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assaults with which the papal system was everywhere assailed. He therefore authorized the establishment of the order, and appointed Loyola its first general. The result proved the discern. ment of the Pope, for the enginery he thus put in motion at no distant day extended its influence to the uttermost limits of the earth. Before the termination of the 16th century, the society furnished the educators in most of the Catholic countries of Europe, a privilege which exerted a more controling influence iv molding national character than that which emanates from all other sources combined. Although taking a vow of poverty, it managed to rapidly increase in wealth. Under the pretext of promoting the success of their missions, they obtained the privi. lege of trading with the nations they were endeavoring to convert, and thus frequently became the masters of extensive commercial enterprises.
Besides the Jesuits, the Recollet monks bore a conspicuous part in the history of the French-American possessions. They were a branch of the Franciscan order, founded in the early part of the 13th century by St. Francis of Assisi, a madman, saint or hero, according to the different views entertained respecting him. Like all other saints, he became the subject of supernatural visitations, consisting, in his case, largely of dreams revealing to him thé nature of the work which providence had called him to perform. In entering upon the labors of his mission he dressed in the rags of a beggar, and at last presented himself in a state of nudity to the Bishop of Assisi, and begged the mantle of a peasant. He next robbed his father, to get means to build himself a chapel; crowds gathered to listen to his fanatical appeals, and Europe soon became dotted over with the convents of his order. In the course of time the Franciscans lost the vigor for which they were first distinguished, but the Recollets, a reformed branch of the order, at the time of the French explorations still retained much of its pristine spirit. These two orders, and incidentally that of St. Sulpice, played an important part in the exploration and colonization of the Mississippi valley. The St. Lawrence and its chain of lakes entering the continent
east, and the Mississippi from the south, are the two great avenues through which Europeans first made their way to Illinois. The former opening with a broad estuary into the Atlantic, directly opposite Europe, first diverted a portion of its Gallic emigration to the regions drained by its tributaries. Pioneers, led by the indefatigable Jesuits, soon reached Illinois, and made it an important centre in the vast schemes projected by the French court for the possession of the Mississippi valley.
The French on the St. Lawrence. - As early as 1535, four years before the discovery of the Mississippi by DeSoto, Jacques Cartier conducted an expedition to the St. Lawrence, which he ascended as far as the island of Orleans. Several attempts were shortly afterward made to plant colonies in the newly discovered region, but they failed in consequence of the inclemency of the climate and hostilities of the natives. France, at that time, was too much engaged in wars to further exhaust her resources in forming settlements, and it was not till 1608 that a permanent colony was established. During this year Champlain, a bold navigator, with a number of colonists, sailed up the St. Lawrence, and landed at the foot of the lofty promontory which rises in the angle formed by the confluence of the St. Charles. Carpenters were set to work, and within a few weeks a pile of buildings rose near the water's edge, the first representatives of the spacious churches, convents, dwellings and ramparts which now form the opulent and enterprising city of Quebec. These buildings constituted the headquarters of Champlain, and were surrounded by a wooden wall pierced with openings for a number of small cannon. To secure the friendship of the Hurons and neighboring Algonquin nations, Champlain was induced to assist them in a war against the Iroquois, inhabiting the country south of the St. Lawrence. Victory attended his superior arms, but it aroused the implacable hate of these tribes, and for a period of 90 years they continued to wreak their fury upon the Indian allies of France, and inaterially contributed to the final overthrow of her power.
In 1615 Champlain returned to France, and brought back with him four Recollet monks. Great was the astonishment of the Indians at first beholding these mendicants, clad in their rude gowns of coarse gray cloth. Their first care was to select a site and erect a convent, the completion of which was honored by the celebration of mass. All New France participated in the mysterious rite, while from the ships and ramparts of the fort cannon thundered forth an approving salute. Their great object was the salvation of the Indians, and unappalled by the perils that awaited them, they met in council and assigned to each his province in the vast field of labors. As the result of unwearied effort, they established missions from Nova Scotia to Lake Huron, but finding the task too great for their strength, they applied to the Jesuits for assistance. The followers of Loyola eagerly responded to the invitation, and Canada for the first time saw the order which, in after years, figured so extensively in her history. Though suffering must be their fate, and perhaps martyrdom their crown, they penetrated to the most reinote regions and visited the most warlike tribes. Missions were established on the Straits of St. Mary, the northern shores of Lake Huron, the tributaries of Lake Michigan, and finally among their inveterate enemies, the Iroquois.
Champlain, after having acted as governor for a period of 27 years, died on the Christmas of 1635, a hundred years after the first visit of Cartier, and was buried in the city he had founded. Sharing with others of his time the illusion of finding a passage across the continent to the Pacific, he made voyages of discovery with a view of finding the long-sought commercial highway. In one of his excursions he discovered the lake which bears his name, and was among the first Europeans who set their feet on the lonely shores of Lake Huron. What indescribable thoughts must have thrilled his bosom as he looked out on its broad expanse, or perhaps awed by its majestic solitudes, he listened with strange delight to the loud refrain of its billow-lashed shores.
Discovery of the Ohio by La Salle, 1669.-After the death of Champlain, the next actor in the field of exploration was Robert Cavalier, better known as LaSalle. His father's family was among the old and wealthy burghers of Rouen, France, and its several members were frequently entrusted with important positions by the government. Robert was born in 1643, and early exhibited the traits of character which distinguished him in his western career. Having a wealthy father, he enjoyed ample facilities for obtaining an education, and made rapid progress in the exact sciences. He was a Catholic, and it is said a Jesuit; but judging from his subsequent life, he was not a religious enthusiast. The order of Loyola, wielded at the centre by a single will so complicated and so harmonious, may have attracted his youthful imagi. nation. It was, however, none the less likely that when he found himself not at the centre, but moving in a prescribed orbit at the circumference, he would leave it. Having an individuality which could not be molded by a shaping hand, he was better qualified for a different sphere of action. He therefore parted with the Jesuits on good terms, with an unblemished character, for his lofty ambition completely divested him of the petty animosities to which groveling minds are subject.
He had an older brother living in Canada—a priest of the order of St. Sulpice-and it was this circumstance which induced him to emigrate to America. His connection with the Jesuits deprived him, under the laws of France, from inheriting the property of his father, who died shortly before his departure. He, however, received a small allowance, and with this, in the spring of 1666, arrived at Montreal. Here he found a corporation of priests, known as the Seminary of St. Sulpice, who were disposing of lands on easy terms to settlers, hoping by this means to establish a barrier of settlements between themselves and the hostile Indians. The superior of the seminary, on learing of LaSalle's arrival, gratuitously offered him a tract of land situated on the St. Lawrence, 8 miles above Montreal. The grant was accepteri, and though the place was greatly exposed to the attacks of savages, it was favorably situated for the fur trade. Commencing at once to improve his new domain, he traced out the boundaries of a palisaded village, and disposed of his lands to settlers, who were to pay for them a rent in small annual installments.
While thus employed in developing his seignory, he commenced studying the Indian languages, and in three years is said to have inade rapid progress in the Iroquois, and eight other tongues and dialects. From his home on the banks of the St. Lawrence, his thoughts often wandered over the “ wild unknown world toward sunset," and like former explorers, dreamed of a direct westward passage to the commerce of China and Japan. While musing upon the subject, he was visited by a band of Senecas, and learned from them that a river called the Ohio, rising in their country, flowed into the sea, but at such a distance that it required eight inonths to reach its mouth. In this statement the Mississippi and its tributary were considered as one stream, and with the geographical views then prevalent, it was supposed to fall into the gulf of California.
Placing great confidence in this hypothesis, and determined to make an exploration to verify it, he repaired to Quebec, to obtain from Governor Courcelles his approval. His plausible statements soon won over to his plans both the Governor and Intendant Talon, and letters patent were issued authorizing the enterprise. No pecuniary aid being furnished by the government, and as LaSalle had expended all his means in improving his estate, he was compelled to sell it to procure funds. The superior of the Seminary, being favorably disposed toward him, bought the greater part of his improvement, and realizing 2800 livres, he purchased four canoes and the necessary supplies for the expedition.
The Seminary, at the same time, was preparing for a similar exploration. The priests of this organization, emulating the enterprise of the Jesuits, had established a mission on the northern shore of Lake Ontario. At this point, hearing of populous tribes further to the northwest, they resolved to essay their conversion, and an expedition, under two of their number, was fitted out for this purpose. On going to Quebec to procure the necessary outfit, they were advised by the Governor to so modify their plans as to act in concert with LaSalle in exploring the great river of the west. As the result, both expeditions were merged into one—an arrangement ill-suited to the genius of La Salle, whom nature had formed for an undisputed chief, rather than a co-laborer in the enterprise. On the 6th of July, 1669, everything was in readiness, and the combined party, numbering 24 persons, embarked on the St. Lawrence in 7 canoes. Two additional canoes carried the Indians who had visited LaSalle, and who were now acting as guides. Threading the devious and romantic mazes of the river in opposition to its rapid current, after three days they appeared on the broad expanse of Lake Ontario. Their guides led them thence directly to their village, on the banks of the Genesee, where they expected to find guides to lead them to the Ohio. LaSalle, only partially understanding their language, was compelled to confer with them by means of a Jesuit priest, stationed at the village. The Indians refused to furnish a conductor, and even burned before their eyes a prisoner from one of the western tribes, the only person who could serve them as guide. This and other unfriendly treatment which they received, caused them to suspect that the Jesuit, jealous of their enterprise, had intentionally misrepresented their object, for the purpose of defeating it. With the hope of accomplishing their object, they lingered for a month, and at length had the good fortune to meet with an Indian from an Iroquois colony, situated near the head of the lake, who assured them that they could there find what they wanted, and offered to conduct them thither. With renewed hope they gladly accepted this proffered assistance, and left the Seneca village. Coursing along the southern shore of the lake, they passed the mouth of the Niagara, where they heard for the first time the distant thunder of the cataract, and soon arrived safely among the Iroquois. Here they met with a friendly reception, and were informed by a Shawnee prisoner that they could reach the Ohio in six weeks' time, and that he would guide them thither. Delighted with this unexpected good fortune, they prepared to commence the journey, when they unexpectedly heard of the arrival of two Frenchmen in a neighboring village. One of them proved to be Louis Joliet, a young man of about the age of LaSalle, and destined to acquire fame by his explorations in the west. He had been sent by Talon, the intendant of Canada, to explore the copper mines of Lake Superior, but had failed, and was now on his return. Giving the priests a map representing such parts of the upper lakes as he had visited, he informed them that the Indians of those regions were in great need of spiritual advisers. On receiving this information, the missionaries decided that the Indians must no longer sit in darkness, and thought that the discovery of the Mississippi might be effected as easily by a northern route, through these tribes, as by going farther southward. LaSalle, remonstrating against their determination, informed them that this direction was impracticable, and in case they should visit that region, they would perhaps find it already occupied by the Jesuits. He had, for some time, been afflicted with a violent fever, and finding his advice unheeded, he told the priests that his condition would not admit of following them further. The plea of sickness was doubtless a ruse to effect a separation; for the Invincible determination of LaSalle never permitted an enterprise which he had undertaken to be defeated by other considerations. A friendly parting was arranged, and after the celebration of mass, LaSalle and his men fell back to Lake Ontario, while the Sulpitians descended Grand river to Lake Erie.
The latter prosecuted their journey up the lakes, and on arri. ving among the Indians of whom Joliet had spoken, they found, as LaSalle had surmised, Marquette and Dablon established among them. Learning, too, that they needed no assistance from St. Sulpice, nor from those who made him their patron saint, they retraced their steps, and arrived at Montreal the following June, without having made any discoveries or converted an Indian.
The course pursued by LaSalle and his party, after leaving the priests, is involved in doubt. The most reliable record of his movements is that contained in an anonymous paper, which purports to have been taken from the lips of LaSalle himself, during a visit subsequently made to Paris. According to this statement, he went to Onondaga, where he obtained guides, and passed thence to a tributary of the Ohio, south of Lake Erie, followed it to the principal river, and descended the latter as far as the falls at Louisville. It has also been maintained, that he reached the Mississippi and descended it some distance, when his men de. serted, and he was compelled to return alone. It is stated in the same manuscript, that the following year he embarked on Lake Erie, ascended the Detroit to Lake Huron, and passed through the strait of Mackinaw to Lake Michigan. Passing to the southern shore, he proceeded by land to the Illinois, which he followed to its confluence with the Mississippi, and descended the latter to the 36th degree of latitude. Here, assured that the river did not fall into the gulf of California, but that of Mexico, he returned, with the intention of at some future day exploring it to the mouth.
The statement that he visited the falls of the Ohio, is doubtless correct. He himself affirms, in a letter to Count Frontenac, in 1677, that he discovered the Ohio, and descended it to the falls. Moreover, Joliet, his rival, subsequently made two maps representing the region of the Mississippi and the lakes, on both of which he states that LaSalle discovered and explored the Ohio. It is, perhaps, also true that LaSalle discovered the Illinois, but that he descended either it or the Ohio to the Mississippi before the discovery of Joliet, is improbable. If such had been the case, he certainly would have left written evidence to that effect, as in the case of the Ohio especially, when the priority of Joliet's discovery had become a matter of great notoriety.