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THAT part of our country bordering on the Great Lakes was partially explored by the French missionaries and voyageurs from Canada several years before the English cavaliers landed on Virginia soil, and many years before the landing of the Pilgrim Fathers on the rock at Plymouth. It was not the thirst of sordid gain that influenced the first white man who looked down into the clear waters of Lake Superior, or who gazed with awe upon the mighty Mississippi, rolling down its turbid flood from the unknown wilds above. The spirit of religious enthusiasm explored the basin of the great lakes and the valley of the Mississippi.


To the Society of Jesus was given the task of civilizing and christianizing the red men of the Northwest. Its missionaries, inspired with a heroism that defied every danger, and endured every toil, sacrificed country, wealth, and station to bear the cross to these unknown tribes. all history, ancient or modern, there is no Society that can be compared with this in the devotedness of its members. From Quebec they ascended the Ottawa, and, crossing the chain of small lakes, they preached the word of God in the

hovels of the Algonquins on the bays of Huron. They sailed among the islands of the Manitouline Archipelago, and at Sault Ste. Mary, at the outlet of Superior, they proclaimed the gospel to the Chippewas; entering that vast inland sea, they penetrated to its farthest extremity, where the St. Louis, white with the foam of its cataracts, enters the lake amid groves of pine.

As early as 1624, Gabriel Sagard, a missionary, made his way to the Huron tribes on the borders of the lake of the same name. In 1634, the Jesuits Brebeuf and Daniel, and several others of their Order, visited the Huron tribes. On the 17th day of September, 1641, the Fathers Jogues and Raymbault embarked in their frail birch-bark canoes for the Sault Ste. Mary. They floated over the clear waters, between the picturesque islands of Lake Huron, and, after a voyage of seventeen days, arrived at the Falls of St. Mary. Here they found a large assembly of Chippewas. After numerous inquiries, they heard of the Nadowessies, the famed Sioux, who dwelt eighteen days' journey further to the west, beyond the Great Lake. Thus did the religious zeal of the French bear the cross to the banks of the St. Mary and the confines of Lake Superior, and look wistfully towards the homes of the Sioux in the valley of the Mississippi, five years before the New England Eliot had addressed the tribe of Indians that dwelt within six miles of Boston harbor.1

Two traders passed the winter of 1659 among the Indians of Lake Superior; and in the following summer they arrived at Quebec with sixty canoes laden with furs, and rowed by three hundred Algonquins. The narratives of these men excited a spirit of emulation in the breast of the Jesuits to bear the cross to the cabins of those distant tribes. Father Mesnard, an aged missionary, was selected 1 Bancroft.

to establish a station as a place of assembly for the surrounding nations. He immediately set out, and on the 15th day of October, 1661, he reached the bay which he called St. Theresa, and which may have been Keweenaw Bay, on the northern part of the State of Michigan. Here he resided more than eight months, surrounded by savages and a few French voyageurs. Being solicited by the Hurons, who had taken refuge in the Isle of St. Michael, to visit them, he departed with one attendant for the Apostles' Isles. On his way he strayed from his attendant, and was never seen again. Many years afterwards his cassock and breviary were discovered in a Sioux lodge, and kept as amulets by the possessors.

Undismayed by his sad fate, a successor arrived-Father Claude Allouez-who embarked, in 1665, on a missionary tour to the far west, and on the 1st of October arrived at La Pointe, the great village of the Chippewas, in the Bay of Che-goi-mei-gon, Wisconsin. Here he met deputations from ten or twelve of the neighboring tribes, assembled in council to concert measures against their enemies, the Sioux. On being admitted to an audience, Allouez, in the name of Louis XIV., and as his viceroy, commanded peace, and offered commerce and alliance with France. His exhortations were received joyfully by the admiring savages, and soon a chapel rose on the shores of this bay, which attracted crowds of Indians, and the mission station of the "Holy Spirit" was founded.

After residing about two years on the southern coast of Lake Superior, and connecting his name imperishably with the progress of discovery in the West, Allouez returned to Quebec, and was succeeded by the distinguished James Marquette in the charge of the mission of the "Holy Spirit." For several succeeding years these pious missionaries were employed in converting the savage tribes,

and confirming the influence of France from Green Bay to the head of Lake Superior.

The country was made known by these enterprises, and, in 1671, Talon, the king's lieutenant of Canada, took measures to extend the power of France to the utmost limits of the northwest. He selected Nicholas Perrot, a man well suited to his purpose, supplied him with a sufficient force, and sent him to the far west to propose a congress of the various nations the following spring at the Sault Ste. Mary. He visited all the northern tribes with whom the French at that time had any trade, and also the Miamis at the foot of Lake Michigan, where Chicago now stands.

At this congress nearly all the nations of the north were present, by their delegates, and were met by the Sieur St. Lusson on the part of France, who was charged to take possession of all the country and receive them under the protection of its king. After an address by Perrot, and a declaration by St. Lusson of the act of taking possession, and of the protection of the king, a cross of cedar was raised, and the "whole company of the French bowed down before the emblem of man's redemption, and chaunted to its glory a solemn hymn." Alongside of the cross a cedar column was erected, marked with the lilies of the Bourbons. Thus, says Bancroft, "were the authority and the faith of France uplifted in the presence of the ancient races of America, in the heart of our continent. Yet this daring ambition of the servants of a military monarch was doomed to leave no abiding monument-this echo of the middle age to die away."

M. Talon having been very active in extending the dominion of France over the nations in the north and west, was anxious to discover the sources, direction, character, and outlet of a great river, which had often been mentioned to the French by the Indians, and which was supposed to

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