Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Free Classic E-books

France and England in North America, a Series of Historical Narratives, Part Third by Francis Parkman

Part 4 out of 6

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 0.7 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

connected with his personal safety, he declares, before compelled him to
remain silent; but a time at length has come when the truth must be
revealed. And he proceeds to affirm that, before ascending the
Mississippi, he, with his two men, explored its whole course from the
Illinois to the sea, thus anticipating the discovery which forms the
crowning laurel of La Salle.

"I am resolved," he says, "to make known here to the whole world the
mystery of this discovery, which I have hitherto concealed, that I might
not offend the Sieur de la Salle, who wished to keep all the glory and all
the knowledge of it to himself. It is for this that he sacrificed many
persons whose lives he exposed, to prevent them from making known what
they had seen, and thereby crossing his secret plans.... I was certain
that if I went down the Mississippi, he would not fail to traduce me to my
superiors for not taking the northern route, which I was to have followed
in accordance with his desire and the plan we had made together. But I saw
myself on the point of dying of hunger, and knew not what to do; because
the two men who were with me threatened openly to leave me in the night,
and carry off the canoe, and every thing in it, if I prevented them from
going down the river to the nations below. Finding myself in this dilemma,
I thought that I ought not to hesitate, and that I ought to prefer my own.
safety to the violent passion which possessed the Sieur de la Salle of
enjoying alone the glory of this discovery. The two men, seeing that I had
made up my mind to follow them, promised me entire fidelity; so, after we
had shaken hands together as a mutual pledge, we set out on our voyage."
[Footnote: _Nouvelle Découverte_, 248, 250, 251.]

He then proceeds to recount, at length, the particulars of his alleged
exploration. The story was distrusted from the first. [Footnote: See the
preface of the Spanish translation by Don Sebastian Fernandez de Medrano,
1699, and also the letter of Gravier, dated 1701, in Shea's _Early Voyages
on the Mississippi_. Barcia, Charlevoix, Kalm, and other early writers,
put a low value on Hennepin's veracity.] Why had he not told it before? An
excess of modesty, a lack of self-assertion, or a too sensitive reluctance
to wound the susceptibilities of others, had never been found among his
foibles. Yet some, perhaps, might have believed him, had he not, in the
first edition of his book, gratuitously and distinctly declared that he
did not make the voyage in question. "We had some designs," he says, "of
going down the River Colbert [Mississippi] as far as its mouth; but the
tribes that took us prisoners gave us no time to navigate this river both
up and down." [Footnote: _Description de la Louisiane_, 218.]

In declaring to the world the achievement which he had so long concealed
and so explicitly denied, the worthy missionary found himself in serious
embarrassment. In his first book, he had stated that, on the twelfth of
March, he left the mouth of the Illinois on his way northward, and that,
on the eleventh of April, he was captured by the Sioux, near the mouth of
the Wisconsin, five hundred miles above. This would give him only a month
to make his alleged canoe-voyage from the Illinois to the Gulf of Mexico,
and again upward to the place of his capture,--a distance of three
thousand two hundred and sixty miles. With his means of transportation,
three months would have been insufficient. [Footnote: La Salle, in the
following year, with a far better equipment, was more than three months
and a half in making the journey. A Mississippi trading-boat of the last
generation, with sails and oars, ascending against the current, was
thought to do remarkably well if it could make twenty miles a day.
Hennepin, if we believe his own statements, must have ascended at an
average rate of sixty miles, though his canoe was large and heavily
laden.] He saw the difficulty; but on the other hand, he saw that he could
not greatly change either date without confusing the parts of his
narrative which preceded and which followed. In this perplexity, he chose
a middle course, which only involved him in additional contradictions.
Having, as he affirms, gone down to the Gulf and returned to the mouth of
the Illinois, he set out thence to explore the river above; and he assigns
the twenty-fourth of April as the date of this departure. This gives him
forty-three days for his voyage to the mouth of the river and back.
Looking farther, we find that, having left the Illinois on the twenty-
fourth, he paddled his canoe two hundred leagues northward, and was then
captured by the Sioux on the twelfth of the same month. In short, he
ensnares himself in a hopeless confusion of dates. [Footnote: Hennepin
here falls into gratuitous inconsistencies. In the edition of 1697, in
order to gain a little time, he says that he left the Illinois on his
voyage southward on the eighth of March, 1680; and yet, in the preceding
chapter, he repeats the statement of the first edition, that he was
detained at the Illinois by floating ice till the twelfth. Again, he says
in the first edition, that he was captured by the Sioux on the eleventh of
April; and in the edition of 1697, he changes this date to the twelfth,
without gaining any advantage by doing so.]

Here, one would think, is sufficient reason, for rejecting his story; and
yet the general truth of the descriptions, and a certain verisimilitude
which marks it, might easily deceive a careless reader and perplex a
critical one. These, however, are easily explained. Six years before
Hennepin published his pretended discovery, his brother friar, Father
Chrétien Le Clercq, published an account of the Récollet missions among
the Indians, under the title of "Établissement de la Foi." This book was
suppressed by the French government; but a few copies fortunately
survived. One of these is now before me. It contains the journal of Father
Zenobe Membré, on his descent of the Mississippi in 1681, in company with
La Salle. The slightest comparison of his narrative with that of Hennepin
is sufficient to show that the latter framed his own story out of
incidents and descriptions furnished by his brother missionary, often
using his very words, and sometimes copying entire pages, with no other
alterations than such as were necessary to make himself, instead of La
Salle and his companions, the hero of the exploit. The records of literary
piracy may be searched in vain for an act of depredation more recklessly
impudent. [Footnote: Hennepin may have copied from the unpublished journal
of Membré, which the latter had placed in the hands of his superior, or he
may have compiled from Le Clercq's book, relying on the suppression of the
edition to prevent detection. He certainly saw and used it, for he
elsewhere borrows the exact words of the editor. He is so careless that he
steals from Membré passages which he might easily have written for
himself, as, for example, a description of the opossum and another of the
cougar, animals with which he was acquainted. Compare the following pages
of the _Nouvelle Découverte_ with the corresponding pages of Le Clercq:
Hennepin, 252, Le Clercq, ii. 217; H. 253, Le C. ii. 218; H. 257, Le C.
ii. 221; H. 259, Le C. ii. 224; H. 262, Le C. ii. 226; H. 265, Le C. ii.
229; H. 267, Le C. ii. 283; H. 270, Le C. ii. 235; H. 280, Le C. ii. 240;
H. 295, Le C. ii. 249; H. 296, Le C. ii. 250; H. 297, Le C. ii. 253; H.
299, Le C. ii. 254; H. 301, Le C. ii. 257. Some of these parallel passages
will be found in Sparks's _Life of La Salle_, where this remarkable fraud
was first fully exposed. In Shea's _Discovery of the Mississippi_, there
is an excellent critical examination of Hennepin's works. His plagiarisms
from Le Clercq are not confined to the passages cited above; for, in his
later editions, he stole largely from other parts of the suppressed
_Établissement de la Foi_.]

Such being the case, what faith can we put in the rest of Hennepin's
story? Fortunately, there are tests by which the earlier parts of his book
can be tried; and, on the whole, they square exceedingly well with
contemporary records of undoubted authenticity. Bating his exaggerations
respecting the Falls of Niagara, his local descriptions, and even his
estimates of distance, are generally accurate. He constantly, it is true,
magnifies his own acts, and thrusts himself forward as one of the chiefs
of an enterprise, to the costs of which he had contributed nothing, and to
which he was merely an appendage; and yet, till he reaches the
Mississippi, there can be no doubt that, in the main, he tells the truth.
As for his ascent of that river to the country of the Sioux, the general
statement is fully confirmed by allusions of Tonty, and other contemporary
writers. [Footnote: It is certain that persons having the best means of
information believed at the time in Hennepin's story of his journeys on
the Upper Mississippi. The compiler of the _Relation des Découvertes_, who
was in close relations with La Salle and those who acted with him, does
not intimate a doubt of the truth of the report which Hennepin, on his
return, gave to the Provincial Commissary of his Order, and which is in
substance the same which he published two years later. The _Relation_, it
is to be observed, was written only a few months after the return of
Hennepin, and embodies the pith of his narrative of the Upper Mississippi,
no part of which had then been published.] For the details of the journey,
we must look on Hennepin alone; whose account of the company and of the
peculiar traits of its Indian occupation afford, as far as they go, good
evidence of truth. Indeed, this part of his narrative could only have been
written by one well versed in the savage life of this north-western
region. [Footnote: In this connection, it is well to examine the various
Sioux words which Hennepin uses incidentally, and which he must have
acquired by personal intercourse with the tribe, as no Frenchman then
understood the language. These words, as far as my information reaches,
are in every instance correct. Thus, he says that the Sioux called his
breviary a "bad spirit"--_Ouackanché_. _Wakanshe_, or _Wakansheclia_,
would express the same meaning in modern English spelling. He says
elsewhere that they called the guns of his companions _Manzaouackanché_,
which he translates, "iron possessed with a bad spirit." The western Sioux
to this day call a gun _Manzawakan_, "metal possessed with a spirit."
_Chonga (shonka)_, "a, dog," _Ouasi (wahsee)_, "a pine-tree," _Chinnen
(shinnan)_, "a robe," or "garment," and other words, are given correctly,
with their interpretations. The word _Louis_, affirmed by Hennepin to mean
"the sun," seems at first sight a wilful inaccuracy, as this is not the
word used in general by the Sioux. The Yankton band of this people,
however, call the sun _oouee_, which, it is evident, represents the French
pronunciation of Louis, omitting the initial letter. This, Hennepin would
be apt enough to supply, thereby conferring a compliment alike on himself,
Louis Hennepin, and on the King, Louis XIV., who, to the indignation of
his brother monarchs, had chosen the sun as his emblem.

A variety of trivial incidents touched upon by Hennepin, while recounting
his life among the Sioux, seem to me to afford a strong presumption of an
actual experience. I speak on this point with the more confidence, as the
Indians in whose lodges I was once domesticated for several weeks,
belonged to a western band of the same people.] Trusting, then, to his
guidance in the absence of better, let us follow in the wake of his
adventurous canoe.

It was laden deeply; with goods belonging to La Salle, and meant by
handing presents to Indians on the way, though the travelers, it appears,
proposed to use them in trading of their own account. The friar was still
wrapped in his gray capote and hood, shod with sandals, and decorated with
the cord of St. Francis. As for his two companions, Accau [Footnote:
Called Ako by Hennepin. In contemporary documents it is written Accau,
Acau, D'Accau Dacau, Dacan, and d'Accault.] and Du Gay, it is tolerably
clear that the former was the real leader of the party, though Hennepin,
after his custom, thrusts himself into the foremost place. Both were
somewhat above the station of ordinary hired hands; and Du Gay had an
uncle who was an ecclesiastic of good credit at Amiens, his native place.

In the forests that overhung the river, the buds were feebly swelling with
advancing spring. There was game enough. They killed buffalo, deer,
beavers, wild turkeys, and now and then a bear swimming in the river. With
these, and the fish which they caught in abundance, they fared
sumptuously, though it was the season of Lent. They were exemplary,
however, at their devotions. Hennepin said prayers at morning and night,
and the _angelus_ at noon, adding a petition to St. Anthony of Padua, that
he would save them from the peril that beset their way. In truth, there
was a lion in the path. The ferocious character of the Sioux, or Dacotah,
who occupied the region of the Upper Mississippi, was already known to the
French; and Hennepin, not without reason, prayed that it might be his
fortune to meet them, not by night, but by day.

On the eleventh or twelfth of April, they stopped in the afternoon to
repair their canoe; and Hennepin busied himself in daubing it with pitch,
while the others cooked a turkey. Suddenly a fleet of Sioux canoes swept
into sight, bearing a war-party of a hundred and twenty naked savages,
who, on seeing the travellers, raised a hideous clamor; and some leaping
ashore and others into the water, they surrounded the astonished Frenchmen
in an instant. [Footnote: The edition of 1683 says that there were thirty-
three canoes: that of 1697 raises the number to fifty. The number of
Indians is the same in both. The later narrative is more in detail than
the former.] Hennepin held out the peace-pipe, but one of them snatched it
from him. Next, he hastened to proffer a gift of Martinique tobacco, which
was better received. Some of the old warriors repeated the name _Miamiha_,
giving him to understand that they were a war-party on the way to attack
the Miamis; on which Hennepin, with the help of signs and of marks which
he drew on the sand with a stick, explained that the Miamis had gone
across the Mississippi beyond their reach. Hereupon, he says that three or
four old men placed their hands on his head, and began a dismal wailing;
while he with his handkerchief wiped away their tears in order to evince
sympathy with their affliction, from whatever cause arising.
Notwithstanding this demonstration of tenderness, they refused to smoke
with him in his peace-pipe, and forced him and his companions to embark
and paddle across the river; while they all followed behind, uttering
yells and howlings which froze the missionary's blood.

On reaching the farther side, they made their camp-fires, and allowed
their prisoners to do the same. Accau and Du Gay slung their kettle; while
Hennepin, to propitiate the Sioux, carried to them two turkeys, of which
there were several in the canoe. The warriors had seated themselves in a
ring, to debate on the fate of the Frenchmen; and two chiefs presently
explained to the friar, by significant signs, that it had been resolved
that his head should be split with a war-club. This produced the effect
which was no doubt intended. Hennepin ran to the canoe, and quickly
returned with one of the men, both loaded with presents, which he threw
into the midst of the assembly; and then, bowing his head, offered them at
the same time a hatchet with which to kill him if they wished to do so.
His gifts and his submission seemed to appease them. They gave him and his
companions a dish of beaver's flesh; but, to his great concern, they
returned his peace-pipe, an act which he interpreted as a sign of danger.
That night, the Frenchmen slept little, expecting to be murdered before
morning. There was, in fact, a great division of opinion among the Sioux.
Some were for killing them, and taking their goods; while others, eager
above all things that French traders should come among them with the
knives, hatchets, and guns of which they had heard the value, contended
that it would be impolitic to discourage the trade by putting to death its

Scarcely had morning dawned on the anxious captives, when a young chief,
naked, and painted from head to foot, appeared before them, and asked for
the pipe, which the friar gladly gave him. He filled it, smoked it, made
the warriors do the same, and, having given this hopeful pledge of amity,
told the Frenchmen that, since the Miamis were out of reach, the war-party
would return home, and that they must accompany them. To this Hennepin
gladly agreed, having, as he declares, his great work of exploration so
much at heart that he rejoiced in the prospect of achieving it even in
their company.

He soon, however, had a foretaste of the affliction in store for him; for,
when he opened his breviary and began to mutter his morning devotion, his
new companions gathered about him with faces that betrayed their
superstitious terror, and gave him to understand that his book was a bad
spirit with which he must hold no more converse. They thought, indeed,
that he was muttering a charm for their destruction. Accau and Du Gay,
conscious of the danger, begged the friar to dispense with his devotions,
lest he and they alike should be tomahawked; but Hennepin says that his
sense of duty rose superior to his fears, and that he was resolved to
repeat his office at all hazards, though not until he had asked pardon of
his two friends for thus imperilling their lives. Fortunately, he
presently discovered a device by which his devotion and his prudence were
completely reconciled. He ceased the muttering which had alarmed the
Indians, and, with the breviary open on his knees, sang the service in
loud and cheerful tones. As this had no savor of sorcery, and as they now
imagined that the book was teaching its owner to sing for their amusement,
they conceived a favorable opinion of both alike.

These Sioux, it may be observed, were the ancestors of those who committed
the horrible but not unprovoked massacres of 1863, in the valley of the
St. Peter. Hennepin complains bitterly of their treatment of him, which,
however, seems to have been tolerably good. Afraid that he would lag
behind, as his canoe was heavy and slow, [Footnote: And yet it had, by his
account, made a distance of thirteen hundred and eighty miles from the
mouth of the Mississippi upward in twenty-four days.] they placed several
warriors in it, to aid him and his men in paddling. They kept on their way
from morning till night, building huts for their bivouac when it rained,
and sleeping on the open ground when the weather was fair, which, says
Hennepin, "gave us a good opportunity to contemplate the moon and stars."
The three Frenchmen took the precaution of sleeping at the side of the
young chief who had been the first to smoke the peacepipe, and who seemed
inclined to befriend them; but there was another chief, one Aquipaguetin,
a crafty old savage, who, having lost a son in war with the Miamis, was
angry that the party had abandoned their expedition, and thus deprived him
of his revenge. He therefore kept up a dismal lament through half the
night; while other old men, crouching over Hennepin as he lay trying to
sleep, stroked him with their hands, and uttered wailings so lugubrious
that he was forced to the belief that he had been doomed to death, and
that they were charitably bemoaning his fate. [Footnote: This weeping and
wailing over Hennepin once seemed to me an anomaly in his account of Sioux
manners, as I am not aware that such practices are to be found among them
at present. They are mentioned, however, by other early writers. Le Sueur,
who was among them in 1699-1700, was wept over no less than Hennepin. See
the abstract of his journal in La Harpe.]

One night, they were, for some reason, unable to bivouac near their
protector, and were forced to make their fire at the end of the camp. Here
they were soon beset by a crowd of Indians, who told them that
Aquipaguetin had at length resolved to tomahawk them. The malcontents
were gathered in a knot at a little distance, and Hennepin hastened to
appease them by another gift of knives and tobacco. This was but one of
the devices of the old chief to deprive them of their goods without
robbing them outright. He had with him the bones of a deceased relative,
which he was carrying home wrapped in skins prepared with smoke after the
Indian fashion, and gayly decorated with bands of dyed porcupine quills.
He would summon his warriors, and, placing these relics in the midst of
the assembly, call on all present to smoke in their honor; after which
Hennepin was required to offer a more substantial tribute in the shape of
cloth, beads, hatchets, tobacco, and the like, to be laid upon the bundle
of bones. The gifts thus acquired were then, in the name of the deceased,
distributed among the persons present.

On one occasion, Aquipaguetin killed a bear, and invited the chiefs and
warriors to feast upon it. They accordingly assembled on a prairie, west
of the river; and, the banquet over, they danced a "medicine-dance." They
were all painted from head to foot, with their hair oiled, garnished with
red and white feathers, and powdered with the down of birds. In this
guise, they set their arms akimbo, and fell to stamping with such fury
that the hard prairie was dented with the prints of their moccasons; while
the chief's son, crying at the top of his throat, gave to each in turn the
pipe of war. Meanwhile, the chief himself, singing in a loud and rueful
voice, placed his hands on the heads of the three Frenchmen, and from time
to time interrupted his music to utter a vehement harangue. Hennepin could
not understand the words, but his heart sank as the conviction grew strong
within him that these ceremonies tended to his destruction. It seems,
however, that, after all the chief's efforts, his party was in the
minority, the greater part being averse to either killing or robbing the
three strangers. Every morning, at daybreak, an old warrior shouted the
signal of departure; and the recumbent savages leaped up, manned their
birchen fleet, and plied their paddles against the current, often without
waiting to break their fast. Sometimes they stopped for a buffalo-hunt on
the neighboring prairies; and there was no lack of provisions. They passed
Lake Pepin, which Hennepin called the Lake of Tears, by reason of the
howlings and lamentations here uttered over him by Aquipaguetin; and,
nineteen days after his capture, landed near the site of St. Paul. The
father's sorrows now began in earnest. The Indians broke his canoe to
pieces, having first hidden their own among the alder-bushes. As they
belonged to different bands and different villages, their mutual jealousy
now overcame all their prudence, and each proceeded to claim his share of
the captives and the booty. Happily, they made an amicable distribution,
or it would have fared ill with the three Frenchmen; and each taking his
share, not forgetting the priestly vestments of Hennepin, the splendor of
which they could not sufficiently admire, they set out across the country
for their villages, which lay towards the north, in the neighborhood of
Lake Buade, now called Mille Lac.

Being, says Hennepin, exceedingly tall and active, they walked at a
prodigious speed, insomuch that no European could long keep pace with
them. Though the month of May had begun, there were frosts at night; and
the marshes and ponds were glazed with ice, which cut the missionary's
legs as he waded through. They swam the larger streams, and Hennepin
nearly perished with cold as be emerged from the icy current. His two
companions, who were smaller than he, and who could not swim, were carried
over on the backs of the Indians. They showed, however, no little
endurance; and he declares that he should have dropped by the way, but for
their support. Seeing him disposed to lag, the Indians, to spur him on,
set fire to the dry grass behind him, and then, taking him by the hands,
ran forward with him to escape the flames. To add to his misery, he was
nearly famished, as they gave him only a small piece of smoked meat, once
a day, though it does not appear that they themselves fared better. On the
fifth day, being by this time in extremity, he saw a crowd of squaws and
children approaching over the prairie, and presently descried the bark
lodges of an Indian town. The goal was reached. He was among the homes of
the Sioux.

1680, 1681.


As Hennepin entered the village, he beheld a sight which caused him to
invoke St. Anthony of Padua. In front of the lodges were certain stakes,
to which were attached bundles of straw, intended, as he supposed, for
burning him and his friends alive. His concern was redoubled when he saw
the condition of the Picard Du Gay, whose hair and face had been painted
with divers colors, and whose head was decorated with a tuft of white
feathers. In this guise, he was entering the village, followed by a crowd
of Sioux, who compelled him to sing and keep time to his own music by
rattling a dried gourd containing a number of pebbles. The omens, indeed,
were exceedingly threatening; for treatment like this was usually followed
by the speedy immolation of the captive. Hennepin ascribes it to the
effect of his invocations, that, being led into one of the lodges, among a
throng of staring squaws and children, he and his companions were seated
on the ground, and presented with large dishes of birch bark, containing a
mess of wild rice boiled with dried whortleberries; a repast which he
declares to have been the best that had fallen to his lot since the day of
his captivity. [Footnote: The Sioux, or Dacotah, as they call themselves,
were a numerous people, separated into three great divisions, which were
again subdivided into bands. Those among whom Hennepin was a prisoner
belonged to the division known as the Issanti, Issanyati, or, as he writes
it, Issati, of which the principal band was the Meddewakantonwan. The
other great divisions, the Yanktons and the Tintonwans, or Tetons, lived
west of the Mississippi, extending beyond the Missouri, and ranging as far
as the Rocky Mountains. The Issanti cultivated the soil, but the extreme
western bands subsisted on the buffalo alone. The former had two kinds of
dwelling,--the _teepee_ or skin lodge, and the bark lodge. The teepee,
which was used by all the Sioux, consists of a covering of dressed buffalo
hide stretched on a conical stack of poles. The bark lodge was peculiar to
the eastern Sioux, and examples of it might be seen until within a few
years among the bands, on the St. Peter's. In its general character it was
like the Huron and Iroquois houses, but was inferior in construction. It
had a ridge roof framed of poles extending from the posts which formed the
sides, and the whole was covered with elm-bark. The lodges in the villages
to which Hennepin was conducted were probably of this kind.

The name Sioux is an abbreviation of _Nadouessioux_, an Ojibwa word
meaning _enemies_. The Ojibwas used it to designate this people, and
occasionally also the Iroquois, being at deadly war with both.

Rev. Stephen R. Riggs, for many years a missionary among the Issanti
Sioux, says that this division consists of four distinct bands. They ceded
all their lands east of the Mississippi to the United States in 1837, and
lived on the St. Peter's till driven thence in consequence of the
massacres of 1862, 1863. The Yankton Sioux consist of two bands, which are
again subdivided. The Assiniboins, or Hohays, are an offshoot from the
Yanktons, with whom they are now at war. The Titonwan or Teton Sioux,
forming the most western division, and the largest, comprise seven bands,
and are among the bravest and fiercest tenants of the prairie.

The earliest French writers estimate the total number of the Sioux at
forty thousand. Mr. Riggs, in 1852, placed it at about twenty-five
thousand. Lake many other Indian tribes, they seem practically incapable
of civilization.]

This soothed his fears: but, as he allayed his famished appetite, he
listened with anxious interest to the vehement jargon of the chiefs and
warriors, who were disputing among themselves to whom the three captives
should respectively belong; for it seems that, as far as related to them,
the question of distribution had not yet been definitely settled. The
debate ended in the assigning of Hennepin to his old enemy Aquipaguetin;
who, however, far from persisting in his evil designs, adopted him on the
spot as his son. The three companions must now part company. Du Gay, not
yet quite reassured of his safety, hastened to confess himself to
Hennepin, but Accau proved refractory and refused the offices of religion,
which did not prevent the friar from embracing them both, as he says, with
an extreme tenderness. Tired as he was, he was forced to set out with his
self-styled father to his village, which was fortunately not far off. An
unpleasant walk of a few miles through woods and marshes brought them to
the borders of a sheet of water, apparently Lake Buade, where five of
Aquipaguetin's wives received the party in three canoes, and ferried them
to an island on which the village stood.

At the entrance of the chief's lodge, Hennepin was met by a decrepit old
Indian, withered with age, who offered him the peace-pipe, and placed him
on a bear-skin which was spread by the fire. Here, to relieve his fatigue,
for he was well-nigh spent, a small boy anointed his limbs with the fat of
a wild cat, supposed to be sovereign in these cases by reason of the great
agility of that animal. His new father gave him a bark platter of fish,
covered him with a buffalo robe, and showed him six or seven of his wives,
who were thenceforth, he was told, to regard him as a son. The chief's
household was numerous; and his allies and relations formed a considerable
clan, of which the missionary found himself an involuntary member. He was
scandalized when he saw one of his adopted brothers carrying on his back
the bones of a deceased friend, wrapped in the chasuble of brocade which
they had taken with other vestments from his box.

Seeing their new relative so enfeebled that he could scarcely stand, the
Indians made for him one of their sweating baths, [Footnote: These baths
consist of a small hut, covered closely with buffalo-skins, into which the
patient and his friends enter, carefully closing every aperture. A pile of
heated stones is placed in the middle, and water is poured upon them,
raising a dense vapor. They are still, 1868, in use among the Sioux and
some other tribes.] where they immersed him in steam three times a week; a
process from, which he thinks he derived great benefit. His strength
gradually returned, in spite of his meagre fare; for there was a dearth of
food, and the squaws were less attentive to his wants than to those of
their children. They respected him, however, as a person endowed with
occult powers, and stood in no little awe of a pocket compass which he had
with him, as well as of a small metal pot with feet moulded after the face
of a lion. This last seemed in their eyes a "medicine" of the most
formidable nature, and they would not touch it without first wrapping it
in a beaver-skin. For the rest, Hennepin made himself useful in various
ways. He shaved the heads of the children, as was the custom of the tribe,
bled certain asthmatic persons, and dosed others with orvietan, the famous
panacea of his time, of which he had brought with him a good supply. With
respect to his missionary functions, he seems to have given himself little
trouble, unless his attempt to make a Sioux vocabulary is to be regarded
as preparatory to a future apostleship. "I could gain nothing over them,"
he says, "in the way of their salvation, by reason of their natural
stupidity." Nevertheless, on one occasion he baptized a sick child, naming
it Antoinette in honor of St. Anthony of Padua. It seemed to revive after
the rite, but soon relapsed and presently died, "which," he writes, "gave
me great joy and satisfaction." In this, he was like the Jesuits, who
could find nothing but consolation in the death of a newly baptized
infant, since it was thus assured of a paradise which, had it lived, it
would probably have forfeited by sharing in the superstitions of its

With respect to Hennepin and his Indian father, there seems to have been
little love on either side; but Ouasicoude, the principal chief of the
Sioux of this region, was the fast friend of the three white men. He was
angry that they had been robbed, which he had been unable to prevent, as
the Sioux had no laws, and their chiefs little power; but he spoke his
mind freely, and told Aquipaguetin and the rest, in full council, that
they were like a dog who steals a piece of meat from a dish, and runs away
with it. When Hennepin complained of hunger, the Indians had always
promised him that early in the summer he should go with them on a buffalo
hunt, and have food in abundance. The time at length came, and the
inhabitants of all the neighboring villages prepared for departure, To
each several band was assigned its special hunting-ground, and he was
expected to accompany his Indian father. To this he demurred; for he
feared lest Aquipaguetin, angry at the words of the great chief, might
take this opportunity to revenge the insult put upon him. He therefore
gave out that he expected a party of "spirits," that is to say, Frenchmen,
to meet him at the mouth of the Wisconsin, bringing a supply of goods for
the Indians; and he declares that La Salle had in fact promised to send
traders to that place. Be this as it may, the Indians believed him; and,
true or false, the assertion, as will be seen, answered the purpose for
which it was made. The Indians set out in a body to the number of two
hundred and fifty warriors, with their women and children. The three
Frenchmen, who, though in different villages, had occasionally met during
the two months of their captivity, were all of the party. They descended
Rum River, which forms the outlet of Mille Lac, and which is called the
St. Francis, by Hennepin. None of the Indians had offered to give him
passage; and, fearing lest he should be abandoned, he stood on the bank,
hailing the passing canoes and begging to be taken in. Accau and Du Gay
presently appeared, paddling a small canoe which the Indians had given
them; but they would not listen to the missionary's call, and Accau, who
had no love for him, cried out that he, had paddled him long enough
already. Two Indians, however, took pity on him, and brought him to the
place of encampment, where Du Gay tried, to excuse himself for his
conduct, but Accau was sullen and kept aloof.

After reaching the Mississippi, the whole party encamped together opposite
to the mouth of Rum River, pitching their tents of skin, or building their
bark huts, on the slope of a hill by the side of the water. It was a wild
scene, this camp of savages among whom as yet no traders had come and no
handiwork of civilization had found its way; the tall warriors, some
nearly naked, some wrapped in buffalo robes, and some in shirts of dressed
deerskin fringed with hair and embroidered with dyed porcupine quills,
war-clubs of stone in their hands, and quivers at their backs filled with
stone-headed arrows; the squaws, cutting smoke-dried meat with knives of
flint, and boiling it in rude earthen pots of their own making, driving
away, meanwhile, with shrill cries, the troops of lean dogs, who disputed
the meal with a crew of hungry children. The whole camp, indeed, was
threatened with, starvation. The three white men could get no food but
unripe berries, from the effects of which Hennepin thinks they might all
have died, but for timely doses of his orvietan.

Being tired of the Indians, he became anxious to set out for the Wisconsin
to find the party of Frenchmen, real or imaginary, who were to meet him at
that place. That he was permitted to do so was due to the influence of the
great chief Ouasicoudé, who always befriended him, and who had soundly
berated his two companions for refusing him a seat in their canoe. Du Gay
wished to go with him; but Accau, who liked the Indian life as much as he
disliked Hennepin, preferred to remain with the hunters. A small birch
canoe was given to the two adventurers, together with an earthen pot; and
they had also between them a gun, a knife, and a robe of beaver-skin. Thus
equipped, they began their journey, and soon approached the Falls of St.
Anthony, so named by Hennepin in honor of the inevitable St. Anthony of
Padua. [Footnote: Hennepin's notice of the Falls of St. Anthony, though
brief, is sufficiently accurate. He says, in his first edition, that they
are forty or fifty feet high, but adds ten feet more in the edition of
1697. In 1821, according to Schoolcraft, the perpendicular fall measured
forty feet. Great changes, however, have taken place here and are still in
progress. The rock is a very soft, friable sandstone, overlaid by a
stratum of limestone; and it is crumbling with such rapidity under the
action of the water that the cataract will soon be little more than a
rapid. Other changes equally disastrous, in an artistic point of view, are
going on even more quickly. Beside the falls stands a city, which, by an
ingenious combination of the Greek and Sioux languages, has received the
name of Minneapolis, or City of the Waters, and which, in 1867, contained
ten thousand inhabitants, two national banks, and an opera-house, while
its rival city of St. Anthony, immediately opposite, boasted a gigantic
water-cure and a State university. In short, the great natural beauty of
the place is utterly spoiled.] As they were carrying their canoe by the
cataract, they saw five or six Indians, who had gone before, one of whom
had climbed into an oak-tree beside the principal fall, whence in a loud
and lamentable voice he was haranguing the spirit of the waters, as a
sacrifice to whom he had just hung a robe of beaver-skin among the
branches. [Footnote: Oanktayhee, the principal deity of the Sioux, was
supposed to live under these falls, though he manifested himself in the
form of a buffalo. It was he who created the earth, like the Algonquin
Manabozho, from mud brought to him in the paws of a musk-rat. Carver, in
1766, saw an Indian throw every thing he had about him into the cataract
as an offering to this deity.] Their attention was soon engrossed by
another object. Looking over the edge of the cliff which overhung the
river below the falls, Hennepin saw a snake, which, as he avers, was six
feet long, [Footnote: In the edition of 1683. In that of 1697 he has grown
to seven or eight feet. The bank-swallows still make their nests in these
cliffs, boring easily into the soft incohesive sandstone.] writhing upward
towards the holes of the swallows in the face of the precipice, in order
to devour their young. He pointed him out to Du Gay, and they pelted him
with stones, till he fell into the river, but not before his contortions
and the darting of his forked tongue had so affected the Picard's
imagination that he was haunted that night with a terrific incubus.

They paddled sixty leagues down the river in the heats of July, and killed
no large game but a single deer, the meat of which soon spoiled. Their
main resource was the turtles, whose shyness and watchfulness caused them
frequent disappointments, and many involuntary fasts. They once captured
one of more than common size; and, as they were endeavoring to cut off his
head, he was near avenging himself by snapping off Hennepin's finger.
There was a herd of buffalo in sight on the neighboring prairie; and Du
Gay went with his gun in pursuit of them, leaving the turtle in Hennepin's
custody. Scarcely was he gone when the friar, raising his eyes, saw that
their canoe, which they had left at the edge of the water, had floated out
into the current. Hastily turning the turtle on his back, he covered him
with his habit of St. Francis, on which, for greater security, he laid a
number of stones, and then, being a good swimmer, struck out in pursuit of
the canoe, which he at length overtook. Finding that it would overset if
he tried to climb into it, he pushed it before him to the shore, and then
paddled towards the place, at some distance above, where he had left the
turtle. He had no sooner reached it than he heard a strange sound, and
beheld a long file of buffalo,--bulls, cows, and calves,--entering the
water not far off, to cross to the western bank. Having no gun, as became
his apostolic vocation, he shouted to Du Gay, who presently appeared,
running in all haste; and they both paddled in pursuit of the game. Du Gay
aimed at a young cow, and shot her in the head. She fell in shallow water
near an island, where some of the herd had landed; and, being unable to
drag her out, they waded into the water and butchered her where she lay.
It was forty-eight hours since they had tasted food. Hennepin made a fire,
while Du Gay cut up the meat. They feasted so bountifully that they both
fell ill, and were forced to remain two days on the island, taking doses
of orvietan, before they were able to resume their journey.

Apparently they were not sufficiently versed in woodcraft to smoke the
meat of the cow; and the hot sun soon robbed them of it. They had a few
fish-hooks, but were not always successful in the use of them. On one
occasion, being nearly famished, they set their line, and lay watching it.
uttering prayers in turn. Suddenly, there was a great turmoil in the
water. Du Gay ran to the line, and, with the help of Hennepin, drew in two
large cat-fish. [Footnote: Hennepin speaks of their size with
astonishment, and says that the two together would weigh twenty-five
pounds. Cat-fish have been taken in the Mississippi weighing more than a
hundred and fifty pounds.] The eagles, or fish-hawks, now and then dropped
a newly caught fish, of which they gladly took possession; and once they
found a purveyor in an otter which they saw by the bank, devouring some
object of an appearance so wonderful that Du Gay cried out that he had a
devil between his paws. They scared him from his prey, which proved to be
a spade-fish, or, as Hennepin correctly describes it, a species of
sturgeon, with a bony projection from his snout in the shape of a paddle.
They broke their fast upon him, undeterred by this eccentric appendage.

If Hennepin had had an eye for scenery, he would have found in these his
vagabond rovings wherewith to console himself in some measure for his
frequent fasts. The young Mississippi, fresh from its northern springs,
unstained as yet by unhallowed union with the riotous Missouri, flowed
calmly on its way amid strange and unique beauties; a wilderness, clothed
with velvet grass; forest-shadowed valleys; lofty heights, whose smooth
slopes seemed levelled with the scythe; domes and pinnacles, ramparts and
ruined towers, the work of no human hand. The canoe of the voyagers, borne
on the tranquil current, glided in the shade of gray crags festooned with
blossoming honeysuckles; by trees mantled with wild grape-vines, dells
bright with, the flowers of the white euphorbia, the blue gentian, and the
purple balm; and matted forests, where the red squirrels leaped and
chattered. They passed the great cliff whence the Indian maiden threw
herself in her despair; [Footnote: The "Lover's Leap," or "Maiden's Rock,"
from which a Sioux girl, Winona, or the "Eldest Born," is said to have
thrown herself in the despair of disappointed affection. The story, which
seems founded in truth, will be found, not without embellishments, in Mrs.
Eastman's _Legends of the Sioux_.] and Lake Pepin lay before them,
slumbering in the July sun; the far-reaching sheets of sparkling water,
the woody slopes, the tower-like crags, the grassy heights basking in
sunlight or shadowed by the passing cloud; all the fair outline of its
graceful scenery, the finished and polished master work of Nature. And
when at evening they made their bivouac fire, and drew up their canoe,
while dim, sultry clouds veiled the west, and the flashes of the silent
heat-lightning gleamed on the leaden water, they could listen, as they
smoked their pipes, to the strange, mournful cry of the whippoorwills, and
the quavering scream of the owls.

Other thoughts than the study of the picturesque occupied the mind of
Hennepin, when one day he saw his Indian father, Aquipaguetin, whom he had
supposed five hundred miles distant, descending the river with ten
warriors in canoes. He was eager to be the first to meet the traders, who,
as Hennepin had given out, were to come with their goods to the mouth of
the Wisconsin. The two travellers trembled for the consequences of this
encounter; but the chief, after a short colloquy, passed on his way. In
three days he returned in ill-humor, having found no traders at the
appointed spot. The Picard was absent at the time, looking for game, and
Hennepin was sitting under the shade of his blanket, which he had
stretched on forked sticks to protect him from the sun, when he saw his
adopted father approaching with a threatening look and a war-club in his
hand. He attempted no violence, however, but suffered his wrath to exhale
in a severe scolding, after which he resumed his course up the river with
his warriors.

If Hennepin, as he avers, really expected a party of traders at the
Wisconsin, the course he now took is sufficiently explicable. If he did
not expect them, his obvious course was to rejoin Tonty on the Illinois,
for which he seems to have had no inclination; or to return to Canada by
way of the Wisconsin, an attempt which involved the risk of starvation, as
the two travellers had but ten charges of powder left. Assuming, then, his
hope of the traders to have been real, he and Du Gay resolved, in the mean
time, to join a large body of Sioux hunters, who, as Aquipaguetin had told
them, were on a stream which he calls Bull River, now the Chippeway,
entering the Mississippi near Lake Pepin. By so doing, they would gain a
supply of food, and save themselves from the danger of encountering
parties of roving warriors.

They found this band, among whom was their companion Accau, and followed
them on a grand hunt along the borders of the Mississippi. Du Gay was
separated for a time from Hennepin, who was placed in a canoe with a
withered squaw more than eighty years old. In spite of her age, she
handled her paddle with admirable address, and used it vigorously, as
occasion required, to repress the gambols of three children, who, to
Hennepin's great annoyance, occupied the middle of the canoe. The hunt was
successful. The Sioux warriors, active as deer, chased the buffalo on foot
with their stone-headed arrows, on the plains behind the heights that
bordered the river; while the old men stood sentinels at the top, watching
for the approach of enemies. One day an alarm was given. The warriors
rushed towards the supposed point of danger, but found nothing more
formidable than two squaws of their own nation, who brought strange news.
A war-party of Sioux, they said, had gone towards Lake Superior, and met
by the way five "Spirits;" that is to say, five Europeans. Hennepin was
full of curiosity to learn who the strangers might be; and they, on their
part, were said to have shown great anxiety to know the nationality of the
three white men who, as they were told, were on the river. The hunt was
over; and the hunters, with Hennepin and his companion, were on their way
northward to their towns, when they met the five "Spirits" at some
distance below the Falls of St. Anthony. They proved to be Daniel
Greysolon du Lhut, with four well-armed Frenchmen.

This bold and enterprising man, stigmatized by the Intendant Duchesneau as
a leader of _coureurs de bois_, was a cousin of Tonty, born at Lyons. He
belonged to that caste of the lesser nobles, whose name was legion, and
whose admirable military qualities shone forth so conspicuously in the
wars of Louis XIV. Though his enterprises were independent of those of La
Salle, they were, at this time, carried on in connection with Count
Frontenac and certain merchants in his interest, of whom Du Lhut's uncle,
Patron, was one; while Louvigny, his brother-in-law, was in alliance with
the Governor, and was an officer of his guard. Here, then, was a kind of
family league, countenanced by Frontenac, and acting conjointly with him,
in order, if the angry letters of the Intendant are to be believed, to
reap a clandestine profit under the shadow of the Governor's authority,
and in violation of the royal ordinances. The rudest part of the work fell
to the share of Du Lhut, who, with a persistent hardihood, not surpassed,
perhaps, even by La Salle, was continually in the forest, in the Indian
towns, or in remote wilderness outposts planted by himself, exploring,
trading, fighting, ruling lawless savages, and whites scarcely less
ungovernable, and, on one or more occasions, varying his life by crossing
the ocean, to gain interviews with the colonial minister, Seignelay, amid
the splendid vanities of Versailles. Strange to say, this man of hardy
enterprise was a martyr to the gout, which, for more than a quarter of a
century, grievously tormented him; though for a time he thought himself
cured by the intercession of the Iroquois saint, Catharine Tegahkouita, to
whom he had made a vow to that end. He was, without doubt, an habitual
breaker of the royal ordinances regulating the fur-trade; yet his services
were great to the colony and to the crown, and his name deserves a place
of honor among the pioneers of American civilization. [Footnote: The facts
concerning Du Lhut have been gleaned from a variety of contemporary
documents, chiefly the letters of his enemy, Duchesneau, who always puts
him in the worst light, especially in his despatch to Seignelay of 10 Nov.
1679, where he charges both him and the Governor with carrying on an
illicit trade with the English of New York, an example, which, if
followed, would ruin the colony by diverting the sources of its support to
its rival. Du Lhut built a trading fort on Lake Superior, called
Cananistigoyan (La Houtan), or Kamalastigouia (Perrot). It was on the
north side, at the mouth of a river entering Thunder Bay, where Fort
William now stands. In 1684, he caused two Indians, who had murdered
several Frenchmen on Lake Superior, to be shot. He displayed in this
affair great courage and coolness, undaunted by the crowd of excited
savages who surrounded him and his little band of Frenchmen. The long
letter, in which he recounts the capture and execution of the murderers,
is before me. Duchesneau makes his conduct on this occasion the ground of
a charge of rashness. In 1686, Denonville, then Governor of the colony,
ordered him to fortify the Detroit; that is, the strait between Lakes Erie
and Huron, He went thither with fifty men and built a palisade fort, which
he occupied for some time. In 1687, he, together with Tonty and Durantaye,
joined Denonville against the Senecas, with a body of Indians from the
Upper Lakes. In 1689, during the panic that followed the Iroquois invasion
of Montreal, Du Lhut, with twenty-eight Canadians, attacked twenty-two
Iroquois in canoes, received their fire without returning it, bore down
upon them, killed eighteen of them, and captured three, only one escaping.
In 1695, he was in command at Fort Frontenac. In 1697, he succeeded to the
command of a company of infantry, but was suffering wretchedly from the
gout at Fort Frontenac. In 1710, Vaudreuil, in a despatch to the minister,
Ponchartrain, announced his death as occurring in the previous winter, and
added the brief comment, "c'était un très-honnête homme." Other
contemporaries speak to the same effect. "Mr. Dulhut, Gentilhomme
Lionnois, qui a beaucoup de mérite et de capacité."--La Hontan, i. 103
(1703). "Le Sieur du Lut, homme d'esprit et d'expérience."--Le Clercq, ii.
137. Charlevoix calls him "one of the bravest officers the King has ever
had in this colony." His name is variously spelled Du Luc, Du Lud, Du
Lude, Du Lut, Du Luth, Du Lhut. For an account of the Iroquois virgin,
Tegahkouita, whose intercession is said to have cured him of the gout, see
Charlevoix, i. 572.

On a contemporary manuscript map by the Jesuit Raffeix, representing the
routes of Marquiette, La Salle, and Du Lhut, are the following words,
referring to the last-named discoverer, and interesting in connection with
Hennepin's statements: "Mr. du Lude le premier a esté chez les Sioux en
1678, et a esté proche la source du Mississippi, et ensuite vint retirer
le P. Louis (_Hennepin_) qui avoit esté fait prisonnier chez les Sioux."
Du Lhut here appears as the deliverer of Hennepin.]

When Hennepin met him, he had been about two years in the wilderness. In
September, 1678, he left Quebec for the purpose of exploring the region of
the Upper Mississippi, and establishing relations of friendship with the
Sioux and their kindred, the Assiniboins. In the summer of 1679, he
visited three large towns of the eastern division of the Sioux, including
those visited by Hennepin. in the following year, and planted the king's
arms in all of them. Early in the autumn, he was at the head of Lake
Superior, holding a council with the Assiniboins and the lake tribes, and
inducing them to live at peace with the Sioux. In all this, he acted in a
public capacity, under the authority of the Governor; but it is not to be
supposed that he forgot his own interests or those of his associates. The
Intendant angrily complains that he aided and abetted the _coureurs de
bois_ in their lawless courses, and sent down in their canoes great
quantities of beaver-skins consigned, to the merchants in league with him,
under cover of whose names the Governor reaped his share of the profits.

In June, 1680, while Hennepin was in the Sioux villages, Du Lhut set out
from the head of Lake Superior with two canoes, four Frenchmen, and an
Indian, to continue his explorations. [Footnote: Abstracts of letters in
_Memoir on the French Dominion in Canada, N. Y. Col. Docs_., ix. 781.] He
ascended a river, apparently the Burnt Wood, and reached from thence a
branch of the Mississippi which seems to have been the St. Croix. It was
now that, to his surprise, he learned that there were three Europeans on
the main river below; and, fearing that they might be Englishmen or
Spaniards, encroaching on the territories of the king, he eagerly pressed
forward to solve his doubts. When he saw Hennepin, his mind was set at
rest; and the travellers met with a mutual cordiality. They followed the
Indians to their villages of Mille Lac, where Hennepin had now no reason
to complain of their treatment of him. The Sioux gave him and Du Lhut a
grand feast of honor, at which were seated a hundred and twenty naked
guests; and the great chief Ouasicoudé, with his own hands, placed before
Hennepin a bark dish containing a mess of smoked meat and wild rice.

Autumn had come, and the travellers bethought them of going home. The
Sioux, consoled by their promises to return with goods for trade, did not
oppose their departure; and they set out together, eight white men in all.
As they passed St. Anthony's Falls, two of the men stole two buffalo robes
which were hung on trees as offerings to the spirit of the cataract. When
Du Lhut heard of it, he was very angry, telling the men that they had
endangered the lives of the whole party. Hennepin admitted that, in the
view of human prudence, he was right, but urged that the act was good and
praiseworthy, inasmuch as the offerings were made to a false god; while
the men, on their part, proved mutinous, declaring that they wanted the
robes and meant to keep them. The travellers continued their journey in
great ill humor, but were presently soothed by the excellent hunting which
they found on the way. As they approached the Wisconsin, they stopped to
dry the meat of the buffalo they had killed, when to their amazement they
saw a war-party of Sioux approaching in a fleet of canoes. Hennepin
represents himself as showing on this occasion an extraordinary courage,
going to meet the Indians with a peace-pipe, and instructing Du Lhut, who
knew more of these matters than he, how it behooved him to conduct
himself. The Sioux proved not unfriendly, and said nothing of the theft of
the buffalo robes. They soon went on their way to attack the Illinois and
Missouris, leaving the Frenchmen to ascend the Wisconsin unmolested.

After various adventures, they reached the station of the Jesuits at Green
Bay; but its existence is wholly ignored by Hennepin, whose zeal for his
own order will not permit him to allude to this establishment of the rival
missionaries. [Footnote: On the other hand, he sets down on his map of
1683 a mission of the Récollets at a point north of the farthest sources
of the Mississippi, to which no white man had ever penetrated.] He is
equally reticent with regard to the Jesuit mission at Michillimackinac,
where the party soon after arrived, and where they spent the winter. The
only intimation which he gives of its existence consists in the mention of
the Jesuit Pierson, who was a Fleming like himself, and who often skated
with him on the frozen lake, or kept him company in fishing through a hole
in the ice. [Footnote: He says that Pierson had come among the Indians to
learn their language; that he "retained the frankness and rectitude of our
country," and "a disposition always on the side of candor and sincerity.
In a word, he seemed to me to lie all that a Christian ought to be"
(1697), 433.] When the spring opened, Hennepin descended Lake Huron,
followed the Detroit to Lake Erie, and proceeded thence to Niagara. Here
he spent some time in making a fresh examination of the cataract, and then
resumed his voyage on Lake Ontario. He stopped, however, at the great town
of the Senecas, near the Genessee, where, with his usual spirit of
meddling, he took upon him the functions of the civil and military
authorities, convoked the chiefs to a council, and urged them to set at
liberty certain Ottawa prisoners whom they had captured in violation of
treaties. Having settled this affair to his satisfaction, he went to Fort
Frontenac, where his brother missionary, Buisset, received him with a
welcome rendered the warmer by a story which had reached him, that the
Indians had hanged Hennepin with his own cord of St. Francis.

From Fort Frontenac he went to Montreal; and leaving his two men on a
neighboring island, that they might escape the payment of duties on a
quantity of furs which they had with them, he paddled alone towards the
town. Count Frontenac chanced to be here; and, looking from the window of
a house near the river, he saw, approaching in a canoe, a Récollet father,
whose appearance indicated the extremity of hard service; for his face was
worn and sunburnt, and his tattered habit of St. Francis was abundantly
patched with scraps of buffalo skin. When at length he recognized the
long-lost Hennepin, he received him, as the father writes, "with all the
tenderness which a missionary could expect from a person of his rank and
quality." [Footnote: (1697), 471.] He kept him for twelve days in his own
house, and listened with interest to such of his adventures as the friar
saw fit to divulge.

And here we bid farewell to Father Hennepin. "Providence," he writes,
"preserved my life that I might make known my great discoveries to the
world." He soon after went to Europe, where the story of his travels found
a host of readers, but where he died at last in a deserved obscurity.
[Footnote: More than twenty editions of Hennepin's travels appeared, in
French, English, Dutch, German, Italian, and Spanish. Most of them include
the mendacious narrative of the pretended descent of the Mississippi. For
a list of them, see _Hist. Mag._, i. 346; ii. 24.

The following is from a letter of La Salle, dated at Fort Frontenac, 22
Aug. 1681. This, with one or two other passages of his letters, shows that
he understood the friar's character, though he could scarcely have
foreseen his scandalous attempts to defame him and rob him of his just
honors. "J'ai cru qu'il étoit à propos de vous faire le narré des
aventures de ce canot (du Picard et d'Accau) parce que je ne doute pas
qu'on n'en parle; et si vous souhaitez en conférer avec le P. Louis Hempin
(sic) Récollect qui est repassé en France, il faut un peu le connaitre,
car il ne manquera pas d'exagérer toutes choses, c'est son caractère, et à
moy mesme il m'a écrit comme s'il eust esté tout près d'estre brulé,
quoiqu'il n'en ait pas esté seulement en danger; mais il croit qu'il lui
est honorable de le faire de la sorte, et _il parle plus conformément à ce
qu'il veut qu'à ce qu'il fait_." I am indebted for the above to M. Margry.

In 1699, Hennepin wished to return to Canada; but, in a letter of that
year, Louis XIV. orders the Governor to seize him, should he appear, and
send him prisoner to Rochefort. This seems to have been in consequence of
his renouncing the service of the French crown and dedicating his edition
of 1697 to William III. of England.]



In tracing the adventures of Tonty and the rovings of Hennepin, we have
lost sight of La Salle, the pivot of the enterprise. Returning from the
desolation and horror in the valley of the Illinois, he had spent the
winter at Fort Miami, on the St. Joseph, by the borders of Lake Michigan.
Here he might have brooded on the redoubled ruin that had befallen him:
the desponding friends, the exulting foes; the wasted energies, the
crushing load of debt, the stormy past, the black and lowering future. But
his mind was of a different temper. He had no thought but to grapple with
adversity, and out of the fragments of his ruin to rear the fabric of a
triumphant success.

He would not recoil; but he modified his plans to meet the new
contingency. His white enemies had found, or rather perhaps had made, a
savage ally in the Iroquois. Their incursions must be stopped, or his
enterprise would come to nought; and he thought he saw the means by which
this new danger could be converted into a source of strength. The tribes
of the West, threatened by the common enemy, might be taught to forget
their mutual animosities, and join in a defensive league, with La Salle at
its head. They might be colonized around his fort in the valley of the
Illinois, where, in the shadow of the French flag, and with the aid of
French allies, they could hold the Iroquois in check, and acquire, in some
measure, the arts of a settled life. The Franciscan friars could teach
them the faith; and La Salle and his associates could supply them with
goods, in exchange for the vast harvest of furs which their hunters could
gather in these boundless wilds. Meanwhile, he would seek out the mouth of
the Mississippi; and the furs gathered at his colony in the Illinois would
then find a ready passage to the markets of the world. Thus might this
ancient slaughter-field of warring savages be redeemed to civilization and
Christianity; and a stable settlement, half-feudal, half-commercial, grow
up in the heart of the western wilderness. The scheme was but a new
feature, the result of new circumstances, added to the original plan of
his great enterprise; and he addressed himself to its execution with his
usual vigor, and with an address which never failed him in his dealings
with Indians.

There were allies close at hand. Near Fort Miami were the huts of twenty-
five or thirty savages, exiles from their homes, and strangers in this
western world. Several of the English colonies, from Virginia to Maine,
had of late years been harassed by Indian wars; and the Puritans of New
England, above all, had been scourged by the deadly outbreak of King
Philip's war. Those engaged in it had paid a bitter price for their brief
triumphs. A band of refugees, chiefly Abenakis and Mohegans, driven from
their native seats, had roamed into these distant wilds, and were
wintering in the friendly neighborhood of the French. La Salle soon won
them over to his interests. One of their number was the Mohegan hunter,
who, for two years, had faithfully followed his fortunes, and who had been
for four years in the West, He is described as a prudent and discreet
young man, in whom La Salle had great confidence, and who could make
himself understood in several western languages, belonging, like his own,
to the great Algonquin tongue. This devoted henchman proved an efficient
mediator with his countrymen. The New-England Indians, with one voice,
promised to follow La Salle, asking no recompense but to call him their
chief, and yield to him the love and admiration which he rarely failed to
command from this hero-worshipping race.

New allies soon appeared. A Shawanoe chief from the valley of the Ohio,
whose following embraced a hundred and fifty warriors, came to ask the
protection of the French against the all-destroying Iroquois. "The
Shawanoes are too distant," was La Salle's reply; "but let them come to me
at the Illinois, and they shall be safe." The chief promised to join him
in the autumn, at Fort Miami, with all his band. But, more important than
all, the consent and co-operation of the Illinois must be gained; and the
Miamis, their neighbors, and of late their enemies, must be taught the
folly of their league with the Iroquois, and the necessity of joining in
the new confederation. Of late, they had been made to see the perfidy of
their dangerous allies. A band of the Iroquois, returning from the
slaughter of the Tamaroa Illinois, had met and murdered a band of Miamis
on the Ohio, and had not only refused satisfaction, but entrenched
themselves in three rude forts of trees and brushwood in the heart of the
Miami country. The moment was favorable for negotiating; but, first, La
Salle wished to open a communication with the Illinois, some of whom had
begun to return to the country they had abandoned. With this view, and
also, it seems, to procure provisions, he set out on the first of March,
with his lieutenant, La Forest, and nineteen men.

The country was sheeted in snow, and the party journeyed on snow-shoes;
but when they reached the open prairies, the white expanse glared in the
sun with so dazzling a brightness that La Salle and several of the men
became snow-blind. They stopped and encamped under the edge of a forest;
and here La Salle remained in darkness for three days, suffering extreme
pain. Meanwhile, he sent forward La Forest, and most of the men, keeping
with him his old attendant Hunaut, Going out in quest of pine-leaves, a
decoction of which was supposed to be useful in cases of snow-blindness,
this man discovered the fresh tracks of Indians, followed them, and found
a camp of Outagamies, or Foxes, from the neighborhood of Green Bay. From
them he heard welcome news. They told him that Tonty was safe among the
Pottawattamies, and that Hennepin had passed through their country on his
return from among the Sioux. [Footnote: _Relation des Découvertes_, MS. A
valuable confirmation of Hennepin's narrative.]

A thaw took place; the snow melted rapidly; the rivers were opened; the
blind men began to recover; and, launching the canoes which they had
dragged after them, the party pursued their way by water. They soon met a
band of Illinois. La Salle gave them presents, condoled with them on their
losses, and urged them to make peace and alliance with the Miamis. Thus,
he said, they could set the Iroquois at defiance; for he himself, with his
Frenchmen, and his Indian friends, would make his abode among them, supply
them with goods, and aid them to defend themselves. They listened, well
pleased, promised to carry his message to their countrymen, and furnished
him with a large supply of corn. [Footnote: This seems to have been taken
from the secret repositories, or _caches_, of the ruined town of the
Illinois.] Meanwhile, he had rejoined La Forest, whom he now sent to
Michillimackinac to await Tonty, and tell him to remain there till he, La
Salle, should arrive.

Having thus accomplished the objects of his journey, he returned to Fort
Miami, whence he soon after ascended the St. Joseph to the village of the
Miami Indians on the portage, at the head of the Kankakee. Here he found
unwelcome guests. These were a band of Iroquois warriors, who had been for
some time in the place, and who, as he was told, had demeaned themselves
with the insolence of conquerors, and spoken of the French with the utmost
contempt. He hastened to confront them, rebuked and menaced them, and told
them that now, when he was present, they dared not repeat the calumnies
which they had uttered in his absence. They stood abashed and confounded,
and, during the following night, secretly left the town, and fled. The
effect was prodigious on the minds of the Miamis, when they saw that La
Salle, backed by ten Frenchmen, could command from their arrogant visitors
a respect which they, with their hundreds of warriors, had wholly failed
to inspire. Here, at the outset, was an augury full of promise for the
approaching negotiations.

There were other strangers in the town,--a band of eastern Indians, more
numerous than those who had wintered at the fort. The greater number were
from Rhode Island, including, probably, some of King Philip's warriors;
others were from New York, and others again from Virginia. La Salle called
them to a council, promised them a new home in the West, under the
protection of the Great King, with rich lands, an abundance of game, and
French traders to supply them with the goods which they had once received
from the English. Let them but help him to make peace between the Miamis
and the Illinois, and he would insure for them a future of prosperity and
safety. They listened with open ears, and promised their aid in the work
of peace.

On the next morning, the Miamis were called to a grand council. It was
held in the lodge of their chief, from which the mats were removed, that
the crowd without might hear what was said. La Salle rose, and harangued
the concourse. Few men were so skilled in the arts of forest rhetoric and
diplomacy. After the Indian mode, he was, to follow his chroniclers, "the
greatest orator in North America." [Footnote: "En ce genre, il étoit le
plus grand orateur de l'Amerique Septentrionale."--_Relation des
Découvertes_, MS.] He began with a gift of tobacco, to clear the brains of
his auditory; next, for he had brought a canoe-load of presents to support
his eloquence, he gave them cloth to cover their dead, coats to dress
them, hatchets to build a grand scaffold in their honor, and beads, bells,
and trinkets of all sorts, to decorate their relatives at a grand funeral
feast. All this was mere metaphor. The living, while appropriating the
gifts to their own use, were pleased at the compliment offered to their
dead; and their delight redoubled as the orator proceeded. One of their
great chiefs had lately been killed; and La Salle, after a eulogy of the
departed, declared that he would now raise him to life again; that is,
that he would assume his name, and give support to his squaws and
children. This flattering announcement drew forth an outburst of applause;
and when, to confirm his words, his attendants placed before them a huge
pile of coats, shirts, and hunting-knives, the whole assembly exploded in
yelps of admiration.

Now came the climax of the harangue, introduced by a farther present of
six guns.

"He who is my master, and the master of all this country, is a mighty
chief, feared by the whole world; but he loves peace, and the words of his
lips are for good alone. He is called the King of France, and he is the
mightiest among the chiefs beyond the great water. His goodness reaches
even to your dead, and his subjects come among you to raise them up to
life. But it is his will to preserve the life he has given: it is his will
that you should obey his laws, and make no war without the leave of
Onontio, who commands in his name at Quebec, and who loves all the nations
alike, because such is the will of the Great King. You ought, then, to
live at peace with your neighbors, and above all with the Illinois. You
have had causes of quarrel with them; but their defeat has avenged you.
Though they are still strong, they wish to make peace with you. Be content
with the glory of having obliged them to ask for it. You have an interest
in preserving them; since, if the Iroquois destroy them, they will next
destroy you. Let us all obey the Great King, and live together in peace,
under his protection. Be of my mind, and use these guns that I have given
you, not to make war, but only to hunt and to defend yourselves."
[Footnote: Translated from the _Relation_, where these councils are
reported at great length.]

So saying, he gave two belts of wampum to confirm his words; and the
assembly dissolved. On the following day, the chiefs again convoked it,
and made their reply in form. It was all that La Salle could have wished.
"The Illinois is our brother, because he is the son of our Father, the
Great King." "We make you the master of our beaver and our lands, of our
minds and our bodies." "We cannot wonder that our brothers from the East
wish to live with you. We should have wished so too, if we had known what
a blessing it is to be the children of the Great King." The rest of this
auspicious day was passed in feasts and dances, in which La Salle and his
Frenchmen all bore part. His new scheme was hopefully begun; the ground
was broken, and the seed sown. It remained to achieve the enterprise,
twice defeated, of the discovery of the mouth of the Mississippi, that
vital condition of his triumph, without which all other successes were
meaningless and vain.

To this end he must return to Canada, appease his creditors, and collect
his scattered resources. Towards the end of May, he set out in canoes from
Fort Miami, and reached Michillimackinac after a prosperous voyage. Here,
to his great joy, he found Tonty and Zenobe Membré, who had lately arrived
from Green Bay. The meeting was one at which even his stoic nature must
have melted. Each had for the other a tale of disaster; but, when La Salle
recounted the long succession of his reverses, it was with the tranquil
tone and cheerful look of one who relates the incidents of an ordinary
journey. Membré looked on him with admiration. "Any one else," he says,
"would have thrown up his hand, and abandoned the enterprise; but, far
from this, with a firmness and constancy that never had its equal, I saw
him more resolved than ever to continue his work and push forward his
discovery." [Footnote: Membré, in Le Clercq, ii. 208. Tonty, in his
unpublished memoir, speaks of the joy of La Salle at the meeting. The
_Relation_, usually very accurate, says erroneously, that Tonty had gone
to Fort Frontenac. La Forest had gone thither not long before La Salle's

Without loss of time, they embarked together for Fort Frontenac, paddled
their canoes a thousand miles, and safely reached their destination. Here,
in this third beginning of his disastrous enterprise, La Salle found
himself beset with embarrassments. Not only was he burdened with the
fruitless costs of his two former efforts, but the heavy debts which he
had incurred in building and maintaining Fort Frontenac had not been
wholly paid. The fort and the seigniory were already deeply mortgaged;
yet, through the influence of Count Frontenac, the assistance of his
secretary, Barrois, a consummate man of business, and the support of a
wealthy relative, he found means to appease his creditors and even to gain
fresh advances. To this end, however, he was forced to part with a portion
of his monopolies. Having first made his will at Montreal, in favor of a
cousin who had befriended him, [Footnote: _Copie du testament du deffunt
Sr. de la Salle, 11 Août_, 1681, MS. The relative was François Plet, M.D.,
of Paris.] he mustered his men, and once more set forth, resolved to trust
no more to agents, but to lead on his followers, in a united body, under
his own personal command. [Footnote: "On apprendra à la fin de cette
année, 1682, le suceès de la découverte qu'il étoit résolu d'achever, au
plus tard le printemps dernier, ou de périr en y travaillant. Tant de
traverses et de malheurs toujours arrivés en son absence l'ont fait
résoudre à ne se fier plus à personne et à conduire lui-même tout son
monde, tout son équipage, et toute son entreprise, de laquelle il espéroit
une heureuse conclusion."

The above is a part of the closing paragraph of the _Relation des
Déscouvertes_, so often cited, and of the excellent guidance of which we
are henceforth deprived. It is a compilation made up from material
supplied by the various members of La Salle's party, on their return to
Canada, in 1681; and the greater portion is substantially the work of La
Salle himself. It is a document of great interest and undoubted

The summer was spent when he reached Lake Huron. Day after day, and week
after week, the heavy-laden canoes crept on along the lonely wilderness
shores, by the monotonous ranks of bristling moss-bearded firs; lake and
forest, forest and lake; a dreary scene haunted with yet more dreary
memories,--disasters, sorrows, and deferred hopes; time, strength, and
wealth spent in vain; a ruinous past and a doubtful future; slander,
obloquy, and hate. With unmoved heart, the patient voyager held his
course, and drew up his canoes at last on the beach at Fort Miami.



The season was far advanced. On the bare limbs of the forest hung a few
withered remnants of its gay autumnal livery; and the smoke crept upward
through the sullen November air from the squalid wigwams of La Salle's
Abenaki and Mohegan allies. These, his new friends, were savages, whose
midnight yells had startled the border hamlets of New England; who had
danced around Puritan scalps, and whom Puritan imaginations painted as
incarnate fiends. La Salle chose eighteen of them, "all well inured to
war," as his companion Membré writes, and added them to the twenty-three
Frenchmen who composed his party. They insisted on taking their women with
them, to cook for them, and do other camp work. These were ten in number,
besides three children; and thus the expedition included fifty-four
persons, of whom some were useless, and others a burden.

On the twenty-first of December, Tonty and Membré set out from Fort Miami
with some of the party in six canoes, and crossed to the little river
Chicago. [Footnote: La Salle, _Relation de la Découverte_, 1682, in
Thomassy, _Géologie Pratique de la Louisiane_, 9; _Lettre du Père Zenoble_
(Zenobe Membré), 14 Aoust, 1682, MS.; Membré, in Le Clercq, ii. 214;
Tonty, _Mémoire_, MS.; _Procès Verbal de la Prise de Possession de la

The narrative ascribed to Membré, and published by Le Clercq, is based on
the document preserved in the Archives Scientifiques de In Marine,
entitled _Relation de la Découverte de l'Embouchure de la Rivière
Mississippi faite par le Sieur de la Salle, l'année passée_, 1682. The
writer of the narrative has used it very freely, copying the greater part
verbatim, with occasional additions of a kind which seem to indicate that
he had taken part in the expedition. The _Relation de la Découverte_,
though written in the third person, is the official report of the
discovery made by La Salle; or perhaps for him, by Membré. Membré's letter
of August, 1682, is a brief and succinct statement made immediately after
his return.] La Salle, with the rest of the men, joined them a few days
later. It was the dead of winter, and the streams were frozen. They made
sledges, placed on them the canoes, the baggage, and a disabled Frenchman;
crossed from the Chicago to the northern branch of the Illinois, and filed
in a long procession down its frozen course. They reached the site of the
great Illinois village, found it tenantless, and continued their journey,
still dragging their canoes, till at length they reached open water below
Lake Peoria.

La Salle had abandoned, for a time, his original plan of building a vessel
for the navigation of the Mississippi. Bitter experience had taught him
the difficulty of the attempt, and he resolved to trust to his canoes
alone. They embarked again, floating prosperously down between the
leafless forests that flanked the tranquil river; till, on the sixth of
February, they issued forth on the majestic bosom of the Mississippi.
Here, for the time, their progress was stopped; for the river was full of
floating ice. La Salle's Indians, too, had lagged behind; but, within a
week, all had arrived, the navigation was once more free, and they resumed
their course. Towards evening, they saw on their right the mouth of a
great river; and the clear current was invaded by the headlong torrent of
the Missouri, opaque with mud. They built their camp fires in the
neighboring forest; and, at daylight, embarking anew on the dark and
mighty stream, drifted swiftly down towards unknown destinies. They passed
a deserted town of the Tamaroas; saw, three days after, the mouth of the
Ohio; [Footnote: Called by Membré the Ouabache (Wabash).] and, gliding by
the wastes of bordering swamp, landed, on the twenty-fourth of February,
near the Third Chickasaw Bluffs. [Footnote: La Salle, _Relation de la
Découverte de I'Embouchure, etc._; Thomassy, 10 Membré gives the same
date; but the _Procès Verbal_ makes it the twenty-sixth.] They encamped,
and the hunters went out for game. All returned, excepting Pierre
Prudhomme; and, as the others had seen fresh tracks of Indians, La Salle
feared that he was killed. While some of his followers built a small
stockade fort on a high bluff [Footnote: Gravier, in his letter of 16 Feb.
1701, says that he encamped near a "great bluff of stone, called Fort
Prudhomme, because M. de la Salle, going on his discovery, entrenched
himself here with his party, fearing that Prudhomme, who had lost himself
in the woods, had been killed by the Indians, and that he himself would be
attacked."] by the river, others ranged the woods in pursuit of the
missing hunter. After six days of ceaseless and fruitless search, they met
two Chickasaw Indians in the forest; and, through them, La Salle sent
presents and peace-messages to that warlike people, whose villages were a
few days' journey distant. Several days later, Prudhomme was found, and
brought in to the camp, half dead. He had lost his way while hunting; and,
to console him for his woes. La Salle christened the newly built fort with
his name, and left him, with a few others, in charge of it.

Again they embarked; and, with every stage of their adventurous progress,
the mystery of this vast New World was more and more unveiled. More and
more they entered the realms of spring. The hazy sunlight, the warm and
drowsy air, the tender foliage, the opening flowers, betokened the
reviving life of Nature. For several days more they followed the writhings
of the great river, on its tortuous course through wastes of swamp and
cane-brake, till on the thirteenth of March [Footnote: La Salle,
_Relation_; Thomassy, 11.] they found themselves wrapped in a thick fog.
Neither shore was visible; but they heard on the right the booming of an
Indian drum, and the shrill outcries of the war-dance. La Salle at once
crossed to the opposite side, where, in less than an hour, his men threw
up a rude fort of felled trees. Meanwhile, the fog cleared; and, from the
farther bank, the astonished Indians saw the strange visitors at their
work. Some of the French advanced to the edge of the water, and beckoned
them to come over. Several of them approached, in a wooden canoe, to
within the distance of a gun-shot. La Salle displayed the calumet, and
sent a Frenchman to meet them. He was well received; and the friendly mood
of the Indians being now apparent, the whole party crossed the river.

On landing, they found themselves at a town of the Kappa band of the
Arkansas, a people dwelling near the mouth of the river which bears their
name. The inhabitants flocked about them with eager signs of welcome;
built huts for them, brought them firewood, gave them corn, beans, and
dried fruits, and feasted them without respite for three days. "They are a
lively, civil, generous people," says Membré, "very different from the
cold and taciturn Indians of the North." They showed, indeed, some slight
traces of a tendency towards civilization; for domestic fowls and tame
geese were wandering among their rude cabins of bark. [Footnote: Membré,
in Le Clercq, ii. 224; Tonty, _Mémoire_, MS.]

La Salle and Tonty at the head of their followers marched to the open area
in the midst of the village. Here, to the admiration of the gazing crowd
of warriors, women, and children, a cross was raised bearing the arms of
France. Membré, in canonicals, sang a hymn; the men shouted _Vice le Roi_;
and La Salle, in the king's name, took formal possession of the country.
[Footnote: _Procès Verbal de la Prise de Possession du Pays des Arkansas,
14 Mars_, 1682, MS.] The friar, not, he flatters himself, without success,
labored to expound by signs the mysteries of the faith; while La Salle, by
methods equally satisfactory, drew from the chief an acknowledgment of
fealty to Louis XIV. [Footnote: The nation of the Akanseas, Alkansas, or
Arkansas, dwelt on the west bank of the Mississippi, near the mouth of the
Arkansas. They were divided into four tribes, living for the most part in
separate villages. Those first visited by La Salle were the Kappas or
Quapaws, a remnant of whom still subsists. The others were the Topingas,
or Tongengas; the Torimans; and the Osotouoy, or Sauthouis. According to
Charlevoix, who saw them in 1721, they were regarded as the tallest and
best formed Indians in America, and were known as _les Beaux Hommes_.
Gravier says that they once lived on the Ohio.]

After touching at several other towns of this people, the voyagers resumed
their course, guided by two of the Arkansas; passed the sites, since
become historic, of Vicksburg and Grand Gulf; and, about three hundred
miles below the Arkansas, stopped by the edge of a swamp on the western
side of the river. [Footnote: In Tensas County, Louisiana. Tonty's
estimates of distance are here much too low. They seem to be founded on
observations of latitude, without reckoning the windings of the river. It
may interest sportsmen to know that the party killed several large
alligators on their way. Membré is much astonished that such monsters
should be born of eggs, like chickens.] Here, as their two guides told
them, was the path to the great town of the Taensas. Tonty and Membré were
sent to visit it. They and their men shouldered their birch canoe through
the swamp, and launched it on a lake which had once formed a portion of
the channel of the river. In two hours they reached the town, and Tonty
gazed at it with astonishment. He had seen nothing like it in America;
large square dwellings, built of sun-baked mud mixed with straw, arched
over with a dome-shaped roof of canes, and placed in regular order around
an open area. Two of them were larger and better than the rest. One was
the lodge of the chief; the other was the temple, or house of the Sun.
They entered the former, and found a single room, forty feet square,
where, in the dim light, for there was no opening but the door, the chief
sat awaiting them on a sort of bedstead, three of his wives at his side,
while sixty old men, wrapped in white cloaks woven of mulberrybark, formed
his divan. When he spoke, his wives howled to do him honor; and the
assembled councillors listened with the reverence due to a potentate for
whom, at his death, a hundred victims were to be sacrificed. He received
the visitors graciously, and joyfully accepted the gifts which Tonty laid
before him. [Footnote: Tonty, _Mémoire_, MS. In the spurious narrative
published in Tonty's name, the account is embellished and exaggerated.
Compare Membré, in Le Clercq, ii. 227. La Salle's statements in the
Relation of 1682 (Thomassy, 12) sustain those of Tonty.] This interview
over, the Frenchmen repaired to the temple, wherein were kept the bones of
the departed chiefs. In construction it was much like the royal dwelling.
Over it were rude wooden figures, representing three eagles turned towards
the east. A strong mud wall surrounded it, planted with stakes, on which
were stuck the skulls of enemies sacrificed to the Sun; while before the
door was a block of wood, on which lay a large shell surrounded with the
braided hair of the victims. The interior was rude as a barn, dimly
lighted from the doorway, and full of smoke. There was a structure in the
middle which Membré thinks was a kind of altar; and before it burned a
perpetual fire, fed with three logs laid end to end, and watched by two
old men devoted to this sacred office. There was a mysterious recess, too,
which the strangers were forbidden to explore, but which, as Tonty was
told, contained the riches of the nation, consisting of pearls from the
Gulf, and trinkets obtained, probably through other tribes, from the
Spaniards and other Europeans.

The chief condescended to visit La Salle at his camp; a favor which he
would by no means have granted, had the visitors been Indians. A master of
ceremonies, and six attendants, preceded him, to clear the path and
prepare the place of meeting. When all was ready, he was seen advancing,
clothed in a white robe, and preceded by two men bearing white fans; while
a third displayed a disk of burnished copper, doubtless to represent the
Sun, his ancestor; or, as others will have it, his elder brother. His
aspect was marvellously grave, and he and La Salle met with gestures of
ceremonious courtesy. The interview was very friendly; and the chief
returned well pleased with the gifts which his entertainer bestowed on
him, and which, indeed, had been the principal motive of his visit.

On the next morning, as they descended the river, they saw a wooden canoe
full of Indians; and Tonty gave chase. He had nearly overtaken it, when
more than a hundred men appeared suddenly on the shore, with bows bent to
defend their countrymen. La Salle called out to Tonty to withdraw. He
obeyed; and the whole party encamped on the opposite bank. Tonty offered
to cross the river with a peace-pipe, and set out accordingly with a small
party of men. When he landed, the Indians made signs of friendship by
joining their hands,--a proceeding by which Tonty, having but one hand,
was somewhat embarrassed; but he directed his men to respond in his stead.
La Salle and Membré now joined him, and went with the Indians to their
village, three leagues distant. Here they spent the night. "The Sieur de
la Salle," writes Membré, "whose very air, engaging manners, tact, and
address attract love and respect alike, produced such an effect on the
hearts of these people, that they did not know how to treat us well
enough." [Footnote: Membré, in Le Clercq, ii. 232.]

The Indians of this village were the Natchez; and their chief was brother
of the great chief, or Sun, of the whole nation. His town was several
leagues distant, near the site of the city of Natchez; and thither the
French repaired to visit him. They saw what they had already seen among
the Taensas,--a religious and political despotism, a privileged caste
descended from the Sun, a temple, and a sacred fire. [Footnote: The
Natchez and the Taensas, whose habits and customs were similar, did not,
in their social organization, differ radically from other Indians. The
same principle of clanship, or _totemship_, so widely spread, existed in
full force among them, combined with their religious ideas, and developed
into forms of which no other example, equally distinct, is to be found.
(For Indian clanship, see "Jesuits in North America," _Introduction_.)
Among the Natchez and Taensas, the principal clan formed a ruling caste;
and its chiefs had the attributes of demi-gods. As descent was through the
female, the chief's son never succeeded him, but the son of one of his
sisters; and as she, by the usual totemic law, was forced to marry in
another clan,--that is, to marry a common mortal,--her husband, though the
destined father of a demi-god, was treated by her as little better than a
slave. She might kill him, if he proved unfaithful; but he was forced to
submit to her infidelities in silence.

The customs of the Natchez have been described by Du Pratz, Le Petit, and
others. Charlevoix visited their temple in 1721, and found it in a
somewhat shabby condition. At this time, the Taensas were extinct. In
1729, the Natchez, enraged by the arbitrary conduct of a French
commandant, massacred the neighboring settlers, and were in consequence
expelled from their country and nearly destroyed. A few still survive,
incorporated with the Creeks; but they have lost their peculiar customs.]
La Salle planted a large cross, with the arms of France attached, in the
midst of the town; while the inhabitants looked on with a satisfaction
which they would hardly have displayed, had they understood the meaning of
the act.

The French next visited the Coroas, at their village, two leagues below;
and here they found a reception no less auspicious. On the thirty-first of
March, as they approached Red River, they passed in the fog a town of the
Oumas; and, three days later, discovered a party of fishermen, in wooden
canoes, among the canes along the margin of the water. They fled at sight
of the Frenchmen. La Salle sent men to reconnoitre, who, as they struggled
through the marsh, were greeted with a shower of arrows; while, from the
neighboring village of the Quinipissas, [Footnote: In St. Charles County,
on the left bank, not far above New Orleans.] invisible behind the cane-
brake, they heard the sound of an Indian drum, and the whoops of the
mustering warriors. La Salle, anxious to keep the peace with all the
tribes along the river, recalled his men, and pursued his voyage. A few
leagues below, they saw a cluster of Indian lodges on the left bank,
apparently void of inhabitants. They landed, and found three of them
filled with corpses. It was a village of the Tangibao, sacked by their
enemies only a few days before. [Footnote: Hennepin uses this incident, as
well as most of those which have preceded it, in making up the story of
his pretended voyage to the Gulf.]

And now they neared their journey's end. On the sixth of April, the river
divided itself into three broad channels. La Salle followed that of the
west, and D'Autray that of the east; while Tonty took the middle passage.
As he drifted down the turbid current, between the low and marshy shores,
the brackish water changed to brine, and the breeze grew fresh with the
salt breath of the sea. Then the broad bosom of the great Gulf opened on
his sight, tossing its restless billows, limitless, voiceless, lonely, as
when born of chaos, without a sail, without a sign of life.

La Salle, in a canoe, coasted the marshy borders of the sea; and then the
reunited parties assembled on a spot of dry ground, a short distance above
the mouth of the river. Here a column was made ready, bearing the arms of
France, and inscribed with the words,--


The Frenchmen were mustered under arms; and, while the New-England Indians
and their squaws stood gazing in wondering silence, they chanted the _Te
Deum_, the _Exaudiat_, and the _Domine salvum fac Regem_. Then, amid
volleys of musketry and shouts of _Vive le Roi_, La Salle planted the
column in its place, and, standing near it, proclaimed in a loud voice,--

"In the name of the most high, mighty, invincible, and victorious Prince,
Louis the Great, by the grace of God King of France and of Navarre,
Fourteenth of that name, I, this ninth day of April, one thousand six
hundred and eighty-two, in virtue of the commission of his Majesty, which
I hold in my hand, and which may be seen by all whom it may concern, have
taken, and do now take, in the name of his Majesty and of his successors
to the crown, possession of this country of Louisiana, the seas, harbors,
ports, bays, adjacent straits, and all the nations, peoples, provinces,
cities, towns, villages, mines, minerals, fisheries, streams, and rivers,
within the extent of the said Louisiana, from the mouth of the great river
St. Louis, otherwise called the Ohio, ... as also along the River Colbert,
or Mississippi, and the rivers which discharge themselves therein, from
its source beyond the country of the Nadouessious ... as far as its mouth
at the sea, or Gulf of Mexico, and also to the mouth of the River of
Palms, upon the assurance we have had from the natives of these countries,
that we are the first Europeans who have descended or ascended the said
River Colbert; hereby protesting against all who may hereafter undertake
to invade any or all of these aforesaid countries, peoples, or lands, to
the prejudice of the rights of his Majesty, acquired by the consent of the
nations dwelling herein. Of which, and of all else that is needful, I
hereby take to witness those who hear me, and demand an act of the notary
here present." [Footnote: In the passages omitted above, for the sake of
brevity, the Ohio is mentioned as being called also the _Olighin_
(Alleghany), _Sipou_ and _Chukagoua_; and La Salle declares that he takes
possession of the country with the consent of the nations dwelling in it,
of whom he names the Chaouanons (Shawanoes), Kious, or Nadouessious
(Sioux), Chikachas (Chickasaws), Motantees (?), Illinois, Mitchigamias,
Arkansas, Natches, and Koroas. This alleged consent is, of course, mere
farce. If there could be any doubt as to the meaning of the words of La
Salle, as recorded in the _Procès Verbal de la Prise de Possession de la
Louisiana_, it would be set at rest by Le Clercq, who says, "Le Sieur de
la Salle prit au nom de sa Majesté possession de ce fleuve, _de toutes les
rivières qui y entrent, et de tous les pays qu'elles arrosent._" These
words are borrowed from the report of La Salle; see Thomassy, 14. A copy
of the original of the _Procès Verbal_ is before me. It bears the name of
Jacques de la Métairie, Notary of Fort Frontenac, who was one of the

Shouts of _Vive le Roi_ and volleys of musketry responded to his words.
Then a cross was planted beside the column, and a leaden plate buried near
it, bearing the arms of France, with a Latin inscription, _Ludovicus
Magnus regnat_. The weather-beaten voyagers joined their voices in the
grand hymn of the _Vexilla Regis_:--

"The banners of Heaven's King advance,
The mystery of the Cross shines forth;"

and renewed shouts of _Vive le Roi_ closed the ceremony.

On that day, the realm of France received on parchment a stupendous
accession. The fertile plains of Texas; the vast basin of the Mississippi,
from its frozen northern springs to the sultry borders of the Gulf; from
the woody ridges of the Alleghanies to the bare peaks of the Rocky
Mountains,--a region of savannahs and forests, sun-cracked deserts, and
grassy prairies, watered by a thousand rivers, ranged by a thousand
warlike tribes, passed beneath the sceptre of the Sultan of Versailles;
and all by virtue of a feeble human voice, inaudible at half a mile.



Louisiana was the name bestowed by La Salle on the new domain of the
French crown. The rule of the Bourbons in the West is a memory of the
past, but the name of the Great King still survives in a narrow corner of
their lost empire. The Louisiana of to-day is but a single State of the
American republic. The Louisiana of La Salle stretched from the
Alleghanies to the Rocky Mountains; from the Rio Grande and the Gulf to
the farthest springs of the Missouri. [Footnote: The boundaries are laid
down on the great map of Franquelin, made in 1684, and preserved in the
Dépôt des Cartes of the Marine. The line runs along the south shore of
Lake Erie, and thence follows the heads of the streams flowing into Lake
Michigan. It then turns north-west, and is lost in the vast unknown of the
now British Territories. On the south it is drawn by the heads of the
streams flowing into the Gulf, as far west as Mobile, after which it
follows the shore of the Gulf to a little south of the Rio Grande, then
runs west, north-west, and finally north along the range of the Rocky

La Salle had written his name in history; but his hard-earned success was
but the prelude of a harder task. Herculean labors lay before him, if he
would realize the schemes with which his brain was pregnant. Bent on
accomplishing them, he retraced his course, and urged his canoes upward
against the muddy current. The party were famished. They had little to
subsist on but the flesh of alligators. When they reached the Quinipissas,
who had proved hostile on their way down, they resolved to risk an
interview with them, in the hope of obtaining food. The treacherous
savages dissembled, brought them corn, and, on the following night, made
an attack upon them, but met with a bloody repulse. They next revisited
the Natchez, and found an unfavorable change in their disposition towards
them. They feasted them, indeed, but, during the repast, surrounded them
with an overwhelming force of warriors. The French, however, kept so well
on their guard, that their entertainers dared not make an attack, and
suffered them to depart unmolested. [Footnote: Tonty, _Mémoire_, MS.]

And now, in a career of unwonted success and anticipated triumph, La Salle
was sharply arrested by a foe against which the boldest heart avails
nothing. As he ascended the Mississippi, he was seized by a dangerous
illness. Unable to proceed, he sent forward Tonty to Michillimackinac,
whence, after despatching news of their discovery to Canada, he was to
return to the Illinois. La Salle himself lay helpless at Fort Prudhomme,
the palisade work which his men had built at the Chickasaw Bluffs on their
way down. Father Zenobe Membré attended him; and, at the end of July, he
was once more in a condition to advance by slow movements towards the
Miami, which he reached in about a month.

His descent of the Mississippi had been successful as an exploration, and
this was all. Could he have executed his original plan, have built a
vessel on the Illinois and descended in her to the Gulf of Mexico, he
would have been able to defray in some measure the costs of the
enterprise, by means of a cargo of buffalo hides collected from Indians on
the way, with which he would have sailed to the West Indies, or perhaps to
France. With a fleet of canoes, this was of course impossible; and there
was nothing to offset the enormous outlay which he and his family had
made. He proposed, as we have seen, to found, on the banks of the
Illinois, a colony of French and Indians, of which he should be the feudal
lord, and which should answer the double purpose of a bulwark against the
Iroquois and a depot for the furs of all the Western tribes; and he hoped,
in the following spring, to secure an outlet for this colony, and for all
the trade of the Mississippi and its tributaries, by occupying its mouth
with a fort and a dependent colony. [Footnote: "Monsieur de la Salle se
dispose de retourner sur ses pas à la mer au printemps prochain avec un
plus grand nombre de gens, et des familles, pour y faire des
établissemens." Membré, in Le Clercq, ii. 248. This was written in 1682,
immediately after the return from the mouth of the Mississippi.] Thus he
would control the valley of the great river of the West.

He rejoined Tonty at Michillimaekinac in September. It was his purpose to
go at once to France to provide means for establishing his projected post
at the mouth of the Mississippi; and he ordered Tonty, meanwhile, to
collect as many men as possible, return to the Illinois, build a fort, and
lay the foundations of the colony, the plan of which had been determined
the year before. La Salle was about to depart for Quebec, when news
reached him that changed his plans, and caused him to postpone his voyage
to France. He heard that those pests of the wilderness, the Iroquois, were
about to renew their attacks on the western tribes, and especially on
their former allies, the Miamis. [Footnote: _Lettre de La Barre au
Ministre_, 14 Nov. 1682, MS.] This would ruin his projected colony. His
presence was indispensable. He followed Tonty to the Illinois, and
rejoined him near the site of the great town.

The cliff called "Starved Rock," now pointed out to travellers as the
chief natural curiosity of the region, rises, steep on three sides as a
castle wall, to the height of a hundred and twenty-five feet above the
river. In front, it overhangs the water that washes its base; its western
brow looks down oil the tops of the forest trees below; and on the east
lies a wide gorge or ravine, choked with the mingled foliage of oaks,
walnuts, and elms; while in its rocky depths a little brook creeps down to
mingle with the river. From the rugged trunk of the stunted cedar that
leans forward from the brink, you may drop a plummet into the river below,
where the cat-fish and the turtles may plainly be seen gliding over the
wrinkled sands of the clear and shallow current. The cliff is accessible
only from behind, where a man may climb up, not without difficulty, by a
steep and narrow passage. The top is about an acre in extent. Here, in the
month of December, La Salle and Tonty began to entrench themselves. They
cut away the forest that crowned the rock, built storehouses and dwellings
of its remains, dragged timber up the rugged pathway, and encircled the
summit with a palisade. [Footnote: "Starved Rock" perfectly answers In
every respect to the indications of the contemporary maps and documents
concerning "Le Rocher," the site of La Salle's fort of St. Louis. It is
laid down on several contemporary maps, besides the great map of La
Salle's discoveries, made in 1684. They all place it on the south side of
the river; whereas Buffalo Rock, three miles above, which has been
supposed to be the site of the fort, is on the north. The rock fortified
by La Salle stood, we are told, at the edge of the water; while Buffalo
Rock is at some distance from the bank. The latter is crowned by a plateau
of great extent, is but sixty feet high, is accessible at many points, and
would require a large force to defend it; whereas La Salle chose "Le
Rocher," because a few men could hold it against a multitude. Charlevoix,
in 1721, describes both rocks, and says that the top of Buffalo Rock had
been occupied by the Miami village, so that it was known as _Le Fort des
Miamis_. This explains the Indian remains found here. He then speaks of
"Le Rocher," calling it by that name; says that it is about a league below
on the left or south side, forming a sheer cliff, very high, and looking
like a fortress on the border of the river. He saw remains of palisades at
the top which he thinks were made by the Illinois (_Journal Historique,
Let._ xxvii), though his countrymen had occupied it only three years
before. "The French reside on the Rock (Le Rocher), which is very lofty
and impregnable."--_Memoir on Western Indians_, 1718, in _N.Y. Col.
Docs._, ix. 890. St. Cosme, passing this way in 1699, mentions it as "Le
Vieux Fort," and says that it is "a rock about a hundred feet high at the
edge of the river, where M. de la Salle built a fort, since abandoned."--
_Journal de St. Cosme_, MS. Joutel, who was here in 1687, says, "Fort St.
Louis is on a steep rock, about two hundred feet high, with the river
running at its base." He adds, that its only defences were palisades. The
true height, as stated above, is about a hundred and twenty-five feet.

A traditional interest also attaches to this rock. It is said, that in the
Indian wars that followed the assassination of Pontiac, a few years after
the cession of Canada, a party of Illinois, assailed by the
Pottawattamies, here took refuge, defying attack. At length they were all
destroyed by starvation, and hence the name of "Starved Rock."

For other proofs concerning this locality, see _ante_, p. 221.]

Thus the winter was passed, and meanwhile the work of negotiation went
prosperously on. The minds of the Indians had been already prepared. In La
Salle they saw their champion against the Iroquois, the standing terror of
all this region. They gathered around his stronghold like the timorous
peasantry of the middle ages around the rock-built castle of their feudal
lord. From the wooden ramparts of St. Louis,--for so he named his fort,--
high and inaccessible as an eagle's nest, a strange scene lay before his
eye. The broad flat valley of the Illinois was spread beneath him like a
map, bounded in the distance by its low wall of woody hills. The river
wound at his feet in devious channels among islands bordered with lofty
trees; then, far on the left, flowed calmly westward through the vast
meadows, till its glimmering blue ribbon was lost in hazy distance.

There had been a time, and that not remote, when these fair meadows were a
waste of death and desolation, scathed with fire, and strewn with the
ghastly relics of an Iroquois victory. Now, all was changed. La Salle
looked down from his rock on a concourse of wild human life. Lodges of
bark and rushes, or cabins of logs, were clustered on the open plain, or
along the edges of the bordering forests. Squaws labored, warriors lounged
in the sun, naked children whooped and gambolled on the grass. Beyond the
river, a mile and a half on the left, the banks were studded once more
with the lodges of the Illinois, who, to the number of six thousand, had
returned, since their defeat, to this their favorite dwelling-place.
Scattered along the valley, among the adjacent hills, or over the
neighboring prairie, were the cantonments of a half-score of other tribes,
and fragments of tribes, gathered under the protecting aegis of the
French,--Shawanoes from the Ohio, Abenakis from Maine, Miamis from the
sources of the Kankakee, with others whose barbarous names are hardly
worth the record. [Footnote: This singular extemporized colony of La
Salle, on the banks of the Illinois, is laid down in detail on the great
map of La Salle's discoveries, by Jean Baptiste Franquelin, finished in
1684. There can be no doubt that this part of the work is composed from
authentic data. La Salle himself, besides others of his party, came down
from the Illinois in the autumn of 1683, and undoubtedly supplied the
young engineer with materials. The various Indian villages, or
cantonments, are all indicated, with the number of warriors belonging to
each, the aggregate corresponding very nearly with that of La Salle's
report to the minister. The Illinois, properly so called, are set down at
1,200 warriors; the Miamis, at 1,800; the Shawanoes, at 200; the
Ouiatenons (Weas), at 500; the Peanqhichia (Piankishaw) band, at 150; the
Pepikokia, at 160; the Kilatica, at 800; and the Ouabona, at 70; in all,
3,880 warriors. A few others, probably Abenakis, lived in the fort.

The Fort St. Louis is placed on the map at the exact site of Starved Rook,
and the Illinois village at the place where, as already mentioned, (see p.
221), Indian remains in great quantities are yearly ploughed up. The
Shawanoe camp, or village, is placed on the south side of the river,
behind the fort. The country is here hilly, broken, and now, as in La
Salle's time, covered with wood, which, however, soon ends in the open
prairie. A short time since, the remains of a low, irregular earthwork of
considerable extent were discovered at the intersection of two ravines,
about twenty-four hundred feet behind, or south of, Starved Rock. The
earthwork follows the line of the ravines on two sides. On the east, there
is an opening, or gateway, leading to the adjacent prairie. The work is
very irregular in form, and shows no trace of the civilized engineer. In
the stump of an oak-tree upon it, Dr. Paul counted a hundred and sixty
rings of annual growth. The village of the Shawanoes (Chaouenons), on
Franquelin's map, corresponds with the position of this earthwork. I am
indebted to the kindness of Dr. John Paul, and Colonel D. F. Hitt, the
proprietor of Starved Rock, for a plan of these curious remains, and a
survey of the neighboring district. I must also express my obligations to
Mr. W. E. Bowman, photographer at Ottawa, for views of Starved Rock, and
other features of the neighboring scenery.

An interesting relic of the early explorers of this region was found a few
years ago at Ottawa, six miles above Starved Rock, in the shape of a small
iron gun, buried several feet deep in the drift of the river. It consists
of a welded tube of iron, about an inch and a half in calibre,
strengthened by a series of thick iron rings, cooled on, after the most
ancient as well as the most recent method of making cannon. It is about
fourteen inches long, the part near the muzzle having been burst off. The
construction is very rude. Small field-pieces, on a similar principle,
were used in the fourteenth century. Several of them may be seen at the
Musée d'Artillerie at Paris. In the time of Louis XIV. the art of casting
cannon was carried to a high degree of perfection. The gun in question may
have been made by a French blacksmith on the spot. A far less probable
supposition is, that it is a relic of some unrecorded visit of the
Spaniards; but the pattern of the piece would have been antiquated even in
the time of De Soto.] Nor were these La Salle's only dependants. By the
terms of his patent, he held seigniorial rights over this wild domain; and
he now began to grant it out in parcels to his followers. These, however,
were as yet but a score; a lawless band, trained in forest license, and
marrying, as their detractors affirm, a new squaw every day in the week.
This was after their lord's departure, for his presence imposed a check on
these eccentricities.

La Salle, in a memoir addressed to the Minister of the Marine, reports the
total number of the Indians around Fort St. Louis at about four thousand
warriors, or twenty thousand souls. His diplomacy had been crowned with a
marvellous success, for which his thanks were due, first, to the Iroquois,
and the universal terror they inspired; next, to his own address and
unwearied energy. His colony had sprung up, as it were, in a night; but
might not a night suffice to disperse it?

The conditions of maintaining it were twofold. First, he must give
efficient aid to his savage colonists against the Iroquois; secondly, he
must supply them with French goods in exchange for their furs. The men,
arms, and ammunition for their defence, and the goods for trading with
them, must be brought from Canada, until a better and surer avenue of
supply could be provided through the entrepot which he meant to establish
at the mouth of the Mississippi. Canada was full of his enemies; but, as
long as Count Frontenac was in power, he was sure of support. Count
Frontenac was in power no longer. He had been recalled to France through
the intrigues of the party adverse to La Salle; and Le Fèvre de la Barre
reigned in his stead. [Footnote: La Barre had formerly held civil offices.
He had been Maître de Requêtes, and afterwards Intendant of the
Bourbonnais. He had gained no little reputation in the West Indies, as
governor and lieutenant-general of Cayenne, which he recovered from the
English, who had seized it, and whom he soon after defeated in a naval
fight. Sixteen years had elapsed since these exploits, and meanwhile he
had grown old.]

La Barre was an old naval officer of rank, advanced to a post for which he
proved himself notably unfit. If he was without the arbitrary passions
which had been the chief occasion of the recall of his predecessor, he was
no less without his energies and his talents. Frontenac's absence was not
to be permanent: dark days were in store for Canada. In her hour of need,
she was to hail with delight the return of the haughty nobleman; and all
his faults were to be forgotten in the splendor of his services to the
colony and the crown. La Barre showed a weakness and an avarice for which
his advanced age may have been in some measure answerable. He was no whit
less unscrupulous than his predecessor in his secret violation of the
royal ordinances regulating the fur-trade, which it was his duty to
enforce. Like Frontenac, he took advantage of his position to carry on an
illicit traffic with the Indians; but it was with different associates.
The late governor's friends were the new governor's enemies; and La Salle,
armed with his monopolies, was the object of his especial jealousy.
[Footnote: The royal instructions to La Barre, on his assuming the
government, dated at Versailles, 10 May, 1682, require him to give no
farther permission to make journeys of discovery towards the Sioux and the
Mississippi, as his Majesty thinks his subjects better employed in
cultivating the land. The letter adds, however, that La Salle is to be
allowed to continue his discoveries, if they appear to be useful. The same
instructions are repeated in a letter of the Minister of the Marine to the
new Intendant of Canada, De Meules.]

Meanwhile, La Salle, buried in the western wilderness, remained for the
time ignorant of La Barre's disposition towards him, and made an effort to
secure his good-will and countenance. He wrote to him from his Rock of St.
Louis, early in the spring of 1683, expressing the hope that he should
have from him the same support as from Count Frontenac; "although," he
says, "my enemies will try to influence you against me." His attachment to
Frontenac, he pursues, has been the cause of all the late governor's
enemies turning against him. He then recounts his voyage down the
Mississippi; says that, with twenty-two Frenchmen, he caused all the
tribes along the river to ask for peace; speaks of his right, under the
royal patent, to build forts anywhere along his route, and grant out lands
around them, as at Fort Frontenac.

"My losses in my enterprises," he continues, "have exceeded forty thousand
crowns. I am now going four hundred leagues south-south-west of this
place, to induce the Chickasaws to follow the Shawanoes, and other tribes,
and settle, like them, at St. Louis. It remained only to settle French
colonists here, and this I have already done. I hope you will not detain
them as _coureurs de bois_, when they come down to Montreal to make
necessary purchases. I am aware that I have no right to trade with the
tribes who descend to Montreal, and I shall not permit such trade to my
men; nor have I ever issued licenses to that effect, as my enemies say
that I have done." [Footnote: _Lettre de la Salle à La Barre, Fort St.
Louis, 2 Avril_, 1683, MS. The above is somewhat condensed from passages
in the original.]

Again, on the fourth of June following, he writes to La Barre, from the
Chicago portage, complaining that some of his colonists, going to Montreal
for necessary supplies, have been detained by his enemies, and begging
that they may be allowed to return, that his enterprise may not be ruined.
"The Iroquois," he pursues, "are again invading the country. Last year,
the Miamis were so alarmed by them that they abandoned their town and
fled; but, at my return, they came back, and have been induced to settle
with the Illinois at my fort of St. Louis. The Iroquois have lately
murdered some families of their nation, and they are all in terror again.
I am afraid they will take night, and so prevent the Missouries and
neighboring tribes from coming to settle at St. Louis, as they are about
to do.

"Some of the Hurons and French tell the Miamis that I am keeping them here
for the Iroquois to destroy. I pray that you will let me hear from you,
that I may give these people some assurances of protection before they are
destroyed in my sight. Do not suffer my men who have come down to the
settlements to be longer prevented from returning. There is great need
here of reinforcements. The Iroquois, as I have said, have lately entered
the country; and a great terror prevails. I have postponed going to
Michillimackinac, because, if the Iroquois strike any blow in my absence,
the Miamis will think that I am in league with them; whereas, if I and the
French stay among them, they will regard us as protectors. But, Monsieur,
it is in vain, that we risk our lives here, and that I exhaust my means in
order to fulfil the intentions of his Majesty, if all my measures are
crossed in the settlements below, and if those who go down to bring
munitions, without which we cannot defend ourselves, are detained under
pretexts trumped up for the occasion. If I am prevented from bringing up
men and supplies, as I am allowed to do by the permit of Count Frontenac,
then my patent from the king is useless. It would be very hard for us,
after having done what was required even before the time prescribed, and
after suffering severe losses, to have our efforts frustrated by obstacles
got up designedly.

"I trust that, as it lies with you alone to prevent or to permit the
return of the men whom I have sent down, you will not so act as to thwart
my plans. A part of the goods which I have sent by them belong not to me,
but to the Sieur de Tonty, and are a part of his pay. Others are to buy
munitions indispensable for our defence. Do not let my creditors seize
them. It is for their advantage that my fort, full as it is of goods,
should be held against the enemy. I have only twenty men, with scarcely a
hundred pounds of powder; and I cannot long hold the country without more.
The Illinois are very capricious and uncertain.... If I had men enough to
send out to reconnoitre the enemy, I would have done so before this; but I
have not enough. I trust you will put it in my power to obtain more, that
this important colony may be saved." [Footnote: _Lettre de la Salle, à La
Barre, Portage de Chicagou_, 4 _Juin_, 1683, MS. Portions of the above
extracts are condensed in the rendering. A long passage is omitted, in
which La Salle expresses his belief that his vessel, the "Griffin," had
been destroyed, not by Indians, but by the pilot, who, as he thinks, had
been induced to sink her, and then, with some of the crew, attempted to
join Du Lhut with their plunder, but were captured by Indians on the

While La Salle was thus writing to La Barre, La Barre was writing to
Seignelay, the Marine and Colonial Minister, decrying his correspondent's
discoveries, and pretending to doubt their reality. "The Iroquois," he
adds, "have sworn his [La Salle's] death. The imprudence of this man is
about to involve the colony in war." [Footnote: _Lettre de La Barre au
Ministre_, 14 _Nov_. 1682, MS.] And again he writes in the following
spring, to say that La Salle was with a score of vagabonds at Green Bay,
where he set himself up as a king, pillaged his countrymen, and put them
to ransom; exposed the tribes of the West to the incursions of the
Iroquois,--and all under pretence of a patent from his Majesty, the
provisions of which he grossly abused; but as his privileges would expire
on the twelfth of May ensuing, he would then be forced to come to Quebec,
where his creditors, to whom he owed more than thirty thousand crowns,
were anxiously awaiting him. [Footnote: _Lettre de La Barre au Ministre_,
30 _Avril_, 1683. La Salle had spent the winter, not at Green Bay, as this
slanderous letter declares, but in the Illinois country.]

Finally, when La Barre received the two letters from La Salle, of which
the substance is given above, he sent copies of them to the Minister
Seignelay, with the following comment: "By the copies of the Sieur de la
Salle's letters, you will perceive that his head is turned, and that he
has been bold enough to give you intelligence of a false discovery. He is
trying to build up an imaginary kingdom for himself by debauching all the
bankrupts and idlers of this country." [Footnote: _N.Y. Col Docs_., ix.
204. The letter is dated 4 Nov. 1683.] Such calumnies had their effect.
The enemies of La Salle had already gained the ear of the king; and he had
written in August from Fontainebleau to his new Governor of Canada: "I am
convinced, like you, that the discovery of the Sieur de la Salle is very
useless, and that such enterprises ought to be prevented in future, as
they tend only to debauch the inhabitants by the hope of gain, and to
dimmish the revenue from beaver-skins." [Footnote: _Lettre du Roy à La
Barre_, 5 _Aoûst_, 1683, MS.]

In order to understand the posture of affairs at this time, it must be
remembered that Dongan, the English Governor of New York, was urging on
the Iroquois to attack the Western tribes, with the object of gaining,
through their conquest, the control of the fur-trade of the interior, and
diverting it from Montreal to Albany. The scheme was full of danger to
Canada, which the loss of the trade would have ruined. La Barre and his
associates were greatly alarmed at it. Its complete success would have
been fatal to their hopes of profit; but they nevertheless wished it such
a measure of success as would ruin their rival. La Salle. Hence, no little
satisfaction mingled with their anxiety, when they heard that the Iroquois
were again threatening to invade the Miamis and the Illinois; and thus La
Barre, whose duty it was strenuously to oppose the intrigue of the
English, and use every effort to quiet the ferocious bands whom they were
hounding against the Indian allies of the French, was, in fact, but half-
hearted in the work. He cut off La Salle from all supplies; detained the
men whom he sent for succor; and, at a conference with the Iroquois, told
them that they were welcome to plunder and kill him. [Footnote: _Memoire
pour rendre compte à Monseigneur le Marquis de Seignelay de l'Etat où le
Sieur de Lasalle a laissé le Fort Frontenac pendant le temps de sa
découverte,_ MS. The Marquis de Denonville, La Barre's successor in the
government, says, in his memoir of Aug. 10, 1688, that La Barre had told
the Iroquois to plunder La Salle's canoes.

La Barre's course at this time was extremely indirect and equivocal. The
memoir to Seignelay, cited above, declares--and other documents sustain
it--that he was playing into the hands of the English, by sending furs, on
his own account and that of his associates, to Albany, where he could sell
them at a high rate, and at the same time avoid the payment of duties to
the French farmers of the revenue.

The merchants, La Chesnaye, Le Ber, and Le Moyne, were at the head of the
faction with which La Barre had identified himself; and their hatred of La
Salle knew no bounds. If we are to believe La Potherie, he himself had
formerly, in defence of his monopolies, told the Iroquois that they might
plunder the canoes of traders who had not a pass from him. The adverse
faction now retorted by adding the permission of murder to the permission
of pillage. Margry thinks that La Chesnaye was the prompter of this

The old Governor, and the unscrupulous ring with which he was associated,
now took a step, to which he was doubtless emboldened by the tone of the
king's letter, in condemnation of La Salle's enterprise. He resolved to
seize Fort Frontenac, the property of La Salle, under the pretext that the
latter had not fulfilled the conditions of the grant, and had not
maintained a sufficient garrison. [Footnote: La Salle, when at Mackinaw,
on his way to Quebec, in 1682, had been recalled to the Illinois, as we
have seen, by a threatened Iroquois invasion. There is before me a copy of
a letter which he then wrote to Count Frontenac, begging him to send up
more soldiers to the fort at his (La Salle's) expense. Frontenac, being
about to sail for France, gave this letter to his newly arrived successor,
La Barre, who, far from complying with the request, withdrew La Salle's
soldiers already at the fort, and then made its defenceless state a
pretext for seizing it. This statement is made in the memoir addressed to
Seignelay, before cited.] Two of his associates, La Chesnaye and Le Ber,
armed with an order from him, went up and took possession, despite the
remonstrances of La Salle's creditors and mortgagees; lived on La Salle's
stores, sold for their own profit, and (it is said) that of La Barre, the
provisions sent by the king, and turned in the cattle to pasture on the
growing crops. La Forest, La Salle's lieutenant, was told that he might
retain the command of the fort, if he would join the associates; but he
refused, and sailed in the autumn for France. [Footnote: These are the
statements of the memorial, addressed in La Salle's behalf, to the
minister Seignelay.]

Meanwhile, La Salle remained at the Illinois in extreme embarrassment, cut
off from supplies, robbed of his men who had gone to seek them, and
disabled from fulfilling the pledges he had given to the surrounding

Book of the day:
Facebook Google Reddit StumbleUpon Twitter Pinterest