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French Explorations

French ExplorersBoth the French and English developed interest in explorations more slowly than the Iberian Peninsula countries of Portugal and Spain. The main reason for this was location. France was much farther away from the Mediterranean Sea and the distance of exploration along the African coast was overwhelmingly impractical. France already had stable trading relations with Italy's great merchants who traded with the Arabs, Chinese and Indians so their need for finding alternative trade routes was not so great.

Although the French did not participate in the great voyages of exploration, they were not slow to profit by the discoveries of Columbus. As early as 1504 the fishermen of Normandy and Brittany began to fish on the banks of Newfoundland. Fishing around the European shores had become sparse, and fish along the North American coast was extremely plentiful.

King Francis 1 of France became interested in a voyage of discovery and exploration and hired John Verrazzano, a native of Florence, to conduct the expedition. The point of this venture was to discover a northwest passage to Asia. In January, 1524, Verrazzano left the shores of Europe. His fleet consisted at first of four vessels, but three of them were damaged in a storm, so the voyage was undertaken with a single ship, called the Dolphin.

For six, days, through the buffetings of tempestuous weather, the courageous mariner held on his course, and on the 7th of March discovered the main land on the latitude of Wilmington, Delaware. He first sailed southward 150 miles in the hope of finding a harbor, but found none. Returning northward, he finally anchored somewhere along the low sandy beach which stretches between the mouth of Cape Fear River and Pandico Sound. Here he developed a relationship with the natives. The Indians of this neighborhood were found to be gentle and timid.. A half-drowned sailor who was washed ashore by the surf was treated with great kindness and was soon permitted to return to the ship.

After a few days the voyage was continued toward the north. The whole coast of New Jersey was explored, and the hills were marked as containing minerals. They sailed around the harbor of New York which was spacious and offered great prospects for trade. At Newport, Rhode Island, Verrazzano anchored for 15 days, and trade was opened again with the Indians. Before leaving the place, the French sailors repaid the confidence of the natives by kidnapping a child and attempting to steal a defenseless Indian girl.

Sailing from Newport, Verrazzano continued his explorations northward, The long and broken line of the New England coast was traced with considerable care. The Native Americans of the north were wary and suspicious. These people were eager to purchase knives and weapons of iron. Passing to the east of Nova Scotia, the bold navigator reached Newfoundland in the latter part of May after exploring the St. Lawrence River. In July he returned to France and published an account of his great discoveries. The name of New France was then given to the whole country whose sea-coast had been traced by the adventurous crew of the Dolphin.

It was10 years before France could refocus on sending off another expedition. In 1535, James Cartier, a seaman of Brittany, was selected to make a voyage to America. Two ships were fitted out for the enterprise, and after just 20 days of sailing under cloudless skies Cartier anchored off the coast of Newfoundland. Before the middle of July, Cartier had circumnavigated the island to the northward and explored the Gulf of St. Lawrence. He did not find a westward passage out of the Gulf so he changed his course to the north again to Gaspe Bay (Baie de Gaspe). On this point of land he set up a cross and shield with the lily of France and proclaimed the French king monarch of the country. After sailing up the St. Lawrence, he realized this was a river, not an ocean, and decided to return to France rather than spend a winter in this strange new place. In just 30 days Cartier anchored his ships back in the harbor of St. Male.

So great was the fame of Cartier's first voyage that another was planned immediately, Three good ships were provided, and quite a number of young noblemen joined the expedition. Colonization rather than discovery was now the inspiring motive. The sails were set by zealous and excited crews, and on the 19th of May the new voyage was begun. This time there was stormy weather, yet the passage to Newfoundland was made by the 10th of August, which was the day of the St. Lawrence holiday, named after the martyr. Cartier named the St. Lawrence River and gulf after this saint.

Cartier decided to continue exploring the area and winter over in the area. Local Huron Native Americans who befriended Cartier told him of a beautiful village that lay at the foot of a high hill in the middle of the "island". Climbing to the top of the hill, Cartier, as suggested by the scene around him, named the island and town Mont-Real, or royal mountain. The country was declared to belong by right of discovery to the king of France. During this winter 25 of Cartier's men died by scurvy.

The terrible winter had proved too much for French enthusiasm. With the opening of spring, preparations were made to return to France. After the cross bearing the arms of France was again planted in the soil of the New World, the homeward voyage began. On July 6 the fleet safely reached St. Malo, France. However, Cartier's accounts of his experiences greatly discouraged further exploration. Neither silver nor gold had been found on the banks of the St. Lawrence. What was a new world good for if it had no silver or gold?

The next Frenchman to undertake a voyage was Francis of La Roque. This nobleman, four years after Cartier's return from his second voyage, was commissioned by the court of France to begin a colony on the St. Lawrence River. James Cartier was hired to accompany the expedition and manage the new expedition and Roberval was placed in charge of the entire colony. It was difficult to find volunteers to settle in this wild new country. The French peasants were not eager to leave for a country which promised nothing better than savages. So the government decided to open the prisons and permit criminals to join the expedition. Only counterfeiters and traitors were denied to privilege of gaining their liberty in the New World.

In May, 1541, five ships, under the command of Cartier, left France and soon reached the St. Lawrence. The expedition proceeded up the river to the present site of Quebec, where a fort was erected and named Charlesbourg. Here the colonists passed the winter. Cartier was offended because Roberval was in charge. He was sullen and gloomy, and made no effort to explore and make discoveries which could benefit no one but the ambitious Roberval. The two leaders never acted as partners. When LaRoque arrived in June, 1542 with new immigrants and supplies, Cartier secretly sailed away with his part of the fleet, and returned to Europe. Roberval was left in New France with three shiploads of criminals who could only be restrained by whipping and hanging. During the autumn some feeble efforts were made to discover a northern passage. The winter was long and severe, and spring was welcomed by the colonists chiefly for the opportunity which it gave them to return to France as a failed enterprise. In 1549 Roberval, with a large company of emigrants, sailed to the new world on a second voyage, but the fleet was never heard of afterward!

About Fort Michilimackinac

Fort Michilimackinac

The French built Fort Michilimackinac in 1715 to have a place to exchange the furs and get supplies. The name Michilimackinac referred to the entire straits region.

Through acts of war and in response to war, the post changed hands six times between 1760 and 1815. Although none of the French and Indian War battles were fought in northern Michigan, the effects were felt in the region. Most significant of these effects was the repeated change of command at Fort Michilimackinac which resulted in upheavals in the lives of the Indians and the local residents,

Shifting allegiance began when France gave up all of its land claims in North America in the Treaty of Paris in 1763, and the British took control of the fort. The Native Americans and the French had been working together for a long time, and had developed a good relationship. Suddenly their trading partners changed and British soldiers and British fur traders came to take charge of Michilimackinac after they won the French and Indian War with France.

The Native Americans weren't very happy about trading with the British instead of the French. The British were not as generous in their trading relationships as the French had been. Since the Indian's entire economy now depended on the bargains they struck with their trading partners, the unempathetic and tight-fisted English managed to reduce the impoverished living conditions of the Indians still more. The Native Americans decided to rise up against the British and the American settlers who were encroaching on their land. This uprising is referred to as Pontiac's Rebellion.

Led by Chief Minavavana and Matchekewis, the Ojibwa, Sak, and Fox together captured Michilimackinac in 1763. They turned the fort back over to the French. About one year later the British returned to Michilimackinac and they worked harder to get along with the Native Americans.

There were many people living at Michilimackinac. The British military had officers and soldiers, and some of them had families. The wives of the soldiers had jobs, like washing clothes, preparing meals, cleaning, smoking fish, etc. There were also some French people and American Indians. Generally, these three groups got along fairly well. Michilimackinac didn't have a school, but some children were taught by the priest.

The fur trade was an enormously profitable business for the British, as it had been for the French when they controlled the area. Many fur traders lived and worked out of the post at Michilimackinac. Some traders had families, also. There were so many people living at Michilimackinac, they couldn't all live in the fort. They built houses outside the walls of the fort.

The Revolutionary War changed everything at Michilimackinac and it was difficult to trade during the war. Indians became involved in the conflict, rather than fur trapping, and transporting furs was a hazardous business at times. Since the fur trade was such an economically profitable business for Britain, the British wanted to protect the Great Lakes and their shipping routes.

The British realized that the old fort at Michilimackinac would be extremely hard to defend. Although it was well located for trade and as a mission, other sites offered a better strategic advantage. The British were afraid of being attacked by American or Indian forces so they decided to move the fort to the high cliffs of nearby Mackinac Island in 1779-80. They thought this would be a safer place for the fort; it offered a wider vista for seeing the enemy's approach and cannons from American ships couldn't shoot high enough to hit the fort.

Materials, possessions and food caches were hauled across the Straits, along with dismantled homes, which were rebuilt on the island. Some buildings at Michilimackinac were moved to the new fort and village. Some new buildings on the island were made out of stone. Most of the new houses and buildings were made from wood.

All those buildings needed many thousands of wooden boards. Boards were usually cut by hand in a saw pit, by two people. Robert Campbell came up with the idea to build a saw mill at a fast moving creek near Michilimackinac, (Mackinaw City). Instead of people, the water in the creek made the power to cut the wood. Campbell's saw mill cut boards much faster and more accurately than a pit saw. They called the place where he built the sawmill Mill Creek. The milled lumber was then floated across the Straits for use in the building project. During the winter, materials were transported across the frozen Straits on horse-drawn sleds. The people marked the sides of the sled path by sticking pine trees into the snow.

By the summer of 1780, troops were living in blockhouses while remaining fort structures and village buildings were completed. When they moved from the mainland, all of the buildings left at Michilimackinac were burned down so no one else could use them. This posed yet another hardship for the Indians who previously had easy access to their trading partners in times of need. When the military moved to the island, so did all of the other people living at Michilimackinac. The new fort only had enough housing for the officers, soldiers, and their families. The traders and their families had to make a new village with new homes on the island to live in.

By 1781, Fort Mackinac was finished. Soon after, the United States won the Revolutionary War the British gave the Fort to the Americans. The fur trade started up again, and the Americans were supposed to be in charge of the Fort. The British, however, never left the Fort. Since they won possession of Canada in the French and Indian War, they were very unwilling to give up this lucrative trading center. The new American government was so beset with other problems that they ignored the British as best they could. Finally, after Jay's Treaty, the British formally handed over the Fort. They built their own fort nearby on Canadian soil.

Fighting between the Americans and the British wasn't over, though. The British military returned to Mackinac Island one last time when they it recaptured control of the fort in a surprise attack during the War of 1812. Although the British held the fort for almost three years, it was returned to the United States after both countries agreed to end all hostilities and return recaptured lands. U.S. soldiers took command of Fort Mackinac in July 1815.

After the fighting was over, the fur trade was very busy. Now Mackinac Island was the place where the furs and trade goods were exchanged. Magdaline La Framboise was one of the traders on the island. She also taught some children who lived there. More people moved to the island and more buildings were built.

The sawmill at Mill Creek was very busy, and a grist mill was also built. This mill ground up corn into cornmeal and wheat into flour. The cornmeal and flour were also called grist.

The fur traders had been collecting animal furs in the Straits of Mackinac for almost 200 years. So many animals had been hunted nearly to extinction. Without the vast and easy supply of furs, the traders and the Indians moved away to find other ways to make a living. Houses were deserted, businesses closed, and even the mills were unused. It was harder for people to make money. Fishing replaced the fur trade as the main business on Mackinac Island. Fishermen working near the Straits of Mackinac brought their fish to the island. The fish were smoked, packed into barrels, and sent to Chicago and Detroit.

A period of 50 years passed before the French authorities again attempted to colonize America. However, private enterprise funded by merchants, and religious persecution in France of the Huguenots accomplished in Florida and Carolina what the French government had failed to accomplish on the St. Lawrence. About the middle of the sixteenth century Gaspard Coligny, Lord of Chatillon, the Protestant admiral of France, formed a plan to establish a refuge for the persecuted Huguenots in America for his own countrymen. In 1562 Coligny obtained from King Charles III the privilege of establishing a colony of Protestants in the New World. John Ribault of Dieppe, a brave and experienced sailor, was selected to lead the Huguenots to the land of promise. Sailing in February, the company reached the coast of Florida at a point where three years later St. Augustine was founded. The St. John's River was entered by the French and named the River of May. The vessels then continued northward along the coast, until they came to the entrance of Port Royal; here they decided to make the settlement. A fort was created, and in honor of Charles III, it was named Carolina. This name was kept by the English and applied to the whole country from the Savannah River to the southern boundary of Virginia. Ribault left 26 men to keep up the fort, and then sailed back to France for additional emigrants and stores. But civil war was now raging in France, and it was quite impossible to obtain either supplies or colonists. No reinforcements were sent to Carolina. The next spring the men in the fort, discouraged with long waiting, grew mutinous, and killed their leader for attempting to control them. Then they constructed a rude brig and put to sea. After they had been tossed about by the winds for a long time, they were picked up half starved by an English ship and carried to the coast of France.

Coligny, however, did not give up. Two years after the first attempt another colony was planned. The quality of the people populating this second Protestant company was very bad. Many of them were lazy, undisciplined men of no prudence. The Huguenots no longer wanted to settle in Port Royal. They chose to build on a point of land on the St. John's River about 15 miles west of where St. Augustine now stands. A fort was built here, and things were going well until some of the colonists, under the pretext of escaping from famine, got away with two of the ships. Instead of returning to France as they had promised, they began to practice piracy on the adjacent seas, until they were caught, brought back, and hanged. The rest of the settlers were dissatisfied and were about to break up the colony when Ribault arrived with supplies of every sort, and restored order.

Tragically, Philip II of Spain commissioned Melendez de Avilez to conquer and colonize Florida, and to expel this colony of French Protestants. The result of this expedition was that in 1565 the French colonists were, with the exception of a few Catholics, either driven from Florida, massacred, or enslaved., "Not as Frenchmen, but as heretics," as he declared. De Avilez then established the oldest European town in America.

The French government made no attempt to avenge the destruction of the colony, but French Protestants were aroused to the highest pitch of indignation. Dominic de Gourgues sold his property, collected contributions from his friends, and fitted out a small army to retaliate against the Spaniards. In 1568, he surprised the Spanish forts erected near the ruins of Fort Carolina, and hanged the garrisons, placing over them the inscription, "Not as Spaniards and mariners, but as traitors, robbers, and murderers." De Gourgues, having accomplished his purpose of revenge, embarked for France. His king disowned the expedition, and Florida returned to the possession of Spain.

In 1603 a protestant nobleman named De Monte was granted a monopoly, called a patent, on the fur trade of the new country and religious freedom for Huguenot immigrants. With two shiploads of colonists, De Monte left France early in March, 1604, and after a peaceful voyage reached the Bay of Fundy. The summer was spent in making explorations and in establishing trade with the Native Americans. De Monte seems to have been uncertain as to where he should plant his colony; but eventually established the foundations of the first permanent French settlement in America. In 1605 the settlement, harbor and the fort were named Port Royal, and the whole country, including Nova Scotia, the surrounding islands and the main land as far south as the St. Croix River, was called Acadia.

Samuel Champlain, one of the most eminent and soldierly men of his times, was commissioned by a company of Rouen merchants to explore the country around the Gulf of St. Lawrence and establish a trading post in 1603 . The traders saw that traffic in the furs which those regions so abundantly supplied with animals, was a more certain road to riches than rambling about in search of gold and diamonds. Under this commission, Champlain crossed the ocean, entered the gulf, sailed up the river, and with remarkable prudence and good judgment selected the spot on which Quebec now stands as the site for a fort. In the autumn of 1603, he returned to France, and published an interesting and faithful account of his expedition.

In the year 1608, Champlain again visited America, and on the 3rd of July in that year the foundations of Quebec were laid. In the following year he and two other Frenchmen joined a company of Huron and Algonquin Indians who were at war with the Iroquois of New York. While marching with this party of warriors, he sailed up the Sorrel River until he came to the beautiful, long, narrow lake. Champlain was the first white man to see it, and that lake has ever since carried the name of its discoverer, Lake Champlain.

1612 the Protestant party came into power in France. For the third time, Champlain came to New France, and the success of the colony at Quebec was assured. Franciscan monks came over and began to preach among the Indians. These Catholic friars and the Protestants quarreled a good deal, however, and the peace of the settlement was often disturbed.

A second time Champlain went with a Huron war party against the Iroquois. His company was defeated; he himself was wounded and had to remain all winter among the Huron. In the summer of 1617 he returned to the colony, and in 1620 began to build the strong fortress of St. Louis. When the heavy towers of this castle appeared on the high cliff above Quebec and river, the French settlement in this rustic valley of the St. Lawrence was no longer in doubt.. More than any other man, the French have to give credit to Champlain for their success in the North American colonies.

The interest of the French and their explorers focused on trade, religious conversion, and exploration rather than settling and occupying the New World. The religious enthusiasm of the French missionaries, typified by priests like Father Marquette, was yet another force that drove some Frenchmen into the interior of the new continent and especially the Great Lakes region. Through their close contact, the French were able to impose their religious views on some native people which made the exchange of European ideas and technological innovations among native people inevitable.

Champlain had heard from Indians of a great lake to the west that would take 40 days to reach. He sent Jean Nicolet out in 1634 to explore it and to find a water route through North America to the Far East. Though Nicolet was not successful in finding a "Northwest Passage", rich resources were discovered in Michigan and other areas. The exploration of the French changed beliefs about the New World into knowledge, and altered the focus of future leaders of expeditions to the region.

Pierre Esprit Radisson was a French explorer and fur trader who settled in Canada in 1651. He and his brother-in-law, Médard Chouart de Groseillier, were the first European explorers to see what is now Minnesota. Radisson was instrumental in forming the Hudson's Bay Company (an English fur trading monopoly which was founded in 1670). Radisson also trekked to Hudson Bay (in 1668 and 1670). Radisson wrote about his treks through the North American wilderness and his capture by the Iroquois from 1651 to 1653.

Father Jacques Marquette (1638-1675) is one of the better-known Jesuit missionaries to work with native people in Michigan. He came to convert Native Americans to Christianity and explore the wilderness described by other French explorers and missionaries.

The Society of Jesus,or the Jesuits, played an important role in establishing France's position in the New World. The Society trained young priests to be a highly disciplined group of well-educated and organized men. Their motto was "For the Greater Glory of God," and they prepared their bodies and minds for their life-long mission of hardship and privation. The Jesuits, unlike the vast majority of traders, were literate and were responsible for chronicling and mapping much of what was explored during these days. Father Jacques Marquette quickly became a respected and admired missionary among the Indians and other French.

Jacques Marquette expressed a strong desire to be a missionary, and after several pleading letters, was sent to New France in 1666. He spent a year learning native languages and eventually became fluent in six of them.

Father Marquette was described as of "gentle, joyous disposition, ever looking upon the bright side of life, burning with zeal that has through all time inspired martyrs of religious faith." He understood very quickly that although the missionaries had good intentions, the chasm between cultures made complete conversion of natives almost impossible. The Native American lifestyle, from birth to death, was permeated with a spiritual, environmental, and emotional culture that could not be replaced by Christianity unless the native was permanently removed from his tribe. Marquette established a mission for the Chippewa in the place that Etienne Brule´ had named Sault St. Marie. This site is generally credited for being the oldest European settlement in Michigan. The Jesuits maintained the mission until 1700 when it was abandoned for several years, after which the French re-established it as an outpost.

In 1670, Pere Marquette was sent from Sault Ste. Marie to the Holy Spirit Mission at Chequamegon Bay (Wisconsin) because the Sault mission was suddenly a busy trading center and a more experienced priest was needed. Unfortunately, while Marquette was at the mission, some Indians killed five visiting Sioux. Fearing retaliations, the Ottawa fled to Manitoulin Island and the Huron went to the Straits of Mackinac. Marquette followed his converts and Indian charges and was instructed to start a new mission at the Straits. He named his new mission St. Ignace, after the founder of his religious order.

Pere Marquette was included in an expedition in 1673 that aimed to explore the "great river to the west" that the Indians called the Messipi. This seemed to the French to possibly be the Northwest Passage. The small group of Frenchmen began their journey at St. Ignace and followed the lake Michigan shoreline into Green Bay, down the Fox River and carried their boats to the Wisconsin River where they intercepted the mouth of the Mississippi. They canoed southward until they reached the mouth of the Arkansas River. Here they determined that they would eventually flow into the Gulf of Mexico. They also realized that the natives they encountered were under the influence of the Spanish and establishing a trading relationship and religious conversion would not be easy. The explorers decided to turn back. They paddled northward up the Illinois, the Des Plaines and Chicago Rivers, up the western shore of Lake Michigan until they reached Green Bay. Marquette and two voyageurs spent the winter in Green Bay where he interacted with the Native Americans there. Marquette had developed an illness the year before and he was given permission to return to St. Ignace. The voyageurs paddled eastward across Lake Michigan. It is believed that he passed away near Ludington, at the mouth of a river now called Pere Marquette.

During Pere Marquette's short life, he only lived in Michigan for less than 10 years. During his time in the New World, he carefully documented the native languages he encountered. He was a voracious writer and trumpeted the value of the new world to fellow Europeans. He also created maps and other documents that, when compiled with the memories and diaries of others, gave an excellent account of the Mississippi River, the Native Americans, and their languages, and natural resources. His missionary efforts left a significant impact upon the French living in the area, as well as some of the Native Americans he ministered to.

It's important to remember that before there were any people living in the Straits of Mackinac area, it was filled with trees, animals and fish. The water, wind, and glaciers had formed the land into islands and peninsulas.

Many groups of people came to live at the Straits. First the Native Americans came here. They got their food from hunting, fishing, and gathering and made their houses from tree bark. They traveled on the lakes and rivers in birch bark canoes. Native Americans caught and cleaned furs in the winter. The French traders gave them items like blankets, knives, beads and kettles for the furs. The traders brought the furs to the Straits of Mackinac. Here they were loaded into very large canoes and sent to the cities in the east. From there the furs were shipped to Europe where they were made into hats and clothes.

One of the last French explorers of importance was Rene Robert de le Salle who was born in 1643. He came to the New World and established a thriving fur trading business. He was, however, interested in exploration. In 1682 le Salle set out, along with Father Marquette, Joliet and a company of men to explore the Mississippi River. He traveled the entire length of the Mississippi and claimed the land in the name of Louis XIV.

René Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle was the son of a wealthy merchant. The title La Salle, which René Robert assumed, was the name of a family estate near Rouen. La Salle was educated at the Jesuit College in Rouen and later gave up his inheritance when he entered the Society of Jesus as a novice. Unfortunately he was unsuited for priestly life and left the order at age 22. With only a small allowance from his family, he sailed in 1666 for Canada to join his brother Jean, a priest, who had gone there the previous year. La Salle acquired long and built a fortified village near Montreal. He developed a thriving fur trade and learned native languages.

La Salle's imagination was fired by reports of a great river system which he thought must flow into the Gulf of California and provide passage to China. La Salle sold his holdings in 1669 and undertook his first major exploration. He discovered the Ohio River, but desertion of his followers forced him to turn back just before finding the Mississippi River, leaving that major discovery to the Joliet-Marquette expedition of 1673.

On trips to France in 1674 and 1677, La Salle received a patent that granted him a monopoly on trade to the western country. He built and launched the first sailing vessel to sail the Great Lakes. Then he began in earnest to carry out his plan of establishing a chain of trading posts across the Illinois country and down the Mississippi. Convinced by this time that the Mississippi emptied into the Gulf of Mexico and not the South Sea (the Pacific Ocean), he envisioned a warm-water port, fortified against Spanish and English invasions, on the Gulf to serve his commercial empire.

La Salle devoted the next three years to laying the cornerstones of his visionary plan. Consolidating Indian alliances, he built an entrepôt at Niagara and a fort among the Illinois. In the winter of 1682 he sledded down the frozen Illinois River to the Mississippi and, after the river was free of ice, descended it by canoe to reach the mouth of the eastern passes on April 7, 1682. Claiming for France all the lands drained by the river, La Salle named the territory La Louisiane in honor of the French King, Louis XIV. He returned to France late in 1683 and obtained royal support for a voyage to the Mississippi through the Gulf of Mexico, there to establish a colony "a secure distance" from the river. The voyage, which sailed from La Rochelle on July 24, 1684, was attended by numerous misfortunes. La Salle missed the mouth of the Mississippi and landed his colonists at Matagorda Bay on the Texas coast on February 20, 1685, believing the Mississippi to be nearby. From his Fort St. Louis, on Garcitas Creek in what is now Victoria County, he explored westward possibly as far as the Pecos River and eastward beyond the Trinity River, in an effort to establish his location. On his second eastward journey, intended to reach his post on the Illinois River, La Salle was slain by Pierre Duhaut, a disenchanted follower, on March 19, 1687, "six leagues" from the westernmost village of the Hasinai (Tejas) Indians. This description indicates a point east of the Trinity River, some distance from either the Grimes County or the Cherokee County locations most often mentioned.

Although La Salle's projects ended in failure, his explorations were landmarks. He was responsible for opening the Mississippi valley for development, and his entry into the Gulf of Mexico sparked a renewal of Spanish exploration in the entire Gulf region. His abortive colony gave the French a claim to Texas and caused the Spaniards to occupy eastern Texas and Pensacola Bay. Because of La Salle the United States was able to register a claim to Texas as part of the Louisiana purchase; the boundary question between Spain and the United States was complicated until the Adams-Onís Treaty of 1819. Yet history's judgment of the man is clouded by his ineptness as a leader; of the 200 colonists he landed in Texas in 1685, barely 15 remained alive five years later.

The French settled along the St. Lawrence and the Mississippi Rivers. Most of the people living in these outposts were men. They spent their time going up and down the river in canoes trapping or trading their furs. The beaver was the main trade fur.

A few people got rich on the beaver fur trades, but most were not the trappers. The one who made money were the men who bought the furs from the trappers and sold them to markets in Europe.

In the summer the trappers lived alone or in pairs in the woods. In the winter these trappers lived with the Native Americans, usually the Algonquians or the Huron. The French became enemies of the Iroquois who were enemies of the Algonquians and Huron. Consequently many French settlers were killed by the Iroquois.

The French king tried to control his empire in America by hiring men to manage the territory and collect taxes. The King also made rules, including a law that stated that all furs, lumber, and fish from the French colonies could be traded only with France or other French colonies, even if the English or Spanish were willing to pay more. This kept the money between the French colonies and France and increased the taxes collected by the government.

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