Academic journal article Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society

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

Academic journal article Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society

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

Article excerpt

St. Louis Rising: The French Regime of Louis St. Ange de Bellerive. By Carl J. Ekberg and Sharon K. Person. (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2015. Pp. xv, 250, maps, illustrations, appendices, notes, index. Cloth, $95.00; Paper, $29.00.)

St. Louis Rising, notwithstanding the title, makes a noteworthy contribution to Illinois history. It invites readers to reimagine the shape of early Illinois history by beginning with a large, amorphous territory, sometimes called Illinois Coun- try, knit together by a riverine network-the Wabash River extending northward toward Detroit, the Mississippi pointing southward toward New Orleans, and the Missouri opening fur traders to the trans-Mississippi West-and sometimes known as the French administrative district of Upper Louisiana. The history of Illinois Country remains obscure due to the mute nature of the sources. This book based on thorough research in Spanish, French and English records sheds light on this shadowy period of early Illinois history. In doing so, the authors work to revise longstanding interpretations and to shake conventional frameworks for telling this story.

Carl Ekberg, who has written several works on the French in Illinois Coun- try has joined with Sharon Person who teaches at St. Louis Community College to raise from obscurity Louis St. Ange de Bellerive. The son of an illiterate French immigrant and soldier stationed first in Canada and then Illinois County, St. Ange also made the military his calling. In Illinois Country, he commanded troops on the Missouri River (Fort d'Orleans), on the Wabash River (Vin- cennes), and on the Mississippi (Fort de Chartres and St. Louis). During the last four decades of French control of Illinois Country east of the Mississippi, St. Ange proved himself a devoted servant of the crown, able administrator, and consummate diplomat with the native peoples including Pontiac's allies and the Osage farther west. With France's defeat in 1763, St. Ange joined French settlers who fled westward across the Mississippi, where he provided crucial leadership in the establishment of St. Louis.

Ekberg and Person have written something more than a biography. Their sources, not sufficient for a biography, seem to dictate that they write a life and times that often becomes more times than the life of this French bureaucrat. …

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