‘St. Louis Rising’ Discussion with Authors, Consul General of France

| April 1, 2015
St. Louis Rising

St. Louis Rising: The French Regime of Louis St. Ange de Bellerive sheds new light on the founding of St. Louis.

The Webster community will be the first to get their hands on St. Louis Rising: The French Regime of St. Ange de Bellerive – a new book by historians Carl J. Ekberg and Sharon Person – next month, courtesy of Centre Francophone at Webster University.

To commemorate the book’s launch, Ekberg and Person will participate in a panel discussion about the founding of St. Louis on Monday, April 13, in Webster University’s East Academic Building at 4:30 p.m. They will be joined the Consul Général of France, Vincent Floréani, who will provide opening remarks.

St. Louis Rising: The French Regime of Louis St. Ange de Bellerive sheds new light on the founding of St. Louis. The popular narrative of the city’s early days focuses on the efforts of French fur-traders Pierre Laclède and Auguste Chouteau to create a settlement out of the wilderness. But Ekberg, a retired professor of history, and Person, an ESL instructor, have culled another story from their examination of new source documents. In Ekberg’s words, St. Louis:

“was not founded by two greenhorns from New Orleans, Laclède and Chouteau, but rather by scores of Illinois-Country residents — men, women, slaves, and children — who moved across the Mississippi during the early 1760s to find better lives for themselves in a new settlement.”

Lionel Cuillé, director of Centre Francophone and Webster’s Jane and Bruce Robert Endowed Professor of French, believes St. Louis Rising has the potential to spark “a fascinating debate for everyone who is interested in the founding of St. Louis.”

“It is indeed commonly understood that after the French and Indian War the entire west side of the Mississippi became Spanish,” Cuillé said. “But [Ekberg and Person’s] new research shows that, with Louis St. Ange de Bellerive as commandant, St. Louis remained a French post until 1770. The authors also go back to the conventional wisdom that Pierre Laclède came up the Mississippi River from New Orleans in order to found St. Louis, and sent fourteen-year-old Auguste Chouteau to get the job done. St. Louis Rising demonstrates that this traditional story is a legend, based on Chouteau’s journal.”

Cuillé feels that Webster students will appreciate both the new take on St. Louis history and the way St. Louis Rising “illustrates that history is a narrative, and that new archives can shed a new light on events that we take for granted.”

“By attending this exceptional event,” Cuillé said, “our students will be able to witness critical thinking at work — a value not only praised in academia, but in the business world, which is looking for students who are curious, cultured, and intellectually engaged.”

Read the full story about the book and this event at Global Thinking, the blog of the College of Arts & Sciences.

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Category: Employee News, Faculty, Webster Events

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