The Bourgeois Frontier: French Towns, French Traders, and American Expansion

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Yale University Press, Dec 1, 2009 - History - 256 pages

Histories tend to emphasize conquest by Anglo-Americans as the driving force behind the development of the American West. In this fresh interpretation, Jay Gitlin argues that the activities of the French are crucial to understanding the phenomenon of westward expansion.

The Seven Years War brought an end to the French colonial enterprise in North America, but the French in towns such as New Orleans, St. Louis, and Detroit survived the transition to American rule. French traders from Mid-America such as the Chouteaus and Robidouxs of St. Louis then became agents of change in the West, perfecting a strategy of “middle grounding” by pursuing alliances within Indian and Mexican communities in advance of American settlement and re-investing fur trade profits in land, town sites, banks, and transportation. The Bourgeois Frontier provides the missing French connection between the urban Midwest and western expansion.

 

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Contents

Introduction The Vanquished and the Vanishing
1
Constructing the House of Chouteau St Louis
13
We are well off that there are no Virginians in this quarter The Two Wests from 1763 to 1803
26
Surviving the Transition to American Rule
47
How the West Was Sold
68
Beyond St Louis Negotiating the Course of Empire
83
Managing the Tribe of Chouteau
124
Avec bien du regret The Americanization of Creole St Louis and French Detroit
139
La Confédération Perdue The Legacy of Francophone Culture in MidAmerica
156
Conclusion
184
Notes
191
Selected Bibliography
235
Index
251
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