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A conncil of state was held, and it was ascertained that 2,600,000,000, livres in paper were in circulation, and the bank stopped payment. The people assaulted Law's carriage with stones, and but for the dexterity of his coachman, he would have been torn to pieces. On the following day his wife and daughter were attacked as they were returning in their carriage from the races.
The regent being informed of these occurrences sent him a guard for his protection. Finding his house, even with a guard, insecure, he repaired to the palace and took apartments with the regent. Soon afterward, leaving the kingdom, his estate and library were contis. cated, and he died at Vienna in extreme poverty.*
The lessons to be learned from these wild financial speculations, is, that the expansion of currency always gives an impetus to industry, but when it is based on credits, without means of redemption, it must meet with an overthrow attended with a prostration of business greatly overbalancing all temporary advantages.
We must now recount the operations of the company in Louisiana. On the 25th of August, 1718, its ships, after a pleasant voyage entered the port of Mobile, chanting the Te Deum for their safe arrival. On board the ships was the king's lieutenant, M. Boisbriant, bearing a comunission authorizing Bienville to act as governor-general of the province, and 800 immigrants. The gov. ernor again commenced the duties of his office, still entertaining his previous convictions that the capital of the province should be removed from the sterile sands of the Gulf coast to the banks of the Mississippi. He reasoned that if established on the fertile alluvium or uplands of the great river, it would become the centre of a community devoted to agriculture, the only branch of industry that could give permanent growth and prosperity to the province. He therefore selected the site now occupied by New Orleans for a capital, and gave it the name it now bears, in honor of the Regent of France. Eight convicts were sent from the prisons of France to clear away the coppice which thickly studded the site. Two years afterward the royal engineer surveyed the outlets of the river and declared that it might be made a commercial port, and in 1783 it became the provincial and commercial capital of Louisiana. Although M. Hubert, who had charge of the company's affairs, reluctantly complied with the advice of Bienville in remoring the depots to the new capital, time has proven the superior judgment of the former. From a depot for the commercial transactions of a single company, it has become the emporium of the noblest valley on the face of the globe.
The delusion that dreamed of silver and gold in Louisiana, and which had so largely contributed to the ruin of Crozat, still haunted the minds of his successors. Unwilling to profit by his experience, they concluded that his success was rather the result of his unskillful assayers than the absence of the precious metals, and accordingly Phillip Renault was made director-general of the mines. He left France in 1719, with 200 mechanics and laborers, and provided with all things necessary to prosecute the business of his office. On his way hither he bought 500 negro slaves at San Domingo, for working the mines, and on reaching the mouth of the Mississippi, sailed to Illinois, where it was supposed gold and silver existed in large quantities. He established himself a 'Condensed from Bancroft, Brown's Illinois, and M'Kay's Extraordinary Delusions.
few miles above Kaskaskia, in what is now the southwest corner of Monroe county, and called the village which he founded Saint Phillips. Great expectations prevailed in France at his prospective success, but they all ended in disappointment. From this point he sent out exploring parties into various parts of Illinois, which then constituted Upper Louisiana. Search was made for ininerals along Drewry's creek, in Jackson county; about the StMary's, in Randolpli county; in Monroe county along Silver creek; in St. Clair county, and other parts of Illinois. Silver creek took its name from the explorations made on its banks, and tradition, very improbably, states that considerable quantities of silver were discoverd here and sent to France. The operations of Renault were at length brought to a close from a cause least expected. By the edict of the king the Western Company became the Company of the Indies, and the territory was retroceded to the crown. The efforts of the company had totally failed, and Renault was left to prosecute the business of mininng without means.
In the meantime a fierce war had been raging between France and Spain, and their respective colonists in North America presented a continuous display of warlike preparations. Bienville, with his reg. ulars and provincial troops, 400 Indians, and a few armed vessels, made a descent on Pensacola and laid it under siege before its garrison could be reinforced. After an assault of 5 hours, and a determined resistance on the part of the besieged, the Spanish commandant surrendered. The approach of a powerful Spanish armament shortly afterward, compelled Bienville to relinquish the fort and return to Mobile, where he, in turn, was besieged in the fort of Dauphin Island. The squadron endeavored, by a furious bombardment, to reduce the fort, but its commander, finding his efforts unavailing, after 13 days retired. The war continuing to harrass the coast of the gulf, Bienville the following year, with the whole available force of the province, again moved against the town of Pensacola. After a close investment by sea and land the town and fort were carried by storm, and, besides the munitions of the latter, 1,800 prisoners fell into the hands of the victors. Sev. eral Spanish vessels with rich cargoes, ignorant of the occupation of the town by the French, ran into port and were also captured. The occupation of the town, as before, was of short duration, for Bienville, anticipating the arrival of a Spanish force, blew up the fort, burned the town and returned to Mobile.
But the operations of the war were not confined to the lower part of the province. Traders and hunters had discovered a route across the western plains, and detachments of Spanish cavalry pushed across the great American desert, and were threatening Illinois. The Missouri Indians were at the time in alliance with the French, and the Spaniards planned an expedition for the extermination of this tribe, that they might afterward destroy the settlements of Illinois and replace them with colonists from Mexico. The expedition for this purpose was fitted out at Santa Fe, and directed to proceed by way of the Osages, to secure their cooperation in an attack on the Missouris. Consisting of soldiers, priests, families and domestic animals, it moved like an immense caravan across the desert, prepared both to overthrow the French colonies and to establish others in their stead. By mistake, their guides led them directly to the Missouris instead of the Osages, and as each spoke the same language they believed themselves in the presence of the latter tribe. The wily savages, on learning their business, encouraged the misunderstanding, and requested two days to assemble their warriors and prepare for the attack. More than 180 muskets were put into their hands, and before the Spaniards found out their mistake the Missouris fell upon them and put them indiscriminately to death. The priest alone was spared to tell the fate of his unfortunate countrymen. In anticipation of similar difficulties, Boisbriaut was sent to Illinois in 1720 by the Western Company, to erect a fort on the Mississippi, for the protection of the surrounding regions. Thus originated Fort Chartres, which played such an important part in the subsequent history of Ilinois. The fortification was built on the east side of the river, 22 miles northwest of Kaskaskia, and was at the time the most impregnable fortress in North America. Here the Western company finally built their warehouses, and when, in 1721 Louisiana was divided into districts, it became the headquarters of Boisbriant, the first local governor of Illinois. The ī districts were New Orleans, Biloxi, Mobile, Alabama, Natchez, Natchitochis, and Illinois.
Soon after the erection of the fort, Cahokia, Prairie du Rocher, and some other villages, received large accessions to their populations. All the settlements between the rivers Mississippi and Kaskaskia became greatly extended and increased in number, and in 1721 the Jesuits established a monastery and college at Kaskaskia. Four years afterward it became an incorporated town, and Louis XV granted the inhabitants a commons, or pasture grounds, for their stock. Immigrants rapidly settled on the fertile lands of the American Bottom, and Fort Chartres not only became the headquarters of the commandant of Upper Louisiana, but the centre of wealth and fashion in the West.*
In the Autumn of 1726, Bienville was succeeded by M. Perrier. The retiring governor had with much propriety, been called the Father of Louisiana, having, with the exception of two short intermissions, been its executive officer for 26 years. Not long after the arrival of the new governor, his attention was directed to the Chicasaw Indians. His predecesor had observed, in previous years, the insincerity of their friendship for the French, and had urged the directory of the company to institute some more effective protection for the adjacent settlement. M. Perrier now reiterated its importance, but his apprehensions were deemed groundless, and nothing was done. The Indians were now becoming jealous at the rapid encroachments of the whites, who sometimes punished them harshly for the most trivial offense. Under these circumstances the Chicasaws, Natchez, and other tribes conceived the design of destroying the French, and sent agents to the Illinois to induce them to cut off the settlements in their midst. The attack was to commence at different places at the same time, but from some unknown cause the Natchez were the first to carry the design into execution, although the Chicasaws were the first to propose the conspiracy It is said that the number of days to elapse from the new moon to the time of the massacre, was indicated by a certain number of reeds, bundles of which were sent to the different tribes. One reed was to be drawn daily from each bundle, and the attack was to
Monette's Val, of the Miss.
commence when the last one was drawn. By design, or accident, the bundle sent to the Natchez was made smaller than the rest, and hence they struck the first blow. Indian tradition asserted that the plot was kept a profound secret till the fatal day arrived. This, according to Natchez computation, was on the 28th of November, 1729, at the dawn of which the Great Chief, or Sun, with a number of chosen warriors having concealed weapons, repaired to Fort Rosalie. At a preconcerted signal, the warriors drew their weapons, and at a single onset the little garrison slept the sleep of death. Other parties were distributed through the contiguous settlements, and when the ascending smoke of the burning fort was seen, these became the scenes of slaughter, till the entire white male population, numbering 700, were destroyed. While the massacre was raging, the Great Sun seated himself in the spacious warehouse of the company, and with the greatest apparent unconcern, smoked his pipe as his warriors piled up the heads of the garrison in the form of a pyramid near by, whose apex was the head of the commandant. When the warriors informed him that the last Frenchman ceased to live, he ordered the pillage to commence. The negro slaves were ordered to bring in the spoils for distribution, but the military stores were reserved for future
As long as the ardent spirit lasted, day and night alike presented a continued scene of savage triumphs and drunken revelry. The settlements on the Yazoo and other places, met with a similar fate, but those within the present limits of Illinois, owing to the loyalty and friendship of the prairie tribes, remained unharmed.
As soon as the massacre became known, M. Perrier dispatched vessels to France for troops and military supplies, and couriers were sent to Port Chartres and other posts, urging upon the sev. eral commandants the necessity of preparation to co-operate with hiin against the common enemy. Agents were also sent to the Choctaws and other Indians in alliance with the French, for further assistance. The governor immediately got ready to march to the scene of disaster with the troops in the southern part of the province; but the negroes, numbering some 2,000, betrayed symptoms of revolt, and he was detained to watch the intended insurrection. In the meantime, the Choctaws, who had committed no overt act of hostility, had been visited by one of the company's agents, and induced to furnish 600 warriors. At Pearl river he received an accession of 600 more, and with this formidable body of warriors he moved forward and encamped near the enemy, to await the arrival of other forces. It was, however, soon ascertained that the Natchez, unsuspieious of danger, were spending their time in idle carousals, and the Choctaws rushed on them unexpectedly, and after a brief conflict, returned with 60 scalps. Not long afterward French troops arrived, completed the victory, and liberated the women and children. The larger part of the tribe, led by their Great Sun, fled across the Mississippi and fortitied themselves on Black river. Thither they were followed by troops from France and the prinpcial settlements of the province, and in two successful battles were completely cut to pieces. The Great Sun and 400 warriors were captured and taken to New Orleans, and thence to San Domingo, and sold as slaves. Thus per. ished this powerful tribe, and with them their mysterious worship of the sun and bloody rites of sepulture. No tribe was, perhaps, more distinguished for refinement, intelligence, courage and contempt of death, in fighting for their rights and country.
The great expenditures in prosecuting the Natchez war, the consequent loss of trade with other tribes, and the financial embarrassments incident to Law's failure, induced the company to ask for a surrender of their charter. The king readily granted their petition, and on the 10th of April, 1732, issued a proclamation declaring Louisiana free to all his subjects, with equal privileges as to commerce and other interests. The 14 years the company had possession of the country, notwithstanding the many adverse circumstances, was a period of comparative prosperity. When it assumed control, the number of slaves was 20; now it was 2,000. Then the entire whițe population was 700; now 5,000, among which were many persons of worth, intelligence and enterprise. The extravagant hopes entertained respecting the precious metals, had not been realized, but the search for them had attracted population, which had now made such progress in agriculture as to be self-sustaining. Illinois, at this time, contained many tourishing settlements, more exclusively devoted to agriculture than those in other parts of the province. All industrial enterprises, however, were, to a great extent, paralyzed by the arbitrary exactions of the company. The agriculturists, the miners and the fur traders of Illinois were held in a sort of vassalage, which enabled those in power to dictate the price at which they should sell their products, and the amount they should pay them for imported merchandise. The interest of the company was always at variance with that of the producer, and it would have been difficult to devise a state of affairs so injurious to both parties, and so detrimental to the pros. perity of Ilinois and other parts of Louisiana.