JOURNAL OF THE EARLY REPUBLIC (Summer 2012) teenth century, these elite and interconnected French families formed an influential social, economic, and political minority in many of the major cities of the trans-Mississippian west. They built luxurious urban mansions that broadcasted their tremendous success, even as the population of their AngloAmerican neighbors engulfed them. The great achievement of The Bourgeois Frontier is its insistence on exploring the history of the French in the trans-Mississippian west in terms of urban history, where, as Gitlin notes, ``the intersection of place and process resides'' (189). The towns of the French corridor often stood in stark contrast to the AngloAmerican settlements of the Ohio Valley, especially in terms of affluence, diversity, and focus. Defined largely by commerce and trade, towns like Detroit and St. Louis were cosmopolitan centers of ``cross-cultural contact and exchange,'' deeply engaged in larger trans-Atlantic and Indian worlds, but also they increasingly served as staging areas of regional transformation and national development in the American Republic (9). Gitlin demonstrates what Francis Parkman and Frederick Jackson Turner failed to acknowledge: The French experience in North America did not end with the loss of Canada in 1763, but continued to play transformative
Journal of the Early Republic – University of Pennsylvania Press
Published: May 5, 2012
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