Best remembered as the co-founder (with his stepson Auguste Chouteau) of the city of St. Louis, Missouri, this eighteenth-century fur trader was tasked with establishing a trading post close to the intersection of the Missouri and Mississippi rivers.
In 1763, a French-born, New Orleans-based merchant named Gilbert Antoine de St. Maxent asked Laclede to explore the northern Louisiana territory with the purpose of finding a location for a fur trading town.
He frequently traded with the Osage Native Americans.
He grew up in Bedous, France. His common-law marriage to Marie Thérèse Bourgeois Chouteau resulted in a son named Jean Pierre and daughters named Marie Pelagie, Marie Louise, and Victoire.
He and Joseph Nicollet, both born during the 18th Century, were prominent French explorers of the northern Mississippi River area.