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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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Managing the Tribe of Chouteau

Managing the Tribe of Chouteau

(p.124) 6 Managing the Tribe of Chouteau
The Bourgeois Frontier

Jay Gitlin

Yale University Press

Kinship ties were important to the French of the Creole Corridor. Creole merchant capitalists, as a primarily urban group with commercial aspirations and genteel cultural practices, valued continuity and reputation more than spontaneity and democracy. The historiography of the fur trade demonstrates the difficulty of finding an appropriate framework in which to place the activities of these Creole merchants. This chapter examines the expansion of the Chouteau family businesses and the family itself over three generations, focusing on family structure and marriage strategy over time. It looks at the education or apprenticeship of younger family members and the problem of continuity, the problem of profligate sons and the stress arising from such a close relationship between family and business, and the role of women within the family. Finally, the chapter suggests how focusing on families on the frontier can alter our traditional view of western expansion.

Keywords:   western expansion, French, Creole Corridor, merchants, fur trade, Chouteau family, family businesses, marriage, women, frontier

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