Discover the generosity of war-torn France to Mississippi and the history of the forty-nine Merci Trains in the United States.
- View one of the few remaining Merci Trains sent to the United States in 1949.
- Learn about the Mississippi train car and its contents.
In 1947, Washington Post columnist Drew Pearson launched a grassroots effort to help war recovery in France and Italy. Over $40 million worth of supplies was collected from across the United States, eventually filling more than 700 railroad cars. The train became known as the American Friendship Train, and the boxcars arrived in Europe in December 1947.
In response to America’s generosity, the French reciprocated with their own train of gifts. Known as the French Merci Train, the cars were decorated with placards of the coats of arms of all of the provinces of France and loaded with personal donations from across the country. Each of the forty-eight states would receive a car, plus one to be shared between Washington, D.C., and Hawaii.
After first stopping in Meridian, Mississippi’s boxcar arrived in Jackson on February 12, 1949. The items in the car were displayed at the farmer’s market and then divided among various organizations. The Department of Archives and History received forty objects from the Merci train that are still in the permanent collection.