The Bourgeois Frontier: French Towns, French Traders, and American Expansion

Overview

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 ...

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The Bourgeois Frontier: French Towns, French Traders, and American Expansion

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Overview

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.

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Editorial Reviews

Missouri Historical Review

“This book serves as a welcome addition to the literature of the West.”—Missouri Historical Review

Indiana Magazine of History

"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

Western Historical Quarterly

"[Gitlin''s] engaging book is largely a success."—Andrew Cayton, Western Historical Quarterly

— Andrew Cayton

New England Book Festival

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

French Colonial Historical Society

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

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780300101188
  • Publisher: Yale University Press
  • Publication date: 12/1/2009
  • Series: The Lamar Series in Western History
  • Pages: 288
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Jay Gitlin is lecturer, Department of History, Yale University, and associate director of the Howard R. Lamar Center for the Study of Frontiers and Borders.

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