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SllinoisJ Centennial ^utjlicationjJ 

Published by Authority 






Volume I 


Otto Leopold Schmidt, Chairman 
Jessie Palmer Weber, Secretary 

Edward Bowe Evarts Boutell Greene 

John Joseph Brown George Pasfield, Jr. 

John W. Bunn William Nelson Pelouze 

William Butterworth Andrew Jackson Poorman, Jr. 

Leonard Allan Colp Thomas F. Scully 

Royal Wesley Ennis Frederic Siedenburg 

Edmund Janes James 


Evarts Boutell Greene, Chairman 

Royal Wesley Ennis Otto Leopold Schmidt 

Edmund Janes James Frederic Siedenburg 

[From an oil portrait by an unknown artist, discovered in Montreal in 1897] 









A. C. McCLURG & CO. 


Copyright, 1920 








I. The Land in the Making i 

IL The Illinois Indians and Their Neighbors . . 21 

\S . III. The Age of Discovery 54 

IV. The Great Governor and His Opponents 67 

V. The First Struggle for Empire 76 

VI. Fur Trade and Missions 98 

VII. The Foundation of Louisiana 120 

VIII. The Era of Speculation, 1712-1731 142 

IX. The Royal Province 168 

X. The Country of the Illinois 190 

XI. The Great Decision 225 

XII. Organization of the New Territory 246 

XIII. The British Occupation 259 

XIV. Colonization and the Quebec Act 286 

XV. . The Struggle for the West 308 

XVI. The County of Illinois 329 

XVII. The Period of the City States 358 

XVIII. The Organization of the West 379 

XIX. The Arrival of the Americans 398 

XX. The Indians at Bay 428 

XXI. In the Fullness of Time 45 1 

Bibliography 465 

Index 495 



Father Jacques Marquette Frontispiece 

Distribution of Woods, Prairies, Swamps, and Bluffs in 

Illinois 8 

Variations in Abundance of Mammals lo 

Indian Tribes About i 700 34 

Indian Buffalo Hunt 42 

Typical Bottom Land Forest 133 

Map of the Illinois Country 154 

Typical French House 216 

George Morgan 268 

George Rogers Clark 324 

Gabriel Cerre 336 

NiNiAN Edwards 430 

General Map of Illinois 464 


THE sentences of this preface are actually written amidst 
scenes the antithesis of those in which the volumes of the 
history were born and brought to maturity. The boundless 
prairies formed their cradle and offered unobstructed stretches 
for their development; while this act of baptism, so to speak, 
is taking place in a valley formed by the Berkshire hills of 
Massachusetts. Not far away, as the automobile runs, lie 
Greenfield, Northampton, and Williamstown, the names most 
familiar in my ears, when the verdant slopes of Mounts Tom 
and Holyoke were mysterious regions peopled by the fairies 
and Indians of childhood and later when Mount Greylock was 
watching over those callow days of football and tennis. From 
these rock-bound valleys to the oceanlike levels of central Illi- 
nois is a long, long trail. 

As I contemplate these scenes it appears strange that Fate 
should have chosen a child of the "everlasting hills" as 
editor of a history of the prairie land of Illinois. Yet his- 
torically such a selection is justifiable. From the towns and 
villages lying about me as I write these words thousands of 
men, women, and children traveled along the Erie canal and 
across the lakes to spread themselves over the prairies where 
my home now is. In the history of Illinois the men of western 
Massachusetts have played a notable part. Mountains and 
prairies are inseparably bound by ties of blood and tradition. 
Though it was late when I followed the well-worn trail over 
steel tracks in a Pullman car, I belong to that vast multitude 
who for three generations have carried their Lares and Penates 
across the mountains and have built their new hearths on the 
prairies, there to find themselves surrounded by the same 
familiar faces. 

From the scenes of my boyhood I seem to see this process 
of the transference of population more clearly and to perceive 
more fully its significance. The history of Illinois is indeed a 


part of the great history of the conquest of the Mississippi 
valley by white men. To the prairies came men of the north, 
men of the south, men from Great Britain, Ireland, and Ger- 
many; they built their cabins side by side, and in the same 
manner as they gave assistance to each other in raising their 
dwelling houses, they worked shoulder to shoulder in build- 
ing the structure of the American state which is called Illinois 
— a monument to democracy. 

What a noble structure it is, the history of this conquest of 
the prairies! If it could only be written in its fullness, with 
that accuracy which is the ideal but the despair of the historian, 
what a book it would make! If one could only explain the 
transference of the men of the east to the distant west, if one 
could only unravel the threads of the complex forces that have 
resulted in the growth of this prairie state — if one only could! 
Partial as every state history must be, I can dream of a history 
of Illinois that would be one of the greatest contributions to 
the knowledge of humanity ever produced. It would discover 
the relation of the soil and climate to the social-psychic condi- 
tions; it would reveal the changes in men wrought by the 
geological foundations of the prairies; it would trace the con- 
sequences of the mixture of races — alterations in the melting 
pot — upon the psychogenesis of generations; it would follow 
to the end the working of the inexorable economic forces 
upon primitive society, upon the farming communities, and 
upon the complex city life ; in a word, it would explain human 
society as developed on prairie land. 

Though the territory whereon the drama has been played 
may be limited, the motives of the men and their actions have 
been infinite in their diversity and intensity; the play has run 
through the whole gamut of human motives from the self- 
abnegation and humanitarianism of Father Marquette to the 
selfishness and arrogance of John Dodge; here on the soil of 
Illinois has been developed one of the most perfect of the 
human species in Abraham Lincoln, and here also have grown 
to manhood the most vicious of men. Ever varying, ever 
changing — such is the history of Illinois. 

The writer of such a work, besides being trained In the 
science of history, would have to be well acquainted with 


geology, meteorology, and agriculture; he should be an expert 
in ethnology and sociology, in psychology, genetics, and medi- 
cine; he should be an authority in diplomatics and political 
science; and beyond being master of these and other sciences, 
he should be a greater philosopher than the world has yet 
produced and should be possessed of a mind more emancipated 
from prejudice than is ever likely to be developed, and he 
should have a human sympathy beyond measure. 

Undoubtedly some such perfect work of history has been 
the hope of the Illinois people, and possibly the Centennial 
Commission has had some idea that measures had been taken 
to secure its production. I have stated the requirements for 
the writing of such a work in order that the readers may realize 
how impossible would be the accomplishment, how unfair to 
demand it from the authors. Still the Centennial Commis- 
sioners have set up a high ideal and in order to obtain good 
results have taken every precaution and have put forth every 
effort. They have, in fact, persuaded the commonwealth of 
Illinois to make an effort to secure a full and accurate account 
of its past greater than is recorded of any other state in the 

A history of Illinois suggests many things to many minds, 
and it can hardly be hoped that any concrete exemplar will be 
found satisfactory to everybody. The truth is that the problem 
of writing a state history is so complex that it cannot be solved 
even to the satisfaction of the authors attempting to do so. 
What belongs in such a history? The question has constantly 
been put to me by my associates in the undertaking, and I have 
found it impossible to formulate an answer that will stand the 
test. The story of any member of the union is only a slice 
arbitrarily cut out of the history of the American people, and 
the correct balance between national events and state happen- 
ings has been most difficult to establish. Frequently the lesser 
seemed incapable of being explained without a long exposition 
of the greater. The problem of the choice of subject matter 
was made more complex by the decision — probably wise — of 
the Centennial Commission to limit the number of words in 
each volume. This limitation has brought to every author the 
heartbreaking experience of going through his completed manu- 


script to eliminate some thousands of words, and the process 
has not always resulted in benefit. 

A few examples will make the problem more clear. Take 
one from the volume covering the period of the Civil War. 
Here was a great national event in which citizens of Illinois 
played a most noble part. Should the author attempt to follow 
the Illinois regiments through the numerous battles in which 
they were engaged? Consider the implications. To make the 
description of these battles intelligible, it would have been ne- 
cessary to include pages of narrative devoted to the military 
operations of the whole war. In the space allowed, that would 
have been impossible, unless most important events occurring 
within the state were omitted. 

Here is another example illustrating another phase of 
exclusion. One of the romantic events of the period covered 
by the second volume was the visit of the Marquis de Lafayette 
to the state. Receptions and speeches abounded; many Illi- 
noisians had the honor of shaking hands with one of the most 
notable figures of his time. The story is omitted. Why? It 
is an episode of interest to antiquarians, but not nearly so 
important in the development of Illinois as the beginning of 
prairie farming that was taking place at that time. The in- 
clusion of the latter subject was the choice of the author. 

Some critics will undoubtedly protest — and with some 
reason — that the authors have mentioned the names of too 
many men without adequate characterization; but judging 
from the numerous letters I have received from men and 
women concerning their notable ancestors, I believe the authors 
will be criticised by Illinoisians for having omitted the names of 
too many. Many representatives in congress, even senators 
and governors, have received no notice, or only a casual men- 
tion in the history. It must be remembered, however, that the 
state of being a high official does not constitute greatness; and 
even were a man moderately prominent, his particular activity 
may not have been best fitted in the eyes of the author to illus- 
trate the development that was taking place at the time. After 
all, the writing of history has a literary and an artistic side which 
an author cannot afford to neglect in order to bring in mere 


There is one error of judgment that I fear may be made 
in criticising this work. It will find its basis in the American 
tendency to glorify the past generations. We are all prone 
to apotheosize our dead. Washington and Lincoln hav^e 
already ceased to be men and have been placed on thrones in 
the clouds, very human though they were in real life. What 
the popular fancy has done for the more prominent, it does 
for the whole past generation. The pioneers have been so 
etherialized that it is difficult to imagine them enjoying their 
corn whisky and rolling out round oaths as so many were 
wont to do. The men and women of the frontier lived on a 
plane of civilization considerably below that of their descend- 
ants, and homespun and calico did not clothe greater virtues 
than do today's silk and tweed. We have recently seen our 
generation with its silk hosiery and creased trousers aroused 
to an idealism that would have found little response fifty or a 
hundred years ago. 

The following volumes represent an earnest effort to arrive 
at truth. The authors have not been satisfied with repeating 
the interpretations of former historians but have made a wide 
search for material and upon a direct study of contemporary 
sources of information have based their own interpretations. 
In the process many traditional accounts of past events have 
been discarded for those which have a greater semblance of 
truth. There can be no value in clinging to a misunderstanding, 
however hoary with age. 

The last volume and a half differ in character from the 
rest of the work. In these the attempt has been made to picture 
Illinois as it is after a hundred years of statehood. Written by 
an economic historian and a political scientist, the method of 
approach, the viewpoint, and the subject matter are in strong 
contrast to the treatment generally followed by the typical his- 
torian. Besides the evident value of a more or less static 
picture of the state, the method employed by these authors did 
not place upon them the necessity of describing current events 
and of passing judgment on persons still living. Some of these 
happenings are still too near — too recent — to allow of the 
presentation of a scientific and unprejudiced account. The 
future historian, however, will undoubtedly find in these later 


chapters much material that will be of value for his interpre- 

In this preface to the Centennial History I have the 
pleasant duty of acknowledging the assistance of many people 
and institutions. The project has received from everybody 
the most enthusiastic support, and I herewith express the thanks 
of the Centennial Commission, the authors, and myself for the 
many helpful acts and suggestions that have been so gener- 
ously accorded us. 

Two institutions, the Illinois State Historical Library and 
the Illinois Historical Survey, the latter a department of the 
University of Illinois, have from the beginning granted the 
enterprise financial support and have freely loaned their 
employees in order that success might be attained. Without 
their aid the completion of this history would have been impos- 
sible, and they deserve in proportion to the funds at their 
disposal as much credit for its final success as does the Centen- 
nial Commission Itself. The direct help from the Illinois State 
Historical Library was furnished from Its Urbana office, but 
at the same time the office at Springfield under the able man- 
agement of Mrs. Jessie Palmer Weber has been called upon 
constantly for assistance; in particular I feel under obligations 
to Mrs. Weber and her assistants for the manner In which 
they have relieved me of so many of the worries of the busi- 
ness side of the enterprise. 

Other institutions have also given freely. The Library 
of Congress has been more than generous in placing at the 
disposal of the authors Its treasures, as has the Chicago His- 
torical Society, the Missouri Historical Society of St. Louis, 
Laval University of Quebec, the Canadian Archives, and the 
Wisconsin Historical Society. In the case of the last named 
I wish to acknowledge my indebtedness for the loan for several 
months of the assistance of Dr. Louise Phelps Kellogg, who 
worked through a mass of material from the Paris Archives 
and prepared most helpful memoranda for my use. 

The authors express their appreciation of the guidance and 
tolerant oversight exercised by the Centennial Commission and 
its committee on publication. In this connection I must express 
my own gratitude and that of the state at large to the exertions 


of the chairman of the commission, Dr. Otto L. Schmidt, with- 
out whose friendly advice and aid the Centennial History never 
would have been published. He has known how to smooth out 
many, many difficulties. 

To President Edmund J. James, Dean David Kinley, and 
Professor Evarts B, Greene, of the University of Illinois, the 
history owes much. They were largely responsible for its con- 
ception and from first to last have not spared themselves in 
forwarding its interests. 

Never has man received more loyal service than the mem- 
bers of my office force have given me during these trying years. 
They have been ready to do anything at any time with slight 
thought of reward and without regard to office hours; their 
sole aim has seemed to be the accomplishment of what was 
best for the Centennial History. A long illness kept me many 
months from m.y office and placed on these young women great 
responsibilities to which they proved themselves equal. Words 
can express but feebly my feelings of gratitude to them. To 
my private secretary, Mrs. Leila White Tilton, my successive 
editorial assistants. Miss Ruth E. Hodsdon and Miss Mary 
E. Wheelhouse, my chief stenographer. Miss Marvel Jones, 
and her many assistants, the indexers, Mrs. Lucille Allen Lowry 
and Mrs. Esther Mohr Dole, and to the research assistants, 
Miss Anita Libman, Miss Grace Stratton, and the late Mrs. 
Agnes Wright Dennis, whose brilliant career has been cut short 
by a most lamentable accident, I herewith express my thanks. 

To those colleagues of the University of Illinois faculty 
who so kindly read the manuscript of the first chapter of volume 
one, and to Dr. Truman Michelson of the Bureau of Ethnol- 
ogy, who read that of chapter two, I am indebted for many 
friendly suggestions. To the authors of the volumes of the 
Centennial History I wish to express my appreciation of their 
enthusiastic cooperation and tolerant forbearance under many 
trying circumstances. At the same time, I wish to express my 
particular appreciation of Professor Arthur C. Cole, who has 
given me valuable help and advice on every volume. 

For assistance on my own volume I have already men- 
tioned my indebtedness to Dr. Louise Phelps Kellogg; I have 
also to acknowledge the work of Mr. Ralph Linton, who col- 


lected much valuable data on the elusive subject of the Indians 
of Illinois. In addition the aid given by two others must be 
noticed: Dr. P. F. Reiff prepared for me the rough draft of 
chapters seven to eleven, and my secretary, Mrs. Leila White 
Tilton, did the same for chapters two, twenty, and twenty-one. 
They are in no way responsible for the errors that may be 
found in the final form, for I have written into their drafts the 
results of my own research and my own interpretation. 

Clarence Walworth Alvord. 
Urbana, August 24, 1919- 



"^^ OD'S meadows" they are named, and God's meadows 

Vj" they are. DuringmilHonsof years they were fashioned 
in the laboratory of Nature; inexorable forces have uplifted 
and depressed them, have flooded and drained them, have 
crushed and scraped them, molding them to a form ideally 
adapted for the home of man. Over the surface and in the 
bowels of the earth, on the hilltops and over the prairies, on 
land and in water, Nature has bounteously spread her gifts 
before the sons of men in the " country of the Illinois." 

The location of the land as well as its fertility has shaped 
its destiny. The territory of the state touches the watershed of 
the Great Lakes on the north, is washed on the west by the 
Mississippi river, and extends to the Ohio on the south. Rest- 
ing In the heart of the Mississippi valley, the Illinois country 
has been shaken by every great force stirring the continent; the 
north and the south, the east and the west have exercised form- 
ative influences on its destiny. Hither men have brought their 
household goods from Canada; traders have pushed their 
boats toward the prairie lands against the turbid current of the 
Mississippi ; hordes of settlers have crossed the Alleghenies and 
have floated down the Ohio or have sailed the Great Lakes to 
Chicago; In later days, men from Illinois have been among the 
builders of all the trans-Mississippi states that stretch across 
prairies and mountains even to the Golden Gate. 

Great nations have struggled for the possession of the Illinois 
country. France ruled it, and was swept away by the might of 
Great Britain; Spain looked upon it with longing eyes; and at 
last the opportunity to develop Its resources was granted to the 
United States. Even then the struggle for the territory con- 
tinued; the men of the south met on the prairies the men of the 
north and fought out at the polls the same titanic struggle 
which later shook the nation. The history of Illinois in a very 
real sense typifies the development of the American west. 


Along the many rivers which bound and cross the state like 
arteries has pulsated the life of the great inland valley. For 
thousands of years they carried the commerce of the Indians, 
along their courses have floated hundreds of war bands, and 
their banks have guided the footsteps of migrating nations. 
White men followed the routes long known to the Indians. 
The first Europeans to touch Illinois soil came by way of the 
Great Lakes; from Green Bay they voyaged up the Fox river 
and portaged over to the Wisconsin, thus reaching the Mis- 
sissippi,^ Explorers, traders, missionaries, and settlers soon 
followed. They came sometimes by Lake Michigan to the 
Chicago river, up which they paddled or rowed; thence making 
a portage of four miles or more to the Des Plaines river, they 
reached the Illinois and the great beyond. Sometimes in low 
water the passage was difficult, and traders preferred to carry 
their boats thirty miles or more rather than to push them over 
the bed of the Des Plaines; but when the water was high, no 
portage obstructed their passage, for then the waters of the 
lakes and of the Mississippi basin were intermingled; and at 
such times many a mackinaw boat, loaded to the gunwales with 
furs, floated from one to the other.^ 

Other frequently used portages were the ones from the St. 
Joseph river to the Kankakee and from the Maumee to one of 
the upper branches of the Wabash. The latter was a favorite 
route during the eighteenth century, when Detroit was the 
center of western trade, but toward the end of the century the 
Chicago-Des Plaines again came into popular use, and the 
buyers of furs plied their trade across its muddy portage as long 
as this primitive business was profitable in the valley of the 
Illinois river. 

When they became more generally known, the southern 
approaches proved more valuable, if not so romantic. The 
Mississippi river, naturally, was a frequent route for craft from 
the period of canoe travel through the age of the steamboat. 

1 A description of the western portages may be found in Farrand, The 
Basis of American History, chapter 2. 

-Flint, Recollections of the Last Ten Years, 102; Hubbard, Autobiography 
(ed. Mcllvaine), passim. An excellent account of the portage, with special 
emphasis on its difficulties, may be found in Quaife, Chicago and the Old North- 
luest, chapter i. 


Before the advent of steam the journey upstream was labori- 
ously accomplished in three months or more by various kinds 
of boats. From first to last, large cargoes of Illinois products 
have found their way to market down the Father of Waters, 
and tons of merchandise have made the weary return voyage. 
The last approach to be discovered and utilized by white 
men was the Ohio river with its numerous branches. The 
portages from the seaboard rivers to the western navigable 
streams were many miles in length, but neither their tiring 
reaches nor their forested and craggy heights deterred eager 
traders; and over them clambered thousands of settlers in 
whose ears rang the reverberating refrain: 

Cheer up, brothers, as we go 
O'er the mountains, westward ho. 

The state which these newcomers founded extends from 
approximately 37° to 42° 30'' north latitude and has a total 
area of 56,043 square miles, an area larger than Belgium, Hol- 
land, and Denmark combined, and almost one-half as large as 
Great Britain.^ The act of congress admitting Illinois into the 
union describes its boundaries as follows: "Beginning at the 
mouth of the Wabash river, thence up the middle of the same 
and with the line of Indiana to the northwest corner of said 
State ; thence, east, with the line of the same State, to the middle 
of Lake Michigan, thence north, along the middle of said lake, 
to the north latitude 42° 30'; thence west, to the middle of the 
Mississippi river; thence down the middle of that river to its 
confluence with the Ohio river; and thence along Its north- 
western shore, to the beginning,""* The whole boundary, about 
1,160 miles in length, is formed, with the exception of 305 
miles, by navigable waters. The great length of the state, with 
the resulting variety of climate, has been a factor in its develop- 
ment. The people at the northern end are in the same latitude 
as the people of central New York, while the southern end of 
the state lies opposite Newport News in Virginia. 

3 Rand McNally & Co., Library Alias of the World, 1:174 ff- By an error 
of survey, the northern boundary zigzags across the parallel. Thwaites, " Bound- 
aries of Wisconsin," in fVisconsin Historical Collections, 11 : 501, note i. 

* Annals of Congress, 15 congress, i session, 2544; Illinois in 1837, p. 9. 


In general Illinois is an inclined plane, sloping from Lake 
Michigan to the Mississippi river, with its lowest point at the 
extreme southern angle. The general elevation of the northern 
part of the state is about 800 feet above sea level, ^ but in four 
counties on this border, Jo Daviess, Stephenson, Boone, and 
McHenry, there are many points as high as 1,000 feet. The 
point of highest altitude, Charles Mound in Jo Daviess county, 
is 1,241 feet above sea level.® In passing from north to south, 
there is a fall of 300 feet in the general elevation, but the 
lowest land, located near the junction of the Ohio and the 
Mississippi, is less than 300 feet above the sea.'^ 

The Illinois plane forms the bottom of a large shallow 
basin, of which the neighboring states are the rim; the mean 
elevation of Illinois is about 600 feet above tide level, that of 
Indiana 700, of Michigan 900, of Wisconsin 1,050, of Iowa 
1,100, and of Missouri 800 feet.^ More than one-third of the 
state stands at the average altitude. The plane of the southern 
part is broken by a rugged belt twenty-five miles wide, rising 
300 feet — and in one place over i ,060 feet — above the border 
tracts. This rough land with its abrupt cliffs of massive rocks 
is in marked contrast to the prevailing flatness, similar varia- 
tions existing only in the bottom lands of the Mississippi and 
in the rocky bluffs of the Illinois river.^ 

The state is drained by the waters of three basins — that of 
the Mississippi, which comprises eighty per cent of the state's 
surface ; the Ohio river basin, and that of Lake Michigan. The 
last is small, and its water will be delivered almost entirely to 
the Mississippi upon the completion of work now in progress 
in the Chicago sanitary district.^*^ 

Along the western border of Illinois the Mississippi flows 

^Levcrett, The Illinois Glacial Lobe, United States Geological Survey, 
Monograph, number 38, p. 179. 

8 Cox, Lead and Zinc Deposits of Nort/iicestern Illinois, 16. 

7 The town of the lowest altitude is Cairo, at 317.9 feet; that of the highest is 
Wadham, 1,022 feet above sea level. Leverett, The Illinois Glacial Lobe, 7, 179; 
" Dictionary of Altitudes in Illinois," in Illinois State Geological Survey, Bulletin, 
number 30, p. 115 ff. 

8 A careful estimate made by Professor C. W. Rolfe fixes the average 
altitude at 633.55 feet. Leverett, The Illinois Glacial Lobe, 7 S. 

9 Ibid., 179; Barrows, Geography of the Middle Illinois Valley, i. 

10 Rivers and Lakes Commission, Report on Water Resources of Illinois, 
1914, p. 6. 


placidly, with only two rapids, one at Rock Island, where the 
river falls twenty feet in twelve miles, and the other at Keokuk, 
Iowa, where in a distance of eleven miles the river falls about 
twenty-two feet. Altogether, 44,050 square miles of the state's 
surface are drained by this noble stream and its branches, chief 
of Vv'hich are the Rock, the Illinois, the Kaskaskia, and the Big 
Muddy. At the southern end of the state the river valley of 
the Mississippi, which averages one mile in width, is broadened 
by fertile flats between the river and the bluffs, the gift of the 
turbid Missouri. 

The union of these streams has been the cause of many 
devastating floods. A French traveler, Volney, in America in 
1796, wrote: "This great, this magnificent Mississippi . . . . 
is a very bad neighbor. Strong in a body of yellowish muddy 
water, two or three thousand yards in breadth, which it annu- 
ally rolls over its banks to a height of five to twenty feet, it 
urges this mass over a loose earth of sand and clay; forms 
islands and destroys them; floats along trees, which it after- 
wards overturns; varies its course through the obstructions it 
creates for itself; and at length reaches you at distances, where 
you would have supposed yourself perfectly secure."^^ 

The Rock river, the most northern of the Illinois branches 
of the Mississippi, belongs only in part to Illinois, for only half 
of its drainage area lies within the state. Rising in south- 
eastern Wisconsin and fed by an interesting tributary system of 
pretty streams and spring-fed lakes, it takes its course through 
the beautiful undulating country of northeastern Illinois until 
it joins the Mississippi a short distance below the city of Rock 

The Illinois river, as the name indicates, is a central feature 
of the state ; upon the banks of this river of romance have been 
enacted many of the most stirring scenes in the historical drama 
of the country. Formed by the union of the Des Plaines and 
Kankakee rivers, it is swelled by the Fox, the Vermilion, the 
Mackinaw, the Spoon, the Sangamon, and other streams, until 
it attains a volume that makes it of all the westward-flowing 
tributaries of the Mississippi second in importance only to the 
Ohio. From its head to Starved Rock the Illinois falls rapidly, 

11 Volney, Fieiv of the Climate and Soil of the United States of America, 380. 


more than a foot a mile, and the current has cut a valley about 
a mile and a half in width; but from Starved Rock to its mouth, 
four miles above St. Louis, it descends only a little over an 
inch a mile, and the valley is correspondingly wider, spread- 
ing from two to five miles in width in most places and, above 
the mouth of the Sangamon, expanding to fifteen miles. 

In its original state the river was subject to great variation. 
Like all depositing rivers, it formed natural levees and bars 
over which flowed at times only from sixteen to twenty inches 
of water, and along its course lay innumerable stagnant 
ponds, lakes, and stretches of marshland; then in flood season 
forty times the volume of water rolled between its banks. 

A great change in the character of the river has been brought 
about by the work of men. By the constant discharge of the 
water of Lake Michigan through the Chicago ship and drainage 
canal the levees and bars have been cleared away, and by 
methods of reclamation most of the former waste lands of the 
river valley have been won from destructive nature for human 
use.^^ Before these improvements were made, some protection 
against the floods was afforded by a series of gravel terraces 
found along the middle course of the river, which settlers early 
utilized as sites for towns. 

The scenery of the upper Illinois river is varied and most 
beautiful. The slopes at first are low and gentle, growing 
gradually steeper until at Marseilles the valley walls are almost 
two hundred feet high. Here and there the voyager sees huge 
masses of sandstone rising fortress-like along the banks; those 
who know the Illinois river will always remember Lovers' Leap, 
Buffalo Rock, and, most famous of all. Starved Rock. Scenic 
effects along the lower and middle river are not so striking, yet 
they are described by a writer of an early gazetteer as " beauti- 
ful beyond description. There is a constant succession of 
prairies, stretching in many places, from the river farther than 
eye can reach, and elegant groves of woodland."^^ 

^- Rivers and Lakes Commission, Report on Water Resources of Illinois, 
1914, p. 33; Barrows, Geography of the Middle Illinois Valley, 2, 6, 105; Sauer, 
Geography of the Upper Illinois Valley, 17 flf . ; Leverett, Tlie Illinois Glacial 
Lobe, 499 ff. 

1" Brown, "Western Gazetteer or Emigrants' Directory," in Illinois State 
Historical Societj-, Transactions, 1908, p. 303. 


South of the Illinois the Mississippi has no important tribu- 
tary from the east for over a hundred miles, when it receives 
the Kaskaskia. The name "Okaw," by which the stream is 
called locally, is a corruption of the French "Aux Kaskaskias," 
an interesting echo of the days when the lower valley of this 
river was the heart of French Illinois. It wanders in a serpen- 
tine course of four hundred miles over the prairies from Cham- 
paign county to its mouth near the town of Chester; its narrow 
drainage basin ordinarily supplies it with only a small volume 
of water; but frequently this rises very considerably — some- 
times as much as twenty feet — flooding large areas of the 
valley and causing numerous changes in the channel of the 

A stream of this character flowing to meet the mighty Mis- 
sissippi, likewise subject to high floods and to sudden shiftings 
of channel, was predestined to interesting changes; and from 
earliest times the towns and forts on the flat land separating 
the two streams were frequently affected by the ravages of 
floods. A most dramatic event, involving a transformation in 
the character of acres of land, took place in 188 i. By that 
year the two rivers in their meanderings had approached within 
a few hundred feet of each other at a point some six miles above 
their confluence, and a particularly violent flood caused the 
Mississippi to break across the narrow neck of land between 
and cut for itself a new channel out of the bed of the narrower 
stream, enlarging it at the expense of the low-lying shore where 
stood the ancient town of Kaskaskia, which in the course of 
years has become buried beneath the flood that once conveyed 
its trade to New Orleans.^'* 

Similar in character to the Kaskaskia is the Big Muddy, 
which flows through southwestern Illinois to join the Mississippi 
forty miles above Cairo. Though it is ordinarily only a small 
stream, backwater from the Mississippi frequently extends sixty 
miles up the river; at other times floods swell it above the 
ordinary level to a height of thirty feet.^^ 

The Ohio river, which bounds the state on the south, receives 

^* Burnham, " The Destruction of Kaskaskia by the Mississippi River," in 
Illinois State Historical Society, Transactions, 1914, p. 95. 

15 Rivers and Lakes Commission, Report on IVater Resources of Illinois, 
1914, p. 156. 


no tributaries of importance directly from the lowlands of Illi- 
nois; but the Wabash, which joins the Ohio from the north 
and which for more than two hundred miles of its lower course 
forms the eastern boundary of the state, carries to the larger 
stream the waters of the Vermilion, the Embarrass, and the 
Little Wabash rivers, draining a large portion of eastern 
Illinois. The Wabash valley, now thickly settled and highly 
cultivated, charmed its earliest beholders by its "vast natural 
meadows" and "fine woods. "^*'' 

The beauty and fertility of these wooded river banks of 
Illinois and of the immense stretches of sunny prairie were a 
continual source of delight to the early explorers and settlers. 
A glance at the map reproduced on the opposite page will show 
that southern Illinois was chiefly woodland ; below a line passing 
through Champaign, Peoria, and Rock Island, mixed woodland 
and prairies prevailed; north and east of this line the prairies 
spread out in an almost unbroken stretch, except in the heavily 
forested northwestern corner.^'^ 

The gorgeous scenery of the uncultivated prairies has dis- 
appeared beneath the sod turned over by the deep-cutting plow. 
No longer is the eye delighted with the brilliant coloring of 
former days. Fortunately, admiring visitors have preserved 
on the written page vivid pictures of the primeval landscape, 
and the imagination is by their help able to reconstruct the 
beauties that are no more. "The touching, delicate loveliness 
of the lesser prairies, so resplendent in brilliancy of hue and 
beauty of outline," writes a traveler, " I have often dwelt upon 
with delight. The graceful undulation of slope and swell; the 
exquisite richness and freshness of the verdure flashing in native 
magnificence; the gorgeous dies of the matchless and many 
colored flowers dallying with the winds ; the beautiful woodland 
points and promontories shooting forth into the mimic sea; the 
far-retreating shadowy coves, going back in long vistas into the 
green wood; the curved outline of the dim, distant horizon, 
caught at intervals through the openings of the forest; and the 
whole gloriously lighted up by the early radiance of morning, 

i^ColIot, "A Journey in North America," in Illinois State Historical Society, 
Transactions, 1908, p. 271. 

^^This map with some important changes is also reproduced in Barrows, 
Geography of the Middle Illinois Valley, 69. 


j"^ Prairies 


[ Reproduced from Gerhard, Illinois As It Is] 


. . . . all these constituted a scene in which beauty un- 
rivaled was the sole ingredient,"^^ 

Most of the open prairie was covered with high beard 
grass, usually interspersed with tall-growing flowers, such as 
prairie dock, cup plant, and compass plant, a number of gaudy 
sunflowers, several species of oxeye, and large purple patches 
of ironweed, often mixed with various thoroughworts, asters, 
and ragweed. Indian plantain, leafcup, horseweed, and hyssop 
were abundant, while dragonhead, prairie clover, blazing star, 
milkweed, orange lilies, and wild roses added to the gorgeous 
coloring. Among the lower grasses flourished large areas of 
black-eyed Susans, purple coneflowers, and bright bur mari- 

Many of the prairie flowers grew in compact masses of 
vivid color, giving the appearance of a glorified patchwork quilt 
flung over the land. In the spring strawberries, bearing abun- 
dant scarlet fruit, were scattered far and wide; wild phlox added 
gay splashes of blue and pink. The blue phlox, the Greek 
valerian, and the bluebell were usually found in the more moist 
areas. Wild garlic was abundant. The blue iris made a rich 
spot of color, and the unicorn plant and the beardtongue occa- 
sionally grew in great patches. For acres at a stretch the sum- 
mer fields glowed with vivid goldenrod.^^ 

During the years of 1 836 to 1 848, a German scientist spent 
days in classifying the flora around Belleville; he has thus 
described his impressions of the prairies : -^ "Among the trees 
the crab-apple was perhaps the most common, alternating with 
usually smaller thickets of wild plum. Along the draws or 
hollows the latter predominated; along the infrequent creeks, 
belts of other lowland growth prevailed. Occasionally the 
black prairie was broken by low hills with a stiff yellow clay 
soil, generally wooded with black jack .... or where the 
soil was lighter, with red, black, and white oak." Here and 
there on the black prairie appeared groups of persimmon trees, 
forty feet or more in height, bearing a large sweet fruit; the 
tree differed markedly from the " old field " persimmon of later 

^8 Flagg, T/ie Far West, in Thwaites, Early Western Travels, 26:340. 

" Ibid. 

-°Hilgard manuscript in Illinois Historical Survey, University of Illinois, 


times. " In the thick growth bordering the streams, oaks were 
the most common trees, notably the shingle oak; there were 
also various haws, maples, American red bud, wild plum, prick- 
ley ash, honey locust, the Ohio buckeye, the Kentucky coffee 
tree, and clumps of pawpaw."-^ Surrounding these trees were 
thick shrubs, cornel, hop tree, spicebush, buttonbush, and hy- 
drangea, while over them climbed luxuriant growths of wild 
bean, moonseed, passion flower, and grapevine. 

" Nothing so much surprises the European on his first en- 
trance to the western country," writes an author, " as the 
grandeur and beauty of many of the trees, and more particu- 
larly if he happens to arrive in the spring; not fewer than ten 
species produce a profusion of beautiful blossoms and the 
underwood consists mostly of some of our finest flowering 
shrubs." And he mentions, among others, the lovely blossoms 
of the magnolia, the tulip tree, the horse-chestnut, the azalea, 
and the dogwood.-- The writer's enthusiasm was justified, for 
the varieties of trees warranted a greater extravagance of ex- 
pression. There have been listed on a piece of woodland of 
fifty acres, forty-six species of indigenous "hard wood," with 
twelve additional species within a half mile. In addition to 
these there were seventeen others that appeared in the immedi- 
ate vicinity, making in all seventy-five species that might have 
been found in an area of less than a square mile,-^ 

In the woods and on the prairies the great variety of wild 
animals continually tempted the early settlers from the hum- 
drum life of the farmer to the more romantic vocation of hunts- 
man. The herds of buffaloes which in the earlier period roamed 
over the prairies had disappeared entirely in the first decade of. 
the nineteenth century. Deer, elk, bears, wolves, foxes, opos- 
sums, raccoons, squirrels, and rabbits, however, were plentiful 
for many years. Wild turkeys abounded in the hilly districts, 
and prairie chickens and quails were very plentiful. About the 

21 Hilgard manuscript in Illinois Historical Survey, University of Illinois. 

22 Bradbury, Travels in the Interior of North America, in Thwaites, 
Early Western Travels, 5:279. Collot lists over twenty-five varieties of trees 
as common in the Illinois country in 1796. Collot, "A Journey in North America," 
in Illinois State Historical Society, Transactions, 1908, p. 295. 

23 Ri(jg^Yay^ "Notes on the Native Trees of the Lower Wabash and White 
River Valleys in Illinois and Indiana," in United States National Museum, 
Proceedings, 1882, p. 49 ff. ; Ridgway, "Additional Notes," ibid., 1894, P- 409 ff- 







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headwaters of the Illinois and the small lakes were prodigious 
numbers of geese, ducks, cranes, herons, swans, cormorants, 
and wood ibis.-^ An early visitor wrote of the flocks of wild 
pigeons obscuring the sun. 

The fisherman, as well as the hunter, found here abun- 
dant sport and profit. One hundred and fifty species of fish 
have been taken within the borders of the state, some of them, 
such as the black bass, pickerel, muskellunge, lake trout, and 
whitefish, being the delight of the sportsman. Of late years 
the European carp, introduced in 1879, has become by far the 
most abundant food fish in the state. -^ 

The cultivation of the prairies has always presented its 
difficulties, but the crops have grown from earliest days in spite 
of destructive enemies. The pioneer's labor was constantly 
endangered by the chinch bug, Hessian fly, white grub, grass- 
hopper, army worm, cutworm, plum curculio, oyster-shell scale, 
codling moth, and the periodical cicada, or seventeen-year 
locust. His livestock was viciously attacked by several kinds 
of horse-flies, black flies, or buffalo gnats, and cattle flies, while 
his own peace of mind and his health were endangered by mos- 
quitoes, three varieties being carriers of the malaria germ.-" 

How dangerous the mosquitoes were is shown by the preva- 
lence of malaria in the pioneer days. " Fever and ague " were 
the scourge of the pioneer, and quinine was his daily diet. The 
prevalence of malaria caused all the prairie states to acquire a 
reputation for unhealthfulness. The disease was ascribed 
to the " poisonous miasmas " which issued from the prairie sod 
in the late summer and fall. The poor health of the pioneers 
was due also to the neglect of sanitation and drainage in their 
homes. Since these have been improved, the state is as health- 
ful as any in the temperate zone. 

An enthusiastic pioneer, after a short experience of Illinois 

2* Brown, "The Western Gazetteer or Emigrants' Directory," in Illinois 
State Historical Society, Transactions, 1908, p. 307. Consult Kennicutt, "Cata- 
logue of Animals Observed in Cook County, Illinois," in Illinois State Agri- 
cultural Society, Transactions, volume i, where are listed over forty mammals, 
two hundred birds, etc. Of the seventeen snakes observed, only four were 
poisonous: the copperhead, which appeared in very limited numbers, and three 
species of rattlesnakes. 

-5 Letter from Stephen A. Forbes, Professor of Entomology, University of 

26 Ibid. 


climate, wrote: "If this is the usual season of the Illinois, 
which can scarcely be doubted, as it answers the character given 
by those longest resident, then is Illinois one of the finest coun- 
tries under heaven for human beings to dwell in; one of the 
most delightful given to man for his residence."-" Possibly a 
longer sojourn may have dampened his enthusiasm somewhat, 
for Illinois, like other parts of the L^nited States, offers a suffi- 
cient variety of conditions to furnish everybody with a griev- 
ance. In America as a whole greater extremes of heat and cold 
prevail than in western Europe, and in this respect Illinois is 
typical of the whole country. It lies in the latitude of Spain 
and southern Italy; its mean temperature is very similar to 
that of central Germany, but its winters are comparable to those 
of Denmark and its summer heat is like that of northern Italy. 
Its long stretch north and south creates a still greater diversity. 
A temperature of twenty degrees below zero Fahrenheit is not 
uncommon in winter on the northern border, yet cotton can be 
raised in the southern counties. The average temperature of 
Illinois is fifty-two degrees, and from this the yearly average 
varies slightly.- The growing season is generally one hundred 
and eighty-six days, the average latest date of killing frost in 
the spring being April 1 1; and the earliest in the fall, Oc- 
tober 1 8.-8 

By means of records taken at 142 stations for the years 
188 1— 1910, the mean annual rainfall of Illinois has been deter- 
mined as 37.4 inches. The yearly totals have ranged from 
17.31 inches at Lanark, Carroll county, in 1901, to 71.27 inches 
at Golconda in 1882. Illinois has known excessively heavy 
rainfall in a single storm; for instance, at La Harpe, Hancock 
county, on June 10, 1905, there fell 10.25 inches of rain. 
About one-half of the rainfall evaporates immediately, from 
about one-fourth to one-third runs oft in the streams, and the 

27 Flower, "Letters from the Illinois, 1820-1821," in Thwaites, Early West- 
ern Travels, 10: 140. 

28 Fuller, "The Climate of Illinois: Its Permanence," in Illinois State 
Historical Society, Transactions, 1912, p. 54. There are many departures from 
the average: in 1857 the last killing frost was on May 11, and in 1878, on March 
25; the first killing frost of 1882 was on November 12, that of 190^ was on 
September 29. Occasionally Illinois has startlingly cold winters. The " deep 
snow" of 1830-1831 has become traditional. In November, 1911, a change of 
wind blowing fifty miles an hour caused the temperature to fall twenty degrees 
almost instantly and fifty-eight degrees in eight hours. 


remainder sinks into the soil and rock below,-'' Occasion- 
ally Illinois suffers from serious droughts; for the two months 
of October and November in 1904 two central Illinois stations 
each recorded only two-tenths of an inch of rainfall. 

Hailstorms and tornadoes are only occasional visitors. On 
the other hand, violent thunderstorms sweep frequently across 
the prairies, as they have done from time immemorial. " During 
my wanderings in Illinois," wrote an early visitor, " I have 
more than once referred to the frequency and violence of the 
thundergusts by which it is visited, I had traveled not many 
miles the morning after leaving Salem when I was assailed by 
one of the most terrific storms I remember to have yet en- 
countered. All the morning the atmosphere had been most 
oppressive, the sultriness completely prostrating, and the livid 
exhalations quivered along the parched-up soil of the prairies, 
as if over the mouth of an enormous furnace. A gauzy mist 
of silvery whiteness at length diffused Itself over the landscape; 
an inky cloud came heaving up In the northern horizon, and 
soon the thunder-peal began to bellow and reverberate along 
the darkened prairie, and the great raindrops came tumbling 
to the ground. Fortunately, a shelter was at hand; but hardly 
had the traveler availed himself of Its liberal hospitality, when 
the heavens were again lighted up by the sunbeams ; the sable 
cloud rolled off to the east, and all was beautiful and calm, as 
if the angel of desolation In his hurried flight had but for a 
moment stooped the shade of his dusky wing, and had then 
swept onward to accomplish elsewhere his terrible bidding. "^*^ 

The first visitors to the prairies of Illinois, whether red or 
white men, saw only the conspicuous phenomena that have been 
described. Below the surface the Europeans dug a little in 
search of minerals, but not yet had they learned to read the 
history of the physical revolutions that even to them lay open 
in the layers of varicolored earth on the steep banks of the 
rivers, or in the outcroppings of rocks In various parts of the 

29 Rivers and Lakes Commission, Report on Water Resources of Illinois, 
1914, see map in pocket; Fuller, "The Climate of Illinois: Its Permanence," in 
Illinois State Historical Society, Transactions, 1912, p. 56 ff. ; Trowbridge and 
Shaw, " Geology and Geography of the Galena and Elizabeth Quadrangles," in 
Illinois State Geological Survey, Bulletin, number 26, p. iii. 

30Flagg, The Far IVest, in Thwaites, Early Western Travels, 26:363. 


territory. The capacity to read these aright has cost years of 
labor performed by generations of scientists, and only in the 
last few generations has rapid progress been made in decipher- 
ing the hieroglyphics chiseled by Nature on her monuments. 
Even now this history is limited to a relatively short period of 
time and to only a portion of the earth. Guesses alone can be 
made concerning that long period before the continents were 
formed ; and concerning what lies deep-buried below the earth's 
surface, man must still confess almost total ignorance. 

Still the story that has been deciphered is a long one and 
reaches back into the past millions of years before the time 
when man first made his appearance. It tells of revolutionary 
transformations wrought by infinite forces; sometimes, of the 
sudden and violent outbreak of volcanoes and the inexorable 
shaking of earthquakes, sometimes of quieter but no less effect- 
ive activities: the wearing away of rocks, particle by particle, 
their transportation by wind and water, and their metamor- 
phosis by chemical and like imperceptible agents. 

The great valley lying between the Appalachian and the 
Rocky mountains was formed in the dawn of geologic time, 
from which epoch scant vestiges in the forms of rocks are ex- 
posed to view within its borders. It Is Inferred that great 
masses of igneous rocks, quartzites and slates, such as outcrop 
in Canada, have their counterparts farther to the south and 
sustain layers of rock found underlying the surface. It was a 
time of a stupendous play of forces, when the earth's founda- 
tions were being prepared in the shops of Vulcan. In this 
earliest period, of which there are no records within the terri- 
tory of the state, the landscape was probably broken by parallel 
ranges of high volcanic mountains. These, in the course 
of ages stretching through a period equal to several geologic 
periods, must have been worn down by streams and other nat- 
ural forces to a gently undulating plain, such as has been charac- 
teristic of the region from that distant era till the present. 
Thereafter the geologic book is more easily read. 

"And the waters prevailed exceedingly upon the earth; and 
all the high hills that were under the whole heaven were cov- 
ered." As it is described in Genesis, so it was In Illinois and 
the surrounding land. Over the midland valley the sea came 


and receded, then came again and again, according as the conti- 
nent was lifted or depressed; the sea bottom received from 
incoming streams sediment which, it sorted by its waves into 
layers of gravel, sand, clay, and broken shells. Time passed, 
measured by eons, during which these particles were fashioned 
into rocks by cementation and pressure. The sand was changed 
into sandstone, the clay into shale, and the shells into limestone ; 
these constitute the known foundations of the state.^^ 

Sometimes the ocean separated the east from the west, 
forming two continents, sometimes it intruded into the great 
valley from the north, sometimes the waves of the Gulf of 
Mexico washed the shore at the present site of Cairo. Geolo- 
gists have divided the time covered into epochs and periods, 
each indefinitely long and incomprehensible to the human intel- 
lect. Yet by studying rock surfaces in outcroppings and in 
wells they have been able to determine how layer by layer of 
the limestone, shale, and sandstone has been laid down, and 
they have given to each its name and have established the date 
of its formation In the stratified series extending from deep 
down below the surface thousands of feet to the youngest rock 
that lies on top. 

During this period of the formation of the known rock 
layers of Illinois was created the state's wealth in minerals, the 
most Important of which deserves mention, if for no other 
reason than to bring forcibly to the mind the long reaches of 
time hurriedly passed In review.^- During one or more of the 
geologic periods, Illinois changed repeatedly from a coastal 
swamp to a shallow sea, depending on the upwarping and sink- 
ing of the plane. The flora of this swamp land was luxuriant, 
Its forms unlike those of today; there flourished huge fern trees 
fifty feet high, softwood evergreens tall and slender, and among 
these were smaller rank-growing plants. The dominant color 
of these forests was green unbroken by bright flowers. Such 
forests grew to maturity, died, and were changed by chemical 
and other forces into peat and then into coal. It is estimated 
that the territory of the state during this coal making period 

31 Illinois State Geological Survey, Geologic Map of Illinois, 1917 ; Sauer, 
Geography of the Upper Illinois Valley, passim. 

3^ For an account of the mineral wealth of the state, see Centennial History 
of Illinois, 4: 411 ff. 


passed through this sequence of processes turning forests into 
coal at least six different times. 

After the coal beds had been formed the territory of the 
state experienced one of those continually recurring internal 
disturbances, that on this occasion raised the whole surface and 
warped the edges, the southern portion in particular being 
radically changed; here the rocks were cracked and pushed 
or pressed upward, forming the Ozark dome that stretches 
through southern Missouri. Since then the surface of the state 
has never been inundated by the sea, but for an indefinitely long 
period the rock layers were subjected to the persistent forces 
of erosion. The winds, the frost, and the rain crumbled their 
surfaces, cutting down the warped edges and carving the Ozark 
hills into their present shape ; the rivers wore their way through 
the stony beds; and out of the debris of erosion was formed a 
new soil wherein trees and plants took root. 

The resulting territory, warped by pressure from beneath 
and eroded by wind and water, resembled the bowl of a shallow 
spoon or, rather, of a series of spoons placed one on the other, 
each representing a stratified layer of rock that during some 
previous eon had been deposited in the form of particles and 
transformed into stone. Since the erosion was greater at the 
edges, the lower layers extended beyond those above. Over all 
there lay strewn a soil of decayed stone, similar in kind to that 
of present-day New England. On the whole, the landscape 
was not so very strange, though the surface was more broken 
by hills than it is today; the Mississippi rolled placidly, prob- 
ably more placidly than it does now, along its course; and its 
branches, such as the Illinois, occupied approximately the same 
positions in the water system of the great valley that they do at 
the present time. The northern part of the state was, how- 
ever, almost unrecognizable. There were no Great Lakes. 

The climate throughout the early geologic periods was 
generally mild, even warmer than it is today, for palms grew 
here, and evidences of an early coral reef have been found near 
Chicago. The trees, shrubs, and plants presented an unfamiliar 
scene, wherein unrecognizable species predominated. The 
earliest forms have long since become extinct, but as the modern 
era approached, the flora assumed a more present-day aspect. 


Animal life on the earth has passed through many changes. 
From the earliest appearance of life up to the present time the 
record of the evolving forms is extensive, running the whole 
gamut of variation from minute particles of protoplasm, ob- 
servable only under the microscope, to the huge saurians that 
at one time roamed over the prairies of the state. Possibly life 
was even more abundant on the earth during these early eons 
than it is today. Strange and uncouth it certainly was. Imagi- 
nation alone can picture an Illinois inhabited by huge reptiles 
eighty feet long, by gigantic kangaroo-lilce saurians, by dragons 
flying on twenty-foot wings, and by innumerable crocodiles. 
Later the ancestors of the mammals, or more modern animals, 
made their appearance — strange horses with three and four 
toes (the hoof was still to be developed on the hard, tough 
prairies), rhinoceroses, elephants, camels, and saber-toothed 

The surface of the Illinois country was destined to undergo 
one more radical change before it should be the scene of human 
activities. All forms of life were for a long period of time to 
be driven from its surface. From causes not satisfactorily 
explained there took place a change of temperature. The mild, 
almost tropical, climate of the previous ages gave way to one of 
an extreme cold. From Labrador as a center, there slowly trav- 
eled, moving a few feet a day, great ice sheets, so thick that 
mountains delayed but did not stop their progress. Four or 
five of these massive visitants In succession reached the terri- 
tory of the state; one that covered its entire area except the 
extreme south and northwest has been named in its honor, 

In th.eir passage the glaciers deposited over almost all the 
surface a layer of drift, or bowlder clay, from five to five 
hundred feet thick, composed of soil, gravel, and bowlders. 
In places where the edge of the glaciers remained practically 
stationary, due to an equilibrium between movement and melt- 
ing, they formed those low rolling hills, or moraines, so con- 
spicuous in the northern part of the state, upon seeing which 
an early visitor to the region exclaimed : " What mighty voice 
has rolled this heaped-up surface into tumult, and then, amid 
the storm and tempest bid the curling billows stand, and fix 


themselves there ? ""'^^ By the advent of the glaciers, valleys 
that had been conspicuous landmarks during the older geologic 
time were blotted out, smaller rivers were forced to change 
their beds and courses, and even the Father of Waters was 
obliged in places to yield to the power of these northern in- 

The topography of the northern part of Illinois underwent 
the most important changes. As the glaciers receded there 
slowly emerged the bodies of water that in time developed into 
the Great Lakes. First there appeared the parent of Lake 
Michigan, called by geologists Lake Chicago. It was a large 
sheet pouring its waters through an outlet into the Illinois river. 
Only in the postglacial period was this outlet closed; the level 
of the lake was lowered by drainage on the east and the shores 
of the present lake were built up by the slow process of the 
deposition of sand.^'* 

These visitants from the north left to the state a priceless 
gift, a most fertile soil. In most places the glacial drift has 
been covered by a layer of loess, varying from two feet to one 
hundred, blown by the wind or carried by water since the reces- 
sion of the glaciers; and over this, in turn, decaying vegetable 
matter has laid a surface covering of black earth. Beneath 
these and over the preglacial rocks lies the deposit of the 
glaciers, the bowlder clay, a repository of plant food unsur- 
passed in the world. In the southern part of the state the 
Illinoian glacier alone has been responsible for this subsoil, but 
in the northern counties there may be distinguished layer upon 
layer of drift deposited by a succession of ice fields. ^^ 

Difficult it is to satisfy the curiosity about the duration of 
this long past when rock was piled on rock and over these a 
rich covering of fertile earth was laid. Some of the early 
geologic periods must have seen more ages pass than those 
which have elapsed since the recession of the ice sheets. There 
are guesses about the age of the earth, which, however, deal 
in incomprehensible figures; but guesses that convey a recog- 

33 Flagg, The Far IV est, in Thwaites, Early Western Travels, 26:342. 

3* Leverett, The Illinois Glacial Lobe, 418 ff. 

35 Hopkins and Pettit, " The Fertility in Illinois Soils," in University of 
Illinois, Bulletins of the Agricultural Experiment Station, 8:187 ff., where will 
also be found a soil map. 


nizable idea have been made about the date when the last 
glacier disappeared from this region. These may be repeated 
in the expectation of conveying a conception of that vast stretch 
of time when the prairies of Illinois were in the making. The 
minimum and maximum estimates of the time of this event are 
ten thousand and sixty thousand years. Using these as a basis, 
the climax of the Illinoian glacier, which covered most of the 
state, occurred somewhere between seventy thousand and five 
hundred and forty thousand years ago.^^ 

The conditions caused by the glaciers were unfavorable to 
organic life, the sum total of which was probably reduced; and 
it is possible that never has there been as complete an adjust- 
ment of life to physical environment as existed previous to the 
glacier period. Still fauna and flora continued to exist on the 
earth and, between the visits of the successive glaciers, invaded 
the uncovered lands; and after the final recession of these 
hostile visitants they became abundant again. 

At some time the state may have been covered with a spruce 
and pine forest, the natural accompaniment of glaciers; but 
during the interglacial periods the flora of the temperate zone 
made its appearance quickly, and after the final disappearance 
of the ice fields the state was covered with the trees, shrubs, and 
plants that are common today. Yet this reconquest was gradual, 
requiring centuries for its completion, for the movement of 
some species, such as the nut bearing trees, must have been 
exceedingly slow.^"^ 

During the glacial period and afterwards the animals of 
modern times became predominant. Within the boundaries of 
Illinois were buffaloes, bears, deer, wolves, and other familiar 
species; but among them were mastodons, an occasional mam- 
moth from farther west, and saber-toothed tigers. 

Most important of all, men now made their appearance 
in America. No unimpeachable evidence of human life during 
the period of the glaciers has been discovered in America, but 

36 Chamberlain and Salisbury, Geology, 3:420. 

^"^ Such trees require years to reach the fruit bearing age and then have 
need of the active cooperation of some animal like the squirrel to carry their 
seeds away from their immediate vicinity. It has been calculated that the rate 
of movement of such trees would be about a mile in a thousand years. Cham- 
berlain and Salisbury, Geology, 3:534. 


men were then living on the eastern continent. Soon after the 
return of a more temperate climate in the western hemisphere 
there was a veritable invasion of these new upright animals 
who came by land, the two hemispheres at some time being 
united at the north, on both sides of America. Undoubtedly 
the rich soil left by the glaciers soon attracted the tribes of men, 
and for the first time people settled upon the Illinois country. 
The period of this occurrence escapes the research of geologist 
and historian; the first date in Illinois history cannot be given. 
When in a patronizing mood, geologists assert that the 
story of man forms only the last chapter of the history of the 
earth. Accepting this assertion as true, humble historians must 
admit that the period of men's action known as historical is 
confined within the limits of the last paragraph of that chapter, 
and historians of America must content themselves with writing 
the last sentence in the paragraph. In all humility, the follow- 
ing volumes are offered as a contribution to the interpretation 
of that sentence. 



FIRST the land and then the men on the land, such is the 
normal sequence; but what historian of the white race can 
describe the first men of the Illinois country? What magic talis- 
man does he hold that will reveal to him the processes of the red 
man's mind? They are almost as inscrutable today, after the 
labors of multitudinous students, as they were to' the first mis- 
sionaries who sought to lead this child of nature up the century- 
old rounds of the ladder that ascended to the knowledge of the 
white man's God. 

For painting a picture of the Indian, the historian finds 
himself bereft of his best pigments. There are, of course, 
many descriptions drawn by the invaders of the land of this 
enigma, some unskilled, some unfriendly, and some sympa- 
thetic, but practically none by Indians uninfluenced by contact 
with the white man, and none coming down from those days 
when the red men roamed over prairies still unseen by Euro- 

To write a history of the Indians before the coming of the 
white men is impossible from lack of records. The only sources 
of information are, first of all, the Indian traditions, diflicult 
to interpret and frequently so interwoven with additions of 
European manufacture as to be almost worthless; and secondly 
the mounds, graves, and the numberless implements of war and 
utensils of the household, all of which make possible a recon- 
struction of static conditions existing among the Indians of 
former days but grant only flimsy support to the interpreter of 
historical movement; of personalities and of acts the vestiges 
are so slight that even a historian with the uncanny powers of 
the Indian of romance finds difficulty in tracking them. The 
story must therefore be told with the use of many question 
marks and with many confessions of ignorance. The former 
romantic, well-sounding, and beautifully definite theories con- 



cerning the origin and development of the Indians have been 
cast into the discard by scientific investigators, and in their 
place have been substituted interesting hypotheses, which still, 
after years of research, remain hypotheses. 

Men have inhabited the territory of the state for thousands 
of years, but their coming is shrouded in obscurity. In the 
last chapter it was said that there was no incontestable trace 
of man in America at the time of the great ice fields, and that 
soon after the recession of the glaciers men appeared on the 
continent. Theory after theory has been propounded concern- 
ing their origin ; the Indians have been identified wnth the " lost 
tribes of Israel;" it has been claimed that they were of Asiatic 
origin, Chinese or Japanese driven here by adverse winds; or 
they are written down as Greeks, Phoenicians, Irish, Poly- 
nesians, or Australasians. Arguments may be adduced for 
almost any theory. Out of the conflict of opinion there appears 
some agreement: at one time northeastern Asia and northwest- 
ern America formed a single culture area; also the American 
aborigines in general bear a closer resemblance to the Mon- 
goloid than to other types of man — beyond these assertions 
lies conjecture. 

A myth long flourished and even now faintly persists that 
the Indians whom the white explorers found In America were 
not the first race to dwell in the land; that before them a mar- 
velous people of a very different character, of greater genius 
and intelligence, and of still more mysterious origin, held sway 
in a splendid empire stretching from the Alleghenles to the 
great plains, from the lakes to the gulf. Their civilization. It 
was claimed, was unique and of a high order; but finally, from 
somewhere, the Indians came sweeping over the land and anni- 
hilated this original race, leaving as the only evidence of Its 
existence numberless mounds raised in honor of its dead or for 
the worship of its gods.^ 

This romantic myth of the "mound builders," woven out 
of an ignorance of the culture of the North American Indians, 
has vanished before a more careful reading of the early ex- 
plorers and a more scientific exploration of the mounds them- 
selves. No proof of a prior race has been found; no articles 

1 Squier and Davis, Ancient Monuments of the Mississippi Valley, 306. 


have been dug up beyond the skill of tribes known in historic 
times. Mounds in the process of construction were seen by 
European explorers, and from them have been unearthed 
products of European manufacture. 

The variety of ancient monuments dotting the surface of 
the Illinois country and its environs speaks the faltering lines 
of a drama, centuries old, of a succession of peoples on these 
prairies. Here they built their villages, erected their shrines, 
and buried their dead; here they fought off invaders, until they 
were finally forced to yield the fertile land to other peoples, 
who in turn suffered the same fate. This drama of the living, 
striving, and dying of long-forgotten tribes would be romantic 
and heroic, could its details be read in the piles of dirt that 
have marked its acts and scenes; but only the barest and most 
shadowy outlines of the passing of these peoples, an adum- 
bration of reality, can be now rescued from the vestiges of their 
stay and their flight. Yet these monuments yield some infor- 
mation, for they tell of events belonging to a dim past, of the 
continental migration of great groups of tribes, in which all 
the Indians north of Mexico were involved. The story of these 
migrations, in spite of a lack of chronology and in spite of 
indistinctness of outline, carries the knowledge of events in 
America back to a time preceding the voyage of Columbus.^ 

Most baffling of all are the Indian mounds in the central 
part of the state. ^ Their wide variety, the uncertainty of their 
chronology, the lack of distinguishing characteristics, make it 
particularly difficult to decipher by what tribe or succession of 
tribes they may have been built. The best clue is offered by 
some "altar" mounds of the type that is found in the state of 
Ohio and by the similarity between the pipes and other articles 

2 See Carr, " The Mounds of the Mississippi Valley, Historically Considered," 
in Board of Regents of the Smithsonian Institution, Annual Report, 1891, p. 503 
ff. ; Thomas, "Report on the Mound Explorations of the Bureau of Ethnology," 
in Smithsonian Institution, Bureau of Ethnology, Tivelft/i Annual Report, 1890, 
1891, p. 112 ff. 

3 It must be borne in mind that in practically no region of the state is 
there one and only one tjpe of mound. On the contrary, mounds representing 
quite different cultures are often found in the same locality; this, of course, 
argues a succession of tribes, but may also in many cases mean a modification of 
a particular tribe's customs through imitation of another tribe. The only 
practicable method of classification, therefore, is to mark out roughly the 
boundaries of areas in which a particular type of mound occurs more frequently 
than any other one type. 


unearthed In some of the IlHnois mounds and those char- 
acteristic of the Ohio culture. A theory has been offered that 
these works date from pre-Columbian times and were erected 
by the Cherokee, an Iroquoian tribe.^ This hypothesis, how- 
ever, still fails to account for numerous burial mounds in the 
region which cannot be identified with Ohio types. These 
mounds exhibit the greatest variety of methods of disposing 
of the dead, from simple burials in a shallow depression to 
elaborate communal burials in which a large number of skele- 
tons, usually stripped of the flesh, were buried together and a 
large mound heaped over them. While this variety would seem 
to indicate that the burials were the work of a succession of 
tribes, none of the methods are distinctive enough to be ascribed 
to any particular tribe. Even if they could be, the difficulty of 
determining the age of the remains would make it practically 
impossible to establish a chronology for the migrations of these 
prehistoric peoples across the central part of the state. 

In the lower valley of the Illinois river and along the 
alluvial flats of the Mississippi river — the American Bottom 
— the Indian monuments grant greater satisfaction to the 
curiosity of the investigator. Here a distinctive type pre- 
dominates — the pyramidal mound, built up from either a 
square or a circular base, and truncated. The mounds vary 
in size from insignificant knolls to the Cahokia mound, a 
"mountain made by man," rising to a height of a hundred 
feet and covering an area of about seventeen acres, the greatest 
ancient earthwork in the United States. Although neither the 
Cahokia mound nor the group of sixty-eight good-sized pyramid 
mounds in its vicinity have been excavated by trained scientists, 
It may be inferred that they were used as sites for dwellings 
and temples, the Cahokia mound possibly serving as a shrine of 
more than local importance for a relatively dense population.^ 

Who made these great works? Whose hands raised these 
mountains of earth, often carrying the dirt by baskets from 

* Thomas, The Clicrnkees in pre-Columbian Times, especially p. 88 ff. ; 
also Thomas, " Burial Mounds of the Northern Sections of the United States," 
in Smithsonian Institution, Bureau of Ethnolog>', Fifth Annual Report, 1883- 
1884, p. 24 ff. 

* Snyder, " Certain Indian Mounds Technically Considered," in Illinois State 
Historical Society, Journal, 2:71 ff. ; Bushnell, "Cahokia and Surrounding 
Mound Group," in Pcabody Museum, Publications, 1904, volume 3, number i. 


the distant bluffs? Probably it will never be known; no one 
will ever be able to identify with any of the Indians known to 
the white men the tribe or group of tribes who labored here. 
Yet the white men saw in the southern Mississippi valley just 
such mounds as these being used as temples and dwelling places 
by Muskhogean peoples who had developed a surprisingly com- 
plex organization and had reached an advanced state of civili- 
zation.^ The customs of the Natchez in particular may reflect 
dimly those of the men who in very early days hunted on the 
prairies of the Illinois country and left in the mounds monu- 
ments of their passage." 

The articles found in these mounds offer further evidence 
of the relation between their builders and the southern tribes. 
The hoes and other farming implements skillfully chipped out 
of flint or other hard stone and fashioned to fit wooden handles 
could have been the product only of a people to whom agri- 
culture was of long-standing importance. Still more strik- 
ing is the similarity between the pottery which has been un- 
earthed from these mounds and that described by early trav- 
elers among the Natchez. According to Le Page du Pratz, an 
early French traveler in the Mississippi valley, "The Natchez 
Indians make pots of extraordinary size, cruses with a medium 
sized opening, jars, bottles with long necks holding two pints, 
and pots or cruses for holding bear's oil."^ He says further 
that these vessels were colored by painting with ocher, which 
became red after firing. Among the vessels discovered in the 
mounds of southern Illinois, southeastern Missouri, and Ar- 
kansas are specimens of all the types mentioned by Du Pratz, 
and many of the pieces have not only the characteristic red 
coloring, but even designs worked out in red, white, and yellow 

^^ The Indians may be conveniently classified according to geographical lo- 
cation, physical characteristics, general culture, or language. The linguistic 
criterion is generally the most satisfactory as being the most readily attained; 
it applies to fundamental differences in syntax and vocabulary, not merely to 
dialectic variations. Broadly speaking, this classification is generally borne out 
by division on the lines of the other criteria; there are, of course, numerous 
exceptions. For the distribution of Indian stocks in North America see the 
map at the back of Handbook of American Indians, volume i. The principal 
tribes of the Muskhogean group were: Creeks, Seminole, Muskogee, of the 
eastern gulf states, the Chickasaw and Alibamu of Alabama and northern 
Mississippi, and the Choctaw and the Natchez along the Mississippi. 

'' Charlevoix, Journal d'un I'oyage, 172, describes the customs of the Natchez. 

® Le Page du Pratz, Histoire de la Louisiane, i : 124. 


figures.^ The specimens belong to a high order of craftsman- 
ship; the clay has been tempered with pounded shell, producing 
pottery far more thin and fragile than the ordinary sand- 
tempered kind in use among the tribes of the upper Mississippi 
valley. In shapes and sizes these pots exhibit great variety; 
and many, fashioned as effigies of animals, reveal striking origi- 
nality and play of imagination in the primitive artists. These 
animal effigy' types are almost certainly of southern origin, for 
they are found in greatest abundance in a district which seems 
to radiate from Pecan Point, Arkansas. 

Many bits of evidence pointing In the same direction make 
It appear highly probable that the southern Muskhogean stock, 
originating somewhere on the upper reaches of the Red and the 
Arkansas rivers, migrated gradually southeastward ; in the long 
period of years that must have been involved, It would have 
been easy for some of the tribes, possibly exterminated in time, 
to diverge to a course north of these river valleys and to 
establish themselves finallv In the fertile lands of Missouri and 
southern Illinois. Their stay must have extended over many 
generations; their numbers must have been large, judging from 
the mounds they left. Eventually these builders of mounds 
were forced to retreat before more barbarous tribes. What 
became of them Is unknown; perhaps they were annihilated or 
absorbed by their conquerors; perhaps they saved themselves 
by fleeing southward, there to survive to historic times as the 
Natchez or kindred tribes. 

Other mounds within the state give evidence of the occu- 
pation by a third Indian stock, the Siouan, which comprised 
many tribes famous in history. Students have located its place 
of origin with some degree of certainty in the eastern part 
of the present United States, possibly In the Carolinas and 
Virginia. ^"^ Thence the main part of the family moved west- 

^A cache containing many pieces of pottery was discovered near the base 
of the great Cahokia mound, and there are fragments on the surface at many of 
the sites in this district. Cf. Rau, " Indian Pottery," in Board of Regents of the 
Smithsonian Institution, Annual Report, 1866, p. 346. 

1*^ The theory of the eastern origin and westward migration of the Siouan 
stock was first advanced by J. O. Dorsey, a very careful student on the subject. 
His conclusions have come to be quite generally accepted by subsequent in- 
vestigators. Dorsey, " Migration of Siouan Tribes," and McGee, " The Siouan 
Indians," in Smithsonian Institution, Bureau of Ethnology, Fifteenth Annual 
Report, 1893-1894, p. 191. 


ward, one group — the Dakota, Winnebago, and cognate 
tribes — following a northerly course along the Great Lakes; 
another group — the Dhegiha — moving down the Ohio. This 
latter division, some time after reaching the Mississippi, 
divided into two parts; one going south to the mouth of the 
Arkansas became designated Quapaw, or "downstream peo- 
ple;" the other moving northward and up the Missouri river 
became known as the Omaha, or "upstream people." Subse- 
quently the Omaha group was differentiated into four tribes, 
the Omaha proper, Osage, Kansa, and Ponca. 

This migration must have occurred some time prior to 
1 541, as it preceded Hernando de Soto's discovery of the 
Mississippi ; but the tradition of it was still lively in the memory 
of the Illinois Indians two hundred years later, for a Jesuit 
father In 1700 noted that the Ohio river was "called by the 
Illinois and by the Oumiamis [Miami] the River of the 
Akansea, because the Akansea [another name for Quapaw] 
formerly dwelt on It."^^ 

Although their ethnic relation to the northern Siouan tribes 
is unmistakable, many features of the culture of the Quapaw 
are distinctly characteristic of the southern tribes already de- 
scribed and offer significant Indication that somewhere, at some 
time, they came In contact with the Muskhogean civilization; 
they also suggest that the Quapaw may well be responsible for 
some of the monuments of southern Illinois. ^- 

The northern Sioux had two chief groups, the Dakota — 
often called the Sioux proper — and the Chiwere group, made 
up of four tribes closely allied linguistically, the Iowa, Mis- 
souri, Oto, and Winnebago. Tradition says that at one time 
these four dwelt together as one In the region of the lakes, 
whence they migrated south and west in pursuit of game.^^ 

11 Thwaites, Jesuit Relations, 65:107. 

^2 The Quapaw are known to have fortified their towns with earthworks 
and to have built mounds for various purposes; one type of mound peculiar 
to them has been found on the Ohio just east of the mouth of the Wabash, 
and scattered through the southern part of Illinois are many graves and burial 
mounds similar to those used by the tribe in historic times. 

^^ See Handbook of American Indians, 1:612 ff., 911; 2:164 ^-y 95^ ff- 
An interesting piece of evidence corroborating the traditions of these tribes is 
the Chippewa tradition that their tribe found the Sioux in possession of the land 
somewhere east of Detroit, and after waging many wars finally succeeded in 
driving them west of the Mississippi. 


In the territory that is now Wisconsin the Winnebago halted 
and extended their hunting grounds into the Illinois country; 
but the other three tribes continued southward and westward 
across the Mississippi. 

Over the territory occupied by these Siouan tribes are found 
monuments probably raised by their labor. Centering in Wis- 
consin and extending into Jo Daviess, Stephenson, Winnebago, 
and Carroll counties in Illinois, is an area abounding in " effigy " 
mounds, so called because they are built to give a profile repre- 
sentation of some bird, beast, fish, or man. Though the de- 
lineation is often so very poor that an amateur observer can 
make nothing whatever of the image, trained students have 
identified a number of realistic as well as conventionalized 
outlines, and the theory has come to be generally accepted that 
these mounds were raised by various clans in representation of 
their respective totems to commemorate some signal event or 
to mark the burial ground of the group, as they are very fre- 
quently found associated with a number of ordinary burial 
mounds.^"* Such faint evidence as exists concerning the state 
of culture of the builders seems to indicate no such highly 
developed civilization as that of the southern peoples. 
Opinions of ethnologists are united in ascribing these mounds 
to Indians of Siouan stock, presumably the Winnebago and 
closely allied tribes. ^^ 

The passing of the Siouan tribes from an eastern to a 
western habitat must have formed one of the most important 
events in the prehistoric period of Mississippi valley history. 
The movement must have unsettled the equilibrium among the 
tribes, many of which were permanently driven from their 
homes and their places taken by members of alien stocks. Pos- 
sibly the wide extension of the Algonquian tribes discovered by 
the first white men to visit the valley may have been made pos- 
sible by the movement, or possibly the migration of the Siouans 

1* It may be stated here that some burial mounds found interspersed with 
effigy mounds are almost certainly the work of tribes later than the builders of 
the effigies; they are of a less distinctive type and might have been built by other 
tribes. Some of them must have been erected after the coming of the French, 
for articles of European manufacture have appeared in a number of tumuli. 
See Peet, Prehistoric America, volume 2, passim. 

^s Radin, " Some Aspects of Winnebago Archeology," in American Anthro- 
pologist, 13:517 ff. 


may have been occasioned by the invasion of these powerful 
northern neighbors. 

The Algonquian, one of the largest and most important of 
Indian famiHes, probably originated in the north Atlantic 
region, but its tribes were distributed over so extensive a 
territory that it is almost impossible to designate a common 
home. Algonquians were in Canada, from Hudson bay and 
Newfoundland on the east to modern Alberta on the west, in 
that part of the United States that stretches from the seacoast of 
Maine and North Carolina across the three upper Great Lakes 
and extends southward through the modern states of western 
Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois to Kentucky and central Tennessee. 
Had it not been for the Iroquoian tribes holding dominion over 
Lakes Erie and Ontario and in the Mohawk valley — in earlier 
days along both shores of the St. Lawrence — Algonquian su- 
premacy would have been complete from upper Canada and 
Kentucky to the Atlantic. With so large a territory and such 
a wide variety of tribes involved and with evidence so scanty 
it is difficult to trace any accurate sequence of migrations in 
prehistoric times. The solution of this complex problem is not 
required by this narrative; sufficient will be a survey of the par- 
ticular tribes which were of significance in the Illinois terri- 

It must be borne in mind that the Algonquians at no time 
populated the Mississippi valley so densely as they did the 
Atlantic seaboard, so that considerable freedom of movement 
was possible for the tribes; and it must also be remembered 
that, for many years after Jolliet's voyage in 1673, knowledge 
of he great valley was limited almost entirely to the course of 
the Mississippi and the two water highways leading to it from 
Lake Michigan — the Fox-Wisconsin route and the Illinois 
river route, with its alternative portages from the Chicago or 
the St. Joseph. Hence the early explorers have left few clues 
concerning the tribes located at a distance from their route of 
travel; the tribes may or may not have lived in prehistoric 
times in the regions where the eighteenth century colonists 
found them. 

All the tribes of the region sustained life by both farming 
and hunting; for neither occupation was it necessary for them 


to seek out watercourses, nor were they attracted to the rivers 
as means of communication. In fact, many of the tribes which 
lived along watercourses preferred to travel overland. ^^ Any 
survey by travelers merely along the river routes could not well 
be other than fragmentary. 

In the case of the Shawnee, the southernmost of the Algon- 
quians in the middle valley, the paucity of early detailed infor- 
mation is especially unfortunate. Their chief seat was in 
modern Kentucicy and Tennessee, their villages being situated 
along the valley of the Cumberland river, always referred to in 
the writings of contemporaries as the " River of the Chaou- 
anons." Their language is closely akin to the Sauk dialect, and 
throughout the early historic period they are known to have 
had friendly intercourse with the Illinois and other neighboring 
tribes. ^^ 

Evidences seem to point to a sojourn of the Shawnee in 
southern Illinois, ^^ where have been found the typical stone 
graves of their workmanship, such as have been discovered in 
all their habitats, in southern Kentucky, middle Tennessee, and 
northern Georgia. The graves are coffin-like structures with 
sides, top, wall, and bottom formed of slabs of limestone or 
other flat rocks joined together without cement; they vary in 
size from specimens seven or eight feet long and a yard or so 
wide, large enough to inclose the full-sized corpse of an adult, 
to inclosures so small that it is apparent that the flesh must have 
been removed before burial, according to a custom practiced 
by numerous Indian tribes. Associated with the skeletons in 
these peculiar stone coffins are many fragments of pottery 

^^ Dartaguiette's journal in Mereness, Travels in the American Colonies. 

i^A very thorough and scientific study of the Shawnee was made by Pro- 
fessor Cyrus Thomas of the Bureau of American Ethnology; his principal con- 
clusions are embodied in a scholarly treatise, "The Story of a Mound; or, the 
Shawnees in pre-Columbian Times," in American Anthropologist, volume 4. 
This article is the chief source for the present discussion. See also Jones, An- 
tiquities of the Southern Indians, 118 fl. The first proof of the linguistic relations 
of the Shawnee was given by Truman Michelson in "Preliminary Report on the 
Linguistic Classification of Algonquian Tribes," in Bureau of American Ethnol- 
ogy, Tiventy-eighth Annual Report, 256 ff. 

1^ The Shawnee were in the Illinois in the middle of the eighteenth century, 
a period later than the one here described. See below, p. 187. Most of the Indian 
tribal names are in form plural. It is, therefore, incorrect to add to them the 
plural ending. Thus it is proper to say the " Shawnee are," or the " Kaskaskia 


similar to that of the Cahokia region and, in addition, a wholly 
new and distinctive type of finely worked shell and copper 
. ornaments.^" 

It may without great hazard be inferred that the Shawnee 
formed the vanguard of the Algonquian advance into the Mis- 
sissippi valley from some point north of the Great Lakes. In 
moving southward they came in contact with more civilized 
tribes, possibly the builders of the Cahokia mound. These the 
Shawnee drove out or assimilated, but by this contact with a 
superior culture the customs of the Shawnee themselves were 
modified. They adopted the custom of building mounds, ^^^ 
learned to make pottery similar to that of the Cahokia people, 
and took on the characteristic customs of sedentary agricultural 
life. In the course of time the tide of migration carried some 
of them to the valley of the Cumberland and some into northern 
Georgia, but not even after the coming of the whites and the 
subsequent revolution in all Indian development was the link 
broken between the Shawnee and the kindred Illinois, Foxes, 
Sauk, and other tribes of the central Algonquian group who 
followed them into the great valley.-^ 

Of these tribes the Illinois, or, to give them their proper 
name, the Iliniwek, were easily first in importance and probably 
also in point of time.-- Although when the first whites came 
they had already passed the zenith of their power, they were 
still far more numerous than any other nation in the territory 
of the present state; and there is ample indication that they 
had long dwelt in the land which still bears their name and near 
the great lake which for years was referred to as the " Lake of 
the Illinois." Livelihood came easily to them on the fertile 

1^ Finds have been reported from Alexander, Gallatin, Jackson, Madison, 
Monroe, Randolph, Union, White, St. Clair, and Macoupin counties, and even 
as far north as Hancock and Brown counties. 

-° The Etowah mound in northern Georgia, second in size in the United 
States to the Cahokia mound and very similar in type, is ascribed by Professor 
Thomas to the Shawnee, as are also most of the mounds occurring in middle 
Tennesee and southern Kentucky. Thomas, "The Story of a Mound; or, the 
Shawnees in pre-Columbian Times," in American Anthropologist, volume 4. 

21 The Shawnee and Kickapoo called the Foxes and Sauk their younger 
brothers. Forsyth, "Account of the Manners and Customs of the Sauk and Fox 
Nations," in Blair, Indian Tribes, 2:183. 

--The Handbook of American Indians gives the following derivation of the 
name: " Iliniiuek, from ilini 'man,' iiv 'is,' ek plural termination, changed by 
the French to ois." 


prairies abounding in game, and they were apparently well 
advanced toward a state of civilization similar to that of their 
predecessors of southern stock. The early observers were 
invariably impressed with the superior refinement of their faces 
and manners in comparison with those of the tribes of the 
northern lakes region whose strenuous struggle for existence 
rendered them more crudely savage. 

It seems most probable that the Illinois formed a single tribe 
when they entered into the possession of the valleys and prairies 
of the state. As they increased in numbers and scattered over 
the land, however, they divided into bands, and a number of 
these subdivisions came to acquire the status of distinct tribes, 
particularly the Kaskaskia, the Peoria, the Cahokia, the Tama- 
roa, the Moingwena, and the Michigamea. Other bands failed 
to achieve, or at least to maintain into historic times, their 
separate identity and have their place in history only as rarely 
mentioned names; the Kouerakouilenoux, the Raparouas, the 
Maronas, the Albivi or Amouokoa, the Chepoussa, the Chinko 
or Coiracoenatanon, the Espeminkia, the Tapouara, and several 
other problematical groups appear once or twice In the records 
and then sink into oblivion. ^^ 

The bands of the Illinois continued to act together against 
their common enemies, but their bond of union, throughout 
historic times, remained kinship rather than a deliberate and 
formal political alliance comparable to the league of the Iro- 
quois. When understood as a family alliance, the term " Illinois 
confederacy" is in a general sense an accurate enough desig- 

In the heyday of their prosperity, the Illinois probably 
ranged over almost the entire area of the present state as well 
as into southern Wisconsin and Iowa. Farthest south were the 
Michigamea, who may have lived for some time in the region 
of the American Bottom — where they doubtless came in con- 
tact with the Shawnee or other southern agricultural peoples — 
and then pushed on over Into what Is now the territory of south- 

=3A well-known example of this subdivision occurred in the case of the Kas- 
kaskia, one of the largest groups of the Illinois; for a long time one of their 
villages went by the name of its chief, Rouensa, and the band ^yas accordingly 
sometimes referred to as the Rouensac Indians. Wisconsin Historical Collections, 


eastern Missouri and northern Arkansas, in the region of Big 
Lake, where Marquette found them in 1 673. They maintained 
their separate existence long enough to develop so many vari- 
ations in language and customs that a number of writers have 
questioned their kinship with the Illinois — for Instance, Mar- 
quette did not recognize them as belonging to the same nation. 
Toward the close of the seventeenth century the Michigamea 
were driven out of the valley of the Arkansas by neighboring 
tribes; whereupon they crossed the Mississippi and joined the 
Kaskaskia, amalgamating with them so easily that there can 
be little doubt of their close kinship.-^ 

The Tamaroa and Cahokia had probably long been inhabit- 
ing their seat in the American Bottom where the whites became 
familiar with them. They were not very numerous in historic 
times, and had apparently lost much of their virility, either 
through depletion by war or as a result of their advance in 

The main body of the Illinois in historic times centered in 
the valley of the river of their name, and it is highly probable 
that this had been their seat for a considerable period prior to 
the seventeenth century. 

The nearest kin of the Illinois were the Miami, the two 
being so similar in language and customs that the first impres- 
sion of the French was that they formed one tribe. The tribes 
had probably been long separated, however, when first known 
to the Europeans. Tradition relates that the Illinois and the 
Miami were associated in their migration from the west, and 
it may be assumed that the latter took possession of the valley 
of the Wabash at a very early date. They were split into 
bands, known in later years as Piankashaw, Eel River, Wea, 
and others, some of which in time acquired the attributes of 

2* It is possible tliat there is in their name a hint that at an earlv day they 
were in the region around Lake Michigan. The term Michigamea is derived 
from the Algonquian words miclii, "great" or "much," and guma "water," 
and with variations was early used as an alternative for the "Lake of the 
Illinois." It is therefore possible that the group took its name from an early 
residence in the Lake Michigan region. On the other hand the same term was 
used to designate Big Lake in Arkansas, near which the tribe was living when 
first found by Jolliet, and may therefore have been taken over merely in that 
locality. There is even a possibility that the name came from the tribe's 
association with the Mississippi, which was sometimes referred to by the Indians 
as the "great water." Handbook of American Indians, 1:597, 856. 


separate tribes.-^ Like their kinsmen, the Miami were con- 
tinually at war with the tribes lying south of the Ohio river, 
the Cherokee and Chickasaw. This hostility had lasted long 
and in the beginning of the nineteenth century the Miami de- 
clared that they " had no account of any period when there was 
peace with them."-° 

Had Captain John Smith, after the founding of Jamestown, 
or Samuel de Champlain, after establishing Quebec, led a party 
of men to the plains of the Illinois, he would have found, then, 
the upper Mississippi valley controlled by four populous and 
powerful peoples. Along the Illinois river and the Mississippi 
lay the Illinois villages with a population larger than it was at 
any later period in their history ; one of the early rumors of these 
Indians that found its way to the French settlements in Canada 
in 1 657-1 659 credited them with sixty villages and a popula- 
tion of some twenty thousand souls, possibly an exaggeration 
but indicative of their reputation at the time.^^ South of the 
Illinois villages, possibly not yet all moved across the Ohio, were 
the Shawnee, and to the east were the large bands of the Miami, 
ready enough to strike a blow at their kinsmen. The rich 
prairie land was a possession for which its occupants had to 
fight, and from all accounts the Illinois were at this early date 
capable of defending their own. Their most dangerous foes 
were the Siouan tribes of the west and north, fierce and vigor- 
ous, and far outnumbering the Illinois. Their enmity necessi- 
tated constant watchfulness and made heavy inroads on the 
number of Illinois warriors. 

The story of one of the wars with a Siouan folk lies on the 
border line between the historic and the prehistoric; no con- 
temporary record of it was made, but its echo came to the ears 
of one of the earliest white men among the Indians. In the 
flood of Algonquian invasion that poured over the Great Lakes 
region, the Winnebago, of the Chiwere group of Sioux, had 
by their prowess in war managed to maintain themselves intact 

^^ Handbook of Amer'icajt Indians, 2:240; Charlevoix, Journal d'un Voyage, 
145; Thwaites, Jesuit Relations, 55:201 ff . ; Beckwith, Illinois and Indiana 
Indians, 107. It is impossible to locate the Miami definitely before the coming of 
the French, when these western tribes had been temporarily displaced by the 
Iroquois wars. See below, p. 37. The British called the Miami " Twightwees." 

26 Harrison, Discourse on the Aborigines of the Ohio Valley, 27. 

27 Thwaites. Jesuit Relations, 44:247; 45:235. 

- f^^ 




in the region between Lake Michigan and the Mississippi river, 
a Siouan island in a sea of aliens, achieving thereby no little 
prestige. But about the middle of the seventeenth century a 
long struggle with the Ottawa, who were pressing hard upon 
them from the east, was followed immediately by a malignant 
plague; and the double calamity reduced the once redoubtable 
tribe to about fifteen hundred warriors. The Illinois, so the 
story goes, were so touched by the misfortunes of their northern 
neighbors that they sent five hundred men, laden with gifts, as 
an expression of friendship. Misfortune, however, had not 
softened the hearts of the Winnebago; they received their 
guests courteously and arranged a grand celebration, only as 
a ruse preparatory to a horrible holocaust. " While the Illinois 
were engaged in dancing the Puans [Winnebago] cut their 
bowstrings, and immediately flung themselves upon the Illinois, 
massacred them, not sparing one man, and made a general feast 
of their flesh." 

Expecting retaliation from the kindred of their victims, the 
Winnebago took refuge on an island, where they thought they 
would be safe from the Illinois, since the latter did not use 
canoes. The Illinois, however, after mourning a full year so 
as to move the "Great Spirit" by their grief, collected a large 
army in the dead of winter and crossed on the ice to the island. 
It was deserted, as the Winnebago had departed the day before 
on their annual hunt, but the Illinois shortly overtook them, 
surrounded them, and put most of them to death. About one 
hundred and fifty were kept as slaves for a time and eventu- 
ally were allowed to return to their own country as the nucleus 
of a new tribe. ^^ But the Illinois had had to pay dearly for 
their victory; they long felt the losses they sustained In the 

A few years after this disastrous episode, a still more 
terrible scourge threatened all the tribes of the valley and 
lakes region. Far to the east, in the mountain fastnesses of 
New York, five great Iroquoian tribes, the Mohawk, Oneida, 
Onondaga, Cayuga, and Seneca, had In the course of their wars 

28 For an account of the war between the Illinois and the Winnebago see 
La Potherie, History of the Savage Peoples, in Blair, Indian Tribes, 1:293 ff., 
and Thwaites, Jesuit Relations, 55:183. The date of the war is approximately 
given by Father Allouez, ibid., 54.: 237. 


with the Hurons and Algonquians of the St. Lawrence region 
discovered the strength that lies in union, and had — probably 
about 1570 — banded themselves into a well-organized con- 
federacy that has ever been one of the seven wonders of the 
Indian world. The advantages of their organization and their 
early adoption of the white men's weapons, bought from the 
Dutch of Albany, soon lifted the Five Nations to a position of 
unequaled power among the aborigines and made their name 
one to conjure with far and wide. Their energy was first 
directed against the consanguineous tribes of Hurons, Andastes, 
and Neutrals around the southern lakes, and these they defeated 
and destroyed or else forced to seek refuge on the shores 
of Lake Superior.^® 

The pressure of the Five Nations westward upset the equi- 
librium that had been established among the tribes after the 
invasion of the Algonquians by driving from their villages 
several nations that were to be long connected with the history 
of the Illinois country. Among these was a group of four 
tribes, nomadic in character, noted for their warlike disposition 
and for their long-continued resistance to the white domination. 
For generations they were to stain red the land of the Illinois 
with the blood of their enemies. This group had no common 
name except the indefinite one of Nation of Fire; it was com- 
posed of four consanguineous Algonquian tribes, Foxes, Sauk, 
Mascoutens, and Kickapoo, living between Lakes Huron and 
Michigan, although some of them may have come earlier from 
farther east.^^ Their principal enemies were the Iroquoian 
Neutrals, who in alliance with the Ottawa struck these tribes 
some severe blows. Their final expulsion from the eastern 
peninsula of the present state of Michigan was probably due 
to the wars waged by the Iroquois confederacy. Some time 
after the middle of the seventeenth century they were forced 
across to Mackinac and made their way to safety in the 
territory lying between Lake Michigan and the Mississippi, 
a territory at the time sparsely populated on account of 

-^ Perrot, Memoir, in Blair, Indian Tribes, 1:146. 

30 For an interesting mustering of proof that the Foxes were Iroquoian and 
not Algonquian, see Winchell, "Were the Outagami of Iroquois Origin?" in 
Mississippi Valley Historical Association, Proceedings, 1910-1911, p. 181 ff. The 
Potawatomi were sometimes called " Nation of Fire." 


the terrible punishment inflicted on the Winnebago by the 


Closely associated with these tribes and experiencing the 
same fate was another tribe whose activities form a part of the 
history of the state of Illinois, particularly of that of the shore 
of Lake Michigan; this was the tribe of the Potawatomi, who 
probably crossed to Green Bay before the Foxes and their 
associates. Their ethnic affinity was with the Ottawa and the 
Chippewa, and the traditions of the three tribes tell of a time 
when they formed one nation. They had been long separated 
when first known to the Europeans.^- 

The Iroquois wars proved a disturbing factor among the 
tribes south of the lakes. It was probably by them that the 
Miami were driven west and northward into the region of 
modern Wisconsin at the time when it was being entered from 
the north by the tribes just described. 

The Illinois tribes attempted to stem the westward-spreading 
tide of Iroquois conquest. In 1655 a band of the Five Nations, 
as the Iroquois confederacy was called, fell suddenly on one 
of the small villages of the Illinois and killed the women and 
children. The Illinois, high-spirited and valorous, immediately 
assembled their forces, surprised the enemy, and utterly de- 
feated them, very few escaping. "This was the first acquaint- 
ance of the lUinoets with the Iroquois; it proved baneful to 
them [Iroquois], but they have well avenged themselves for 
i|."33 Xhus began a war lasting till 1667 between the two 
nations. The strain of meeting the repeated blows, first of the 
Sioux and then of the relentless Iroquois, was too great; weak- 
ened, the once proud and dominant Illinois were obliged to 
abandon their ancient seat and to seek safety on the west side 
of the Mississippi. 

At the time, then, v/hen the French came in close contact 
with the western tribes, these latter were in a state of unprece- 

^'^Handbook of American Indians, 2:471 ff., article on "Sauk." 
^'^ Ibid., 289 ff. Linguistically, the Potawatomi as well as the Illinois be- 
longed to the Ojibwa group of central Algonquians. Michelson, "Preliminary 
Report on the Linguistic Classification of Algonquian Tribes," in Bureau of 
American Ethnology, Tnventy-eighth Annual Report, 261; Michelson, "The 
Linguistic Classification of Potawatomi," in Proceedings of the National Academy 
of Sciences, 1 : 450. 

33 Perrot, Memoir, in Blair, Indian Tribes, 1:154 ^nd note, 157. 


d&nted congestion and confusion. The pictures drawn by the 
earliest explorers of the Green Bay region, therefore, give but 
an inadequate idea of the normal distribution and mode of life 
of the Indians of the west. 

The half-seen and shadowy events of prehistoric Illinois 
that have been chronicled may carry the story back to a few 
generations before the sailing of Christopher Columbus, but 
they formed only the closing scenes of the generations-old 
drama that had been enacted on these prairies. Unsatisfactory 
is the account; the enigmatic monuments, however, forbid the 
historian to indulge in more specific and more wide-reaching 
speculation, and he must turn with what satisfaction he can find 
to the easier task of reconstructing out of more accessible and 
better-known sources the civilization of the men and women 
who have here made their homes. 

The American Indians form one of the major races of man, 
distinct in many particulars from their neighbors on the east 
and west, but at the same time revealing many similarities. 
The physical characteristics are brown skin, lustrous black hair, 
hazel to dark brown eyes, and a cranial capacity somewhat 
smaller than that of the white men. Other features, such as 
stature, shape of the head, and mental and physiological proc- 
esses, vary among tribes and individuals as they do among those 
of other races.^^ 

To the whites who first came in contact with them, the 
Indians appeared to be an enigma, and explorers and mission- 
aries expended reams of paper in trying to explain these singular 
people; but a difference in mental experience made mutual 
understanding difficult. The Indians' race experience had 
evolved in them a consciousness that responded to external 
stimuli in a way strange to the white men. For them there 
existed no orderly world responding to the will and law of the 
omnipotent and benignant God of the sixteenth and seventeenth 
century Europeans; for them there had been no long training 
by church and state in the doctrines of submission and obedience. 
The phenomena around them appeared to be the expressions 
of numberless wills as irresponsible and apparently as free as 
their own. To the Europeans and the Indians there was no 

^* Handbook of American Indians, 1:53 ff. 


common meeting ground for a mutual understanding of such 
terms as law, treaty, honor, and religion; race experience had 
raised a barrier of confusion. 

The tribes in the Illinois country, using this term to desig- 
nate a more extensive territory than that indicated by the early 
writers, belonged to the Algonquian stock, with the exception 
of the Winnebago, whose hunting grounds in later years ex- 
tended south of the Wisconsin boundary. A description, there- 
fore, of the principal group of tribes, the one that has given its 
name to the state, will answer in a general way for all; yet 
it must be remembered that the bands living farthest south had, 
either from contact with their predecessors or as a result of 
natural environment, acquired more agricultural characteristics 
than had the inhabitants toward the north where the climate 
was less kindly. The difference was, however, merely one of 
degree and not of kind; and although every tribe had some 
customs peculiar to itself, they usually bore a fundamental 
likeness to the customs of their neighbors. ^^ 

A writer who knew the Illinois well has written the following 
description : " There never were people better made than they ; 
they are neither large nor small — generally there are some of 
them whom you can circle with your two hands. They have 
tapering legs which carry their bodies well, with a very haughty 
step, and as graceful as the best dancer. The visage is fairer 
than white milk so far as savages of this country can have such. 
The teeth are the best arranged and the whitest in the world. 
They are vivacious, but withal indolent."^*' 

The country and the climate disposed them to indo- 
lence, for it was not difficult to secure a living; the wealth of 
wild fruits, berries, and edible roots went far to sustain life 
even without effort, and game was abundant. Nevertheless, 
the real staff of life, the year-round food of the Illinois Indians, 
was maize; and maize was by no means a gratuitous gift of 
nature, nor were beans, squashes, and other vegetables; 
hence the cultivation of the soil loomed large in their economy 
— far larger than has popularly been supposed. Even with 

35 So similar were all the tribes that some early writers classed them all 
as Illinois. 

36 De Cannes, " Memoir Concernant le Pays Illinois," in Ayer's collection, 
Newberry Library. On this memoir see below, p. 135, note 37. 


the fertile treeless prairies ready at hand, the work of breaking 
and preparing the ground with implements rudely wrought 
from stone was highly laborious, and a cornfield once brought 
under cultivation was not lightly abandoned. Village sites, 
therefore, took on a degree of permanency which has not always 
been recognized.^" 

In the summer, after the crops were planted, and again in 
the winter after they had been gathered and stored in pits in 
the village, the whole group would move to some spot in a 
wilder part of the country, often a hundred or more miles away, 
and set up a hunting camp ; here they would spend from six 
to twelve weeks hunting all kinds of animals which could be 
made to furnish meat for the kettle, furs for clothing, orna- 
ments for personal decoration, or which, in short, could serve 
any purpose whatever. The spoils of the hunt would for the 
most part be prepared for human use on the spot, the meat 
being cut into thin strips and slowly dried on a wooden rack 
four or five feet above an open fire; the pelts of the buffalo, 
deer, bear, and the smaller fur bearing animals were dressed 
with the hair on if they were to be used as robes, or with the 
hair removed if they were to be made Into any of the dozens 
of articles the Indian knew how to fashion out of dressed 
skins.^^ The animals' bones were often utilized in the making 
of weapons or domestic utensils; the horns and teeth of the elk 
and deer and various parts of the smaller animals and of birds 
went to adorn the warriors or to serve some cerem.onial pur- 
pose; there was scarcely a portion of any animal for which the 
Indian could not find some use — although if his need for a 
particular article was not immediate, he felt no necessity of 
conserving against possible future wants. 

If at any time there was a scarcity of meat, the deficiency 
could be supplied by fish from the rivers or lakes, but as game 
was usually plentiful the Indians of the Illinois country never 
developed such prowess as fishermen as was achieved by the 
northern tribes of the lakes region. "They take little trouble 

^^An excellent illustration of this is seen in the failure of the Avhites at 
the time of the Black Hawk War to comprehend what it meant to the Sauk 
and Foxes to give up their ancient domain in the Rock river valley. See 
Centennial History of Illinois, 2: 157. 

2^ For methods of skin dressinj;: see Handbook of American Indians, 2:591. 


to make nets suitable for catching fish in the rivers," writes a 
missionary. " However, when they take a fancy to have some, 
they enter a canoe with their bows and arrows; they stand up 
that they may better discover the fish, and as soon as they see 
one they pierce it with an arrow."^'"^ 

Their weapon for all purposes was the bow and arrow. 
The bows were simple affairs, and the arrows consisted of long 
shafts to which were attached the triangular stone heads that 
are still to be found on the site of many an old Indian village or 
battlefield. The bow was most important in the world of the 
Indian; upon his skill in using it depended his livelihood and 
his reputation as a hunter, and his accuracy was a matter of life 
or death in war. For the chase as well as for war he supple- 
mented it with clubs and knives; the clubs were of wood, 
" shaped like a cutlass," with a ball at the end, or of a deer's 
horn trimmed of all save one or two tines; the knives were 
of chipped flint, much like the arrowheads but larger. 
Daggers also were sometimes made from some long bone such 
as the shank of a deer. 

The manufacture as well as the use of these weapons was 
the peculiar province of the men; the warriors were expected 
to provide their families "with meat and furs and to protect them 
from all attack; and since hunting was both arduous and dan- 
gerous and war a constantly threatening emergency, life was 
no sinecure. To the women, with the assistance of the old men 
and children, fell the tasks of preparing food and clothing, 
tilling the fields, attending to the construction as well as the 
care of the dwellings, and carrying all the baggage when on 
the march to and from the seasonal hunting camps. The line 
between the work of the two sexes was sharply drawn, but it 
can hardly be said to have been unfair, being based very directly 
on the necessities of their mode of life. 

Their migratory life led the Illinois to evolve two kinds of 
houses. In the permanent towns they built substantial oblong 
cabins large enough to house from six to twelve families each; 
the framework was formed by two parallel rows of saplings 
bent together and lashed at the top, so as to form a scries of 
arches or loops, and covered with one or more layers of mats 

39 Thwaites, Jesuit Relnt'inns, 67:171. 


made of closely woven rushes, making a dwelling water-tight 
and warm. There was a door at each end and a strip was left 
open in the center of the roof for the escape of the smoke 
from the row of from three to five fires which extended down 
the center of the lodge. Each of these fires was used by two 
families; hence a cabin might house as many as fifty or sixty 
souls. The earth floor was covered with mats, and in some 
houses there seems to have been a rude platform built out from 
either wall to serve as a lounging place or as bunks. 

For the hunting trips the women prepared a supply of mats 
which could be easily rolled up and carried in the baggage; 
when the camp was established, a few poles or stakes were set 
up to serve as a framework and in a very short time a fairly 
adequate shelter could be made. 

All the lands which were cultivated as well as those on which 
the tribe hunted were considered the property not of individ- 
uals but of the tribe. The crops belonged to the women who 
grew them, and the spoils of the hunter were turned over to the 
women of the family as soon as he brought them into camp. 
All the household equipment, too, was regarded as the property 
of the women; the men owned merely their own weapons and 
their clothing. In their unspoiled state the Indians seem to 
have had a large measure of generosity in their make-up; gifts 
were exchanged among them on all manner of occasions, and 
the possessive instinct was never as strong as it later became 
under the influence of the white man's greed. 

Tribal possession of land was a natural enough concomitant 
of the simple political and social organization of the Illinois 
Indians. The land had come down by descent from their 
ancestors, whose bones were preserved in its bosom, and they 
felt themselves obligated to hand it on to their children and 
their children's children for countless generations to come. 
To alienate the tribal title was an inconceivable Idea. This 
absence of a well-developed concept of private ownership of 
land was long a stumblingblock for a mutual understanding 
between the Indians and the whites. To allow the whites to use 
the land was one thing; to cede to them the permanent pos- 
session of the land was quite difterent and to the Indians an 
act outside of their experience. 


[ Ueproduced from Le Page du Pratz, llisto'vc dc la 


The tribe, the unit of Indian organization, was merely a 
large family made up of a number of clans or gcntes, consisting 
of blood kindred tracing descent from a common ancestor — 
usually claimed to be some specific animal, such as a wolf, bear, 
or fox, which was regarded as the special guardian, or totem, 
of the gens. Members of any group were not permitted to 
marry within their own clan; and there was no changing of 
gens at marriage by either the man or the woman. 

As among other primitive people, the chief governing forces 
of the Illinois were social opinion and folk custom, and power- 
ful forces they were. The freedom of these prairie children 
was more a metaphor than a reality; from childhood up they 
were hedged around by unbreakable custom ; habit guided their 
footsteps, fear of consequences limited their wills. The Illinois, 
particularly noted for the attention they gave to their tribal 
customs, lived in unusual peace and accord with one another, 
social opinion vigorously enforcing uniformity, so that punish- 
ment for transgressions was rarely necessary. 

The machinery of government evolved for the community 
was slight, informal, and democratic to a degree almost incom- 
prehensible to the early European observers. Matters per- 
taining to the family were settled by a family council; affairs 
pertaining to the clan were settled by a council made up of the 
heads of the various families within the group; and the prob- 
lems of the tribe as a whole were threshed out in a council 
attended by the heads or chiefs of the clans. In each group 
certain men stood out as leaders, usually because of their own 
preeminence in valor and sagacity, although sometimes because 
they were descended from notable parents. These civil chiefs 
presided at the councils of the various clans and exerted 
considerable influence in determining the policies of the group, 
but their power was in no sense absolute nor even assured 
within a specified field. ■*" 

Distinct in function from the civil chiefs, whose counsels 
were powerful in adjusting disputes and determining the policies 

*o It IS to be regretted that the early explorers have left extremely scant 
data concerning the exact organization of the Illinois tribes — probably because 
it seemed to them so simple as not to warrant mention. The democracy of the 
Indian tribe was practically out of the range of description by Europeans 
whose only political concept was that of an absolute monarchy. 


of the tribe and clans in peace, were the war chiefs, who rose 
to prominence purely and simply through capacity for military 
leadership. The waging of war among the Illinois, as among 
most American Indians,- was largely a matter of individual 
choice, over which the tribe as a whole had little control; hence 
the difficulty of making a permanent treaty with any particular 
group of Indians. To avenge a real or fancied grievance 
inflicted by a member of another tribe, or merely for the sake 
of winning glory, a warrior would announce his intention of 
going on the warpath and would invite any who cared to join 
him. The opportunity was always present, for practically con- 
tinuous war existed between the Illinois and their southern 
neighbors, the Chickasaw and the Cherokee, and their neigh- 
bors on the north, the Sioux. If an expedition failed, the 
leader's reputation suffered; if it was successful, he gained pres- 
tige and could more readily rally followers the next time he 
decided to brandish the tomahawk. Only in this way could a 
war chief gain his position ; although as a man of unusual ability 
he might in many instances have an important voice in civil 
councils of the tribe, such influence was not necessarily associ- 
ated with military leadership. 

Large campaigns were always an exception in Indian war- 
fare, and except for a few instances such as the Winnebago 
war, the fighting of the Illinois consisted chiefly of desultory 
raids, a primary aim of which was the taking of captives to be 
kept in the tribe or sold as slaves to other groups. " Ordi- 
narily," says an early Jesuit observer, "their parties consist 
only of twenty, thirty or forty men; sometimes these parties 
are of only six or seven persons, and these are most to be 
feared. As their entire skill lies in surprising their enemy, the 
small number facilitates the pains that they take to conceal 
themselves, in order that they may more securely strike the 

blow which they are planning Their method is to 

follow on the trail of their enemy, and to kill some one of them 
while he is asleep, — or, rather, to lie in ambush in the vicinity 
of the villages, and to split the head of the first one who comes 
forth, — and, taking off his scalp, to display it as a trophy 

among their countrymen For several days this scalp 

is hung from the top of his cabin, and then all the people of 


the village come to congratulate him upon his valor, and bring 
presents to show him the interest that they take in his victory. 
Sometimes they are satisfied with making the enemy prisoners; 
but they immediately tie their hands and compel them to run 
on before at full speed, fearing that they may be pursued, as 
sometimes happens, by the companions of those whom they are 
taking away. The fate of these prisoners is very sad ; for often 
they are burned by a slow fire, and at other times they are put 
into the kettle, in order to make a feast for all the fighting 

The cannibalism suggested was probably very rare; the 
Illinois seem most frequently to have kept their prisoners alive, 
for they were notorious slave traders. Sometimes the captors 
chose to regard the captives as substitutes for relatives they had 
lost and accordingly adopted them, whereupon they became 
active members of the tribe with full rights and duties. 

In spite of a reputation for humane treatment of captives, 
the Illinois, like other Indians, found pleasure in torturing their 
prisoners, a custom commonly found among all people in the 
low stages of development. The slow fire, the pulling of finger 
nails, and the cutting with knives were spectacles, prolonged for 
days, in which men, women, and children participated. Cruelty 
to enemies and stoical patience under suffering were basic prin- 
ciples in the education of Indian children. 

The individualism of the Indians which manifested itself 
so clearly in their form of government and their method of 
conducting war was also deep-seated in their family life. Chil- 
dren were, almost from infancy, treated as responsible indi- 
viduals and members of the tribe and grew up with a lack of 
parental control unusual among whites; corporal punishment 
was practically unknown. The boys strove to imitate the ex- 
ploits of their fathers; the girls as a matter of course learned 
to help their mothers; and they were taught all the traditions 
and ceremonies of their tribe; but their training was always 
accomplished more by general public opinion than by direct 
personal control by the parents. This lack of direction was by 
no means due to the indifference of the parents, for Indians as 
a race are known to be particularly fond of their children; it 

■*! Thwaites, Jesuit Relations, 66:273. 


was rather their definite purpose to develop their offspring Into 
self-reliant characters. There was also involved, probably, the 
idea of the importance of the child as a member of the tribe 
and clan, which gave him from birth a status which could not 
be roughly overridden by mere parental authority. 

The importance of the place of the children in the com- 
munity is indicated by the dignified ceremonies Imposed by the 
tribe and clan in the marriage custom. When a young man had 
proved his prowess as a hunter, he indicated to his parents the 
girl whom he desired for a wife. The boy was usually about 
eighteen or twenty and the girl three or four years younger. 
Up till this time the two had probably not exchanged a word. 
The parents of the children, with well-developed and unbreak- 
able custom, then conducted the whole negotiation until finally 
the girl was solemnly led by her relatives and placed on a rug 
in the new home."*- 

As the women are said to have outnumbered the men four 
to one. It Is not surprising to find that polygamy was common 
among the Illinois; the only limit set upon the number of wives 
a man might have was his ability to provide food and clothing 
for them. A custom very usual among the Algonquians was for 
a man to espouse the younger sisters of his first wife, a practice 
no doubt followed to some extent by the tribes of the Illinois. 
The men were very jealous of their wives and commonly pun- 
ished them for any infidelity by cutting off the nose ; divorce ap- 
parently could take place whenever either of the couple desired, 
but public opinion was rather against such procedure. The 
chief element In holding any pair together, since the element 
of affection was In most Instances negligible, was the offspring; 
as the strength and wealth of a clan was measured chiefly by 
the number of its members, children were an Important factor; 
moreover, since Indian women were not especially prolific and 
infant mortality was high, a woman with children was not likely 
to be put away by her husband nor to go unavenged by her 
relatives if In any way wronged. 

The lack of religious significance in marriage Is Interesting. 
As a matter of fact, the Illinois were not nearly so much inclined 

*2An excellent account of the marriage ceremony is contained in De Cannes, 
"Memoir Concernant le Pays Illinois," in Ayer's collection, Newberry Library. 


toward religious ceremonies as were the more northern Algon- 
quians, being, as one writer puts it, "too well off to be really 
pious;" but piety can be ascribed them only in its classical 
sense as care in the performance of religious ceremonies, for 
they never connected their beliefs in supernatural powers with 
moral conduct. To none of their many deities did the Indians 
attribute moral good or evil. In the development of religious 
ideas they were in a stage lower than that of the Homeric 
Greeks ; not yet had any of the supernatural powers which they 
saw in the phenomena around them been divorced from its 
natural object and endowed with the personality of a god. 

People whose ancestors centuries ago emerged from the 
circle of primitive intelligence and entered into the inheritance 
of European civilization find difficulty in understanding the 
spiritual world of the Indians. For the American aborigines 
the idea of an orderly world did not exist; like young children, 
they did not expect to find natural causes for phenomena. In 
their world anything might happen, everything was possible; 
men visited the sun and moon, passed through numberless 
transformations, beasts spoke, and the roll of the thunder across 
the skies was, in the minds of the Illinois, the flapping of the 
great wings of the " thunderbird." The Indians lived in a 
myth-made world. 

The world known to the Illinois was circumscribed; they 
knew only the territory watered by the Mississippi and its 
principal tributaries, and the Great Lakes region; beyond these 
limits their knowledge was stretched only a little distance by 
hearsay. Over this world of theirs they saw the sun, the moon, 
and the stars; they felt the wind, the rain, and the snow, and 
heard the thunder. Their explanation of nature reproduced 
this limitation of knowledge. The earth was humanized; it 
was a person with emotions and passions; it bestowed life on 
all who fed on it. Objects of the world also were similarly 
humanized; some had the freedom of motion — such were the 
bears and deer ; but others like the reeds of the swamp, the oaks, 
and the persimmon trees, had been attached firmly to the earth 
by some mighty wizard. In like manner the rivers and creeks 
were men-beings who at times were bound by the spell of the 
winter magician and ceased their continuous running. All in- 


animate objects — stones, streams, trees, hills, the wind, and the 
sun — possessed a magic power that might be used to aid or 
harm man and must therefore be propitiated. Indian tribes 
called this magic power by different names, but by the Algon- 
quians it was named " manitou " or "manito."^^ 

The Indians lived in a world of terror, surrounded as they 
imagined themselves by these manitous, and their lives were 
struggles to appease the manitou beings and to bribe or compel 
them to give aid and not to harm. The Indian's trap would 
not catch animals and his bow would not shoot true unless he 
had the good will of their manitous; hence to both offerings 
had to be made, and in the same way the wind, water, and all 
forces of nature had to be propitiated. In every project of his 
life the Indian believed himself watched and warned by special 
protectors, who communicated with him by means of dreams 
and omens the disregard of which was sure to be attended with 
the most disastrous consequences. To this belief can be at- 
tributed much of the seemingly illogical conduct of individuals 
and the fickleness and wavering purposes of tribes. A dream, 
the cry of a bird, the unexpected appearance of some animal, 
would seem to the Indian a direct revelation and order from 
a supernatural power. 

In the midst of this world filled with animate objects pos- 
sessing magic power man was helpless without the support and 
aid of some personal manitou. Hence the principal spiritual 
experience oi the Indian occurred when he won the control of 
some power as a personal guide. At the age of puberty, the 
boy withdrew to an isolated place and purified himself by 
vomiting, bathing, and fasting; he then worked himself into a 
trancelike state by dancing and often by using drugs, until some 
manitou appeared and promised to be his guardian. 

The missionaries attributed their success in converting the 
Illinois to Christianity to the fact that these prairie Indians 
believed in a greater manitou, Identified by the missionaries as 
the " Great Spirit." Father Allouez in 1665 wrote : '* I have 
learned .... that the Ilinlouek, the Outagami [Foxes], 
and other savages toward the south, hold that there Is a great 

■*^ This magic power is difficult to define. A carefully worded definition will 
be found in the llatuibook of American Indians, 2:147, under " Orenda." 


and excellent genius, master of all the rest, who made Heaven 
and Earth; and who dwells, they say, in the East toward the 
country of the French. "^^ In such language the christian 
spiritualized the crude creation myth of the central Algon- 
quians ; this " great and excellent genius " of AUouez was simply 
their culture hero, the fabulous great rabbit who had some 
association with the sun; he it was who created by magic power 
the earth, covered it with game, and taught his people various 
crafts. He accomplished his purposes by his magical powers, 
his trickery, and his powers of deception. The explanation of 
the great rabbit, the Gitchi Manitou, is to be sought in the 
Indians' childlike fondness of explaining the origin of objects 
by a myth rather than in a spiritual significance."*^ 

By far the most important of their religious ceremonies was 
the calumet dance, performed " sometimes to strengthen peace, 
or to unite themselves for some great war; at other times for 
public rejoicing," or to do honor to a visiting nation or person- 
age of note.^*'' As the name implies, the dance featured the 
calumet, or ceremonial tobacco pipe, " fashioned from a red 
stone, polished like marble, and bored in such a manner that 
one end serves as a receptacle for the tobacco, while the other 
fits into the stem .... a stick two feet long, as thick as 
an ordinary cane, and bored through the middle."^" "Less 
honor," says Marquette, "is paid to the Crowns and scepters 
of Kings than the Savages bestow upon this. It seems to be 
the God of peace and of war, the Arbiter of life and of death. 
It has but to be carried upon one's person and displayed to 
enable one to walk safely through the midst of Enemies, — who, 
in the hottest of the Fight, lay down Their arms when it is 

shown There is a Calumet for peace, and one for 

war, which are distinguished solely by the Color of the feathers 
with which they are adorned; Red is the sign of war. They 

*^ Kellogg, Early Narratives of the Nort/raest, 113. 

■*5 This account of the Indians' religion is drawn from the following articles 
in Handbook of .Imericari Indians: "Algonquin Family," 1:38 ff . ; "Religion," 
2:365 ff. ; "Mythology," 1:964 ff . ; "Popular Fallacies," 2:282 H., and other 
articles; Menzies, History of Religion, chapter 2; Boas, The MinJ of Primitive 
Man, passim; Thwaites, Jesuit Relations, 55:213 ff . ; Jones, "The Algonkin 
Manitou," in Journal of American Folk Lore, 18:183 ff. 

•*'' Marquette gives a detailed description of the calumet dance as performed 
in his honor. Thwaites, Jesuit Relations, 59:125-137. 

^' Ibid., 131. 


also use it to put an end to Their disputes, to strengthen Their 

alliances, and to speak to Strangers They have a 

great regard for it, because they look upon it as the calumet 
of the Sun; and, in fact, they offer it to the latter to smoke 
when they wish to obtain a calm, or rain, or fine weather.""*^ 

The religion of the Illinois was highly individualistic, even 
the important calumet dance being initiated by any person who 
cared to begin it rather than by some authorized priest. There 
was no recognized head of religion nor any formal priesthood; 
the only approximation is found in the medicine men, who 
assumed their character and practiced thereafter simply on 
their own initiative, without organization among themselves 
and without any special authorization from the tribe. They 
assumed to have closer connection with the spirit world and 
the manitous than their fellows, and so undertook to foretell 
the future, bring luck, cast evil spells, and especially to cure 
illness. Their method of treatment was usually to play upon 
the imagination of the patient by pretending to suck forth from 
his body a bear's tooth or small stone which could be exhibited 
as the cause of his ailment, or else to handle him so roughly 
that he would forget his original pain ; they always accompanied 
their ministrations with invocations to their manitous — gro- 
tesque dances, chants, frightful contortions, and various jug- 
gleries. Another favorite remedy was to order the sick person 
to give a dance in honor of the sun, who might thus be moved 
to restore his worshipper to health. "If the sick man happen 
to die, he [the medicine man] immediately has all ready a trick 

for laying this death to another cause But, on the 

contrary, if the sick man recover his health, then it is that the 
charlatan is esteemed; that he himself is looked upon as a 
Manitou; and that, after having been well paid for his trouble, 
they also bring to him all that is best in the Village, in order 
to regale him."'*^ 

The Illinois, like other Algonquians, probably believed in 
an after world, but the Jesuits who were in the best position 
to observe their beliefs were obviously so much interested in 
propagating their own creed that they have preserved slight 

*^Thwaites, Jesuit Relations, 59:131. 
^^ Ibid., 66:233-235. 


information upon this point. Neither have they left much pre- 
cise information as to the methods of burial practiced by the 
Indians, although they do indicate that a variety of methods 
were used. Sometimes the Illinois wrapped the corpses in skins 
and placed them on scaffolds in the open air or in the branches 
of trees to hasten decay and to facilitate the cleaning of the 
bones, which were later buried; sometimes the bodies were 
buried at once. It is highly probable that they raised mounds 
over at least their more important men; and in the southern 
part of the state they often employed the method of burial in 
stone graves, there being on record several such burials even 
after the establishment of the modern white settlement.^'^ 

The tribes in Illinois in the French period were not nearly 
so advanced in art as were their predecessors, the southern 
tribes; they made pottery, to be sure, but it was of a crude 
sort. The majority of their bowls were made of wood, which 
accounts for the comparatively small number which have sur- 
vived. The finest vessels they had were made by cutting away 
the side and columella of a large conch, but such bowls or cups 
could of course be obtained in this inland region only by trading, 
and hence were scarce and very valuable. They used fresh- 
water shells for the making of smaller cups, spoons, and 
scrapers; they also made similar articles from wood and horn. 

If they had acquired the art of basket weaving, their early 
visitors failed to mention the fact; there is no doubt, however, 
that the women had developed considerable skill in the making 
of mats by sewing together flat rushes with a twine made from 
bark or vegetable fiber roughly twisted. They had also learned 
to make a yarn from the fine under-wool of the buffalo and 
young bear, which they spun by rolling with the palm of the 
hand on the thigh ; this they plaited or wove into sashes, garters, 
bags, pouches, and similar articles. 

The dress of the women was voted modest even by the 
Jesuit fathers;''^ the men, however, went entirely nude, save 
for a breechcloth, making up for their lack of garments by 
painting or otherwise decorating the body with "many panels, 

^0 Thomas, "The Story of a Mound; or, the Shawnees in pre-Columbian 
Times," in American Anthropologist, 4: 155 ff. 
*'^ Thwaites, Jesuit Relations, 67:135. 



with all sorts of figures, which they mark upon the body in 

ineffaceable manner It is only when they make visits 

. . . . that they wrap themselves in a cloak of dressed skin 
with the hair left on, that they may keep warm. They adorn 
the head with feathers of many colors, of which they make 
garlands and crowns which they arrange very becomingly; 
above all things, they are careful to paint the face with different 
colors, but especially with vermilion. They wear collars and 
ear rings made of little stones which they cut like precious 
stones; some are blue, some red and some white as alabaster; 
to these must be added a flat piece of porcelain [i. e., shell 
gorget] which finishes the collar."^- In another place is given 
the additional information that the men had a peculiar 
headdress formed by clipping the greater part of the hair and 
leaving over each ear two long locks, which were arranged " in 
such order as to avoid inconvenience from them."^^ 

Hard as their life seems, viewed by modern eyes, the Illinois 
fared better than many of their race and were by no means 
wholly without leisure and means of recreation. Between the 
strenuous demands of hunting and fighting the men relaxed 
completely and spent their time in a great variety of games of 
skill, such as ball, or guessing games, or games of chance played 
with instruments comparable to dice. Even with their more 
continuous labor, the women found opportunity to gossip among 
themselves and to play games. Like most Indians, the Illinois 
were inveterate gamblers, and men and women alike would 
often stake everything they owned on a throw of dice. Many 
of their games, however, had a religious significance, and were 
played only in connection with some formal ceremony. 

Socially they were talkative, good-natured, and fond of a 
joke, although their extreme dignity of bearing on public occa- 
sions often gave observers the impression that they were morose 
and silent by nature. The ease and persistency with which the 
French came to intermarry with them certainly suggests that 
both in disposition and in mode of life there was no very wide 
gulf between the two races, at least as they encountered each 
other in the seventeenth-century Illinois. The French may 

''^ Tliwaites, Jrsuii Relal'intis, 67: 163-175. 
^^Ihid., 55:207-219. 


have been accustomed at home to more refinements and greater 
cleanHness, but In the wilderness they soon found it impossible 
to maintain standards much higher than those of the Indians; 
and in spite of a supposedly more enlightened religion, they 
were no more amiable, no more honest, no more generous and 
hospitable, no more loyal to their friends, than were the be- 
nighted children of the wilds. If in the course of contact with 
shrewd traders who befuddled them with a strange fiery liquor 
and reduced them from economic self-sufficiency to abject 
dependence, the Indians came to show themselves suspicious, 
treacherous, greedy, and oftentimes ill-natured and unreason- 
able, it is not a logical deduction to conclude that the dusky 
aborigines were an essentially inferior race who deserved 
nothing better than to be exterminated and driven from the 
land of their forebears. Yet such was to be the fate of the 
Illinois; In the struggle for the prairies the better-prepared 
white men were to conquer. In the state named after them 
and perpetuating their memory In dozens of names, not one of 
their race, still less of their tribe, survives; even out of the 
remnant of the Peoria, who live now in Oklahoma, there Is 
probably not one single full-blooded Illinois Indian left alive.^^ 

s* Report of Truman Michelson and Ralph Linton on field work done 
among the Peoria Indians for the Illinois Centennial Commission, dated Sep- 
tember 26, 1916, in the Illinois Historical Survey. The survivors of the Peoria 
liave intermarried and exchanged customs and folk tales with other tribes, 
especially with the Sauk, Foxes, and Kickapoo, until they can now furnish but 
little information as to their ancestors in Illinois. 


A DESCRIPTION of prehistoric Indian society leaves on 
the mind an impression of more or less stationary conditions 
in woodland and on prairie, however careful the reader may 
be to recollect that violent action and almost constant warfare 
characterized the life of primitive men. Peace in the forest 
never reigned, dread lurked in its depths; but, since no chron- 
icler recorded the acts then committed, there are missing the 
direct touch with personalities and the intimate knowledge of 
occurrences that make vivid historical visualization. Upon the 
scene came the white man; his acts of daring and of wrong 
made articulate the human drama of the wilderness. Recorded 
history had begun. 

The first Europeans to visit the inland valley were the 
Spaniards. Hernando de Soto and Vasquez de Coronado, 
possibly the boldest of the explorers of interior America, trav- 
ersed the land watered by the lower Mississippi and disclosed 
to the world the extent of the continent. The Spanish explorers, 
however, never reached the prairies of the Illinois, and their ex- 
ploits require here only passing notice. Although the knowledge 
they gained was set forth on contemporary maps, the memory 
of these earliest explorations soon became dimmed, for there 
had been seen no glint of gold and silver to inspire the southern- 
ers to further efforts. The Mississippi valley remained prac- 
tically unknown until its rediscovery by men of other nations. 

Not for over a hundred years did England and France 
seriously challenge the Spaniards' claim to the new continent. 
In the opening years of the seventeenth century both countries 
planted their first permanent colonies on the Atlantic seacoast, 
England in Massachusetts and Virginia, and France in Acadia 
and Canada. Shut off from the interior by the Appalachian 
mountains and the Iroquois confederacy, the English were 
obliged to be contented with a slow advance of their settlements 
into the west; on the other hand, despite their small num- 



bers, the French, controlling excellent water routes to the Great 
Lakes and thence to the Mississippi, were able quickly to pene- 
trate to the heart of the great valley. 

In this relatively rapid occupation of the Mississippi valley 
several motives inspired the French. First and foremost was 
the desire for wealth, ever the chief driving force in the win- 
ning of the west. The great business of the wilderness was 
the fur trade with its enormous profits — one hundred, four 
hundred, sometimes a thousand per cent for a successful expe- 
dition. The upper country, as the lakes region and beyond was 
called, abounded in beavers, minks, lynxes, muskrats, foxes, and 
other fur bearing animals ; and the trader was lured by the hope 
of profits from one river valley to another, until he was plying 
his traffic in the depths of the continent. 

Naturally many motives other than this predominating 
economic one were active in the breasts of the men of France. 
Notably, there was the hope of glory — glory both for France 
and for the individual. The years of most active exploration 
were those when Louis XIV was occupying the throne of 
France and making it glorious by the success of his wars, the 
influence of his diplomacy, and the splendor of his court. As 
few others, the Grand Monarque understood how to identify 
in the popular mind his own glory and that of his people. Men 
acted, even when far distant, as though the eyes of their king 
were upon them; they saw his gracious look and heard his 
praise in their visions of a triumphant return to France. Even 
more powerful than the individual's dream of glory was the 
view of la patrie victorious over rivals. England, Holland, 
and Spain were all struggling for predominance in North 
America; great, then, was the pride of the sons who triumph- 
antly bore the lilies of France Into the heart of the New World. 

Missionary zeal gave still another impetus to exploration. 
In the seventeenth century not only the state but individuals 
accepted unquestioningly the duty of converting the heathen, 
and exploration was esteemed worth while partially because it 
opened a way for bearing the light of Christianity into the dark 
places of the New World. Although not the only French mis- 
sionaries in North America, the Jesuits played the leading role 
in this new crusade; and never has the cause of Christianity 


been served with greater devotion and fearlessness than by the 
disciples of Ignatius Loyola in the great interior valley. Fol- 
lowing close upon the canoes of the fur traders, they endured 
without complaint, nay rather with rejoicing, the hardships of 
life among the Indians and were ever ready to suffer cruel 
torture and even death rather than to give up the work to which 
they had devoted themselves.^ 

The first westward movement of the French was due largely 
to the personal influence of Samuel de Champlain, the governor 
of New France, who was keenly interested in the exploration 
of the country intrusted to his care. He himself led an expe- 
dition in 1 615 as far west as Lake Huron; and to aid further 
discovery, he placed young Frenchmen in various Indian villages 
to learn the languages of the natives. Among his proteges was 
Jean Nicolet, who had come to Quebec in 161 8 and who imme- 
diately began his studies of Indian life among the Algonkin, 
later spending several years among the Nipissing. After he 
was appointed agent and interpreter, he was sent west in 1634 
ostensibly to make peace between the Hurons and the Winne- 
bago, but with the further purposes of extending the fur trade 
and of seeking a route to China. Accompanied only by Indians, 
he traveled by canoe the usual route via Lake Nipissing, French 
river, and Lake Huron. He was the first white man known to 
have passed through the strait of Mackinac and to have voy- 
aged to Green Bay, where he accomplished his mission. On 
his return he is reported to have said that "if he had sailed 
three days' journey farther upon a great river which issues from 
this lake (Michigan), he would have found the sea." What- 
ever the passage means, upon it alone rests the knowledge of 
the extreme west of Nicolet's discoveries. - 

^A by-product of great value to the historian has come from the work of 
the Jesuits. They were compelled by their order to make reports of their 
activities to their immediate superior in Quebec, and he in turn drew from these 
to make his report to the superior in Paris. These were published and are known 
as the Jesuit Relations. A most excellent edition of them has been published in 
seventy-three volumes by the late Reuben Gold Thwaites. See introduction in 
Thwaites, Jesuit Relations, i. 

-The passages upon which rests the knowledge of Nicolet's discoveries are 
found in Thwaites, Jesuit Relations, 18:233, 237; 23:275 ff. For discussion see 
Suite, Melanges d'Histoire et de Litterature, 426 ff . ; Butterfield, Discovery of the 
Nort/iivest by Jean Nicolet; see also JVisconsin Historical Collections, 8:188 ff . ; 
9:1 ff. ; Kellogg, Early Narratives of the Northnxest, introduction to Nicolet's 


For many years after the western exploration of Nicolet 
the French made no progress In their knowledge of the region. 
Before other men could follow in his footsteps there intervened 
a war of many years with the Iroquois confederacy. Hostilities 
continued almost incessantly until 1667, entailing during the 
entire period the most severe trials upon the French colonists of 
the St. Lawrence valley. All their outposts in the west were 
abandoned, and at times the existence of Montreal itself was 

During this long period of almost continuous warfare there 
took place that important shifting of the Indian tribes in the 
lakes region, which has been described in the previous chapter, 
so that, when the Frenchmen again made their way to Green 
Bay, they discovered conditions in the region very different from 
those reported by Jean Nicolet. Where he had found the 
powerful tribe of the Winnebago, they met many tribes, 
with which French history was to be closely entwined, crowded 
into the narrow space between Lake Michigan and the Missis- 
sippi river; in one report twenty thousand Indians were said 
to have been gathered In one village.^ Such a congestion press- 
ing hard upon the food supply could not endure ; a readjustment 
was inevitable, and no sooner was the fear of the Iroquois lifted 
than the tribes began an exodus southward. The Illinois, most 
of whom had fled before the scourge of the west to the far bank 
of the Mississippi river, returned to their former homes in the 
valley of the river which bears their name. The Miami and 
Mascoutens followed the western shore of the lake and gradu- 
ally extended themselves over the territory stretching south and 
eastward. By 1681 one band of Miami had already reached 
the St. Joseph river, while others were still in the vicinity of 
modern Milwaukee. About the same time the Foxes moved 
down to the Fox river (Wisconsin) valley."* 

Even during the period of the Iroquois war the French 
were able to reopen for a moment the fur trade In the west. 
Some time between 1 654 and 1 663, two of the boldest and most 
successful fur traders, Medard Chouart, sleur des Grosellliers, 

^ IVisconsin Historical Collectiotis, 16:94. 

* Ibid., 16:99 ff- ; Tonti's memoir in Kellogg, Early Narratives of the North- 
ivest, 294 flf. ; Hennepin, i\e-zv Discovery (ed. Thwaites), 1:123, i30> '43- 


and his brother-in-law, Pierre d'Esprit, sieur de Radisson, made 
two journeys to the west and possibly reached the Mississippi 
river. They skirted the southern shore of Lake Superior and 
visited the country of the Sioux. ^ From this time on the number 
of bush rangers, or coureiirs de hois, making their way into the 
west rapidly increased; and after peace with the Iroquois was 
finally established in 1667, they departed from Montreal 
in ever-increasing numbers and penetrated into the remotest 
west in quest of furs. 

These pioneers of western trade, frequently unlettered, 
have left no formal reports nor literary accounts of their wan- 
derings, yet in almost every instance they preceded or accom- 
panied those whose names history has immortalized as the true 
discoverers. Coureiirs de bois preceded the Jesuit missionaries 
to Lake Superior; they were found by the first missionary at 
Green Bay; and Father Marquette, the founder of the Illinois 
mission, found French traders on the upper Illinois in 1674. 
They learned to love the free life of the wilderness; the lure 
of the wild enthralled them ; and, above all, the hope of speedy 
profits led them on. Eventually, outlawed by the king's edict 
prohibiting their trade, disappointed in their hope of wealth, 
and accustomed to the new life, they settled in the Indian 
villages and began unconsciously and almost imperceptibly the 
French dominion of the northwest. 

The missionaries were not far behind even the most ven- 
turesome traders and soon reestablished their missions among 
the tribes of the Great Lakes. In 1669 Father Claude Jean 
Allouez was on Green Bay; Sulpician missionaries from Mon- 
treal founded a mission on Lake Ontario, and two of their 
order explored Lake Erie and traversed the Detroit strait.*^ 

The period had arrived when the French government was 
to devote to its over-sea dominions some thought and care. In 
the early years. New France had been watched over with solici- 
tude by Cardinal Richelieu, but he later became absorbed in 
the international complications of the Thirty Years' War, and 
New France was almost forgotten. His successor, Cardinal 

5 Kellogg, Early Narratives of the Northivest, 29 ff. 

6 Margry, Decouvertes et Etahlissements, 1:112 ff . ; also in Kellogg, Early 
Narratives of the Northwest, 167 ff. 


Mazarin, had found little time during his troublesome struggles 
with the Fronde and the complexities of the international situ- 
ation to promote colonial interests. It remained for the 
period of the personal administration of Louis XIV to inaugu- 
rate the colonial policy that was to make France a power to 
be reckoned with in America. The king was not a man of 
great genius, but he was ambitious to make his reign the glory 
of France, and to accomplish this he looked toward new fields 
of endeavor for his people. He had imagination to visualize 
a great empire in America and the persistency to push at every 
favorable moment the Interests of the French colonies; but, 
unfortunately for the far-away experiment, his attention became 
fixed too frequently on European politics. War after war 
was to ruin promising beginnings. 

The minister who possessed the foresight to propose the 
Imperial policy and the confidence to promote It in spite of 
constant petty court Intrigues was Jean Baptiste Colbert, In 
many ways the greatest of French ministers. During the first 
ten or twelve years of his power, he Initiated reforms In law, 
in finance, and in manufacture, commerce, and agriculture which 
wrought revolution In the life of France. Had the country 
been vouchsafed peaceful development, It would have been 
raised to the height of prosperity. As it was, commercial and 
industrial centers became active, and the whole country felt for 
a few years the quickening pulse of new life, finding expression 
in art and literature that has made the "age of Louis XIV" 
known for all time. 

Colbert was not simply an efliclent administrator and a man 
of business; he was also a man of Imagination. Fired by the 
accounts of the early explorers in America, he declared Ma- 
gellan's idea of circumnavigating the globe "the boldest and 
most extraordinary that had ever entered the mind of a man."^ 
The idea of a colonial empire, therefore, easily found lodgment 
in his mind and germinated into action. 

The colonial policy which Colbert announced in 1664 as 
a part of his extensive reform of the national Industry, trade, 
and commerce Inevitably was founded on paternalism and 
monopoly, the two leading Ideas controlling the French com- 

"^ Lavisse, Histoire de France, 7(1): 233. The whole chapter should be read. 


merclal undertakings during the seventeenth and well down Into 
the eighteenth century. The minute oversight of the colonial 
affairs left nothing to the Initiative of the settlers. Their 
goings and comings, their marriages and births, their occupa- 
tions and their religious exercises, were regulated by a 
beneficent monarch with a belief In his omniscience. 

The other foundation of the colonial policy, monopoly, was 
no less all-embracing. The most successful trading country of 
Europe at the time was Holland, and its success seemed to rest 
upon great trading companies with monopolistic rights; It was 
no wonder that France should utilize a similar method. Col- 
bert in later years became skeptical of the wisdom of monopoly, 
but not so his successors; France till the end of its experiment 
on the continent of America never completely freed Its colonies 
from a system that crushed the Initiative of individuals by a 
too close supervision and stunted their energy by robbing them 
of the hope of financial rewards. On the other hand, this 
centralization of power imparted to French America a strength 
out of all proportion to the number and wealth of the colonists. 

Colbert's first experiment in colonization was built around 
the West India Company, to which was granted wide power In 
all the over-sea dominions. War and financial factors brought 
failure to the company, which never exercised much real au- 
thority in New France, though many vexatious enactments in 
its interest were passed. It has significance in this narrative 
chiefly because the renewed activity In the northern colony was 
contemporaneous with the founding of the company and the 
inauguration of many commercial reforms in France.® Though 
for a few years a gallant effort was made to support the West 
India Company, by degrees the futility of monopoly became 
evident, and by 1672 the company had for all practical 
purposes ceased to exist. Canada then became a royal prov- 
ince; the change was completed by 1674, but brought few alter- 
ations in the actual machinery of colonial control. 

It was during these years, 1664 to 1674, that the true begin- 
nings of the exploration and occupation of the west occurred. 

^ Mims, Colbert's West India Policy, 68 ff., 176, 181; Clement, Histoire de 
Colbert, 170 ff. ; Lavisse, Histoire de I-ratice, 7 (0:254; Shortt and Doughty, 
Canada and Its Frozinces, 2:464 ff. 


For the first time a complete civil government of New France 
was inaugurated. The beginning of discovery is indissolubly 
connected with the name of one of the new officials, who proved 
himself one of Canada's greatest civil officers, the intendant, 
Jean Talon. He received his appointment a year after the 
creation of the West India Company, and his advice was of 
weight in the final decision to dissolve the company and to 
encourage the trade of individuals. 

Talon shared Colbert's vision of a French empire in 
America, and soon after his arrival he planned expeditions to 
discover the territory which might become a greater France.^ 
In accordance with Talon's plans, though he was in France, 
there was sent out in 1669 an expedition to Lake Superior, led 
by Louis Jolliet. He returned by way of Lake Erie, thus becom- 
ing the discoverer of that lake. In the next year, at Talon's 
orders, Robert Cavelier, sieur de la Salle, undertook to explore 
the regions south of the lakes, but he accomplished little or 
nothing.^*' A third expedition of romantic interest proceeded 
in the same year under Simon Francois Daumont, sieur de St. 
Lusson, to the lakes region. He had been selected by the 
French government to hold a great meeting with the Indian 
tribes and to perform a significant act. Sault Ste. Marie was 
the romantic and historic spot chosen for the scene; it ilnites 
the territory stretching from Lake Superior to the mysterious 
region of Lake Winnipeg with the territory around Lake 
Michigan and the Mississippi valley, and connects both with 
the waters flowing into the St. Lawrence. 

At this significant meeting place representatives of fourteen 
Indian tribes assembled on June 14, 1671, to witness a solemn 
ceremony, half religious, half civil, which could scarcely have 
conveyed to the children of the wilderness an intelligible im- 
pression. After an address by Father Claude Allouez eulo- 
gizing the greatness of the Grand Monarque, the country and 
all adjacent regions were declared to be in the possession of 

^ Neiu York Colonial Documents, 9:63, 70, 89. 

^0 Lorin, Le Comte de Frontenac, 15. La Salle had during the previous year 
made on his own account an exploratory expedition with two Sulpicians, Gallinee 
and Dollier, but owing to ill health, he was obliged to return without accom- 
plishing anything. For a discussion of La Salle's supposed discovery of the 
Ohio on this expedition see below, p. 78. 


King Louis XIV. Let all nations forbear from trespassing 
thereon ! 

The ceremony marked the auspicious opening of a great 
era of discovery. The immediate incentive to explore arose 
from the Indians' accounts of a great western river which they 
called the " Great Water," or " Missipi," as it was first tran- 
scribed by Father Allouez. It was the determination of Jean 
Talon to explore this river and at the same time to find a route 
to the western sea — that rainbow dream which was ever before 
the eyes of ofl'icial and explorer. He chose as leader for this 
important mission an experienced explorer and able leader of 
men, Louis Jolliet.^^ He was born in Quebec in 1645, and at- 
tended the Jesuit school in his native village, where he was well 
educated in the higher branches, becoming particularly profi- 
cient in the art of surveying and map making. He was not 
engrossed, however, by practical studies; he became a musician 
and in later years played the organ in the cathedral of Quebec. 
He took minor orders while still in school, but finally decided to 
forego the priestly calling and to follow that of fur trader and 
explorer. The friendly relations with the Jesuits, thus early 
formed, were maintained throughout his life; he was always 
regarded by the members of that order as their especial repre- 
sentative in the field of discovery. Twice he had visited Sault 
Ste. Marie before 1672 and, although only twenty-seven years 
old, had won a deserved confidence In his qualifications for 
leadership and his knowledge of the Indians. A contemporary 
wrote of him : " He has Courage to dread nothing where every- 
thing is to be Feared. "^^ 

Accompanying Jolliet as chaplain of the expedition was one 
of the most zealous idealists in the annals of Illinois, Father 
Jacques Marquette of the Order of Jesus. He was born in 
Laon in 1637, entered the Jesuit order in 1654, and was sent 
to Canada in 1666. Three years later he replaced Allouez at 
the mission on the Chequamegon bay, and in 1671 he built the 
mission of St. Ignace at Mackinac, where he contentedly per- 
formed his priestly duties in " a rude and unshapely chapel, its 

11 He spelled his name thus instead of "Joliet" as perpetuated in the Illi- 
nois city named after him. 

^-The best account of Jolliet is to be found in Gagnon, Louis Jolliet. See 
encomium of him in Thwaites, Jesuit Relations, 59:89. 


sides of logs and its roof of barli." The only attendants were 
the miserable savages and a few fur traders. ^^ The external 
chronicle of his life, however, gives no hint of the development 
of the soul of the man. The sacrifice of all earthly pleasures 
and honors in the service of his fellow men was his sole guide. 
A rich opportunity came when he was ordered to the far western 
mission of New France. In a very true way his innermost life 
is summed up in Dablon's introduction to Marquette's own 
narrative of the exploratory expedition under Jolliet: "The 
Father had long premeditated this undertaking, influenced by 
a most ardent desire to extend the kingdom of Jesus Christ, 
and to make Him known and adored by all the peoples of that 

It was not the intendant, Talon, however, who was to have 
the honor of sending the explorers to the Mississippi, but the 
Comte de Frontenac, who came to Canada as governor in 1672. 
He continued the policy which Talon Had inaugurated, making 
no change in the personnel of the proposed expedition. 

Jolliet and Marquette spent the winter of 1672-1673 at 
Mackinac, where their simple preparations were quickly made. 
For provisions they took only Indian corn and smoked meat. 
They made inquiries from the Indians concerning their route 
and even traced out a map of the region, ^^ On May 17, 1673, 
with five men, they embarked in two canoes for the long voyage 
into the unknown.^*'' As far as the Mascoutens' village on the 
Fox river near the Fox-Wisconsin portage the explorers voy- 
aged without fear, for the route had already been made known 
by former adventurers. The Indians on the banks of the Fox 
river tried to persuade them to forego their undertaking by 

13 Thwaites, " The Story of Mackinac," in Wisconsin Historical Collections, 

1* Kellogg, Early Narratives of the Nort/tivest, 227. 

1° For an effort to identify this map see Kellogg, " Marquette's Authentic 
Map Possibly Identified," in Wisconsin Historical Society, Proceedings, 1906. Miss 
Kellogg informs me that she is now not so certain of this identification, but 
personally I am satisfied with her conclusion. 

1*5 por the history of this expedition consult the accounts drawn from Jolliet: 
in Dablon's report of August i, 1674, in Thwaites, Jesuit Relations, 58:93 ff., 
and in Margry, Decouvertes et Etablissements, 1:262 ff . ; in an anonymous 
account, ibid., 259 ff. Jolliet's own account is reproduced on his map in Thwaites, 
Jesuit Relations, 59:86; Frontenac's report of November 11, 1674, in Margry, 
Decowvertes et Etablissements. 1:257; Marquette's journal in Thwaites, Jesuit 
Relations, 59:86 ff. 


picturing unavoidable dangers — Indians without mercy to 
strangers, a dangerous river filled with horrible monsters which 
devoured both men and canoes, a demon still more terrible, 
and finally heat that would scorch them to death. 

Undeterred, they proceeded on their way, crossed the 
portage between the upper Fox and Wisconsin rivers guided 
by two Miami Indians and, on June 17, entered the Mississippi 
*' with a joy I cannot express," writes Father Marquette. They 
passed down the river almost without Incident, meeting none 
of the hardships prophesied by the Indians. Human Inhabit- 
ants were first sighted at some Illinois villages on the west side 
of the river In the present state of Iowa. About June 20 the 
explorers were skirting the river banks of the land that the 
future was to know as Illinois. Father Marquette was inter- 
ested in the Indians who have given their name to the state 
and devoted several pages of his narrative to an account of 
their manners and customs and even quoted the words and 
music of one of their songs. ^" The canoes passed the mouth 
of the Missouri, the famous Plasa rock, and the mouth of the 
river Ohio; they continued southward to about the latitude of 
the Arkansas river. Certain now that the Mississippi flowed 
into the Gulf of Mexico and not into the Gulf of California, 
and fearing both the southern Indians and the Spaniards, they 
determined to return. 

On July 17 the homeward journey was begun. Probably 
in accordance with a previous plan, they returned by the Illinois 
river. Here they first realized the extent and fertility of the 
prairies. The leader, Jolliet, and his companions, like many 
later observers, were at first deceived in regard to the character 
of the soil by the lack of trees and shrubs; investigation soon 
convinced the young leader of its fertility and fitness for crops, 
and he pronounced the river valley "the most beautiful and 
most suitable for settlement." He later told his friends that 
" a settler would not there spend ten years in cutting down and 
burning the trees; on the very day of his arrival, he could put 
his plow into the ground." "Thus he would easily find in the 
country his food and clothlng."^^ 

1^ The chant and music are printed in Thwaites, Jesuit Relations, 59:311. 
^^IhiJ., 58: 107. 


The voyagers passed into the Des Plaines river and over 
the portage to the Chicago; close by was a village of seventy- 
four cabins of the Kaskaskia Indians, who secured a promise 
from Father Marquette to return and instruct them.^^ The 
journey to Green Bay by way of Lake Michigan passed with- 
out incident. Here Jolliet left his companion, who was en- 
feebled by sickness, and journeyed to Montreal. When 
almost in sight of the village, his canoe capsized and all his 
papers were lost. Thus of his carefully kept journal the his- 
torian is deprived; for information he is limited to Jolliet's 
memories and the journal of the accompanying priest. 

The great river he had discovered Jolliet christened first 
"Buade," in honor of the family name of the Comte de Fron- 
tenac; later he called it "Colbert," .for the great French pre- 
mier. His companion. Father Marquette, named it in com- 
memoration of the Immaculate Conception, but none of the 
names have been able to compete with that by which the children 
of the forest had so long called it, " Mississippi, the Great 
Water." 2« 

Jolliet was delighted with the ease of the navigation from 
the Mississippi valley to the lakes region and saw in it the hope 
of realizing his dream of a prosperous colony. Having traveled 
previously through the southern lakes to the St. Lawrence, he 
now thought that he had discovered an easy means of travel and 
transportation from Canada to the valley of the Illinois and 
thence to Florida. A bark, he said, could be sailed from Lake 
Erie through the lakes to the lower end of Lake Michigan, 
where a canal through "but half a league of prairie" would 
admit the vessel to the water system of the great valley. 

This plan of a communication between the two great water 
systems by way of the Chicago river has been a vision seen by 
many statesmen from Jolliet's day down to the present time; 
but to Jolliet belongs the honor of first proposing it, and to 
him also must be ascribed the glory of first visualizing the 
future greatness of the country of the Illinois. In the drama 

10 Probably the village was near the present site of Utica rather than at 
the portage, as Father Marquette states. Parkman, La Salle, 65; Thwaites, 
Jesuit Relations, 59:314, note 42. 

2" On his first map Jolliet called the river " Buade," but on his second, 
" Colbert." 


of Illinois civilization, now almost two centuries and a half 
old, Louis Jolliet's name stands first in the list of dramatis per- 
sonae, for he appeared first on the stage and as herald an- 
nounced to the world the coming birth. 


FATHER MARQUETTE kept his promise to return to 
the Indians.^ His poor health detained him at Green Bay 
over a year, but, feeling stronger in the fall of 1674, he started 
with only two companions on the return voyage. He was soon 
joined by a band of Illinois Indians, who conducted him on the 
way. The party was frequently delayed by bitter cold and 
contrary winds, so that it did not reach the Chicago river until 
December 4. Here the father, too weak to undergo the 
fatigues of further travel, decided to spend the winter. Al- 
ready the coiircurs de hois were making use of the Des Plaines 
portage, and they gave Father Marquette all the assistance in 
their power. He writes of his sojourn at Chicago as follows: 
"The blessed Virgin Immaculate has taken such care of us 
during our wintering that we have not lacked provisions, and 
have still remaining a large sack of corn, with some meat and 
fat. We also lived very pleasantly, for my Illness did not pre- 
vent me from saying holy mass every day." ^ 

At the break-up of winter he again took up the voyage and 
was received at the village of the Kaskaskia " as an angel from 
Heaven." A description of this first mission in the country of 
the Illinois declares that Marquette preached in the open air 
in a large prairie where were gathered to hear him five hundred 
chiefs and elders, who were seated in a circle around the priest, 
and one thousand five hundred men besides women and children. 
This service occurred on Good Friday; on Easter, Marquette 
performed a second service and named the mission the "Im- 
maculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin." 

So frail was he now that he could no longer delay his return 
journey. This time he made his way by land around the south- 
ern end of Lake Michigan. Gradually his strength ebbed, and 

1 For Marquette's return to the Illinois, see his journal in Thwaites, Jesuit 
Relations, 59: 165 ff., and a second account on page 185. 
^Ibid., 181. 



his companions were obliged to carry him. Through it all 
Marquette maintained the gentle and joyous spirit character- 
istic of him. On May i8, 1675, he died in the midst of the 
wilderness where he had served. His companions had carried 
him on his northern journey to the mouth of the Marquette 
river in the present state of Michigan. His biographer writes 
of him : " He always entreated God that he might end his life 
in these laborious missions, and that, like his dear St. Xavier, 
he might die in the midst of the woods, bereft of everything." ^ 
His desire had been fulfilled. 

The romantic story of Father Marquette's last missionary 
journey and death is one of peace, hope, and love, undisturbed 
by the strife of political factions and unsullied by the sordid 
touch of business. Yet the act of this zealous altruist was in a 
sense the prelude of a long struggle between the protagonists of 
rival interests, the opening act of political antagonisms that 
were to shake the foundations of the French colony and to be 
fought out acrimoniously at the court of the king. 

The exploration of the territory south of the Great Lakes 
extended the field for rivalry among the contending factions. 
Toward this rich territory fur traders and missionaries turned 
their eyes; the right of exploiting its people and its peltries, the 
monopoly of trade and missions, was the stake. The Jesuits 
had represented the matters of the spirit in Jolliet's canoe, had 
quickly established the first mission, and might, therefore, hope 
to win a favorable decision. Nevertheless, influential rivals 
were soon to dispute their sole enjoyment of preaching and 
martyrdom in this far country. The issue over the right of 
exploiting the material wealth was at the moment, however, 
more vital. Who should be the leader in the development of 
the land of the Illinois? The politics of New France seethed 
with the excitement of the contest. Intrigue, forgery, bribery, 
and vituperation, all were employed by the various seekers of 

The outbreak of party strife was contemporary with the 
arrival in New France of the man who most completely grasped 
the significance of the west. By the magnitude of his plans and 

3 Thwaites, Jesuit Relations, 59:205. Later a band of Indians conveyed his 
bones to Mackinac, where they were finally interred. 


by the boldness of his execution the new governor, Louis de 
Buade, comte de Frontenac, was to impress his personality on 
the whole continent for years to come. The grandeur of his 
vision and the forcefulness of his character arouse the histo- 
rian's imagination and secure for the doughty governor appre- 
ciative sympathy in his struggle with natural forces and human 
opposition. With the population of New France, which num- 
bered only 6,705 in 1674, he prepared to occupy the Mississippi 
valley and to hold it against the rapidly increasing British popu- 
lation along the Atlantic seaboard. He selected the Illinois 
country to represent his imperial aspirations; on its prairies he 
would establish the new frontier; the possession of it by his 
agents was to be the first move in the attainment of his object. 
Mingled with this imperial aspiration for France was the hope 
of financial gains for himself and his friends; the fur trade of 
this new territory offered a rich opportunity for the promoter. 

Every move by the governor encountered strenuous opposi- 
tion from a cleverly led and well-organized party. Early in the 
history of the French colony, the Jesuits had been granted spe- 
cial privileges in conducting the missions among the Indians, 
and they had proved themselves both adept in adjusting them- 
selves to the new conditions and zealous in the prosecution of 
their duties. When Frontenac arrived in the colony, the only 
posts in the lakes region were those erected by these fathers for 
the purpose of carrying on their missionary labors. These posts 
naturally became centers for the congregation of the fur trad- 
ers, particularly of those who were friends of the missionaries. 
From this association there grew up a partnership and this in 
turn became a party composed of the Jesuits and the leading 
merchants of New France. Their object was the maintenance 
of the monopoly of the fur trade in the territory around the 
Great Lakes. There can be no doubt that the religious order 
drew a profit from the partnership, since the Jesuits have always 
proved themselves thrifty and shrewd in the handling of their 

Both merchants and priests cherished the desire to transfer 
their operations to the region south of the lakes, the Jesuits to 
convert the heathen, the merchants to enjoy the profits of the 
trade. It was doubtless with the encouragement of the Jesuits 


that Jolliet petitioned for the privilege of founding a colony of 
twenty inhabitants in the Illinois country. By natural endow- 
ments of heart and head and by his commercial and political 
associations he was well qualified for such an undertaking. His 
success would have meant the transference of the trading condi- 
tions existing in the north to the southern territory. Governor 
Frontenac, having his own plans, opposed the scheme; and, 
since the court believed that "it was necessary to multiply the 
inhabitants of Canada before thinking of other lands," the peti- 
tion was refused. ■* 

The association of the Jesuits with the fur traders, whether 
in the region of the Great Lakes or In that of the Illinois, was 
dictated by the policy of opportunism, not foreign to the thought 
of these educated men of the world; but it was far from satis- 
fying the wishes of their more zealous leaders, who had already 
formulated their plans for the establishment in the heart of 
North America of a great christian state, wherein the aborig- 
ines should dwell in Arcadian simplicity under the tutelage of 
the Jesuits and without the contaminating influences of the 
traders. Marquette's mission of the Immaculate Conception 
among the Kaskaskia had laid the foundation. The experiment 
of such a state had already been started in distant Paraguay; 
why not a second Paraguay in the upper Mississippi valley? 

The idea of the Jesuits was deeply Imbedded in humani- 
tarian feelings. Already they had seen the harmful effects upon 
the Indians of the contact with that most licentious class of white 
men, the coiireurs de bois. These should be prohibited from 
entering the Indian state, but for purposes of trade the Indians 
would transport their furs to the white settlements. This dream 
of the Jesuits was never very near to realization, but the princi- 
ples in which it originated formed for years the platform of 
their fight with the civil officials of New France, and in particu- 
lar with the Comte de Frontenac; they worked persistently for 
an order from the court prohibiting fur traders from going to 
the west and at times were successful ; they protested even more 
strenuously against the sale of liquor to the Indians. 

* Jolliet received later the cession of the large and strategically situated island 
of Anticosti, where he found sufficient outlet for his powers. He became one of 
the foremost citizens of New France. Margry, Decouvertes et Etablissements, 
1 : 324 ff. ; Lorin, Le Comte de Frontenac, 201. 


How far justlhed the Jesuits were in their opposition to 
the brandy trade with the Indians may be learned from the 
following description by a writer in 1705: "Experience as 
old as the Colony teaches us that they (the Indians) drink it 
only to intoxicate themselves, without having ever been able 
to understand by what fatal charm the surprising effect can be 
produced. The village or the cabin in which the savages drink 
brandy is an image of hell: fire [i. e., burning brands of coals 
flung by the drunkards] flies in all directions; blows with 
hatchets and knives make the blood flow on all sides; and all 
the place resounds with frightful yells and cries. They bite 
off each other's noses, and tear away their ears; wherever their 
teeth are fixed, they carry away the morsel [of flesh]. The 
father and the mother throw their babes upon the hot coals or 
into the boiling kettles. They commit a thousand abominations 
— the mother with her sons, the father with his daughters, the 
brothers with their sisters. They roll about on the cinders and 
coals, and in blood." ^ 

The governor's party was willing enough to acknowledge 
the demoralizing effects of brandy on the Indians but neverthe- 
less was able to formulate an argument difl&cult for the Jesuits 
and their adherents to answer effectively. If the Indians did 
not drink French brandy they would carry their furs to Albany 
and purchase English rum — equally demoralizing in this 
world; further, mixed with the English intoxicant, the children 
of the forest would imbibe Protestant heresy and endanger 
their souls for eternity. The dilemma was always a disturbing 
element in every serious effort to enforce a royal prohibition of 
the brandy trade. 

The principal difl^culty arose, of course, from the self- 
interest of the traders, a motive too strong to be stopped by 
the distant voice of king or the thundering of church. Brandy 
made the cheating of the Indians easy and brought enormous 
profits. There were cases of the purchase of three thousand 
dollars' worth of peltries with a cask of brandy worth about 
forty dollars.® 

5 This is from an anonymous memoir quoted in a long note in Blair, Indian 
Tribes, 1:208, from which, and p. 228, note 164, this account of the coureurs de 
bois is drawn. 

^ Ibid., 208, note 148; Shortt and Doughty, Canada and its Provinces, 2:467. 


The government's solicitous supervision of the Indians and 
its equally anxious oversight of the morals of the French colo- 
nists imposed the necessity of regulating the activities of the 
coureurs de bois, whose numbers were increasing out of all 
right proportion to the number of settlers. Even Frontenac, 
with his belief in expansion, was disturbed by this feature of 
colonial life. He reported that the royal regulations were 
altogether ineffective. In 1673 ^^^ people were forbidden on 
pain of their lives to go into the woods for twenty-four 
hours without permission, and three years later the issue by the 
governor of permits to trade was prohibited. The only effect 
was to make a very large number of Frenchmen outlaws in the 
west, where they were supported by their friends and were 
able to divert the fur trade to the British at Albany.^ 

Absolute prohibition having failed as a cure, the king in 
168 1 tried the experiment of allowing the governor to issue a 
limited number of royal permits, twenty-five.^ These conges 
were distributed to noble families and to colonists whom the 
government wished to recompense. They constituted a form 
of property and were either used by the original possessors or 
sold to others." 

In the end this and all other attempts to regulate the traffic 
of the coureurs de Z?o/j failed, because in the primeval forest 
trade could have been limited only by a powerful and all- 
pervading government or by a strongly organized company, 
neither of which existed in French America. Fleets of canoes 
departed from Montreal either in early spring or in the middle 
of September, each canoe manned by a crew of three voyageurs, 
as the canoe men were called. Provisions were scanty, for 
these men of the west counted on their skill with the gun; but 
game frequently failed them in the dead of winter, and death 
by cold and starvation always threatened. The journey they 

'' Frontenac to Colbert, November 2, 1672, in Neiv York Colonial Documents, 
9:90; king to Frontenac, April 15, 1676, il?iJ., 126; Duchesneau to minister, 
November 10, 1679, ibid., 131; Duchesneau to minister, November 13, 1680, ibid., 
140 ff. These two last accused Frontenac of conniving with the coureurs de bois. 
See also Shortt and Doughty, Canada and Its Provinces, 2:473. 

^ Frontenac to king, November 2, 1681, in Neiv York Colonial Documents, 
9:145. The conges were issued first in the spring of 1682. 

^ Blair, Indian Tribes, 1:228, note 164; Lahontan, Neiv Voyages to North 
America (ed. Thwaites), 1:101. 


made was hard and toilsome. Innumerable portages, often 
miles in length, intervened in the thousand of leagues they trav- 
eled; around these they carried their canoes, provisions, and 
merchandise. In the rapids they jumped into the frigid water 
to push their canoes against the current, often cutting their 
bare feet on the sharp rocks. Arrived at the Great Lakes, the 
fleet of canoes separated into smaller parties to follow by the 
river courses the Indians to their winter hunting grounds, where 
the actual exchange of merchandise for furs took place; then 
back to Mackinac, always the rendezvous for the far western 
fleet, where furs were sorted and preparations made for the 
long return trip to Montreal. Here at last came months of 
leisure, often spent in gambling, drunkenness, and general 
debauchery. Through it all, both in work and in play, the 
voyageurs and coureurs de hois maintained a joyous, persever- 
ing, and in general uncomplaining nature that has made them 
the ideal leaders of the white advance across the continent.^*^ 

One degenerating influence upon the Indians of this contact, 
which the Jesuits did not stress greatly, was of very real impor- 
tance. Before the coming of the whites the Indians formed 
self-supporting communities and supplied by their own hands 
all their needs. They made their own weapons, their own 
utensils, their own clothing; but within a few years after their 
first contact with the Europeans they had sunk to the state of 
economic dependents. Hunting, which once had been pursued 
for food and the needs of covering alone, became a trade, upon 
the success of which the very life of the Indian communities 
depended. Guns, shot, and powder, pots and pans, blankets, 
and in later years, even their currency, wampum, could be sup- 
plied only by their taskmasters who operated deep in the wilder- 
ness beyond the judicious control of a beneficent government. 

The plans of the Comte de Frontenac to expand both the 
trade and the settlements were diametrically opposed to those of 
the Jesuits. Frontenac was not irreligious, rather the reverse; 
but neither he nor any of his lieutenants, such as La Salle, was 
inspired by any missionary zeal. Although the governor em- 
ployed the Recollects as chaplains, he gave them no encourage- 

10 Cadillac gives a very vivid picture of these coureurs de bois in Margry, 
Decomertcs et Etablissernents, 5:83 ff. 


ment to work among the Indians. The expansion of trade and 
the development of the empire dictated his poHcy toward the 
Indians and the west. To exploit the aborigines to gain wealth 
and to assimilate them into the white population for purposes of 
gov^ernment were the keynotes of his actions. The tribes were 
pawns in his commercial and imperial game; and in this he was 
at one with the fur traders, to whom red men were but trappers 
of game. 

Another obstruction to the carrying out of Frontenac's 
policy was the opposition of the minister, Colbert. The latter's 
admiration for the deeds of the early discoverers did not blind 
him to the evident needs of a weak colony; and these needs 
were depicted for him In eloquent words by the Jesuit party 
at court, for at Versailles as well as In Quebec the two parties 
struggled over the future of the colony; and the arguments 
of the Jesuit missionaries were no less strongly supported in 
the closet of the king and in the office of his minister than were 
the loud demands of Frontenac. Party influences weighted the 
scales first on this side and then on that, bringing a vacillation 
in royal instructions which was detrimental to the colony. 

Colbert himself saw the folly of expanding so thin a colony 
as New France over so vast a territory. He was alarmed at 
Frontenac's report of the activities of the coiireurs de hois in 
the west, and he constantly urged the governor to encourage 
the development of agriculture.^^ On April 15, 1676, he wrote 
to Frontenac: "In regard to new discoveries, you ought not 
to turn your attention thereunto without urgent necessity and 
very great advantage, and you ought to hold It as a maxim that 
it is much better to occupy less territory and to people it thor- 
oughly, than to spread oneself out more, and to have feeble 
colonies which can be destroyed by any sort of accident." ^^ 

Two years before, however, in writing on the same subject, 
he had made two exceptions to the general rule of not pro- 
moting western explorations. The first concerned territory 
which might be of service to the commerce and trade of the 
French and might be discovered by and taken possession of by 

^^ He also disapproved of the request of the Jesuits for the privilege of 
founding distant missions. Neiv York Colonial Documents, 9:90, 114; Margry, 
Dicoui'ertes et Etablissemenis, 1:249. 

^^ Neiv York Colonial Documents, 9: 126. 


some other nation; the second concerned territory with a port 
more open than any in Canada. ^^ In spite of the prohibition, 
therefore, there was offered by the two exceptions ample op- 
portunity for Frontenac's policy of expansion. Could it not be 
readily conceived as warranted by both exceptions? 

13 Margry, Decouveries et Etablissements, i : 256. 


MOMENTOUS events in their origins do not always 
startle by their magnitude. The discovery of the Mis- 
sissippi valley and the beginning of its occupation by white men, 
in comparison with present day events involving millions of 
men and billions of dollars, appear petty in the extreme; but, 
through the triumph of the white population over the hostile 
forces of the wilderness in the wealthiest valley of the world, 
trivial events have become potentially great. The contests be- 
tween rival European nations for dominion over the valley, 
though decided by a handful of men, were stupendous, for the 
dominance within the interior of North America was at stake 
and upon the outcome depended the relative power in world 
conferences of the people of English, French, and Spanish 
speech. The future predominance among these peoples was 
practically settled in the hundred years following the important 
exploration of Louis JoUiet. It was a period fraught with the 
fate of nations.^ 

In the opinion of many men of Canada, the occupation of 
the newly discovered region must, in the interest of France, be 
soon accomplished; yet factional strife threatened to defeat 
every effort to bring this about. The plans of the Jesuits and 
Jolliet had been blocked by Governor Frontenac, because he 
thought that the privileges of the religious order in the region 
of the Great Lakes had already endowed it with too great power 
over the destinies of the west. The one hope to counteract its 
influence lay in the colonization and exploitation of the Illinois 
country by other interests. This was the period when all traders 
were prohibited from going into the wilderness. The prohibi- 
tion w«B favorable to a fur trading monopoly, provided the 
governor could persuade the crown of the necessity of occupying 
the territory, because it fell under one of the specified excep- 

^ For a more extensive treatment of the subject of this chapter, the reader is 
referred to Lorin, Le Comte de Frontenac, and Parkman, La Salle. 



tions to the general policy of restriction. The plan was to 
secure the privilege of a monopoly and the organization of a 
company. The agent selected to put it into execution was a 
man of genius and vision, the first promoter of big business in 
the west, Robert Cavelier, sieur de la Salle.- 

La Salle was baptized at Rouen on November 22, 1643. 
Born into a family belonging to the lesser nobility, he received 
the best education of the period, that of the Jesuits. It may 
have been during this early association that there originated 
the enmity which he exhibited toward the order from the mo- 
ment of his arrival in Canada.^ In 1666 the young Frenchman 
followed his brother, the Abbe Jean Cavelier, of the Sulpician 
order, to Montreal, where he received an estate, later called 
Lachine. For the life of a farmer La Salle was ill adapted; 
the impetus to explore constantly tempted him into the near-by 
wilderness, whence the natives frequently came to visit him. 
His imagination was particularly aroused by the tales of the 
Iroquois; he first heard from them of the "Beautiful River," 
or the Ohio, which took its rise in their country and led into the 
unknown. Might it not prove to be the long-sought route to 

The moment was propitious for such exploration, since the 
intendant, Jean Talon, was fostering elaborate discoveries to 
the north and west. Yet the first expedition undertaken by the 
young explorer in 1669 seems not to have had official backing. 
He associated himself with two Sulpicians, the Abbes Gallinee 
and Dollier de Casson, who were going to the region south of 
the lakes for the purpose of establishing missions. The result 
of their explorations does not necessarily belong to this nar- 
rative, since they did not reach the Illinois country. La Salle, 

2 Not Rene-Robert as so often given. Gravier, Cavelier de la Salle, ii. The 
origin of the name "La Salle" is unknown; it was not that of his father, his 
uncle, or his brother. Ibid., ii. 

3 For source material on La Salle's biography, see Margry, Decouvertes et 
Etahlissements, volumes 1-3 (Margry's work is the standard collection of 
sources) ; Cox, Journeys of La Salle, 2 volumes (translations of the more impor- 
tant documents) ; Kellogg, Early Narratives of the Nort/nvest (Tonti's memoir) ; 
Thomassy, De La Salle et Ses Relations Inedites (bearing on the discovery of the 
Mississippi); "Relation de Joutel," in Margry, Decowvertes et Etahlissements. 
Excellent secondary works are the following: Lorin, Le Comte de Frontenac ; 
Parkman, La Salle ; Gravier, Cavelier de la Salle, and Nouvelle Etude ; Shea, 
The Bursting of Pierre Margry's La Salle Bubble. 


in fact, went no farther than the land of the Seneca. The next 
year he was sent to the same region by the intendant, but no 
record of the results has been preserved.^ 

These first expeditions were important in the history of 
Illinois, however, on account of their utilization by La Salle's 
friends and because of the illustration they give of the animosity 
between the two parties dividing the government of Quebec and 
that of Paris. La Salle's party was much chagrined at the suc- 
cess of Jolliet and his friends, the Jesuits, who in turn naturally 
took all possible advantage of the discovery of the Mississippi 
river to further their purposes at court. To counteract this 
success, La Salle's friends magnified his exploits, going so far as 
to use the ready pen of the Abbe Bernou of Paris to manufac- 
ture an account of early explorations of La Salle, based on his 
later exploits, supposedly proving that he had actually canoed 
down the Ohio and later down the Illinois in 1669 and 1670; 
and they even interpolated in a petition, purporting to come 
from La Salle, a clause claiming that he had made the discovery 
of the Ohio.^ 

The significant thing concerning these early years of La 
Salle is that he lived among the Iroquois long enough to learn 
their language and traditions thoroughly and to become sea- 
soned to the fatigues of forest life. He soon proved himself 
of service to Governor Frontenac, who realized that the Iro- 
quois nations held the key to the country of the fur trade lying 
south of the lakes; and he and his able lieutenant were soon 
planning to exploit this region. In 1673 ^^^ governor made 
an expedition to the northern bank of Lake Ontario, where he 
met the chieftains of the Iroquois on the site of the modern 
city of Kingston. Frontenac, like La Salle, had a personality 
and bearing fitted to impress the Indians, and in this meeting 
the governor won the respect of these savages who had been 
so long hostile to the French. 

Now the palisades of a new fort — called Frontenac, after 

^ Lorin, Le Comte de Frontenac, 14 ff. 

^ The petition is to be found in Margry, Decowvertes et Etablissements, 
1:330, and the " Histoire de M. La Salle," ibid., 376 ff. On this subject Frank 
E. Melvin has made a very careful study which is still in manuscript in the Illi- 
nois Historical Survey, but soon to be published. It leaves no doubt concerning 
the assertions in the text. Hanna, Tlie Wilderness Trail, i : 143, also arrives at 
tlie same conclusion. 


the governor — were raised, on the governor's own initiative 
and without the authority of the court, to become the center 
of the proposed western enterprises and to overawe the Iro- 
quois confederacy, which acted as an intermediary between the 
western Indians and the British traders at Albany. The French 
government raised objections ; and finally, in 1 674, La Salle was 
sent to France as the governor's representative to explain the 
situation to an ignorant ministry and to petition for the position 
of commander of the new fort. In introducing La Salle to 
Minister Colbert, Frontenac wrote enthusiastically of his lieu- 
tenant: "I cannot but recommend to you, Monselgneur, the 
Sieur de la Salle, who Is about to go to France, and who is a 
man of Intelligence and ability, the most competent of anyone 
I know here to accomplish every enterprise and discovery which 
may be Intrusted to him, as he has the most perfect knowledge 
of the state of the country, as you will see, If you are disposed 
to give him a few moments' audience,"'^ 

Thus Introduced, La Salle was well received at court In spite 
of the opposition of the Jesuit party, not so powerful at the 
moment as It later became under the fostering care of Madame 
de Maintenon. He petitioned for a patent of nobility and for 
the seigniory of Fort Frontenac, promising to build the fort 
of stone and to develop a village around it at a considerable 
cost. Both petitions were granted. The expense which the 
adventure incurred was approved by his family and friends as 
a good Investment promising rich returns from the fur trade; 
hence La Salle had no trouble in obtaining the necessary finan- 
cial backing. Undoubtedly his chief. Governor Frontenac, 
entered into partnership with him. The hope of the Investors 
was not oversangulne, for the new fort might be made the 
center of the whole fur trade of the west, particularly if La 
Salle could maintain his friendly relations with the Iroquois. 
That the hopes of the investors were never fulfilled must be 
attributed to the character of La Salle, explorer, adventurer, 
and dreamer of big dreams, but not a man of business. " I have 
neither the habit nor the Inclination to keep books, nor have 
I anybody with me who knows how," he wrote a friend.*^ 

* Margry, Decouverfes et Etablissemenis, 1:277. 
''Quoted in Parkman, La Salle, 331. 


Riches lay around him, but his were not the hands to garner 

Even more signal was his failure as a leader of men. A 
few, like Tontl^ and La Forest, clung to him with an ideal 
devotion; but by the majority of his followers La Salle was 
regarded as tyrannical and arrogant; and at critical moments 
the service due him as leader was refused. Desertions were 
frequent, and more than one attempt at assassination was made. 
His equals as well as his inferiors La Salle failed to inspire 
with confidence and affection. His was one of those natures, 
continually at strife with associates, which never learns the 
strategic force of conciliation. Thus he disdained to win over 
the merchants of Canada to his new undertaking, though It 
was evident that his privileges of conducting the fur trade 
would have attracted many. La Salle himself ascribed his diffi- 
culty in propitiating people to a timidity which he could not 
overcome. His fear of meeting people caused him to seek the 
solitude of the wilderness rather than preferment in the civil- 
ized quarters of the world. " I well believe that there is self- 
love in this; and that, knowing how little I am accustomed to 
a more polite life, the fear of making mistakes makes me more 
reserved than I like to be. So I rarely expose myself to con- 
versation with those in whose company I am afraid of making 
blunders, and can hardly help making them." ^ 

La Salle returned to New France in 1675, bringing with 
him his faithful lieutenant, Francois Daupin de la Forest, and 
the Recollect friar, Louis Hennepin, not yet made famous by 
a stupendous lie. Two years the leaders spent in preparation 
for the extension of the fur trade; then again La Salle was 
obliged to journey to France to seek further privileges and 
financial assistance. His request for the privilege of pushing 
his explorations south of the lakes, of building forts, and of 
monopolizing the fur trade, backed by powerful men and some 
bribery, was granted; but he was carefully forbidden to trade 
with the Ottawa Indians or with tribes which carried their 

^ He spelled his name thus and not " Tonty," as is generally given. The 
error has been due to misreading the usual flourish with the final letter as form- 
ing a " y." A consultation of any Italian encyclopedia will convince the reader. 
Tonti accompanied La Salle from France in 1678. 

" Quoted in Parkman, La Salle, 339. 


furs to Montreal.^'' This meant that he was cut off from 
trading on the Great Lakes. Funds necessary for the ven- 
ture were finally obtained, though at ruinous interest, and 
on the credit of his estate a company was formed in 1679 at 

The preparations for the invasion of the west were pressed 
throughout the winter. By August, 1679, ^^^ was ready, and 
the first ship of commerce on Lake Erie, the Griffon, began its 
voyage through the Great Lakes. An excellent trade was 
carried on during the voyage in spite of the prohibition of the 
king, and the vessel was well laden with furs when it reached 
Green Bay. Here La Salle, ever unfortunate, learned that his 
numerous creditors had seized his property at Frontenac and 
Quebec, and accordingly he sent the Griffon back with her cargo 
with orders to return and meet him at the mouth of the St. 
Joseph river. Li some way not known exactly the ship sank 
some time after leaving port, causing a loss of 40,000 llvres 
to its owner.^- 

Meanwhile La Salle, with only fourteen men, three of 
whom were Recollect friars, in four canoes, coasted along the 
western shore of Lake Michigan, enduring many hardships as 
the weather grew colder. Rumors of possible attacks from the 
Iroquois were brought him by the Indians. The arousing of 
these Indians he attributed, probably without cause, to the 
intrigues of his enemies, the Jesuits. Finally, on November i, 
he entered the mouth of the river St. Joseph, only to find that 
his lieutenant, Henri de Tonti, whom he had ordered to 
lead a company from Mackinac, had not yet arrived. La 
Salle's men were near mutiny; but he drove them, while 
waiting for reenforcements, to the task of building a fort at 
the mouth of the river; and before the end of the month Tonti 

The party, now numbering thirty-three, embarked in eight 
canoes on December i and ascended the river in search of a 

1° Lorin, Le Comte de Frontenac, 204; Margry, Decouvertes et Etablissements, 

1:333, 337- 

'^'^ Ibid., 425, 427 ff. ; 2:25 ff. 

^- Ibid., 1:451. For the whole discussion of La Salle's operations consult 
Parkman, La Salle, and Garneau, Histoire du Canada, 1:301 ff. The Hvre was 
equivalent to the modern franc. Its value varied greatly, but may be roughly 
reckoned at twenty cents. 


portage to the Kankakee, ^^ When reached, this river was 
hardly differentiated from the marshland, but soon the scene 
changed, and the explorers were floating between banks lined 
with trees which obscured the view of the broad prairies beyond. 
Even in midwinter, Illinois seemed to La Salle, as it had to 
Jolliet, a land of great promise; and he became eloquent in his 
description of the country.^^ 

The little flotilla on January 5 entered the expansion of the 
river called then Pimitoui or Peoria lake. Llere they found a 
village of the Illinois Peoria, who showed signs of hostility. 
La Salle was convinced that the Jesuit Ailouez, who had just 
left the region, had poisoned their minds, telling them that he, 
La Salle, was intending to deliver them over to the Iroquois. 
The explorer understood Indian nature; and realizing that 
boldness was the best course, he landed his men ready for 
battle. His policy won over the Indians. Even when a Mas- 
couten chief came secretly to warn the Illinois of La Salle's 
purposes, he was unable to rouse them to action. ^^ 

On the south side of the river a mile from the end of the 
"lake" he erecteci Fort Crevecoeur. Here at the second 
French fort in the great west, preparations were begun for the 
voyage down the Mississippi. 

To make a preliminary survey of the great river which was 
the object of his explorations, he sent Michel Accault and an- 
other voyagetir, accompanied by the Recollect friar. Father 
Hennepin, to explore its upper reaches. ^*^ There is no need 
to follow in detail this exploratory trip; it was successful. The 
explorers were taken captive by the Sioux and conducted by 
them into their country. In their wanderings they visited the 
falls of St. Anthony, near which stand today the cities of St. 

13 This river as well as the Illinois was called at this time " Theakiki." 
Other names given it were " Seignelay," "River of the Mascoupens," and 
" Divine." Parkman, La Salle, 167, note i. 

1* Margry, Deroitvertes ct Etohlissements, 1:582. 

"^^ Ibid., 467; 2:33, 37. La Salle wrote that the Jesuits made "the Iroquois 
among whom they live, believe that my enterprise has no other end than to 
furnish the Illinois with arms and hatchets, and the Illinois believe that I am 
establishing myself in their country in order to deliver them to their enemies." 

1^ Whether Hennepin or Accault was the leader appears to be in doubt. 
La Salle says he sent Accault and Picard. Margry, Decouvertes et Etablissements, 
2:245; but see Shea's note in Le Clercq, First Establishment of the Faith (ed. 
Shea), 2: 124. 


Paul and Minneapolis. From their enforced attendance on the 
Indians the three men were rescued by the greatest of all cou- 
reurs de hois, Daniel Greysolon Dulhut. Hennepin, after his 
release, made his way to Paris where in 1683 he published an 
account of his journeyings, which became immediately popular 
and made the name of La Salle first known to the reading 
public. ^'^ 

Shortly after Hennepin left the fort. La Salle himself with 
four companions departed on a journey to Fort Frontenac to 
bring supplies and to straighten out his finances. ^^ La Salle 
was on the point of returning to the Illinois country, when two 
messengers from Tonti reached him on July 22 with the dis- 
heartening news that, while Tonti with a small party was absent 
inspecting Starved Rock as a possible location for the permanent 
post, all the men remaining at Fort Crevecoeur had deserted, 
after plundering and destroying the fort; they had looted also 
the fort on the St. Joseph and that at Niagara. 

La Salle must now begin anew. First of all, the necessary 
assistance had to be carried to Tonti, upon whose presence in 
the Illinois seemed to depend the hope of the whole enterprise. 
Quickly collecting his equipment. La Salle started westward 
again on August i, 1680. With him went his lieutenant. La 
Forest, and twenty-five men, including artisans of all kinds. 
He journeyed by way of the Great Lakes and on November 4 
reached the mouth of the St. Joseph, He pushed on over the 
portage with only six Frenchmen and an Indian. While he 
was still on the lakes a rumor had reached him of an attack 
of the Iroquois upon the Illinois people. Full of dread, his 
small party approached the Indian village, near the site of 
modern Utica. The village was burned, the cornfields were 
laid waste, and the corpses of men, rifled from the graveyard 
and now half eaten by the wild beasts and buzzards, lay strewn 
on the ground — the handiwork of the Iroquois. 

La Salle's one thought was of Tonti. Leaving three men 
behind to warn the rest of his party that was to follow, he 

^^ Description de la Loulslane nouvellement decouverte au Sud-Oiiest de la 
Nouvelle France (Paris, 1683). 

^'^ Parkman sajs it was " the most arduous journey ever made by a French- 
man in America." La Salle, 193, 198. The superlative is possibly too strong 
when one remembers the journeyings of the Verendrie and many other explorers. 


canoed rapidly down the Illinois river, observing the signs of 
the flight of the Illinois before their implacable foes. No trace 
could he find of his lieutenant, though he pursued his course 
until he reached the goal of his ambition, the Mississippi river. 
He then turned back, ascended the Des Plaines a short distance, 
and found a slight evidence of the passage of white men. With 
hopes revived, he and his men struck out on foot, despite the 
cold midwinter, tov/ard the fort on the St. Joseph. There they 
found the rest of their party under La Forest awaiting them.^^ 
What of Tonti? During La Salle's absence on his journey 
to Fort Frontenac, Tonti had experienced one horror after 
another. After his men destroyed Fort Crevecoeur and de- 
serted, he with five companions, two of whom were the Recol- 
lect friars, Zenobe Membre and Gabriel de la Ribourde, made 
his residence in the large Illinois village between Starved Rock 
and the Vermilion river, his purpose being to avert the suspicion 
of the natives, who were not yet convinced of the friendly 
purposes of La Salle. In the fall there suddenly burst upon 
the village the danger of utter annihilation; a force of five 
hundred Iroquois with one hundred Miami came marching 
against the Illinois. The cause of this war seems to have been 
wholly economic, in spite of La Salle's belief that it was due 
to the Intrigues of his enemies, the Jesuits.-^ The motive back 
of the wars of the Iroquois is not diflRcult to discover. Like 
all the aborigines, this proud confederacy had become eco- 
nomically dependent upon the white men — in their case the 
Albany traders — for the necessities of life and found them- 
selves obliged to make the fur trade their principal business. 
The territory which they occupied was never rich in fur bearing 
animals, and the supply had soon become exhausted. The 
profits of middlemen were their motive for war. They must 
force the western Indians to trade through them; or, failing in 
this, they must conquer and exploit the territory themselves.-^ 

^^ Cox, Journeys of La Salle, 1:126 ff. ; Margry, Decouvertes et Etablisse- 
ments, i : 518 ff., 2: 137. 

20 See particularly his letter of August 22, 1682, ibid., 2:216 ff. 

21 Their policy of annihilating their enemies points to the second alterna- 
tive as their purpose. For the early history of the Iroquois relation to western 
trade I am greatly indebted to Mcllwain's introduction to Wraxall, An Abridge- 
ment of the Indian Affairs. His treatment of the subject is by all odds the 
ablest history of early Indian affairs that has been written. 


Meanwhile they assumed something of the attitude of game 
wardens of the beaver and became particularly incensed at the 
Illinois for killing the female animals, thus hastening the extinc- 
tion of the species. -- 

The importance of the trade to their economic life made 
the Iroquois very sensitive to the danger of French success in 
establishing trade relations with the Indians of the west. 
Without peltries they could buy no white man's merchandise. 
The divorce of the western Indians from the invading French 
traders was as important to the safety of the Iroquois trade as 
was the friendship of the British. Frontenac's plans for, and 
La Salle's exploits in, the region south of the Great Lakes 
threatened the very existence of the Five Nations. The des- 
perate attacks on the Hurons and Ottawa, mentioned in the last 
chapter, and this sudden onslaught upon the Illinois are all to 
be explained on this economic ground. 

The appearance of a large war party of Iroquois on the 
Illinois river had a far greater significance than a local economic 
war between the French and the aborigines. The era when the 
British entered consciously upon the policy of developing their 
western fur trade began at the moment when the French first 
trod the prairies of the Illinois. Then it was that London 
became an active center of speculation in furs. The Hudson's 
Bay Company, whose power still stretches over the Canadian 
northwest, had just been founded, and its first ships were 
trading on the bay that gave the company Its name. Influenced 
by the same group of men who were engaged in this northern 
company, Englishmen of Virginia were at the same time making 
their way painfully across the Appalachian divide and estab- 
lishing trade relations with the Indians south of the Ohio.-^ 
A few years before, the colony of New York had been taken 
by the British from the Dutch; and the same London specu- 
lators were organizing the western industry of that colony. 

In the competition with the French for the Indian trade, the 
British enjoyed one great advantage and suffered one disadvan- 
tage. The British goods could be sold at Albany more cheaply 

'-This same charge was brought against the Illinois by the Foxes. 

23Alvord and Bidgood, The First Explorations of the Trans-Allegheny 
Region by the Virginians, contains an account of this early enterprise and of the 
union of the British interests in the three regions mentioned. 



than the French could market their merchandise in Montreal.-* 
In particular rum was cheaper than brandy and just as effective; 
the English liquor made one drunk for a muskrat skin, the 
French, for a beaver. The disadvantage of the British was a 
badly organized system of trade. All the colonies were in 
competition, there were no imperial regulations, and no colony 
undertook systematically, as the French government attempted 
to do, to protect the Indian rights from unscrupulous traders. 

The news of the operations of the PVench on the Mississippi 
river aroused the greatest uneasiness among the Albany traders, 
an uneasiness felt even in political circles in London. The 
British themselves were not yet prepared to enter into a direct 
struggle with the French for the great interior valley, but they 
could and did strike at their rivals through their allies, the 
j Iroquois. The attack of 1680 marks the opening campaign of 
almost a hundred years of warfare for dominion over the west. 

The Illinois, thrown into the greatest confusion and fear 
by this unexpected attack, threatened to wreak their vengeance 
on Tonti and his companions. The boldness of Tonti in 
attempting mediation between the Indian war parties — he 
went alone among the Iroquois — assuaged their suspicions. 
The Illinois soon withdrew across and down the river and were 
followed by the Iroquois until most of the former were forced 
to take refuge across the Mississippi. The Tamaroa alone, 
thinking themselves safe, did not cross. They were suddenly 
attacked by the enemy; the men fled, and the women and chil- 
dren were massacred with the usual horrors of an Iroquois 
victory. The remains of this fight La Salle later discovered on 
his journey down the Illinois river.-^ 

Tonti, captured by the Iroquois, had been compelled to 
leave the region. With his companions he made his way amidst 
the greatest hardships — Father Ribourde was actually killed 
by the Kickapoo — to Green Bay. 

The adversity which La Salle had experienced at the hands 
of the Iroquois gave him constant anxiety. The danger sug- 
gested the cure, and La Salle developed out of this experience 

-* See comparison of price lists in Neiv York Colonial Documents, 9:408. 
'^ Tonti's account in Kellogg, Early Narratives of the Northivest, 291 ff. ; 
Margry, Decouvertes ct Etablissements, 1:510 ff. 


an Indian policy which was to be followed by the French au- 
thorities in the west for many years. The Iroquois confederacy 
could be resisted only by a strong confederacy of western 
Indians. From the tribes of the Abnaki and Mohegan, wan- 
derers from the east, the Illinois, the Miami, and the Shawnee, 
La Salle was able before spring to form a real confederacy of 
western tribes prepared to meet in war the Five Nations.-'' 

Full of new courage, the explorer again journeyed to Fort 
Frontenac. Tonti joined him at Mackinac. Although the bills 
for constructing Fort Frontenac were still unpaid and the build- 
ing was heavily mortgaged, he raised, with the aid of the Comte 
de Frontenac and by the sale of part of his monopoly, sufficient 
resources to make another attempt to reach the mouth of the 
Mississippi and to open up the connection between that semi- 
tropical port and wintry Canada. 

Back to Fort Miami he made his way, through the usual 
hardships, and there the preparations for the supreme effort 
were completed. The Indian allies he chose to accompany him 
were the Abnaki and Mohegan from New England. He se- 
lected eighteen of these, who insisted on being accompanied by 
ten squaws and some children. The Frenchmen of the party 
numbered twenty-three. In the dead of winter they made the 
start in canoes to Chicago and continued their journey on foot 
to the open water on the Illinois river. Here they again took 
to their canoes; and on February 2, 1682, they darted out into 
the stream of the Mississippi. 

The trip down was made without difficulty or danger, 
Indians along the banks proving friendly. Finally the voyagers 
reached the long-sought mouth of the river, the most accessible 
port of entry into the heart of the west. Here with appro- 
priate ceremonies they raised a column on which was inscribed 
in French: "Louis the Great, King of France and Navarre, 
reigns; April 9, 1682." La Salle then solemnly took possession 
of Louisiana, the name given by him to the region watered by 
the Mississippi and its branches — a huge territory, stretching 
from the AUeghenies to the Rockies, and from the Rio Grande 
to the source of the Missouri — and a second time proclaimed 

-•5 See La Salle's account in Margry, Decouvertes ct Etablissements, 1:525 
ff . ; Cox, Jouyncys of La Salle, i: 129. 


It a part of France. The empire had thus been staked out by 
Jolliet and La Salle; France had now to protect its claim from 
all comers.-" 

On his return journey La Salle was taken ill and was obliged 
to rest awhile at Fort Prudhomme, which he built at the 
Chickasaw bluffs, while TontI continued on his way to Mack- 
inac, whence the announcement of the successful outcome of the 
expedition could be sent to La Salle's eagerly waiting creditors 
and friends in Canada and France. 

La Salle seemed on the point of success. His colony at the 
Illinois could be established; the Indians were ready to unite 
with him; and a port open the year round was secured on the 
gulf, which he intended to fortify and colonize. He might 
soon hope to free himself entirely from the entanglements of 
Canada and make himself the governor of a vaster and more 
fertile realm than that of the north. 

The first step in this magnificent plan was the fortification 
of the Illinois, a move not to be delayed, for rumors of another 
Iroquois invasion were persistent. The place chosen by La 
Salle for his second fort has long been known as Starved Rock 
from a tradition that here a party of Illinois Indians defended 
themselves from their enemies until they starved. The rock 
rises out of the Illinois river to the height of one hundred and 
twenty-five feet. Its steep sides offer only one access and that a 
difficult one from the back. Its summit embraces about an acre 
of land and affords a fortification ready-made by nature. 

Here, in the month of December, La Salle and Tonti began 
raising the new fort — Fort St. Louis — the center of the 
seigniory. This was the first French fort of a permanent char- 
acter In the upper country, and here were signed the first patents 
to land ever made in Illinois. A later critic of his activities 
reports: " M. de la Salle has made grants at Fort St. Louis 
to several Frenchmen who have been living there for several 
years without caring to return. This has occasioned a host of 
disorders and abominations. These people to whom M. de la 
Salle has made grants are all youths who have done nothing 
toward cultivating the land. They keep marrying, after the 

-^ Cox, Journeys of La Salle, i:i6o ff. ; Margry, Dccoitvertcs ct Etablisse- 
ments, 2: 186 ff. 


manner of the savages of the country, Indian squaws whom 
they buy from the parents with merchandise. These people 
set themselves up as independent and masters on their grants." -^ 
Occupation and settlement then were beginning to take 

Around Fort St. Louis gathered the Indian allies. Their 
lodges of bark and rushes were scattered over the surrounding 
plains; here were Illinois, Wea, Piankashaw, Shawnee, Abnaki, 
and Miami to the number of 3,880 warriors, according to the 
map of Jean Baptiste Franquelin, whose data were obtained 
from La Salle himself. This would mean an Indian population 
in the neighborhood of twenty thousand. La Salle's success 
was due in the first instance to the universal fear inspired among 
the western Indians by the Iroquois attacks, but great credit 
must also be given him for the use he made of the situation. 
He often failed in his dealings with his equals and inferiors 
among his own countrymen, but with the Indians his arrogance 
and his love of solitude and silence made him a hero whose 
advice they eagerly accepted. Few white men have equaled his 
success in the leadership of the aborigines of the American 

The outcome of his undertaking depended upon his being 
able to supply the Indians with merchandise, and this he must 
secure from Canada until he had established his entrepot at the 
mouth of the Mississippi. To facilitate the transportation of 
his goods he sent two of his men to build a small post at the 
Chicago portage.-^ La Salle was now prepared to monopolize 
the fur trade of tjie west. His organization was perfected; 
the business outlook appeared most favorable. 

Unfortunately for La Salle, Canada was filled with his 
enemies, who could be restrained only by the Comte de Fron- 
tenac; and at this critical moment in his affairs the Illinois 
entrepreneur lost the strong support of this forceful governor, 
whom the opposition party had succeeded in having recalled 
to France. To his successor, Antoine le Febvre de la Barre, 
La Salle and his monopoly appeared particularly objection- 
's Margry, Decouvertes et Etablissements, 3 : 563. 

-^ After Marquette's hut, this was the first building on the present site of 
Chicago; La Salle, writing June 4, 1683, called it " une maison de pieces." Mar- 
gry, Decouvertes et Etablissements, 2:317. 


able.^^ La Salle, nevertheless, was not discouraged. La Barre 
might be won over. In a letter of April 2, 1 683, he described to 
the governor the difficulties that had beset the Illinois enter- 
prise. He asserted that his losses amounted to forty thousand 
ecus but that he was optimistic concerning the future, for he 
was certain of being able to pay his creditors that year.^^ He 
proudly described the results of his diplomacy in collecting 
the Indian tribes around his fort and informed the governor 
that he was on the point of going four hundred leagues to the 
south and west to induce more Indians to join him. He 
protested against the accusations that he was trading in furs 
with Indians of the Great Lakes and requested protection 
for his traders whom he was sending to Quebec to purchase 
supplies. "- 

La Salle's hopes of securing support or even justice from 
the new governor were baseless. The latter had surrounded 
himself with the merchants who were La Salle's rivals, anxious 
to become heirs to the Illinois establishment ; and he was already 
belittling to the home government the discov^eries of the ex- 
plorer; he expressed the fear that La Salle's efforts were 
exposing the western tribes to annihilation at the hands of the 
Iroquois; and he described La Salle as claiming falsely to have 
made discoveries, as arrogantly setting himself up as king, 
pillaging his countrymen, and putting them up for ransom. 
These misrepresentations were effectual in turning the French 
government, at least temporarily, against La Salle. "'^ 

The governor had cause to fear the Iroquois, and he was 
correct in connecting their hostility with La Salle's operations, 
although his diagnosis of the condition was altogether wrong. 
The Iroquois were not satisfied with the results of their cam- 
so Margry, Decowvertes et Eiablissemenis, 2:309 ff . ; Lorin, Le Comte de 
Frontenac, 268 ff. 

3^ The ecu was worth five livres, or about a dollar. 

32 " The payment," he wrote, " which I shall make to them after so many 
misfortunes will demonstrate that I have not undertaken an enterprise beyond 
my powers since .... I have come to the end of it without an\- assistance 
not to say in spite of the opposition of all those of the country." Margry, 
Decouvertes et Etablissements, 2:313. 

^^ Ibid., 336; Parkman, La Salle, 323. The king wrote La Barre on August 
5, 1683: "I am convinced, like you, that the discovery of the Sieur de la Salle 
is very useless, and tiiat such er:terprises ought to be prevented in future, as 
they tend only to debauch the inhabitants by the hope of gain, and to diminish 
the revenue from beaver-skins." Quoted ibid., 324. 


paign in 1680 against tlie Illinois; they still feared the loss of 
the fur trade through the establishment of the French in the 
far west and their alliance with the Algonquian tribes of the 
region. In their purpose to crush these tribes they were sup- 
ported by the English and Dutch traders of Albany and by the 
new governor of New York, Colonel Thomas Dongan. When 
Frontenac left the colony a general war with the Iroquois 
seemed threatening, the prevention of which needed a strong 

The measures taken by Governor de la Barre were weak. 
A deputation of forty-three Iroquois was persuaded to come 
to Montreal, where a grand council was held. The Iroquois, 
when asked why they made war on the Illinois, answered boldly 
that the Illinois must die; and they complained loudly of La 
Salle's operations. La Barre promised to punish him, and there 
Is considerable evidence that the discoverer was offered as a 
propitiatory sacrifice to the enemy. 

Meanwhile La Salle was threatened with ruin by the lack 
of supplies. Convinced of the hostility of the governor, he 
started east in 1683 to obtain an agreement with the colonial 
officials, or in case of failure, to seek justice at the court of the 
king. En route he met the Chevalier de Baugy, who had been 
sent by the governor to assume command of the Illinois and 
to summon La Salle to appear at Quebec. There was nothing 
to do but to order Tonti to receive the new commander peace- 
fully. The surrender of Fort St. Louis by Tonti marks the 
culmination of the triumph of La Salle's enemies. All the posts 
established for the conduct of his business were now in the 
hands of rivals. La Salle's only hope lay in the French govern- 

La Barre and his associates fell heir not only to La Salle's 
property but also to his enmities. A flotilla of canoes sent west 
with licenses from the governor was attacked and robbed by 
a war party of the Iroquois, who made no fine distinctions 
among fur traders; and the two officers of Fort St. Louis, 
Baugy and Tonti, were besieged by the same band. The siege 
lasted from March 21 to 27, 1684; but the fort proved too 
strong, and the Iroquois retired. Upon the approach of danger 
Baugy had sent a courier to Mackinac to seek aid; and after the 


danger was over a party of sixty men as a reenforcement 
arrived, bringing with them an order to Tonti to report in 

Discouraged but not defeated, La Salle returned to France, 
where he was surprised to learn that he was a noted man. His 
friends had been making every effort to bring the news of his 
activities to the notice of the court. In this they were unques- 
tionably assisted by the appearance in 1683 of Father Louis 
Hennepin's volume, Description de la Louisiane noiivellement 
decoiiverte an Sud-Oiiest de la Noiivelle France. La Salle's 
fame brought him the honor of a personal interview with Louis 
XIV, who was particularly impressed with his ideas of the 
future development of the transmarine empire. Colbert, the 
explorer's former patron, was dead; but his son, Jean Baptiste 
Colbert, marquis de Seignelay, supported the plans of La Salle. 
The foreign relations were also favorable for the promotion 
of his purposes ; France was at war with Spain, and the ministry 
was easily persuaded that the proposed establishment of a fort 
at the mouth of the Mississippi would make possible the in- 
vasion of this rival's sole occupation of the gulf territory, would 
promote trade in the region, and would facilitate the conquest 
of the Mexican province of New Biscay.^^ 

The account of La Salle's efforts to found a colony at the 
mouth of the Mississippi, ending in 1687 in his death at the 
hands of one of his own men, is a story full of romance. The 
reader will find the tale of the last days of the explorer told at 
length by the most delightful of all American historians, Francis 
Parkman.^*' Magnificent in his failures, La Salle by his heroism 
has always made an appeal both to contemporaries and to pos- 
terity; nor should his efforts to win the Mississippi valley for 
France be estimated as futile, for he had aroused political cir- 
cles in France to interest themselves in the expansion of their 
American empire. It was not to his efforts, however, that 
France owed her temporary possession of the inland valley of 
North America; men of different character, with a greater 

34 Margry, Decouvertes et Etablissements, 2:338 ff. ; Tonti's memoir in 
Kellogg, Early Narratives of the Northivest, 305 ; Cox, Journeys of La Salie, 1:31. 

3^ The memorial of La Salle is in Margry, Decoiwertes et Etablissements, 
2:359 ff. The plan ignored the existence of the whole of modern Texas. 

^''Parkman, La Salle, 343 ff. 


capacity and opportunity for accomplishment, were to do what 
La Salle attempted in vain. 

One result of the popularity of La Salle in France was that 
the government sent orders to Governor de la Barre to rein- 
state him in all his possessions. The order was obeyed, and 
Tonti took, immediate possession of Fort St. Louis. He found 
that much of La Salle's work in uniting the tribes had been 
dissipated under the administration of the Sieur de Baugy. 
Tonti had a personality more amiable than that of La Salle and 
was equally competent in managing the Indians. The first 
danger confronting him was the renewal of hostilities between 
the Illinois and the Miami. These tribes he assuaged by pres- 
ents and persuasion. This danger averted, he had little trouble 
in reviving the Indian confederacy. 

From his first appearance in the colony of New France, 
Governor de la Barre had boasted of the punishment that he 
would inflict upon the Iroquois. He confided his intention to 
the governor of New York, Thomas Dongan, writing that he 
found it necessary to lead a punitive expedition against the 
Five Nations. This early information gave to the British gov- 
ernor an advantage which he was quick to utilize, despite the 
instructions of his king to maintain peaceful relations with New 
France. He strengthened his bond with the Iroquois by inform- 
ing them of the French intentions, promising them his military 
assistance; and he persuaded them to place themselves under 
his protection and to consent to the erection of the arms of the 
Duke of York in their villages — a sign of sovereignty little 
understood by the savages, but in the course of time to become 
a symbol of Britain's right to a vast territory. 

Many forces impelled La Barre to hasten his preparations 
for war. He boastfully wrote the king: " My purpose is to 
exterminate the Senecas; for otherwise your Majesty need take 
no further account of this country, since there is no hope of 
peace with them, excep.t when they are driven to it by force." ^^ 
Brave words these, but not followed up by deeds, which alone 
passed as currency in the wilderness. The governor's expe- 
dition was a fiasco; the troops, few in number, fell ill; no battle 
followed; and the treaty made was a disgrace to France, for 

3^ July 9, 1684. Quoted in Parkman, Frontenac, 104. 


the braggart governor abandoned his aUIes, the Illinois tribes, 
to such fate as the Iroquois might prepare for them. When 
the news of this treaty was received in France, La Barre was 
summoned home and Jacques Rene de Brisay, marquis de 
Denonville, was sent as his successor. 

The new governor was a much abler and more forceful man 
than his predecessor and Immediately began measures to re- 
build French prestige in the west. In all his efforts he was 
stubbornly opposed by Governor Dongan so long as the latter 
received a semblance of support from his home government. 
The western fur trade was too rich a prize to be relinquished 
without a struggle, thought Dongan, who in 1685 sent eleven 
canoes under the command of Johannes Rooseboom to trade in 
the lakes region. The expedition was a great success, both 
financially and politically ; the Indians asked the traders to come 
yearly. Imagine the indignation of the French at this invasion 
of rights already considered inalienable. An officer was sent 
off posthaste to arrest the British, He arrived too late. In 
the fall of 1686 a second and larger expedition, consisting of 
fifty-eight white men divided into two parties, was organized 
by the Albany merchants under authority of the governor. 
This time the French were more lucky: the first convoy under 
Rooseboom was captured by Olivier Morel de la Durantaye in 
1687 without difficulty, and the second under Major Patrick 
Macgregory met a similar fate shortly afterwards; all were 
later released in accordance with orders of the French king.^^ 

In 1687 Denonville was ready to strike his blow at the 
Iroquois. The last phase of the first struggle for the domi- 
nation of the west was to be inaugurated on a fitting scale. 
The destruction of the power of the Five Nations would mean 
the immediate peaceful possession of the Mississippi valley by 
the French. The army which the governor led to Fort Fron- 
tenac mustered two thousand men . On reaching Lake Ontario 
he learned that his western lieutenants had gathered a large 
contingent of coiireurs de boh and Indians — among whom 
were Tonti and the Illinois — and were coming to his aid. 
Tonti had marched with sixteen Frenchmen and two hundred 

38 Denonville to minister, May 8, 1686, in Neiv York Colonial Documents, 9: 
287, see also 297; ibid.. 3:436, 9: 309, 318, 320, 332, 348, 363. 


Indians to Detroit to join Dulhut, La Forest, and La Duran- 
taye with their contingents, none too eager to make this distant 
expedition against their common enemy. The first success of 
the campaign was won by this western band, when it took cap- 
tive the two convoys of British traders sent out from Albany. ^^ 

The whole army advanced into the region of the Seneca, 
where a battle was fought and won by the French. Several 
villages were burned and the crops destroyed; but the consensus 
of opinion among contemporaries and later historians is that, 
except for the impression made upon the Indians by the display 
of power, little advantage was won. 

The transient character of Denonville's success was proved 
during the following years by the harassing of Canada by small 
bands of Iroquois, who made the outlying posts uninhabitable. 
A massacre which occurred at Lachine was the most frightful 
in Canadian history. Montreal was thrown into a state of 
terror, while the country around was ravaged by the savages 
at will. The final confession of failure Denonville made when 
he ordered Fort Frontenac, that symbol of the French western 
empire, to be destroyed and abandoned. French America 
seemed defeated by the Iroquois. ^'^ 

Desperate situations demand desperate measures. One man 
alone had proved equal to the task of building an empire in 
America. The Comte de Frontenac was in his seventieth year, 
yet he accepted the trust placed upon him and returned to New 
France in 1689. The situation had become worse rather than 
better. The Revolution of 1688 had occurred in England; 
William of Orange, the greatest enemy of France, was now 
king; and the War of the Grand Alliance had broken out. Sur- 
rounded by enemies, Louis XIV could give Frontenac little 
help. The new governor must rely on the resources of the 

39 Parkman, Frontenac, 151 ff. 

*" The account by Denonville is pitiable: " I cannot give 3'ou a truer idea of 
the war we have to wage with the Iroquois than by comparing them to a great 
number of wolves or other ferocious beasts, issuing out of a vast forest to 
ravage the neighboring settlements. The people gather to hunt them down; 
but nobody can find their lair, for they are always in motion. An abler man 
than I would be greatly at a loss to manage the affairs of this country." Quoted 
ibid., 176. 

*i Lorin, Le Comte de Frontenac, 359 ff. 


The situation was certainly critical. Many of the tribes 
around the Great Lakes, disgusted with the abandonment of 
the west by the French governors, had determined to change 
their alliance and had made a treaty with the Iroquois. Thus, 
by the British in the east, Indians in the west, and the Iroquois 
confederacy as an intermediary, a triple alliance was being 
formed which threatened the downfall of all that the Jesuits, 
the merchants, Frontenac, and La Salle had built up.^- 

There is no space in this volume to tell the story of Fron- 
tenac's success in winning back the prestige of the French arms. 
He followed the bold course of attacking the enemy; the burn- 
ing of Schenectady by one of three war parties which he sent 
out made a powerful impression on the minds of the Indians; 
and in 1690 Montreal was electrified by the appearance of a 
flotilla of no canoes of Great Lakes Indians .with furs for 
trading. The danger of a desertion by the allies in the rear 
of the French colony had been avoided. 

The policy followed by Frontenac was naturally opposed 
by his enemies, led by the bishop of Quebec and the Jesuits. 
These religious zealots still believed that the best policy toward 
the west was to withdraw all troops and to prohibit all traders 
from going among the Indians. They represented to the court 
that the western posts were places of debauchery where the 
innocent natives were demoralized, an accusation which was not 
far from the truth; but certainly such a policy would cost the 
French an empire in the beginning of its career. Louis XIV, 
discouraged by failure, was persuaded by the opponents of 
Frontenac, and ordered the governor to abandon Fort Fron- 
tenac, which had been restored, to recall all Frenchmen from 
the west, and to make peace with the Iroquois even if it were 
necessary to exclude from its terms the western allies. ^^ For- 
tunately for the French, Frontenac did not follow these instruc- 
tions in every detail, though he was forced to recall the traders. 
The war against the Iroquois was continued with more or less 
success, and the morale of these redoubtable warriors was weak- 
ened. As early as 1694 they opened negotiations. In spite of 

*- Wiscojisin Historical Collections, 16:130 ff. ; Parkman, Frontenac, 207. 

■*3 Louis XIV to Frontenac and Champigny, May 26, 1696, AprU 27, 1697, 
cited in Parkman, Frontenac, 441. For a further discussion of the changed plans 
of the court, the next chapter. 


several attempts to terminate the war, the struggle ended only 
when the peace of Ryswick between France and England was 
signed in 1697, 

The treaty with the Iroquois was not concluded, for various 
reasons, until 1701, when amidst impressive ceremonies the end 
of the war for the west was declared. There were assembled 
more than thirteen hundred Indians gathered from all tribes — 
among them Illinois, Potawatomi, Mascoutens, Sauk, Foxes, 
Winnebago, and Miami. The first danger to the French do- 
minion in the upper Mississippi valley and the lakes region was 
overcome. Illinois was French, and its immediate development 
depended on the power of that people to make use of its 


TRADE and religion are closely interwoven in the web of 
Illinois history. Wherever the investigator views the pat- 
tern, profits and otherworldliness form the center of the design. 
The fur trader and the "black robe," the country storekeeper 
and the Methodist revivalist, the captain of industry and the 
charity worker are the figures on the rolling tapestry depicting 
the development of the state. Particularly in the period of the 
Iroquois war was it true that the conspicuous men — in fact the 
only ones — bearing the burden of the state's development were 
eagerly pursuing either a high percentage on Investments or 
credit in the life to come. 

After the departure of La Salle — or rather after his rein- 
statement in his concession and his departure for the mouth of 
the Mississippi — a company with a capital of 20,000 livres was 
formed by his two lieutenants, Tonti and La Forest. For years 
to come the French political and trading interests in the Illinois 
were to be represented by these two men, the former at Fort 
St. Louis, the latter generally at Fort Frontenac.^ 

Tonti, whose name is even more Indissolubly bound with 
the history of Illinois than that of his famous captain, was the 
son of Lorenzo Tonti of Gazette, Italy, the godfather of the 
form of life insurance called by his name, tontine. The son's 
youth was passed in France, where the family found refuge 
after the father became implicated in a Neapolitan conspiracy. 
In his new home the young man entered upon first a military 
and then a naval career. In a battle his right hand was shot 
away by a grenade; the loss he supplied with an artificial hand 
— a constant source of wonder to his Indian friends, who gave 
him the name of " Iron Hand." The Prince de Conti was his 
patron in France and recommended him to La Salle, whom he 
accompanied to New France.- Unlike La Salle, Tonti pos- 

^ Tonti's memoir in Kellogg, Early Narrath'cs of the Nort/nvest, 306. 
'^ Ibid., 283, 286; note in Nevj York Colonial Documents, 3: 580. 



sessed the art of conciliating people, and even the Jesuit fathers, 
including Father Allouez, so often suspected of intrigue by La 
Salle, lived at peace with him. This characteristic made it 
possible for him to attract to his side many of the wandering 
coiireurs de bois to strengthen his establishment. 

When Tonti returned from Governor Denonville's expe- 
dition against the Iroquois he found visitors at Fort St. Louis: 
Father Jean Cavelier, a Sulpician priest and brother of La Salle, 
and three companions, who were returning from the ill-fated 
expedition to Texas. Fearful of losing all La Salle's property 
to his creditors, they had determined to remain silent concern- 
ing their leader's death until reaching France, and therefore 
deceived Tonti, who gave them a most friendly welcome. After 
borrowing seven hundred francs from the devoted lieutenant, 
the party made its way via Chicago to Quebec.^ 

In September, 1688, the first news of La Salle's death was 
brought to the fori by one of the men whom Tonti had left at 
his seigniory in Arkansas, Learning that some of La Salle's 
men were still on the gulf, Tonti made a long and difficult 
journey — his third one — down the Mississippi and up the 
Red river in the hope of bringing them relief, but he was not 

While Tonti was active in the Illinois, his partner. La 
Forest, went to France and petitioned for payment for services 
rendered. He had come to Canada in 1679 as lieutenant under 
La Salle and the next year had been appointed major of Fort 
Frontenac, where he served for several years. By Denonville 
and Frontenac he had been frequently sent to the western posts 
with orders and presents to the Indians, in the performance of 
which duties he had been forced to spend liberally of his own 
money in the service of the king, and very properly desired com- 

3 Tonti's memoir in Kellogg, Early Narratives of the Northwest, 311; "Re- 
lation de Joutel," in Margry, Decowvertes et Etahlissements, 3:490 ff. In 
Henri Joutel's " Relation " of La Salle's last expedition there is an excellent de- 
scription of Fort St. Louis as he saw it. Starved Rock was fortified by an 
inclosure of palisades and houses. Besides the houses for the French there 
were some cabins for the Indians who might take refuge in the fort on the 
approach of the Iroquois. The water needed for the garrison was drawn 
from the river by a system of wooden pipes. 

* Tonti's memoir in Kellogg, Early Narratives of the Northiuest, 311 ff. 

^Archives Nationales, Colonies, C^^q 3:147 ff. 



On learning of the death of La Salle, La Forest asked in 
the name of himself and of Tonti for the concession of Fort 
St. Louis, stating that he and his partner were ready to under- 
take the defense of the Illinois region on the same conditions of 
trade monopoly that La Salle had enjoyed. The petition was 
supported by one from Tonti's sister.*^ On July 14, 1690, the 
king in council gave his consent,''' and La Poorest immediately 
started back to the Illinois with a detachment of soldiers and a 
large force of engages. 

When Tonti learned of the success of his partner, he was 
at Mackinac, and immediately instructed his nephew, the Sieur 
de Liette,^ at Fort St. Louis, to consult the Indians about mov- 
ing the site of the fort and village from Starved Rock, since It 
was too far from wood and almost inaccessible to water in case 
of hostile attack. The Indians, who had previously intimated 
their desire for a change, chose as the new place for their 
village Pimitoul, situated on the north side of the river about 
a mile and a half from the lower outlet of "Lake Peoria." 
Here in the winter of 1 691— 1692 Tonti erected a new and com- 
modious fort, which was still called St. Louis but more fre- 
quently Fort Pimitoui. It was surrounded by 1 800 pickets, had 
two large log houses, one for lodgings and one for a warehouse, 
and, to shelter the soldiers, two other houses built of uprights.^ 
Around this new fort there soon collected French settlers, who 
thus formed the first permanent village in the Illinois, and for 
two generations — though not continuously — the fort itself 
stood on the banks of the Illinois river as the symbol of French 
imperial aspirations; nor was the flag of France finally hauled 
down until the French government had lost all hope of a great 
American empire. 

6 Margry, Decouvertes et Etabl'issements, 5:36. 

■! Ibid., 51. 

8 Or, to give the name the Italian form, De Lieto. Charlevoix, History of 
Neiv France (ed. Shea), 5:131. Another form is Desliettes. His other names 
are unknown. He may have been a cousin, not a nephew, of Tonti. 

'^Archives Nationales, Colonies, B, 55:56 ff. Manuscript called De Cannes' 
narrative, but undoubtedly written by Liette, in Ayer's collection, Newberry 
Librarj'. For discussion of authorship see below, p. 135, note 37. The building 
of this second fort has hitherto been unknown even to local historians, who 
have been puzzled by remains of a fort on the east side of Peoria. For definite 
location see Coles' report in American State Papers, Public Lands, 3:476; Bate- 
man and Selby, Historical Encyclopedia of Illinois, Peoria County, 2:19. 


The erection of this new fort undoubtedly had Frontenac's 
approval, for several other western posts were built about the 
same time as a protection against the Iroquois; one was erected 
on the St. Joseph river, presumably near the portage where a 
Jesuit mission was situated.^" It was probably about this time 
that Tonti and La Forest strengthened a former fort at Chi- 
cago, which they used as an intermediate post in their fur trad- 
ing operations. ^^ Nicolas Perrot also constructed a fort at 
"Malamels" among the Miami. ^- 

The seven years which followed the establishment of the 
new Fort St. Louis were years of real prosperity in the Illinois 
country, in spite of the continuance of war with the Iroquois 
and the British. Governor Frontenac, realizing fully the im- 
portance of upholding the French power in this distant land, 
maintained garrisons at all the posts, sending additional sol- 
diers to Tonti and La Forest in 1693. In the same year La 
Forest went to France to petition for an even larger garrison. ^^ 

Meanwhile Tonti was particularly active against the Iro- 
quois, regularly sending parties of Indians from the Illinois to 
harass the enemy. In order to convince the French authorities 
of the value of his operations, Tonti called upon the Indians 
to estimate the number of the enemy they had killed. The 
gruesome list of scalps received an official certification by both 
Tonti and his officers, and even the Jesuit father, Jacques Gra- 
vier, placed his signature upon it. The count showed that 334 
Iroquois men and boys and 1 1 1 women and girls had fallen by 
the guns and tomahawks of the Illinois. ^^ 

It was not only the Iroquois who were to be feared and to 
be repelled from the French west. Tonti explained at some 
length and with great emphasis the danger from the British, 
who were threatening to capture the fur trade of the Wabash 
valley. Adventurers from the southern British colonies, he 
asserted, had already reached the lower Ohio by the easy routes 

10 Margry, Decouvertes et Etablissements, 5:35. 

'^'^ Ibid., 4:10. There is still some doubt about this fort, but the pre- 
ponderance of evidence seems to favor the statement in the text. 

^- IhiiL, 5:72. This undoubtedly means Marameg on the Fox river. See Fran- 
quelin's map in Parkman, La Salle, 314. 

13 Archives Nationales, Colonies, C^'^^C, 3:147 ff. This is a memorial 
written about 1707 by La Forest, setting forth his services during the past years. 

!•* Margry, Decouvertes et Etablissements, 4:5, note. 


"^Z of the Cumberland and Tennesee rivers. A trader from Al- 
bany in 1692 actually held a "talk" with the Miami. ^^ The 
case as expounded by Tonti was regarded as proved, and Fron- 
tenac received orders from the home government to support 
the concessionaires in their trade. 

With the return of La Forest, Fort St. Louis became the 
center of a widely expanded trade, in which undoubtedly Fron- 
tenac was a silent sharer of the profits. The governor had sent 
Antoine de Lamothe Cadillac as commander at Mackinac and 

— ^ head of the administration in the west. Cadillac succeeded in 
negotiating between the Sioux and the Indians around Mackinac 
and Green Bay a truce which opened up the trade routes to the 
north — the great source of furs. Tonti and La Forest also 
seized the opportunity to extend their trade in this direction. 
They secured extra guards for their convoys and purchased two 
more trading permits. Thus prepared, Tonti made an ex- 
tended trip to the Assiniboin Indians, situated somewhere above 
Lake Superior.^*^ Their plans contemplated a still greater 
extension of their operations; they would make La Salle's 
dream of a colony come true; but their preparations were sud- 
denly checkmated by a change of policy on the part of the home 
government. Louis XIV had determined to prohibit white men 
from trading west of Montreal. ^^ 

Meanwhile other representatives of white civilization had 
been active in the land of the Illinois. The early history of this 
region is identified no more completely with the enterprising 
traders than with the order of the Jesuits, who for almost a 
century maintained a long succession of zealous missionaries in 
this distant field. From the first one. Father Marquette, to the 
last, Father Meurln, these learned men of religion, with little 
thought of worldly wealth or desire of self-advancement, gave 
the best of their lives to the conversion of the Illinois Indians. 
Marquette's successor in the Illinois mission. Father Claude 
Jean Allouez, S. J., played an important role in the establish- 
ment of the white man in the west. For twenty-four years his 

15 Margry, Decouvertes et Etahlissetnents, 4:4. 

16 Ibid., 5 : 66. For the Assiniboin see Handbook of American Indians, i : 102. 
On operations see Michigan Pioneer and Historical Collections, 33:75; De 
Cannes, " Memoir Concernant le Pays Illinois," in Ayer's collection, Newberry 

1" Margry, Decouvertes et Etablissements, 4:3 ff. 


figure was a familiar one wherever new missions were to be 
established or maintained. ^^ His first duties called him to Lake 
Superior, almost unknown at the time; and his correspondence 
proves him to have been a keen and sympathetic observer of 
his environment. He soon came in contact with the Illinois, 
who visited his mission, and his pen wrote the earliest account 
of the Indians who have given their name to the state. In 1669 
Father Allouez was transferred to the mission at Sault Ste. 
Marie and shortly afterwards visited the Indians at Green Bay 
and along the upper Fox. He may have been the first French- 
man to stand on the banks of a river discharging its water into 
the Gulf of Mexico. " Heedless of fatigue or hunger, cold or 
heat, he traveled over snow and ice, swollen streams or danger- 
ous rapids, seeking distant Indian villages, counting it all joy 
if by any means he could win a few savages for a heav- 
enly future." So a modern writer describes the life of this 

After Marquette's death Allouez visited the Illinois mission 
once or twice and was there when he learned of the approach 
of La Salle, whose well-known suspicious and masterful char- 
acter caused the missionary to retire. In 1684 it is recorded 
that he delivered to Tonti the governor's summons to Quebec, 
and in 1686 he was once more attending to his duties on the 
Illinois river without molestation from Tonti. "In 1689 this 
devoted servant of the cross died at the Miami village on St. 
Joseph river. A second St. Francis Xavier, Allouez is said 
during his twenty-four years of service to have instructed a hun- 
dred thousand Western savages and baptized at least ten 

Allouez's successor was Father Jacques Gravier. He ar- 
rived in New France in 1685 and came in 1688 to the Illinois, 
where he remained with some intermissions until 1705. After 
Tonti and La Forest moved Fort St. Louis from Starved Rock 
to Peoria, Father Gravier felt it advisable to follow them, and 

i** Elliott, "Jesuit Missionaries in the 17th and i8th Centuries," in Michigan 
Pioneer and Historical Collections, 33:27 ff. 

!■' Kellogg, Early Narratives of the Northivest, 96. 

-^ Ibid., 97; Thwaites, Jesuit Relations, consult index; Elliott, "Jesuit Mis- 
sionaries in the 17th and i8th Centuries," in Michigan Pioneer and Historical 
Collections, 33:27 ff. Garraghan, "Early Catholicity in Chicago," in Illinois 
Catholic Historical Revieiv, 1:13 ff. 


built a new chapel near their fort.-^ Here, in the month of 
April, 1693, in the presence of the French and Indians, he 
blessed the chapel and the thirty-five-foot cross which stood 
near by. His mission among the Peoria and Kaskaskia was 
accounted very successful, and after converting Rouensa, the 
principal chief of the former tribe, his influence over the natives 
was greatly increased.-" 

In 1696 Gravier was joined by Father Julien Binneteau 
and later by Father Pierre Pinet. The latter, after coming to 
America, served two years at Mackinac and then was sent to 
the Illinois, where he founded in 1696 the mission of the 
Guardian Angel at or near the mouth of the Chicago river, 
where dwelt the Wea, a Miami tribe. Why this foundation 
in particular should have aroused the wrath of Governor 
Frontenac Is unknown, but for some reason he ordered it 
closed In 1697. 

The action of the governor called from the valiant cham- 
pion of his order's rights. Father Gravier of the Illinois 
mission, a most indignant protest addressed to the bishop of 
Quebec.-^ The latter was able to obtain satisfaction and the 
mission was reestablished, but Its life history was short, for 
it was abandoned by March, 1700, probably on account of 
the movement of the Indian tribe eastward to escape the Sioux 
and to be nearer the Iroquois and the British, whose Intrigues In 
this distant land continued to embarrass the French.-^ 

The act of Frontenac In closing the Jesuit mission at Chi- 
cago was symptomatic of the struggle constantly going on in 
New France between the imperial and the anti-imperial parties. 
While the governor and his lieutenants, such as TontI and La 
Forest, were expanding the influence of the French and build- 

21 Thwaites, Jesuit Relations, 64:161. 

-- The daughter of this chief was married to Michel Accault, the commander 
of the expedition up the Mississippi which Father Hennepin has immortalized; 
the first entry, March 20, 1692, in the register of the parish of the Immaculate 
Conception is a record of the baptism of their child. " Kaskaskia Church 
Records," in Illinois State Historical Society, Transactions, 1904, p. 394. 

23Thwaites, Jesuit Relations, 65:53. 

-* On the mission see ibid., 64:278; 65:52, 70; St. Cosme's journal in 
Kellogg, Early Narratives of the Northivest, 346; Shea, Catholic Church in 
Colonial Days, 537; Grover, Father Pierre Francois Pinet, S. J., and his Mission 
of the Guardian Angel at Chicago; Quaife, Chicago and the Old Northivest, 
39 ff. On the movement of the Wea and other Miami tribes, see Wisconsin 
Historical Collections, 16:160. 


ing up their power in the west, their opponents were working 
on the reHgious scruples of the king in the hope of reversing 
the western pohcy that had been followed for a number of 
years. The moment was particularly propitious for gaining 
their purposes. The headstrong leader of war, Louvois, was 
dead; so too was Seignelay, who had inherited from his father, 
Colbert, the ideal of an energetic colonial policy; and he left 
no enthusiastic follower to carry the burden of such distant 
interests. The imperialist party without energetic leaders was 
no longer formidable. On the other hand the Jesuits, who 
formed the nucleus of the opposition to the western plans of 
Frontenac and his friends, exerted a powerful influence on 
the king and his ministers — an influence greatly strengthened 
by the skillful diplomacy of the king's confessor, the Jesuit 
father, La Chaise.-^ Moreover, this was the period of the 
most powerful influence of Madame de Maintenon, now secure 
in her position as wife of the monarch. Her bigotry, her 
Puritanism, and her sentimentality can be traced with increasing 
force in governmental policies. She had gathered around her 
a group of congenial spirits — called the League of the Public 
Good — whose love of humanity made them opponents of all 
wars and conquests. A new philosophy of the state was devel- 
oping under the shadow of the throne, the chief spokesman of 
which was the lovable Abbe Fenelon; the new thought is suc- 
cinctly summed up in the maxim : " I love my family better than 
myself, my country better than my family, the human race bet- 
ter than my country." ^^ In such warm and mellow soil the 
Jesuits' seeds of christian brotherhood and universal love easily 
sprouted and took root. 

Facts strengthened the arguments of the anti-imperialists 
and convinced many hard-headed men of affairs who could 
not have been moved by religious pleadings. The cost of the 
Iroquois war had been large; the nonsuccess of the imperial- 
ists was apparent. Easy was the demonstration that the fur 
traders in the west were the cause of Indian discontent and 
that the colonists in distant posts were doing infinite harm. 

-^The Due de Saint-Simon calls him a man "of mediocre mind but of 
good character, just, upright, sensible, prudent, gentle, and moderate, an enemy 
of informers and of violence of every kind." Memoirs (ed. St. John), 2:237. 

-''Martin, History of Fraiice, 2:162 ff., 267 ff. 


The intendant of New France was convinced of the fact and 
threw all his influence in favor of a change of policy. 

Another economic reason carried great weight with govern- 
mental officials. The imposition of minute regulations issued 
from Versailles had been a burden upon the beaver trade. 
Fixed prices for beavers of every quality, that had to be bought 
whatever the quantity by the farmers-' at the Canadian ports, 
had made impossible a free development and had reduced the 
farmers one after another to the verge of bankruptcy. They 
justly claimed that quantities of beaver skins were poorly 
dressed, a charge especially true of pelts procured in the Illinois 
country. Tonti acknowledged the truth of this and wrote, in 
1695, that he would persuade the Indians to be more careful.-^ 
The farmers found another objection to the Illinois beavers; 
the furs in the southern climate were by no means as good as 
those from more northern countries, a distinction felt more 
and more as the French pushed their trade farther to the 
north. The financial backers of La Salle had been warned and 
those of Tonti and La Forest were now warned that they had 
been cheated by the hope of rich returns in furs, and probably 
Tonti's northern expeditions were undertaken to overcome this 

If strict and unchangeable regulations were to be main- 
tained — and this aim was ever part of the policy of the pater- 
nalism of the French government — the number of peltries 
coming to market must also be limited. The system of coiiges 
(permits), described in a former chapter,^" had been designed 
for this purpose; but the continual disregard of the law by 
traders and officials made it practically inoperative with refer- 
ence to the influx of beavers. 

Furthermore, the financial stringency was intensified by the 
wars waged by France against the Netherlands, one of the 
important fur markets of Europe and the principal source of 
supply for Russia. At the same time the home market was 
limited by the act of the king in revoking in 1685 the Edict 

27 Men who contracted to buy all the beaver skins and pay from their profits 
the royal taxes. 

2**Margry, Decouvertes et ElabUssements, 5:65. 
^^ Loriii, Le Comte de Frontenac, 454. 
30 See cbapter 3. 


of Nantes, which had hitherto granted religious hberty to the 
Huguenots. Many members of this sect, operating hat fac- 
tories in Normandy, were forced to leave France, thus impair- 
ing an industry which absorbed much of the output of Canada. 

Conditions reached such an impasse that in 1700 the king 
consented, at a great loss to the royal treasury, to take over 
the whole business of buying beaver skins. A farmer who 
agreed the same year to assume the burden insisted that a 
clause be inserted in his contract making it void if the system 
of permits was not entirely abolished. The economic reason 
for the suppression of the trade of the coiireurs de bois was 
evidently paramount.^^ 

The platform of the anti-imperialist party finally received 
the approval of the king, who wrote: "It appears to his 
majesty that the war with the Iroquois, has arisen especially of 
late times from no other cause than their jealousy of the trade 
with the Upper Nations."^- To the distant wanderings of 
irresponsible coiireurs de bois with their brandy trade were 
ascribed both the financial depression and all the evils of the 
past struggle. The irritating cause must be eliminated, the 
traders prohibited from going to the west and the Indians 
compelled by economic needs to bring their furs to market in 
the Canadian villages. This method had been followed by 
the British merchants of Albany and had resulted in the main- 
tenance of friendly relations with the Iroquois. The French 
were now to try it.^^ 

An order was issued on May 26, 1696, recalling all traders 
and prohibiting them from going thereafter into the wilder- 
ness. The punishment for contumacy was severe — condemna- 
tion to the galleys."^ 

The arrival of the king's decree aroused the most intense 
excitement in New France, where the majority of colonists 

31 Salome, La Colonization de la Nouvelle-France, 295 ff. ; Martin, History 
of France, part vil, 2: 52; LorLn, Le Comie de Frontenac, 450 ff. 

'-Memoir of the king in New York Colonial Documents, 9:637. 

33 Pontchartrain to Frontenac, May 21, 1698, ibid., 678; Michigan Pioneer 
and Historical Collections, 33:72 ff. Kingsford, History of Canada, 2:395, gives 
full credit to the intendant for the change of policy. 

3-t Archives Nationales, Colonies, B, 19:72. Only the first part of this 
important memoir of the king is published in New York Colonial Documents, 
9:636. See also Pontchartrain's letter, April 28, 1697, ibid., SGz. 


were dependent directly or Indirectly on the fur trade. Gov- 
ernor Frontenac postponed its promulgation for a time, to 
make the adjustment more easy, for he realized that a strict 
and immediate enforcement, if attainable, would spell bank- 
ruptcy in the colony. It was finally promulgated, however, in 
1698; but Frontenac protested to the court and pointed out 
the inexpediency of the measure and the disastrous conse- 
quences it would bring. In a later letter he could not resist 
sarcastically expressing the hope that the reasons of those " per- 
sons who think they understand this country so well may be 
found, from their success, better than mine.""^ 

At a conference of officials called by Frontenac to consider 
methods of procedure after the suppression of the permits, 
the question of preserving or abandoning the forts at Mackinac 
and elsewhere in the west was discussed; this was a technical 
detail left by the king to the decision of the local government. 
The majority of the members, Frontenac reported, agreed 
"that it would be impossible for any officers and soldiers who 
might be left there to live on their pay" and that the expense 
to the crown of provisioning the forts "would be extremely 
heavy," in that the provisions would have to be conveyed at 
great expense by Canadians whom the king did not wish sent 
into the interior. It was therefore determined to recall the 
garrisons as well as the coureurs de hols. The conference 
decided that Fort Frontenac rested on another footing and 
determined not to abandon it.^*^ 

The consequence of the promulgation of the edict was to 
bring the expected stagnation of business in the west. Of 
course the complete enforcement of the decree was impossible, 
despite the efforts of Frontenac and his successor; the coureurs 
de bois were too widely scattered and too well accustomed to 
the freedom of the forest. Many were brought in at consid- 
erable financial loss to themselves; but many more — in one 
company, thirty, in another, eighty-four — preferred to voyage 
down the Mississippi to join their fortunes with those of the 
new colony being established at Its mouth. Others remained 

^s Frontenac to minister, October 15, 1697, in Michigan Pioneer and Historical 
Collections, 33:80; Lorin, Le Comte de Frontenac, 468 ff. 
^*^ Michigan Pioneer and Historical Collections, 33:73. 


In the woods to trade as best they could, receiving merchan- 
dise from their friends through Indian agents. 

La Forest and Tonti were exempt from the terms of the 
ordinance of 1696. This was probably due to the power of 
influential friends at court, although the excuse alleged was 
that their undertaking had previously received the royal ap- 
proval. The conditions imposed on the Illinois traders pro- 
hibited all trade in beaver skins and permitted them "to send 
thither [to the Illinois] only two Canoes annually, with the 
necessary number of men to navigate them, on condition, how- 
ever, that these do not exceed the number of twelve; and this 
until further order, and until it shall please his Majesty to 
direct otherwise. "^'^ 

The restrictions made impossible the inauguration of the 
plan for expansion which the concessionaires had been hoping 
to put into operation. They found too true the comment of the 
Canadian intendant on the clause exempting them: "I can 
assure you, My Lord, with absolute certainty, that they will 
not stay there, and in fact cannot stay there, except to trade 
in them [beaver skins] ; otherwise it will involve them In an 
expense which they will be unable to bear."^^ There could be 
no profit after deducting the expense of maintaining the fort. 
La Forest soon left the Illinois and joined his military com- 
pany In Canada where he served two years, leaving Tonti in 
sole charge of their Interests in the west. 

The two canoes of merchandise which the government per- 
mitted to be sent probably arrived annually. In 1698 they 
were conveyed by Tonti himself from Montreal to the Illinois, 
and a part of the merchandise was sent to the Arkansas post 
that Tonti had established several years before. ^^ On this 
journey he acted as guide and companion to some missionary 
priests from the Seminary of Foreign Missions, of whom more 
will be heard later. By the historian of the voyage, Father 
St. Cosme, the following picture of Tonti has been preserved: 
" I cannot sufficiently express, my lord, the obligations we 
owe him. He conducted us to the Acangas; he procured us 

37 AVau Yorh Colonial Documents, 9:700; Archives Nationales, Colonies, B, 

^^ Michigan Pioneer and Historical Collections, 33 : 75. 

39 St. Cosme's journal in Kellogg, Early Narratives of the Norfhivesf, 342 ff. 


much pleasure during the voyage; he greatly facilitated our 
passage through many nations, securing us the friendship of 

some and intimidating others He not only did his 

duty as a brave man but he also performed those of a zeal- 
ous missionary, entering into all our views, exhorting the 
savages everywhere to pray and to listen to the missionaries. 
He soothed the minds of our servants in their petty whims; 
he supported by his example the devotional exercises that 
the journey allowed us to perform and frequently attended 

the sacraments He is the man who best knows 

these regions; he has twice gone down to the sea; he has 
been far inland to the most remote tribes, and is beloved 
and feared everywhere. If it be desired to have discoveries 
made in this country, I do not think the task could be confided 
to a more experienced man than he."^*^ 

In 1700 La Forest returned to the Illinois and spent two 
years at the post, where Tonti, after making his fourth trip to 
the gulf to confer with Iberville, seems to have been with him. 
In the year 1704 Tonti was ordered to report at Mobile and 
there he died of yellow fever. About the same time La 
Forest, leaving the fort in charge of Tonti's nephew, the Sieur 
de Liette, returned to Quebec. Later he was second in com- 
mand at Detroit and in 17 10 commandant. He died at Quebec 
in 1714.*^ A contemporary wrote of him in 1707: "He is 
known and beloved by the savages; no one can manage them 
better. He is no less beloved by the French people because of 
his good nature and disinterestedness. "^- 

The two founders of the settlement in the Illinois country 
were men respected by all and beloved by many for their 
ability and kindliness. They spent many years struggling 
to build up a paying business in the country; and when 
on the point of succeeding, a change in imperial policy for 
the west brought to them financial distress. Alphonse de 
Tonti, a brother of Henri, summed up the situation in a letter 
of October 13, 1700, to his father in France: "My brother 
had to go down to the sea to have a conference with him [Iber- 

40 St. Cosme in Kellogg, Early Narratives of the Northivesi, 343, 360. 
•*! Archives Nationales, Colonies, C ^^ C, 3:151 ff. ; Mkliigan Pioneer and 
Historical Collections, 34:308. 
■*- Ibid., 33:316. 


vllle], but I have not learned the result of their conference. 
From the little I have heard, it would not seem that there was 
any project formed; at the same time the only fruit thereof 
has been expenditure of money to no purpose, having also the 
chagrin of seeing himself supplanted in an enterprise that was 
his by right on account of all the fatigues and difficulties that 
he has endured in his frequent voyages. He is more in debt 
than when he went to the country. And if the court does not 
take some notice of his services I do not know what will become 
of him. Affairs in this colony [New France] are very bad; 
there is no resource for honest folk, since the abolition of the 
permits to trade. "^^ 

The policy of prohibiting the traders from going to the 
west fell hardest on the Indians, who had become completely 
dependent upon the fur traders for many of their necessities. 
Without warning they were thrown back on their own re- 
sources or obliged to undergo the hardships of a journey of 
hundreds of miles to the French settlements. Every delega- 
tion of Indians which came to Montreal or Quebec complained 
of this desertion and demanded that traders be sent. In a 
conference in the latter part of August, 1697, Onanguisset, a 
chief of the Potawatomi, said: " Father! since we want pow- 
der, iron, and every other necessary which you were formerly 
in the habit of sending us, what do you expect us to do? Are 
the majority of our women who have but one or two beavers 
to send to Montreal to procure their little supplies, are they 
to intrust them to drunken fellows, who will drink them, and 
bring nothing back? Thus, having in our country none of 
the articles we require and which you, last year, promised we 
should be furnished with, and not want; and perceiving only 
this — that nothing whatsoever is yet brought to us, and that 
the French come to visit us no more — you shall never see us 
again. I promise you, if the French quit us; this, Father, is 
the last time we shall come to talk with you."^'* 

The defeat of the policy of Frontenac and his followers 
was not so complete as their enemies desired. The conduct 
of the fur trade on account of its outstanding character had 

■*3 Bibliotheque Nationale, manuscripts, 9097:111. 
^"^ Neiu York Colonial Documents, 9: 673. 


been made the issue, and on this the antl-Frontenac partisans 
bad united and won; but the victory did not bring with it 
abandonment of all enterprise in the west. Imperialistic aspira- 
tion was still a force in the French court, and its manifestation 
was to appear in a new form with greater opportunity of 
reaching its goal. Wandering fur traders could not build an 
empire in America; their irresponsible acts were more likely 
to promote Indian wars. Colonists properly governed by 
French officials, protected by French garrisons, and encour- 
aged to bend their efforts to the cultivation of the soil might 
extend the empire to the greatest valley in the world. The 
short intermission between wars, following the treaty of Rys- 
wick, was utilized by an aroused French ministry to promote 
experiments in imperialism along new lines. A new advance 
into the west with a firmer foundation in economic life re- 
sulted. The period of exploration was developing into one of 

In 1700 the inhabitants of New France, at the suggestion 
of the governor and the intendant and with the consent of the 
king, petitioned that the control of the beaver trade be granted 
to a company composed of the inhabitants resident in the colony 
and taking shares therein. They pointed out that the monop- 
oly granted to individuals had worked a hardship on the many. 
A plan for a company was worked out by the inhabitants and 
established by the klng."*^ Except in so far as the prohibition 
of trade in the interior was affected by exceptions to be noted 
later, this new organization did not in any way change the 
method of trade already established. The fur trade was to 
be conducted at the settled villages with the Indians, who were 
expected to bring the furs to market. 

* One of the immediate results of this company was the 
founding of Detroit. The project owed its inception to the 
genius of one man, who was in many ways the most interest- 
ing figure among the many French adventurers of the west, 
Antoine de Lamothe Cadillac. He had risen to prominence 
under Frontenac, who sent him as commandant to Mackinac, 

*^ Edits, Ordonnances Royaux, Declarations, 280 ff., 2S5. See also Michigan 
Pioneer and Historical Collections, 33:42; Slioitt and Doughtj-, Canada and Its 
Provinces, 2 : 492. 


which he was forced to abandon under the order to ev'acuate 
the west. While serving in the Great Lai^es district, Cad- 
illac had realized the possibilities in the future development 
of the region and the source of wealth its exploitation might 
become for him. He drew up an ela-borate scheme for the 
colonization of Detroit, which he selected for his entrepot. 
Since his success would depend on the reconciliation of all the 
conflicting interests of Canada, to the farmers who dealt in furs 
he promised the regulation of the number of packs and a 
careful supervision of their quality before they were trans- 
ported to the east; to the inhabitants of Canada, a sure profit 
in the trade; and he assured the political party interested in 
curbing the British and the Iroquois, that the new colony would 
bring their aggressive policy to an end by the concentration 
of numerous Indian tribes around Detroit; an appeal was also 
made to the piety of king and missionaries by pointing out the 
opportunity provided by such concentration for converting and 
civilizing the natives. ^"^ 

The plan of this business enterprise fell in with the con- 
temporaneous organization of the citizens of Canada into a 
company for the purpose of conducting the beaver trade, Cad- 
illac becoming its agent and one of its directors. The colony 
was actually founded in 1701.^' Traffic in furs could legally be 
conducted only within the confines of the post and under the 
control of the commandant and troops representing the royal 
power, but it was the further purpose of Cadillac to encourage 
the settlement of colonists. He obtained the right of granting 
land, and under his leadership Detroit began to grow. 

The enterprise of building Detroit did not result in the 
expected profits, and the company of the colony, shortly after- 
wards passing through a severe financial crisis, practically bank- 
ruptcy, sold out to Cadillac. The particulars of this experi- 
ment cannot be dwelt upon; but the existence of Detroit was a 
force in the development of the Illinois country. It commanded 

4^ For a brief statement of Cadillac's purposes and plans see Margry, De- 
rouTcrtrs et Etahl'tssements, 5:139; but succeeding pages should also be read. 
Many documents illustrating the settlement of Detroit will be found in translation 
in Michigan Pioneer and Historical Collections, volume 33; particularly illumi- 
nating is the memorandum, p. 108 ff. 

■*" Margry, Decou-vertcs ct Etablissements, 5:187. 


one of the easiest routes to New France via the Maumee and 
Wabash rivers, a route that became very important during the 
later Fox wars; it became immediately the important center of 
the fur trade in the southern part of the Great Lakes and was 
the western exchange between Canadian merchants and their 
more western customers. In the welding of the chain that was 
to bind the Mississippi valley to Canada, therefore, the estab- 
lishment of Detroit by Cadillac was a most important link. 

Enterprises of a similar character were undertaken in other 
parts of the west, for the French government's anxiety about 
the welfare of the Indians was limited to the regulation of the 
beaver trade. In 1698 Pierre Charles le Sueur received a 
mining concession, with the right to trade in furs other than 
beaver in the upper Mississippi vattey. A company was imme- 
diately formed, but great opposition to the undertaking was 
aroused, and the concession was canceled the following 

The next permanent settlement in Illinois after the found- 
ing df Peoria was due to the zeal of the missionaries. The 
honor of establishing it did not fall to the lot of the Jesuits, 
although they had maintained a practically continuous mis- 
sion among the Illinois Indians since the time of Father Mar- 
quette; instead the credit belongs to newcomers in the western 
field of missionary toils, the priests of the Seminary of Foreign 
Missions. Toward the end of the seventeenth century the 
Seminary of Foreign Missions had been founded at Quebec 
under the auspices of the mother institution at Paris. The 
purpose of the founders was to promote among the priests, in 
contradistinction to the religious orders such as the Jesuits or 
Recollects, a zeal for missions. The Seminary priests won 
their earliest fame as missionaries in China and the Orient, and 
now the institution determined to enter the American field. 
In 1685 they began activities in Acadia, but for various rea- 
sons, one of which was lack of financial support, they were 
obliged to postpone their advance into the west. Toward the 
end of the century the opportunity seemed open, and the Semin- 

*^ Margry, Decouvertes et Etablissements, 6:66 ff. In 1700 Le Sueur 
voyaged up the Mississippi from its mouth in the search of mines. Ibid., b.G<i. 
See also Michigan Pioneer and Historical Collections, 33:173 ff. 


ary became a rival of the Jesuit order for missionary privileges 
ill the territory south of the Great Lakes. 

The rivalry that resulted, while most honorable to the 
parties concerned, will be misunderstood unless it is realized 
that the generation which passed from the seventeenth to the 
eighteenth century still thought in terms of monopoly and 
special privileges, and everybody believed that the best 
method of accomplishing large undertakings was by the grant- 
ing of a state monopoly. The principle had been carried over 
into ecclesiastical operations, as for instance in New France, 
where the Jesuits enjoyed special rights in the conduct of mis- 
sions. The advocates of the system could set forth several 
strong arguments in favor of the method. It was more effi- 
cient, less expensive, and avoided needless rivalry. 

Bishop de St. Vallier of Quebec, a man of orderly mind 
and marked organizing ability, believed that it would be better 
for his diocese to introduce among the missionaries other in- 
fluences besides those of the Jesuits; and the coming of the 
Seminary and the opening up of the Mississippi seemed to offer 
a favorable coincidence, since the Jesuits' rights, or at least 
their operations, did not extend below the mission among the 
Illinois on the Illinois river. In 1698, therefore, he granted 
to the priests of the Seminary of Foreign Missions the right 
of establishing themselves along the banks of the Mississippi, 
and to the superior in charge he assigned the powers of vicar- 
general, or episcopal representative in the district. Later the 
bishop named as seat of the new movement Tamaroa, or Ca- 
hokia, which had been chosen because its location offered an 
easy access to the Indian tribes of the Missouri as well as to 
those farther south on the main stream.'*^ 

The Seminary of Foreign Missions is today represented 
by Laval University at Quebec, and there is still standing the 
old home of the Seminary priests, which should be one of the 
holy shrines in the memories of Illinoisians, since from It went 

*8 The dates of the bishop's acts are May i and July 14, 1698. The original 
documents are in the archives of Laval University, Quebec, which institution 
has kindly sent me copies. A manuscript history of the " Mission du Seminaire de 
Quebec chez les Tamarois ou Illinois, sur les Bords du Mississippi," written in 
1849 by Father E. A. Taschereau, later chancellor of Laval University, archbishop 
of Quebec, and cardinal, has been particularly valuable. For a further discussion 
see Shea, Catholic C/iurc/i In Colonial Days, 538. 


forth the founders of an important and early Illinois settle- 
ment. The expedition itself was provided at a heavy cost; 
the Seminary furnished 10,800 livres, and two of the priests 
who accompanied it contributed from their own purses 4,030 
livres more.^** The later annual expenses, borne partly by the 
Seminary at Paris but generally by the Quebec institution, were 
in proportion. The king pledged annual assistance, which was 
not regularly paid.^^ 

For the first m/issionary expedition of the Seminary there 
were chosen the Very Reverend Jolliet de Montigny, appointed 
vicar-general, the Reverend Antoine Davion, and the Rever- 
end Jean Francois Buisson de St. Cosme. They were accom- 
panied by Tonti, who guided them via Mackinac to the Chi- 
cago portage and thence to the Illinois river. At the Jesuit 
missions along their route they were received with the greatest 
friendliness. At Chicago they were entertained by Fathers 
Francois Pinet and Julien Binneteau; and St. Cosme, the his- 
torian of the expedition, wrote : " I cannot describe to you, my 
lord, with what cordiality and manifestations of friendship 
these Reverend Fathers received and embraced us while we had 
the consolation of residing with them."^^ 

While en route the missionaries learned that their future 
charges, the Cahokia Indians, had recently suffered from one 
of those local wars perennial in the lives of the aborigines. The 
Shawnee, the Chickasaw, and another tribe'^^ had attacked them, 
killed ten, and carried off one hundred as captives. When the 
missionaries arrived at the village, therefore, they were met 
with lamentations. 

Up to this time no priest had stayed long in the villages 
of these Indians.^* The first impression made by the Cahokia 
on the newcomers was on the whole favorable, since they found 
them not "so evil-intentioned or so wicked as some Illinois 
savages had sought to make us believe. The poor people ex- 

^^ These were Fathers Montigny and Davion. 

51 Later Father Montigny estimated that it cost 2,000 livres annually to 
support a missionary on the Mississippi. Taschereau, " Mission du Seminaire de 

■''-The best translation of St. Cosme's journal is in Kellogg, Early Narratives 
of the Nort/iivest, 342 ff. 

^3 St. Cosme sajs the " Kakinanpols." Ibid., 351. 

s* Possibly Fathers Marquette and Gravier had visited here. 


cited our pity more than our fears. "^^ The next day the mis- 
sionaries visited the Tamaroa village, a short distance farther 
south. Below this lived the Michigamea, who had recently 
been driven from the western banks of the Mississippi to take 
refuge with their kinsmen. 

The missionaries did not stay long on this first visit among 
the Illinois, but pushed on to the Arkansas river, where they 
took up their winter quarters. In the spring Fathers Mon- 
tigny and St. Cosme returned to Tamaroa, or Cahokia, and 
there established the mission of the Holy Family some time ^ 
in March, 1699.^*^ While Father Montigny went to Chicago 
to bring down the goods which had been left there on account 
of the low Avater in the Des Plaines river, St, Cosme, assisted 
by two men, busied himself with the building of a house and a 
chapel. The former was completed by May 20, when Mon- 
tigny returned. The next year there was sent to take charge 
of this mission Father Bergier, who was appointed vicar-gen- 
eral of the region after Montigny left.^^ 

Before the bishop of Quebec had granted the petition of 
the Seminary priests to found a mission he had investigated 
the situation carefully, in particular taking Tonti's testimony, 
and was convinced that the Jesuits had no mission south of the 
Illinois river. As the previous narrative has shown, this was 
correct, but the Jesuits looked upon their mission at Peoria 
as serving all the Illinois tribes, a view that might be fairly 
established from the words of the bishop himself ;^^ and they 
had many neophytes at Cahokia. There were other reasons 
for the opposition of the Jesuits to this move on the part of 
the Seminary. They had conducted a long struggle with the 
civil powers, and just recently the Comte de Frontenac had 

55 Kellogg, Early Narratives of the Nortliix:est, 355. 

^•5 The date was sometime before March 29. See Fortier, "Establishment 
of the Tamarois Mission," in Illinois State Historical Society, Transactions, 
1908, p. 236. 

^'' Ibid., 236; "Relation de Penicaut," in Margry, Decowvertes et Etablisse- 
ments, 5: 408. 

5'^ In appointing Father Gravier vicar-general in 1690, Bishop St. Vallier 
recognized the Illinois mission as having existed " for the last twenty years " and 
he confides to the care of the Jesuits "this mission of the Islinois and other 
surrounding nations. ... as well as those of the Miamis, Sious, and others 
in the Ottawa country, and towards the West." Quoted in Shea, Catholic Church 
in Colonial Days, 535. 


attempted to drive them from their mission at Chicago; they 
may have suspected that there was some connection between 
the coming of these new missionaries and the intrigues of their 
old opponents. Then, too, at this time the whole question of 
mission rights to the valley of the Mississippi was raised to a 
vital issue by the establishment of the province of Louisiana. 
Which order should serve this new province with its enormous 
territory? Therefore the contest waged over the mission of 
Cahokia, or Tamaroa, was connected by many ramifications 
with civil and ecclesiastical politics. 

A few weeks after St. Cosme began building at Cahokia, 
the Jesuit father, Julien Binneteau, appeared at the village; 
he was soon followed by Fathers Pierre Pinet and Joseph 
Limoges and they began the erection of a building as a sign of 
the rights of their order. ^^ The contest was, on the whole, 
carried on by the participants with dignity and mutual respect. 
Naturally, considering the magnitude of the issue at stake, there 
was some passion exhibited at times. The stalwart champion 
of Jesuit rights, Father Gravier, uttered some harsh judgments ; 
and Father Montigny did not always keep his temper. Pres- 
ently the situation in the valley became so strained that the 
latter found his position difficult and embarrassing. He deter- 
mined, therefore, to go to France, to set forth his case before 
the authorities, and to secure an adjustment of the jurisdic- 
tion; and accordingly he embarked at Biloxi with the Sieur 
d'Iberville in May, 1700. 

The question was also brought to an issue by the Jesuits 
themselves, who petitioned the bishop of Quebec that they be 
granted the exclusive direction of the French posts in Louisi- 
ana and that the superior of their mission be always the vicar- 
general. At the same time they complained to the king of the 
intrusion of the Seminary priests. 

Both sides had thus brought the embarrassing issue to 
court, where there appears to have been some hesitancy about 
reaching a decision. Both parties to the dispute wielded im- 
mense power and influence in both court and church. The 
king asked for the opinion of the bishop of Quebec who, after 
consulting other ecclesiastics, said that he was opposed to 

58 Margry, Decouvertes et Etablissements, 5:408. 


granting any exclusive rights. The king had, meanwhile, re- 
ferred the question of the Tamaroa mission to a committee 
of French bishops, who decided on June 7, 1701, that the 
priests of the Seminary of Foreign Missions "shall dwell 
alone in the establishment at the place called Tamaroa and 
that they shall receive in a friendly manner the Jesuit fathers 
when they shall pass there in going to attend the Illinois and 
Tamaroa at their fishing and hunting grounds where the said 
Jesuit fathers may establish themselves, if they judge it fitting. 
All this determined with the good pleasure of the king and in 
the presence of and with the consent of the bishop of Que- 

The decision seems to mean that the Jesuits were to at- 
tend generally to the religious needs of the Illinois tribes. An 
exception was made concerning the Tamaroa and Cahokia 
when occupying their home villages, where they were to be 
served by the Seminary priests. This was the solution, at 
least, as it was worked out on the American Bottom. On learn- 
ing the decision, the Jesuits left their buildings at Cahokia to 
a caretaker and retired to Kaskaskia. The lesser question 
was decided; but the larger issue, the religious oversight of the 
province, they could confidently trust to a final recognition of 
their efficient organization. 

s^Collection Moreau St. Mery, volume 6, tome 2, p. asS^A.See also Margry, Cti^C l" .. 
Dccoui'crtcs et Etablissements, 4:634; Shea, Catholic Church in Colonial Days, <, .^ 

HI. 543- 


<<rT^HE English are coming; they are on the Ohio; among 
_|_ the Chickasaw; everywhere they are robbing us of our 
trade." Such were the cries heard throughout Canada and 
the west. The immediate danger from the Enghsh was un- 
doubtedly exaggerated to impress Versailles, and exaggerated 
also were the stories of their encroachments upon the French 
trading territory. Still the danger was very real, as later years 
were to prove; and it is time for the reader to leave the red 
men and the sturdy French invaders in the Illinois country 
and from the top of the Allegheny mountains obtain a clearer 
view of the scouts of the advancing army of British pioneers, 
as they clamber up the eastern slopes, pause a moment at the 
first view of the expanding panorama, and rush pell-mell down 
the ravines to the valleys of the westward-flowing rivers. 
They were in the fullness of time to take the Illinois country 
captive and to establish within it a community of English 

In England more than in France — where Colbert's re- 
forms proved abortive — the seventeenth century gave birth 
to the era of modern commerce. Then the desire for quick 
profits became the mother of discovery and settlement in the 
new country. Hemmed in by the mountains, however, the 
British colonies could not and did not play the brilliant part 
In the exploration of the western continent that fell to the lot 
of Spain and France. Their advance was necessarily slower, 
and for that reason more healthy and substantial. Fate did 
not place on them the support of far-off villages in the heart 
of the continent before there were populous settlements on the 
seacoast to afford a safe base for operations. 

In every advance across the continent the British vanguard 
was composed of men hardened and trained for service In the 
environment of the frontier, that border line of civilization and 
savagery ever slowly and inexorably shifting westward. The 

1 20 


motive for their advance was economic betterment; each man 
hoped, as he pushed into the unknown, to discover some rich 
storehouse of furs, some mine to exploit, some fertile land 
whereon to set a home. No autocratic government either 
directed or controlled the movement of the individuals; yet 
thousands of traders and farmers, each his own guide and his 
own master or the agent of city merchant or land speculator, 
pushed into the wilderness, overcame opposing forces, and occu- 
pied the land. The planting of English speech in the valley of 
the Mississippi was almost unconsciously accomplished; the 
government of Great Britain was represented in the operation 
for the most part by private citizens, not by officials and soldiers. 

From the colony of Virginia came the English explorers 
of the first real frontier. In 1645 there were established forts 
at those points where the waters of the rivers fall from the 
highlands into the seacoast plain; around these forts collected 
gradually the typical pioneer and border elements of the popu- 
lation; and in the next generation was evolved the first truly 
American backwoods society with all its familiar characteris- 
tics : Indian trade, exploration, hunting, trapping ; the raising of 
hogs, cattle, and horses, which were branded and ran loose in 
the wild lands; pioneer farming, capitalistic engrossment; in 
general the exploitation of the wilderness. The American 
frontiersman, a new type in history, was developed before 

The period of exploitation of the hinterland began with 
the actual establishment of the forts. By 1670 the piedmont 
as far as the foothills of the mountains was well known to the 
fur traders, although no known person had crossed the moun- 
tain divide. In this decade western exploration received the 
impetus needed for a successful fulfillment of its object — the 
discovery of westward-flowing waters. In England, where the 
commonwealth had given way to the court of Charles II, 
society, worn out by the endless disputes of sectarians and 
the bloody battles of the civil war, turned abruptly to mate- 
rial interests and gave birth to the modern business world. 

1 For a much more complete description of this frontier society and the early 
explorations of the west, see introduction in Alvord and Bidgood, First Explora- 
tions of the Trans-Alleghetiy Region by the Virginians. 


Merchants and noblemen sought means of making money 

The same group of British politicians and speculators who 
were contemporaneously competing with the French on Hudson 
bay and in New York were responsible for the initial enter- 
prises in Virginia and the Carolinas that pushed explorers and 
traders across the mountains. In 1671, Captain Thomas Batts 
and Robert Fallam crossed the mountains and, near the east- 
ern boundary of modern West Virginia, took possession of 
the territory in the name of King Charles II.- Their simple 
ceremony, symbolic of the British advance, occurred three 
months after St. Lusson at Sault Ste. Marie had proclaimed 
King Louis XIV monarch of the west. Almost simultaneously 
the two kingdoms staked out their claims to the great valley. 

Still more important in its immediate consequences was 
the opening to trade of the region of modern Tennessee. The 
heroes of this exploration were James Needham, a gentleman 
freeholder of South Carolina, and Gabriel Arthur, an illiter- 
ate servant. They started from Fort Henry on Appomattox 
river on April 10, 1673, and succeeded, by journeying south 
over the Carolina piedmont and then west, in reaching either 
the Tennessee river or one of its branches and in establishing 
trade relations with the Cherokee.^ Although these expedi- 
tions have been almost ignored by historians, they are of great 
significance. The British colonists were ahead of the French 
in the strategic location south of the Ohio river. Here they 
had begun a trade with the Indians and had thereby established 
political relations with them, before their rivals had secured 
the control of the mouth of the Mississippi river. 

In this movement westward the Carolinians, controlling 
the easiest route, soon took the lead; they did not follow the 
difficult trail of Needham but discovered one leading through 
the Creek villages avoiding the barrier to British western ex- 
pansion, the Appalachians, and as early as 1690 were carrying 
on a brisk trade with the Chickasaw and the Cherokee. 

In these enterprises the British received assistance from 

2 For the complete story, consult Alvord and Bidgood, First Explorations of 
the Trans-Allegheny Region by the Virginians, introduction. 

3 Ibid., introduction. 


renegade French coiireiirs de hois. In 1692 Martin Chartler, 
one of the men who had deserted La Salle, wandered to Mary- 
land."* More important was Jean Couture, who had com- 
manded at Tonti's Arkansas post. Some time between 1690 
and 1693 he made his way up the Tennessee river — the first 
white man known to have traveled this route — and reached 
South Carolina. Here he was cordially received by the fore- 
most advocates of western enterprises; he aroused their enthu- 
siasm by his accounts of mines of precious metals and of the 
riches of the fur trade and brought home to them the danger 
from the threatening occupation of the central valley by the 

From this moment the struggle between France and Eng- 
land assumed its continental form in the minds of American 
officials. In 1695 Governor Nicholson of Maryland was 
urging an aggressive policy to prevent the French from carry- 
ing out their designs. Later, when governor of Virginia, he 
was actively corresponding with Lord Bellomont of New York 
and Joseph Blake of South Carolina to promote concerted 
action. Governor Blake was intensely interested in the pro- 
posed policy but felt confident that the Carolina traders would 
defeat the French projects.^ 

There was some reason for confidence. A group of traders 
guided by Jean Couture had been sent via the Tennessee and 
Ohio rivers to establish trade with the Indians west of the 
Mississippi river; it was hoped to cut off all French progress 
south of the Ohio. In February, 1700, the party reached the 
post on the Arkansas river, which their guide had formerly 
commanded, and established relations with the Quapaw.^ The 
region south of the Ohio and across the Mississippi seemed 
about to come into the British sphere of influence. It Is Inter- 
esting to note that thus early had men of English speech skirted 
the boundary of the future state of Illinois and possibly had 
encamped upon Its shores. 

* Hanna, The Wilderness Trail, 1:126 ff. 

5 On this whole paragraph consult the able article by V. W. Crane, "The 
Tennessee River as the Road to Carolina," in Mississippi Valley Historical 
Revleiv, 3:35. 

** Besides the article cited in the previous note see the account by Iberville 
in Margry, Decouvertes et Etahllssements, 4:362, 418, 430; Charlevoix, History 
of Neiu France (ed. Shea), 5: 124. 


This activity at the back of the mountains brought a knowl- 
edge of the riches of the territory and naturally gave rise to the 
impulse to exploit it. Among the first to feel the full force 
of this westward pull was Dr. Daniel Coxe of London. He 
was Interested in New Jersey lands and from his experience, 
although he had never been in America, he became familiar with 
the fur trade. He testifies that his agents had discovered the 
route to the Great Lakes." 

At some time prior to 1698 Coxe purchased the patent of 
*' Carolana," which Included the English rights to the south- 
ern Mississippi valley.^ Having imagination to see the po- 
tential wealth of the territory, he began Immediately to bom- 
bard the British government with memorials which stressed 
the strategic position of his proposed colony. For his propa- 
ganda he found an able and not too scrupulous assistant in 
Father Hennepin, quondam friend and associate of La Salle, 
who now printed the famous modification of his journeyings, 
In which he claimed for himself the honor of discovering the 
mouth of the Mississippi river. ^ 

King William III and his advisers were greatly impressed 
I y Coxe's statements and gave their approval of the scheme, but 
the outbreak of war and the death of the king ended the well- 
founded hopes of the promoter. As will be described on a later 
page,^*^ Coxe did fit out two armed vessels, one of which in the 
course of time entered the Mississippi river. It arrived too late. 

The push of the British traders westward was watched 
with jealous eyes by the French in Canada. Many of them 
had supported La Salle's project and still hoped to see its 
fulfillment. Shortly after his return, La Salle's brother, Father 
Jean Caveller, drew up a memorial on the subject, In which 

" Coxe, "Account of New Jersey," in Pennsylvania Historical Magazine, 
7 : 327 ff. ; Alvord and Bidgood, First Explorations of the Trans-Allegheny Region 
by the Virginians, 231, note 184. 

8 Ibid., 239. 

^ In 1608 Hennepin published Nouvelle Decowverte d'un ires Grand Pays, 
situe dans I'A merique, entre le Nouveau Mexique et la M er glaciale, which he 
dedicated to King William III. In 1698 he published Koiiveau Voyage d'un 
Pais plus grand que I'Europe. Finally these two volumes were combined in 
1698 in A Neiv Discovery of a Vast Country in America, extending above four 
thousand miles hetiveen Neiv France and Ne-iV Mexico, etc. For a discussion of 
Hennepin's publications consult Winsor, Narrative and Critical History, 4:247 ff., 
and Hennepin, Nciv Discovery (ed. Thwaites), i : xiv ff. 

^'^ See below, p. 128. 


he devoted much space to the threat of the British of the 
northern colonies and strongly recommended the founding of 
a colony in the Illinois country, which In his judgment would 
prevent them from trading with the Indians. A colony, he 
believed, should also be placed at the mouth of the Mississippi, 
partly because the transportation of products by this river was 
much cheaper and the route was always open, but chiefly be- 
cause a colony at the mouth of the Mississippi was needed to 
protect the Illinois from the British. " If the English," he 
argued, "once render themselves masters of the Colbert [Mis- 
sissippi], for which they are working with all their power 
.... they will also gain the Illinois, the Ottawa, and all the 
nations with whom the French of New France carry on trade." 
He prophesied that, when this should happen, Canada would be 
destroyed. ^^ 

Probably this memorial voiced the opinion of many friends 
and even of some enemies of La Salle. In 1694, Henri de 
TontI wrote In the same strain, using similar arguments.^- La 
Porte de Louvigny, captain of the troops of the marine In Can- 
ada, and the Sleur d'Ailleboust de Mantet, a lieutenant, also 
submitted a plan, on October 14, 1697, to revive La Salle's 
project, which they were certain could be carried out without 
great expense to the crown. A proposal that perhaps had 
greater direct Influence on the French ministry was fathered by 
the Sleur de Remonvllle, a friend of La Salle and acquainted 
with the west, and a Sleur Argoud, an associate of those scien- 
tists who had Interested themselves in La Salle's discoveries.^^ 
They painted in no indistinct colors the danger arising from 
the British aggression, even utilizing a rumor that William 
Penn was sending a company of fifty men to make an establish- 
ment on the Ohio river. Remonvllle and Argoud proposed 
to form a company to which the king should cede all land on 
the Gulf of Mexico lying between Florida and Mexico and 
extending north to the rivers of the Illinois. Within these 
boundaries. It was proposed that the company should exercise 
exclusive trading privileges for fifty years. ^* 

11 Margrv, Decoiivertes et Etablissements, 3:586 if. 

^"^ Ibid., 4: introduction p. V, 4:9 ff. 
1* Ibid., 27, 34 ff- 


Political and commercial circles in France were friendly 
to the idea underlying these various memorials, and the king 
was easily persuaded to favor the project of a settlement at 
the mouth of the Mississippi. As early as 1697 the decision 
had evidently been reached, for he wrote to the commissioners 
negotiating the treaty of Ryswick not to bring the question of 
the possession of the Mississippi valley into dispute, since he 
intended to send some vessels there to assure French dominion/'' 

The official who was most instrumental in bringing to a 
favorable decision the issue of the settlement of Louisiana was 
the Marquis Jerome Phelypeaux, better known under one of 
his later titles, the Comte de Maurepas (1697) or the Comte 
de Pontchartrain (1699). At the time of this earlier discus- 
sion of the project he was serving in the marine under his 
father, whom he replaced in 1699, His is a notable place in 
the history of North America, for he had insight where others 
were blind. Weak of constitution himself, Pontchartrain 
watched with interest the heroic deeds of the explorers and ex- 
perienced a keen disappointment in his own inability to partici- 
pate in them. Believers in exploiting the west received from 
him hearty support, and he followed with anxiety the moves of 
Great Britain toward the occupation of the Mississippi valley. 
Full information of the plans of Dr. Coxe was laid before 
the ministry, and the fear of anticipation by the British un- 
doubtedly hastened the final decision. ^^ 

There is danger of misinterpreting the American policy of 
the French ministry, unless the prohibition of the fur trade in 
New France is associated with the contemporary plan of estab- 
lishing a new colony at the mouth of the Mississippi. The 
latter was a broad-gauge plan for the future development of the 
French colonial system in America. Not the beaver trade, 
but real settlement in a land of mild climate, was to be the 
foundation of the new enterprise. The future alone would 
tell whether or not the French nation would emerge a great 
colonial empire from the competition for America. The gov- 
ernment was prepared, however, at the close of the seventeenth 
century, to put to the touch its destiny and to adopt the policy 

^•■■'Margry, Decouvertes et Elabl'issements, 4: introduction, p. LV. 
1^ Hid., introduction, p. xv. 


of expansion. The mistakes of Talon and Jolllet, of Frontenac 
and La Salle, were to be avoided; and their dream of an im- 
perial empire in North America seemed on the point of becom- 
ing a reality. 

Several considerations in addition to the fear of the British 
strengthened Pontchartrain's determination to promote the 
Mississippi settlement. The mouth of the river offered a port 
free from ice, and the near-by Spanish settlements as well as 
the numerous Indian tribes gave hope of a profitable trade. 
The geographical problem offered by the Mississippi was not 
without weight. Some people doubted Its very existence ; and 
La Salle's friends, anxious to justify their hero's activities, 
added their Influence to the support of the project. 

To insure success, a divided command such as had wrecked 
the expedition of La Salle was avoided by the choice of a leader 
who was both a sailor and an explorer. This was Pierre le 
Moyne, sleur d'ibervllle, the third son of Charles le Moyne. 
Born In 1661 In Canada, trained In the French navy and famil- 
iar from youth with war In the American wilds, he was in every 
way fitted for the undertaking. His conquest of the forts on 
Hudson bay and a daring campaign In Newfoundland had 
already shown his fearlessness, and by his leadership of men 
he had proved himself to be the most adroit captain in French 

Iberville was instructed, on July 23, 1698, to " reconnoitre 
the mouth of the Mississippi," and to raise a fort so that no 
other nations should gain a foothold.^^ Three months later 
he set sail In two frigates and on January 24, 1699, reached the 
coast of the gulf not far from Apalachlcola. Since his object 
was to find the mouth of the great river, he sailed carefully 
along the coast, keeping a sharp lookout; he passed Pensacola, 
which the Spaniards had just founded in the hope of forestalling 
the French; and finally, on March 2, he entered the Mississippi. 
In order to make sure that the long-sought river was really 

^"An excellent popular account of Iberville is to be found in Reed, The 
First Great Canadian. 

18 Margry, Decowvertes et Etablissements, 4:73 ff. His public instructions 
gave as objects: i, to discover the mouth of the Mississippi; 2, to make plans 
to obtain buffalo wool; 3, to search for pearls; 4, to look for mulberry trees; 
5, to discover mines. Then follow plans for Le Sueur's journey to the Sioux 
country. Ibid., 348 ff. 


found, he ascended it some distance in an attempt to identify 
places described by his predecessors. He visited Indians who 
told him about the passage of Tonti in a search for La Salle, 
and he received from an Indian chief the letter which the Italian 
had left for his leader. This last proof was sufficient. The 
commander finally built a fort at Biloxi and then sailed for 
France on May 3. 

In the establishment of Biloxi the French had beaten the 
British by only a few months in the race to secure the mouth of 
the Mississippi. A British vessel sent out by Dr. Coxe, after 
passing by the mouth and sailing to the coast of Texas, entered 
the river on August 29, 1699 ; and in the next few days it sailed 
up the stream for about one hundred miles. Here it was en- 
countered by Jean Baptiste le Moyne, sieur de Bienville, Iber- 
ville's brother, who ordered the captain to turn back, as the 
country had been occupied by the French, The Englishman 
disputed the claim, asserting that "the English had discovered 
and taken possession more than fifty years before." He swore 
further that he would return with a larger force and establish a 
settlement. -^^ 

The story of the next few years of trial in the new colony 
does not belong to the history of Illinois; the fact of its exist- 
ence suffices for this narrative. That the new colony did not 
thrive during these early years must be noted. The European 
war, known as the War of the Spanish Succession, made all 
intercourse between the mother country and the colonies very 
difficult, and the infant colony passed through precarious 
years. Still it was kept alive, and, until Iberville died of yel- 
low fever in 1706, supreme efforts were made to maintain it 
and to spread its sphere of influence throughout the upper 
Mississippi valley. 

Intercourse between Biloxi and the Illinois country was 
established almost immediately. Tonti, with five canoes laden 
with furs, reached Biloxi on February 16, 1700; his nineteen 
companions on the trip were said to be married and living in 
Cahokia or on the Illinois river. The fathers of the Seminary 

^^All that has been preserved of Captain Bond's log is printed in Alvord 
and Carter, The Neiv Rigime, 415 ff . ; see also Margry, Decouvertes et Etablisse- 
ments, 4: 360 ff. 


of Foreign Missions and the Jesuit missionary, Father Gravier, 
also came.^*^ 

The colony of Louisiana also spread its tentacles north- 
ward. Pierre Charles le Sueur in 1700 made a voyage of dis- 
covery up the river in search of mines. He reached Cahokia 
in June, visited the Galena mines, and canoed up the Minnesota 
river, where he erected a fort; the next spring he brought back 
furs and several boatloads of worthless ore but in 1702 aban- 
doned his whole enterprise."^ An agent of Iberville, named 
Villedieu, made a search for a copper mine which was reported 
to lie between Cahokia and the Illinois river, and for a lead 
mine near by. At about the same time men were dispatched 
to the Illinois to hunt buffaloes ; they were promised seven livres 
for each pelt, should the hair prove valuable for weaving.-- 

Iberville had conceived far-reaching plans for the Illinois. 
In 1702 he set forth his ideas in an elaborate memorial, which 
makes clear the significance of many happenings in the north.-^ 
In spite of vociferous protests from New France, Iberville 
treated the Illinois country as lying within his jurisdiction and 
proceeded to dispose of its future. His policy, like that of La 
Salle, contemplated an extensive rearrangement of the native 
tribes. He planned to move the Illinois Indians from the Illi- 
nois river to the Ohio, which he asserted was uninhabited. The 
places thus left vacant should be occupied by the Mascoutens, 
the Kickapoo, and the Miami tribes. The Sioux he proposed to 
locate on the lower Missouri, and certain of the Missouri tribes 
on the Arkansas river; he even contemplated uprooting the 
Assiniboin far to the north. " In four or five years," he writes, 
"we can establish a commerce with these savages of sixty to 
eighty thousand buffalo skins and more than one hundred and 
fifty thousand skins of bucks, stags and deer, which it will be 
necessary to have prepared on the spot and which will produce, 
delivered in France, a return of more than two million five 
hundred thousand livres yearly. From a buffalo skin, bull or 
cow, can be obtained on the average four or five pounds of good 
wool, which sells at twenty sous, and two pounds of hair at ten 

20 Margry, Decouvertes et Etablissements, 4:364. 

^'^ Ibid., 5:416 ff. Wisconsin Historical Collections, 16:177 ff. 

2- Margrv, Decouvertes et Etablissements, 4:375. 

"/*f^., 593 ff. 


sous. Besides there will be made annually from smaller peltries, 
bears, wolfs, lynx, otters, raccoons, foxes, martins, etc., above 
two hundred thousand livres."-^ To this peltry trade he added 
the possibility of exploiting vast mineral wealth. 

Such a rearrangement of the tribes as proposed would re- 
quire new trading and military posts to furnish the natives with 
goods. Hence at the moment when the Canadian merchants, 
jealous of the newly founded southern colony, were recom- 
mending to the ministry the establishment of western trading 
posts, Iberville was making a similar recommendation from 
Louisiana. He desired three such stations, one on the Arkan- 
sas, one on the Ohio, and the third on the Missouri, around 
which settlers should be encouraged to make homes. Iberville 
recommended that boundaries between New France and Louisi- 
ana be established in such a way that the lands wat£red by the 
Mississippi system should belong to the southern province. 
Should his plans be put into execution, he pointed out. New 
France would no longer complain of a glut of beavers in Its 
markets, the British would be prevented from continuing their 
encroachments in the west, and in case of war the French could 
*' raise more than twelve thousand good men to march against 
Maryland, Virginia, and Carolina." 

The ministry's reaction to these proposals was not altogether 
favorable. In a letter to the Canadian government, Pontchar- 
train expressed skepticism about the value of moving Indian 
nations around in the high-handed way proposed, nor was he 
ready to separate Illinois from New France. He was willing, 
however, to permit the settlement of Canadians on the Missis- 
sippi banks, provided they could be prevented from trading In 
beavers; this was somewhat of a departure from the policy 
previously announced.-^ 

The adjustment of the beaver trade was always a perplexing 
problem to the French ministry. It has been seen that the new 
company of the Canadians had received, as had their prede- 
cessors, a monopoly of it; and this arrangement proved very 
unsatisfactory to Iberville. The British were competing; 
French and Indians were conveying beaver skins to their colo- 

-* Margrv, Decouvertes et Etablissements, 4:600. 
2'^ Ibid., 607 fF. 


nies — others had followed the route of Jean Couture — and 
many traders naturally found it easier to bring their loads down 
the Mississippi to Biloxi than to transport them to Canada. 
Iberville petitioned the government to remove at least tempo- 
rarily the restriction on the beaver trade in Louisiana, and the 
ministry arranged that a clerk from Canada should be stationed 
at Biloxi to buy such furs as were already there; but for the 
future the trade was forbidden. ^^ 

The plans of Iberville for the rearrangement of the Indian 
tribes on the checkerboard of the Mississippi valley were not 
carried out, partly because of the inability of the home govern- 
ment ever to inaugurate any well-conceived plan for promoting 
the colonies and partly because of the outbreak of the War of 
the Spanish Succession, which engrossed the interest of French 
minds for a dozen years. The nearer and more immediate 
advantages in European politics were preferred to distant and 
imperial interests. 

The influence of the master mind of the Louisiana governor, 
however, was felt on the Illinois river; and his appeal to the 
native tribes living there raised an Issue between them. The 
Kaskaskia were In favor of heeding the call and of occupying 
the Ohio river valley; but to this plan the Peoria and Moing- 
wena offered violent opposition. The French settlers of the 
region favored the Kaskaskia side of the Issue, and the resident 
missionary. Father Marest, later wrote: "I also took steps 
for endeavoring to assemble the Ilinols at wabache [Ohlo]."^^ 

The quarrel was at its height when Father Gravler, who 
had been absent from the mission for some time, arrived and, 
speaking with his usual forcefulness to the chiefs in full council, 
brought about peace. This missionary, whose relations with 
New France had been close for many years, did not approve 
of Iberville's policy. Also he may have had reason to fear that 
the Illinois would pass under the missionary influence of the 
Seminary priests, should they go so far south. He tried, there- 
fore, to persuade the Kaskaskia and the French to give up their 
plan, but without success. He looked with foreboding on this 

28 Crane, "The Tennessee River as the Road to Carolina," in Mississippi 
Valley Historical Review, 3:14; Margry, Decouvertes et Etahlissements, 4:628, 
and passim. 

-^ Thwaites, Jesuit Relations, 66:39. 


separation of the tribes and the removal of the mission. He 
wrote: "God grant that the road from Chikagoua [Chicago] 
to the strait [Peoria] be not closed, and that the entire Illinois 
mission may not suffer greatly thereby. I admit to you, my 
Reverend Father, that my heart is heavy at seeing my former 
flock thus divided and scattered; and I shall never see it again, 
after having left it, without having some new Cause for affliction. 
The Peouaroua [Peoria], whom I left without a missionary 
(for Father INIarest has Followed the Kaskaskia), promised 
me that they would preserve the Church, and await my return 
from Mississippi whither, I told them, I was going solely for 
the purpose of ascertaining the truth of all that was said of it. 
This gave them great pleasure: they promised me that they 
would never leave their Village until I should inform them to 
what place the great Chief who is at the lower end of the River 
washed them to remove. I am very doubtful whether they will 
keep their word."-^ 

The mission of the Immaculate Conception among the Kas- 
kaskia was thus destined for a third removal. When Father 
Marquette founded it in 1674, the Kaskaskia occupied a village 
near the site of modern Utica. Father Gravier moved the 
mission to Peoria when Tonti built the new Fort St. Louis at 
that place. Finally, in September, 1700, the Kaskaskia, accom- 
panied by Father Gabriel Marest, moved southward and settled 
on the lower end of the American Bottom near the Kaskaskia 
river; and in the neighborhood the French traders formed a 
village by themselves. Thus was founded romantic Kaskaskia. 
Here the mission — later parish — was established, and its 
records contain a continuous history from that year to the 
present day. 

By the establishment of Cahokia and the removal of Kas- 
kaskia, the region that was later to be kndwn as the American 
Bottom became the center of French life, instead of the valley 
of the Illinois river, as La Salle had intended. The American 
Bottom, the gift of the Missouri river, extends from opposite 
the mouth of that river southward for about seventy miles, to 

28 Gravier letter in Shea, Early Voyages, 117; Thwaites, Jesuit Relations, 
65:103. See also the account of Penicaut in Margr}', Decowvertes et Etablisse- 
mcnts, 5:472. 

O ^ 




the point where the Kaskaskia river formerly emptied its waters 
into the Mississippi. On the west at that time the great river 
was hidden from view by a wide screen of trees. On the east 
rises perpendicularly for about a hundred feet a stretch of lime- 
stone bluffs, cutting off the lowlands from the prairies beyond. 
Between lies some of the most fertile land in North America, 
where Nature painted a primeval scene of tropical prodigality: 
ponds covered with gorgeous water lilies and fringed with tall 
grasses ; trees matted with grapevines ; forests made impassable 
by the wealth of undergrowth. Luxuriance and fertility invite 
man to indolence and repose. Little wonder that this small 
strip of territory has become the most historic in all the state. 
In the days before recorded history began it was the cradle 
of the most highly developed Indian culture in the state, a 
culture that has left as its monument the impressive mounds 
that thickly dot the level surface of the rich bottom. Along Its 
narrow plain were scattered the first permanent villages of the 
white men, where centered the history of this great state for 
over a hundred years. Here was written the romance of early 
Illinois; on this small area were enacted scenes that marked the 
passing of empires. 

Another Illinois event was closely connected with Iberville's 
plan. He had been greatly impressed by the British trading 
expedition which had used the Tennessee and Ohio rivers to 
reach the Arkansas. His alarm was confirmed when he learned 
that a group of French traders, probably from Cahokia, had 
journeyed by the same route to carry furs to the British col- 
onies.-" In his opinion the only means of preventing such activ- 
ities was the establishment of a post at the mouth of the Ohio. 
In Charles Juchereau de St. Denys, lieutenant general of the 
jurisdiction of Montreal, who already had obtained permission 
to go to the Mississippi, he found the man for the task. The 
Louisiana governor persuaded the ministry to grant to Juche- 
reau a concession of land — the Indians were not consulted — 
of two leagues on both sides of the Ohio and six leagues in 
depth, for the purpose of establishing a tannery.^*' The con- / 

29 Crane, " The Tennessee River as the Road to Carolina," in Mississippi 
Valley Historical Rei'ieiv, 3:14. 

20 Margry, Decowvertes et Etablissements, 4:478, 487. 


cessionaire was permitted to send eight canoes with twenty- 
four men and two officers to found his establishment and there- 
after to dispatch annually three canoes. ^^ He was prohibited 
from trading in beaver, but might open lead and copper mines. 

Juchereau set out on his journey in the early summer of 
1702 and followed the water course via Mackinac and the Fox- 
Wisconsin portage. While en route he was joined by Father 
Jean Mermet of the Miami mission, who had been appointed 
missionary of the expedition. The flotilla was stopped by the 
Foxes, but upon proving that he did not intend to trade with 
the Sioux, and after paying one thousand ecus tribute, Juchereau 
was permitted by these savages to pursue his journey.^- The 
site of his tannery was later described as being on a height 
overlooking the Ohio two leagues up from the mouth on the 
right bank, where all later maps mark an old French post; this 
j would place it at or near the present site of Cairo. Around 
his post Juchereau collected the Mascoutens, who were to hunt 
for him.^^ 

The usual opposition arose In New France to this concession. 
The intendant particularly was inclined to protest at the per- 
mission to send three canoes a year into this distant region, and 
the king replied that if Juchereau traded in beaver his conces- 
sion should be revoked. Juchereau assured the authorities, 
however, that he intended to keep faith, that the enterprise had 
already cost him forty thousand livres, that the right of sending 
canoes was necessary, as he wished to take his family to the new 
country as soon as possible; and that, in any event, products 
could be sent down the Mississippi much more easily than by 
the difficult route to Canada. ^^ 

This enterprise was not destined to succeed. During the 
second summer the post was visited by an epidemic, probably 
of malaria, which struck down the leader himself ;'^^ and his 
workmen went to join the French colony on Mobile bay. 

31 Margry, Decouveries et Etahl'issements, 5:349 ff., 366. 

^'-Michigan Pioneer and Historical Collections, 33:175. 

33Archives Nationales, Colonies, Ci^C, 1:346 ff. The document states that 
the post was on the " left " bank, but the description is written b}- one stationed 
at the mouth and facing upstream. 

3^ Margry, Decouvertes et Etablissements, 5:363, 366 ff. Archives Na- 
tionales, Colonies, B, 23:180 ff. 

3'' Margry, Decouvertes et Etablissements, 5 : 368 ; 6: 180. 


Among the survivors was the second in command, Lambert 
Mandeville, who later presented to the court a memoir on the 
minerals of the Illinois country; in this he says that he had 
brought down the river from the tannery a large amount of 
leather and skins, but having no shelter, he was obliged to 
stack them on the banks of the river, where many were stolen 
by the Indians and the others ruined by a rise of the water. '^*^ 

During the years of the war, 1701-1713, the news of the 
happenings in the Illinois country did not frequently float down 
the Mississippi nor follow the toilsome route over the numerous 
portages to Quebec. Consequently the information concerning 
the little settlements established on the banks of the Mississippi 
or concerning the fort at Peoria is most meager, and the his- 
torian is obliged to make a patchwork of brief accounts of a' 
few detached events. 

When Tonti departed in 1704, he left his nephew, the Sieur 
de Liette, as his representative in the Illinois. The latter 
had come to the country in 1687, while still very young, and had 
immediately set about learning the Illinois language by accom- 
panying the savages on their hunts; he soon became a master 
of it and acquired at the same time the confidence of his asso- 
ciates and a knowledge of their habits. His superiors regarded 
him with confidence and in 172 1 wrote that he had given "good 
evidence of the sagacity, valor, ability, and experience neces- 
sary and fitting for the glory of the name of his Majesty, the 
good of the service of the Company, and the advantage of the 
commerce." His enthusiasm for the Illinois country was un- 
bounded, and he pronounced it " without contradiction the most 
beautiful known between the mouth of the St. Lawrence river 
and that of the Mississippi." In a memorial which he drew up 
at Montreal in the year 1721, after a long residence in the 
Illinois, he described it and its inhabitants in great detail and 
proved himself to have been a careful observer.^" 

38 Archives Nationales, Colonies, C^^c, 2:346, 471 ff. 

3" De Cannes, "Memoir Concernant le Pays Illinois," in Ayer's collection, 
Newberry Library. The authorship, in spite of the signature, cannot be ques- 
tioned. The movements of its author fit but one man, Liette. The signature 
either has been misread or is that of some receiving clerk which a copyist has 
mistaken for the author; probably the latter is the case. On Liette, see fVisconsin 
Historical Collections, 16:333; letter September 5, 1721, Archives Nationales, 
Colonies, B, 43: 10 flf. ; letter to Vaudreuil, May 8, 1725, ibid., B, 48:741. 


The most outstanding event of the period was due to the 
disorders among the Indians at Peoria. An outbreak, almost 
a war, was incited by the Ottawa, who persuaded the Illinois 
tribes to attack the Indians gathered around Cadillac's village 
at Detroit. Cadillac chose a poor means of retaliation. He 
writes: "We contented ourselves with whipping them [fifteen 
warriors] with birch rods when they arrived at the fort, to 
make them understand that I was treating them like a father."^^ 
The treatment had the opposite effect, for the next year the 
Illinois attacked both the Miami and the French. Cadillac, 
who was as suspicious as La Salle, attributed the outbreak of 
hostilities to Father Gravier and Tonti, a gratuitous slander, 
as the result proved, for the hostility of the Indians was directed 
equally against them. 

Father Gravier had returned to the Peoria mission shortly 
after his journey to the mouth of the Mississippi in 1700 and 
continued his services as a missionary among them until 1705. 
In that year the governor of New France, after learning of 
the murder of one of the French soldiers, ordered Liette to 
bring some of the head men of the Peoria to Montreal. 
Accordingly, several Indians started for the east; but at 
Mackinac the principal chief, Mantouchensa, was persuaded 
by the Ottawa that the French were really afraid of the red 
men and that he should so act as to increase this fear. The 
Indians therefore deserted Liette and returned home, where 
they stirred the whole tribe to sedition. " He [Mantouchensa] 
loudly harangued that a person who took notice of everything, 
as the black gown did, should not be tolerated; that, after 
killing these French, they need use no further moderation 
toward the others; that they must be got rid of, and that the 
savages must make themselves redoubtable beyond question, 
in imitation of their neighbors. "'^^ 

Fired by such words, an Indian who thought he had a 
grievance shot several arrows at Gravier, hitting him in the 
arm. Later two hundred Indians surrounded the wounded 
man's house to attack him, but desisted upon learning that 
friends were with him. The father was finally rescued by 

^^ Michigan Pioneer and Historical Collections, 33:234. 
39 Thwaites, Jesuit Relations, 66:53. 


Indians sent by a brother missionary, Father Mermet, at Kas- 
kasl<.ia ; and after his arm, in which an arrowhead had been left, 
was unskillfully lanced, he was sent down the river and then 
to France. Two years later he tried to return, but died at 

A fellow missionary, Father Marest, after mentioning the 
short missions of Father Marquette and Father Allouez to the 
Illinois villages, writes: "Thus it is properly Father Gravier 
who ought to be regarded the founder of the Illinois Mission; 
it was he who first made clear the principles of their language, 
and who reduced them to rules of Grammar; we have only per- 
fected that which he successfully began. At first, this Mission- 
ary had much to suffer from the Charlatans, and his life was ex- 
posed to continual dangers; but nothing discouraged him and 
he surmounted all obstacles by his patience and his gentle- 

In 1706 the governor-general of New France ordered the 
French allies at Detroit to avenge the murders committed by 
the Peoria and prohibited all traders from visiting the village; 
but the French ministry did not approve of such drastic meas- 
ures, preferring to maintain peace among their allies in order 
to be prepared for an expected attack by the Iroquois, and in 
1707 ordered that peace be made.'*^ 

Several events resulted from this Indian war. Fiftv Cana- 
dlans from the Illinois villages went down the river with Father 
Gravier, carrying a large amount of beaver skins. How many. 
If any, returned, is unknown. Another consequence was the 
temporary abandonment of the Peoria mission, and for a year 
or more all communication between the Illinois country and 
New France was broken off.'^- 

Whether these Indian disturbances forced the Sleur de 
Llette to make his headquarters at one of the villages of the 
American Bottom Is not known; but the floating population of 
the region was evidently establishing Itself there. Father 
Gravier, writing of conditions before 1706, mentions French 

*°Thwaites, Jesuit Relations, 66:245, 125 ff. The account is drawn from a 
letter by Father Mermet, March 2, 1706, ibid., 5 ff. 

■•^Archives Nationales, Colonies, B, 29: 58 ff. Neiv York Colonial Documents, 
9:805; Michigan Pioneer and Historical Collections, 33:391. 

^^Thwaites, Jesuit Relations, 66: 135, 267. 


settlers, but on the other hand, Father Marest seems to indi- 
cate that in 17 12 there were no regular colonists near him. 
Mandeville in a memoir written between the years 17 12 and 
17 15 mentions a score of " French voyageiirs who have estab- 
lished themselves there and have married Indian women. They 
have constructed a windmill." A memoir from New France 
contains an account of forty-seven coiireiirs de bois at Cahokia, 
"living there at their ease; as grain thrives in that region they 
have built a mill, and have a great many cattle." The parish 
records of Kaskaskia show that between 1701 and 17 13 there 
were baptized twenty-one infants, whose fathers with one ex- 
ception were apparently Frenchmen; in eighteen cases the 
mothers were evidently Indians.'*^ 

The picture of the activities of the Jesuits that one receives 
from the contemporary accounts is most interesting. In the 
midst of the greatest hardships they persevered in their en- 
deavors, journeying from camp to camp on winter and summer 
hunts, exhorting their converts to practice the christian virtues. 
Father Marest thus describes the hardships endured: "Al- 
though the summer hunt is shorter, it is nevertheless more 
fatiguing; it cost the life of the late Father Bineteau. He 
accompanied the Savages in the greatest heat of the month of 
July ; sometimes he was in danger of smothering amid the grass, 
which was extremely high; sometimes he suffered cruelly from 
thirst, not finding in the dried-up prairies a single drop of water 
to allay it. By day he was drenched with perspiration,, and at 
night he was obliged to sleep on the ground, — exposed to the 
dew, to the harmful effects of the air, and to many other in- 
conveniences, concerning which I will not go into detail. These 
hardships brought upon him a violent sickness, from which he 
expired in my arms."'*'* 

Of Father Mermet, his colleague testifies : " Nevertheless, 

43 Thwaites, Jesuit Relations, 66: 127, 231, 247; Archives Nationales, Colonies, 
C^^C, 1:346 ff. In the relation of Penicaut, 1708, there is mention of the French 
settlers, and again in 1711 he writes of several merchants of Canada descending 
the Mississippi from Kaskaskia and bringing complaints of the French settlers 
there. Margry, Decouvertes et Etablissements, 5:475; IVisconsin Historical Col- 
lections, 16:332; "Kaskaskia Church Records," in Illinois State Historical Society, 
Transactions, 1904, p. 395 ff. On succeeding pages will be found other evidence 
of a population in the Illinois villages, but it was floating in character. 

** Thwaites, Jesuit Relations, 66:253. 


In spite of his feeble health, I can say that he is the soul of this 
Mission : it is his virtue, his gentleness, his pathetic instructions, 
and the peculiar talent that he has of winning the respect and 
the friendship of the Savages, which have brought our Mission 
to the flourishing state in which it is."^^ 

Neither suffering nor danger of death diverted these men 
from their duties. The attack on Father Gravier by the Peoria 
must have been disheartening, but in 171 1 Father Marest 
visited these very Indians again; and, at their earnest request, 
Father Jean Marie de Ville was sent to reestablish the mis- 
sion.'*'^ How many years a priest was maintained there is 

Wherever the Jesuits have settled they have been thrifty 
and prosperous. Their church in Peoria has already been 
mentioned, and from Kaskaskia a visitor wrote : " they have 
there a very pretty church;" it had three chapels and a belfry 
with a bell. They also built a windmill where the inhabitants 
and the Indians ground their grain. This was the beginning of 
a property which increased in value by constant improvements 
until at the end of the French regime the Jesuit missionaries 
were the wealthiest landlords of Kaskaskia."*^ 

At Cahokia the representatives of the Seminary of Foreign 
Missions ruled in accordance with the ecclesiastical decree; but 
although the Jesuit, Father Pinet, had been withdrawn, not all 
the friction between the two rivals had ceased. The fact that 
Father Bergier of Cahokia was the vicar-general of the bishop 
of Quebec, although he was without the right to visit the 
churches of the Jesuits, was particularly distasteful to Father 
Gravier, ever ready to stand up for the rights and prerogatives 
of his order. He charged the missionaries sent out by the Sem- 
inary with incompetency and slackness in performing their 
duties, an accusation due probably more to the bitterness of the 
dispute than to the facts, for other Jesuits appear to have been 
on the friendliest terms with Father Bergier. Father Marest, 
who had a capacity to see the good in all men, says of him after 
his death: "He was a Missionary of true merit and of a very 

^^Thwaites, Jesuit Relations, 66:255. 
*^ Ibid., 279, 289, 291, 341, note 25. 

■•'Archives Nationales, Colonies, C^^C, 1:346. Penicaut calls it "very 
grand." Margry, Decouvertes et Etablissements, 5:491. 


austere life. At the beginning of his Mission, he had to bear 
rude attacks from the Charlatans [medicine men], — who, 
availing themselves of his slight knowledge of the Savage 
language, every day took away from him some Christians; but 
eventually, he learned how to make himself, in his turn, feared 
by those imposters.""*^ 

In spite of the open hostility of the government of New 
France to any interference with the Illinois country on the part 
of the officials of Louisiana, the rule of the wilderness that 
trade will follow the stream prevailed and commercial relations 
were preparing the way for the Inclusion of the middle Missis- 
sippi valley within the southern colony. In 1708 Diron Dart'a- 
gulette, commissary general of Louisiana, shipped to France 
samples of lead and copper ore mined in the Illinois, and he 
sent to the same place for seed corn. Settlers also from time 
to time moved northward; but the number of immigrants com- 
ing from the south was never very large.^^ 

In 1708 or 1709 Governor Bienville and Commissary 
Dartagulette received word that the white inhabitants In the 
north were given over to disorders and that they were Inciting 
Indian wars to obtain slaves to sell to the British. In spite of 
their lack of jurisdiction the southern officials sent M. d'Eraque, 
who had been Le Sueur's second in command, with six men in 
a canoe to quell the disturbances. He ordered the Inhabitants 
to cease their Intrigues and exhorted the Indians to live In peace 
with their neighbors. ^"- 

Another Interference by Bienville in the Internal affairs of 
the Illinois v/as of longer duration. While Llette was being 
employed in 171 1 by Governor Vaudreull of Canada to escort 
some western tribesmen, Menominee and PotawatomI — osten- 
sibly for war against the British but possibly to promote har- 
mony among the allied tribes — the disorders In the Illinois 
grew so serious that Father Gabriel Marest sent a messenger 
to Governor Bienville to plead for assistance. A sergeant and 
ten men hastened northward and stayed in the country four 
months. Among the soldiers was Jean Penicaut, the historian 

^8 Thwaites, Jesuit Relations, 66:37, 127, 263. 

49Archives Nationales, Colonies, C^^A, 2:165, 317 ff., 541 ff. 

^0 Margry, Decouvertes et Etablissements, 5:476. 


of early Louisiana, who has preserved a picture of the Illinois 
country at this time.^^ 

By the close of the first decade of the eighteenth century 
the French had considerably extended in all directions their 
knowledge of the surrounding region. Many traders had now 
made the trip both up and down the Mississippi river. Others 
had traveled up the Tennessee to the Carolinas. The Missouri 
river had become a regular resort for fur traders, who had 
coursed along the reaches of the river as far west as the Kansas 
and had soon reached the forks of the Platte. They had visited 
the lead mines of Missouri and were familiar with the mines 
at Galena. Curiously enough, their trade had not carried them 
far up the Ohio, of which they knew little above the Wabash 

51 Margry, Decouvertes et Etablissements, 5:488 ff. 
czArchives Nationalea, Colonies, C^^c, i : 346 ff. 


SPECULATION ! The word and the act appear again and 
still again on the pages of Illinois history. To picture the 
river banks crowned with prosperous cities and the prairies cov- 
ered with extensive farms required no effort of the imagination. 
The region seemed designed by nature for the home of many 
people, but generations of speculators were to pass before their 
vision should become a reality, and their successors should make 
fortunes in Illinois land by dealing in futures. 

The early eighteenth century experienced one of the most 
spectacular of those speculative manias that have often shaken 
the financial world. The mania's obsession was French Amer- 
ica, and the acts of money-mad men in Paris started into being 
far distant villages along the banks of the Mississippi river. 
The Illinois country was affected, and out of the dried roots of 
La Salle's financial undertakings and from the gardens tended 
by zealot missionaries there was expected to grow a French 
empire in the heart of the upper Mississippi valley.^ 

The War of the Spanish Succession, or Queen Anne's War, 
ended formally in the first half of 17 13 with the treaty of 
Utrecht. The insignificant settlement of the province of Louis- 
iana survived still as a French possession but with wounds which 
could heal only in the quiet of peace. The task of rehabilitation 
devolved in June, 17 13, upon a new governor, Antoine de 
Lamothe Cadillac, the interesting quondam commandant at 
Detroit, a man of bluster, some efficiency, and little amiability. 
With his coming the colony received its first civil government 
in the proper sense of the word, for up to this time it had been 
administered by military commandants under direct orders 
from France. On December 18, 1712, was inaugurated a 

1 In this and the succeeding chapters on the French regime I have based 
my narrative in large measure on hundreds of transcripts from the Archives 
Nationales, Colonies, series B and C^^. In order to avoid footnotes bristling with 
references to particular documents, a procedure unwarranted by the character 
of these volumes, I have limited references to the cases of quoted passages 
and a few documents of outstanding importance. 



superior council for civil and criminal matters which in some 
form or other from that time to the close of the French regime 
represented directly or indirectly the royal power in conjunction 
with the governor and the commissaire-oj-donnateiir — the 
latter officer performing the functions without the prestige of 
a French or Canadian intendant. 

While Governor Cadillac was still lingering in France, 
whither he had gone after receiving word of his appointment, 
he was instrumental in reviving governmental interest in Loui- 
siana by negotiating the grant of a trading charter to Antoinc 
Crozat, a wealthy merchant connected with the inner circle of 
the French government. To the hard-headed merchant Cadil- 
lac pictured in brilliant colors the commercial possibilities of 
Louisiana, using as high lights the rich mines on the lower Ohio 
and in the country of the Illinois; the latter, however, was not 
finally included in the cession. 

The charter, valid for fifteen years, conferred the exclusive 
right of trade and mining throughout Louisiana, the boundaries 
of which, described rather indefinitely, extended on the eastern 
side of the Mississippi only to the Ohio river. The trade in 
beaver skins still remained the monopoly of New France. 
Among other commercial privileges Crozat was granted the 
right of importing to Louisiana one shipload of Negro slaves. 
That the population should not be neglected the concessionaire 
was obliged to convey a few colonists on every ship sent to the 
colony. After nine years he was to bear the expense of the 
civil establishment.- 

From the first Crozat and Governor Cadillac were dis- 
appointed in their hopes of financial returns. Great expecta- 
tions of securing a profitable trade with the Spanish colonies 
collapsed; hopes of making Mobile a flourishing trading center 
soon had to be abandoned, for, without an adequate population, 
no commerce of value could be built up and the monopolistic 
policy inaugurated by Crozat retarded rather than developed 
better conditions.^ The situation in the Indian trade proved 
equally disappointing on account of British competition. 

~ Recueil General des Anciennes Lois Fran^aises (ed. Isambert, et al.), 
20: 576 ff. 

^ lleuirich, La Louisiane, LXi ff. 


The treaty of Utrecht, which closed the War of the Spanish 
Succession, contained one clause that was to have a portentous 
influence on the development of the west. This was clause 
fifteen, which assured to Great Britain and France unrestricted 
trade with, and a sphere of influence over their Indian 
allies.^ Although the clause was loosely drawn and rather 
indefinite in meaning, the British based upon it a claim to all 
land held in subjection by the Iroquois confederacy and by their 
Indian allies south of the Ohio. The British, a practical-minded 
people, did not indulge In the weaving of fine-spun webs of 
policy and gossamer titles as did the French. In the clause lay 
a claim, and English-speaking people pressed it until they had 
driven the French from America. 

The immediate contest between the two nations occurred in 
the region south of the Ohio, where the British had been trading 
long before the arrival of the French. The Cherokee were 
successful in persuading the Illinois Indians to send furs 
through their country, and the French cotireurs de hois were 
also approached by British agents.^ These traders from the 
east established here and there new posts and formed a firmer 
league with the Chickasaw and the Natchez ; even the Choctaw 
became divided in their attachment. British goods were regu- 
larly sold on the banks of the Father of Waters. 

To check the British intrigues and to subdue the disloyal 
Canadian "vagabonds" congregated in the villages and at the 
same time to investigate the mining facilities so extravagantly 
described, Governor Cadillac In 17 15 made an eight-months' 
visit to the Illinois country. Of positive results of his mission 
he reported little, but returned optimistic and somewhat assured. 
By way of Canada the hopeful news was sent to Versailles that 
Cadillac had discovered "mines of gold and silver" and had 
"left his son with forty men to work there, after Investigation 
had been made by the two Spaniards."^ 

Crozat had watched his experiment with care and had en- 

* Macdonald, Select Charters, 232. 

^ For British intrigues in the Illinois, see Wisconsin Historical Collections, 
16:317. The best account is in Crane, "The Southern Frontier in Queen Anne's 
War," in American Historical Revieiv, 2+: 379. For the free use of a manuscript 
copy I am greatly indebted to the author. 

^ Ramezay to minister, November 3, 1715, in JVisconsin Historical Collections, 


couraged his representative so long as he trusted him, but the 
time soon came M'hen he reahzed that his hope of wealth in 
the great valley of America was a chimera. Like the good 
business man he was, he chose to pocket his loss of 1,250,000 
livres rather than to throw more money into a bad venture. In 
January, 17 17, he petitioned — perhaps not altogether volun- 
tarily — for release from his obligations; and his request was 

During these years very little influence upon the Illinois 
was exercised from the lower Mississippi. Cadillac's visit left 
behind it hardly a ripple, and the changes In administration and 
policy that affected the villages came by way of the cold rivers 
and laborious portages of the north. Before the peace of 17 13 
had brought the war with the British to a close, the situation 
in the west had become so acute through the extending Influence 
of British traders that counteracting measures had to be under- 
taken without waiting for the permission of the home govern- 
ment. To hold the Indians to th'e French alliance, the governor 
of New France sent, in 17 12, garrisons to Mackinac, the 
Miami, and the Illinois, the Sleur de Llette being in command 
at the last." The arrival of these French commandants was 
timely. Sent to counteract British Intrigues, they found them- 
selves confronted with an unexpected Indian war that endan- 
gered the French ascendancy in the west. 

The success of the French experiment in colonization In 
the Mississippi valley depended on the solution of the one great 
problem that has perplexed every nation which has extended Its 
dominion to America — the relation between the whites and 
the Indians. In the end the English-speaking people were to 
sweep away the obstructing aborigines by the Inexorable force 
of their numbers; but no such contemptuous attitude toward 
the Indian as was fostered among the American pioneers could 
serve the French colonies with their sparse population. Their 
relation with the Indians must be based on mutual regard and 
self-interest. Where the Indians were undisturbed by the 
machinations of the British, the French were on the whole fairly 
successful In maintaining peace and in some cases were able to 

^ Vaudreuil to minister, November 6, 1712, in Ne^v York Colonial Documents, 


inspire in the savages real affection and devotion; but witli one 
powerful tribe they failed. 

The Musguiakie, or, in their neighbor's languages, Utu- 
gamig (Outagami), and in the white man's tongue Renards or 
Foxes, were near kin to the Sauk, the Mascoutens, and the 
Kickapoo, and like them were driven from lower Michigan in 
the seventeenth century by the westward thrust of the Iroquois 
confederacy. The first Jesuits and coitrciirs de bois found them 
established on Wolf river, but later they settled along the route 
of the Fox-Wisconsin portage. All accounts of them — gener- 
ally emanating from their enemies — describe them as "stingy, 
avaricious, thieving, passionate, and quarrelsome ; their bravery, 
however, was proverbial."^ 

Their antagonistic feeling for the French arose at an early 
date and was caused by their contact with the unruly, brutal, 
and deceitful fur traders by whom " the seeds of distrust were 
sown which were to blossom later into a harvest of hatred and 
war."^ Friction with the whites continued almost constant. 
During the wars waged against the Iroquois confederacy by 
Governor Frontenac the Foxes openly sympathized with the 
Indians. When the French government adopted an anti-fur- 
trade policy and withdrew its garrisons from the west, the 
Foxes became the dominant power around Green Bay and the 
portage, which they closed to all traders carrying merchandise 
to their enemies on the west, the Sioux. Their position made 
them the protagonists of a pan-Indian sentiment. Their tem- 
porary power and success inspired in them the desire of rivalry 
with the white men. 

The Fox war began in 17 12, when a band of Foxes, visitors 
for two years at Detroit, were slaughtered by their Indian 
neighbors aided by the French commandant. The wilderness 
from that date resounded with the war whoop. Indian tribe 
warred on Indian tribe. The secret preparation, the long line 
of stealthy warriors gliding through the forest or paddling 
guardedly along the streams, the surprise, the murder of men, 

^Handbook of American Indians, 1:473. 

" In the interpretation of the war with the Foxes I am greatly indebted 
to the excellent account in Kellogg, "The Fox Indians During the French 
Regime," in Wisconsin Historical Society, Proceedings, 1907, p. 142 ff., and that in 
Quaife, Chicago and the Old Northiuest, chapter 3. 


women, and children, the torture and burning at the stake, were 
common events in the region that the Jesuit missionaries had 
once hoped to make the home of a peaceful agricultural people. 

The Illinois country was particularly affected, for there had 
long existed a feud between the Illinois and the Foxes; and the 
latter's next of kin and allies, the Kickapoo and the Mascoutens, 
were near neighbors, dwelling in the valleys of the Rock and 
Fox rivers. The valley of the Illinois river became the scene 
of a frightful contest between the red men, one party being 
assisted by their white protectors. In 1 7 1 4, the Foxes were suc- 
cessful in killing or taking prisoner seventy-seven of the Illinois 
Indians. ^'^ 

Without adequate forces in the west, the French determined 
on the extermination of the Fox tribe; but before they could 
use their potential power, they were to experience the paralyz- 
ing result of the abandonment of the western forts at the close 
of the seventeenth century. The only possible compensation 
for this weakness was the creation of a union of friendly Indian 
tribes. The commandants who had been sent Into the west in 
17 1 2 were the diplomatists In the new negotiations. They 
failed In 17 14, but a confederacy was arranged the next year. 
There was elaborated a plan of cooperation of the allies from 
south of the lakes, who were to rendezvous at Chicago, with 
those from the lakes region. The miscarriage was complete. 
An epidemic of measles among the Wea prevented them from 
sending the large band promised; the Illinois raised four hun- 
dred warriors and marched to Chicago, but finding no one there 
and receiving no word from the north, they dispersed. The 
nonarrival of supplies at Mackinac prevented any movement 
from that place. 

The Hurons and other Indians from Detroit finally reached 
the rendezvous and succeeded In recalling the Illinois. The 
united forces attacked the Mascoutens, probably on the Fox 
river, and killed. It was rumored, one hundred warriors, besides 
taking forty-seven prisoners, exclusive of the women and chil- 
dren. After the battle the victors withdrew; four hundred 
Foxes pursued and overtook them but were repelled after a 
battle lasting from dawn until three o'clock. 

^"Parkman, Half Century of Conflict, 1:330. 


In 1716 the government of New France mustered under 
Louis la Porte, sieur de Louvigny, an army of two hundred 
and twenty-five Frenchmen, all eager to enjoy the lucrative fur 
trade of the lakes region. These were later joined by other 
white men and by large numbers of Indians, bringing the num- 
ber in the expedition up to eight hundred. This was the first 
French army to enter the west since Frontenac's time; and like 
those armies sent out by that doughty governor, it was more 
interested in trade than in war. Loads of merchandise and 
forty casks of brandy were carried as munitions. 

The Foxes stood their ground in their village on the Fox 
river (Wisconsin) and Louvigny laid siege in true European 
fashion with trenches and mining operations. When the Foxes 
were reduced to desperation, the commander granted them easy 
terms and marched away, greatly to the disgust of his allies, 
who were expecting the annihilation of the foe; instead, the 
Foxes had promised beaver skins. 

It will be necessary to return to the story of the Fox wars 
on a later page, but the outbreak of the war was the occasion 
for a change in the western policy by the French government. 
The policy of prohibiting the coureiirs de bo'is from going into 
the west, noted in the last chapter, could not be enforced. 
Many coureiirs de hois, refusing to return to Montreal at the 
bidding of their king and their governor, were supplied by east- 
ern merchants with merchandise; in this illegal business men of 
the highest class, both civil and ofi^cial, joined. ^^ Efforts were 
continually made by the Canadian officials to have the right to 
issue licenses reestablished. They assured the home govern- 
ment in many memorials that the operations of the fur traders 
were essential to the life of New France, since they conducted 
its most important business and since the Indians, if they were 
not supplied by the French, would trade with the British at 
Hudson bay or at Albany.^- 

^^ Perrot, Memoir, in Blair, Indian Tribes, i : 230. 

1- fVisconsin Historical Collections, 16:266, 298; Ne^v York Colonial Docu- 
ments, 9:852; Edits, Ordonnances Royaux, Declarations, 351. See an interest- 
ing memorial of the antitrading party of 1710 in Richard, Supplement to Report on 
Canadian Archives, 1899, p. 229. The memorialist calls the license system "the 
source of much evil and dissoluteness, of the fatal trade in brandy and of the 
stagnation of agriculture, contrary to the object of the settlement of this colony, 
which was to civilize and Christianize the Indians." 


The days of Louis XIV were numbered; the king was al- 
ready feeble and his grant to Crozat revealed the growing 
power of views other than those which prevailed when the edict 
prohibiting permits was issued in 1696. New conditions de- 
manded a revision of policy; and on July 10, 17 14, the royal 
government allowed the issuance of fifteen licenses to be used / 
only at the garrisoned posts of Detroit, Mackinac, and the 
Illinois. After the death of Louis XIV, the new regime showed 
itself decidedly opposed to the influences which had controlled 
the old king; the critical situation in America was recognized; 
and in accordance with a new policy instructions were issued on 
April 28, 17 16, increasing the trade permits to twenty-fiv^. ^/ 
By 17 1 7 the posts of Mackinac, Green Bay, St. Joseph, Miami, 
and the Illinois had become firmly reestablished, and a new 
history of the west and of the fur trade v/as inaugurated. 
Plans for the development of French America were, however, 
evolving rapidly; and the decision to try again a monopoly 
temporarily stopped, in 17 19, this system of trading.^^ 

With the passing of the cession to Antoine Crozat the 
French government was once more confronted by the problem 
of the future of Louisiana. In the financial circles of the capital 
forces had developed that changed the status of the colony from 
a rather unimportant experiment in imperialism to the object 
of European speculative mania. The Mississippi Bubble, once 
blown, expanded to gigantic size, then collapsed. For a few 
years Louisiana and with it the Illinois became the principal 
interest of France and even of the financial world of Europe. 
The names became synonymous with sudden wealth. The Mis- 
sissippi river, the existence of which half a generation before 
had been a question for academic debate, became the popular 
subject of conversation among the elite in the salon and among 
the servants in the kitchen. Whoever had a little money to 
invest took a flyer in the new stock. 

The central figure of this historic get-rich-quick scheme v.'as 
John Law, a Scotchman, adventurer and gambler, with some 
of the stable qualities of a financial thinker. In books and 

^^ Calendar of the communication is in Richard, Supplement to Report on 
Canadian Archives, 1899, p. 119, 121. For account of events in the west under 
these new orders see Wisconsin Historical Collections, 16:330, 437. Ibid., 437; 
Neiv York Colonial Documents, 9:884. 


pamphlets he urged the adoption of a system of paper credit 
to supplement the coinage in currency, an idea forming the 
quintessence of all his future financial operations. He believed 
that the industrial prosperity of a country was to be measured, 
roughly, by the amount of money in circulation. To supply 
the immediate demand was, therefore, his first consideration; 
the ultimate result of inflation or the means employed con- 
cerned him but little. ^^ 

With the death of the Grande Monarque and the establish- 
ment of the regency under the Due d'Orleans, Law's oppor- 
tunity arrived. France stood on the verge of bankruptcy; the 
government was making use of the worst financial expedients; 
commerce and industry had lost all activity; agriculture was 
at a standstill; economic stagnation was everywhere evident. 
Law offered an escape. His first enterprise was humble, the 
establishment of a private bank, chartered in May, 1716; in 
this the state was directly interested, since three-quarters of the 
payment for the stock was in depreciated billets d'etat. 

From the first Law planned to unite commercial enterprises 
with his banking. The colony of Louisiana offered an oppor- 
tunity. Perhaps by intimidation, perhaps on account of fail- 
ure, Antoine Crozat yielded his charter; he became one of 
Law's most bitter enemies. The ensuing negotiations resulted 
in a new charter for Louisiana, coupled with an apparent re- 
suscitation of French finances and the formation of a new com- 
mercial company, the " Company of the West," commonly 
called the " Mississippi Company."^^ 

The charter was granted in August, 17 17, to be valid for 
twenty-five years, beginning January i, 17 18. It gave the 
company a complete trade monopoly of Louisiana even includ- 
ing the buying of beaver; free disposal over all forts, ports, 
depots, and the garrisons of the province; ownership of all 
mines opened up by the company; free importation of French 
goods into Louisiana and a reduction of the duty on goods 
imported into France; freedom to issue orders regulating the 
interior conditions of Louisiana as regards commerce and the 

^* Weber, La Compagme Franqaise des Indes, 299; Heinrich, La Louisiane, 
2 ff.; Lavisse, Histoirc de France, 8 (2): 21 ff . ; Davis, Essays in the Earlier 
History of American Corporations, 185, 208, 288. 

15 Dernis, Recueil ou Collection, ij^.^-iy^.b, 3:103-122, 129-138. 


relations with the Indians; and the right of appointment of 
all officials, including the judges. The charter imposed upon 
the company the obligation of recognizing as law the coutiime 
de Paris and of importing into the territory 6,000 white per- 
sons and 3,000 Negroes. A few weeks later this charter 
was supplemented by an ordinance, dated September 27, which 
formally incorporated the Illinois country into Louisiana. ^^ 

In spite of violent opposition by influential men, Law rose 
to the position of financial dictator of France, His bank be- 
came national; in it centered all the financial business of state; 
the great commercial companies operating in India and Africa 
were united with his into the Company of the Indies for the 
exploitation of the world. Speculation in the shares, which 
rose to twenty times their par value, went wild. Men fancied 
themselves with Midas' power and not a few did actually 
make fortunes in a single day. Finally in 1720 the imposing 
structure created by Law's fantastic mind began to tremble 
and finally collapsed with a crash heard and felt throughout 
France. Law himself took flight; he had brought to France 
1,600,000 livres; he carried away a little pocket money. For 
France he had done much; he had taught the nation how to 
use credit, he had stimulated trade, and had reduced the na- 
tional debt. 

To make Louisiana as valuable as Law's vision of it had been 
would have required many years and a great expenditure of 
money, neither of which the entrepreneur commanded. He 
realized more keenly than Crozat had the necessity of in- 
creasing the population. To accomplish this, newspapers and 
pamphlets with lurid accounts of Louisiana's wealth were 
widely distributed: mountains there teemed with the precious 
metals, savages were eager to trade gold and silver for Euro- 
pean merchandise; Natchez squaws were manufacturing silk. 
Former Governor Cadillac loudly proclaimed such descriptions 
lies, and was thrown into the Bastille by the government. All 
France was intoxicated by the thought of easy wealth. Noble- 
men and merchants vied in securing concessions of princely 
domains under most generous conditions; the banks of the Mis- 

1^ October 4, 1717, in Archives Nationales, Colonies, B, 39:4.57; Helnrich, 
La Louisiane, 4, note 5. 



sissippi were soon bordered with towns, villages, and extensive 
plantations — all on paper. 

The securing of colonists was more difficult. They were 
sought everywhere, in France, Switzerland, Germany, and 
Italy, and to all emigrants were given generous farms. In 
France compulsion was used: vagabonds from the streets, 
malefactors from the prisons, abandoned children from the 
hospitals were seized by the company's agents; even boys and 
girls from poorer families were drafted. The unwilling emi- 
grants were marched in chains to Rouen or La Rochelle; many 
of them died en route; many committed suicide to escape the 
dangers of the forest. Still, many did arrive to swell the cen- 
sus returns of Louisiana. ^^ 

The interior administration of the company began in the 
fall of 17 1 7 with the reappointment of the experienced Bien- 
ville as governor. The next formal move was the creation of 
a council for Louisiana in the spring of 17 18. Then the great 
task of developing the colony had to be taken up. The com- 
pany continued to exclude foreign traders and to fix the prices 
of merchandise; it gave encouragement to agriculture, fos- 
tered the culture of tobacco and rice, and introduced that of 
silkworms. For the protection of the population new forts 
were erected. 

The ruin and flight of John Law in 1720 did not react 
seriously on Louisiana, for the colony had not prospered as 
had been expected. A drastic reformation of the administra- 
tive machinery was made on September 5, 1721. Nine mili- 
tary districts were created, each with a military commander 
and a judge: New Orleans, Biloxi, Mobile, Alibamu, Natchi- 
toches, Natchez, Yazoo, Arkansas, and the Illinois. The 
Arkansas district extended to the line of the Ohio river; the 
Illinois included the whole course of the Ohio and extended as 
far north as the Missouri. These nine districts were united 
under four general commanderies, New Orleans, Biloxi, Mo- 
bile and Alibamu, Arkansas and the Illinois.^^ 

To the Illinois the rule of the company brought many 
changes. In 17 18 there was chosen as a successor to the Sieur 

^''^Lavisse, Histo'ire de Trance, 8 (2) : 35. 

18 Archives Nationales, Colonies, C^^A, 6:196 ff. 


de Liette, Pierre Duque, sieur de Boisbriant, a Canadian by 
birth, forty-seven years old, and a cousin of Iberville, with 
whom he had come to Louisiana in 1700. The choice was 
excellent. In spite of an unprepossessing exterior — he was 
small of stature and one shoulder was higher than the 
other — he was a man of tact, had the confidence of his su- 
periors, understood Indian psychology, and spoke the Illinois 
language fluently. In his first talk to the Illinois he alluded 
to his size and assured them that, although his body was small, 
his heart was "large enough for all my children, the Illinois 
red men, to dwell in it as in a spacious cabin. "^" Accompanied 
by a staff of army officers, government officials, employees of 
the company, mining engineers, workingmen, and a hundred 
troops, the new commandant arrived at Kaskaskia in Decem- 
ber, 1718. 

The second official of Importance in the district was a di- 
rector In the Company of the Indies, Marc Antolne de la Loere 
des Ursins. He had come to Louisiana with Cadillac In 17 13 
and had been the principal agent of Crozat in the region around 
the mouth of the Mississippi.-'^ The commissary for the com- 
pany was Michel Chassin, who for lack of a trained clerk was 
obliged to take upon himself the duties of both clerk and 

Boisbriant began his administration with the erection of 
a fort as the seat of government. This was finished in 1720 
and was named Fort de Chartres in honor of the son of the 
regent. It was situated about fifteen miles north of Kaskas- 
kia. Around it a small settlement sprang up, forming the 
fourth village of which the district could boast. At the same 
time the citizens of the village of Kaskaskia were organized in 
a militia company. The inauguration of the new government 
brought many other changes, which will be narrated in a later 

19 Bossu, Nouveaux Voyages dans I'Amerique Septentrionale, 218, 221. In 
his answer the Indian orator said that he thought the force of Boisbriant's spirit 
had hindered the development of his body. Margry, Decouvertes et Etablisse- 
ments, 4: 369. 

-" La Loere was killed in the massacre at Natchez in 1729. 

21 There is a very interesting letter from him to some friend in France, 
dated July i, 1722, in Archives Nationales, Colonies, C^^A, 6:297 ff. 

2- See below, chapter lo. 


In 17 19 the mining operations, which Boisbriant had been 
specifically ordered to promote, began with vigor. The direc- 
tion of these had been placed in the control of a council of ten 
with the commandant at its head. The council was instructed to 
open up lead and silver mines; smelting was to take place 
every three or four weeks; finally all habitants and soldiers in 
the Illinois were permitted to work in the mines. The im- 
portance of these operations may be inferred from Governor 
Bienville's report of September, 17 18, that Boisbriant was 
preparing to erect a special post at the mines. From 17 19 on 
were arriving mining experts, or those believed to be experts, 
either sent by the company or coming on their own account; 
the hope of all was that their zeal would be rewarded by the 
discovery of rich silver mines. ^^ 

In 1720 appeared the man who was to play the leading 
part in the field of mining for many years, Philippe Francois 
Renault. Formerly a banker in Paris, he had been appointed 
director general of mines for the company; and in this capacity 
he began his activity in the Illinois. He brought with him 
miners and Negro laborers, and twenty-five of the latter were 
sent him each year. Beyond the Mississippi on the shores of 
the Meramec river, he opened a mine which produced a consid- 
erable amount of lead; but Renault was particularly interested 
in locating copper or silver. Acting on a rumor that copper 
had been found on the Illinois river, he made a journey of 
exploration thither in company with an officer and a guard. 
The explorers searched as far up as Starved Rock and reported 
that "in examining a coal mine — we found a mine of silver 
and of copper of which the said Sieur Renault had made 

In the year 1722, the Illinois district received a court of 
the first instance, for both civil and criminal matters. It was 
subordinate to the court of appeals at New Orleans, but was 

23 The members of the council were Boisbriant, president, La Loere des 
Ursins, Diron Dartaguiette, Marbion, Pigmoil, and others. Order August 26, 
1718, in Archives Nationales, Colonies, B, 42:230 ff. Bienville to council of 
marine, September 25, 1718, ibid., C^^A, 5: 160. Charlevoix, JourJuil d'un Voyage, 
137 ff. Charlevoix expresses surprise that the company took such little care in 
the selection of its mining experts. 

2-* Letter and journal of Legardeur Delisle, in Archives Nationales, Col- 
onies, C13A, 6:292; Ci''C, 2:181 ff. 


f Reproduced from X'illiers du Tcrrage, Les D 


icres Annees dc la Lottisianc Fraucaisel 


designated "Provincial Court" and exercised jurisdiction over 
the territory stretciiing from the Arkansas and the Ohio up 
the valley of the Mississippi; in other words, over the com- 
mandery of the Illinois and Arkansas. The judges were Com- 
mandant Boisbriant, president; La Loere, principal clerk; 
Chassin, garde-magasin and second councillor; and Perillaut, 

Opposite the French settlement of the Illinois was the 
mouth of an immense river, the waters of which, turbid with the 
washings of miles of banks, discolored the waters of the Mis- 
sissippi below the confluence. The Missouri offered a route 
into the mysterious regions of the far west, where the fertile 
imagination of the French pictured untold wealth. An Alad- 
din's lamp could hardly summon more bewitching visions. 
Here were rich mines of gold, silver, and precious stones; here 
was a trade route to the Spanish possessions; and, most won- 
derful of all, the river offered the long-sought means of cross- 
ing the continent and reaching the marvelous ports of China. 
A contemporary writes: "It is said that there is much gold 
and rubies in that country. It is believed the inhabitants are 

As has been seen, the coiiretirs de hois very early found 
the valley of the river a rich market for furs and slaves, which 
they bought from the Osage and the Missouri, and even the 
more distant Comanche and Pawnee. How far Into the un- 
known west these freebooters of the wilderness penetrated 
may never be discovered. By 1720 they had reached the forks 
of the Platte, in the western part of modern Nebraska, for 

25 May 12, 1722, Archives Nationales, Colonies, C^^C, 43: 103 ff. See Alvord, 
" Illinois in the Eighteenth Century," in Illinois State Historical Library, Bulletin, 
volume I, number i, p. 16. The judges drew no special salaries, but in their 
capacity of administrative officials they had previously been advanced: La Loere 
to 2,000 livres, Chassin to 800, and Perillaut to 600. Official salary list, December 
19, 1722, in Archives Nationales, Colonies, B, 43 : 147. Probably the first criminal 
case ever heard in the Illinois came before this court. It concerned Perillaut, 
the secretary, who had killed with his sword on April 25, 1723, Morin, a drummer 
of the garrison, for having spoken impertinently to him. He was arrested and 
tried, the court sitting intermittently till the end of May. During his trial 
three chiefs of the Kaskaskia with thirty followers appeared before the court to 
plead for the life of the accused man. He was finally acquitted. Mereness, 
Travels in the American Colonies, 75 ff. There are also documents concerning 
this case among Kaskaskia manuscripts. 

-"Letter of Presle, June 10, 1718, in Margry, Decouvertes et Etahlissements, 


here they aided the Pawnee to defeat a body of Spanish troop- 
ers sent out from Santa Fe,-' 

The first official exploration of the river was undertaken 
by Charles Claude Dutisne in the summer of 1718. His first 
attempt failed at the villages of the Osage; but he returned 
and started overland, reaching the villages of the Comanche 
beyond the western boundaries of the modern state of Mis- 
souri, where the Indians stopped him. 

In order to push the explorations, to protect the mines, 
and to open up a trade with the Spaniards, the company deter- 
mined to build a fort on the Missouri. A further reason was 
the belief of the French officials that the Spanish expedition 
against the Pawnee, distorted accounts of which were brought 
by the Indians, had actually been sent against the Illinois vil- 
lages.-^ The company intrusted to Etienne Venyard, sieur 
de Bourgmont, who had lived a rather lawless life for years 
in the Illinois and vicinity, the work of building the fort, which 
was completed in the fall of 1723 and called Fort Orleans; 
it was situated about fifteen miles from the mouth of the Mis- 
souri.-^ From this place Bourgmont made further explora- 
tions of the regions to the west as far as the villages of the 
Comanche. The fort itself existed but a few years either be- 
cause of the curtailment of expenses by the company or on 
account of hostile attack;^*' but the Missouri region for both 
mining and furs remained a part of the Illinois. 

In the second half of 1724 Bolsbriant left the district to 
act as temporary successor to Governor Bienville. Honest 
and able, he fulfilled his new responsibilities acceptably, but his 
sense of duty led him to oppose the orders of the company, for 

"^ The best description of this expedition is found in Dunbar, " Massacre 
of the Viliazur Expedition by the Pawnees on the Platte in 1720," in Kansas 
Historical Collections, 11:397 ff. 

-* Margry, Decouvertes et Etablissements, 6:309 ff. ; Bossu, Nouveaux Voy- 
ages anx Indes Occidentales, 1:176; Houck, History of Missouri, 1:255. The 
story was so told by historians, until search in the Spanish archives proved 
it to be incorrect. Bienville's official report is in Margry, Decouvertes et Etab- 
lissements, 6:386; for other versions see Bossu, Nouveaux Voyages aux Indes 
Occidentales, 1:130 ff . ; Houck, History of Missouri, 1:250 ff. 

-^ Its site is somewhat in dispute among Missouri historians. See Houck, 
History of Missouri, 1:258; Stipes, "Fort Orleans, the First French Post on the 
Missouri," in Missouri Historical Revieiv, 8:121 ff. 

30 Margry, Decouvertes et Etablissements, 6:388 ff. A very clear statement 
of the explorations is contained in Houck, History of Missouri, 1 : 258 ff. 


doing which he was summoned to France. In October, 1727, 
he was deprived of his rank of first lieutenant; the next year, 
discharged, disgraced, without resources, he tried in vain to 
be reinstated into the service of the company. The govern- 
ment reminded the company that, although Boisbriant had 
disobeyed orders, he was a thoroughly upright man, loved and 
respected by all. Nothing more is heard of him. 

Boisbriant was temporarily succeeded by Charles Claude 
Dutisne, a Canadian, for many years in Louisiana. In 17 13 
he had led several Canadians, among them his wife, to Mobile 
by land, being one of the first white men to cross the continent 
in this manner. He had entered the service of the company in 
17 1 7 and had made the first official exploration of the Mis- 
souri valley. Five years later, having been advanced to the rank 
of captain, he was appointed substitute for Boisbriant In case 
of absence. Dutisne did not hold the position long, but was 
transferred to the Natchez post the next January. A good 
officer and familiar with Indian life, he won enthusiastic en- 
comiums from all his superiors. After the death of the Sieur de 
Liette in 1729, Dutisne was again temporary commandant of 
the Illinois for a short period.^^ 

During a few months of the year 1725, after Dutisne 
had departed and before the newly appointed commandant, 
Liette, arrived, the senior officer at Fort de Chartres exercised 
the chief power in the district. This was the Sieur de Pradel, 
a captain, of whom little is known except that he had been one 
of Bourgmont's officers at Fort Orleans. He caused trouble 
for himself during his short administration by arresting an 
inhabitant for some fancied slight or insolence. Under the 
leadership of one La Plume the inhabitants protested and re- 
sorted to violence. Pradel was himself arrested and sent to 
New Orleans. Liette reported, however, that Pradel had done 
no wrong; and he was discharged and reinstated in his rank.^^ 

31 He died in 1730 from the effects of a wound in the cheek caused by the 
shot from a Fox gun. Houck, History of Missouri, 1:255. The news of his 
wound was known in New Orleans by October 1, 1729, but he was still supposed 
to be alive on March 18, 1730. Archives Nationales, Colonies, C ^^ A, 12: 178, 293. 

^"^ Ibid., 9:239 ff., 259 ff. ; Dutisne did not leave the Illinois till after January 
10, 1725; Wisconsin Historical Collections, 16:453. Liette was still in New 
Orleans on September 1, 1725, but ready for his departure. Minutes of Superior 
Council, in Archives Nationales, Colonies, C^^^, 9:82 ff. 


The Sieur de Liette had been in the Illinois since 1687 
and had for years represented the French power at Fort St. 
Louis. He entered the service of the company in 1720 and in 
April, 1 72 1, was appointed commandant at the Wabash; but 
since this post was not yet established, he went to Natchez. 
From there he was transferred in 1725 to the Illinois, where 
he was always popular. He died before August 26, 1729. 

Liette's successor, after the temporary command of Dutisne, 
was Robert Groston, sieur de St. Ange, a typical trooper, illit- 
erate, upright, pious, and attached to his duties. He had come 
to Canada from France about 1686 and must have entered the 
military service at an early age. It was said in 1736 that he 
had served the king fifty years. In 172 1 he accompanied Father 
Charlevoix on his historic journey through the Mississippi val- 
ley, and from that time his name became intertwined with Illi- 
nois history. Two of his sons, Pierre and Louis, have also 
played their part on these prairies. On May 30, 1722, St. 
Ange was commissioned ensign on half pay. He and his son 
Louis accompanied Bourgmont to the Missouri and assisted 
him in his explorations, and the father commanded Fort Or- 
leans for a time. In 1729 he bought a house near Fort de 
Chartres, and after Dutisne's death he became, as senior officer, 
the commandant of the Illinois, a position which he held until 

The five terms of these four commanders form, in a cer- 
tain sense, a unit, for each faced the same vital problems: the 
relations of the district to the company, to Canada, to the 
Foxes, and to the British. 

The Company of the Indies had found, as had Crozat, 
that Louisiana was an unprofitable investment; accordingly 
its members now preferred to cut down their expenses there 
in order to invest their money In trading in other parts of the 
world. When Boisbriant was acting governor of the province, 
this policy of restriction began to be painfully felt. The gar- 
risons everywhere were ordered to be reduced ; then the amount 
of merchandise to be shipped to the north was strictly limited; 
risks of financial loss in boats and goods from Indian attacks 

3^ Douglas, "The Sieurs de St. Ange." in Illinois State Historical Society, 
Transactions, 1909, p. 135 ff. 


were to be reduced to a minimum. If the Illinois people wished 
to buy, they should come to New Orleans. ^^ 

Those directly interested in the development of the Illinois 
and conversant with its potential wealth were astonished at 
the shortsightedness of this policy. Renault was already be- 
ginning to see the day of profits on his investments. On Feb- 
ruary 27, 1725, he owed the company 140,000 livres besides 
the price of twenty-five Negroes sent him each year. He had, 
however, built a furnace and was taking out fifteen hundred 
pounds of lead a day and by another year expected to mine all 
the lead the company could consume. He now asked for a 
guard for his mines. He had built for himself a stone house — 
the first one in the country — and was looking forward to a 
prosperous business. By September of 1725, however, he was 
forced to complain that his credit had been cut off and that the 
continuance of the Fox war made it impossible to work at his 

The inhabitants of the Illinois made an earnest plea for 
their rights, in which they were supported by Governor Bois- 
briant, who pointed out that the lower province would have 
been badly off without flour from the Illinois district.^*^ But 
the council of the company paid little heed; it had trouble 
enough, for, to add to Louisiana's financial difficulties, a con- 
flict between political factions was raging with great bitter- 
ness, bidding fair to ruin the colony. 

Disastrous news now came by the river. A letter from 
Liette informed the company that the Mississippi had in the 
summer of 1727 Inundated the country and destroyed the fort. 
The Illinois commandant was In favor of rebuilding "at the 
prairie" nearer KaskaskIa, and the Inhabitants of that village 
offered to furnish all the stone necessary and to transport the 
munitions and other supplies to the new site on condition that 
each of them be permitted to purchase two slaves by the pay- 
ment of flour. The company, heartily weary of the expenses 
of their speculation. In October ordered their new governor, 
Perier, to have all its property In the Illinois country and the 

3* Archives Nationales, Colonies, C^'A, 8:225. 
^^IbiJ., 9:51 ff., 239-258. 
^^Ibid., 8:225. 


garrison except for two officers and six men removed to New 

Illinois was, then, to be abandoned; but Governor Perier 
decided not to carry out the order, and he made so effective a 
protest that the company did not insist on its immediate execu- 
tion. Still it announced its intention of evacuating Fort de 
Chartres as soon as the Fox war should be brought to a close; 
but in 1729, after the terrifying massacre at the Natchez, the 
company consented to keep a body of sixty troops In the 
Illinois and agreed to send more if needed. ^^ 

The greatest event In the history of the Illinois country 
during this period of changing commandants was the Fox war, 
which was at Its height from 17 18 to the overwhelming defeat 
of these tribesmen in 1730. Now the Illinois villages felt the 
full difficulty of their position at the border line of two prov- 
inces, for neither Canada nor Louisiana was ready to give 
them adequate protection, each being inclined to leave the re- 
sponsibility to the other. 

While dilatory tactics prevailed in New France the dan- 
ger had been increased by the energy and skill of the forest 
diplomats. Little Is known of the Fox chief, Klala, a veritable 
forerunner of Pontlac and Tecumseh, who succeeded in build- 
ing up a strong and far-reaching confederacy of the discon- 
tented Indian tribes. Its main strength lay on the western 
bank of the Mississippi. In their fight for life against the 
white men the Foxes won over to alliance their traditional ene- 
mies, the northern Sioux, and the Iowa ; they made overtures to 
tribes even farther to the south. On the east the Foxes counted 
as friends their kin the Mascoutens, the Sauk, and the Kicka- 
poo, the Siouan Winnebago, and the western Abnaki. Thus a 
formidable alliance threatened to cut asunder the colonies of 
France. ^^ 

In 171 8, the year Bolsbriant came to the Illinois, a war 
band of Foxes invaded the country on the Illinois river, and 

3' Company to Perier, October 27, 1727, in Archives Nationales, Colonies, 
C^^A, 11:89-92; Perier and La Chaise to the company, April 9, 1728, ibid., 48. 

38 Perier and La Chaise to the company, November i, 1728, ibid., 113 and 
also 346 ff. 

3" Kellogg, "The Fox Indians During the French Regime," in Wisconsin 
Historical Society, Proceedings, 1907, p. 166 ff. 


from that time their attacks on all the Indian villages were 
made with great regularity; even the French were not spared. 
In 1725 a chief of the Michigamea, Jouachin, and others nar- 
rated a series of atrocities committed by the Foxes during the 
preceding years. ^^ The murder of men, women, and children 
in the whole region from the Illinois to the Ohio had become a 
common occurrence. The Foxes defied Fort de Chartres and 
made traveling between Kaskaskia and Cahokia unsafe. 
Father Charlevoix, who passed down the Illinois river In 1721, 
wrote that the Foxes " Infested with their robberies and filled 
with murders not only the neighborhood of the Bay [Green 
Bay], their natural territory, but almost all the routes com- 
municating with the remote colonial posts, as well as those 
leading from Canada to Louisiana.""*^ 

The Illinois made reprisals and were able at times to vaunt 
their success; but victory lay generally with the Implacable 
Foxes, who In 1722 besieged the Peoria, congregated at the 
village near Starved Rock, and forced their surrender, but 
spared their lives on condition that they give up eighty of their 
women and children. The result was a temporary abandon- 
ment of the Illinois river villages by the Peoria, who removed 
to Cahokia, thus giving over to the Foxes the control of the 
important Chicago-Des Plaines portage, and turning travel 
between Canada and the Illinois Into the route via the Maumee- 
Wabash portage. 

Help could come from Canada, but It was slow In coming; 
and when it came, indignation broke loose. The commandant 
of New France in the west made peace at Green Bay with the 
Foxes, Sauk, and Winnebago without Including in the agree- 
ment the Illinois.^- Protest followed protest. The Jesuits 
united with Commandant Dutisne, Acting Governor Bois- 
brlant, and the Illinois chiefs In denouncing the false peace. 
Dutisne wrote to the governor of Canada: "The Traders 
from your Quarter give them [the Foxes] to understand that 
we Are other White men. People of that Kind Sacrifice Their 
country to obtain Beaversklns."^^ The Jesuit fathers joined 

^^ Wtscotts'in Historical Collections, 16:457. 

*i Charlevoix, History of Neiv France (ed. Shea), 5:305. 

*■- Margry, Decouvertcs et Etablissemcnts, 6:510 ff. 

*3 Wisconsin Historical Collections, 16:444 ff. 



with the representatives of the Seminary of Foreign Missions 
in a letter of protest. They urged the necessity of informing 
the king, " for Monsieur de Vaudreull [governor of New 
France] will amuse the Court by Writing that it is our fault 
If we have not peace. He seems to have no other desire than 
to allow the vein of Beaver skins to flow; and, by Letting The 
Renard [Foxes] attack us, to prevent this Country from being 
settled, and thereby to shut off trade between His Government 
and Ours."" 

The people of the Illinois did not trust their case to let- 
ters alone. An able ambassador to the royal court at Ver- 
sailles was found in Father Beaubois, S. J., of Kaskaskia, who 
was accompanied by the eloquent MIchlgamea chief, Chlcagou, 
and three chiefs from the Missouri tribes. They were re- 
ceived with the highest honors by the company and the court 
and loaded with presents. Chlcagou in particular made a good 
impression; both he and Father Beaubois seized every occa- 
sion to bring before the authorities the sorry plight of the 
Illinois, and no doubt their accounts of conditions had an in- 
fluence in the more peremptory orders to the governor of 
New France.^^ 

As a result of the arousing of the French government and 
in consequence of Its Instructions to the governor of New 
France to stop the depredations of the Foxes, a futile peace 
was patched up in 1726. Before the new governor, Charles 
de la Bolsche, marquis de Beauharnois, who arrived in Can- 
ada the same year, had overcome the influence of the fur 
trading party responsible for this peace, news arrived of an- 
other outrage committed by the Foxes. A lieutenant and 
seven soldiers sent from Fort de Chartres up the Missouri 
river to collect supplies were attacked by a band of Foxes, and 
all were killed.^*^ 

It was now apparent how insincere the peace had been, 
and to punish the perfidy of the Foxes an expedition was started 

^^ Dutisne's letters, in Wisconsin Historical Collections, 16:450 ff. ; mission- 
aries' letter, ibid., 453 flF. 

*^ A long and interesting account of this visit to France was printed in Le 
Mercure de France for December, 1725, from which the above is drawn. Twenty- 
two Indians in all were collected for the voyage, but most of them were fright- 
ened by the capsizing in port of the vessel designated to convey them. 

*^ Archives Nationale>, Colonies, B, 50:543. 


from New France in the spring of 1728 under tlie command of 
Marchand de Lignery. Although he had a large army, four 
hundred Frenchmen and. nearly one thousand Indians, his ex- 
pedition as a military enterprise failed; the Foxes had been 
warned, and all that Lignery accomplished was to burn villages, 
destroy crops, and march away.^^ 

The Illinois commandant had been expected to cooperate, 
and Liette, accompanied by a Jesuit, Father Dumas, did lead 
twenty soldiers and as many habitants and some Indians as 
far as Chicago, where he defeated a band of Foxes and Kicka- 
poo, killing twenty and taking fifteen prisoners, with the loss 
of one officer and two soldiers. Lignery tried to excuse his 
failure by laying the blame on Liette for not cooperating with 
him, an excuse that did not save him from a reprimand.^^ 

The French army withdrew with the belief that little had 
been accomplished; yet the show of French power had im- 
pressed all the Indian tribes. News soon came that the Kicka- 
poo and Mascoutens had determined to make peace with the 
Illinois and was hailed with rejoicing on the American Bottom. 
A Kickapoo delegation was received with the usual Indian 
ceremonies and an alliance was made. At the same time the 
Sioux refused to grant the Foxes refuge in their country. The 
league of hostile tribes was crumbling. The next year saw 
Montreal crowded with delegates from the tribes of the upper 
country, all declaring their love for the French and their hatred 
for the Foxes. ^^ In the great game of war the whites' superior 
power had overawed the red men, who left the recalcitrant 
tribe to fate. 

The sole hope of the Foxes lay in securing a treaty of 
peace from the French; otherwise they would have to leave 
their homes to settle among the Iroquois, who offered them 
shelter. They sought a treaty apparently with earnestness, 
and some French officials were in favor of granting it. The 
governor of Canada, however, exhorted the Indians "to de- 

*'' Wisconsin Historical Collections, 10:47 ff. ; 17:31 ff- 

48 It is possible that Liette had been delayed by the severe flood that de- 
stroyed Fort de Chartres. Archives Nationales, Colonies, C^^A, 11: 18 ff., 27 ff.; 
B, 53:539- Wisconsin Historical Collections, 17:34- On Father Dumas, see 
ibid., 39. 

*'^ Ibid., 54 ff., 59, 63. 


stroy the Foxes, and not to suffer on this earth a demon capa- 
ble of confounding or opposing our friendly alliance."^'' To 
accept the offer of the Iroquois appeared to some of the Fox 
warriors more fitting to their dignity, and In the summer of 
1730 a band of three hundred warriors with their families 
started eastward, after striking a blow at some Cahokia and 
other Indians on the Illinois river and burning the son of a 
Cahokia chief at Starved Rock. The news of the "trek" was 
soon spread throughout the tribes, and special messengers were 
sent posthaste to summon the French at St. Joseph, the Miami, 
and the Illinois, where St. Ange now ruled. He hastened to 
the battle at the head of one hundred French and four hundred 

The Illinois commandant was the first of the white men on 
the grounds and discovered that the KIckapoo, the Mascoutens, 
and the Peoria had seized "the passes on the northeast side" 
and had thus "probably compelled the Renards [Foxes] to 
build a fort" at the rock a league below them; this was located 
somewhere between the Illinois and the Wabash rivers.^^ At 
this place the people of the Illinois were joined by Nicolas 
Coulon, sleur de Villiers, with fifty or sixty Frenchmen and 
about two hundred and fifty Potawatomi, Miami, and Sauk 
from St. Joseph, and by white men and Indians from the Miami 
post, until the army numbered about fourteen hundred. For 
twenty-three days the fort was besieged, until both sides became 
exhausted and ran out of food. The Frenchmen refused every 
demand for peace, although some of their Indian allies pleaded 
for their kinsmen, and the Sauk supplied the Foxes with muni- 
tions. A war almost broke out between the bands of the be- 
siegers, and two hundred of the Illinois Indians deserted. Still 

^^ Wisconsin Historical Collections, 5:105. 

61 J. F. Steward, who has made a careful study of the battle, is convinced 
that it took place on the Fox river in Kendall county. The account of St. Ange, 
who led the Illinois troops, favors his interpretation, but it is rather indefinite, 
whereas statements of others equally well informed are very definite. Mr. 
Steward's site fits well the account of another battle that occurred the next year. 
Steward, " Destruction of the Fox Indians in 1730" and " Further Regarding the 
Destruction of a Branch of the Fox Tribe," in Illinois State Historical Society, 
Transactions, 1902, p. 148 ff., 189 ff. ; ibid., 1914, p. 175. For contemporary ac- 
counts also see Wisconsin Historical Collections, 17:100 ff. Consult Kellogg, 
" Fox Indians During the French Regime," in Wisconsin Historical Society, 
Proceedings, 1907, p. 174. 


the besiegers pushed closer their lines of trenches until St. 
Ange's band was within two pistol shots of the fort. 

On September 8, a violent thunderstorm interrupted the 
activities of the encompassing army. During the night the 
Foxes decided to withdraw from the fort; their movements 
were betrayed by the crying of their children, but fear of con- 
fusion held the allies inactive until the next day, when they 
easily overtools. the enemy. No mercy was shown; the band 
of Foxes was practically annihilated. The number of those 
killed and captured was about three hundred warriors, 
besides the women and children. " It is Agreed on all sides 
that not more than 50 or 60 men Escaped Without guns 
and Without any of the Implements for procuring their Sub- 

The great menace to the Illinois country was over. The 
Fox war was to continue in a desultory way for a number of 
years, the French being determined on the extermination of 
the tribe; but never again was there formed a purely Indian 
alliance that threatened with annihilation the French imperial 
plans in the upper Mississippi valley. The long-continued war 
had, however, retarded the development of the Illinois country 
with consequences the future would reveal. 

Throughout the period of the Fox war the French saw 
looming on the eastern horizon a still greater danger. The 
British colonies in both the northeast and the southeast were ex- 
tending their Influence toward the Illinois country, forcing on 
the French the necessity of action to protect the weakest part 
of their long line. The time could not be long postponed 
when the strength in the west of these steadily advancing col- 
onies would more than counterbalance the superior Indian 
diplomacy of the French and their greater concentration of 

In the northeast the traders from New York were secur- 
ing more and more of the fur trade. The Albany merchants 
knew how to utilize skillfully the alliance of the Iroquois, and 
It Is very possible that some of the strength of the Fox aggres- 
sive policy was Inspired Indirectly by fur dealers on the banks 
of the Hudson. Fort Oswego In New York was built In 

^^ Wisconsin Historical Collections, 17:113. 


1724, and soon became the center of an active fur trade and a 
counterpoise to the newly erected French post and later fort 
at Niagara. ^^ 

The success of the British in extending their trade and the 
continuance of the Fox war forced the government to revive the 
twenty-five conges in New France; a greater volume of French 
trade might save the situation. Still their fears grew and the 
officers at various posts reported that a great conspiracy to 
massacre the French garrisons had been inspired by the Brit- 
ish agents. ^^ Even the parsimonious Company of the Indies 
was forced by the danger to appropriate money. The Ohio 
valley, unoccupied by either of the rival nations, was becoming 
the scene of the struggle. In 1720 a post at Ouiatenon, the 
last in this direction of the province of New France, was 
founded. Eleven years later Post Vincennes was established 
on the lower Wabash by the province of Louisiana.^^ For 
years these two posts, wnth Detroit and Niagara, formed the 
bulwark against British aggressions. 

Desperate as was the situation in the northeast, that in 
the region south of the Ohio was far more dangerous, for 
here the conspiracy that was only attempted north of the river 
was actually set in motion. The Carolinians were using every 
art to win over the Indians. French diplomacy was more than 
counterbalanced by gifts and cheap goods. The Chickasaw, 
the Natchez, and the Cherokee, never won to friendship by 
the French, were easily bought by generosity; and even the 
Choctaw, as the French report, were debauched. ^•'^ 

The British had still greater success with the Cherokee. 
In April, 1730, Sir Alexander Cuming, Indian commissary, 
secured from the chiefs of that nation the recognition of the 
sovereignty of the British. The new relation thus established 
was recognized by the appointment by the commissary of a 

53 The best account of the rivalry of the British and French in this region 
is Severance, An Old Frontier of France, 2 volumes. 

5* Archives Nationales, Colonies, B, 49:657; Heinrich, La Lou'tsiane, 217, 
note I. See ihid., 222. 

55 The exact date is uncertain. Ouiatenon, near modern Lafayette, was the 
head of navigation for pirogues and large canoes. Dunn, Indiana, 50. Dunn^ 
"The Mission to the Ouabache," in Indiana Historical Society, Publications, 

3:279- . . „ 

56 Heinrich, La Loutsiane, 224 ff. 


supreme chief, and later a number of Cherokee followed him 
to London and before King George II pledged by arrows and 
scalps their fidelity to the British crown.^'^ 

Against this activity of the British colonies, the economy 
of the Company of the Indies prevented the concerting of 
active measures. What could be done with empty storehouses 
and a handful of troops? Then a great disaster wakened the 
company from its lethargy. Everywhere the intrigues of the 
British had been assisted by the anger of the Indians at French 
encroachments on their lands. Now a general conspiracy of 
the Indian tribes was formed, which planned to make simulta- 
neous attacks at different points. The Natchez, however, 
broke loose prematurely, and on November 29, 1729, mas- 
sacred 238 of the F'rench in or near Fort Rosalie. The gover- 
nor of Louisiana was able to arouse the Choctaw to unite with 
the French for revenge, and by 1730 it was believed that the 
Natchez as a tribe had been completely destroyed. Many 
still survived, however, as refugees among the Chickasaw; the 
end of the Natchez war was not yet.^^ 

This revolt of the Indians sounded the death-knell of the 
company; its failure was evident to all; action now became 
imperative. In January, 1731, the company petitioned the 
king to take Louisiana and the country of the Illinois back 
into his own hands, l^he request was complied with in the 
sam.e month, to take effect on July i.^'^ Thus came to an end 
the financial experiment of John Law. The Illinois country was 
on the threshold of a new period in Its history. 

s'^ Heinrich, La Lonis'iane, 241. On the whole situation consult MacGrady, 
History of South Carolina, passim. 
^^ Heinrich, La Loiiisiane, 253 ff. 
s^ Archives Nationales, Colonies, B, 55:593 ff. 


THE Age of Voltaire! Paris again laughed and was 
light-hearted. The somber, puritanical days of the 
Grande Monarque were forgotten. Paris was skeptical. No 
longer could a solemn dogma, a survival of the sixteenth cen- 
tury controversy, smother the spontaneity of life. With 
honmot and with laughter, with critical doubt and with philo- 
sophical reasonableness, society carelessly swept on to the flood 
tide of the revolutionary days. Voltaire expressed its thought; 
its gaily-decked, panler-gowned women its social life. 

A similar metamorphosis in social life had swept over 
England in the previous generation under the gay Charles II. 
France naturally turned for guidance to the more experienced 
nation. English women introduced at court a new style of 
coiffure, and an English philosopher, John Locke, laid a basis 
for French contemporary thought. Inspired by the new life, 
Voltaire taught a modern view of freedom and a critical atti- 
tude toward all social problems, and Montesquieu expounded 
for his countrymen, eager for the new learning, English 
political theory and practice. 

A natural result of this preference for things English was 
a more careful study of the English colonial system, a 
consequent realization of the difference in aims and means be- 
tween the policies of the two countries. Typical is a letter of 
instruction written to the governor in 1728 by the minister: 
"The idea of the people of New England is to work, to culti- 
vate their land carefully and to advance their settlements little 
by little; when it is a question of pushing them farther they 
will not consent because it would be they who would be obliged 
to support the expense. 

"The inhabitants of New France think differently. They 
wish always to advance without troubling themselves about the 
establishments nearer-by, because they gain more and are more 
independent when they are far away. These different fashions 



of thinking have had the result that the English colonies are 
better populated and better established than ours."^ 

With Louisiana now a royal province, new methods could 
be conveniently introduced. Was the government equal to the 
task? The king, now about twenty years old, had already 
exhibited his preferences for women, hunting, and a variety 
of chateaux, but had given no promise of success in any opera- 
tion where his ancestor had failed. He left public affairs dur- 
ing the earlier years of his reign to his ministers, then after 
1745 to His mistress, Madame de Pompadour, and then finally 
to the minister, the Due de Choiseul, the only one of his 
servants with any claim to greatness. 

One of the first administrative questions that arose was 
whether it would be better to include Illinois in Louisiana or 
in New France. Since both were now royal provinces the dis- 
posal of the midland district touched no particular interests, 
and the Illinois country was left with the southern province. ^ 
Yet the colony was, for practical purposes, to be considered 
as a part of both, irrespective of its formal administrative 
connection. In sharp contrast to the restriction imposed by 
the old regime, the ministry opened the trade gates to Canada.^ 

The two colonies were instructed that they were not to 
regard themselves as rivals, but as departments of the same 
kingdom; but old customs and habits of thought are not easily 
discarded, as the officials in the Illinois soon discovered. In 
April, 1734, Governor Bienville was forced to make an official 
complaint that the governor of Canada was not responding 
to the king's views; he had refused Canadians permission to 
remove to the Illinois and had required the inhabitants from 
there who wished to do business In Canada to have conges. 
Reports were current in the west that more than a hundred 

1 Arcliives Nationales, Colonies, B, 52:499 ff. The opinion reminds one of 
the views of Colbert; still the contrast of French method with the British is 

The discussion in this chapter is based upon a large number of documents 
in the Archives Nationales, Colonies, series B and C^^A. The policy of citing 
only the significant ones is followed in this chapter as in the previous one. 

-The question was raised at the time Louisiana was made a royal province. 
Perier and Salmon to minister, December 5, 1731, in Archives Nationales, Col- 
onies, C^^A, 13:28 ff. ; minister to Bienville, September 2, 1732, ibid., B, 57:807; 
Wisconsin Historical Collections, iT.!"]^. 

3 Archives Nationales, Colonies, B, 55:593 ff. 


families were prepared to settle in the Illinois and on the 
Wabash, but could not obtain permission to leave Canada. 
The minister promptly reprimanded Governor Beauharnois of 
New France for such conduct and reminded him of the royal 
wish for the closest relations between the two provinces.^ 

In the eyes of the French government the Illinois assumed 
far greater importance than the Company of the Indies had 
ever attached to it. Governor Bienville appears to have ex- 
pressed in 1733 the accepted opinion In official classes: "I 
do not doubt," he wrote, "that Illinois will in a short time 
become the most considerable settlement of the colony."^ 
Lying as It did betv/een Louisiana and New France, Its strate- 
gic position was evident to all; on It centered the hope of the 
French imperial system. Accordingly the officials of Louisi- 
ana were instructed again and again to do everything possible 
for the prosperity of the district. The search for fabulous 
fortunes from mines gave way to a more wholesome interest In 
agriculture with the hope of making the Illinois district the 
granary and the breeding ground of cattle for the army and 
the civilian population of the whole province. 

Above all other difficulties In the way of French success 
loomed the menace from Indian revolts, constantly feared by 
French officials and as constantly attributed to the intrigues of 
the British traders. The cause was real enough and was each 
year to become more dangerous. There were, however, other 
reasons for the growing discontent of the natives. The French 
had not developed an efficient method of supplying the Indians 
with the sorely needed munitions and merchandise; conse- 
quently the red men were forced to seek other markets, par- 
ticularly those of the British. Their uneasiness was Increased by 
the fear that the white men would appropriate all uncultivated 
territory. As the Illinois saw settlers spread themselves over 
the fertile American Bottom, they became greatly concerned. 
Chief Chicagou, when on his visit to France In 1724, had taken 
every occasion to plead with the officials that the Indians be 
not driven from their hunting grounds. 

* Minister to Beauharnois, July 20, 1734, in Archives Nationales, Colonies, 
B, 61:569 ff. ; Bienville to minister, April 22, 1734, ibid., C^^A, 18:142 ff. 
' Bienville to minister, July 25, 1733, ibid., 16:265 ff. 


Finally, the natural reaction from the great victory over 
the Foxes in 1730 had set in. The native population of the 
territory, since the Foxes were destroyed, felt no longer any 
need of protection by the French and began to look on the 
latter as intruders, capable of meting out to other tribes the 
punishment inflicted on the Foxes. The change of feeling 
began to be noticed about 1732. Father Mercier, one of the 
Illinois priests, in that year wrote: "The Indians are in- 
triguing with the Osages and Kansas to aid them against the 
French; the chiefs are friendly, but they cannot control their 
youths."*^ The beginning of a spirit of rebellion carrying with 
it an inarticulate, inchoate pan-Indian feeling was becoming 

The Illinois had a special cause for discontent. The in- 
habitants of the villages, mostly coureiirs de bois, were inclined 
to be rough and quarrelsome, ever ready to have disputes 
and not overanxious when their cattle wandered into the In- 
dian cornfields. Furthermore, the Illinois were resenting a 
breach of faith on the part of Governor Perier."^ During the 
course of 173 1, three Chickasaw emissaries had appeared 
among the Illinois to arouse them to revolt. The Illinois re- 
mained faithful and handed the messengers over to the authori- 
ties at New Orleans, on condition that their lives should be 
spared. Governor Perler accepted the prisoners but promptly 
ignored the condition. 

The discontent first broke out in Indian disturbances at 
Cahokia in May, 1732. These began in a quarrel either be- 
tween an Indian and a white man or between two Indians — 
the accounts conflict — which threatened to grow Into a seri- 
ous affair. The young men of the Illinois were particularly 
warlike in their demonstrations; and the priests and some of 
the Inhabitants fled secretly by night, fearing a general mas- 
sacre. Father Mercier wrote: "All is confusion; we are 
always on the qui vive; I asked St. Ange for a guard." The 
alarm ended only with the coming of a new commandant with 
more soldiers.^ The danger was probably slight and Its im- 

'^April 25, 1733, in Archives Nationales, Colonies, C^^A, 17:288. 
■^ Minister to Bienville, October 14, 1732, ibid., B, 57:859. 
* Mercier to unknown, April 25, 1733, ibid., C^^A, 17:287. 


portance exaggerated in the official reports, but it reveals con- 
ditions favorable for receiving the future seeds of revolt to be 
planted by skillful British diplomats of the wilderness. Sub- 
sequent events gave to this incipient revolt a sinister character. 

About simultaneous with this outbreak and likewise con- 
nected with the Fox defeat of 1730 was the return of the 
Peoria from Cahokia to their old homes on the Illinois river. 
Early in 1732, Perier received notice of their intentions; he 
raised no objections, but declined to grant them the French 
garrison for which they asked. The return took place in the 
course of the year.^ 

These two events gave occasion to the discussion of a plan 
to remove all the Indians to a distance of some twelve leagues 
from the French settlements in order to avoid the possibili- 
ties of future friction. The plan was mentioned late in 1732, 
again in the fall of the next year, and in the spring of 1734; 
but it was never put into execution. The Jesuits offered to 
build the necessary churches and priests' houses in return for a 
grant of the old sites of the villages. ^*^ 

Friction with the Indians was especially dangerous, in- 
asmuch as Fort de Chartres was not capable of withstanding a 
serious attack. It had become so dilapidated, in the few years 
since it was rebuilt in 1727, that in 1732 St. Ange erected at his 
own expense a new one, located this time some distance from 
the river; but it was constructed so poorly that in a few years 
decay once more set in. 

Jean Groston, sieur de St. Ange, had now passed his six- 
tieth year, and asked to be relieved of his command on account 
of his age. The government, which had never regarded him as 
especially well fitted for the position of commandant, accepted 
his resignation apparently late in 1732; but he continued to 
exercise the functions of his office until the arrival of his suc- 
cessor in the fall of 1733.^^ 

Minister to Bienville, September 2, 1732, in Archives Nationales, Col- 
onies, B, 57:796 ff.; J. le Boullenger, S. J., to Bienville, April 28, 1733, ibid., 

C13A, 17:286. ^ . V u 

10 This proposal was not favored by the government on the ground that the 
French married to Indians would refuse to waive their rights to the soil. Bien- 
ville and Salmon to the minister, April 11, 1735, ibid., 20:21. 

11 See correspondence by officials, ibid., 15:119 ff.; B, 57:794, 859 "• After his 
retirement he became lieutenant on half pay and lived on the estate he had ac- 
quired in the Illinois ; here he died in the late spring of 1740. Ibid., C^^A, 25 : 94 »• 


The appointment of a new commandant in the Illinois was 
left to Governor Bienville, who had been recalled to office in 
Louisiana as the one man capable of defeating British intrigues 
and pacifying the Indians. In view of the extreme importance 
of the Illinois district to the province the governor recom- 
mended that the commandery be raised to the dignity of a 
royal lieutenancy with second command in the province; but 
the ministry declined to act. As Bienville realized, it was not 
easy to find a man qualified for the place; it was necessary that 
he should be firm enough to keep in hand the white popula- 
tion, made up largely of Canadians impatient of all control, 
and also the Indians, ever quick to detect any sign of weakness 
in the white leaders; at the same time a certain gentleness and 
forbearance was required in dealing with the " red children." 
Then, of course, a man was needed whose integrity could be 
trusted alike by his government and by those in his charge. 
St. Ange, it appeared, had been able to get on with the Indians 
but had lacked the firmness to prevent the habitants from en- 
tering into disputes.^- The governor, in October, 1732, re- 
placed him by a young officer considered as preeminently fitted 
for the exacting Illinois post, Pierre Dartaguiette. 

The new commander was the son of Diron Dartaguiette, — Vo 
an early civil official of Louisiana, and the brother of another 
Diron who had served in the south and in the Illinois during 
the early years of the century. Born in 1698, an ensign in 1717, 
and a captain in 1729, Pierre spent his life in the service of the 
king and the Company of the Indies. In the twenties he had 
been stationed for some time under Boisbriant in the Illinois; 
his distinguished conduct in the Natchez campaign of 1730 
obtained for him the brevet of major as well as a local com- 
mand at New Orleans, whence he was transferred to his new 
position. Young, chivalrous, and joyous, he was a favorite 
not only of the French but also of the Indians. The commis- 
saire-ordonnateur, Salmon, pays him a high tribute: "A very 
good officer," he wrote in 1733, "devoted to his profession 
and, above all, wholly disinterested." Unfortunately, his con- 
stitution seems to have been none too strong; and he was poor 

12 Bienville to minister, October 25, 1732, in Archives Nationales, Colonies, 
C13A, 14:91 ff. 


— perhaps he was one of those officers, deplored by Bienville, 
who could not afford to purchase wine and destroyed their 
health by drinking water. He held his last position only a few 
short years; but he was remembered long. The "days of 
Dartaguiette," his times were called — the romantic age of 
early Illinois. ^^ 

Dartaguiette started for the Illinois In the early summer of 
1733, accompanied by a retinue of voyageurs and Negroes and 
two companies of soldiers with four cannon. These troops 
brought the number of the Illinois garrison up to one hundred 
and fifty men. The large convoy passed in safety those spots 
of the lower Mississippi made dangerous by the Natchez and 
Chickasaw; but Dartaguiette's own magnificent and decked 
bateau of sixteen tons, lately built for the Mississippi convoy, 
hit a snag not far above the Ohio and sank, some of the crew 
being drowned. 

After an enthusiastic reception from the Inhabitants, the 
new commandant began his work. Generally speaking, the 
largest share of his time and attention was absorbed by internal 
Indian affairs and by the two wars then waging. First of all, 
the spirit of revolt must be quelled. He declined to receive 
the Cahokia Indians until they made full reparation for their 
insolent conduct. Never, says Bienville in his report, were 
savages more submissive. On the place of the disorders was 
erected a small fort, in which was stationed a garrison of 
twenty men, commanded by Ensign Montchervaux. The militia 
was also reorganized, every habitant being compelled to be 

The Indian problem, more perplexing than all others, was 
assuming daily more dangerous proportions. The Illinois 
country was threatened both by the Foxes from the north and 
by the Chickasaw and Natchez from the south; communication 
with Canada and lower Louisiana had consequently become 
Impossible except for a well-guarded convoy. 

^3 Dartaguiette attributed his transfer to the request of the inhabitants and 
savages of the district, which doubtless was a factor in his selection. His age is 
given in Archives Nationales, Colonies, C^^A, 17:212. 

1* Salmon to minister, April 22, 1734, ibid., 19:45 ff. ; see also ibid., B, 61: 
689. This fort at Cahokia may be the building that has been removed to Jackson 
Park, Chicago. 


After the defeat of 1730 it had been reported that the 
Foxes were completely destroyed, but the next few years proved 
that their proud and independent spirit, though subdued, was 
not crushed. The French tried to retain the neighboring 
nations in alliance, but the fear inspired by the French success 
had changed the feelings of the native population in favor of 
the rebellious tribe ; and their kin, the Sauk and the Mascoutens, 
were making ready to join them again. In 1732 the Foxes, 
who had fortified themselves on the Fox river (Illinois), were 
attacked and defeated by Hurons and Iroquois from the 
mission-villages of Canada. ^^ The tribe was scattered and 
sought asylum west of the Mississippi. The next year the war 
flared up again in the midst of negotiations for peace, when 
Nicolas Coulon, sieur de Villiers, the hero of 1730, was killed 
at Green Bay. 

The Sauk now determined to join their fortunes with those 
of the Foxes and practically amalgamating with them, took 
refuge among the Iowa. Several expeditions were directed 
against their new quarters without much success. Dartaguiette 
sent from Fort de Chartres a force of Frenchmen under two 
sons of former commandants of the Illinois, Pierre St. Ange 
and Louis Dutisne, to stir up the tribes of the Missouri valley, 
but they accomplished nothing; a party that went forth the next 
year, 1735, had no better result. Continual attacks, however, 
had gradually worn away the strength of the Foxes, and Darta- 
guiette could finally report that they were no longer spoken of 
in the country.^*^ Even their allies, the Iowa, gave in and came 
to a French post on the Missouri river, commanded by Louis St. 
Ange, to beg for peace. ^''^ 

In 1737 the Indian tribes of the northwest united in a plea 
in behalf of the Foxes, which the governor of New France felt 
compelled to grant. The Foxes and the Sauk refused, however, 
to return to the blood-stained neighborhood of Green Bay, and 

'^^fVisconsin Historical Collections, 17:172; Archives Nationales, Colonies, 
B, 59:411. This was probably the battle fought in Kendall county, which Mr. 
Steward identifies as that of 1730. See above, p. 164, note 51. 

1^ JVisconsin Historical Collections, 17:209, 215 ff., 229; Archives Nationales, 
Colonies, C^^a, 21:179, 218 ff., 235. 

^^ Ibid., 218. The post had been built some time before this by two men who 
had received a grant of the monopoly of the trade on the Missouri and Ohio 
rivers. Ibid., 13:239. 


pitched their wigwams near the lead mines on the Rock river, a 
district henceforth to be closely associated with their name. 
Here Pierre Paul, sieur de Marin, an adroit trader, was sta- 
tioned to keep them contented and to maintain peace in the 

The gradual disappearance of the danger from the Foxes 
prepared the way for a serious effort to ward off from French 
America the threatening attack of the southern Indians. Gov- 
ernor Bienville, recalled to Louisiana for the express purpose 
of restoring " peace and tranquillity," had found conditions very 
serious in the south, where the Natchez, Chickasaw, and Cher- 
okee were firmly bound In alliance with the British traders from 
the Carolinas and Virginia. " Constantly intriguing," Gover- 
nor Perler remarked about the British in 1730; and In 1 73 1 , he 
reported a rumor that they were building forts on the Tennes- 
see river. In 1735, Bienville wrote that deserters from the 
Wabash brought the story of an establishment of theirs on the 
upper Ohlo.^^ The report was possibly premature ; still, slowly 
but surely, the British were advancing their outposts, sometimes 
quietly, sometimes with shouting and exultant speeches. Their 
contempt for French claims was evident In the charter, issued 
in 1732, granting to the new colony of Georgia territory ex- 
tending from sea to sea — surely an open challenge to the 
masters of the Mississippi. 

The situation seemed really desperate. The tribes in the 
north of the province, the Illinois, Miami, Missouri, and Osage, 
were uncertain. The Shawnee on the Scioto were playing fast 
and loose with both French and British. In the south, the 
Natchitoch had recently revolted. The Yazoo and Alibamu 
could not be relied upon, and the Choctaw were split up Into 
innumerable small groups, some favoring the French, some the 
British. To unite the Choctaw was a necessary measure, yet 
the value of their aid was doubtful. 

There was one hopeful feature : the tribes of the north and 
the middle west — the Hurons and other Iroquois from the 
missions of Canada, the Illinois, Miami, Potawatomi, and other 

^8 Kellogg, "The Fox Indians During the French Regime," in Wisconsin 
Historical Societ_v, Proceedings, 55:179 ff- 

19 Bienville to minister, May 16, 1735, in Archives Nationales, Colonies, C^^A, 
20:85 ff. 


tribes north of the Ohio — could always be enlisted for a war 
against the Indians of the south. Almost continually bands of 
warriors from the north or south were crossing the river in 
search of scalps. The territory of Kentucky had become a 
"dark and bloody country" long before the white men visited 
its fertile valleys. No real feeling of solidarity could exist 
among the red men of the continent so long as this feud per- 

Governor Bienville, as yet unprepared to muster the forces 
of the French against the enemy, was obliged to content himself 
with fostering Indian expeditions.-*^ Christian Iroquois from 
New France were encouraged to make raids into the south; 
Chief Chicagou told Dartaguiette that in 1 733 a party of thirty- 
seven Iroquois had passed his village with nineteen Chickasaw 
captives.-^ Post Vincennes, with its garrison increased to forty 
men, served as a base from which numerous parties were sent 
into the enemy's territory. Most important of all, by a suc- 
cession of attacks the northern Indians reopened the communi- 
cation by the Mississippi. ^^ 

Finally Governor Bienville was prepared to strike; both 
Indians and British traders were to be crushed. He planned 
to trap the Chickasaw between two armies, one from the south 
led by himself, and the other, under Dartaguiette, from the 
north; the two armies were to meet near the present site of 
Memphis on the Mississippi, between the tenth and the fifteenth 
of March, 1736. Accordingly, during the winter of 1735— 
1736, Dartaguiette assembled his forces for the campaign.-'' 
He gathered nearly four hundred men, about one hundred and 
thirty of these being French, regulars and militia, and the rest 
Illinois, Miami, Quapaw, and Iroquois. A second corps, con- 
sisting mostly of Indians from Cahokia and Michigamea, was 
formed under Montchervaux; it was expected to join the main 
army during the advance. An order was sent to the command- 

-° His delay called forth urgent commands from France. Minister to Bien- 
ville, September 2, 1734, in Archives Nationales, Colonies, B, 61:655 ff. 

21 Salmon to minister, April 22, 1734, ibid., C^^A, 19:45 ff. 
^- JVisconsin Historical Collections, 17:220. 

22 In narrating the campaign I have combined the following reports: Bienville 
to minister, April i, 1736, in Archives Nationales, Colonies, C^^A, 21:164 if.; 
June 28, 1736, ibid., 207 ff. ; one by a survivor of Dartaguiette's army, 1736, ibid., 
345; one by Cremont, February 21, 1737, ibid., 22:252. 


ant at the Arkansas and to the Sieur de Vincennes at Vincennes 
to muster their forces and join the principal force under 

The main body left Fort de Chartres and Kaskaskia in the 
latter part of February, 1736. Although his progress was 
slow in the hope that Montchervaux with his Cahokians and 
the forces from the Arkansas would come up, Dartaguiette 
arrived at the meeting place at the appointed time. Bienville 
was not there. Owing to delays in the preparation, the com- 
mander-in-chief was at the time still in his camp at the junction 
of the Tombigbee and Mobile rivers. He had hastened to 
inform Dartaguiette of the delay, but the bearer of his message 
had failed to find the commandant in the Illinois. Hurrying 
after him he reached Dartaguiette's army just as it was discov- 
ering Bienville's failure. Prudence advised waiting; on the 
other hand, provisions were needed and the waiting might be 
done better under the shelter of a village than in a camp. The 
council of officers and chiefs, consulted by Dartaguiette, decided 
to attack an isolated Chickasaw village near by which appeared 
easy prey. 

The attack on the village, made in the early morning of 
March 25, failed utterly. The Chickasaw had learned of the 
impending danger; advised by thirty British traders who were 
in their villages, they had stationed four or five hundred savages 
on a neighboring hill and at the strategical moment hurled them 
against the enemy. Dartaguiette's men, taken by surprise, were 
forced to retreat, hoping to protect the baggage ; the Chickasaw 
followed close upon them. Panic-stricken, the Illinois and 
Miami fled almost at once; but the Quapaw and the Iroquois 
stood their ground and fought bravely by the side of the French. 
Their courage saved them from annihilation. The French 
suffered most severely; over forty were killed, and nearly all 
the others were taken prisoners; among the latter were the 
commandant himself — wounded on hand, thigh, and body — 
Vincennes, Pierre St. Ange, Louis Dutisne, and the Jesuit 
father, Antoine Senat. 

The battle was over by nine o'clock In the forenoon; the 
outbreak of a terrific storm allowed the remnants of the beaten 
army to escape. Two days later the fugitives met the re- 


enforcements from Cahokia and the Arkansas and with these 
returned to the Illinois. 

Two of the prisoners captured were set aside to be ex- 
changed for a Chickasaw who had been taken by the French. 
The fate of the others was later learned from a woman who 
had been a. slave among the Chickasaw and had escaped. " She 
has related that the same day as the attack, M, Dartaguiette, 
his officers, the Father Senat Jesuit, and the other prisoners to 
the number of 17 were thrown alive into two fires which 
the squaws had prepared, and there they burned. She has 
assured us also that during the preparation of this barbaric 
tragedy our French sang, just as is the custom of the Indians, 
who judge the value of a warrior only by the loud or weak 
sound of his voice at the moment they are making him die."-^ 
Thus perished Dartaguiette, the most beloved of French com- 
mandants of the Illinois. He died without learning that his 
former gallantry had been rewarded by the royal bestowal of 
the cross of St. Louis. -^ 

From the letters found on the prisoners, the Chickasaw 
learned that a second engagement was imminent. Provided 
with a large supply of firearms and ammunition from the booty 
and reenforced by a body of Cherokee, they awaited the attack. 
It was soon to come. Bienville, unaware of Dartaguiette's 
defeat, had now finished his preparations and left camp. With 
an army of over five hundred French and a large force of 
Choctaw, he engaged the Chickasaw in battle in the last days 
of May. The latter, again directed by the British, defended 
themselves bravely and skillfully; and Bienville was compelled 
to order the retreat. While effecting it, he received the first 
news of the Dartaguiette disaster. 

The labors of three years had been brought to naught by 
one stroke; Bienville's personal prestige was shattered, and 
the situation was desperate. The governor turned his attention 
immediately to the regions most threatened, the Illinois and the 
Ohio. Knowing that the harvest there had been poor, he 
hastened the convoy, placing in charge of it one of the most 
trustworthy officers in Louisiana, Captain de Benac. Forty- 

-* Cremont to minister, February 21, 1737, in Archives Nationales, Colonies, 
C13A, 22:252 ff. 
-5 Ibid., 21 1277. 


three picked soldiers accompanied it as its guard; they were 
to take the place of those killed in the garrisons. The convoy 
was manned by two hundred French, Negroes, and Indians, a 
party strong enough to ward off any attack. 

Meanwhile a body of four hundred Chickasaw and Cher- 
okee was reported some eighty leagues from the mouth of 
the Ohio. The acting commandant of Fort de Chartres was 
instructed to collect the tribes of his own and the neighboring 
districts; and Fort de Chartres was hurriedly repaired. The 
Ottawa and Hurons, learning of the Illinois' defeat, sent 
two hundred warriors; and reenforcements for Post Vincennes 
were obtained by summoning Louis St. Ange de Bellerive 
from the fort on the Missouri and sending him to take com- 
mand there. 

As the successor of the deceased Dartaguiette, Bienville 
chose Alphonse de la Buissonniere, who as second in com- 
mand under Dartaguiette had been the acting commandant since 
the latter's departure for the campaign; this choice later re- 
ceived official approbation. The new commander was a well- 
qualified officer, one of the sterner type of military men. At 
the time of his appointment he was forty-five years of age, 
had been in service in the colony since 1720,-*^ and had 
been stationed in the Illinois for the preceding three years 
as a captain. 

La Buissonniere gains additional interest through the ro- 
mance of his marriage.-'' While still a lieutenant he had fallen 
in love with Mademoiselle Trudeau, the daughter of a settler 
beneath his own station and as poor as himself. The match 
at first met with strong official and priestly opposition; 
every effort was made to prevent it; even a false report was 
started that the lieutenant had a wife in France. As Governor 
Perier obstinately refused his consent, without which the couple 
could not be married in Louisiana, they eloped to Spanish 

2S Bienville says that he was intelligent and understood fortifications, but that 
he was suffering from sickness. June 15, 1740, in Archives Nationales, Colonies, 
C13A, 25 : 86. After La Buissonniere's death Bienville said that he understood the 
Indian tribes of his region. Bienville to minister, April 30, 1741, ibid., 26:76; 
Beachamp, commandant at Mobile, in a letter to the minister, April 25, 1741, 
laments his death as a great loss, and says that he was mourned by all who 
knew him; he was a good officer and very intelligent. Ibid., 207. 

-'' Ibid., 16:756 ff.; 18:38; 20:47. 


Pensacola for the ceremony. The Louisiana clergy were scan- 
dalized, but in spite of their opposition, Bienville permitted the 
" pretended " wife to accompany La Buissonniere to the Illinois. 
At Natchez, however, the bride was stricken with smallpox and 
could not go on; after her recovery she returned to her father's 
home. Finally Governor Bienville secured a confirmation of 
the marriage from the court; and, after two years' delay, 
Madame de la Buissonniere joined her husband in the Illinois. 
The whole procedure was typical of French colonial adminis- 
tration; the marriage lot of a subordinate officer was a serious 
matter of state. 

La Buissonnlere's administration of four years was not 
marked by any unusual events, if the participation of the Illinois 
Indians in the Chickasaw war of 1 739-1 740 is excepted. The 
Illinois gave no trouble, apparently ashamed of their disgrace- 
ful conduct in 1736. The Piankashaw at Vincennes, terrorized 
by the Chickasaw victory and harassed by frequent raids from 
across the Ohio, decided to leave the village and to return to 
their old station on the Vermilion river, thus reducing the 
French post to its small garrison and a few Indians. Bienville 
proposed Its removal to the junction of the Wabash and the 
Ohio, or even farther south, where he thought he could per- 
suade the Kickapoo and the Mascoutens to settle. These 
tribes had moved their villages in 1735 from the Fox and Rock 
rivers to the country of the Miami, with whom they were in 
constant friction. The removal of the fort, however, was 
never carried out. 

In 1737 the Jesuits sounded the alarm of a conspiracy of 
all tribes of the central west; they particularly feared the 
result of the efforts of the Miami to seduce the Illinois. La 
Buissonniere thought these fears greatly exaggerated, if not 
unfounded. The Miami, he remarked, were doing In this case 
only what the Illinois were always doing; they liked rum, and 
since they could not get It from the Jesuit fathers, they were 
buying It from the British. The sarcasm in the remark Is 
obvious. Perhaps ecclesiastic opposition to the commandant's 
marriage still rankled. 

The Foxes gave no trouble during La Buissonnlere's admin- 
istration. The southern Indians, particularly the Chickasaw, 


on the other hand, frequently appeared in the Illinois territory. 
The Illinois returned the raids, sending several parties across 
the Ohio in 1738, but for. the most part they accomplished 
nothing. The Illinois had degenerated; they were now war- 
riors only in name. 

The perpetual problem of Fort de Chartres demanded the 
attention of Commandant la Buissonniere. Dartaguiette had 
reported the fort to be in a bad condition, and it was proposed 
to rebuild it near Kaskaskia, A plan was accordingly drawn 
by the engineer, Brontin, and a site on the bluffs east of the 
Kaskaskia river and opposite the village was selected. La 
Buissonniere, then in a subordinate position, on being asked by 
Bienville to examine the project, reported that the fort would 
cost too much, could not protect the French settlements, and 
would have an insufficient water supply. The objections were 
sent to Dartaguiette, who answered that he and his advisers 
knew of no better locality. In June, 1736, Bienville was con- 
vinced and asked the ministry for thirty thousand livres for the 
fort. Two years later La Buissonniere arranged for the de- 
livery of the stone, and Bienville sent an engineer to the Illinois 
to oversee the work, but the next year the commandant was 
ordered to suspend work on account of the tremendous rise in 
prices. At one time in 1740 and 1741, Bienville even con- 
sidered transferring the whole establishment at Fort de Char- 
tres to the mouth of the Tennessee river.^^ 

Ever since 1736, Bienville had been planning a second 
Chickasaw campaign, taking most elaborate measures to insure 
success. Cooperation from New France was assured: a detach- 
ment came from Mackinac and another from Canada via the 
Ohio river, the first large party of Frenchmen to use this route. 
Four new companies sent from France in the summer of 1739 
formed the nucleus of the southern army; to these Bienville 
added his regulars and militia from the lower Mississippi. 
La Buissonniere led forty soldiers and one hundred and seven- 
teen Indians from the Illinois and was later joined by thirty 

28 Report, apparently by Buissonniere, in Archives Nationales, Colonies, 
C^^A, 18:122 ff.; Bienville to minister, May i8, 1733, ibid., 16:225 ff. ; April 22, 
May 18, 1734, ihid., 18: 142 ff. ; August 27, 1735, ibid., 117 ff. ; April 19, iTi%, ibid., 
23:18 ff. ; August 10, 1739, ibid., 24:12; June 24, 1740, ibid., 25: 12; April 30, 
n/^T, ibid., 26: 85 ff. 


Kaskaskia braves. The command of the army was intrusted 
to the Sieur de Noailles d'Aime, who ordered all contingents 
to assemble in September, 1739. The French west was 
again prepared to crush its enemies, both white men and 

In spite of the governor's preparations, heavy and incessant 
rains, making the country impassable, threatened disaster. For 
a time it looked as if the Chickasaw, by merely awaiting an 
attack, could obtain an even greater triumph than in 1736; but 
when the French forces began to move, the Indians offered to 
make peace. The ensuing negotiations resulted in the promise 
of good behavior, the surrender of the Natchez (most of whom 
were, nevertheless, allowed to escape), and the return of three 
captured Frenchmen. But though the French had been saved 
from an embarrassing situation, the peace brought no security 
to the Illinois. In May, 1740, the convoy was attacked by the 
Cherokee, and five Frenchmen and one Negro were killed. 
Sometime later twenty-six voyageiirs passing from the Illinois 
to the Miami were set upon by the same tribe, and nineteen were 

Discouraged, Bienville asked the king for permission to 
return to France; the request was granted rather ungraciously. 
Before his departure, La Buissonniere, commandant of the Illi- 
nois, died suddenly of apoplexy on December 11, 1740, ^^ and 
Bienville had once more to select a head for the Illinois post. 
He chose the Sieur de Bertet,^*^ one of the older officers of the 
district, holding the rank of captain. Since he was in France, 
however, Jean Baptiste Benoist, sieur de St. Claire, "some- 
what indolent " and forty-seven years old, acted as commandant 
for about two years. ^^ 

Bertet had come to the colony in 1732 as a captain, and was 
now forty-three years old. Comments on him were everywhere 
favorable. Bienville says of him in 1740: "He is sagacious, 
disinterested, capable, knows the service, and is attached to his 

29 Bienville to minister, April 30, 1741, in Archives Nationales, Colonies, 
C13A, 26:76. 

30 So spelled b_v himself; the rest of his name is unknown. JVisconsin His- 
torical Collections, 17:479, note i, says the proper form is "Bertel " or " Berthel." 

3' He had come to Louisiana as an ensign in 1717, was promoted in 1732, 
and was made a captain in 1737. During his administration there occurred a raid 
of Sauk and Foxes into northern Illinois. 


duty."^- The new governor left New Orleans in August, 1742, 
and arrived in Fort de Chartres at the end of November. He 
died suddenly on January 7, 1749, when once more the com- 
mandantship went ad interim to Benoist de St. Claire. 

The ministry selected as the new governor of Louisiana a 
man as magnificent as his name, Pierre Francois Rigaud, baron 
de Cavagnal, marquis de Vaudreuil, the son of a former gov- 
ernor of Canada. He differed from his predecessor in many 
ways. He was more the grand seignior of the old type, with 
excellent official and social connections both in Canada and in 
France, more assertive toward his commandants than Bienville 
had been, and inclined to a policy of the strong hand in combat- 
ing the British designs and in keeping the native population in 
proper subordination. During his administration the cost of 
the colony to France increased rapidly, due in some measure 
to war conditions, but also to the extravagance and venality of 
the officials. 

War between -Great Britain and France gave a new sig- 
nificance to western America. Since the death of Louis XIV 
the cabinets of the two countries had attempted to adjust all 
causes of friction peaceably. In 1733, however, France entered 
into a secret defensive alliance with Spain, which proved em- 
barrassing when the latter drifted into war with Great Britain 
in 1739; still conflict might then have been avoided, had it not 
been for the seizure of Silesia by Frederick II of Prussia, in 
the next year; unwillingly, France was drawn to his aid. Great 
Britain's action became the critical question. Robert Walpole, 
the prime minister, had assured France that he would remain 
neutral; but he was swept out of power early in 1742, and the 
new ministry entered into an understanding with Austria. For 
various reasons, however, the formal declarationof war against 
France was delayed until March, 1744. 

The War of the Austrian Succession — known in American 
history as King George's War — was fought in Europe and 

32 June 15, 1740, in Archives Nationales, Colonies, C^^A, 25:86. Governor 
Vaudreuil wrote of him: " He could not easily be replaced." To minister, Novem- 
ber 20, 1746, ihid., 30:72. The Canadian governor wrote in 1748: "I do not 
think it would be easy to find an officer as competent as he is to direct and improve 
that settlement." To minister, September i, in IFisconsin Historical Collections, 
17:496; see also 500. 


touched America only on the northeast, where the British were 
successful in capturing Loulsburg. As time passed France felt 
more and more the drain on its resources. When the war was 
ended, in October, 1748, the treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle deter- 
mined in general a reestablishment of the status quo ante. It was 
soon to be seen that this treaty was more in the nature of a truce 
than of real peace. 

Although the country west of the Alleghenies played a 
smaller part in the war than did the Atlantic colonies, the war 
was of great significance for the territory. At its outbreak 
there was no realization in the courts of France or of Great 
Britain of the importance of the course events were taking in 
the Mississippi valley. Out of this indifference the French 
court was to be violently shaken by the happenings on the banks 
of the Ohio. At the same time several British politicians were 
aroused to an understanding of the magnitude of the stake for 
which the rival countries were playing. Thereafter the dispute 
concerning the future dominion in the Mississippi valley became 
more and more a live Issue. 

When the war between Great Britain and France had been 
declared in 1744, the Canadian officials were very optimistic 
concerning their ability to control the situation in the west. 
They reported the Indians as friendly and prepared to make 
war on the British traders. None of them, the governor of 
New France wrote, "were willing to accept the underground 
belts the English caused to be introduced into their villages, 
to induce them to declare against the French. "^^ Parties of 
Indians were sent from Detroit against the British settlements 
in the Carollnas; and a Shawnee war party captured eight 
British traders on the Ohio. Even the Illinois tribes, after 
exhibiting an irritating apathy that caused the governor of 
Louisiana to stop their presents, were roused to action. 

The situation was deceptive. The commandants in the posts 
were soon to he rudely awakened from their illusion. The 
sentiment of the Indians turned like a weathercock, and the 
French were all but swept away by the whirlwind they had set 
in motion in their effort to exterminate the Foxes. 

^^ Beauliarnois to minister, October 28, 1745, in irisconsin Historical Col- 
lections, 17:447 ff. 


The Indians' growing fear of the French could have been 
allayed only by a continuous supply of merchandise both for 
presents and for trade; but the French, after having made the 
Indians of the west economically dependent, failed to supply 
the needs of their "children." The importation of merchan- 
dise from France was almost impossible, and the usual supply 
obtained from the colony of New York was curtailed. Conse- 
quently the prices of goods, advanced one hundred and fifty 
per cent, became almost prohibitive. Even though conges were 
now offered freely and without cost, the governor of New 
France was obliged to report that few loads of merchandise 
were being shipped west.^^ In spite of all measures, the returns 
in furs fell off in 1747 to a "hundred and twenty thousands of 
Beaver skins. "^^ This loss is a gauge of the reduction of mer- 
chandise sent to the upper country. 

Under the circumstances, the Indians naturally turned to 
the British traders. Into the region south of the Ohio the 
Virginians and the Carolinians continued to send their annual 
trains of pack horses. Even the traders from New York ap- 
peared as competitors here. In 1743 four Englishmen and a 
Dutchman in two canoes were captured on the Mississippi south 
of the Natchez. They carried a route map, a passport, and 
a permit from "a judge of Albany" to trade. ^^ 

To meet this pressure on the south Governor Vaudreuil 
repeated a proposal, popular with all his predecessors, to erect 
a fort on the lower Ohio at or near the mouth of the Tennessee 
river.^" Here he hoped to persuade the Shawnee, the Kicka- 
poo, and the Mascoutens to settle. The fort, he considered, 
would form a defense against the British encroachments, would 
overawe the Indians, and thus would protect the communica- 
tions between the Illinois and Canada. Although in France the 
project met scant official favor, because of the heavy expense 

3* Beauharnois to minister, September 22, 1746, in JFiscons'in Historical Col- 
lections, 17:450. See also report for 1747, ibid., 470; Bigot to minister, October 
22, 1748, ibid., 502. 

^* Ibid., 472. 

3" Louboey to minister, August 2, 1743, in Archives Nationales, Colonies, 
C^^A, 28: 158. It was at this time that the first known Englishman caught a view 
of the French villages of the Illinois. He was captured on the Ohio by Indians 
and brought to Fort de Chartres. 

^" The first proposal antedated the declaration of war. Vaudreuil to minister, 
July 18, 1743, ibid., 52 ff. 


involved, it was finally agreed to as a war measure. The gov- 
ernment promptly dropped it, however, when the impending 
peace with Great Britain furnished a suitable excuse. In 1746, 
the project appearing to be on the point of realization, the 
Shawnee on the upper Ohio consented to move to southern 
Illinois; and a party of them actually came, but the removal of 
the tribe as a whole was not effected.^^ 

More significant than the British encroachments from the 
southern colonies was the expansion of trade from Pennsyl- 
vania, promoted by the colonial council, to the region of the 
upper Ohio. The two outstanding figures in this enterprise 
were George Croghan, an Irishman, and Conrad Weiser, a 
German. By crafty diplomacy and by the use of plentiful 
merchandise, they won to the British cause the Indians of the 
Ohio and Wabash valleys and of the southern lakes region ; and 
their influence was felt even farther afield.^^ The western 
center of this Pennsylvania trade was the Shawnee village, 
Logstown, situated on the right bank of the Ohio about eighteen 
miles below the forks, around which there settled bands from 
many other tribes.^'' The Miami, always somewhat hostile to 
the French, came directly under the influence of the British 
traders from here; and one band, led by its chief. La Demoi- 
selle, moved in 1747 to the Great Miami river and established 
Pickawillany, which soon became another center of British 

The history of this alteration of trade and political alliance 
may be followed in the alarmist letters, memorials, and journals 
of the French officials of both New France and Louisiana, more 
particularly in those of the former. A memoir of 1747 noted: 
"They [the British] have succeeded so well in making them 
[the Indians] their devoted Creatures that it is these same 
Savages who at their instigation have killed the French at 
Sandoske; who Wished to Surprise detroit to put those same 
English there; who. As there is every reason to Believe, have 

3* Perhaps Shawneetown received its name at this time. 

33 Consult the very able analysis of the situation in Hanna, The Wilderness 
Trail, i : 315 ff. 

^oibid., 1:355. 

*^ Ibid., 2:261. "Minutes of the Provincial Council," in Pennsylvania Colo- 
nial Records, 5:308, 311, 314 ff. 


borne their presents, their Collars, and their speeches to all 
the Savage nations of the Regions of the upper country."^- 

The condition in the Illinois district was particularly 
alarming. The conspiracy — if there was one — that was being 
hatched required the cooperation of the Illinois Indians; the 
French force there must be massacred. The tribes allied to 
the British used both persuasion and coercion. The Illinois 
were invited to bring their trade to Pickawillany; threats were 
also made. Commandant Bertet wrote on August ii, 1747, 
to the governor of New France that three strange Indians had 
brought " a message from the English, in the name of the 
Iroquois, Hurons, Abenaquis, Pouz and Ottawa, and all the 
Ouabash Tribes, inviting the Illinois to abandon the French, 
otherwise they were dead men."^^ 

Rumors, and rumors of rumors, flew up and down the Ohio 
valley ; and it is difficult to determine how far the British traders 
were implicated in a plot to massacre the French at all the 
western posts, or even to decide whether there was such a con- 
spiracy at all. Reports to the governor of Canada disclosed 
the greatest restlessness among the tribes and the inability of 
the commandants to keep the Indians in subjection. Murders 
of Frenchmen occurred everywhere. La Demoiselle, the 
Miami chief at Pickawillany, was undoubtedly the agent in 
any intrigue that was set on foot; and he evidently made large 
promises to incite the natives. How far he was successful 
cannot be determined; but French officials, among whom was 
the governor of Louisiana, were convinced that a general con- 
spiracy of the Indians, like that which had destroyed the 
Natchez, was imminent. ^^ 

The French villages of the Illinois were in a precarious 
situation, if the Illinois Indians should decide to join forces 
with the enemy, or if the Wea and their allies should make an 
attack. Fort de Chartres was falling to pieces, the storehouse 
contained "not an ell of cloth nor a particle of ammunition," 
the communication with New Orleans had been cut off for 

■*- Raymond to minister, November 2, 1747, in Wisconsin Historical Collec- 
tions, 17:475. Consult also " Diary of Events, 1747," ibid., 478 ff. 

43 Ibid., 487. 

** On the situation in the west see ibid., 478 ff., 505 ff. ; for the Illinois, ibid., 


months, and that with Detroit was unreliable. So grave was 
the danger and so slight his power of meeting it, that Bertet 
in 1747 abandoned Fort de Chartres and moved the garrison 
to Kaskaskia, where he concentrated the population of the 
other villages. Here he waited impatiently for news. For 
weeks he was uncertain what had been the fortune of war. 
Was French America lost? Was Louisiana deserted ?^^ 

The means adopted by Bertet to save the Illinois received 
praise from one of the ablest of the governors of New France, 
La Galissoniere. He wrote: " Through lack of soldiers, Mon- 
sieur de Bertet was throughout the war In constant danger 
from which he extricated himself chiefly through his own good 
management, and to a slight extent by means of the munitions 
and goods that were sent him from here."'*® 

The years of war had taught both France and Great Britain 
the necessity of controlling the Indian tribes. The British 
colonies had met with many obstacles in their negotiations with 
their allies, the Iroquois confederacy, and with difficulty had 
secured their aid. The experience of the French had been more 
discouraging. During the closing years of the war their whole 
fabric of alliances, so long their special pride, fell to pieces; 
and they faced the calamity of defeat at the hands of their 
former friends. Peace now prevailed; both nations entered 
eagerly upon the work of correcting their errors and recon- 
structing their defenses. The last struggle for the dominion 
of the Mississippi valley could not be long deferred. 

*^ Nenv York Colonial Documents, 10:143. 
*^ Wisconsin Historical Collections, 17:497. 


THROUGHOUT the preceding chapters the eye has 
caught stray glimpses of villages lying snugly under the 
high bluffs of the American Bottom, where dwelt the French 
colonists. It is time to stay the narrative of great events — too 
frequently the whole content of history — and to take a nearer 
view of these interesting people who were the first Europeans 
to make their homes in the territory that was to become the 
state of Illinois, for over them hangs the glamour of romance 
that imparts to their petty doings and humdrum affairs an 
enchantment not possessed by the more important events of a 
later age. 

Concerning their manner of life two opposing traditions 
have developed: one asserts that the French of the Illinois 
country lived in an Arcadian simplicity, undisturbed by the 
wranglings of law courts; the other depicts the government as 
harsh, autocratic, and avaricious, oppressing the people under 
the hard heel of authority.^ In truth the French people of the 
Illinois country were neither entering the millennium, nor were 
they ruled by a rod of iron wielded by an irresponsible military 
officer. The royal administration attempted to impose on 
them such restrictions as were customary in contemporary 
Europe, but these were greatly mitigated by the isolation of 
the colony in the wilderness, and on the whole the officials 
appointed to rule the Illinois were, both in Intelligence and 
probity, above the average of similar officials in the British 

The Illinois district of the province of Louisiana had little 
resemblance to the present state. Though officially named 
the country of the Illinois, the district extended beyond the 
boundaries of the hunting grounds of the Illinois Indians and 

1 Governor John Reynolds, Pioneer History of Illinois ( ed. 1887 ), 53, is the 
authority for the first, and the British officer, Captain Pittman, in his Present 
State of the European Settlements (ed. Hodder), 99, offers the evidence for the 



included the whole course of the Ohio and both banks of the 
Mississippi from the line of the Ohio to that of the Missouri 
and Illinois rivers; it constituted, therefore, a narrow belt ex- 
tending across the great valley from the Alleghenies to the 

This district was the seat of government for a still larger 
division of the province, the commandery, which included also 
the district of the Arkansas river. Within this larger territory 
the commandant extended his rule — though not to the exclu- 
sion of direct orders from the governor — over the small 
French settlement on the Arkansas, practically abandoned by 
1 73 1, a post on the Missouri, and Vincennes on the Wabash. 
North of a line, never very definitely fixed, but running from 
the Chicago portage to the Wabash, lay the province of New 
France, the nearest post of which was Ouiatenon, near modern 
Lafayette, Indiana. 

Throughout the period of the French regime the question 
of the inclusion of the Illinois in Louisiana or New France was 
repeatedly opened. The region had originally belonged to the 
northern province, whence most of its settlers had come. In 
171 7, however, it was included in the grant of the Mississippi 
Company. When Louisiana became a royal province in 1731 
and also after the danger of the British encroachments was 
fully realized in 1748, the question was again debated. In 
both cases it was decided by the undoubted fact that the Missis- 
sippi river determined the district's economic interest; but, 
since the Illinois lay "at the extreme end of our colonies," as 
one governor expressed it, it was brought into close association 
with both ; and in the crisis of war the superior authority of the 
northern governor was automatically extended over it.^ 

2 " Regiment sur la Regie des Affaires de la Colonie de la Louisiana," Sep- 
tember 5, 1721, in Archives Nationales, Colonies, C^^A, 6:218 ff. In all the 
early documents mentioning the boundaries the Ohio river is called the Wabash 
and there seems to be no doubt about the inclusion of its valley in the district of 
the Illinois; but when the name " Wabash " came to be more definitely applied to 
the river now bearing that name, the jurisdiction of the commandant of the Illinois 
appears to have been limited on the east, particularly so when it was apparent 
that British operations in the upper Ohio valley could be better combated froni 
New France. Still, up to the last, there is evidence that the forks of the Ohio 
were regarded by some officials as being included in the district of the Illinois. 

3 Minister to La Galissoniere, April 25, 1748, in ll'lsconsin Historical Col- 
lections, iS: 14 ff. For the answers of the governors see ibid.. 17:493 ff-> 5^3 ft. 


The principal military and administrative officer of the dis- 
trict and commandery was the major commandant; to him was 
assigned the duty of commanding the troops of the marine sta- 
tioned in the district as well as the militia of the villages. He 
was also the administrative head of the whole territory of 
the commandery. Besides administrative functions, the major 
commandant was expected to exercise a general supervision 
ov^er agriculture in the territory under his jurisdiction, to 
examine the land that was cleared and to estimate its value, 
to find out what crops were being raised, and to see to it that 
each inhabitant was exerting his energies to the best advantage 
to himself and the community. He was instructed by the 
Mississippi Company to watch carefully new colonists to de- 
termine how much credit could be extended to them. More- 
over, he was to supervise the fur trade, to see to it that a suffi- 
cient number of churches were built to accommodate the 
inhabitants, and, finally, to take an annual census.^ 

The garrison at Fort de Chartres was never very large. 
In 1747 there were one hundred and thirty-five men and thir- 
teen officers ; in 1 75 1 there were six companies numbering three 
hundred. In 1763 Governor Dabbadie noted in his journal 
that there were "one hundred and ninety-six men in garrison, 
where in the height of war there were never more than one 
hundred men."^ The officers represented the highest social 
caste of the community; many were scions of noble families, 
and all belonged to the French gentry. Amidst their primeval 
surroundings they made a gay appearance in their long coats, 
embroidered vests, and knee breeches; and the scene was 
brightened by the equally gorgeous raiment of the few matrons 
who were assisting their husbands to create a miniature Ver- 
sailles on the banks of the Mississippi. 

The soldiers of the garrison, however, made the illusion 
hard to create, for they were usually in a ragged condition. 

4 The major commandant of the Illinois outranked all other military officers 
of the province except the governor and the lieutenant commandant, and the 
question of erecting the northern position into the first lieutenancy of the province 
was frequently debated. The title was never given the post, but Boisbriant 
received the appointment as a personal honor. 

^Alvord and Carter, The Critical Period, 164; Archives Nationales, Colo- 
nies, D^C, 51: number 2; ihid., C^"A, 35:89- 


The government supply of clothing was always inadequate, 
and the men's pay was too poor and usually too far in arrears 
for them to supply the deficiency. In 1733 Governor Bienville 
reported that the weapons of the Illinois troops were so poor 
that the soldiers "preferred to arm themselves with sticks 
rather than guns."*^ An English officer who saw them in 1765, 
when they were at their worst, wrote to a friend: "The 
French Troops we relieved here might be called anything else 
but Soldiers, in Short I defy the best drol comick to represent 
them at Drury Lane."^ To foster an esprit de corps among 
such poorly dressed, underfed troops — usually recruited in the 
prisons and slums of French cities — was an impossible task, 
and desertions were frequent. Scarcely a year passed that a 
number of poor wretches did not seek to escape, trusting to the 
Indians to help them to the Spanish or British settlements.^ 

The French government attempted to secure efficiency and 
honesty of administration by appointing in each province two 
officials with almost equal authority, each of whom was repre- 
sented in every district; it was expected that they would act as 
checks on each other. In New France these were the governor 
and the intendant, and In Louisiana, the governor and the 
commissaire-ordonnateur, both of the officials of the southern 
province being subordinated to those of the northern. The 
commissaire-ordoyinateur, like the intendants of the mother 
country and of New France, was supposed to have final author- 
ity over finance, justice, and police, but in actual practice no 
definite line of demarcation separating his duties from those of 
the governor was or could be drawn; hence constant disputes 
with appeals to Versailles.'* The political history of the French 
colonies is filled with the incessant and tiresome rows of these 
two officials. To complicate the situation further both these 
officers sat in the provincial council, which was endowed with 
original and appellate jurisdiction. 

6 Archives Nationales, Colonies, C ^^a, 16:138. 

^ Alvord and Carter, The Neiv Regime, 106. 

® Bienville to the minister, February 4, 1743, in Archives Nationales, Colonies, 
C13A, 28:34. Governor Kerlerec in a letter, June 21, 1754, writes of many such 
deserters; ibid., 38:66. 

9 Munro, "The Office of Intendant in New France," in American Historical 
Revieiu, 12: 15 ff. 


Over financial affairs pertaining to the colony the com- 
missaire-ordonnateur exercised full authority. "The adminis- 
tration of the funds, of provisions, munitions, and merchandise, 
and in general every thing in connection with the magazines" 
belonged to him ; and without his order " no payment, consump- 
tion, or sale" could be made.^*^ Imagine the grievances of the 
governor ! 

When the Mississippi Company ruled over the Illinois, 
there was formed, as has been seen, a provincial council for the 
northern commandery. How long this continued to function is 
not known. Among the Kaskaskia manuscripts^^ there are a 
few indications of its existence as late as 1726, but after that 
date one man, Michel Chassin, alone signed as judge. After 
Dartaguiette inaugurated the royal government in the Illinois, 
there was a marked change in the judicial administration. 

In 1734, Louis Auguste de la Loere Flancour, a qualified 
judge and civil officer and a brother of a former official of the 
district, arrived in the Illinois after several years of service in 
the province.^- His reputation for faithfulness was acknowl- 
edged by his superiors, one of whom wrote that he was a 
" steady fellow " who had not been " favored by fortune."^^ At 
the time of his appointment to the Illinois post he was principal 
clerk at Balize. After considerable correspondence about the 
status of his new ofl'ice, he was made representative of the 
department of the marine, with which all French colonial offi- 
cials were affiliated, and representative of the commissaire- 
ordonnateiir, a position which placed him in charge of the 
departments of justice, police, and finance; and finally he 
received the title of civil and criminal judge. ^'* 

The numerous records of La Loere Flancour's administra- 

i^The whole account is taken from the instruction of May 22, 1731, in 
Archives Nationaies, Colonies, B, 55:593 ff. There is an interesting memoir on 
the administration of Louisiana, 1749, ibid., C^^A, 33: 151. 

11 Documents drawn up in Kaskaskia during the eighteenth century and 
preserved in the office of the circuit clerk at Chester, Illinois. 

12 Very few of the Kaskaskia manuscripts date before the time of Dartagui- 
ette, but the period of the largest number really begins the year after his death. 
Probably the organization of the campaign against the Chickasaw prevented La 
Loere Flancour from establishing orderly government before 1737. 

13 Salmon to the minister. May 12, 1733, in Archives Nationaies, Colonies, 
C13A, 17:113 ff. 

1* Thus he signed himself in innumerable documents. 


tion reveal him as a man precise and punctilious in the perform- 
ance of his duties, particularly careful to see that his own records 
and those of his subordinates conformed to the minute regula- 
tions laid down by French law. His judicial duties were by no 
means light, for the French colonists were a litigious people, al- 
ways running to the court for justice. Many quarrels which their 
contemporaries in the British colonies would have settled with 
their fists were gravely pleaded before this French justice, who 
decided them without the aid of a jury. The parties to a suit 
pleaded their cause in person, for lawyers were not permitted 
in the courts of the colonies, since, as the French minister 
wrote: "Experience has shown only too clearly how danger- 
ous people of this sort are to the colonies, where chicanery is 
even more unfortunate because of the obstacles which it brings 
upon commerce and the cultivation of the land."^^ 

The law administered in the Illinois court was that known 
as coutume d'e Paris, which was originally the common law in 
force in the city of Paris and the district depending on it.^*^ 
This law was supplemented by edicts and ordinances of the 
king, which Avere legally registered by the provincial council of 
Louisiana in the same way in which they were registered in 
France by the parlevients.^' In general the expense of law- 
suits was less than it was in England at the time. 

La Loere Flancour, who died of apoplexy in 1746, was suc- 
ceeded by Joseph Buchet, who had been guardian of the ware- 
house in the Illinois country since 1733. The office of garde- 
magasin was an important factor in the trade of the province, 
for in its custody were placed the royal supplies for the govern- 

15 Minister to Bienville, September 2, 1732, in Archives Nationales, Colonies, 

^' 57 : 797- . . , . 

1*^ Like the English common law it was, generally speakmg, feudal law with 

some elements dating from a period prior even to the system of feudalism. This 

law was first codified in 1510, revised in 1580, and was extended to the colonies 

by Louis XIV. Glasson, Precis Elemeniaire de I'Histoire du Droit Frant;ais, 

passim; Lareau, Histoire du Droit Canadien, passim. In France in 1789, there 

were two hundred and eighty-five different codes of law or coutumes. Rambaud, 

Histoire de la Civilization Fran<;aise, 2: 142. 

^■^ Louis XIV in particular was greatly interested in the reform of the law 

and law procedure, and he was responsible for several long edicts containing 

drastic reforms. Rambaud, Histoire de la CfviUzation FrariQaise, 2:143. The 

reform of French law was continued in the eighteenth century under the influence 

of Chancellor d'Aguesseau, and the foundation of the famous Code Napoleon 

rests upon the reforms brought about by these two. 


ment, and in the warehouse were received for export the prod- 
ucts of the colonials. The supplies, when not needed by the 
administration, were sold directly to the citizens, so that the 
guardian was the manager of a considerable business. For 
goods received, such as furs, the guardian of the warehouse 
issued a certificate concerning the amount and value, which 
represented a lien on the warehouse and was used by the 
holder very much as a modern bank draft. 

Though Buchet had won La Loere Flancour's approval as 
guardian of the warehouse, he seems to have been neither as 
well trained nor as capable for the superior office as his prede- 
cessor had been. He was officially appointed in 1748,^^ and 
evidences of his activities exist as late as January 12, 1757. Of 
his two successors, Jean Arnold Valentine Bobe Descloseaux 
and Joseph Lefebvre, little is known. ^® 

One other official of the Illinois, the royal notary, played 
an Important role in French civil and social life. According to 
French law there must be one notary in every parish containing 
sixty households. His black suit made more somber the last 
rites and appeared to solemnize the betrothal. He drew, at- 
tested, and registered leases, deeds, all sales, agreements of all 
kinds, gifts, apprenticeships, and similar papers.-^ Practically 
no important act could be performed without the use of his 
quill pen. The fee for his services was small, in most cases 
only a franc. 

The notary of the Illinois functioned generally, if not 
always, as royal procureiir and clerk of the court. As clerk of 
the court he was compelled to keep carefully four registers, as 
clerk of the marine, seven, and as clerk of registration, at least 
two; few of these registers have been preserved. 

The most prominent notary of the Illinois was Jean Bap- 
tiste Bertlor dit Barrois, who was certainly living in the district 
as early as 1732 and died in March, 1757. He was appar- 

18 Archives Nationales, Colonies, C^^A, 32:175. 

18 Alvord, " Illinois in the Eighteenth Century," in Illinois State Historical 
Library, Bulletin, volume i, number i, p. 17. 

-0 His attested documents in acts called in French law acts of voluntary 
jurisdiction have all the force of a judgment of an American court. In Parton, 
Life of Voltaire, i : 12 ff., will be found an interesting account of this official. 
Voltaire's father was a notary. 


ently trained in the notorial art and was very conscientious in 
the performance of his duties. From the fact that some of 
his documents were written in a handwriting other than his own, 
it may be assumed that he employed assistants, one of whom 
was his successor, Joseph Labuxiere, long a familiar figure in 
the American Bottom, for he was to see pass over the villages 
three sovereignties.-^ 

The French government maintained other officials in the 
Illinois. The first doctor, named Guard, died in 1728; of the 
second, named Frederic, La Loere Flancour said that he "didn't 
know his business." Others of better qualifications succeeded 
him.-- Another important official was the interpreter, and at 
one time the government supported a midwife. 

Besides the civil officials within the district of the Illinois 
there were the ecclesiastical; and important they were in the 
life of the French colonies, for on their exertions depended in 
large measure the maintenance of a modicum of civilization in 
the midst of the wilderness. When the Mississippi Company 
received its charter, one of its obligations was to build churches 
and maintain priests for the colonists. No new diocese was 
created for the province of Louisiana, so the ecclesiastical 
jurisdiction of the bishop of Quebec extended over the Missis- 
sippi valley. He attempted at first to divide the sphere of 
missionary work so as to limit the Jesuits to the region north of 
the Ohio river, but their evident preparedness to perform the 
necessary duties made this impossible. In the Illinois the 
Jesuits remained always the dominant order, their only rivals 
being the priests of the Seminary of Foreign Missions. 

On the whole the bishop of Quebec seems to have preferred 
that the widely scattered communities of the extended diocese 
should be served by missionaries rather than by resident priests. 
It was not until the year 1722 that New France was generally 
divided into parishes. It is impossible to determine the date 

21 Alvord, " Illinois in the Eighteenth Century," in Illinois State Historical 
Library, Bulletin, volume i, number i, p. 17. 

-2 There is mention of a Dr. Prevost as being appointed in 1718, but there is 
no proof of his ever going to the district. If he did, he was the first Illinois 
physician. Archives Nationales, Colonies, B, 42'3'^:258; D^D, 10: number 9. In 
1734 there were only five or six physicians in all Louisiana, and two of these 
died that year. 


of the establishment of parishes in the IlHnois country; the 
archives of Quebec contain no record of it. Possibly these par- 
ishes, like many in Canada before 1722, owed their organiza- 
tion to the priests without due authorization. Certain it is that 
the priest at Kaskaskia was signing himself in 1720 as serving 
the parish of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception. It 
was probably later that the parishes of the Holy Family at 
Cahokia and of Ste. Anne at Chartres village took form.-^ 

No adequate description of the first church, which served 
the people of the village of Kaskaskia during the early years, 
exists. In 1753 the older building was replaced by a rather 
imposing edifice one hundred and four feet long and forty-four 
feet wide. This was erected through the efforts of three suc- 
cessive priests, Father Tartarin, Father Watrin, and Father 
Aubert, who set aside the greater part of their fees and offer- 
ings to the general building fund contributed by the parishion- 
ers. There has been preserved the following description of 
this church from much later days : " The aged Catholic church 
at Kaskaskia .... is a huge old pile, extremely awkward 
and ungainly, with its projecting eaves, its walls of hewn timber 
perpendicularly planted, and the interstices stuffed with mortar, 
with its quaint old fashioned spire, and its dark, storm-beaten 
casements. The interior of the edifice is somewhat imposing, 
notwithstanding the sombre hue of its walls; these are rudely 
plastered with lime, and decorated with a few dingy paintings. 
The floor is of loose, rough boards, and the ceiling arched with 
oaken panels. The altar and the lamp suspended above are 
very antique, I was informd by the officiating priest, having 
been used in the former church."-* 

In all accounts that have been preserved, the praise of the 
Jesuits in the performance of their duties to their parishioners 
is almost universal, only an occasional voice being raised 
against their strictness. Besides the regularly recurring func- 
tions of their calling, the fathers gave daily instruction, for 
the most part religious, to the French children, thus becoming 
the first school-teachers of the Illinois country.-^ 

-3 Munro, The Seigniorial System in Canada, 182. 

-* Flagg, T/ie Far West, in Thvvaites, Early JVestern Travels, 27:62; 
Alvord and Carter, The Critical Period, 77. 
25 Ibid., 76. 


Besides the duties of the church at Kaskaskia the Jesuits 
attended to those of the churches of Ste. Genevieve on the 
western bank of the Mississippi and of Vincennes on the 
Wabash river. Among the Indians they had erected a church 
at the village of the Kaskaskia and another at Michigamea, 
which at some time unknown was abandoned because of the 
indifference of the savages. -'' 

The principal seat of the priests of the Seminary of Foreign 
Missions was at Cahokia, where they continued to exercise their 
duties till the end of the French regime.-^ From 1 7 1 2 to 1 7 1 8 
the only resident priest was Father Dominique Marie Varlet, 
a learned man, who after his return to Europe became a man 
of note and a Jansenist bishop; for his heresies he was excom- 
municated by three popes.-^ Practically nothing is known of 

26 It may have been abandoned when the Foxes destroyed the village in 1752. 
The list of Jesuits in the Illinois, so far as known, is as follows: 

Marquette, Father Jacques (James), 1673-1675. 

Allouez, Father Claude Jean, 1674-1688. 

Gravier, Father Jacques, 1688-1695, 1698-1706. 

Rale, Father Sebastien, 1691-1693. 

Binneteau, Father Julien, 1696-1699. 

Pinet, Father Pierre Frangois, 1696-1697, 1700-1704. 

Marest, Father Pierre Gabriel, 1698-1714. 

Alexandre, Brother, 1699. 

Limoges, Father Joseph de, 1699-1700. 

Gillet, Brother, 1702. 

Guibert, Brother Jean Francois, 1702-1712. 

Le Boullenger, Father Jean Antoine (Jean Baptiste), 1703-1741. 

Mermet, Father Jean, 1704-1716. 

Ville, Father Jean Marie de, 1707-1720. 

Guymonneau, Father Jean Charles (Gabriel), 1716-1736. 

Beaubois, Father Nicholas Ignace de, 1720-1724. 

Kereben, Father Joseph Francois de, 1725-1728. 

Dumas, Father Jean, 1727-1740. 

Outreleau, Father Etienne d', 1727-1728. 

Tartarin, Father Rene, 1727-1730. 

Senat, Father Antoine, 1734-1736. 

Meurin, Father Sebastien Louis, 1742-1763, 1763-1777. 

Magendie, Brother Charles, 1747-1756. 

Watrin, Father Philibert, 1747-1764. 

Fourre, Father Joseph Julien, 1749-1756. 

Guyenne, Father Alexis (Alexandre) Xavier de, 1732-1756. 

Vivier, Father Louis, 1739-1753. 

Pernelle, Brother Julien, 1755-1761. 

Aubert, Father Jean Baptiste, 1756-1764. 

La Morinie, Father Jean Baptiste de, 1760 (or I76i)-i764. 

Salleneuve, Father Jean Baptiste (Francois) de, 1761-1764. 

Duvernai, Father Julien, 1763-1764. 
-'■ For the history of the founding of this mission see above, p. 117. 
■•^8 Taschereau, " Mission du Seminaire de Quebec." 


his activities in the Illinois but he was forced to return to Que- 
bec for assistance, and in 171 8 there were sent three relatively 
young men, Father Thaumur de la Source, Father Calvarin, 
and Father Mercier. The first returned in 1728 to Canada, 
where he died three years later. Father Mercier had a long 
and glorious career as a missionary, serving at Cahokia till his 
death, March 30, 1753. A military author at Fort de Char- 
tres wrote of him: "He passed forty-five years in cultivating 
the Lord's vineyard of these ciistant countries. The savage 
nations have always respected him. A man of this character 
could not live too long for the welfare of these people."-'^ 

The church erected in the French village by the priests was 
long ago replaced by the ancient structure now standing in 
Cahokia, but besides the village church there was erected In 
about 1735 one for the Cahokia Indians in their village. 

In addition to serving these two churches, the Seminary 
priests at times sent a missionary among the Missouri Indians. 
They also served the church of Ste. Anne at Fort de Chartres, 
thereby precipitating a long and heated dispute with the Jesuits. 
Until the opening of the fourth decade, the church of Ste. Anne 
was served by the Jesuit priest residing in the village of the 
Michigamea. When the inhabitants built their own church, the 
Jesuits declared that they had no one available to send there; 
consequently the citizens applied to the Seminary priests, who 
undertook to supply the need. Finally the Jesuits sent Father 
Guyenne, to whom the officiating priest refused to yield. The 
dispute thus begun lasted through the decade. Though the 
justice of the claim of the Jesuits was acknowledged by the 
official world, they finally yielded, and the parish of Ste. Anne 
was evidently served by the Seminary till the end of the French 
regime.^^ Since the chapel of St. Joseph at Prairie du Rocher 
was a mission of the parish of Ste. Anne, it also was under the 

23Bossu, Nouveaux Voyages mix hides Occidentales, 1:138. Bossu appar- 
ently places his death in 1756, but Taschereau gives the exact date. Other 
fathers serving in the parish were Gaston, Courrier (died 1735), Gagnon, and 
Father Laurent, who, in 1739 was sent to Cahokia from Paris. In 1754 arrived 
Father Francois Forget Duverger, who was the last missionary sent out by the 
Seminary. Taschereau, " Mission du Seminaire de Quebec." 

30 Perier and Salmon to the minister, July 20, 1732, in Archives Nationales, 
Colonies, C^^A, 14:28; minister to Bienville, October 14, 1732, ibid.,B, 57:853 ff., 
and manv others. 


charge of the Seminary. The church at St. Philippe was very 
small, and may also have been a mission of Ste. Anne parish, 
though what its status was is not clear. 

The priests of both orders belonged to the official class 
and were supposed to receive salaries from the provincial gov- 
ernment. The Company of the Indies paid six hundred livres 
per year to each of the Jesuits and two hundred extra for five 
years to cover the expense of installing a new mission. This 
practice the royal government continued; but as the parishes 
grew In prosperity, the aid was gradually withdrawn. Kaskas- 
kia soon became self-supporting. The salaries were never 
sufficient nor were they promptly and regularly paid by the 
Company of the Indies, and the outspoken Father Beaubois 
was exaggerating but little, if at all, when in 1729 he declared: 
"Up to the present the missionaries of the Illinois have cost it 
nothing."'-^ The Seminary of Foreign Missions under a some- 
what similar arrangement had continual difficulty in collecting 
its dues even from the royal government'. 

An idea of the expenses of the Illinois district may be 
gained from the records. The commandant received a salary 
of 1,200 livres and generally 1,000 livres "gratification" for 
the upkeep of the forts and other expenses, the principal civil 
officer was paid 1,000 livres, the guardian of the warehouse and 
the physician each a similar sum, and the interpreter 400 livres. 
The total expense of the district in 1723, in the time of Bois- 
briant, was about 59,000 livres; the next year the Company 
of the Indies estimated that by economies, especially by a reduc- 
tion of the number of troops, this cost could be reduced to 
about 37,000 livres. It is probable that during the period of 
the Sieur de Liette the expenditures may have been kept within, 
or even below, that sum. With the inauguration of the govern- 
ment of Dartagulette, after the company had resigned Louisiana 
to the king, the expenses rapidly mounted higher. A reckoning 
of October 19, 1744, placed the total expense of the Illinois, 
Including the purchase of provisions, munitions, and merchan- 
dise, at 713,055 livres and the total receipts from the invest- 
ment at 192,610 livres. In other words the government 

3^ Company to the governor, October 27, 1727, and Beaubois to the company, 
in Archives Nationales, Colonies, C'^A, 11:79; 12:259 ff. 


was losing approximately $100,000 on this experiment In 
colonization. ^- 

This sum of money Is not large, even when turned into its 
present day equivalent of about a million dollars; but It ap- 
peared large to many in France, since the population of the 
Illinois never grew rapidly and the development of the district 
never gave reason for much optimism. In June, 1723, a care- 
ful census of the population showed 196 white persons in Kas- 
kaskla, 126 in Chartres village, and 12 in Cahokia — a total 
of 334 white men, women, and children. A census of January, 
1732, enumerated 190 children, which would give a population 
of from 400 to 600, depending on what was meant by 
"children." Other estimates preserved are mere guesses until 
after the British occupied the Illinois. They took a census In 
1767, after many French had crossed to St. Louis, and found 
600 white men, women, and children in Kaskaskia, 25 families 
at Prairie du Rocher, 3 at Chartres village, 3 at St. Philippe, 
and 60 at Cahokia. Counting five to a family this would give 
about 1,055.^^ Counting soldiers and temporary residents in 
the villages probably the highest figure for the white popula- 
tion of the district In its most prosperous days should be placed 
at between fifteen hundred and two thousand. The number of 
Negro slaves was never large, for the royal government, after 
a few years of experiment, concluded that they were not eco- 
nomically profitable. The census of 1732 places their number 
at 165; later they may have numbered five or six hundred. ^^ 

The population of the Illinois was divided Into two social 
classes, although the line of delimitation between them in this 
far-off region was not very distinct and apparently was easily 

32 Archives Nationales, Colonies, C '^A, 28:368. 

^^ Ibid., 8:226; Ministere des Colonies, ibid., C^, volume 464; Alvord and 
Carter, The Neiv Regime, 469. Captain Pittman, who was for several years with 
the British forces in the Illinois, writes that there were sixty-five families in Kas- 
kaskia, twelve in Prairie du Rocher, forty houses in Chartres village, sixteen 
houses in St. Philippe, and forty-five houses in Cahokia. Allowing five members 
to a family this would make the population 890, not including visitors. Present 
State of European Settlements (ed. Hodder), 85. If there were only sixty-five 
families and 600 inhabitants at Kaskaskia, as the census of 1767 states, there 
should be reckoned about nine to a family, which would make the total population 

2* The census report disproves the oft-repeated tradition of the importation 
of five hundred Negro slaves by Renault. The slaves were distributed in 1732 
as follows: Kaskaskia, 102; Chartres village, 3/; St. Philippe, 22; Cahokia, 4. 


crossed In either direction. The upper class, or gentry, was 
composed of the officers of the garrison, the holders of large 
tracts of land, and the richer merchants. The majority of the 
people belonged to the lower order and were known as 

In the Illinois country there was no development of a real 
seigniorial system such as was characteristic of New France. 
There were some large cessions, though none were made be- 
tween the period of La Salle and Tonti and that of the estab- 
lishment of the Mississippi Company. When the charter to 
that company was first issued, the French government had ex- 
perimented with the seigniorial system in New France for a 
century and had reached the conclusion that it was a deterrent 
to settlement. In 17 12, at the time of Crozat's trading grant, 
the cessions were "in full propriety" according to the model 
drawn up at Versailles. The government of the regency was 
particularly displeased with the operation of the seigniorial 
system and for several years refused, with the exception of a 
few unusual cases, to make even In Canada any more grants 
en fief.^^ The excitement of Law's speculations In Louisiana, 
however, caused a change of practice; and in 1723, and again 
in 1728, the official ban against seigniorial grants in Louisiana 
north of Manchac was withdrawn;"*^ but none were ever made 
in the Illinois. 

The form of cession used was that known as en franc 
alleu,^'^ equivalent roughly to fee simple and the opposite of 
feudal. There were two varieties of this cession, one noble, 
the other roturier; the first conferred on its holder rank among 
the nobility, while the other was without this distinction. Since 
copies of only two large grants in the Illinois have been pre- 
ss For the time of Crozat see Archives Nationales, Colonies, B, 34: 163; this 
was repeated in 1716; iZf/i/., 42 : 42 ff. From 1715 to 1727 no cessions of seigniories 
were made in New France. Munro, The Seigniorial System in Canada, ^7. This 
excellent work on the land system of Canada should be consulted by anyone 
interested in the subject. I have drawn freely from it for the following 

36 Archives Nationales, Colonies, C^^A, 11:182 ff.; B, 43:789 ff- Article 15 
reads as follows: "The said company can in the future concede lands in the 
Province and Colony of Louisiana above Manchac en fief and seigniory, with 
mean and low justice, conformably to the rules established by the coutume de 
Paris, and notwithstanding what is carried in the letters patents of August, 1717-" 
3" In America generally spelled aleu. 



served, In both of which occur the words "en franc alien 
without a limiting term, a doubt exists concerning the usage. 
In Canada the noble tenure was never granted to Individuals, 
yet evidence Indicates that It was the one usually granted in 
the Illinois.^® 

In spite of the prohibition of all cessions to the employees 
of the Mississippi Company, Commandant Bolsbrlant received 
on September i, 1721, a cession of land a league square situ- 
ated where Prairie du Rocher now stands. Sometime before 
1734 this was transferred by Bolsbrlant to his nephew, Jean 
St. Therese Langlols, an officer of the troops, who was respon- 
sible for the establishment of the later village upon It.^^ At 
about the same time Lieutenant Mellque received In the neigh- 
borhood of Kaskaskia a cession extending between the two 
rivers and measuring fourteen arpents^" In frontage. Michel 
Chassin In 1722 was expecting to receive near Fort de Chartres 
a grant of twenty arpents In frontage and a league or more in 
depth. Francois Renault received large cessions en franc alien 
on June 14, 1723 : two at the mines on the western bank, one 
at Plmltoul on the Illinois river (a league In frontage and five 
leagues In depth), and one north of Fort de Chartres (one 
league by two) ; on the last was established his village of 
St. Philippe." 

The religious bodies also received their grants. The 
Jesuits petitioned for and received a large plantation at Kas- 
kaskia as early as 17 16; the record of It has been lost, but It 
was probably situated above the bluffs across the Kaskaskia 

^* Munro, Seigniorial System in Canada, 53. In a description of the cession 
at Cahokia, written in 1735, the author describes similar holders of land as 
"concessionaires or seigniors." In a letter of 1722, before the ban on seigniorial 
cession in Louisiana was lifted, the writer, Chassin, an official, describes his ex- 
pected cession and expresses his hope that it is to be " en franc aleu and seign- 
iorial title." The description of the Cahokia cession is in Laval L^niversity 
manuscripts; Chassin's letter is in Archives Nationales, Colonies, C^^A, 6:297 fl. 
See also Viollet, Histoire du Droit Civil Francois, 747. 

'"Archives Nationales, Colonies, B, 43:56; American State Papers, Public 
Lands, 2: 183. 

^0 The arpent as linear measure was equivalent to one hundred and eighty 
feet; as surface measure, about an acre. 

41 Mereness, Travels in the American Colonies, 77, 83; Breese, Early His- 
tory of Illinois (ed. Woynt), 177; in American State Papers, Public Lands, 2: 190, 
the title of Renault is discussed at length. Renault's concessions were never 
registered in the company's archives; as an employee he had no right to receive 
such grants. On this point see Archives Nationales, Colonies, B, 247:301. 


river. On June 22, 1722, the Seminary of Foreign Missions 
received a cession en franc alleu of four leagues square, and on 
this there grew up the village of Cahokia.'*- 

The land of the American Bottom not covered by these and 
similar cessions nor occupied by the Indians was reserved first 
by the Mississippi Company and then by the king, and was 
parceled out, as the concessionaires did with their land, to the 
lesser folk. 

The tenure conceded by the larger concessionaires to the 
peasant farmers was termed en censive or en roture. In the 
New World the holders of such land were called habitants, in 
order to avoid the use of terms that had acquired a bad connota- 
tion in France, Between the two forms en censive and en 
roture there was in the colonies practically no distinction. The 
former name emphasized the fact that an annual due was to be 
paid, while the latter contrasted this form of holding with the 
noble one; but there is only slight evidence that any of the cus- 
tomary dues to the seigniors were ever collected in the Illinois. 
One of the priests of Cahokia, in describing in 1735 the manor 
of the Seminary of Foreign Missions, affirms that no conces- 
sionaire of the region demanded of his tenants the most typical 
dues, the cens et rentes.'^^ Probably the corvee, or forced 
labor on roads and other utilities, was required. Whether or 
not the concessionaires were able to collect the banal rights is 
uncertain; in the Illinois these would be limited to compulsion 
to grind grain at the seignior's mill. Both the Jesuits and the 
Seminary priests early erected mills on their land, but there 
were many other mills, run by either water or horse power, 
in the villages ; and it is improbable that this unpopular require- 

*- A copy of the cession is in Laval University manuscripts, where is also a 
map of it, made in 1735. See also American State Papers, Public Lands, 2: 194. 
Besides the large cessions mentioned, there were others lying between Renault's 
grant at St. Philippe and Kaskaskia, but after the time of Boisbriant such large 
cessions were at least very uncommon. 

43 The cens was a moderate tax paid as a recognition of the seignior's rights; 
in Canada this was ordinarily " one sol for each arpent in front by forty in 
depth." The rente was a substantial rent for the land. The lods et ventes were 
due whenever the holding changed hands except by inheritance in direct line. 
In Canada the sum was fixed at one-twelfth of the selling price, of which the 
seignior generally remitted one-third. Munro, The Seigniorial System in Canada, 
77 ff. Some indications of these usages in the Illinois will be found in American 
State Papers, Public Lands, 2: 183, 191. 


ment was ever enforced. The rights of fishing and hunting — 
the usual prerogatives of seigniors — were reserved by royal 
decree for all inhabitants of the province of Louisiana. 

As a matter of fact land could be acquired without any 
seigniorial burdens and without legal formalities. Though at 
Cahokia there were several cases of direct purchase by indi- 
viduals from the Indians, the practice was not general in the 
Illinois, for the representatives of the government granted 
land freely, without formality, and without reservations, in the 
royal domains of Kaskaskia and Chartres villages. In these 
cases, the tenure was undoubtedly en franc alien rotiirier, or 
its equivalents^ This corresponds roughly to free and com- 
mon socage of English law. 

All the lands of the Illinois, whatever their character, were 
subject to the payment of a tithe — one twenty-sixth of the 
produce of the farms — to the church.'*^ The income from this 
source was not large, and the churches in the Illinois were as- 
sisted by gifts from the parishioners, from the king, and from 
well-wishers in France ; but probably the most important income 
came from the careful husbandry of the land possessed by the 
religious orders for the support of their churches. 

A most striking characteristic of the French communities in 
America was the manner of laying out their fields for cultiva- 
tion. The houses of the settlers were clustered in a village, and 
their cultivated lands were laid out in long strips with only a 
few rods of frontage and with a lateral measure sometimes a 
mile or more long. The need of river communication had de- 
veloped the system in Canada, and it was carried into the 
Mississippi valley. Thus the cultivated lands of Kaskaskia, tech- 
nically known as the common fields, stretched like ribbons from 
the Mississippi to the village; individual possessions, separated 

** The evidence points to such a practice. In the concessions preserved 
there is generally no definite mention of cens et rentes or of lods et <ventes, as 
should be the case, if they were to be collected. Some cessions read " subject to 
the public charges," which may refer to corvees, church tithes, militia duties, and 
other governmental rights. In this conclusion I am supported by Mr. H. W. 
Roberts of Chester, who has for many years been manager of an abstract office, 
through which pass the titles of many of these French grants. A visitor to these 
villages in 1836, who made a careful study of conditions, writes that the habitant 
"possessed his lot in franc allien [sic"] — fee simple, subject to sale and transfer." 
Flagg, The Far IV est, in Thwaites, Early irestern Travels, 27:46. 

•*•'• Munro, The Seigniorial System in Canada, 185. 


from each other by two furrows, varied from one hundred 
and eighty feet to five hundred and forty in frontage and con- 
tained from less than forty acres to one hundred and eighty- 
three, the latter being the amount held by the Jesuits within 
the village.'**' 

Along the front of the common fields nearest the village 
stretched a common fence, each landowner being responsible 
for the part upon his strip. Where the fence crossed a road 
there was a gate attended by a decrepit slave. This fence sepa- 
rated the common fields from the commons, a possession of the 
community where the cattle and horses grazed and the pigs 
roamed at will. Each inhabitant had his particular mark for 
his animals registered with the clerk of the court.'*" 

The title to the lands possessed by the villagers of Kas- 
kaskia dated from the year 17 19, up to which time the in- 
habitants had been only squatters. This condition was corrected 
by Commandant Boisbriant, who laid out two tracts, the grand 
qiiarrc, or common fields, and the commons ; the latter consisted 
of several tracts, the largest lying across the Kaskaskia above 
the bluffs, a smaller one on the Mississippi, and another con- 
sisting of the islands in that river. Since these concessions were 
not confirmed by the Mississippi Company, a petition was 
drawn up by the people in 1727 asking for the confirmation, 
which was also urged by the Sieur de Liette, the commandant.'** 
The common fields of Cahokia were ceded by the Seminary of 
Foreign Missions, those of St. Philippe by Renault, those of 
Chartres village by the government on January 23, 1745, and 
those of Prairie du Rocher by the same on May 7, 1743.^^ 

The French government always insisted that the welfare 
of the district of the Illinois depended on its agriculture, and 
every encouragement was given the settlers to develop the 
land. To a limited extent the effort was successful, but the 

*" See maps of the commons of the villages in American State Papers, Public 
Lands, 2:182, and on other pages. 

• *'' Among the Kaskaskia manuscripts is a list of such marks. 

*^A search of the archives in Paris has failed to discover copies of either con- 
cessions or petitions. Breese, Early History of Illinois (ed. Hoyne), 286 ff., has 
preserved a translation of the petition of 1727 and a confirmation of a further 
cession in 1743. He found copies of these in the Kaskaskia manuscripts, which he 
designated "the lumber of a county" recorder's office. Ibid., 217. 

*^ American State Papers, Public Lands, 2: 183, 186. 


population was small and the people were never expert farm- 
ers. The returns never realized the hopes of the government. 
Better methods undoubtedly would have increased the output. 
In the case of the larger landholders, the work was poorly 
performed by Negro or Indian slaves. The use of manure was 
certainly not common, and the farm tools were of the crudest 
character. The plow was wooden, except a small piece of 
iron attached to the point of the implement with rawhide.^" 
The only vehicle used by the habitants was a cart built like a box 
and placed on two wheels without tires. In making their 
harness they used rawhide; tanned leather was almost un- 
known. The common beasts of burden were oxen which were 
" connected not by a yoke, but by a strong wooden bar, well 
secured to the horns by strips of untanned hide, and guided 
by a rope of the same material. If horses were used, they were 
driven tandem and controlled entirely by the whip and voice, 
without any ropes and reins. "°^ Opportunity for individual 
initiative and experiment was limited by the common fields 
system. All the farmers must plow, plant, cultivate, and 
harvest at the same time and in the same way; the time was 
fixed by the village assembly and by hoary custom. 

The most Important crop was wheat, its cultivation having 
been early introduced by the Jesuits. The spring variety was 
used exclusively, since the cattle were turned into the common 
fields during the winter. There was shipped to the New 
Orleans market in 1732 two thousand hundredweight, and in 
1740 six thousand; the amount reached an even higher figure 
in later years. Lower Louisiana always counted on large sup- 
plies from the upper district and In 1745, when a hurricane 
ruined the product of the local farms, was actually saved from 
starvation by the Illinois crop.°- 

Oats, hemp, hops, and some tobacco were cultivated. Corn 
was not raised extensively and was used for the stock, since the 
French did not customarily use it for bread. Vegetables were 
grown In the gardens near the houses; here were to be found 

50 Reynolds, My Oiin Times (and ed.), 23. 
5' Breese, Early History of Illinois (ed. Hoyne), 196. 

5- Surrey, The Commerce of Louisiana, 289^ 291 ff . ; Vaiidreiiil to the min- 
ister, April 12, 1746, in Archives Nationales, Colonies, C^^A, 30:57. 


melons, potatoes, and squashes; and to the house yard were 
confined also the fruit trees — apple, peach, and pear. 

The cattle came from Canada and were a hardy race, 
though not large. Dairying was not developed to any extent. 
Churns were not used at all, the small amount of butter re- 
quired being made by shaking the cream in a bottle. Hogs 
in large numbers roamed the forests. The horses were from 
the Spanish colonies, and large numbers were always to be 
found running wild on the commons. 

There was always enough game in the vicinity not only to 
supply meat for the population but also for export to the New 
Orleans market. Both white men and Indians hunted for game 
as well as for furs. Products of the gun which found a market 
in the south were bears' meat and grease, venison, hides, 
and buffalo wool. There were repeated attempts to create a 
market for the last-named article, but it never proved valu- 
able in the French mills. Still hopes were ever buoyant, and 
several efforts were made to domesticate the "wild cattle" for 
their wool. 

The story of the beginning of lead mining in the Illinois 
has been told on a previous page.^^ Renault, who was the first 
to inaugurate mining on a relatively large scale, sold out his 
holdings to the government in 1744 and returned to France ;^^ 
but work in his mines never ceased, and, in spite of warnings 
of the French government, other mines were opened, the Galena 
district receiving particular attention. Still the mines on the 
west banks of the Mississippi remained throughout the French 
regime the principal source of the lead supply, and Ste. Gene- 
vieve thrived accordingly. The process of extracting the lead 
was crude, and it was reported by a British ofl'icer in 1766 that 
the French did not have men enough to exploit the mines to 
their capacity.^^ 

The business that rivaled agriculture in the Illinois was 
trade with the Indians, and this meant chiefly the fur trade. 
After various attempts to regulate this business in the northern 

s^ See above, p. 154. 

S4 Minister to Vaiidreuil, January i, 1744, in Archives Nationales, Colonies, 
B, 78:6 ff.; /i^jJ., C'3A, 26: II. 

65 For an account of the process see Wallace, Illinois and Louisiana under 
French Rule, 274. 


province, ^^ the French government sought a way out of its diffi- 
culties by leasing the trade at the various posts. While this 
monopolistic method relieved the government of many annoy- 
ances, it called forth many complaints from the Indians. The 
failure of Crozat's monopoly of the trade in Louisiana taught 
a salutary lesson, and thereafter the tendency was to leave the 
trade of the southern province free. The Mississippi Com- 
pany naturally exercised some control; in 1720 an ordinance 
was issued prohibiting individuals from carrying on trade with 
the Indians on the land of the company without permission 
from the commandant; the excuse for this regulation was 
that traders encouraged intertribal wars for the purpose of 
obtaining Indian captives as slaves.^ That Commandant 
Boisbriant freely granted trading permits is proved by the 
complaints of Canadian officials that his action in doing so 
prevented them from correcting the abuses of the coureiirs de 
bois. ^^ 

The company limited the freedom of trade somewhat in 
1728 by granting to two Canadians, Marian and Outlas, the 
exclusive trade for five years on the Missouri and the Wabash 
(probably meaning the Ohio) rivers, beginning January I, 
1729. They were obliged " to deliver to the warehouse of New 
Orleans all the peltries, and if they dispose of them otherwise 
they shall be deprived of their privilege." The prices were 
fixed. ^'^ For operating purposes there were advanced to the 
concessionaires two thousand livres. All trade at the posts of 
the Illinois, exclusive of the territory designated, was declared 

When the province was retroceded to the king, the trade 
was unrestrained; and the commandants of the Illinois were 
empowered to grant licenses even to the Canadians, who 

^^ See above, p. 71 ff., 105 ff. 

^^ Archives Natioiiales, Colonies, B, 42"'^: 391. 

^^ fVisconsin Historical Collections, 16:437. 

s^ For dry beavers, 34 sols a pound; green beavers, 60; deerskins at 30, those 
weighing less than three-quarters of a pound to be rejected, those weighing more 
than two to be taken only at the established rate; raccoons at 15 sols; wood 
wolves at 50; foxes and brown lynx at 40; large bearskins at 5 livres, ordinary 
ones at 3 livres; large and black otter at 4 livres. Archives Nationales, Colonies, 
Ci^A, 11: 129 ff., 154. The sol is the modern sou, or one-twentieth of a franc or 
livre, and is equivalent to about a cent. 


carried much of the Illinois trade to Detroit. This freedom 
of trade in the district was the cause of complaints from the 
men who had paid for monopoly leases of the posts of New 
France.*''^ On the whole, however, matters appear to have be- 
come adjusted so that the Illinois river became a common meet- 
ing ground, the Canadians confined their principal operations 
above the river, and the Illinois French, agents for the most 
part of New Orleans merchants, pursued their calling in the 
territory from that river southward and in the Missouri 

The search for furs led the Illinois traders far afield. The 
Missouri river was explored to the northward. A further 
incentive was the hope of reaching Santa Fe and entering upon 
the profitable Spanish trade. This goal was attained in July, 
1739, by Pierre and Paul Mallet and six companions, who fol- 
lowed the south fork of the Platte river and then struck south- 
ward through modern Colorado. Thus while the gallant Sieur 
de la Verendrie and his sons of New France were discovering 
Lake Winnipeg and the upper Missouri, and were reaching out 
toward the mountains, their compatriots of the Illinois were 
exploring the southern spurs of the Rockies.*^- 

While most of the products of the Illinois were conveyed 
downstream to the easily accessible New Orleans market, it 
was found very unsatisfactory to ship the furs there, because 
the heat spoiled a large part of them. The connection with the 
north, therefore, was never broken j*^^ the posts on the Great 
Lakes, Detroit and Mackinac, continued to be the emporiums 
of this trade. 

Most of the merchandise brought for sale to the Illinois 
came from the south. The established advance in price was 
a hundred per cent increase over the cost price in France. At a 
sale in Kaskaskia the following prices were paid: breeches 6 
to 7 livres, sheepskin jackets 11 to 16, skirts 22 to 29, tables 

6" Archives Nationales, Colonies, B, 57:855; memoir of La Galissoniere, 
September i, 1748, in JVisconsin Historical Collections, 17:498. See also ibid.,^og. 

^^ See General Gage's statement in Shortt and Doughty, Constitutional 
Documents of Canada, 72. 

^- Margry, Decowvertes et Etablissements, 6:455 ff. This exploit led to an 
official expedition, which failed. 

^'s Mereness, Travels in the American Colonies, 70 flF. ; Wisconsin Historical 
Collections, 18:15. 


20 to 25, chairs 2 to 3, axes 10, iron stoves 30. Bulls brought 
at that time 60 to 80 livres, cows 30 to 100, hogs five to six 
months old 7 to 8, and horses about 300.®^ 

In small purchases made among the people the beaver was 
commonly used as a measure of value, but other furs passed 
as currency at a price fixed in relation to this most esteemed 
pelt. Some such small change was required, for it was found 
almost impossible to keep specie in the colonies, although much 
was shipped from France and large quantities of Spanish coins 
found their way to the Mississippi valley by means of a clandes- 
tine trade which could not be prevented. 

For lack of specie, paper money was utilized In the form 
of bills of exchange, treasury notes, orders on the storehouse, 
contracts between individuals or between individuals and the 
company, royal notes, and card money. The orders on the 
storehouse were Issued to employees or to depositors of furs 
and other products and regularly passed as currency. The 
practice resulted In so much forgery and so many other abuses 
that it was ordered stopped and was replaced by the use of 
card money, which was drawn by one official and signed, reg- 
istered, and numbered by another. When received by the 
guardian of the warehouse It was supposed to be retired. Spec- 
ulation in such money, the constantly changing orders of the 
government, and the dishonesty of officials, created conditions 
of financial chaos, and eventually brought the colonial adminis- 
tration to the verge of bankruptcy .*^^ 

The river craft plying the trade between the Illinois and 
New Orleans were of three kinds: birch-bark canoes, pirogues, 
and bateaux. Birch-bark canoes were used least of all on ac- 
count of the danger from snags; as there were no portages 
their light weight was of no advantage. The pirogues, made 
by hollowing trunks of trees, although heavy and unfitted for 
sails, were In more general use. It was the regular practice 
for merchants traveling the Maumee-Wabash portage from 

8* Surrey, The Commerce of Louisiana, 291, 30x3, note 6, 302, note. In the 
thirties flour cost the settlers two sols a pound, hams four livres each, tobacco 
two livres a pound, and brandy five livres a pot. 

"5 This account of the currency has been drawn from Surrey, The Commerce 
of Louisiana, 8 fF. See also Thompson, " Monetary Sj'stem of Nouvelle France," 
in Illinois State Historical Society, Journal, 4: 146 ff. 


Canada to substitute these heavier craft for the canoes as soon 
as Ouiatenon was reached. 

The convoys of the Illinois were first composed entirely 
of pirogues, but these were easy prey for the Indians and the 
loss of goods from capsizing was also considerable. In 1732 
the governor recommended that two " demi galleys," or large 
bateaux, be constructed for the Mississippi traffic ;*^*^ the next 
year he reported that he had had built of live oak a boat of 
sixteen tons' burden, forty-three feet long by nine feet wide, 
covered to protect the merchandise from storms. From that 
time the convoys were regularly made up with a fair proportion 
of these larger craft. Some of these were of twenty tons' 
burden; so far as practicable they were propelled by sails 
but most of the way by oars. Warping and poling, so com- 
monly practiced in later years, seem not to have been tried by 
the French. 

The first convoy of the year usually left New Orleans in 
late winter or early spring, and the second. In August. When 
the water was low, as In summer, the boats were obliged on 
account of the current to utilize every stretch of backwater 
formed by. the numerous bends of the river; but "when the 
river Is high and overflows its Banks," writes an observer, " the 
Distance Is lessened, and the Water does not run with such 
Rapidity as when lower and narrower."®^ Going against the 
current was under any circumstances hard and laborious work 
and consumed at least " 70 odd day," and generally much 
longer, three months being estimated as the usual length of 
time. The voyage down was naturally less of a hardship and 
much more rapid. In 1732 six pirogues made the trip In thir- 
teen days, and In 1749 some bateaux, in twelve days. The 
spring convoy was expected to arrive at New Orleans the last 
of April or the first of May. 

Besides the royal convoys, private boats were constantly 
passing up and down the river; sometimes several merchants 
would combine for protection, making up a good-sized fleet. 
The royal convoys, however, guarded as they were by soldiers 
commanded by an officer of the marine, were the safer and 

68 Archives Nationales, Colonies, C^^A, 14:47. 

8^ Gordon's journal, in Alvord and Carter, The NeiJJ Regime, 302. 


therefore merchants preferred to ship their merchandise in them 
or at least to place their own boats under the command of the 
convoy captain, a position that gave ample opportunity for 
graft. In 1750 Montchervaux, who was in charge of a convoy, 
was detected charging the government with the transportation 
of merchandise owned by private traders. It was then pro- 
posed to contract with individual merchants to carry the royal 
supplies, the king still furnishing the escort of troops; but this 
was found to be impracticable. A saving of expense, however, 
was made by reducing the number of royal bateaux in the con- 
voy from six or eight to four.*'^ 

The dangers of the passage up and down were very great. 
The river was full of snags, the banks were constantly caving 
in, landing on the high banks for the night's rest was most 
difficult, and, during the Indian wars, the danger from the 
natives was constant. Boats were attacked with great fre- 
quency by the Chickasaw, the Natchez, and the Cherokee; and 
accounts of loss were all too familiar. 

The journey to Canada was made with as great frequency 
as was that to New Orleans, but generally on private enter- 
prises. The trip consumed a number of weeks. There is a 
record of an official message that was sent from New Orleans 
on February 19, 1759, and arrived at Montreal on May 25, 
being en route ninety-five days.^^ 

Travel was not always by water. At a very early period 
a road was built to connect the villages of the Illinois. It ran 
along the American Bottom from Kaskaskia to St. Philippe, 
where it branched, one road continuing along the flat land to 
Cahokia, the other skirting along the top of the bluffs to the 
same place. From this cluster of villages roads ran in many 
directions. The French found on the prairies the trails of the 
Indians and the well-beaten tracks of the buffaloes, wide enough 
for two wagons to pass. These the government gradually 
developed; one ran from Cahokia to Peoria and from there to 
Galena; another ran to the mouth of the Tennessee; there was 
also a well-worn road connecting Peoria and Detroit. 


68 Archives Nationales, Colonies, B, 91:8, 13; C^^A, 35:9; 38:103. 

69 Villiers du Tcrrage, Les Dernieres Annees de la Louisiane Franqaise, 102. 
''o Surrey, The Commerce of Louisiana, 82 ff. 


The banks of the Kaskaskia river offered a safe harbor for 
boats; and a short walk brought the traveler to the village of 
the same name, which may be taken as the type of the others 
scattered along the shore of the Mississippi river. In the 
center lay a large grass covered square with streets leading from 
it. Here were situated the church and picketed fort, the refuge 
in case of attack by the Indians. The streets were laid out in 
blocks " about three hundred feet square, and each block con- 
tained four lots. The streets were rather narrow, but always 
at rights angles. "^^ 

The village presented to the visitor a peaceful and orderly 
appearance, with an air of permanency unusual on the frontier. 
Many of the houses were made of stone quarried from the 
bluffs, but most of them were constructed of upright hewn 
logs with concave sides, which, when placed side by side, 
formed a rounded space which was filled with clay, straw, and 
stones. The whole was built without the use of iron. The 
better wooden houses were constructed with uprights set sev- 
eral feet apart and the interstices were filled with horizontal 
puncheons, made air-tight with a composition of clay and straw. 
A pointed roof, thatched or bark, extending over the porch 
or "gallery" completed the structure.'^- Most of the houses 
were only a story and a half, but some possessed a full second 
story. At one end of the building, and sometimes at both ends, 
was the large chimney of the generous fireplace. The houses 
stood close to the street for sociability's sake, and the yard 
around was protected by a whitewashed picket fence, within 
which were a flower garden, a small orchard of fruit trees, a 
vegetable garden, the slaves' cabins, and a barn. 

Many of the Frenchmen lived exceedingly comfortably. 
One of the richest households in Kaskaskia was that of the 
Jesuits, who owned a wooden house one hundred and twenty 
feet long, another building not named but divided " into many 
low apartments," Negro cabins, cow sheds, a barn, a stable, 
a weaving room, a mill run by horse power, and a dovecote. ^^ 

■''1 Reynolds, Pioneer History of Illinois (ed. 1887), 50. 
■^2 See illustration opposite. 

'^s Taken from the sale of the property, in Alvord and Carter, The Critical 
Period, 126; Alvord and Carter, The Nc<w Regime, 327. 


They were served by sixty-eight Negroes trained as farmers, 
blacksmiths, carpenters, brewers, and masons. Besides their 
farm land on the common fields and their rights in the commons 
they owned a large farm above the bluffs across the Kaskaskia 
river. There were, however, private families as well, and 
perhaps better, off. In 1765 a member of the Bauvais family 
owned eighty slaves. He furnished to the royal magazine 
eighty-six thousandweight of flour, which was only a part of 
one year's harvest. 

On entering the home of one of the wealthier people, the 
visitor found himself in a hall extending from front to back, 
and this was flanked by rooms. The houses were relatively 
well furnished; small services of plate were displayed on the 
sideboards. Religious pictures and French mirrors with gilt 
frames hung on the walls; and a few possessed billiard tables. 
The dwellings of the liab'itants, on the other hand, were poorly 
equipped and resembled those of the American pioneers, the 
furniture being frequently handmade. The French colonists 
had the reputation of being rather slovenly housekeepers. The 
American pioneers in Vincennes said of them: "The women 
can neither sew, nor spin, nor make butter; but spend their time 
in gossipping, and leave their houses dirty and in disorder."'^ 

In dress there was a distinction between the officers, the 
well-to-do traders, and the habitants. The officers dressed, as 
has already been indicated, like the French military gentlemen 
of the day; the costume of the trader may be inferred from the 
evidence of the numerous settlements of estates drawn up by 
the notary-clerk and preserved in the Kaskaskia manuscripts. 
The items indicate a luxury of raiment that is surprising; richly 
trimmed coats, embroidered waistcoats with "diamond" 
buttons, silken hose, and silver buckles. The relatively 
wealthy, both men and women, imitated, so far as possible, 
the styles of Paris as they were passed up the river from 
New Orleans. 

The costumes of the habitants were less rich and more un- 
changing. " For clothing," writes an observer of a later day,'^ 
" the cotton plant furnished its fibre, and the warm Mackinaw 

7* Volney, V'te'iv of the Climate and Soil of the United States, 372. 
'3 Breese, Early History of Illinois (ed. Hoyne), 198. 


blanket the indispensable capot, with a blue cloth hood for 
winter wear, and the skins of the deer dressed in the Indian 
manner for trousers and moccasins. Thus appareled, and 
with a short clay pipe burnt to an ebony color by constant use, 
wending his way to gossip with his neighbor, or by his own ingle, 
you have a picture of a colonial subject of the Grand Mon- 
arche." The shirt worn was of colored cotton; the trousers 
were held by a belt or sash; on social occasions the latter was 
liberally ornamented with beads and " spread widely over the 
body outside the coat and tied behind, the ends hanging down 
two feet or more,"'^ In summer no coat was worn and the feet 
were bare. Over the head was invariably worn a colored 
handkerchief. The voyageiir wore a leather ruffled shirt 
and on his head a brightly colored cap with a tassel hanging 
over one side. Gay rogues they were, fond of wine, women 
and song. 

The colonists did no spinning or weaving and were there- 
fore dependent on the traders for their goods. The women 
of the lower class wore short overskirts reaching to the knees, 
below which was a long petticoat. Like the men, they com- 
monly wore moccasins. A large straw hat of home manufac- 
ture completed the costume; ia winter they had fur hats or 

The better classes were educated to the same extent as were 
their contemporaries in France, and the lower classes were, for 
the most part, illiterate. Volney found that in Vincennes in 
1796 six out of nine could neither read nor write.'^^ 

It is difficult to characterize the French colonists with any 
assurance of truth. The disorder and licentiousness of a 
frontier community, whether of French, Spanish, or British 
stock, have always made a deep impression on the visitor from 
more settled communities; and in a general condemnation the 
members of the official class have readily joined, since it excused 
their incapacity to maintain order. The French villagers have 
'experienced this universal condemnation. Their rulers and 
their priests have described them frequently as banditti, and the 

"•^ Hubbarj^ "The Early Colonization of Detroit," in Michigan Pioneer and 
Historical Collections, i : 359- 

"' Volney, J'ie%v of the Climate and Soil of the United States, 332. 


British officers from whose letters more frequent descriptions 
have been preserved have joined in the chorus."^ 

These French of the border were not saints; the sins of 
similar communities were here common. They indulged in 
heavy drinking, as did all pioneer communities and con- 
temporary society in general. A French official wrote in 1737 
that the inhabitants of the Illinois were burdened by debts as a 
result of their excessive drinking and gambling."^ Besides the 
imported liquor, the colonists had a wine which they made from 
the wild grapes ; their efforts to cultivate the European grape in 
the Illinois failed. The records of their courts, however, do 
not reveal an excessive amount of crime among the settlers. In 
fact, the French were rather lovers of peace and order and 
rushed readily to the judge to have their disputes adjusted. 
Many accusations of craftiness disguised under forms of enter- 
tainment and flattery have been made. These can certainly be 
discounted. The citizens of France have always been thrifty 
and capable of protecting themselves in trade, and in this 
respect they do not deserve a worse reputation than do people 
of other nations. 

The people in general led a light-hearted, easy-going life. 
The Sunday evening dance was attended by all, old and young, 
well-to-do and poor. Even the priest dropped in during the 
early evening. Every description of these festive occasions 
proclaims the good behavior and bonhomie that prevailed. 
They joined enthusiastically in the church festivals, of which 
there were many, too many for the welfare of the farms, some 
people complained. Mardi Gras was unusually popular; the 
evening was passed at one of the larger houses, where a rivalry 
in flopping pancakes took place, after which there was dancing. 
On New Year's Day calls were made, when it was customary 
for the hostess to present her cheek to the departing guests for 
a good-bye kiss. Even the charivari was good-natured fun 
and had not degenerated to the vulgar exhibition of later times. 
They played cards incessantly — not always for money — and if 

'^ There are good examples in Alvord and Carter, The Neiv Regime, 228, 
and in Volney, Vieiu of the Climate and Soil of the United States, 372 ff. 

^9 Salmon to the minister, June 22, 1737, in Archives Nationales, Colonies, 
C13A, 22: 192 ff. 


was usual to see them seated on the gallery engaged in this 

When the voyageurs returned to their village there was 
always a warm welcome for them, much drinking, and merry- 
making mingled with some lawlessness, for the voyageurs were 
the most reckless class of the communities; but in the French 
villages there existed a restraining force before which even the 
worst elements of the population bowed. Civilization as it 
existed in France was represented by the officials and the priests 
who were always present to maintain Old World ways. The 
colonists, therefore, never freed themselves from the ages-old 
conventions. After the free life of the wilderness where they 
lived like the natives, they returned to homes where the church 
was respected, the law courts obeyed, the notary a necessary and 
respected visitor. Unlike their contemporaries of the British 
colonies, the French changed very little in character ; there never 
took place within them a complete readjustment of social 
values and the development of a democratic conception of 
social justice; the old regime had set an indelible mark on the 
souls of these French villagers on the Mississippi. 

How far the state and the church were able to influence the 
lives of the people is well illustrated in the matter of marriages 
with the Indian women. In the early years of the French 
occupation Indian marriages between the coiireiirs de bois and 
the squaws were very common, and under the influence of the 
Jesuits these were generally changed to sanctioned relations; 
the population of Kaskaskia during the first two decades of the 
eighteenth century was composed almost exclusively of these 
hybrid families. It was a period when the government be- 
lieved that the best solution of the Indian problem was to be 
sought in the gradual absorption of the natives by the white 
population. But after some years of experiment, it was ob- 
served that the half-breed children were more depraved than 
their parents; in the contest for survival the wilder blood was 

Fully convinced of the inherent evil in the practice, the 
government in October, 1735, prohibited the priests in the 
future from solemnizing such marriages without the consent of 
the commandant. The policy was not acceptable to the Jesuits ; 


at least a memoir of 1738 emanating from them pointed out 
the evils that would result. In the end, however, they sub- 
mitted; many years later a Jesuit, Father Meurin, declared 
that only a few marriages between white men and Indian 
women had been performed and these only with the consent 
of the commandant.^*^ Naturally the prohibition of marriage 
did not prevent the continuance of unsanctified relations with 
Indian women, and the number of illegitimate children in the 
villages was always relatively large. **^ 

The majority of the officers and soldiers stationed in the 
Illinois had come from France to Louisiana and by boat up the 
Mississippi. On the other hand, the inhabitants, as their 
names prove, were mostly wanderers from New France. The 
northern French colony had been populated, for the most part, 
by immigrants from the province of Normandy, and in the 
Illinois country the language, habits, and traditions of the 
people must have long given evidence of their Norman origin. 

It is a commonplace to speak of French colonial com- 
munities as ruled by a centralized government in which they had 
no participation; but this does not present a true picture. In 
the effort of the Bourbon kings to draw to themselves all lines 
of power in the French state, they found themselves blocked by 
the immobile traditions of the lowest organ of society, the 
village community. The social and legal life of the villages 
with roots buried in the far distant past was so much a part of 
the life of the plain people that it maintained itself unaltered, 
generally speaking, through the changing conditions of the 
society above it. It was to this class of communities that the 
French villages of the Illinois belonged. ^- 

In 1659 French villages were declared minors under the 
guardianship of the king. They were forbidden to alienate 
their property or to borrow money without his permission. 
The edict brought with it the benefits and the evils of centraliza- 

80 Archives Nationales, Colonies, B, 62:88. For the interesting memoir of 
the Jesuits, see ibid., C^^A, 23 : 241 flf. 

81 The women were for the most part slaves captured from the Missouri 
tribes. Dartaguiette made an unavailing but earnest attempt to stop the trade in 
Missouri women, whereas the Jesuits charged La Buissonniere with an indiffer- 
ence to the evident laxity of morals among the officers under him. 

**- The best account of French villages is contained in Babeau, Le Village 
sous I'ancien Regime. See particularly chapter i. 


tion. The monarchy lessened the authority of the seigniors, 
released the villages from the oppression of local judges, and 
gave them an administration less costly; but it brought other 
burdens — the universal militia service, severer corvees, and 
larger taxes. Nevertheless the villages had obtained a truly 
legal position and had retained many of their privileges. While 
these small communities never acquired the right of electing 
magistrates and judges. It was common In northern France for 
each of them to elect a civil agent or syndic to represent It in 

The Catholic church recognized the legal existence of these 
communities by confiding to them the partial upkeep of the 
church and the administration of the church property. For 
this purpose the parishioners elected the marguilliers (church 
wardens), who were obliged to report to the villagers all ex- 
penses; the corporation of the church became thus a village 
institution, and the marguilliers became agents of the com- 
munity just as the syndic was. 

In each of the villages of Kaskaskia and Cahokia and 
probably at New Chartres, both syndic and marguilliers were 
elected and functioned with apparent regularity. Their 
authority came from the people and to the people they were 
obliged to report. For this purpose assemblies were held after 
mass before the church door, where auctions and other func- 
tions of a public character took place. If the question before 
the community concerned the church, the priest presided; If it 
concerned the business side of the community, the syndic. All 
males over fourteen were expected to attend, and there is some 
evidence that widows also had a vote. 

The assembly was deliberative and administrative, electing 
officers, deciding the time of plowing, harvesting, and all mat- 
ters affecting the crops, and taking action on the questions of 
repair or building of churches and the upkeep of roads and 
fences. All acts passed by the assembly were recorded by the 
judge, his clerk or notary. It naturally fell within the province 
of the syndic to oversee the execution of the decisions affecting 
his department, and his duties therefore possessed something 
of an administrative character. 

One public duty performed by all men of the Illinois, unless 


they held military commissions or were soldiers of the marine, 
was militia service. The story of the first organization of the 
militia, on May 9, 1723, is told by Diron Dartaguiette, who 
writes: "I called together all the Inhabitants of this village 
[Kaskaskia] to whom I said that I had an order from the King 
to form a company of militia for the purpose of putting them 
in a position to defend themselves with greater facility against 
the incursions which the Indians, our enemies, might attempt, 
so I formed a company, after having selected four of the most 
worthy among them to put at the head. This company being 
under arms, I passed it In review the same day."^^ The organi- 
zation was still further improved by Pierre Dartaguiette, in 
accordance with special instructions. As the settlements grew, 
each village maintained its own company. 

The captain of militia was the principal citizen of his village 
and by his position exercised an influence over Its destinies. As 
militia captain he was the representative of the major com- 
mandant and represented the government in the work per- 
formed by the villagers on the roads; but he also represented 
the judge and put in execution his judgments. In case of dis- 
order the subject first came before him; he seems to have per- 
formed functions somewhat analogous to those of an English 
justice of the peace. 

Three villages of the Illinois Indians lay in close proximity 
to the French settlements: that of the Kaskaskia close to 
Kaskaskia; that of the Michlgamea and Kaskaskia near 
Chartres village; and that of the Cahokia and Tamaroa just 
outside Cahokia. When the French first came to the 
American Bottom the two last named tribes formed two vil- 
lages, which were soon united; and during the Fox war some 
of the Peoria left their seats on the Illinois river to dwell in 
comparative safety with their kinsmen, the Cahokia. 

The nearness of these Indian villages gave rise to consider- 
able friction between the two peoples. The Innumerable dogs 
of the Indians were a nuisance, their cattle were always stray- 
ing into the cultivated fields of the white men, and the latter's 
cattle were continually destroying the Indians' crops. Personal 

83 Mereness, Travels in the American Colonies, 76. 


encounters accordingly were frequent. The French govern- 
ment realized the impossibility of preventing such friction so 
long as the villages were close together, and in the thirties an 
unavailing effort was made to move the Indians to sites several 
miles away on the prairies above the bluffs. 

One cause of the Indians' resentment was always present. 
They had permitted the first white men to settle among them 
without raising the issue of their titles to land; but after it be- 
came evident that the government intended to create here a 
populous settlement and gave proof of its intention by making 
large cessions of land to the inhabitants without consulting the 
natives, then the Indians began to feel resentful and demanded 
payment for their land, which was refused, ^^ 

The influence of continuous association of the Indians with 
white men was baneful. Liquor and disease performed their 
work rapidly. The once proud Illinois who had been able to 
contend on equal terms with the Winnebago and the Iroquois 
were reduced by 1748 to between thirty and thirty-five hundred 
men, women, and children; and these were described by their 
neighbors as drunken, lazy sots, afraid to go to war.^^ 

The number of Indians held as slaves vv^as not large, and 
they came generally from the western bank of the Mississippi. 
The census taker of 1731 found fifty-five men and sixty-two 
women in this condition. The number decreased in the course 
of time, for they were found to be an unprofitable investment; 
also the French government became convinced that it was un- 
wise to humiliate the natives in this way. 

The results of the labors of the missionaries among the 
natives at first gave rise to great optimism. The Illinois In- 
dians were a docile and gentle race and listened gladly to the 
strange teachings of the fathers. By 17 12 it was asserted by 

s* Chief Chicagou, when in Paris, begged the French not to drive his people 
from their land, and Governor Bienville in 1733 noticed that the demand of 
payment for cessions already made manifested the discontent of the savages. 
Archives Nationales, Colonies, C^^A, 16:225 ff. 

**•'» Estimates of the number of the Illinois differ and are difficult to interpret, 
for one never knows whether or not the Peoria are included. A memoir of 1718 
speaks of four hundred warriors at Starved Rock. JVisconsin Historical Collec- 
tions, 16:373. Bougainville, whose estimates are padded, assigns in 1757 four 
hundred to the Kaskaskia alone. Ibid., 18:177. A memoir on Louisiana gives 
the number of Illinois warriors as four hundred. Archives Nationales, Colonies, 
'CisA. 30:258. 


both missionaries and other observers that practically all had 
accepted Christianity, meaning, of course, so far as a primitive 
people could; but a careful observer, Diron Dartaguiette, 
wrote in 1723 : "The Jesuit fathers, who have for more than 
thirty years been among them, have up to the present failed in 
their attempts to make them understand that God made himself 
man and died for us."^*^ Yet a soldier who visited the village 
was quite enthusiastic over the changes manifested. "The 
savages attend mass and vespers regularly and seem to enjoy 
the worship. They chant alternatively a couplet with the 
French who dwell among them: for example, the Illinois a 
couplet of a psalm or hymn in their language and the French 
the following couplet in Latin. "^~ So fond were they of in- 
struction and confession that they wearied the fathers with 
their insistence. 

The Indian habits were altered in many w^ays under the in- 
struction of these pious men. Most of the medicine men of the 
Kaskaskia and Cahokia tribes were driven out; the Indians 
abandoned somewhat such barbarous customs of war as tor- 
ture. They had been taught the use of the plough, and the 
women had learned to make from cloth woven of the hair of 
the buffalo long dresses cut like the dressing gowns of the 
French ladies, to the neck of which they sewed a cap for the 
head; underneath this they wore a petticoat and a bodice, a 
meticulosity reserved for attendance at church; on other occa- 
sions the description of their costume preserved by the pen of 
Father Marest was correct: "They [the men] wear only a 
girdle, the rest of the body being wholly bare; as for the 
women, they, in addition, cover the bosom with a deer-skin. "^^ 

sf! Mereness, Travels in the Amencaji Colonies, "ji. 

^''"Relation de Penicaut," in Margry, Decoiivertes et Etablissements, 5:491- 
Consult also the fuller account of Marest in Thwaites, Jesuit Relations, 66:231 ff. 

^^ The description of the costume is given by Penicaut in Margry, Decouvertes 
et Etablissements, 5:490. Father Marest does not agree with Penicaut. He 
writes: "They [the Illinois Indian women] envelop the body in a large skin, 
or rather, they are dressed in a robe made of several skins sewed together." He 
does say that they worked up the buffalo hair into " leggings, girdles, and bags." 
Thwaites, Jesuit Relations, 66:229, 231. 


THE peace concluded at Aix-la-Chapelle in 1 748 settled the 
conscious issues of the war — Old World issues they 
were; but an issue of world wide significance, the dominion of 
western America, arose almost before the signatures had dried 
on the peace document. The peace conference in its ignorance 
passed over the issue as a minor matter that could be settled in a 
leisurely fashion by a joint commission sitting in Europe. The 
commissioners met and filled reams of paper with their cogi- 
tations about unfamiliar subjects; but while they were talking 
and writing, a gage of battle had been thrown down and picked 
up in the valley darkened by the western shadows of the AUe- 

In the long struggle for the west, New York fur traders 
had been striking at the Great Lakes by way of the Mohawk 
valley, and Carolinians had been circling around the southern 
end of the Appalachians in an effort to drive the French from 
the southern valley. At both points France had been able to 
muster easily the full force of its colonial strength and had 
maintained its dominion, thus justifying the concentration and 
autocracy of its colonial administration when exercised over a 
sparse population. These northern and southern points of at- 
tack were still to be scenes of fierce combat, but a new center had 
gradually become increasingly important. 

The upper Ohio valley had been till the middle of the 
eighteenth century neglected by both sides. The French held 
the western end; its eastern part they claimed by right of dis- 
covery but had left unoccupied. The British also had staked out 
the upper Ohio basin, partly by their sea-to-sea charters, partly 
by discovery, partly by treaty with the Iroquois; but they had 
made few efforts to exploit it. This condition was suddenly 
changed by the appearance of traders and settlers in large num- 
bers in the river valley. The principal army of invasion was 
recruited in the colonies of Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Mary- 



land ; and it followed routes leading from the numerous branches 
of mid-colonial rivers to the forks of the Ohio, " the gateway to 
the west." The goal was the Ohio valley, the very center of 
the French colonial system. Here at its weakest and most 
vulnerable point, separated by long stretches of water and 
wilderness from the administrative machinery of the French 
colonies, French autocracy had to stand battle with the forces 
of individualism, embodied in the persons of numberless pio- 
neers, and aided by the full force of British imperialism. 

The direct occasion of the conflict was an attempt on the 
part of some colonial speculators to establish a settlement west 
of the mountains. The colonists — English, Scotch-Irish, and 
German — had already pushed their villages up to the eastern 
slopes of the mountains.^ Lands had rapidly grown valuable; 
speculation on a large scale became the popular get-rich-quick 
method of the period, rivaling the old-time fur trade. With 
such active speculation and settlement, newcomers were forced 
to cross the mountain divide in search of homes or of new 
fields wherein to employ their shrewdness. 

In the matter of land speculation Virginia led the way, 
Maryland followed, while Pennsylvania seemed to divide its 
interest fairly equally between the fur trade and land. In 1744 
commissioners of these three colonies met the chieftains of the 
Iroquois confederacy at Lancaster and secured from them a 
large cession of land extending from the back of the Virginia 
settlement to the Ohio river. It was the first vital move by the 
British to open up the ultramontane territory to colonization.^ 

Three years later the Ohio Company was founded in Vir- 
ginia, with connections with men of means in England; in 1748 
it received a large grant of Ohio valley land on condition that 
a settlement and a fort be established at once. From now on 
this company, together with other companies and individuals 
who followed its example, became the driving power behind 
the western movement. Acting in accordance with its charter, 
the company in 1750 sent out an expedition under Christopher 
Gist to survey the country; his report was favorable and he 

1 Turner, "The Old West," in Wisconsin Historical Society, Proceedings, 
1908, p. 184 ff. I have followed in this chapter the same policy in referring to 
documents from the archives in Paris as in the previous chapters. 

2 Colden, Five Nations, 2: 117 ff. 


found the natives "very well affected toward the English and 
fond of their alliance with them."^ 

The British maneuvers were watched with anxiety by French 
officials. The events at the close of the last war had opened 
their eyes to the seriousness of the situation; the threatened 
establishment of settlements called for action. In 1749 France 
opened, formally and rather pompously, the last struggle for 
the Mississippi valley. Canada being directly and immediately 
affected by the new British advance, its capable governor, the 
Comte de la Galissoniere, decided to send to the threatened 
region a force under the command of Celoron de Blainville 
to take formal possession in the name of the king, to drive the 
British traders from Logstown, and to break up the hotbed 
of British intrigue at the Miami town of Pickawillany."^ Celoron 
spent the summer and fall on his mission, here and there burying 
metal plates — some of them have been found — to indicate 
the " reestablishing" of French possession.^ Wherever he met 
British traders he warned them to leave. His mission was 
disappointing, for in sounding the native temper he found little 
that was encouraging; "the tribes of those localities," he re- 
ported, "are very badly disposed toward the French and en- 
tirely devoted to the English,"*^ 

The seriousness of the situation was brought to the atten- 
tion of the home government in 1750 by a long and able memo- 
rial from Governor de la Galissoniere. He pointed out 
the value of the American possessions to France, the possible 
future growth of the internal valley, and the particular impor- 
tance of Detroit and the Illinois country. He stressed the 
danger to the colony in case the British should succeed in cut- 
ting the north from the south by their incursions into the Ohio 
valley, which the governor termed unquestionably French terri- 

His report came at an unfortunate time. Decision on this 

3 " The Ohio Company," in Craig, The Olden Time, 1:291 ff . ; Fernow, The 
Ohio Valley in Colonial Days, 240 ff., contains the most important papers on the 
Ohio Company; Gist, Journals (ed. Darlington), passim. 

^ For these see above, p. 187. 

5 The journal of Celoron is printed in Wisconsin Historical Collections, 18: 
36 ff. 

6 Ibid., 57. 

"^ Neiv York Colonial Documents, 10:220 ff. 


thorny problem belonged, as the French government was then 
organized, to three departments, those of foreign affairs, of 
the marine, and of finances. All these had lately been placed 
in charge of new men to please the fancy of Madame de Pom- 
padour; two of the former ministers had been dismissed solely 
upon her request. Madame de Pompadour's interest in colonial 
affairs was never manifest. Had she found a John Law among 
her advisers her attitude of indifference toward the distant pos- 
session of France might have been changed to that of an alert 
protectress. As it was, however, questions of European pres- 
tige ever overshadowed in her mind the issue in America. In 
this she shared a popular prejudice. Voltaire later wrote: 
" Canada cost much and made very little return."^ A fight for 
the valley of the Ohio could arouse no enthusiasm. 

Nevertheless, as the situation at the forks of the Ohio un- 
folded itself, the government realized that resistance must be 
made. No one, whether king, minister, soldier, or citizen, sug- 
gested parting willingly with the two American colonies. There 
existed a great aversion, however, to incurring further and 
possibly very vast expenses. These two conflicting consider- 
ations shaped the course that was taken. Defend the rights of 
the king in the contested region, if necessary, by occupying it, 
but keep the expenses down as much as possible and avoid 
giving the British just reason for complaints — such was the 
tenor of all communications coming from Paris to Quebec.^ 

The critical situation among the Indians demanded and 
brought particular reforms. In 1749 the reissue of trading 
licenses was permitted, and the practice of farming out the 
western posts to the highest bidder was modified in the interest 
of more liberal trade. Some reorganization of the posts in 
favor of greater centralization in the endangered district was 
inaugurated; thus the posts of Ouiatenon and Miami were more 
completely subordinated to Detroit.^^ 

8 Voltaire, Oeuvres Completes (ed. Condorcet), 15:369. 

^ Minister to La Jonquiere, August 27, 1751, in Collection Moreau St. Mery, 
B 93:30 ff. ; to Duquesne, June 16, 1752, ibid., 12 F:36; to Duquesne, July 2, 

1752, ibid., 30; to Duquesne, April 9, 1753, ibid., B 97: 5-5; to Duquesne, June 30, 

1753. B 97: 41-41. See also Richard, Supplement to Report on Canadian Archives, 
1899, p. 161. 

^° Wisconsin Historical Collections, 18:25, 29; see the regulations for the 
fur trade, ibid., 70. 


Measures of a more active character were later authorized. 
In a letter of the French minister to the governor of New 
France, May 15, 1752, the policy to be followed in the north- 
west is explicitly set forth: "The English may pretend that 
by the treaty of Utrecht we are obliged to allow the savages 
to trade with them. But it is certain that nothing can oblige 
us to allow such trade on our lands." After affirming the claim 
of France to the territory, the future policy was laid down as 
follows : 

"i. To make every possible effort to drive the English 
away from our lands in that region, and to prevent their coming 
there to trade, by seizing their goods and destroying their 

" 2. To make our savages understand at the same time that 
we have nothing against them, that they will be at liberty to go 
and trade with the English in the latter's country, but that we 
will not allow them to receive them on our lands. "^^ 

A more conciliatory attitude toward the savages was com- 
manded. Stirring up war between tribes for the possible benefit 
of the French was to cease; and the policy, inaugurated by La 
Salle and afterwards persistently followed in New France and 
Louisiana, of moving the tribes from their self-chosen localities 
to places near the French posts was to be prohibited as it was 
both costly and valueless. ^- 

Unfortunately for the future of French America, the able 
administration of La Galissoniere was short. It was fol- 
lowed by a period of government by inefficient and venal 
governors; the avaricious regime of La Jonquiere and the weak 
rule of Vaudreuil — transferred from Louisiana — were sepa- 
rated by only three short years of the efficiency of Duquesne. 
A typical official of French Canada of the day was the grasping 
Francois Bigot, the intendant, ready to sell any right, power, or 
dignity within his jurisdiction. The western posts were freely 
utilized for unjust official profits; the post at Green Bay, for 
instance, brought the governor and the intendant the sum of 

^^ Wisconsin Historical Collections, 18:119, 121. See also ministerial mem- 
orandum of 1751, 1752, in A'^^y York Colonial Documents, 10:232 ff., 239. 

12 Minister to Duquesne, June 16, 1752, in Collection Moreau St. Mery, 12 F: 
36; memorandum of the king, March 22, 1755, in Wisconsin Historical Collections, 
18: 152. 


150,000 llvres annually.^^ A minor official, Chevalier, the 
guardian of the warehouse in the Illinois, left at his death a 
fortune of 600,000 livres,^^ although he had brought but 40,000 
livres with him to the Illinois and had received a salary of only 
1000 livres a year. The inevitable result of such practices was 
the lowering of the morale of the whole empire. The character 
of the officials appointed to maintain the French prestige in 
America during this critical period must be placed high among 
the causes for the loss of the French over-sea possessions. 

The most hopeful effort to save the French colonies was 
made in the administration of Governor Duquesne. After the 
Indians had been somewhat propitiated by the reforms, the 
expulsion of the British traders from west of the mountains 
seemed possible. The first objective was Pickawillany, the 
Miami town and the center of all anti-French influences. In 
1752 a band of French and Indians led by Charles Langlade 
of Mackinac succeeded in capturing and destroying this im- 
portant post; one of the British traders was killed, and the rest 
were made prisoners.^^ 

The next year a much more significant plan was inaugu- 
rated; its purpose was to stop the British westward advance 
at the mountain divide by means of a string of forts from Lake 
Erie to the forks of the Ohio. Fort Presqu'Isle on the lake 
was built in that year; Forts Le Boeuf and Machault (Ve- 
nango) protecting the water route to the Allegheny river soon 
followed. The forks of the Ohio were selected for immediate 
occupation. ^"^ 

When the news of the French activities on the upper Ohio 
reached the British colonies, there was much excitement and 
righteous indignation, but no agreement was reached as to what 
should be done, and there was little inclination to do anything 
which might lead to war. Only Virginia, controlled by Gov- 
ernor Robert Dinwiddie and the Ohio Company, favored and 
demanded immediate action. In Pennsylvania, opinions were 
divided between belligerency and caution; New York and 
Massachusetts showed indifference, while the governor of South 

13 Bougainville, in Wisconsin Historical Collections, 18:193. 
1* Archives Nationales, Colonies, C^^A, 41:311 flf. ; 42:20. 
15 Wisconsin Historical Collections, 18: 128. 
16 /^/^., 1 80 ft. 


Carolina occasionally emitted sarcastic remarks as to the sin- 
cerity of Dinwiddle's motives. The latter went on undisturbed, 
aggravating the situation by every step he took, until finally the 
only method of settlement left was war. 

Dinwiddie had already, in December, 1752, appealed to 
the British government for aid in establishing forts on the Ohio. 
In August, 1753, he sent Colonel William Trent with some men 
to look over the grounds for such a post near the junction of 
the Allegheny and Monongahela rivers. Half a year later a 
fort was actually started, but was almost immediately captured 
by the French and replaced by Fort Duquesne, erected as a 
symbol of French predominance in the valley. 

This first success was shortly followed by other events 
which seemed to the western Indians to prove the superiority 
of the French; Colonel George Washington surrendered at 
Fort Necessity, and General Braddock at the head of a British 
force of regulars and colonials met with an overwhelming 
defeat, both events occurring when France and Great Bri- 
tain were nominally at peace. As a result the Indians com- 
pletely renounced British influence and joined enthusiastically 
with the French in overrunning the western borders of the 

War was now inevitable. Only the question concerning the 
European alliances remained. The final result of the shifting 
scenes of international politics united England and Prussia and 
made France an ally of its former bitter enemy, Austria, with 
purely continental European interests. The attention of French 
statesmen was thus concentrated on policies most remote from 
the vital issue on the Ohio. Nor did the new alliance bring to 
France any increase in naval power, and the question of the 
dominion of America was to be determined by the mastery of 
the sea.^^ Thus began one of the most momentous interna- 
tional conflicts in history, the Seven Years' War, or, to give it 
the name familiar to American colonists, the French and 
Indian War. 

The aims of the two alliances were simple: destruction of 
the Prussian power and defense of the French possessions in 

1^ Corbett, England in the Seven Years' War, i : 7. This contains what in 
many ways is the best account of the war. 


America on the one hand, defense of Prussia and conquest of 
French America on the other hand. The resources of the two 
could not be called equal, but the advantages did not lie 
entirely on one side; in Europe they were in favor of the 
Austrian-French-Russian combination, while in America the 
concentration of power in the French colonies counterbalanced 
the preponderance of the British colonial man force, which was 
about thirteen to one. 

While the French government allowed its European re- 
lations to blind it to the significance of the portentous issue in 
America, some British politicians, awakened by the events of 
the previous war, were beginning to see dimly the meaning of 
the transatlantic struggle. The defense of British rights on 
the Ohio was the first American issue which divided British 
political factions. For reasons affecting local politics a group 
of men surrounding the Duke of Cumberland made an impe- 
rial issue of the French occupation of the Ohio valley and 
forced their platform of imperialism and war upon a ministry 
too weak and visionless to succeed. The sending of General 
Braddock was their deed. Their impotence, however, com- 
pelled an immediate reorganization of the ministry; but the 
new one also proved to be weak. Then some politicians 
attached to the Prince of Wales, the future George III, forced 
still another political alignment and called to leadership that 
first great British imperialist, William Pitt.^^ 

To Pitt the American question, which he conceived as a 
truly western one, namely the occupation of the Mississippi 
valley by the English-speaking people, was paramount. While 
he lent King Frederick of Prussia all possible aid in the Euro- 
pean conflict, his purpose was to win for the British empire 
freedom of expansion in America ; and in after years the weight 
which Pitt gave thus early to the purely western issue was 
never completely overbalanced by the multiplicity and com- 
plexity of the later eastern colonial events that ended in the 
American Revolution. 

As in the earlier colonial wars, the struggle took place 
mainly in the east and in the north. Louisiana felt its effects 

i^The fullest and best description of these kaleidoscopic changes is found in 
Riker, Henry Fox, and Von Ruville, JVilliam Pitt. 


but indirectly. Louis Billouart de Kerlerec, the new governor 
of Louisiana, commanded only small forces and could give but 
little assistance to the struggle in the east. The Illinois coun- 
try, however, was easily accessible to the Ohio valley, and 
supplies could be conveyed from there to the scene of action. 
For this reason the Illinois district was treated by the governor 
of New France almost as a dependency of the northern 
province. ^'"' 

At the end of 175 1, Jean Baptiste Benolst, sieur de St. 
Claire, handed over the reins of government to Bertet's suc- 
cessor. Major de Makarty-Mactigue.-*^ The selection of this 
man for the Illinois post was apparently the work of the royal 
government itself.-^ Makarty was of Irish parentage, prob- 
ably a descendant of a refugee of the Cromwellian war, and 
had been brought up in France. Very little is known about his 
earlier life, aside from the information contained in the official 
army lists. He had belonged to the famous Mousquetaires in 
France, then came to Louisiana, where he was appointed assist- 
ant major at New Orleans in 1732, and captain September 14, 
1735. When he received his appointment to the Illinois on 
June II, 1750, he had reached the age of forty-four and was 
one of the oldest captains.-- In the same year he was made 
a chevalier of St. Louis. 

His superiors in Louisiana spoke well of his qualities,-^ but 
comments of a different nature were made in Canada, whence 
came complaints of his intemperance. These the government 
treated as mere talk. Accusations of occasional bad temper 
might have been justified, for Makarty suffered from attacks 
of the gout. He was certainly self-assertive and ready to push 

1^ So completely was this the case that in 1754 Governor Duquesne made a 
grant of exclusive trade in the Missouri valley and at Vincennes with permission 
to run a packet boat between Vinceiuies and the Illinois settlements. Kerlerec to 
minister, December 17, 1754, in Archives Nationales, Colonies, C'^A, 38:118; by 
unknown, May 6, 1754, ibid., 260. 

-"He wrote his name either " MacCarty " or "Makarty." 

-1 Vaudreuil to minister, September 28, 1749, in Archives Nationales, Colonies, 
C13A, 33:94- 

2- Bienville's list of officers for recommendation, June 15, 1740, f^zW., 25: 87, 89. 

'3 Bienville wrote of him in 1740: " He is very sagacious, knows the service, 
and is attached to it;" Vaudreuil wrote in 1749: " He deserves recognition for his 
fidelity and attachment;" Kerlerec in 1754: "A very good officer, personally 
agreeable, but with little talent for dealing with the Indians." See previous note. 


his own interests; he petitioned in three successive years for a 
king's Heutenancy and also for favors in the army for a son 
and a brother.-^ 

Makarty was in France when he received his appointment, 
and did not arrive in Louisiana until April of the following 
year. In August he started for the Illinois, accompanied by 
his chief clerk, Joseph Buchet, and the reenforcements for his 
post, four companies in six bateaux.-^ Bossu, one of the officers 
attached to this force, gives in his Nouveaux Voyages aux hides 
Occidentales a vivid description of the journey which reads 
like a short recapitulation of the romantic history of Louisiana. 
Driven by the force of oars, the little flotilla slowly moved up 
the majestic river between immense forests with trees "as old 
as the world." Settlements, native villages, and posts were 
passed, one after the other, each evoking memories of signifi- 
cant and bloody events. 

After the Indian uprising which had been thwarted by the 
prompt action of Commandant Bertet, the posts of the upper 
country were continually in fear of similar conspiracies inspired 
by the British traders.^^ The Illinois villagers and officials 
became particularly nervous; the Illinois, so long faithful to the 
French, were being corrupted by the hopes of English rum and 
cheaper merchandise offered at Pickawillany. The Indians of 
the Wabash valley, nearer the source of these delectables, were 
the intermediaries in the process of extending the hostile in- 

In 1 75 1, just before the arrival of Makarty, the revolution 
became nearly an accomplished fact. Indian nature was at the 
breaking point; it could resist temptation no longer, in spite 
of the remembrance of earlier favors. There appeared at 
Kaskaskia thirty-three Piankashaw who pretended that they 
were preparing to go on the warpath against the Cherokee; 
on this plea they obtained munitions from the acting comman- 
dant, Benoist de St. Claire. Soon, however, the actions of the 
Indians awakened suspicions. A French soldier was scalped, 

-* Bossu, Nouveaux Voyages aux Indes Occidentales, 1:97; Makarty to min- 
ister, May 19, 1753, in Archives Nationales, Colonies, C^^A, 37:186. Requests 
for promotion and for favors to relatives were not unusual. 

-•''Bossu, Nouveaux Voyages aux hides Occidentales, 1:19 ff., 28 if. 

28 See above, p. 188. 


and several inhabitants outside the village were attacked. It 
was later learned that the plan of the Indians was to fall upon 
the villagers as they came out of mass; but Montchervaux, 
commanding at Kaskaskia, by a ruse succeeded in unmasking 
their designs. The Indians were fired upon, and many of them 
were killed; the Piankashaw were forced to flee, while the 
Illinois made immediate submission. On the next day the 
arrival of Makarty with his four companies of soldiers assured 
the triumph of the French. The danger continued so threat- 
ening, however, that the inhabitants were commanded to carry 
guns to church, and tv/o sentinels were placed at the church 
door during mass.-^ 

Soon the Indians themselves underwent an experience some- 
what similar to that which they had prepared for the whites. 
Some Cahokia met a few Foxes hunting in the woods and, in 
spite of existing peace, made them prisoners and burned them 
at the stake. -^ One of the captives made his escape by a re- 
markable feat of swimming and carried to his tribesmen the 
news of the treachery. The Foxes immediately decided upon 
retaliation; messengers were sent to the Sauk, the Sioux, and 
the Kickapoo, and a force of one thousand warriors was 
gathered. In one hundred and eighty bark canoes the avengers 
descended the Mississippi, heading straight toward the village 
of the Michigamea, just above Fort de Chartres, where the 
Cahokia had taken refuge. On June 6, 1752, the village was 
taken by surprise and burned. Eighty men, women, and chil- 
dren were put to death or taken prisoners. In the weakened 
condition of the Illinois, the loss was irreparable. From this 
time dates the beginning of the total depletion of the tribe. 

Makarty, who was unaware of the attack until it had been 
made, took immediate measures to procure peace between the 
warring nations. In this he was aided by Adamville, who was 

-^ This account is taken from the official statement of Governor Vaudreuil, 
April 8, 1752, in Archives Nationales, Colonies, C^^A, 36:88 ff. See also 
Makarty's letter, June i, 1752, ibid., 307 ff. Some details are given by Bossu, 
Noiiveaux Voyages aux Ittdes Occidentales, 1:98 if.; but, loving a dramatic story, 
Bossu places the event on December 25 and pictures himself not only as a spec- 
tator but even as the inventor of the ruse by which the intention of the Indians 
was discovered. This is not the only case of discrepancy between Bossu's account 
and the documentary evidence. 

-^Ibid., 1:111. 


in command of Ae fort at Peoria, which had been reestablished 
at some unknown date.-^ 

From the time of Boisbriant the repair or rebuilding of 
Fort de Chartres had been a perennial issue in the district of 
the Illinois. When Makarty set out from New Orleans, the 
fort had been deserted for a few years, and the troops were 
housed in Kaskaskia. The governor of Louisiana was per- 
suaded that the time had come when the old fort should be 
reduced to secondary importance and a new one erected at the 
southern village, as had been suggested several years before. 
He wrote the minister that Kaskaskia had a population as large 
as that of all the other villages, that the old site no longer 
served its original purpose, since the traders to Canada had 
ceased using the Illinois river, and that the former fort was 
much too small for the enlarged garrison. He gave orders 
to Makarty, therefore, to make Kaskaskia his residence and 
to place only a small garrison in the post that had represented 
for so many years French sovereignty in the district.^*^ 

To carry out this plan an engineer, Jean Baptiste Saucier, 
was sent. He was instructed to call Makarty, the chief 
clerk, Joseph Buchet, and the principal officers of the gar- 
rison into consultation with him about the new site, which was 
to be located, if possible, on the village side of the Kaskaskia 
river. He was also to draw a plan of the fort, to estimate the 
cost of construction both in masonry and in wood, and to send 
the governor his opinion on the subject. He was instructed 
to await final orders before proceeding with the construction.^^ 
This fort at Kaskaskia was to retain the name so long asso- 
ciated with the Illinois, Fort de Chartres. 

After examining all possible sites the committee deter- 
mined not to follow the governor's instructions concerning a 
change, but to rebuild near the old Fort de Chartres. Their 
decision concerning the undesirability of Kaskaskia was In 

-" JViscons'in Historical Collections, 17:315, note; ibid., 18: 158; Kerlerec to 
minister, August 20, 1753, in Archives Nationaies, Colonies, C^^A, 37:70. There 
is evidence of a fort at Peoria from 1752 till the end of the French regime. On 
Adamville see Bossu, Nouveaux Voyages aux Indes Occidentales, i : 119. 

soVaudreuil and Michel to minister, May 21, 1751, in Archives Nationaies, 
Colonies, C^^A, 35:21. 

21 For a very interesting account of Saucier, see Snyder, John Baptiste Saucier. 


accord with that rendered by La Buissonniere about twenty 
years before. ^- 

This decision, however, did not close the story. There 
had been for years a paHsade fort in Kaskaskia, but it was 
only a protection against Indians. In 1759, the inhabitants be- 
came apprehensive at the successes of the British in the east 
and, fearing the near approach of the enemy, petitioned the 
commandant for a fort, offering to provide the materials. 
With this understanding a strong palisade fort was constructed 
on the bluffs across the river from the village, where the out- 
lines of the earthworks may still be traced. ^^ 

The engineer, Saucier, drew the plan for the new Fort de 
Chartres and estimated that the cost to build it in masonry 
would be 450,000 llvres; when this estimate reached New 
Orleans, Governor Kerlerec and the commissaire-ordonnateur 
cut down the estimated expense by 200,000 llvres and ordered 
its construction. Some time in 1753 the foundations were laid, 
but the fort was not entirely finished even ten years later. 
Meanwhile the ministry had changed its mind about construct- 
ing expensive forts In Louisiana and sent instructions to stop 
all work of the kind. As the letter did not reach New Orleans 
until July, 1754, the governor could answer that the work was 
too far advanced for such a course.^^ 

The new fort, sufficiently strong for its purpose, was 
capable of housing between three and four hundred men. An 
English officer, experienced in such works, declared later: " It 
Is generally allowed that this is the most commodious and 
best built fort in North America." He described it as " an 
Irregular quadrangle, the sides of the exterior polygon are 
four hundred and ninety feet; it is built of stone and plastered 

2- See above, p. 182. The reason for the decision is not given in the docu- 
ments, but in a letter of Kerlerec, the new governor of Louisiana, on July 14, 1754, 
it is stated that the change was made after " mature deliberation." Archives 
Nationaies, Colonies, C^^A, 38:17 fF. 

^^ It is today incorrectly called Fort Gage. Alvord and Carter, The Critical 
Period, 4. The fort was burned down in 1766; Pittman, Present State of the 
European Settlements (ed. Hodder), 85. 

3* Memoir of chief engineer, Duverge, August 6, 1753, in Archives Nationaies, 
Colonies, C^^^^ 37:77 ff- ; Kerlerec to minister, July 14, 1754, ibid., 38:17 ff. ; 
Pittman, Present State of the European Settlements (ed. Hodder), 88; a detailed 
description may be found in Alvord and Carter, The Neiv Regime, 91 ff . ; see also 
Bossu, Nowveaux Voyages aux Indes Occidentales, i : 137. Duverge instead of 
Saucier may have drawn the plans for the fort. 


over, and is only designed as a defense against the Indians, 
the walls being two feet two inches thick." "^ 

In 1755 the governmental offices were removed from Kas- 
kaskia and around the new fort there soon reassembled a pop- 
ulation of about forty families, forming a village that was 
named New Chartres. 

In the war waged with the British for the Ohio valley, the 
Illinois district played an important role, its natural connection 
with New France being evident in the manner in which the 
northern governor drew from it both supplies and men for his 
operations. As early as 1752 Makarty was asked to furnish 
grain and meat for the garrisons in Detroit, Miami, and 
Ouiatenon. About the beginning of 1753 came the request 
to prepare provisions for the large Canadian force which was 
being sent to the Ohio.^° On September i, Makarty dispatched 
the provisions with a detachment of a hundred men commanded 
by Captain de Maziliere; but on account of a misunderstand- 
ing the expedition failed to reach its destination. In Septem- 
ber, 1755, the commandant of Fort Duquesne asked for 
120,000 hundredweight of flour and 40,000 of pork. The 
next spring Makarty sent in a convoy commanded by Captain 
Coulon de Villiers as much of this as he could gather.^'^ 

This close connection with Canada had certain disadvan- 
tages. Trade had hitherto followed the stream and had 
accustomed itself to the market at New Orleans. Now it 
had to adjust itself to new and unfavorable conditions, for, 
aside from the difficulty of voyaging against the stream, the 
Illinois French discovered that the governor of New France 
had granted exclusive rights of trade in the upper Ohio valley 
to his favorites. 

After he had delivered the supplies at Fort Duquesne, 
Villiers, anxious to avenge the death of his brother, Jumon- 
ville, killed in the engagement with George Washington, asked 
the commandant of the fort for active service. His first at- 

sspittman, Present State of the European Settlements (ed. Hodder), 88. 

36 Makarty to minister, February i, 1752, in Archives Nationales, Colonies, 
C13A, 36:307 ff. ; Kerlerec to minister, June 23, 1754, in Villiers du Terrage, 
Les Dernieres Annees de la Louisiane Fran^aise, 55. 

^"^ Ibid., 57. Coulon de Villiers was not related to the Neyon de Villiers who 
was later commandant of the Illinois. 


tempt was without result on account of the sickness of himself 
and his men; but on July 13, he set out again with twenty-two 
men, who were later reenforced by thirty-three Indians, to 
attack George Croghan's stockade. He lost his way; and, un- 
expectedly coming upon Fort Granville, defended by thirty- 
eight men, he attacked It immediately. During the night he 
was able to place wood against the wall and set the fort on 
fire. The officer In command was killed In trying to extin- 
guish the flames, and the garrison surrendered at discretion. 
The captives, among whom were three women and seven chil- 
dren, were saved by Vllllers from the vengeance of the Indians 
and safely conveyed to Fort de Chartres, where they were 
ransomed from the Indians by the French officers and Inhab- 
itants and sent to New Orleans. •'^^ 

Other expeditions were sent from the Illinois to Fort 
Duquesne until the fall of that fort In 1758. The drain on 
the provincial treasury for all this activity was heavy. The 
governor reported that there had been expended in the Illinois 
district during a period of eight months almost six hundred 
thousand livres.^'' The most conspicuous figure In these Illi- 
nois expeditions was Charles Philippe Aubry, later the last 
acting governor of Louisiana. In 1756 he was sent to the 
Illinois In command of an expedition numbering one hundred 
and fifty men. Major de Makarty, learning that the British 
were planning to send a war party to the Mississippi via the 
Tennessee river, ordered Aubry to erect a fort on the Ohio. 
This fort — called first Ascension and later Massiac — was 
completed by June 20, 1757; it was a frame structure of a 
temporary character. Aubry then led a force of forty men 
up the Tennessee river for "about 120 leagues," and soon 
after repelled an attack of the Cherokee upon his new fort. 

His next exploit was to make him a witness of a historic 
scene, the fall of the French dominion in the Ohio valley, the 
last act in the drama heralded so melodramatically by Celoron 
de Blalnvllle ten years before. In the spring of 1758 Aubry 

38 Villiers du Terrage, Les Dernieres Annies de la Louisiane Francaise, 85 
ff . ; Bossu, Nouveaux Voyages aux Indes Occidentales, i: 162; fVisconsin Histor- 
ical Collections, 18:159. 

39 Villiers du Terrage, Les Dernieres Annies de la Louisiane Franqaise, 102. 


was ordered to conduct from the Illinois a convoy with sup- 
plies and reenforcements to Fort Duquesne. With seventeen 
large bateaux he set out on March lo. He found the troops 
at Fort Duquesne awaiting the approach of the British army 
under the gallant Brigadier John Forbes. On September 14 
Aubry led a sortie against a British vanguard under Major 
Grant, who had prematurely and unwisely threatened an at- 
tack, and was successful in routing the enemy and taking their 
commander captive. For a time Aubry was employed In 
watching the advancing army and attacking when opportunity 
offered; this was done only in order to gain time, for the 
French had determined to burn the fort and abandon the 
upper Ohio valley. This they did in November, 1758. Aubry 
with his men, conveying some of the cannon, retreated to the 

By this act the valley became British, although for several 
years its possession was disputed by the Indians. Fort Du- 
quesne was rebuilt and rechristened Fort Pitt, and the village 
that sprang up around it was called Pittsburg, in honor of the 
great British minister who had the clear vision to see the value 
of the west to the English-speaking people.'*'^ 

Aubry was once more sent out with provisions and troops 
to turn the tide in the northeast, a last supreme effort on the 
part of the Illinois. ^^ He started with four hundred men in 
the spring of 1759, descended the Mississippi, moved up the 
Ohio, then the Wabash, and proceeded from there along 
Lake Erie; his purpose was to reach Forts Presqu'Isle and 
Niagara. He found the first of these deserted. When near- 
ing the second he was attacked by a British force under Gen- 
eral William Johnson, was beaten, and was himself made pris- 

During the first two years of the war the French had more 
than held their own on the American continent, but then the 

^'^ This account of Aubry is drawn from his memoir translated in Beckwith, 
volume I of Illinois Historical Collections, i66 flr. See also Kerlerec to minister, 
December 20, 1758, in Archives Nationales, Colonies, C^^A, 40: 165 ff. ; anonymous 
memoir, undated, ibid., C'^C, i: 107; Villiers du Terrage, Les Dernieres Annees 
de la Louisiane Francaise, 102. 

*i Makarty to Kerlerec or minister, November, 1759, ibid., 106; Alvord 
and Carter, The Critical Period, 4, note 2. 


tide turned. The last real French success was Aubry's defeat 
of Grant near Fort Duquesne in September, 1758. There- 
after fort after fort and city after city fell into the hands of 
the British; Fort Frontenac in 1758, and following General 
Wolfe's great victory on the Heights of Abraham, in Septem- 
ber, 1759, Quebec; Le Boeuf, Machault, and Niagara fell in 
the same year; Montreal and all New France in September, 
1760. After that the western posts were quickly occupied, 
and by the fall of 1761, the French flag had ceased to float 
north of the Ohio, save in one district, the Illinois. 

The Illinois, belonging to the province of Louisiana, had 
not been ceded when New France was surrendered, so it might 
well expect an attack from the British. Commandant Makarty 
shared the general despondency of the French officials at their 
failure, but he made preparations to repel the enemy. Little 
could be done. The defeat of Aubry near Fort Niagara had 
cost him the elite of his men — in all, six officers, thirty-two 
soldiers, and fifty-four inhabitants. In May, 1760, the able 
Irish commandant left the district to assist the governor at 
New Orleans, and there he died in 1764."*- 

Makarty's successor was Pierre Joseph Neyon de Villiers, 
a member of a Lorraine family more noble than rich, uncon- 
nected by blood with the noted Canadian family of the same 
name. In the year 1735, Neyon de Villiers entered the army, 
saw some service in France, and in 1749 was sent to Louisi- 
ana, where his interests were promoted by his brother-in-law, 
Governor Kerlerec. He was a man of rather exceptional 
ability and, after leaving America, rose to the rank of brig- 
adier general and governor of Marie-Galante.^^ 

His principal duties during his incumbency were first to pre- 
pare to ward off the threatened British attack and later, after 
the war was over, to await the coming of a British ofl^cer to 
relieve him. His predecessor had taken measures to strength- 
en the district. In 1759 a large party of Shawnee had been 
stationed near Fort Massiac to give assistance, but becoming 
fearful they had withdrawn to a position nearer Fort de 

*- villiers du Terrage, Les Dernleres Annies de la Louisiane Francaise, io6; 
Kerlerec to minister, June 12, 1760, in Archives Nationales, Colonies, C^^A, 42: 39. 
*3 For sketch see Gosselin, Notes sur la Famille Coulon de Villiers, 21. 


Chartres.^'* The following year Makarty had heard that the 
British were carting wagonloads of tar and tow to Pittsburg 
to build bateaux for an expedition against the Illinois and 
accordingly had ordered " Fort Massiac to be terraced, fraized 
and fortified, piece upon piece, with a good ditch." ^^ Villiers 
followed Makarty's policy in strengthening this post, which 
was most exposed to attack either from the Ohio or by Indians 
and British via the Tennessee, and on May 22, 1760, sent 
Philippe Francois, sieur de Rocheblave, who was later to play 
an Important role in Illinois history, with two boats and fifty 
soldiers to supersede the Sieur Declouet as commandant."*^ 

The Illinois district was not wholly abandoned by the 
officials of Louisiana or New France. Governor Kerlerec 
sent powder, but a more welcome succor came from the north, 
when after the surrender of New France, the Sieur de Beau- 
jeu-Villemonde led one hundred and thirty-two soldiers from 
Mackinac through the wilderness to Fort de Chartres, where 
they were Immediately placed in garrison.**'^ 

The occupation of the lake posts and those erected between 
Lake Erie and the forts of the Ohio was quickly accomplished 
by the British. Major Robert Rogers with his noted Rangers 
was first sent, and was soon followed by British regulars. In 
the winter of 1760— 1 761 such small posts as St. Joseph, Miami, 
and Ouiatenon were occupied by British troops, drawing closer 
the cordon around the Illinois.'*^ 

The traders followed on the heels of the army. A village 
of them soon grew up around Fort Pitt, the natural starting 
place for Detroit, Mackinac, Ouiatenon, and other western 
posts, to which the military authorities tried to confine the 
trade.^^ A report had reached New Orleans by June 24, 1760, 
that the British "have invited the Illinois Nations to go to 

** Whether the Shawnee, settled here by Bertet in 1746, still remained is 

*5 Wisconsin Historical Collections, 18:217. 

46 Ibid., 213. 

4^ Ibid., 221 ; minister to Kerlerec, January 25, 1762, in Archives Nationales, 
Colonies, B, 114:23. These troops after wintering among the Sauk and Foxes 
arrived in the spring of 1761. 

*^ Wisconsin Historical Collections, 18:224, 249; Michigan Pioneer and His- 
torical Collections (reprint), 19:40, 118. 

*^ Ibid., 90, 97, 128; Wisconsin Historical Collections, 18:228. 


trade at the Rock."^^ Some time in 1763, if his journal is 
to be trusted, a Mr. Hamburgh had journeyed from Detroit to 
St. Joseph, had crossed to the Kankakee and canoed down the 
Ilhnois to the Mississippi, and had seen enough of the French 
villages to describe them.^^ 

When Commandant de Villiers learned that a peace had 
been signed, he took occasion to draw in his scattered forces. 
Toulon, who commanded at the Peoria fort, was recalled with 
his small garrison. The garrison at Fort Massiac was reduced 
to fifteen men and an officer; the artillery was sent to Ste. 
Genevieve. Villiers himself remained only for a short time 
thereafter in the Illinois country.^- 

The consequences of the engrossment of French military 
energy in purely European questions were now only too evident. 
Yet strangely enough the French were hardly conscious of the 
price they had paid. In the memoirs and letters of the time 
appears no apprehension of the future consequences of their 
acts; rather is there evidence of relief at the stoppage of over- 
sea expenses. The Due de Choiseul, to whom fell the duty of 
making peace, was distressed by the humiliation of France in 
war and the consequent loss of European prestige, but was 
rather pleased at the thought of the future trouble for Great 
Britain in the increased area of its colonial empire, particularly 
now that the colonies needed no external protection from 

France had failed in the creation of a colonial empire for 
many and complex reasons. The geographical location of the 
British and French colonies brought an inevitable clash, in 
which the compactness of the former with their ever-increasing 

^° Jf'isconsin Historical Collections, 18:217. 

51 Mereness, Tra'vels in the American Colonies, 360 ff. The journey may not 
have been made along the course as described in the journal, for the writer may 
have been one of those captured by the Indians at Ouiatenon in 1763, and conveyed 
by the Illinois river to Fort de Chartres. 

^^Alvord and Carter, The Critical Period, 53. The story of Villiers is con- 
tinued below, p. 261. 

53 After the fall of Canada and when peace terms began to be discussed, the 
French ministry consulted people familiar with the situation in the Mississippi 
valley, with the evident intention of concentrating on the province of Louisiana all 
their attention. Several memorials resulted. The possibility of withdrawing all 
the inhabitants of Canada to the valley of the Ohio was seriously discussed by one 
memorialist. Illinois was to be made a real center of French colonial life. 
Villiers du Terrage, Les Dernieres Annees de la Louisiane Franqaise, 102. 


population pushing inexorably westward assured them the vic- 
tory against a rival attempting to extend dominion over the ter- 
ritory stretching from the St. Lawrence valley to the mouth 
of the Mississippi. As soon as the British colonies were strong 
enough to strike at either end of the long line or to break it 
in the middle at the Ohio, the result could not remain in doubt. 

This handicap of geographical location could have been 
overcome only by maintaining a larger population than was 
in the British colonies. This the French failed to do. To 
dogmatize concerning historical events is highly dangerous, 
but the experience of European countries in colonization seems 
to indicate a chance of greater success for those nations whose 
people have been trained in local self-government. The French 
genius, whether the result of native characteristics or of in- 
heritance from a Roman environment, develops highly cen- 
tralized forms of government with only a modicum of local 
autonomy. In America this feature was particularly conspicu- 
ous. The colonists accepted from France even in their most 
private affairs a guidance that no English settlement wished or 
would have tolerated. Individual initiative never flourished. 
The form of this centralized guidance was conspicuous in all 
the French villages; the commandant, the judge, the notary, 
and even the priests kept directly in touch with the royal 
court, from which came their orders, their salaries, and all 

This limitation of Initiative on the part of the colonists 
was baneful In many ways. The building up of a feudal sys- 
tem with its traditional hierarchy, the spiritual control by an 
organized church with its Old World tithes, the prohibition of 
Protestants and Jews from settling In the French colonies, all 
tended to lessen Immigration. Many possible colonists saw 
no attraction In a new world offering many hardships and no 
economic and ecclesiastical freedom. The full force of this 
inhibition Is realized when there is contrasted with the results 
of the French policy the colonization of the British territory 
by Puritans, Quakers, Catholics, and even French Huguenots. 

Finally, the French people have never shown a fondness for 
emigration. Love of adventure in far lands they have fre- 
quendy exhibited and nowhere more than in America, but the 


longing to gather their famihes and their household goods, to 
break the ties of the home land, and to seek their economic 
fortunes in distant countries with no thought of a return is not 
commonly found among the French people. Perhaps, there- 
fore, the failure of the court in its colonial aspiration was 
doomed by the nature of its own subjects. Who can tell? The 
historian knows only the results of the forces as they have 
worked themselves out. The possible consequence of the intro- 
duction of other forces is unknown. In the contest for the 
Mississippi valley the British won. 

Peace negotiations between France and Great Britain were 
begun in March, 1761; they were broken off in the fall, and 
Spain joined the belligerents on the side of the great conti- 
nental combination; but the nations soon took up again the 
plan for ending the war.^^ At one time the status of the Illinois 
became of international importance. The negotiations brought 
to an issue the question whether it was included in the sur- 
render of Canada; but it was only of ephemeral importance. 
In November, 1762, the preliminaries of peace were agreed 
upon between France and Great Britain, and on February 10 
of the following year ratifications of the definitive treaty were 
exchanged. France ceded to Great Britain all its possessions 
on the continent east of the Mississippi, with the exception of 
a small strip at the mouth of the river where New Orleans was 
situated; it retained certain Islands on the Canadian co-ast and 
In the West Indies, and the fishery rights near Newfoundland 
and Nova Scotia. In compensation for the loss of Florida to 
Great Britain, the French territory west of the Mississippi, 
together with the eastern strip at Its mouth, was ceded to 
Spain by separate agreement. Thus ended the rule of France 
in America. 

5* On the treaty of peace, see Alvord, The Mississippi Valley in British 
Politics, 1 : 45 flF, 


THE territory which came to the British dominion by the 
treaty of 1763 was of vast extent, but at the time almost 
unknown by the triumphant nation.^ Before the outbreak of 
the war no widely read English writer had taken as his theme 
this magnificent hinterland with its inviting rivers and lakes, 
its shaded hills and sunny valleys; during the sixty-five years 
or more when American traders had been purchasing furs from 
the Indians in the Ohio valley, they had brought back no word 
for the reading public; nor had the popular French books by 
Hennepin, Lahontan, and Charlevoix reached more than a 
small circle. Few had even heard of the little French villages 
nestling around the Great Lakes or hugging the bank of the 
Mississippi river, and the names of the more important towns, 
New Orleans, Mobile, and Spanish Pensacola, had been almost 
unspoken in the streets of London. The conquest brought 
from the British press many publications that somewhat dis- 
sipated this general ignorance, but up to the time of the Ameri- 
can Revolution the failure of the British public and its minis- 
ters to understand the topography of their over-sea posses- 
sions or to perceive the advantages dormant in the west was 
an important factor in retarding the development of a sound 
colonial policy. The famous Dr. Samuel Johnson recorded 
a widespread popular opinion when he wrote that "large 
tracts of America were added by the last war to the British 
dominions;" but that they were at best "only the barren parts 
of the continent, the refuse of the earlier adventurers, which 
the French, who came last, had taken only as better than 

There were, however, some people who valued more high- 

1 This whole chapter is only a brief summary of my work entitled: The Mis- 
sissippi Valley in British Politics, and the curious reader is referred to its pages 
for a fuller account of the British western policy and for my authorities for the 
statements in the text. 

^ Works of Samuel Johnson (ed. Lynam), 5:414. 



ly the conquest which had been made and looked forward to 
an extension of the empire in consequence. Benjamin Franklin 
saw as in a vision the valleys of the west teeming with a flour- 
ishing population which would add strength and wealth to the 
mother country, though he did not look for the fulfillment of 
his dream until after the lapse of "some centuries."^ Doctor 
John Mitchell, who had made a careful study of the Ameri- 
can colonies, wrote in 1757 : " But if we consider the vast ex- 
tent of those inland countries in North America, and the num- 
bers of natives in them, with the still greater numbers of peo- 
ple they must maintain, the power they must necessarily give 
to any state possessed of them must appear to be very great.""* 

Before 1748, when the privy council granted the petition 
of the Ohio Company of Virginia to make a settlement beyond 
the mountains, no attempt to formulate a western colonial 
policy imperial in nature had been made. The British govern- 
ment had preferred to leave all questions concerning the In- 
dians, the fur trade, and the land to the judgment of the gov- 
ernments of the American dependencies, with the result that 
various systems had been developed, under which the aborig- 
ines had been continually robbed of their land and cheated in 
trade. During the first colonial war in the reign of George II, 
it became apparent that the dishonesty of the colonists in their 
dealings with the Indians had created a fear of the British 
and a consequent hostility that was felt even by the natives in 
the most remote regions of the Ohio valley.^ If the ministry 
was intending to follow up its action in favor of the Ohio 
Company by promoting a general westward movement of 
population along the back of the colonies, there was need of 
discovering some effective method of suppressing the lawless- 
ness and dishonesty so characteristic of this borderland be- 
tween the whites and the Indians. 

The difficulties in the way of formulating an imperial pol- 

3 Writings of Benjamin Franklin (ed. Smyth), 4:55. 

* Mitchell, Contest in America, p. xvil. 

^ It will be remembered that the French at this period were persuaded that 
the British had completely won over the Indians. From British reports, on the 
other hand, it would appear that the French were the more successful. The truth 
is that the tribes nearest to each of the European nations were discontented with 
their treatment by the adjacent white neighbor. 


icy for the west to supplement or replace the colonial man- 
agement were largely the offspring of the divergent opinions 
of the prominent men in the colonies and the mother country, 
which opinions had their origin both in broad and basic political 
principles and in personal interests. The principal issue di- 
viding men's minds arose from opposing theories touching the 
value of colonies. An older view, still popularly held, regarded 
colonies simply as producers of raw materials not produced at 
home and therefore looked upon southern dependencies as of 
greater value than northern ones. A new view, however, was 
developing, according to which colonies were valued as markets 
for manufactured articles. Those holding the modern opinion 
urged the necessity of filling up the waste places of America 
with potential purchasers, whereas the men with the older view 
saw in the wilderness only advantages of the fur trade. Each 
of these parties in the course of time developed its own 
western colonial policy supported by its own line of argu- 

A second and very complex issue arose out of the exten- 
sive boundaries of various colonies, particularly Virginia, which 
made claim to the uttermost extent of the British domain. 
Many imperial-minded men both in America and in the mother 
country held firmly to the conviction that the newly acquired 
territory was imperial soil and combated vigorously the claims 
of their opponents. Pennsylvania men, such as Benjamin 
Franklin and his friends, were particularly anxious that the 
whole west should be developed under the control of the em- 
pire. Their personal interest is self-evident. The other side 
of this issue found support in the fears of financial classes at 
any attack on .vested interests. 

Men opposed any expansion of settlements westward for 
other reasons — they were holders of large tracts of land east 
of the mountains and dreaded the opening up of more land 
for sale; they were engaged in the fur trade; or, inspired by 
altruistic feelings, they wished to find some means of protect- 
ing Indian rights. There was, then, a complexity of interests 
in the west that made every ministry hesitate to assume re- 
sponsibility for definitive action. 

These stumblingblocks in the way of formulating a pol- 


icy of western development were increased in number and 
size by the political system existing in Great Britain. Politics 
of the early years of George III were chaotic and cannot be 
explained simply by dividing the partisans into two parties, 
the whigs and the tories, as has been so generally done by 
American historians. Instead of two parties, there existed 
six or seven rival factions headed by politicians fighting gen- 
erally under the banner of some noble house. These factions 
differed in their attitude toward the colonial problem, accord- 
ing to the self-interests of their members; but their platforms, 
like those of their modern counterparts, could be easily changed 
on the chance of office holding, the siimmum bonum of poli- 
ticians of all generations. Still the colonial problem did at 
times become a live issue, and the predominant opinion on 
the over-sea provinces of any ministry can be determined by an 
analysis into its factional parts. ° 

The factions may be divided for the purposes of this vol- 
ume into those favoring the. policy of rapid and uncontrolled 
expansion in the west; those favoring a more moderate and 
carefully guarded expansion; and those who opposed the de- 
velopment of the west, except in so far as it might be exploited 
by the fur trader. Among the leading expansionists of the em- 
pire must be counted George III and many of his personal fol- 
lowers, as well as the group surrounding the great politician, 
William Pitt, who had done so much toward the winning of 
the west. Upholding the other extreme was a large body of 
politicians, many of them belonging to the famous faction 
known as the old whigs, representing vast property interests 
and influential political traditions; most of them believed that 
the treaty of peace — in which they had had no hand — was a 
failure; and for that reason they disapproved of any policy, 
such as the exploitation of the acquired territory, that might by 
success justify it.^ 

Before the outbreak of the French and Indian War one 
step toward the formation of a western policy had been taken 

^ In my Mississippi Valley in British Politics, i : 19 ff., a discussion of govern- 
ment by factions will be found presented in a much more complete way than can 
be done within the covers of this volume. 

^ There were many individual members of the old whig faction who believed 
in permitting the colonists to expand. 


by the British ministry. The government, having learned that 
the Indians were particularly incensed at the tricks of the trad- 
ers and the encroachment of land speculators, authorized the 
appointment, at the time General Braddock was sent to 
America to take command of military affairs, of two superin- 
tendents of the Indian department. The two men who gave 
this office its importance were, for the north. Sir William 
Johnson, and, for the south, John Stuart; the Ohio river di- 
vided in a general way their spheres of jurisdiction. These 
two imperial officers, never endowed with sufficient power to 
be truly effective, were expected to be advocates for the In- 
dians at the imperial court and protectors of their rights in 
the wilderness. It was largely through the influence of their 
letters and memoirs that the sale of Indian lands — the cause 
of the loudest complaint from the Indians — was, in 1761, re- 
moved tentatively from under the control of the colonial ex- 
ecutives and made a function of the imperial government.^ 
The process of centralization of power over the land west of 
the mountains was thus begun even before the signing of the 
treaty of peace. 

During the winter of 1762 and 1763, a decision momen- 
tous for the west was reached. A British imperial army — 
twenty battalions — was to remain in America for the pro- 
tection of the newly acquired territory against foreign and 
Indian enemies. The general in command in the colonies, 
Sir Jeffrey Amherst, to whom the disposition of these troops 
was left, determined to scatter them in small detachments, 
the largest, consisting of seven hundred and fifty men, being 
stationed at Quebec. The centers of other detachments were 
Montreal, Niagara, Detroit, Nova Scotia, South Carolina, 
Pensacola, lower Mississippi, and St. Augustine. In each 
case the detachment was distributed at several posts within 
the district; for instance, the soldiers of the Detroit district 
were to garrison Detroit, Mackinac, Miami, and a fort at 
the mouth of the Illinois river; the lower Mississippi district 
extended north as far as the mouth of the Ohio, where it was 
proposed to build a fort. Amherst supported this plan for 
the distribution of troops by the argument that it was better 

* See instructions, December 2, 1761, in Neiv York Colonial Documents, 7: 478. 


to colonize from the west eastward, since the boundaries 
would in this way be sooner protected from attack. 

Such was the situation when in the spring of 1763 there 
was formed a new ministry, most unpopular in the history 
of the American colonies, because of its stamp act. Its prin- 
cipal member, George Grenville, has been so unfavorably 
identified with that measure that his real colonial policy is 
often misunderstood by American readers. A moderate ex- 
pansionist, he believed in the gradual and controlled devel- 
opment of the west. Since the colonies were to reap the 
benefits of the expenditure for this development, he thought 
that they should assist in paying the imperial bill. 

More important for the west was the selection of the 
young Lord Shelburne as president of the board of trade, in 
whose hands was placed the formulation of the future policy 
to be pursued toward America and specifically toward the 
Mississippi valley. As will be seen, at three critical periods 
in the history of the colonies Shelburne held the important 
position in the ministry; and at all times he proved himself 
a sincere well-wisher of the Americans, anxious to remove 
the causes of existing irritation and to promote the rapid ex- 
pansion of population to the fertile western prairies. The 
whole later history of the British western policy can be un- 
derstood only in the light of the decisions reached by this 
young minister in the summer of 1763. 

In the various attempts to solve the problem of the west 
between the years 1763 and 1774, three crucial issues were 
raised upon which every ministry was obliged to express its 
view. First of all came the difl'iculty growing out of the pres- 
ence of the military force which it had already been deter- 
mined to maintain in America. Passing over the question as 
to whether it was wise to keep such a force in the colonies, 
upon which there were two opinions, an issue was clearly and 
definitely raised over the method of distributing the troops — 
whether they should be concentrated in the eastern settlements 
or, according to General Amherst's plan, scattered at posts 
throughout the west. The anti-expansionists favored the 
former, the radical expansionists, the latter. 

The second issue grew out of the attempt to organize 


Indian affairs. Some of the imperialists desired to create a 
strong, independent, centralized department for the manage- 
ment of the Indians. Those of more moderate views favored 
the subordination of the department to the military authority. 
Others — and this group included both imperialists and those 
indifferent to imperial questions — preferred to leave all the 
relations with the Indians to be managed by the colonies. 

One phase of the organization of Indian affairs became 
of so great importance as to form a separate issue. There 
was practically no disagreement about the necessity of run- 
ning a boundary line between the land open for settlement 
and the Indian hunting grounds; but was the Indian boundary 
line, once established, unalterable? Did it create in the west 
an Indian reservation In perpetuity? Futile as such an attempt 
would have been, yet it was the opinion of the conservative 
anti-expansionists among the politicians that the w^hite men 
should be forever prohibited from making settlements beyond 
the arbitrarily established line. Their opponents, with a 
clearer vision of future events, took Issue with them and urged 
the promotion of colonization. These latter included both the 
moderate expansionists, who were willing to permit the grad- 
ual extension of settlements under the supervision of Imperial 
agents, and the radical expansionists, who were opposed to any 
check upon the rapid movement of the population into the 
newly acquired territory. Undoubtedly the majority of British 
politicians favored expansion in some form. 

On all these issues Lord Shelburne took the side of the 
Intelligent opinion of Americans, and in general he was ready 
to follow their advice. He favored the protection of the 
west by the British army until the maintenance of the army 
in the colonies became a cause of irritation. He opposed the 
imperialization of Indian affairs and preferred to leave 
the Issues arising out of the contact of the Indians with the 
whites to be decided by the colonists themselves. From first 
to last he realized that the west would be inexorably over- 
run by the whites, and he thought it Inadvisable to try to pre- 
vent this natural operation by the forcible means proposed 
by many of his opponents. 

In accordance with his opinion he sent to the ministry in 


June, 1763, his report on two subjects; the first concerned the 
pacification of the Indians, rumors of their uneasiness at the 
terms of the treaty having reached London, and the second 
recommended the establishment of new colonies in the ceded 
territory. '^ He proposed running a boundary line between 
the white settlements and the Indian hunting grounds in such 
a way that the latter should be protected from illegal en- 
croachments, and that the former, already reaching to the 
land lying around the forks of the Ohio, should by treaty 
be secured from Indian attack. Beyond this line settlements 
should not be allowed until the Indian titles had been pur- 
chased by imperial officials. Thus the Illinois country would 
be thrown into a temporary Indian reservation, which could 
be abolished only slowly by the extension westward of the 
Indian boundary line by purchase of land from the natives. 

The report proposed the establishment of three colonies 
with carefully marked boundaries on the side of the Indian 
reservation: the first, Quebec, limited on the west by a line 
drawn from where the forty-fifth parallel crosses the St. Law- 
rence river to Lake Nipissing, within which the French people 
would be segregated and might enjoy their own laws and 
customs; the second and third, East and West Florida, formed 
from the territory ceded by Spain and that part of the French 
cession lying around Mobile, where it was expected that the 
trade of the Illinois country would find its port. This report 
received the approval of the royal government, and it was 
ordered to be put in force. 

It was Shelburne's original intention to inaugurate his 
policy by means of instructions to the governors of the new 
and old colonies ; but before this could be accomplished, news of 
the outbreak of the Indian war, known as the Conspiracy 
of Pontiac, arrived; and he perceived that the crisis de- 
manded a more decisive measure. On August 5, therefore, 
Shelburne and his colleagues of the board of trade recom- 
mended that the policy outlined in their report be announced 
in an immediate proclamation. On account of political com- 
plications looking to fundamental changes in the ministry, no 

^ The report may be found in Shortt and Doughty, Constitutional Documents 
of Canada, 97 ff. 


action on this proposal was taken until September, by which 
time Lord Shelburne had withdrawn from the government 
and other men were obliged to make the final draft of the 
proclamation he had proposed. 

The proclamation was finally issued on October 7 and is 
one of the most important documents affecting colonial devel- 
opment issued by a British ministry. On account of the man- 
ner of issuance and of the attempt to embody in it subjects 
not contemplated by Lord Shelburne, many blunders were 
committed by its drafters. ^*^ One change from the original 
plan must be mentioned; the crisis due to the Indian war 
called for the establishment of a conspicuous landmark for 
the proposed boundary; this was no time to parley about the 
rights of individuals in the upper Ohio valley or to run by 
surveyor's chain an imaginary line over hills and across rivers; 
a conspicuous landmark was demanded, and so the Appa- 
lachian divide was chosen. Thus the Indian boundary line 
became even more temporary in character than the one previ- 
ously proposed. By this provision of the proclamation, Illi- 
nois was legally closed for a time to white settlers. 

Although much had been accomplished In the formation 
of a western policy during the summer and fall of 1763, the 
proclamation of October 7 had constructed only the frame- 
work of that policy; and the haste of its final announcement 
had given to it the character of a temporary structure erected 
by workmen for some ephemeral celebration and intended to 
be rebuilt in more permanent material and in a grander style. 
Many parts of the future policy still remained to be deter- 
mined. Besides the establishment of a proper and more per- 
manent boundary line in accordance with the original pur- 
poses of the board of trade's report of June 8, there was need 
of a decision on such vital issues as the conditions under which 
the future colonization of the west would be permitted, some 
form of civil and judicial administration for the Illinois vil- 
lages and Detroit, and the organization of the Indian trade. 
The colonization of the west was to prove throughout the 
next succeeding years to be the most perplexing and embar- 
go The whole document is analyzed in Alvord, The Mississippi Valley in 
British Politics, i : 199 S. 


rassing of problems; and this ministry, like many of its suc- 
cessors, shrank from bringing to an issue a question involving 
the financial interests of so many influential politicians. A 
civil administration for the French villages was to remain long 
an unsettled issue. But in regard to the management of the 
Indian trade, the ministers proved themselves more bold; and, 
in accord with a predisposition for orderliness and for cen- 
tralization of power evident in all their acts, they worked 
out a consistent imperial system which they thought would 
bring peace out of chaos and would prove a panacea for the 
evils suffered by the wards of the nation. 

The last war with France had been undertaken partly for 
the sake of securing a monopoly of the fur trade, and no mem- 
ber of the ministry was hardy enough to risk the hostility of 
the merchants and manufacturers by underestimating its value. 
In Canada and the Great Lakes region Great Britain had 
secured control of the best available fur producing territory 
in North America. The peltry exported from Canada during 
the French regime, some of it coming from the northern Illi- 
nois country, had averaged in value at Montreal £135,000 
sterling annually; and it was hoped that under better business 
methods this amount would increase enormously.^^ 

Up to the period when the board of trade began to Inves- 
tigate the status of this business, no measures concerning it 
had been promulgated by the imperial government. The super- 
intendents of Indian affairs had been appointed primarily to 
have general oversight of the political relations existing be- 
tween the colonies and the natives; and only occasionally, and 
then by order of the commander-in-chief, who found their 
influence with the Indians very useful, did they assume a right 
to interfere with the activities of the traders, pleading mili- 
tary necessity as their excuse. The British government had 
endowed them with no such authority, nor had any ministry as 
yet shown an inclination to interfere with the colonial regula- 
tions or to imperialize this particular branch of Indian affairs. 
The question of the control of the trade was a part of the 
larger problem of the regulation of all Indian relations, and 

11 Estimated by H. T. Cramahe, August lo, 1761, in Michigan Pioneer and 
Historical Collections, 19: 14; see also General Gage's discussion, ibid., 18. 


at the time of the issuance of the proclamation of October 7, 
1763, the ministry felt the need of fuller information on the 
subject before making a definite announcement. For that rea- 
son they had limited themselves to a mere assertion of the 
freedom of trade and of the necessity for all traders to obtain 
licenses from their respective governors and to give security 
that they would obey the rules to be made in the future. 

It was not until early summer, 1764, after the adjournment 
of parliament, that the board of trade took this complex subject 
into serious consideration; and by July a plan was formulated 
and widely circulated for criticism.^- It proposed an imperial 
department of Indian affairs which should be independent 
both of the military commander and of the colonial govern- 
ments, and should exercise wide powers over both white men 
and Indians in the western territory. The Indian reservation 
was to be imperially administered. 

The tribes were grouped in tvv'O districts, a northern and 
a southern, the Ohio river being approximately the boundary; 
and over each of these there was to be a superintendent. The 
northern district, which included the Illinois country, was to 
be divided Into three subdistrlcts, in charge of each of which 
a deputy was to be appointed. These were divided into still 
smaller areas, within each of which a trading post was to be 
established, where the superintendent should be represented 
by a commissary, assisted by an interpreter and a smith. Ac- 
cording to the list of tribes attached to the report, this plan 
would create thirteen such subdivisions in the northern dis- 
trict. The department was to be given complete control of 
all public Indian affairs, and the military officers and gov- 
ernors were to be forbidden to hold meetings with the Indians 
without the concurrence of the superintendents; but, on the 
other hand, the latter should act and advise with the gov- 

The main purpose of these regulations was to secure the 
protection of the Indians from traders, settlers, and land 
speculators. The traders were to be obliged to take out licenses 
as hitherto from the governors, and at the same time to name 
the posts or Indian towns where they intended to trade, and 

'^^ Neiv York Colonial Documents, 7:637 ff. 


to give bond that they would abide by the regulations. Upon 
entering the Indian country all traders would come directly 
under the supervision of the Indian office and would be com- 
pelled to present their licenses to the commissaries of the 
posts. The latter were empowered to establish the tariffs on the 
goods to be sold, to prevent the sale of rum, swan shot, and 
rifle-barreled guns, and to establish limits beyond which trade 
was under no circumstances to be permitted. 

For the maintenance of order at the posts, the commis- 
saries should exercise the power of justices of the peace and 
try all civil suits between traders or between traders and In- 
dians, and in criminal actions they were to be authorized to 
commit for trial. In cases involving more than ten pounds 
sterling, appeal might be taken to the superintendents, who 
should possess final jurisdiction. In all suits the testimony of 
Indians was to be taken. So exclusively had the board of trade 
fixed Its eyes on the Indian affairs that the members forgot to 
provide for a government for the existing French villages. 
This oversight and consequent neglect were to prove disastrous 
in many ways for the inhabitants of the villages of the Illinois 
country and the Great Lakes. 

The western colonial policy had now been rounded out. Its 
character was Imperial and would create, If put into opera- 
tion, a highly centralized government In the Mississippi valley. 
Through the military department the arm of the empire had 
been stretched out over this newly acquired territory and was 
limiting In many ways the colonial administration. With the 
inauguration of this Indian department with Its autocratic 
authority intrusted to two superintendents, who were to be 
responsible only to the ministry, the power of the colonies must 
have been still further circumscribed. Although no such system 
in Its entirety was authorized, the plan constituted a serious at- 
tempt to solve the difficult and complex problem of the trans- 
montane territory. 

The great stumbllngblock In the way of Inaugurating such 
a system was the cost, which was estimated at twenty thousand 
pounds. To meet this expense, it was planned to lay a tax on 
the fur trade. To do this would have required an act of parlia- 
ment, and the ministry never saw the time when they dared to 


bring their plan to such an Irrevocable Issue. While they were 
hesitating, they were dismissed. 

The early years of the reign of George III were made 
turbulent by frequent, almost annual, changes of ministry, with 
the result that the policy toward America was undergoing con- 
stant changes, frequently diametrically opposite. In the sum- 
mer of 1765 one of these civil revolutions brought to office the 
political faction known as the old whigs under the leadership 
of the Marquis of Rockingham. This ministry has won favor 
among Americans by its abrogation of the stamp tax, which had 
aroused most vehement opposition ; but In yielding to the popular 
outcry of the colonists, the ministry ended the hope of securing 
the Income which was to pay the bill for the proposed develop- 
ment of the west. Since no other source of Imperial Income was 
devised by this ministry, many of its members were obliged to 
assume a hostile attitude toward all propositions to build up 
the country beyond the Alleghenies. 

Abandoning the promotion of western settlement, the min- 
istry tried, during Its short life, to work out an entirely new 
policy opposed to the one just outlined. Such a policy was 
elaborated and sponsored by one of the ministers, and it became 
the platform of many prominent politicians, but never of a 
majority. It proposed Interpreting the Indian boundary line, 
fixed temporarily at the Appalachian divide, as a permanent 
one, beyond which no settlements should ever be permitted. 
The army which was being used to protect the west from the 
Indians should be withdrawn to the eastern colonies, where its 
subsistence would be less costly; and the fur trade of the Mis- 
sissippi valley, regarded as of little value by the supporters of 
this policy, should be abandoned to the French traders of the 
Spanish bank of the Mississippi. The region back of the moun- 
tains should remain a perpetual Indian reservation. 

There were by 1766, therefore, two well-developed western 
policies, each with strong political backing — one imperial, cen- 
tralized, and autocratic in character, the other reactionary and 
narrow. The British government never enforced either, but 
the two remained as the ideals of many politicians and marked 
a battle line along which political factions tended to align them- 
selves In every Issue Involving the colonies. 


THE sound of the war-whoop broke the stillness of the 
wilderness; the sharp crack of the gun aroused the tired 
sentinel of Britain's western responsibilities; the dusky forms 
of natives were seen gathering in force around every fort; 
Indian craft and prowess were pitted against the bearers of the 
white man's burden. Wherever the flag of St. George and St. 
Andrew had been raised over distant western posts, the natives 
united to drive out by stratagem or direct attack the inv^ading 
white men. By concerted action they hoped to free their lands 
forever. The rights of the red men could be saved only by the 
red men's own strength.^ 

While the British ministers were solemnly discussing the 
destiny of the American hinterland, an Indian genius, Pontiac, 
had effected a far-reaching confederacy of tribes. Not sur- 
prisingly, religious ecstasy played a part; the crusade that was 
preached on the shores of the Great Lakes, the Mississippi, 
and even along the banks of the Missouri assumed the form 
of a direct charge from the Master of Life.- 

The outbreak was the fruit of the resentment which had 
been bred in the hearts of the Indians by the wrongs inflicted 
by the colonists, wrongs which Sir William Johnson had been 
pointing out for years, but which had not been adequately cor- 
rected by the mother country. Chief among the abuses were 
those committed by the British traders, who squeezed out the 
utmost farthing of profit by all manner of trickery and by 

1 As in the case of the previous chapter, I have drawn freely on my Missis- 
sippi Valley in British Politics and have eliminated many footnotes which may be 
readily found in its pages. 

2 The message was: " I am the Master of Life. It is I who have made all 
men; consequently I ought to watch over their preservation. That is why I 
inform you that if you suffer the English among you, you are dead men. Sickness, 
smallpox, and their poison will destroy you entirely. It is necessary to pray to 
me and to do nothing that is contrary to my wishes. I will sustain 3'ou ; but you 
must abandon your altar mats and your manitoes. Plurality of wives is contrary 
to my law." Alvord and Carter, The Critical Period, 51. 



pandering to the Indians' excessive love of liquor f but the 
British government had also added fuel to the flames by a 
thoughtless curtailment of presents as soon as the war was over. 
Far more important than traders' tricks and British parsimony, 
however, was the encroachment of the settlers and land specu- 
lators on the Indian hunting grounds. No wonder the western 
Indians' fears were aroused by the Insidious tales of the French 
fur traders, who told them of British plans to drive out all the 
forest children and to settle their lands with farmers. Their 
untutored minds now understood that the fall of the French 
meant for them the loss of the only power outside themselves 
that could stop this westward march. Hence they grasped 
eagerly at the fanciful hope held out by French traders that the 
great king was sending an army to the Mississippi valley to 
win back his lost territory. They believed that in attacking the 
British posts they were only preparing the way for the return 
of their beloved father. 

Although the savages were ripe for revolt, it Is doubtful 
whether the ramifications of the rebellion would have been so 
far-reaching and have proved so formidable, had It not been 
for the unifying work of Pontiac, chief of the Ottawa and 
virtual head of the Chippewa and PotawatomI, over whom he 
had long exerted a despotic sway. He shared with his fellow 
savages their bitter resentment against the British for their 
arrogance and parsimony, but he was Impelled to action also 
by patriotism and personal ambition. A permanent Indian 
confederacy comprehending all branches of the race, with him- 
self at Its head, may well have been in his mind. At any rate, 
he clearly understood that the Indians could avail little against 
the advance of the British unless they combined their strength. 
During the years 1761 and 1762 he developed the plot, and 
in the latter year he dispatched his emissaries to all the Indian 
nations east of the Mississippi. The ramifications of the con- 
spiracy extended to all the Algonqulan tribes, to some of the 
nations on the lower Mississippi, and even to the Iroquoian 

3 For a picture of traders' tricks see Rogers, Ponteach, or the Savages of 
America (ed. Nevins), 180. On the Indian war see Parkman, The Conspiracy 
of Pontiac. 


The uprising broke out in May, 1763, and the Indians 
found the British little prepared for their unexpected attack. 
General Amherst, with a supreme contempt for the natives, 
had expected to hold the vast western country in check by gar- 
risons of a few soldiers scattered in far separated posts. 
During May and June one post after another was assaulted. 
Through treachery or force, Mackinac, St. Joseph, Miami, 
Ouiatenon, Sandusky, and other small forts yielded to the 
Indians. Within the space of a few weeks the whole west was 
lost. Only Detroit, Fort Niagara, and Fort Pitt held out; but 
the holding of these meant ultimate British victory. 

To put down the uprising, two expeditions were sent into 
the disaffected region in 1764. The first skirted along Lake 
Erie and reached Detroit; the second, under Colonel Bouquet, 
marched from Fort Pitt into the heart of modern Ohio and 
there laid down the conditions of a future peace. The mighty 
Pontiac was defeated; the great valley was to be the home of 
his enemies; but months were still to pass before the Indians 
were to make a final submission. 

The Indian war, cutting off the Illinois country from the 
east, made impossible its occupation by the British; therefore 
the flag of France continued to wave over the ramparts of Fort 
de Chartres, and for two years a French officer exercised au- 
thority over a territory that was legally part of the dominion 
of Great Britain. His position was not enviable. He was 
surrounded by crowds of begging, thieving savages and 
was diligently petitioned by Pontiac and his emissaries for the 
active support of the French against the British intruders. Com- 
mandant de Villiers, however, acted the part of an honorable 
representative of his king and gave cold comfort to the Indians. 
His power was thrown in the scale to maintain peace between 
the antagonists. So confident was the French commandant of 
his influence with the natives that he believed he could have 
prevented the uprising, had General Amherst informed him 
immediately of the armistice between France and Great Britain 
and of the subsequent treaty of peace.** 

* Alvord and Carter, The Critical Period, 50. Villiers was sending out belts 
to the Indians informing them of these events in the fall of 1763. He had been 
able, nevertheless, to prevent some of the Indians in his neighborhood from join- 
ing the confederacy. Michigan Pioneer and Historical Collections, 27: 653 ff. 


The commandant's neutral position was often jeopardized 
by the fact that a considerable number of French traders were 
secretly and sometimes openly supporting the Indian cause. 
Convoys of goods were plying between New Orleans and the 
Illinois more frequently than ever before, and a highly profit- 
able trade was being developed. St. Louis was founded in 
1764 by Pierre Laclede, of the New Orleans firm of Maxent, 
Laclede, and Company, who were engaging in the fur trade 
throughout the upper Mississippi valley. To the new village 
emigrated many of the former inhabitants of the American 
Bottom, who now, under the leadership of Laclede, made of 
St. Louis a hotbed of intrigue against the British. It was 
evident to them that the commercial monopoly which was being 
built up on the Spanish side would be endangered as soon as 
the British should gain possession of Fort de Chartres. 

Commandant de Villiers did not wait for the arrival of 
the British troops to relieve him. On June 15, 1764, with the 
consent of the governor of Louisiana, he left the Illinois for 
New Orleans with most of his troops and many of the inhabit- 
ants. A detachment of forty men was left at the post under 
the command of Louis St. Ange de Bellerive, who was called 
from Post Vincennes on the Wabash.^ 

The occupation of the Illinois country had by the events of 
the Indian war become something more than a formal transfer 
of sovereignty from France to Great Britain. Its occupation 
was at once involved in the crushing of the Indian confed- 
eracy and in the reoccupation of the posts that had fallen into 
the hands of the red men. From 1763 to October, 1765, when 
at last success crowned their efforts, the British, with French 
assistance, made nine attempts to reach the Illinois from three 
points of departure, Detroit, Fort Pitt, and West Florida.® 
Two of these were strong military expeditions; the others were 
merely embassies, of which three were successful. Lieutenant 
John Ross and a trader, Hugh Crawford, made their way from 
Mobile overland through the Kentucky region and reached the 
Illinois on February 18, 1765. Lieutenant Alexander Fraser 

5 Alvord and Carter, The Critical Period, i6i ff. 

^ The story of the occupation of Illinois is taken from the introduction of 
Alvord and Carter, The Critical Period, where a detailed account of all the 
expeditions will be found. 


set out from Fort Pitt and reached Fort de Chartres in April, 
and some time later Captain de la Gauterais with John Sinnott 
arrived from West Florida. All these agents were threatened 
by the Indians of the Illinois, but were protected by either the 
French commandant or Pontiac. That chief was being rapidly 
disillusioned. Colonel Bouquet's success on the Muskingum, 
the refusal of St. Ange to give help, the failure of a mission 
he sent to the governor of Louisiana, and the transfer of 
Louisiana to Spain had taught him the hopelessness of the 
Indian cause. Conditions were ripe, therefore, for the restora- 
tion of peace and the opening of the far west to the British. 

The man chosen for the complicated negotiations for peace 
had been long conversant with Indian manners and thought. 
He was George Croghan, a successful trader, now deputy 
Indian agent under Sir William Johnson. This Irishman was 
popular with his associates and a born diplomat. One who 
knew him well described him as a man who " can appear highly 
pleased when most chagrined and show the greatest indifference 
when most pleased." Not even his chief. Sir William Johnson, 
exercised a greater influence over the Indian tribes than he.^ 
Croghan left Fort Pitt on May 15 with two boats, accompanied 
by several white companions and a party of Shawnee. In com- 
pliance with messages from Croghan, representatives of several 
tribes along the route met him at the mouth of the Scioto and 
delivered up a number of French traders, who were compelled 
to take the oath of allegiance to the British crown or to pass 
to the west side of the Mississippi. The only other incident 
of importance on this voyage, and one which actually precipi- 
tated the negotiations, was an attack on June 8 by the Kickapoo 
and Mascoutens near the mouth of the Wabash. After the 
attack, in which two of Croghan's white companions and several 
Shawnee were killed, the assailants expressed their profound 
sorrow, declaring that they thought the party was a band of 
Cherokee with whom they were at enmity. Nevertheless, they 
plundered the stores and carried Croghan and the remainder 
of his followers to Vincennes on the Wabash. 

Here during the first week in July deputations from all the 
surrounding nations visited Croghan, assuring him of their 

■^ Alvord and Carter, The Neiv Regime, 316. 


desire for peace and of their willingness to escort him to the 
Illinois country, where Pontiac was residing. A few days later 
Croghan set out, attended by a large concourse of savages. 
He had advanced only a short distance when he met Pontiac 
coming to visit him. They returned to the fort at Ouiatenon, 
where, at a great council, the humiliated chief signified his 
willingness to make a lasting peace and promised to offer no 
further resistance to the British troops. There was now 
no need to go to Fort de Chartres. Instead, Croghan turned 
his steps toward Detroit, where, late in the summer of 1765, 
another important Indian conference was held in which a 
general peace was made with all the western Indians. 

Immediately after his conference with Pontiac, Croghan 
sent an account of the success of his negotiations to Fort Pitt, 
where Captain Thomas Stirling, with a detachment of about 
one hundred men of the Forty-second or Black Watch regiment, 
had been holding himself in readiness to relieve Fort de Char- 
tres. Stirling left Fort Pitt on August 24, 1765, and arrived 
at Fort de Chartres on October 9. On the following day St. 
Ange and the French garrison were formally relieved. The 
fort and the village were rechristened Cavendish, but the new 
name did not long survive. 

Thus after nearly three years of fighting and negotiating, 
British forces came into possession of the last of the French 
posts in the west. Now that the task was accomplished, the 
still larger problem of administration confronted the govern- 
ment. The thirteen years of British rule over the Illinois 
country proved to be trying ones for the French inhabitants, 
since the British ministers had failed in their colonial plan to 
provide a civil government for the communities of white men 
situated west of the mountains. The resident military com- 
mander was compelled, therefore, to assume civil duties without 
the authority of law.^ A more arbitrary system of colonial 
government could scarcely be imagined. From army officers 
situated in the wilderness, without experience in civil adminis- 
tration, practically without supervision, little could be expected. 

^ Carter, Great Britain and the Illinois Country, chapter 2. This is un- 
doubtedly the best account of the British regime in the Illinois, and I am greatly 
indebted to it. Justification for my descriptions will be found in Mr. Carter's 
footnotes, when not elsewhere indicated. 


Before Captain Stirling started from Fort Pitt upon his 
journey to the Illinois country, he had received from General 
Thomas Gage, commander of the British troops in America, a 
proclamation assuring the French of the right of a free exercise 
of the Catholic religion, "in the same manner as in Canada." 
The inhabitants further were to be allowed to emigrate to 
Louisiana, after selling their Illinois estates to the British 

When the British captain went to Kaskaskia for the purpose 
of posting this proclamation and administering the oaths of 
allegiance, the inhabitants petitioned for an addition of nine 
months to the eighteen months, long since expired, which had 
been allowed by the treaty of peace for them to retire to other 
territory. Stirling at first was inclined to refuse this reasonable 
request, but when he perceived that the village was likely to be 
depopulated, he extended the time till the first of March, 1766, 
on condition that the inhabitants should take a temporary oath 
of allegiance and that all who intended to leave the country 
should notify him. At the same time, he promised to forward 
to the commanding general a petition in which the inhabitants 
asked for further extension. Similar proceedings took place 
at the villages of Prairie du Rocher, St. Philippe, and Cahokia. 

As the British commander soon discovered, the govern- 
mental machinery of French Illinois was completely disorgan- 
ized. The French officials had crossed to the other side of 
the Mississippi, and there was no one to exercise civil author- 
ity save the captains of militia, who continued the functions of 
petty civil and military officials throughout the period 
of British administration. In the emergency Stirling consulted 
with the principal inhabitants and appointed Jean Baptiste La- 
grange to " decide all disputes .... According to the 
Laws and Customs of the Country," with appeal to the com- 
mandant. The records which have been preserved contain 
nothing about this administration, and Lagrange himself soon 
disappeared from view.^ 

On December 2, 1765, Captain Stirling was superseded by 
Major Robert Farmar, who brought his regiment up the Mis- 
sissippi. At the beginning of the summer of the next year he 

9 Alvord and Carter, TJie Nezv Regime, 124. 


in turn was succeeded by Lieutenant Colonel John Reed. This 
latter officer was recalled In February, 1768, and after a short 
period in which Captain Hugh Forbes commanded, Lieutenant 
Colonel John Wilkins of the Black Watch arrived on Septem- 
ber 5, 1768, and remained In command somewhat over three 
years. ^*^ 

.On the whole the Illinois country was unfortunate in the 
personality of its British commandants, particularly In the cases 
of Reed and Wilkins, who used every opportunity to secure 
the greatest possible financial advantage from their Isolated 
position. Both charged outrageous fees for issuing writs 
and similar documents, even demanding extortionate sums for 
receiving oaths of allegiance. Throughout the period of early 
British rule, the French inhabitants of the Illinois country were, 
therefore, in continual unrest, and many of the more important 
settlers moved their possessions to St. Louis. This village grew 
rapidly until the fourth year after its foundation; then the 
Spaniards took possession and there was a tendency for the 
French people to return to the Illinois country, where conditions 
of trade were more favorable. ^^ 

The loudest complaint made by the French inhabitants of 
the Illinois was due to the lack of a civil government. No 
effort was made by any of the earlier commandants to mod- 
erate this intolerable situation; but Lieutenant Colonel John 
Wilkins, following a bolder course, Inaugurated a civil court. 
His motive, so far as can be Inferred, was to assist the British 
merchants, with whom he was allied, in collecting their debts. 
Lacking any properly authorized court, the French had re- 
course to the method of arbitration such as was permitted by 
French law. In such cases each party selected an arbitrator 
and these two selected a third; the three instituted an investiga- 
tion and reported their decision to the chief commandant for 
enforcement. Naturally the decisions reached were according 
to French law and gave British merchants no advantage. 

The question of the law In the Illinois country was an open 
one. By the proclamation of 1763 the English law was de- 
clared to be that of Canada and the two Floridas, and the gov- 

10 Wilkins was superseded by Major Isaac Hamilton in the spring of 1772. 
1^ Alvord and Carter, The NeiJ Regime, 469. 


ernors of these colonies had Inaugurated the new system In their 
provinces. The Illinois was not a part of any of these colo- 
nies and was therefore in no way affected by this provision in 
the proclamation; yet it might be argued that the evident in- 
tention of the government was to introduce English law in all 
the new acquisitions. At least such seems to have been the view 
of Wilkins and his associates. On November 12, 1768, the 
commandant issued a proclamation establishing a court of judi- 
cature for the settlement of all disputes. The commissions of 
the judges authorized them "to form a Civil Court of Judi- 
catory, with powers expressed in their Commissions to Hear 
and Try in a Summary way all Causes of Debt and Property 
that should be brought before them and to give their Judgement 
thereon according to the Laws of England to the Best of their 
Judgement and understanding." There was no provision for 
trial by jury. The commissions further declared that this act 
was done " by virtue of the power to me given by his Excellency 
Major General Thomas Gage, commander-in-chief of his Maj- 
esty's forces in North America;" but so far as is known neither 
Gage nor any other man In authority had knowledge of the 
commandant's act.^- 

The court was composed of six judges during Its entire exist- 
ence from December, 1768, to June, 1770, George Morgan, 
a Philadelphia trader, being president for the whole period. 
In the beginning, three men of English speech, James Rumsey, 
James Campbell, and James McMillan and two Frenchmen, 
Jean Baptlste Barbau and Pierre Girardot, served with him. 
During the winter of 1769 and 1770 changes were made In the 
personnel of the court, all the newcomers except Morgan being 
finally displaced by the Frenchmen, Louis Viviat, Joseph Charle- 
ville, and Antoine Duchaufour de Louviere. 

On March 4, 1770, the power of the court was extended 
to criminal cases; "And as the present Establishment of the 
Country," so reads the proclamation, "does not admit of 
Tryals by Juries on account of Its Small number of Inhabitants 
as Well as their Want of Knowledge of the Laws and Customs 

12 Kaskaskia manuscripts, court record, 23 ; Ensign Butricke to George 
Barnsley, February 12, 1769, in Historical Magazine, 8 : 262 ; Carter, Great Britain 
and the Illinois Country, 66 ff. 


of England," the court was authorized "to Hear, Try and 
Determine in the Summary Way" all disputes, controversies, 
assaults, and cases of trespass and " to impose and bring such 
Fines and Inflict such Corporale Punishment or commit Offend- 
ers to Jayle at the discretion of the said Court. "^^ 

The court exercised its new jurisdiction only a few weeks. 
Factions had arisen in the Illinois; one was led by the comman- 
dant Wilkins himself, another by Morgan, who seems to have 
won the favor of the French inhabitants. The court had orig- 
inally held its sittings alternately at Kaskaskia and New Char- 
tres until March, 1770, when Wilkins ordered it to sit at the 
latter village only. The court objected to this and determined to 
hold all future sessions at Kaskaskia. Wilkins now became 
openly hostile and refused to Issue writs. The court answered 
by a memorial setting forth the injustice of the act of the com- 
mandant. This occurred on June 6, 1770, after which there is 
no record of further sessions. Apparently Wllkirts abolished 
the organ which he himself had created. ^^ 

The British commandants found the religious situation of 
the Illinois in as chaotic a condition as they had found the civil 
administration. The Jesuits had experienced a loss of prestige 
and popularity in France and had been finally banished. After 
the treaty of peace of 1763 had been signed in Paris, there 
arrived at New Orleans a decree for the banishment of the 
order from the province of Louisiana. ^^ The superior council 
of New Orleans acted with vigor and confiscated the property of 
the Jesuits not only in that city but in all the other villages 
within the province, including those In the Illinois ; In the case of 
the latter the execution of the order took place on September 
24, 1763, with evidences of great harshness. All the Jesuit 
property was confiscated, and the Jesuits themselves were 
forced to embark for New Orleans. On November 6, their 
property, sold at auction by order of the French commandant, 
was bought by Jean Baptlste Bauvais for the sum of 40,100 
livres — a sale which later caused considerable perplexity. 

13 Kaskaskia manuscripts, court record, 23. 

1* Out of this arbitrary act of Wilkins grew many events, which will be 
described in the next chapter. 

1^ On this whole subject see Alvord and Carter, The Critical Period, 62 ff . ; 
consult also the index. 

IFrom original in possession of Miss Julia M. Harding of Pittsburg] 


This action against the Jesuits hastened the decision of 
Father Forget Duverger, the priest in charge of the mission 
at Cahokia, to leave the country, evidently fearing trouble from 
the British.^^ The church, land, and buildings of his parish 
belonged to the Seminary of Foreign Missions at Quebec, which 
had never issued a power of attorney to its representatives to 
dispose of its property. Nevertheless, on November 5, 1763, 
Father Forget sold the cultivated land, a stone house, and other 
buildings to Jean Baptiste Lagrange for the sum of 12,500 
livres, and twelve slaves to Lagrange and an associate for 
20,000 livres, all to be paid in installments to the Seminary of 
Foreign Missions at Paris, which had no title to the property. 
The fief itself was not sold because there was no purchaser. 
In December Father Forget departed for New Orleans, leaving 
the Illinois country without a Catholic priest. 

From this total desertion the Illinois country was rescued by 
a man of heroic idealism and remarkable devotion to duty, 
Father Sebastien Louis Meurin. He had come to Canada in 
1 74 1 and the next year had been sent to the Illinois country. 
When, with the other Jesuits, he was ordered by the French 
commandant to leave his mission among the Indians, Father 
Meurin was fifty-six years old and already in feeble health. 
The Indians pleaded with him to remain and urged the com- 
mandant to grant them permission to retain their missionary, 
but to no avail. Father Meurin, with his companions, em- 
barked on November 24, 1763, for New Orleans; once there 
he petitioned the superior council of Louisiana for the privilege 
of returning to the place of his life's work, although he knew 
there was no longer any church property nor any but voluntary 
means for his subsistence. His request was granted and a 
promise was given to him that the court of France would be 
asked for a pension of six hundred livres. ^'^ 

A difficulty arose because his parishes, extending across the 
Mississippi, lay in two different sovereignties. This was solved 
by sending Father Meurin as a priest of the diocese of Louisi- 

1^ Alvord and Carter, The Critical Period, 45, 48, 49, 56. Taschereau in his 
manuscript history of the " Mission du Seminaire de Quebec " writes: " The most 
reasonable thing that can be said in his favor is that he feared to see this property 
seized by the English and that he preferred to save a part than to lose all." 

^''Alvord and Carter, The Critical Period, 118. 


ana and by ordering him to take up his residence in Ste. Gene- 
vieve. He also was forced to take an oath that he would 
recognize no ecclesiastical superior other than the Reverend 
Father Superior of the Capuchins of New Orleans. Father 
Meurin had a sense of humor and replied that " when it should 
please his holiness to give the jurisdiction to the highest chief 
of the Negroes I should be submissive to him as to one meriting 
more than bishops. "^^ He departed for the Illinois country 
with a definite promise of a confirmation of the appointment; 
but this failed to arrive. 

Twice a year, at Easter and in the autumn, and at other 
times when called on account of sickness, the priest crossed the 
river and visited the villages on the Illinois side; this was all 
that his infirmities and his means would permit. It was im- 
possible for him to go to Vincennes, and the people of that 
village were obliged in case they desired an ecclesiastical mar- 
riage to come to him. 

On the whole the people of the villages welcomed the priest 
cordially, and by the first British commandants, Stirling and 
Farmar, he was well received; but Reed gave him scant en- 
couragement and Wilkins was but little more tolerant. Meurin 
did experience some difficulty in enforcing church discipline 
on the people of the Illinois shore; they refused to pay tithes 
to a priest of Spain. The situation was certainly anomalous. 
In the midst of many perplexities he sought for support from 
every possible source, New Orleans, Philadelphia, also Paris, 
but he received no response. 

Finally Monseigneur Briand, the newly appointed bishop 
of Quebec, solved the question of ecclesiastical jurisdiction by 
appointing Father Meurin his vicar-general in the west, giving 
him all authority to conduct the business of his district. At 
the same time a letter was sent by the Seminary of Foreign 
Missions of Quebec asking the Jesuit to look after the affairs 
of that society at Cahokia, which had been left so uncere- 
moniously by its representative at the time of the treaty of 
peace. ^^ 

18 Alvord and Carter, The Neiv Regime, 527. 

"^^ Ibid., 558 ff. Other letters, not yet published, are in the archives of the 
Archiepiscopal Palace of Quebec. 


It is Impossible to follow the course of the correspondence 
which ensued between the bishop and his faithful missionary. 
One quotation from a letter written by Father Meurin on May 
9, 1767, will reveal his attitude of mind. " I am only sixty-one 
years old, but I am exhausted and ruined by mission work In 
this country for twenty-five years, for nearly twenty years of 
which sickness and Infirmities have shown me day by day the 
gates of death, so that it is only for the last five years that I 
have been able to make use of life. I am no longer capable 
of long application or bodily fatigue. I can no longer supply 
the spiritual needs of this country where the most robust man 
could not serve long, especially since It is divided by a very 
rapid and dangerous river."-*^ 

He asked for assistance, writing that there was need for 
four priests; but Bishop Briand was able to send him only one, 
the well-known Father Pierre Gibault, who arrived in 1768. 
At about the same time the commandant of Ste. Genevieve, by 
trying to put Meurin under arrest, forced him to take refuge 
in the British country and to take an oath of allegiance to the 
king of England.^^ 

The situation of the church In Cahokia was not in any way 
alleviated by the British officials. In a letter dated June 11, 
1768, Father Meurin wrote to the priests of the Seminary of 
Foreign Missions an account of his efforts to obtain justice for 
them. Colonel Reed refused to have anything to do with the 
case, saying that the French commandant had allowed the sale 
of the property to take place and that it had now passed into 
another hand, the purchaser Lagrange having lost it at cards 
to Mr. Yautard. Father Meurin, by appealing to the com- 
mandant, succeeded, however. In preventing a transfer from 
taking place. It is needless to report that the Seminary of 
Foreign Missions at Paris never received any portion of the 
promised payment.^- 

Father Gibault was still a very young man when he came 

20 Alvord and Carter, The Neiv Regime, 569. 

21 Shea, Life and Times of Archbishop Carroll, 120. 

2- Meurin to Boiret, June 11, 1768, in archives of Laval University. In 1768, 
the Seminary, in despair of ever recovering its property, deeded it to the bishop 
of Quebec and the parish of the Holy Family of Cahokia. The latter finally took 
forcible possession. Taschereau, " Mission du Seminaire de Quebec." See also 
Alvord, Cahokia Records, index, for information of a later date. 


to the Illinois country in 1768, and he threw himself into his 
work with great enthusiasm, being freed from many cares by 
his mother and sister who were with him. He gave his first 
attention to the villages of the American Bottom, but he spent 
two months of the winter of 1769-1770 working in Vincennes, 
where the people had long been without a priest. Some time 
before August, 1770, Gibault was appointed vicar-general to 
relieve the aged Meurin, concerning whose inefficiency the 
young man had frequently complained. 

An idea of the hardships he suffered during his long life 
as a western missionary is caught from his letter written on 
June 10, 1 77 1 :~^ "Sometimes in England, sometimes in Spain; 
a trip by canoe, one on foot, one or several on horseback; 
sometimes living well, sometimes fasting several days; some- 
times passing several nights without sleeping, at other times 
not being able to sleep on account of gnats and other more 
malignant creatures, such as lice, fleas, bedbugs, etc. ; some- 
times too tired to be able to eat or sleep; sometimes trembling 
with fear through a whole pitch-black night at the foot of a 
tree or in a dense thicket, at other times running away from 
the Indians at the full speed of my horse .... sometimes 
with the rain on my body, sometimes hiding in the trunk of a 
tree; in the morning freezing with cold, and at noon scorched 
by the heat of the sun; sometimes full of sorrow, and at other 
times filled with comfort .... such is my life at Illinois. 
Pity me, or rather my soul; pray for it." 

After the occupation of Fort de Chartres the British had 
little trouble in maintaining their ascendancy over the Indians 
of the Illinois country. In 1766 George Croghan came to the 
territory to make a final treaty with the western Indians. He 
was accompanied by deputies from the Six Nations, Shawnee, 
Delawares, and Hurons, whose presence added great weight 
to his words. A general conference, attended by one thousand 
Indian men, besides their women and children, belonging to 
twenty-two " tribes or bands," was held at Fort de Chartres on 
August 25 and 26. Here " a General Peace and Reconciliation 
was then declared in Public between his Majesty's Subjects the 
Northern Nations and all those Western Nations." A later 

'^Archlepiscopal archives of Quebec. 


conference was held on September 5 and included three tribes 
which had not attended the first meeting,-^ 

This general peace was seldom broken in the following 
years. The French merchants from St. Louis managed to 
maintain their hold on the eastern bank of the river for a 
time, but the British authority and influence were gradually 
extended into all parts of the west. Occasionally the garrison 
at Fort de Chartres was alarmed, as in 1768, by the threat 
of a general uprising ; but the strength of the fort, the number of 
troops, and the preparedness of the white population were 
sufficient to prevent its occurrence. 

Even when in June, 1769, the great chief Pontlac, stagger- 
ing toward his canoe after a debauch at Cahokia, was killed 
by a member of the Peoria tribe, the Indians did not dare to 
express their indignation by a general attack, although the 
British were popularly supposed to have instigated the act. 
In fear the Illinois tribes sought refuge around the fort, where 
the military force proved sufficient to defend them.-^ Through- 
out 1769 and the following years there were reports of Indian 
restlessness, which may be ascribed no doubt to the withdrawal 
of the Indian commissary and the cessation of lavish presents; 
but beginning with 1771 peace very generally reigned along the 
eastern bank of the Mississippi, 

Of greater interest are the activities in the Illinois country 
of the British merchants, who opened stores on the banks of 
the Father of Waters in the hope that the murky stream would 
wash a vast fortune into their coffers. The Illinois country was 
for a few years the California or Yukon of eighteenth century 

24 Croghan's report, Alvord and Carter, The Neiv Regime, 373. 

25 There are many reports of conditions in the Illinois country during the 
months following this murder, but none give any support to the widespread tradi- 
tion that the Illinois tribes were severely punished for the deed; some attacks 
were made upon them, but none of extraordinary character. Cole to Johnson, 
June 13, 1769, in Johnson manuscripts, 8:189; Gage to Hillsborough, August 12, 
1769, in Public Record Office, Colonial Office, 5. 87, p. 311. On June 30 Colonel 
Wilkins reported a threatened attack from Missouri and nineteen canoes of Sauk 
and Foxes. Gage to Hillsborough, October 7, 1769, ibid., 5. 87, p. 347. An 
Indian attack had been expected even before the murder. Historical Magazine, 
18:264. In 3 letter from Gage to Johnson, July 15, 1771, appears the following: 
" The French at the Illinois and Post Vincent complain .... that the death 
of Pondiac committed by a Peorie of the Illinois .... had drawn many of 
the Ottawa and other Northern Indians towards their country to revenge his 
death." Gage Letter Book. 


America. Wealth was supposed to abound in its trade and in 
its land, and speculative colonials were ready to risk life and 
fortune on its distant prairies. 

Before the close of the French and Indian War, merchants 
were already invading the west, and in 1760 it was reported 
that some had wandered even to the Illinois and had opened a 
market at Starved Rock.^*' When the war closed there was a 
general rush into all sections of the territory. The traders lost 
very heavily at the outbreak of the Indian war; but, nothing 
daunted, they and many others immediately took steps to 
follow up the adventure. 

A Philadelphia business firm, Baynton, Wharton, and Mor- 
gan, made elaborate preparations to engross the trade of the 
Illinois country. Like others, they had suffered losses in the 
Indian war; but with the approach of peace they were the first 
to set their faces westward. They forwarded some of their 
goods to Pittsburg with George Croghan, when he made his 
first journey to the west in 1765; the next spring they were 
all ready to take advantage of the occupation of Fort de Char- 
tres and to send their boats into the region. 

The enterprise of Baynton, Wharton, and Morgan should 
not be estimated as a small trading venture, for it was one of 
the notable commercial undertakings of eighteenth century 
America. The partners soon had one hundred and fifty thou- 
sand dollars tied up in their Illinois project-^ Some idea of 
the elaborateness of their preparation may be obtained from 
a confidential letter to one of their agents in September, 1766, 
and from their correspondence with their partner, George 
Morgan.-^ In the year 1766, they sent down the Ohio four 
convoys to Kaskaskia. For the fall expedition they forwarded 
to Pittsburg a large number of wagons and six hundred pack 
horses loaded with merchandise. At Pittsburg they maintained 
a force of carpenters and sawyers to build their boats, sixty-five 
of which were ordered for November. According to a later 

26 Wisconsin Historical Collections, 18:217. 

27 " Thirty Thousand pounds Sterling." Alvord and Carter, The Neiu 
Regime, 475. In a letter to his daughter, the senior member wrote: "If our 
Com[pany] disposes of their effects at 200 p'ct profitt, I may sit down very easy 
the remainder of my Days as to Money Matters." Ibid., 337. 

-^ Ibid., 383. Many other letters may be found in the same volume and the 
rest of the correspondence will appear in succeeding volumes of the series. 


estimate — probably somewhat padded, for It was in a bid to 
the British government to supply the troops — the building of 
a boat cost fifty-five pounds, Pennsylvania currency; this was a 
dead loss since it cost more than the boat was worth to bring 
it back. The crew of such a boat consisted of five men, whose 
wages at four pounds per month for four months amounted 
to eighty pounds and provisions with rum to over fifty more. 
The whole expense of sending a boat to Kaskaskia, reckoned 
in pounds sterling, was one hundred and fifteen pounds, eighteen 
shillings, and nine pence. -^ The firm maintained over three 
hundred boatmen on the Ohio river at one time. Usually the 
convoys floated down the Ohio In early spring at the time of 
high water, but the company sometimes found It necessary to 
send them at other seasons. 

The merchandise carried to the Illinois included all manner 
of dry goods and clothing, shoes being in particular demand, 
household utensils for both the kitchen and living room, musical 
instruments, wines, and rum — at one time the firm had eight 
thousand gallons in their store — guns and munitions, hair 
trinkets, brooches, earrings, crosses, brass piping, and wire; for 
the Indians, medals, tomahawks, silver arm and wrist bands, 
half-moon gorgets, nose crosses, vermilion, and wampum. 

The junior partner, George Morgan, was placed In charge 
of the business In the Illinois country. Morgan, as yet only a 
young man, was to be connected for many years most Intimately 
with the opening of the valley to trade and settlement. He was 
the prototype of those adventuresome business men, founders 
of towns, exploiters of mines, and builders of railroads, who 
have pushed their enterprises ever farther Into the west, always 
abreast, and frequently in advance, of the frontier line. Mor- 
gan was born in the year 1741, of Welsh parentage in the city 
of Philadelphia. After graduating from Princeton University, 
he was admitted through the influence of his father-in-law, John 
Baynton, to the Philadelphia firm. From his numerous letters 
an Idea of his personality may be caught. Throughout his life 
he found pleasure in watching the " sportings of nature," as 
he called them. This fondness took the practical turn of scien- 
tific agriculture, of which he was one of the precursors in 

-^Alvord and Carter, The Neiv Regime, 477. 


America. He carried with him to the Illinois country shrubs 
and fruit and shade trees. There stands today on the campus 
of Princeton University a monument to his love of nature in the 
line of elms bordering the avenue leading to the president's 
mansion, once Morgan's home. 

It is difficult to estimate his business ability; at the end of 
his life he was well-to-do, but certainly the venture of his firm 
in the Illinois country was not successful, and the responsibility 
was his to a large extent. His business ethics were not higher 
than those of his environment, which approved of petty tricks, 
low cunning, and "graft." He was irascible and quarrelsome 
in his dealings with his equals and superiors, but with the 
Indians he was eminently successful. The natives generally 
had great confidence in his promises, and the Delawares showed 
their affection for him by conferring on him the name of their 
ancient and most honored chief, Tammany. 

An enthusiastic idealist, Morgan threw himself heart and 
soul into the patriotic cause at the outbreak of the Revolution- 
ary War. This same idealism he carried into his business, and 
it led him to dream dreams of mighty new colonies that would 
owe their origins to his enterprise. Although his various plans 
to settle the west failed, the picture of this energetic and 
scheming man, with the ambition of a Cecil Rhodes but without 
the capacity to attain success. Is, on the whole, a pleasing one; 
in many ways Morgan represents the builders of the new west 
— optimistic, self-reliant, liberty loving, individualistic.^" 

The first cargo sent by Baynton, Wharton, and Morgan 
was under the command of an agent, John Jennings, and ar- 
rived at Kaskasia on April 5, 1766. The second convoy was 
commanded by Morgan, and in his company went George 
Croghan, deputy of Sir William Johnson, Captain Harry Gor- 
don, engineer, and a topographical expert. Lieutenant Thomas 
Hutchins, all of whom have left some record of the expedition.^* 
The fleet reached Kaskaskia on August 19. 

The main store of the firm was situated at Kaskaskia, and 

30 This picture of Morgan is drawn from many letters by him, which have 
been collected from numerous archives and members of the Morgan family. The 
richest source of information is a letter book kept by Morgan while in the 
Illinois country. 

'^ Their accounts are printed in Alvord and Carter, The Nciv Regime. 


branches were later established at Cahokia and Vincennes. The 
principal source of profit was expected to be the trade with 
the French and the Indians, from whom great quantities of 
furs were to be bought. In general the trade with the French 
was satisfactory, and good prices were received for the 
merchandise. Morgan returned home in the late fall of 1766; 
but on account of the failure of his firm — the creditors ap- 
pointed an advisory committee — he was obliged in December 
of the next year to go back. He took with him several hundred 
French-speaking Negro slaves purchased in Jamaica. These 
he held at four hundred dollars apiece and managed to sell 
them all in the course of a year at good prices, although not 
all at the expected one. 

The trade in furs with the Indians proved most disappoint- 
ing. Captain Harry Gordon, in describing the newly founded 
St. Louis, gives the reason: "At This Place Mr. Le Clef 
[Laclede] the principal Indian Trader resides, who takes so 
good Measures, that the whole Trade of the Missouri, That 
of the Mississippi Northwards, and that of the Nations near 
la Baye [Green Bay], Lake Michigan, and St. Josephs, by the 
Illinois River, is entirely brought to Him. He appears to be 
sensible, clever, and has been very well educated; is very active, 
and will give us some Trouble before we get the Parts of this 
Trade that belong to us out of His Hands." ^- 

This is a typical complaint of the time and illustrates the 
perplexities in organizing the west for the fur trade. Of 
course the policy of confining the activities of the British traders 
to designated posts gave to their French competitors an advan- 
tage which the latter eagerly seized; and they displayed their 
wares in every Indian village throughout the upper Mississippi 
valley. The hostility of the Indians to the British traders made 
it dangerous for the latter to disobey the ministerial regula- 

3- Alvord and Carter, The Netu Regime, 300. 

33 "An English Trader cannot at present with the least Security of his Life 
venture even to Post Vincent for want of a Garrison there — to asscend [sic] the 
Mississippi or the Illinois Rivers with Goods would be certain Death, so great 
is the Influence of the French in that Part, by our not having a Post at the 
Mouth of the latter. 

" The Peltries which would be taken at those Places alone Were proper 
Measures fallen on, would pay a sufficient Duty to support the Garrison — by 


Morgan received support in all his trading ventures from 
Edward Cole, the representative of the Indian department in 
the Illinois country, who was under obligations to the Phila- 
delphia firm.^^* While the plan of organization for the Indian 
department outlined in the previous chapter was never legally 
authorized, the board of trade had instructed the Indian super- 
intendents, in 1764, to put into operation as much of the plan 
as was possible. The southern superintendent, John Stuart, 
had proceeded immediately to appoint deputies and commis- 
saries and soon proved to the ministry that the operation of 
the plan was very costly. On the other hand. Sir William 
Johnson, superintendent of the northern department, was more 
deliberate and proceeded to organize his district only after 
the Indian war was brought to a conclusion. In the spring 
of 1766, with the advice of General Gage, he appointed George 
Croghan deputy for the district stretching from Pittsburg to 
the Mississippi river and from the Great Lakes to the Ohio; 
and he made Edward Cole, who had had considerable expe- 
rience with the Indians, commissary to the Illinois and gave him 
a smith and an interpreter as assistants. ^^ 

The maintenance of the Indian department in the Illinois 
was extremely costly. Cole's bills for operating expenses from 
July I to September 25, 1766, amounted to £1,568, 13s., 7d., 
New York currency; and from August 14 to September 25, in 
the same year, he purchased merchandise for presents from 
Baynton, Wharton, and Morgan to the amount of about £500, 
New York currency. General Gage, who had to indorse all 
bills of the department, was astounded at the amounts and 
estimated that the expenses for a year would be £10,000.^'^ 

Which the Nation would reap a double Advantage as our Natural Enemies 
would be deprived of the Benefit of that Trade & thereby considerable Numbers 
of English Subjects would find profitable Employment." Morgan to partners, 
December lo, 1767. 

3* Cole's letter of December 19, 1767, in Johnson manuscripts, 15:183. 

35 Croghan's district included Fort Pitt, the Illinois, and Detroit, where Lieu- 
tenant Jehu Hay was sent. The middle district comprising Mackinac, Niagara, 
and Ontario, was under Deputy Guy Johnson. Alvord, Mississippi Valley in 
British Politics, 1:290, notes 510, 511. 

36 Gage wrote to Sir William Johnson: "This is really so monstrous an 
account that I hardly Know what can be done with it; I ought to give some 
Reasons why such an enormous Expense should be incurred in one year at the Illi- 
nois, when Missilimakinak and the Detroit together, at the time that prudent 
People commanded these, did not cost more hundreds than the Illinois has cost 


Had the fur trade in the west met the expectation of the 
British ministry and traders, it is possible that the empire might 
have been wilHng to pay the large price called for by the Indian 
department; but it did not. In Canada, where the trade was 
not affected by rivalry from other countries, the Scotch mer- 
chants who rushed into this region soon managed to build up 
a monopoly extending over the territory around the Great 
Lakes and stretching north to Lake Winnipeg. But the Illinois 
country was not particularly notable for its fur bearing animals, 
and no opportunity was granted to enter in a large way upon the 
Missouri river traffic. In 1768 Captain Hugh Forbes wrote 
that he was "very Sensible of the immense Expense this Coun- 
try is to the Crown, and the little Advantage the Public has 
hitherto reaped by the Trade with the Savages."^" 

The hope of the American traders and of the British min- 
istry of utilizing the Ohio river for the central Mississippi 
trade proved chimerical. Goods could be shipped down the 
river, but it was found too expensive to row boats up the stream 
to Pittsburg. Moreover, peltries commanded a higher price 
at New Orleans than at the eastern ports. ^^ General Gage was 
soon cognizant of these facts and on February 22, 1767, wrote 
to Lord Shelburne:^^ "That Trade will go with the Stream, 
is a Maxim found to be true, from all accounts that have been 
received of the Indian Trade carried on in the vast Tract of 
Country, which lies on the back of the British Colonies; and 
that the Peltry acquired there, is carried to the Sea either by 
the River St. Lawrence, or River Mississippi, as the Trade is 
situated on the Lakes, Inland River and Streams, whose Waters 
communicate respectively with those two immense Rivers. The 
part which goes down the St. Lawrence we may reckon will be 
transported to Great Britain, but I apprehend what goes down 
the Mississippi will never enter British Ports; and I imagine 
that nothing but a Prospect of a Superior Profit or Force, will 
turn the Channel of the Trade contrary to the above Maxim." 

thousands." Gage to Johnson, April 4, 1768, Gage Letter Book; Alvord and 
Carter, The Neiv Regime, 388 ff. 

^^ Forbes to Gage, April 15, 1768, in Public Record Office, Colonial Office, 
5. 86, 301-E. 

3** Carter, Great Britain and the Illinois Country, 91. 

28 Alvord and Carter, The Neiv Regime, 506. 


Under such circumstances there seemed to be no good rea- 
son for continuing the expense of the Indian department as 
organized, and as the ministry in power at the time held views 
of its own on the question of the government of the west, the 
superintendents were ordered in 1767 to recall their represent- 
atives,'*'' leaving the control of Indian affairs at the posts in the 
hands of the military commandants. 

Efforts had been made to remedy the principal weakness of 
the British trade in the valley by dredging a channel from the 
Mississippi to Mobile by way of the Iberville river, this ap- 
pearing to men who knew the conditions the best means to pre- 
vent the furs from being carried to New Orleans; but, though 
trenching was started, the enterprise was given up. It was evi- 
dent that the only satisfactory remedy was the possession of 
New Orleans by the British. When a break with Spain was 
imminent. General Gage was commanded to make preparations 
to occupy that town, but finally war was averted by diplomatic 

Certain ameliorations of the situation were brought about. 
General Gage protested to the Spanish governor of Louisiana 
against the encroachment of French traders upon the British 
side of the Mississippi, and finally Governor O'Reilly issued an 
order prohibiting the subjects of Spain from crossing the river 
to trade; he further promised that the British would be given 
protection in accordance with the laws of nations. Such orders 
could not, of course, be rigidly enforced. 

The British government learned to keep a strict watch over 
its own merchants. They were obliged to give bond that the 
furs they shipped down the river would be sent in the course 
of time to some British port. There are in existence documents 
showing how the furs collected in the Illinois and shipped from 
Kaskaskia were followed from port to port until their arrival 
in London."*^ 

Baynton, Wharton, and Morgan were able to maintain for 
a year or two their leadership in trade in the land of the Illi- 
nois. Not only did they succeed in dealing with the French vil- 

*o Alvord, Mississippi Valley in British Politics, 2: 53. 

*i Copies of documents in the Illinois Historical Survey; Carter, Great 
Britain and the Illinois Country, 93. 


lagers and the Indians but they also had hopes of profits from 
other sources. The British troops had to be supplied with food, 
clothing, and other necessities, and the Philadelphia firm pro- 
posed to furnish them. In this operation their partner, George 
Morgan, failed. The failure cannot be accredited entirely to 
him, although his " irascible temper," as he calls it, undoubt- 
edly made it very difficult for him to conduct such delicate 

On reaching the Illinois country Morgan found that Lieu- 
tenant Colonel Reed was unfriendly to his firm and preferred 
to make contracts for the needs of the garrison with the local 
French merchants, particularly Daniel Bloiiin, with whom 
Morgan suspected the commandant of being in partnership. 
On his second trip Morgan brought back letters of recommen- 
dation from General Gage and the commissary general. In a 
letter of December 10, 1767, he reported the stormy interview 
that followed their presentation. Colonel Reed, he wrote, 
" swears that he values General Gages Letter no more than a 
Rush — He also swears that as We have apply'd to the General 
in such an Under hand Manner for the Contract, that he will 
take Care We shall never have it or any Advantage ariving 
therefrom." The colonel further declared "that he would do 
our damn'd Company all the Injury he could, as he had never 
reaped a Farthings benefit from Us." Morgan asserted, how- 
ever, that " we have let him have Goods at first Cost. But this 
will not content him."^- 

While their younger partner was conducting the negotia- 
tions with Reed, the older members of the firm had taken the 
case to a higher authority. They drew up a proposal to supply 
the troops at Fort de Chartres with rations, at twelve pence 
sterling each. The government was then paying nine and a 
half pence sterling at Fort Pitt, with the addition of the heavy 
cost of transportation. This proposal was sent to the private 
secretary of Lord Shelburne, then secretary for the southern 
department, with an offer of one-seventh interest in the enter- 
prise — "Which from What Our partner writes Us, (and his 
Judgment, can be depended on) will be, at least, four hundred 

*2 Morgan to Bavnton and Wharton, December lo, 1767, in Morgan Letter 


pounds Sterling a year, to you. It's true, this Sum, is not very 
considerable — Yet, as you will have no Trouble, with it, except 
receiving your annual Remittance from Us (and Which you 
may punctually rely On) It may not be, beneath your Notice." 
To facilitate negotiations further, they promised the secretary 
another seventh to be paid to one of the secretaries of the 
treasury, should this be necessary. Letters in favor of the plan 
were also sent to Sir Jeffrey Amherst and Lord Chesterfield by 
the commissary general. The private secretary sent the com- 
munication containing the offer of a bribe to his chief with a 
recommendation of the firm, but nothing came of it.^^ 

In order that his store might have a sufficient supply of 
meat for the purposes of ordinary trade, and also in case Colo- 
nel Reed should be obliged to purchase from his firm, Morgan 
made arrangements for a number of hunters to go to the Cum- 
berland river to hunt during the winter of 1767— 1768. Al- 
though the buffaloes were becoming scarce In that region on 
account of the large number of Frenchmen who had hunted 
there in past years, he succeeded in securing a goodly supply of 
meat to salt down. There is a peculiar interest in this expedi- 
tion and succeeding ones sent out by Baynton, Wharton, and 
Morgan, because these Englishmen preceded Daniel Boone 
and his companions into western Kentucky by almost two 
years; and of course they themselves had been preceded by 
French and British for two generations. 

Although unsuccessful in his dealings with Colonel Reed, 
Morgan was more fortunate with Reed's successor, Lieutenant 
Colonel Wilkins, with whom he had had some previous ac- 
quaintance. He wrote his partners: "The person who Is to 
succeed Colonel Reed in the Command here, I am on particular 
Friendly Terms with and I think I can do the Needful with 
him." His anticipations were at first fully realized; their 
transactions were profitable but aroused suspicions of dishon- 
esty. Later very severe charges of corrupt practices were 
brought against Colonel Wilkins, and he was recalled from the 
Illinois to appear before a court-martial, which he was able to 
postpone until he could resign from the army and escape trial. 
In all the charges against the commandant, the name of Mor- 

*3 Alvord and Carter, The Neiv Regime, 471 ff., 474. 


gan appears. So intimate were their friendship and business 
interests that Wilkins, acting contrary to his orders, donated 
to each of the members of the Philadelphia firm large tracts 
of Illinois territory, in which the commandant himself retained 
an interest; these grants were formally disallowed by General 
Gage and the authorities in Great Britain.'*^ 

During the latter period of Wilkins' regime Morgan was 
not so fortunate, for the two men fell out, no doubt on account 
of Wilkins' arrogance and dishonesty, but also because of 
Morgan's own hot-headed temper. It has already been seen 
that this enmity involved the fate of the court of justice that 
the commandant had established. 

Baynton, Wharton, and Morgan were by no means the 
only merchants seeking profits in the Illinois country. So large 
was the number of English-speaking traders there in the sum- 
mer of 1768, that the commandant was able to muster a 
militia company of sixty of them. The French settlers of the 
west were brought into close association with eastern conditions, 
for they were employed in various capacities by these aliens, and 
many inhabitants of Kaskaskia visited during these years 
the city of Philadelphia, where they established business and 
friendly relations before the Revolutionary War broke out. 

The most conspicuous rival of Baynton, Wharton, and 
Morgan was another Pennsylvania company. It represented 
a whole group of merchant adventurers, the center of whose 
activities was Lancaster county. The head of this group was a 
well-known merchant, Joseph Simon, with whom were associ- 
ated Levi Andrew Levy, William Trent, and George Croghan, 
but the relation of the latter two was always shifting. The 
Philadelphia correspondents of this Lancaster group were 
Barnard and Michael Gratz. 

They had had a representative in the Illinois by the name of 
Prather as early as 1766, but in 1768 the Lancaster group or 
some members of it determined to go into the business of trade 

** Wilkins to Barrington, March 25, 1773, in Public Record Office, War Office, 
I. 2:33; Gage to Barrington, May 5, 1773, ibid., 29; Wilkins to Barrington, 
June 15, 1773, ibid., 37; Gage to Hamilton, April 20, 1773, ibid., 21; Gage to 
Haldimand, June 9, 1772, British Museum, Additional manuscripts, 21665, p. 97. 
Gage to Haldimand, July 20, 1772, ibid., p. 107; Wilkins to Rumsey, May 31, 
1771, in Pennsylvania Historical Society, Dreer collection. 


in the Illinois much more thoroughly. The new enterprise was 
under the management of William Murray, who for many 
years played an important role. From his letters an intimate 
glimpse may be gained of the character of this canny Scotch- 
man. He displayed much more tact and diplomacy than did 
his rival, George Morgan; and his policy was in the end com- 
pletely triumphant over the Philadelphia firm. Murray ex- 
hibited abundant energy in his undertakings and was ever ready 
to grasp any advantage over his competitors. His crowning 
gift, however, was an irrepressible sense of humor; his cheery 
"Courage, my boys," inspired in others a belief in his future 

Murray's first venture into the west was in 1768, when he 
made the trip down the Ohio in company with Lieutenant 
Colonel Wilkins, with whom Morgan was expecting to do the 
"needful" in the matter of the rations; in this particular hope 
he was doomed to failure, for Murray was coming to the 
Illinois country as the agent of the London syndicate that had 
the contract to provision the British troops in America."**' He 
finally supplanted Morgan in Wilkins' affections, and Baynton, 
Wharton, and Morgan withdrew from all connection with the 
Illinois, selling their goods to Murray in 1771. 

Between 1770 and 1773 William Murray, James Rumsey, 
Barnard Gratz, Michael Gratz, Alexander Ross, and David 
Franks were united in the Illinois business under the name of 
David Franks and Com.pany; and Murray remained in the 
Illinois country conducting this business until after the outbreak 
of the Revolutionary War. Their business was probably not 
so imposing financially as had been that of Baynton, Wharton, 
and Morgan, but from one account it is evident that seventy 
thousand dollars represented only a part of their expenses for 
two years. How far they were successful it is difficult to say, 
but unquestionably all the Philadelphia merchants were dis- 

*^ Many letters by Murray and to him have been collected from numerous 
archives, particularly from the Pennsylvania Historical Society'. The whole 
career of Murray may be followed in the letters published privately in Byars, 
B. and M. Gratz, Merchants in Philadelphia. 

^•5 " The Franks Family as British Army Contractors," in American Jewish 
Historical Society, Publications, ii:i8i; Kohler, "Some Jewish Factors in the 
Settlement of the West," ibid., 16:24. 


appointed In the profits from their IlHnoIs adventures. The 
volume of trade never became so large as was expected.^''^ 

The exploitation of the Illinois by fur traders was to be 
performed In the end by the Canadian firms which had already 
developed an organization better fitted for this wilderness 
business. Nor can It be denied that, in spite of opposite reports 
by many parties, it was cheaper to bring goods from New 
Orleans up the Mississippi river than it was to carry them by 
mule and wagon from the east to Pittsburg and float them down 
the Ohio, and this no doubt Is one of the principal causes for 
the nonsuccess of these early "adventurers" from Philadel- 

•*^ One who knew the country well estimated that there was exported from it 
from September, 1769, to September, 1770, only £1,120 sterling worth of flour and 
550 packs of furs worth £5,500 sterling. Hutchins, " Remarits on the Country of the 
Illinois," manuscript in the Pennsylvania Historical Society, Hutchins papers, 
volume I. See also Carter, Great Britain and the Illinois Country, 94, 


THE eighteenth century was a period of wild land specu- 
lation in the British empire; and many were the eyes, in 
both the new and the old country, that were turned to the west 
in the hope of discovering vast fortunes. Speculators were gen- 
erally the first to cross the mountains to the unbroken wilder- 
ness beyond. The historic muse has always delighted to sing 
of the daring deeds of the explorer wandering through the dark 
forests or paddling his canoe on unknown rivers; and even 
the homesteader, with household goods packed in his prairie 
schooner, has had his exploits chanted in majestic measures; 
but few have noted that both explorer and homesteader were 
frequently only the advance agents of the speculator — that 
the Daniel Boones of the wilderness were the pawns of some 
Richard Henderson. From the distant date when Jolliet and 
La Salle led the way into the heart of the great west, up to 
the present day when far-off Alaska is in the throes of de- 
velopment, big business has been engaged in western specula- 
tion. The Mississippi valley has been explored, cleared, and 
settled in large measure through the enterprise and financial 
boldness of moneyed men who have staked fortunes in open- 
ing up the successive lines of the American frontier.^ 

Naturally enough the British men of vision, like their 
French predecessors, saw in the territory lying at the conflu- 
ence of the Ohio and the Mississippi a site marked by nature 
as the future home of a prosperous people. One of the first 
intimations of the British hope of settling this region is found 
in a pamphlet entitled "Expediency of securing our American 
colonies by settling the country adjoining the river Mississippi, 
and the country upon the Ohio, considered," which appeared 
in Edinburgh in the fall of 1763. The writer advocated the 
establishment of a province to be called Charlotina, which 

1 As in the case of the previous chapters on the British regime, in writing this 
I have drawn extensively on my Mississippi Valley in British Politics, and have 
avoided the use of numerous footnotes. 



should extend from the Ohio and the Mississippi to the Great 
Lakes, as a protection from French intrigue. Whether or not 
directly interested in such a scheme, several members of the 
ministry were ready to take under advisement the possibility 
of an establishment in the Illinois country. George Croghan, 
in London on business in the spring of 1764, wrote that a 
noble minister desired his opinion about erecting a colony in 
the Illinois. In June when he was called before the board of 
trade, he urged the project strongly and supported it by a 

Most of the schemes for western development owed their 
origins to American enterprise; but their framers sought in 
Great Britain financial backing and political influence. Such 
schemes found a public eager to invest. Land speculation in 
America during the eighteenth century was much like oil spec- 
ulation of the present day: everyone with a few dollars to in- 
vest took a flyer In land. Explorers and surveyors were sent 
out in all directions to select the best regions for the planting 
of colonies. Company after company sprang into life, con- 
ceived In the hope of exploiting some particular region of the 
great valley. 

The first company formed after the treaty of peace to 
plant a colony In the Illinois country originated in Virginia. 
The Mississippi Land Company, as It was named, had highly In- 
fluential backing; among its members were Samuel, George, and 
John Washington; William, Thomas, Francis, Richard, 
and Arthur Lee; Henry and William Fitzhugh; Presly Thorn- 
ton, and Benedict Calvert. There were thirty-eight subscrib- 
ers to the original agreement of the summer of 1763, but it was 
planned to raise this number to fifty, taking in some members 
from England. 

On September 9, the company petitioned the crown for a 
grant of two million five hundred thousand acres bordering 
the Mississippi and including part of the Illinois country and 
part of the western portions of the present states of Kentucky 
and Tennessee.^ The subscribers pointed out to the ministry 

2 Alvord and Carter, The Critical Period, 134 ff., 22, 256. 

3 The original articles of the Mississippi Company and its memorial to the 
crown are printed ibid., 19 ff. 


the many good results which would follow such a settlement, 
emphasizing the possible Increase of population, the extension 
of trade, the enlargement of the revenue, and the establish- 
ment of a buffer colony against the alien territory across the 
Mississippi. This company continued to push its petition before 
the crown for several years, but without success, for the Vir- 
ginians with their extensive western claims never found favor 
in political circles, George Grenville, who was at the head 
of the ministry when this memorial of the Mississippi Land 
Company reached London, said that he would never agree to 
the exploitation of the west by the governor and citizens of 
any one of the colonies. The territory, in his eyes, was im- 

The next serious attempt to form a colony in the Illinois 
country was made by General Phineas Lyman of Connecticut, 
who proposed forming a colony at the confluence of the Ohio 
and the Mississippi, with boundaries extending on both sides 
of the Ohlo.^ There were associated with Lyman many offi- 
cers and soldiers of the American provincial troops, called the 
military adventurers, and four thousand three hundred and 
twenty members of the company formed by Samuel Hazard of 
Philadelphia in the year 1755 for a somewhat similar purpose. 
Lyman maintained that inasmuch as these officers had served 
faithfully through many campaigns they should be provided 
with grants of land as were the officers of the regular army. 
His plan was similar to that proposed by Major Thomas Mant 
for the formation at Detroit of a colony for the officers and sol- 
diers of the provincial troops, ''^ but was more comprehensive, 
as it contemplated the establishment of a series of colonies 
along the banks of the Mississippi.''' 

The most Important plan for the settlement of the Illinois 
grew out of George Croghan's proposal to the ministry in 
1764, already noted. On his return to America, Croghan was 
sent to the west for the purpose of pacifying the Indians, and 

■* Campbell, Regulations Lately Made Concerning the Colonies and the Taxes 
Imposed upon Them, Considered, 20. 

^ For a proposed colony, of which little is known, see Lee Papers, New 
York Historical Society, Collections, 4:214. 

"The documents in the case are in the Dartmouth manuscripts. 

" See document published by Alvard and Carter, The Neiv Regime, 260 ff. 


it was undoubtedly in a conference with Sir William Johnson 
after his return that the plan for a settlement in the Illinois 
country was given its next impetus. These two men contrived 
to induce General Gage — whether consciously or unconscious- 
ly on his part is unknown — to further the scheme. The gen- 
eral already had been much impressed by the suggestion that 
military establishments be maintained beyond the mountains at 
strategic points, such as Buffalo, Detroit, and Pittsburg, where 
the settlement of soldiers with families would be sufficient pro- 
tection against the Indians. He now proposed, on March 28, 
1766, a similar military colony for the Illinois country, arguing 
that it would bring the crown an income and would settle the 
question of a civil government for the French population. 
He advised that land in small tracts of from about one hun- 
dred and fifty to two hundred acres should be granted imme- 
diately to all persons and in amounts of from four hundred 
to five hundred acres to officers. These lands were to be held 
from the king on the condition of military service and such 
other obligations as should be convenient. He wrote: "Till 
something of this kind shall be done, the French Power will 
be superior to ours; and I can't fall upon any method to sup- 
port ourselves against them more efficaciously, and at so little 
Expence, than what I have taken the Liberty to propose."^ 
The next big step in this speculation was taken in March, 
1766, in Philadelphia, perhaps independently of Johnson and 
Croghan. The men concerned were Governor William Frank- 
lin of New Jersey, the Philadelphia firm of Baynton, Whar- 
ton, and Morgan, Joseph Galloway, and John Hughes. Their 
first plan seems to have been to purchase land from the French. 
Upon the suggestion of Governor Franklin, however, the 
scheme was enlarged; and it was decided to petition the gov- 
ernment for a grant of one million two hundred thousand acres 
of land in the Illinois country. Provision was made for twelve 
shareholders in America, and both George Croghan and Sir 
William Johnson joined.^ The boundaries of the colony pro- 
posed were to be larger than the grant of land and were to 

^ Alvord and Carter, The New Regime, 199. 

* Carter, Great Britain and the Illinois Country, 116 ff. The documents in 
the case are printed in Alvord and Carter, The Neiv Regime, 9: index. 


extend from the Wisconsin to the Ohio and from the Wabash 
to the Mississippi. In return for the concession, the petition- 
ers promised to settle one white Protestant person for every 
hundred acres received by them. 

This proposal Sir William Johnson recommended very 
strongly to the secretary of state for the southern department. 
Benjamin Franklin was chosen as agent and joined the com- 
pany with permission to add "such Gentlemen of Character & 
Fortune in England as you may think will be likely to promote 
the Undertaking."^^ 

The moment of the arrival of this petition was very favor- 
able since those ministers who, from principles of economy 
or expediency, were opposed to westward expansion had been 
supplanted by the progressive ministry of William Pitt, now 
the Earl of Chatham. The latter was determined to bring 
about a reorganization of the British empire throughout 
all Its parts. He desired to take from the East India Com- 
pany the administration of India and turn the profits accruing 
from that territory Into the treasury of the empire. He pro- 
posed to democratize colonial government in America, even 
considering the possibility of substituting for the appointment 
of governors by the crown the election by the colonists them- 

Chatham appointed as secretary of state for the southern 
department the Earl of Shelburne, to whom a free hand in 
organizing the colonial service was given. Naturally to a man 
of Shelburne's character the development of the west was of 
the utmost Importance, and he gav^e the situation very serious 
consideration. It is not possible to describe his policies in all 
their ramifications, but In general he disapproved of the tend- 
ency toward a centralized control of the west which had been 
exhibited in the famous plan for the organization of the Indian 
department, and he sent orders to the two superintendents 
of Indian affairs to withdraw their commissaries and deputies. 
The plan that was in the mind of Shelburne would do away with 
the interference In the Indian trade by imperial officials and 
place the administration of this Important business upon the 

10 April 30, 1766, in Franklin papers, 2:17. 

1^ At least his chief supporter, Lord Shelburne, was in favor of such a change. 


colonial governments. In the end political pressure obliged 
the secretary to retain the two superintendents of Indian affairs, 
but their powers were greatly curtailed. 

Lord Shelburne realized that no reforms could be made 
until he had discovered some means of raising a fund of 
money without antagonizing the colonists. The attention of 
politicians had been recently focused upon the west by the pro- 
posal that all settlements beyond the mountains should be pro- 
hibited and that the troops scattered at widely distant posts 
should be concentrated in the eastern colonies, where they could 
be maintained at much less expense, thus leaving the west a 
wilderness to be used by the Indians as they chose. Such a 
plan had been almost forced upon the empire by the failure 
of the stamp tax. Shelburne, unless he should agree to some 
such policy of retrenchment, must raise money without resorting 
to colonial taxation. 

The solution of this problem was sought in the sale of 
land by the empire, Shelburne decided to imperialize the land 
of the west, to cut it up into colonies, and to sell it to those who 
wished to buy, thinking thus to bring into the imperial treas- 
ury a large fund of money which might be expended for the im- 
provement of the old colonies and the founding of new ones. 
With his intimate friend, Benjamin Franklin, the secre- 
tary of state talked over the Philadelphia plan to establish 
a colony in the Illinois. The proposers of other colonial 
schemes likewise brought to his attention their plans. Since 
the idea embodied in these was a part of his own thought, 
Lord Shelburne incorporated it in his western policy. 

When his colleague, Charles Townshend, chancellor of 
the exchequer, proposed in parliament and afterwards in the 
ministry that the west should be abandoned, Shelburne threw 
himself into opposition, and by a very interesting document,^^ 
which he read to the ministry in March, 1767, succeeded in 
winning his colleagues to his policy. It was later accepted by 
the king and finally in September, 1767, Shelburne again 
brought it before the ministers and won their approval. There- 
upon he wrote to the board of trade, on October 5, a long let- 

^2 This and other documents mentioned below are printed in Alvord and 
Carter, The New Regime, 536 ff. 


ter in which he proposed that colonies should be established at 
Detroit, in the Illinois country, and on the lower Mississippi. 

Shelburne was not permitted to put his policy into opera- 
tion. In January, 1768, the ministry was reorganized; a new 
position, the secretaryship for the colonies, was created; and 
Lord Hillsborough began his sinister direction of American 
affairs. Under him the transfer of the control of the Indian 
trade from the empire to the colonies was accomplished. Since 
the colonies refused to make common regulations, there was 
practically no governmental control; and the Indians were left 
to suffer from the greed of the traders. As a result they be- 
came increasingly hostile to the colonies, a state of affairs 
which proved disastrous in the ensuing war. 

The policy of running such a boundary line as was pro- 
posed by Lord Shelburne in 1763 to separate the white settle- 
ments from the Indian hunting grounds was adopted by Lord 
Hillsborough and it was now established by treaties with the 
Indians ; the treaty affecting the north was made at Fort Stanwix 
in 1768. The boundary extended from Lake Erie to the Mis- 
sissippi and opened to immediate settlement the region around 
Pittsburg. The new secretary, unlike his predecessor, was in- 
clined to view this limit to settlements as permanent; hence 
he rejected the Shelburne recommendation to establish far 
western colonies as being contrary to the true policy of the 
empire. The hopes of the Philadelphia firm and other builders 
of colonial schemes were thus frustrated. The imperial au- 
thority, so far as it could be exercised in the wilds of America, 
was to be used to prohibit the expansion of settlements Into the 

Meanwhile events in the British empire were developing 
a spirit of rebellion that ended in the separation of the col- 
onies from the mother country. In the more settled portions 
of the east, events such as the opposition to the stamp act, to 
the Townshend taxes, and to the retention of the tax on tea, 
formed part of the main current which was rushing on to the 
cataclysm of revolution. Contemporaneously there occurred 
in the Illinois similar acts of a rebellious character, but seem- 

13 This famous report of Hillsborough is printed in Neiv York Colonial Docu- 
ments, 8: 19 ff. 


Ingly so insignificant were these that historians, with eyes fixed 
on the main current, have scarcely noted the murmuring of 
the smaller stream. Yet the events of the prairie and those of 
the east were impelled by the same force, and the same ideas 
in which the American Revolution had its source raised the 
waters to a flood in French Illinois. 

The act of Colonel Wilkins in abrogating the court, dis- 
cussed in the last chapter, aroused the French people to take 
a decided stand for their rights. Henceforth they ceased to 
depend on their American associates, whose actions were in- 
spired by selfish motives, and several of whom were connected 
with speculative schemes of eastern merchants. The French 
people perceived that their interests would not be advanced 
by these English-speaking schemers and concluded to make 
exertions for their own benefit. Although the British min- 
istry had opposed the expansion of the eastern settlements 
westward, the plan of a purely French colony in the Illinois 
could be justified by the existence of the villages already there. 
Such was the reasonable hope of the leading Frenchmen.^"* 

With this in mind the French inhabitants, shortly after the 
downfall of the court, met in an assembly and determined to 
send a representative to General Gage to make known the 
situation. The delegate selected was Daniel Bloiiin, long con- 
nected with Kaskaskia. He was the French merchant who had 
been chosen by Colonel Reed to supply the rations and was a 
bitter opponent of George Morgan, who had succeeded in 
taking his business away from him. Bloiiin had never accepted 
the leadership of the Philadelphian and informed Gage that 
Morgan had joined Wilkins in terrorizing the people. The 
French agent chose as his associate in the mission William 
Clazon, a Frenchman apparently more experienced in English 
affairs than Bloiiin; nothing is known of his past history except 
that he had spent some time in the eastern colonies and later 
had gone to the Spanish side of the Mississippi. General Gage 
described him as being artful and intelligent. 

^^The following narrative is drawn directly from Alvord and Carter, Invi- 
tation Serieuse aiix Habitants des Illinois [by] un habitant des Kaskaskias, pub- 
lication of the Club for Colonial Reprints, see introduction. Mr. Carter in his 
Great Britain and the Illinois Country, chapter 7, has followed the same narrative. 


The two agents went to New York in 1771 and presented 
to General Gage on July 9 a memorial of the grievances of 
the people against the military commandant, praying that a 
civil government be established. They were not graciously 
received, but finally Gage condescended to ask for an outline 
of their plan. Probably the charter of government — Gage 
speaks of it as a rough outline — had been drawn up by Clazon, 
who had taken as his model the constitution of Connecticut, 
the most liberal of the eastern colonies. The proposal was 
scornfully rejected by the general. 

These negotiations opened by the French gave occasion, 
in 1772, to the publication in Philadelphia of a pamphlet en- 
titled, " Invitation Serieuse aux Habitants des Illinois," con- 
taining the platform of the French party.^^ Aside from its 
interest as a historical document, it is worthy of notice as the 
first publication written for western readers by one who called 
himself a citizen of Illinois, or, as he styled himself, " un hab- 
itant des Kaskaskias." It is an exhortation to the Illinois 
French to win for themselves economic independence, not a 
hopeless task since they were in possession of land capable 
of producing everything. An enthusiastic description of the 
products of the Mississippi valley fills most of the pages of 
the pamphlet. The author urges his compatriots to lay aside 
their Ill-humor at the Introduction by the Americans of new 
methods in industry. He excuses the delay of king and par- 
liament In establishing civil government on the ground of 
ignorance of the situation and expresses a hope of relief. He 
closes with an exhortation that schools be founded so that all 
the children may be taught to read and write their mother 
tongue and that some may be able to learn the English lan- 
guage. ^*^ 

Meanwhile the British ministers were considering c^ltq- 

1^ Only one copy of this pamphlet is known and is owned by the Phila- 
delphia Library Company. It has been reprinted in facsimile by Alvord and 
Carter, as the fourth publication of the Club for Colonial Reprints, Providence, 
Rhode Island. It has been translated by Miss Lydia Brauer and printed in 
Illinois State Historical Society, Transactions, 1908, p. 261 ff. 

1^ The name of the author is not known. Instinctively the names of Daniel 
Bloiiin and William Clazon occur to the mind, and one of them may have been 
the author, for they were in the east at the time. Still, the pamphlet may have 
been written by some other Frenchman, either in the east or the west. 


fully some problems very closely affecting the Illinois. The 
decisions of the government concerning the west did not satisfy 
all the ministers; and even the most obstinately reactionary 
one, Lord Hillsborough, was inclined to recur to the subject 
of the future development of the transmontane territory again 
and again. In a long letter to General Gage, dated July 31, 
1770, he discussed every phase of the western problem.^' He 
admitted the commercial and military advantages of the Mis- 
sissippi valley, but could devise no means of utilizing them that 
would not prove very costly to the crown without adequate 
return in trade. In conclusion, the secretary recapitulated his 
reasons for not changing the policy already promulgated. 
" Forts and Military Establishments at the Mouths of the 
Ohio and Illinois Rivers, admitting that they would be effectual 
to the Attainment of the Objects in view, would yet I fear be 
attended with an Expence to this Kingdom greatly dispro- 
portionate to the Advantages proposed to be gained, and those 
Objections to Civil Establishments, which I have above stated, 
do weigh so strongly against that Measure in the Scale both 
of general and local Policy, as greatly to discourage the Idea." 
General Gage was a politician as well as a military man 
and responded readily to the attitude of his changing superiors. 
He realized now that Lord Hillsborough was in the ascend- 
ancy and begged him to pay no attention "to any Opinions 
I may have formed heretofore, which a further Considera- 
tion, or longer Experience shall have satisfied me to be erro- 
neous."^^ Gage's observation had led him to the belief that 
forts situated in the Indian country were of little value, either 
as centers of commerce or as protection against Indian attacks. 
The nation which controlled the center of trade, whether at 
the mouth of the St. Lawrence or at that of the Mississippi, 
must control the country connected with that center. Gage, 
therefore, in accordance with these principles, argued that the 
fur country would be sufficiently protected by troops stationed at 
the mouths of the great avenues of commerce, and he was ready 
to give up his former opinion of the need of promoting settle- 

1^ Hillsborough to Gage, July 31, 1770, in Public Record Office, Colonial 
Office, 5. 88, p. 199. 

^^ Letter dated November 10, 1770, ibid., p. 327. , 


ments in the west. These he looked upon as " altogether 
Inconsistent with Sound Policy, for there is little Appearance 
that the Advantages will arise from it, which Nations expect, 
when they send out Colonies into foreign countrys," To the 
argument that there was need of barrier provinces, he answered 
that since there must always be a frontier, there would always 
be a demand for barriers beyond. Rather indignantly he 
writes: "Let the Savages enjoy their Deserts in quiet; little 
Bickerings that will unavoidably sometimes happen, may soon 
be accommodated."^^ In the last half of this long and impor- 
tant letter, where the fur trade is discussed, the general points 
out that, whereas the Canadian trade had already become 
adjusted to the ncAv conditions, the trade upon the Ohio was 
always conveyed down the Mississippi, where there were 
formidable rivals In the French on the Spanish side of the 
river. It was at this time that Gage gave up his former idea 
of opening a channel by Way of the Iberville river. 

The specific problem of a government for the Illinois 
villages entered Into the correspondence, but this problem was 
closely connected with one nearer the ministerial heart, or 
rather pocketbook — that of the disposition of troops, and 
in particular the maintenance of a garrison at Fort de Char- 
tres. Pursuant to the policy of the ministry to curtail ex- 
penses wherever possible. Gage was ordered to go over the 
whole military situation again to determine what posts could 
be abandoned. Although he had been receiving from the 
various commanders enthusiastic accounts of the future value 
of the Illinois country, Gage had become more and more pessi- 
mistic in regard to the situation. He agreed with those who 
wrote that the price of British goods sold there was thirty 
per cent higher, on account of the long land carriage, than that 
of the Spanish goods brought from New Orleans. He there- 
fore proposed to the ministry in 1768 that Fort de Chartres 
be abandoned and that the French inhabitants be gathered 
Into one village, where they could defend themselves by their 
own militia and govern themselves under some form o^ local 

19 Public Record Office, Colonial Office, 5. 88, p. 327. 

2° Gage to Hillsborough, June 16, 1768, ihicL, 86, p. 20Q. Many letters passed 
between the two before the final decision of 1771. 


Upon receipt of this letter a special committee of the 
cabinet was appointed to study the situation; but as a war be- 
tween Spain and Great Britain over the possession of the 
Falkland Islands was threatening, a decision was postponed 
till late in 1771. In that year, on December i, the cabinet 
discussed the question again. The desire for economy won; 
General Gage was ordered to demolish Fort de Chartres and 
Fort Pitt and to withdraw the troops from both places. ^^ 

The decision to abandon the Illinois fort came from the 
authorities in London, but there were reasons other than the 
purely economical one that had weight with General Gage. 
The site of the fort was not well chosen, as it offered no strate- 
gic advantages ; and it was in constant danger from the en- 
croachments of the river. In 1770, Gage wrote: "When 
His Majesty's Troops first took Possession of Fort Chartres, 
they found a Space of 250 Feet, between the South Bastion and 
the River, of which, there is only 30 remaining."-- Further- 
more, the place was very unhealthful and the soldiers suffered 
several severe epidemics; at one time in 1768 "there was but 
Nineteen Men capable of Duty at Fort Chartris, & every 

Officer was ill at the same Time The Groans & 

cries of the Sick Was the only Noise to be heard."-^ 

Gage's opinion was therefore in accord with the decision 
of the cabinet. He sent the necessary orders and was soon 
informed by Major Isaac Hamilton, the successor to the tyran- 
nical and venal Colonel Wilkins, that "he has destroyed Fort 
Chartres in such a manner that at present it cannot afford the 
least shelter to an Enemy, & that he removed the stones which 
protected the banks of the river & opened drains to admit 
the waters, so that the Floods in the Fall will entirely wash 
away the front of the Fort."-^ After destroying the fort, 
Major Hamilton with most of the troops — he left fifty at 

21 Cabinet meeting, December i, 1771, in Dartmouth manuscripts. Hills- 
borough to Gage, December 4, 1771, in Public Record Office, Colonial Office, 5. 

89, P- 359- . . . 

-- Gage to Hillsborough, January 6, 1770, ibid., 88, p. 51. See also Hutchms, 
" Remarks on the Country of the Illinois," in Pennsylvania Historical Society, 
Hutchins papers, volume i. 

23 Morgan to partners, October 30, 1768, in Morgan Letter Book. 

2* Gage to Hillsborough, September 2, 1772, in Public Record Office, Colonial 
Office, 5. 90, p. 113. 


Kaskaskia — hastily departed from the country, carrying the 
brass cannon with him to Fort Pitt and later to Philadelphia. 

The abandonment and destruction of Fort de Chartres 
did not solve the problem of the French villages, still prac- 
tically undefended and without civil government. This stub- 
born fact had even penetrated the minds of a not very intelli- 
gent ministry. The committee which had been considering 
the question for several years had no solution better than the 
one proposed by Gage in 1768; and in the letter ordering the 
abandonment of Fort de Chartres he was told to institute some 
form of local government.-^ It was this command that had 
caused him to assume the responsibility of leaving a few troops 
under Captain Hugh Lord at Kaskaskia. He expected that 
some arrangement for the government would soon be hit upon. 

Gage himself took measures to bring about a settlement. 
After his stormy interview in 1771 with the agents of the 
Illinois French, Bloiiin and Clazon, he had conceived the idea 
that these two were adventurers and did not represent the 
opinion of their fellow citizens. He therefore sent with Major 
Hamilton, when the latter went to the Illinois to destroy Fort 
de Chartres, a sketch of a simple form of government that 
he was prepared to inaugurate. This plan contained some 
popular elements; the governor of the district and a magis- 
trate for each of the villages of Kaskaskia and Cahokia and 
one for the three remaining villages were to be appointed. 
A grand council to be composed of the governor and five or 
six councilors elected by the people was also to be formed. 
Appeals could be made from the individual magistrates of 
the village to "The Chamber of Kaskaskia," consisting of the 
three magistrates sitting together, and an appeal could also 
be made from their decision to the grand council, whose de- 
cision must be final. The governor and council were to pos- 
sess power to pass rules and regulations for the better gov- 
ernment of the country and to establish fees and fines. It was 
estimated that this administration could be maintained at an 
expense of £309, 7s sterling per annum. ^^ 

25 Public Record Office, Colonial Office, 5. 89, p. 359. 

26 The original sketch in French is among the Kaskaskia manuscripts. There 
is also a copy in the British Museum, Additional manuscripts, 21687, copied by the 
notary public of Kaskaskia, June 13, 1773. 


Major Hamilton had been Instructed to sound the inhab- 
itants concerning their wishes. Gage evidently expected to 
discredit the two representatives who had been sent to him, 
but he did not succeed. In a letter to Gage in August, 1772, 
Major Hamilton related the result of his inquiry. "Accord- 
ing to your Excellency's directions to me I convened the prin- 
cipal inhabitants of the three villages & desired M. Deber- 
niere to talk to them in the manner you desired about some 
scheme of Civil Government, they were very high on the occa- 
sion & expected to appoint their Governor & all other Civil 
Magistrates, but on being desired to draw up their plan in 
writing and sign it, they told me that before M, Bloiiin left 
the Country, at a General meeting they had fixed upon a 
Scheme which Mons. Bloiiin was to lay before your Excel- 
lency & till he returned & they knew what success he had met 
with, they could give no answer."-" 

Meanwhile Gage, in despair of the regulation of the Illi- 
nois country, had proposed to Lord Hillsborough the with- 
drawal of the few troops still remaining at Kaskaskia, but 
Hillsborough was given no opportunity to answer him; the 
day of his inefficiency was over.^^ 

Lord Hillsborough's resignation from Lord North's min- 
istry was due to an issue raised over a purely western ques- 
tion, the establishment of a new colony west of Virginia, to be 
called Vandalia. The history of this colony does not fall 
within the scope of this volume, but the principal promoter 
of the scheme was a man whose name has already become 
familiar in connection with the history of the Illinois coun- 
try, Samuel Wharton, a member of the firm of Baynton, 
Wharton, and Morgan in Philadelphia; and it was largely 
through the machination of this crafty trader that Lord Hills- 
borough was forced from his position as secretary of state 
for the colonies.-^ 

The successor to Lord Hillsborough was Lord Dartmouth, 

2'^Alvord and Carter, Invitation Serieuse aux Habitants des Illinois, intro- 
duction, 22. Hamilton to Gage, August 8, 1772, in Public Record Office, Colonial 
Office, 5. 90, p. 119. 

-® Gage to Hillsborough, September 2, 1772, ibid., 113. 

29 The story of Lord Hillsborough's resignation is told in Alvord, Missis- 
sippi Valley in British Politics, 2 : chapter 5. 


who had been president of the board of trade In 1765. He 
was in favor of a progressive policy of expansion in the west 
and was therefore opposed to the measures advocated by Hills- 
borough and Gage. In one of his first letters to Gage, Dart- 
mouth wrote: "The state of the Illinois District appears to 
me in every light in which it is viewed to require a very serious 
Consideration and I will not fail to collect as soon as possible 
those Informations which may enable me to form a Judge- 
ment as well of the Arrangements which have already been 
made respecting that Country as of those which may be fur- 
ther necessary, considering it in the Light of a Colony of the 
King's English Subjects. "^^ 

Gage's proposition to abandon the Illinois was negatived 
in a cabinet meeting, and Dartmouth instructed him to leave 
the troops at Kaskaskia to guard the country lying along the 
Mississippi river, over which the Spanish and French exercised 
too much influence. ^^ In order that he might obtain detailed 
information of conditions in the region, Dartmouth sent an 
agent, Jehu Hay, to the Illinois; but before Hay returned with 
his report, circumstances had forced the ministers to a de- 
cision. In their necessity, they had found at last the means to 
supply the need of a civil government without encouraging 
settlement in the Old Northwest. 

The final decision concerning the future disposal of the 
territory north of the Ohio river was hastened by an occur- 
rence in the Illinois country which to the ministry seemed por- 
tentous. It had its origin in the year 1769, in the activities 
of the speculative Samuel Wharton. In that year a speculation 
in the region of the present West Virginia called Wharton to 
London, where he hoped to obtain official confirmation of a 
large cession of land made to him and his associates by the 
Indians. This he did* not receive, but he did obtain the fol- 
lowing legal opinion from two prominent lawyers. Lord Cam- 
den, at the time lord chancellor, and Charles Yorke, shortly 
to hold the same eminent position: " In respect to such places, 

30 Letter dated November 4, 1772, in Public Record Office, Colonial Office, 
5. 90, p. 145. _ 

2^ Paper indorsed: "Memorandum of business upon which the king's pleas- 
ure is to be taken," in Dartmouth manuscripts; Dartmouth to Gage, December 9, 
1772, in Public Record Office, Colonial Office, 5. 90, p. 171. 


as have been or shall be acquired by Treaty or Grant from any 
of the Indian Princes or Governments, your Majesties Letters 
Patents are not necessary, the property of the Soil, Vesting 
in the Grantee by the Indian Grants, Subject only to your 
Majesties Right of Sovereignty over the Settlements, as Eng- 
lish Settlements, and over the Inhabitants, as English sub- 
jects, who carry with them your Majesties Laws Wherever 
they form Colonies, and receive protection, by virtue of your 
Royal Charters."^- The opinion was In no sense an uncommon 
one. Many public men considered that the Indian nations were 
sovereign states with full power to dispose of their property, 
and the British government appeared to acquiesce In this 
by entering into formal treaties with them. 

Wharton- kept secret for a time this Important opinion, 
and It was a year or two before it became the common prop- 
erty of speculators in America. General Gage said that he 
saw a copy of it before June, 1773; and It appears to have 
been passed around rather freely about that time, with the 
result that several large land companies were formed to pur- 
chase Indian titles. 

First to act upon the opinion was the Illinois Land Com- 
pany. The founders of this association were David Franks 
and Company of Philadelphia, composed of the men who had 
been the rivals of Baynton, Wharton, and Morgan and had 
remained in the Illinois after the latter firm had withdrawn. 
They formed an association and In the spring of 1773 sent 
their representative, William Murray, to the Illinois country 
to negotiate a large purchase of land from the Indians. On 
his arrival Murray showed the opinion of the British law- 
yers to Captain Lord, who commanded at Kaskaskla. The 
latter, however, was not overawed by the weighty names and 
informed Murray that he "should not suffer him to settle any 
of the lands as It was expressly contrary to his Majestys Or- 
ders." In spite of this threat Murray proceeded with his busi- 
ness, of which he gave his partners the following account: " In 
the month of June, 1773, I held several public conferences 
with several tribes of the IlUno'is Nations of Indians, at Kas- 
kaskia village; to all of which conferences I Invited to be pres- 

32 The Illinois-Wabash Land Company Manuscript (ed. Alvord). 


ent, the British Officers and all the inhabitants of the place, and 
a great number attended accordingly." On July 5, he com- 
pleted the purchase of two large tracts, one lying between the 
Ohio and Mississippi rivers, and the other on the Illinois 

The members of the Illinois Land Company were all 
Pennsylvanians; but as they could obtain no assistance in their 
enterprise from their own colony, on April 19, 1774, they 
sent a petition to the well-known speculator. Lord Dunmiore, 
governor of Virginia. From him the company expected to re- 
ceive not only sympathy but also an authoritative indorsement 
of their title, for Virginia claimed under its charter the ter- 
ritory included in the Old Northwest. 

Probably William Murray, who seems to have taken the 
initiative in this undertaking, did not expect Dunmore to give 
his assistance without compensation, for he knew the governor's 
land hunger; and Dunmore immediately perceiv^ed the value 
of the opinion of Lord Camden and Charles Yorke, which 
offered him the opportunity to promote his own aims. To 
satisfy the desires of the governor, Murray created the Wa- 
bash Land Company, of which Lord Dunmore and several 
men from Maryland, Philadelphia, and London became mem- 
bers; and in October, 1775, the company through the agency 
of a Frenchman, Louis Viviat, purchased from the Indians two 
tracts of land on the Wabash river.^"* 

His reward promised. Lord Dunmore wrote to Lord Dart- 
mouth a most cordial recommendation of the Illinois Land 
Company: "Whatever may be the Law with respect to the 
title there are, I think, divers reasons which should induce His 
Majesty to Comply with the Petition, so far at least as to 
admit the Petitioners and their Acquisitions, if not into this 

Government, into Some other I cannot then but 

think, that. Seeing there is no possibility of Setting bounds to 
the Settlements of the Americans, it would tend most to the 

33 Lord to Haldimand, July 3, 1773, in British Museum, Additional manu- 
scripts, 21730, p. 131; an account of the proceedings of the Illinois and Wabash 
Land Company in American State Papers, Public Lands, 2: 108; lUinois-lV abash 
Land Company Manuscript (ed. Alvord), introduction, 14. 

^■* Wharton to Walpole, September 23, 1774, in Pennsylvania Magazine of 
Biography and History, 33 : 444 ff. ; American State Papers, Public Lands, 2 : 108 flF. 


advantage of His Majesty and to preserve the peace and order 
of the back Countries, that His Majesty should indulge the 
views of Adventurers, like the present, who willingly conform 
to Government."^^ 

The news of Murray's enterprise in the Illinois country 
reached London in November, 1773, at the moment when the 
ministry, headed by Lord North, was bent on making many 
reforms in its colonial policy and particularly on correcting 
the evils introduced into the province of Quebec by the estab- 
lishment of English in place of French law by the proclamation 
of 1763. For a decade chaotic conditions in this northern 
colony had cried loudly for reform; besides the question of 
law, questions of administration, of legislative power, and of 
religion were still unsettled. Early in August the ministry 
began its laborious work, and before the end of the year the 
broad outlines of its bill had been filled in. Then In January, 
1774, came the news of the Boston Tea Party; this aroused 
the reactionaries In the ministry to something like hysteria and 
occasioned the passing of harsh and vindictive measures to 
crush the incipient rebellion. Because the finishing touches 
were given to the Quebec act and it was rushed through par- 
liament during this period of turmoil, historians have fre- 
quently misinterpreted the act and have placed It in the same 
category with the Boston port bill, whereas its main purpose 
was the alleviation of the wrongs of the alien population of the 

The Quebec act was utilized by the ministry as a vehicle 
for the promulgation of a new v/estern policy. The exten- 
sion of the boundaries of the province of Quebec to include 
the Old Northwest was the last effort of the mother country 
to throw the protection of the imperial power over at least 
a part of the Mississippi valley. 

To the ministers the disorders in this region had always 
appeared very serious, for the most unfavorable descriptions 
of frontier society were being constantly sent to the govern- 

35 May 16, 1774, Public Record Office, Colonial Office, 5. 1352, p. 141. In a 
later letter Dunmore denied that he had any connection with the Illinois Land 
Company, but he kept discreetly silent about the Wabash Land Company. Dun- 
more to Dartmouth, December 24, 1774, ihuL, 1353, p. 13. 

3" Coffin, T/ie Province of Quebec an J the Early American Revolution, passim. 


ment by both colonial and English writers. From the begin- 
ning of their administration of Indian affairs Sir William 
Johnson and John Stuart had reported that the fur traders 
belonged to the lowest classes and were men of unscrupulous 
character accustomed to practice the meanest tricks on the 
Indians. When the question of western settlement became a 
vital issue, the portraits of the pioneers were drawn in lurid 
hues, which seemed to be justified by accounts of actual oc- 
currences, such as the murders committed in western Penn- 
sylvania by the " Paxton boys" and the outrages reported 
from the back countries of Virginia and North Carolina. It 
Is well known that many families of sober and earnest char- 
acter were seeking homes in the west, but the news of their 
quiet behavior was not reported in London. 

Even the men of better education and circumstances seemed 
often to forget their duty when they passed beyond the bounds 
of civilization. William Murray's illegal purchase of land 
in the Illinois country was only too typical an example of 
western happenings. The Indian boundary line had been estab- 
lished by the empire to regulate the westward march of set- 
tlements, but here was a land company without imperial author- 
ization preparing to plant a colony In the midst of the Indian 
hunting grounds. It was the last sign needed to prove the 
complete failure of the policy hitherto pursued. Little hope 
of betterment could be held out under the existing conditions, 
but orders were Immediately sent to the general In command to 
do all In his power to prevent the carrying out of the designs of 
the speculators. 

With Murray's act still in mind the ministers decided that 
the perplexing problem of the Illinois country could best be 
solved by placing the Old Northwest directly under the gov- 
ernment of Quebec. This proposal received the support of 
General Gage, then in England, who saw in Its provision for 
governmental oversight of the villages a point of superiority 
over his own earlier plan. An energetic defender of the 
Quebec act wrote, after describing the ills suffered by the 
French In these distant villages: "In this situation and under 
these circumstances what better can be done than to annex this 
country to Quebec, and subject the whole to the jurisdiction of 


that colony, to which the only lawful settlers in it were ori- 
ginally subject, and whose language, manners, inclination and 
religion, are the same — a colony, that i.nder the provision of 
this bill, will have authority competent to every object that 
requires regulation and reform, both in respect to Indian Af- 
fairs, and the care and concern of the subordinate districts."^" 

The government outlined under the Quebec act for these 
districts was later provided in instructions to Governor Guy 
Carleton, dated January 3, 1775.^^ A lieutenant governor 
or superintendent was to be appointed for each of the com- 
munities in the Illinois, Vincennes, Mackinac, and Detroit. For 
the administration of the law the following provisions were 
made: "That besides the foregoing Courts of Criminal and 
Civil Jurisdiction for the Province at large, there be also an 
Inferior Court of Criminal and Civil Jurisdiction in each of 
the Districts of the Illinois, St. Vincenne, Detroit, Missili- 
makinac, and Gaspee, by the Names of the Court of King's 
Bench for such district, to be held at such times, as shall be 
thought most convenient, with Authority to hear and determine 
in all Matters of Criminal Nature according to the Laws of 
England, and the Laws of the Province hereafter to be made 
and passed; and in all Civil matters according to the Rules 
prescribed by the aforesaid Act of Parliament."^^ Over each 
of the courts there was to preside a judge who should be a 
natural born subject, with a Canadian assistant whose powers 
were limited to the giving of advice. From these district courts 
an appeal might be taken to the governor and council, and 
thence if necessary to the king in council. 

The ministry believed that the extension of French law to 
the Old Northwest would be a deterrent to settlement by the 
English-speaking colonists. Such attempts as that of William 
Murray and his associates, it was hoped, would in this way be 

A third weighty reason for the extension of the boundaries 
was the regulation of the fur trade. The failure of the col- 
onies to agree upon some form of general administration of 

37 Appeal to the Public, Stating and Considering the Objections to the Quebec 
Bill, 50. 

2* Shortt and Doughtv, Constitutional Documents of Canada, 419 ff. 
39 Ibid., 423. 



the Indian trade had resulted in the development of intolerable 
conditions in the region west of the mountains. Both Lord 
Hillsborough and Lord Dartmouth had reached the conclu- 
sion that the only method of correcting the existing evils was 
by an act of parliament. The Quebec bill offered the means. 
The Old Northwest produced in abundance the finest of furs. 
By placing this territory under such a government as was pro- 
vided for Quebec, the necessary regulations could be made. 
The original purpose of the framers of the proclamation of 
1763 had been to control the fur trade by an imperial admin- 
istration, and a plan had been actually formulated; but the 
outcry against the stamp act had prevented its introduction, 
and consequently the Indian trade was left without proper 
oversight. The region between the Ohio and the Mississippi 
rivers was now placed in the Canadian province "with the 
avowed purpose of excluding all further settlement therein, 
and for the establishment of uniform regulations for the Indian 

The question of preserving the fur trade was becoming 
more and more vital. Every extension of settlement meant 
the loss of fur producing country and brought an outcry from 
the fur traders. British firms which were marketing Cana- 
dian furs likewise resisted settlement and favored more exten- 
sive boundaries for the province of Quebec. On December 
31, 1773, their correspondents In Canada asserted that "if 
the Province is not restored to Its antient Limits and the parts 
which have been dismembered from it reunited to that Govern- 
ment to which nature points they should belong, and all be put 
under some salutary and well judged Regulations, The Morals 
of the Indians will be debauched, and the Fur-Trader as well 
as the Winter Seal Fishery for ever lost not only to this Prov- 
ince but to Great Britain, as neither can be carried on to advan- 
tage but by the Inhabitants of Canada. "^^ The Scotch had 
been particularly aggressive In Canada and already were be- 
ginning to engross the trade, and in all probability their inter- 
ests were promoted by the Scotch members of parliament, 
whose support was always courted by the ministry. 

*o Knox, Justice and Policy of the Late Act of Parliament, 36 ff. 
41 Shortt and Doughty, Constitutional Documents of Canada, 351; see 350, 
note 3. 


The peltry trade was discussed in paragraph thirty-two of 
the instructions sent to Governor Carleton of Quebec. The 
governor was informed that the trade should be free to all 
British subjects provided licenses were obtained from any of 
the governors "under penalties to observe such Regulations, 
as shall be made by Our Legislature of Quebec for that pur- 
pose."^- There was sent to Governor Carleton a copy of the 
former plaji for the organization of the trade, which, he was 
instructed, should serve him "as a guide in a variety of cases, 
in which it may be necessary to make provision by law for that 
important branch of the American commerce." Thus the 
ministry returned to the former plan of imperializing at least 
a part of the west. Trading posts were to be established, 
tariffs fixed, and the sale of spirituous liquors regulated by im- 
perial officers under orders from the government of Canada. 

The imperial plan was never inaugurated by the govern- 
ment of Quebec, since it did not lend itself to the exigencies 
of the fur trade as it was being developed in the north, but 
the union of the Old Northwest and Canada and the subsequent 
outbreak of war between the colonies and the mother coun- 
try had far-reaching consequences. Without competitors the 
northern merchants easily won the confidence of the Indians 
and engrossed the trade of the Great Lakes region, and 
following the call of profit their agents appeared in the Illi- 
nois country. This ascendancy won by the Canadians over the 
Indians and the trade affected for a generation the develop- 
ment of the territory north of the Ohio river. 

*- Shortt and Doughty, Constitutional Documents of Canada, 428. 


WHILE events portrayed in the previous chapter were 
unfolding In far-off lUInoIs, a series of dramatic hap- 
penings on the seaboard culminated In a rebellion of the Ameri- 
can colonies against the mother country. No discussion of the 
specific Issues leading to the American Revolution Is necessary 
here ; sufl'iclent Is the knowledge that two systems of government 
apparently antagonistic in character had developed; the men 
with a vision of empire who controlled the destinies of America 
and Great Britain desired a closer relation of the periphery with 
the center, a greater centralization of power; whereas amid the 
primitive conditions of America, far removed from the mother 
country, there had grown up a system of local self-government 
joined by the loosest of bonds to the central power. Every 
attempt to extend the imperial control over the colonics, there- 
fore, awakened an antagonism little understood at Westminster. 
The attempt to tax the colonies by the stamp act was met with 
an outburst of protest from New England to Georgia ; and there 
followed, with the characteristically English love of a phrase, 
a long and acrimonious discussion of the question of taxation 
without representation, a discussion Involving the Issue of the 
relation of colonies to the mother country wherein the two 
parties found themselves In hopeless disagreement over vital 
principles. TheTownshend taxes of 1767 gave rise to a similar 
discussion and similar complaints by the colonies of their op- 
pression by the empire. 

During this heated and long-continued debate, the attitude 
of many of the British politicians can be characterized only as 
puerile. The spirit of economy prevailing in many circles was 
accompanied by a pettiness which Is frequently associated with 
parsimony in administration. The conception of the Townshend 
taxes, unstatesmanlike as It was, was wisdom when compared 
with the childish idea of retaliation exhibited in the retention 
of the irritating tax on tea which furnished the Immediate occa- 



sion of the outbreak of hostilities. The words of scorn shouted 
by Colonel Barre against the ministerial party were justified: 
"A few years ago, the genius of a minister, supported by your 
fleets and armies, set you at the head of the world. The East 
and West Indies were in your hands: your infant hands were 
not able to grasp the world. Instead of that, you have been 
pursuing small criminals; instead of giving law to the world, 
you have, like the Roman emperor, been staying at home, 
catching and torturing flies. "^ 

Extremists were found on both sides of the controversy — 
some were irreconcilables of noble and lofty ideals who ab- 
horred even honorable compromise. The refusal of the colo- 
nials to take the tea, accompanied in cases by acts of aggression, 
provoked the parliament of Great Britain to a fit of anger; 
severe punitive laws passed against Massachusetts called the 
other colonies to its support. Inevitably, war followed. For 
seven years the thirteen colonies fought gallantly against the 
mother country; then the war was finally won with the assist- 
ance of France and Spain, freeing from external control a 
large portion of North America. 

While the narrative of the eastern campaigns and battles 
of the Revolutionary War does not belong in the story of 
Illinois, certain events connected with the revolutionary success 
did touch the territory with no uncertain force. To the leaders 
both of the revolting colonies and of Great Britain the impor- 
tance of controlling the west was evident; and with the opening 
of the war, measures were taken by both countries to secure the 
advantage there. 

Previous to the outbreak of the war, thousands of settlers 
were traversing the mountains and marking out for themselves 
homes in the wilderness. Pittsburg soon became a village with 
a considerable number of cabins, and a large number of settlers 
found their way down the Ohio, pausing momentarily at the 
Great Kanawha, the imperial limit to settlement; but soon this 
paper barrier was passed, and by 1773, communities of Ameri- 
cans were established in western Kentucky, and Louisville was 
laid out, although not settled. 

1 Cavendish, Debates of the House of Commons, during the Thirteenth Par- 
liament, 1:499. 


This period of active occupation of the hinterland was 
closed temporarily by the outbreak in 1 774 of Lord Dunmore's 
War, an Indian war fought by Virginia troops for Virginia's 
rights to the west in defiance of imperial regulations. Its cause 
was land speculation, and its results would have brought to the 
Old Dominion western opportunity but for the outbreak of the 
Revolutionary War.- As it was, the Indians were subdued by 
the fray for a short period, during which there occurred a large 
immigration of Virginians and Pennsylvanians into the region 
south of the Ohio river. Their migration was promoted 
greatly by the operations of a skillful land speculator, Richard 
Henderson, who in company with several North Carolinians 
purchased from the Cherokee, in the name of the Transyl- 
vania Company, a large tract of land west of the Kentucky 
river. Henderson was not successful in retaining the title to 
the purchase, but his enterprise attracted many settlers into the 
forbidden territory.^ 

While Kentucky was thus being filled up, settlers were going 
farther afield. Following the course of the Ohio and Missis- 
sippi, they made their homes at Natchez and in other regions 
of West Florida. Thus during these first years of the war 
settlements were being scattered along the banks of the Ohio 
and down the Mississippi. 

These home seekers in the far country were not necessarily 
sympathetic with the cause of the colonies; on the contrary, a 
large proportion of them emigrated to the west to avoid par- 
ticipation in the issue. The settlements in Natchez and other 
parts of West Florida were for the most part tory in their 
sympathies and at times made active opposition to the revolt- 
ing colonies. Tories were also in Kentucky, where the British 
authorities easily found agents for their secret operations.'* 
Still, the majority of the setders in the Kentucky region, inde- 
pendent in character and readily aroused by patriotic speeches, 

- For a discussion of this see Alvord, Mississippi Valley in British Politics, 
2:188 ff. 

3 Henderson, "Richard Henderson and the Occupation of Kentucky, 1775," 
in Mississippi Valley Historical Reviciv, i : 341 ff. 

■» Siebert, "Loyalists in West Florida," in Mississippi Valley Historical Re- 
vieiv, 2:465; and the same author, "Tory Proprietors of Kentucky Lands," in 
Ohio Archaeological and Historical Quarterly, 28:3 ff.; Kellogg, Frontier Re- 
treat on the Upper Ohio, passim. 


were prepared to make some sacrifice for the patriotic 

Across the Ohio extended the region that had been added 
to the province of Quebec, where few American settlers had 
located; to this the colonies could make little claim. Far into 
the north stretched the wilderness, its solemn stillness broken 
here and there by the chatter of a few Frenchmen at Vincennes, 
in the Illinois villages, Detroit, and other small posts. Through 
these woodlands and prairies with their primeval quiet practi- 
cally undisturbed by the activities of land speculators or the 
noise of home seekers' axes, the savages roamed at will, hunt- 
ing the game and carrying the furs to the best market they could 
find, Detroit or Mackinac rather than Pittsburg. 

The Indians were incensed at the rapid settlement of Ken- 
tucky. In the treaty of Fort Stanwix in 1768 they had agreed 
to the establishment of a boundary line between their hunting 
grounds and the settlements, a boundary which was to prevent 
the raising of white cabins west of the Great Kanawha river. It 
is true that by the manipulation of land speculators the Iroquois 
confederacy had ceded its contested title to the Kentucky region, 
and by a similar manipulation of Virginians the definite line 
at the mouth of the Great Kanawha had been juggled ; yet most 
of the western tribes were not reconciled to these changes and 
looked upon the inroads of the whites as a breaking of sacred 
pledges. The natives, comparing the quiet of the Great Lakes 
with the avid rush for land south of the Ohio, in the crisis of 
war turned for friendship to the British officials and unloosed 
their hatred on the intruders on the land over which they had 
hunted from time immemorial. 

In the territory north of the Ohio river one village of white 
men dominated. This was Detroit, which, since its foundation 
in 1 70 1, had been the center of the western fur trade and was 
destined to maintain its supremacy throughout the period of 
the Revolutionary War and for a few years afterwards. In 
accordance with the provisions of the Quebec act and the in- 
structions to Governor Guy Carleton, the village received a civil 
government for the first time since 1763. The lieutenant gov- 
ernor chosen for this far western village, the storm center of 
the western war, was Henry Hamilton, a man of amiable 


character, but weak and tactless. To assist him there were 
appointed the requisite judges. A similar administration was 
established at Mackinac. It had been the purpose of the min- 
isters that like reforms in the civil government should be inau- 
gurated at Vincennes and in the Illinois country. A lieutenant 
governor, Edward Abbott, actually did go to Vincennes for a 
few weeks in 1777;^ but the official appointed for the Illinois 
country, Matthew Johnson, never made an effort, so far as is 
known, to perform the duties of his position in the village of 
Kaskaskia, with the result that the villages of the American 
Bottom were left practically without legal government.*^ 

Dr. John Connolly, who had been the agent of Virginia's 
governor, Lord Dunmore, In his land speculations In the west, 
was the first to realize the possibilities of a western campaign 
against the colonies. He laid his proposals before Lord Dun- 
more, who sent him to consult with General Gage at Boston. 
There a plan was adopted to concentrate British forces at 
Detroit, to which place the troops remaining at Kaskaskia 
were to withdraw, and to open a campaign with an attack on 
Pittsburg. After securing the upper Ohio valley the force was 
to Invade Virginia and unite with Dunmore at Alexandria. 
The plan failed; the occupation of Canada by the Americans 
made It too dangerous for Connolly to make his way to Detroit 
via Quebec. Attempting to return to Virginia and to reach the 
northwest by way of Pittsburg, he was taken prisoner and 
carried to Philadelphia. From here he attempted to send 
letters to Captain Hugh Lord at Kaskaskia, ordering him in 
the name of General Gage to make his escape down the Mis- 
sissippi to Mobile, but again he Avas foiled; his messenger was 
taken prisoner, and his letter sent to the continental congress.' 

Connolly's plan of an attack from Detroit on the back 
settlements of the colonies in order to separate the north from 
the south w?.s well conceived; but instead of taking any such 
decisive military action the Inefficient ministers controlling the 

^ Dunn, Indiana, 8i. 

^ Matthew Johnson was drawing his salary as lieutenant governor of the 
Illinois country even after that country had been occupied bj^ Virginia troops. 

^ These letters are printed in Force, American Archives, fourth series, 4: 617; 
see also Narrative of the Transactions, Imprisonment, and Sufferings of John 
Connolly; Siebert, " Tory Proprietors of Kentucky Lands," in Ohio Archaeological 
and Historical Quarterly, 28 : 6. 


destinies of the British empire preferred to adopt as their own 
the irritating and petty plans of Henry Hamilton, who, on 
September 2, 1776, proposed sending on the warpath numerous 
bands of Indians to worry the frontiers. On learning of the 
acceptance of his proposal, Hamilton called a grand council of 
Indians at Detroit; here he received assurances of the cooper- 
ation of one thousand warriors, whose activities gave to the 
year 1777 the sinister name of the " bloody year." Fifteen war 
bands were soon let loose upon the west. Two hundred war- 
riors invaded Kentucky, expecting to cut off the settlers at 
Harrodsburg, Boonesborough, and Logan's Station. They 

Thus was inaugurated the Indian war in the west. Fighting 
was almost constant. Outlying settlements were suddenly at- 
tacked and burned to the ground. Brave efforts were made by 
the frontiersmen to ward off the danger, and many a harrowing 
tale of adventure was added to the romance of western settle- 
ment during these years of the Revolutionary War. Indian 
attacks, fire, the murder of pioneers, and the capture of 
women and children aroused the west against the British and 
turned the hearts of some who still had tory leanings against 
the authorities that employed such methods in carrying on the 

Many loyal subjects of Great Britain realized the error of 
employing the Indians. Governor Abbott of Vincennes pro- 
tested vigorously against the policy. "This Is too shocking a 

subject to dwell upon It is not people in arms that 

Indians will ever daringly attack, but the poor inoffensive fami- 
lies who fly to the deserts to be out of trouble, & who are 
Inhumanly butchered sparing neither women or children."^ 
Hamilton believed, however, that he could control the barbar- 
ous emotions of his allies. He asserted that gifts were given 
to the Indians on " every proof of obedience they shew. In 
sparing the lives of such as are Incapable of defending them- 
selves."^ His hope was baseless. Many acts of cruelty and 
barbarism occurred, and public opinion among the Americans 
has always held Hamilton responsible, •maintaining that he paid 

* Letter of June 8, 1778, in James, George Rogers Clark Papers, 46. 
^Michigan Pioneer and Historical Collections, 9:465. 


into the palms of the Indians money promised for the scalps 
brought in.^*^ His name was execrated by contemporaries and 
later by historians — without careful and impartial investiga- 
tion — and is held today in popular memory with the stigma of 
the "hair buyer." 

The colonies as well as the Canadian officials realized the 
importance of securing the cooperation of the western Indians 
or, failing in this, their neutrality. To promote their cause the 
continental congress divided the west into three Indian dis- 
tricts, the northern, middle, and southern, appointing three 
commissioners over each, and an agent to carry out the neces- 
sary operations. The agent selected for the middle territory 
with headquarters at Pittsburg was George Morgan, who 
through his former business activities in Kaskaskia was well 
acquainted with the Indians and French of the region. He 
arrived at Pittsburg on May 1 6, 1776, and his first negotiations 
with the tribes appeared hopeful.' At a conference with 644 
warriors of the Six Nations and neighboring tribes, he was 
assured that the Indians would keep " inviolate the peace and 
neutrality they have engaged in with the United States."^^ The 
remembrance of their chastisement by the Virginians during 
Dunmore's War still lingered with them, and fear forced their 
friendship. Frequently during these first months of war 
their chiefs visited Fort Pitt and imparted timely warning of 
projected attacks. 

The western Indians had not yet been thoroughly aroused 
by the British. In the long years that followed, however, the 
Indian commissioners found that they had little to offer as a 
counterbalance to their enemy's influence. They said that 
traders were coming, but British traders had packs loaded with 
goods already opened at Detroit, St. Joseph, and Mackinac; 
they promised gifts from the continental congress, but Lieu- 
tenant Governor Hamilton was loading the Indians with pres- 
to Morgan Letter Book, 3, March 20, 1778, contains the testimony of one 
Daniel Sullivan to the effect that he had heard the story from one who personally 
saw Hamilton pay money for scalps. Of course the money may have been paid for 
some other purpose. In January, 1778, Hamilton reported to General Carleton 
that the Indians had brought* in seventy-three prisoners and one hundred and 
thirty-nine scalps. Michigan Pioneer and Historical Collections, 9:431. 

11 Morgan to president of congress, November 8, 1776, in Force, American 
Archives, fifth series, 3 : 600. 


ents; they assured the Indians that the continental congress had 
prohibited settlement west of the Indian boundary line, but the 
natives pointed to the pioneers who were spreading their cabins 
over the fertile land of Kentucky, In striking contrast to the 
British north, where there was no similar rush of settlers. ^- 

Had the frontiersmen carefully guarded the friendship of 
the Indians in their neighborhood, the problem of western 
defense would have been easier; but self-control could not be 
expected from " a wild ungovernable race, little less savage 
than their tawny neighbors; and by similar barbarities have in 
fact provoked them to revenge. "^^ So a contemporary de- 
scribed the men of the border. In the autumn of 1777 the 
Shawnee chief. Cornstalk, and three of his tribe, who had been 
particularly friendly to the Americans, while detained as 
hostages in Fort Randolph were murdered by the frontiers- 
men. The Shawnee promptly abandoned neutrality and began 
making vicious attacks on the settlements of Kentucky and 

Just as the British made Pittsburg their principal objective, 
so the Americans turned their attention to the conquest of 
Detroit. The first plan for such an operation was proposed by 
Arthur St. Clair, years later to be governor of the Northwest 
Territory. He desired to lead a volunteer expedition of five 
hundred men against the village and asked that ammunition 
be supplied by the confederated colonies. The proposal was 
seriously discussed in congress but was not adopted. ^^ 

Morgan, always Impatient of delay, felt the need of action. 
He sent a memorial to the continental congress advising that 
troops be sent to Pittsburg and an expedition launched against 
the center of the enemy's power in the west. He entered Into 
negotiations with both French and English In Detroit, Cahokia, 
Kaskaskia, and VIncennes, hoping to arouse In them a feeling 
of resentment that would lead to hearty cooperation against 
the British administration. He was confident that the French 

12 Act of congress, April 29, 1776, in Journals of the Continental Congress 
(ed. Library of Congress), 4:318. 

13 Pickering to Washington, May 19, 1778, in Washington manuscripts, in 
Library of Congress. See also Kellogg, Frontier Advance on the Upper Ohio, 55. 

1* Force, American Archives, fourth series, 3:717; Smith, St. Clair Tapers, 


people were friendly and that Detroit was in a defenseless 
state. He asserted that with the fall of Detroit the Indian 
nations would be induced by fear and Interest to enter Into 
an alliance with the American people. For the realization 
of the project he urged congress to raise between twelve and 
fifteen hundred regular troops and such other volunteers as 
would join the force. ^^ Morgan's hopes were unfulfilled; the 
continental congress had no money and no men to spare for 
such a difficult and distant military operation. 

The critical situation in the west during the year 1777, 
when Major Hamilton had launched his plan, compelled some 
attention to Morgan's words, and General Edward Hand was 
sent to Pittsburg as commander; he arrived there on June i, 
but unfortunately was without adequate supplies and troops. 
Hand found that among the pioneers dissension, even insur- 
rection, was rife as a result of a proclamation which Hamilton 
had sent throughout the west, calling upon the people to submit 
to King George, to escape the heavy penalty of rebellion, and to 
enjoy the mercy of a benign monarch. 

Hand made such plans as he could for military resistance 
by erecting forts and blockhouses. Fort Pitt was rebuilt. In 
February of 1778 an expedition set out to make reprisals, 
but was prevented by a rise of waters from progressing far 
into the interior. Another invasion of the Indian territory 
was planned for later in the year. Hand had come to realize, 
however, that he was ill fitted for these western campaigns 
and asked to be relieved of the command. His request was 
granted and General Lachlan Mcintosh, more aggressive and 
better equipped to take the offensive, was appointed in his 
place. ^° 

The campaign planned by General Hand was opened in 
June with five hundred men under General Mcintosh. The 
impossibility of securing the necessary men, horses, and pro- 
visions caused the abandonment of the original objective, De- 
troit, and the expedition did not go beyond Fort Pitt. Here 
Mcintosh tried to raise more men for the invasion of the Indian 

15 Morgan Letter Book, 3. 

18 The above account is drawn from Thwaites and Kellogg, Frontier Defense 
on the Upper Ohio, lyjj-lTJ^, introduction, with something from James, George 
Rogers Clark Papers, introduction, xiv. 


territory. Though little was accomplished, Mcintosh secured 
by forts the territory that he occupied; Fort Mcintosh was 
built at the mouth of Beaver creek, thirty miles below Pittsburg; 
and in October, Fort Laurens, seventy miles farther on. The 
season then being far advanced. General Mcintosh returned 
to Pittsburg.^^ Detroit was not to be endangered from the 

Meanwhile the Illinois country had been left under the 
control of the kindly Captain Hugh Lord, who had remained 
at Kaskaskia after the abandonment of Fort de Chartres in 
1772. He fortified the Jesuits' house, called Fort Gage, with 
cannon from the older fort.^^ His establishment was small, 
requiring for all necessities an annual expenditure of only £161 
sterling. Lord possessed sufficient tact to keep the French 
contented with their lot. He evidently had the sense to follow 
the advice of his superiors and not to mix in the petty disputes 
of the people, whom he permitted to straighten out their own 
quarrels by arbitrators; at any rate, no more was heard of the 
demand for a civil government. Captain Lord even reported 
that the people made no answer to his inquiry as to their wishes 
in the matter, and he was of the opinion that they would take 
no steps that might occasion the withdrawal of the garrison, 
their best market.^^ 

Since the Quebec act provided for a civil government of the 
Illinois, it was planned to recall Captain Lord immediately, and 
the payment for an officer in the district was crossed off the 
military account. The outbreak of hostilities in the east, how- 
ever, upset all plans, and the troops were permitted to remain 
at Kaskaskia. The early success of the American invasion of 
Canada later necessitated the assembling of all the British 
resources. Governor Carleton accordingly recalled Captain 

^^ Thwaites and Kellogg, Frontier Defense on the Upper Ohio, 1777- 
I77^> p. 29, note; Journals of the Continental Congress (ed. Library of Congress), 
11:720; James, George Rogers Clark Papers, xlix. 

1* Fort Gage was in the village and was not the French fort on the bluffs, 
the remains of which are today erroneously called Fort Gage. In writing this 
chapter I have borrowed from my introductions to the Cahokia Records and the 
Kaskaskia Records. Besides these two volumes many documents justifying my 
interpretation will be found in James, George Rogers Clark Papers. 

^9 Lord to Gage, September 3, 1773, in Public Archives of Canada, B, 71:1; 
Haldiniand to Lord, October 24, 1773, ibid., 33:130. 


Lord, who in the spring of 1776 left his post and made his 
way to Detroit.^^ 

Before leaving, he chose as the agent of the British govern- 
ment in these western villages Philippe Francois de Rastel, 
chevalier de Rocheblave, the son of the Marquis de Rocheblave, 
seignioral lord of Savournon of the province of Dauphine in 
southeastern France. Philippe, who had already seen service 
in France, and his brother arrived in New Orleans in 175 1 and 
were immediately inducted into the military department of the 
French colony, Philippe receiving first an ensignship, then, a 
few months later, a lieutenancy.^^ During the French and 
Indian War he saw service along the Pennsylvania and New 
York borders, serving probably against General Braddock, and 
certainly in the Niagara campaign. He was in 1760 in com- 
mand of Fort Massiac."- In 1763 he married at Kaskaskia 
Michel Marie Dufresne, and at the time of the occupation of 
the Illinois country by the British he crossed to the Spanish 
bank, where he became commander of Ste. Genevieve. Some 
time in the seventies he left the Spanish service and reestab- 
lished himself in Kaskaskia.-^ 

Throughout his life in the west he revealed a nature re- 
joicing in violent action, avaricious, rather quarrelsome, and 
delighting in secret intrigue. Toward the close of the French 
and Indian War the governor of Louisiana accused him of 
being the "correspondent of the cabal that extends its venom 
up to the Illinois."-^ While Rocheblave was commanding at 
Ste. Genevieve he learned that the Jesuit Father Meurin, find- 
ing no support at New Orleans for his mission, had appealed 
to the bishop of Quebec and the British commandant on the 
western bank for assistance ; angered he declared : " I know no 
English bishop here, and in a post where I command, I wish 
no ecclesiastical jurisdiction recognized except that of the 

20 Mason, "British Illinois — Rocheblave Papers," in Chicago Historical 
Society's Collection, 4:366, 407; Carter, Great Britain and the Illinois Country, 

21 Vaudreuil to the minister, January 28, 1752, in Archives Nationales, Col- 
onies, C13A, 36:54; D^C, 3:1. 

-- fVisconsin Historical Collections, 18:213. 

-' Legal action against him was begun in the Spanish court in October, 1773. 
-* Kerlerec to the minister, July, 1762, in Archives Nationales, Colonies, 


Archbishop of St. Domingo." A decree was therefore issued 
for the arrest of the father, who was warned by a friend and 
escaped across the river. From Ste. Genevieve Rocheblave 
continued his intrigues with the Indians, attempting to stir them 
up against the British ; he even sent belts with insidious messages 
to his dusky friends. The severance of his connection with 
the Spanish government was due to a quarrel leading to legal 
action from which he took refuge on the British shore about 

The picture of Rocheblave gleaned from the records is not 
altogether pleasing. But he had an intimate knowledge of the 
western French and the Indians and had acquired a dislike and 
a deep-seated suspicion of the Spaniards. His ambition led him 
to give his best service to his new employers, and they in turn 
had confidence in his abilities and willingness to serve them. 
On August 13, 1777, Carleton wrote: "His abilities and 
knowledge of that part of the country recommended him to me 
as a fit person." Major Hamilton wrote of him : " I shall in 
my correspondence with Mr. de Rocheblave keep alive the 
hopes of his being Governor of New Orleans — a more active 
and intelligent Person is not to be found in This Country of 
ignorant Bigots, and busy rebels, and had he the means I doubt 
not of his curbing their insolence and disaffection."-*^ 

Hamilton's intimation of Rocheblave's limitations was cor- 
rect enough, for although the inhabitants treated him as com- 
mandant and judge, his powers as agent were inadequate and 
the money allowed him was insufficient to enable him to accom- 
plish what he saw was necessary for the British cause. Time 
and again he was informed that he could draw only for his 
salary and that his expenses were to be met by money which 
the commandant at Vincennes could allow him, and this was 
practically nothing.-'^ 

Thrown upon his native wit and the resources of the terrl- 

25 Shea, Life and Times of Archbishop Carroll, 120; Mason, "British Illinois 
— Rocheblave Papers," in Chicago Historical Society's Collection, 4:346; the 
whole article may be consulted with profit. Alvord and Carter, The New 
Regime, 483. 

2'5 Alvord, Cahokia Records, 2:xxvi. 

27 The more important documents concerning Rocheblave are printed by 
Mason in Chicago Historical Society's Collection, volume 4; other information 
may be found in Micliigan Pioneer and Historical Collections, volumes 3, 5, 9, 19. 


tory over which he ruled, Rocheblave attempted to prepare for 
the struggle which he saw was inevitable. The principal basis 
for the continuance of his power and that of Great Britain must 
be a favorable public opinion, and this he tried to build up. 
In order to promote common action in the suppression of the 
dangerous liquor trade with the Indians, he convened a meeting 
of the people, in which the great majority agreed in behalf of 
the common interest to act together in matters touching Indian 
affairs and financial relations and to forgo the advantages of 
the liquor trade with the Indians. Still Rocheblave's chief 
reliance was on the personal influence of individuals. The man 
who stood out most conspicuously as his supporter was Jean 
Gabriel Cerre, at the time forty-four years old and a citizen 
of Kaskaskia since boyhood. He was one of the wealthiest 
men of the community and through his personality and com- 
mercial connections exercised over the villagers an influence 
second only to that of the commandant.-^ Other men in well- 
to-do circumstances, such as Louis Viviat, the purchaser of the 
Wabash Land Company, were to be found in the party of 
Rocheblave, but the latter's principal reliance was on the lesser 
folk, or the habitants. Illiterate and unintelligent, they had 
been trained in the school of obedience, were willing to accept 
conditions as they found them, and were innocent of revolu- 
tionary inclinations. 

Opposed to the party of Rocheblave were the supporters 
of the cause of the colonies. Although the various British firms 
operating in the Illinois had not succeeded in their business 
enterprises and the majority of traders had left the country, 
still their mark upon the French society of the villages re- 
mained. The Illinois country had been brought by them into 
close connection with English-speaking society and with world 
affairs in general. Furthermore, many traders with colonial 
connections had been left as flotsam and jetsam of the trading 
flood tide to continue their enterprises in this far western land. 
Among these may be noted the two Murray brothers, William 
and Daniel, who were largely responsible for putting through 
the great land speculation of the Illinois and Wabash Land 

28 Douglas, " Jean Gabriel Cerre," in Illinois State Historical Society, Trans- 
actions, 8 : 275 ff. 


Companies. Both these men were distinctly American in their 
feehng, and William Murray devoted both time and money 
to the cause of the revolting colonies. His interests, being 
both in Pennsylvania and in Virginia, kept him in touch with 
public opinion in the east, and he was prepared to act when- 
ever the opportunity should offer. 

Some time just previous to the outbreak of the American 
Revolution an Englishman established his permanent home at 
Kaskaskia. This was Thomas Bentley, whose early career is 
shrouded in obscurity. He came to West Florida from London, 
probably soon after the French and Indian War, and estab- 
lished at Manchac a store as a center for trading up and down 
the Mississippi. Not before the seventies did he transfer his 
headquarters to Kaskaskia; at least his name does not appear 
in the early British records. From his first appearance in 
the Illinois he managed a successful and profitable business. In 
1777 he married Marguerite Bauvais, a daughter of one of the 
richest and most important French families in the community, 
thereby establishing his position both financially and socially 
in the Illinois country, 

Bentley was primarily a merchant, seeking first of all busi- 
ness prosperity, which would no doubt have been his had not 
the war between the colonies and Great Britain ensnared him 
in intrigue, in which his nature found its greatest pleasure. 
In this he was actuated mainly by motives of his own interest, 
and he attempted to play off the British against the Americans 
for profit. So adept was he in double-dealing and so careful 
to cover all traces of his duplicity, that it is difficult at times 
to follow his machinations ; but it is evident that he soon became 
the leader of the opposition to Rocheblave.^^ 

The English-speaking merchants and others who were asso- 
ciated with them kept up a continual intercourse with their 
eastern compatriots and were fully informed of events on the 
seacoast. Among themselves they talked openly of the revo- 
lutionary movement and even indulged in propaganda among 
their French fellow citizens. So successful were they that most 
of the officers of the militia in Kaskaskia and Cahokia were 

^ An account of Thomas Bentley and his operations may be found in the 
introduction to Alvord, Kaskaskia Records, z.xvi ff. 


prepared to receive in a friendly manner any American troops 
that might be sent to them."^ 

Rocheblave never deceived himself in regard to the weak- 
ness and the danger of his position and several times urged 
Governor Carleton to send a commandant and British troops 
to the Illinois, but the governor of Quebec had neither ^the 
troops nor the money to spare. Hopeless Rocheblave's position 
seemed: he was surrounded by men, both English and French, 
sympathetic with the cause of the American patriots; he knew 
that messages were constantly passing between the representa- 
tives of the rebels — George Morgan, for instance — and the 
villagers; the latter were promised more than once that troops 
would be sent from Pittsburg, and even the date of their arrival 
was fixed for the winter of 1 777-1 778. This intercourse be- 
tween the French villagers and the Americans increased when 
the Kaskaskia merchants established a profitable trade with the 
new settlers In Kentucky. Furthermore, Rocheblave was par- 
ticularly suspicious of the Spanish commandant, who was in- 
triguing among the French and the Indians against the British 

In later years Rocheblave attributed to the intrigues of 
Thomas Bentley the subsequent loss of the Illinois country by 
Great Britain. According to his story, Bentley, in the spring 
of 1777, sent boats to the Ohio river to sell supplies to a crew 
of Americans returning with cargoes of munitions and other 
merchandise purchased by the colonies at New Orleans. At 
this meeting, Bentley's agent gave full information concerning 
the conditions existing in the Illinois villages, and at that time 
the plan of seizing them was first conceived.^^ The British 
agent's suspicions were sufficiently well established to lay the 
foundation of an action against Bentley, who was made prisoner 
while on a journey to Mackinac, was carried to Quebec, and 
incarcerated for several years. 

Rocheblave dwelt constantly In fear of the expected attack 

^0 For proof of this see the introduction to Alvord, Cahokia Records; also 
Kaskaskia Records, introduction. 

^ 31 For proof of Bentley's participation see ih'td., xvi ff. At the time of 
writing this introduction I stated that the evidence furnished only a hypothesis, 
but later thought on the subject has led me to believe that the logic of events 
furnishes real proof. 


of the colonists. Letter after letter he sent to Detroit beseech- 
ing assistance. "We are upon the eve of seeing here," he 
wrote, " a numerous band of brigands who will establish a 
chain of communication which will not be easy to break, once 
formed." When he wrote these words the "brigands" under 
George Rogers Clark were ready to spring upon him. 

George Rogers Clark, whose name is inseparably connected 
with Illinois history, was at the time of his famous expedition 
only twenty-six years of age. Of commanding appearance and 
of extraordinary courage, he possessed that personal magnetism 
characteristic of great leaders. He took pride in his likeness 
to George Washington, and there is in his portraits a calmness 
of countenance and a self-confidence strikingly similar to his 
great contemporary. His past experience had been that of a 
typical pioneer. In June, 1772, he made an exploring expedi- 
tion on the Ohio as far west as the mouth of the Great Kana- 
wha. Here he brought his father and friends. He was one 
of those who accompanied Captain Cresap on his expedition 
'against the Shawnee, and In Dunmore's War he served with 
many other noted leaders and land speculators of the west. 
Schooled In surveying, he was engaged by the Ohio Company to 
locate land and to assist in laying out a town on the Kentucky 
river. There he came into contact with Richard Henderson's 
Transylvania Company, which had bought from the Cherokee 
all western Kentucky. Clark had been associated always with 
Virginia speculators and was naturally opposed to this seizure 
of the land by a North Carolina company. He was one of the 
leaders in arousing the people to opposition, and at Harrods- 
burg (June 6, 1776) he was appointed one of the two agents to 
carry a petition to Virginia begging that colony to throw Its 
protection over this far western territory. After a difficult 
journey through the wilderness the two men presented the 
memorial to the governor, with the result that Kentucky was 
finally created a county. Clark was appointed major of the 
militia; upon him fell the duty of protecting the new settle- 
ments against the attacks of the Indians. ^^ 

The problem of defending Kentucky offered many dlffi- 

32 For documents substantiating the above see James, George Rogers Clark 
Papers, passim, and English, The Conquest of the Old Northwest. 


culties, since it was separated from the main source of supplies 
by a wilderness difficult to traverse. Still a defense must be 
prepared, for across the Ohio river was the breeding ground 
of the Indian marauders. Clark's nature always led him to 
choose the policy of the attacking party rather than that of the 
patient defender. To him it appeared clearly that the bold 
course of invading the Old Northwest was the better strategy. 
The report of the defenseless condition of the Illinois obtained 
from Thomas Bentley pointed to the best objective. The Illi- 
nois villages and Vincennes were the outposts of Detroit; and 
if they fell there would be the possibility of an attack upon the 
village on the lake. Probably following Bentley's suggestion, 
Clark sent two spies to Kaskaskia in June, 1777; they failed 
to get in touch with Bentley's friends but brought back complete 
corroboration of the defenseless state of the villages. In their 
opinion, however, the principal inhabitants were opposed to the 
Americans. ^^ 

On December 10, 1777, Clark presented his plan to Gov- 
ernor Patrick Henry of Virginia. Thomas Jefferson, George 
Mason, and George Wythe were taken into consultation, and 
all gave their approval, promising to obtain from the legis- 
lature three hundred acres of land for each man enlisting in 
the expedition if it were successful. The council of Virginia 
voiced its approval on January 2, and the assembly gave its 
consent as to a measure for the protection of the county of 

Clark was appointed lieutenant colonel and was empowered 
to enlist seven companies of militia, each containing fifty men. 
He was provided with an open letter of instructions in which 
he was commanded to defend Kentucky, but his private instruc- 
tions directed him to make an expedition to Kaskaskia. Twelve 
hundred pounds in depreciated currency and an order to the 
commanding officer at Fort Pitt for both ammunition and sup- 
plies were given him.^^ 

Having with difficulty recruited one hundred and fifty fron- 
ts ciark to Henry in James, George Rogers Clark Papers, 31. 
^* Ibid., 33; Hening, Statutes at Large, 9:375. 

^5 The history of this expedition of Clark's is drawn from his memoir and his 
letter to Mason, both of which are printed in James, George Rogers Clark 
Papers, 114 ff., 208 flE. 

FFrom a portrait painted by Matthew Harris Jouettl 


tiersmen, Clark, on May 12, finally set out from Redstone. 
While en route news was brought to him that the revolting 
colonies had succeeded in making an alliance with France. 
Good news this, for it furnished him an argument with which 
to appease the French settlers of the Illinois country. 

He floated down the Ohio to the site of Louisville, expect- 
mg there to be met by four companies of troops from Holston, 
but only a few of these came and with them a small force of 
Kentuckians. Still he did not despair. He took possession of 
and fortified the island near the falls of the Ohio, which from 
now on became the center of all far western military opera- 
tions. Here Clark distributed the few families who had ac- 
companied him in the expectation that they would be able to 
raise supplies, and here too he first disclosed to his troops the 
object of the expedition. The Holston company deserted dur- 
ing the night, and only a few of them were recaptured. 

With about one hundred and seventy-five men, Clark pro- 
ceeded on his route. He shot the falls of the Ohio during an 
eclipse of the sun and landed at a small creek one mile east 
of the present site of Fort Massac, which had then been long 
abandoned. Delaying but one night, he started across the 
prairies toward Kaskaskia. He had encountered on the Ohio 
river a boatload of Americans returning from a trading trip 
to Kaskaskia; one of these, by name Saunders, was selected as 
the guide of the expedition. The journey was a difficult one, 
and once at least the party seemed to be lost. On the fourth 
day their provisions were exhausted, and they were obliged to 
march for two more days with scanty fare. 

Clark at all times took the utmost precautions against dis- 
covery, but in vain; precautions were useless. Rocheblave had 
been watching the events of the west during the spring and 
summer of 1778 with grave foreboding. Thomas Bentley's 
intrigues were known to him; he realized that the Americans 
would not delay long before attacking the Illinois outpost of 
the British. There had preceded Clark's expedition down the 
Ohio another force which had been sent by the revolting colo- 
nies to capture the British posts on the southern Mississippi. 
By it Natchez was captured, and the Americans voyaged far- 
ther south in the hope of greater success and more plunder. 


The course of this expedition Rocheblave followed with anxiety, 
seeing in it the opening act of a concerted attack on the British 
west. Shortly his runners brought him information of a second 
expedition floating down the Ohio; it was Clark's, and the com- 
mandant soon learned that it was directed against Kaskaskia 
and the other Illinois villages. 

Rocheblave realized that the time for decision had now 
come ; he must test the loyalty of the British subjects over whom 
he ruled. He called out the militia of the villages and told 
them of the gravity of the situation; but the American sympa- 
thizers had performed their work exceedingly well, and it ap- 
peared that the French were unwilling to protect the villages 
against the " Long Knives," as the American frontiersmen were 
called. In a letter written after his capture on August 3, Roche- 
blave blamed the failure to defend the Illinois on Daniel Mur- 
ray, Richard Winston, and John Hanson, who discouraged the 
militia oflicers. In the hope that reenforcements would arouse 
the wavering villagers, he sent an order to the officer at Vln- 
cennes to hasten to Kaskaskia with his militia. Before the 
people from Vincennes could arrive, Kaskaskia had fallen. ^^ 

Clark arrived before the village on the evening of July 4, 
1778, and took possession of one of the houses on the east bank 
of the river. He secured boats, possibly through the conniv- 
ance of the English-speaking settlers, and at night crossed the 
river. He then divided his forces into three companies, over 
which was borne, if any emblem was carried, the rattlesnake flag 
of Virginia; they entered the village from three sides. The 
fort, having no garrison, was captured without difficulty. Roche- 
blave had gone to bed, either resigned to his fate or not antici- 
pating the celerity of Clark's march across the prairies. He 
was taken captive and his file of dispatches was seized.^' 

The Americans, Richard Winston, Daniel Murray, and 

36 Rocheblave's letter of August 3 is printed in Mason, "British Illinois — 
Rocheblave Papers," in Chicago Historical Society's Collection, 4:418. 

3^ Many of these dispatches have been recovered in the archives of the 
Virginia state library; they have been published in "Some Letters and Papers 
of General Thomas Gage," in Randolph-Macon College, John P. Branch Histori- 
cal Papers, 4: number 2, p. 86 ff., and are being reprinted in the Illinois Historical 
Collections. Rocheblave was sent to Virginia where he remained for some time. 
At one time the Virginia officials offered to give him freedom, if he would return 
to the Illinois and govern in the name of the state. Later he was exchanged 
with some suspicion of irregularity on his part. Alvord, Kaskaskia Records, 176. 


others received Clark's forces with rejoicing and furnished 
them with food. The French people, however, exhibited con- 
siderable uneasiness as to what would be their fate. Would 
the "Bostonnais" retaliate for the barbarities practiced by the 
Indian people? Clark soon assured them of his peaceful inten- 
tions; and when the timorous priest. Father Gibault, petitioned 
for the right to read mass, Clark declared that he had not come 
to make war upon religion. When he announced the great 
news of the alliance of the united colonies with France, the 
French went wild with enthusiasm. The stalwart pioneers were 
hailed as the emissaries of their beloved and longed-for king. 

Rocheblave at this moment of trial had been without the 
leaders of his party. Louis Viviat, who had long been a sup- 
porter of the British administration, had died the preceding 
year, and Gabriel Cerre had started a few days before to Mack- 
inac on a fur trading expedition. Upon learning the news of 
Clark's success, Cerre returned to St. Louis to await develop- 
ments. The assistance and support of this able man were essen- 
tial to Clark, and he immediately entered into negotiations with 
him, assuring him of protection in spite of all manner of 
charges which Cerre's enemies brought against him. Cerre 
returned to Kaskaskia, and Clark soon persuaded him to throw 
his lot with the Virginians. ^^ 

Meanwhile Clark had sent Captain Joseph Bowman with 
a small body of Americans, accompanied by some prominent 
Frenchmen, north along the American Bottom ; Prairie du 
Rocher, Cahokia, and the other small villages surrendered 
without opposition. Thus the French villages were secured 
without striking a blow. It was an occupation, not a conquest. 

The village of Vincennes on the Wabash still threatened 
Clark's position. Should this village remain in hostile hands, 
it would be particularly easy for the British to concentrate 
troops there and force Clark to take refuge on the Spanish 
bank, where he had determined to retreat if necessary and 
where he was assured of a welcome by the commandant. His 
newly found friends assured Clark, however, that the people 
of Vincennes, like themselves, would be very glad to change 

38 Douglas, " Jean Gabriel Cerre," in Illinois State Historical Society, Trans- 
actions, 8 : 275 ff. 


masters and that he had but to send a delegation to them to 
secure their submission. Accordingly Clark selected as the 
chief of a delegation Dr. Jean Baptiste Laftont, a relatively new 
comer to Kaskaskia but already one of the prominent citizens. 
Associated with Laffont was the priest, Father Pierre Gibault, 
who promised to use his spiritual influence to win the people. ^^ 
The embassy was altogether successful. When the people of 
Vincennes learned of the occurrences at Kaskaskia and heard 
the proclamation of Clark, they immediately took an oath 
transferring their allegiance from George III to Virginia. ^° 

Clark was jubilant over the success of his expedition, which 
was indeed notable. The Virginians had secured a foothold 
north of the Ohio from which attacks on Detroit might be 
directed. The British forces had been driven back to the line 
of the lake. The appearance of the Virginia soldiers in the 
Illinois country had also brought to the Indians a realization 
of the power of the revolting colonies, and the prestige of the 
British had been impaired by their failure to protect the im- 
portant posts. Aided by the American merchants of the Illinois, 
Clark and his Virginians had won the first definite success 
against the British in the Old Northwest. 

39 On Father Gibault's operations in Vincennes, see Alvord, Kaskaskia 
Records, xxv ff. 

*o There has been preserved among Kaskaskia records the sheet upon which 
they recorded their oaths. The solemn oath is written in barbarous French 
and the great majority of the people of Vincennes proved their inability to write 
by making their mark. It is published in James, George Rogers Clark Papers, 
56 ff. Captain Helm was immediateK' placed by Clark in command of the village, 
which he attempted to garrison with French militia. 


THE occupation of the Illinois country was accomplished 
by men believing in local self-gov^ernment and spurning 
autocratic rule in all its forms. ^ It was a matter of course for 
Clark to devise for the French villages a form of government 
in which the people could participate. Had he not been in- 
structed by Governor Patrick Henry to assure the French 
people of a welcome into the Virginia state and the enjoyment 
of rights belonging to its citizens ? Clark at once distributed com- 
missions to the necessary militia officers — he had brought with 
him blank forms for this purpose — and inaugurated courts, 
for which he permitted the people to elect the judges. It was 
a significant foreshadowing of the policy to be pursued by 
Americans in the occupation of the west. For the Illinois coun- 
try also the event possessed a particular interest: for the first 
time its chief magistrates were elected by its own people.^ 

The first part of Clark's program, the occupation of the 
Illinois country, had been accomplished without great difficulty, 
but the much harder task of maintaining his hold in this land 
far from his base of supplies was still to be performed. It was 
a-critical period. The establishment of an American post north 
of the Ohio was in defiance of the British power and was bound 
to arouse to activity the officers representing George III in the 
villages of the Great Lakes. 

Clark's problem was complicated by the desire of his troops 
to return home. They had enlisted for the campaign; now 
that it was over their sole wish was to see their families again 
as soon as possible. Only one hundred men could be persuaded 
to remain, an insufficient force to repel any serious attack. 
Fortunately Clark had greater success in winning the support 
of the Frenchmen; two companies were enlisted in the villages 

1 This chapter is a condensation of my introduction to the Cahokia Records, 
which contains many more references to the sources used. 

- The records of these courts, except for a few stray leaves of the court 
holding its sessions at Cahokia, have been destroyed. 



of Kaskaskia and Cahokia. His later operations were in large 
measure carried out by means of the enthusiastic cooperation 
of the new citizens of Virginia. 

Clark, furthermore, was without supplies and without 
money, except a small amount of the continental money he had 
brought with him. With this he bought merchandise, passing 
at its face value paper worth only twelve cents on the dollar. 
When this was exhausted, he drew bills of exchange which he 
sent to the agent of Virginia, Oliver Pollock, at New Orleans. 
Befriended by the Spanish governor, Pollock was able to meet 
Clark's first drafts, but only with the greatest difficulty. By 
February 6, the Illinois commandant had drawn bills on him 
amounting to forty-eight thousand dollars.^ 

Clark also found sympathy and support in Fernando de 
Leyba, the Spanish commandant of St. Louis. This he had 
expected, for the agent of the Spanish government in America, 
Don Juan de Miralles, had been confidentially informed of the 
proposed campaign before Clark set out from Virginia; conse- 
quently he regarded himself and Governor Henry as copart- 
ners in the undertaking. News of Clark's plan was sent to 
New Orleans and to all the Spanish commanders on the Mis- 
sissippi bank, although it did not reach there until after the 
arrival of the Virginian. When Clark called at St. Louis he 
was most graciously received; he wrote to Governor Henry 
that the Spanish commandant "has offered me all the force 
that he could raise in case of an attack by the Indians from 

The principal purpose of the expedition into the Illinois 
country had been to put an end to Indian raids. For a time 
the presence of the Virginians did impress the natives with a 
certain awe. Several hundred of the Chippewa, the Ottawa, 
the Potawatomi, the Sauk, the Foxes, the Miami, and other 
tribes sent representatives to Cahokia to meet with Clark in 
the fall of the year 1778; under Clark's skillful management 

3 During the war Pollock borrowed eighty thousand dollars on his own 
credit to sustain the finances of the united colonies and Virginia in the west. 
Virginia State Papers, 3:25 flr. 

** Gerard to Vergennes, July 25, 1778, in Doniol, Histoire de la Participation 
de la France a I'Etablissement des Etats-Unis d'Amerique, 3:293; Henry, Patrick 
Henry, 3: 194. 


there resulted from these meetings treaties with about a dozen 
tribes — all of which proved, under the persuasiveness of 
British merchandise, as worthless as the wampum which sym- 
bolized them. 

The news of Clark's occupation of the Illinois country natu- 
rally caused consternation in the British headquarters. Lieu- 
tenant Governor Hamilton made immediate preparations to 
drive out the intruder. As far as supplies and troops were 
concerned, however, his condition was only a little better than 
Clark's, for the government at Quebec had never taken to heart 
his recommendations for the protection of the west. Deter- 
mined to make the best of a bad situation, Hamilton summoned 
the Indians to a conference at Detroit and secured the cooper- 
ation of many of the same tribes that had met with Clark. He 
organized the militia and made his preparations for an early 
attack upon Vincennes; meanwhile orders were sent to Macki- 
nac and St. Joseph to send an expedition down the Illinois river. 
In October Hamilton marched out of Detroit with one hundred 
and seventy-five white troops, two-thirds of whom were French. 
At the start there were but sixty Indians with him, but by re- 
enforcements during the march the number was raised to five 
hundred. For seventy-one days the troops traveled over six hun- 
dred miles of wilderness by land and water, over the portage 
from the Maumee to the Wabash, and down the latter stream, 
where dams were built to secure sufficient water to float the 
boats. Winter set in and hardships increased, but every ob- 
stacle Hamilton overcame with the usual British determina- 
tion. ^ 

When the news that the British were coming reached Vin- 
cennes, the French were uncertain how to act. Their allegiance 
to Virginia was very recent; the British power was very great. 
Captain Helm, who was in command of the village, concluded 
that opposition was useless and surrendered without resist- 
ance.*^ The people at Vincennes took the oath to King 
George III and settled down under the older regime as casually 
as they had under that of Clark. 

^ Hamilton's account is printed in James, George Rogers Clark Papers, 
174 fF. ; but consult index. 
« Ibid., 89. 


If Hamilton had been in a condition to make an immediate 
attack on Kaskaskia, it is very possible that he would have been 
successful; but his men were so exhausted by the long march 
that he determined to wait until spring to make the decisive 
move. Meanwhile he sent back most of his troops and Indians 
to their homes with orders to report later to him, contenting 
himself with sending scouting parties toward Kaskaskia and 
Cahokia to observe the movements of the Virginians. With 
his fifty regulars, a few volunteers, and some Indians, he set 
about repairing the fort; and furthermore, he sent word to 
John Stuart, superintendent of Indians for the southern de- 
partment, to muster his tribes and to close the Ohio to any re- 
treat in that direction. 

At the news that Vincennes had fallen again into the hands 
of the British, Clark realized that his position had become 
precarious; he must either retreat or take some bold action. 
Hazardous as it was, he decided on the latter course. Without 
resources, without hope of assistance, with a handful of men, 
he was obliged to trust himself fully to a people of alien speech 
and religion. His appeal for help to the French and the few 
American merchants of the Illinois villages was received 
enthusiastically, particularly after It was learned that most 
of the British soldiers had been sent back to Detroit. Sup- 
plies were raised among the inhabitants, and the military 
force was increased by enlistments to about one hundred 
and fifty. 

Clark's first move was to send an armed galley with guns 
to the Wabash river. On the next day, February 5, 1779, after 
religious exercises by Father Gibault, Clark, mounted on a 
handsome stallion from New Mexico, led his little army out 
of Kaskaskia. "^ The expedition to Vincennes Is one of the most 
heroic and dramatic in the annals of the American Revolution. 
The prairies, as usual at this time of the year, were In places 
covered with water; there followed days of wading through 

^ Clark intended to send his stallion as a present to Governor Henry, who 
had desired some Spanish horses from the Illinois, but could find no immediate 
means of transportation from Vincennes. Clark to Henry, March 9, 1779, in 
James, George Rogers Clark Papers, 303. In the same volume will be found the 
contemporary accounts of this expedition. The women of Kaskaskia made some 
flags for the companies, but it is impossible to determine their character. Per- 
haps they were French. 


icy water, rest almost without food, nights passed on knolls 
protruding from the surrounding mud. Through it all Clark 
proved himself a leader of men. His courage and hope in- 
spired his followers. He laughed at their fears and kept before 
their eyes the coming victory. Throughout the expedition he 
was animated by a belief in the holiness of his cause like that 
which inspired the first crusaders to Palestine. Hamilton, the 
"hair buyer," and his minions seemed to Clark as the Moslems 
did to Godefroy de Bouillon; the fall of Vincennes was to be a 
repetition of the capture of Jerusalem. The youthful com- 
mander's account of the adventure pulsates with a medieval 

From some captured hunters it was learned that the ap- 
proach of the little band was unknown to the British and that 
the people at Vincennes, who had been warned by Clark from 
Kaskaskia of the proposed expedition, were still eager for the 
success of the Virginians.^ The final rush to the village was 
made through water breast-high. The garrison was completely 
surprised. The fort was soon surrounded. After the first 
firing, which occurred in the night of February 23, many of 
the British Indians made their escape from the fort, and a 
hundred Kickapoo and Piankashaw in the town offered to serve 
the Americans, an offer which Clark refused. Many of the 
French, however, joined in the attack. 

In the morning, Clark sent a letter to Hamilton demanding 
that he surrender. Hamilton refused, having been assured by 
his troops that "they would stick" to him "as the shirt to his 
back."^ The French volunteers from Detroit, however, did 
not relish the idea of fighting against their own countrymen; 
moreover, the situation appeared to them desperate. Later, 
after another consultation with his officers, Hamilton deter- 
mined to ask for an honorable surrender, although his soldiers 
were still unwilling to take this course. An interview with 
Clark was arranged by letter, but the Virginian refused to 
consider any terms except unconditional surrender, asserting 
that he "wanted a sufficient excuse to put all the Indians & 
partisans to death, as the greatest part of those Villains was 

^Alvord, Kaskaskia Records, 50. 

' Hamilton's report in James, George Rogers Clark Papers, 187. 


then with him.""^' He did grant a short time for Hamilton to 
consult his officers again. 

During this period of truce some Indians, sent by Hamilton 
against Kentucky, returned to Vincennes and were killed or 
captured by the Virginians. In their treatment of the captives, 
bathed in the blood of frontier men, women, and children, 
Clark's soldiers gave full reign to the crusading spirit; the 
Indians were tomahawked in the presence of the British gar- 
rison. Hamilton describes the act as follows: "One of them 
was tomahawk'd immediately. The rest sitting on the ground 
in a ring bound — seeing by the fate of their comrade what 
they had to expect, the next on his left sung his death song, and 
was in turn tomahawk'd, the rest underwent the same fate."^^ 
Other more dreadful acts are described. 

Meanwhile, at a second conference, Clark offered more 
moderate terms, and the fort was surrendered on the twenty- 
fifth of February, the garrison being permitted to march out 
with their arms and accouterments. 

Learning that Hamilton was expecting a convoy with sup- 
plies from Ouiatenon, Clark sent Captain Helm with a party 
to meet them, and forty prisoners with seven boats loaded with 
provisions and Indian goods to the value of six thousand dol- 
lars were captured; the booty was distributed among the sol- 
diers. Hamilton and several of his principal officers, with some 
civilian prisoners, were sent to Williamsburg, but the French 
volunteers were paroled in the expectation that they would 
form a party in Detroit favorably disposed toward the 

The news of Clark's success in occupying the Illinois coun- 
try reached Williamsburg about November i6, 1778, and 
Governor Henry promptly sent word of the event to the dele- 
gates in congress. He also immediately took measures to 
strengthen Clark's forces, though he never sent as many 
troops as he promised. ^^ 

10 James, George Rogers Clark Papers, 144. 

11 For Hamilton's report see ibid., 189. Compare Bowman's account, ibid., 

12 See several letters dated December 12, 1778, in Henry, Patrick Henry, 
3:209 ff. 


Besides the need of military reenforcements for the Illi- 
nois villages, there was the necessity of providing an orderly 
government for this far-away region claimed as a part of the 
Old Dominion. The requisite bill was introduced into the 
Virginia legislature on November 30 and passed both houses 
on December 9. The civil establishment created for the 
region was essentially the same as that which Virginia had used 
in its expansion westward — the county government. This new 
territory, which included all that Clark actually held, stretched 
from the Ohio to the Illinois river and up the Wabash toward 
Detroit to an Indefinite boundary. Ouiatenon was certainly 
under the jurisdiction of Virginia, but beyond that post and the 
Illinois river there is no proof that the state exercised juris- 

The government of the "county of Illinois" was given 
force for only one year and thereafter to the end of the next 
session of the legislature. The chief executive officer and 
commander of the militia was the county lieutenant, or com- 
mandant, who was empowered to appoint as many deputy 
commandants, militia officers, and commissaries as he found 
necessary. The civil officers were to be those that the inhabit- 
ants were accustomed to, and they were to administer the 
law which was already in force In the region, that is, the 
coiitinne de Paris. Offices created by the county lieutenant, to 
which the Inhabitants were unaccustomed, were to be supported 
by the Virginia treasury ; the others, by the people. The people 
were given assurance of the free exercise of their religion. The 
power of the court and of the county lieutenant was limited 
In actions for treason and murder to the same extent as it was 
in all counties of Virginia — the county lieutenant was per- 
mitted to stay execution until the opinion of the governor or 
the assembly had been obtained. 

On December 12, 1778, In accordance with this act, Pat- 
rick. Henry commissioned John Todd county lieutenant of 
Illinois. Todd's ancestors were Scotch-Irish and had settled 
in Montgomery county, Pennsylvania. He had been educated 
at a school kept by his uncle, where he had greater opportuni- 
ties for general culture than had the average boy of his day. 
Early In life his spirit of adventure drew him to the west. 


He participated in Dunmore's War and was among the first 
settlers in Kentucky, where he was elected to the Virginia 
legislature in 1777. He was small of stature, but had a repu- 
tation as an athlete and an Indian fighter. 

Governor Henry gave the new county lieutenant wise in- 
structions to do all in his power to win the good will of the 
French people and to inculcate in them an "idea of the value 
of the liberty which had now become theirs." The militia 
was to be under his command and was not to join the army 
until ordered out by the civil authorities. Much was left to 
his discretion, since ignorance of conditions in Illinois made 
detailed instructions impossible. 

When the new county lieutenant — only twenty-eight years 
old — came to Illinois, events were already approaching a 
crisis, brought on by the clash of Anglo-Saxon and Gallic tem- 
perament. The unity of feeling and the glow of enthusiasm 
aroused by the shouts of liberty and the huzzas for the French 
alliance were already waning. The French were beginning to 
count the cost of the transfer of their allegiance; criticism, 
denunciation, and open opposition were ready to break forth. 
Clark, worn out by worry, received his friend Todd with joy, 
and placed on him the responsibility of the civil department, 
which was already verging on chaos. 

Todd, reaching the Illinois in May, 1779, proceeded to 
organize the civil government and to select his officers of 
militia. For the most part he appointed Frenchmen, although 
a few English names — those of old residents of the villages — 
are to be found on the list. The courts established by Clark 
were reorganized, three districts being created: the Kaskaskia 
district, including Prairie du Rocher, Chartres village, and St. 
Philippe; the Cahokia district, extending from the village of 
Prairie du Pont to Peoria on the Illinois river; and the Vin- 
cennes district, including all the region of the Wabash. The 
court consisted of six justices from the principal village and 
representatives from the other communities. 

The election for the new government was held at Kas- 
kaskia on May 12, with suitable ceremonies. The people 
were summoned for a general assembly at the church door, 
where for years they had been accustomed to meet and trans- 

[From a painting in the possession of V. C. Turner, St. Louis] 


act their business. They came in their picturesque holiday 
apparel for the occasion which must have meant to them the 
fulfillment of many anticipations. George Rogers Clark, as 
presiding officer, had an address in French read to the audi- 
ence, after which Todd set forth the plans of the Virginia 
authorities for this far-off community. 

The assembly then proceeded to the election. The har- 
mony of parties is evident from the list of men chosen jus- 
tices. ^^ The factional strife which had marked Rocheblave's 
administration was hushed by the great promises of this new 
era. At the head of the court was placed Gabriel Cerre, the 
man who had been the chief supporter of Rocheblave and who 
had in the past few months won the confidence of Clark and 
his officers by the liberal assistance he had given to their tot- 
tering finances. For the most part, however, the judges were 
those men who had belonged to the American party. Similar 
courts were elected about the same time in Cahokia and Vin- 

The history of these courts was very dissimilar; but there 
were certain general developments which were common to all. 
The courts met at first rather irregularly, but the justices seem 
to have attempted to continue the weekly sessions to which they 
had become accustomed in Clark's courts. Later they substi- 
tuted regular monthly sessions, meeting on special occasions 
when required. The individual justices had jurisdiction in 
cases involving not more than twenty-five shillings, as was the 
law in the other counties of Virginia. The French law was 
retained as the law of the county, but it was modified some- 
what by the law of Virginia. In a letter to Clark on Decem- 
ber 12, 1778, Governor Henry mentions sending him the bill 
of rights of Virginia to guide the French people, and appeal 
was made to it at one time at least in the history of the court 
of Kaskaskia.^^ 

13 The ballot sheet used on this occasion has not been preserved, but those 
used at later elections have been. The sheet was divided into squares; the names 
of the candidates were placed at the top, and the name of each voter, as he 
named his choice, was written at the side, and a tally stroke made in the proper 

1* This was probably not the only Virginia act that was used in these 
courts, for mention is also made of the " Code of Laws and Bill of Rights" as a 
guide for difficult questions. 


There was some attempt at Kaskaskia to regulate the pro- 
cedure in accordance with English law. On one of the stray 
papers of the records from Kaskaskia there is a regular docket 
like that of any English court, and at the end of the Cahokia 
court record there is an attempt to imitate the same form. 
Trial by jury was also permitted and probably required in 
criminal cases; at least the first jury trial at Cahokia of which 
there is a record was of a criminal case. Another evidence of 
the influence of the English law was the practice of arresting 
men for debt, a custom which made a late appearance in the 
history of the Cahokia court. On the whole, however, the law 
of the courts continued to be that of the coutume de Paris, as 
it had been used in the Illinois throughout the eighteenth cen- 
tury. The litigants did not as a rule favor the English proce- 
dure and were generally satisfied to have a majority of the 
judges decide their cases in accordance with equity. 

Although there were very serious charges made against 
the Vincennes justices on account of the large costs they de- 
manded, the Cahokia court, with the exception of a few cases, 
imposed only moderate costs not differing from those that had 
been fixed by the ordinances of the French kings. Little is 
known of the Kaskaskia court, for its records have almost 
entirely disappeared. This court had a stormy history, and 
no doubt the records were neglected, and in later times they 
were destroyed by men interested in obliterating traces of 

The harmony and enthusiasm exhibited at the inaugura- 
tion of the government were more apparent than real, for 
antagonism was increasing steadily between the two civiliza- 
tions represented by the French and the Virginia backwoods- 
men. In the case of the latter, the life of the woods had 
produced a set of men physically strong, brave to the point of 
recklessness, trained in woodcraft, lovers of individual free- 
dom, hard drinkers, quarrelsome, frequently uncultured even to 
vulgarity — men with all the virtues as well as the vices of the 
Homeric heroes. They came from several races of Europe: 
English, Irish, Scotch-Irish, German, and Dutch. Among 
them some were from respectable families, and others were 
of the worst of the criminal class who had fled from arrest. 


Here all were received without questioning, for the west needed 
strong men ; they came to fight Indians, to quarrel among them- 
selves, to take up land. These men of the border succeeded 
where their more conventional French neighbors, still limited 
by m.any civil and ecclesiastical prohibitions on personal liberty, 
had failed. 

The French and the pioneers differed in almost every re- 
spect. The French were Catholics; the majority of the Ameri- 
cans were Protestants. The Calvinistic blood of the Independ- 
ents and Presbyterians still ran warm in their veins, although 
they may have long ceased to feel the restraining influence of 
religion; for them the Catholics were enemies, as they had 
been on many a battlefield of the Old World. The French lived 
on good terms with the Indians; the pioneer knew no good 
Indian save a dead one. The French had been educated to 
respect the law and to obey the magistrates. The frontiers- 
men preferred to execute their own law and in many disputes 
were themselves judge, jury, and executioner. 

No sooner was the court of Kaskaskia established than the 
evidence of the antagonism between the two peoples was ap- 
parent. In a memorial of May 24, 1779, the justices told 
of their grievances and demanded reforms. They asserted 
that the soldiers of Fort Clark killed the domestic animals of 
the French and seized supplies without payment. They com- 
plained of the sale of liquor to the Indians and of the traffic 
with slaves. Clark, who could expect no assistance from Vir- 
ginia, could do little to remedy matters; he was practically 
obliged to allow the men to take their food wherever they could 
find it Moreover, he was planning an expedition against 
Detroit which demanded the accumulation of supplies. 

The most difficult problem that confronted the new county 
lieutenant concerned the land. The fertile Illinois country 
quickly attracted the roving westerners, who took up unpat- 
ented lands above the bluffs after the custom of tomahawk 
claims with which they were familiar in Kentucky, although 
such procedure was contrary to a law of Virginia which forbade 
all settlements north of the Ohio river. ^^ Todd made an at- 
tempt to regulate rather than to forbid the new settlements, 

1^ Hening, Statutes at Large, lo: i6i. 


in spite of the law, for he and Clark realized that one of the 
best ways to garrison Illinois was through the settlement of 

More Important was another movement already in opera- 
tion. In a former chapter an account has been given of the 
formation of the Illinois Land Company and its child, the 
Wabash Land Company, founded by William Murray for the 
purpose of exploiting the Illinois region. That Murray had 
any connection with the expedition of George Rogers Clark 
cannot be proved, but at one time he instructed his brother, 
Daniel Murray in Kaskaskia, to support any American troops 
which might come. The stockholders in these companies had 
watched the expedition with excited interest. Clark's victory 
meant to them the dawn of a new day in speculation. News 
of his success reached Williamsburg about November i6, 
1778, but interested people in Philadelphia had heard the 
good tidings at a somewhat earlier date, for, on November 
3, the members of the two land companies met to consider 
the promotion of their affairs in the Illinois country and to 
decide on policies. They undoubtedly knew that Great Britain 
no longer ruled at Kaskaskia. 

At this early meeting a definite agreement to unite under 
the name of the United Illinois and Wabash Land Company 
was formulated; it was further determined to make a cession 
of land to congress, sufficient in extent to enable the new nation 
to pay the stipulated quantity of land to the soldiers. Recog- 
nition was given to the fact that the boundaries of the most 
northern purchase of land by the Illinois Land Company were 
very imperfect, and money was appropriated to rectify this. 
Finally the plans for colonization were outlined, and the im- 
mediate establishment of one township was determined upon.^*^ 

Memorials drawn up by the land companies were pre- 
sented by William Murray on December 26, 1778, to the 
legislature of Virginia. ^'^ Knowing well the sensitiveness of 

'^^ lUinois-lVahash Land Company Manuscript (ed. Alvord), 30 ff. The date 
of this meeting is obtained from An Account of the Proceedings of the Illinois 
and Ouabache Land Companies, published at Philadelphia, 1796. 

^^ The memorial of the Wabash Land Company is published in the Virginia 
State Papers, 1:314; that of the Illinois Land Company has never been pub- 
lished. See also Mason, " John Todd Papers," in Chicago Historical Society's 
Collection, 4: 318. 


Virginia to encroachments upon its frontier land, the pro- 
prietors of the two companies were careful to acknowledge 
the jurisdiction of Virginia over the region. The memorialists 
asked nothing of the legislature; they limited themselves to 
the announcement of their intentions. 

The issue raised by the memorials was an old one. Vir- 
ginia had fought great land companies before and was to do 
so for many years; the state had on June 24, 1776, declared 
that "no purchase of land within her chartered limits should 
be made of any Indian tribe without the approbation of the 
legislature."^^ The act of the Illinois and Wabash Land Com- 
pany led to a restatement on May 18, 1779, of the title of 
the state to the western lands ;^^ it was declared that the right 
of preemption of all land within the limits of Virginia belonged 
to the commonwealth alone. 

The history of the further efforts of the members of the 
Illinois and Wabash Land Company to gain recognition of 
their titles will be considered in another chapter.-^ They car- 
ried their claims to the continental congress and raised there an 
issue which disturbed greatly that ill-united body. Their ac- 
tivities in the Illinois country probably never ceased, although 
they officially declared their resolution to defer all action dur- 
ing the struggle for independence. 

County Lieutenant John Todd naturally did not escape 
the influence of these great land companies to which he was 
opposed. He complained that "some Land jobbers from the 
South side of Ohio have been making improvements (as they 
call them) upon the purchas'd Lands on this side of the River, 
and are beyond the reach of punishment from me — with the 
arrival of New adventurers this summer, the same spirit of 
Land jobbing begins to breathe here."-^ 

Like all westerners Clark was interested in land specula- 
tion; it was the financial mania of the day. There is an inter- 
esting and unexplained notation in the journal he kept at the 

1^ For a discuss'on of this phase of the dispute see Henry, Patrick Henry, 


^^Heniiig, Statutes at Large, 10:97. 
-° See below, chapter 18, page 380. 

21 Mason, " John Todd Papers," in Chicago Historical Society's Collection, 
4: 188. 


time he was in Williamsburg arranging the details of his Illi- 
nois expedition. Under the date December 3, 1777, he wrote: 
"taken in partnership by his Excellency P. Henry in taking a 
Body of Land."^- Nothing further is known of this partner- 
ship, but Clark did acquire land titles in the Illinois country. 
The fief containing twelve thousand acres, which had once 
belonged to the Seminary of Foreign Missions, was secretly 
ceded by Father Gibault to Stephen Trigg, one of Clark's 
officers, on April 21, 1779; and Trigg in turn assigned it to 
George Rogers Clark on May 6 of the same year. Of course 
Father Gibault had no right to make this grant of land, and it 
was in the course of time disallowed by the United States gov- 

The financial problems raised by the success of the Vir- 
ginians were difficult and numerous. While Clark had been 
absent at Vincennes, events portending future difficulties were 
taking place in the Illinois villages. The variation in value 
of continental money was studied carefully in the east in order 
that every advantage might be utilized. Naturally the report 
that Clark was passing this money at par on the banks of the 
Mississippi attracted attention, and crowds of traders ap- 
peared in the Illinois villages in the spring of 1779 and began 
bidding against each other for the goods offered for sale. The 
result was, as Clark wrote: "Provision is three times the 
price it was two months past, and to be got by no other 
means than my own bonds, goods, or force. "^* There was 
another reason for the rise in price. Illinois was now cut 
off from Canada, where many supplies were ordinarily bought. 

Another phase of the problem of the paper money was 
especially perplexing. Some of it had already been called in 
by the state of Virginia. Todd's solution of the difficulty did 
not please the military officers, one of whom wrote : " Immedi- 
ately after his arrival. His policy was to put a total stop to 
paper credit which he did by putting the paper money which 
he found in the hands of the different Individuals, under cover 

22 James, George Rogers Clark Papers, 27. 

23 For the original deed see Alvord, Kaskaskla Records, 77. Clark sold it 
to Dorsey Pentecoste. For later history, see Alvord, Cahokia Records, 581, 621. 

-* Clark to governor of Virginia, April 29, 1779, in English, Conquest of the 
Old Northivest, i : 401. 


and sealing it up (where a great part of it yet remains) and 
giving the holders thereof a certificate specifying that he had 
Inclosed under his Private Seal paper bills of Credit to a cer- 
tain amount and for which he promised them (as he said they 
had been imposed on) lands in proportion to the money 
they brought to him to secrete for them .... this 
proceeding put a total stop ever after to paper credit in that 

Todd's activities brought him Into collision with the mili- 
tary establishment at many points, and the officers soon began 
to make extravagant complaints against him. They asserted 
that the people were becoming mutinous through the encour- 
agem.ent of their civil commander and that the soldiers were 
being neglected. As Captain John Williams wrote, "provi- 
sions is very hard to be got without Peltry," and clothing was 
almost impossible to secure. The question of the support of 
the troops had become a vital issue between the civil govern- 
ment and the army. The French were unwilling to part with 
their goods without assurance of payment in something better 
than the depreciated continentals. Even the bills that had 
been drawn on the resourceful Oliver Pollock at New Orleans 
and on the treasury of Virginia by the officers were coming 
back protested. 

During the period when this Issue between the French and 
the Americans was crystallizing, Clark was making extensive 
preparations for an attack upon Detroit, an expedition which 
he had In mind every year during the period of his command 
in the west. The taking of Detroit would end the Indian 
attacks upon Kentucky, the principal object of Clark's original 
undertaking. There still lingered in some quarters a belief 
that Detroit could best be attacked from Pittsburg or at least by 
a united effort on the part of the commander there and Clark. 
This latter plan was being constantly talked about, and some 
people hoped for a hearty cooperation between the two com- 

Clark, having faith in his own powers, preferred to act 
alone. He hoped to succeed through the influence of the lili- 
es Alvord, Kaskaskia Records, 131. 
26 Kellogg, Frontier Retreat on the Upper Ohio, introduction. 


nols French, who were on good terms with the villagers on 
the lake. His victory at Vincennes and his capture of Hamil- 
ton had prepared the way; the Indians were now appealing to 
the "Long Knives" for peace. Clark's plan was supported 
by County Lieutenant Todd, acting in accordance with secret 
orders from Governor Henry, who had said: "Illinois must 
expect to pay in these a large price for her Freedom, unless 
the English can be expelled from Detroit." 

In the expectation of reenforcements from Virginia, Major 
Linctot, who had been a trader among the Indians, was sent by 
Clark to the Illinois river with a company of forty men to 
overawe the Indians of that region and to reconnoiter. Linc- 
tot brought back a very favorable report. 

Then came Clark's first disappointment. He did not get 
from Virginia the support he had looked for; Colonel John 
Montgomery, long expected, arrived with one hundred and 
fifty men instead of the five hundred promised.-" Then, when 
all the preparations possible had been made and Clark was on 
the point of leaving for Vincennes, he learned that Colonel 
John, who had agreed to lead three hundred Ken- 
tuckians to him, had instead made an independent attack upon 
the Shawnee town of Chillicothe. This meant disaster, for 
the attack had failed and only thirty Kentuckians came to join 
Clark. To capture Detroit with a force of about three hun- 
dred and fifty men, ill supplied with clothes and food, was out 
of the question; at least a thousand men were needed. Clark 
wrote: "never was a person more mortified than I was at this 
time, to see so fair an opportunity to push a victory; Detroit 
lost for want of a few men."-^ 

The rumor of the expedition, however, aroused great fear 
in the minds of the British and turned their attention during 
the summer toward defensive rather than offensive prepara- 
tions. They had learned that they could not trust the French, 
who in Detroit openly toasted the success of the American 
cause. A new fort was immediately built, and the vessels of 
the lake were put in repair.-^ General Haldimand became 

27 James, George Rogers Clark Papers, 84, 300; ihld., cvii. 
-" Ibid., 377. 
^^Ibid., loi. 


anxious and wrote that the British position was such that " It 
will require great judgment and temper to preserve the Indians 
in our interest after so glaring and recent a proof of our want 
of strength, or want of conduct." And he also added, "when- 
ever they do quit us, the valuable Fur Trade will immediately 
be lost to Great Britain. "^^ 

After all hopes of the conquest of Detroit In 1779 were 
abandoned, Clark distributed his troops in the various villages: 
Colonel Montgomery was placed In command of the Illinois 
country; Captain Williams was stationed at Fort Clark in 
Kaskaskia; Captain Richard McCarty at Fort Bowman in 
Cahokia; and Captain Shelby at Fort Patrick Henry in Vin- 
cennes. Clark himself retired to the south and proceeded to 
erect Fort Jefferson at the " Iron Banks " on the Mississippi.^^ 

The expedition against Detroit was not abandoned, only 
postponed till another year with greater hope of success. Gen- 
eral Washington was particularly Interested in the enterprise 
and gave his support to a joint action from Pittsburg and 
Vincennes. The mutual jealousy of Clark and the continental 
officer at Pittsburg, however, proved an Insurmountable ob- 
stacle. " It may be necessary, perhaps, to Inform you," wrote 
Governor Jefferson of Virginia to Washington, "that these 
two officers cannot act together, which excludes the hopes of 
ensuring success by a joint expedition."^- Washington finally 
gave his consent to the plan of Clark, whom Virginia made a 
brigadier general. In order to avoid conflict over precedence 
with the continental colonel at Pittsburg, who, greatly cha- 
grined, did all In his power to hinder his rival's operatlons.^^ 

Meanwhile active preparations for the campaign were 
carried on during the winter. Hunters were sent out in every 
direction to obtain meat, and the officers were Instructed to 
purchase provisions from the Illinois Inhabitants. This 
brought on the crisis which Todd had expected and proved to 
him the Impossibility of maintaining a civil government. It 
was found necessary to assess the people of the villages In 
order to obtain the necessary provisions. The first assess- 
so Beckwith, volume I of Illinois Historical Collections, 446. 

81 Clark's general orders, Virginia State Papers, i : 324; see also 3:441. 

32 Kellogg, Frontier Retreat on the Upper Ohio, 100, 134. 

^^ Ibid., 32. 


ment, however, did not result in sufficient quantities for the 
large army which Clark was expecting. Montgomery reported 
that the people complained that they and their Negroes were 
naked and could not supply him with any more goods unless he 
had something more substantial than paper money to pay with. 
In despair Montgomery urged Todd to make a further at- 
tempt and reported the efforts of the latter in the following 
words : " [He said] that he Would Call a counsel of the inhab- 
itants and Compel them to furnish But when the[y] Met 
the[y] punkley [sic] denied him, he then told Them if the[y] 
did not Comply he would Give them up to the Miletery and 
Quit Them. the[y] answered him the[y] were well aGread 
to that & So parted. "3^ 

As early as August 13, 1779, Todd had asked to be per- 
mitted to resign, and in November, after appointing Richard 
Winston as his deputy, he left the Illinois never to return. 
With the departure of Todd the last protection against mili- 
tary oppression was taken away from the people, and through- 
out the winter they suffered from the confiscation of their 
goods, which was carried out pitilessly by the soldiers. Mont- 
gomery accompanied his demands with threats of force; at 
one time he advised the people to put their guns in good order, 
for if they refused to furnish the supplies he would regard 
them as traitors to the cause of America and would treat them 

When the change of government had failed to satisfy the 
French and the presence of soldiers had led to disorder and 
tyranny, there began a steady stream of emigration to the 
Spanish bank, which ended in almost depopulating some of 
the villages of the American Bottom. Among the emigrants 
was Father Gibault, who in 1778 became parish priest at Ste. 
Genevieve and thus escaped from the turbulence of the Ameri- 
icans and the danger of capture by the British. He was soon 
followed by the most substantial and progressive of the French 
inhabitants. One of the first to leave was Kaskaskia's richest 
and foremost citizen, Gabriel Cerre, who emigrated to St. 
Louis either in the fall of 1779 or the following winter. 

3< Montgomery to Clark, October 5, 1779, in Alvord, Kaskask'ta Records, 129. 
Colonel Montgomery's orthography was more picturesque than conventional. 


Charles Gratiot of Cahokia soon followed his example, and 
many others went with them " to seek, an asylum where they 
find the protection which is due a free people." Without these 
leaders the French were less able than before to hold their 
own. Appeals and petitions they continued to send to Vir- 
ginia, nevertheless, and finally an agent was appointed to rep- 
resent the French interests at the state capital. Nothing was 
accomplished, however, for Virginia had no money to use for 
investigation or for paying claims. 

The French justices did little to relieve their countrymen. 
There is considerable evidence that their primary interest 
was in making money out of their positions. They certainly 
found the offices sufficiently lucrative to be tenaciously retained 
as long as possible. The court at Cahokia held elections an- 
nually, but at Kaskaskia elections occurred at crises only. The 
original justices at Vincennes clung to their offices until 1787.^^ 

The courts also issued many grants of land which were 
illegal. Virginia had forbidden the practice, but some provi- 
sion had to be made for the straggling settlers coming in. The 
justices unfortunately were open to undue influences, and sev- 
eral of the Virginia officers received large cessions. 

Richard Winston, the deputy county lieutenant, was un- 
able to weather the storms surging around him. He came 
originally from Virginia in 1766 as an agent for the Baynton, 
Wharton, and Morgan Company and had remained in Illinois 
ever since. By all his associates he was suspected of dishon- 
esty, even by those who shared in his peculiar methods of con- 
ducting business. It must be said, however, that he ruined 
himself by his devotion to the Virginia cause in the Illinois. 

From the fall of 1779 to January, 1783, Winston, on ac- 
count of his position, had the opportunity to promote a happier 
feeling between the French and the Americans, but he seems 
to have done all in his power to intensify the mutual distrust. 
While he managed to hold together some of the party which 
had formerly looked upon Murray, Bentley, and himself as 
leaders against Rocheblave, the real leaders of the French 
inhabitants, including even some of those who had ardently 
desired American supremacy, were decidedly hostile to him. 

35 Dunn, Indiana, passim. 


Instead of bringing the fulfillment of the hope of the con- 
quest of Detroit — a hope that at times had illuminated the 
general gloom in the west during the winter — the spring 
opened most ominously. Along the seaboard the British troops 
were successfully invading the southern states and gradually 
cutting them off one by one; Virginia itself was threatened. 
In the region beyond the mountains the situation was no more 
hopeful. Pittsburg and its environs were honeycombed by 
British intrigue; no one knew who was trustworthy. Where 
force had failed, treachery seemed about to succeed. In the 
far west, Clark received neither the recruits nor the supplies 
promised; instead of mustering his forces for an attack on De- 
troit, the situation compelled him to recall the troops from 
north of the Ohio and to concentrate them at Fort Jefferson 
in the hope of saving something out of the threatened wreck. 
Vincennes was to be entirely deserted by the Virginians, com- 
missions being sent to French officers to raise a company and 
take possession of Fort Patrick Henry; only a few soldiers 
were to be left in the other villages. ^*^ Before the prepara- 
tions for the evacuation of the country could be carried out, 
however, news came that a large British and Indian expedi- 
tion was approaching the Illinois country. 

This expedition formed part of a general attack which the 
British planned to make on all the Spanish posts of the Mis- 
sissippi river. The entrance of Spain into the war the pre- 
ceding year offered Great Britain an opportunity to gain two 
objects, the importance of which had been overlooked in the 
treaty of peace in 1763. These were New Orleans and the 
fur trade of the Missouri river, which was becoming yearly 
more important to the Canadians. ^^ To gain these objects, 
as well as to cut off Spanish aid to the Americans, the British 
troops from the north and south were ordered to move simul- 
taneously in the spring of 1780 and to capture all the villages 
from New Orleans to St. Louis. The energy of Governor 

3C Todd to Jefferson, June 2, 1780, in James, George Rogers Clark Papers, 
422; Clark to Fleming, April 4, 1780, ibid., 407; many other letters in the same 
and in Alvord, Kaskaskia Records. On the general situation consult Kellogg, 
Frontier Retreat on the U/>/>er Ohio, 27 ff. 

37 Sinclair to Haldimand, February 17, 1780, in Michigan Pioneer and His- 
torical Collections, 9: 546, 549; Sinclair to Haldimand, May 29, ibid. 


Bernardo de Galvez of New Orleans In successfully attacking 
the British posts on the gulf during the fall of 1779 and the 
spring of the next year frustrated the southern plan; but the 
northern expedition against St. Louis and the villages held 
by Clark Avas made as scheduled. 

The British had hoped to keep their movements secret, 
but by the beginning of February the Cahokians had learned 
of the anticipated danger. On April 1 1 they sent Charles 
Gratiot to Clark at Fort Jefferson to ask his assistance. The 
Spanish commandant and Montgomery also wrote him news 
of the approaching enemy. Montgomery hastened to Ca- 
hokia, where he was immediately joined by Clark just in time 
to repel the attack. The Spaniards were equally successful 
at St. Louis. Clark would have given them assistance, had 
not the strong winds prevented the signals from being 
heard, ^^ 

Throughout the summer of 1780 the Illinois people were 
continually harassed by Indian attacks and rumors of attacks 
and were constantly preparing for defense. Fort Jefferson 
underwent a severe siege; the people of Kaskaskia repulsed 
a large band of Indians on July 17, and the inhabitants of 
Cahokia made common cause with the Spaniards in defend- 
ing themselves against an expected attack the following month. 
Thus a second time when Clark's position was desperate the 
aid of the French inhabitants saved the Illinois. 

An offensive operation was also undertaken by Colonel 
Montgomery who, with a company of three hundred French, 
Spaniards, and Americans, marched northward and made re- 
prisals against the Indians around Rock river and Prairie du 
Chien.'^'^ Meanwhile Clark led against the Shawnee an expe- 
dition which might have been successful had not a series of 
events, beginning at Vincennes, led to further estrangement 
between the French and Americans and induced the French at 
Vincennes to give the Indians information of the movements 
of the Americans. 

3^ James, " Significance of the Attack on St. Louis, 1780," in Mississippi Valley 
Historical Association, Proceedings, 1908, p. 212; Virginia State Papers, 3:443. 

3'J Thvvaites, Early JVestern Travels, 2:185; fVisconsin Historical Col- 
lections, 18:411; Meese, "Rock River in the Revolution," in Illinois State 
Historical Society, Transactions, 1909, p. 97 ff. 


The success of the Spanish, the French, and the Virginians 
in repelling the attacks of the British had not In any way 
cemented the friendship between the last two. The events of 
the summer of 1780, which still further estranged the two peo- 
ples, are connected with the appearance in the Illinois country 
of a French officer by the name of Augustin Mottin de la 
Balme. The cause of his coming is still something of a mys- 
tery. Possibly La Balme was sent to the west by the French 
minister. La Luzerne, to arouse the French of the western 
villages to undertake an attack upon Detroit in accordance 
with a project conceived by Washington and approved by the 
French authorities in America.'*" 

La Balme came originally to America highly recommended 
by Benjamin Franklin and Silas Deane. He offered his serv- 
ices to the colonies, but feeling himself slighted by being com- 
missioned only inspector general of cavalry, soon resigned 
from the army. In June, 1780, he was at Fort Pitt, where he 
joined an Indian agent, the Sieur de Linctot, in his efforts to 
win the Indians to the cause of the allies. When he reached 
VIncennes in July, and afterwards in Kaskaskia and Cahokia, 
he realized that his mission was much more difficult than he had 
expected, because the Virginians had offended the French. He 
immediately drew a distinction, therefore, between these fron- 
tiersmen and the united colonies which were in alliance with 
France and Spain. 

With considerable effort he persuaded some eighty French- 
men and Indians to enlist in his enterprise; and with this 
handful of men, under the standard of France, he started 
against Detroit. He successfully attacked the post at the 
Miami, but was finally defeated by the Indians, he and many 
of his associates being killed. Meanwhile a detachment he 
had sent from Cahokia under Jean Baptlste Hamelln had cap- 

•*o For evidence of this, see Alvord, Cahokia Records, introduction LXXXix, 
note 3; Kellogg, Frontier Retreat on the Upper Ohio, 200. There is another pos- 
sible explanation. As has been seen the Illinois and Wabash Land Company was 
making every effort to promote its enterprise; and the first French minister to the 
united colonies, Gerard, had become a member of the company. It is quite 
possible that some of his friends may have sent this French officer to investigate 
the situation in the far west. Some of the latter's speeches to the French people 
give support to such a hypothesis. This would not explain satisfactorily the 
raising of forces for the expedition against Detroit. 


tured St. Joseph, but while returning was overtaken and de- 
feated near Chicago by some traders and Indians. 

These expeditions instigated by La Balme led to interest- 
ing consequences. The villagers of Cahokia, desiring retalia- 
tion for their losses at St. Joseph, laid their case before the 
Spanish commandant at St. Louis, an ambitious man who was 
desirous of imitating the success of Governor Galvez of 
Louisiana. Spain had throughout the year been cooperating 
with the Americans and the French, and there was no reason 
why Spain as a nation should not attack a British post outside 
the field of influence exercised by Clark. Accordingly, thirty 
French militia from St. Louis combined with a Cahokian de- 
tachment to make an attack upon St. Joseph; two hundred 
Indians were added to the band during the advance up the 
Illinois river. They marched in midwinter across Illinois and 
in the first days of 1781 captured the village. For twenty- 
four hours the Spanish held this unimportant post; then fear- 
ing a counter attack by the British, the force withdrew. 

The commandant of St. Louis sent to the Spanish govern- 
ment a more or less grandiloquent account of his expedition, 
magnifying somewhat the importance of the post which he 
had taken. This account, published in the Madrid Gazette, 
caused some feeling of anxiety in the minds of the American 
commissioners who were in Paris for the purpose of negotiating 
peace; but so far as is known the affair at St. Joseph was un- 
noticed in the later negotiations."*^ 

After the appearance of La Balme the animosity of the 
French inhabitants of the Illinois toward the Virginians in- 
creased, and they grew more outspoken in their opposition. 
The citizens of all the villages united in sending the governor 
of Virginia a mem.orial in which they wrote that they had 
decided not to receive any more troops in their villages except 
those that should be sent by the king of France. They prom- 
ised, however, to guard the frontiers of Virginia from attack 
by the Indians. In each of the villages memorials were also 
drawn up to be sent to the French minister. La Luzerne, set- 

41 For an account of this expedition see Alvord, " Conquest of St. Joseph, 
Michigan, by the Spaniards in 1781," in Missouri Historical Revievj, 2:195 ff. 
For a criticism of the same by Mr. Teggart see ibid., 5:214 ff. Consult also 
Wisconsin Historical Collections, 18:430 ff. 


ting forth In great detail the grievances which the inhabitants 
had suffered. 

During the fall of this year the Virginians completed their 
evacuation of the Illinois, which had been interrupted by the 
British attack. The troops had already been recalled from 
Vincennes. The other two villages were now abandoned, ex- 
cept for a small body left at Kaskaskia as an advance guard 
under Captain John Rogers. 

Rogers fell prey to two evil advisers in his management 
of the French. One of these was the Intriguer, Thomas 
Bentley, who, on Rocheblave's accusation, had been Impris- 
oned in Quebec until he made his escape in 1780, and who, 
through desire for revenge, had returned to Kaskaskia. Dur- 
ing his Imprisonment he had lost none of his love for devious 
ways; while posing In the Illinois country as a friend of the 
Americans, he wrote the governor of Canada that a small 
company of British troops could capture not only what was 
held by Clark but also the Spanish villages. "*- 

The second man to aid Captain Rogers w^as John Dodge. 
He was born in Connecticut, had become a trader at Sandusky 
before the outbreak of the Revolution, and, because he showed 
his attachment to the cause of the colonies, he had been ar- 
rested by the British and carried to Detroit and later to Que- 
bec, whence he escaped In 1779. Washington recommended 
him to Governor Jefferson of Virginia as a man who would 
be useful In the west, and the latter sent him out to the Illi- 
nois as Indian agent. 

To make the most out of the situation Bentley and Dodge 
formed a partnership and bought up the claims of the inhab- 
itants against Virginia for trifling sums. It was suspected that 
they used public funds for these purchases, and their financial 
operations In securing supplies for the troops likewise aroused 
suspicion. Nevertheless, they were supported by Captain 
Rogers, who was young and inexperienced and seems to have 
been blinded by their craftiness. The means they used to pro- 
cure provisions for the troops reduced to abject poverty many 
of the French of the region. 

^-Bentle}' to De Peyster, July 28, 1780, in Alvord, Kaskaskia Records, 168, 
171 ; Bentley to Haldimand, August 12, 1780, ibid. 


The French villagers were advised by their acting county 
lieutenant, Richard Winston, and by the former captain of 
the French militia, Richard McCarty, to refuse all supplies 
and to drive the two men out of the country. Matters came 
to an issue in the spring of 178 1, when Bentley, who was 
under public prosecution by the court, announced his intention 
of carrying his case to Virginia. He and Dodge were very 
anxious to leave the county, moreover, for the purpose of 
collecting the money on certificates that they had gathered. 

The Illinois people determined to present their side also 
by memorials to the governor of Virginia; but documents they 
dispatched never reached their destination. At least one of 
the messengers was killed and the papers were taken by the 
British. The information gained from these memorials raised 
the British hopes of securing possession of the Illinois villages 
without bloodshed, and a delegation was sent to St. Louis for 
the purpose of negotiating. It accomplished little, although 
there is plenty of evidence to show that the Illinois people at 
this time would have been glad to change their allegiance.^^ 

The winter of 1781-1782 seems to have been a rather 
quiet one. Captain Rogers with thirty troops spent some 
time at Kaskaskia during 178 1 but withdrew before the end 
of the year. About this time Clark informed the governor that 
only a few spies were kept at any of the villages. It is possible 
that John Dodge returned with Rogers and continued his 
career of violence. His partner, Bentley, had for the most part 
failed to cash his certificates in Virginia and there had died. 

The year 1782 was to be the last one of the war. Roche- 
blave, the former acting commander of the Illinois, had re- 
turned to Canada and had laid before the government a plan 
for the reconquest of the Illinois country, but his suggestions 
were without influence. Several parties of Indians were sent 
into the northwest, however, and one of these defeated the 
frontiersmen at Blue Licks, General Clark retaliated for these 

*3 For instance, one of the most important men of Cahokia, Antoine Girardin. 
wrote to the British authorities that he felt certain that if a force of British 
soldiers without any Indians should be sent to the Illinois country the people 
would receive them with rejoicincf, and he offered his assistance in this under- 
taking. Girardin to Sinclair, November 3, 1781, in Alvord, Cahokia Records. 
559 ff- 


Indian inroads by leading a large body of volunteers against 
the Miami villages and inflicting severe punishment upon them. 
It was his last achievement in the war. On November 30, a 
few days after the Miami campaign, a provisional treaty of 
peace was signed by Great Britain and the United States. On 
January 18, 1783, the Illinois regiment was disbanded; and 
the following July Clark was relieved of his command." 

The Virginia troops under Clark had succeeded in main- 
taining their hold on the Illinois villages for four trying years 
but their efforts affected the terms of the final treaty, if at all, 
only indirectly by influencing the action of the continental 
congress. There was a difference of opinion among the dele- 
gates of that body concerning the western boundaries that 
should be demanded at the close of the war. Strong opposi- 
tion to claiming the ultramontane region was apparent, par- 
ticularly in the northern colonies, which were more interested 
in securing fishing rights off Newfoundland. Furthermore, 
these northerners feared that the possession of the west would 
only increase the influence of the southern states in the coun- 
cils of the nation. Generally the south favored the most ex- 
tensive boundaries. The delegates from this region had 
watched with great satisfaction the settlement of Kentucky 
and the occupation of the Illinois country by Clark, for such 
events furnished for their position strong arguments, which 
they used so successfully that in various resolutions concerning 
the extent of territory to be demanded they secured the 
requisite votes in congress in favor of the Mississippi river 
and the Great Lakes as the western boundary.^^ 

The conflict in congress corresponded with a difference 
of opinion among the allies at war with Great Britain. The 
object of France in assisting the revolting colonies had been 
the humiliation of the country which had struck a severe blow 

** English, Conquest of the Old Northivest, 2: 783 ; James, " Significant Events 
During the Last Year of the Revolution in the West," in Mississippi Valley His- 
torical Association, Proceedings, 1912-1913, p. 239 ff. 

*^ The above account of the treaty of peace is based on the following: 
Fitzmaurice, Life of Lord Shelburne, 2: iii ff . ; Phillips, The IVest in the Diplo- 
macy of the American Revolution; Phillips, "American Opinions Regarding 
the West," in Mississippi Valley Historical Association, Proceedings, 1913-1914, 
7:286 ff . ; Alvord, "Virginia and the West; an Interpretation," in Mississippi 
Valley Historical Rezieiv, 3:35 ff. 


at French prestige In the last war. French statesmen had no 
desire to recover for their country the American territory 
that had been lost. The independence of the revolting col- 
onies with such boundaries as might be won would be a 
supreme satisfaction. 

Not until Spain joined France in the war in 1779 did the 
issue over the boundaries arise. Spain possessed the right 
bank of the Mississippi and naturally desired to secure as 
complete a control of the navigation of that avenue of trade 
as possible. Consequently it looked with unfriendly eyes upon 
the frontiersmen who were settling in the west, so near to 
its poorly fortified and garrisoned posts. Moreover, by con- 
quest Spain had secured footholds across the river, at Natchez 
and elsewhere in West Florida, upon which might be based a 
claim to the eastern bank. 

Between the conflicting wishes of his allies, the Com.te de 
Vergennes, principal minister of France, found himself in an 
embarrassing situation. His efforts to influence both to abate 
their demands met with little success; but he finally persuaded 
the Spanish government to be satisfied with a strip of country 
on the eastern bank a hundred miles wide, extending from 
about the Ohio to the mouth of the Mississippi. Spain, fear- 
ing the Americans as neighbors, suggested that Great Britain be 
granted the Old Northwest and that an Indian reservation 
be established to the south of the Ohio. Probably Vergennes 
regarded this as a possible solution of the perplexing problem. 

The statesmen of Great Britain made no effort to secure 
the territory that their foes seemed so anxious to grant them. 
Instead, the negotiations concerning the boundaries of the 
new nation proceeded along most unexpected lines. In the 
spring of 1782 the British ministry under Lord North, which 
had conducted the American Revolution in the face of great 
criticism, was overthrown; and its opponents were raised to 
power, with the result that Lord Shelburne was the minister 
to exert the greatest influence on the peace negotiations. 
Through his former experiences with the colonies Shelburne 
had come to understand the Inevitable and Inexorable thrust of 
the American population westward and was unwilling to try 
to prevent what he looked upon as almost a force of nature. 


Furthermore, the American commissioner then in Paris 
was Shelburne's intimate and admired friend, Benjamin 
Franklin. The two friends opened their negotiations con- 
cerning the treaty of peace in a most informal and amiable 
manner, renewing, as it were, their conversations of former 
years concerning the best means of promoting the welfare of 
mankind. Under such circumstances they easily reached an 
understanding about the western boundaries of the new state, 
even before Franklin was joined by his colleagues, John Adams 
and John Jay. 

Lord Shelburne raised almost no objection to the demand 
the American commissioners were Instructed to make for the 
Mississippi and the Great Lakes as boundaries. He was im- 
pressed by Franklin's arguments that generosity on the part of 
Great Britain would regain the love of the Americans and 
that there v/ould always be danger of friction along a western 
boundary where were congregated "the most disorderly of 
the people, who being far removed from the eyes and control 
of their respective governments, are most bold in committing 
offenses against neighbors, and are forever occasioning com- 
plaints, and furnishing matter for fresh differences between 
their states. "^'^ To Shelburne's liberal mind the argument 
appealed greatly, and the success of the American diplomats 
in the treaty signed on September 3, 1783, must be attributed 
in large measure to the Idealism of the prime minister of Great 
Britain. He yielded to the United States the Old Northwest, 
although the greater portion of it was occupied by British 
troops and Indians. 

Lord Shelburne felt a justifiable pride In this act; in the 
year 1797, after Great Britain had finally withdrawn its troops 
from the posts of the Great Lakes, he wrote to an American 
friend : " I cannot express to you the satisfaction I have felt in 
seeing the forts [of the Northwest] given up, I may tell you 
in confidence what may astonish you, as It did me, that up to 
the very last debate In the House of Lords, the Ministry did 
not appear to comprehend the policy upon which the boundary 

*8 Fitzmaurice, Life of Lord Shelburne, 2: 122. This quotation is taken from 
Franklin's argument for the cession of Canada, but the thought expressed runs 
through the whole negotiation. 


line was drawn, and persist in still considering it as a measure 
of necessity not of choice. However it is indifferent who 
understands it. The deed is done: and a strong foundation 
laid for eternal amity between England and America. ""^^ 

*^ Fitzmaurice, Life of Lord Shelhurne, 2:202, note; Alvord, " Virginia and 
the West; an Interpretation," in Mississippi Valley Historical Revieiv, 3:38. 


THE period from the close of the Revolutionary War to 
the year 1790, when the United States sent its first civil 
representative to the Illinois country, was a time of chaos in 
the villages of the American Bottom. The only government 
which existed was without legal authority and without power 
to enforce its laws. Although for lack of other names it is 
necessary to call this government the county of Illinois, legally 
the county had come to an end. It had been established by 
an act of the Virginia assembly in December, 1778, to last 
for one year and thereafter until the end of the next session 
of the assembly and had been continued by renewal of the act 
in May, 1780, for a similar period. Virginia was at this time 
negotiating with the United States concerning the cession of its 
territory in the far west and consequently the next assembly 
took no action. When the assembly of Virginia convened on 
January 5, 1782, therefore, the county of Illinois as a legal 
organization came to an end.^ 

During these years of neglect the government in the villages 
of the Illinois country resembled that of the ancient Greek city- 
state more closely than any that has elsewhere existed in the 
western hemisphere. Practically cut off from the rest of the 
world and from the only power which might legally exercise 
authority over it, each village was forced to become a self- 
governing community. Results varied widely: in Kaskaskia the 
history is one of struggle and strife; in Cahokia the French 
inhabitants furnished an excellent example of orderly govern- 

The tradition about the wealth of the Illinois country that 
had attracted the Philadelphia firms in the sixties, still lingered, 
and the stories told by the soldiers returning from Clark's 

1 Boggess, The Settlement of Illinois, 31. This chapter is based on the intro- 
duction to Alvord, Cahokia Records, wherein is printed the complete record of the 
Cahokia court and other documents. The documents concerning the turbulent 
events in Kaskaskia are printed in Alvord, Kaskaskia Records. 



expedition added to the interest in the region. Hoping to find 
fortunes on the banks of the Mississippi, about one hundred 
and fifty pioneers, in spite of Virginia's prohibition of settle- 
ments, found their way to the French villages during the tr®u- 
blous years of the Rev^olution and those immediately following. 
Some of these settled within the villages, others on farms in 
the outlying districts, where they received land grants from the 
village officials. In 1779 Bellefontaine, the first permanent vil- 
lage of purely English-speaking men north of the Ohio river, 
was settled. It received an increase to its population in 1781, 
after the abandonment of Fort Jefferson at the " Iron Banks." 
Prominent among these pioneers were James Moore, Henry 
and Nicholas Smith, Shadrach Bond, William Oglesby, and 
Robert Watts.- 

In 1782 Lardner Clark and William Wycoff from New 
Jersey came into the west in search of wealth. They imme- 
diately established a store in Kaskaskia and opened up business 
relations throughout the Ohio and Mississippi valleys. For 
miany years much of their merchandise was bought in Phila- 
delphia, the entrepot of the Illinois country; but they also pur- 
chased goods directly from Detroit or from northern mer- 
chants who came to the Illinois seeking furs. Clark and Wycoff 
soon perceived that the settlements in Kentucky offered the best 
opportunity for a lucrative trade; already there was a well- 
established trade route, for the Illinois villages and Vincennes 
had become the intermediaries between Kentucky and the 
British markets of the north. To promote the interests of 
the firm Clark went to Nashville and set up a store, the first 
in the village. Thenceforth the relation between Nashville 
and the Illinois country was very close, and traders were con- 
stantly passing from one to the other.^ 

The village of Bellefontaine soon became large enough, in 
the opinion of its settlers, to require a separate government, 
and by petitioning the court at Kaskaskia the Americans secured 

- Bond, uncle of the first governor of the state, came in 1779, Moore in 1781, 
Oglesby in 1782. In Alvord, Kaskaskia Records, 421, is printed a list of the 
English-speaking settlers under the date of their settlement. For a longer list 
see ibid., 443. 

3 Provine, " Lardner Clark, Nashville's First Merchant and Foremost Citi- 
zen," in Tennessee Historical Magazine, 3:28 ff. 


the right to elect a justice of the peace. They were, however, 
never satisfied with this subordination to the French, whom 
they held in contempt and regarded as aliens settled on Ameri- 
can soil. This attitude of the Americans found a champion in 
the redoubtable John Dodge. From the time of his second 
appearance in the country in 1781, Dodge was working to over- 
throw the French court of justice. He gathered around him 
the discontented of the Americans and was able to attach to his 
faction several of the principal Frenchmen. 

Opposed to Dodge was the French court, supported by the 
majority of the French people, who clung tenaciously to 
the legal foundation established by John Todd and General 
Clark. The laws of Virginia and the bill of rights were for 
them the palladia of their liberties, and these they quoted 
against the aggressive Dodge and his henchmen. The judges 
themselves, however, did not uphold good order. 

A third party in this struggle was led by Richard Winston, 
appointed acting county lieutenant by John Todd. This party, 
however, was never strong; Winston, trying to balance one 
warring faction against another, aroused the distrust of both, 
with the result that in the emergency which soon overtook him 
he was persecuted by one and deserted by the other. 

Between Winston and Dodge was a deep-seated hostility, 
dating from 1780. In the contest for power Winston proved 
himself no match for the unscrupulous Dodge, who finally had 
the county lieutenant thrown into prison on the charge that he 
"has been guilty of treasonable expressions Against the State 
and officer who have the hon'' of wearing Commission in the 
Service of their Country damn*^ them all and said they were 
all a set of thieves and Robers and only come to the Country 
for that purpose."^ In this action the form of law was main- 
tained by Dodge, and witnesses were illegally summoned to 
prove his charge. The French court gave Winston in this 
emergency no assistance, and he remained in jail sixteen days. 
Only after his release did he persuade the court to hear the case. 

Although the court acquitted him, he was greatly angered; 
and in November, 1782, when he felt that his authority was 

■*Arrest of Richard Winston, April 29, 1782, in Alvord, Kaskaskia Records, 


sufficiently reestablished, he abolished the court. From that 
day until June, 1787, Kaskaskia was obliged to get along as 
best it could without a semblance of authorized justice. 

Meanwhile Winston had determined to go to Virginia in 
order to collect the money due on the loans he had impover- 
ished himself to make. A few Kaskaskians were persuaded to 
appoint him agent; and with the former clerk of the court, 
Francois Carbonneaux, he started on his journey. At an op- 
portune mom.ent news came that commissioners from Virginia, 
appointed for the purpose of investigating the financial situa- 
tion in this far western land, had arrived at the Ohio; but 
though Winston hastened to lay before them his complaints, 
he was eventually obliged to accompany them to Virginia; 
here he died shortly afterwards in great poverty. 

Before his departure Richard Winston, on January 8, 1783, 
appointed as his successor Jacques Timothe Boucher, sieur de 
Monbreun. The Sieur de Monbreun had been born in Bou- 
cherville, Canada, about thirty-six years before. While still 
a young man he had come west and had established himself 
at Vincennes, where he won the confidence of Lieutenant Gov- 
ernor Abbott during the latter's short stay in the village. He 
had readily united with the people of Vincennes in acknowledg- 
ing the sovereignty of Virginia, had been appointed lieutenant 
in the militia of the village, and was one of the officers captured 
by Hamilton when the British retook the place. He later 
served as lieutenant in the Illinois battalion until the fall of 
1782, when the necessities of his family compelled him to ask 
for his discharge and pay. His letters to Clark reveal him as 
a man proud of his lineage and sensitive in matters of honor. 
His reputation extends beyond the confines of Illinois, for he 
became one of the early pioneers in Nashville, Tennessee. 

Lack of legal authority made the deputy county lieutenant's 
position exceedingly difficult. The discontinuance of the court 
necessitated his acting as sole judge and deprived him of the 
moral support of the best citizens. He was obliged to main- 
tain peaceful relations with the Indians without any financial 
resources. He even was forced at one time to uphold the honor 
of the United States against the Spanish commandant at St. 
Louis, who had ordered the seizure upon American soil of two 


deserters from the Spanish army. Under the circumstances 
it is not surprising that he failed. 

Affairs were further comphcated by the presence of British 
merchants who had rushed into the Ilhnois region to capture 
the Indian trade. Some traders from Mackinac who had a 
store in Cahokia were particularly conspicuous in the compe- 
tition in the winter of 1 783-1 784. Some of them were unques- 
tionably British agents, sent to spy out the situation.^ 

Monbreun failed, as Todd and Winston had failed be- 
fore him, to preserve peace between the factions in the village 
of Kaskaskia. In a memorial to Virginia he has recorded the 
policy which he adopted " in quieting animosities between the 
French Natives and American Settlers." He wrote: "Without 
troops to oppose the hostile designs of the savages, without any 
coercive means to keep under subjection a country where a 
number of restless spirits were exciting commotions and trou- 
bles, the greater circumspection and management became neces- 
sary, and the Commandant was induced to temporize with all 
parties in order to preserve tranquility, peace and harmony in 
the Country."*^ 

Monbreun's "temporizing" ended in the control of the 
village by the settlers of English speech under the leadership 
of John Dodge, who took full advantage of the anomalous 
condition. Dodge seized the old French fort on the bluff — 
now incorrectly called Fort Gage — fortified it with building 
material and two cannons from the Jesuit building known as 
Fort Clark, and defied what was left of the civil government 
of Kaskaskia. He was more successful than Winston in build- 
ing up a party among the French, some of the most important 
citizens of the village joining his standard. Like a tyrant of 
a Greek city this Connecticut Yankee lorded it over the whole 
community: he bullied the people, he struck them with his 
sword, he insulted them and fought with them, and they pusil- 
lanimously submitted. The French claimed later that they were 
unable to communicate their needs to congress, because Dodge 
took precautions to have their messenger killed en route. 

5 Narrative of Perrault in Michigan Pioneer and Historical Collections, 

37:516. , • , 

8 Memorial of Monbreun, November 11, 1794, in Alvord, Kaskaskia Records, 



This tyranny was maintained in the village until 1786. The 
initial impetus to an uprising against Dodge came from George 
Rogers Clark, who advised the French to set up their former 
court, advice that the French did not feel themselves strong 
enough to follow immediately; but shortly afterwards there 
came to the Illinois Joseph Parker, interested in a land specu- 
lation; and his presence offered an opportunity to the French 
party to send a communication to congress. On June 2 a very 
earnest petition was drawn up asking for an immediate govern- 
ment, because of the wrongs the inhabitants were suffering from 
the British merchants, who, supported by John Dodge, threat- 
ened to place the country under the law of their state. At the 
same time a similar petition from the Cahokians was sent. 

This petition from the French party, read in congress on 
August 23, caused that body to hesitate about its action. It had 
considered already two petitions supposedly from the French 
people. The first of these, asking for someone with power to 
govern, had been presented by Carbonneaux, the former clerk 
and follower of Richard Winston; the second was a petition 
prepared by John Dodge on June 22, 1784, which being accom- 
panied by a letter from the acting county lieutenant, Monbreun, 
had an official appearance. Upon receipt of these two, congress 
had decided in February and March, 1785, to send a commis- 
sioner to investigate land titles, to have magistrates elected, and 
to organize the militia, but for some reason no commissioner 
had been sent. After consideration of the new petition, con- 
gress instructed its secretary to inform the inhabitants that 
" Congress have under their consideration the plan of a tempo- 
rary government for the said district, and that its adoption will 
be no longer protracted than the importance of the subject and 
a due regard to their interest may require."" 

During this critical period the French party received an 
important addition in the person of a new priest. His coming 
was connected with events occurring in Quebec, in Baltimore, 
and even in far-off Rome. The establishment of the United 
States of. America by the treaty of 1783 necessitated some re- 
adjustment of the administrative machinery of the Roman 

'Journals of the Continental Congress (ed. Folwell), 11:146. Parker took 
this message back to the Kaskaskians. 


Catholic church. Accordingly, on June 9, 1784, the territory 
of the new state was organized as a distinct unit, over which 
the Reverend John Carroll of Baltimore was appointed prefect 

Through an oversight, no action was taken to change the 
former limits of the diocese of Quebec, so that the ecclesiastical 
relations of the west were not legally altered, in spite of the 
manifest intention of the authorities at Rome to extend 
the jurisdiction of the new prefect apostolic to the limits of the 
United States, Thus was laid the foundation for a conflict of 
prerogatives which might have had serious consequences, had 
not both the officials involved proved themselves judicious, pa- 
tient, and considerate. The whole subject was finally referred 
to Rome, and the necessary correction in accordance with the 
purpose of the act creating the ecclesiastical jurisdiction of the 
United States was adjusted without difficulty.^ 

Before this adjustment was accomplished, priests had been 
sent from both Canada and the United States to take charge 
of the spiritual wants of the Old Northwest. In the summer of 
the year 1784 Father Payet went from Detroit to Vincennes, 
where he remained until September. Later he was sent on a 
tour of inspection to Kaskaskia and Cahokia.^ Father Gibault, 
who in 1785, in spite of advantageous offers, had left the 
Spanish territory to take up his residence at Vincennes, con- 
tinued to look upon himself as the vicar-general of the bishop 
of Quebec, to whom he made many appeals for recognition; 
and it was some time before he learned of the changes in the 
ecclesiastical situation. Even when this was forced upon his 
attention by the arrival of priests from the east, he was unwill- 
ing to submit to the new jurisdiction. 

The first priest sent out by Prefect Apostolic Carroll was 
the Carmelite father, Paul de St. Pierre, or to give him his 
baptismal name, Paul Heiligenstein. Little is known of him 
except that he was a German monk who had come to this coun- 
try with the French army; at the time he went west he had 

^ Correspondence printed in Alvord, Kaskaskia Records, 581 ff. 

^ Shea, Life and Times of Archbishop Carroll, 465 ff. Reverend Father 
Bernard, a Capuchin, served the people of Cahokia for some time after he was 
appointed priest at St. Louis. This is told by Father Gibault in his letter of 
April I, 1783, in Alvord, Kaskaskia Records, 520; see also introduction, ibid. 


reached the age of thirty-four years. He had some trouble 
about his papers, which did not prove that he had received per- 
mission from his superior to remain in America. In 1785, he 
took up his mission at Cahokia, where he watched over the 
spiritual needs of his flock until 1789, and from all that can be 
learned of his ministry he won the affection and confidence of 
his people. The Cahokians built a new priest's house and 
began erecting a new church at a cost of from 15,000 to 16,000 
livres — a building which stands today as one of the ancient 
monuments of the white occupation of the upper Mississippi 

For the purpose of organizing the Catholic church in the 
Old Northwest, the prefect apostolic selected Father Pierre 
Huet de la Valiniere, a priest whose stormy career up to the 
time of his appointment was probably the cause of some hesi- 
tancy about sending him into this distant region. He was born 
in France on January 10, 1732 ; after preparing for the minis- 
try he went to Canada, where from the time of his ordination 
in 1754 till 1779 he served five different parishes. At the time 
of the invasion of the Revolutionary troops he was accused of 
favoring the cause of the revolting colonies and was sent as 
a prisoner to England. He was finally released and permitted 
to depart for France, where he applied for service in the French 
army in America. Whether or not he received an appointment 
is unknown, but later he was in Martinique and San Domingo. 
In 1785 he appeared again in Canada, but after a short stay, 
filled with such storms as he raised wherever he settled, La 
Valiniere left Canada for the United States with a letter of 
recommendation from the bishop of Quebec. The new prefect 
apostolic received him kindly, for recruits to the new diocese 
were greatly needed. After a year of service in Philadelphia 
and New York the appointment of vicar-general to the Illinois 
was offered him. He accepted, and, in April, 1786, started 
from Philadelphia on his journey westward. ^^ 

10 For an account of Father de St. Pierre see Alvord, Kaskaskla Records, 
introduction; but a much fuller biography may be found in Rothensteiner, Der 
erste deutsch-amerikan'tsche Priester des IVcstens. 

11 For the life of this priest see " Father Peter Huet de la Valiniere," in 
American Catholic Historical Researches, 2:203, note; Alvord. Kaskaskia 
Records, introduction. 


The situation existing in the Illinois villages at the time of 
La Valiniere's arrival was such as would have aroused a less 
excitable nature to fighting heat. Neither Father GIbault at 
Vincennes nor Father de St. Pierre at Cahokia was ready to 
acknowledge the jurisdiction of the new vicar-general . At Kas- 
kaskia ruled John Dodge with a rod of iron over the cowed 
French people. The people themselves were in a condition thus 
described by Father Gibault : " You know neither these regions 
nor the manners and vices of those who inhabit them. In 
Canada all is civilized, here all is barbarous. You are in the 
midst of justice, here injustice dominates. There is no dis- 
tinction from the greatest to the least except that of force; of 
the tongue, pernicious, calumniating and slanderous; of crying 
out very loud, and giving forth all sorts of insults and oaths. 
Everybody is in poverty, which engenders theft and rapine. 
Wantonness and drunkenness pass here as elegance and amuse- 
ments quite in style. Breaking of limbs, murder by means of 
a dagger, sabre, or sword (for he who wills carries one) are 
common, and pistols and guns are but toys in these regions. 
And who has one to fear but the strongest, unless one will be 
the greater traitor. No commandant, no troops, no prison, 
no hangman, always as in small places a crowd of relatives or 
allies who sustain each other; in a word absolute impunity for 
these and ill luck for the stranger. I could name a great number 
of persons assassinated in all the villages of this region, French, 
English and Spanish without any consequence whatsoever; but 
I shall satisfy myself in naming two recently murdered: M. 
Guyon the younger, who studied at Montreal, killed his father- 
in-law with a gun at Kaskaskia ; and yesterday evening one 
named Bellerose killed another man here with a knife. In a 
month I fear I may be able to count ten of these murders. In 
spiritual matters everything is the same or even worse. The 
most solemn feasts and Sundays are days given up to dances 
and drunkenness, and consequently to quarrels and battles. 
With dissension in the homes, fathers and mothers in discord 
with their children, girls suborned and ravished in the woods, 
[and] a thousand other disorders which you are able to infer 
from these. "^- This picture is probably overdrawn, but in the 

12 Gibault to bishop, June 6, 1786, in Alv-ord, Kaskaskia Records, 542 ff. 


eyes of a religious enthusiast such as Father de la Valiniere It 
exactly portrayed Kaskaskia. 

The new vicar-general threw himself immediately into con- 
flict with everyone in authority, both religious and political. 
He quarreled with Father de St. Pierre of Cahokia and took 
it upon himself to write a very severe letter of censure con- 
cerning him to the people of that village. The Cahokians, 
however, had learned to love their priest and on April 22, 
1787, returned a spirited answer, which ended in a complete 
ecclesiastical severance between the two villages. 

The difficulties created in church affairs were trifling com- 
pared with the storm Father de la Valiniere stirred up by his 
interference in politics. His revolutionary spirit was just the 
stimulus needed to arouse the French against John Dodge. 
The priest threw himself whole-heartedly into the struggle and 
made himself the leader of the French party; this position of 
leadership he did not hold long, but during the first months 
of his ministry events of importance occurred. 

In the summer of 1786 the appointment of a citizen of St. 
Philippe as civil and criminal judge was forced; and on August 
14, Timothe de Monbreun, who had supported Dodge, was 
obliged to resign and to appoint as deputy county lieutenant a 
consistent supporter of the French party, Jean Baptiste Barbau 
of Prairie du Rocher. Barbau was sixty-five years old when 
he was called upon to lead the French in their struggle for 
political liberty.^^ In January, 1787, Joseph Parker reached 
Kaskaskia with the message of hope from the continental con- 
gress. The people were wild with joy at having at last suc- 
ceeded in communicating with congress, even though the gov- 
ernment which they had so ardently desired was still to be de- 
termined upon. 

During the fall of 1786, George Rogers Clark, without 
official authority from the United States, led a force of Ken- 
tucky militiamen against the Indians in the Old Northwest. 
Deciding to garrison Vincennes, he sent John Rice Jones to 
buy provisions in the Illinois country, where the name of 
Clark still possessed a magic charm. Jones was well received 

13 His parents had come directly from France to New Orleans, where Barbau 
was probably born. 


by the people, and his proposed purchases were guaranteed by 
a prominent American merchant lately arrived in Kaskaskia, 
John Edgar, whose relations with the French were far more 
friendly than were those of his countrymen. 

Dodge, who knew that Clark was acting illegally in invading 
the territory of the United States, still possessed power, and his 
opposition prevented the delivery of the supplies. Jones there- 
upon returned to Vincennes and soon came back to Kaskaskia 
with troops. The narrator's account of what then occurred is 
interesting. " Mr. Jones seemed a fine gentleman who caused 
no hurt to anybody, but he entered in the above said fort on 
the hill occupied by John Dodge, he threatned him to cast him 
out from it if he continued to be contrary to America, as he was 
before, he stood there some days with his troops, during which 
time the wheat has been delivered peaceably and nobody has 
been hurted."^^ 

With the rising anger of the French and the promised 
assistance of Clark, Dodge recognized that his position was a 
dangerous one. He therefore collected his property some time 
in the spring and crossed to the Spanish side, leaving in the fort 
a guard to watch such of his possessions as he had left behind. 

The departure of Dodge brought no peace to Kaskaskia 
village. Since the expected authority to form a government did 
not arrive from congress, the people began to agitate for some 
immediate form of judiciary. They naturally turned to the one 
government which they knew, the civil organization established 
by John Todd. The old court offered a semblance of legality. 
The clamors of the Americans were heeded in this revival 
of the court, and they were granted the franchise. Familiar 
with the use of the ballot, the newcomers concentrated their 
votes and succeeded in electing three of their own number to 
office: Henry Smith — later made president of the court — John 
McElduff, and Thomas Hughes. The three other candidates 
elected were Frenchmen who had held office before. 

The first session was held on June 5, 1787, probably with- 
out the presence of the French justices, who were not willing 
to admit Americans to the bench. Two days later the French 
justices posted on the door of the church a public memorial 

^* Letter of La Valini^re, August 25, 1787, in Alvord, Kaskaskia Records, 426. 


setting forth their objections to the new arrangement, dwelHng 
upon the impossibility of the American and French judges 
understanding each other and the hopelessness of finding a 
satisfactory interpreter. In the face of this ultimatum the two 
parties separated; Bellefontaine with its English-speaking in- 
habitants ceased to belong to the district of Kaskaskia. 

The day after the protest the Kaskaskians drew up an 
agreement in which they promised that the court should remain 
French as it had been constituted by John Todd and that the 
Frenchmen receiving the next largest number of votes should 
be added to the list of judges. The number of signatures to 
the document was not large, but the presence of John Edgar's 
name gave some promise that his influence would be thrown on 
the side of peace. 

The question of the court had hardly been settled when, on 
August 17, Colonel Harmar, commandant of the United States 
troops in the Old Northwest, appeared in the village. For the 
first time the French of the Illinois gazed upon the flag of the 
United States, the nation to which they had for several years 
belonged. ^^ Harmar had been sent to the Illinois to make a 
general inspection of conditions and in particular to put an end 
to the anarchy at Vincennes caused by Clark's actions. He was 
accompanied by Barthelemi Tardiveau, a French mercantile 
adventurer, who had had relations with the Kentucky separa- 
tists and was a personal friend of John Dodge. Although 
Tardiveau had very little knowledge of conditions existing in 
the Illinois, Harmar was persuaded that he was the best in- 
formed man in the country and made him his interpreter and 
chief adviser. Dodge returned to his fort above Kaskaskia 
where he entertained the bibulous colonel, whose associates 
from this time were almost exclusively members of Dodge's 
party. Even after Harmar had visited the orderly village of 
Cahokia, his opinion of the French remained biased by the 
influence of these men. He reported: " I have to remark that 
all these people are entirely unacquainted with what Americans 

^^ The flag was not the stars and stripes, which was to remain excKisively 
the naval emblem for many years. The flag carried by Harmar was that of the 
army, a spread eagle with shield and arrows, the thirteen stars being grouped 
above. Ballard Thruston, The Origin and Evolution of the United States Flag, 
figure 15. 


call liberty. Trial by jury, etc., they are strangers to. A com- 
mandant with a few troops to give them orders is the best form 
of government for them; it is what they have been accus- 
tomed to."^*^ 

Although the majority of the French were ready to accept 
without question any disposition that might be made of them, 
there was a minority party which chafed at so passive an atti- 
tude. The leader of this faction was the vicar-general, Father 
Huet de la Valiniere, and his most important follower, the 
clerk, Pierre Langlois, who had been an adherent of Richard 
Winston and had become an irreconcilable enemy of John 
Dodge. By this time, however, the priest had lost his influence 
over the French by his own tyrannical methods. By his close 
adherence to the canonical law and by the harsh and personal 
attacks against individuals in his sermons he had incurred the 
enmity of every community of the American Bottom. 

He and his associates Vv^ere not willing to lay aside the old 
issues and were particularly exasperated that Tardiveau, the 
friend of John Dodge, should be the spokesman for the vil- 
lagers; for, said they, " that frenchman who speaketh easily the 
English language is come lately here with the Coll. Harmar 
whom he inspired with sentiments very different from those 
which we could expect from a gentleman in his place. He 
deceived him in their way as he was deceived himself, he made 
him stay, live, drink, and dwell only in the houses of the friends 
of Dodge, he accompanied him every where like his interpreter, 
but he could not shew him the truth being himself very ignorant 
of it, and he gave allways an evil idea to every word proceeding 
from those whom Dodge thought [to] be his enemies. "^^ 

Tardiveau could not ignore this attack and declared that 
Langlois was opposed to any change m the regulations made 
by Todd. To justify himself, Langlois, accompanied by the 
priest, presented himself before Colonel Harmar and said: 
" IFe desire and expect every day one regulation from the honi 
Congress but novo till it may come, having none, we did by 
common consent aggree to keep the same brought by Mr. Todd, 

I'' Harmar to the secretary of war, November 24, 1787, in Smith, St. Clait 
Papers, 2: 32. 

1' Letter of La Valiniere, August 25, 1787, in Alvord, Kaskaskia Records, 426 


//'// the other may come, And Mr. Tardiveau would do better 
to deceive not others as he is deceived himself." The narrative 
continues: "Afterward the same Mr. Langlois having shown 
the above said proofs against John Dodge who was present, 
the said Dodge, was so much angry that in the presence of the 
Lieutenant Makidoul [Ensign McDowell] with several others 
in the yard he did cast himself upon the said Mr. Langlois and 
putting his fingers in his eyes and hair he would have made him 
blind, if the officer had not cryed against him."^^ 

Harmar did not care to become mixed up in the local quar- 
rel, which he probably regarded as beneath his notice, but he 
gave his support to law and order so far as to tell the inhabit- 
ants to obey the government which had been established. Dodge 
felt, however, that the victory belonged to him and, after the 
departure of Harmar and the troops, assembled his friends in 
his fort and " fyred four time each of his great cannons, beating 
the Drums etc."^^ 

Harmar had brought to the American settlers who had 
received land grants from the various deputy county lieutenants 
and courts the discouraging news that such titles had no legal 
value, since congress had forbidden settlements on the north 
side of the Ohio. In this situation Tardiveau saw his oppor- 
tunity. He agreed with 137 American settlers of Bellefontaine 
and Grand Ruisseau, a small settlement near Cahokia, to 
present their case before congress and to obtain for each of 
them a concession of land, in consideration of one-tenth of all 
land thus granted. 

Tardiveau also represented to the French that their suffer- 
ings merited payment in land and offered to obtain for each 
of them a grant of five hundred acres on the same terms. The 
French, stimulated by the example of American speculators, 
readily took advantage of the offer. In all, fifty-two signed 
the contract at Kaskaskia, as did also the most representative 
citizens of Cahokia.--' 

The court which had been revived at Kaskaskia did not 

^^ Letter of La Valiniere, August 25, 1787, in Alvord, Kaskaskia Records, 427. 

19 Ibid., 428. 

-0 Contract with the French, ibid., 440; with English-speaking settlers, ibid., 
443. For the first memorials by Tardiveau see ibid., 445 and 447, wherein the 
amount of land to be granted the French is mentioned. 


long endure. The spirit of the French was broken, and their 
natural leaders had talven refuge on the Spanish shore; influ- 
enced by the example of the Americans, they themselves gave 
no obedience to the court which they had enthusiastically re- 
established,-^ The end of the court was without doubt hastened 
by the refusal to plead before it on the part of some merchants 
from Kentucky, who said that its judgments were without force, 
since under the recent act of congress neither the people nor the 
commanding officer had authority to appoint magistrates. The 
act referred to was the "Ordinance of 1787," which created 
a government for the Old Northwest and under which Arthur 
St. Clair began to act in 1788; but the villages of the Illinois 
were not to see their authorized chief for two years. 

The later history of the city-state of Kaskaskia is one of 
disaster and disintegration, and it is little wonder that a large 
part of the people sought happier conditions on the Spanish side 
of the river. The Indians of the Old Northwest took up their 
tomahawks against the Americans and attacked the villages, 
sparing not even the Frenchmen. The Miami, Wea, Klcka- 
poo, and Potawatomi were all counted as enemies. The Illinois 
villages suffered most, however, from the Piankashaw living on 
the Spanish bank, who were incited by the Spaniards to burn 
and murder until the Inhabitants should be forced to take refuge 
under the Spanish government. On October 8, 1789, John 
Dodge, happy in an opportunity to secure revenge, led a band 
of these Indians and a few whites Into the village of Kaskaskia 
and attempted to carry off some slaves belonging to John Edgar. 
Although he failed, the lives of Edgar, his wife, and John Rice 
Jones, a late comer to the village, were for a time in the greatest 
of danger. 

The Spaniards supplemented these efforts to force the Illi- 
nois settlers into their fold by attempts to entice them across 
the river. Large land grants on the western shore were freely 
offered by Governor Miro, and generous promises were made 
to the French priests in the Illinois villages. Father de St. 
Pierre at Cahokia and later Father Gibault trarrsferred their 
allegiance to Spain. At this same time George Morgan was 
making a settlement at New Madrid and advertising very en- 

21 Edgar to Hamtramck, October 28, 1789, in Alvord, Kaskaskia Records, 513. 


ticing opportunities in his new settlement. Lastly, the clause of 
the Ordinance of 1787 prohibiting slavery caused the French 
great anxiety; and both the Spaniards and Morgan openly 
assured them that they would lose their human property. 

The result of such inducements, combined with the hard- 
ships which the French had endured during these years and the 
long-deferred fulfillment of their dream of peace and independ- 
ence, was a striking decrease In the population of Kaskaskia. 
When George Rogers Clark occupied the village in 1778, there 
were about five hundred white inhabitants. In 1783 there were 
one hundred and ninety-four heads of families, thirty-nine of 
whom were newly arrived Americans; still the figures Indicate 
that the French population had altered only slightly. By the 
census of 1787, there were only one hundred and ninety-one 
male inhabitants in the village. The period of the greatest 
anarchy and emigration occurred between the years 1787 and 
1790; and by the latter year there remained only forty-four 
heads of families, a decrease of over seventy-seven per cent In 
the French population of the village since 1783. Serious as 
was the loss in numbers, the loss In leaders was even more ener- 
vating; by 1790 there remained scarcely one of the men who 
had been Influential among the people throughout the period 
of the county of Illinois. 

The picture of the village of Kaskaskia In these last days, 
as described by its people In a petition to Major Hamtramck, 
commander at VIncennes, Is one of utter misery and despair. 
They wrote: "Our horses, horned cattle, & corn are stolen & 
destroyed without the power of making any effectual resistance : 
Our houses are in ruin & decay; our lands are uncultivated; 
debtors absconded & absconding; our little commerce de- 
stroyed. We are apprehensive of a dearth of corn, and our 
best prospects are misery and distress, or what is more than 
probable an untimely death by the hands of savages. 

"We are well convinced that all these misfortunes have 
befallen us for want of some Superior or commanding author- 
ity; for ever since the cession of this Territory to Congress we 
have been neglected as an abandoned people, to encounter all 
the difl'icultles that are always attendant upon anarchy & con- 
fusion; neither did we know from authority until latterly, to 


what power we were subject. The greater part of our citizens 
have left the country on this account to reside in the Spanish 
dominions; others are now following, and we are fearful, nay, 
certain, that without your assistance, the small remainder will 
be obliged to follow their example."^- 

The people begged Major Hamtramck to send twenty 
soldiers with an officer to maintain order and to give them 
authority to establish a civil government. John Edgar accom- 
panied the petition with an offer to furnish barracks and sup- 
plies for the soldiers at the very lowest price until the governor 
could make other arrangements. For such an expedition Ham- 
tramck had neither authority nor finances; but he did forward 
the petition to the governor and so far exceeded his powers 
as to authorize the formation of a court of justice. This was 
never established, however, since justices without troops would 
have no means of enforcing the law. 

The trials of the last year broke the courage of John Edgar, 
who had used his influence to promote peace and to bring a 
government to the disordered and disheartened village. In 
November, 1789, he wrote: "The spring It Is Impossible I 
can stand my ground, surrounded as we are by Savage enemies. 
I have waited five years in hopes of a Government; I shall still 
wait until March, as I may be able to withstand them In the 
winter season, but If no succor nor government should then 
arrive, I shall be compelled to abandon the country, & I shall 
go to live at St. Louis. Inclination, Interest & love for the 
country prompt me to reside here, but when in so doing It is 
ten to one but both my life & property will fall a sacrifice, you 
nor any impartial mind can blame me for the part I shall 
take."^^ Fortunately Edgar was not compelled to abandon the 
country of his adoption, for In the month designated Governor 
St. Clair arrived In the village of Kaskaskia. 

From this dismal picture of Kaskaskia, It is a pleasure to 
turn to the village of Cahokla. Though It had troubles similar 
In kind to those at Kaskaskia, they were never so virulent; and 
the court of the district of Cahokla was able to establish Itself 
and Its authority so securely that even abandonment by Virginia 

22 People to Hamtramck, September 14, 1789, in Alvord, Kaskaskia 
Records, 510. 

23 Edgar to Hamtramck, October 28, 1789, ibid., 513. 


and the United States could not shake it. A letter from the 
state's attorney, Joseph Labuxiere, compares the conditions 
existing in the two villages: "The misunderstanding of the 
magistrates of Kaskaskia and the extreme disorder of the busi- 
ness of the individuals, occasioned by some persons greedy for 
money, have compelled me to withdraw with my family to 
Cahokia, where I have found inhabitants filled with unity of 
peace and fidelity to the states, and a court of justice which they 
are careful to administer with equity to those who ask its 

Another fact gives striking proof of the condition described 
by Labuxiere. At the beginning of the period the population 
of Cahokia numbered about 300 inhabitants. In the year 1787, 
when a careful census was made, there were 240 male inhabit- 
ants, or a total population of over 400; and in 1790 Cahokia 
was capable of supporting three companies of militia while 
Kaskaskia had but one. Thus while Kaskaskia was decreasing, 
Cahokia was growing both in size and in importance and be- 
coming the "metropolis" of the American Bottom. 

As far as can be learned, Francois Trottier dit des Ruisseau 
was the commandant of the militia throughout the entire period. 
A contemporary who knew him testifies that he was "grandly 
housed" and that his home had a "great furnished hall."-'^ 
It was due largely to his efficient administration of the police 
that the village prospered. The justices were elected annually 
by the assembly of the people until the passage of the Ordinance 
of 1787, when, in anticipation of a new government, regular 
elections ceased and the same justices continued in office. In 
August, 1788, the last election in the county of Illinois was held 
to elect three magistrates to fill vacancies made by resignation. 

The relation of Cahokia to the county government was 
never very close. The people of that village seem to have had 
little respect for the Kaskaskians; in their petition to congress 
in 1786 they begged that body not to submit them to the juris- 
diction of the southern village, because they knew " the in- 
capacity, spite and partiality of the subjects who might exercise 

2* Labuxiere to congress, July 17, 1786, in Alvord, Cahokia Records, 589. 
-^ Narrative of Perrault in Michigan Pioneer and Historical Collections, 


j^ "20 'pj-jg high-sounding title of deputy county lieutenant 
meant little more to the Cahokians than head of Kaskaskia. 

It has been seen that the Kaskaskians complained tha. some 
Mackinac merchants had established a store at Cahokia. The 
complaint was based on facts. After the treaty of peace many 
British merchants, some bearing names famous in the west, 
found their way to the village. They practically monopo- 
lized for a time the fur trade of the Illinois; but the Caho- 
kians, finding that they interfered with the Indians in the 
neighborhood, published stringent regulations; a limited mo- 
nopoly of sales to the Indians was granted one of the citizens, 
and all others were prohibited from selling liquor to them. 
When the Indian outrages reached their climax in the year 1789 
and Kaskaskians were begging the military officer at Vincennes 
to send troops for their defense, the court of Cahokia still 
further regulated intercourse with the Indians and forbade all 
sale of liquor by anyone. 

Exactly how the Cahokians were affected by the intrigues 
of the Spaniards in the later years, it is impossible to say. At 
the end of the record of the sessions of the court there is an 
unexplained mention of the punishment of a Frenchman from 
St. Louis who was evidently attempting to undermine the power 
of the court; but once again that body was able to maintain its 
authority; and, from the complaint of the prisoner, it would 
appear that the support of the villagers was given to the gov- 

Cahokia was not disturbed by the Americans to the same 
degree as was Kaskaskia, for the Virginia troops did not remain 
in the village after 1780, and very few men of English speech 
took up their residence there. Aside from those of the British 
merchants only four non-French names appear in the later 
years as those of actual citizens, Thomas Brady, Philippe 
Engel, Isaac Levy, and William Arundel, and of these the first 
three seem to have become completely gallicized and to have 
married French women. 

The American settlers who came in closest contact with the 
Cahokians resided in the village of Grand Ruisseau. In 1786 
these were permitted by the magistrates to appoint a captain 

26 Cahokians to congress, July 15, 1786, in Alvord, Cahokia Records, 587. 


of militia, but they remained subject to the jurisdiction of the 
court except in such cases as might be decided by arbitrators. 
Cahokia was not to escape wholly from trouble with these 
neighbors. After the Americans had failed in the spring of 
1787 to capture control of the court of Kaskaskia, the settlers 
of Bellefontaine and Grand Ruisseau determined to establish 
a rival and independent court, for which purpose they held an 
election and chose magistrates. If the movement had been 
confined to the first named village, which was In the district of 
Kaskaskia, the Cahokia government might not have made any 
opposition; but the inclusion of the village of Grand Ruisseau 
was an affront to the one French court which had proved its 
right to exist. Fortunately for the Cahokians, the leaders of 
the revolution wished to supplant Robert Watts, the court's 
appointee, in his ofl^ce of commandant. This aroused Watts to 
immediate action, particularly as his rival was James Piggott, 
a man who represented the more restless and impatient element 
among the Americans. 

Watts came to Cahokia and addressed the court in Cicero- 
nian periods. He pointed out the danger which threatened the 
law and order of the district by this innovation or revolution. 
The danger was not exaggerated. The court at Cahokia rep- 
resented the only stable power in the Illinois at the time; and 
with a rival court of Americans at Grand Ruisseau and Belle- 
fontaine, there would inevitably have followed disorders which 
might have taken on the character of a civil war.^^ 

The action of the court of Cahokia was prompt and ener- 
getic. It prohibited the holding of any independent assemblies 
of the people or sessions of the proposed court and condemned 
the leaders of the movement to be put in irons for twenty-four 
hours; and, in case they disobeyed the order of the court, they 
were to be driven from the territory. In striking contrast to 
the timidity and inefl'iciency of the court of Kaskaskia is the 
action recorded by the hiiissier under this decree against the 

Americans : *' The present sentence has been executed the same 

This revolution occurred in August or early in September. 

2^ For the documents in the case see Alvord, Cahokia Records. 
-^ Sentence, September 17, 1787, ibid., 605. 


The Cahokia justices now wisely saw that the suppression of 
the revolution should be accompanied by some measures to 
satisfy the demands of the Americans. Those at Bellefontaine 
belonged by right to the Kaskaskia jurisdiction, but to expect 
from the Kaskaskia French the maintenance of law and order 
was hopeless. Therefore, when all the Americans of the Illi- 
nois petitioned for admittance to the district of Cahokia and 
the right of electing a justice of the peace at each of the two 
chief settlements, the petition was granted at the October session 
of the court; and the election of a justice and a militia officer 
at Bellefontaine and of a justice at Grand Rulsseau was con- 
firmed on November 2. Thus around Cahokia there centered 
all the forces which made for peace and order. Even the 
American settlers, who had assisted in the overthrow of the 
court of Kaskaskia, were able to escape the anarchy which their 
presence had produced only by submitting to the Frenchmen 
of the northern village. 

The court at Cahokia continued to perform Its functions 
until other and more legal arrangements were made. On 
March 5, 1790, Arthur St. Clair, governor of the Territory 
Northwest of the River Ohio, arrived in Kaskaskia. Two days 
before the Cahokia court held its usual meeting of the month; 
on the first of April the judges of the court heard suits brought 
before them. The last entry in their record Is: "The Court 
adjourned to the first of May next." The court of the district 
of Cahokia which had been established In the county of Illinois 
by the state of Virginia never met again. These Frenchmen 
had kept faith; they had preserved order In their village and 
now quietly delivered the government into the hands of a 
legally constituted authority. On April 27 the representative 
of the United States erected the county of St. Clair and two 
days later appointed the judges of the new courts. The period 
of the government of the city-states was over. 


WHILE these events were taking place In the villages on 
the Mississippi, developments even more momentous 
had changed thirteen colonies struggling for independence into 
a loose confederation of states and then had metamorphosed 
this union into a nation. The United States of North America 
had been born, had passed the age of feeble infancy, and had 
entered upon the period of adolescence. 

The new state was confronted with the same complicated 
set of problems that the British empire had failed to solve. In 
the western wilderness those forces that had paralyzed the 
efforts of ministry after ministry of King George III were still 
alive: the antagonism between fur trader and land speculator 
persisted whether king or people reigned; Indian rights still 
prevented the appeasing of white men's land hunger; the un- 
certainty of boundaries between the states' dominion and 
that of the confederacy created an antagonism that threatened 
to bring about an impasse; and in the continental congress, 
as they had done before the board of trade, rival land companies 
were promoting their claims before men many of whom too 
frequently forgot the public interests in their private specu- 
lations. In the issue raised by the land speculators was involved 
the welfare of countless hordes of future home seekers. In 
these early years the question was raised: Should the western 
domain be exploited by big business or reserved for the real 
settlers? Vital interests of the new nation depended on the 
future organization of the west; and the outcome for years 
balanced in perilous uncertainty. 

In the region of the upper Ohio, territory was claimed by 
two land companies, the Indiana Land Company and the Van- 
dalia Land Company, composed of many men of political ex- 
perience ready to use every device to secure their claims.^ The 

1 With them was associated the Transylvania Land Company with its title to 
land in Kentucky purchased from the Cherokee. 



speculators' demands for justice were artfully mingled with the 
cries for independence reverberating across the mountains from 
the settlers along the upper Ohio and in Kentucky and Ten- 

In the fight for the right to exploit the west there was 
involved the destiny of a company directly connected with the 
territory that had been occupied by the Virginia troops under 
George Rogers Clark. It has already been suggested^ that 
possibly Clark's expedition had a special meaning to the Illinois 
Land Company and its associate, the Wabash Land Company; 
it is certain that these companies watched the military operation 
with anxious eyes, and upon assurance of its success sent to Wil- 
liamsburg a representative who pleaded their cause in vain 
before the Virginia assembly. Disappointed in the attempt to 
persuade the Virginians to acknowledge an Indian title to land 
within their commonwealth, the companies, now united into the 
Illinois and Wabash Land Company, brought their case to the 
continental congress, where they joined forces with the other 
western land companies in the hope of making of their case a 
national issue. 

The situation was very complicated. Massachusetts, Con- 
necticut, New York, Virginia, and the other southern states 
claimed by charter or treaty right the western territory with 
boundaries extending, with the exception of New York, to the 
Mississippi river; Virginia's claim, overlapping that of the 
northern states, included not only Kentucky but also the whole 
region north of the Ohio river. Against these state claims could 
be set the interests of the confederacy; east and west alike 
had been won by the heroism of the colonial troops and by the 
skill of the confederacy's diplomats. The future welfare of 
the union depended upon its guidance of the development of the 
trans-Allegheny region through concessions of homes to in- 
dividuals.'' Supporting the forces of national aspiration were 
the interested shareholders of the several land companies. 

For several years of acrimonious debate, the outcome could 
not be foretold. In the end the cause of nationality won; but 

2 Turner, "Western State-Making in the Revolutionar}- Era," in American 
Historical Reviezv, i : 70 ff. 
^ See above, p. 340. 
* Bancroft, History of the Formation of the Constitution, i : 387. 


the land companies were not the winners — they too were 
obh'ged to yield before the force of the army of home seekers. 
In spite of the fact that selfish interests prompted many who 
fought on the side of the union and claimed for the people the 
right to the land, their arguments were sound; a national 
domain meant national strength and unity. 

In the struggle for dominion in the west there is no doubt 
that the land companies in order to obtain their purposes used 
every means: personal financial gain was held out to more than 
one member of the continental congress to win his sympathetic 
assistance; very early the Illinois and Wabash Land Company 
persuaded the French minister, Gerard, to become a member; 
and later Robert Morris, wielder of large financial interests in 
the confederacy, also consented to take stock in the company.^ 
Even more important than such individuals, although the French 
minister exercised a controlling influence over a very large 
faction in the continental congress, were the members of the 
land company belonging to the commonwealth of Maryland, 
among whom may be mentioned Governor Thomas Johnson 
and Charles Carroll.^ 

It is fair to infer that the direct interest of many of Mary- 
land's public men in the land company early drew that state's 
attention to the consideration of the west. At least Maryland 
was the first to take a positive stand against the particularistic 
interests of those states which claimed boundaries extending to 
the Mississippi river. The states with imperial boundaries 
gained the first contest, however, in spite of Maryland's oppo- 
sition and succeeded in writing in the articles of confederation a 

^ Illinois-JVabash Land Company Manuscript (ed. Alvord) ; Jefferson to 
Rayneval, March 20, 1801, in IVritings of Thomas Jefferson (ed. Ford), 8: 19-21. 
Gerard obtained the king's consent to join the company. Since he left America 
in 1779, the time of his joining the company must have been shortly after the 
news of Clark's success had reached the east. 

^ The other names are Matthew Ridley, William Russel, Mark Pringle, John 
Davidson, Samuel Chase, Daniel Hewes, John Swan, John Dorsey, Robert 
Christie, Sen., Robert Christie, Jun., Peter Campbell. For a declaration of Vir- 
ginia charging undue influence of land speculators in Maryland, see Hening, 
Statutes at Large, 10: 558. In spite of reasons for suspicion of Mar3'land's motives, 
it must be said that a very careful search through published works and the 
archives of the Maryland Historical Society and of the Library of Congress has 
failed to establish a direct connection between selfish motives and public acts. In 
the present state of research, the historian, like contemporary Virginians, is com- 
pelled to trust to inference. 


proviso that no state should be deprived of territory for the 
benefit of the United States. 

With the passage of the articles of confederation by con- 
gress, the fight became more sharply defined; and Maryland 
made a formal declaration on December 15, 1778, refusing 
categorically to enter the confederation unless "an article or 
articles be added thereto, giving full power to the United States 
in congress assembled — to ascertain and fix the western limits 
of the states claiming to extend to the Mississippi, or South 
Sea, and expressly reserving or securing to the United States a 
right in common in and to all the lands lying to the westward 
of the frontiers as aforesaid, not granted to, surveyed for, or 
purchased by Individuals at the commencement of the present 
war, In such manner that the said lands be sold out, or other- 
wise disposed of for the common benefit of all the states."'^ 

In the Instructions of the same date to its delegates the 
Maryland legislature pointed out that Virginia would enjoy an 
economic advantage over the other states, were It allowed to 
obtain "vast sums of money" from the sales of western lands. 
" Lands comparatively cheap and taxes comparatively low with 
the lands and taxes of an adjacent state, would quickly drain 
the state thus disadvantageously circumstanced of Its most use- 
ful Inhabitants."^ 

It will be noticed that Maryland demanded protection for 
the rights of those people who had made private purchases 
from the Indians. The protagonist in the fight for the con- 
federacy's western dominion threw protecting arms around 
such private companies as the Illinois and Wabash Land 

Virginia answered the attack December 14, 1779, by point- 
ing out that in the previous May the legislature of the state had 
forbidden settlements of any character whatever north of the 
river Ohio; further, the state protested against the considera- 
tion by the continental congress of the claims of land companies 
staked out In violation of this restriction. Attention was called 

■^ Hening, Statutes at Large, 10:551; for a discussion of the whole contro- 
versy, see Adams, " Maryland's Influence Upon Land Cessions to the United 
States," in Johns Hopkins University Studies, 3:1 flr., and Turner, " Western 
State-Making in the Revolutionary Era," in American Historical Revieiv, i : 70 ff . 

® Hening, Statutes at Large, 10: 554. 


to the notorious fact that the claims of the Vandalia and In- 
diana Companies were contrary to Virginia's rights under the 
confederation and that in the Illinois and Wabash Land Com- 
pany, the influence of which was surmised, there were con- 
cerned " several men of great influence in some of the neigh- 
bouring states," referring, of course, to Maryland.^ 

This public slur on the motives of Maryland voiced the 
general opinion in Virginia. Colonel George Mason never 
concealed his belief on the subject ; it was his opinion that Mary- 
land's declaration had been written by Governor Johnson him- 
self. ^^ Virginia's declaration charged the supporters of the 
confederacy's rights with duplicity, for "had those propositions 
been adopted, the public would have been duped by the arts of 
individuals, and great part of the value of unappropriated lands 
converted to private purposes. "^^ 

" Congress was placed in an embarrassing dilemma by the 
stubborn attitude of the two leaders In the controversy. Force- 
ful seizure seemed inadvisable if not impossible; so on Sep- 
tember 6, 1780, it was determined: "That it appears more 
advisable to press upon those states which can remove the em- 
barrassment respecting the western country, a liberal surrender 
of a portion of their territorial claims, since they cannot be 
preserved entire without endangering the stability of the general 
confederacy,"^- Eventual solution of the difliculty accorded 
with this decision, although a more drastic action continued to 
be discussed and recommended by many. 

The first state to give up its claim to western lands was New 
York, but its rights in the hinterland were of such a very 
shadowy character that the surrender in no way satisfied the 
desires of the Maryland legislature. 

Virginia recognized the political strength of the opposing 
combination and read rightly the growing cry of public dis- 
approval of any attempt to maintain the widest claims; in fact 
the leaders of opinion in the Old Dominion were already in 
favor of making the requested cession, provided the territory 

®HenIng, Statutes at Large, lo: 557. 

10 Rowland, Life of George Mason, 1:321, 336; Hening, Statutes at Large, 
10: 558. 

11 Ibid., 558. 
^^Ibid., 562. 


should be protected from the land companies. The invita- 
tion of congress, therefore, was received kindly in the state 

After a searching debate the resolution concerning the 
cession was passed on January 2, 1781; but eight conditions 
were added :'^ that the territory should be formed into states 
with territory from a hundred to a hundred and fifty miles 
square; that Virginia should be reimbursed for the expenses 
that it had incurred within the territory; that the French and 
Canadian settlers should be protected in their persons and 
property; that the promises of land made to George Rogers 
Clark and his men should be fulfilled; that in case the land 
southeast of the Ohio reserved for the Virginia troops should 
be insufficient, the necessary supplement to this should be found 
on the northwestern side of the river; that the Old Northwest 
Territory thus ceded should be considered a common fund for 
the United States; that the territory remaining in Virginia 
should be guaranteed; and lastly and very important in the eyes 
of Virginia statesmen, that all purchases made by private per- 
sons from the Indians should be declared void. 

Maryland no longer had reason to withhold the common- 
wealth's signature to the articles of confederation unless it 
determined to continue the fight in behalf of the land com- 
panies. This evidently appeared unwise; so on February 2, 
1 78 1, the legislature of Maryland authorized its delegates to 
sign the articles. ^^ 

Up to this time the Illinois and Wabash Land Company 
had preferred to work through Maryland rather than to bring 
its claim to a direct issue in congress. Possibly other consider- 
ations affected its political moves. It was not completely re- 
organized until the spring of 1780, Meetings had been held 
at various times during 1779, a committee had been appointed 
to draw up a constitution, and plans were laid to push the settle- 
ment of the proposed village at the mouth of the Wabash, In 

'^^ Writings of George fVas/iinglon (ed. Ford), 9:133; letter dated March 
15, 1784, in Writings of Thomas Jefferson (ed. Ford), 3:420; letter to Washing- 
ton, September 26, 1780, ibid., 2: 345; Rowland, Life of George Mason, i: 361. 

1* Hening, Statutes at Large, 10:564. 

^^ Connecticut had offered to cede its claims with conditions on October 10, 


the meeting of August 20, the company was declared to have 
eighty-four shares, and there were good prospects of seUing 
a number of them not only in America but in France. 

In the meeting of April 29, 1780, the articles of union be- 
tween the two land companies were finally ratified, and an 
extensive plan was agreed upon for pushing the settlement not 
only at the mouth of the Wabash but also at the mouths of the 
Ohio and the Illinois rivers. Provision having been made for 
the appointment of general officers, who were to receive grants 
of twenty thousand acres. Generals Steuben, St. Clair, and 
Parsons, and Benjamin Thompson were selected for these dis- 
tinguished positions; but after considerable discussion it was 
determined to postpone all attempts to establish settlements 
until after the conclusion of peace. ^"^ 

The fight in congress was waged with vigor. The com- 
pany's first petition was dated February 3, 1781, the day after 
Maryland agreed to sign the articles of confederation; on 
March 12 it was read and referred to the committee consider- 
ing the cessions from Virginia, New York, and Connecticut. 
The report of this committee, made on June 24, 1781,^^ threw 
the whole question of dominion in the west back to its original 
status, for it declared that it was inexpedient for congress to 
accept any of the states' cessions as they then stood. The 
report proposed that congress determine the western limits 
beyond which it would not extend its guarantee to the particular 
states and recommended that, when these had been determined, 
a committee be appointed to prepare a plan for dividing and 
settling the said territory and for disposing of it in such manner 
as to discharge the debt of the United States. 

This report was referred on October 2, 1781, to a new 
committee, composed of men from states with definite western 
boundaries. The committee summoned the delegates from 
Virginia to defend the position of their commonwealth, which 
the Virginia delegates refused to do, denying the jurisdiction of 
congress in an affair between a commonwealth and private 

1" The whole account is based on Ulino'is-lV abash Land Company Manu- 
script (ed. Alvord) ; Henry, Patrick Henry, 2:75 ff. 

^''Journals of the Continental Congress (ed. Library of Congress), 19:253. 
The memorial of the company has not been found. See also ibid., 20: 704; Papers 
of the Continental Congress, 30: 561. 


citizens. ^^ The committee then recommended that the cession 
of New York, be accepted and that of Virginia rejected — on 
the grounds that the lands claimed by Virginia belonged to 
other states of the confederacy and that the western boundary 
line of Virginia had been established by the king of Great 
Britain previous to the Revolution. The committee reported 
on each of the land companies that had petitioned congress, 
making some favorable recommendations, but denying the 
claims of the Illinois and Wabash Land Company, since its 
purchases had been irregularly made.^^ 

No action was ever taken on this report, but, on the motion 
of Maryland, congress voted on October 29, 1782, to accept 
the cession made by New York. Finally the proposed cession 
by Virginia, after repeated attempts on the part of the dele- 
gates from that state, was referred again to a committee, more 
equitably composed than the former one had been. Their 
report favoring acceptance was discussed on June 20, 1783, 
and was again referred to a committee which reported on Sep- 
tember 13, advising that the cession of Virginia be accepted 
provided certain conditions were modified; in particular it con- 
sidered that the clause annulling the Indian purchases, which, 
it was pointed out, was covered by some of the other conditions, 
should not be insisted upon. The report having been accepted 
by congress, the desired modifications were made by the legis- 
lature of Virginia in 1783; and the cession was completed on 
March I, 1784.-*^ 

The example of Virginia was followed shortly afterwards 
by Massachusetts; and in 1786 the cession of Connecticut was 
completed, thus clearing the whole Northwest Territory from 
states' claims except for a small reservation made by Connecti- 
cut along the international boundary.^^ 

'^^ Journals of the Continental Congress (ed. Library of Congress), 21:1032; 
Henry, Patrick Henry, 2: S^. 

1" The date of this report is November 3, 1781 ; Journals of the Continental 
Congress (ed. Library of Congress), 21 : 1098 ; Papers of the Continental Congress, 
31:371-373. . . . , 

20 Jefferson to Harrison, March 3, 1784, in Writings of Thomas Jefferson 
(ed. Ford), 3:411. 

21 The Illinois and Wabash Land Company did not give up its struggle for 
its title for many years after this. On May 2, 1788, it introduced into the continen- 
tal congress a memorial, upon which a report was made. Papers of the Con- 
tinental Congress, number 41X, 701 ff. In 1791 another memorial was handed to 


Before the Virginia cession had been completed the con- 
tinental congress, in response to several petitions from possible 
settlers, had taken under consideration the question of a gov- 
ernment for the territory which was being acquired. A com- 
mittee made a report on the day of the Virginia cession. It 
was evidently the work of its chairman, Thomas Jefferson, 
who believed, as had the radical expansionists of the British 
ministry before him, in the immediate opening of the whole 
region to settlement and in permitting the pioneers to swarm 
over the land in search of homes after the purchase of the 
Indian claims had been completed. 

Jefferson's plan provided for the organization of territory 
not only in the Old Northwest but also in the Old Southwest, 
the whole territory to be divided into sixteen states, rectangu- 
lar so far as possible.-- The names chosen for these states 
show the influence of the classical learning so evident in all Jef- 
ferson's writings, some of the names being purely classical in 
their origin, others attempting to unite classical endings with 
Indian bases; for instance, the three states designed to cover 
the territory of the present state of Illinois and western 
Indiana were to be called Assenisipia, lUinoia, and Poly- 

After some discussion the plan was referred to the same 
committee for reconsideration. The revised plan proposed 
the immediate formation of seven states in the Old North- 
west, bounded by parallels of latitude and meridian lines, but 
left the extreme northwest undivided.-^ The government was 
to be organized by the settlers themselves under the authority 
of congress, and this territorial government might adopt with 
alterations such laws of other states as suited its purpose. 

congress. The house of representatives advised favorable action, but the senate 
was opposed to it. Account of the Proceedings of the Illinois and Ouabache Land 
Company, printed in Philadelphia, 1796. In 1797 there was another memorial, 
with unfavorable action; in 1804 the petition was referred to the land com- 
missioners. The commission reported unfavorably. American State Papers, 
Public Lands, 2: 108. The whole matter was finally rejected on January 30, 1811. 
Jbid., 253. 

--See Barrett, Evolution of the Ordinance of 1787, p. 17 flF. ; JVritings of 
Thomas Jefferson (ed. Ford), 3:407. 

^^ Journals of the Continental Congress (ed. Folwell), 9: 109. A map show- 
ing the boundaries as outlined in this law may be found in Barrett, E-volution of 
the Ordinance of 17B7, opposite p. 24. 


When the population had reached twenty thousand, the terri- 
tory could establish a permanent government upon specified 
republican principles; when the population equaled that of 
the smallest of the original states, it might apply to congress 
to be admitted into the union. This act was passed on April 
23, 1784.^* 

Although legally passed, the law remained Inoperative, 
The Indians were still in possession of the land, and there 
were no settlers to organize the government except those In 
the villages in the Illinois, to whom such wide powers could 
scarcely be granted. 

During the consideration of plans for a territorial gov- 
ernment the need for some general policy concerning the sale 
of the land became apparent. Accordingly, on May 20, 1785, 
a land ordinance was passed. The discussion brought to an 
issue the two methods of land sales that had been developed 
during the period of the colonies. In the southern colonies, 
particularly in Virginia, the method of acquiring new property 
in land was very simple; warrants were taken out by the hom.e 
seeker, who sought out his own land, frequently staking it 
out himself in what was known as a tomahawk claim, but 
afterwards seeing to It that It was properly surveyed by some 
deputy surveyor. The system had the advantage of permit- 
ting the utmost freedom of Initiative on the part of the set- 
tler; but It resulted in many conflicting land claims, and, what 
was still worse, left uncultivated many strips with poorer soil, 
which were later seized by neighboring land owners without 
due process of law. In later years the state of Kentucky suf- 
fered extremely from the chaotic conditions resulting from 
this procedure. 

A much more orderly system had been followed In the 
northern colonies, particularly In New England, where town- 
ships were laid out by surveyors, and lots within the township 
were surveyed at the cost of either the colonies or the town's 
promoters. This method of prior survey prevented many con- 
flicts in land titles, established compact settlements which were 

-* In Jeiferson's original recommendation there was a clause prohibiting all 
involuntary slavery after the year 1800, but this was stricken out by a very close 
vote during the consideration of the second report. 


a protection against the Indians, and developed township 
sohdarlty. The objection to It lay In Its immobility, 
"township planting" granting no freedom of choice to the 

Of these two systems the more orderly one was adopted 
by the continental congress for the basis of its new regulations. 
Under the law ranges were laid out In townships six miles 
square formed by lines running due north and south and crossed 
by lines running east and west. This area was cut again by 
cross lines a mile apart Into thirty-six smaller sections of six 
hundred and forty acres each. A minimum price of one dollar 
an acre was fixed, the expense of surveying to be borne by the 
purchaser.-^ The southern system imparted to the law an ele- 
ment of freedom. Township planting was not compulsory. 
The home seeker could choose his section anywhere in the sur- 
veyed ranges. 

The speculators were, on the whole, opposed to any such 
orderly disposal of the western lands. They pointed out that 
it would be far better for the United States to dispose of large 
stretches of territory which could be subdivided by the pur- 
chaser into townships or lots and sold directly to the home 
seeker. The United States would thus avoid being involved 
in the intricacies of small business; and, it was urged, the land 
speculators would be able to satisfy the needs of the pioneers 
far better than any land office could. At the time of the 
passage of the land ordinance of 1785 the speculators were 
not given much consideration, but an opportunity to buy on a 
somewhat large scale was offered by the reservation of every 
alternate township for purchase by some Individual or asso- 

This attempt to organize the west had been due largely 
to the efforts of Thomas Jefferson, the archprlest of democracy 
and the Solon of all home seekers ; but his influence had been cut 
off by his departure in 1784 for Paris, where he remained for 

25 The law may be found in Journals of the Continental Congress (ed. 
Folwell), 10:118. A good discussion of the land policy of the United States is 
to be found in Treat, The National Land System, 1785-1820, p. 36 ff. It should 
be noted that Washington's influence was thrown on the side of the orderly de- 
velopment of settlements in the west. Bancroft, History of the Formation of the 
Constitution, 1:425, 430. 


several years. As leader in the matter of organizing the terri- 
tory north of the Ohio river he was succeeded by James Mon- 
roe, who in 1785 made a journey into the region to familiarize 
himself with the situation. The Indian troubles, however, pre- 
vented him from making an extended tour. He was not very 
favorably impressed. "A great part of the territory," he 
wrote, "is miserably poor, especially that near lakes Michigan 
& Erie & that upon the Mississippi & the Illinois consists of 
extensive plains w" have not had from appearances & will not 
have a single bush on them, for ages. The districts, there- 
fore within w*" these fall will perhaps never contain a sufficient 
number of Inhabitants to entitle them to membership in the 
confederacy."-*^ His observations persuaded him that the 
limitation of states to an area of one hundred and fifty miles 
square, which was provided in the cession of Virginia, was 
unwise; and he therefore recommended that Virginia be urged 
to revise the act of cession so that not more than five nor less 
than three states should be formed out of the territory of the 
Old Northwest. 

Under the leadership of Monroe and his successors, defi- 
nite steps were taken toward the development of a law em- 
bodying a new territorial policy to replace the law of 1784; 
but the various changes through which the bill passed need 
not be explained here. 

In the end, Monroe's opinion concerning the necessity of 
cutting down the number of states to be carved out of the Old 
Northwest prevailed, and it was determined after some hesi- 
tancy to erect at least three and not more than five states. ^^ 
By a succession of reports and resolutions beginning with a 
report on May 10, 1786, and closing with one on April 26, 
1787, the whole machinery of the territorial government that 
was finally to be used by the United States in their advance 
westward was worked out.-^ A complete political organiza- 

-^ Quoted in Bancroft, History of the Formation of the Constitution, 1:48; 
Monroe to Jefferson, January i, 19, 1786, in Writings of James Monroe (ed. 
Hamilton), 1:117; Doherty, "James Monroe and the Political Organization of 
the Northwest," manuscript in the library of the University of Illinois. 

-^Bancroft, History of the Formation of the Constitution, 2: 102; Journals of 
the Continental Congress (ed. Folwell), 11:97. 

28 These details are best followed in the account In Barrett, Evolution of the 
Ordinance of 17S7, but may be found in many other monographs on the subject. 


tion for the Northwest was provided, with a governor, a sec- 
retary, and three judges, the governor and judges constituting 
a quasi-legislative body with power to adopt for the territory 
criminal and civil laws from those of the original states. 
When the territory should contain five thousand free adult 
male inhabitants, a house of representatives was to be elected 
by the people, and a legislative council of five was to be ap- 
pointed by congress. Provision was made for the entrance of 
a territory into the union when a certain population was at- 
tained — in the ordinance as passed the number was fixed at 
60,000. Besides this machinery of government, there had 
been certain important accretions to the bill as it rolled through 
the council chamber of the committees; there were a number 
of provisions regulating the administration of justice, such as 
the provision securing the benefits of the writ of habeas corpus 
and trial by jury. 

While this important bill was being evolved, congress re- 
ceived from the various factions of the Illinois French those 
petitions which were described in the previous chapter.^^ 
Necessity of action appeared urgent; and, after sending word 
to the impatient petitioners that care would be taken to pro- 
vide for their necessities, the whole subject was referred to a 
committee. On May 7, 1787, this committee tendered a re- 
port, not differing particularly In detail from one previously 
made; It recommended that a commissioner to the Illinois 
country be appointed by congress to organize a temporary 
government for the villages.^*^ 

The two reports now before congress were closely con- 
nected, but It was evident that If the advice of the committee 
on the government of the whole territory should be passed, it 
could be left to the governor and judges to bring about some 
organization of affairs in the far west. This Important re- 
port was read the second time on May 9, but no further action 
was taken until after a recess of congress extending Into the 
first days of July. When that body was prepared to take up 
again the territorial question, it was found that the whole 
situation was changed by the opportunity of making a large 

29 See above, p. 363. 

8" The report is printed in Alvord, Kaskaskia Records, 399. 


land sale to some men of New England who had determined 
to plant a settlement north of the Ohio river. ^^ 

The land companies which gave to Maryland such valiant 
support in the fight over the dominion of the west were almost 
exclusively composed of men from Pennsylvania, New Jersey, 
and the southern states, and from these came the principal 
support for measures looking to the rapid development of the 
territory back of the mountains. Where western land specu- 
lation was rife, western issues were vital. 

Throughout the diplomatic struggle for the inclusion of 
the ultramontane region within the territory of the United 
States and the subsequent discussion of methods of developing 
it, the apathy of the northern states had been most conspicu- 
ous and had often shown itself In a policy of obstruction. Al- 
though this attitude is largely explained by the absence of an 
active financial interest in trans-Allegheny matters, it is also 
to be remembered that the New England states feared the con- 
sequences upon themselves of opening up fertile and cheap 
lands for settlement, particularly because they thought, judg- 
ing from past experience, that the new states would be col- 
onized by southerners, thus adding to southern power and 
influence in the union. 

The apathy of the northern states toward all western is- 
sues quickly disappeared when the Ohio Company entered into 
competition for the territory of the Old Northwest; and an 
eagerness to forward all western Interests became apparent In 
the continental congress when there grew out of the movement 
a rare combination of New England settlers and New York 
land speculators, for the most part new men In western land 
enterprises. The momentum of this alliance was from the 
first irresistible. Its members, men of political influence, were 
able to open up again the whole issue of the development of 
the west by big business as against the settlement by numerous 
home seekers. To the revival of this Issue, supposedly laid to 

31 For other concrete proposals to raise a revenue by large sales of land see 
Silas Deane's plan of 1776 for a colony in Illinois, in " Correspondence of Silas 
Deane, 1774-1776," in Connecticut Historical Society, Collections, 2: 131 ff . ; Deane 
Papers (ed. Isham), 1:382 ff. For a plan fathered by Theodore Bland and 
Alexander Hamilton, see Bancroft, History of the Formation of the Constitution, 
1:308, 312 ff. A general discussion will be found in Barrett, Evolution of the 
Ordinance of 1787, p. 9 ff. 


rest at the time of the Virginia cession and the land ordinance 
of 1785, little opposition was made. The moribund conti- 
nental congress appears to hav^e been a mere plaything in the 
hands of the financial leaders of America. 

The origin of the Ohio Company dates back to 1783, when 
a number of continental officers petitioned congress to set off 
a state in the Old Northwest wherein they might secure the 
land promised to soldiers serving to the end of the war by the 
resolution of September 16, 1776, and other subsequent reso- 
lutions.^- Because of the indefinite status of affairs congress 
was unable to do anything at the time, and no further action was 
taken until 1786. 

The leaders of 1783 continued their interest in the west 
and were successful in holding together a group of men, mostly 
New Englanders, through the society of officers known as Cin- 
cinnati and also through their association with the American 
Union Lodge of Free Masons."" The leading spirits of the 
movement were General Rufus Putnam, General Benjamin 
Tupper, General Samuel H. Parsons, Winthrop Sargent, and 
the Reverend Manasseh Cutler. On March i, 1786, a meet- 
ing of representatives was held in Boston, and the Ohio Com- 
pany was formed for the purpose of purchasing by means of a 
fund of continental certificates, amounting to one million dol- 
lars, a tract of country upon the Ohio. 

General Parsons, a former associate of Silas Deane in a 
western land speculation, took the petition to New York and 
presented it to the continental congress on May 9, 1787, just 
at the moment when the report on the Northwest Territory 
was being considered. Incompetent to push matters through, 
he was replaced by Dr. Cutler on July 5, when congress had 
convened after a short recess. ^^ 

Cutler's offer to buy a large tract of land to be immedi- 
ately occupied by northerners magically silenced all northern 
opposition to the proposed plan of organization for the north- 
west; and within a few days the ordinance was completed by 
the addition of a bill of rights and several Important provi- 

^^ Journals of the Continental Congress (ed. Library of Congress), 5:763. 
2'"' For a discussion of this see Hulbert, Records of the Ohio Company, 

'* Cutler, Life of Reverend Manasseh Cutler, i, passim. 


sions, such as the right to a representative in congress when 
the territory passed to the second stage of development. The 
most important clause thus added was that numbered six, pro- 
hibiting slavery within the territory — a clause destined to 
cause much trouble in the Illinois country for many years. To 
the French inhabitants of the Illinois were reserved " their 
laws and customs now in force among them relative to the 
descent and conveyance of property." 

The ordinance having been passed on July 13, 1787, the 
sale of the land was next considered; and here big business 
showed its hand. The first proposition made on July 19 by 
the continental congress was not acceptable to the Ohio Com- 
pany, and it is probable that shrewd business men who had 
their own purposes in mind threw difficulties in the way of 
the negotiations. At least subsequent developments indicate 
some hidden forces at work. Dr. Cutler was immediately 
taken into consultation by some leading speculators of the 
city — "some of the first people," he calls them — to whom 
he had letters of introduction. Undoubtedly their influence 
had helped to press the ordinance through congress with such 

The leader of this band of speculators was Colonel 
William Duer, a, man of great business shrewdness, who had 
made his wealth through contracts for the Revolutionary army 
and by speculation in government securities. He was con- 
nected with most of the financial magnates of the United States 
and with many in Europe. On the very day that Cutler was 
consulting with the committee of the continental congress over 
the terms of the purchase, Colonel Duer came to him and 
offered his assistance in securing favorable terms for the Ohio 
Company. The terms were arranged at an "oyster dinner" 
that evening. The host's price was a large one: another 
company, whose existence was to be kept a profound secret, 
was to be formed, and it was to purchase through Cutler and 
associates about five million acres of land over and above the 
million and one-half required by the Ohio Company.^^ 

Since Colonel Duer was secretary of the confederacy's 

35 Hulbert, Records of the Ohio Company, Lxxvi. The smaller tract con- 
tained, when surveyed, 1,781,760 acres; the larger grant included 4,901,480 acres. 


board of treasury, which had authority to make sales of land, 
the matter in dispute between Cutler and congress was quickly 
adjusted, particularly after Cutler agreed that the president of 
the continental congress, General Arthur St. Clair, should be the 
first governor of the Northwest Territory. 

The large speculators in land had been defeated earlier 
by Virginia's persistence In demanding the annulment of all 
earlier and doubtful titles to land in the Old Northwest, and 
again they had been defeated, largely through the efforts 
of Thomas Jefferson, by the passage of the land ordinance of 
1785, which limited the sale of land to relatively small sections. 
But now at last by the skillful use of the popularity of the Ohio 
Company, they had driven an entering wedge for their ex- 
ploitation of the western territory. 

The Scioto Company, as Colonel Duer's company was 
called, was but the beginning of a struggle of big business to 
secure favorable terms from congress. On October 23, 1787, 
a resolution was passed authorizing the board of treasury to 
enter into contracts " in behalf of the United States, with any 
person or persons for any quantity of land in the western ter- 
ritory, the Indian rights whereon have been extinguished, not 
less than one million of acres in one body, upon the same terms, 
as it respects price, payment and surveying, with those directed 
in the contract with M. Cutler and W. Sargent."^*' 

The first of the speculators to follow the example set them 
by Colonel Duer and his friends was John Cleves Symmes 
of New Jersey, who petitioned and obtained a tract of land 
lying between the Great and Little Miami rivers. Two large 
land speculations which were proposed might have directly 
affected the Illinois country, had they come to fruition. The 
first petition was filed by Royal Flint and Joseph Parker on 
October 18, 1787. Parker was the man who, when traveling 
in the Illinois in the summer of 1786, had encouraged the 
Kaskaskia French to drive out John Dodge; and his partner 
was an intimate friend and business associate of Colonel 
William Duer. They petitioned for two tracts of land, one 
of two million acres extending along the Ohio river from its 

3G October 23, 1787, Journals of the Continental Congress (ed. Folwell), 
12: 142. 


mouth to the Wabash, and another of one million acres on 
the east bank of the Mississippi near Its junction with the Illi- 
nois river. If granted four complete townships, they offered 
to make the necessary advance of money for the purchase of 
the Indian rights; but congress felt that this duty should be 
carried out by the United States. Although favorable action 
was taken upon this petition, the sale was never consum- 

The second petition came from the New Jersey Land 
Society, organized by George Morgan. This document, dated 
May I, 1788, asked for two million acres situated on the 
Mississippi south of the Flint and Parker tract and Including 
the French villages on the American Bottom; in it provision 
was made for the French rights. The terms offered by con- 
gress in reply, however, were not acceptable to the New Jersey 
Land Company, and discovering an opportunity to obtain from 
the Spanish government a grant of land under supposedly bet- 
ter conditions, George Morgan turned his attention to the 
region that is now New Madrid in Missourl.^^ 

Stimulated by the activity of these land speculators, Tardi- 
veau, who had entered Into contracts with the Illinois French 
and American squatters,^^ petitioned congress again and again 
for compensation In land for his clients. In all his communi- 
cations he was careful not to mention names or particular 
events of the last few years, for his constituents were drawn 
from all the factions and he wished to obtain lands for all. 
He depicted the French as living in Arcadian simplicity, guided 
only by the dictates of conscience, innocently bowing to the 
hardships thrust upon them, and retaining through all their 
troubles an unbounded faith in the goodness of congress and 
a faithfulness to the American cause. The Americans he de- 
scribed as making settlements with all faith in the power of 
the courts to grant land, and as being greatly surprised at the 
illegality of the titles thus obtained.'*'^ 

^''Journals of the Continental Congress (ed. Folwell), 12:107, 151; 13:113, 
and Alvord, Kaskaskla Records, 489. 

^^Ibid., 469, 479, 483, 485, 490; Journals of the Continental Congress (ed. 
Folwell), 13:90; I'irginia State Papers, 4:554. 

^^ See above, p. 371. 

*° These petitions are printed in Alvord, Kaskaskia Records. 


His tactics were partially successful; interest was aroused 
in the French; and as a result, the continental congress accepted 
a report of its committee " confirming in their possessions and 
titles, the French and Canadian inhabitants and other settlers 
on these lands, who on or before the year 1783, had professed 
themselves citizens of the United States or any of them" and 
recommending that three tracts shall be laid off *' adjoining the 
several villages, Kaskaskies, La Prairie du Rochers and Ka- 
hokia — of such extent as shall contain 400 acres for each of 
the families of the villages of Kaskaskies, La Prairie du Ro- 
chers, Kahokia, Fort Chartres, or St. Philips." The law con- 
tained no provision for the late comers of English speech; and 
even the French who were promised such generous bounties 
were not to enjoy the benefit because so many years were to 
elapse before the gifts were made available. The French vil- 
lagers gave freely to the cause of independence and were re- 
warded with destitution."*^ These few Gallic families thrown 
upon the banks of the Mississippi river by the flood of eight- 
eenth century French imperialism were hereafter to be mere 
castaways in the conquest of the west. It may be that Fate 
demanded from them, as it did from the Indians, a sacrifice 
for the greater good. Certainly In the scheme of the future 
there was shown to them little consideration. 

Momentous events were now taking place. The roaring 
of the advancing tide of the Americans was already heard west 
of the Alleghenles, and with Inexorable force the waves of 
Individualism were to inundate the wilderness. For the use 
of the pioneers of a new west, there had been evolved an organ- 
ism of territorial government that was adjusted to the needs of 
a people loving personal independence and spurning external 
control. The Imperialism of the Ordinance of 1787 was an 
imperialism of individual liberty and of local self determina- 
tion. Whatever were the forces that called it into being, this 
new Instrument of western expansion was framed by men of 
democratic ideals and was the palladium of freedom carried 
by Americans in their rush across the valley of the Mississippi. 

■*^ A full account of this law may be found in Mason, "Lists of Early 
Illinois Citizens," in Chicago Historical Society's Collection, 4: 192 if. See alio 
American State Papers, Public Lands, 2: 124. 


THE dreams of Talon and Jolliet, of Morgan and Murray 
were nearing realization. The prairies of the Illinois 
country were soon to be cultivated by white men. In accord- 
ance with the provisions of the Ordinance of 1787 the Territory 
Northwest of the River Ohio was proclaimed by Governor 
Arthur St. Clair in 1788. The first settlement of the new gov- 
ernment at Marietta was a presage of the dominion of men of 
English speech throughout the Old Northwest. Before the oc- 
cupation of the prairies over two decades were to elapse; but 
although for the west as a whole these years teemed with sig- 
nificant events, for the territory which was to become the state 
of Illinois the period was one of relative quiescence. The 
French civilization, never very flourishing, had been ruined 
during the Revolutionary years and those that followed. With- 
out leaders, without the fresh Impetus of new blood, nothing 
could be expected from the slumbering villages along the Mis- 
sissippi. No longer did International complications make their 
fate a matter of stupendous Interest. They could but wait for 
the tide of American pioneers to rush over them, covering their 
shallow places with Its flood. 

Meanwhile several troublesome problems confronting the 
new government of the Old Northwest must be solved. The 
Indian nations, anxious to prevent encroachments of the white 
people upon their hunting grounds, must be quieted; the Brit- 
ish government, which still refused to withdraw Its troops from 
the lake posts at Buffalo, Detroit, and Mackinac, must be 
driven to action either by force or by persuasion; the Spanish 
government must be compelled to open the Mississippi; and 
the unruly frontier people who were crossing the mountains 
must be taught obedience to the new order. 

The Indian problem as ever was the most difficult one. The 
natives were firm in demanding that the boundary line fixed by 
the treaty made in 1768 at Fort Stanwix be observed by the 



white men, who, they claimed, were unjustly establishing com- 
munities north of the river Ohio. Before St. Clair arrived at 
Marietta, two treaties with the Indians had been negotiated 
in the hope of securing titles to land in what is now the southern 
part of the state of Ohio; following his arrival these were con- 
firmed in the treaty of Fort Harmar. Yet many Indians, espe- 
cially those on the upper Wabash river, where the influence of 
the British fur traders was paramount, remained hostile and 
refused to agree to any terms. 

An Indian war was inevitable. War bands of the natives 
were scouring the northwest from the upper Muskingum to 
the French villages on the Mississippi. Under the circum- 
stances President Washington realized that the only hope of 
peace lay in a complete victory of an American army and ac- 
cordingly Governor St. Clair was urged to strike the blow; but 
his campaign, undertaken in the fall of 1791, was a complete 
failure. On a branch of the Wabash his army was surprised by 
the Indians and received one of the most crushing defeats ever 
experienced by white troops at the hands of Indians. 

The command of the army was now given to General 
Anthony Wayne, whose preliminary act was to make a treaty 
with the Potawatomi in northern Illinois, thus cutting off the 
west from the disaffected region. The situation had become 
extremely delicate, for the British commandant at Detroit had 
built a fort on the upper Maumee river, and there installed 
a garrison. This was an invasion of United States territory 
and might easily lead to war, for which Canadian oflScers were 
eager. After putting his raw troops through a vigorous train- 
ing, Wayne met the Indians on August 18, 1794, in the battle 
of Fallen Timbers, practically under the walls of the small 
British fort; but the British, to the dismay of the Indians, 
offered no help; and, when the natives were scattered by the 
forces of Wayne, they were not permitted to take refuge under 
the foreign flag. 

General Wayne proved himself as skillful a negotiator of 
peace as he had been a leader to victory. The treaty of Green- 
ville on August 4, 1795, settled for many years the Indian 
troubles of the Old Northwest. A new Indian boundary line 
was fixed, opening up the southern and eastern parts of the 


present state of Ohio for immediate settlement and giving to 
the United States various small reservations for forts. Three 
of these were situated within the boundaries of the present 
state of Illinois — one at Chicago, including the land lying 
along the portage of the Des Plaines river, another at Peoria, 
and the third at the mouth of the Illinois river.^ 

The military success over the Indians with its consequent 
fifteen years of peace is characteristic of the course that settle- 
ment of the whites in the Old Northwest was to follow. In this 
region the United States government was able to inaugurate the 
system previously contemplated by the British ministry. By suc- 
cessive treaties with the federal government the Indian tribes 
ceded their titles to land until they were gradually driven from 
the whole territory. Meanwhile the license of the pioneers was 
somewhat restrained by the show of national force and by the 
hope of soon entering into their paradise of land engrossment. 

The situation in the northwest was made much more com- 
plex by the occupation of the lake posts by the British. Among 
the Canadian fur traders there had been an outcry against the 
international boundary established by the treaty of 1783. 
They pointed out that the chief industry of the lakes region 
was the fur trade, which for years had been controlled by the 
northern merchants, and that withdrawal without financial loss 
could be accomplished only after several years. It was not 
difficult for British politicians to find excuses for maintaining 
their hold over the region; and they had in fact, during the 
period intervening between the signing of the preliminary and 
the proclaiming of the definitive treaty, determined upon such 
a policy. The later accusations against the United States con- 
cerning the nonpayment of debts to British merchants and the 
terms meted out to the tories were merely excuses.- 

The British merchants, instead of preparing to withdraw 
their agents and merchandise from the Old Northwest, used 
the interim to extend their trade. They pushed across the 
Mississippi river — Prairie du Chien being the rendezvous of 

1 Kappler, Indian Affairs, Laiis and Treaties, 2:40. For an account of the 
war and treaty see Quaife, Chicago and the Old Northivest, 125. 

- Stevens, " British Monopoly of the Northwest Fur Trade," manuscript in 
the library of the University of Illinois. See debate in House of Lords, Parlia- 
mentary History, 23 : 377 ff. 


traders and Indians — and displayed their goods in the Span- 
ish territory on the upper Missouri.^ Under the skillful man- 
agement of the enterprising merchants of Montreal, the fur 
industry of Canada became a powerful institution. By the end 
of the century, after experimenting with several temporary 
organizations, large fur companies had secured a practical 
monopoly of the trade of the Great Lakes, of all northern 
Canada, and of the region of the upper Missouri and were 
extending their activities as far even as the Pacific coast. Until 
the opening of the npw century, however, the Illinois country 
was exploited by private traders, who were accustomed to cross 
the Chicago-Des Plaines portage in the fall and pursue their 
calling along the banks of the Illinois during the winter. A 
British commandant at Mackinac in 1793 v/rote : "Traders 
descend with facility to the American Settlements at the Illinois 
who are all affected to the British Government. The Trade to 
that Country is much in our favor, as they consume a great 
quantity of British Manufactures, particularly Cottons, and 
not having a sufficiency of Peltries to give in return, the balance 
is paid in Cash which they receive from their neighbors the 
Spaniards." He stated, furthermore, that a chain of British 
traders extended from the Illinois up the Mississippi.'* 

The representatives of the United States always asserted 
that British officials in the west were responsible for the Indian 
unrest and attacks upon the American settlements. There can 
be no question that the British officials continued, as they had 
done in the past, to make to the Indians presents of powder, 
guns, and other merchandise and to encourage them to ex- 
change their furs for British goods. But a careful study of the 
secret correspondence between Canadian officials and the min- 
istry of Great Britain proves that, except for an occasional 

3 Smith, St. Clair Papers, 2:175. The legislature of Quebec, to which had 
been assigned oversight of the fur trade, removed most of the former imperial 
impediments to its development. By a law of 1791, traders were no longer 
required to secure licenses even for the sale of liquor. 

4 Antoine Deschamps was engaged in trips to the Illinois for years. Hubbard, 
Autobiography (ed. Mcllvaine), 23. The quotation is in a letter from Doyle 
to Simcoe, July 28, 1793, Public Archives of Canada, series 2, 280, part 2; Public 
Record Office, Colonial Office, 373. The Mackinac Company, frequently men- 
tioned by historians as operating at this time, was not formed until 1806. 
Agreement between Michillimackinac and Northwest Companies, Baby manu- 
scripts. Seminary of St. Sulpice, Montreal. 


indiscreet remark, the representatives of the empire kept within 
the limits of international practice in their dealings with the 
Indian tribes dwelling within United States territory. Even 
the British traders followed no conscious policy of inciting the 
Indians to warfare, which always disturbed business. 

So long as British garrisons remained at Buffalo, Detroit, 
and Mackinac, the rights of the United States in the west were 
obviously not secure; and the government under President 
Washington realized that the first diplomatic object to be 
attained was the withdrawal of the foreign troops. At the 
time when the treaty of 1783 was made, both the American 
and the British commissioners had agreed to leave several 
issues to be settled in a future commercial treaty between the 
two states. This was not brought about until 1794, when 
President Washington sent John Jay to London as American 
representative to bring to completion the long-drawn-out nego- 
tiations. The international situation due to the French Revo- 
lution had made the task of the American commissioner less 
difficult; and on November 19, 1794, he secured the object of 
his mission, a treaty of commerce which, however, was not 
made public until its acceptance by the senate on June 29 of the 
next year. 

After the lake posts were delivered to the United States in 
the summer of 1796, in accordance with the terms of the treaty, 
the British transferred the center of their fur trade to Maiden 
at the mouth of the Detroit river and to St. Joseph Island in 
the channel connecting Lakes Huron and Superior. There they 
continued their operations much as they had before; it was to 
be many years before Americans were to drive the British mer- 
chants from the Indian trade south of the Great Lakes. 

The people of the west found that their interests conflicted 
with those of another foreign nation. Spanish Louisiana occu- 
pied the whole western bank of the Mississippi and stretched 
out over the prairies to the Rocky mountains. Since Louisiana 
possessed the city of New Orleans on the eastern bank, it was 
possible for the Spaniards to close to the westerners the natural 
opening for the trade of the valley, the mouth of the Missis- 
sippi river. The United States experienced the same disadvan- 
tage from the control of the river mouth by an alien people as 


had Great Britain in former years; and to the settlers of the 
region the situation appeared to be contrary to the laws of 
nature, particularly since the Spaniards put every possible 
obstacle in the way of free trade. It is unnecessary to pass in 
review all phases of the ensuing struggle. Besides closing the 
Mississippi river at times, the Spanish officials stirred up the 
Indians along its banks to make war upon the American set- 
tlements and intrigued with the American settlers in the hope 
of persuading them to cast off their allegiance to the United 
States. Many westerners of prominence listened to the 
honeyed words of Governor Miro and were persuaded that the 
destinies of the west could best be guided under the flag of 

The situation in the Old Southwest was in many ways, 
therefore, much more desperate, much more critical, than that 
which was brought about by British activities among the Indians 
north of the Ohio river; and yet there were many eastern poli- 
ticians who were incapable of realizing the paramount impor- 
tance of keeping open the navigation of the Mississippi rlver.^ 
The United States was finally saved from the embarrassing 
situation by the turn in international affairs brought about by 
the French Revolution. Intrigues of a representative of the 
French republic with the westerners frightened the Spanish 
officials, and the government of Spain was finally brought to 
agree to American demands. The treaty that was ratified in 
1795 gave to the United States the right to navigate the Missis- 
sippi river and also secured a port of deposit at New Orleans. 
Still the control of the mouth of the river by Spain remained 
an open sore, which was not healed until the United States pur- 
chased Louisiana in 1803. 

Before the treaties with Great Britain, Spain, and the In- 
dians had settled the more important issues concerning the Old 
Northwest, Governor St. Clair had found time to visit the 
Illinois settlement, though not until he had been distinctly in- 
structed to do so by both congress and the president.*^ He 

5 John Jay in 1786 actually entered into negotiations with Spain and was 
ready to consent to the closing of the Mississippi to American trade for twenty- 
five years; but the west was aroused at the very suggestion of such a measure 
and it was quickly dropped. 

6 Smith, St. Clair Papers, 2:164. 


arrived in Kaskaskia on March 5, 1790, and during the next 
month paid a visit to Cahokia; on April 27, he proclaimed the 
boundaries of the county of St. Clair, the mother of many 
future counties. According to the proclamation its territory 
extended from the Illinois river to the Ohio and from the 
Mississippi on the west to a straight line drawn from the mouth 
of the Mackinaw river to the mouth of the creek above Fort 
Massiac.''^ In June of the same year Knox county, with its seat 
at Vincennes, was laid out, embracing part of Indiana and that 
section of the future Illinois which lay east of the line of St. 
Clair county. 

The extensive territory of St. Clair county was divided by 
the governor into three judicial districts centering at Cahokia, 
Prairie du Rocher, and Kaskaskia, " in each of which, sessions 
of the county court should be held during the year, as if each 
district represented a distinct county."^ The courts established 
in each district of the county of St. Clair were those of common 
pleas, general quarter sessions, the justices of the peace, and 
the probate court, for conducting which the governor experi- 
enced difficulty in finding capable men. The court of common 
pleas met four times a year and exercised jurisdiction in all 
civil suits with the right of appeal to the territorial court.^ The 
court of quarter sessions exercised criminal jurisdiction in cases 
involving life, long imprisonment, or forfeiture of property, 
and had general administrative authority over its district.^^ 

The inauguration of the courts by Governor St. Clair did 
not imrnediately solve the difficult problems of civil govern- 
ment. On June 2, 1793, the prothonotary, William St. Clair, 
wrote of the county: " It would appear we have no organized 
government whatever. Our courts are in a deplorable state; 

^ Smith, St. Clair Papers, 2: 165. 

^ Ibid., 165, 198. The governor was admonished by the president for exceed- 
ing his powers in thus dividing the country. 

^ The judges appointed were Jean Baptiste Barbau, Antoine Girardin, John 
Edgar, Philippe Engel, and Jean Dumoulin. William St. Clair was appointed 
prothonotary and clerk of the court. He was the younger son of the Earl of 
Roslin and a cousin to Governor St. Clair; he had resided at Detroit for some 
time, and had settled in Illinois in 1790. 

1° The members were John Edgar, Philippe Engel, Antoine Girardin, and 
Antoine Louviere. The probate judge selected was Barthelemi Tardiveau. 
The first St. Clair county court was held in Cahokia in a private dwelling house, 
which was later bought on October 8, 1793, from Frangois Saucier for $1,000. 
It is the old French " fort " that now stands in Jackson Park, Chicago. 


no order is kept in the interior, and many times not held. 
Prairie du Rocher has had no court this sometime, and Kas- 
kaskia has failed before. The magistrates, however, have 
taken upon themselves to set it going again. I think they will 
again fail. The prospect is gloomy."^^ 

On the whole Cahokia, as in the previous years, proved 
that it was more capable of self-government than were the other 
villages. The records of the various courts held in this village 
show that they sat with considerable regularity and transacted 
business each year. The justices had general oversight of such 
matters as trade with the Indians, the upkeep of the roads, 
fences, and bridges, the care of the poor, and the collection of 
licenses from merchants and traders. They ordered the terri- 
torial laws translated into French; and in 1794, upon petition 
of the people of the village, they established for a month a 
school for the children. ^- 

For several years the judges of the territory did not inter- 
fere with the local government of St. Clair county. Finally 
Governor St. Clair sent Judge George Turner on the western 
circuit. He arrived in Kaskaskia in October, 1794, and his 
first act was to order that the court records which had been 
kept by the prothonotary, William St. Clair, at Cahokia be 
removed to Kaskaskia, which, he claimed, was the county seat. 
When the prothonotary protested, the judge removed the 
records from his custody. St. Clair answered this by resigning. 
Furthermore, Judge Turner so enraged the people by his med- 
dlesome Interference In Indian affairs and his "unexampled 
tyranny and oppression" that they petitioned congress for 
redress. According to the petitioners the judge denied " us, as 
we conceive, the right reserved to us by the constitution of the 
Territory, to wit, the laws and customs hitherto used in regard 
to descent and conveyance of property, in which the French 
and Canadian inhabitants conceive the language an essen- 
tlal."^2 Rather than face an Indictment by the grand jury. 
Judge Turner resigned. 

11 Smith, St. Clair Papers, 2: 317. 

i^AHinson, "The Government of Illinois, 1790-1799," in Illinois State 
Historical Society, Transactions, 1907, p. 286. 

13 American'State Papers, Miscellaneous, i : 151, 157 ; Smith, St. Clair Papers, 


When Governor St. Clair learned of the actions of Judge 
Turner he rebuked him in no uncertain words and, in company 
with Judge John Cleves Symmes, immediately made the jour- 
ney to the far west, where the two took measures to redress 
the grievances. It had become evident that the rivalry be- 
tween Cahokia and Kaskaskia could not be abated; therefore 
on October 5, 1795, Governor St. Clair issued a proclamation 
establishing the county of Randolph, which included the south- 
ern part of the state. ^'^ 

In the archives of the modern counties of St. Clair and 
Randolph are preserved scattered records of the various courts 
which show that from 1795 onward a more orderly govern- 
ment was maintained, but the records of the years previous to 
1800 are extremely meager, and of the affairs of the people in 
what was still the far west few records have been preserved. ^^ 

Meanwhile the population of the territory of the Old 
Northwest was growing, and in 1798 it was ascertained that 
it contained over five thousand white male inhabitants and was 
therefore entitled to enter the second grade of territorial gov- 
ernment. Governor St. Clair accordingly called upon the 
people to elect representatives to a general assembly to be held 
at Cincinnati. The lower house of the first legislature 
held north of the Ohio river consisted of twenty-three members, 
of whom sixteen came from the present state of Ohio, three 
from Michigan, two from Illinois, and one from Indiana. The 
election from the two counties of Illinois caused little excite- 
ment. In St. Clair county, out of a population which a year 
later numbered 1,255, there were cast 185 votes; and Shadrach 
Bond, the elder, was elected. ^"^ John Edgar was selected to 
represent Randolph county. 

The people in the western part of the Northwest Territory 
were not at all satisfied with the government, since its center 
was so far removed from them and its judges made such infre- 
quent visits to their villages. The maintenance of the territo- 

14 Smith, St. Clair Papers, 2: 345. 

1^ Anyone that is interested in the external history of the courts of this period 
will find that Miss AUinson in her " Government of Illinois, 1790-1799," in 
Illinois State Historical Society, Transactions, 1907, p. 277 ff., has diligently 
collected all the evidence concerning them. 

^'^ History of St. Clair County, 70; Burnet, Notes on the Early Settlement 
of the North-fVestern Territory, 288, 302. 


rial government of the second stage was also expensive without 
bringing corresponding benefits to the villages. Moreover, the 
Illinois and Indiana people could calculate that the eastern part 
of the territory would in a short time be separated and made an 
independent territory and later, a state, and that the more 
western parts would then settle back into a territorial govern- 
ment of the first form. They saw no reason, therefore, why 
they should continue to pay the greater expenses, and in the 
early days of 1800 petitioned that they be separated from the 

The committee of congress that took the question under 
advisement came to the conclusion that such a division should 
be made, since, they pointed out, " in the western countries 
[counties] there has been but one court having cognizance of 
crimes, in five years; and the immunity which offenders experi- 
ence attracts, as to an asylum, the most vile and abandoned 
criminals, and at the same time deters useful and virtuous per- 
sons from making settlements in such society."^^ In accordance 
with this report, congress passed an act v/hich was approved 
May 7, 1800, forming the Indiana Territory from the region 
west of a line starting opposite the Kentucky river and running 
northward to the Canadian boundary. The governor selected 
for the new territory was William Henry Harrison, who ar- 
rived at Vincennes, the territorial capital, on January 10, 1801. 

The new territory contained a population numbering less 
than six thousand. The largest center was in what is now Indi- 
ana, where were gathered 929 in Clark's grant on the Ohio 
and 714 at Vincennes. At the posts on the Great Lakes were 
to be found about 600. In Illinois proper the figures show 
719 at Cahokia, 467 at Kaskaskia, 212 at Prairie du Rocher, 
and about 100 at Peoria. The centers of English speech were 
Bellefontaine, 286; Eagle, at that time the southernmost town 
of St. Clair county, 250; other scattered hamlets in modern 
Monroe county, 334; and fort Massiac, 90.^^ 

It is apparent, then, that the population within the present 
boundaries of Illinois numbered about the same as it did fifty 

1^ American State Papers, Miscellaneous, i : 206. Smith, St. Clair Papers, 
2 : 480. 

18 Census of i8oo, United States Second and Third Census, 2Q. 


years before — roughly, 2,500. The majority were of French 
birth and were almost exclusively of the class called habitants, 
who are universally described as living in a condition of utmost 
poverty and filth. One writer describes their "wretched 
hovels" as being "ready to tumble down on the heads of 
starving Indians, French and negroes, all mixed together. "^"^ 
Governor St. Clair thought that the hardships through which 
the people had passed offered an adequate explanation. After 
reviewing the trying times of the Revolution, he adds: "To 
this succeeded three successive and extraordinary Inundations 
from the IMIssissippI, which either swept away their crops or 
prevented their being planted. The loss of the greatest part 
of their trade with the Indians, which was a great resource, 
came upon them at this juncture, as well as the hostile Incursions 
of some of the tribes which had ever before been in friendship 
with them; and to this was added the loss of their whole last 
crop of corn by an untimely frost. Extreme misery could not 
fail to be the consequence of such accumulated misfortunes."-*^ 

Some Frenchmen who had come to the Illinois country 
after the cession of the territory to the United States were of 
a different character and were prosperous. The conspicuous 
men of this class were Nicolas Jarrot, Pierre Menard, a Cana- 
dian, Jean Dumoulin, a Swiss, and Jean Francois Perrey, who 
came from France in 1792 and settled at Prairie du Pont.-^ 
These men adjusted themselves readily to the new conditions 
of the American frontier and played an Important part in the 
building of the state ; but, with the exception of this latter class, 
the vast majority of the French "exercised almost no influence 
in politics. 

Among them had settled a few from the eastern states and 
those south of the Ohio. John Reynolds estimated that in 1 800 
the English-speaking population, called "Americans" by the 
French, numbered from eight hundred to a thousand. About 
one hundred and fifty of these had come to the country before 
1787, and the others had straggled in during the last decade 
of the century. They had experienced many hardships during 

1^ Narrative of Mason in Strickland, The Pioneers of the JVest, 56. 

^^ Smith, St. Clair Papers, 2:16%. 

21 Snyder, Adam JV. Snyder and His Period in Illinois History, 426. 


the Indian wars, and for protection had been compelled to 
live in picketed stations, formed by log cabins placed close to- 
gether and fortified by palisades. Conditions forced them to 
practice communism ; while some of the men cultivated a com- 
mon field in sight of the station, others stood guard. -'- 

The Reverend John Clark, a pioneer preacher who visited 
Illinois in 1796, found that "the character of the American 
families was various. Some were religious people, both Bap- 
tist and Methodist; some were moral and respected the Sab- 
bath; others were infidels or at least skeptical of all revealed 
truth. They paid no regard to religious meetings, and per- 
mitted their children to grow up without any moral restraint. 
They were fond of frolics, dances, horse-racing, card playing, 
and other vices. In which they were joined by many of the 
French population from the villages. They drank tafia and 
when fruit became plentiful, peach brandy was made, and rye 
whiskey obtained from the Monongahela country."-^ 

The civilizing power of the churches in this far country 
was at this time not conspicuous. The French still clung to 
their faith and looked to their spiritual. fathers for guidance; 
but during the last decade of the eighteenth century the parishes 
of the American Bottom were deprived of the regular serv- 
ices of priests. After the offers of the Spanish government to 
the missionaries of the valley had induced them to make their 
homes on the western bank, the long record of Catholic activi- 
ties on the American Bottom temporarily comes almost to 
an end.^* Now and then figures of priests from the western 
bank lighten this dark period in Illinois history, but none took 
up their permanent residence here.-^ Under the circumstances 
the church buildings fell into decay; and in 1809, the Trap- 

22 At the time of the treaty of Greenville, in 1795, the New Design settle- 
ment, situated in the present county of Monroe, was the largest English-speaking 
community in Illinois. It soon began to extend south into Randolph county. In 
1795 the town of Washington was laid off on the west bank of the Kaskaskia, 
Johnson J. Whiteside being one of the projectors. In 1797 Virginians to the 
number of 154 traveled down the Ohio in open flat boats, landed at Fort Massac, 
and made their way by land to New Design. History of Randolph, Monroe, and 
Perry Counties, 69; 'Father Clark," or The Pioneer Preacher, 196. 

23/i/i., 196. 

24 Alvord, Kaskaskia Records, XLix. 

25 St. Pierre in 1792, Gabriel Richard in 1793 and 1796, Pierre Janin in 
1795, Donatian Olivier in 1799. Rothensteiner, "Kaskaskia," in Illinois Catholic 
Historical Revicvc, 1 : 210. 


pist, Father Urbain Guillet, felt obliged to punish the Caho- 
kians by refusing "to read the mass to them until they rebuild 
the roof and windows of their church. "^^ 

Occasionally a minister of some protestant denomination 
found his way to the small American settlements for a short 
visit. In 1787 business called the Reverend James Smith, a 
"Separate Baptist" from Kentucky, to the region, and he 
preached repeatedly. He returned in 1790 and was captured 
by the Indians, from whom he was ransomed by a French 
trader.-^ In January, 1794, the Reverend Josiah Dodge made 
a visit of some length, and two years later the Reverend Daniel 
Badgley of Virginia was successful in organizing at New 
Design a Baptist church with twenty-eight members. ^^ 

The Methodists appeared a few years later than the Bap- 
tists. In 1793 the Reverend Joseph Lillard came, and in 1796 
both "Father" John Clark and the Reverend Hosea Riggs 
were engaged in missionary work and organized a class. It was 
not until 1803 that the first preacher was assigned to ride 
the circuit In Illinois; this was the Reverend Benjamin 
Young. ^^ 

The Illinois country felt the power of the United States 
not only through the territorial government but also through 
the presence of federal troops. The first detachment was sent 
because of the conduct of George Rogers Clark, once the hero 
of the Illinois villages. His restless spirit had become some- 
what enfeebled by liquor and by constant brooding over the 
failure of Virginia to grant him the honor or even the jus- 
tice that was his due, and he held himself In readiness to 
enter Into western Intrigues which were being continually con- 
cocted in Kentucky and which skirted very close to the border 
line of treachery to the union. In 1793 many of the western 
people, thoroughly imbued with the French revolutionary 
spirit, were prepared to embark on a harebrained enterprise, 
proposed by the French minister, Edward Charles Genet, to 

2" Lindsay, " Un Precurseur de la Trappe du Canada, Dom Urbain Guillet," 
in La Nouve/le France, March, 191 5, p. 123. 

27 "Father Clark," or The Pioneer Preacher, 197. 

28 Ibid., 200 ff. 

^^ Ibid., 205; Short, "Early Religious Methods and Leaders in Illinois," in 
Illinois State Historical Society, Transactions, 1902, p. 58. 


raise armies in the great valley for the purpose of attacking 
the Spanish villages. Clark accepted a commission as major 
general in the French army and boasted that his name would 
attract many recruits. Particularly from the Illinois villages 
did he expect a rush to his standard. ^*^ 

The federal authorities were thoroughly aroused by the 
critical situation. Governor St. Clair in 1793 issued a procla- 
mation in which he warned the citizens to observe a strict 
neutrality toward Spain. All civil and military officers were 
commanded "to use every means in their power to prevent 
any of the inhabitants from joining the said Frenchmen."^^ 
Major General Wayne was ordered to rebuild Fort Massiac, 
from this time on called " Massac " because of a misconception 
of the derivation. He was to " erect a strong redoubt and 
block house, with some suitable cannon from Fort Washing- 
ton. "^^ Major Thomas Doyle, to whom the work was 
intrusted, reached Fort Massac on June 12, 1794, his expedi- 
tion consisting q,i ten boats. 

As a military post, the fort was never of much importance, 
though a small body of troops was stationed there until 1812;^^ 
but in the economic history of the region. Fort Massac played 
an important part. Trade on the Ohio developed very rap- 
idly in the last decade of the century; and, in 1799, for the 
collection of duties on merchandise and tonnage, congress 
created several districts, two of which touched the Illinois 
country, though only one ever attained importance. The dis- 
trict of Fort Massac, extending north and east with the fort 
as port of entry, became a real factor in the trade of