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The Bourgeois FrontierFrench Towns, French Traders, and American Expansion$
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Jay Gitlin

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780300101188

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: October 2013

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300101188.001.0001

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Introduction: The Vanquished and the Vanishing

Introduction: The Vanquished and the Vanishing

(p.1) Introduction: The Vanquished and the Vanishing
The Bourgeois Frontier

Jay Gitlin

Yale University Press

By the time France ceded the east bank and Canada to Great Britain, the French empire in North America had fallen in 1763. What is perplexing is that French remained the predominant language in areas that had belonged to England or Spain before they became a part of the United States. Two historians who have wielded the most influence, albeit negative, in shaping existing interpretation of this French corridor in time and space were Francis Parkman and Frederick Jackson Turner. Ironically, the Parkman–Turner theory regarding the French presence in the American Midwest has been reinforced recently by historians investigating the métis people of the region. However, they failed to take into account the role of bourgeois families in the story of American expansion. This book focuses on the actions and pathways of a core group of French bourgeois families, particularly the Chouteau family of St. Louis, as well as merchants in other French communities, to show that a broader francophone world existed from the 1760s to at least the 1840s.

Keywords:   expansion, France, United States, Francis Parkman, Midwest, métis people, bourgeois families, Chouteau family, merchants, French corridor

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