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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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Beyond St. Louis: Negotiating the Course of Empire

Beyond St. Louis: Negotiating the Course of Empire

(p.83) 5 Beyond St. Louis: Negotiating the Course of Empire
The Bourgeois Frontier

Jay Gitlin

Yale University Press

The French, particularly the Chouteau family, were remarkably successful as merchants in St. Louis, not only because of their entrepreneurial skill and their political acumen, but also because of their connections and land claims. Moreover, their geographical position in Missouri allowed them to make profits out of frontiers in transition even as they were consolidating their control of the fur trade on the Upper Missouri and elsewhere in the new American Far West. This chapter examines the actions of the French on the ground in the various Wests beyond St. Louis, focusing on their role as brokers of frontiers in western Missouri and in the present-day states of Kansas, Nebraska, and Oklahoma, as well as in a Hispanic region on the international border between Mexico and the United States. In considering their place in western expansion, the chapter provides a case study not only of the dispersion of the French, but also the French in the process of middle-grounding.

Keywords:   fur trade, French, Chouteau family, merchants, St. Louis, Missouri, frontiers, Far West, expansion, middle-grounding

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