William Henry Perrin.

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idea that by following the Great River
northward, or by turning up some of the
numerous western tributaries, the object
could easily be gained. He applied to
Frontenac, Governor General of Canada,
and laid before him the plan, dim but
gigantic. Frontenac entered warmly into
his plans, and saw that La Salle's idea to
connect the great lakes by a chain of forts
with the Gulf of Mexico would bind the
country so wonderfully together, give un-
measured power to France, and glory to
himself, under whose administration he
earnestly hoped all would be realized.

La Salle now repaired to France, laid his
plans before the King, who warmly ap-
proved of them, and made him a Chevalier.
He also received from all the noblemen the
warmest wishes for his success. The Chev-
alier returned to (Janada, and busily en-
tered upon his work. He at once rebuilt
Fort Frontenac and constructed the first
ship to sail on these fresh-water seas. On
the 7th of August, 1679, having been joined
by Hennepin, he began his voyage in the
Grifiin up Lake Erie. He passed over
this lake, through the straits beyond, up
Lake St. Clair and into Huron. In this
lake they encountered heavy storms. They
were some time at Michillimackinac, where
La Salle founded a fort, and passed on to
Green Bay, the " Baie des Puans " of the
French, where he found a large quantity of
furs collected for him. He loaded the
Griflin with these, and placing her under
the care of a pilot and fourteen sailors,
started her on her return voj-age. The ves-


sel was never afterward heard of. He re-
mained about, these parts nntil early In the
winter, when, hearing nothing from tlie
Griffin, he collected all his men — thirty
working men and three nionks^ — and
started again upon his great undertaking.

By a short portage they passed to the Il-
linois or Kankakee, called by the Indians,
" Theakeke," loolf, because of the tribes of
Indians called by that name, commonly
known as the Mahingans, dwelling there.
The French pronounced it Kialcikl, which
became corrupted to Kankakee. " Falling
down the said river by easy journeys, the
better to observe the country," about the
last of December they reached a village of
the Illinois Indians, containing some five
hundred cabins, but at that moment no in-
habitants. The Seur de La Salle being in
want of some breadstuffs, took advantage
of the absence of the Indians to help him-
self to a sufficiency of maize, large quanti-
ties of which he found concealed in holes
under the wigwams. This village was sit-
uated near the present village of Utica in
La Salle County, Illinois. The corn being
securely stored, the voyagers again betook
themselves to the stream, and toward even-
ing on the 4th day of January, 1680, they
came into a lake, which must have been
the lake of Peoria. Tiiis was called by the
Indians Pim-i-te-wi, that is a place where
th&re are many fat beasts. Here the na-
tives were met with in large numbers, but
they were gentle and kind, and having
spent some time with them, La Salle deter-
mined to erect another fort in that place,
for he had heard rumors that some of the
adjoining tribes were trying to disturb the
good feeling which existed, and some of
his men were disposed to complain, owing

to the hardships and perils of the travel.
He called this fort '■' Crevecmur" {hvcikew-
lieart), a name expressive of the very nat-
ural sorrow and anxiety which the pretty
certain loss of his ship. Griffin, and his con-
sequent impoverishment, the danger of
hostility on the part of the Indians, and of
mutiny among his own men, might well
cause him. His fears were not entirely
groundless. Atone time poison was placed
in his food, but fortunately was discovered.

AVhile building this fort, the winter
wore away, the prairies began to look
green, and La Salle, despairing of any rein-
forcements, concluded to return to Canada,
raise new means and new men, and embark
anew in the enterprise. For this purpose
he made Hennepin the leader of a party to
explore the head waters of the Mississi]ipi,
and he set out on his journej'. This jour-
ney was accomplished with the aid of a
few persons, and was successfully made,
though over an almost unknown route, and
in a bad season of the year. He safely
reached Canada, and set out again for the
object of his search.

Hennepin and his party loft Fort Creve-
cceur on the last of Febriuiry, 1680. When
La Salle reached this place on his return ex-
pedition, he found the fort entirely desert-
ed, and he was obliged to return again to
Canada. He embarked the third time,
and succeeded. Seven days after leaving
the fort, Hennepin reached the Mississippi,
and paddling up the icy stream as best he
could, reached no higher than the Wis-
consin River by the 11th of April. Here
he and his followers were taken prisoners
by a band of Northern Indians, who treat-
ed them with great kindness. Hennepin's
comrades were Anthony Auguel and Mi-


chael Ako. On this voyage they found sev-
eral beautiful lakes, and " saw some charm-
ing prairies." Their captors were the
Isaute or Sauteurs, Chippewas, a tribe of
the Sioux nation, who took them up the
river until about the first of May, when
they reached some falls, which Hen-
nepin christened Falls of St. Anthony
in honor of his patron saint. Here they
took the land, and traveling nearly two
hundred miles to the northwest, brought
them to their villages. Here they were
kept about three niontlis, were treated kind-
ly by their captors, and at the end of that
time, were met by a band of Frenchmen,
headed by one Seur de Luth, who, in pur-
suit of tiade and game, had penetrated thus
far by the route of Lake Superior; and
with these fellow-countrymen Hennepin and
his companions were allowed to return to
the borders of civilized life in November,
16S0, just after La Salle had returned
to the wilderness on his second trip. Hen-
nepin soon after went to France, where
he published an account of his adven-
tures. (

The Mississippi was first discovered by
De Soto in April, 15-41, in his vain endeav-
or to find gold and precious gems. In the
following spring, De Soto, weary with hope
long deferred, and worn out with his wan-
derings, fell a victim to disease, and on
the 21st of May, died. His followers, re-
duced by fatigue and disease to less than
three hundred men, wandered about the
country nearly a year, in the vain endeavor
to rescue themselves by land, and finallv
constructed seven small vessels, called brig-
antines, in which they embarked, and de-
scending the river, supposing it would
lead them to the sea, in July they came to

the sea (Gulf of Mexico), and by Septem-
ber reached the Island of Cuba.

They were the first to see the great out-
let of the Mississippi; but, being so weary
and discouraged, made no attempt to claim
the country, and hardly had an intelligent
idea of what they had passed through.

To La Salle, the intrepid explorer, belongs
the honor of giving the first account of
the mouths of the river. His great desire
was to possess this entire country for his
king, and in January, 16S2, he and his
band of explorers left the shores of Lake
Michigan on their third attempt, crossed
the portage, passed down the Illinois Riv-
er, and on the 6th of February, reached the
banks of the Mississippi.

On the 13th they commenced their down-
ward course, which they pursued with but
one interruption, until upon the 6th of
March they discovered the three great pas-
sages by which the river discharges its
waters into the gulf. La Salle thus narrates
the event:

" "We landed on the bank of the most
western channel, about three leagues (nine
miles) from its mouth. On the seventh,
M. de La Salle went to reconnoiter the shores
of the neighboring sea, and M. de Tonti
meanwhile examined the great middle chan-
nel. They found the main outlets beau-
tiful, large and deep. On the Sth we reas-
cended the rivei, a little above its conflu-
ence with the sea, to find a dry place be-
yond the reach of inundations. The el-
evation of the Xorth Pole was here about
twenty-seven degrees. Here we prepared
a column and a cross, and to the column
were affixed the arms of France with this

Louis LeGrand. Roi De France et de Xavarre,
regne; Le neuvieme .\vril 1682.


The wliolc party, under arras, clmiited
the Te Deum, and then, aftei- a salute and
cries of-' Vive le Boi," tlie column was
erected by M. de La Salle, who, standing
near it, proclaimed in a loud voice the au-
thority of the King of France. La Salle
returned and laid the foundations of the
Mississippi settlements in Illinois, thence
he proceeded to France, where another ex-
pedition was fitted out, of which he was
commander, and in two succeeding voy-
ages failed to find the outlet of the river
by sailing along the shore of the gulf. On
his third voyage he was killed, through
the treachery of his followers, and the ob-
ject of his expeditions was not accom-
plished until 1699, when D'Iberville, un-
der the authority of the crown, discovered,
on the second of March, by way of the sea,
the mouth of the " Hidden River." This
majestic stream was called by the natives
" J\£alf)otichia,^^ and by the Spaniards, " Za
Palissade, " from the great number of
trees about its mouth. After traversing the
several outlets, and satisfying himself as to
its certainty, he erected a fort near its
western outlet and returned to France.

An avenue of trade was now opened out,
which was fully improved. In 1718, New
Orleans was laid out and settled b}' some
European colonists. In 1762, the colony
was made over to Spain, to be regained by
France under the consulate of Napoleon.
In 1803, it was purchased by the United
States for the sum of fifteen million dollars,
and the territory of Louisiana and com-
merce of the Mississippi River came under
the charge of the United States. Although
La Salle's labors ended in defeat and death,
he had not workeil and suflered in vain.
He had thrown open to France and the

world an immense and most valuable coun-
try; had established several ports, and laid
the foundations of more than one settle-
ment there. " Peoria, Kaskaskia and Ca-
hokia, are to this day monuments of La
Salle's labors; for, though he had founded
neither of them (unless Peoria, which was
built nearly upon the site of Fort Creve-
coeur,) it was by those whom he led into the
West that these places were peopled and
civilized. He was, if not the discoverer,
the first settler of the Mississippi Valley,
and as such deserves to be known and

The French early improved the opening
made for them. Before the year 1698, the
Rev. Father Gravier began a mission among
the Illinois, and founded Kaskaskia. For
some time this was merely a missionary
station, where none but natives resided, it
being one of three such villages, the other
two being Cahokia and Peoria. What is
known of these missions is learned from a
letter written by Father Grabriel Marest,
dated "Aux Cascaskias, autrement dit de
I'Immaculate Conception de la Sainte
Vierge, le 9 Novembre, 1712." Soon after
the founding of Kaskaskia, the missionary,
Pinet, gathered a flock at Cahokia, while
Peoria arose near the ruins of Fort Creve-
coeur. This must have been about a year
1700. The post at Vincennes on the
Oubache river, (pronounced Wa-ba, mean-
ing summer cloud moving swiftly) was es-
tablished in 1702, according to the best
authorities.* It is altogether probable that

* There ia consideraUe dispute about this date,
some asserting^ it was foundi'd uh late aa 1742. When
the new court house at Vincennes was erected, all
authorities on the subject were carefully examined,
and 1702 fixed upon as the correct date. It was ac-
cordingly engraved on the corner-stone of the court


on La Salle's last trip he established the
stations at Kaskaskia and Cahokia. In
July, 1701, the fonndations of Fort Pon-
chartrain were laid by De la Motte Cadillac
on the Detroit River. These stations, with
those established further north, were the
earliest attempts to occupy the Northwest
Territory. At the same time efforts were
being made to occupy the Southwest, which
finally culminated in the settlement and
founding of the City of New Orleans by a
colony from England in 1718. This was
mainly accomplished through the efforts of
the famous Mississippi Company, estab-
lished by the notorious John Law, who so
quickly arose into prominence in France,
and who with his scheme so quickly and so
ignominionsly passed away.

From the time of the founding of these
stations for fifty years the French nation
were engrossed with the settlement of the
lower Mississippi, and the war with the
Chicasaws, who had, in revenge for repeated
injuries, cutoff the entire colony at Natchez.
Although the company did little for Louis-
iana, as the entire West was then called,
yet it opened the trade through the Missis-
sippi River, and started the raising of
grains indigenous to that climate. Until
the year 1750, but little is known of the
settlements in the Northwest, as it wjis not
until this time that the attention of the
English was called to the occupation of
this portion of the New World, which they
then supposed they owned. Vivier, a mis-
sionary among the Illinois, writing from
"Anx Illinois," six leagues from Fort
Chartres, June 8, 1750, says: "We have
here whites, negroes and Indians, to say
nothing of cross-breeds. There are five
French villages, and three villages of the

natives, within a space of twenty-one
leagues situated between the Mississippi
and another river called the Karkadaid
(Kaskaskias). In the five French villages
are, perhaps, eleven hundred whites, three
hundred blacks and some sixty red slaves
or savages. The three Illinois towns do
not contain more than eight hundred souls
all told. Most of the French till the soil ;
they raise wheat, cattle, pigs and horses,
and live like princes. Three times as much
is produced as can be consumed ; and great
quantities of grain and flour are sent to
New Orleans." This city was now the
seaport town of the Northwest, and save
in the extreme northern part, where only
furs and copper ore were found, almost all
the products of the country found their
way to France by the mouth of the Father
of Waters. In another letter, dated No-
vember 7, 1750, this same priest says:
" For fifteen leagues above the mouth of
the Mississippi one sees no dwellings, the
ground beins; too low to be habitable.
Thence to New Orleans, the lands are only
partially occupied. New Orleans contains
black, white and red, not more, I think,
than twelve hundred persons. To this
point come all lumber, bricks, salt-beef,
tallow, tar, skins and bear's grease ; and
above all, pork and flour from the Illinois.
These things create some commerce, as
forty vessels and more have come hither
this year. Above New Orleans, plantations
are again met with ; the most considerable
is a colony of Germans, some ten leagues
up the river. At Point Coupee, thirty-five
leagues above the German settlement, is a
fort. Along here, within five or six leagues,
are not less than sixty habitations. Fifty
leagues farther up is the Natchez post,



where we have a garrison, who are kept
prisoners through fear of tlie Cliicasaws.
Here and at point Coupee, tliey raise excel-
lent tobacco. Another hundred leagues
brings us to the Arkansas, where we have
also a fort and a garrison for the benefit of
the river traders. * * * From the Ar-
kansas to the Illinois, nearly five hundred
leagues, there is not a settlement. There
should be, however, a fort at the Oubache
(Ohio), the only path by which the English
can reach the Mississippi. In the Illinois
country are numberless mines, but no one
to work them as they deserve." Father
Marest, writing from the post at Yincennes,
in 1812, makes the same observation. Vi-
vier also says: " Some individuals dig
lead near the surface and supply the Ind-
ians and Canada. Two Sjianiards now here,
who claim to be adepts, say that our mines
are like those of Mexico, and that if we
would dig deeper, we should find silver un-
der the lead ; and at any rate the lead is
excellent. There is also in this country,
beyond doubt, copper ore, as from time to
time large pieces are found in the streams."
At the close of the year 1750, the French
occupied, in addition to the lower Missis-
sippi posts and those in Illinois, one at
Du Quesne, one at the Maumee in the
country of the Miamis, and one at Sandus-
ky, in what may be termed the Ohio Val-
ley. In the northern part of the North-
west they had stations at St. Joseph's on
the St. Joseph's of Lake Michigan, at Fort
Ponchartrain (Detroit), at Michillimack-
anac or Massillimacanac, Fox Kiver of
Green Bay, and at Sault Ste. Marie. The
fondest dreams of La Salle were now fully
realized. The French alone were possess-
ors of this vast realm, basing tiieir claim

on discovery and settlement. Another na-
tion, however, was now turning its atten-
tion to this extensive country, and hearing
of its wealth, began to lay plans for oc-
cupying it and for securing the great
profits arising therefrom.

The French, however, had another claim
to tliis country, namely, the


This " Beautiful " river was discovered
by Robert Cavalier de La Salle in 1669, four
years before the discovery of the Missis-
sippi by Joliet and Marquette.

While La Salle was at his trading post
on the St. Lawrence, he found leisure to
study nine Indian dialects, the chief of
which was the Iroquois. He not only de-
sired to tacilitate his intercourse in trade,
but he longed to travel and explore the un-
known regions of the West. An incident
soon occurred which decided him to fit out
an exploring expedition.

While conversing with some Senecas, he
learned of a river called the Ohio, which
rose in their country and flowed to the sea,
but at such a distance that it required
eight months to reach its mouth. In this
statement the Mississippi and its tributa-
ries were considered as one stream. La
Salle, believiVi'g, as most of the French at
that period did, that the great rivers flow-
ing west emptied into the Sea of Califor-
nia, was anxious to embark in the enter-
prise of discovering a route across the con-
tinent to the commerce of China and

He repaired at once to Quebec to obtain
the approval of the Governor. His elo-
quent appeal prevailed. The Governor
and the Inteudant, Talon, issued letters



patent autliorizing the enterprise, but made
no provision to defray tlie expenses. At
this juncture the seminary of St. Sulpice
decided to send out missionaries in connec-
tion with the expedition, and La Salle offer-
ing to sell his improvements at La Chine to
raise money, the offer was accepted by the
Superior, and two thousand eight hundred
dollars were raised, with which La Salle
purchased four canoes and the necessary
nipplies for the outfit.

On the 6th of July, 1669, the party, num-
bering twenty-four persons, embarked in
seven canoes on the St. Lawrence; two ad-
ditional canoes carried the Indian guides.
In three days they were gliding over the
bosom of Lake Ontario. Their guides con-
ducted them directly to the Seneca village
on the bank of the Genesee, in the vicinity
of the present City of Rochester, New
York. Here they expected to procure
guides to conduct them to the Ohio, but in
this they were disappointed.

The Indians seemed unfriendly to the
enterprise. La Salle suspected that the
Jesuits had prejudiced their minds
against his plans. After waiting a month
in the hope of gaining their object, they
met an Indian from the Iroquois colony at
the head of Lake Ontario, who assured
them that they could there find guides, and
offered to conduct them thence.

On their way they passed the mouth of
the Niagara River, wlien'they heard for the
first time the distant thunder of the cata-
ract. Arriving among the Iroquois, tiiey
met with a tViendly reception, and learned
from a Shawanee prisoner that they could
reach the Ohio in six weeks. Delighted
with the unexpected good fortune, they
made ready to resume their journey; but

just as they were about to start they heard
of the arrival of two Frenchmen in a neigh-
boring village. One of them proved to be
Louis Joliet, afterward famous as an ex-
plorer in the West. He had beeu sent by
tlie Canadian Government to explore the
copper mines on Lake Superior, but had
failed, and was on his way back to Quebec.
He gave the missionaries a map of the
country he had explored in the lake region,
together with an account of tiie condition
of the Indians in that quarter. This in-
duced the priests to determine on leaving
the expedition and going to Lake Superior.
La Salle warned tliem that the Jesuits were
probably occupying that field, and that
they would meet with a cold reception.
Nevertheless they persisted in their pur-
pose, and after worship on the lake shore
parted from La Salle. On arriving at Lake
Superior, they found, as La Salle had pre-
dicted, the Jesuit Fathers, Marquette and
Dablon, occupying the field.

These zealous disciples of Loyola in-
formed them that they wanted no assistance
from St. Sulpice, nor from those who made
him their patron saint; and thus repulsed,
they returned to Montreal the following
June without having made a single discov-
ery or converted a single Indian.

After parting with the priests, La Salle
went to the chief Iroquois village at Onon-
daga, where he obtained guides, and passing
thence to a tributary of the Ohio south of
Lake Erie, he descended the latter as far as
the falls at Louisville. Thus was the Ohio
discovered by La Salle, the persevering and
successful French explorer of the West, in

The account of the latter part of his
journey is found in an anonymous paper,



which purports to liave been taken from the
lips of La Salle himself during a subsequent
visit to Paris. In a letter written to Count
Frontenac in 1667, shortly after the discov-
ery, he himself says that he discovered the
Ohio and descended it to the falls. This
was regarded as an indisputable fact by the
French authorities, who claimed the Ohio
Valley upon another ground. When Wash-
ington was sent by the colony of Virginia
in 1753, to demand of Gordeur de St. Pierre
why the French had built a fort on the Mo-
nongahela, the haughty commandant at
Quebec replied : " We claim the country on
the Ohio by virtue of the discoveries of
La Salle, and will not give it up to the Eng-
lish. Our orders are to make prisoners of
every Englishman found trading in the
Ohio Valley.."


When the new year of 1750 broke in up-
on the Father of Waters and the Great
Northwest, all was still wild save at the
French posts already described. In 1749,
when tiie English tirst began to think seri-
ously about sending men into the West,
the greater portion of the States of Indi-
ana, Ohio, Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin,
and ilinnesota were j'et under the domin-
ion of the red men. The English knew,
however, pretty conclusively of the nature
of the wealth of these wilds. As early as
1710, Governor Spotswood, of Virginia,
had commenced movements to secure the
country west of the Alleghanies to the
English crown. In Pennsylvania, Gover-
nor Keith and James Logan, seer .tary of
the province, from 1719 to 1731, represent-
ed to the powers of England the necessity
of securing the Western lands. Nothina:

was done, however, by that power save to
take some di]>lomatic steps to secure the
claims of Britain to this unexplored wilder-

England had from the outset claimed
from the Atlantic to the Pacific, on the
ground that the discovery of tlie seacoast
and its possession was a discovery and pos-
session of the country, and, as is well known,
her grants to the colonies extended "from
sea to sea." This was not all her claim.
She had purchased from the Indian tribes
large tracts of laud. This latter was also a
strong argument. As early as 16S4, Lord
Howard, Governor of Virginia, held a trea-
ty with the six nations. These were the
great Northern Confederacy, and comprised
at first the Mohawks, Oneidas, Onondagas,
Cayugas, and Senecas. Afterward the Tus-
caroras were taken into the confederacy,
and it became known as the Six Nations.

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