Pierre Menard

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This article is about Pierre Menard, the Illinois politician. For other uses, see Pierre Menard (disambiguation).
Pierre Menard's home, built in 1802

Pierre Menard (7 October 1766 – 13 June 1844) was a fur trader and U.S. political figure. Pierre Menard was born at St. Antoine-sur-Richelieu, near Montreal, Canada, third in a family of ten children. His father was Jean Baptiste Menard, a French soldier in the regiment of Guyenne.[1]

After a short period of formal schooling in Montreal, Pierre, at about age fifteen, signed on with a trading expedition to the vast Illinois Country. By the early 1790s Menard had established a solid trading business of his own; his Kaskaskia business ledgers, beginning in the spring of 1791. He was granted a St. Clair County commercial license in 1793 at the age of thirty, while already a respected entrepreneur.[1]

In 1792 Menard married Therese Godin, who died in 1804 leaving four children. Two years later, he married Angelique Saucier, granddaughter of François Saucier, Engineer General in the French army and construction supervisor of nearby Fort de Chartres. Eight children were born to Pierre and Angelique.[1]

Menard was a member of the Indiana Territorial Legislature, 1803–1809, and president of the Illinois Territorial Council 1812–1818.[2]

The Illinois Territory was a frontier region of the United States, formerly part of the Illinois Country, a portion of New France administered originally from Quebec and later transferred to Louisiana. Upon the admission of Illinois as a state in 1818, the population of the new state was divided between French-speaking and English-speaking citizens. To balance the ticket, Menard became the state's first Lieutenant Governor, serving from 1818 to 1822 with the first governor, Shadrach Bond.

Economic forces, however, were already leading people inland from the French-speaking areas along the Mississippi River, and largely to promote real estate interests,[3] the first Illinois General Assembly decided in 1820 to move the state capital from Kaskaskia, Menard's home town, to Vandalia.

Menard left office in 1822 and returned to private life. He died in 1844 and was buried at Fort Kaskaskia, near his house.

Menard County, Illinois is named for the Lieutenant Governor. His house, near Chester, Illinois, is preserved as the Pierre Menard Home State Historic Site.

Bayou Manard (spelled with two "a"s), a branch of the Arkansas River, was named for Pierre Menard.[4]

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