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St. Louis Rising

St. Louis Rising: The French Regime of Louis St. Ange de Bellerive

Copyright Date: 2015
Pages: 344
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    St. Louis Rising
    Book Description:

    The standard story of St. Louis's founding tells of fur traders Pierre Laclède and Auguste Chouteau hacking a city out of wilderness. St. Louis Rising overturns such gauzy myths with the contrarian thesis that French government officials and institutions shaped and structured early city society. Of the former, none did more than Louis St. Ange de Bellerive. His commitment to the Bourbon monarchy and to civil tranquility made him the prime mover as St. Louis emerged during the tumult following the French and Indian War. Drawing on new source materials, the authors delve into the complexities of politics, Indian affairs, slavery, and material culture that defined the city's founding period. Their alternative version of the oft-told tale uncovers the imperial realities--as personified by St. Ange--that truly governed in the Illinois Country of the time, and provide a trove of new information on everything from the fur trade to the arrival of the British and Spanish after the Seven Years' War.

    eISBN: 978-0-252-09693-8
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. List of Maps, Plans, and Illustrations
    (pp. ix-x)
    (pp. xi-xiv)
    (pp. xv-xvi)
  6. INTRODUCTION: Beyond the Laclède-Chouteau Legend
    (pp. 1-8)

    The French adventure, or misadventure, in the immense colony named Louisiana began with the explorations of Jacques Marquette and Louis Jolliet in 1673 and did not end until Louis St. Ange de Bellerive relinquished his command to Spanish authorities at St. Louis in 1770.¹ St. Louis was the last of a series of French colonial communities to coalesce in the Illinois Country. Marquette and Jolliet commenced recorded European exploration of the region in 1673, when they descended the Mississippi as far as the mouth of the Arkansas River. And, a decade later, Robert Cavelier de La Salle led an expedition...

  7. Part I. St. Ange de Bellerive and the Illinois Country

    • CHAPTER 1 Fort d’Orléans and the Grotton–St. Ange Family
      (pp. 11-32)

      Louis St. Ange de Bellerive first came to prominence under the sponsorship of his father, Robert Grotton–St. Ange, a humbly born and illiterate Frenchman. This book asserts that the Grotton–St. Ange family was the most important political and military family in Upper Louisiana for the half century between 1720 and 1770. Although never before made, this assertion is not controversial because not enough has been written about this family to provoke debate; confusion rather than controversy tends to characterize the history of the Grotton–St. Anges in the Illinois Country.¹ Robert Grotton (his spelling, but also given as...

    • CHAPTER 2 The Rise of Louis St. Ange de Bellerive
      (pp. 33-49)

      France’s North American empire—the sweeping transcontinental crescent from the estuary of the St. Lawrence to the delta of the Mississippi—was a waterborne empire, and St. Ange de Bellerive was a creature of the rivers. His entire adult life revolved around them—living beside them, gazing across them, ascending them, descending them, traversing them, dreaming about them. From Fort St. Joseph (Niles, Michigan) on the St. Joseph River, to Fort d’Orléans on the Missouri, to Fort Vincennes (or St. Ange) on the Wabash, to Fort de Chartres on the Mississippi, and finally to St. Louis, St. Ange never lived...

    • CHAPTER 3 The Illinois Country in Transition, 1763–1765
      (pp. 50-71)

      Étienne-François, comte de Stainville and duc de Choiseul, was Louis XV’s chief minister during the 1760s. It was Choiseul who persuaded the French king to convey Louisiana to Spain in the secret Treaty of Fontainebleau (November 3, 1762) and he who negotiated the Treaty of Paris (February 10, 1763) that forfeited all French possessions east of the Mississippi River to Great Britain. The territorial cessions to Great Britain were a consequence of French losses on the battlefield, while the cession of Louisiana was rooted in Choiseul’s lack of interest in, and knowledge of, the trans-Mississippian West. In Paul W. Mapp’s...

    • CHAPTER 4 Commandant St. Ange de Bellerive
      (pp. 72-95)

      Frederic Louis Billon correctly observed that as of the spring of 1765, no government existed at what would eventually become St. Louis.¹ This would change dramatically by the end of year, when Louis St. Ange de Bellerive brought a governing organization with all the personnel—lock, stock, and barrel—over from the east side of the Mississippi. St. Ange established this civil government at St. Louis six months before there was any ecclesiastical presence in the settlement, for the itinerant Father Sébastien-Louis Meurin did not record his first baptisms there (in a tent) until May 1766.² First and foremost, St....

    • CHAPTER 5 The Village Emerges
      (pp. 96-108)

      After British forces finally occupied the Illinois Country east of the Mississippi River in October 1765, that region was no longer deemed to be part of Louisiana; it was simply British Illinois. West of the Mississippi lay Upper Louisiana, of which St. Louis became the seat of government the moment of St. Ange’s arrival there (October 1765), auspicious though the arrival of his dispossessed, tatterdemalion French marines certainly was not. Early St. Louis was a small military outpost, was intermittently home to a missionary priest, and was an important fur-trading center—but its physical configuration was that of a classic...

  8. Part II. Contours of Village Life

    • CHAPTER 6 Logs and Stones: Early St. Louis Buildings
      (pp. 111-126)

      Charles Emil Peterson was one of the founding fathers of preservation architecture in the United States. After taking his bachelor’s degree in architecture at the University of Minnesota in 1929, Peterson found employment with the National Park Service (NPS) and was posted to St. Louis, Missouri. On weekends during the early 1930s, he began to visit Ste. Genevieve, some sixty-five miles down the Mississippi from St. Louis; Peterson was fond of the chicken dinners served at the Hotel Ste. Genevieve after Sunday Mass.¹ Strolling through the town’s historic center after dinner, Peterson became captivated by the surviving French-built vertical-log houses....

    • CHAPTER 7 The Coutume de Paris Rules
      (pp. 127-146)

      The first sentence of Claude de Ferrière’s magisterialNouveau Commentaire sur La Coutume de la Prévosté et Vicomté de Paris¹ provides a good working definition of customary law: “It is a legal practice of which the people approve, which is introduced by their tacit consent and which is observed over a considerable period of time.” Hodgepodge agglomerations of customary laws emerged in France during late medieval times, and jurists began to codify them during the sixteenth-century Renaissance. Feudal fragmentation meant that individual French provinces developed their own respective congeries of customary laws, but theCoutume de Parisgoverned domestic life...

    • CHAPTER 8 Slaves: African and Indian
      (pp. 147-164)

      Slaves, both African and Indian, had been present in French Illinois villages since the early eighteenth century,¹ and they were present—men, women, and children—at the founding of St. Louis in 1764; their bound labor helped lay the foundations of the original settlement. Slaves appear only marginally in most studies of colonial St. Louis, which tend to dwell on the fur trade and commercial relations with Missouri Valley Indians. In this chapter we examine the village’s slave population during the first decade of the settlement’s existence. During those years, the numbers of both Indian and African slaves increased, and...

    • CHAPTER 9 In Small Things Forgotten
      (pp. 165-186)

      His surname was Querseret, sometimes rendered as Kerceret or Carsseret, but he was generally known by hisditname, Comparios or Compariot or Comparisot. He was a longtime French marine, and his name on muster rolls usually appears as “Comparios.”¹ His Christian name was sometimes Jean, sometimes Étienne, sometimes Auguste (or Augustin). The notary Labuxière used all these forms when dealing with many legal issues involving Comparios—when he was alive and well, when he was desperately ill and confined to his bed, and, finally, when he was dead and buried. Adding to the confusion, his common nickname was “Gascon,”...

    • CHAPTER 10 Foundations of the St. Louis Fur Trade
      (pp. 187-205)

      Hiram Martin Chittenden’s classic study,The American Fur Trade of the Far West, was the first serious, modern study of the subject, and the author portrayed Pierre Laclède and Auguste Chouteau as the founders of the St. Louis fur trade. Chittenden was a personal friend of Pierre-Sylvestre Chouteau (grandson of Jean-Pierre, Auguste’s half brother) and relied heavily on Chouteau manuscripts as sources for his work.¹ Chittenden’s original portrait has been altered remarkably little over the past one hundred years, merely painted in brighter colors. The early St. Louis fur trade is generally portrayed as having been dominated by Laclède, and...

    • CHAPTER 11 End of an Era
      (pp. 206-216)

      In 1768 Governor Ulloa drafted a careful evaluation of St. Ange for the Marqués Jerónimo de Grimaldi, Carlos III’s minister of war and navy. “Yes, he’s an old man, but he’s very well known among the tribes. He’s been at Pencur (that is, Paincourt [St. Louis]) since Fort de Chartres passed to the British. He must be kept in command there, not only because of the way he handles himself but because of his credit and reputation among the Indians.”¹ Significantly, Ulloa’s praise of St. Ange focused on his skills as an Indian diplomatist. From the time that St. Ange...

    • Color illustrations
      (pp. None)
  9. CONCLUSION: St. Louis and the Wider World
    (pp. 217-226)

    The collapse of the French empire in North America, ordained by the peace treaties of Fontainebleau (1762) and Paris (1763), ironically led to the development of what was the most thoroughly French community in the Mississippi River valley—early St. Louis. The village was a remnant of that collapsed empire, a veritable distillation of the French colonial civilization that had developed in North America during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Between its first settlement and the arrival of a Spanish lieutenant governor in May 1770, no community in Louisiana was so convincingly French as St. Louis, not excepting New Orleans....

  10. APPENDIX A. St. Louis Counts
    (pp. 227-246)
  11. APPENDIX B. St. Louis Indian Slave Census, 1770
    (pp. 247-250)
  12. NOTES
    (pp. 251-314)
  13. INDEX
    (pp. 315-326)
  14. Back Matter
    (pp. 327-328)