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UMSL Professor Explores Founding of St. Louis in New Book

The animal wealth of the western “wilderness” provided by talented “savages” encouraged French Americans from Illinois, Canada and Louisiana to found a cosmopolitan center of international commerce that was a model of multicultural harmony. In his new book, “Founding St. Louis: First City of the New West,” J. Frederick Fausz, associate professor of history at the University of Missouri–St. Louis, explored the 250-year-old mystery of why and how French St. Louis was founded.

“Founding St. Louis” offers a fresh interpretation of St. Louis from 1764 to 1804. In it, Faust explains how Pierre Laclede, the early Chouteaus, Saint Ange de Bellerive and the Osage Indians established a “gateway” to an enlightened, alternative frontier of peace and prosperity before Lewis and Clark were even born. The book includes never-before-published details on the relevance of Laclede’s life in the Pyrenees mountains in southwest Europe and his collaboration with the last French royal governors in New Orleans to promote a trade war with the British.

“’Founding St. Louis’ digs deep to offer the most impressive history yet written of the city’s French founders, of the old world they came from and the new one they created,” said Stephen Aron, professor of history at the University of California, Los Angeles and author of “American Confluence: The Missouri Frontier from Borderland to Border State. “(It is) an absolutely essential book for historians of St. Louis, of colonial Louisiana, of the Early Modern Atlantic World and of American history.”