The French legacy is evident in the history of the American West. There are many towns with French names or names that suggest a French presence in mid-America, from St. Louis and New Orleans to Prairie du Chien, Detroit, Ste. Genevieve, Des Moines, and Baton Rouge. Although the towns were founded at various periods between the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, and their French inhabitants came under the sovereignty of the United States at different times, the francophone actors share many similarities. For example, they were dedicated to commerce and the pursuit of profit, and exploited the political culture of any regime to their own advantage. The French traders' transformation of Indian lands into American private property took place between the Seven Years War and the War of 1812, using the fur trade as an instrument to facilitate the dispossession of native peoples. The story of the French in the American West is not only a story of frontiers in motion, but also of politics, culture, race, and urban development.
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