For the greater part of the first half of the eighteenth century, Louis Juchereau de St. Denis was the guiding force on the Louisiana-Texas frontier. It is probable that no other man exercised such a determining influence over so long a period in the early affairs of Louisiana and Texas. His rare talents served a vital and peculiar need for colonial France in a critical and most formative period.
Published accounts of St. Denis have been as inconsistent as the documents of his lifetime and by their very nature, as prejudiced. Interpretations of him have run the gamut from patriot to traitor, from saint to scoundrel. This was a period of heated rivalries. The French slanted their records according to their purposes and prejudices. The Spanish, with equally human weaknesses and zeal, did likewise. Furthermore, the commercial company which administered the affairs of the Louisiana colony was often at variance with the home government. . . .
St. Denis, on [the author’s] first study of conflicting records, appeared to be a most puzzling and inconsistent character operating against an unintelligible background. However, after many years of research and study on the subject, the author sees him as a character of rather consistently fixed purposes and principles. —from the Preface