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The Bourgeois Frontier : French Towns, French Traders, and American Expansion - Jay Gitlin

The Bourgeois Frontier

French Towns, French Traders, and American Expansion

Paperback

Published: 26th October 2010
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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.

"This is one of those rare books that makes immensely important and original arguments of its own while also synthesizing a massive and far-reaching scholarly literature. I cannot overemphasize the importance of such a study."-Peter Kastor, Washington University in St. Louis -- Peter Kastor "Jay Gitlin's book will expand our knowledge about the American West in various ways. Negotiation, rather than conquest, will be seen as the appropriate framework for understanding the fate of French Creoles in Mid-America. We will also realize the need to explore more closely how families and family businesses shaped western expansion."-Daniel Usner, Vanderbilt -- Daniel Usner "Jay Gitlin's comprehensive portrait of mid-America's Francophone merchants demonstrates their importance as fur traders, town builders and advance agents of American empire. It adds a valuable new dimension to the story of national expansion and belongs on every western American history bookshelf."-William E. Foley, coauthor of The First Chouteaus: River Barons of Early St. Louis -- William Foley "In this truly original and broad ranging The Bourgeois Frontier, Jay Gitlin reverses Francis Parkman's more than century-old assertion that with the defeat of the French in the French and Indian War, the French presence as a power in the Mississippi Valley virtually disappeared because the settlers were simply peasant villagers who were later overwhelmed by George Roger Clark's conquest of the French in Illinois during the American Revolution and when the United States made the Louisiana Purchase in 1803. Instead, Gitlin finds that a core of highly successful French fur traders and merchants were already established in St. Louis headed by the powerful Chouteau family and other merchants all along the Mississippi River. Far from succumbing to their American conquerors, they joined them as allies, assisting them in the fur trade, supplying American explorers, frontier forts, and Indian tribes, and in developing new towns. Gitlin not only follows the careers of the remarkable Chouteaus, but of scores of other French merchants who created a 'Creole Crescent' from St. Paul and Detroit to New Orleans, all the while preserving their own French culture to the 1840s. But when the French in St. Louis and New Orleans, many of whom owned slaves, sided with the Confederacy in the Civil War, their francophone world came to an end. The great contribution of The Bourgeois Frontier has been to uncover the key role the French played as town builders, merchants, and frontier expansionists in developing the American West. It is time, writes Gitlin, to recognize this other side of our national ancestry and have Uncle Sam make room for Oncle Auguste."-Howard R. Lamar, Yale University, author of The New Encyclopedia of the American West -- Howard Lamar "In The Bourgeois Frontier, Jay Gitlin reverses Francis Parkman's more than century-old assertion that with the defeat of the French in the Seven Years War, the French presence in the Mississippi Valley virtually disappeared. Gitlin not only follows the careers of the remarkable Chouteaus, but of scores of other French merchants from St. Paul and Detroit to New Orleans, all the while preserving their own French culture to the 1840s. But when the French in St. Louis and New Orleans. The great contribution of The Bourgeois Frontier has been to uncover the key role the French played as town builders, merchants, and frontier expansionists in developing the American West. It is time, writes Gitlin, to recognize this other side of our national ancestry and have Uncle Sam make room for Oncle Auguste."-Howard R. Lamar, Yale University, author of The New Encyclopedia of the American West -- Howard R. Lamar Honorable Mention in the Non-Fiction category of the 2009 New England Book Festival sponsored by the Larimar St. Croix Writers Colony, The Hollywood Creative Directory; eDivvy, Shopanista and Westside Websites New England Book Festival Winner of the 2010 Alf Andrew Heggoy Prize for the best book in French colonial history, given by the French Colonial Historical Society -- Alf Andrew Heggoy Prize French Colonial Historical Society "The Bourgeois Frontier successfully recreates the French world of the western American borderlands while raising interesting questions about history and memory."-Leslie Choquette, American Historical Review -- Leslie Choquette American Historical Revieq "Wonderful...beautifully written and impeccably researched...This study is a tour de force."-American Historical Review American Historical Review "This book serves as a welcome addition to the literature of the West."-Missouri Historical Review Missouri Historical Review "This is a well-researched and well-written book about a colonial culture whose last visible remnant was its elite."-Edward Watts, Indiana Magazine of History -- Edward Watts Indiana Magazine of History "[Gitlin's] engaging book is largely a success."-Andrew Cayton, Western Historical Quarterly -- Andrew Cayton Western Historical Quarterly "...a remarkable book...an incredibly detailed yet easily digestible narrative...a book that will not easily be dissected, will generate debate, and should help inspire scholarship in this area for some time to come."-Robert Englebert, Social History -- Robert Englebert Social History

ISBN: 9780300168037
ISBN-10: 0300168039
Series: The Lamar Series in Western History
Audience: Tertiary; University or College
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 290
Published: 26th October 2010
Publisher: Yale University Press
Country of Publication: US
Dimensions (cm): 22.9 x 15.2  x 2.54
Weight (kg): 0.41
Edition Number: 2222