; a Senior Fellow at Dumbarton Oaks of Harvard University; and the editor of Studies in the History of Gardens and Designed Landscapes.

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