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29 many years in Louisiana, he finally was not there; but of his death, or departure thence, no one knows.
Next in sequence, we have a glimpse of the above-named Baron La Hontan, discoverer of the Long River, and, as that discovery seems to prove, drawer of a somewhat long bow. By his volumes, published a la Haye, in 1706, we learn, that he too warred against the Iroquois in 1687 and 1688; and, having gone so far westward as the Lake of the Illinois, thought he would contribute his mite to the discoveries of those times. So, with a sufficient escort, he crossed, by Marquette's old route Fox River and the Wisconsin, to the Mississippi; and, turning up that stream, sailed thereon till he came to the mouth of a river, called Long River, coming from the West. This river emptied itself (as appears by his map) nearly where the St. Peter's does in our day. Upon this stream, one of immense size, our Baron sailed for eighty and odd days, meeting the most extensive and civilized Indian nations of which we have any account in those regions; and, after his eighty and odd days' sailing, he got less than half-way to the head of this great river, which was, indeed, not less than two thousand miles long, and, as he learned from the red men, who drew him a map of its course above his stopping-point, led to a lake, whence another river led to the South Sea; so that at last the great problem of those days was solved, and the wealth of China and the East thrown open by the Baron de la Hontan.* All this was of course false; and, even in his own day, though a man of some station, he was thought to be a mere romancer; and yet it may be that the Baron entered the St. Peter's when filled with the back waters of the Mississippi, and heard from the Indians of the connection by it and the Red River with Lake Winnipeg, and the communication between that lake and Hudson's Bay, by Nelson River, and, looking westward all the while, turned Hudson's Bay into the South Sea.t
After La Hontan's alleged discoveries we have few events worth recording in the annals of the north-west previous to 1750. “La Salle's death,” says Charlevoix, in one place, “dispersed the French who had gathered upon the Illinois ;” but in another, he speaks of Tonti and twenty Canadians, as established among the
Voyages de La Hontan, vol. i. p. 194. + See map in Long's Second Expedition up the St. Peter's, and La Hontan's maps. Also, Nicollets Report to Congress, in 1843. Nicollet thinks the Cannon River, which he calls - River La Hontan," was the one entered by the Baron.
Illinois three years after the Chevalier's fate was known there.* This, however, is clear, that before 1693, the reverend Father Gravier began a mission among the Illinois, and became the founder of Kaskaskia, though in what year we know not; but for some time it was merely a missionary station, and the inhabitants of the village consisted entirely of natives, it being one of three such villages, the other two being Cahokia and Peoria. This we learn from a letter written by Father Gabriel Marest, dated “Aux Cascaskias, autrement dit de l'Immaculee Conception de la Sainte vierge, le 9 Novembre 1712.” In this letter the writer after telling us that Gravier must be regarded as the founder of the Illinois Missions, he having been the first to reduce the principles of the language of those Indians to grammatical order, and so to make preaching to them of avail,-goes on near the close of his epistle to say, “These advantages (rivers, &c.) favor the design which some French have of establishing themselves in our village. If the French who may come among us will edify our Neophytes by their piety and good conduct, nothing would please us better than their coming; but if immoral, and perhaps irreligious, as there is reason to fear, they would do more harm than we can do good.” |
Soon after the founding of Kaskaskia, though in this case also we are ignorant of the year, the missionary Pinet gathered a flock at Cahokia; while Peoria arose near the remains of Fort Crevec@ur. An unsuccessful attempt was also made to found a colony on the Ohio, § it failed in consequence of sickness. In the north De la Motte Cadillac, in June, 1701, laid the foundation of Fort Pontchartrain on the Strait, (le Detroit:)1 while in
* New France, vol. iii. pp. 395, 383.
+ Bancroft, iii. 195. Lettres Edifiantes, (Paris 1781,) 328, 339, 375. Hall and others speak of the Kaskaskia records as containing deeds dated 1712; these may have been to the French referred to by Marest, or perhaps to converted Indians.
# Bancroft, iii 196.
|| There was an Old Peoria on the northwest shore of the lake of that name, a mile and a half above the outlet. From 1778 to 1796 the inhabitants left this for New Peoria, (Fort Clark,) at the outlet. American State Papers, xviii. 476.
§ Judge Law, in his Address of February, 1839, before the Vincennes Historical Society, contends that this post was on the Wabash, and at Vincennes, (p. 14, 15, and note B.) Charlevoix, (ii. 266, edition 1744,) says it was “a l'entree de la Riviere Ouabache, qui se decharge dans le Micissipi, fc.” At the entrance (or inouth) of the River Ouabache which discharges itself into the Mississippi.” The name Ouabache was applied to the Ohio below the mouth of what we now call the Wabash. See all the more ancient maps, &c.
* Charlevoix, ii. 284.—Le Detroit was the whole Strait from Erie to Huron. (Charlevoix, ii. 269, note: see also his Journal.) The first grants of land at Detroit, i. e. Fort
31 the southwest efforts were making to realize the dreams of La Salle. The leader in the last named enterprise was Lemoine d'Iberville, a Canadian officer, who, from 1694 to 1697, distinguished himself not a little by battles and conquests among the icebergs of the “Baye d'Udson” or Hudson's Bay." He having, in the year last named, returned to France, proposed to the minister to try, what had been given up since La Salle's sad fate, the discovery and settlement of Louisiana by sea. The Count of Pontchartrain, who was then at the head of marine affairs, was led to take an interest in the proposition; and, upon the 17th of October, 1698, D’Iberville took his leave of France, handsomely equipped for the expedition, and with two good ships to forward him in his attempt.
of this D'Iberville we have no very clear notion, except that he was a man of judgment, self-possession, and prompt action. Gabriel Marest presents him to us in the “Baye d'Udson,” his ships crowded and almost crushed by the ice, and his brother, a young, bright boy of nineteen, his favorite brother, just killed by a chance shot from the English fort which they were besieging ;and there the commander stands on the icy deck, the cold October wind singing in the shrouds, and his dead brother waiting till their lives are secured before he can receive Christian burial,—there he stands, “moved exceedingly,” says the missionary,—but giving his orders with a calm face, full tone, and clear mind. his trust on God," says Father Gabriel, “and God consoled him from that day; the same tide brought both his vessels out of danger, and bore them to the spot where they were wanted.”I
Such was the man who, upon the 31st of January, 1699, let go his anchor in the Bay of Mobile. Having looked about him at this spot, he went thence to seek the great river called by the savages, says Charlevoix, “Malbouchia,” and by the Spaniards, “la Palissade,” from the great number of trees about its mouth. Searching carefully, upon the 2d of March, our commander found and entered the Hidden River, whose mouth had been so long and unsuccessfully sought. As soon as this was done, one of the vessels returned to France to carry thither the news of D’Iberville's success, while he turned his prow up the Father of Waters. Pontchartrain, were made in 1707.-(See American State Papers, xvi. 263 to 284 man's History of Michigan, 336.)
* New France, vol. iii. pp. 215, 299.-Lettres Edifiantes, vol. x. p. 290.
« He put
1700. Slowly ascending the vast stream, he found himself puzzled by the little resemblance which it bore to that described by Tonti and by Hennepin. So great were the discrepancies, that he had begun to doubt if he were not upon the wrong stream, when an Indian chief sent to him Tonti's letter to La Salle, on which, through thirteen years, those wild men had been looking with wonder and
Assured by this that he had indeed reached the desired spot, and wearied probably by his tedious sail thus far, he returned to the Bay of Biloxi, between the Mississippi and the Mobile waters, built a fort in that neighborhood, and, having manned it in a suitable manner, returned to France himself.*
While he was gone, in the month of September, 1699, the lieutenant of his fort, M. De Bienville, went round to explore the mouths of the Mississippi, and take soundings. Engaged in this business, he had rowed up the main entrance some twenty-five leagues, when, unexpectedly, and to his no little chagrin, a British corvette came in sight, a vessel carrying twelve cannon, slowly creeping up the swift current. M. Bienville, nothing daunted, though he had but his leads and lines to do battle with, spoke up, and said, that, if this vessel did not leave the river without delay, he had force enough at hand to make her repent it. All which had its effect; the Britons about ship and stood to sèa again, growling as they went, and saying, that they had discovered that country fifty years before, that they had a better right to it than the French, and would soon make them know it. The bend in the river, where this took place, is still called “English Turn.” This was the first meeting of those rival nations in the Mississippi Valley, which, from that day, was a bone of contention between them till the conclusion of the French war of 1756. Nor did the matter rest long with this visit from the corvette. Englishmen began to creep over the mountains from Carolina, and, tradling with the Chicachas, or Chickasaws of our day, stirred them up to acts of enmity against the French.
When D’Iberville came back from France, in January, 1700, and heard of these things, he determined to take possession of the country anew, and to build a fort upon the banks of the Mississippi itself. So, with due form, the vast valley of the West was again sworn in to Louis, as the whole continent through to the South Sea had been previously sworn in by the English to the Charleses and Jameses; and, what was more effectual, a little fort
* New France vol. jii. p. 580, et. seq.
Louisiana granted to Crozat.
was built, and four pieces of cannon placed thereon. But even this was not much to the purpose ; for it soon disappeared, and the marshes about the mouth of the Great River were again, as they had ever been, and long must be, uninhabited by men.
D'Iberville, in the next place, having been visited and guided up the river by Tonti in 1700, proposed to found a city among the Natchez,-a city to be named, in honor of the Countess of Pontchartrain, Rosalie. Indeed, he did pretend to lay the cornerstone of such a place, though it was not till 1714 that the fort called Rosalie was founded, where the city of Natchez is standing at this day.
Having thus built a fort at the mouth of the Great River, and designated a choice spot above for a settlement, D'Iberville once more sought Europe, having, before he left, ordered M. Le Sueur to go up the Mississippi in search of a copper mine, which that personage had previously got a clue to, upon a branch of the St. Peter's river;* which order was fulfilled, and much metal obtained, though at the cost of great suffering. Mining was always a Jacka-lantern with the first settlers of America, and our French friends were no wiser than their neighbors. The products of the soil were, indeed, scarce thought valuable on a large scale, it being supposed that the wealth of Louisiana consisted in its pearlfishery, its mines, and the wool of its wild cattle.f In 1701 the commander came again, and began a new establishment upon the river Mobile, one which superseded that at Biloxi, which thus far had been the chief fort in that southern colony. After this things went on but slowly until 1708; D’Iberville died on one of his voyages between the mother country and and her sickly daughter, and after his death little was done. In 1708, however, M. D'Artagnette came from France as commissary of Louisiana, and, being a man of spirit and energy, did more for it than had been done before. But it still lingered; and, under the impression that a private man of property might manage it better than the government could, the king, upon the 14th of September, 1712, granted to Crozat, a man of great wealth, the monopoly of Louisiana for fifteen years, and the absolute ownership of whatever mines he might cause to be opened. I
Charlevoix, vol. iv. pp. 162, 164. In Long's Second Expedition, p. 318, may be seen a detailed account of Le Sueur's proceedings, taken from a manuscript statement of them.
+ Charlevoix, vol. iii. p. 389.