The World, the Flesh, and the Devil
A History of Colonial St. Louis
Publication Year: 2011
Published by: University of Missouri Press
Title Page, Copyright, Dedication
List of Illustrations
List of Abbreviations
I have a confession to make. A native St. Louisan, I spent my youth oblivious to my hometown’s colonial past. I can’t accuse my parents of a lack of civic pride or blame them for indifference to the city’s history. My father, an immigrant of Irish and English background who lived in St. Louis from the age of three, made the place his own and was a walking...
Chapter 1: From France to the Frontier
On June 7, 1755, Pierre de Laclède Liguest left France aboard the Concorde, a ship bound for America. Twenty-five years old, he parted from his family, not knowing whether this would be a final good-bye. With the energy of youth and a spirit of adventure, he had his ambitions focused beyond the...
Chapter 2: Settling “Paincourt” : Indians, the Fur Trade, and Farms
With French colonists from Illinois rapidly populating the post in the spring and summer of 1764, St. Louis was off to a good start. But its future success was far from determined. Over the course of the next few years, it became clear that international political conflicts would keep British, French, and Spanish colonists and officials at odds. Throughout the region...
Chapter 3: “A Strange Mixture” : Rulers, Misrule, and Unruly Inhabitants in the 1760s
In the fall of 1768, General Thomas Gage, the commander of British forces in North America, sent his superiors in England a curious report about the state of affairs in St. Louis and its environs. His informants in Illinois had told him of “a Strange Mixture of French and Spanish government on the opposite Side” of the river. While the French commandant, ...
Chapter 4: Power Dynamics and the Indian Presence in St. Louis
When Governor Ulloa decided to remove Captain Ríu from his post in August 1768, he had no idea of how tenuous his own position was. Anxious to establish a firm foothold for crown and country in Spanish Illinois, Ulloa searched for a replacement for Ríu, someone with the skills to make Spain’s imperial dreams a reality. Little did Ulloa imagine that within a few...
Chapter 5: Sex, Race, and Empire: The Peopling of St. Louis
As 1775 opened, Pedro Piernas found himself in an uncomfortable spot. Although he had done well in his position as lieutenant governor of Upper Louisiana, fulfilling the expectations of his superiors, Piernas had received an order which he found very difficult to follow. Governor Unzaga had sent word from Lower Louisiana that a woman in St. Louis, legally married to a...
Chapter 6: “The World, the Flesh, and the Devil” : Conflicts over Religion, Alcohol, and Authority
On the morning of July 19, 1779, around 5:30 a.m., St. Louis resident François Larche made a startling discovery when he found Domingo de Bargas, a thirty-five-year-old Spanish merchant, dead in his bed. Immediately, Larche went to inform the ranking official in the community, Fernando de Leyba, an unpopular man who replaced the previous lieutenant...
Chapter 7: A Village in Crisis: Conflict and Violence on the Brink of War
In late 1777, Pierre Laclède undertook preparations for a trip to New Orleans, a journey that proved his last. During his final months in St. Louis, the village that he founded saw moments of celebration amidst a season of suffering. In November, around the time of Laclède’s forty-eighth birthday, news of a distant Spanish victory was officially commemorated, with gunfire...
Chapter 8: “l’Année du Coup” : The “Last Day of St. Louis” and the Revolutionary War
On February 17, 1780, Patrick Sinclair, the lieutenant governor of Michilimackinac, a British post in the Great Lakes, predicted that a planned attack on Spanish interests in the Illinois Country—with St. Louis as the centerpiece of a three-pronged offensive—would prove a certain success.1 Once Britain and Spain were officially at war, Sinclair had been assigned by...
Chapter 9: The Struggles of the 1780s
Eventually, with the end of the Revolutionary War, the threat of British hostilities receded, and the newest power in the region, the United States, brought a fresh source of anxiety and instability. The erstwhile friendship between Spain and America, established so quickly and warmly in St. Louis between Leyba and Clark, lasted only as long as the war. Once the war was...
Chapter 10: St. Louis in the 1790s: The Enemies Within and Without
In 1791, when François Louis Hector, the baron de Carondelet, replaced Esteban Miró as governor of Louisiana, the appointment foreshadowed a change in the diplomatic and military posture of Spain in America. More inclined to resort to military action, the baron de Carondelet began his tenure in office by making plans for the defense of the Louisiana territory...
Conclusion: “The Devil Take All” or “A Happy Change” ? : The End of European Rule and the American Takeover
As a new century dawned, the inhabitants of St. Louis and its environs were in a strange, in-between state, adrift from the authorities that had governed the past and not yet integrated into the new sources of power in the region. The convergence of different groups and ambitions in the...
Born in St. Louis in 1888, Nobel Prize–winning poet T. S. Eliot was the grandson of William Greenleaf Eliot, a Unitarian minister who was instrumental to the founding of one of the city’s finest institutions, Washington University. Eliot traveled far from his birthplace, eventually settling in and...
Page Count: 375
Illustrations: 17 illus, 3 maps
Publication Year: 2011
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