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The French in the Heart of America by John Finley

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have had inward visions of hills of red, green, and blue earth somewhere
above their own lodges or hunting-grounds, and must even have had at times
some tangible message of their brothers of the upper waters, some
fragments of their handiwork, such as a broken canoe, an arrow-shaft. But
the men of the sources, up toward the "swamps of the nests of the eagles,"
on the low watersheds, heard only vague reports of the sea or gulf; even
the Indians of Arkansas, as we read in the account of the De Soto
expedition, could or would "give no account of the sea, and had no word in
their language, or idea or emblem, that could make them comprehend a great
expanse of salt water like the ocean."

So the river was not the source or father of running waters, but the
great, awe-inspiring water. The French were misled, as we have seen, when
they first heard Indian references to it, thinking it was what they were
longing for--the western ocean, a great stretch of salt water instead of
another and a larger Seine. And when they did discover that it was a
river, their first concern was not as to what lay along its course, but as
to where it led.

A prominent American historian, to whom we are much indebted, with
Parkman, for the memorials of this period, praises by contrast those who
kept within smell of tide-water along the Atlantic shore. But when we
reach the underlying motives of the exploration and settlement of that
continent, do they who sought the sources and the paths to the smell of
other tide-waters deserve dispraise or less praise than those who sat
thriftily by the Atlantic seashore?

The English colonists were struggling for themselves and theirs, not for
the good or glory of a country across seas. They had no reason to look
beyond their short rivers, so long as their valleys were fruitful and
ample. Shall they be praised the more that they did not for a century
venture beyond the sources of those streams? The first French followers of
the river courses were, as we have seen, devotees of a religion for the
salvation of others, bearers of advancing banners for the glory of France,
and lovers of nature and adventure. And if there were, as there were,
avaricious men among them, we must be careful not to blame them more than
those whose avarice or excessive thrift was economically more beneficial
to the world and to the community and the colony and to themselves.
Economic values and moral virtues, as expressed in productivity of fields,
mines, factories, church attendance, and obedience to the selectmen, are
so easy of assessment that it is difficult to get just appraisement for
those who endured everything, not for their own freedom or gain but for
others' glory, and accomplished so little that could be measured in the
terms of substantial, visible, tangible, economic, or ecclesiastical

Who first of Europeans looked upon this river at the gulf we do not know,
but on a Ptolemy map, published in Venice in 1513, it is thought by some
that the delta is traced with distinctness, as less distinctly in
Waldseemüller's map of 1507. Five years later (1518) on Garay's map of
Alvarez de Pineda's explorations, there descends into the gulf a
sourceless river, the Rio del Espiritu Santo, which is thought by some to
be the same river that Marquette's map showed under the name de la
Conception, ending its course in the midst of the continent; but it is
more generally thought now to be the Mobile River, and the Gulf del
Espiritu Santo to be the Bay of Mobile. Narvaez, as I have said, tried a
score of years after to enter the Mississippi, but he was carried out to
sea in his flimsy improvised craft, by its resisting current. Cabeça de
Vaca may have seen it again after he left Narvaez, but we have no record
in his narrative that distinguishes it from any other river. Then came the
accredited discoverer De Soto, who found it but another obstacle in his
gold-seeking path toward the Ozarks and who found it his grave on his
harassed, disappointed journey back toward Florida.

It was more than a hundred years after "it pleased God that the flood
should rise," as the chronicle has it, and carry the brigantines built by
De Soto's lieutenant, Moscoso, with his emaciated followers "down the
Great River to the opening gulf," before another white face looked upon
this great water. It was in 1543 that Moscoso and his men disappeared,
sped on their voyage by the arrows of the aborigines. It was a June day in
1673 that Marquette and Joliet, coming down the Wisconsin from Green Bay,
saw before them, "avec une joye que je ne peux pas expliquer," the slow,
gentle-currented Mississippi; or, as Mark Twain has measured the time in a
chronology of his own: "After De Soto glimpsed the river, a fraction short
of a quarter of a century elapsed, and then Shakespeare was born, lived a
trifle more than a half a century,--then died; and when he had been in his
grave considerably more than half a century, the second white man saw the
Mississippi." [Footnote: "Life on the Mississippi," Hillcrest edition, pp.
19, 20]

In 1682 La Salle followed it to where it meets the great gulf, possessing
with emblems of empire and his indomitable spirit the lower reaches of the
stream whose upper waters had first been touched by the gentle Marquette
and the practical Joliet and the vainglorious Hennepin. Between that day
and the time when it became a course of regular and active commerce (again
in Mark Twain's chronology), "seven sovereigns had occupied the throne of
England, America had become an independent nation, Louis XIV and Louis XV
had rotted--the French monarchy had gone down in the red tempest of the
Revolution--and Napoleon was a name that was beginning to be talked
about." [Footnote: "Life on the Mississippi," p. 20.] Of what befell in
that period, marked by such figures and events, a later chapter will tell.
Here our thought is of the river itself, the river of "a hundred thousand
affluents," as one has characterized it; the river which for a little time
bore through the valley of Louisiana and of the Illinois the name of the
great French minister "Colbert."

To the Spanish the river was a hazard, a difficulty to be gotten over. To
the Indian it was the place of fish and defense. To the Anglo-American
empire of wheels, that later came over the mountains, it was a barrier
athwart the course, to be ferried or forded or bridged, but not to be
followed. To be sure, it was (later) utilized by that empire, for a little
while, as a path of dominant, noisy commerce in haste to get its products
to market. And the keels of commerce may come again to stir its waters.
But the river will never be to its later east-and-west migrants what it
was to the French, whose evangelists, both of empire and of the soul, saw
its significance, caught its spirit into their veins, and (from the day
when Marquette and Joliet found their courage roused, and their labor of
rowing from morning till night sweetened by the joy of their expedition)
have possessed the river for their own and will possess it, even though
all the land belongs to others, and the rivers are put to the uses of
millions to whom the beautiful speech of the French is alien. Many a time
in poling or paddling a boat in its tributaries in years gone by, have I
thought and said to my companion: "How less inviting this stream would be
if the French with valiant, adventurous spirit had not first passed over
it!" And my companion was generally one who was always "Tonty" to me. It
is still the river of Marquette and Joliet, Nicolet, Groseilliers and
Radisson, La Salle and Tonty, Hennepin and Accau, Gray Gowns and Black
Gowns, Iberville and Bienville, St. Ange and Laclede; for across every
portage into the valley of that river, it was the men of France, so far as
we know, who passed, first of Europeans, from Lake Erie up to Lake
Chautauqua; or across to Fort Le Boeuf and down French Creek into the
Alleghany and the Ohio (La Belle Rivière); or up the Maumee and across to
the Wabash (the Appian Way); or from Lake Michigan up the St. Joseph and
across to the Kankakee, at South Bend; or, most trodden path of all, from
Green Bay up the Fox River and across to the Wisconsin; or at Chicago from
the Chicago River across to the Des Plaines (to which with the Illinois
River the French seem to have given the name "Divine"), and so on to the

It is this last approach that I learned first and, though a smoke now
hangs habitually over the entrance as a curtain, I have for myself but to
push that aside to find the Divine River way still the best route into the
greatest valley of the earth. Man has diverted this Divine River to very
practical uses, and even changed its name, but it is hallowed still beyond
all other approaches to the Great River. In a hut on the portage Père
Jacques Marquette spent his last winter on earth in sickness; down the
river the brave De la Salle built his Fort St. Louis on the great rock in
the midst of his prairies, and still farther down his Fort Crèvecoeur. On
no other affluent stream are there braver and more stirring memories of
French adventure and sacrifice than move along those waters or bivouac on
those banks. And so I would have one's imagination take that trail toward
the Mississippi and first see it glisten beneath the tall white cliffs
which stand at the portal of the Divine River entry.

Its branches are reputed to have all borne at one time the names of
saints, and it had like canonization itself. But these streams of the
Mississippi, like the Seine, have none or few of the qualities that make
this saintly terminology appropriate. It is anthropomorphism, not
canonization, that befits its temper and its lure. Mystery no longer hangs
over its waters. Now that all the prairie and plain have been occupied,
the mystery has fled entirely from the valley or has hidden itself in the
wilderness and "bad lands." All is translated into the values of a matter-
of-fact, pragmatic, industrial occupation.

These are some of the pragmatic and other facts concerning it which I have
gathered from the explorers and surveyors and lovers of this region, Ogg
[Footnote: Ogg, F. A., "Opening of the Mississippi," New York, 1904.] and
Austin [Footnote: Austin, O. P., "Steps in the Expansion of our
Territory," New York, 1903.] and Mark Twain [Footnote: Mark Twain, "Life
on the Mississippi," various editions.] among them.

Its length lies wholly within the temperate zone. In this respect it is
more fortunately situated than the more fertile-valleyed Amazon, since the
climate here, varied and sometimes inhospitable as it is, offers
conditions of human development there denied.

The main stream is two thousand five hundred and three miles in length, or
more truly four thousand one hundred and ninety miles, if the Mississippi
and Missouri be taken; that is, many times the length of the Seine. As
Mark Twain, who is to be forever associated with its history, has said, it
is "the crookedest river" in the world, travelling "one thousand three
hundred miles to cover the same ground that a crow would fly over in six
hundred and seventy-five." For a distance of several hundred miles the
Upper Mississippi is a mile in width. Back in 1882 it was seventy miles or
more [Footnote: Mark Twain, "Life on the Mississippi," p. 456.] wide when
the flood was highest, and in 1912 sixty miles wide. The volume of water
discharged by it into the sea is second only to the Amazon, and is greater
than that of all European rivers combined--Seine, Rhine, Rhone, Po,
Danube, and all the rest, omitting the Volga. The amount is estimated at
one hundred and fifty-nine cubic miles annually--that is, it would fill
annually a tank one hundred and fifty-nine miles long, a mile wide, and a
mile high. With its tributaries it provides somewhat more than sixteen
thousand miles of navigable water, more than any other system on the globe
except the Amazon, and more than enough to reach from Paris to Lake
Superior by way of Kamchatka and Alaska--about three-fourths of the way
around the globe.

The sediment carried to the sea is estimated at four hundred million tons
[Footnote: Humphrey's and Abbot's estimate.] annually. As one has put it,
it would require daily for its removal five hundred trains of fifty cars,
each carrying fifty tons, and would make two square miles each year over a
hundred and thirty feet deep. Mark Twain in "Life on the Mississippi" is
authority for the statement that the muddy water of the Missouri is more
wholesome than other waters, until it has settled, when it is no better
than that of the Ohio, for example. If you let a pint of it settle you
will have three-fourths of an inch of mud in the bottom. His advice is to
keep it stirred up. [Footnote: "Life on the Mississippi," p. 182.]

The area which it drains is roughly a million and a quarter square miles,
or two-fifths of the United States. That is, as one graphic historian has
visualized it in European terms, Germany, Austria-Hungary, France, and
Italy could be set down within its limits and there would still be some
room to spare.

The river has the strength (for the most part put to no use) of sixty
million horses. The difference between high water and low water in flood
conditions is in some places fifty feet, which shows that it has a wider
range of moodiness than even the Seine.

The rim dividing the Mississippi basin from that of the Great Lakes is, as
we have seen, low and narrow; in some places, especially in wet seasons,
the watershed is indistinguishable. The waters know not which way to go.
This fact furnishes the explanation of the ease with which the French
explorers penetrated the valley from the north. A high mountain range kept
the English colonists out of it from the east. The Spanish found no
physical barriers at the south (except the water, which gave the Frenchmen
help), but, as we have seen, on the other hand, they found no adequate

The isotherm which touches the southern limits of France passes midway
between the source and mouth of the river. In the northern half, it has
the mean annual temperature of France, England, and Germany; in the
southern half, of the Mediterranean coasts.

From the gulf into which it empties, a river (that is, an ocean river, or
current) runs through the ocean to the western coasts of Europe; another
runs out along the northeastern coast of South America, and, still another
is in waiting at the western terminus of the Panama Canal to assist the
ships across the Pacific.

A fair regularity and reliability of rainfall have made the rich soil of
the valley tillable and productive without irrigation, except in the far
western stretches; and these blessings are likely to continue, as one
authority puts it, "so long as the earth continues to revolve toward the
east and the present relationship of ocean and continent continues."

Including Texas and Alabama (which lie between the same ranges of
mountains with this valley, though their rivers run into the gulf and not
into the Mississippi), this valley has perhaps one hundred and forty
thousand miles of railway, or about sixty per cent of the total mileage of
the country, or twenty-five per cent of the mileage of the entire globe.

"In richness of soil, variety of climate, number and value of products,
facilities for communication and general conditions of wealth and
prosperity, the Mississippi Valley surpasses anything known to the Old
World as well as the New." It produces the bulk of the world's cotton and
oil; of corn it raises much more than all the rest of the world combined,
and of each of the following (produced mainly in this same valley) the
United States leads in quantity all the nations of the earth: wheat,
cattle, hogs, oats, hay, lumber, coal, iron and steel, and other mineral

Its valley supports an estimated population of over fifty millions, or
over half that of the whole United States; and has an estimated
maintenance capacity of from 200,000,000 [Footnote: Justin Winsor,
"Mississippi Basin," p. 4.] to 350,000,000 [Footnote: A. B. Hart, "Future
of the Mississippi Valley," _Harper's Magazine_, 100:419, February, 1900.]
or from four to seven times its present population. It has been tilled
with "luxurious carelessness." A peasant in Brittany or a forester in
Normandy would be scandalized by the extravagant, profligate use of its
patrimony. That it is likely to have at least the 250,000,000 by the year
2100, and with intensive cultivation will be able to support them, is
allowed by estimates of reliable statisticians. Europe had 175,000,000 at
the beginning of the nineteenth century and North America 5,308,000. The
former has somewhat more than doubled its population in the century since;
America has increased hers about twenty times, and the Mississippi Valley
several thousand times. It is not unreasonable to expect the doubling of
the population of that valley in another century and its quadrupling in

Let De Tocqueville make summary of those prideful items in his description
of the valley, embraced by the equator-sloping half of the continent: "It
is upon the whole," he says, "the most magnificent dwelling-place prepared
by God for man's abode"--a "space of 1,341,649 square miles--about six
times that of France"--watered by a river "which, like a god of antiquity,
dispenses both good and evil." [Footnote: "Democracy in America," 1:22,
21, 20. New York, 1898.]

And it was still another Frenchman who first gave to the world an accurate
description of the sources of the river. On his own account, Nicollet,
sometime professor in the College Louis le Grand, set out in 1831 to
explore the river from its mouth to the source. He spent five years in
these regions which he described as "a grand empire possessing the
grandest natural limits on the earth." He then returned to a little
Catholic college in Baltimore as a teacher, but the United States
Government, hearing of his valuable service, commissioned him to make
another expedition that would enable him to complete his map of the region
of the sources. What he then accomplished has given him "distinct and
conspicuous place among the explorers of the Mississippi." His map shows
myriad lakes in the region of the sources (where the slightest jar of
earth might turn in other directions the water of these brimming bowls),
so many indeed, that there would seem to be only lake and marsh and
savannas. But we see him looking off toward plateaus "looming as if [they
were] a distant shore." Another picture I shall always keep from his
report is of his stolid half-breed guide (who usually waited for him and
his companion with face toward them) sitting one day somewhat ahead of the
party on a slight elevation, which makes the watershed between the rivers
of the north and the rivers of the south, his face turned from them,
gazing in silent rapture upon the boundless stretch of plains.

How their magical influence possessed him, as well as that child of forest
and plain, Nicollet, a peasant boy of Savoy, a professor in Paris,
interrupts his topographical report to tell: "It is difficult to express
by words the varied impressions which the spectacle of these prairies
produces. Their sight never wearies. To look a prairie up or down, to
ascend one of its undulations, to reach a small plateau (or, as the
voyageurs call it, a prairie planche), moving from wave to wave over
alternate swells and depressions and finally to reach the vast,
interminable low prairie that extends itself in front--(be it for hours,
days or weeks)--one never tires; pleasurable and exhilarating sensations
are all the time felt; ennui is never experienced. Doubtless there are
moments when excessive heat, a want of fresh water, and other privations
remind one that life is a toil; but these drawbacks are of short duration.
There are no concealed dangers--no difficulties of road; a far-spreading
verdure, relieved by a profusion of variously colored flowers, the azure
of the sky above, or the tempest that can be seen from its beginning to
its end, the beautiful modifications of the changing clouds, the curious
looming of objects between earth and sky, taxing the ingenuity every
moment to rectify--all, everything, is calculated to excite the
perceptions and keep alive the imagination. In the summer season,
especially, everything upon the prairies is cheerful, graceful, and
animated. The Indians, with herds of deer, antelope and buffalo, give life
and motion to them. It is then they should be visited; and I pity the man
whose soul could remain unmoved under such a scene of excitement."
[Footnote: Report intended to illustrate a map of the hydrographical basin
of the upper Mississippi River, Washington, 1843, 26th Cong., 2d Sess.,
Sen. Doc. 237, p. 52.]

It is a singular fortune that has made a son of France, a century and a
half after the discovery of this mighty stream, the explorer and
cartographer of its sources, a fortune that has its partial explanation at
least in the lure of this stream for the Gallic heart.

Mrs. Trollope, a famous English traveller, found its lower valley
depressing, as has many another: "Unwonted to European eyes and mystically
heavy is the eternal gloom that seems to have settled upon that region.
Whatever wind may blow, however bright and burning the southern sun may
blaze in the unclouded sky, the stream is forever turbid and forever
dark." Of the scene at its mouth, where La Salle and his men had sung with
such joy, she says: "Had Dante seen it, he might have drawn images of
another Bolgia from its horrors." [Footnote: "Domestic Manners of the
Americans," p. r] But no French visitor, so far as I know, has ever found
it gloomy, even in flood or tempest on its subtropical stretches; nor has
he found those level vastnesses desolate. A traveller, Paul Fountain by
name, and so of French origin, I suspect, wandering over those valley
plains in the early days, tells of the sense of freedom, health, and
strength that they give: "There is no air like the prairie air--not even
the grand freshness of the boundless ocean itself.--The loveliness and
variety of the prairie odors are quite indescribable, as are its superb
wild flowers. It is a paradise. No man who has lived on it long enough to
know it and love it (no great time, I can assure you) ever experiences
real happiness after he has left it. There is a longing and eager craving
to return to the life. The vulgar cowboys and hunters, uneducated and
unpoetical past all degree, never leave it except to get drunk. Their
money gone, back they go to get fresh strength and more pelf for another
orgie; but if by chance they abandon the wild, free life, they soon drink
themselves to lunacy or death, and their last babblings are of the
glorious wilderness they all love." [Footnote: "The Great Deserts and
Forests of North America," p. 22.] This is the too exuberant expression of
one who had probably never had a hearth of his own in France, but it gives
some intimation of the charm of that great and seemingly infinite sweep of
level ground, which many, and especially unimaginative minds, find so

We cannot be quite sure, when we listen to some recent critics, that
Châteaubriand ever saw this great valley. Certainly we who have grown up
in it have never found his reindeer and moose about our homes (save in our
Christmas-time imaginations). Paroquets that in the woods repeated the
words learned of settlers are not of the fauna known to reputable Ohio
naturalists, nor have two-headed snakes been found except in the vision of
those who see double in their intoxication. The tamarind and the terebinth
are not of its forest-trees. But whether or not Châteaubriand visited it
in person, his imagination had frequent residence upon the Mississippi and
its tributaries. His "Atala" put into French literature a country where
many have loved to dwell, though its fauna and flora were not more
accurate in some respects than the mineralogy and meteorology of the John
Law scheme, known later as the "Mississippi Bubble," that made France wild
with excitement once. However, I have recalled the fervid pen of
Châteaubriand, not as that of a faunal or floral naturalist, but to have
it rewrite these sentences: "Nothing is more surprising and magnificent
than this movement and this distribution of the central waters of North
America" (whence flows the Mississippi), "a river which the French first
descended; a river which flowed under their power, and the rich valley of
which," as the translator has rendered it, "still regrets their genius,"
but, as Châteaubriand doubtless meant it, and as it is better translated,
"still grieves for their spirit," their "familiar" ("et dont la riche
vallée regrette encore leur génie"). [Footnote: "Travels in America and
Italy," 1:72, 73, London, 1828.]

I think that Châteaubriand had accurate instinct in divining the river's
grieving for the spirit that (with all the practical genius which now
inhabits the valley) is still needed to give an appreciation of that in
the valley which lies beyond the counting of statistics or even the
glowing rhetoric of the orators of liberty.

Hamlin Garland, reared in that valley, and first known in American letters
as the author of remarkable stories of life on a Western farm, "Main
Travelled Roads," has recently given expression to this grieving (though
he says no word of the French) in an essay on "The Silent Mississippi,"
published a few years ago. He speaks of the river's bold, blue-green
bluffs "looking away into haze," of its golden bars of sand "jutting out
into the burnished stream," of its thickets of yellow-green willows, of
the splendid old trees and of its glades opening away to the hills (all
making a magical way of beauty), only to use it as a background for the
statement that "not one beautiful building" is to be seen on its banks
"for a thousand miles." There are many towns, but "without a single
distinctive building; everything is a flimsy jumble, out of key,
meaningless, impertinent, evanescent, too, thanks to climate." "We took a
wild land beautiful as a dream," he proceeds, "and we have made a refuse
heap. The birds of the trees have disappeared, the water-fowl have gone,
every edible creature has vanished. An era of hopeless, distinctive
vulgarity is upon us."

I have travelled down the smaller waterways of the valley with like
feeling, which, though it has led to no such comprehensive generalization,
yet gave me a distinct consciousness of their "grieving," if not for the
French, at any rate for the silences that preceded the French, and for
their own riparian architecture. The busy towns along the streams I have
known have turned their faces from these streams toward the railroads.
They have left the riverside to the thriftless men and the truant boys.
Stables and outhouses look upon their waters, and the sewers pollute them.
And if on some especially eligible bluff better buildings do stand, their
owners or builders show no appreciation of what the bluff or river cares
for, but reproduce the lines of some pretentious edifice that has no
relation, historic or otherwise, to it or to the site. The old mills, with
their feet in the water, are almost the only sympathetic structures--
especially so when they are in ruins.

I once followed the upper waters of the stream (the Ohio) along which
Celoron, of whom I shall speak later, planted his emblems of French
possession. He would doubtless care to claim that valley even to-day,
though unsightly houses and sheds line it, and pipes and shafts of iron,
hastily rigged up and left to rust when done with, run everywhere, and the
scum of oil is on the water. The profit of the hour was all that was
visible of motive or achievement in that smoky valley, though I know it is
not safe to generalize, for miracles have been wrought in that very

A change is coming in many of the towns and cities of both the lesser and
the larger rivers. In the town that I knew best, thirty years ago only a
few ventured upon the water, and they were the fishermen or rivermen who
had not much to do with the community life; now the steam or gasolene
launch is making these streams highways of pleasure, and so is bringing
them within the daily life of thousands.

Waiting for a boat in St. Louis one beautiful summer morning on the quay,
where in Paris I should have found the book-stalls, I saw a Pullman train
just starting for New York, and at the water's edge under the stately
bridge one tramp "barbering" another. But, reading the morning paper, I
found by chance that back in the city there was one man at least, a
teacher and artist, who had the old-time French feeling for the grieving
river. It was dark before I found him, after my day on a steamboat whose
most important passenger, pointed out to me with some apparent pride by
the old-time captain, was a brewer, author of a brew more famous in those
parts than the artist's river pictures which I saw by candle-light that
night in his schoolroom.

The artist had his river studio upon one of the beautiful cliffs which La
Salle must have seen when he came out of the Illinois into the
Mississippi. And it was within a few miles of that studio, it may be
added, that I found, too, one noteworthy exception to Mr. Hamlin Garland's
statement concerning riparian architecture.

These are hopeful intimations succeeding the fading of the last traces in
that region of the old French days, traces which I found a few hours'
journey below St. Louis, in the village of Prairie du Rocher (locally
pronounced Prary de Roosh); for Cahokia, where I stopped first, had no
mark of the French regime except the "congregation," which was, as the
priest told me, two hundred years old. The village had no distinctiveness.
But Prairie du Rocher had its own atmosphere and charm. French skies never
produced a more glorious August sunset than I saw through the Corot trees
of that village, which stands or reclines beneath the cliffs and looks off
toward the river that has receded far to the westward. I tried to find the
old French records of which I had heard, but there was a new priest who
knew not the French; yet I did not need them to assure me that the French
had been there. At dawn, after such a peaceful night as one might have in
upper Carcasonne, I found my way to the river near which are the ruins of
Fort Chartres--all that is left of the greatest French fortress in the
Mississippi Valley, the last to yield to man and the last to surrender to
nature. The town, Nouvelle Chartres, with all its color and gayety, has
become a corn field, and only the magazine of the fort remains, hidden, a
gunshot from the river, among the weeds, bushes, vines, and trees.

Fourteen miles below is the site of the oldest French village in the upper
valley. But the river was jealous and took it all, foundation and roof, to
itself. The charms of old Kaskaskia, the sometime capital of all that
region, are "one with Nineveh and Tyre." Not a vestige is left of its
first days and only a broken structure or two of its later glory.

Nor is there any other trace, so far as I could learn, anywhere down the
winding stream till one reaches New Orleans. The red sun-worshippers in
their white garments--familiar of old to the French--even they have
followed their divinity toward its setting, and only among those with
African shadows in their faces do they still sing, as I have heard, of the
"brave days of D'Artaguette." The monuments do not remember beyond the
bravery and carnage of the Civil War, or at farthest beyond the War of
1812. I was myself apprehended for a foreign spy one day while I was
searching too near to the guns of a present fort for more ancient

The great river and some of its tributaries have a commerce, but it is of
an inanimate and unappealing kind. They no longer draw the throngs daily
to the wharfs as in the days of the glory of the steamboat. Everybody is
in too much of a hurry to travel by water.

An old Mississippi River steamboat captain [Footnote: George B. Merrick,
"Old Times on the Upper Mississippi," Cleveland, A. H. Clark Co., 1909.]
has written a reminiscent book, in which he tells with sorrow of the
departed majesty and glory of the river, the glamour remaining only in the
memories of those who knew the river sixty years or more ago. He laments
the passing of that mighty fleet, destroyed by the very civilization that
built it--a civilization which cut down the impounding forests and so
removed the great natural dams which must in time be replaced by
artificial ones if the rivers are ever to run full again in the dry
seasons and not overflow in the wet. It is that day of the Mississippi
that is best known in our literature. Mark Twain has put forever on the
map of letters (where the Euphrates, the Nile, the Ilyssus, the Tiber, the
Seine, the Thames long have been) the Mississippi, the river which the
French first traced upon the maps of geography. So we are especially
indebted to the French for Mark Twain, who began his career as a "cub"
pilot on the river which in turn gave him the name by which the world is
ever to know him.

It was he who once wrote of this river: "The face of the water, in time,
became a wonderful book--a book that was a dead language to the uneducated
passenger, but which told its mind to me without reserve, delivering its
most cherished secrets as clearly as if it uttered them with a voice. And
it was not a book to be read once and thrown aside, for it had a new story
to tell every day. Throughout the long twelve hundred miles there was
never a page that was void of interest, never one that you could leave
unread without loss, never one that you would want to skip, thinking you
could find higher enjoyment in some other thing. There never was so
wonderful a book written by man; never one whose interest was so
absorbing, so unflagging, so sparklingly renewed with every reperusal."
[Footnote: "Life on the Mississippi," pp. 82-83.]

When I was entering the English Channel on my way to Havre, the captain
showed me what varied courses must be taken at different hours and
different days to gain full advantage of tide and current and yet avoid
all danger. But, as this Mississippi River pilot has observed, it is now a
comparatively easy undertaking to learn to run these buoyed and lighted
ship channels; it was then quite another matter to pilot a steamboat in
the Mississippi or Missouri, "whose alluvial banks cave and change
constantly, whose snags are always hunting up new quarters, whose sand-
bars are never at rest, whose channels are forever dodging and shirking,
and whose obstructions" had fifty years ago to be "confronted in all
nights and all weathers without the aid of a single lighthouse or a single
buoy." [Footnote: "Life on the Mississippi," p. 86.] And yet that man, who
came to know, in age, the courses of human emotions the world over, could,
as a young man, shut his eyes and trace the river from St. Louis to New
Orleans, and read its face as one "would cull the news from a morning

It was for years a wish of mine that when Mark Twain should come to die,
he should lie not in an ordinary sepulchre of earth but in the river which
he knew so well and loved, and of whose golden days he sang. I wished that
the river might be turned aside from its wonted channel, as the River
Busentinus for the interment of Alaric, and then, after his burial there,
be let back into it again, that he might ever hear the sonorous voice of
its waters above him, and, perhaps, now and then the call of the leadsman
overhead, crying the depth beneath, as he himself in the pilot-house used
once to hear the call "Mark Twain" from the darkness below. So it was a
disappointment to me that when the world followed him to his grave it was
to a little patch of earth outside the valley, beyond the reach of even
the farthest tributary of the Mississippi.

The great river has been the course of one empire and the scene of many.
Spain, France, England, and the United States have each claimed its
mastery, as we have seen or shall see. The Germans once dreamed of a state
on its banks, but could not agree as to the locality (Minnesota or Texas),
so variedly tempting was the fertility of its upper and its lower waters.
The sons of the Norsemen are now tilling the land around its sources.
Indeed, it has now upon its banks and within the reach of its myriad
streams a babel of earth's races, although the river has not, as the River
of the Lotus Flower, conformed them to one uniform type.

We are beginning now to realize more keenly that the river has yet to be
conquered. It has yielded complete sovereignty to no people. It has made
light of the emblems of empire. It has even ignored the white, channel-
marking signals of the government that now exercises lordship over all the
land it drains. Its untamed spirit flaunts continual challenge in the face
of all men. It has had in derision the building of cities and towns. One
town, for example, has been left to choose between being left high and dry
five miles from water, or of meeting the fate of old Kaskaskia. And though
the town has already thrown a million dollars to the river, as if to some
unappeased god, the river is merciless. One town and another have been
ostracized or destroyed, their wharfs left far inland or carried away to
some commerceless bayou. The sentiment I have regarding the river makes it
difficult to excuse its infidelity toward one little French town in
particular, St. Genevieve. I can do so only by assuming that the river has
cared less for its later inhabitants than it did for those who gave it
name. It has laughed at the embankments on which hundreds of millions have
been spent by nation, state, and private enterprise to keep its flood in
restraint. Shorn of its trees, as Samson of his long hair, it has pulled
down the pillars of man's raising into its own destroying waters. In 1912
a space nearly two and a half times the size of the State of New Jersey
was devastated. [Footnote: Seventeen thousand six hundred and five square
miles.] In 1913 the loss in a single year was one hundred and sixty
million dollars. [Footnote: One hundred and sixty-three million, U. S.
Weather Bureau estimate.] In the last thirty years it is estimated the
loss has been a half of a billion, and it would have been immensely
greater, of course, if the river had not been given unchallenged freedom
of great, unclaimed swamps. And yet the river has never at any one time
massed its great army of waters. At one time it has been the Ohio, at
another the Missouri, and then the Red that it has sent against the
fortifications. If all these streams were to be brought in flood at once
the lower valley would be swept clean.

So it is no martial simile that I am using. It is a real battle that is
continuously on. The gaunt sharp-shooter, pacing the embankment with
Winchester in hand to shoot any burrowing confederate of the river, a rat,
or mole, is a real and not an imaginary figure. And the battles that have
been fought along its course are as play by the side of those yet to be
waged before it is subdued by man.

It is fitly the War Department of the government that has been watching
its every movement, that has set the signals on its fitful tide, and that
has recorded its every shift for years as if it were an animate enemy. Its
changing area, velocity, discharge--items of infinite permutations--are
all noted and analyzed. But the war department of the government is still
almost as powerless to control the river as the Yazoo farmer who watches
its changing moods, not by instruments but by the movement of an eddy in
his own hidden bayou. The battle is with floods, shallows, and erosion,
but it is essentially a battle with floods, for not until their
strongholds are taken, controlled, is the complete conquest assured. It
was control of the mouth of the river that seemed so important in early
days. The effort to obtain that led ultimately to the purchase of
Louisiana (that is, the west bank of the river) from the French by the
United States. It was the confirmation of that security of navigation
which gave the battle of New Orleans its high significance. Then the mouth
(thus obtained) was found too shallow for the demands of commerce, and
there followed what some one with poetic instincts has called the battle
of the shoals, a battle in which General Eads, who had bridged the river
at St. Louis, compelled the river by means of jetties to run deeper and
carry heavier burdens.

But the future battle-fields are perceived to lie toward the sources, at
the eaves, as it were, of the watersheds, the headwaters of its
tributaries as well as its own. No deepening, embanking, straightening,
canalization of the river is to be permanently effective until all danger
of flood can be removed.

Wandering among those tributaries, seeing the trickling fountains of
several of them, watching the timid stream in the naked, deforested fields
(not knowing quite which way to go, east or west, north or south), I have
been strongly appealed to by the plan of impounding in reservoirs these
first waters, whose freedom (no longer restrained in youth by the sage
forests) makes them libertines and wantons in the distant valleys below.

Such impounding has successful inauguration in five small reservoirs now
in operation on the headwaters of the Mississippi out of forty-two
planned. An ambitious plan for controlling the turbulent Ohio by a system
of from seventeen to forty-three reservoirs at an estimated cost of from
twenty to thirty-four millions of dollars has been suggested by Mr. M. O.
Leighton of the United States Geological Survey, and received indorsement
from the Pittsburgh Flood Commission, the Dayton Flood Commission, and the
National Waterways Commission. These would suffice to keep the lawless
waters within temperate bounds in the spring and to give more generous
navigable currents in the summer and autumn. Against the great expense of
such a project is set the tremendous possibilities in the development of
water-power. Of the theoretical sixty millions of horse-power in the
current of the Mississippi, it is estimated that about six and a half
millions can be economically developed throughout the year, while twelve
millions could be developed during six months or more without storage
reservoirs. An adequate system of reservoirs might double or treble these
totals, while a million or two would be immediately available to begin the
payment of the debt, and more of the strength would be harnessed to that
purpose in time. So, it is urged, the river would be made to meet the
expense of its own conquest. [Footnote: See reports of the National
Conservation Commission in 1909; National Waterways Commission, 1912;
Report Commissioner of Corporations on Water-Power Development in the
United States, 1912; J. L. Mathews "Remaking the Mississippi," Boston,

And once that is done the river may be straightened, shortened, deepened,
leveed, and made a docile, reliable carrier of commerce. It may then be
compelled to a respect for cities and government signals and wharfs and
mills. And the astute suggestion of the practical Joliet for the
canalization of its waters, may be realized in the safe passage not merely
of boats but of stately, giant, ocean-sized vessels from the Great Lakes
to the gulf.

A hundred years ago (1809) one Nicholas Roosevelt, commissioned of Robert
Fulton (the inventor of the steamboat) and others, was sent to Pittsburgh
to build the first steamboat to be launched in western waters. So
confident was this young man of the success of steamboat navigation of the
Ohio and Mississippi that, on his journey of inspection, he purchased
coal-mines along the way and arranged to have the coal piled up on the
river bank against the time of its need by boats whose keels had not been
laid and whose existence even depended upon the approval of eastern
capitalists. It suggests the prevision of the nephew, Theodore Roosevelt,
in making provision for the coaling of ships in the east long before the
Spanish War was in sight. I was on the Marquette-Joliet portage the very
day that this same nephew was predicting with like confidence to the
people of St. Louis that the Mississippi would be deepened till from the
lakes to the gulf it should be a course for seagoing vessels. Champlain
suggested the Panama Canal three hundred years before its building.
Joliet, in 1673, suggested the lakes-to-the-gulf ship waterway, [Footnote:
Margry, 1:268.] and by the three-hundredth anniversary, perhaps, it will
be completed.

I made a journey in 1911 that began at the first settlements of the French
in Nova Scotia, touched the Bay of Chaleur and the lower St. Lawrence, and
then followed the French water paths all the way to the mouth of the
Mississippi, where the master of pilots, a descendant of France, carried
me out into the Gulf of Mexico. Starting back before dawn in a little
boat, I saw, just as the sun was coming up over the swamps where the river
begins to divide, the hulk of a great seagoing vessel against the morning
sky. It seemed then a gloomy apparition; but as I think of it now it was
rather the presage of the new commerce than the ghost of that which has

That the Valley of a Hundred Thousand Streams--streams that together touch
every community of any size from the Alleghanies to the Rockies--streams
whose waters all find their way sooner or later into the Mississippi--will
ever give up battle till the great water itself is conquered, no one who
knows the determined people in that valley will ever question. The sixty
million people will not be resisted permanently by the sixty million
horses of the river, though the strength of the horses be driven by all
the clouds that the gulf sends up the valley to its aid. Some day the
great, free River Colbert will run vexed of impenetrable, unyielding walls
to the sea. Its "titanic ambition for quiet flowing" down this beautiful,
gently sloping valley to the gulf (which, as one has said, "has been its
longing through ages") will have been turned to human ministry. The spirit
of the great water will have become as patient, as thoughtless of its own
wild comfort or ambitions as that of the priest who dedicated it to the
honor of the mother of the most patient of men.



The readers who have through these chapters been companions of Champlain,
La Salle, Joliet, Marquette, and others in the discovery of the mighty
rivers and the conquest of the mighty vastnesses of the new world will
have, if they continue, yet before them even harder and more disheartening
ventures, as La Salle himself had that April day in 1682, when he turned
from the column which he had planted in sight of the Gulf of Mexico, four
thousand miles from the Cape of Labrador, and began to drive his canoes up
the river which he had traced forever, if too tortuously, on the maps of
the earth.

During the chapter since we reached the shores of that lonely sea without
a sail, we have, covering in prospect two centuries, contemplated the
majesty of that river of a hundred thousand affluents.

Now, as we turn our faces toward the lakes and Canada again, a century of
hardship confronts us. If the readers endure it with me, as I have endured
it again and again, they will have added again to their France and their
United States memories more precious than the titles to boundless prairies
and trackless forests.

La Salle was not content with the discovery of the great waterway to the
gulf, the tracing of whose course had ended all dreams of a shorter route
to China by aid of its current. In place of his La Chine dream grew
another dream: to open this valley to France from the south instead of
from the north, where the way was long and perilous, closed half the year
by ice and storm, and beset all the year by hostile intrigue, envy, and
dishonesty of colonial officials. A Franco-Indian colony was to be
established along the Illinois under the protection of Fort St. Louis on
the Rock. Ultimately a chain of forts and colonies would hold the
watercourse all the way from gulf to gulf-from the Gulf of St. Lawrence to
the Gulf of Mexico-maintained by revenues from the hides and wool of the
buffalo then roaming the woods and prairies and plains from one side of
the valley to the other; the Indians would gather about these centres for
gain and protection; and in the midst of this wilderness he would hold for
France the empire that the inscription on the column at the mouth of the
river claimed. The crows might fly about his fields, but they could not
then touch his rich crops. Griffins--flocks, fleets of griffins--would fly
above them.

That was the vision with which he started northward from the mouth of the
great river, the vision out of which he might at once have been starved
except for the meat of alligators shot along the way. Seized of a
dangerous illness, he sent Tonty on to Mackinaw to forward news of the
discovery to Canada, and unable, even after months of Father Membré's
care, to go to Paris to prepare for the carrying out of his great scheme,
he, joined by Tonty, climbs the Rock St. Louis and lays out ramparts on
its crest, of which I thought I discovered traces many years ago. It was
another Rock of Quebec, rising sheer a hundred and twenty-five feet above
the river in the midst of the prairie. About it gathered under his
protection many tribes of Indians, in common dread of the Iroquois, in
common hope, doubtless, of gain from commerce with the French. La Salle,
in a report to be found in the archives of the Marine in Paris, states
that his extemporized colony numbered four thousand warriors, or twenty
thousand souls. [Footnote: Margry, 2:363. Parkman, "La Salle," pp. 317,
318.] It had come up as Jonah's gourd and might as quickly wither, as the
village of the Illinois but a few years previous had withered into
desolation in a few hours before the hot breath of the terrorizing fame of
the Iroquois. From his seigniorial aerie he sent messages to the governor
of Canada, no longer the friendly Frontenac but a Pharaoh who knew not
this Joseph, praying for cooperation, saying that he could not leave his
red allies lest, if the Iroquois should strike in his absence, they would
think him in league with their dread enemies; asking that his men who go
down with hides in exchange for munitions be not retained as outlaws;
urging that it is for the advantage of his creditors (for his losses had
amounted to forty thousand crowns) that they do not seize his goods-since
the means of meeting all his debts would then be destroyed-and begging for
more men with whom to make this colony permanent and gather the more
remote Indian tribes around the sheltering Rock St. Louis. [Footnote:
Margry, 2:314. Parkman, "La Salle," pp. 320-324.]

But it was not such prayers that reached Louis XIV, who, on May 10, 1682,
before La Salle's report of the discovery of the Mississippi arrived at
Versailles, had directed that no further permission should be given to
make journeys of discovery toward the Mississippi, as the colonists might
better be employed in cultivating the lands.

This is an example of the advice the king is receiving from his governor
in Quebec: "You will see that ... [La Salle] has been bold enough to give
you intelligence of a false discovery and that, instead of returning to
the colony to learn what the King wishes him to do, he does not come near
me, but keeps in the backwoods, five hundred leagues off, with the idea of
attracting the inhabitants to him, and building up an imaginary kingdom
for himself, by debauching all the bankrupts and idlers of this country,
... All the men who brought me news from him have abandoned him, and say
not a word about returning, but sell the furs they have brought as if they
were their own; so that he cannot hold his ground much longer." [Footnote:
Parkman, "La Salle," p. 323.]

Meanwhile the king, the same king who five years before had said in La
Salle's commission that he had "nothing more at heart" than the
exploration of that country, writes to the governor of Canada from
Fontainebleau: "I am convinced, as you, that the discovery of the Sieur de
la Salle is very useless, and that such enterprises ought to be prevented
in the future." [Footnote: Parkman, "La Salle," p. 324.]

In his extremity, his supplies cut off, his men sent to Quebec deserting
with the profits of his hides, La Salle leaves Tonty on the Rock, starts
for Quebec, intending to go to France, meets on the way an officer
appointed to succeed him in all his wilderness authority, and in the
spring of 1684 is again a lodger in Rue de la Truanderie, a miserable
little street in Paris where, as I have said before, I have tried to
locate the lodging of the valiant soul who once dwelt upon the mysterious
rock near my boyhood home.

Thence this man of "solitary disposition," whose life had been joined to
savages, and who had for years had "neither servants, clothes nor fare
which did not savor more of meanness than of ostentation," and who was of
such natural timidity that it took him a week "to make up his mind to go
to an audience" with Monseigneur de Conti, is summoned to an interview
with the king himself.

La Salle's memorials, which recall by way of introduction his five
journeys of upward of five thousand leagues, in great part on foot,
through more than six hundred leagues of unknown country among savages and
cannibals, and at the cost of one hundred and fifty thousand francs, and
which propose projects that seem in some of their features quixotic and
visionary, received favorable consideration of the king and his minister
Colbert's son. La Salle's wilderness empire is restored to him and he is
granted four ships in which to carry soldiers, mechanics, and laborers to
establish a fort and colony at the mouth of the Mississippi, to open up
all the interior of America from the south, and incidentally to make war
on the Spaniards (who were claiming the gulf for their own), and to seize
their valuable mines.

The quarrellings of this expedition (due in part to the divided command);
the failure to find the mouth of the Mississippi since, we are told, La
Salle had been unable in 1682 to determine its longitude; the landing on
the shores of Texas, far beyond the mouth of the Mississippi; the loss of
one of the vessels to the Spanish, the wreck of two others, and the return
of the fourth to France; the miserable fate of the colony left on those
desolate shores; the long search of La Salle and his companions for the
"fatal river"--these make a dismal story whose details cannot be rehearsed
here, a story whose tragic end was the murder of La Salle by one of his
own disaffected followers in March, 1687, on the banks of the Trinity

There is time, as we hasten on, for only a few words over the body of this
"iron man," left "a prey to the buzzards and wolves" of the wilderness in
which he sacrificed all, as Champlain, for France.

"One of the greatest men of his age," said Tonty, who was nearest to him
in all his labors save his last. "Without question one of the most
remarkable explorers whose names live in history," writes Parkman.
[Footnote: Parkman, "La Salle," p. 430.] His "personality is impressed in
some respects more strongly than that of any other upon the history of New
France," says another historian, Fiske. [Footnote: "New France and New
England," p. 132.] "For force of will and vast conceptions; for various
knowledge and quick adaptation of his genius to untried circumstances; for
a sublime magnanimity, that resigned itself to the will of Heaven, and yet
triumphed over affliction by energy of purpose and unfaltering hope--this
daring adventurer had no superior among his countrymen," says Bancroft.
[Footnote: "History of the United States," 3: 173.] And further, in the
estimate of a recent historian of the valley, "for all the qualities of
rugged manhood, courage, persistency that could not be broken, contempt of
pain and hardship, he has never been surpassed." [Footnote: James K.
Hosmer, "Short History of the Mississippi Valley," p. 140.]

Let him who next to Tonty knew him better than all the other chroniclers
say a last word--one which will justify the time that we have given to
following the fortunes and adversities of this spirit, unbroken to the
last: "He was a tower of adamant, against whose impregnable front hardship
and danger, the rage of man and of the elements, the southern sun, the
northern blast, fatigue, famine, disease, delay, disappointment and
deferred hope, emptied their quivers in vain.... Never under the
impenetrable mail of paladin or crusader beat a heart of more intrepid
mettle than within the stoic panoply that armed the breast of La Salle. To
estimate aright the marvels of his patient fortitude, one must follow on
his track through the vast scene of his interminable journeyings....
America owes him an enduring memory; for in this masculine figure she sees
the pioneer who guided her to her richest heritage." [Footnote: Parkman,
"La Salle," p. 432.]

France had deserved well of that valley had she done nothing more than to
set that rugged, fearless figure in the heart of America, a perpetual foil
to effeminacy and submission to softening luxury, to the arts that seek
merely popularity, to drunkenness and other vices which he combated even
in that wilderness, to sycophancy and demagogy--a perpetual example of the
"vir" and virtue in the noblest sense in which mankind has defined them.

In the grand amphitheatre in the Sorbonne, I witnessed one day in Paris a
celebration of the conquests of the French language in lands outside of
France: conquests in the islands of the West Indies, where La Salle
suffered all but death; in Canada, where he had his first visions; and in
Louisiana, where he perished. Though his name was not spoken, it were a
reason for greater celebration in France that the spirit of such a
Frenchman as La Salle had enduring memory in the severe ideals of manhood
that are for all time to possess the men of that valley to which he guided
the world.

There is a grave for which I wished to make search in Rouen, the grave of
the mother of La Salle, to whom he wrote in 1684: "I hope ... to embrace
you a year hence with all the pleasure that the most grateful of children
can feel with so good a mother as you have always been." [Footnote:
Parkman, "La Salle," p. 364.] I wish I could have made her know--but since
I could not, I tried to let France know instead--that there are millions
who could speak to-day as the most "grateful of children" what her son and
France's son was never permitted to utter.

La Salle's dream of New France did not fade with his last sight of his
empire of Louisiana. But the century in which he was born and died had all
but gone out before the stirring of his life's vision and sacrifice,
strengthened by appeal of the gallant and faithful Tonty, resulted in the
offer by one who has been called the "Cid of Canada," Le Moyne
d'Iberville, to carry out the schemes of La Salle, and it was becoming
clear that France must act at once or England would build the glorious
structure which La Salle had designed. In the offer of this young Canadian
and his brother Bienville were the purposes that gave substantial
foundation to Louisiana. Sailing with their two ships in 1699, they were
caught in the "strong, muddy current of fresh water," which La Salle had
unluckily passed without seeing. They entered this stream and, after
several days of exploration, had verification of the identity of the river
in a letter (or "speaking bark," as the Indians called it), dated the 2Oth
of April, 1685, which Tonty, years before, when making the journey down
the river in search of La Salle, had left in the hands of an Indian chief
to be delivered to La Salle, or, as the chief called him, "the man who
should come up the river."

The fortunes which befell those of this colony, trying to find a suitable
site in that land of bushes and cane-brakes, are not agreeable to follow.
For thirteen years the "paternal providence of Versailles" watched over
them, sending them marriageable women, soldiers, priests, and nuns, but so
little food that famine and pestilence often came to their miserable
stockades. They were under injunction "to seek out pearl fisheries," "to
catch bison-calves, tame them and take their wool," and "to look for
mines." What employment for the founders of an empire! [Footnote: In one
of the branches of that river at whose mouth they settled I saw a summer
or two ago, one of the men of that valley wading in its water, still in
search of pearls. A pearl worth a thousand dollars had once been found
near by, and so (in the same hope that animated the mind of King Louis
XIV) man after man in that neighborhood had abandoned his fertile farm to
search for pearls, only to be reduced, as the poor settlers of early,
Louisiana, to live upon the shell-fish in which the pearls refused to

One cannot resist the temptation to say again: If only Louis XIV had had
the good sense, unblinded of pearls and gold and bigotry and some other
things, to let the industrious, skilled Huguenots, flying from France
after the revocation of the Edict of Nantes, settle in Louisiana, instead
of forcing them to swell the numbers of the English colonies on the
Atlantic coast, and eventually assist them in taking the New France from
which they had been debarred!

The French engineer of an English ship, appearing on the river one day,
had furtively handed Bienville a petition of four hundred Huguenots in the
Carolinas to be allowed to settle in Louisiana and to have the privilege
of worship, such as is enjoyed to-day. The answer came from Versailles to
the cane-brakes--from Versailles, where, amid scenes "which no European
court could rival," the "greatest of France, princes, warriors,
statesmen," were gathered week after week in the "Halls of Abundance,
Venus, Mars and Apollo," from Versailles to the half-starved little group
sitting in exile by the gulf, far from abundance, without love, in dread
of Mars, and with no arts of Apollo save the sound of the wind in the
trees and the moan of the sea: "Have I expelled heretics from France in
order that they should set up a republic in America?"

One has reminded us that while Iberville was making almost futile attempts
with the half-hearted support of his government to establish this colony
at the mouth of the Mississippi, Peter the Great was beginning to lay the
foundations of St. Petersburg in as unpromising a place--a barren,
uncultivated island which was a frozen swamp in winter and a heap of mud
in summer, in the midst of pathless forests and deep morasses haunted by
wolves and bears. Peter the Great spent great treasure in clearing the
forests, draining the swamps, and raising embankments for this future
capital of an empire. Louis XIV had only to let certain Frenchmen settle
on these less forbidding coasts, that might soon have become the capital
of as fruitful a province as Peter the Great's; and the transformation
would have been made, as in New England, without any assistance from the
king except perhaps for defense.

It is due the memory of Iberville, often slandered as was La Salle before
him, not that the story of his all but hopeless struggles should be
repeated here but that the object toward which he so valiantly struggled
should be clearly seen. He had read Father Membré's account of the La
Salle voyage of discovery and Joutel's story of the last expedition. He
had even had a conversation with La Salle, and had heard his own lips
describe the river; and he had known Tonty of the Iron Hand, faithful to
the last. Iberville had a mind capable of entertaining the vision, and he
had a spirit capable of following it. He seems to have been for a time
after La Salle's death his only great-minded follower. He wrote on
reaching Rochelle after his first voyage that "if France does not
immediately seize this part of America, which is the most beautiful, and
establish a colony strong enough to resist any which England may have
here, the English colonies (already considerable in Carolina) will so
thrive that in less than a hundred years they will be strong enough to
seize all America." [Footnote: Margry, _l. c._, IV:322.]

But the answer from Versailles only hastened the fulfilment of Iberville's
prophecy. It is as a page torn from a contemporaneous suburban villa
prospectus that speaks of one of those migratory settlements of Iberville
on the shores of the gulf as a "terrestrial paradise," a "Pomona," or "The
Fortunate Island." And the reality which confronts the home seeker is
usually more nearly true to the idealistic details than that which
Governor Cadillac, wishing no doubt to discredit his predecessor, reported
when he went to succeed Bienville for a time as governor: "I have seen the
garden on Dauphin Island, which had been described to me as a terrestrial
paradise. I saw there three seedling pear-trees, three seedling apple-
trees, a little plum-tree about three feet high, with seven bad plums on
it, a vine some thirty feet long, with nine bunches of grapes, some of
them withered, or rotten, and some partly ripe, about forty plants of
French melons and a few pumpkins." [Footnote: Parkman, "A Half Century of
Conflict," 1:309.]

Bienville, the brother, also deserves remembrance both in France and
America--dismissed once but exonerated, returning later to succeed the
pessimistic Cadillac and to lay the foundations of New Orleans on the only
dry spot he had found on his first journey up the river, there to plant
the seed of the fruits and melons and pumpkins of the garden on Dauphin
Island, that were to bring forth millionfold, though they have not yet
entirely crowded out the cypress and the palmetto, and the fleur-de-lis
that still grows wild and flowers brilliantly at certain seasons.

It was some time before this, however, that the king, nearing the end of
his days, vexed with his wars, tired of his expensive and unproductive
venture, gave over the colony into the hands and enterprise of a
speculator, one Antoine Crozat, a French merchant whose purse had been
open to Louis for his wars. There was a total population at this juncture
(1712) of three hundred and eighty souls, about one half of whom were "in
the king's pay." Crozat, the king's deputy despot, finds no better fortune
than the king, and soon (1717) resigns his charter, to be succeeded in his
anxieties and privileges by that famous Scotch adventurer John Law, who
organized the Mississippi Company in order to enjoy the varied monopolies
assembled in its charter--monopolies which would make any inhabitant of
that trust-hating valley to-day fume in denouncing. It was a tobacco
trust, a coinage trust, a revenue trust, a slave-holding trust, a mining
trust, a trade trust wrapped in one, with an unlimited license. It was,
moreover, a conscience trust, a speech trust, a religion trust, a race
trust. It was, in short, the ultimate, sublimated expression of a
monopolistic theory made effective in a charter. Immigration, within these
restrictions, was not likely to be voluntary and eager, as was the case in
New England, and, since the company was under the one compulsion of
providing a certain number of colonists and slaves, immigration was
forced. Every conceivable sound economic and philosophical principle was
violated, and yet investors came from all parts of Europe. "Crowds of
crazed speculators jostled and fought each other" before the offices of
the company in the Rue Quincampoix [Footnote: A now disreputable street,
or so it seemed as I walked through it one day in the dusk.] from morning
till night to get their names inscribed among the stockholders, and,
though five hundred thousand foreigners were attracted to Paris by
opportunities for speculation, scarcely a colonist went willingly to the
Eldorado of the company, whose stock was capitalized in billions and
"whose ingots of gold were displayed in Paris shop-windows." There were
maps of that valley to be found in abundance in Paris in those days with
mines indicated on them indiscriminately. When the bubble burst, Louisiana
"became a name of disgust and terror" in Europe, and doubtless thousands
hoped never to hear the word "Mississippi" again, and yet it was only time
that was needed to make even such wild prophecies true.

The monopolistic venture failed. Many of the colonists whom the company
entered died or ran away; millions of pounds had been spent, there was no
return, and there was little tangible to show for it all--a few thousand
white settlers, many of whom, in a phrase current to-day in the States,
were "undesirable citizens," living in palisaded cabins. So the little
settlement became a crown colony again and came back to the king, but not
to him in whose name it had been originally taken, for that king was dead.
Louis XIV's name, kept in "Louisiana," claims now but a fragment of that
vast territory which might have been his forever. The little outcast
colony was laid on the steps of Versailles again, and was again subject to
"paternalistic nursing," because of or in despite of which it began at
last to show signs of growth. It was at the cost of a half-century of
time, of eight or more millions of livres to the king, Crozat and the
company, of millions upon millions more to those who bought the worthless
stock of the Mississippi Company, and of ignominy and shame, that La
Salle's dream began to have realization, while on the Atlantic seaboard
the English colonies were growing luxuriantly in comparative neglect.

Meanwhile French explorers were traversing this mighty interior valley
with all the spirit of Cartier, Joliet, Champlain, and La Salle. Pierre
Charles le Sueur had ascended the Mississippi far toward its source in
search of copper and lead. Bernard de la Harpe and Louis Juchereau, the
Sieur de St. Denis, explored the Red River and penetrated as far as the
Spanish settlement of St. Jean Baptiste on the Rio Grande. Each might have
a volume. The turbid Missouri even (which Marquette and Joliet first saw
heading great trees down into the Mississippi) was not passed by as
impervious to the hardihood of undaunted, amphibious geographers such as
La Harpe and Du Tisne.

Two brothers, Pierre and Paul Mallet, penetrated to the old Spanish
settlement at Santa Fé and may have been the first of Frenchmen to see the
farther boundary of the valley, the Rocky Mountains. Whether they did or
not, it is certain that far to the northwest two other brothers did reach
that mighty range and "discovered that part of it to which the name Rocky
Mountains properly belongs."

The brothers La Vérendrye in 1735, two centuries after Cartier, were still
looking for a way to the western sea (Mer de l'Ouest). With their father
these sons ventured their lives and gave their fortunes to the exploration
of the northwest out beyond Lake Superior, out past the ranch where a
century and a half later President Roosevelt wrote the "Winning of the
West," out to or beyond the edge of what is now the great Yellowstone
National Park, anticipating by more than sixty years the first stages of
the famous Lewis and Clark expedition. The snow covered the peaks of the
Big Horn Mountains, but the party probably forced a way to the Wind River
Range before they reluctantly turned back from the foot of the mountains,
disappointedly fancying that they might have seen the Pacific if they
could have reached the summits.

It is not far from the place where they began their homeward journey that
I have seen two trickling streams, within a few yards of each other,
start, one toward the gulf and one toward the Pacific--but the latter had
seven or eight hundred miles of mountain and forest to pass before it
could touch what the Vérendrye brothers hoped to see. Yet, though they, as
Cartier, Champlain, Nicolet, La Salle, and scores of others did not find
the way to the western sea, their unappreciated, heroic efforts made at
their own expense stretched the line of French forts all the way across
the valley from sea to mountain range, completing, as one historian has
represented it, a T, but as it seems to me rather a cross, with a
perpendicular column reaching from the gulf to Hudson's Bay, and its
transverse strip from the Big Horn Mountains to Cape Breton. Or so it
stood for a day in the world's history, raised by unspeakable suffering, a
vision once seen never to be forgotten.

Chevalier de la Vérendrye, who had seen, first of white men, the snow-
capped mountains, "sank into poverty and neglect," and finally perished in
the shipwreck off the island of Cape Breton. So was the whole east and
west line of French pioneering retraced and extended in the life of one
hardy French family. [Footnote: Parkman, "The Discovery of the Rocky
Mountains," in _Atlantic Monthly_, 61:783-793. "A Half Century of
Conflict," 2:4-43. Thwaites, "A Brief History of Rocky Mountain
Exploration," pp. 26-36.]

And as to the north and south line, every year saw its foundations and
strength increase as if it were a a growing tree. Along the Mississippi,
forts were planted and Jesuit and Sulpician missions grew. The Illinois
country enjoyed a "boom," as we say in America, even in those days, and
became known for a time as the Garden of New France; but only for a time,
for it was so easy to earn a livelihood there that it was not long before
the habitants reverted, under temptation, to the preagricultural, hunting
state after giving a moment's prophecy of the stirring life that was some
day to make it the garden of the new world, the busiest spot in the busy

There are glimpses here and there of gayety and halcyon days that give
brightness to the story so full of tragedy. There was in the very heart of
the valley (near the site of St. Louis, where a great world's fair was
held a few years ago), Fort Chartres, mentioned above, "the centre of life
and fashion in the West" as well as "a bulwark against Spain and a barrier
to England." [Footnote: See Edward G. Mason, "Old Fort Chartres," in his
"Chapters from Illinois History," 1901.] But in time the Indians, stirred
by the English rivalry, swarmed as well as mosquitoes about the place, and
there were battles, the echoes of which are still heard, we are told, in
the regions south of St. Louis even in Our days. A young French officer,
the Chevalier d'Artaguette, captured by the Chickasaws, was burned at the
stake. He and his kin were loved by all the French and the song they used
to sing of him is kept in a negro melody whose "oft-repeated chorus" ran:

"In the days of D'Artaguette,
Hé! Ho! Hé!
It was the good old time.
The world was led straight with a switch,
Hé! Ho! Hé!
Then there were no negroes, no ribbons,
No diamonds
For the vulgar.
Hé! Ho! Hé!"

And here even in this remote place premonitions of the great and imminent
struggle with the English are ominously heard. We hear the governor-
general of Canada, the Marquis de la Galissonnière, asking the home
government in France not to leave the little colony of Illinois to perish
--not for its own sake, but "else Canada and Louisiana would fall apart";
still urging, moreover, the value for fabrics of the wool of buffaloes,
which roam the prairies in innumerable multitudes, the readiness of the
earth for the plough, and the availability of the buffalo as a domestic
animal. "If caught and attached to a plough," says the governor, who spoke
truthfully but with little knowledge of this wild animal, "it would move
it at a speed superior to that of the domestic ox." I do not know how
appealing this harnessing of the original motive power of the prairie to
the uses of agriculture was, and it is not of importance now. The buffalo
has long since gone. Even the ox and the Norman horse, so long in use
there, have been largely supplanted by that mysterious force, electricity,
which Franklin was discovering on the other side of the Alleghany
Mountains at the very time that this suggestion was being made to the
minister of Louis XV. It is known, however, that the king took thought of
the little Illinois colony, for the fort of wood was transformed under the
direction of Chevalier de Macarty into a fortress of stone and garrisoned
by nearly a regiment of French troops. A million crowns it cost the king,
but this could not have distressed his Majesty, engaged in "throwing dice
with piles of Louis d'or before him" and princes about him.

This was in the early fifties, and the fort was hardly transformed before
the rifles of George Washington's men were heard from the eastern barriers
disputing the claim of the French to the Ohio country. Jumonville, who was
slain among the rocks of the Laurel Mountains, in the Alleghanies (killed
in the opening skirmish of the final struggle), had a young brother, Neyon
de Villiers, a captain in Chevalier de Macarty's garrison at Fort
Chartres; and eastward he hastened, up the Ohio, to avenge his brother's
death. "M. de Wachenston" (as the name appears in French despatches) was
driven back, and so the "Old French War" in America began.

It was from this mid-continent fortress and its fertile environs that help
in arms and rations went to the support of that final struggle along the
mountains and lakes, even as far as La Salle's old Fort Niagara, where the
valiant Aubry, at the head of his Illinois expedition, fell covered with
wounds and many of his men were killed or taken prisoners. That was about
all that one in the interior of the valley heard of the battles of the
Seven Years' War out upon its edges.

What gives peculiar interest in this fortress to us to-day is that it was
for a little time the only place in North America where the flag of the
French was flying. All New France had been ceded by the treaty of Paris in
1763, but the little garrison of forty men still held Fort Chartres.
Pontiac and other friendly Indians intercepted all approaching English
forces till, in 1765 (two years after the treaty of Paris and the cession
of Canada and all the valley east of the Mississippi), St. Ange, the
commander, announced to Pontiac, friendly to the end, that all was over,
that "Onontio, their great French father," could no longer help his red
children, that he was beyond the sea and could not hear, and that he,
Pontiac, must make peace with the English. Then it was that the forty-
second Highlanders, the "Black Watch," were permitted to enter the fort
and to put the red cross of St. George in place of the fleur-de-lis. And
so it was at Fort Chartres that the mighty struggle ended and that the
titular life of the great empire of France in the new world actually went

The river, seemingly sentient, and still French, as I have said, soon
swept away the site of the village outside the fort; and when the English
had begun to look upon this as their permanent headquarters in the
northwest--this fort, which Captain Pittman had reported to be the best-
built fort in America--the still hostile river rose one night, and with
its "resistless flood" tore away a bastion and a part of the river wall,
then moved its channel away, and left the fort a mile inland.

The magazine still stands, or did a little time ago when I visited the
site and found it nearly hidden by the trees, bushes, and weeds--all that
is visibly left of the old French domain--and not far away, hidden at the
foot of a hill, lies, as I have said, the village of Prairie du Rocher, "a
little piece of old France transplanted to the Mississippi" a century and
a half ago and forgotten.

It was on Champlain's cliff and beneath Cartier's Mount Royal that the
unequal contest for the possession of America ended, where it began--a
contest whose story, as Parkman says, in a sense demeaning his own great
contribution, "would have been a history, if faults of constitution and
the bigotry and folly of rulers had not dwarfed it to an episode." But if
it was an episode to the New Englander, or even to Frenchmen at the
distance in time at which I write, it rises to the importance of history
out in that region of America, where a century of unexampled fortitude
needs rather an epic poet than a historian to give it its place in the
world's consciousness.

Indeed, historians of the United States to-day, as well as statesmen of
that time, are in substantial agreement in this: That the presence of the
French on all the colonial borders compelled a confederation of the
varying interests of the several English colonies, kept them penned in
between the mountains and the sea until there had been developed some
degree of solidarity, some ability to act together; and then by the
sudden, if compulsory, withdrawal of the pressure not only allowed their
expansion but relieved them of all need of help from England and so of
dependence upon her.

"We have caught them at last," said Louis XV's minister, Choiseul,
speaking of the treaty of Paris in 1763. [Footnote: Bancroft, "History of
the United States," 4:460.] Burke [Footnote: William Burke, "Remarks on
the Letter Addressed to Two Great Men."] prophesied that the removal of
France from North America would precipitate, as it did, the division of
the British Empire. And Richard Henry Greene, the great English historian,
dates the foundation of the great independent republic of the west (the
United States) from the triumph of Wolfe on the Heights of Abraham.

It is interesting testimony in support of this fear of the eventual loss
of all the colonies in such a cession, or such an acceptance, that the
English commissioners debated long whether it might be more profitable to
retain the little island of Guadeloupe instead of all New France. And it
would appear that except for the advice of Benjamin Franklin this
substitution would probably have been made.

France, then, having borne the brunt of conflict with nature and the
natives in that valley, having revealed the riches of that valley to the
world, having consecrated its entire length and breadth by high valor and
sacrifice, having possessed that valley practically to the very eve of the
birth of the nation that now occupies it, and having helped by substantial
aid the struggling colonies to their independence, deserves (not through
her monarchs or ministers chiefly, but through the new-world pioneers, who
gave illustration of the spirit and stuff of Frenchmen) a lasting and a
large share of credit for the establishment of the republic which has its
most vigorous life in that valley.

New France has passed and New England, too, but in their stead the new
republic, recruited from all nations under heaven, ties their lost
dominions into a power which is immensely greater than the sum of the two
could have been, greater than it could have been in the hands of either

There was for a little time a dream of the revival of New France out
beyond the Mississippi, for there was a vast part of that valley that did
not pass to England in 1763. The great territory between the Mississippi
and the mountains, whose "snow-encumbered" peaks the Vérendrye brothers
had so longingly looked upon, was abandoned to Spain, or rather thrust
upon Spain, already claiming it. France wanted to give it to England in
order that Florida might be saved to Spain, her ally, but England did not
hesitate as she did in making choice between the eastern half of the
valley and Guadeloupe. She declined. So with an apparent magnanimity,
which is greatly to be discounted when we come to know how worthless even
the people of the United States, years later, considered this trans-
Mississippi country, France, "secretly tired of her colony," finally
induced Spain to accept it. The Spanish monarch, as if making the best of
a bad bargain, took it with many excuses for his seemingly poor judgment.

But though Louis's minister, Choiseul, chuckled outwardly over the
embarrassment to England of his compulsory cession of Canada, New France,
Illinois, and Louisiana (instead of Guadeloupe) and made a show of
magnanimity in thrusting the other half of the Mississippi upon Spain, and
though Turgot's simile between colonies and ripe fruit was often repeated
for justification and consolation, the loss of these possessions was
undoubtedly keenly felt and the dream of their recovery cherished; at any
rate, the recovery of that part which lay beyond the Mississippi.

But that possession had become more precious to the sovereign of Spain,
who refused the proffers that France was able to make in the next thirty
years. The dream of repossession became fonder to the French republic.
Talleyrand, who had spent a year in travel in the United States, urged the
acquisition not merely for France's own sake but to curb the ambitions of
the Americans, "whose conduct ever since the moment of their independence
is enough to prove this truth: the Americans are devoured by pride,
ambition, and cupidity."

"There are," he said, "no other means of putting an end to the ambition of
the Americans than that of shutting them up within the limits which nature
seems to have traced for them; but Spain is not in a condition to do this
great work alone. She cannot, therefore, hasten too quickly to engage the
aid of a preponderating power, yielding to it a small part of her immense
domains in order to preserve the rest."

"Let the court of Madrid cede these districts to France and from that
moment the power of America is bounded by the limit which it may suit the
interests and the tranquillity of France and Spain to assign her. The
French Republic ... will be a wall of brass forever impenetrable to the
combined efforts of England and America." [Footnote: Quoted in Henry
Adams's "History of the United States," 1:357.]

If in Napoleon's mind the dream was as sinister, as regards the United
States, it was not so for long. It contemplated at first the occupation of
Santo Domingo, the quelling of the insurrection there, then the seizure of
Louisiana, already promised to France by Spain, then the acquisition of
Florida, the conversion of the Gulf of Mexico into a French lake, and
ultimately the extension of the province of Louisiana to the Alleghanies
and, perhaps, even to the old borders of New France along the Great Lakes
and the St. Lawrence. But plague and slaughter met his armies in Santo
Domingo in the first step toward the realization of his vast design, and
the vision, in the shifting light of events in Europe and on the shores of
America as well, soon assumed other shape and color and at last
disappeared entirely, supplanted by the vision of a strengthened American
republic that would come to be a rival of England. This was what came (in
his own language) instead of his dream of a New France beyond the
Mississippi, beyond the American republic:

"I know the full value of Louisiana, and I have been desirous of repairing
the fault of the French negotiator who abandoned it in 1763. A few lines
of a treaty have restored it to me, and I have scarcely recovered it when
I must expect to lose it. But if it escapes from me, it shall one day cost
dearer to those who oblige me to strip myself of it than to those to whom
I wish to deliver it. The English have successfully taken from France,
Canada, Cape Breton, Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, and the richest portions
of Asia. They are engaged in exciting troubles in St. Domingo. They shall
not have the Mississippi which they covet. Louisiana is nothing in
comparison with their conquests in all parts of the globe, and yet the
jealousy they feel at the restoration of this colony to the sovereignty of
France acquaints me with their wish to take possession of it, and it is
thus that they will begin the war.... I think of ceding it to the United
States. I can scarcely say that I cede it to them, for it is not yet in
our possession. If, however, I leave the least time to our enemies, I
shall only transmit an empty title to those republicans whose friendship I
seek. They only ask of me one town in Louisiana, but I already consider
the colony as entirely lost, and it appears to me that in the hands of
this growing power, it will be more useful to the policy and even to the
commerce of France than if I should attempt to keep it." [Footnote:
Marbois, "History of Louisiana," pp. 263-264.]

The United States Commissioner came one day to Paris to purchase New
Orleans, and he went back to America with a deed to more than 800,000
square miles of the region which La Salle had claimed for Louis XIV by
virtue of the commission which he carried in his bosom from the Rue de la
Truanderie more than a century before:

"The First Consul of the French Republic, desiring to give to the United
States a strong proof of friendship, doth hereby cede to the said United
States, in the name of the French Republic, forever and in full
sovereignty, the said territory, with all its rights and appurtenances, as
fully and in the same manner as they might have been acquired by the
French Republic." [Footnote: Treaty of Purchase between the United States
and the French Republic, Art. I.]

The dream faded into something undefined but greater, relieving Napoleon
and France of immediate dangers and promising more to humanity, we must
agree, than a colony administered at that distance and separated from a
young, growing nation merely by a shifting river that must inevitably have
made trouble instead of preventing it.

Whatever may be said of Napoleon's motives or compulsions in this matter
or of his service to mankind in others, he has been "useful to the
universe," not in preventing England from ruling in that valley and so
dominating America, but in making it possible for the United States to
undertake the greatest task ever given into the hands of a republic, and
at the same time enabling it to keep the good-will of that people who
might (if the other dream had been realized) have become the worst of her
enemies. It was Napoleon, whatever his motive, Napoleon in the name of the
French people, who gave the United States the possibility of becoming a



Let us remind ourselves again, before the hordes of frontiersmen and
settlers come over the mountains and up the lakes and down the rivers,
erasing most of the tangible memories of the inter-montane, primeval
western wilderness, that France evoked it from the unknown.

A circle drawn round the Louvre with the radius of two kilometres,
enclosed the little patch of earth from which were evoked these millions
of acres of untouched forests and millions of acres of virgin plain and
prairie, seamed and watered by a hundred thousand streams, washed by a
chain of the mightiest inland fresh-water oceans, and guarded by two
ranges of mountains. Within that narrow circle, four kilometres in
diameter, stood Cartier dreaming of Asia, asking for permission to explore
the mysterious square gulf, the St. Lawrence, and again presenting to the
king the dusky captive Donnacona; within that circle was the street, Rue
aux Ours, whose meat shops Lescarbot in Acadia remembered as the place of
good food and doubtless of excited talk concerning the unexplored New
France, whose hardships and pleasures he afterward tasted; within that
circle Champlain walked, as in a dream, we are told, impatient as a lion
in a cage, longing to be again upon the wilderness path, westward of
Quebec, toward the unknown; within that circle the priest Olier, of St.
Germain-des-Prés, had his vision that led to the founding of Montreal,
whose consecration was celebrated also within that same circumference at
the Cathedral of Notre Dame; within that circle La Salle lodged in Rue de
la Truanderie, awaiting his fateful commission that should give him leave
to make real his dream of a wilderness empire; not a stone's throw away
from the Rue de la Truanderie ran the street having its beginning or end
in Rue aux Ours, Rue Quincampoix, in which the thousands jostled and
fought from morning till night for the purchase of stock in that same
wilderness empire; and it was finally within that same circle that the
wilderness dream, seen for a moment again by Napoleon, grew into the
vision of a republic--a republic that might be found, as Napoleon said,
"too powerful for Europe in two or three centuries," but in whose bosom
dissensions, as he prophesied, could be looked for in the future. A
wilderness, with a radius of nearly a thousand kilometres, was evoked from
the envisioning, praying, adventuring, and enduring of a few Frenchmen,
led by fewer Frenchmen, who stood sooner or later all within the narrow
circle that sweeps around the Sorbonne, but four kilometres in diameter.

I walked, in the afternoon of the last day of the old year 1910, entirely
around the old city of Paris by way of its fortifications, in a circle
three kilometres longer of radius, within a few hours encompassing a
ground, rich in what it yields to-day in fruits of art, literature, and
science--of indefatigable, intellectual industry and imagination--but
richer than its inhabitants know in what has grown upon the billion acres
which it has lifted out of the ocean, [Footnote: For it will be remembered
that to geographers before Cartier this Mississippi Valley was but a sea,
even as ages before it actually was.] and given as a soil where
civilization could gather its forces from all peoples and begin afresh on
the problems of the individual and society.

It is a new view of Paris, I know. No historian of the United States has,
so far as I am aware, presented it. Yet I think it is not a distorted
vision which enabled me, looking in from the old fortifications, to see
Paris not merely as the capital of art and of a great modern language and
literature, as those who live there see her, nor as the centre of gayety
and frivolity, as so many of my own countrymen see her, but as the parent
of fruitful wildernesses, as a patron of pioneers, as the divinity of the
verges, as the godmother of a frontier democracy.

It is to be remembered, too, let me say again, that, while England held
control of one half of the Mississippi Valley for twenty years after 1763,
and Spain of the other half for twenty more, the occupation was hardly
more than nominal. Indeed, the English king, George III, in 1763 forbade
colonization--as Louis XIV at one time had wished to prevent it--beyond
the Alleghany Mountains without his special permission, and, moreover, it
was hardly more than ten years after the titular transfer to England that
the colonists declared themselves independent. As for the Spanish
sovereign, delaying five years in sending a representative to take over
the government of his unprofitable half of the wilderness, he had no need
to make a decree forbidding settlement. There were no eager settlers.

What virtually happened, therefore, was that the pioneers of France gave
the valley not to England, not to Spain, not even to the American-English
colonists, but to the pioneers of the young republic, who, whatever their
origin, were without European nationality.

It may be said with approximate accuracy that, while the British flag
supplanted the French for a little on a few scattered forts on the east
side of the Mississippi and the Spanish flag floated for a little while on
the other side of the river, the heart of America really knew in turn,
first, only the old Americans, the Indians; second, the French pioneers;
and third, the new Americans.

The valley heard, as I have said, hardly a sound of the Seven Years' War,
the "Old French War" as Parkman called it. Only on its border was there
the slightest bloodshed. All it knew was that the fleur-de-lis flags no
longer waved along its rivers and that after a few years men came with
axes and ploughs through the passes in the mountains carrying an emblem
that had never grown in European fields--a new flag among national
banners. They were bearing, to be sure, a constitution and institutions
strange to France, but only less strange to England, and perhaps no less
strange to other nations of Europe.

I emphasize this because our great debt to English antecedents has
obscured the fact that the great physical heritage between the mountains,
consecrated of Gallic spirit, came, in effect, directly from the hands
that won its first title, the French, into the hands of American settlers,
at the moment when a "separate and individual people" were "springing into
national life."

This territory was distinct from that of the British colonies up to the
very time of the American Revolution. And when the Revolution was over and
independence was won, by the aid of France let it be remembered, the only
settlements within the valley were three little clusters of French
gathered about the forts once French, then for a few years nominally
English, and then American: two thousand inhabitants at Detroit and four
thousand at Vincennes, on the Wabash, and in the hamlets along the
Mississippi above the Ohio.

How little the life of those settlements was disturbed is intimated by
what occurred in one of the Illinois villages--that about Fort Chartres.
The venerable and beloved commander, Louis St. Ange de Belle Rive, had
upon the first formal surrender ascended the Mississippi River and crossed
to the Spanish territory, where the foundations of the city of St. Louis
were being laid, but the British officer in command at Fort Chartres dying
suddenly, and there being no one competent to succeed him, St. Ange
returned to his old post, restored order, and remained there until another
British officer could reach the fort. The habitants were accustomed "to
obey, without question, the orders of their superiors.... (They) yielded a
passive obedience to the new rulers.... They remained the owners, the
tillers of the soil." [Footnote: Roosevelt, "Winning of the West," 1:38,
Alleghany edition.] And one of the last acts of the Continental Congress
and the first of the new Congress, under the Constitution, was to provide
for an enumeration of these French settlers and for the allotment to them
of lands in this valley where they had been the sole owners.

Many of the French habitants were not of pure blood. The French seldom
took women with them into the wilderness. They were traders, trappers, and
soldiers. They married Indian wives, untrammelled, as President Roosevelt
says, "by the queer pride which makes a man of English stock unwilling to
make a red-skinned woman his wife, though anxious enough to make her his
concubine." [Footnote: Roosevelt, "Winning of the West," 1:41.]

They were under ordinary circumstances good-humored, kindly men, "always
polite" [Footnote: "Winning of the West," 1:45.]--in "agreeable contrast"
to most frontiersmen--religious, yet fond of merrymaking, of music and
dancing; and while, as time went on, they came to borrow traits of their
red neighbors and even to forget the years and months (reckoning time, as
the Indians did, from the flood of the river or the ripening of
strawberries), still they kept many valuable and amiable qualities, to be
merged eventually in the new life that soon swept over their beautiful
little villages. Of the coming of a strange, new, strenuous life, a stray
English or American fur trader gave them occasional presentment, as it
were, the spray of the swelling, restless sea of human spirits, beating
against the mountain barriers and flung far inland.

In the early part of the eighteenth century an English governor of the
colony of Virginia, Alexander Spotswood, had led a band of horsemen known
afterward as his "Knights of the Golden Horseshoe," with great hilarity,
"stimulated by abundance of wine, champagne, rum," and other liquors, over
the Blue Ridge Mountains, a part of the Alleghany Range, to the
Shenandoah. He had talked menacingly of the French who held the valley
beyond, had encouraged the extension of English settlements to break the
line of French possessions, and had formed a short-lived Virginia-Indian
company to protect the frontier against French and Indian incursions. This
expedition was a visible challenge. With his merry company he buried a
record of his "farthest west" journey in one of the bottles emptied en
route and then went back to tidewater. That was the end of his adventure;
little or nothing came of his "flourish" except the extension of the
Virginia frontier to the Blue Ridge Mountains. Only traders and trappers
ventured farther or even so far during the next three or four decades, and
they were a "set of abandoned wretches," or so a later governor
characterized them, though Parkman mentions some exceptions, and I wish to
believe there were more, since one of them, I find, carried my own name
far into that country on his trading and hunting expeditions among and
with the Indians.

Searching, a few years ago, the files of a paper published early in the
nineteenth century on the edge of this wilderness, which was already
calling itself the _Western World_--a paper, one of the first of the
myriad white leaves into which the falling forests have been converted and
scattered thick enough to cover every square foot of the valley--I
happened upon this record, surprised as if a bit of the transmontane sea
spray had touched my own face on the Mississippi: "That delightful
country" (Kentucky), it ran, "from time immemorial had been the resort of
wild beasts and of men only less savage, when in the year 1767 it was
visited by John Finley and a few wandering white men from the British
colony of North Carolina, allured by the love of hunting and the desire of
barter with the Indians. The distance of this country from populous parts
of the colonies, almost continuous wars, and the claims of the French had
prevented all attempts at exploration."

I seize upon this partly because, having succeeded to the name of this
hunter and trader, who entered the valley just as St. Ange was yielding
Fort Chartres to the English and crossing the Mississippi, I am able to
show that my own ancestral sympathies while dwelling on the frontiers were
not with the French. But I quote it chiefly because he was a typical
forerunner, a first frontiersman.

Like the coureur de bois Nicolas Perrot, of exactly a century before, he
was only the dawn of the light--the light of another day, which was
beginning to appear in the valley. For it was he who led Daniel Boone to
the first exploring and settling of that wilderness south of the Ohio,
which, to quote further from the paper called the _Western World_,
[Footnote _Western World_, published at Frankfort, Ky., 1806-8, by John
Wood and Joseph M. Street.] had a soil "more fat and fertile than Egypt"--
and was the place where "Pan, if he ever existed, held dominion unmolested
of Ceres or Lucinia."

Such was the almost soundless beginning of what soon developed into a
mighty "processional," its rumblings of wagons and shoutings of drivers on
land and blowing of conches on the rivers increasing, accompanied by the
sound of rushing waters, the cry of frightened birds, and the thunders of
crashing trees. First came this silent hunter and fur trader, almost as
stealthy as the Indian in his movements; then the pale, gaunt, slow-
moving, half hunter, half farmer, too indolent to disturb the wilderness
from which he got a meagre living, planting his meagre crops among the
girdled trees of withered foliage, which he did not take the trouble to
cut down; then the backwoodsman, sallow as his immediate predecessor from
the shade of the forest, who with his axe made a little clearing, built a
"shack," turned his cattle into the grass that had grown for centuries
untouched, and let his pigs feed on the acorns; then the more robust
agriculturist who aggressively pushed back the shadows of the forest,
planted the wilderness with seeds of a magic learned in the valleys of
Europe and Asia, put up the fences of individualistic struggle, and built
his log cabin, the wilderness castle, the birthplace of the new American;
then the speculator and promoter (the hunter and explorer of the urban
occupation); and finally in their wake the builders of mills and factories
and cities--drab, smoky, vainglorious, ill-smelling, bad-architectured
centres of economic activity, fringed with unoccupied, unimproved, naked
areas, plotted and held for increment, earned only by risk and privation.

This processional, "this gradual and continuous progress of the European
race toward the Rocky Mountains," says the vivid pen of De Tocqueville,
"has the solemnity of a providential event. It is like a deluge of men,
rising unabatedly and driven daily onward by the hand of God." [Footnote:
"Democracy in America," ed. Gilman, 1:512.]

The story of this anabasis has been told in hundreds and thousands of
fragments--the anabasis that has had no katabasis--the literal going up of
a people, as we shall see, from primitive husbandry and handicraft and a
neighborly individualism, to another level, of machine labor, of more
comfortable living, and of socialized aspiration.

De Quincey has gathered into an immortal story the dramatic details of an
exodus that had its beginning and end just at the time when these half
huntsmen, half traders were creeping down from the farther ridges of the
Alleghanies into the wilderness, where the little French settlements were
clinging like clusters of ripened grapes to a great vine--the story of the
flight of the Kalmuck Tartars from the banks of the Volga, across the
steppes of Europe and the deserts of Asia to the frontiers of China--the
story of the journey of over a half million semi-barbarians, half of whom
perished by the way from cold or heat, from starvation or thirst, or from
the sabres and cannon of the savage hosts pursuing them by day and night
through the endless stretches--the story of the translation of these nomad
herdsmen on the steppes of Russia through "infinite misery" into stable
agriculturists beneath the great wall of China.

If the myriad details of this new-world migration could be summarized with
like genius, we should have a drama to put beside the exodus of Israel
from Egypt and their conquest of Canaan--a drama, less picturesque and
highly colored than that of the flight of the Tartars--their Oriental
costumes, their fierce horses, their camels and tents, showing, unhidden
of tree against the snowy or sandy desert--but infinitely more
consequential in the history of the human race.

The Indians, hostile to this horde that built cabins upon their hunting-
grounds and devoured their forests, were to the wilderness migrants,
driven, not of the hand of man but, as De Tocqueville says, "of the hand
of God" made manifest in some human instinct, some desire of freedom, some
hatred of convention, some hope of power or possession, what the Kirghese
and Bashkirs and Russians were to those Asiatic migrants, pursuing them
day and night like fiends for thousands of miles. And the myriad
sufferings of the American migrants from hunger and thirst, from the
freezing cold and the blasting, blistering, wilting heat, from the fevers
of the new-broken lands, from the ravages of locust and grasshopper, and
chinch-bug and drought, from isolation from human friendships, from want
of gentle nursing--even De Quincey's improvident travellers did not endure
more, nor the children of Israel, to whose thirst the smitten rock yielded
water, to whose hunger the heavens ministered with manna and the earth
with quail, whose pursuing enemies were drowned in the sea that closed
over their pathway, and whose confronting enemies in the land they entered
to possess were overcome by the aid of unseen armies that were heard
marching in the tops of the mulberry-trees, or were seen by friendly
vision assembling their chariots in the skies above.

Here across the Mississippi Valley is an exodus accomplished not of a
single night, as these two of which I have just spoken, but extended
through a hundred years of home leavings and love privations. Here is an
anabasis of a century of privations, titanic labors, frontier battles,
endured countless times, till these migrants of Europe and of the new-
world seaboard, became, as children of the wilderness, a new people, with
qualities so distinctive as to lead the highest authority [Footnote:
Frederick J. Turner, "The Significance of the Mississippi Valley in
American History," in Proceedings of the Mississippi Valley Historical
Association (1909-10), 3:159-184.] on the history of that valley to
characterize the west not as a geographic division of the United States,
but as a "form of society" with its own peculiar flowering, developed, not
as Parkman's magnificent fleur-de-lis, [Footnote: See Epilogue.] by cross-
fertilization, nor by grafting, but simply by the planting or sowing of
Old World seeds on new and free land, where the mountains kept off the
pollen of alien spirit, where the puritanical winds of the New England
coast were somewhat tempered by the warmer winds from the south, where the
waters had some iron in them, but, most of all, where the soil was
practically as free as when it came from the hands of the glaciers and the

It is this distinctiveness of development, due to the mountains' challenge
to every man's spirit as he passed, to the isolation which compelled him
to work out his own salvation, and to the constant struggle, largely
single-handed, with frontier forces--as well as the uniqueness of
background--that gave the west a character which identifies it to
discerning minds quite as much as its geographic boundaries. It is this
fact which makes the French pioneering preface to a civilization different
from anything that has developed elsewhere in the United States, and not
only different in the past but now the dominant force in American
education, politics, and industry.

What that civilization would have been without the adventurous French
preface we can but vainly surmise. What it is with that background, that
preface, is indeed the "foremost chapter in the files of time." As
Ambassador James Bryce has said: "What Europe is to Asia, what England is
to the rest of Europe, what America is to England, that the western States
are to the Atlantic States." [Footnote: "American Commonwealth," 1913 ed.,
2:892.] The French may dispute the implied claim of the second of these
comparisons, but even they will have a satisfaction in admitting that
their particular part of the United States is to the rest, which was not
touched by their priests and explorers, what "Europe is to Asia." And here
is my particular justification for asking the imaginations of the people
of France to occupy and hold that to which the preface has given them the
best of titles.

Meanwhile, that migration, heralded, as we have seen, just before the
Revolution, by huntsmen and traders, meagre by reason of Indian hostility
and the need of soldiers on the Atlantic side of the mountains till
independence had been won, became appreciable at the end of the century
and grew to an inundating stream after the War of 1812 had made the
Mississippi secure to the new republic beyond all question.

"Old America," said an observing English traveller in 1817, "seems to be
breaking up and moving westward. We are seldom out of sight, as we travel
on this grand track (the national turnpike through Pennsylvania) towards
the Ohio, of family groups behind and before us.... A small waggon so
light that you might almost carry it, yet strong enough to bear a good
load of bedding and utensils and provisions and a swarm of young citizens,
and to sustain marvellous shocks in its passage over these rocky heights
with two small horses and sometimes a cow or two, comprises their all;
excepting a little store of hard earned cash for the land-office of the
district; where they may obtain a title for as many acres as they possess
half dollars, being one-fourth of the purchase money. The waggon has a
tilt, or cover, made of a sheet, or perhaps a blanket. The family are seen
before, behind, or within the vehicle, according to the road or the
weather, or perhaps the spirits of the party.... A cart and single horse,
frequently affords the means of transfer, sometimes a horse and pack
saddle. Often the back of the poor pilgrim bears all his effects, and his
wife follows, bare footed, bending under the hopes of the family."
[Footnote: Morris Birkbeck, "Notes on a Tour in America, 1817," pp. 34,
35.] This is a detail of the exodus through the most northern mountain

Farther south the procession moved in heavy wagons drawn by four or six
horses. "Family groups, crowding the roads and fords, marching toward the
sunset," at right angles to the courses of the migratory birds, not
mindful as they of seasons, "were typical of the overland migration"
across Tennessee and Kentucky. The poorer classes travelled on foot, as at
the north, but drew after them carts with all their household effects.
[Footnote: F. J. Turner, "Rise of the New West," p. 80.]

Still farther south "the same type of occupation was to be seen; the
poorer classes of southern emigrants cut out their clearings along the
rivers that flowed to the gulf and to the lower Mississippi," [Footnote:
F. J. Turner, "Rise of the New West," p. 90.] and later still farther west
into what is now Texas.

The squatters whom I saw in my walk around the city of Paris, inhabiting
what was the military zone with their portable houses, or in their
dilapidated shacks, had better shelter than they who first invaded the
zone beyond the mountain walls that were the natural western
fortifications of the Atlantic colonies.

But though many of those western wilderness immigrants were "poor
pilgrims" and for a time squatters (as the immediately extramural
population of Paris), they were recruited from the sturdiest stock on the
Atlantic side of the fortifications. Some went, to be sure, who had failed
in the old place, but were ready to make new hazard; some wanted greater
freedom than the more highly socialized and conventionalized life within
the fortifications would permit; some longed for adventure; some sought a
fortune or competency perhaps impossible in the old settlements; some had
only the inherited promptings of the nomad savage in them, and kept ever
moving on, making their nameless graves out in the gloom of the forest or
upon the silent plains.

It was indeed a motley procession, the by-product of the more or less
conservative, sometimes politically or religiously intolerant,
aristocratic tide-water settlements. Yet do not make the mistake of
thinking that it was slag or refuse humanity, such as camps in the narrow
zone around the gates of Paris. It is rather like an industrial by-product
that has needed some slight change or adaptation to make it more valuable
to society than the original product upon which the manufacturers had kept
their attention fixed--or, at any rate, to make the margin of profit in
the whole industry greater. Out of once discarded, seemingly valueless
matter have come our coal-tar products: saccharine many times sweeter than
sugar, colors unknown to the old dyers, perfumes as fragrant as those
distilled from flowers, medicines potent to allay fevers. Up in the woods
of Canada last summer I found a chemist trying to do with the wood waste
what Remsen and Perkin and others have done with coal waste, and I cannot
resist the suggestion of my metaphor that there in the forest valleys
beyond the Alleghanies the elements and conditions were found to convert
this Atlantic by-product, unpromising outwardly, into the substance of a
new and precious civilization.

This overmountain procession came chiefly up the watercourses of the south
and middle States. Prior to 1830 the mass of pioneer colonists in most of
the Mississippi Valley had been contributed by the up-country of the
south. The dominant strain in those earlier comers, as President Roosevelt
reminds us, was Scotch-Irish, a "race doubly-twisted in the making, flung
from island to island and toughened by exile"--a race of frontiersmen than
whom a "better never appeared"--a race which was as "steel welded into the
iron of an axe." They form the kernel of the "distinctively and intensely
American stock who were the pioneers of the axe and the rifle, succeeding
the French pioneers of the sword and the bateaux."

What I have just said of them, these Scotch-Irish, is in quotation, for as
I have already intimated, my own ancestry is of that double-twisting; and
since the time when my first American ancestor settled as the first
permanent minister beyond the mountains, following the paths of the French
priests in their missions and became a member of a presbytery extending
from the mountains to the setting sun, until my last collateral ancestor
living among the Indians helped survey the range lines of new States and
finally marked the boundaries of the last farms in the passes of the
Rockies, that ancestry has followed the frontier westward from where
Céloron planted the emblems of French possession along the Ohio to where
Chevalier la Vérendrye looked upon the snowy and impassable peaks of the

The immigrants to America of that stock had, many of them, at once on
reaching the new land found the foot-hills of mountains, chiefly in
Pennsylvania. Here they settled, gradually pushing their way southward in
the troughs of the mountain streams and making finally a "broad belt from
north to south, a shield of sinewy men thrust in between the people of the
seaboard and the red warriors of the wilderness," the same men who
declared for American independence in North Carolina before any others,
even before the men of Massachusetts. With this stock there went over the
mountain men of other origins, of course, English, French Huguenots,
Germans, Hollanders, Swedes; but the Scotch-Irish were the core of the new
life, which in "iron surroundings" became strongly homogeneous--"yet
different from the rest of the world--even the world of America, and
infinitely more the world of Europe."

In the north the great rivers lay across the tedious paths that ran with
the lines of latitude. And so it was partly for physiographic reasons that
the first far-stretching expansions of the New England settlements were
not toward this great western wilderness but northward along the narrower
valleys. It was not until the migration had filled the meagre limits and
capacities of these smaller valleys and had carried school-houses and
churches and town halls well up granite hillsides, that the western exodus
came, to leave those hillside homes and institutional shelters as shells
found far from a receding sea, empty or habited by a new species of
immigrant. [Footnote: In one of those far northern valleys which I know
best there was a school, before the exodus, of some seventy pupils,
gathered from the farmers' families of the neighborhood. Now there are not
a half-dozen pupils, and they are carried to a neighboring district.]
Farms were abandoned for the fertile fields of the far west, from which
wheat can be imported for less than the cost of raising it on the sterile
hills and in the short-summered valleys. New England had once claimed a
fraction of the great west, as, indeed, had most of the other seaboard
colonies. But these claims were surrendered to the general government, as
we shall see later, "for the common good," and so her migrants had none
other than that instinct which follows lines of latitude to keep them
practically within the zone of her relinquished claims. Over into New
York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania her children overflowed till a map of
these States in 1820, colored to show the origin and character of their
various communities, made practically all of western New York, a part of
New Jersey and the northern third of Pennsylvania, an expanded New
England. Meanwhile the hardiest joined the transmontane migration, and in
the decade after the opening of the Erie Canal (1830-40) the whole
northern edge of the valley takes color of New England conquest.

So the first peopling was a mingling of the children of the first
strugglers with a raw savage continent; men already schooled in adversity,
already acquainted with some of the frontier problems--civilization's most
highly individualized, least socialized material, the wheat of the new
world's first winnowing.

What is particularly to be observed is that men of the north and the
south, as far apart as Carolina and Massachusetts, came together beyond
the mountains in the united building of commonwealths; for over those
mountains the rivers all ran toward the Mississippi, which tied the
interests of all together.

There was no north-and-south line then. The men of the valley were all
westerners, "men of the western world"; not yet very strong as
nationalists, that is, as men of the United States. "Men of the western
waters" they also called themselves, for they shunned the uplands and kept
near the streams by which or along which they had come into the wilderness
and from which they drank. Men of the axe they were, too, in that first
occupancy, never venturing far from the trees that gave them both roof and
fuel. It was later, as we have seen, that the men of the plough came where
the men of the axe had cleared the way.

It is interesting to notice that when these builders of new States came to
devise symbols for their official seals, many of them took the plough,
that implement which we know was carried in the first Aryan migration into
the plains of Europe, but some of them put a rising sun on the horizon of
their shields--the sign of the consciousness of a new day.

The foundation, then, of the new societies was laid in what might be
called a concrete of character and lineage--heterogeneous, but all of the
neo-American period and not of the paleo-European. Here came the ancestors
of Abraham Lincoln, among the axemen from the South, and here the
ancestors of General Grant, among the builders of towns, from New England,
both born in cabins. And these instances are but suggestive of the
conglomerate that was to be as practicable for building purposes (the co-
efficient of spirit being once determined) as any homogeneous, age-old
rock used in the structure of nations. It became "homogeneous" not as
bricks or stones built into a wall by mortar or cement but as concrete,
eternal as the hills, needing not to be chiselled and split but only to be
moulded and "set" at just the right moment. If this gives any suggestion
of want of permanence, of liability of cracking, then the figure is not
fortunate. I mean only to suggest, by still another metaphor, that out of
the myriad rugged individualities, idiosyncrasies, and independences a new
rock has been formed.

How distinctly western this first migration was you may know from the fact
that there was frequent talk of secession from the Union by the seaboard
commonwealths in the early post-revolutionary days. There were even, as we
have seen, hopes and fears that a Franco-American republic might grow out
of that solidarity and independent spirit that were ready to forsake the
government on the eastern side of the mountains, which seemed to be
heedless of western needs. This tells us, who are conscious of the
national spirit which is now stronger, perhaps, in that valley than in any
other part of the Union, how strong the western, the anti-nationalistic,
spirit must have been then.

But that was before the coming of the east-and-west canal and the east-
and-west railroads, which virtually upheaved a new watershed and changed
the whole physiographic, social, and economic relationships of the west.
The old French river Colbert, the Eternal River, was virtually cut into
two great rivers, one of which was to empty into the gulf (just as it did
in La Salle's day and in Iberville's day), while the other was to run
through the valley of the Great Lakes, down through the valley of the
hostile Iroquois, into the harbor of New York. This is not observable on
the topographical maps simply because of our unimaginative definition of a
watershed. A watershed is changed, according to that definition, only by
an actual elevation or depression of the surface of the earth, whereas a
railroad or canal that bridges ravines and tunnels or climbs elevations,
or a freight rate that diverts traffic into a new course, as suddenly
raises or lowers and as certainly removes watersheds as if mountains were
miraculously lifted and carried into the midst of the sea.

So there came to be not only two rivers but two valleys, the one of the
lake and prairie plainsmen and the other of the gulf plainsmen. The steam
shuttles flying east and west by land and water wove a pattern in the
former different from the latter but on the same warp. Two widely unlike
industrial and social systems gradually developed, and they, in turn,
struggling for the mastery of lands beyond the Mississippi, divided the
nearer west--once a homogeneous state of mind--into two wests and all but
disrupted the Union.

Then the direct European immigration began, millions coming from single
states of Europe, sifting into the neo-American settlements, but for the
most part passing on, in mighty armies, to possess whole tracts farther
west, along and beyond the Mississippi. In some parts of the northwest to-
day the parents of three men out of four were born in Europe--in
Scandinavia, in Germany, in Russia, in Italy.

So France, keeping near her those whom she loves best, her own children,

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