PIERRE CHOUTEAU Biography - Bussiness people and enterpreneurs


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January 19, 1789 - September 6, 1865                                                   
Chouteau, Pierre Jr. (Cadet), fur trader (Jan. 19, 1789-Sept. 6, 1865). Born at         
St. Louis he was a brother of Auguste Pierre Chouteau and entered the fur trade         
at 15, becoming a trader to the Osage Indians. In 1810 he went up the                   
Mississippi to operate lead mines near the site of Dubuque, Iowa, where he             
remained until the start of the War of 1812, when he returned to St. Louis. In         
1813 he married his first cousin, his companion for nearly half a century.             
Chouteau's mercantile business soon began outfitting traders among far flung           
Indian tribes, but the Chouteau-DeMun debacle temporarily disillusioned Pierre         
with the mountain fur business, although his activity in it gradually mounted.         
He came into competition with various major fur trading firms, most notably             
Astor's American Fur Company, until he worked out an arrangement with it. In           
1834 he took over its western business, prospering in the cut-throat and vicious       
competition that characterized fur operations of that day. Hiram Chittenden             
believed everything he touched turned to profit. His real prosperity dated about       
1827 with the rise over its rivals of the AFC and Chouteau's arrangement to             
purchase furs and supply goods to the Rocky Mountain Fur Company. His company           
pioneered in the use of steamboats on the Missouri. Chouteau, periodically             
plagued by illness, traveled east occasionally on business or for amusement. One       
of his influential friends was Thomas Hart Benton, the Missouri senator whose           
affiliation with Chouteau was suspiciously close. Chouteau reorganized his             
company in 1839, finally terminating the mountain business, turning to buffalo         
robes for its main source of income. He attempted to stop the liquor traffic on         
the upper Missouri (for his own trade benefit), but after a few years of               
apparent success, the use of alcohol was resumed full scale. Hard times came to         
the firm after the Mexican War, and it was sold in 1865. Chouteau had branched         
out in other directions, however, principally mining, milling and railroads. He         
went blind in 1859, his wife died in 1862, and he died at St. Louis, "rich but         
not universally beloved. . . one of the great manipulators in the history of           
United States commerce."