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says one writer
was to send forward men to prepare the minds of the Indiaus along the lakes, for his coming, to soften their hearts by well chosen gifts and words, and to pick up peltries, beaver-skins and other valuables; and upon the 18th of November, 1678, he himself embarked in a little vessel of ten tons, to cross Lake Ontario. This, says one of his chroniclers, was the first ship that sailed upon that fresh water sea.
The wind was strong and contrary, and four weeks nearly were passsed in beating up the little distance between Kingston and Niagara. Having forced their brigantine as far toward the falls as was possible, our travellers landed; built some magazines with difficulty, for, at times the ground was frozen so hard, that they could drive their stakes or posts into it only by first pouring upon it boiling water ; and then made acquaintance with the Iroquois, of the village of Niagara, upon Lake Erie. Not far from this village, La Salle founded a second fort, upon which he set his men to work ; but finding the Iroquois jealous, he gave it up for a time, and merely erected temporary fortifications for his magazines; and then leaving orders for a new ship to be built, he returned to Port Frontenae, to forward stores, cables and anchors for his forthcoming vessel. Through the hard and cold winter days, the frozen river lying before them like a plain paved with fine polished marble,” some of his men hewed and hammered upon the timbers of the Griffin, as the great bark was to be named, while others gathered furs and skins, or sued for the good will of the bloody savages amid whom they were quartered; and all went merrily until the 20th of January, 1679. On that day the chevalier arrived from below. The vessel in which his valuables had been embarked, was wrecked through the bad management of the pilots; and though the more important part of her freight was saved, much of her provisions went to the bottom. During the winter, however, a quantity of furs was collected, with which, early in the spring of 1679, the commander returned to Fort Frontenac to get another outfit, while Tonti was sent forward to scour the lake coasts, muster together the men who had been sent before, collect skins, and explore the country. In thus corning and going, buying and trading, the summer of this year passed away, and it was the 7th of August before the Griffin was ready to sail. Then, with the Te
Deums and the discharge of arquebuses, she began her voyage up Lake Erie.
“Over lake Erie, through the strait beyond, across the lake they named St. Clair, and into Huron, the voyagers passed most happily. In Huron they were troubled by storms, dreadful as those upon the ocean, and at last were forced to take refuge in the strait of Michilimackinac. This was upon the 27th of August. At this place La Salle remained until the middle of September, founded a fort there, and sent men therefrom in various directions to examine the country. He then went on to Green Bay, the “Baie des Puans," of the French; and, finding there a large quantity of skins and furs collected for him, he determined to load the Griffin and send her back to Niagara. Accordingly, upon the 18th of September, she was dispatched under the charge of a pilot, supposed to be competent and trustworthy, while La Salle himself, with fourteen men, proceeded up lake Michigan, paddling along its shores in the most leisurely manner; Tonti, meanwhile, was sent to find stragglers, with whom he was to join the main body at the head of the lake.
“From the 19th of September till the 1st of November, the time was occupied by La Salle in his voyage up the sea in question. On the day last named, he arrived at the mouth of the river of the Miamis, or St. Josephs, as it is now called. IIere he built a fort and remained for nearly a month, when hearing nothing from his Griffin, he determined to push on before it was too late.
“On the 3d of December, having mustered all his forces, thirty laborers and three monks, after having left ten men to garrison the fort, La Salle started again upon his great voyage and glorious undertaking.'
By way of the Illinois, La Salle traversed a large region of country, but, the loss of the Griffin and all his property, and the want of reinforcements and supplies, compelled him to return. He saw that he must return to Canada, raise new means and enlist new men, not, however, for a single moment relinquishing his bold project. On the contrary, he determined that while he was on his return a small party should visit the Mississippi and explore that stream toward its source. He placed Louis Hennepin
at the head of this expedition, and started him out with instructions, and scanty supplies, on the last day of February, 1680. Tonti, and the few men that remained, were left to cultivate the friendship of the Indians, at Fort Crevecoeur.
Through great hardships, La Salle reached Canada, where he found his affairs in a bad condition, but never despairing, he was soon on his return voyage of exploration, with new supplies. During his absence, the little band he had left on the Illinois suffered extremely — so much so, that in September, 1680, Tonti abandoned his position, escaping from the hostile Indians with great difficulty, and, after much fatigue reached the lakes. When, therefore, La Salle reached the forsaken fort on the Illinois, not having been informed of the troubles of Tonti and his associates, he was at the point of despair. He was again forced to return to Canada to secure more men and means.
In June, 1681, he met Tonti at Mackinaw.
Hennepin, who had been intrusted with the Mississippi expedition, reached no farther than the mouth of the Wisconsin river, when he was taken prisoner by the Sioux. The Indians treated their prisoners with some kindness, and took them to their village, via. St. Anthony's Falls. These falls were named by Hennepin at the time. Some time after Hennepin was rescued by some French traders, and once more found his way to civilization, and soon after to his native France.
When La Salle met Tonti at Mackinaw, in 1681, he went down the lakes to Fort Frontenac, to make the needful preparations for prosecuting his western discoveries; in August, 1681, he was on his way up the lakes again, and on the 3d of November, at the St. Josephs, as full of confidence as ever. " The middle of December had come, however, before all were ready to go forward; and then, with twenty-three Frenchmen, eighteen eastern Indians, ten Indian women and three children, he started by the way of the Chicago river. On the 6th of April, 1682, they discovered the three passages by which the Mississippi discharges its waters into the Gulf of Mexico. Here they took possession, formally, of the whole Mississippi valley, in the name of the king of France, with great show and acclaim, raising the cross as an enblem of the religion of France. These events laid the foundation for the claims of France to the Mississippi valley, and according to the usages of European powers, these claims were based upon good grounds. After accomplishing the design of the expedition, La Salle returned. It is not our plan to follow La Salle through his other unfortunate expeditions. We have merely referred to the expedition of Marquette and La Salle sufficiently to present the most important features connected with the exploration of the Mississippi valley. It is no part of our plan to present a history of the Spanish and French in America, or even a history of the forms of French government that were extended over the territory. On the other hand, we shall be content to notice, briefly, some of the principal events in the early history of the northwest, through French and English rules, and then to speak more in detail of the events in the history under the United States government.
After the combined expedition of Crozat and Cadillac, which failed in its search for gold and which was thwarted in its en. deavor to establish a trade with the Spaniards, came the enterprise of the far famed Mississippi company, or company of the west, afterwards the “Company of the Indies.” This company was organized to aid the immense banking and stock jobbing speculations of the notorious John Law, a Scotch gambler and speculator. This man had a most wonderful idea of wealth, one as false as it was attractive. His enterprise is thus spoken of by Rev. J. M. Peck, an early writer of western history:
“The public debt of France was selling at 60 to 70 per cent. discount; Law was authorized to establish a bank of circulation, the shares in which might be paid for in public stock at par; and to induce the public to subscribe for the bank shares, and to confide in them, the company of the west was established in connection with the bank, having the exclusive right of trading in the Mississippi country for twenty-five years, and with the monopoly of the Canada beaver trade. This was in September, 1717. In 1718, the monopoly of tobacco was also granted to this favored creature of the state ; in 1719, the exclusive right of trading in Asia and the East Indies; and soon after, the farming of the public revenue, together with an extension of all these privileges to the year 1770; and, as if all this had been insufficient, the exclusive right of coining for nine years was next added to the immense grants already made to the company of the west. Under this hot-bed system, the stock of the company rose to 500, 600, 800, 1,000, 1,500, and at last 2,050 per cent. This was in April, 1720. At that time the notes of the bank in circulation exceeded two hundred millions of dollars, and this abundance of money raised the price of everything to twice its true value. Then the bubble burst; decree after decree was made to uphold the tottering fabric of false credit; but in vain. In January, 1720, Law had been made minister of finance, and as such he proceeded, first, to forbid all persons to have on hand more than about one hundred dollars in specie; any amount beyond that must be exchanged for paper, and all payments for more than twenty dollars were to be made in paper; and this proving insufficient, in March all payments over two dollars were ordered to be in paper; and he who dared attempt to exchange a bill for specie, forfeited both. Human folly could go no further; in April, the stock began to fall ; in May, the company was regarded as bankrupt, the notes of the bank fell to ten cents on the dollar, and though a decree made it an offense to refuse them at par, they were soon worth little more than waste paper. Under the direction of a company thus organized and controlled, and closely connected with a bank so soon ruined, but little could be hoped for a colony which depended on good management to develop its real resources for trade and agriculture. In 1718, colonists were sent from Europe, and New Orleans laid out with much ceremony and many hopes; but in January, 1722, Charlevoix, writing thence, says: “If the eight hundred fine houses, and the five parishes, that were two years since represented by the journals as existing here, shrink now to a hundred huts, built without order, a large wooden magazine, two or three houses that would do but little credit to a French village, and half of an old store house, which was to have been occupied as a chapel, but from which the priests soon retreated to a tent, as preferable; if all this is so, still how pleasant to think of what this city will one day be, and, instead of weeping over its decay and ruin, to look forward to its growth to opulence and power.” And again, “ The best idea you can form of New Orleans, is to imagine two