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Full text of "The French in the heart of America"

THE FRENCH IN THE 
HEART OF AMERICA 



JOHN FINLEY 



LIBRARY 



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presented to the 
UNIVERSITY LIBRARY 
UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA 
SAN DIEGO 

by 

MRS. LEO HERZ 



THE FRENCH IN 
THE HEART OF AMERICA 



THE FRENCH IN 
THE HEART OF AMERICA 



BY 
JOHN FINLEY 

COMMISSIONER OF EDUCATION AND PRESIDENT OF THE UNIVERSITY OF 
THE STATE OF NEW YORK 



NEW YORK 

CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS 

1915 



Copyright, 1915, by 
CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS 



Published March, 1915 




PREFACE 

Most of what is here written was spoken many 
months ago in the Amphitheatre Richelieu of the 
Sorbonne, in Paris, and some of it in Lille, Nancy, 
Dijon, Lyons, Grenoble, Montpellier, Toulouse, Bor- 
deaux, Poitiers, Rennes, and Caen; and all of it was 
in the American publisher's hands before the great 
war came, effacing, with its nearer adventures, perils, 
sufferings, and anxieties, the dim memories of the days 
when the French pioneers were out in the Mississippi 
Valley, "The Heart of America." 

As it was spoken, the purpose was to freshen and 
brighten for the French the memory of what some of 
them had seemingly wished to forget and to visualize 
to them the vigorous, hopeful, achieving life that is 
passing before that background of Gallic venturing 
and praying. It was planned also to publish the book 
simultaneously in France; and, less than a week be- 
fore the then undreamed-of war, the manuscript was 
carried for that purpose to Paris and left for transla- 
tion in the hands of Madame Boutroux, the wife of 
the beloved and eminent Emile Boutroux, head of the 
Fondation Thiers, and sister of the illustrious Henri 
Poincare. But wounded soldiers soon came to fill the 
chambers of the scholars there, and the wife and 
mother has had to give all her thought to those who 
have hazarded their all for the France that is. 



vi PREFACE 

But it was my hope that what was spoken in Paris 
might some day be read in America, and particularly 
in that valley which the French evoked from the un- 
known, that those who now live there might know 
before what a valorous background they are passing, 
though I can tell them less of it than they will learn 
from the Homeric Parkman, if they will but read his 
immortal story. 

My first debt is to him; but I must include with him 
many who made their contributions to these pages as 
I wrote them in Paris. The quotation-marks, diligent 
and faithful as they have tried to be, have, I fear, not 
reached all who have assisted, but my gratitude ex- 
tends to every source of fact and to every guide of 
opinion along the way, from the St. Lawrence to the 
Gulf of Mexico, even if I have not in every instance 
known or remembered his name. 

As without Parkman's long labors I could not have 
prepared these chapters, so without the occasion fur- 
nished by the Hyde Foundation and the nomination 
made by the President of Harvard University to the 
exchange lectureship, I should not have undertaken 
this delightful filial task. The readers' enjoyment 
and profit of the result will not be the full measure of 
my gratitude to Mr. James H. Hyde, the author of the 
Foundation, to President Lowell, and to him whose 
confidence in me persuaded me to it. But I hope 
these enjoyments and profits will add something to 
what I cannot adequately express. 

That what was written could, in the midst of official 
duties, be prepared for the press is due largely to the 
patient, verifying, proof-reading labors of Mr. Frank 
L. Tolman, my young associate in the State Library. 



PREFACE vii 

The title of this book (appearing first as the general 
title for some of these chapters in Scribner's Magazine 
in 191 2) has a purely geographical connotation. But 
I advise the reader, in these days of bitterness, to go 
no further if he carry any hatred in his heart. 



John Finley. 



State Education Building, Albany, N. Y. 
Washington's Birthday, 1915. 



CONTENTS 

CHAPTER FAGS 

I. Introduction i 

II. From Labrador to the Lakes 4 

III. The Paths of the Gray Friars and Black Gowns 23 

IV. From the Great Lakes to the Gulf .... 46 

V. The River Colbert: A Course and Scene of 

Empire 70 

VI. The Passing of New France and the Dream of 

Its Revival 99 

VII. The Peopling of the Wilderness 126 

VIII. The Parcelling of the Domain 150 

IX. In the Trails of the Coureurs de Bois . . . 174 

X. In the Wake of the "Griffin" 196 

XI. Western Cities That Have Sprung from 

French Forts 216 

XII. Western Towns and Cities That Have Sprung 

from French Portage Paths 246 

XIII. From La Salle to Lincoln 270 

XIV. The Valley of the New Democracy .... 291 

XV. Washington: The Union of the Eastern and 

the Western Waters 309 

XVI. The Producers 329 

ix 



x CONTENTS 

CHAPTER PAGE 

XVII. The Thought of To-Morrow 354 

XVIII. "The Men of Always" 371 

XIX. The Heart of America 391 

Epilogue 401 

Index 419 



THE FRENCH IN 
THE HEART OF AMERICA 



From "a series of letters to a friend in England," in 
1793, "tending to shew the probable rise and grandeur 
of the American Empire": 

"It struck me as a natural object of enquiry to what a 
future increase and elevation of magnitude and grandeur 
the spreading empire of America might attain, when a 
country had thus suddenly risen from an uninhabited 
wild, to the quantum of population necessary to govern 
and regulate its own administration." 

G. Imlay 

("A captain in the American 
Army during the late war, and 
a commissioner for laying out 
land in the back settlements ")• 



CHAPTER I 
INTRODUCTION 

I ADDRESS the reader as living in the land from 
which the pioneers of France went out to America; 
first, because I wrote these chapters in that land, 
a few steps from the Seine; second, because I should 
otherwise have to assume the familiarity of the reader 
with much that I have gathered into these chapters, 
though the reader may have forgotten or never known 
it; and, third, because I wish the reader to look at 
these new-world regions from without, and, standing 
apart and aloof, to see the present restless life of these 
valleys, especially of the Mississippi Valley, against 
the background of Gallic adventure and pious endeavor 
which is seen in richest color, highest charm, and truest 
value at a distance. 

But, while I must ask my readers in America to ex- 
patriate themselves in their imaginations and to look 
over into this valley as aliens, I wish them to know 
that I write, though myself in temporary exile, as a 
son of the Mississippi Valley, as a geographical descen- 
dant of France; that my commission is given me of my 
love for the boundless stretch of prairie and plain 
whose virgin sod I have broken with my plough; of 
the lure of the waterways and roads where I have fol- 
lowed the boats and the trails of French voyageurs 
and coureurs de bois; and of the possessing interest of 



2 THE FRENCH IN THE HEART OF AMERICA 

the epic story of the development of that most virile 
democracy known to the world. The "Divine River," 
discovered by the French, ran near the place of my 
birth. My county was that of "La Salle," a division of 
the land of the Illinois, "the land of men." The Fort, 
or the Rock, St. Louis, built by La Salle and Tonty, 
was only a few miles distant. A little farther, a town, 
Marquette, stands near the place where the French 
priest and explorer, Pere Marquette, ministered to the 
Indians. Up-stream, a busy city keeps the name of 
Joliet on the lips of thousands, though the brave ex- 
plorer would doubtless not recognize it as his own; 
and below, the new-made Hennepin Canal makes a 
shorter course to the Mississippi River than that which 
leads by the ruins of La Salle's Fort Crevecceur. It 
is of such environment that these chapters were sug- 
gested, and it has been by my love for it, rather than 
by any profound scholarship, that they have been dic- 
tated. I write not as a scholar — since most of my life 
has been spent in action, not in study — but as an aca- 
demic coureur de bois and of what I have known and 
seen in the Valley of Democracy, the fairest and most 
fruitful of the regions where France was pioneer in 
America. 

There should be written in further preface to all the 
chapters which follow a paragraph from the beloved 
historian to whom I am most indebted and of whom 
I shall speak later at length. I first read its entranc- 
ing sentences when a youth in college, a quarter of a 
century ago, and I have never been free of its spell. 
I would have it written not only in France but some- 
where at the northern portals of the American con- 
tinent, on the cliffs of the Saguenay, or on that Rock 



INTRODUCTION 3 

of Quebec which saw the first vessel of the French come 
up the river and supported the last struggle for formal 
dominion of a land which the French can never lose, 
except by forgetting: "Again their ghostly camp-fires 
seem to burn, and the fitful light is cast around on 
lord and vassal and black-robed priest, mingled with 
wild forms of savage warriors, knit in close fellowship 
on the same stern errand. A boundless vision grows 
upon us; an untamed continent; vast wastes of forest 
verdure; mountains silent in primeval sleep; river, 
lake, and glimmering pool; wilderness oceans mingling 
with the sky. Such was the domain which France con- 
quered for Civilization. Plumed helmets gleamed in 
the shade of its forests, priestly vestments in its dens 
and fastnesses of ancient barbarism. Men steeped in 
antique learning, pale with the close breath of the 
cloister, here spent the noon and evening of their lives, 
ruled savage hordes with a mild, parental sway, and 
stood serene before the direst shapes of death. Men 
of courtly nurture, heirs to the polish of a far-reaching 
ancestry, here, with their dauntless hardihood, put to 
shame the boldest sons of toil." * 

These are the regions we are to explore, and these 
are the men with whom we are to begin the journey. 

1 Parkman: " Pioneers of France in the New World." New library edition. 
Introduction, xii-xiii. 



CHAPTER II 
FROM LABRADOR TO THE LAKES 

WE shall not be able to enter the valley of 
the Mississippi in this chapter. There is a 
long stretch of the nearer valley of the St. 
Lawrence that must first be traversed. Just before I 
left America in 1910 two men flew in a balloon from 
St. Louis, the very centre of the Mississippi Valley, to 
the Labrador gate of the St. Lawrence, the vestibule 
valley, in a few hours, but it took the French pioneers 
a whole century and more to make their way out to 
where those aviators began their flight. We have but 
a few pages for a journey over a thousand miles of 
stream and portage and a hundred years of time. I 
must therefore leave most of the details of suffering 
from the rigors of the north, starvation, and the Iro- 
quois along the way to your memories, or to your 
fresh reading of Parkman, Winsor, Fiske, and Thwaites 
in English, or to Le Clercq, Lescarbot, Champlain, 
Charlevoix, Sagard, and others in French. 

The story of the exploration and settlement of 
those valleys beyond the cod-banks of Newfoundland 
begins not in the ports of Spain or Portugal, nor in 
England, but in a little town on the coast of France, 
standing on a rocky promontory thrust out into the 
sea, only a few hours' ride from Paris, in the ancient 

4 



FROM LABRADOR TO THE LAKES 5 

town of St. Malo, the "nursery of hardy mariners," 
the cradle of the spirit of the West. 1 

For a son of France was the first of Europeans, so 
far as we certainly know, to penetrate beyond the tide- 
water of those confronting coasts, the first to step over 
the threshold of the unguessed continent, north, at any 
rate, of Mexico. Columbus claimed at most but an 
Asiatic peninsula, though he knew that he had found 
only islands. The Cabots, in the service of England, 
sailing along its mysterious shores, had touched but 
the fringe of the wondrous garment. Ponce de Leon, 
a Spaniard, had floundered a few leagues from the sea 
in Florida searching for the fountain of youth. Nar- 
vaez had found the wretched village of Appalache but 
had been refused admission by the turbid Mississippi 
and was carried out to an ocean grave by its fierce 
current; Verrazano, an Italian in the employ of France, 
living at Rouen, had entered the harbor of New York, 
had enjoyed the primitive hospitality of what is now 
a most fashionable seaside resort (Newport), had seen 
the peaks of the White Mountains from his deck, and, 
as he supposed, had looked upon the Indian Ocean, or 
the Sea of Verrazano, which has shrunk to the Chesa- 
peake Bay on our modern maps and now reaches not 
a fiftieth part of the way to the other shore. 

It was a true son of France who first had the per- 
sistence of courage and the endurance of imagination 
to enter the continent and see the gates close behind 
him — Jacques Cartier, a master pilot of St. Malo, 
commissioned of his own intrepid desire and of the 

1 After reaching Paris on my first journey, the first place to which I made 
a pilgrimage, even before the tombs of kings and emperors and the gal- 
leries of art, was this gray-bastioned town of St. Malo. 



6 THE FRENCH IN THE HEART OF AMERICA 

jealous ambition of King Francis I to bring fresh tid- 
ings of the mysterious "square gulf," which other 
Frenchmen, Denys and Aubert, may have entered a 
quarter of a century earlier, and which it was hoped 
might disclose a passage to the Indies. 

It was from St. Malo that Cartier set sail on the 
highroad to Cathay, as he imagined, one April day in 
1 534 in two ships of sixty tons each. 1 There is preserved 
in St. Malo what is thought to be a list of those who 
signed the ship's papers subscribed under Cartier's 
own hand. It is no such instrument as the "Com- 
pact" which the men of the Mayflower signed as they 
approached the continent nearly a century later, but 
it is none the less fateful. 

The autumn leaves had not yet fallen from the trees 
of Brittany when the two ships that started out in 
April appeared again in the harbor of St. Malo, carry- 
ing two dusky passengers from the New World as 
proofs of Cartier's ventures. He had made reconnois- 
sance of the gulf behind Newfoundland and returned 
for fresh means of farther quest toward Cathay. 

The leaves were but come again on the trees of 
Brittany when, with a larger crew in three small ves- 
sels (one of only forty tons), he again went out with the 
ebb-tide from St. Malo; his men, some of whom had 
been gathered from the jails, having all made their con- 
fession and attended mass, and received the benedic- 
tion of the bishop. In August he entered the great river 
St. Lawrence, whose volume of water was so great 
as to brighten Cartier's hopes of having found the 

1 1 crossed back over the same ocean, nearly four hundred years later, to 
a French port in a steamship of a tonnage equal to that of a fleet of four 
hundred of Cartier's boats; so has the sea bred giant children of such hardy 
parentage. 



FROM LABRADOR TO THE LAKES 7 

northern way to India. On he sailed, with his two 
dusky captives for pilots, seeing with regret the banks 
of the river gradually draw together and hearing 
unwelcome word of the freshening of its waters — on 
past the "gorge of the gloomy Saguenay with its tower- 
ing cliffs and sullen depths, depths which no sounding- 
line can fathom, and heights at whose dizzy verge the 
wheeling eagle seems a speck"; on past frowning 
promontory and wild vineyards, to the foot of the 
scarped cliff of Quebec, now "rich with heroic mem- 
ories, then but the site of a nameless barbarism"; 
thence, after parley with the Indian chief Donnacona 
and his people, on through walls of autumn foliage and 
frost-touched meadows to where the Lachine Rapids 
mocked with unceasing laughter those who dreamed 
of an easy way to China. There, entertained at the 
Indian capital, he was led to the top of a hill, such as 
Montmartre, from whose height he saw his Cathay 
fade into a stretch of leafy desert bounded only by the 
horizon and threaded by two narrow but hopeful 
ribbons of water. There, hundreds of miles from the 
sea, he stood, probably the only European, save for his 
companions, inside the continent, between Mexico 
and the Pole; for De Soto had not yet started for his 
burial in the Mississippi; the fathers of the Pilgrim 
Fathers were still in their cradles; Narvaez's men had 
come a little way in shore and vanished; Cabeca de 
Vaca was making his almost incredible journey from 
the Texas coast to the Pacific; Captain John Smith 
was not yet born; and Henry Hudson's name was to 
remain obscure for three quarters of a century. Francis 
I had sneeringly inquired of Charles V if he and the 
King of Portugal had parcelled out the world between 



8 THE FRENCH IN THE HEART OF AMERICA 

them, and asked to see the last will and testament of 
the patriarch Adam. If King Francis had been per- 
mitted to see it, he would have found a codicil for 
France written that day against the bull of Pope 
Alexander VI and against the hazy English claim of 
the Cabots. For the river, "the greatest without 
comparison," as Cartier reported later to his king, 
"that is known to have ever been seen," carried drain- 
age title to a realm larger many times than all the 
lands of the Seine and the Rhone and the Loire, and 
richer many times than the land of spices to which the 
falls of Lachine, "the greatest and swiftest fall of 
water that any where hath beene seene," seemed now 
to guard the way. 

"Hochelaga" the Indians called their city — the 
capital of the river into which the sea had narrowed, 
a thousand miles inland from the coasts of Labrador 
which but a few years before were the dim verge of the 
world and were believed even then to be infested with 
griffins and fiends — a city which vanished within the 
next three quarters of a century. For when Cham- 
plain came in 1611 to this site to build his outpost, not 
a trace was left of the palisades which Cartier de- 
scribes and one of his men pictures, not an Indian was 
left of the population that gave such cordial welcome 
to Cartier. And for all Champlain's planning it was 
still a meadow and a forest — the spring flowers "bloom- 
ing in the young grass" and birds of varied plumage 
flitting "among the boughs" — when the mystic and 
soldier Maisonneuve and his associates of Montreal, 
forty men and four women, in an enterprise conceived 
in the ancient Church of St. Germain-des-Pres and 
consecrated to the Holy Family by a solemn cere- 



FROM LABRADOR TO THE LAKES 9 

monial at Notre-Dame, knelt upon this same ground 
in 1642 before the hastily reared and decorated altar 
while Father Vimont, standing in rich vestments, ad- 
dressed them. "You are," he said, "a grain of mus- 
tard-seed that shall rise and grow till its branches 
overshadow the earth. You are few, but your work is 
the work of God. His smile is on you and your chil- 
dren shall fill the land. " l Parkman (from the same 
French authority) finishes the picture of the memor- 
able day: "The afternoon waned; the sun sank behind 
the western forest, and twilight came on. Fireflies 
were twinkling over the darkened meadow. They 
caught them, tied them with threads into shining fes- 
toons and hung them before the altar, where the Host 
remained exposed. Then they pitched their tents, 
lighted their bivouac fires, stationed their guards and 
lay down to rest. Such was the birth-night of Mon- 
treal." 2 

On the 10th of September in 1910 two hundred 
thousand people knelt in that same place before an out- 
of-door altar, and the incandescent lights were the 
fireflies of a less romantic and a more practical age. 

1 Francois Dollier de Casson, "Histoire du Montreal," quoted in Park- 
man's "Jesuits in North America," p. 209, a free rendering of the original. 
"Voyez-vous, messieurs, dit-il, ce que vous voyez n'est qu'un grain de 
moutarde, mais il est jete par des mains si pieuses et animees de l'esprit 
de la foi et de la religion que sans doute il faut que le ciele est de grands 
desseins puisqu'il se sert de tels ouvriers, et je ne fais aucun doute que ce 
petit grain ne produise un grand arbre, ne fasse un jour des merveilles, ne 
soit multiplie et ne s'etende de toutes parts." 

2 Francois Dollier de Casson, "Histoire du Montreal," quoted in Park- 
man's "Jesuits in North America," p. 209, a free rendering of the original. 
"On avait point de lampes ardentes devant le St. Sacrement, mais on avait 
certaines mouches brillantes qui y luisaient fort agreablement jour et nuit 
etant suspendues par des filets d'une facon admirable et belle, et toute 
propre a honorer selon la rusticite de ce pays barbare, le plus adorable de 
nos mysteres." 



io THE FRENCH IN THE HEART OF AMERICA 

Maisonneuve and Mademoiselle Mance would have 
been enraptured by such a scene, but it would have 
given even greater satisfaction to the pilot of St. Malo 
if he could have seen that commercial capital of the 
north lying beneath the mountain which still bears 
the name he gave it, and stretching far beyond the 
bounds of the palisaded Hochelaga. It should please 
France to know that nearly two hundred thousand 
French keep the place of the footprint of the first 
pioneer, Jacques Cartier. When a few weeks before 
my coming to France I was making my way by a trail 
down the side of Mount Royal through the trees — 
some of which may have been there in Cartier's day — 
two lads, one of as beautiful face as I have ever seen, 
though tear-stained, emerged from the bushes and 
begged me, in a language which Jacques Cartier would 
have understood better than I, to show them the way 
back to "rue St. Maurice," which I did, finding that 
street to be only a few paces from the place where 
Champlain had made a clearing for his "Place Royale" 
in the midst of the forest three hundred years ago. 
That beautiful boy, Jacques Jardin, brown-eyed, bare- 
kneed, in French soldier's cap, is to me the living in- 
carnation of the adventure which has made even that 
chill wilderness blossom as a garden in Brittany. 

But to come back to Cartier. It was too late in the 
season to make further explorations where the two 
rivers invited to the west and northwest, so Cartier 
joined the companions who had been left near Quebec 
to build a fort and make ready for the winter. As if 
to recall that bitter weather, the hail beat upon the 
windows of the museum at St. Malo on the day when 
I was examining there the relics of the vessel which 



FROM LABRADOR TO THE LAKES n 

Cartier was obliged to leave in the Canadian river, 
because so many of his men had died of scurvy and ex- 
posure that he had not sufficient crew to man the three 
ships home. And probably not a man would have been 
left and not even the Grande H ermine would have 
come back if a specific for scurvy had not been found 
before the end of the winter — a decoction learned of 
the Indians and made from the bark or leaves of a 
tree so efficacious that if all the "doctors of Lorraine 
and Montpellier had been there, with all the drugs of 
Alexandria, they could not have done so much in a 
year as the said tree did in six days; for it profited us 
so much that all those who would use it recovered 
health and soundness, thanks to God." 

Cartier appears again in July, 1536, before the ram- 
parts of St. Malo with two of his vessels. The savages 
on the St. Charles were given the Petite Hermine, 1 its 
nails being accepted in part requital for the tempo- 
rary loss of their chief. Donnacona, whom Cartier kid- 
napped. 

A cross was left standing on the shores of the St. 
Lawrence with the fleur-de-lis planted near it. Don- 
nacona was presented to King Francis and baptized, 
and with all his exiled companions save one was buried, 
where I have not yet learned, but probably somewhere 

1 James Phinney Baxter, "A Memoir of Jacques Cartier," p. 200, writes: 
"The remains of this ship, the Petite Hermine, were discovered in 1843, in 
the river St. Charles, at the mouth of the rivulet known as the Lairet. 
These precious relics were found buried under five feet of mud, and were 
divided into two portions, one of which was placed in the museum of the 
Literary and Historical Society of Quebec, and destroyed by fire in 1854. 
The other portion was sent to the museum at St. Malo, where it now re- 
mains. For a particular account vide Le Canadien of August 25, and the 
Quebec Gazette of August 30, 1843; 'Transactions of the Quebec Literary 
and Historical Society for 1862'; and 'Picturesque Quebec,' Le Moine, 
Montreal, 1862, pp. 484-7." 



12 THE FRENCH IN THE HEART OF AMERICA 

out on that headland of France nearest Stadacone, the 
seat of his lost kingdom. 

Cartier busied himself in St. Malo (or Limoilou) till 
called upon, in 1541, when peace was restored in France 
to take the post of captain-general of a new expedition 
under Sieur de Roberval, "Lord of Norembega, Vice- 
roy and Lieutenant-General of Canada, Hochelaga, 
Saguenay, Newfoundland, Belle Isle, Carpunt, Lab- 
rador, the Great Bay and Baccalaos," 1 with a com- 
mission of discovery, settlement, and conversion of 
the Indians, and with power to ransack the prisons 
for material with which to carry out these ambitious 
and pious designs, thereby, as the king said, employing 
"clemency in doing a merciful and meritorious work 
toward some criminals and malefactors, that by this 
they may recognize the Creator by rendering Him 
thanks, and amending their lives." Again Cartier 
(Roberval having failed to arrive in time) sets out; 
again he passes the gloomy Saguenay and the cliff of 
Quebec; again he leaves his companions to prepare 
for the winter; again he ascends the river to explore 
the rapids, still dreaming of the way to Asia; again 
after a miserable winter he sails back to France, eluding 
Roberval a year late, and carrying but a few worthless 
quartz diamonds and a little sham gold. Then Rober- 
val, the Lord of Norembega, reigns alone in his vast 
and many-titled domain, for another season of snows 
and famine, freely using the lash and gibbet to keep 

'Baxter, "Memoir of Jacques Cartier," note, p. 40, writes: "These titles 
are given on the authority of Charlevoix, 'Histoire de la Nouvelle France,' 
Paris, 1744, tome 1, p. 32. Reference, however, to the letters patent of 
January 15, 1540, from which he professes to quote and which are still 
preserved and can be identified as the same which he says were to be found 
in the Etat Ordinaire des Guerres in the Chambre des Comptes at Paris, 
does not bear out his statement." 



FROM LABRADOR TO THE LAKES 13 

his penal colonists in subjection; and then, according 
to some authorities, supported by the absence of 
Cartier's name from the local records of St. Malo for 
a few months, Cartier was sent out to bring the Lord 
of Norembega home. 

So Cartier's name passes from the pages of history, 
even if it still appears again in the records of St. Malo, 
and he spends the rest of his days on the rugged little 
peninsula thrust out from France toward the west, as 
it were a hand. A few miles out of St. Malo the Breton 
tenants of the Cartier manor, Port Cartier, to-day 
carry their cauliflower and carrots to market and 
seemingly wonder at my curiosity in seeking Cartier's 
birthplace rather than Chateaubriand's tomb. It 
were far fitter that Cartier instead of Chateaubriand 
should have been buried out on the "Plage" beyond 
the ramparts, exiled for a part of every day by the sea, 
for the amphibious life of this master pilot, going in and 
out of the harbor with the tide, had added to France 
a thousand miles of coast and river, had opened the 
door of the new world, beyond the banks of the 
Baccalaos, to the imaginations of Europe, and unwit- 
tingly showed the way not to Asia, but to a valley 
with which Asia had nothing to compare. 

For a half century after Cartier's home bringing of 
Roberval — the very year that De Soto's men quitted 
in misery the lower valley of the Mississippi — there is 
no record of a sail upon the river St. Lawrence. Hoche- 
laga became a waste, its tenants annihilated or scat- 
tered, and Cartier's fort was all but obliterated. The 
ambitious symbols of empire were alternately buried 
in snows and blistered by heat. France had too much 
to think of at home. But still, as Parkman says, "the 



14 THE FRENCH IN THE HEART OF AMERICA 

wandering Esquimaux saw the Norman and Breton 
sails hovering around some lonely headland or anchored 
in fleets in the harbor of St. John, and still through 
salt spray and driving mist, the fishermen dragged up 
the riches of the sea." For "codfish must still be had 
for Lent and fast-days." Another authority pictures 
the Breton babies of this period playing with trinkets 
made of walrus tusks, and the Norman maidens decked 
in furs brought by their brothers from the shores of 
Anticosti and Labrador. 

Meanwhile in Brouage on the Bay of Biscay a boy 
is born whose spirit, nourished of the tales of the new 
world, is to make a permanent colony where Cartier 
had found and left a wilderness, and is to write his 
name foremost on the "bright roll of forest chivalry" 
— Samuel Champlain. 

Once the sea, I am told, touched the massive 
walls of Brouage. There are still to be seen, several 
feet below the surface, rings to which mariners and 
fishermen moored their boats — they who used to come 
to Brouage for salt with which to cure their fish, they 
whose stories of the Newfoundland cod-banks stirred 
in the boy Champlain the desire for discovery beyond 
their fogs. The boys in the school of Hiers-Brouage 
a mile away — in the Mairie where I went to consult 
the parish records — seemed to know hardly more of 
that land which the Brouage boy of three centuries 
before had lifted out of the fogs by his lifelong heroic 
adventures than did the boy Champlain, which makes 
me feel that till all French children know of, and all 
American children remember Brouage, the story of 
France in America needs to be retold. The St. Law- 
rence Valley has not forgotten, but I could not learn 



FROM LABRADOR TO THE LAKES 15 

that a citizen of the Mississippi Valley had made re- 
cent pilgrimage to this spot. 1 

In the year of Champlain's birth the frightful colonial 
tragedy in Florida was nearing its end. By the year 1603 
he had, in Spanish employ, made a voyage of two years 
in the West Indies, the unique illustrated journal 2 of 
which in his own hand was for two centuries and more 
in Dieppe, but has recently been acquired by a library 
in the United States 3 — a journal most precious especially 
in its prophecy of the Panama Canal: 4 "One might 
judge, if the territory four leagues in extent, lying 
between Panama and the river were cut thru, he could 
pass from the south sea to that on the other side, and 
thus shorten the route by more than fifteen hundred 
leagues. From Panama to Magellan would constitute 
an island, and from Panama to Newfoundland would 
constitute another, so that the whole of America would 
be in two islands." 

He had also made one expedition to the St. Lawrence, 
reaching the deserted Hochelaga, seeing the Lachine 
Rapids, and getting vague reports of the unknown West. 
He must have been back in Paris in time to see the 
eleven survivors of La Roche's unsuccessful expedition 
of 1590, who, having lived twelve years and more on 
Sable Island, were rescued and brought before King 
Henry IV, "standing like river gods" in their long 
beards and clad in shaggy skins. During the next 

1 For an interesting account of Brouage to-day, see " Acadiensis," 4 : 226. 

2 "Brief Discours des Choses plus remarquables que Sammuel Cham- 
plain de Brouage, reconnues aux Indies Occidentalles au voiage qu'il en a 
faict en icelles en l'annee V C IIIJ IX XIX (1599) et en l'annee VJ C J (1601) 
comme ensuite." Now in English translation by Hakluyt Society, 1859. 

3 The John Carter Brown Library at Providence, R. I. 

* Several earlier Spanish suggestions for a canal had been made. See 
M. F. Johnson, "Four Centuries of the Panama Canal." 



16 THE FRENCH IN THE HEART OF AMERICA 

three years this indefatigable, resourceful pioneer as- 
sisted in founding Acadia and exploring the Atlantic 
coast southward. Boys and girls in America are fa- 
miliar with the story of the dispersion of the Aca- 
dians, a century and more later, as preserved in our 
literature by the poet Longfellow. But doubtless not 
one in a hundred thousand has ever read the earlier 
chapters of that iEneid. 

The best and the meanest of France were of the 
company that set out from Dieppe to be its colonists: 
men of highest condition and character, and vagabonds, 
Catholic priests and Huguenot ministers, soldiers and 
artisans. There were theological discussions which led 
to blows before the colonists were far at sea. Fiske, 
the historian, says the "ship's atmosphere grew as 
musty with texts and as acrid with quibbles as that of 
a room at the Sorbonne." There was the incident of 
the wandering of Nicolas Aubry, "more skilled in the 
devious windings of the [Latin Quarter] than in the 
intricacies of the Acadian Forest," where he was lost 
for sixteen days and subsisted on berries and wild 
fruits; there was the ravage of the relentless maladie de 
terre, scurvy, for which Cartier's specific could not be 
found though the woods were scoured; there were the 
explorations of beaches and harbors and islands and 
rivers, including the future Massachusetts Bay and 
Plymouth, and the accurate mapping of all that coast 
now so familiar; there were the arrivals of the ship 
Jonas, once with temporal supplies and again, as the 
Mayflower of the Jesuits, with spiritual teachers; there 
was the "Order of Good Times," which flourished with 
as good cheer and as good food at Port Royal in the 
solitude of the continent as the gourmands at the 



FROM LABRADOR TO THE LAKES 17 

Rue aux Ours had in Paris and that, too, at a cheaper 
rate; 1 there was later the news of the death of Henry IV 
heard from a fisherman of Newfoundland; and there 
was, above all else except the "indomitable tenacity" of 
Champlain, the unquenchable enthusiasm, lively fancy, 
and good sense of Lescarbot, the verse-making advo- 
cate from Paris. 

There is so much of tragic suffering and gloom in 
all this epic of the forests that one is tempted to spend 
more time than one ought, perhaps, on that bit of 
European clearing (the only spot, save one, as yet in 
all the continent north of Florida and Mexico), in the 
jolly companionship of that young poet-lawyer who had 
doubtless sat under lecturers in Paris and who would 
certainly have been quite as capable and entertaining 
as any lecturers on the new world brought in these 
later days from America to Paris, a man "who won the 
good-will of all and spared himself naught," "who 
daily invented something for the public good," and 
who gave the strongest proof of what advantage "a 
new settlement might derive from a mind cultivated 
by study and induced by patriotism to use its knowl- 
edge and reflections." 

It cannot seem unworthy of the serious purpose of 
this book to let the continent lie a few minutes longer 
in its savage slumber, or, as the Jesuits thought it, 
"blasted beneath the sceptre of hell," while we ac- 
company Poutrincourt and Champlain, returning 
wounded and weather-beaten from inspecting the 



1 " Though the epicures of Paris often tell us we have no Rue aux Ours 
over there, as a rule we made as good cheer as we could have in this same 
Rue aux Ours and at less cost." Lescarbot, "Champlain Society Publica- 
tion," 7 : 342. 



1 8 THE FRENCH IN THE HEART OF AMERICA 

coast of New England, to find the buildings of Port 
Royal, under Lescarbot's care, bright with lights, and 
an improvised arch bearing the arms of Poutrincourt 
and De Monts, to be received by Neptune, who, ac- 
companied by a retinue of Tritons, declaimed Alexan- 
drine couplets of praise and welcome, and to sit at the 
sumptuous table of the Order of Good Times, of which 
I have just spoken, furnished by this same lawyer- 
poet's agricultural industry. We may even stop a 
moment longer to hear his stately appeal to France, 
which, heeded by her, would have made Lescarbot's a 
name familiar in the homes of America instead of one 
known only to those who delve in libraries: 

"France, fair eye of the universe, nurse from old 
of letters and of arms, resource to the afflicted, strong 
stay to the Christian religion, Dear Mother . . . your 
children, our fathers and predecessors, have of old been 
masters of the sea. . . . They have with great power 
occupied Asia. . . . They have carried the arms and 
the name of France to the east and south. . . . All 
these are marks of your greatness, . . . but you must 
now enter again upon old paths, in so far as they have 
been abandoned, and expand the bounds of your piety, 
justice and humanity, by teaching these things to the 
nations of New France. . . . Our ancient practice of 
the sea must be revived, we must ally the east with 
the west and convert those people to God before the 
end of the world come. . . . You must make an alli- 
ance in imitation of the course of the sun, for as he 
daily carries his light hence to New France, so let your 
civilization, your light, be carried thither by your 
children, who henceforth, by the frequent voyages they 
shall make to these western lands, shall be called chil- 



FROM LABRADOR TO THE LAKES 19 

dren of the sea, which is, being interpreted, children 
of the west." 1 

"Children of the west." His fervid appeal found as 
little response then as doubtless it would find if made 
to-day, and the children of the sea were interpreted 
as the children of the south of Africa. The sons of 
France have ever loved their homes. They have, except 
the adventurous few, preferred to remain children of 
the rivers and the sea of their fathers, and so it is 
that few of Gallic blood were "spawned," to use Les- 
carbot's metaphor, in that chill continent, though the 
venturing or missionary spirit of such as Cartier and 
Champlain, Poutrincourt and De Monts gave spawn 
of such heroism and unselfish sacrifice as have made 
millions in America whom we now call "children of 
the west," geographical offspring of Brittany and Nor- 
mandy and Picardy. 

The lilies of France and the escutcheons of De 
Monts and Poutrincourt, painted by Lescarbot for the 
castle in the wilderness, faded; the sea which Lescarbot, 
as Neptune, impersonated in the pageant of welcome, 
and the English ships received back those who had 
not been gathered into the cemetery on land; and the 
first agricultural colony in the northern wilds lapsed 
for a time at least into a fur traders' station or a place 
of call for fishermen. 

It was only by locating these points on Champlain's 
map of Port Royal that I was able to find in 191 1 the 
site of the ancient fort, garden, fish-pond, and cemetery. 
The men unloading a schooner a few rods away seemed 
not to know of Lescarbot or Poutrincourt or even 
Champlain, but that was perhaps because they were 
not accustomed to my tongue. 

'Lescarbot, "Histoire de la Nouvelle France," 1618, pp. 15-22. 



20 THE FRENCH IN THE HEART OF AMERICA 

The unquiet Champlain left Acadia in the summer 
of 1607, the charter having been withdrawn by the 
king. In the winter of 1607-8 he walked the streets 
of Paris as in a dream, we are told, longing for the 
northern wilderness, where he had left his heart four 
years before. In the spring of 1608 the white whales 
are floundering around his lonely ship in the river of 
his dreams. At the foot of the gray rock of Quebec 
he makes the beginning of a fort, whence he plans to go 
forth to trace the rivers to their sources, discover, 
perchance, a northern route to the Indies, and make a 
path for the priests to the countless savages "in 
bondage of Satan." Parkman speaks of him as the 
"iEneas of a destined people," and he is generally 
called the "father of Canada." But I think of him 
rather as a Prometheus who, after his years of bravest 
defiance of elements and Indians, is to have his heart 
plucked out day by day, chained to that same gray 
rock — only that death instead of Herculean succor 
came. 

There is space for only the briefest recital of the 
exploits and endurances of the stout heart and hardy 
frame of the man of whom any people of any time 
might well be proud. The founding of Quebec, the 
rearing of the pile of wooden buildings where the 
lower town now stretches along the river; the unsuc- 
cessful plot to kill Champlain before the fort is fin- 
ished; the death of all of the twenty-eight men save 
eight before the coming of the first spring — these are 
the incidents of the first chapter. 

The visit to the Iroquois country; the discovery of 
the lake that bears his name; the first portentous col- 
lision with the Indians of the Five Nations, under- 
taken to keep the friendship of the Indian tribes along 



FROM LABRADOR TO THE LAKES 21 

the St. Lawrence; a winter in France; the breaking 
of ground for a post at Montreal; another visit to 
France to find means for the rescue and sustenance of 
his fading colony, make a depressing second chapter. 

Then follows the journey up the Ottawa with the 
young De Vignau, who had stirred Paris by claiming 
that he had at last found the northwest passage to 
the Pacific, when he had in fact spent the winter in an 
Indian lodge not two hundred miles from Montreal; the 
noble forgiveness of De Vignau by Champlain; his 
crestfallen return and his going forth from France 
again in 161 5 with four Recollet friars (Franciscans of 
the strict observance) of the convent of his birthplace 
(Brouage) inflamed by him with holy zeal for the con- 
tinent of savages. For a little these "apostolic mendi- 
cants" in their gray robes girt with the white cord, 
their feet naked or shod in wooden sandals, tarried 
beneath the gray rock and then set forth east, north, 
and west, soon (1626) to be followed and reinforced 
by their brothers of stronger resources, the Jesuits, the 
"black gowns," upon a mission whose story is as mar- 
vellous as a "tale of chivalry or legends of lives of the 
saints." 

Meanwhile Champlain, exploring the regions to the 
northwest, is the first of white men to look upon the 
first of the Great Lakes — the "Mer Douce" (Lake 
Huron) being discovered before the lakes to the south — 
the first after the boy Etienne Brule and Friar Le 
Caron: the latter having gone before him, celebrated 
the first mass on Champlain's arrival the 12th of 
August, 161 5, a day "marked with white in the friar's 
calendar," and deserving to be marked with red in 
the calendar of the west. 



22 THE FRENCH IN THE HEART OF AMERICA 

There follow twenty restless years in which Cham- 
plain's efforts are divided between discovery and 
strengthening the little colony, and his occupations 
between holding his Indian allies who lived along the 
northern pathway to the west, fighting their enemies 
to the south, the Iroquois, restraining the jealousies 
of merchants and priests, trade and missions, reconcil- 
ing Catholics and Huguenots, going nearly every year 
to France in the interests of the colony, building and 
repairing, yielding for a time to the overpowering ships 
of the English. The grizzled soldier and explorer, re- 
stored and commissioned anew under the fostering and 
firm support of Richelieu, struggled to the very end 
of his life to make the feeble colony, which eighteen 
years after its founding "could scarcely be said to 
exist but in the founder's brain," not chiefly an agri- 
cultural settlement but a spiritual centre from which 
the interior was to be explored and the savage hordes 
won — at the same time to heaven and to France — 
subdued not by being crushed but by being civilized, 
not by the sword but by the cross. It was a far dif- 
ferent colony that was beginning to grow fronting the 
harbor of Plymouth, where men quite as intolerant of 
priests as Richelieu was intolerant of Huguenots were 
building homes and making firesides in enjoyment of 
religious and political freedom. 

Champlain lay dying as the year 1635 went out, 
asking more help from his patron Richelieu, but his 
great task had been accomplished. The St. Lawrence 
had been opened, the first two of the Great Lakes had 
been reached, and explorer and priest were already on 
the edge of that farther valley of the "Missipi," which 
we are to enter in the next chapter. 



CHAPTER III 

THE PATHS OF THE GRAY FRIARS AND 
BLACK GOWNS 

IT was exactly a hundred years, according to 
some authorities, after Jacques Cartier opened and 
passed through the door of the St. Lawrence Valley 
that another son of France, Jean Nicolet, again the 
first of Europeans so far as is now certainly known, 
looked over into the great valley of the Mississippi 
from the north. 

Champlain, dying beneath the Rock of Quebec, had 
touched two of the Great Lakes twenty years before. 
He never knew probably that another of those immense 
inland seas lay between, though, as his last map in- 
dicates, he had some word several years before his 
death of a greater sea beyond, where now two mighty 
lakes, the largest bodies of fresh water on the globe, 
carry their sailless fleets and nourish the life of mil- 
lions on their shores. 

From the coureurs de bois, "runners of the woods," 
whom he, tied by the interests of his feeble colony to 
the Rock, had sent out, enviously no doubt, upon 
journeys of exploration and arbitration among the 
Indians, and from the Gray Friars and Black Gowns 
who, inflamed of his spirit, had gone forth through the 
solitudes from Indian village to village, from suffer- 
ing to suffering, reports had come which he must have 

23 



24 THE FRENCH IN THE HEART OF AMERICA 

been frequently translating with his practised hand 
into river and shore line of this precious map, the 
original of which is still kept among the proud archives 
of France. He was disappointed the while, I have no 
doubt, that still the fresh water kept flowing from the 
west, and that still there was no word of the salt sea. 

The straight line which makes the western border 
of his map is merciful of his ignorance, but merciless 
of his hopes. It admits no stream that does not flow 
into one of the lakes or into the St. Lawrence. But 
it was made probably four years before his death and 
it is possible, indeed probable, that just before paralysis 
came upon him, he had heard through the famous 
coureur de bois, Jean Nicolet, whom he had despatched 
the year previous, of a river which this man of the 
woods had descended so far that "in three days more" 
he would have reached what the Indians called the 
"Great Water." 1 There is good reason, in the ap- 
pointment of this same coureur de bois as a commis- 
sioner and interpreter at Three Rivers, for thinking 
(as one wishes to think) that like Moses, Champlain had, 
through him a vision of the valley which he himself 
might not enter, but which his compatriots were to 
possess. 

The historian Bancroft said of that land: "Not a 
cape was turned, not a river entered, but a Jesuit led 
the way." But the men of sandalled feet had not yet 
penetrated so far in 1635. It is an interesting tribute 
to these spiritual pioneers, however, that the particular 
rough coureur de bois who first looked into that far 
valley of solitude, inhabited only by Indians and buf- 

1 The Mississippi. Nicolet probably did not go beyond the Fox portage. 
See C. W. Butterfield, "The Discovery of the Northwest by Jean Nicolet." 



GRAY FRIARS AND BLACK GOWNS 25 

faloes and other untamed beasts, would doubtless never 
have left his Indian habits and returned to civilization 
if he could have lived without the sacraments of the 
church. 

This coureur de bois Nicolet presents a grotesque 
appearance as he mounts the rims of the two valleys 
where the two bowls touch each other, bowls so full 
that in freshet the water sometimes overflows the 
brim and makes one continuous valley. 

Nicolet would not be recognized for the Frenchman 
that he was, as he appears yonder; for, having been 
told that the men whom he was to meet were without 
hair upon their faces and heads, and thinking himself 
to be near the confines of China, he had attired him- 
self as one about to be received at an Oriental court. 
Accordingly, he stands upon the edge of the prairies in 
a robe of Chinese damask embroidered with flowers and 
birds — but with a pistol in each hand. Having suc- 
ceeded in his mission to these barbarians (for such he 
found them to be, wearing breech-clouts instead of 
robes of silk), he was impelled or lured over into the 
great valley, it is believed. He passed from the lake 
on the border of Champlain's map 1 up a river (the 
Fox) that by and by became but a stream over which 
one might jump. He portaged from this stream or 
creek across a narrow strip of prairie, only a mile wide, 
to the Wisconsin River, a tributary of the Mississippi. 
The statement over which I have pondered, walking 
along that river, that he might have reached the "great 
water" in three more days, is intelligible only in this 
interpretation of his course. 

The next Europeans to look out over the edge of 

1 Lake Michigan. 



26 THE FRENCH IN THE HEART OF AMERICA 

the basin of the lakes were two other sons of France, 
one a man of St. Malo, Radisson, a voyageur and cou- 
reur de bois, the other his brother-in-law, Groseilliers 
(1654). It is thought that these companions went all 
the way to the Mississippi and so became the dis- 
coverers of her northern waters. The journal of the 
voyage is unfortunately somewhat obscure. The 
great "rivers that divide themselves in two" are many 
in that valley, and no one can be certain of the identity 
of that river "called the forked" mentioned in the 
"relation" of Radisson, which had "two branches, one 
towards the west, the other towards the south," and, 
as the travellers believed, ran toward Mexico. 1 

Then came the Hooded Faces, the friars and the 
priests. To the four Recollet friars whom Champlain 
brought out with him in 161 5 from the convent of his 
native town (Brouage), Jamay, D'Olbeau, Le Caron, 
and a lay brother, Du Plessis, others were added, but 
there were not more than six in all for the missions ex- 
tending from Acadia to where Champlain found Le 
Caron in 161 5 in the vicinity of Lake Huron. Their 
experiences and ardor (not unlike those of other mis- 
sionaries in other continents and in our own times) 
have illustration in this extract from a letter written 
by Le Caron: "It would be difficult to tell you the 
fatigue I have suffered, having been obliged to have 
my paddle in hand all day long and row with all my 
strength with the Indians. I have more than a hun- 
dred times walked in the rivers over the sharp rocks, 
which cut my feet, in the mud, in the woods, where I 

1 See Warren Upham. Groseilliers and Radisson, the first white men in 
Minnesota, 1655-6 and 1659-60, and their discovery of the Upper Missis- 
sippi River, in Minn. Historical Society Collections, 10 : 449-594. 



GRAY FRIARS AND BLACK GOWNS 27 

carried the canoe and my little baggage, in order to 
avoid the rapids and frightful waterfalls. I say nothing 
of the painful fast which beset us, having only a little 
sagamity, which is a kind of pulmentum composed of 
water and the meal of Indian corn, a small quantity 
of which is dealt out to us morning and evening. Yet 
I must avow that amid my pains I felt much consola- 
tion. For alas ! when we see such a great number of 
infidels, and nothing but a drop of water is needed to 
make them children of God, one feels an ardor which I 
cannot express to labor for their conversion and to 
sacrifice for it one's repose and life." 1 

"Six months before the Pilgrims began their meet- 
ing-house on the burial hill at Plymouth," he and his 
brother priests laid the corner-stone of "the earliest 
church erected in French-America." It was a bitter 
disappointment when, in 1629, he was carried away by 
the English from his infant mission to spend his latter 
days far from his savage converts, perhaps in his white- 
washed cell in the convent of Brouage, and to admin- 
ister before an altar where it was not necessary to have 
neophytes wave green boughs to drive off the mos- 
quitoes — those pestiferous insects from whose perse- 
cutions a brother Recollet said he suffered his "worst 
martyrdom" in America. But more bitter chagrin 
was in store for Le Caron, for when the French re- 
turned to Quebec, in 1632, after the restoration under 
the treaty, the Gray Apostles of the White Cord (who 
had invited the Black Gowns to join them in their 
missions years before and had so hospitably entertained 
them when denied shelter elsewhere in Quebec) were 

'Le Clercq, "First Establishment of the Faith in New France (Shea)," 
1 :95- 



28 THE FRENCH IN THE HEART OF AMERICA 

not permitted to be of the company. 1 The Jesuits 
went alone. Repairing their dilapidated buildings of 
Notre Dame des Anges, a little way out of Quebec on 
the St. Charles River, where Cartier had spent his 
first miserable winter in America, they began their 
enterprises ad majorem Dei gloriam in a field of labor 
whose vastness "might," as Parkman says, "tire the 
wings of thought itself." Le Jeune left the convent at 
Dieppe, De Noue that at Rouen, and they went out 
from Havre together to begin their labors among a 
people whose first representatives came aboard the 
vessel at Tadoussac with faces variously painted, 
black and red and yellow, as a party of "carnival 
maskers." One cannot well conjecture a more hopeless 
undertaking than that of making those half-naked, 
painted barbarians understand the mystery of the 
Trinity, for example, or the significance of the cross. 
Think of this gentle, holy father, Le Jeune, seated in a 
hovel beside one of these savages, whose language he is 
trying to learn, bribing his Indian tutor with a piece of 
tobacco at every difficulty to make him more attentive, 
or with half-frozen fingers writing his Algonquin exer- 
cises, or making translations of prayers for the tongues 
of his prospective converts — and you will be able to 
appreciate the beginnings of the task to which these 
men without the slightest question set themselves. 

It was a life, once these men left the mission house 
of Notre Dame des Anges, that was without the slight- 

1 Le Caron, says Le Clercq, when he "saw all his efforts were useless, 
experienced the same fate as Saint Francis Xavier, who when on the point 
of entering China, found so many secret obstacles to his pious design that 
he fell sick and died of chagrin. So was Father Joseph a martyr to the 
zeal which consumed him, and of that ardent charity which burned in his 
heart to visit his church again." — Le Clercq, 1. c. 1 : 324. 



GRAY FRIARS AND BLACK GOWNS 29 

est social intercourse, that was beyond the prizes of 
any earthly ambition, that was frequently in imminence 
of torture and death, and that was usually in physical 
discomfort if not in pain. Obscure and constant toil 
for tender hands, solitude, suffering, privation, death — 
these made up the portion of the messengers of the 
faith who turned their faces toward the wilderness, 
their steps into the gloom of the forests, pathless ex- 
cept for the traces of the feet of savages and wild 
beasts. 

For it is twenty-five years after that memorable 
day when Le Caron first said mass on the shores of 
one of the Great Lakes (Champlain being present) 
before the farthermost shore of the farthest lake is 
reached by these patient and valorous pilgrims of 
the west. The story of that heroic journey, of the 
consecration of those forests and waters and clearings 
by suffering and unselfish ministry, fills many volumes 
(forty in the French edition and seventy-two in the 
edition recently published in the United States, the 
English translation being presented on the pages op- 
posite the Latin or French originals). There is ma- 
terial in them for many chapters of a new-world 
"Odyssey." To these " Relations," as they were called, 
we owe the great body of information we have con- 
cerning New France, from 1603 in Acadia to the early 
part of the eighteenth century in the Mississippi and 
St. Lawrence Valleys; for they who wrote them were 
not priests alone, they were at the same time explorers, 
scientists, historical students, ethnologists (the first 
and best-fitted students of the North American Indian), 
physicians to the bodies as well as ministers to the 
souls of those wild creatures. 



30 THE FRENCH IN THE HEART OF AMERICA 

There was a time when these "Relations," as they 
came from the famous press of Cramoisy, were eagerly 
awaited and devoured, and were everywhere the themes 
of enthusiastic discussion in circles of high devotion 
in Paris and throughout France, where it is doubtless 
believed by many to-day that the borders of the lakes 
which the authors of these "Relations" traversed are 
still possessed by Indians, or at best by half-civilized, 
half-barbaric peoples who would stand agape in the 
Louvre as the Goths stood before the temples and the 
statues of Rome. 

The "Relations" of Jesuits are among our most 
precious chronicles in America. With these the his- 
tory of the north — the valleys of the St. Lawrence, the 
Great Lakes, and the Mississippi — begins. The 
coureurs de bois may have anticipated the priests in 
some solitary places, but they seldom made records. 
Doubtless, like Nicolet, they told their stories to the 
priests when they went back to the altars for sacra- 
ment, so that even their experiences have been for the 
most part preserved. But when we know under what 
distracting and discouraging conditions even the priest 
wrote, we wonder, as Thwaites says, that anything 
whatever has been preserved in writing. The "Rela- 
tions" were written by the fathers, he reminds us, 1 in 
Indian camps, the aboriginal insects buzzing or crawl- 
ing about them, in the midst of a chaos of distractions, 
immersed in scenes of squalor and degradation, over- 
come by fatigue and improper sustenance, suffering 
from wounds and disease, and maltreated by their hosts 
who were often their jailers. What they wrote under 
these circumstances is simple and direct. There is no 

1 "Jesuit Relations," I : 39, 40. 



GRAY FRIARS AND BLACK GOWNS 31 

florid rhetoric; there is little self-glorification; no un- 
necessary dwelling on the details of martyrdom; and 
there is not a line to give suspicion "that one of this 
loyal band flinched or hesitated." 

"I know not," says one of these apostles 1 in an 
epistle to the Romans (for this particular letter went 
to Rome), "I know not whether your Paternity will 
recognize the letter of a poor cripple, who formerly, 
when in perfect health was well known to you. The 
letter is badly written, and quite soiled because in 
addition to other inconveniences, he who writes it 
has only one whole finger on his right hand; and it is 
difficult to avoid staining the paper with the blood 
which flows from his wounds, not yet healed: he uses 
arquebus powder for ink, and the earth for a table." 
This particular early American writer, besides having 
his hand split and now one finger-nail or joint burned 
ofF and now another, his hair and beard pulled out, 
his flesh burned with live coals and red-hot stones, 
was hung up by the feet, had food for dogs placed 
upon his body that they might lacerate him as they 
ate, but finally escaped death itself through sale to 
the Dutch. 

Two other chroniclers of that life of which they were 
a part, were two men of noble birth: the giant Brebeuf, 
"the Ajax of the mission," a man of vigorous passions 
tamed by religion (as Parkman says, "a dammed-up 
torrent sluiced and guided to grind and saw and weave 
for the good of man"); and in marked and strange con- 
trast with him, Charles Gamier, a young man of 
thirty-three, of beardless face — laughed at by his 
friends in Paris, we are told, because he was beardless 

1 Fr. Francesco Gioseppe Bressani, "Jesuit Relations" (Thwaites), 39 : 55. 



32 THE FRENCH IN THE HEART OF AMERICA 

but admired by the Indians for the same reason — of a 
delicate nature but of the most valiant spirit. 

It was Brebeuf who kept the westernmost outpost 
for many years. A man of iron frame and resolute- 
ness, the only complaint of his that I have found, is one 
which would furnish a study for a great artist: it was 
that he had "no moment to read his breviary, except 
by moonlight or the fire, when stretched out to sleep 
on a bare rock by some savage cataract, — or in a damp 
nook of the adjacent forest." There is another pic- 
ture of him in action, crouched in a canoe, barefoot, 
toiling at the paddle, hour after hour, day after day, 
week after week, behind the lank hair and brown 
shoulders and long, naked arms of his aboriginal com- 
panion. Still another simple "Relation" shows him 
teaching the Huron children to chant and repeat the 
commandments under reward of beads, raisins, or 
prunes. In 1637, accused of having bewitched the 
Huron nation and having brought famine and pest, 
he was doomed to death; he wrote his farewell letter 
to his superior, gave his farewell dinner to his enemies, 
taking that opportunity to preach a farewell sermon 
concerning the Trinity, heaven and hell, angels and 
fiends — the only real things to him — and so wrought 
upon his guests that he was spared to labor on, though 
often in peril, until the Iroquois (1649), still following 
the Hurons, found him with a brother priest giving 
baptism and absolution to the savages dying in that 
last struggle this side of the Lakes against their ancient 
enemies. They tied him to a stake, hung a collar of 
"hatchets heated red-hot" about his neck, baptized 
him with boiling water, cut strips of flesh from his 
limbs, drank his blood as if to inherit of his valiance, 



GRAY FRIARS AND BLACK GOWNS 33 

and finally tore out and ate his heart for supreme cour- 
age. Such cannibalism seems poetically justifiable in 
tribute to such unflinching constancy of devotion. 

His brother priest, Lalemant, who was tortured to 
death at the same time, had thought it no good omen 
ten years before (1639) that no martyr's blood had yet 
furnished seed for the church in that new soil, though 
consoling himself with the thought that the daily life 
amid abuse and threats, smoke, fleas, filth, and dogs 
might be "accepted as a living martyrdom." There 
was ample seed by now, and still more was soon to be 
added, for very soon, the same year, the gentle Gamier 
is to die the same death ministering to these same 
Hurons, whose refugees, flying beyond two lakes to 
escape from their murderous foes, are to lure the priests 
on still farther westward till, even in their unmundane 
thoughts, the great, mysterious river begins to flow 
toward a longed-for sea. 

It was by such a path of danger and suffering, a 
path which threads gloomy forests, that the first 
figures clad in black gowns came and peered over the 
edge of the valley of this mysterious stream, even be- 
fore Radisson and Groseilliers wandered in that wooded 
and wet and fertile peninsula which, beginning at the 
junction of three lakes, widens to include the whole 
northwest of what is now the United States. You may 
travel in a day and a night now up the Ottawa River, 
above Lake Nipissing, around Huron to the point of 
that peninsula, from Montreal, and if you go in the 
season of the year in which I once made the journey 
you will find this path (the path on which Champlain 
came near losing his life, where Recollet and Jesuit, 
coureur de bois and soldier toiled up hundreds of 



34 THE FRENCH IN THE HEART OF AMERICA 

portages) bordered as a garden path much of the way 
by wild purple flowers (that doubtless grew red in the 
blood-sodden ground of the old Huron country), with 
here and there patches of gold. 

The first of these was Father Raymbault and with him 
Father Isaac Jogues, who was later to knock with mu- 
tilated hands for shelter at the Jesuit college in Rennes. 
Jogues was born at Orleans; he was of as delicate mould 
as Gamier, modest and refined, but "so active that none 
of the Indians could surpass him in running." In the 
autumn of 1641 he stood with his companion at the 
end of the peninsula between the Lakes, their congre- 
gation to the number of two thousand having been 
gathered for them from all along the southern shore 
of Lake Superior, the land of the Chippewas. Father 
Raymbault died at Quebec from exposure and hardship 
encountered here, the first of the Christian martyrs 
on that field, and Jogues was soon after sent upon an 
errand of greater peril. While on his way from Quebec 
to the new field (the old Huron station) with wine for 
the eucharist, writing materials, and other spiritual and 
temporal supplies, he was captured by the Iroquois 
and with his companions subjected to such torture as 
even Brebeuf was not to know. Journeying from the 
place of his capture on the St. Lawrence to that of his 
protracted torture he, first of white men, saw the Lake 
Como of America which bears the name of "George," 
a king of England, instead of "Jogues," whom the holy 
church may honor with canonization, but who should 
rather be canonized by the hills and waters where he 
suffered. His fingers were lacerated by the savages 
before the journey was begun; up the Richelieu River 
he went, suffering from his wounds and "the clouds of 



GRAY FRIARS AND BLACK GOWNS 35 

mosquitoes." At the south end of Lake Champlain 
this gentle son of France was again subjected to spe- 
cial tortures for the gratification of another band of 
Iroquois; his hands were mangled, his body burned and 
beaten till he fell "drenched in blood." Where thou- 
sands now land every summer at the head of Lake 
George for pleasure he staggered forth under his por- 
tage burden to the shores of the Mohawk, where again 
the chief called the crowd to "caress" the Frenchmen 
with knives and other instruments of torture, the chil- 
dren imitating the barbarity of their elders. I should 
not repeat such details of this horrible story here ex- 
cept to give background to one moment's act in the 
midst of it all, illustrative of the motive which was 
back of this unexampled endurance. While he and his 
companions were on the scaffold of torture, four Huron 
prisoners were brought in and put beside the French- 
men: whereupon Father Jogues began his ministry 
anew, for when an ear of green corn was thrown him 
for food, discovering a few rain-drops clinging to the 
husks, he secretly baptized two of his eleventh-hour 
converts. 

This was not the end, but after months of pain and 
privation, which make one wonder at what a frail 
body, fitted with a delicate organism, can endure, he 
escaped by the aid of the Dutch at Fort Orange (now 
the capital of the State of New York), whither the 
Iroquois had gone to trade, and after six weeks in 
hiding there, was sent to New Amsterdam — then a 
"delapidated fort garrisoned by sixty soldiers" and a 
village of only four or five hundred inhabitants, but 
even at that time so cosmopolitan that, as one of 
my friends who has recently revived a census of that 



36 THE FRENCH IN THE HEART OF AMERICA 

day shows, nearly twenty different languages were 
spoken. 

It is thus that a little French father of the wilder- 
ness comes from a thousand miles behind the moun- 
tains, from the shores of the farthest lake, in the mid- 
dle of the continent, at a time when New York and 
Boston had together scarcely more inhabitants than 
would fill a hall in the Sorbonne. 

If only Richelieu (who died in the very year that 
Jogues was exemplifying so faithfully the teaching of 
Him whose brother he called himself) had permitted 
the Huguenot who wanted to go, to follow this little 
priest into those wilds, instead of trying in vain to 
persuade those to go who would not, who shall say that 
American visitors from that far interior might not 
be speaking to-day in a tongue which Richelieu, were 
he alive, could best understand. 

The little father, who has always seemed to me an 
old man, though he was then only thirty-six, was 
carried back to England, suffering from nature and 
pirates almost as much as from the Iroquois, and at 
last reached Rennes, where, after his identity was dis- 
closed, the night was given to jubilation and thanks- 
giving, we are told. He was summoned to Paris, where 
the queen "kissed his mutilated hands" and exclaimed: 
"People write romances for us — but was there ever a 
romance like this, and it is all true?" Others gladly 
did him honor. But all this gave no satisfaction to 
his soul bent upon one task, and as soon as the Pope, at 
the request of his friends, granted a special dispensation 1 
which permitted him, though deformed by the "teeth 

'The answer of Pope Urban VIII was: "Indignum esset martyrem 
Christi, Christi non bibere sanguinem." 



GRAY FRIARS AND BLACK GOWNS 37 

and knives of the Iroquois," to say mass once more, he 
returned to the wilderness where within a few months 
the martyrdom was complete and his head was dis- 
played from the palisades of a Mohawk town. 

So vanished the face of the first priest of France 
from the edge of the great valley, he, too, as Raym- 
bault, perhaps, hoping "to reach China across the 
wilderness" but finding his path "diverted to heaven." 

It was not until 1660 that another came into that 
peninsula at whose point Jogues had preached, the 
aged Menard, who after days among the tangled 
swamps of northern Wisconsin was lost, and only his 
cassock, breviary, and kettle were ever recovered. A 
little later came Allouez and Dablon, and Druilletes 
who had been entertained at Boston by Winslow and 
Bradford and Dudley and John Eliot, and last of those 
to be selected from the increasing number of that 
brotherhood for mention, the young Pere Marquette, 
"son of an old and honorable family at Laon," of 
extraordinary talents as a linguist (having learned, as 
Parkman tells us, to speak with ease six Indian lan- 
guages) and in devotion the "counterpart of Gamier 
and Jogues." When he first appears in the west it is 
at the mission of Pointe de St. Esprit, near the very 
western end of Lake Superior. There he heard, from 
the Illinois who yearly visited his mission, of the great 
river they had crossed on their way, and from the 
Sioux, who lived upon its banks, "of its marvels." 
His desire to follow its course would seem to have been 
greater than his interest in the more spiritual ends of 
his mission, for he disappointedly, it is intimated, fol- 
lowed his little Huron flock suddenly driven back 
toward the east by the Iroquois of the West — the 



38 THE FRENCH IN THE HEART OF AMERICA 

Sioux. At Point St. Ignace, a place midway between 
the two perils, the Sioux of the West and the Iroquois 
of the East, they huddled under his ministry. 

It was there in the midst of his labors among his 
refugees, that Louis Joliet, the son of a wagon-maker of 
Quebec, a grandson of France, found him on the day, 
as he writes in his journal, of "the Immaculate Con- 
ception of the Holy Virgin, whom I had continually 
invoked since I came to this country of the Ottawas 
to obtain from God the favor of being enabled to visit 
the Nations on the river Missisipi." Joliet carried 
orders from Frontenac the governor and Talon the 
intendant, that Marquette should join him — or he Mar- 
quette — upon this voyage of discovery, so consonant 
with Marquette's desire for divine ordering. Mar- 
quette quieted his morbid conscience, which must have 
reproved his exploring ambitions, by reflecting upon 
the "happy necessity of exposing his life" for the sal- 
vation of all the tribes upon that particular river, and 
especially, he adds, as if to silence any possible linger- 
ing remonstrance, "the Illinois, who when I was at 
St. Esprit, had begged me very earnestly to bring the 
Word of God among them." 

So the learned son of Laon and the practical son of 
the wagon-maker of Quebec set out westward upon 
their journey under the protection of Marquette's 
particular divinity, but provided by Joliet with sup- 
plies of smoked meat and Indian corn, and furnished 
with a map of their proposed route made up from 
rather hazy Indian data. Through the strait that leads 
into Lake Michigan, and along the shores of this 
wonderful western sea they crept, stopping at night 
for bivouac on shore; then up Green Bay to the old 



GRAY FRIARS AND BLACK GOWNS 39 

mission; and then up the Fox River, where Nicolet had 
gone, in his love not of souls but of mere adventure. 
What interests one who has lived in that region, is to 
hear the first word of praise of the prairies extending 
farther than the eye can see, interspersed with groves 
or with lofty trees. 1 

I have spoken of the little river, dwindling into a 
creek of perplexed channel before the trail is found 
that ties the two great valleys together. One cannot 
miss it now, for when I last passed over it it was being 
paved, or macadamized, and a steam-roller was doing 
in a few days what the moccasined or sandalled feet 
of the first travellers there would not have accom- 
plished in a thousand thousand years. I shall speak 
later of what has grown upon this narrow isthmus 
(now crossed not merely by trail and highway, but 
by canal as well), but I now must hasten on where 
the impatient priest and his sturdy, practical compan- 
ion are leading, toward the Wisconsin. 

Nicolet may have put his boat in this same Wiscon- 
sin River, but if he did he did not go far below th # e 
portage. La Salle may even have walked over this 
very path only a year or two before. But, after all, it 
is only a question as to which son of France it was, for 
we know of a certainty that on a day in June of 1673 
Joliet and Marquette did let their canoes yield to 
the current of this broad, tranquil stream after their 
days of paddling up the "stream of the wild rice." 

I have walked in the wide valley of the Wisconsin 
River and have seen through the haze of an Indian 
summer day the same dim bluffs that Marquette 
looked upon, and by night the light of the same stars 

^'Jesuit Relations" (Thwaites), 59 : 103. 



40 THE FRENCH IN THE HEART OF AMERICA 

that Marquette saw reflected from its surface. But 
having never ridden upon its waters, I take the de- 
scription of one who has followed its course more in- 
timately if not more worshipfully. "They glided down 
the stream," he writes, "by islands choked with trees 
and matted with entangling grape-vines, by forests, 
groves and prairies, the parks and pleasure-grounds of 
a prodigal nature; by thickets and marshes and broad 
bare sand-bars; under the shadowing trees between 
whose tops looked down from afar the bold brow of 
some woody bluff. At night, the bivouac, the canoes 
inverted on the bank, the flickering fire, the meal of 
bison-flesh or venison, the evening pipes, and slumber 
beneath the stars; and when in the morning they em- 
barked again, the mist hung on the river like a bridal 
veil, then melted before the sun, till the glassy water 
and the languid woods basked breathless in the sultry 
glare." 1 

But to those first voyagers it had a charm, a lure 
which was not of stars or shadows or wooded bluffs 
or companionable bivouac. It led to the great and 
the unknown river, which in turn led to a sea remote 
from that by which the French had come out of Europe 
into America. They were travelling over the edge of 
Champlain's map, away from Europe, away from 
Canada, away from the Great Lakes. As far as that 
trail which led through the grass and reeds up from 
the Fox, one might have come every league of the way 
from Havre or even from a quay of the Seine, by water, 
except for a few paces of portage at La Chine and at 
Niagara. But that narrow strip of prairie which they 
crossed that June day in 1673 was in a sense the coast 

1 Parkman, "La Salle," pp. 63 and 64. 



GRAY FRIARS AND BLACK GOWNS 41 

of a new sea, they knew not what sea — or, better, it was 
the rim of a new world. 

On the 17th of June they entered the Mississippi 
with a joy which they could not express, Marquette 
naming it, according to his vow, in honor of the Virgin 
Mary, Riviere de la Conception, and Joliet, with an 
earthly diplomacy or gratitude, in honor of Frontenac, 
"La Buade." For days they follow its mighty cur- 
rent southward through the land of the buffalo, but 
without sight for sixty leagues of a human being, 
where now its banks are lined with farms, villages, and 
towns. At last they come upon footprints of men, and 
following them up from the river they enter a beauti- 
ful prairie where a little way back from the river lay 
three Indian villages. There, after peaceful cere- 
monies and salutations, they, the first Frenchmen on 
the farther bank, their fame having been carried west- 
ward from the missions on the shores of the lakes, were 
received. 

"I thank thee," said the sachem of the Illinois, 
addressing them; "I thank thee, Black Gown, and thee, 

frenchman," addressing himself to Monsieur Jollyet, 
"for having taken so much trouble to come to visit 
us. Never has the earth been so beautiful, or the sun 
so Bright, as to-day; Never has our river been so Calm, 
or so clear of rocks, which your canoes have Removed 
in passing; never has our tobacco tasted so good, or 
our corn appeared so fine, as We now see Them. Here 
is my son, whom I give thee to Show thee my Heart. 

1 beg thee to have pity on me, and on all my Nation. 
It is thou who Knowest the great Spirit who has made 
us all. It is thou who speakest to Him, and who 
hearest his word. Beg Him to give me life and health, 



42 THE FRENCH IN THE HEART OF AMERICA 

and to come and dwell with us, in order to make us 
Know him." 1 

Knowing the linguistic attainments of Marquette 
and his sincerity, one must credit this first example of 
eloquence and poetry of the western Indians, cultivated 
of life amid the elemental forces of the water, earth, 
and sky. 2 A beautiful earth, sprinkled with flowers, a 
bright sun, a calm river free of rocks, sweet-flavored 
tobacco, thriving corn, an acquaintance with the Great 
Spirit — well might the old man who received the French 
man say: "thou shalt enter all our cabins in peace." 

Indian eloquence is not of the lips only. It is a 
poor Indian speech indeed that is not punctuated by 
gifts. And so it was that the French travellers resumed 
their journey laden with presents from their prairie 
hosts, and a slave to guide them, and a calumet to 
procure peace wherever they went. 

It is enough now, perhaps, to know that the voyag- 
ers passed the mouth of the Illinois, the Missouri, the 
Ohio, and reached the mouth of the Arkansas, when 
thinking themselves near the gulf and fearing that 
they might fall into the hands of the Spaniards if they 
ventured too near the sea, and so be robbed of the fruits 
of their expedition, they turned their canoes up-stream. 
Instead, however, of following their old course they 
entered the Illinois River, known sometimes as the 
"Divine River." I borrow the observing father's 
description of that particular valley as it was just 
two centuries before I first remember seeing it. "We 
have seen nothing like this river for the fertility of the 

1 Jesuit Relations" (Thwaites), 59 : 121. 

s It was of these same prairies, rivers, and skies, these same elemental 
ever-present forces, that Abraham Lincoln learned the simple, rugged elo- 
quence that made him the most powerful soul that valley has known. 



GRAY FRIARS AND BLACK GOWNS 43 

land, its prairies, woods, wild cattle, stag, deer, wild- 
cats, bustards, swans, ducks, parrots, and even beaver; 
its many little lakes and rivers." 1 Through this para- 
dise of plenty they passed, up one of the branches 
of the Illinois, till within a few miles of Lake Mich- 
igan, where they portaged a thousand paces to a 
creek that emptied into the lake of the Illinois. If 
they were following that portage path and creek to- 
day they would be led through that city which stands 
next to Paris in population — the city of Chicago, in 
the commonwealth that bears the name of the land 
through which the French voyagers passed, "Il- 
linois." 

At the end of September, having been absent four 
months, and having paddled their canoes over twenty- 
five hundred miles, they reached Green Bay again. 
There these two pioneers, companions forever in the 
history of the new world, separated — Joliet to bear 
the report of the discovery of the Riviere de Buade to 
Count Frontenac, Marquette to continue his devotions 
to his divinity and recruit his wasted strength, that he 
might keep his promise to return to minister to the 
Illinois, whom he speaks of as the most promising of 
tribes, for "to say 'Illinois' is in their language to say 
'the men.' " 

By most unhappy fate Joliet's canoe was upset in 
the Lachine Rapids, when almost within sight of Mon- 
treal, and all his papers, including his precious map, 
were lost in the foam. But several maps were made 
under his direction or upon his data. 

Marquette's map, showing nothing but their course 

1 B. F. French, "Historical Collections of Louisiana," 4:51. "Jesuit 
Relations" (Thwaites), 59 : 161. 



44 THE FRENCH IN THE HEART OF AMERICA 

and supplying nothing from conjecture, was found 
nearly two hundred years later in St. Mary's College 
in Montreal, furnishing, I have thought, a theme and 
design for a mural painting in the interesting halls of 
the Sorbonne, where so many periods, personages, and 
incidents of the world's history are worthily remem- 
bered. The art of that valley has sought to reproduce 
or idealize the faces of these pioneers. The more elo- 
quent, visible memorial would be the crude map from 
the hand of the priest Jacques Marquette, son of Rose 
de la Salle of the royal city of Rheims. 

Of his setting out again for the Illinois, where he 
purposed establishing a mission, of his spending the 
winter, ill, in a hut on the Chicago portage path, of his 
brief visit to the Illinois, of his journey northward, of 
his death by the way, and of the Indian procession 
that bore his bones up the lake to Point St. Ignace — of 
all this I may not speak in this chapter. 

Here let me say only the word of tribute that comes 
to him out of his own time, as the first stories of his- 
tory came, being handed down from generation to 
generation by word of mouth, till a poet or a historian 
should make them immortal. The story of Marquette 
I had known for many years from the blind Parkman, 
but not long ago I met one day an Indian boy, with 
some French blood of the far past in his veins, the son 
of a Chippewa chief, a youth who had never read 
Parkman or Winsor but who knew the story of Mar- 
quette better than I, for his grandmother had told 
him what she had heard from her grandmother, and 
she in turn from her mother or grandmother, of lis- 
tening to Marquette speak upon the shores of Supe- 
rior, of going with other French and Indians on that 



GRAY FRIARS AND BLACK GOWNS 45 

missionary journey to the Illinois to prepare food for 
him, and of hearing the mourning among the Indians 
when long after his death the report of his end reached 
their lodges. 

The grim story of the labors of the followers of 
Loyola among the Indians has its beatific culmination 
in the life of this zealot and explorer. Pestilence and 
the Iroquois had ruined all the hopes of the Jesuits in 
the east. Their savage flocks were scattered, annihi- 
lated, driven farther in the fastnesses, or exiled upon 
islands. The shepherds who vainly followed their 
vanishing numbers found themselves out upon the 
edge of a new field. If the Iroquois east and west 
could have been curbed, the Jesuits would have be- 
come masters of that field and all the north. We shall, 
thinking of that contingency, take varying views, be- 
yond reconciliation, as to the place of the Iroquois 
in American history; but we shall all agree, whatever 
our religious and political predilection, men of Old 
France and men of New France alike, in applauding 
the sublime disinterestedness, fearless zeal, and un- 
questioned devotion to something beyond the self, 
which have consecrated all that valley of the Lakes and 
have, in the person of Marquette, the son of Laon, made 
first claim upon the life of the valley, whose great water 
he helped to discover. 



CHAPTER IV 
FROM THE GREAT LAKES TO THE GULF 

P£RE MARQUETTE was still in a convent in 
Rheims when a French wood-ranger and fur 
trader was out in those western forests making 
friends for the French, one Sieur Nicolas Perrot, who 
would doubtless have been forgotten with many an- 
other of his craft if he had not been able — as few of 
them were — to read and write. And Marquette was 
but on his way from France to Canada when Sieur 
Perrot was ministering with beads and knives and 
hatchets and weapons of iron to these stone-age men 
on the southern shore of Superior, where the priest 
was later to minister with baptismal water and mys- 
terious emblems. It was Perrot, whom they would 
often have worshipped as a god, who prepared the 
way for the altars of the priests and the forts of the 
captains; for back of the priests there were coming 
the brilliantly clad figures of the king's representa- 
tives. Once when Perrot was receiving such adoration, 
he told the simple-minded worshippers that he was 
"only a Frenchman, that the real Spirit who had made 
all, had given the French the knowledge of iron and 
the ability to handle it as if it were paste"; that out 
of "pity for His creatures He had permitted the French 
nation to settle in their country." 1 At another time he 

'Emma H. Blair, "Indian Tribes of the Upper Mississippi Valley," 
i : 310. 

46 



THE GREAT LAKES TO THE GULF 47 

said: "I am the dawn of that light, which is beginning 
to appear in your lands," and having learned by ex- 
perience the true Indian eloquence, he proceeded in his 
oration with most impressive pauses: "It is for these 
young men I leave my gun, which they must regard 
as the pledge of my esteem for their valor. They 
must use it if they are attacked. It will also be more 
satisfactory in hunting cattle and other animals than 
are all the arrows that you use. To you who are old 
men I leave my kettle (pause); I carry it everywhere 
without fear of breaking it" (being of copper or iron 
instead of clay). "You will cook in it meat that 
your young men bring from the chase, and the food 
which you offer to the Frenchmen who come to visit 
you." 1 And so he went on, throwing iron awls to the 
women to be used instead of their bone bodkins, iron 
knives to take the place of pieces of stone in killing 
beavers and cutting their meat, till he reached his per- 
oration, which was punctuated with handfuls of round 
beads for the adornment of their children and girls. 

Do not think this a petty relation. It is a detail 
in the story of an age of iron succeeding, in a single 
generation, an age of stone. The splendor of the court 
and age of Louis XIV was beginning to brighten the 
sombreness of the northern primeval forests. 

It is this ambassador Perrot, learned in the craft of 
the woods rather than in that of the courts, more 
effective in his forest diplomacy than an army with 
banners, who soon after (1671) appears again on those 
shores, summoning the nations to a convocation by 
the side of that northern tumultuous strait, known 
everywhere now as the "Soo," then as the Sault Ste. 

'Blair, "Indian Tribes of the Upper Mississippi Valley," I : 330, 331. 



48 THE FRENCH IN THE HEART OF AMERICA 

Marie, there to meet the representatives of the king 
who lived across the water and of the Onontio who 
governed on the St. Lawrence. 

This convocation, of which Perrot was the success- 
ful herald, was held in the beginning of summer in 
the year 1671 (the good fishing doubtless assisting the 
persuasiveness of Perrot's eloquence in procuring the 
great savage audience). When the fleets of canoes 
arrived from the west and the south and east, Dau- 
mont de St. Lusson and his French companions, sent 
out the previous autumn from Quebec, having wintered 
in the Mantoulin Island, were there to meet them. 
It is a picture for the Iliad. Coureur de bois and priest 
had penetrated these regions, as we have seen; but now 
was to take place the formal possession by the crown 
of a territory that was coming to be recognized as 
valuable in itself, even if no stream ran though it to 
the coasts that looked on Asia. 

The scene is kept for us with much detail and color. 
On a beautiful June morning the procession was 
formed, the rapids probably furnishing the only music 
for the stately march of soldier and priest. After St. 
Lusson, four Jesuits led the processional: Dablon, 
Allouez, whom we have already seen on the shores of 
Superior, Andre from the Mantoulin Island, and 
Druilletes; the last, familiar from his long visit at 
Plymouth and Boston with the character of the Puri- 
tan colonies and doubtless understanding as no one 
else in that company, the menace to the French of 
English sturdiness and industry and self-reliant free- 
dom. He must have wondered in the midst of all that 
formal vaunt of possession, how long the mountains 
would hold back those who were building permanent 



THE GREAT LAKES TO THE GULF 49 

bridges over streams, instead of traversing them in 
ephemeral interest, or as paths to waters beyond; who 
were working the iron of the bogs near by, instead of 
hunting for the more precious ores or metals on remote 
shores; who were sawing the trees into lumber for 
permanent homes and shops, instead of adapting them- 
selves to the more primitive life and barter in the woods; 
who were getting riches from the cleared fields, instead 
of from the backs of beavers in the sunless forests; who 
were raising sheep and multiplying cattle, instead of 
hunting deer and buffaloes; who were beginning to trade 
with European ports not as mere voyageurs but as 
thrifty merchants; who were vitally concerned about 
their own salvation first, and then interested in the 
fate of the savage; and who, above all, were learning 
in town meetings to govern themselves, instead of 
having all their daily living regulated from Versailles 
or the Louvre. Druilletes, remembering New England 
that day, must have wondered as to the future of this 
unpeopled, uncultivated empire of New France, with- 
out ploughs, without tame animals, without people, 
even, which St. Lusson was proclaiming. 1 Was its 
name indeed to be written only in the water which 
their canoes traversed ? 

There were fifteen Frenchmen with St. Lusson, 
among them the quiet, practical, unboastful Joliet, 
trained for the priesthood, but turned trader and ex- 
plorer, who had already been two years previous out 
on the shores of Superior looking for copper. Mar- 
quette was not with the priests but was urging on the 
reluctant Hurons and Ottawas who did not arrive 
until after the ceremony. 

1 See Justin Winsor "Pageant of St. Lusson," 1892. 



50 THE FRENCH IN THE HEART OF AMERICA 

The French were grouped about a cross on the top 
of a knoll near the rapids, and the great throng of 
savages, "many-tinted" and adorned in the mode of 
the forest, sat or stood in wider circle. Father Dablon 
sanctified a great wooden cross. It was raised to its 
place while the inner circle sang Vexilla Regis. Close 
to the cross a post bearing a plate inscribed with the 
royal arms, sent out by Colbert, was erected, and the 
woods heard the Exaudiat chanted while a priest said 
a prayer for the king. Then St. Lusson (a sword in 
one hand and "crumbling turf in the other") cried to 
his French followers who applauded his sentences, to 
the savages who could not understand, to the rapids 
which would not heed, and to the forests which have 
long forgotten the vibrations of his voice, the words in 
French to which these words in English correspond: 

"'In the name of the most high, most mighty and 
most redoubtable monarch Louis, the XlVth of the 
name, most Christian King of France and Navarre, 
we take possession of the said place of Ste Mary of the 
Falls as well as of Lakes Huron and Superieur, the 
Island of Caientoton and of all other Countries, rivers, 
lakes and tributaries, contiguous and adjacent there- 
unto, as well discovered as to be discovered, which are 
bounded on the one side by the Northern and Western 
Seas and on the other side by the South Sea, including 
all its length or breadth;' Raising at each of the said 
three times a sod of earth whilst crying Vive le Roy, 
and making the whole of the assembly as well French 
as Indians repeat the same; declaring to the aforesaid 
Nations that henceforward as from this moment they 
were dependent on his Majesty, subject to be con- 
trolled by his laws and to follow his customs, promis- 



THE GREAT LAKES TO THE GULF 51 

ing them all protection and succor on his part against 
the incursion or invasion of their enemies, declaring 
unto all other Potentates, Princes and Sovereigns, 
States and Republics, to them and their subjects, that 
they cannot or ought not seize on, or settle in, any 
places in said Country, except with the good pleasure 
of his said most Christian Majesty and of him who will 
govern the Country in his behalf, on pain of incurring 
his hatred and the effects of his arms; and in order 
that no one plead cause of ignorance, we have attached 
to the back the Arms of France thus much of the 
present our Minute of the taking possession." 1 

Then the priest Allouez (as reported by his brother 
priest Dablon), after speaking of the significance of 
the cross they had just raised, told them of the great 
temporal king of France, of him whom men came from 
every quarter of the earth to admire, and by whom all 
that was done to the world was decided. 

"But look likewise at that other post, to which are 
affixed the armorial bearings of the great Captain of 
France whom we call King. He lives beyond the sea; 
he is the Captain of the greatest Captains, and has 
not his equal in the world. All the Captains you have 
ever seen, or of whom you have ever heard, are mere 
children compared with him. He is like a great tree, 
and they, only like little plants that we tread under 
foot in walking. You know about Onnontio, that 
famous Captain of Quebec. You know and feel that 
he is the terror of the Iroquois, and that his very 
name makes them tremble, now that he has laid waste 
their country and set fire to their Villages. Beyond 
the sea there are ten thousand Onnontios like him, 

1 "Wisconsin Historical Collections," n : 28. 



52 THE FRENCH IN THE HEART OF AMERICA 

who are only the Soldiers of that great Captain, our 
Great King, of whom I am speaking. When he says, 
'I am going to war,' all obey him; and those ten thou- 
sand Captains raise Companies of a hundred soldiers 
each, both on sea and on land. Some embark in ships, 
one or two hundred in number, like those that you have 
seen at Quebec. Your Canoes hold only four or five 
men — or, at the very most, ten or twelve. Our ships 
in France hold four or five hundred, and even as many 
as a thousand. Other men make war by land, but in 
such vast numbers that, if drawn up in a double file, 
they would extend farther than from here to Missis- 
saquenk, although the distance exceeds twenty leagues. 
When he attacks, he is more terrible than the thunder: 
the earth trembles, the air and the sea are set on fire 
by the discharge of his Cannon; while he has been 
seen amid his squadrons, all covered with the blood 
of his foes, of whom he has slain so many with his 
sword that he does not count their scalps, but the 
rivers of blood which he sets flowing. So many pris- 
oners of war does he lead away that he makes no 
account of them, letting them go about whither they 
will, to show that he does not fear them. No one now 
dares make war upon him, all nations beyond the 
sea having most submissively sued for peace. From all 
parts of the world people go to listen to his words and 
to admire him, and he alone decides all the affairs of 
the world. What shall I say of his wealth ? You 
count yourselves rich when you have ten or twelve 
sacks of corn, some hatchets, glass beads, kettles, or 
other things of that sort. He has towns of his own, 
more in number than you have people in all these 
countries five hundred leagues around; while in each 



THE GREAT LAKES TO THE GULF 53 

town there are warehouses containing enough hatchets 
to cut down all your forests, kettles to cook all your 
moose, and glass beads to fill all your cabins. His 
house is longer than from here to the head of the 
Sault" — that is, more than half a league — "and higher 
than the tallest of your trees; and it contains more 
families than the largest of your Villages can hold." 1 

This remarkable proclamation and this extraordi- 
nary speech are to be found in the records. And the 
historian would end the incident here. But one may at 
least wonder what impressions of Louis the Great and 
Paris and France these savages carried back to their 
lodges to ponder over and talk about in the winter 
nights; and one must wonder, too, what impression 
the proclamation and pantomime of possession made 
upon their primitive minds. Perrot translated the 
proclamation for them, and asked them to repeat 
"Long live the king!" but it must have been a free 
translation that he made into their idioms; he must 
have softened "vassals" to "children," and "king" to 
"father," and made them understand that the laws 
and customs of Versailles would not curb their freedom 
of coiffure or attire, of chase or of leisure, on the shores 
of Superior. 

The speech of Allouez may seem full of hyperbole 
to those who know, in history, the king, and, by sight, 
the palace employed in the priest's similes; but if we 
think of Louis XIV not in his person but as a repre- 
sentative of the civilization of Europe that was as- 
serting its first claim there in the wilderness, and give 
to the word of the priest something of the import of 
prophecy, the address becomes mild, indeed. Through 

'"Jesuit Relations" (Thwaites), 55 : m-113. 



54 THE FRENCH IN THE HEART OF AMERICA 

those very rapids a single fleet of boats carries every 
year enough iron ore to supply every man, woman, and 
child in the United States (97,000,000) with a new iron 
kettle every year; another fleet bears enough to meet 
the continent's, if not the world's, need of hatchets. 
Trains laden with golden grain, more precious than 
beads, trains that would encircle the palace at Ver- 
sailles or the Louvre now cross that narrow strait 
every day. A track of iron, bearing the abbreviated 
name of the rapids and the mission, penetrates the 
forests and swamps from which that savage congrega- 
tion was gathered in the first great non-religious con- 
vocation on the shores of the western lakes where men 
with the scholarship of the Sorbonne now march every 
year with emblems of learning on their shoulders. 

As to the proclamation, Parkman asks, what now 
remains of the sovereignty it so pompously announced ? 
"Now and then," he answers, "the accents of France 
on the lips of some straggling boatman, or vagabond 
half-breed — this and nothing more." 

But again I would ask you to think of St. Lusson not 
as proclaiming merely the sovereignty of Louis XIV 
or of France, but as heralding the new civilization, for 
if we are to appreciate the real significance of that 
pageant and of France's mission, we must associate 
with that day's ceremony, not merely the subsequent 
wanderings of a few men of French birth or ancestry 
in all those "countries, rivers, lakes and streams," 
"bounded on the one side by the seas of the north 
and west and on the other by the South Sea," but all 
that life to which they led the adventurous, perilous 
way. 

The Iroquois and disease had thinned the Indian 



THE GREAT LAKES TO THE GULF 55 

populations of the northeast, but here was a new and 
a friendly menace to that stone-age barbarism whose 
dusky subjects found their way back to their haunts 
by the stars, lighted their fires by their flint, and glut- 
tonously feasted in plenty, or stoically fasted in famine. 

For the French it was a challenge to "those coun- 
tries, lakes and islands bounded by the seas." They 
must now "make good the grandeur of their hopes." 
And a brave beginning is soon to be made. This 
highly colored scene becomes frontispiece of another 
glorious chapter, in the midst of whose hardship one 
will turn many a time to look with a sneer or smile, 
or with pity, at the figures in court garments, burnished 
armor, and "cleansed vestments," standing where the 
east and the west and the far north and the south 
meet. 

From the shores of a seigniory on the St. Lawrence, 
eight or nine miles from Montreal, just above those 
hoarse-voiced, mocking rapids which had lured and 
disappointed Cartier and Champlain and Maison- 
neuve, and which were to get their lasting name of 
derision from the disappointment of the man who 
now (1668) stands there, Robert Rene Cavelier, Sieur 
de la Salle, looks across the waters of Lake St. Louis 
(into which the St. Lawrence for a little way widens) 
to the "dim forests of Chateauguay and Beauharnois." 
His thoughts look still farther, for they are out in that 
valley of his imagination through which a river "must 
needs flow," as he thinks, "into the 'Vermilion Sea' ' 
— the Gulf of California. The old possessing dream ! 

This young man (but twenty-five years of age) was 
a scion of an old and rich family of Rouen. As a youth 
he showed unusual traits of intellect and character and 



56 THE FRENCH IN THE HEART OF AMERICA 

(it is generally agreed) doubtless because of his prom- 
ise, he was led to the benches of the Jesuits. Whether 
this be true or not, he was an earnest Catholic. But 
his temperament would not let him yield unquestioned 
submission to any will save his own. For it was will 
and not mere passion that mastered his course. "In 
his faults," says a sympathetic historian, "the love of 
pleasure had no part." At twenty-three he had left 
Rouen, and securing a seigniory, where we have just 
seen him, in the "most dangerous place in Canada," 
he made clearing for the settlement which he named 
the Seigniory of St. Sulpice (having received it from the 
seminary of St. Sulpice), but which his enemies named, 
as they named the rapids, "La Chine." 

There tutored in the Indian languages and inflamed 
of imagination as he looked day after day off to the 
west, his thoughts "made alliance with the sun," as 
Lescarbot would have said, and dwelt on exploration 
and empire. 

It was ten years later that those who were keeping 
the mission and the trading-post on Point St. Ignace, 
where to-day candles burn before the portrait of Pere 
Marquette, saw a vessel equipped with sails, as large 
as the ships with which Jacques Cartier first crossed the 
Atlantic, come ploughing its way through waters that 
had never before borne such burdens without the 
beating of oars or paddles. Its commander is Sieur 
de la Salle, now a noble and possessed of a seigniory 
two hundred miles west of that on which we left him 
— two hundred miles nearer his goal. This galleon, 
called the Griffin because it carried on its prow the 
carving of a griffin, "in honor of the armorial bearings 
of Count Frontenac," was the precursor of those 



THE GREAT LAKES TO THE GULF 57 

mighty fleets that now stir those waters with their 
commerce. 

These ten years of disaster and disappointment, but 
also of inflexible purpose and indomitable persistence, 
must not be left to lie unremembered, though the re- 
cital must be the briefest. In 1669, in company with 
some Sulpitian priests and others, twenty-four in all, 
he sets forth from his seigniory. Along the south shore 
of Ontario they coast, stopping on the way to visit the 
Senecas, La Salle, at least, hoping to find there a guide 
to the headwaters of what is now known as the Ohio 
River. Disappointed, he with them journeyed on 
westward past the mouth of the Niagara River, hear- 
ing but the sound of the mighty cataract. At the head 
of Lake Ontario they have the astounding fortune 
to meet Louis Joliet, who with a companion was re- 
turning from Superior (two years before the pageant 
of St. Lusson) and who had just discovered that great 
inland lake between the two lakes, Ontario and Huron 
(which had been shown on French maps as connected 
by a river only). This lake, Erie, now the busiest 
perhaps of all that great chain, had been avoided be- 
cause of the hostility of the Iroquois, and so it was 
that it was last to rise out of the geographic darkness 
of that region. Even Joliet's Iroquois guide, although 
well acquainted with the easier route, had not dared 
to go to the Niagara outlet but had followed the 
Grand River from its northern shores and then por- 
taged to Lake Ontario. 

The Sulpitian priests and their companions followed 
to the west the newly found course, but La Salle, the 
goal of whose thought was still the Ohio, feigning ill- 
ness (as it is believed), received the sacrament from 



58 THE FRENCH IN THE HEART OF AMERICA 

the priests (an altar being improvised of some paddles), 
parted from them, and, as they at the time supposed, 
went back to Montreal. But it was not of such fibre 
that his purposes were knit. Just where he went it is 
not with certainty known, but it is generally conceded 
that he reached and followed the Ohio as far at least as 
the site of Louisville, Ky. It is claimed by some that 
he coasted the unknown western shores of Lake Huron; 
that he reached the site of Chicago; and that he even 
saw the Mississippi two years at least before Marquette 
and Joliet. What Parkman says in his later edition, 
after full and critical acquaintance with the Margry 
papers in Paris, is this: "La Salle discovered the Ohio, 
and in all probability the Illinois also; but that he dis- 
covered the Mississippi has not been proved, nor, in 
the light of the evidence we have, is it likely." Winsor 
argues that in the minds of those who knew him in 
Montreal, La Salle's projects had failed, since it was 
then that the mocking name was given to his estate — 
a name which, by the way, has been made good, as 
some one remarks, "by the passage across La Salle's 
old possessions of the Canadian Pacific Railway," a 
new way to China. 

I think we must admit, with his enemies of that day 
and hostile authorities of this, despite Margry's docu- 
ments, that except for his increased knowledge of the 
approaches and his acquaintance with Indians and 
the conditions of nature in that valley, La Salle's ex- 
pedition was a failure. It was his first defiance of the 
wilderness before him and the first victory of his enemies 
behind him. 

While Marquette is spending the winter, sick of a 
mortal illness, in the hut on the Chicago portage, La 



THE GREAT LAKES TO THE GULF 59 

Salle is in Paris, bearing a letter from Frontenac, in 
which he is recommended to Minister Colbert as "the 
most capable man I know to carry on every kind of 
enterprise and discovery" and as having "the most 
perfect knowledge of the state of the country," 1 that 
is, of the west. A letter I find was sent to Colbert 
under the same or proximate date 2 acquainting Col- 
bert with the discovery made by Joliet. La Salle must 
therefore have known of the Mississippi and its course, 
even if he himself had not beheld it with his own eyes 
or felt the impulse of its current. 

He goes back to Canada possessed of a new and 
valuable seigniory (having spent the proceeds of the 
first in his unsuccessful venture) under charge to gar- 
rison Fort Frontenac (on the north shore of Ontario) 
and to gather about it a French colony. For two years 
he labors there, bringing a hundred acres of sunlight 
into the forests, building ships for the navigation of 
the lake, and establishing a school under the direction 
of the friars. He might have stayed there and become 
rich "if he had preferred gain to glory" — there where 
he had both solitude and power. "Feudal lord of 
the forest around him, commander of a garrison raised 
and paid by himself, founder of the mission and patron 
of the church, he reigned the autocrat of his lonely 
little empire." But this does not satisfy him. It is 
but a step toward the greater empire still farther to 
the west. 

In 1677 he comes back again to Paris with a desire 
not for land, but for authority to explore and open up 
the western country, which he describes in a letter to 

1 Margry, " Decouvertes et etablissements des Fran^ais," I : 227. 
2 Winsor dates letter November 14, 1674. Margry, November II. 



60 THE FRENCH IN THE HEART OF AMERICA 

Colbert. It is nearly all "so beautiful and fertile; so 
free from forests and so full of meadows, brooks and 
rivers; so abounding in fish, game, and venison that 
one can find there in plenty, and with little trouble, 
all that is needful for the support of powerful colonies. 
The soil will produce anything that is raised in France." 1 
He says that cattle may be left out all winter, calls at- 
tention to some hides he has brought with him of cattle 
whose wool is also valuable, and again expresses con- 
fidence that colonies would become prosperous, es- 
pecially as they would be increased by the tractable 
Indians, who will readily adapt themselves to the 
French way of life, as soon as they taste the advantages 
of French friendship. He does not fail to mention 
the hostility of the Iroquois and the threatened rivalry 
of the English, who are beginning to covet that country 
— all of which only animates him the more to action. 
Lodged in Paris in an obscure street, Rue de la Truan- 
derie, and attacked as a visionary or worse, he is yet 
petitioning Louis XIV for the government of a realm 
larger than the king's own, and holding conference with 
Colbert. 

In the early summer, after his winter of waiting 
somewhere in the vicinity in which I have written this 
chapter, a patent comes to him from the summer palace 
at St.-Germain-en-Laye, which must have been to him 
far more than his patent of nobility or title to any es- 
tate in France: 

"Louis, by the grace of God King of France and 
Navarre, to our dear and well-beloved Robert Cavelier, 
Sieur de la Salle, greeting. We have received with 
favor the very humble petition made us in your name 

^arkman, "La Salle," p. 122. Margry, 1 : 331. 



THE GREAT LAKES TO THE GULF 61 

to permit you to undertake the discovery of the western 
parts of New France; and we have the more willingly 
consented to this proposal, since we have nothing more 
at heart than the exploration of this country, through 
which, to all appearances, a way may be found to 
Mexico." 1 La Salle, accordingly, was permitted to 
build forts at his own expense, to carry on certain 
trade in buffalo-hides, and explore to his heart's con- 
tent. 

This lodger in Rue de la Truanderie now sets about 
raising funds for his enterprise and, having succeeded 
chiefly among his brothers and relations, he gathers 
materials for two vessels, hires shipwrights, and starts 
from Rochelle for his empire, his commission doubtless 
bound to his body, taking with him as his lieutenant 
Henri de Tonty — son of the inventor of the Tontine 
form of life insurance who had come to France from 
Naples — a most valuable and faithful associate and 
possessed of an intrepid soul to match his own. 

From Fort Frontenac, an outpost, La Salle's com- 
pany pushes out to build a fort below Niagara Falls 
near the mouth of the Niagara River, the key to the 
four great lakes above, and to construct a vessel of 
fifty tons above the Falls for the navigation of these 
upper lakes. It is on this journey that the world makes 
first acquaintance of that mendacious historian Friar 
Hennepin, who, equipped with a portable altar, min- 
istered to his companions and the savages along the 
way and wrote the chronicles of the expedition. It is he 
who has left us the first picture of Niagara Falls un- 
profaned by tourists; of the buffalo, now extinct ex- 
cept for a few scrawny specimens in parks, and of 

1 Various translations. Original in Margry, I : 337. 



62 THE FRENCH IN THE HEART OF AMERICA 

St. Anthony Falls. After loss by wreck of a part of 
the material intended for the vessel and repeated de- 
lays, due to La Salle's creditors at Frontenac and the 
Indians on his way, the vessel was at last completed, 
launched with proper ceremonies, and started on her 
maiden trip up those lakes where sail was never seen 
before. 

It is this ship that found temporary haven in the 
cove back of Point St. Ignace in 1679 while La Salle, 
"very finely dressed in his scarlet cloak trimmed with 
gold lace," knelt, his companions about him, and again 
heard mass where the bones of Marquette were doubt- 
less even then gathered before the Jesuit altar. Thence 
they pushed on to Green Bay, where some of his ad- 
vance agents had gathered peltries for his coming. The 
Griffin, loaded with these, her first and precious cargo, 
was sent back to satisfy his creditors, and La Salle 
with fourteen men put forth in their canoes for the 
land of his commission, of "bufFalo-hides," and of 
"the way toward Mexico." 

I will "make the Griffin fly above the crows," La 
Salle is recorded to have said more than once in his 
threat toward those of the Black Gowns who were 
opposing his imperious plans, because they aimed at the 
occupation, fortification, and settlement of what the 
order still hoped to keep for itself. But the flight of 
this aquatic griffin gave to La Salle no good omen of 
triumph. The vessel never reached safe port, so far 
as is known. Tonty searched all the east coast of Lake 
Michigan for sight of her sail, but in vain. And those 
whom in America we call "researchers" — those who 
hunt through manuscripts in libraries — have not as 
yet had word of her. Many have doubtless walked, 



THE GREAT LAKES TO THE GULF 63 

as I, the shores of that lake with thoughts of her, but 
no one has found so much as a feather of her pinions. 
Whether she foundered in a storm or was treacherously 
sunk and her cargo stolen, no one will probably ever 
know. 

La Salle and his men in their heavily laden canoes 
had a tempestuous voyage up the west shore of Lake 
Michigan. 1 They passed the site of Chicago, deciding 
upon another course (which persuades me that La 
Salle must have been in that region before) and on 
till they reached the mouth of the St. Joseph River, 
where precious time was lost in waiting for Tonty 
and his party coming up the other shore. I take space 
to speak in such detail of this voyage because it traces 
another important route into the valley. 

About seventy miles up the stream there stands an 
old cedar-tree bearing, as it is believed by antiqua- 
rians, the blaze marks of the old French broadaxes 
and marking the beginning of another of those historic 
portage paths over the valley's low rim. I have visited 
this portage more than once, and when last there I 
dug away the sand and soil about the trunk of the 
tree till I could trace the scar left by the axe of the 
French. It is only about two miles from this tree at 
the bend of the St. Joseph to where a mere ditch in the 
midst of the prairie, a tributary of the Illinois, soon 
gathers enough eager water to carry a canoe toward the 
Gulf of Mexico. 

1 It will illustrate what a change has come over a bit of that shore along 
which he passed if I tell you that when I landed there one day from a later 
lake Griffin, at a place called Milwaukee — in La Salle's day but another 
"nameless barbarism" — the first person whom I encountered chanced to 
be reading a copy of the London Spectator — the ultimate symbol of civili- 
zation some would think it. 



64 THE FRENCH IN THE HEART OF AMERICA 

I have read in the chronicles, with a regret as great 
as that of the hungry Hennepin, that the Illinois, from 
whom La Salle expected hospitality at their village 
farther down the Illinois River, which had been visited 
by Marquette twice, were off on their hunting expedi- 
tions. But I have satisfaction in knowing that he 
took needful food from their caches in my own county, 
now named La Salle. 

Early in January they passed on to a village four 
days beyond — the site of the second largest city in the 
State of Illinois. There La Salle, detained by Indian 
suspicions of his alliance with the Iroquois, discour- 
aged by the desertion of some of his own men and by 
the certainty that the Griffin was lost beyond all 
question not only with its skins but with the materials 
for a vessel, which he purposed building for the Missis- 
sippi waters, stayed for the rest of the winter, building 
for shelter and protection a fort which he named Fort 
Crevecceur, not to memorialize his own dishearten- 
ments as some hint, but, as we are assured by other 
historians, to celebrate the demolition of Fort Creve- 
cceur in the Netherlands by Louis XIV, in which Tonty 
had participated. The vessel for the Mississippi he 
bravely decides to build despite the desertion of his 
sawyers, who had fled to the embrace of barbarism 
and who, fortunately, did not return to prevent the 
employment of the unskilled hands of La Salle him- 
self and some others of his men. And so the first set- 
tlement in Illinois begins. 

On the last day of February Father Hennepin and 
two associates were sent down the Illinois River on a 
voyage of exploration, carrying abundant gifts with 
which to make addresses to the Indians along the way. 



THE GREAT LAKES TO THE GULF 65 

We may not follow their tribulations and experiences, 
but we have reason to believe that they reached the 
upper waters of the Mississippi. There, taken by the 
Sioux, they were in humiliating and even perilous cap- 
tivity till rescued by the aid of Du Lhut. We almost 
wish that the rumor that Hennepin had been hung 
by his own waist-cord had been true, if only we could 
have had his first book without the second. 

On the next day La Salle, leaving Tonty in command, 
set out amid the drifting ice of the river with four or 
perhaps six 1 men and a guide for Fort Frontenac, to 
replace at once the articles lost in the Griffin, else an- 
other year would be spent in vain. Having walked 
many, many miles along that particular river on those 
prairies, I can appreciate, as perhaps some readers can- 
not, what it means to enter upon a journey of a thou- 
sand miles when the "ground is oozy" and patches of 
snow lie about, and the ice is not strong enough to 
bear one's weight but thick enough to hinder one's 
progress. La Salle, moreover, was in constant danger 
of Indians of various tribes. In a letter to a friend he 
said that though he knew that they must suffer all 
the time from hunger, sleep on the open ground, and 
often without food, watch by night and march by 
day, loaded with baggage, sometimes pushing through 
thickets, sometimes wading whole days through marshes 
where the water was waist-deep; still he was resolved 
to go. Two of the men fell ill. A canoe was made for 
them and the journey continued. Two men were sent 
to Point St. Ignace to learn if any news had come of 
the Griffin. At Niagara, where he learned of further 
misfortune, he left the other two Frenchmen and the 

1 Margry, I : 488. 



66 THE FRENCH IN THE HEART OF AMERICA 

faithful Mohigan Indian as unfit for further travel and 
pushed on with three fresh men to Fort Frontenac, 
which he reached in sixty-five days from the day of 
his starting from Fort Crevecceur. This gives intima- 
tion and illustration of the will which possessed the 
body of this "man of thought, trained amid arts and 
letters." "In him," said the Puritan Parkman, "an 
unconquerable mind held at its service a frame of 
iron." And Fiske adds: "We may see here how the 
sustaining power of wide-ranging thoughts and a lofty 
purpose enabled the scholar, reared in luxury, to sur- 
pass in endurance the Indian guide and the hunter in- 
ured to the hardships of the forest." I have wondered 
how his petition to the king, if written after this jour- 
ney, would have described this valley. But its at- 
traction seems not to be less despite this experience, 
for he was setting forth again, when word came to 
him that his Fort Crevecceur had been destroyed, 
most of his men deserting and throwing into the river 
the stores and goods they could not carry away ! 

All has to be begun again. Less than nothing is 
left to him of all his capital. Nothing is left except 
his own inflexible spirit and the loyalty of his Tonty 
in the heart of the wilderness. Still undismayed, he 
turns his hand to the giant task again, only to find 
when he reaches the Illinois a dread foreboding of the 
crowning disaster. The Iroquois, the scourge of the 
east, had swept down the valley of the Illinois like 
hyenas of the prairies, leaving total desolation in their 
path. After a vain, anxious search for Tonty among the 
ruins and the dead, he makes his way back, finding at 
last at the junction of the two rivers that make the 
Illinois a bit of wood cut by a saw. 



THE GREAT LAKES TO THE GULF 67 

I fear to tire the reader with the monotony of the 
mere rehearsal of difficulty and discouragement and 
despairful circumstance which I feel it needful to pre- 
sent in order to give faithful background to the story 
of the valley. I have by no means told all: of continued 
malevolence where there should have been help; of the 
conspiracy of every possible untoward circumstance 
to block his way. But the telling of so much will be 
tolerated in the knowledge that, after all, his master 
spirit did triumph over every ill and obstacle. With 
Tonty, who, as he writes, is full of zeal, he confounded 
his enemies at home, gathered the tribes of the west 
into a confederacy against the Iroquois, as Champlain 
had done in the east, gave up for the present the 
building of the vessel, and in 168 1, the river being 
frozen, set out on sledges at Chicago portage and made 
a prosperous journey down the Illinois to Fort Creve- 
cceur. Re-embarking in his canoes, they paddled noise- 
lessly past tenantless villages into the Mississippi. 
He went beyond the mouth of the Arkansas, reached 
by Joliet and Marquette; he was entertained by the 
Indians of whom Chateaubriand has written with 
such charm in his "Atala"; and at last, in April, 1682, 
fifteen years from the days that he looked longingly 
from his seigniory above the Lachine Rapids, he found 
the "brackish water changed to brine," the salt breath 
of the sea touched his face, and the "broad bosom of 
the great gulf opened on his sight — limitless, voice- 
less, lonely as when born of chaos, without a sail, with- 
out a sign of life." 

His French companions and his great company of 
Indians about him, he repeated there, in the subtropi- 
cal spring, the ceremony which ten years before had 



68 THE FRENCH IN THE HEART OF AMERICA 

been performed two thousand miles and more by the 
water to the north, but in phrases which his inflexible 
purpose, valorously pursued, had given him a greater 
right to pronounce. "In the name of the most high, 
mighty, invincible and victorious prince, Louis the 
Great — I, — in virtue of the commission of his majesty 
which I hold in my hand, and which may be seen by 
all whom it may concern, have taken and do now take, 
in the name of his Majesty — possession of this country 
of Louisiana, the seas, harbors, ports, bays, adjacent 
straits, and all nations, peoples, provinces, cities, towns, 
villages, mines, minerals, fisheries, streams, and rivers, 
— from the mouth of the great river St. Louis, other- 
wise called the Ohio, — as also along the river Colbert, 
or Mississippi, and the rivers which discharge them- 
selves thereinto, from its source beyond the Nadoues- 
sioux — as far as its mouth at the sea, or Gulf of Mexico, 
and also to the mouth of the River of Palms, upon the 
assurance we have had from the natives of these 
countries, that we are the first Europeans who have 
descended or ascended the river Colbert." 1 

None could have remembered the emaciated fol- 
lowers of De Soto, who cared not for the land since they 
had found no gold there and asked only to be carried 
back to the sea, whence they had so foolishly wan- 
dered. There were probably not even traditions of 
the white god who had a century and a half before 
been buried in the river that his mortality might be 
concealed. It was, indeed, a French river, from where 
Hennepin had been captured by the Sioux through 
the stretches covered by Marquette and Joliet to the 
very sea which La Salle had at last touched. The 

1 Margry, 2 : 191. 



THE GREAT LAKES TO THE GULF 69 

water path from Belle Isle, Labrador, to the Gulf of 
Mexico was open, with only short portages at La- 
chine and Niagara and of a few paces where the Fox 
all but touches the Wisconsin, the Chicago the Des 
Plaines, or the St. Joseph the Kankakee. It took al- 
most a century and a half to open that way, but every 
league of it was pioneered by the French, and if not for 
the French forever, is the credit the less theirs? 

When the "weathered voyagers" that day on the 
edge of the gulf planted the cross, inscribed the arms 
of France upon a tree, buried a leaden plate of posses- 
sion in the earth and sang to the skies "The banners of 
heaven's king advance," La Salle in a loud voice read 
the proclamation which I have in part repeated. Thus 
"a feeble human voice, inaudible at half a mile," 1 in 
fact gave to France a river and a stupendous territory, 
of which Parkman has made this description for the 
title-deed: "The fertile plains of Texas, the vast basin 
of the Mississippi, from its frozen springs to the sultry 
borders of the gulf; from the wooded ridges of the 
Alleghanies to the bare peaks of the Rocky Mountains 
— a region of savannas and forests, sun-cracked deserts, 
and grassy prairies, watered by a thousand rivers, 
ranged by a thousand warlike tribes." 1 They gave it 
to France. That, perhaps, the people of France almost 
wish to forget. But it is better and more accurately 
written: "On that day France, pioneer among nations, 
gave this rich, wide region to the world." 

1 Parkman, "La Salle," p. 308. 



CHAPTER V 

THE RIVER COLBERT: A COURSE AND SCENE 
OF EMPIRE 

A CHARACTERIZATION OF THE RIVER WHOSE EXPLORA- 
TION AND CONTROL GAVE TO FRANCE LOUISIANA 
AND THE LAND OF THE ILLINOIS 

TO the red barbarian tribes, of which Parkman 
says there were a thousand, the river which 
passed through their valley was the "Missis- 
sippi," that is, the Great Water. They must have 
named it so under the compulsion of the awe in which 
they stood of some parts of it, and not from any 
knowledge of its length. They must have been im- 
pressed, especially they of the lower valley, as is the 
white man of to-day, by the "overwhelming, unbend- 
ing grandeur of the wonderful spirit ruling the flow of 
the sands, the lumping of the banks, the unceasing shift- 
ing of the channel and the send of the mighty flood." 
No one tribe knew both its fountains and its delta, 
its sources and its mouth. To those midway of the 
valley it came out of the mystery of the Land of Frosts 
and passed silently on, or, in places, complainingly on, 
to the mystery of the Land of the Sun, into neither of 
which dared they penetrate because of hostile tribes. 
While the red men of the Mississippi lowlands were 
not able as the "swamp angel" of to-day to discern 
the rising of its Red River tributary by the reddish 

70 



THE RIVER COLBERT 71 

tinge of the water in his particular bayou, or to measure 
by changing hues, now the impulses of the Wisconsin 
or of the Ohio, and now of the richer-silted blood of 
the Rockies (as Mr. Raymond S. Spears, writing of 
the river, has graphically described), 1 yet as they 
gazed with wonderment at these changes of color, they 
must have had inward visions of hills of red, green, 
and blue earth somewhere above their own lodges or 
hunting-grounds, and must even have had at times 
some tangible message of their brothers of the upper 
waters, some fragments of their handiwork, such as a 
broken canoe, an arrow-shaft. But the men of the 
sources, up toward the "swamps of the nests of the 
eagles," on the low watersheds, heard only vague re- 
ports of the sea or gulf; even the Indians of Arkansas, 
as we read in the account of the De Soto expedition, 
could or would "give no account of the sea, and had 
no word in their language, or idea or emblem, that could 
make them comprehend a great expanse of salt water 
like the ocean." 

So the river was not the source or father of running 
waters, but the great, awe-inspiring water. The French 
were misled, as we have seen, when they first heard 
Indian references to it, thinking it was what they were 
longing for — the western ocean, a great stretch of salt 
water instead of another and a larger Seine. And when 
they did discover that it was a river, their first concern 
was not as to what lay along its course, but as to where 
it led. 

A prominent American historian, to whom we are 

1 "The Moods of the Mississippi," in Atlantic Monthly, 102 : 378-382. 
See also his "Camping on a Great River," New York, Harper, 1912, and 
numerous magazine articles. 



72 THE FRENCH IN THE HEART OF AMERICA 

much indebted, with Parkman, for the memorials of 
this period, praises by contrast those who kept within 
smell of tide-water along the Atlantic shore. But 
when we reach the underlying motives of the explora- 
tion and settlement of that continent, do they who 
sought the sources and the paths to the smell of other 
tide-waters deserve dispraise or less praise than those 
who sat thriftily by the Atlantic seashore ? 

The English colonists were struggling for themselves 
and theirs, not for the good or glory of a country across 
seas. They had no reason to look beyond their short 
rivers, so long as their valleys were fruitful and ample. 
Shall they be praised the more that they did not for a 
century venture beyond the sources of those streams ? 
The first French followers of the river courses were, as 
we have seen, devotees of a religion for the salvation 
of others, bearers of advancing banners for the glory 
of France, and lovers of nature and adventure. And 
if there were, as there were, avaricious men among 
them, we must be careful not to blame them more than 
those whose avarice or excessive thrift was econom- 
ically more beneficial to the world and to the commu- 
nity and the colony and to themselves. Economic 
values and moral virtues, as expressed in productivity 
of fields, mines, factories, church attendance, and 
obedience to the selectmen, are so easy of assessment 
that it is difficult to get just appraisement for those 
who endured everything, not for their own freedom or 
gain but for others' glory, and accomplished so little 
that could be measured in the terms of substantial, 
visible, tangible, economic, or ecclesiastical progress. 

Who first of Europeans looked upon this river at the 
gulf we do not know, but on a Ptolemy map, published 



THE RIVER COLBERT 73 

in Venice in 15 13, it is thought by some that the delta 
is traced with distinctness, as less distinctly in Waldsee- 
miiller's map of 1507. Five years later (15 18) on 
Garay's map of Alvarez de Pineda's explorations, there 
descends into the gulf a sourceless river, the Rio del 
Espiritu Santo, which is thought by some to be the 
same river that Marquette's map showed under the 
name de la Conception, ending its course in the midst 
of the continent; but it is more generally thought now 
to be the Mobile River, and the Gulf del Espiritu Santo 
to be the Bay of Mobile. Narvaez, as I have said, 
tried a score of years after to enter the Mississippi, 
but he was carried out to sea in his flimsy improvised 
craft, by its resisting current. Cabeca de Vaca may have 
seen it again after he left Narvaez, but we have no 
record in his narrative that distinguishes it from any 
other river. Then came the accredited discoverer De 
Soto, who found it but another obstacle in his gold- 
seeking path toward the Ozarks and who found it 
his grave on his harassed, disappointed journey back 
toward Florida. 

It was more than a hundred years after "it pleased 
God that the flood should rise," as the chronicle has it, 
and carry the brigantines built by De Soto's lieutenant, 
Moscoso, with his emaciated followers "down the 
Great River to the opening gulf," before another white 
face looked upon this great water. It was in 1543 
that Moscoso and his men disappeared, sped on their 
voyage by the arrows of the aborigines. It was a June 
day in 1673 tnat Marquette and Joliet, coming down 
the Wisconsin from Green Bay, saw before them, 
"avec une joye que je ne peux pas expliquer," the slow, 
gentle-currented Mississippi; or, as Mark Twain has 



74 THE FRENCH IN THE HEART OF AMERICA 

measured the time in a chronology of his own: "After 
De Soto glimpsed the river, a fraction short of a 
quarter of a century elapsed, and then Shakespeare was 
born, lived a trifle more than a half a century, — then 
died; and when he had been in his grave considerably 
more than half a century, the second white man saw 
the Mississippi." 1 

In 1682 La Salle followed it to where it meets the 
great gulf, possessing with emblems of empire and his 
indomitable spirit the lower reaches of the stream 
whose upper waters had first been touched by the 
gentle Marquette and the practical Joliet and the vain- 
glorious Hennepin. Between that day and the time 
when it became a course of regular and active com- 
merce (again in Mark Twain's chronology), "seven 
sovereigns had occupied the throne of England, Amer- 
ica had become an independent nation, Louis XIV 
and Louis XV had rotted — the French monarchy had 
gone down in the red tempest of the Revolution — and 
Napoleon was a name that was beginning to be talked 
about." 2 Of what befell in that period, marked by 
such figures and events, a later chapter will tell. Here 
our thought is of the river itself, the river of "a hun- 
dred thousand affluents," as one has characterized 
it; the river which for a little time bore through the 
valley of Louisiana and of the Illinois the name of 
the great French minister "Colbert." 

To the Spanish the river was a hazard, a difficulty 
to be gotten over. To the Indian it was the place of 
fish and defense. To the Anglo-American empire of 
wheels, that later came over the mountains, it was a 

1 "Life on the Mississippi," Hillcrest edition, pp. 19, 20. 

2 "Life on the Mississippi," p. 20. 



THE RIVER COLBERT 75 

barrier athwart the course, to be ferried or forded or 
bridged, but not to be followed. To be sure, it was 
(later) utilized by that empire, for a little while, as 
a path of dominant, noisy commerce in haste to get 
its products to market. And the keels of commerce 
may come again to stir its waters. But the river will 
never be to its later east-and-west migrants what it 
was to the French, whose evangelists, both of empire 
and of the soul, saw its significance, caught its spirit 
into their veins, and (from the day when Marquette 
and Joliet found their courage roused, and their labor 
of rowing from morning till night sweetened by the 
joy of their expedition) have possessed the river for 
their own and will possess it, even though all the land 
belongs to others, and the rivers are put to the uses of 
millions to whom the beautiful speech of the French 
is alien. Many a time in poling or paddling a boat in 
its tributaries in years gone by, have I thought and said 
to my companion: "How less inviting this stream 
would be if the French with valiant, adventurous 
spirit had not first passed over it!" And my com- 
panion was generally one who was always "Tonty" 
to me. It is still the river of Marquette and Joliet, 
Nicolet, Groseilliers and Radisson, La Salle and Tonty, 
Hennepin and Accau, Gray Gowns and Black Gowns, 
Iberville and Bienville, St. Ange and Laclede; for 
across every portage into the valley of that river, it 
was the men of France, so far as we know, who passed, 
first of Europeans, from Lake Erie up to Lake Chau- 
tauqua; or across to Fort Le Bceuf and down French 
Creek into the Alleghany and the Ohio (La Belle Ri- 
viere); or up the Maumee and across to the Wabash 
(the Appian Way) ; or from Lake Michigan up the St. 



76 THE FRENCH IN THE HEART OF AMERICA 

Joseph and across to the Kankakee, at South Bend; 
or, most trodden path of all, from Green Bay up the 
Fox River and across to the Wisconsin; or at Chicago 
from the Chicago River across to the Des Plaines (to 
which with the Illinois River the French seem to have 
given the name "Divine"), and so on to the Mississippi. 

It is this last approach that I learned first and, 
though a smoke now hangs habitually over the en- 
trance as a curtain, I have for myself but to push that 
aside to find the Divine River way still the best route 
into the greatest valley of the earth. Man has di- 
verted this Divine River to very practical uses, and 
even changed its name, but it is hallowed still beyond 
all other approaches to the Great River. In a hut on 
the portage Pere Jacques Marquette spent his last 
winter on earth in sickness; down the river the brave 
De la Salle built his Fort St. Louis on the great rock 
in the midst of his prairies, and still farther down his 
Fort Crevecceur. On no other affluent stream are 
there braver and more stirring memories of French 
adventure and sacrifice than move along those waters 
or bivouac on those banks. And so I would have one's 
imagination take that trail toward the Mississippi and 
first see it glisten beneath the tall white cliffs which 
stand at the portal of the Divine River entry. 

Its branches are reputed to have all borne at one 
time the names of saints, and it had like canonization 
itself. But these streams of the Mississippi, like the 
Seine, have none or few of the qualities that make this 
saintly terminology appropriate. It is anthropomor- 
phism, not canonization, that befits its temper and its 
lure. Mystery no longer hangs over its waters. Now 
that all the prairie and plain have been occupied, the 



THE RIVER COLBERT 77 

mystery has fled entirely from the valley or has hidden 
itself in the wilderness and "bad lands." All is trans- 
lated into the values of a matter-of-fact, pragmatic, 
industrial occupation. 

These are some of the pragmatic and other facts 
concerning it which I have gathered from the explorers 
and surveyors and lovers of this region, Ogg 1 and 
Austin 2 and Mark Twain 3 among them. 

Its length lies wholly within the temperate zone. 
In this respect it is more fortunately situated than the 
more fertile-valleyed Amazon, since the climate here, 
varied and sometimes inhospitable as it is, offers con- 
ditions of human development there denied. 

The main stream is two thousand five hundred and 
three miles in length, or more truly four thousand one 
hundred and ninety miles, if the Mississippi and Mis- 
souri be taken; that is, many times the length of the 
Seine. As Mark Twain, who is to be forever associated 
with its history, has said, it is "the crookedest river" in 
the world, travelling "one thousand three hundred miles 
to cover the same ground that a crow would fly over 
in six hundred and seventy-five." For a distance of 
several hundred miles the Upper Mississippi is a mile 
in width. Back in 1882 it was seventy miles or more 4 
wide when the flood was highest, and in 191 2 sixty 
miles wide. The volume of water discharged by it 
into the sea is second only to the Amazon, and is greater 
than that of all European rivers combined — Seine, 
Rhine, Rhone, Po, Danube, and all the rest, omitting 

J Ogg, F. A., "Opening of the Mississippi," New York, 1904. 
2 Austin, O. P., "Steps in the Expansion of our Territory," New York, 
1903. 
8 Mark Twain, "Life on the Mississippi," various editions. 
* Mark Twain, "Life on the Mississippi," p. 456. 



78 THE FRENCH IN THE HEART OF AMERICA 

the Volga. The amount is estimated at one hundred 
and fifty-nine cubic miles annually — that is, it would fill 
annually a tank one hundred and fifty-nine miles long, 
a mile wide, and a mile high. With its tributaries it 
provides somewhat more than sixteen thousand miles of 
navigable water, more than any other system on the 
globe except the Amazon, and more than enough to 
reach from Paris to Lake Superior by way of Kam- 
chatka and Alaska — about three-fourths of the way 
around the globe. 

The sediment carried to the sea is estimated at four 
hundred million tons 1 annually. As one has put it, it 
would require daily for its removal five hundred trains 
of fifty cars, each carrying fifty tons, and would make 
two square miles each year over a hundred and thirty 
feet deep. Mark Twain in "Life on the Mississippi" 
is authority for the statement that the muddy water of 
the Missouri is more wholesome than other waters, 
until it has settled, when it is no better than that of 
the Ohio, for example. If you let a pint of it settle 
you will have three-fourths of an inch of mud in the 
bottom. His advice is to keep it stirred up. 2 

The area which it drains is roughly a million and a 
quarter square miles, or two-fifths of the United States. 
That is, as one graphic historian has visualized it in 
European terms, Germany, Austria-Hungary, France, 
and Italy could be set down within its limits and there 
would still be some room to spare. 

The river has the strength (for the most part put 
to no use) of sixty million horses. The difference be- 
tween high water and low water in flood conditions 

1 Humphrey's and Abbot's estimate. 
1 "Life on the Mississippi," p. 182. 



THE RIVER COLBERT 79 

is in some places fifty feet, which shows that it has a 
wider range of moodiness than even the Seine. 

The rim dividing the Mississippi basin from that of 
the Great Lakes is, as we have seen, low and narrow; 
in some places, especially in wet seasons, the water- 
shed is indistinguishable. The waters know not which 
way to go. This fact furnishes the explanation of the 
ease with which the French explorers penetrated the 
valley from the north. A high mountain range kept 
the English colonists out of it from the east. The 
Spanish found no physical barriers at the south (ex- 
cept the water, which gave the Frenchmen help), but, 
as we have seen, on the other hand, they found no ade- 
quate inducement. 

The isotherm which touches the southern limits of 
France passes midway between the source and mouth 
of the river. In the northern half, it has the mean 
annual temperature of France, England, and Germany; 
in the southern half, of the Mediterranean coasts. 

From the gulf into which it empties, a river (that is, 
an ocean river, or current) runs through the ocean to 
the western coasts of Europe; another runs out along 
the northeastern coast of South America, and, still 
another is in waiting at the western terminus of the 
Panama Canal to assist the ships across the Pacific. 

A fair regularity and reliability of rainfall have 
made the rich soil of the valley tillable and productive 
without irrigation, except in the far western stretches; 
and these blessings are likely to continue, as one au- 
thority puts it, "so long as the earth continues to 
revolve toward the east and the present relationship 
of ocean and continent continues." 

Including Texas and Alabama (which lie between the 



80 THE FRENCH IN THE HEART OF AMERICA 

same ranges of mountains with this valley, though 
their rivers run into the gulf and not into the Missis- 
sippi), this valley has perhaps one hundred and forty 
thousand miles of railway, or about sixty per cent of 
the total mileage of the country, or twenty-five per 
cent of the mileage of the entire globe. 

"In richness of soil, variety of climate, number and 
value of products, facilities for communication and 
general conditions of wealth and prosperity, the Mis- 
sissippi Valley surpasses anything known to the Old 
World as well as the New." It produces the bulk of the 
world's cotton and oil; of corn it raises much more 
than all the rest of the world combined, and of each 
of the following (produced mainly in this same valley) 
the United States leads in quantity all the nations of 
the earth: wheat, cattle, hogs, oats, hay, lumber, coal, 
iron and steel, and other mineral products. 

Its valley supports an estimated population of over 
fifty millions, or over half that of the whole United 
States; and has an estimated maintenance capacity of 
from 200,ooo,ooo 1 to 350,000,000,2 or from four to 
seven times its present population. It has been tilled 
with "luxurious carelessness." A peasant in Brittany 
or a forester in Normandy would be scandalized by 
the extravagant, profligate use of its patrimony. That 
it is likely to have at least the 250,000,000 by the year 
2100, and with intensive cultivation will be able to 
support them, is allowed by estimates of reliable statis- 
ticians. Europe had 175,000,000 at the beginning of 
the nineteenth century and North America 5,308,000. 

1 Justin Winsor, "Mississippi Basin," p. 4. 

2 A. B. Hart, "Future of the Mississippi Valley," Harper'' s Magazine, 
100 : 419, February, 1900. 



THE RIVER COLBERT 81 

The former has somewhat more than doubled its 
population in the century since; America has increased 
hers about twenty times, and the Mississippi Valley 
several thousand times. It is not unreasonable to 
expect the doubling of the population of that valley in 
another century and its quadrupling in two. 

Let De Tocqueville make summary of those prideful 
items in his description of the valley, embraced by 
the equator-sloping half of the continent: "It is upon 
the whole," he says, "the most magnificent dwelling- 
place prepared by God for man's abode" — a "space 
of 1,341,649 square miles — about six times that of 
France" — watered by a river "which, like a god of 
antiquity, dispenses both good and evil." 1 

And it was still another Frenchman who first gave 
to the world an accurate description of the sources of 
the river. On his own account, Nicollet, sometime 
professor in the College Louis le Grand, set out in 
183 1 to explore the river from its mouth to the source. 
He spent five years in these regions which he de- 
scribed as "a grand empire possessing the grandest 
natural limits on the earth." He then returned to a 
little Catholic college in Baltimore as a teacher, but 
the United States Government, hearing of his valuable 
service, commissioned him to make another expedition 
that would enable him to complete his map of the 
region of the sources. What he then accomplished has 
given him "distinct and conspicuous place among the 
explorers of the Mississippi." His map shows myriad 
lakes in the region of the sources (where the slightest 
jar of earth might turn in other directions the water of 
these brimming bowls), so many indeed, that there 

1 "Democracy in America," 1 : 22, 21, 20. New York, 1898. 



82 THE FRENCH IN THE HEART OF AMERICA 

would seem to be only lake and marsh and savannas. 
But we see him looking off toward plateaus "looming 
as if [they were] a distant shore." Another picture I 
shall always keep from his report is of his stolid half- 
breed guide (who usually waited for him and his 
companion with face toward them) sitting one day 
somewhat ahead of the party on a slight elevation, 
which makes the watershed between the rivers of the 
north and the rivers of the south, his face turned from 
them, gazing in silent rapture upon the boundless 
stretch of plains. 

How their magical influence possessed him, as well 
as that child of forest and plain, Nicollet, a peasant 
boy of Savoy, a professor in Paris, interrupts his topo- 
graphical report to tell: "It is difficult to express by 
words the varied impressions which the spectacle of 
these prairies produces. Their sight never wearies. 
To look a prairie up or down, to ascend one of its un- 
dulations, to reach a small plateau (or, as the voyageurs 
call it, a prairie planch e), moving from wave to wave 
over alternate swells and depressions and finally to 
reach the vast, interminable low prairie that extends 
itself in front — (be it for hours, days or weeks) — one 
never tires; pleasurable and exhilarating sensations are 
all the time felt; ennui is never experienced. Doubt- 
less there are moments when excessive heat, a want of 
fresh water, and other privations remind one that life 
is a toil; but these drawbacks are of short duration. 
There are no concealed dangers — no difficulties of road; 
a far-spreading verdure, relieved by a profusion of 
variously colored flowers, the azure of the sky above, 
or the tempest that can be seen from its beginning to 
its end, the beautiful modifications of the changing 



THE RIVER COLBERT 83 

clouds, the curious looming of objects between earth 
and sky, taxing the ingenuity every moment to rectify 
— all, everything, is calculated to excite the percep- 
tions and keep alive the imagination. In the summer 
season, especially, everything upon the prairies is 
cheerful, graceful, and animated. The Indians, with 
herds of deer, antelope and buffalo, give life and motion 
to them. It is then they should be visited; and I pity 
the man whose soul could remain unmoved under such 
a scene of excitement." 1 

It is a singular fortune that has made a son of 
France, a century and a half after the discovery of this 
mighty stream, the explorer and cartographer of its 
sources, a fortune that has its partial explanation at 
least in the lure of this stream for the Gallic heart. 

Mrs. Trollope, a famous English traveller, found its 
lower valley depressing, as has many another: "Un- 
wonted to European eyes and mystically heavy is the 
eternal gloom that seems to have settled upon that 
region. Whatever wind may blow, however bright 
and burning the southern sun may blaze in the un- 
clouded sky, the stream is forever turbid and forever 
dark." Of the scene at its mouth, where La Salle and 
his men had sung with such joy, she says: "Had Dante 
seen it, he might have drawn images of another Bolgia 
from its horrors." 2 But no French visitor, so far as I 
know, has ever found it gloomy, even in flood or tem- 
pest on its subtropical stretches; nor has he found 
those level vastnesses desolate. A traveller, Paul 
Fountain by name, and so of French origin, I suspect, 

1 Report intended to illustrate a map of the hydrographical basin of the 
upper Mississippi River, Washington, 1843, 26th Cong., 2d Sess., Sen. 
Doc. 237, p. 52. 

2 "Domestic Manners of the Americans," p. 1. 



84 THE FRENCH IN THE HEART OF AMERICA 

wandering over those valley plains in the early days, 
tells of the sense of freedom, health, and strength that 
they give: "There is no air like the prairie air — not 
even the grand freshness of the boundless ocean itself. — 
The loveliness and variety of the prairie odors are quite 
indescribable, as are its superb wild flowers. It is a 
paradise. No man who has lived on it long enough to 
know it and love it (no great time, I can assure you) 
ever experiences real happiness after he has left it. 
There is a longing and eager craving to return to the 
life. The vulgar cowboys and hunters, uneducated and 
unpoetical past all degree, never leave it except to get 
drunk. Their money gone, back they go to get fresh 
strength and more pelf for another orgie; but if by 
chance they abandon the wild, free life, they soon 
drink themselves to lunacy or death, and their last 
babblings are of the glorious wilderness they all love." 1 
This is the too exuberant expression of one who had 
probably never had a hearth of his own in France, but 
it gives some intimation of the charm of that great 
and seemingly infinite sweep of level ground, which 
many, and especially unimaginative minds, find so 
monotonous. 

We cannot be quite sure, when we listen to some 
recent critics, that Chateaubriand ever saw this great 
valley. Certainly we who have grown up in it have 
never found his reindeer and moose about our homes 
(save in our Christmas-time imaginations). Paroquets 
that in the woods repeated the words learned of set- 
tlers are not of the fauna known to reputable Ohio 
naturalists, nor have two-headed snakes been found 
except in the vision of those who see double in their 

1 "The Great Deserts and Forests of North America," p. 22. 



THE RIVER COLBERT 85 

intoxication. The tamarind and the terebinth are 
not of its forest-trees. But whether or not Chateau- 
briand visited it in person, his imagination had fre- 
quent residence upon the Mississippi and its tribu- 
taries. His "Atala" put into French literature a 
country where many have loved to dwell, though its 
fauna and flora were not more accurate in some re- 
spects than the mineralogy and meteorology of the 
John Law scheme, known later as the "Mississippi 
Bubble," that made France wild with excitement once. 
However, I have recalled the fervid pen of Chateau- 
briand, not as that of a faunal or floral naturalist, but 
to have it rewrite these sentences: "Nothing is more 
surprising and magnificent than this movement and 
this distribution of the central waters of North Amer- 
ica" (whence flows the Mississippi), "a river which the 
French first descended; a river which flowed under 
their power, and the rich valley of which," as the trans- 
lator has rendered it, "still regrets their genius," but, 
as Chateaubriand doubtless meant it, and as it is better 
translated, "still grieves for their spirit," their "famil- 
iar" ("et dont la riche vallee regrette encore leur 
genie ). 

I think that Chateaubriand had accurate instinct in 
divining the river's grieving for the spirit that (with 
all the practical genius which now inhabits the valley) 
is still needed to give an appreciation of that in the 
valley which lies beyond the counting of statistics or 
even the glowing rhetoric of the orators of liberty. 

Hamlin Garland, reared in that valley, and first 
known in American letters as the author of remarkable 
stories of life on a Western farm, "Main Travelled 

1 "Travels in America and Italy," i : 72, 73, London, 1828. 



86 THE FRENCH IN THE HEART OF AMERICA 

Roads," has recently given expression to this grieving 
(though he says no word of the French) in an essay on 
"The Silent Mississippi," published a few years ago. 
He speaks of the river's bold, blue-green bluffs "look- 
ing away into haze," of its golden bars of sand "jutting 
out into the burnished stream," of its thickets of yellow- 
green willows, of the splendid old trees and of its glades 
opening away to the hills (all making a magical way 
of beauty), only to use it as a background for the 
statement that "not one beautiful building" is to be 
seen on its banks "for a thousand miles." There are 
many towns, but "without a single distinctive build- 
ing; everything is a flimsy jumble, out of key, meaning- 
less, impertinent, evanescent, too, thanks to climate." 
"We took a wild land beautiful as a dream," he pro- 
ceeds, "and we have made a refuse heap. The birds 
of the trees have disappeared, the water-fowl have 
gone, every edible creature has vanished. An era of 
hopeless, distinctive vulgarity is upon us." 

I have travelled down the smaller waterways of 
the valley with like feeling, which, though it has led 
to no such comprehensive generalization, yet gave me 
a distinct consciousness of their "grieving," if not for 
the French, at any rate for the silences that preceded 
the French, and for their own riparian architecture. 
The busy towns along the streams I have known have 
turned their faces from these streams toward the 
railroads. They have left the riverside to the thrift- 
less men and the truant boys. Stables and outhouses 
look upon their waters, and the sewers pollute them. 
And if on some especially eligible bluff better buildings 
do stand, their owners or builders show no apprecia- 
tion of what the bluff or river cares for, but reproduce 



THE RIVER COLBERT 87 

the lines of some pretentious edifice that has no re- 
lation, historic or otherwise, to it or to the site. The 
old mills, with their feet in the water, are almost the 
only sympathetic structures — especially so when they 
are in ruins. 

I once followed the upper waters of the stream (the 
Ohio) along which Celoron, of whom I shall speak 
later, planted his emblems of French possession. He 
would doubtless care to claim that valley even to-day, 
though unsightly houses and sheds line it, and pipes 
and shafts of iron, hastily rigged up and left to rust 
when done with, run everywhere, and the scum of oil 
is on the water. The profit of the hour was all that was 
visible of motive or achievement in that smoky valley, 
though I know it is not safe to generalize, for miracles 
have been wrought in that very valley. 

A change is coming in many of the towns and cities 
of both the lesser and the larger rivers. In the town 
that I knew best, thirty years ago only a few ventured 
upon the water, and they were the fishermen or river- 
men who had not much to do with the community life; 
now the steam or gasolene launch is making these 
streams highways of pleasure, and so is bringing them 
within the daily life of thousands. 

Waiting for a boat in St. Louis one beautiful summer 
morning on the quay, where in Paris I should have 
found the book-stalls, I saw a Pullman train just start- 
ing for New York, and at the water's edge under the 
stately bridge one tramp "barbering" another. But, 
reading the morning paper, I found by chance that 
back in the city there was one man at least, a teacher 
and artist, who had the old-time French feeling for 
the grieving river. It was dark before I found him, 



88 THE FRENCH IN THE HEART OF AMERICA 

after my day on a steamboat whose most important 
passenger, pointed out to me with some apparent pride 
by the old-time captain, was a brewer, author of a brew 
more famous in those parts than the artist's river pic- 
tures which I saw by candle-light that night in his 
schoolroom. 

The artist had his river studio upon one of the 
beautiful cliffs which La Salle must have seen when he 
came out of the Illinois into the Mississippi. And it 
was within a few miles of that studio, it may be added, 
that I found, too, one noteworthy exception to Mr. 
Hamlin Garland's statement concerning riparian ar- 
chitecture. 

These are hopeful intimations succeeding the fading 
of the last traces in that region of the old French 
days, traces which I found a few hours' journey below 
St. Louis, in the village of Prairie du Rocher (locally 
pronounced Prary de Roosh); for Cahokia, where I 
stopped first, had no mark of the French regime ex- 
cept the "congregation," which was, as the priest told 
me, two hundred years old. The village had no dis- 
tinctiveness. But Prairie du Rocher had its own 
atmosphere and charm. French skies never produced 
a more glorious August sunset than I saw through the 
Corot trees of that village, which stands or reclines 
beneath the cliffs and looks off toward the river that 
has receded far to the westward. I tried to find the 
old French records of which I had heard, but there 
was a new priest who knew not the French; yet I did 
not need them to assure me that the French had been 
there. At dawn, after such a peaceful night as one 
might have in upper Carcasonne, I found my way to 
the river near which are the ruins of Fort Chartres — 



THE RIVER COLBERT 89 

all that is left of the greatest French fortress in the 
Mississippi Valley, the last to yield to man and the 
last to surrender to nature. The town, Nouvelle 
Chartres, with all its color and gayety, has become a 
corn field, and only the magazine of the fort remains, 
hidden, a gunshot from the river, among the weeds, 
bushes, vines, and trees. 

Fourteen miles below is the site of the oldest French 
village in the upper valley. But the river was jealous 
and took it all, foundation and roof, to itself. The 
charms of old Kaskaskia, the sometime capital of all 
that region, are "one with Nineveh and Tyre." Not 
a vestige is left of its first days and only a broken 
structure or two of its later glory. 

Nor is there any other trace, so far as I could learn, 
anywhere down the winding stream till one reaches 
New Orleans. The red sun-worshippers in their white 
garments — familiar of old to the French — even they 
have followed their divinity toward its setting, and 
only among those with African shadows in their faces 
do they still sing, as I have heard, of the "brave days 
of D'Artaguette." The monuments do not remember 
beyond the bravery and carnage of the Civil War, or 
at farthest beyond the War of 181 2. I was myself 
apprehended for a foreign spy one day while I was 
searching too near to the guns of a present fort for 
more ancient monuments. 

The great river and some of its tributaries have a 
commerce, but it is of an inanimate and unappealing 
kind. They no longer draw the throngs daily to the 
wharfs as in the days of the glory of the steamboat. 
Everybody is in too much of a hurry to travel by 
water. 



90 THE FRENCH IN THE HEART OF AMERICA 

An old Mississippi River steamboat captain 1 has writ- 
ten a reminiscent book, in which he tells with sorrow of 
the departed majesty and glory of the river, the glamour 
remaining only in the memories of those who knew the 
river sixty years or more ago. He laments the passing 
of that mighty fleet, destroyed by the very civiliza- 
tion that built it — a civilization which cut down the 
impounding forests and so removed the great natural 
dams which must in time be replaced by artificial ones 
if the rivers are ever to run full again in the dry sea- 
sons and not overflow in the wet. It is that day of the 
Mississippi that is best known in our literature. Mark 
Twain has put forever on the map of letters (where the 
Euphrates, the Nile, the Ilyssus, the Tiber, the Seine, 
the Thames long have been) the Mississippi, the river 
which the French first traced upon the maps of geog- 
raphy. So we are especially indebted to the French 
for Mark Twain, who began his career as a "cub" 
pilot on the river which in turn gave him the name by 
which the world is ever to know him. 

It was he who once wrote of this river: "The face of 
the water, in time, became a wonderful book — a book 
that was a dead language to the uneducated passenger, 
but which told its mind to me without reserve, deliver- 
ing its most cherished secrets as clearly as if it uttered 
them with a voice. And it was not a book to be read 
once and thrown aside, for it had a new story to tell 
every day. Throughout the long twelve hundred miles 
there was never a page that was void of interest, never 
one that you could leave unread without loss, never 
one that you would want to skip, thinking you could 

'George B. Merrick, "Old Times on the Upper Mississippi," Cleveland, 
A. H. Clark Co., 1909. 



THE RIVER COLBERT 91 

find higher enjoyment in some other thing. There 
never was so wonderful a book written by man; never 
one whose interest was so absorbing, so unflagging, so 
sparklingly renewed with every reperusal." 1 

When I was entering the English Channel on my 
way to Havre, the captain showed me what varied 
courses must be taken at different hours and different 
days to gain full advantage of tide and current and 
yet avoid all danger. But, as this Mississippi River 
pilot has observed, it is now a comparatively easy un- 
dertaking to learn to run these buoyed and lighted 
ship channels; it was then quite another matter 
to pilot a steamboat in the Mississippi or Missouri, 
"whose alluvial banks cave and change constantly, 
whose snags are always hunting up new quarters, 
whose sand-bars are never at rest, whose channels are 
forever dodging and shirking, and whose obstructions" 
had fifty years ago to be "confronted in all nights 
and all weathers without the aid of a single lighthouse 
or a single buoy." 2 And yet that man, who came to 
know, in age, the courses of human emotions the world 
over, could, as a young man, shut his eyes and trace 
the river from St. Louis to New Orleans, and read its 
face as one "would cull the news from a morning paper." 

It was for years a wish of mine that when Mark Twain 
should come to die, he should lie not in an ordinary 
sepulchre of earth but in the river which he knew so 
well and loved, and of whose golden days he sang. I 
wished that the river might be turned aside from its 
wonted channel, as the River Busentinus for the inter- 
ment of Alaric, and then, after his burial there, be let 

1 "Life on the Mississippi," pp. 82-83. 

2 "Life on the Mississippi," p. 86. 



92 THE FRENCH IN THE HEART OF AMERICA 

back into it again, that he might ever hear the sonorous 
voice of its waters above him, and, perhaps, now and 
then the call of the leadsman overhead, crying the 
depth beneath, as he himself in the pilot-house used once 
to hear the call "Mark Twain" from the darkness 
below. So it was a disappointment to me that when 
the world followed him to his grave it was to a little 
patch of earth outside the valley, beyond the reach of 
even the farthest tributary of the Mississippi. 

The great river has been the course of one empire 
and the scene of many. Spain, France, England, and 
the United States have each claimed its mastery, as 
we have seen or shall see. The Germans once dreamed 
of a state on its banks, but could not agree as to the 
locality (Minnesota or Texas), so variedly tempting 
was the fertility of its upper and its lower waters. 
The sons of the Norsemen are now tilling the land 
around its sources. Indeed, it has now upon its banks 
and within the reach of its myriad streams a babel of 
earth's races, although the river has not, as the River 
of the Lotus Flower, conformed them to one uniform 
type. 

We are beginning now to realize more keenly that 
the river has yet to be conquered. It has yielded com- 
plete sovereignty to no people. It has made light of 
the emblems of empire. It has even ignored the 
white, channel-marking signals of the government that 
now exercises lordship over all the land it drains. 
Its untamed spirit flaunts continual challenge in the 
face of all men. It has had in derision the building 
of cities and towns. One town, for example, has been 
left to choose between being left high and dry five miles 
from water, or of meeting the fate of old Kaskaskia. 



THE RIVER COLBERT 93 

And though the town has already thrown a million 
dollars to the river, as if to some unappeased god, the 
river is merciless. One town and another have been 
ostracized or destroyed, their wharfs left far inland 
or carried away to some commerceless bayou. The 
sentiment I have regarding the river makes it difficult 
to excuse its infidelity toward one little French town 
in particular, St. Genevieve. I can do so only by as- 
suming that the river has cared less for its later in- 
habitants than it did for those who gave it name. It 
has laughed at the embankments on which hundreds 
of millions have been spent by nation, state, and pri- 
vate enterprise to keep its flood in restraint. Shorn 
of its trees, as Samson of his long hair, it has pulled 
down the pillars of man's raising into its own destroy- 
ing waters. In 1912 a space nearly two and a half 
times the size of the State of New Jersey was devas- 
tated. 1 In 1913 the loss in a single year was one hun- 
dred and sixty million dollars. 2 In the last thirty 
years it is estimated the loss has been a half of a 
billion, and it would have been immensely greater, 
of course, if the river had not been given unchallenged 
freedom of great, unclaimed swamps. And yet the 
river has never at any one time massed its great army 
of waters. At one time it has been the Ohio, at an- 
other the Missouri, and then the Red that it has sent 
against the fortifications. If all these streams were to 
be brought in flood at once the lower valley would be 
swept clean. 

So it is no martial simile that I am using. It is a 
real battle that is continuously on. The gaunt sharp- 

1 Seventeen thousand six hundred and five square miles. 

8 One hundred and sixty-three million, U. S. Weather Bureau estimate. 



94 THE FRENCH IN THE HEART OF AMERICA 

shooter, pacing the embankment with Winchester in 
hand to shoot any burrowing confederate of the river, 
a rat, or mole, is a real and not an imaginary figure. 
And the battles that have been fought along its course 
are as play by the side of those yet to be waged before 
it is subdued by man. 

It is fitly the War Department of the government 
that has been watching its every movement, that has set 
the signals on its fitful tide, and that has recorded its 
every shift for years as if it were an animate enemy. 
Its changing area, velocity, discharge — items of in- 
finite permutations — are all noted and analyzed. But 
the war department of the government is still almost 
as powerless to control the river as the Yazoo farmer 
who watches its changing moods, not by instruments 
but by the movement of an eddy in his own hidden 
bayou. The battle is with floods, shallows, and ero- 
sion, but it is essentially a battle with floods, for not 
until their strongholds are taken, controlled, is the 
complete conquest assured. It was control of the 
mouth of the river that seemed so important in early 
days. The effort to obtain that led ultimately to the 
purchase of Louisiana (that is, the west bank of the 
river) from the French by the United States. It was 
the confirmation of that security of navigation which 
gave the battle of New Orleans its high significance. 
Then the mouth (thus obtained) was found too shal- 
low for the demands of commerce, and there followed 
what some one with poetic instincts has called the 
battle of the shoals, a battle in which General Eads, 
who had bridged the river at St. Louis, compelled 
the river by means of jetties to run deeper and carry 
heavier burdens. 



THE RIVER COLBERT 95 

But the future battle-fields are perceived to lie 
toward the sources, at the eaves, as it were, of the 
watersheds, the headwaters of its tributaries as well 
as its own. No deepening, embanking, straightening, 
canalization of the river is to be permanently effective 
until all danger of flood can be removed. 

Wandering among those tributaries, seeing the 
trickling fountains of several of them, watching the 
timid stream in the naked, deforested fields (not know- 
ing quite which way to go, east or west, north or south), 
I have been strongly appealed to by the plan of im- 
pounding in reservoirs these first waters, whose freedom 
(no longer restrained in youth by the sage forests) 
makes them libertines and wantons in the distant val- 
leys below. 

Such impounding has successful inauguration in five 
small reservoirs now in operation on the headwaters 
of the Mississippi out of forty-two planned. An am- 
bitious plan for controlling the turbulent Ohio by a sys- 
tem of from seventeen to forty-three reservoirs at an 
estimated cost of from twenty to thirty-four millions 
of dollars has been suggested by Mr. M. O. Leighton 
of the United States Geological Survey, and received 
indorsement from the Pittsburgh Flood Commission, the 
Dayton Flood Commission, and the National Waterways 
Commission. These would suffice to keep the lawless 
waters within temperate bounds in the spring and to 
give more generous navigable currents in the summer 
and autumn. Against the great expense of such a 
project is set the tremendous possibilities in the devel- 
opment of water-power. Of the theoretical sixty mil- 
lions of horse-power in the current of the Mississippi, 
it is estimated that about six and a half millions can 



96 THE FRENCH IN THE HEART OF AMERICA 

be economically developed throughout the year, while 
twelve millions could be developed during six months 
or more without storage reservoirs. An adequate sys- 
tem of reservoirs might double or treble these totals, 
while a million or two would be immediately available 
to begin the payment of the debt, and more of the 
strength would be harnessed to that purpose in time. 
So, it is urged, the river would be made to meet the 
expense of its own conquest. 1 

And once that is done the river may be straightened, 
shortened, deepened, leveed, and made a docile, re- 
liable carrier of commerce. It may then be compelled 
to a respect for cities and government signals and 
wharfs and mills. And the astute suggestion of the 
practical Joliet for the canalization of its waters, may 
be realized in the safe passage not merely of boats but 
of stately, giant, ocean-sized vessels from the Great 
Lakes to the gulf. 

A hundred years ago (1809) one Nicholas Roosevelt, 
commissioned of Robert Fulton (the inventor of the 
steamboat) and others, was sent to Pittsburgh to build 
the first steamboat to be launched in western waters. 
So confident was this young man of the success of 
steamboat navigation of the Ohio and Mississippi that, 
on his journey of inspection, he purchased coal-mines 
along the way and arranged to have the coal piled up 
on the river bank against the time of its need by boats 
whose keels had not been laid and whose existence even 
depended upon the approval of eastern capitalists. 
It suggests the prevision of the nephew, Theodore 

1 See reports of the National Conservation Commission in 1909; National 
Waterways Commission, 1912; Report Commissioner of Corporations on 
Water-Power Development in the United States, 1912; J. L. Mathews 
"Remaking the Mississippi," Boston, 1909. 



THE RIVER COLBERT 97 

Roosevelt, in making provision for the coaling of ships 
in the east long before the Spanish War was in sight. 
I was on the Marquette-Joliet portage the very day 
that this same nephew was predicting with like con- 
fidence to the people of St. Louis that the Mississippi 
would be deepened till from the lakes to the gulf it 
should be a course for seagoing vessels. Champlain 
suggested the Panama Canal three hundred years be- 
fore its building. Joliet, in 1673, suggested the lakes-to- 
the-gulf ship waterway, 1 and by the three-hundredth 
anniversary, perhaps, it will be completed. 

I made a journey in 191 1 that began at the first 
settlements of the French in Nova Scotia, touched the 
Bay of Chaleur and the lower St. Lawrence, and then 
followed the French water paths all the way to the 
mouth of the Mississippi, where the master of pilots, 
a descendant of France, carried me out into the Gulf 
of Mexico. Starting back before dawn in a little boat, 
I saw, just as the sun was coming up over the swamps 
where the river begins to divide, the hulk of a great 
seagoing vessel against the morning sky. It seemed 
then a gloomy apparition; but as I think of it now it 
was rather the presage of the new commerce than the 
ghost of that which has departed. 

That the Valley of a Hundred Thousand Streams — 
streams that together touch every community of any 
size from the Alleghanies to the Rockies — streams 
whose waters all find their way sooner or later into 
the Mississippi — will ever give up battle till the great 
water itself is conquered, no one who knows the de- 
termined people in that valley will ever question. 
The sixty million people will not be resisted perma- 

1 Margry, I : 268. 



98 THE FRENCH IN THE HEART OF AMERICA 

nently by the sixty million horses of the river, though 
the strength of the horses be driven by all the clouds 
that the gulf sends up the valley to its aid. Some day 
the great, free River Colbert will run vexed of impene- 
trable, unyielding walls to the sea. Its "titanic am- 
bition for quiet flowing" down this beautiful, gently 
sloping valley to the gulf (which, as one has said, "has 
been its longing through ages") will have been turned 
to human ministry. The spirit of the great water 
will have become as patient, as thoughtless of its own 
wild comfort or ambitions as that of the priest who 
dedicated it to the honor of the mother of the most 
patient of men. 



CHAPTER VI 

THE PASSING OF NEW FRANCE AND THE 
DREAM OF ITS REVIVAL 

THE readers who have through these chapters 
been companions of Champlain, La Salle, 
Joliet, Marquette, and others in the discovery 
of the mighty rivers and the conquest of the mighty 
vastnesses of the new world will have, if they con- 
tinue, yet before them even harder and more dis- 
heartening ventures, as La Salle himself had that 
April day in 1682, when he turned from the column 
which he had planted in sight of the Gulf of Mexico, 
four thousand miles from the Cape of Labrador, and 
began to drive his canoes up the river which he had 
traced forever, if too tortuously, on the maps of the 
earth. 

During the chapter since we reached the shores of 
that lonely sea without a sail, we have, covering in 
prospect two centuries, contemplated the majesty of 
that river of a hundred thousand affluents. 

Now, as we turn our faces toward the lakes and 
Canada again, a century of hardship confronts us. If 
the readers endure it with me, as I have endured it 
again and again, they will have added again to their 
France and their United States memories more precious 
than the titles to boundless prairies and trackless forests. 

La Salle was not content with the discovery of the 

99 



ioo THE FRENCH IN THE HEART OF AMERICA 

great waterway to the gulf, the tracing of whose course 
had ended all dreams of a shorter route to China by 
aid of its current. In place of his La Chine dream grew 
another dream: to open this valley to France from the 
south instead of from the north, where the way was 
long and perilous, closed half the year by ice and 
storm, and beset all the year by hostile intrigue, envy, 
and dishonesty of colonial officials. A Franco-Indian 
colony was to be established along the Illinois under 
the protection of Fort St. Louis on the Rock. Ulti- 
mately a chain of forts and colonies would hold the 
watercourse all the way from gulf to gulf — from the 
Gulf of St. Lawrence to the Gulf of Mexico — main- 
tained by revenues from the hides and wool of the 
buffalo then roaming the woods and prairies and plains 
from one side of the valley to the other; the Indians 
would gather about these centres for gain and pro- 
tection; and in the midst of this wilderness he would 
hold for France the empire that the inscription on the 
column at the mouth of the river claimed. The crows 
might fly about his fields, but they could not then 
touch his rich crops. Griffins — flocks, fleets of griffins 
— would fly above them. 

That was the vision with which he started north- 
ward from the mouth of the great river, the vision 
out of which he might at once have been starved ex- 
cept for the meat of alligators shot along the way. 
Seized of a dangerous illness, he sent Tonty on to 
Mackinaw to forward news of the discovery to Canada, 
and unable, even after months of Father Membre's 
care, to go to Paris to prepare for the carrying out of 
his great scheme, he, joined by Tonty, climbs the 
Rock St. Louis and lays out ramparts on its crest, of 



THE PASSING OF NEW FRANCE 101 

which I thought I discovered traces many years ago. 
It was another Rock of Quebec, rising sheer a hundred 
and twenty-five feet above the river in the midst of 
the prairie. About it gathered under his protection 
many tribes of Indians, in common dread of the Iro- 
quois, in common hope, doubtless, of gain from com- 
merce with the French. La Salle, in a report to be 
found in the archives of the Marine in Paris, states 
that his extemporized colony numbered four thousand 
warriors, or twenty thousand souls. 1 It had come up 
as Jonah's gourd and might as quickly wither, as the 
village of the Illinois but a few years previous had 
withered into desolation in a few hours before the hot 
breath of the terrorizing fame of the Iroquois. From 
his seigniorial aerie he sent messages to the governor 
of Canada, no longer the friendly Frontenac but a 
Pharaoh who knew not this Joseph, praying for co- 
operation, saying that he could not leave his red allies 
lest, if the Iroquois should strike in his absence, they 
would think him in league with their dread enemies; 
asking that his men who go down with hides in ex- 
change for munitions be not retained as outlaws; 
urging that it is for the advantage of his creditors (for 
his losses had amounted to forty thousand crowns) 
that they do not seize his goods — since the means of 
meeting all his debts would then be destroyed — and 
begging for more men with whom to make this colony 
permanent and gather the more remote Indian tribes 
around the sheltering Rock St. Louis. 2 

But it was not such prayers that reached Louis XIV, 
who, on May 10, 1682, before La Salle's report of the 

1 Margry, 2 : 363. Parkman, "La Salle," pp. 317, 318. 
s Margry, 2 : 314. Parkman, "La Salle," pp. 320-324. 



102 THE FRENCH IN THE HEART OF AMERICA 

discovery of the Mississippi arrived at Versailles, had 
directed that no further permission should be given to 
make journeys of discovery toward the Mississippi, as 
the colonists might better be employed in cultivating 
the lands. 

This is an example of the advice the king is receiv- 
ing from his governor in Quebec: "You will see that 
. . . [La Salle] has been bold enough to give you in- 
telligence of a false discovery and that, instead of re- 
turning to the colony to learn what the King wishes 
him to do, he does not come near me, but keeps in 
the backwoods, five hundred leagues off, with the idea 
of attracting the inhabitants to him, and building up 
an imaginary kingdom for himself, by debauching all 
the bankrupts and idlers of this country, . . . All the 
men who brought me news from him have abandoned 
him, and say not a word about returning, but sell the 
furs they have brought as if they were their own; so 
that he cannot hold his ground much longer." 1 

Meanwhile the king, the same king who five years 
before had said in La Salle's commission that he had 
"nothing more at heart" than the exploration of that 
country, writes to the governor of Canada from Fon- 
tainebleau: "I am convinced, as you, that the dis- 
covery of the Sieur de la Salle is very useless, and 
that such enterprises ought to be prevented in the 
future." 2 

In his extremity, his supplies cut off, his men sent 
to Quebec deserting with the profits of his hides, La 
Salle leaves Tonty on the Rock, starts for Quebec, 
intending to go to France, meets on the way an officer 
appointed to succeed him in all his wilderness author- 

^arkman, "La Salle," p. 323. 2 Parkman, "La Salle," p. 324. 



THE PASSING OF NEW FRANCE 103 

ity, and in the spring of 1684 is again a lodger in Rue 
de la Truanderie, a miserable little street in Paris where, 
as I have said before, I have tried to locate the lodging 
of the valiant soul who once dwelt upon the mysterious 
rock near my boyhood home. 

Thence this man of "solitary disposition," whose 
life had been joined to savages, and who had for years 
had "neither servants, clothes nor fare which did not 
savor more of meanness than of ostentation," and who 
was of such natural timidity that it took him a week 
"to make up his mind to go to an audience" with 
Monseigneur de Conti, is summoned to an interview 
with the king himself. 

La Salle's memorials, which recall by way of intro- 
duction his five journeys of upward of five thousand 
leagues, in great part on foot, through more than six 
hundred leagues of unknown country among savages 
and cannibals, and at the cost of one hundred and 
fifty thousand francs, and which propose projects that 
seem in some of their features quixotic and visionary, 
received favorable consideration of the king and his 
minister Colbert's son. La Salle's wilderness empire is 
restored to him and he is granted four ships in which 
to carry soldiers, mechanics, and laborers to establish 
a fort and colony at the mouth of the Mississippi, 
to open up all the interior of America from the south, 
and incidentally to make war on the Spaniards (who 
were claiming the gulf for their own), and to seize their 
valuable mines. 

The quarrellings of this expedition (due in part to 
the divided command) ; the failure to find the mouth of 
the Mississippi since, we are told, La Salle had been 
unable in 1682 to determine its longitude; the landing 



104 THE FRENCH IN THE HEART OF AMERICA 

on the shores of Texas, far beyond the mouth of the 
Mississippi; the loss of one of the vessels to the Span- 
ish, the wreck of two others, and the return of the 
fourth to France; the miserable fate of the colony 
left on those desolate shores; the long search of La 
Salle and his companions for the "fatal river" — these 
make a dismal story whose details cannot be rehearsed 
here, a story whose tragic end was the murder of 
La Salle by one of his own disaffected followers in 
March, 1687, on the banks of the Trinity River. 

There is time, as we hasten on, for only a few words 
over the body of this "iron man," left "a prey to the 
buzzards and wolves" of the wilderness in which he 
sacrificed all, as Champlain, for France. 

"One of the greatest men of his age," said Tonty, who 
was nearest to him in all his labors save his last. "With- 
out question one of the most remarkable explorers 
whose names live in history," writes Parkman. 1 His 
"personality is impressed in some respects more strongly 
than that of any other upon the history of New France," 
says another historian, Fiske. 2 " For force of will and 
vast conceptions; for various knowledge and quick 
adaptation of his genius to untried circumstances; for 
a sublime magnanimity, that resigned itself to the will 
of Heaven, and yet triumphed over affliction by energy 
of purpose and unfaltering hope — this daring adven- 
turer had no superior among his countrymen," says 
Bancroft. 3 And further, in the estimate of a recent 
historian of the valley, "for all the qualities of rugged 
manhood, courage, persistency that could not be broken, 

1 Parkman, "La Salle," p. 430. 

2 "New France and New England," p. 132. 

3 "History of the United States," 3 : 173. 



THE PASSING OF NEW FRANCE 105 

contempt of pain and hardship, he has never been sur- 
passed." 1 

Let him who next to Tonty knew him better than 
all the other chroniclers say a last word — one which 
will justify the time that we have given to following 
the fortunes and adversities of this spirit, unbroken to 
the last: "He was a tower of adamant, against whose 
impregnable front hardship and danger, the rage of 
man and of the elements, the southern sun, the north- 
ern blast, fatigue, famine, disease, delay, disappoint- 
ment and deferred hope, emptied their quivers in 
vain. . . . Never under the impenetrable mail of 
paladin or crusader beat a heart of more intrepid 
mettle than within the stoic panoply that armed the 
breast of La Salle. To estimate aright the marvels of 
his patient fortitude, one must follow on his track 
through the vast scene of his interminable journey- 
ings. . . . America owes him an enduring memory; 
for in this masculine figure she sees the pioneer who 
guided her to her richest heritage." 2 

France had deserved well of that valley had she 
done nothing more than to set that rugged, fearless 
figure in the heart of America, a perpetual foil to 
effeminacy and submission to softening luxury, to the 
arts that seek merely popularity, to drunkenness and 
other vices which he combated even in that wilder- 
ness, to sycophancy and demagogy — a perpetual ex- 
ample of the "vir" and virtue in the noblest sense in 
which mankind has defined them. 

In the grand amphitheatre in the Sorbonne, I wit- 
nessed one day in Paris a celebration of the conquests 

'James K. Hosmer, "Short History of the Mississippi Valley," p. 140. 
'Parkman, "La Salle," p. 432. 



106 THE FRENCH IN THE HEART OF AMERICA 

of the French language in lands outside of France: 
conquests in the islands of the West Indies, where La 
Salle suffered all but death; in Canada, where he had 
his first visions; and in Louisiana, where he perished. 
Though his name was not spoken, it were a reason for 
greater celebration in France that the spirit of such a 
Frenchman as La Salle had enduring memory in the 
severe ideals of manhood that are for all time to pos- 
sess the men of that valley to which he guided the 
world. 

There is a grave for which I wished to make search 
in Rouen, the grave of the mother of La Salle, to whom 
he wrote in 1684: "I hope ... to embrace you a year 
hence with all the pleasure that the most grateful of 
children can feel with so good a mother as you have 
always been." 1 I wish I could have made her know — 
but since I could not, I tried to let France know in- 
stead — that there are millions who could speak to-day 
as the most "grateful of children" what her son and 
France's son was never permitted to utter. 

La Salle's dream of New France did not fade with 
his last sight of his empire of Louisiana. But the cen- 
tury in which he was born and died had all but gone 
out before the stirring of his life's vision and sacrifice, 
strengthened by appeal of the gallant and faithful Tonty, 
resulted in the offer by one who has been called the 
"Cid of Canada," Le Moyne dTberville, to carry out 
the schemes of La Salle, and it was becoming clear 
that France must act at once or England would build 
the glorious structure which La Salle had designed. 
In the offer of this young Canadian and his brother 
Bienville were the purposes that gave substantial 

^arkman, "La Salle," p. 364. 



THE PASSING OF NEW FRANCE 107 

foundation to Louisiana. Sailing with their two ships 
in 1699, they were caught in the "strong, muddy 
current of fresh water," which La Salle had unluckily 
passed without seeing. They entered this stream 
and, after several days of exploration, had verification 
of the identity of the river in a letter (or "speaking 
bark," as the Indians called it), dated the 20th of April, 
1685, which Tonty, years before, when making the 
journey down the river in search of La Salle, had left 
in the hands of an Indian chief to be delivered to La 
Salle, or, as the chief called him, "the man who should 
come up the river." 

The fortunes which befell those of this colony, trying 
to find a suitable site in that land of bushes and cane- 
brakes, are not agreeable to follow. For thirteen years 
the "paternal providence of Versailles" watched over 
them, sending them marriageable women, soldiers, 
priests, and nuns, but so little food that famine and 
pestilence often came to their miserable stockades. 
They were under injunction "to seek out pearl fish- 
eries," "to catch bison-calves, tame them and take 
their wool," and "to look for mines." What employ- 
ment for the founders of an empire I 1 

One cannot resist the temptation to say again: If 
only Louis XIV had had the good sense, unblinded of 
pearls and gold and bigotry and some other things, to 
let the industrious, skilled Huguenots, flying from 
France after the revocation of the Edict of Nantes, 

1 In one of the branches of that river at whose mouth they settled I saw 
a summer or two ago, one of the men of that valley wading in its water, 
still in search of pearls. A pearl worth a thousand dollars had once been 
found near by, and so (in the same hope that animated the mind of King 
Louis XIV) man after man in that neighborhood had abandoned his fertile 
farm to search for pearls, only to be reduced, as the poor settlers of early 
Louisiana, to live upon the shell-fish in which the pearls refused to grow. 



108 THE FRENCH IN THE HEART OF AMERICA 

settle in Louisiana, instead of forcing them to swell 
the numbers of the English colonies on the Atlantic 
coast, and eventually assist them in taking the New 
France from which they had been debarred ! 

The French engineer of an English ship, appearing 
on the river one day, had furtively handed Bienville 
a petition of four hundred Huguenots in the Carolinas 
to be allowed to settle in Louisiana and to have the 
privilege of worship, such as is enjoyed to-day. The 
answer came from Versailles to the cane-brakes — from 
Versailles, where, amid scenes "which no European 
court could rival," the "greatest of France, princes, 
warriors, statesmen," were gathered week after week 
in the "Halls of Abundance, Venus, Mars and Apollo," 
from Versailles to the half-starved little group sitting 
in exile by the gulf, far from abundance, without love, 
in dread of Mars, and with no arts of Apollo save the 
sound of the wind in the trees and the moan of the sea: 
"Have I expelled heretics from France in order that 
they should set up a republic in America ?" 

One has reminded us that while Iberville was mak- 
ing almost futile attempts with the half-hearted sup- 
port of his government to establish this colony at the 
mouth of the Mississippi, Peter the Great was beginning 
to lay the foundations of St. Petersburg in as unprom- 
ising a place — a barren, uncultivated island which was 
a frozen swamp in winter and a heap of mud in summer, 
in the midst of pathless forests and deep morasses 
haunted by wolves and bears. Peter the Great spent 
great treasure in clearing the forests, draining the 
swamps, and raising embankments for this future 
capital of an empire. Louis XIV had only to let cer- 
tain Frenchmen settle on these less forbidding coasts, 



THE PASSING OF NEW FRANCE 109 

that might soon have become the capital of as fruitful 
a province as Peter the Great's; and the transforma- 
tion would have been made, as in New England, with- 
out any assistance from the king except perhaps for 
defense. 

It is due the memory of Iberville, often slandered 
as was La Salle before him, not that the story of his 
all but hopeless struggles should be repeated here but 
that the object toward which he so valiantly struggled 
should be clearly seen. He had read Father Membre's 
account of the La Salle voyage of discovery and Joutel's 
story of the last expedition. He had even had a con- 
versation with La Salle, and had heard his own lips 
describe the river; and he had known Tonty of the 
Iron Hand, faithful to the last. Iberville had a mind 
capable of entertaining the vision, and he had a spirit 
capable of following it. He seems to have been for a 
time after La Salle's death his only great-minded fol- 
lower. He wrote on reaching Rochelle after his first 
voyage that " if France does not immediately seize this 
part of America, which is the most beautiful, and estab- 
lish a colony strong enough to resist any which England 
may have here, the English colonies (already consider- 
able in Carolina) will so thrive that in less than a hun- 
dred years they will be strong enough to seize all 
America." 1 

But the answer from Versailles only hastened the 
fulfilment of Iberville's prophecy. It is as a page torn 
from a contemporaneous suburban villa prospectus 
that speaks of one of those migratory settlements of 
Iberville on the shores of the gulf as a "terrestrial 
paradise," a "Pomona," or "The Fortunate Island." 

1 Margry, I. c, IV: 322. 



no THE FRENCH IN THE HEART OF AMERICA 

And the reality which confronts the home seeker is 
usually more nearly true to the idealistic details than 
that which Governor Cadillac, wishing no doubt to 
discredit his predecessor, reported when he went to 
succeed Bienville for a time as governor: "I have seen 
the garden on Dauphin Island, which had been de- 
scribed to me as a terrestrial paradise. I saw there 
three seedling pear-trees, three seedling apple-trees, a 
little plum-tree about three feet high, with seven bad 
plums on it, a vine some thirty feet long, with nine 
bunches of grapes, some of them withered, or rotten, 
and some partly ripe, about forty plants of French 
melons and a few pumpkins." 1 

Bienville, the brother, also deserves remembrance 
both in France and America — dismissed once but 
exonerated, returning later to succeed the pessimistic 
Cadillac and to lay the foundations of New Orleans 
on the only dry spot he had found on his first journey 
up the river, there to plant the seed of the fruits 
and melons and pumpkins of the garden on Dauphin 
Island, that were to bring forth millionfold, though 
they have not yet entirely crowded out the cypress 
and the palmetto, and the fleur-de-lis that still grows 
wild and flowers brilliantly at certain seasons. 

It was some time before this, however, that the king, 
nearing the end of his days, vexed with his wars, tired 
of his expensive and unproductive venture, gave over 
the colony into the hands and enterprise of a specu- 
lator, one Antoine Crozat, a French merchant whose 
purse had been open to Louis for his wars. There was 
a total population at this juncture (171 2) of three hun- 
dred and eighty souls, about one half of whom were 

'Parkraan, "A Half Century of Conflict," I : 309. 



THE PASSING OF NEW FRANCE in 

"in the king's pay." Crozat, the king's deputy despot, 
finds no better fortune than the king, and soon (1717) 
resigns his charter, to be succeeded in his anxieties 
and privileges by that famous Scotch adventurer John 
Law, who organized the Mississippi Company in order 
to enjoy the varied monopolies assembled in its charter 
— monopolies which would make any inhabitant of 
that trust-hating valley to-day fume in denouncing. 
It was a tobacco trust, a coinage trust, a revenue trust, 
a slave-holding trust, a mining trust, a trade trust 
wrapped in one, with an unlimited license. It was, 
moreover, a conscience trust, a speech trust, a religion 
trust, a race trust. It was, in short, the ultimate, 
sublimated expression of a monopolistic theory made 
effective in a charter. Immigration, within these re- 
strictions, was not likely to be voluntary and eager, as 
was the case in New England, and, since the company 
was under the one compulsion of providing a certain 
number of colonists and slaves, immigration was forced. 
Every conceivable sound economic and philosophical 
principle was violated, and yet investors came from 
all parts of Europe. "Crowds of crazed speculators 
jostled and fought each other" before the offices of the 
company in the Rue Quincampoix 1 from morning till 
night to get their names inscribed among the stock- 
holders, and, though five hundred thousand foreigners 
were attracted to Paris by opportunities for speculation, 
scarcely a colonist went willingly to the Eldorado of 
the company, whose stock was capitalized in billions 
and "whose ingots of gold were displayed in Paris shop- 
windows." There were maps of that valley to be found 

1 A now disreputable street, or so it seemed as I walked through it one 
day in the dusk. 



ii2 THE FRENCH IN THE HEART OF AMERICA 

in abundance in Paris in those days with mines indi- 
cated on them indiscriminately. When the bubble 
burst, Louisiana "became a name of disgust and ter- 
ror" in Europe, and doubtless thousands hoped never 
to hear the word "Mississippi" again, and yet it was 
only time that was needed to make even such wild 
prophecies true. 

The monopolistic venture failed. Many of the 
colonists whom the company entered died or ran away; 
millions of pounds had been spent, there was no return, 
and there was little tangible to show for it all — a few 
thousand white settlers, many of whom, in a phrase 
current to-day in the States, were "undesirable 
citizens," living in palisaded cabins. So the little 
settlement became a crown colony again and came 
back to the king, but not to him in whose name it 
had been originally taken, for that king was dead. 
Louis XIV's name, kept in "Louisiana," claims now 
but a fragment of that vast territory which might have 
been his forever. The little outcast colony was laid 
on the steps of Versailles again, and was again subject 
to "paternalistic nursing," because of or in despite of 
which it began at last to show signs of growth. It 
was at the cost of a half-century of time, of eight or 
more millions of livres to the king, Crozat and the 
company, of millions upon millions more to those who 
bought the worthless stock of the Mississippi Company, 
and of ignominy and shame, that La Salle's dream 
began to have realization, while on the Atlantic sea- 
board the English colonies were growing luxuriantly in 
comparative neglect. 

Meanwhile French explorers were traversing this 
mighty interior valley with all the spirit of Cartier, 



THE PASSING OF NEW FRANCE 113 

Joliet, Champlain, and La Salle. Pierre Charles le 
Sueur had ascended the Mississippi far toward its 
source in search of copper and lead. Bernard de la 
Harpe and Louis Juchereau, the Sieur de St. Denis, 
explored the Red River and penetrated as far as the 
Spanish settlement of St. Jean Baptiste on the Rio 
Grande. Each might have a volume. The turbid Mis- 
souri even (which Marquette and Joliet first saw head- 
ing great trees down into the Mississippi) was not passed 
by as impervious to the hardihood of undaunted, am- 
phibious geographers such as La Harpe and Du Tisne. 

Two brothers, Pierre and Paul Mallet, penetrated to 
the old Spanish settlement at Santa Fe and may have 
been the first of Frenchmen to see the farther bound- 
ary of the valley, the Rocky Mountains. Whether 
they did or not, it is certain that far to the northwest 
two other brothers did reach that mighty range and 
"discovered that part of it to which the name Rocky 
Mountains properly belongs." 

The brothers La Verendrye in 1735, two centuries 
after Cartier, were still looking for a way to the western 
sea (Mer de l'Ouest). With their father these sons 
ventured their lives and gave their fortunes to the ex- 
ploration of the northwest out beyond Lake Supe- 
rior, out past the ranch where a century and a half 
later President Roosevelt wrote the "Winning of the 
West," out to or beyond the edge of what is now the 
great Yellowstone National Park, anticipating by more 
than sixty years the first stages of the famous Lewis 
and Clark expedition. The snow covered the peaks of 
the Big Horn Mountains, but the party probably 
forced a way to the Wind River Range before they re- 
luctantly turned back from the foot of the mountains, 



ii4 THE FRENCH IN THE HEART OF AMERICA 

disappointedly fancying that they might have seen the 
Pacific if they could have reached the summits. 

It is not far from the place where they began their 
homeward journey that I have seen two trickling 
streams, within a few yards of each other, start, one 
toward the gulf and one toward the Pacific — but the 
latter had seven or eight hundred miles of mountain 
and forest to pass before it could touch what the 
Verendrye brothers hoped to see. Yet, though they, 
as Cartier, Champlain, Nicolet, La Salle, and scores of 
others did not find the way to the western sea, their 
unappreciated, heroic efforts made at their own ex- 
pense stretched the line of French forts all the way 
across the valley from sea to mountain range, com- 
pleting, as one historian has represented it, a T, but 
as it seems to me rather a cross, with a perpendicular 
column reaching from the gulf to Hudson's Bay, and 
its transverse strip from the Big Horn Mountains to 
Cape Breton. Or so it stood for a day in the world's 
history, raised by unspeakable suffering, a vision once 
seen never to be forgotten. 

Chevalier de la Verendrye, who had seen, first of 
white men, the snow-capped mountains, "sank into 
poverty and neglect," and finally perished in the ship- 
wreck off the island of Cape Breton. So was the whole 
east and west line of French pioneering retraced and 
extended in the life of one hardy French family. 1 

And as to the north and south line, every year saw 
its foundations and strength increase as if it were a 
a growing tree. Along the Mississippi, forts were 

1 Parkman, "The Discovery of the Rocky Mountains," in Atlantic 
Monthly, 6\ : 783-793. "A Half Century of Conflict," 2 : 4-43. Thwaites, 
"A Brief History of Rocky Mountain Exploration," pp. 26-36. 



THE PASSING OF NEW FRANCE 115 

planted and Jesuit and Sulpician missions grew. The 
Illinois country enjoyed a "boom," as we say in 
America, even in those days, and became known for a 
time as the Garden of New France; but only for a 
time, for it was so easy to earn a livelihood there 
that it was not long before the habitants reverted, un- 
der temptation, to the preagricultural, hunting state 
after giving a moment's prophecy of the stirring life 
that was some day to make it the garden of the new 
world, the busiest spot in the busy world. 

There are glimpses here and there of gayety and 
halcyon days that give brightness to the story so full 
of tragedy. There was in the very heart of the valley 
(near the site of St. Louis, where a great world's fair was 
held a few years ago), Fort Chartres, mentioned above, 
"the centre of life and fashion in the West" as well as 
"a bulwark against Spain and a barrier to England." 1 
But in time the Indians, stirred by the English rivalry, 
swarmed as well as mosquitoes about the place> and 
there were battles, the echoes of which are still heard, 
we are told, in the regions south of St. Louis even in 
our days. A young French officer, the Chevalier 
d'Artaguette, captured by the Chickasaws, was burned 
at the stake. He and his kin were loved by all the 
French and the song they used to sing of him is kept 
in a negro melody whose "oft-repeated chorus" ran: 

"In the days of D'Artaguette, 
He! Ho! He! 
It was the good old time. 
The world was led straight with a switch, 
He! Ho! He! 

1 See Edward G. Mason, "Old Fort Chartres," In his "Chapters from Il- 
linois History," 1901. 



n6 THE FRENCH IN THE HEART OF AMERICA 

Then there were no negroes, no ribbons, 
No diamonds 
For the vulgar. 
He! Ho! He!" 

And here even in this remote place premonitions of 
the great and imminent struggle with the English are 
ominously heard. We hear the governor-general of 
Canada, the Marquis de la Galissonniere, asking the 
home government in France not to leave the little 
colony of Illinois to perish — not for its own sake, but 
"else Canada and Louisiana would fall apart"; still 
urging, moreover, the value for fabrics of the wool of 
buffaloes, which roam the prairies in innumerable mul- 
titudes, the readiness of the earth for the plough, and 
the availability of the buffalo as a domestic animal. 
"If caught and attached to a plough," says the gov- 
ernor, who spoke truthfully but with little knowledge 
of this wild animal, "it would move it at a speed superior 
to that of the domestic ox." I do not know how ap- 
pealing this harnessing of the original motive power of 
the prairie to the uses of agriculture was, and it is not 
of importance now. The buffalo has long since gone. 
Even the ox and the Norman horse, so long in use 
there, have been largely supplanted by that mysterious 
force, electricity, which Franklin was discovering on 
the other side of the Alleghany Mountains at the very 
time that this suggestion was being made to the min- 
ister of Louis XV. It is known, however, that the 
king took thought of the little Illinois colony, for the 
fort of wood was transformed under the direction of 
Chevalier de Macarty into a fortress of stone and 
garrisoned by nearly a regiment of French troops. A 
million crowns it cost the king, but this could not have 



THE PASSING OF NEW FRANCE 117 

distressed his Majesty, engaged in "throwing dice with 
piles of Louis d'or before him" and princes about him. 

This was in the early fifties, and the fort was hardly 
transformed before the rifles of George Washington's 
men were heard from the eastern barriers disputing 
the claim of the French to the Ohio country. Ju- 
monville, who was slain among the rocks of the Laurel 
Mountains, in the Alleghanies (killed in the opening 
skirmish of the final struggle), had a young brother, 
Neyon de Villiers, a captain in Chevalier de Macarty's 
garrison at Fort Chartres; and eastward he hastened, 
up the Ohio, to avenge his brother's death. "M. de 
Wachenston" (as the name appears in French des- 
patches) was driven back, and so the "Old French 
War" in America began. 

It was from this mid-continent fortress and its fer- 
tile environs that help in arms and rations went to the 
support of that final struggle along the mountains and 
lakes, even as far as La Salle's old Fort Niagara, where 
the valiant Aubry, at the head of his Illinois expedition, 
fell covered with wounds and many of his men were 
killed or taken prisoners. That was about all that 
one in the interior of the valley heard of the battles of 
the Seven Years' War out upon its edges. 

What gives peculiar interest in this fortress to us 
to-day is that it was for a little time the only place in 
North America where the flag of the French was flying. 
All New France had been ceded by the treaty of Paris 
in 1763, but the little garrison of forty men still held 
Fort Chartres. Pontiac and other friendly Indians 
intercepted all approaching English forces till, in 1765 
(two years after the treaty of Paris and the cession 
of Canada and all the valley east of the Mississippi), 



n8 THE FRENCH IN THE HEART OF AMERICA 

St. Ange, the commander, announced to Pontiac, 
friendly to the end, that all was over, that "Onontio, 
their great French father," could no longer help his 
red children, that he was beyond the sea and could not 
hear, and that he, Pontiac, must make peace with the 
English. Then it was that the forty-second High- 
landers, the "Black Watch," were permitted to enter 
the fort and to put the red cross of St. George in place 
of the fleur-de-lis. And so it was at Fort Chartres 
that the mighty struggle ended and that the titular 
life of the great empire of France in the new world 
actually went out. 

The river, seemingly sentient, and still French, as I 
have said, soon swept away the site of the village 
outside the fort; and when the English had begun to 
look upon this as their permanent headquarters in the 
northwest — this fort, which Captain Pittman had re- 
ported to be the best-built fort in America — the still 
hostile river rose one night, and with its "resistless 
flood" tore away a bastion and a part of the river wall, 
then moved its channel away, and left the fort a mile 
inland. 

The magazine still stands, or did a little time ago 
when I visited the site and found it nearly hidden by 
the trees, bushes, and weeds — all that is visibly left of 
the old French domain — and not far away, hidden 
at the foot of a hill, lies, as I have said, the village 
of Prairie du Rocher, "a little piece of old France 
transplanted to the Mississippi" a century and a half 
ago and forgotten. 

It was on Champlain's cliff and beneath Carder's 
Mount Royal that the unequal contest for the pos- 
session of America ended, where it began — a contest 



THE PASSING OF NEW FRANCE 119 

whose story, as Parkman says, in a sense demeaning 
his own great contribution, "would have been a his- 
tory, if faults of constitution and the bigotry and folly 
of rulers had not dwarfed it to an episode." But if it 
was an episode to the New Englander, or even to 
Frenchmen at the distance in time at which I write, 
it rises to the importance of history out in that region 
of America, where a century of unexampled fortitude 
needs rather an epic poet than a historian to give it 
its place in the world's consciousness. 

Indeed, historians of the United States to-day, as 
well as statesmen of that time, are in substantial 
agreement in this: That the presence of the French on 
all the colonial borders compelled a confederation of 
the varying interests of the several English colonies, 
kept them penned in between the mountains and the 
sea until there had been developed some degree of 
solidarity, some ability to act together; and then by 
the sudden, if compulsory, withdrawal of the pressure 
not only allowed their expansion but relieved them of 
all need of help from England and so of dependence 
upon her. 

"We have caught them at last," said Louis XV's 
minister, Choiseul, speaking of the treaty of Paris 
in 1763. 1 Burke 2 prophesied that the removal of 
France from North America would precipitate, as it 
did, the division of the British Empire. And Richard 
Henry Greene, the great English historian, dates the 
foundation of the great independent republic of the 
west (the United States) from the triumph of Wolfe 
on the Heights of Abraham. 

1 Bancroft, "History of the United States," 4 : 460. 

2 William Burke, "Remarks on the Letter Addressed to Two Great Men." 



120 THE FRENCH IN THE HEART OF AMERICA 

It is interesting testimony in support of this fear of 
the eventual loss of all the colonies in such a cession, 
or such an acceptance, that the English commis- 
sioners debated long whether it might be more profit- 
able to retain the little island of Guadeloupe instead 
of all New France. And it would appear that except 
for the advice of Benjamin Franklin this substitution 
would probably have been made. 

France, then, having borne the brunt of conflict 
with nature and the natives in that valley, having re- 
vealed the riches of that valley to the world, having 
consecrated its entire length and breadth by high valor 
and sacrifice, having possessed that valley practically 
to the very eve of the birth of the nation that now 
occupies it, and having helped by substantial aid the 
struggling colonies to their independence, deserves (not 
through her monarchs or ministers chiefly, but through 
the new-world pioneers, who gave illustration of the 
spirit and stuff* of Frenchmen) a lasting and a large 
share of credit for the establishment of the republic 
which has its most vigorous life in that valley. 

New France has passed and New England, too, but 
in their stead the new republic, recruited from all 
nations under heaven, ties their lost dominions into a 
power which is immensely greater than the sum of 
the two could have been, greater than it could have 
been in the hands of either alone. 

There was for a little time a dream of the revival 
of New France out beyond the Mississippi, for there 
was a vast part of that valley that did not pass to En- 
gland in 1763. The great territory between the Mis- 
sissippi and the mountains, whose "snow-encumbered'" 
peaks the Verendrye brothers had so longingly looked 



THE PASSING OF NEW FRANCE 121 

upon, was abandoned to Spain, or rather thrust upon 
Spain, already claiming it. France wanted to give it 
to England in order that Florida might be saved to 
Spain, her ally, but England did not hesitate as she did 
in making choice between the eastern half of the valley 
and Guadeloupe. She declined. So with an apparent 
magnanimity, which is greatly to be discounted when 
we come to know how worthless even the people of 
the United States, years later, considered this trans- 
Mississippi country, France, "secretly tired of her 
colony," finally induced Spain to accept it. The 
Spanish monarch, as if making the best of a bad bar- 
gain, took it with many excuses for his seemingly poor 
judgment. 

But though Louis's minister, Choiseul, chuckled out- 
wardly over the embarrassment to England of his 
compulsory cession of Canada, New France, Illinois, 
and Louisiana (instead of Guadeloupe) and made a 
show of magnanimity in thrusting the other half 
of the Mississippi upon Spain, and though Turgot's 
simile between colonies and ripe fruit was often re- 
peated for justification and consolation, the loss of 
these possessions was undoubtedly keenly felt and the 
dream of their recovery cherished; at any rate, the re- 
covery of that part which lay beyond the Mississippi. 

But that possession had become more precious to 
the sovereign of Spain, who refused the proffers that 
France was able to make in the next thirty years. 
The dream of repossession became fonder to the 
French republic. Talleyrand, who had spent a year 
in travel in the United States, urged the acquisition not 
merely for France's own sake but to curb the ambitions 
of the Americans, "whose conduct ever since the mo- 



122 THE FRENCH IN THE HEART OF AMERICA 

ment of their independence is enough to prove this 
truth: the Americans are devoured by pride, ambition, 
and cupidity." 

"There are," he said, "no other means of putting 
an end to the ambition of the Americans than that of 
shutting them up within the limits which nature seems 
to have traced for them; but Spain is not in a con- 
dition to do this great work alone. She cannot, there- 
fore, hasten too quickly to engage the aid of a pre- 
ponderating power, yielding to it a small part of her 
immense domains in order to preserve the rest." 

"Let the court of Madrid cede these districts to 
France and from that moment the power of America 
is bounded by the limit which it may suit the inter- 
ests and the tranquillity of France and Spain to assign 
her. The French Republic . . . will be a wall of brass 
forever impenetrable to the combined efforts of En- 
gland and America." 1 

If in Napoleon's mind the dream was as sinister, as 
regards the United States, it was not so for long. It 
contemplated at first the occupation of Santo Domin- 
go, the quelling of the insurrection there, then the seiz- 
ure of Louisiana, already promised to France by Spain, 
then the acquisition of Florida, the conversion of the 
Gulf of Mexico into a French lake, and ultimately the 
extension of the province of Louisiana to the Alle- 
ghanies and, perhaps, even to the old borders of New 
France along the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence. 
But plague and slaughter met his armies in Santo Do- 
mingo in the first step toward the realization of his vast 
design, and the vision, in the shifting light of events 
in Europe and on the shores of America as well, soon 

1 Quoted in Henry Adams's "History of the United States," I : 357. 



THE PASSING OF NEW FRANCE 123 

assumed other shape and color and at last disappeared 
entirely, supplanted by the vision of a strengthened 
American republic that would come to be a rival of 
England. This was what came (in his own language) 
instead of his dream of a New France beyond the 
Mississippi, beyond the American republic: 

"I know the full value of Louisiana, and I have been 
desirous of repairing the fault of the French negotiator 
who abandoned it in 1763. A few lines of a treaty have 
restored it to me, and I have scarcely recovered it 
when I must expect to lose it. But if it escapes from 
me, it shall one day cost dearer to those who oblige 
me to strip myself of it than to those to whom I wish 
to deliver it. The English have successfully taken 
from France, Canada, Cape Breton, Newfoundland, 
Nova Scotia, and the richest portions of Asia. They 
are engaged in exciting troubles in St. Domingo. 
They shall not have the Mississippi which they covet. 
Louisiana is nothing in comparison with their conquests 
in all parts of the globe, and yet the jealousy they feel 
at the restoration of this colony to the sovereignty of 
France acquaints me with their wish to take posses- 
sion of it, and it is thus that they will begin the war. 
... I think of ceding it to the United States. I can 
scarcely say that I cede it to them, for it is not yet in 
our possession. If, however, I leave the least time to 
our enemies, I shall only transmit an empty title to 
those republicans whose friendship I seek. They only 
ask of me one town in Louisiana, but I already consider 
the colony as entirely lost, and it appears to me that 
in the hands of this growing power, it will be more 
useful to the policy and even to the commerce of 
France than if I should attempt to keep it." 1 

1 Marbois, "History of Louisiana," pp. 263-264. 



124 THE FRENCH IN THE HEART OF AMERICA 

The United States Commissioner came one day to 
Paris to purchase New Orleans, and he went back to 
America with a deed to more than 800,000 square 
miles of the region which La Salle had claimed for 
Louis XIV by virtue of the commission which he carried 
in his bosom from the Rue de la Truanderie more than 
a century before: 

"The First Consul of the French Republic, desiring 
to give to the United States a strong proof of friend- 
ship, doth hereby cede to the said United States, in the 
name of the French Republic, forever and in full sov- 
ereignty, the said territory, with all its rights and 
appurtenances, as fully and in the same manner as 
they might have been acquired by the French Re- 
public." 1 

The dream faded into something undefined but 
greater, relieving Napoleon and France of immediate 
dangers and promising more to humanity, we must 
agree, than a colony administered at that distance 
and separated from a young, growing nation merely 
by a shifting river that must inevitably have made 
trouble instead of preventing it. 

Whatever may be said of Napoleon's motives or 
compulsions in this matter or of his service to mankind 
in others, he has been "useful to the universe," not in 
preventing England from ruling in that valley and so 
dominating America, but in making it possible for the 
United States to undertake the greatest task ever 
given into the hands of a republic, and at the same 
time enabling it to keep the good-will of that people 
who might (if the other dream had been realized) have 

1 Treaty of Purchase between the United States and the French Republic, 
Art. I. 



THE PASSING OF NEW FRANCE 125 

become the worst of her enemies. It was Napoleon, 
whatever his motive, Napoleon in the name of the 
French people, who gave the United States the possi- 
bility of becoming a world-power. 



CHAPTER VII 
THE PEOPLING OF THE WILDERNESS 

LET us remind ourselves again, before the hordes of 
. frontiersmen and settlers come over the moun- 
tains and up the lakes and down the rivers, 
erasing most of the tangible memories of the inter- 
montane, primeval western wilderness, that France 
evoked it from the unknown. 

A circle drawn round the Louvre with the radius of 
two kilometres, enclosed the little patch of earth from 
which were evoked these millions of acres of untouched 
forests and millions of acres of virgin plain and prairie, 
seamed and watered by a hundred thousand streams, 
washed by a chain of the mightiest inland fresh-water 
oceans, and guarded by two ranges of mountains. 
Within that narrow circle, four kilometres in diameter, 
stood Cartier dreaming of Asia, asking for permission 
to explore the mysterious square gulf, the St. Law- 
rence, and again presenting to the king the dusky 
captive Donnacona; within that circle was the street, 
Rue aux Ours, whose meat shops Lescarbot in Acadia 
remembered as the place of good food and doubtless 
of excited talk concerning the unexplored New France, 
whose hardships and pleasures he afterward tasted; 
within that circle Champlain walked, as in a dream, 
we are told, impatient as a lion in a cage, longing to be 
again upon the wilderness path, westward of Quebec, 

126 



THE PEOPLING OF THE WILDERNESS 127 

toward the unknown; within that circle the priest 
Olier, of St. Germain-des-Pres, had his vision that led 
to the founding of Montreal, whose consecration was 
celebrated also within that same circumference at the 
Cathedral of Notre Dame; within that circle La Salle 
lodged in Rue de la Truanderie, awaiting his fateful 
commission that should give him leave to make real 
his dream of a wilderness empire; not a stone's throw 
away from the Rue de la Truanderie ran the street 
having its beginning or end in Rue aux Ours, Rue Quin- 
campoix, in which the thousands jostled and fought 
from morning till night for the purchase of stock in 
that same wilderness empire; and it was finally within 
that same circle that the wilderness dream, seen for a 
moment again by Napoleon, grew into the vision of a 
republic — a republic that might be found, as Napoleon 
said, "too powerful for Europe in two or three cen- 
turies," but in whose bosom dissensions, as he pro- 
phesied, could be looked for in the future. A wilder- 
ness, with a radius of nearly a thousand kilometres, 
was evoked from the envisioning, praying, adventur- 
ing, and enduring of a few Frenchmen, led by fewer 
Frenchmen, who stood sooner or later all within the 
narrow circle that sweeps around the Sorbonne, but 
four kilometres in diameter. 

I walked, in the afternoon of the last day of the 
old year 1910, entirely around the old city of Paris 
by way of its fortifications, in a circle three kilometres 
longer of radius, within a few hours encompassing a 
ground, rich in what it yields to-day in fruits of art, 
literature, and science — of indefatigable, intellectual 
industry and imagination — but richer than its inhabi- 
tants know in what has grown upon the billion acres 



128 THE FRENCH IN THE HEART OF AMERICA 

which it has lifted out of the ocean, 1 and given as a 
soil where civilization could gather its forces from all 
peoples and begin afresh on the problems of the in- 
dividual and society. 

It is a new view of Paris, I know. No historian of 
the United States has, so far as I am aware, presented 
it. Yet I think it is not a distorted vision which en- 
abled me, looking in from the old fortifications, to see 
Paris not merely as the capital of art and of a great 
modern language and literature, as those who live 
there see her, nor as the centre of gayety and frivolity, 
as so many of my own countrymen see her, but as the 
parent of fruitful wildernesses, as a patron of pioneers, 
as the divinity of the verges, as the godmother of a 
frontier democracy. 

It is to be remembered, too, let me say again, that, 
while England held control of one half of the Missis- 
sippi Valley for twenty years after 1763, and Spain of 
the other half for twenty more, the occupation was 
hardly more than nominal. Indeed, the English king, 
George III, in 1763 forbade colonization — as Louis 
XIV at one time had wished to prevent it — beyond the 
Alleghany Mountains without his special permission, 
and, moreover, it was hardly more than ten years after 
the titular transfer to England that the colonists de- 
clared themselves independent. As for the Spanish 
sovereign, delaying five years in sending a representa- 
tive to take over the government of his unprofitable 
half of the wilderness, he had no need to make a decree 
forbidding settlement. There were no eager settlers. 

What virtually happened, therefore, was that the 

1 For it will be remembered that to geographers before Cartier this Mis- 
sissippi Valley was but a sea, even as ages before it actually was. 



THE PEOPLING OF THE WILDERNESS 129 

pioneers of France gave the valley not to England, not 
to Spain, not even to the American-English colonists, 
but to the pioneers of the young republic, who, whatever 
their origin, were without European nationality. 

It may be said with approximate accuracy that, while 
the British flag supplanted the French for a little on a 
few scattered forts on the east side of the Mississippi 
and the Spanish flag floated for a little while on the 
other side of the river, the heart of America really 
knew in turn, first, only the old Americans, the In- 
dians; second, the French pioneers; and third, the new 
Americans. 

The valley heard, as I have said, hardly a sound of 
the Seven Years' War, the "Old French War" as Park- 
man called it. Only on its border was there the slight- 
est bloodshed. All it knew was that the fleur-de-lis 
flags no longer waved along its rivers and that after a 
few years men came with axes and ploughs through the 
passes in the mountains carrying an emblem that had 
never grown in European fields — a new flag among 
national banners. They were bearing, to be sure, a 
constitution and institutions strange to France, but 
only less strange to England, and perhaps no less 
strange to other nations of Europe. 

I emphasize this because our great debt to English 
antecedents has obscured the fact that the great phys- 
ical heritage between the mountains, consecrated of 
Gallic spirit, came, in effect, directly from the hands 
that won its first title, the French, into the hands of 
American settlers, at the moment when a "separate 
and individual people" were "springing into national 
life." 

This territory was distinct from that of the British 



130 THE FRENCH IN THE HEART OF AMERICA 

colonies up to the very time of the American Revolu- 
tion. And when the Revolution was over and inde- 
pendence was won, by the aid of France let it be re- 
membered, the only settlements within the valley 
were three little clusters of French gathered about the 
forts once French, then for a few years nominally 
English, and then American: two thousand inhabitants 
at Detroit and four thousand at Vincennes, on the 
Wabash, and in the hamlets along the Mississippi above 
the Ohio. 

How little the life of those settlements was dis- 
turbed is intimated by what occurred in one of the 
Illinois villages — that about Fort Chartres. The ven- 
erable and beloved commander, Louis St. Ange de 
Belle Rive, had upon the first formal surrender as- 
cended the Mississippi River and crossed to the Span- 
ish territory, where the foundations of the city of St. 
Louis were being laid, but the British officer in com- 
mand at Fort Chartres dying suddenly, and there being 
no one competent to succeed him, St. Ange returned 
to his old post, restored order, and remained there 
until another British officer could reach the fort. The 
habitants were accustomed "to obey, without ques- 
tion, the orders of their superiors. . . . (They) yielded 
a passive obedience to the new rulers. . . . They re- 
mained the owners, the tillers of the soil." 1 And one 
of the last acts of the Continental Congress and the 
first of the new Congress, under the Constitution, was 
to provide for an enumeration of these French settlers 
and for the allotment to them of lands in this valley 
where they had been the sole owners. 

Many of the French habitants were not of pure 

1 Roosevelt, "Winning of the West," I : 38, Alleghany edition. 



THE PEOPLING OF THE WILDERNESS 131 

blood. The French seldom took women with them 
into the wilderness. They were traders, trappers, and 
soldiers. They married Indian wives, untrammelled, 
as President Roosevelt says, "by the queer pride 
which makes a man of English stock unwilling to make 
a red-skinned woman his wife, though anxious enough 
to make her his concubine." 1 

They were under ordinary circumstances good- 
humored, kindly men, "always polite" 2 — in "agreeable 
contrast" to most frontiersmen — religious, yet fond of 
merrymaking, of music and dancing; and while, as 
time went on, they came to borrow traits of their red 
neighbors and even to forget the years and months 
(reckoning time, as the Indians did, from the flood of 
the river or the ripening of strawberries), still they 
kept many valuable and amiable qualities, to be merged 
eventually in the new life that soon swept over their 
beautiful little villages. Of the coming of a strange, 
new, strenuous life, a stray English or American fur 
trader gave them occasional presentment, as it were, 
the spray of the swelling, restless sea of human spirits, 
beating against the mountain barriers and flung far 
inland. 

In the early part of the eighteenth century an 
English governor of the colony of Virginia, Alexander 
Spotswood, had led a band of horsemen known after- 
ward as his "Knights of the Golden Horseshoe," with 
great hilarity, "stimulated by abundance of wine, 
champagne, rum," and other liquors, over the Blue 
Ridge Mountains, a part of the Alleghany Range, to 
the Shenandoah. He had talked menacingly of the 

1 Roosevelt, "Winning of the West," I : 41. 

2 "Winning of the West," I : 45. 



132 THE FRENCH IN THE HEART OF AMERICA 

French who held the valley beyond, had encouraged 
the extension of English settlements to break the line 
of French possessions, and had formed a short-lived 
Virginia-Indian company to protect the frontier against 
French and Indian incursions. This expedition was a 
visible challenge. With his merry company he buried 
a record of his "farthest west" journey in one of the 
bottles emptied en route and then went back to tide- 
water. That was the end of his adventure; little or 
nothing came of his "flourish" except the extension of 
the Virginia frontier to the Blue Ridge Mountains. 

Only traders and trappers ventured farther or even 
so far during the next three or four decades, and they 
were a "set of abandoned wretches," or so a later 
governor characterized them, though Parkman men- 
tions some exceptions, and I wish to believe there 
were more, since one of them, I find, carried my own 
name far into that country on his trading and hunting 
expeditions among and with the Indians. 

Searching, a few years ago, the files of a paper pub- 
lished early in the nineteenth century on the edge of 
this wilderness, which was already calling itself the 
Western World — a paper, one of the first of the myriad 
white leaves into which the falling forests have been 
converted and scattered thick enough to cover every 
square foot of the valley — I happened upon this rec- 
ord, surprised as if a bit of the transmontane sea 
spray had touched my own face on the Mississippi: 
"That delightful country" (Kentucky), it ran, "from 
time immemorial had been the resort of wild beasts and 
of men only less savage, when in the year 1767 it was 
visited by John Finley and a few wandering white men 
from the British colony of North Carolina, allured by 



THE PEOPLING OF THE WILDERNESS 133 

the love of hunting and the desire of barter with the 
Indians. The distance of this country from populous 
parts of the colonies, almost continuous wars, and the 
claims of the French had prevented all attempts at ex- 
ploration." 

I seize upon this partly because, having succeeded 
to the name of this hunter and trader, who entered the 
valley just as St. Ange was yielding Fort Chartres to 
the English and crossing the Mississippi, I am able to 
show that my own ancestral sympathies while dwelling 
on the frontiers were not with the French. But I 
quote it chiefly because he was a typical forerunner, 
a first frontiersman. 

Like the coureur de bois Nicolas Perrot, of exactly 
a century before, he was only the dawn of the light — 
the light of another day, which was beginning to appear 
in the valley. For it was he who led Daniel Boone to 
the first exploring and settling of that wilderness south 
of the Ohio, which, to quote further from the paper 
called the Western Worlds had a soil "more fat and 
fertile than Egypt" — and was the place where "Pan, 
if he ever existed, held dominion unmolested of Ceres 
or Lucinia." 

Such was the almost soundless beginning of what 
soon developed into a mighty "processional," its rum- 
blings of wagons and shoutings of drivers on land and 
blowing of conches on the rivers increasing, accom- 
panied by the sound of rushing waters, the cry of 
frightened birds, and the thunders of crashing trees. 
First came this silent hunter and fur trader, almost 
as stealthy as the Indian in his movements; then the 

1 Western World, published at Frankfort, Ky., 1806-8, by John Wood and 
Joseph M. Street. 



134 THE FRENCH IN THE HEART OF AMERICA 

pale, gaunt, slow-moving, half hunter, half farmer, 
too indolent to disturb the wilderness from which he 
got a meagre living, planting his meagre crops among 
the girdled trees of withered foliage, which he did not 
take the trouble to cut down; then the backwoodsman, 
sallow as his immediate predecessor from the shade of 
the forest, who with his axe made a little clearing, 
built a "shack," turned his cattle into the grass that 
had grown for centuries untouched, and let his pigs 
feed on the acorns; then the more robust agriculturist 
who aggressively pushed back the shadows of the 
forest, planted the wilderness with seeds of a magic 
learned in the valleys of Europe and Asia, put up the 
fences of individualistic struggle, and built his log 
cabin, the wilderness castle, the birthplace of the new 
American; then the speculator and promoter (the 
hunter and explorer of the urban occupation); and 
finally in their wake the builders of mills and factories 
and cities — drab, smoky, vainglorious, ill-smelling, 
bad-architectured centres of economic activity, fringed 
with unoccupied, unimproved, naked areas, plotted 
and held for increment, earned only by risk and pri- 
vation. 

This processional, "this gradual and continuous 
progress of the European race toward the Rocky 
Mountains," says the vivid pen of De Tocqueville, 
"has the solemnity of a providential event. It is like 
a deluge of men, rising unabatedly and driven daily 
onward by the hand of God." 1 

The story of this anabasis has been told in hundreds 
and thousands of fragments — the anabasis that has 
had no katabasis — the literal going up of a people, as 

1 "Democracy in America," ed. Gilman, I : 512. 



THE PEOPLING OF THE WILDERNESS 135 

we shall see, from primitive husbandry and handicraft 
and a neighborly individualism, to another level, of 
machine labor, of more comfortable living, and of 
socialized aspiration. 

De Quincey has gathered into an immortal story the 
dramatic details of an exodus that had its beginning 
and end just at the time when these half huntsmen, 
half traders were creeping down from the farther 
ridges of the Alleghanies into the wilderness, where the 
little French settlements were clinging like clusters of 
ripened grapes to a great vine — the story of the flight 
of the Kalmuck Tartars from the banks of the Volga, 
across the steppes of Europe and the deserts of Asia 
to the frontiers of China — the story of the journey of 
over a half million semi-barbarians, half of whom per- 
ished by the way from cold or heat, from starvation or 
thirst, or from the sabres and cannon of the savage 
hosts pursuing them by day and night through the 
endless stretches — the story of the translation of these 
nomad herdsmen on the steppes of Russia through "in- 
finite misery" into stable agriculturists beneath the 
great wall of China. 

If the myriad details of this new-world migration 
could be summarized with like genius, we should have 
a drama to put beside the exodus of Israel from Egypt 
and their conquest of Canaan — a drama, less pictur- 
esque and highly colored than that of the flight of the 
Tartars — their Oriental costumes, their fierce horses, 
their camels and tents, showing, unhidden of tree 
against the snowy or sandy desert — but infinitely more 
consequential in the history of the human race. 

The Indians, hostile to this horde that built cabins 
upon their hunting-grounds and devoured their forests, 



136 THE FRENCH IN THE HEART OF AMERICA 

were to the wilderness migrants, driven, not of the 
hand of man but, as De Tocqueville says, "of the hand 
of God" made manifest in some human instinct, some 
desire of freedom, some hatred of convention, some 
hope of power or possession, what the Kirghese and 
Bashkirs and Russians were to those Asiatic migrants, 
pursuing them day and night like fiends for thousands 
of miles. And the myriad sufferings of the American 
migrants from hunger and thirst, from the freezing 
cold and the blasting, blistering, wilting heat, from 
the fevers of the new-broken lands, from the ravages 
of locust and grasshopper, and chinch-bug and drought, 
from isolation from human friendships, from want of 
gentle nursing — even De Quincey's improvident trav- 
ellers did not endure more, nor the children of Israel, 
to whose thirst the smitten rock yielded water, to whose 
hunger the heavens ministered with manna and the 
earth with quail, whose pursuing enemies were drowned 
in the sea that closed over their pathway, and whose 
confronting enemies in the land they entered to possess 
were overcome by the aid of unseen armies that were 
heard marching in the tops of the mulberry-trees, or 
were seen by friendly vision assembling their chariots 
in the skies above. 

Here across the Mississippi Valley is an exodus ac- 
complished not of a single night, as these two of which 
I have just spoken, but extended through a hundred 
years of home leavings and love privations. Here is 
an anabasis of a century of privations, titanic labors, 
frontier battles, endured countless times, till these 
migrants of Europe and of the new-world seaboard, 
became, as children of the wilderness, a new people, 
with qualities so distinctive as to lead the highest 



THE PEOPLING OF THE WILDERNESS 137 

authority 1 on the history of that valley to characterize 
the west not as a geographic division of the United 
States, but as a "form of society" with its own peculiar 
flowering, developed, not as Parkman's magnificent 
fleur-de-lis, 2 by cross-fertilization, nor by grafting, but 
simply by the planting or sowing of Old World seeds 
on new and free land, where the mountains kept off 
the pollen of alien spirit, where the puritanical winds 
of the New England coast were somewhat tempered 
by the warmer winds from the south, where the waters 
had some iron in them, but, most of all, where the soil 
was practically as free as when it came from the hands 
of the glaciers and the streams. 

It is this distinctiveness of development, due to the 
mountains' challenge to every man's spirit as he passed, 
to the isolation which compelled him to work out his 
own salvation, and to the constant struggle, largely 
single-handed, with frontier forces — as well as the 
uniqueness of background — that gave the west a char- 
acter which identifies it to discerning minds quite as 
much as its geographic boundaries. It is this fact 
which makes the French pioneering preface to a civili- 
zation different from anything that has developed else- 
where in the United States, and not only different in 
the past but now the dominant force in American 
education, politics, and industry. 

What that civilization would have been without the 
adventurous French preface we can but vainly surmise. 
What it is with that background, that preface, is in- 
deed the "foremost chapter in the files of time." As 

1 Frederick J. Turner, "The Significance of the Mississippi Valley in 
American History," in Proceedings of the Mississippi Valley Historical As- 
sociation (1909-10), 3 : 159-184. 

2 See Epilogue. 



138 THE FRENCH IN THE HEART OF AMERICA 

Ambassador James Bryce has said: "What Europe is 
to Asia, what England is to the rest of Europe, what 
America is to England, that the western States are 
to the Atlantic States." 1 The French may dispute 
the implied claim of the second of these comparisons, 
but even they will have a satisfaction in admitting that 
their particular part of the United States is to the rest, 
which was not touched by their priests and explorers, 
what "Europe is to Asia." And here is my particular 
justification for asking the imaginations of the people 
of France to occupy and hold that to which the pref- 
ace has given them the best of titles. 

Meanwhile, that migration, heralded, as we have 
seen, just before the Revolution, by huntsmen and 
traders, meagre by reason of Indian hostility and the 
need of soldiers on the Atlantic side of the mountains 
till independence had been won, became appreciable 
at the end of the century and grew to an inundating 
stream after the War of 1812 had made the Mississippi 
secure to the new republic beyond all question. 

"Old America," said an observing English traveller 
in 1 817, "seems to be breaking up and moving west- 
ward. We are seldom out of sight, as we travel on this 
grand track (the national turnpike through Pennsyl- 
vania) towards the Ohio, of family groups behind and 
before us. ... A small waggon so light that you 
might almost carry it, yet strong enough to bear a 
good load of bedding and utensils and provisions and 
a swarm of young citizens, and to sustain marvellous 
shocks in its passage over these rocky heights with 
two small horses and sometimes a cow or two, comprises 
their all; excepting a little store of hard earned cash 

1 "American Commonwealth," 191 3 ed., 2 : 892. 



THE PEOPLING OF THE WILDERNESS 139 

for the land-office of the district; where they may ob- 
tain a title for as many acres as they possess half 
dollars, being one-fourth of the purchase money. The 
waggon has a tilt, or cover, made of a sheet, or perhaps 
a blanket. The family are seen before, behind, or 
within the vehicle, according to the road or the weather, 
or perhaps the spirits of the party. ... A cart and 
single horse, frequently affords the means of transfer, 
sometimes a horse and pack saddle. Often the back 
of the poor pilgrim bears all his effects, and his wife 
follows, bare footed, bending under the hopes of the 
family." 1 This is a detail of the exodus through the 
most northern mountain pass. 

Farther south the procession moved in heavy wagons 
drawn by four or six horses. " Family groups, crowding 
the roads and fords, marching toward the sunset," at 
right angles to the courses of the migratory birds, not 
mindful as they of seasons, "were typical of the over- 
land migration" across Tennessee and Kentucky. The 
poorer classes travelled on foot, as at the north, but 
drew after them carts with all their household effects. 2 

Still farther south "the same type of occupation was 
to be seen; the poorer classes of southern emigrants 
cut out their clearings along the rivers that flowed to 
the gulf and to the lower Mississippi," 3 and later still 
farther west into what is now Texas. 

The squatters whom I saw in my walk around the 
city of Paris, inhabiting what was the military zone 
with their portable houses, or in their dilapidated 
shacks, had better shelter than they who first invaded 

1 Morris Birkbeck, "Notes on a Tour in America, 1817," pp. 34, 35. 

2 F. J. Turner, "Rise of the New West," p. 80. 
J F. J. Turner, "Rise of the New West," p. 9a 



140 THE FRENCH IN THE HEART OF AMERICA 

the zone beyond the mountain walls that were the 
natural western fortifications of the Atlantic colonies. 

But though many of those western wilderness immi- 
grants were "poor pilgrims'* and for a time squatters 
(as the immediately extramural population of Paris), 
they were recruited from the sturdiest stock on the 
Atlantic side of the fortifications. Some went, to be 
sure, who had failed in the old place, but were ready 
to make new hazard; some wanted greater freedom 
than the more highly socialized and conventionalized 
life within the fortifications would permit; some longed 
for adventure; some sought a fortune or competency 
perhaps impossible in the old settlements; some had 
only the inherited promptings of the nomad savage in 
them, and kept ever moving on, making their nameless 
graves out in the gloom of the forest or upon the silent 
plains. 

It was indeed a motley procession, the by-product 
of the more or less conservative, sometimes politically 
or religiously intolerant, aristocratic tide-water settle- 
ments. Yet do not make the mistake of thinking 
that it was slag or refuse humanity, such as camps in 
the narrow zone around the gates of Paris. It is rather 
like an industrial by-product that has needed some 
slight change or adaptation to make it more valuable 
to society than the original product upon which the 
manufacturers had kept their attention fixed — or, at 
any rate, to make the margin of profit in the whole 
industry greater. Out of once discarded, seemingly 
valueless matter have come our coal-tar products: sac- 
charine many times sweeter than sugar, colors unknown 
to the old dyers, perfumes as fragrant as those dis- 
tilled from flowers, medicines potent to allay fevers. 



THE PEOPLING OF THE WILDERNESS 141 

Up in the woods of Canada last summer I found a 
chemist trying to do with the wood waste what Remsen 
and Perkin and others have done with coal waste, and 
I cannot resist the suggestion of my metaphor that 
there in the forest valleys beyond the Alleghanies the 
elements and conditions were found to convert this 
Atlantic by-product, unpromising outwardly, into the 
substance of a new and precious civilization. 

This overmountain procession came chiefly up the 
watercourses of the south and middle States. Prior 
to 1830 the mass of pioneer colonists in most of the 
Mississippi Valley had been contributed by the up- 
country of the south. The dominant strain in those 
earlier comers, as President Roosevelt reminds us, 
was Scotch-Irish, a "race doubly-twisted in the mak- 
ing, flung from island to island and toughened by 
exile" — a race of frontiersmen than whom a "better 
never appeared" — a race which was as "steel welded 
into the iron of an axe." They form the kernel of the 
"distinctively and intensely American stock who were 
the pioneers of the axe and the rifle, succeeding the 
French pioneers of the sword and the bateaux." 

What I have just said of them, these Scotch-Irish, 
is in quotation, for as I have already intimated, my own 
ancestry is of that double-twisting; and since the time 
when my first American ancestor settled as the first 
permanent minister beyond the mountains, following 
the paths of the French priests in their missions and 
became a member of a presbytery extending from the 
mountains to the setting sun, until my last collateral 
ancestor living among the Indians helped survey the 
range lines of new States and finally marked the 
boundaries of the last farms in the passes of the Rockies, 



142 THE FRENCH IN THE HEART OF AMERICA 

that ancestry has followed the frontier westward from 
where Celoron planted the emblems of French posses- 
sion along the Ohio to where Chevalier la Verendrye 
looked upon the snowy and impassable peaks of the 
Rockies. 

The immigrants to America of that stock had, many 
of them, at once on reaching the new land found the 
foot-hills of mountains, chiefly in Pennsylvania. Here 
they settled, gradually pushing their way southward 
in the troughs of the mountain streams and making 
finally a "broad belt from north to south, a shield of 
sinewy men thrust in between the people of the sea- 
board and the red warriors of the wilderness," the same 
men who declared for American independence in North 
Carolina before any others, even before the men of 
Massachusetts. With this stock there went over the 
mountain men of other origins, of course, English, 
French Huguenots, Germans, Hollanders, Swedes; but 
the Scotch-Irish were the core of the new life, which in 
"iron surroundings" became strongly homogeneous — 
"yet different from the rest of the world — even the 
world of America, and infinitely more the world of 
Europe." 

In the north the great rivers lay across the tedious 
paths that ran with the lines of latitude. And so it 
was partly for physiographic reasons that the first far- 
stretching expansions of the New England settlements 
were not toward this great western wilderness but 
northward along the narrower valleys. It was not until 
the migration had filled the meagre limits and capac- 
ities of these smaller valleys and had carried school- 
houses and churches and town halls well up granite 
hillsides, that the western exodus came, to leave those 



THE PEOPLING OF THE WILDERNESS 143 

hillside homes and institutional shelters as shells found 
far from a receding sea, empty or habited by a new 
species of immigrant. 1 Farms were abandoned for 
the fertile fields of the far west, from which wheat can 
be imported for less than the cost of raising it on the 
sterile hills and in the short-summered valleys. New 
England had once claimed a fraction of the great west, 
as, indeed, had most of the other seaboard colonies. 
But these claims were surrendered to the general 
government, as we shall see later, "for the common 
good," and so her migrants had none other than that 
instinct which follows lines of latitude to keep them 
practically within the zone of her relinquished claims. 
Over into New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania 
her children overflowed till a map of these States in 
1820, colored to show the origin and character of their 
various communities, made practically all of western 
New York, a part of New Jersey and the northern third 
of Pennsylvania, an expanded New England. Mean- 
while the hardiest joined the transmontane migration, 
and in the decade after the opening of the Erie Canal 
(1830-40) the whole northern edge of the valley takes 
color of New England conquest. 

So the first peopling was a mingling of the children 
of the first strugglers with a raw savage continent; 
men already schooled in adversity, already acquainted 
with some of the frontier problems — civilization's most 
highly individualized, least socialized material, the 
wheat of the new world's first winnowing. 

What is particularly to be observed is that men of 

1 In one of those far northern valleys which I know best there was a 
school, before the exodus, of some seventy pupils, gathered from the farm- 
ers' families of the neighborhood. Now there are not a half-dozen pupils, 
and they are carried to a neighboring district. 



144 THE FRENCH IN THE HEART OF AMERICA 

the north and the south, as far apart as Carolina and 
Massachusetts, came together beyond the mountains 
in the united building of commonwealths; for over 
those mountains the rivers all ran toward the Missis- 
sippi, which tied the interests of all together. 

There was no north-and-south line then. The men 
of the valley were all westerners, "men of the western 
world"; not yet very strong as nationalists, that is, 
as men of the United States. "Men of the western 
waters" they also called themselves, for they shunned 
the uplands and kept near the streams by which or 
along which they had come into the wilderness and 
from which they drank. Men of the axe they were, 
too, in that first occupancy, never venturing far from 
the trees that gave them both roof and fuel. It was 
later, as we have seen, that the men of the plough 
came where the men of the axe had cleared the way. 

It is interesting to notice that when these builders 
of new States came to devise symbols for their official 
seals, many of them took the plough, that implement 
which we know was carried in the first Aryan migra- 
tion into the plains of Europe, but some of them put a 
rising sun on the horizon of their shields — the sign of 
the consciousness of a new day. 

The foundation, then, of the new societies was laid 
in what might be called a concrete of character and 
lineage — heterogeneous, but all of the neo-American 
period and not of the paleo-European. Here came the 
ancestors of Abraham Lincoln, among the axemen from 
the South, and here the ancestors of General Grant, 
among the builders of towns, from New England, both 
born in cabins. And these instances are but sug- 
gestive of the conglomerate that was to be as practi- 



THE PEOPLING OF THE WILDERNESS 145 

cable for building purposes (the co-efficient of spirit 
being once determined) as any homogeneous, age-old 
rock used in the structure of nations. It became 
"homogeneous" not as bricks or stones built into a 
wall by mortar or cement but as concrete, eternal as 
the hills, needing not to be chiselled and split but 
only to be moulded and "set" at just the right moment. 
If this gives any suggestion of want of permanence, of 
liability of cracking, then the figure is not fortunate. 
I mean only to suggest, by still another metaphor, that 
out of the myriad rugged individualities, idiosyn- 
crasies, and independences a new rock has been formed. 

How distinctly western this first migration was you 
may know from the fact that there was frequent talk 
of secession from the Union by the seaboard common- 
wealths in the early post-revolutionary days. There 
were even, as we have seen, hopes and fears that a 
Franco-American republic might grow out of that 
solidarity and independent spirit that were ready to 
forsake the government on the eastern side of the 
mountains, which seemed to be heedless of western 
needs. This tells us, who are conscious of the national 
spirit which is now stronger, perhaps, in that valley 
than in any other part of the Union, how strong the 
western, the anti-nationalistic, spirit must have been 
then. 

But that was before the coming of the east-and-west 
canal and the east-and-west railroads, which virtually 
upheaved a new watershed and changed the whole 
physiographic, social, and economic relationships of 
the west. The old French river Colbert, the Eternal 
River, was virtually cut into two great rivers, one of 
which was to empty into the gulf (just as it did in 



146 THE FRENCH IN THE HEART OF AMERICA 

La Salle's day and in Iberville's day), while the other 
was to run through the valley of the Great Lakes, down 
through the valley of the hostile Iroquois, into the 
harbor of New York. This is not observable on the 
topographical maps simply because of our unimagina- 
tive definition of a watershed. A watershed is changed, 
according to that definition, only by an actual eleva- 
tion or depression of the surface of the earth, whereas 
a railroad or canal that bridges ravines and tunnels or 
climbs elevations, or a freight rate that diverts traffic 
into a new course, as suddenly raises or lowers and as 
certainly removes watersheds as if mountains were mir- 
aculously lifted and carried into the midst of the sea. 

So there came to be not only two rivers but two 
valleys, the one of the lake and prairie plainsmen and 
the other of the gulf plainsmen. The steam shuttles 
flying east and west by land and water wove a pattern 
in the former different from the latter but on the same 
warp. Two widely unlike industrial and social systems 
gradually developed, and they, in turn, struggling for 
the mastery of lands beyond the Mississippi, divided 
the nearer west — once a homogeneous state of mind — 
into two wests and all but disrupted the Union. 

Then the direct European immigration began, mil- 
lions coming from single states of Europe, sifting into 
the neo-American settlements, but for the most part 
passing on, in mighty armies, to possess whole tracts 
farther west, along and beyond the Mississippi. In 
some parts of the northwest to-day the parents of 
three men out of four were born in Europe — in Scan- 
dinavia, in Germany, in Russia, in Italy. 

So France, keeping near her those whom she loves 
best, her own children, has yet seen her Nouvelle 



THE PEOPLING OF THE WILDERNESS 147 

France draw to it the children of all other nations. As 
from Hagar exiled in the wilderness has a new race 
sprung — has the wilderness been peopled. 

In my boyhood the last division of that great exodus, 
largely made up of migrants from the eastern half of 
the valley, was still passing westward. One of the 
banners which some of the wagons covered with can- 
vas ("prairie-schooners," as they were called) used to 
fly was "Pike's Peak or Bust," an Americanism in- 
dicating the intention of the pilgrims to reach the 
mountain at the western terminus of the great valley 
or die in the attempt. Occasionally one came back 
with the inglorious substitute legend upon his wagon, 
"Busted" — a laconic intimation of failure. But this 
was the exception. The west kept, till it had made 
them her own, most of those who ventured their all 
for a home in the wilderness. 

There were "two great commemorative monuments 
that arose to mark the depth and permanence of the 
awe" which possessed all who shared the calamities 
or witnessed the results of the Tartar migration. One 
was a "Romanang" — a "national commemoration, 
with music rich and solemn," of all the souls who de- 
parted to the rest of Paradise from the "afflictions of 
the desert" — and the "other, more durable and more 
commensurate to the scale of the calamity and to the 
grandeur of the national exodus," "mighty columns of 
granite and brass," where the exodus had ended in 
the shadow of the Chinese wall. The inscription on 
these columns reads: 

By the Will of God, 

Here, upon the Brink of these Deserts, 

Which from this Point begin and stretch away 



148 THE FRENCH IN THE HEART OF AMERICA 

Pathless, treeless, waterless, 

For thousands of miles, and along the margins of many 

mighty Nations, 

Rested from their labors and from great afflictions, 

Under the shadow of the Chinese Wall, 

And by the favor of Kien Long, God's Lieutenant upon 

Earth, 

The ancient Children of the Wilderness — the Turgote 

Tartars — 

Flying before the wrath of the Grecian Czar, 

Wandering Sheep who had strayed away from the Celestial 

Empire in the year 1616, 

But are now mercifully gathered again, after infinite sorrow, 

Into the fold of their forgiving Shepherd. 

Hallowed be the spot forever, 

and 

Hallowed be the day — September 8, 1771 ! 

Amen. 

There have been many expositions of the fruits of 
the Mississippi Valley's agriculture and manufacture 
and mining and thinking and teaching and preaching 
and ministering, but there has been no general com- 
memoration with "music rich and solemn" of those who 
endured the "afflictions of the wilderness," though the 
last of the pioneers will soon have departed to his rest, 
for fourteen years ago it was officially declared that 
there was no longer a frontier. But mighty columns 
not of man's rearing stand upon the farther edge of 
that western valley, columns of rock rich with gold 
and silver and every other precious metal, surmounted, 
some of them the year through, with capitals of snow 
and lacking only the legend: 

Here upon the Brink of the Plains 
Which stretched away pathless, treeless, boundless, 



THE PEOPLING OF THE WILDERNESS 149 

Ended their century-long exodus 

The New Children of the Wilderness, 

Driven by the Hand of God 

Westward and ever Westward 

Till they have at last entered 

Into the full Heritage of those 

Who, first of Pioneers, 

Traced the rivers and lakes of this Valley 

Between the eternal mountains. 



CHAPTER VIII 
THE PARCELLING OF THE DOMAIN 

THE domain of Louis XIV in the midst of America 
(between the Great Lakes and the gulf, the Al- 
leghanies and the Rockies) embraced over seven 
hundred and fifty million acres. One-half of it, roughly, 
was covered with giant forests inhabited by fur-bearing 
animals with opulence upon their backs. One-half 
was covered with vegetation, varying from the lux- 
uriant prairie grass to the sage-brush of the shadeless 
plains, plains roamed by beasts clothed with valuable 
robes. Two-thirds of this domain was arable, with 
only the irrigation of the clouds, and all of it was 
destined some day to be cultivated, the clouds having 
the assistance of man-made irrigation or dry farming. 
The portion east of the Mississippi (about three 
hundred million acres) was at one time estimated to be 
worth not more, politically and physically, than the 
island of Guadeloupe — an island represented by a 
pin-head on an ordinary map — producing forty thou- 
sand tons of sugar and about two million pounds each 
of coffee and cocoa. 

Even the people of the Atlantic States were accused 
by westerners as late as 1786 of threatening secession 
and of being as ignorant of the trans-Alleghany coun- 
try as Great Britain had been of America, and as in- 
considerate. The western half, urged by the minister 

150 



THE PARCELLING OF THE DOMAIN 151 

of Louis XV upon Spain after sixty or seventy millions 
of francs had been spent fruitlessly upon it by France, 
recovered by Napoleon and sold to the United States 
for one-fourth of the amount that was expended a 
century later for the celebration of the purchase, was 
regarded at the time of the purchase, even by many 
seacoast Americans, as useless, except as it secured 
control of the mouth of the Mississippi. An important 
New York paper said editorially: 

"... As to the unbounded region west of the 
Mississippi, it is, with the exception of a very few set- 
tlements of Spaniards and Frenchmen bordering on 
the banks of the river, a wilderness through which 
wander numerous tribes of Indians. And when we 
consider the present extent of the United States, and 
that not one-sixteenth part of its territory is yet under 
occupation, the advantage of the acquisition, as it re- 
lates to actual settlement, appears too distant and 
remote to strike the mind of a sober politician with 
much force. This, therefore, can only rest in specu- 
lation for many years, if not centuries to come, and 
consequently will not perhaps be allowed very great 
weight in the account by the majority of readers. 
But it may be added, that should our own citizens, 
more enterprizing than wise, become desirous of set- 
tling this country, and emigrate thither, it must not 
only be attended with all the injuries of a too widely 
dispersed population, but, by adding to the great 
weight of the western part of our territory, must 
hasten the dismemberment of a large portion of our 
country, or a dissolution of the government. On the 
whole, we think it may with candor be said, that 
whether the possession at this time of any territory 



152 THE FRENCH IN THE HEART OF AMERICA 

west of the river Mississippi will be advantageous, is 
at best extremely problematical. For ourselves, we 
are very much inclined to the opinion that, after all, 
it is the Island of N. Orleans by which the command 
of a free navigation of the Mississippi is secured, that 
gives to this interesting cession its greatest value, 
and will render it in every view of immense benefit to 
our country. By this cession we hereafter shall hold 
within our own grasp, what we have heretofore enjoyed 
only by the uncertain tenure of a treaty, which might 
be broken at the pleasure of another, and (governed as 
we now are) with perfect impunity. Provided there- 
fore we have not purchased it too dear, there is all the 
reason for exultation which the friends of the adminis- 
tration display, and which all Americans may be al- 
lowed to feel." 1 

I quote this to show how far from appreciating 
France's generosity the easterners, and especially the 
anti-Jeffersonian Federalists in America, were at that 
time. Other and less conscientious newspapers put 
the prodigality of Jefferson's commissioners more 
graphically: 

"Fifteen millions of dollars! they would exclaim. 
The sale of a wilderness has not usually commanded a 
price so high. Ferdinand Gorges received but twelve 
hundred and fifty pounds sterling for the Province of 
Maine. William Penn gave for the wilderness that 
now bears his name but a trifle over five thousand 
pounds. Fifteen millions of dollars ! A breath will 
suffice to pronounce the words. A few strokes of the 
pen will express the sum on paper. But not one 
man in a thousand has any conception of the magni- 

1 New York Herald, July 6, 1803. 



THE PARCELLING OF THE DOMAIN 153 

tude of the amount. Weigh it and there will be four 
hundred and thirty-three tons of solid silver. Load 
it into wagons, and there will be eight hundred and 
sixty-six of them. Place the wagons in a line, giving two 
rods to each, and they will cover a distance of five 
and one-third miles. Hire a laborer to shovel it into 
the carts, and, though he load sixteen each day, he 
will not finish the work in two months. Stack it up 
dollar on dollar, and supposing nine to make an inch, 
the pile will be more than three miles high. It would 
load twenty-five sloops; it would pay an army of twenty- 
five thousand men forty shillings a week each for 
twenty-five years; it would, divided among the popu- 
lation of the country, give three dollars for each man, 
woman, and child. . . . Invest the principal as school 
fund, and the interest will support, forever, eighteen 
hundred free schools, all owning fifty scholars, and five 
hundred dollars to each school." 1 

Napoleon had, indeed, made a good bargain for 
France, selling a wilderness, which at best he could 
not well have kept long, for a price which all the specie 
currency in the poor young republic would not be ade- 
quate to meet. 

It was of this domain (a part of the claim of La Salle 
for Louis XIV in 1682, divided between England and 
Spain in 1763, made one again in 1803 by the will of 
Napoleon, under the control of the United States, 
added to by the purchase of Florida from Spain and 
the acquisition of Texas, filling all the Great Valley) — 
it was of this valley that, as late as the early fifties, a 
member of Congress (afterward to become vice-presi- 
dent of the United States, then President), Andrew 
Johnson, although an earnest advocate of a liberal 

1 McMaster, "History of the People of the United States," 2 : 630. 



154 THE FRENCH IN THE HEART OF AMERICA 

land policy, predicted that it would take "seven hun- 
dred years to dispose of the public lands at the rate 
we have been disposing of them." 1 Seven hundred 
years — as long as from the founding of Charlemagne's 
new empire of the west to the discovery of the coasts 
of a still newer empire of the west. 

But in two hundred years from the day that La Salle 
so miserably perished on the plains of Texas, in exactly 
one hundred years from the time when, under the 
epoch-making "Ordinance of the Northwest" (as it 
has been called), the parcelling of the land began, and 
in less than half a century from the year when An- 
drew Johnson's seven-hundred-year prophecy began to 
run, practically the entire domain had been surveyed 
and sold or given by the nation to private or municipal 
or corporate possession. It was the 24th of July, 1687, 
that La Salle died; it was July 27, 1787, that the first 
great sale of a fragment of the domain was made; and 
it was in 1887, approximately, that all the humanly 
available domain was occupied by at least two persons 
to a square mile; for in 1890 it was officially declared 
by the government of the United States that it had no 
frontier. Not that the land was all sold, but all that 
was immediately valuable. 

As soon as the War of Independence was over, and 
even during the struggle, the territories of several of 
the Atlantic States (or colonies) expanded to the Mis- 
sissippi. There was a quadrilateral, trans-Alleghany 
Massachusetts, as indifferent to natural boundaries as 
a "state of mind" (which Massachusetts has often 
been defined to be), respectful only of imaginary lines 
of latitude and the Mississippi River, the Spanish 
border. Little Connecticut multiplied its latitude by 

1 Speech on the Homestead bill, April 29, 1852. 



THE PARCELLING OF THE DOMAIN 155 

degrees of longitude till it reached in a thin but rich 
slice from Pennsylvania also to the Mississippi. Vir- 
ginia disputed these mountain-to-river claims of her 
New England sisters, but held unquestioned still 
larger territories to the north and south — and so on 
from the sources of the river to Florida, South Carolina 
even claiming a strip a few miles wide and four hundred 
long. There was almost a duplication of the Atlantic 
front on the Mississippi River. These statements will 
not interest those who can have no particular acquain- 
tance with the personalities of those several common- 
wealths, quite as marked as are those of Normandy 
and Brittany; but even without this knowledge it is 
possible to appreciate the magnanimity and the wis- 
dom which prompted those States, many with large 
and rich claims, to surrender all to the central govern- 
ment, the Continental Congress, for the benefit of all 
the States, landful and landless alike. 1 

'LANDS CEDED BY THE STATES TO THE UNITED STATES 

Northwest of the Ohio River square miles 

Ohio 39,964 

Indiana 33,809 

Illinois 55,414 

Michigan 56,45 1 

Wisconsin 53,9^4 

Minnesota, east of the Mississippi River 26,000 

265,562 
or 169,959,680 acres. 
Virginia claimed this entire region. 
New York claimed an indefinite amount. 

Connecticut claimed about 25,600,000 acres and ceded all but 3,300,000. 
Massachusetts claimed about 34,560,000 acres. 

South of Kentucky 
South Carolina ceded about 3,136,000 acres. 
North Carolina ceded (nominally) 29,184,000 acres. 
Georgia ceded 56,689,920 acres. 

— Payson J. Treat, "The National Land System, 1785-1820." 



156 THE FRENCH IN THE HEART OF AMERICA 

So it was that even before the National Government 
was organized under a federal constitution in 1789, the 
land beyond the western boundaries of the several 
colonies, out as far as the Mississippi, was held for the 
good of all. And later the same policy followed the 
expansion to the Rockies and beyond. Can one 
imagine a greater or more fateful task than confronted 
this young, inexperienced republic — to have the dis- 
posal of a billion acres of timber lands, grazing lands, 
farm lands, ore lands, oil lands, coal lands, arid lands, 
and swamp lands for the good not only of the first 
comers and of those then living in the Atlantic States 
but also of the millions that should inhabit all that 
country in future generations as well — for the good of 
all of all time? 

This one-time bed of the Paleozoic sea between 
Archaean shores, raised in time above the ocean and 
enriched of the mountains that through millions of 
years were gradually to be worn down by the natural 
forces of the valley, and finally, as we have seen, 
opened by the French as a new-created world to be 
peopled by the old world, then overflowing its brim, 
became all of it in the space of a single lifetime the 
property of a few million human beings, their heirs, and 
assigns forever. The "men of always" 1 had actually 
come and were to divide and distribute among them- 
selves the stores of millions of years as if reserved for 
them from the foundation of the world. 

When Deucalion and Pyrrha went forth to repeople 
the world after a flood, they were told by the oracle to 
cast over their shoulders the bones of their mother. 

ir r*he Iroquois, according to Chateaubriand, called themselves Ongoueo- 
noue, the " men of always," signifying that they were a race eternal, im- 
mortal, not to fade away. — "Travels in America," 2 : 93. 



THE PARCELLING OF THE DOMAIN 157 

These they rightly interpreted, according to the myth, 
to be the stones of the earth, and so the valleys of the 
ancient world became populous. Peopling per se was 
not, however, the object or the first object of the act 
under which the government, after the manner of 
Deucalion, went across this new-world valley, casting 
in stoneless areas clods of earth and tufts of virgin 
sod before it and behind it. It was not people that the 
government wanted. Indeed, it was afraid of people. 
What it desired, the "common good," was the immedi- 
ate payment of the debt incurred in the War of Inde- 
pendence, and the only resource was land. The land 
that the French had discovered, whose nominal transfer 
to England Choiseul had said he had made to destroy 
England's power in America, was now to meet a por- 
tion at least of the expense of the brave struggle for the 
winning of independence. France's practically un- 
touched wilderness was now to supplement the succor 
of French ships and arms and sympathy in the firm 
founding of the new nation. The acres that France 
under other fortunes might have divided among her 
own descendants, children of the west, she gave to a 
happier destiny than La Salle could have desired in 
his wildest dreams as he traversed the streams that 
watered those first-parcelled fields. 

So, incidentally, the French pioneers before the 
fact and the first settlers of the west after the fact 
had their part, witting or unwitting, willing or unwill- 
ing, written or unwritten, along with George Rogers 
Clark and his men, who seized the British forts in that 
territory during the Revolution (and thus gave standing 
to the claim for its transfer), and along with the men 
of the Atlantic colonies who sacrificed their fortunes 



158 THE FRENCH IN THE HEART OF AMERICA 

and their lives — these all had their part in the inaugu- 
ration of this experiment in self-government. There 
was no higher, more far-reaching "common good" 
than this to which acres prepared from Paleozoic days 
and consecrated of unselfish adventure could be de- 
voted. 

I cannot find anywhere in our history an apprecia- 
tion of this particular contribution to the foundation 
of free institutions in America. But it is one that 
should be recorded and remembered along with the 
more tangible contributions. Every perilous journey 
of the French across that territory for which France 
got not a franc, every purchase which Scotch-Irish or 
New England or other settlers went out to conquer, 
was a march or a skirmish in the War of Independence, 
for all was turned to the confirming of the fruits of vic- 
tory of the American Revolution. 

Those who have written of the land policy which 
prescribed the conditions of sale have divided its his- 
tory roughly into two periods: the first, from 1783 to 
1840, in which the fiscal considerations of the general 
government were dominant; and the second, from 1840 
to the present time, when the social conditions, either 
within the territory itself or in the nation at large, 
were given first consideration. 

The statistical story of the first period, under that 
accurate classification, would be about as interesting 
as a bulletin of real-estate transactions in Chicago 
would be to a professor of paleontology in the Sor- 
bonne. It is only when those sales are considered tel- 
eologically (as the philosophers would say) that they 
can seem absorbingly vital to others than economists 
or to the fortunate heirs of some of the purchasers. 



THE PARCELLING OF THE DOMAIN 159 

I am aware (let me say parenthetically) that cus- 
toms duties might have a somewhat like interpreta- 
tion under a higher imaginative power; but this pos- 
sibility does not lessen to me the singularly spiritual 
character of this series of transactions — of land sales, 
or transmutations of lands, on the one hand, into the 
maintenance of the fabric of a government by the 
people, and, on the other, into the ruggedest, hardiest 
species of men and women the world has known in 
its new hemisphere. 

Land-offices, as I have seen them described in the 
newspapers of the early part of the nineteenth century, 
gave no outward suggestion of being places of miracles 
— sacred places. They were noisy, dirty, ephemeral 
tabernacles of canvas or of boards in the wilderness, 
carried westward till the day of permanent temples 
should come. But like the Ark of the Covenant in the 
history of Israel, they blessed those in whose fields 
they rested on the way, even as the field and household 
of Obed-edom the Gittite were blessed by the pres- 
ence of the ark on its way up to Jerusalem in the days of 
David. 

The initial policy of the government was to sell in 
as great tracts as possible (the very reverse of the 
present conserving, anti-monopolistic policy, as we shall 
see). The first sale (1787) was of nearly a million acres, 
for which an average of two-thirds of a dollar per acre 
in securities worth nine or ten cents was received. 
This sale, whatever may be said for it as a part of a 
fiscal policy, was significant not only in opening up a 
great tract (one thousand three hundred square miles) 
but in the fact that the purchase and holding were 
conditioned by certain provisions of a precious ordi- 



160 THE FRENCH IN THE HEART OF AMERICA 

nance — the last of importance of the old Continental 
Congress — only less important than the Constitution, 
which it preceded by two years — the "basis of law and 
politics" in the northwest. 

It, moreover, gave precedent for a policy of terri- 
torial control by the central government that has been 
effective even to the present time. Daniel Webster 
said of it: "I doubt whether any single law of any 
lawgiver, ancient or modern, has produced effects of 
more distinct, marked, and lasting character." 1 It 
forbade slavery and had in this provision an important 
influence on the history of the valley. But there was 
another far-reaching and a positive provision which 
must be of special interest to the people of France even 
to-day. Its preamble lies in this memorable passage: 
"Religion, morality, and knowledge being necessary to 
good government and the happiness of mankind, schools 
and the means of education shall forever be encour- 
aged." As to the specific means of encouraging religion, 
morality, and knowledge, and so, ultimately, of pro- 
moting good government and the happiness of man- 
kind, it was proposed by the representative of the Ohio 
Company, which stood ready to purchase a million 
acres, that the government should give support both 
to education and religion, as was done in New England, 
and as follows: one lot in each township (that is, a 
section one mile square in every tract six miles square) 
to be reserved for the common schools, another for the 
support of the ministry, and four whole townships, in 
the whole tract, for the maintenance of a university. 
Congress thought this too liberal, but finally, under 

1 First Speech on Foot's Resolution in "Writings and Speeches of Daniel 
Webster," national edition, 5 : 263. 



THE PARCELLING OF THE DOMAIN 161 

the stress of need of revenue which the high-minded, 
reverend lobbyist, Reverend Menasseh Cutler, was 
prepared through his company to furnish, acceded, 
with a reduction only of the proposed appropriation to 
the university. The provision specifically was: "Lot 
number sixteen to be given perpetually by Congress 
to the maintenance of schools, and lot number twenty- 
nine to the purpose of religion in the said townships; 
two townships near the center and of good land to be 
also given by Congress for the support of a literary in- 
stitution, to be applied to the intended object by the 
legislature of the State." 

A second great tract was sold the same year under 
similar conditions. This was the last occasion on which 
provision for the support of religion was made by the 
national Congress, and what came of this particular 
grant I have not followed beyond the statement below. 1 

But the "section-sixteen" allotment for the aid of 
public schools continued as a feature of all future grants 
within the Northwest Territory, and also in all the new 
States of the southwestern and trans-Mississippi ter- 
ritory erected prior to 1850, from which time forward 
two sections in each township (sixteen and thirty-six) 
were granted for school purposes, besides specific grants 
for higher education amounting to over a million acres. 

A recent student 2 of this subject has traced this 
policy of public aid to education back through New 

1 In 1828 Ohio petitioned for permission to sell the lands reserved for 
religious purposes, and in 1833 this was granted. The proceeds of the sales 
were to be invested and used for the support of religion, under the direction 
of the legislature within the townships in which the reserves were located. 
— Payson J. Treat, "The National Land System, 1785-1820." 

2 Joseph Shafer, "The Origin of the System of Land Grants for Educa- 
tion." Bulletin of the University of Wisconsin, No. 63. History Series, 
Vol. 1, No. 1, August, 1902. 



162 THE FRENCH IN THE HEART OF AMERICA 

England, where colonies, in grants to companies or 
townships, made specific stipulations and reservations 
for the support of schools and the ministry and where 
townships voluntarily often made like disposition of sur- 
plus wild lands; and through New England to England 
of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, where, the 
monasteries and other religious foundations being de- 
stroyed and the schools depending upon them perish- 
ing, schools were endowed by the kings, sometimes out 
of sequestered church lands, or were established by 
towns and counties, in addition to those chartered 
under private patronage, so strong was the new edu- 
cational movement of the time. 

In the Mississippi Valley, then, or the greater part 
of it — whatever the historical origin of the provisions 
may be — from one-thirty-sixth to one-eighteenth of 
the public land has been set apart to the education of 
generation after generation till the end of the republic 
— or as Americans would be disposed to put it in 
synonymous phrase, "till the end of time." 

Acres vary in size, one of our eminent horticultur- 
ists has reminded us, measured in terms of produc- 
tivity. And the gifts to the various townships have 
been by no means of the same size, measured in terms 
of revenue for school purposes. "Number sixteen" 
may sometimes have fallen in shallow soil or on stony 
ground and "thirty-six" in swamp or alkali land. 
The lottery of nature is as hard-hearted as the lotteries 
of human devising; but the general provision has 
put an obligation upon the other thirty-five or thirty- 
four sections in every township that I suppose is seldom 
evaded. The child's acres are practically never, I sus- 
pect, less valuable than the richest and largest of those 



THE PARCELLING OF THE DOMAIN 163 

in the township about it, for the reason that the dif- 
ference is made good by the local taxpayer. The child's 
acre is, as a rule, then, as large as the largest, the most 
productive acre. And roughly there are fifty thousand 
of those little plots in that domain — fifty thousand 
sections a mile square, thirty-two million acres reserved 
from the beginning of time, theoretically at least, to 
the end of time. As a matter of fact, they are not to 
be distinguished objectively from other acres now; 
they are to be distinguished only subjectively, that is, 
as one thinks of what is grown year by year in the 
schools, to which their proceeds, if not their products, 
are given. 

I quoted above an estimate made in 1803 of what 
might have been done with the fifteen million dollars, 
paid to the French for Louisiana. One alternative sug- 
gested was the permanent endowment of eighteen hun- 
dred free schools, allowing five hundred dollars a year 
per school and accommodating ninety thousand pupils. 
The public-school allotment for that part of the valley 
alone is fifteen million acres. Even at two dollars an 
acre (a very low estimate), the endowment is twice 
the total amount paid for Louisiana — and I am esti- 
mating this school acreage at but one thirty-sixth in- 
stead of one-eighteenth of the total acreage. There- 
fore, France may, in a sense, be said to have given 
these acres to the support of the "children of always" 
— since these plots alone have probably yielded many 
times the purchase price of the entire territory. 

To be sure, these white plots, as I would have them 
marked on a map of the valley, have in many States 
been sold and occupied as the other plots, with only 
this distinction, that the proceeds are inviolably set 



164 THE FRENCH IN THE HEART OF AMERICA 

apart to this sacred use, as certain parts of animals 
were, under Mosaic law, reserved for public sacrifice. 
In one trans-Mississippi State, Iowa, for example, of 
a total grant of 1,013,614.21 acres 1 (less what the 
boundary rivers, the Mississippi and the Missouri, had 
carried away in their voracious encroachments, and 
plus what other natural agents had added), only 200 
acres remained unsold in 191 1. 

As we view the policy from the year 1903 and from 
the midst of a populous valley, in which land values 
have risen from one dollar and twenty-five cents per 
acre to a hundred or two hundred dollars in most 
fertile farm tracts, and to thousands in urban centres, 
we can but regret that these lands themselves had 
not been held inviolate, and can but wish that only 
their rentals had been devoted to the high uses to which 
the nation and State had consecrated these lands. 
This policy would have put in the heart of every town- 
ship a common field whose rental would have grown 
with the development of the country. It would have 
furnished fruitful data for comparison between two 
systems of land tenure. And it would have kept ever 
visibly, tangibly before the people their heritage and 
their obligation. As it is, one has to use the greatest 
imagination in translating the figures in a State trea- 
surer's or county supervisor's report, back into the 
little plots that gathered into the soil of their acres the 
noblest purposes that ever animated a nation — these 
spots where one generation made its unselfish prayer 
and sacrifice for the next. 

That the purpose still exists, despite the passing of 

1 Iowa, 1,013,614.21 acres from section 16 and 535,473.76 acres by con- 
gressional grant in 1841. 



THE PARCELLING OF THE DOMAIN 165 

the tangible symbol, and that the prayer is still made in 
every township of that territory, where even a few chil- 
dren live, is evidenced by the fact that every two 
miles north and south, east and west of settled region 
there stands a schoolhouse. I shall speak later of this 
wide-spread provision, not only for universal elementary 
education but also for secondary and higher educa- 
tion, ordained of the people and for the people, to be 
paid for by the people out of their common treasury. 
But attention must here be called, in passing, to the 
fact that the parcelling of the domain of Louis XIV 
in the new world fixed irrevocably the public school 
in the national consciousness and purpose and made it 
the foundation of a purely democratic social system 
and the nourisher of a more highly efficient democratic 
political system. 

On the Atlantic side of the mountains there was 
bitter controversy between those who held that educa- 
tion was necessary for the preservation of free institu- 
tions and those who held that free education increased 
taxation unduly; between those who desired and those 
who regretted the breaking down of social barriers 
which both claimed would ensue as a result of such 
education; between those who regarded education as 
a natural right and those who considered taxation for 
such a purpose a violation of the rights of the in- 
dividual; between those who saw in it a panacea for 
poverty and distress and those who urged that it 
would not benefit the masses; and, finally, between 
those of one sect and race and those of another. But 
in the trans-Alleghany country north of the Ohio, and 
in all the territory west of the Mississippi (practically 
coterminous, let me again remind you, with that region 
where the French were pioneers within the present 



1 66 THE FRENCH IN THE HEART OF AMERICA 

bounds of the United States) there was practically no 
dissension, though the provision was meagre at the 
start. The public school had no more of the atmos- 
phere or character of a charity, a "pauper" school 
than the highway provided for out of the same grant, 
where rich and poor met in absolute equality of right 
and opportunity. It became the pride of a people, the 
expression of the people's ideal, the corner-stone of the 
people's hope. I suppose that three-fourths of the chil- 
dren of the territory whose ranges have been surveyed 
by the magic chains forged of this first great parcelling 
ordinance have had the tuition of the public schools — 
future Presidents of the United States, justices, rail- 
road and university presidents, farmers, artisans, art- 
ists, and poets alike. 

So while it was desire for revenue that prompted 
the early sales of the public domain in the Mississippi 
Valley, the nation got in return not only means to help 
pay its Revolution debt, but, incidentally, settlements 
of highly individualistic, self-dependent, and inter- 
dependent pioneers, gathered about one highly pater- 
nalistic or maternalistic institution — the public school. 
The credit for this has gone to New England and New 
York, but the "white acres" came of the territory and 
the riches of Nouvelle France. 

You will not wish to follow in detail the ministra- 
tions of the priests of the land-offices and the surveys 
of the men of the magic chains, for it is a long and 
tedious story that would fill thousands of pages, and 
in the end only obscure the real significance of the 
movement. Here is a summary of allotments made up 
to 1904 of all the public domain, that of the Missis- 
sippi Valley being somewhat more than half. 1 

1 See Report of the Public Lands Commission, Washington, 1905. 



THE PARCELLING OF THE DOMAIN 167 

Private land claims, donations etc. (the first of acres 

the latter being made to the early French 

settlers) 33,400,000 

Wagon-road, canal, and river improvement 
grants (provision for the narrow strips of 
common that intersect each other at every 

mile of the settled parts of the valley) 9,700,000 

Railroad grants for the subsidizing of the pri- 
vate building of railways chiefly up and down 

and across the valley 1 17,600,000 

Swamp-land grants (being tracts of wet or over- 
flowed lands given to the various States for 

reclamation) 65,700,000 

School grants to States (those which we have 

been considering) 69,000,000 

Other grants to States (largely for educational 

purposes) 20,600,000 

Military and naval land warrants 61,000,000 

Scrip issued for various purposes (chiefly in 

view of service to the government) 9,300,000 

Allotment to individual Indians 15,100,000 

Mineral lands (under special entries) 1,700,000 

Homestead entries (that is, by settlers taking 
claims under homestead acts of which I shall 

speak later) 96,500,000 

Timber-culture entries (final) 9,700,000 

Timber and stone entries 7,600,000 

Cash entries, including entries under the pre- 
emption and other acts 276,600,000 

Reservoir rights of way 300,000 

Forest reserves (tracts of forest land permanently 

reserved from sale) 57,900,000 

For national reclaiming purposes 39,911,000 

Reserved for public purposes (public buildings, 

forts, etc.) 6,700,000 

Indian reservations 73,000,000 

Entries pending 39,500,000 

Unappropriated public land 841,872,377 

Total {including Alaska) 1,852,683,377 



168 THE FRENCH IN THE HEART OF AMERICA 

By June 30, 191 2, homestead entries had increased 
to 127,800,000 acres; timber and stone entries to 
13,060,000 acres; forest reserves to 187,400,000 acres, 
and there was left 682,984,762 acres, more than half 
of which was in Alaska; that is, of the billion and 
a half of acres, exclusive of Alaska, over a billion have 
been sold to private uses, granted in aid of private 
enterprises, used for public improvements, appro- 
priated forever to public uses, or given to the support 
of education. 

The controlling motive at the start, I repeat, was 
revenue. But gradually the people, seeing great 
tracts of land held unimproved for speculation, seeing 
the domain of free land narrowing while the pressure 
of want was beginning to make itself felt east of the 
mountains, as in Europe, and feeling concerned, as 
some men of vision did, at the passing of the world's 
great opportunity for the practical realization of man's 
natural right to the land without disturbing the sys- 
tem in force in older settled communities, the people 
strove to effect the subordination of revenue to the 
social good of the frontier and the country at large. 
By the middle of the century this many-motived feel- 
ing had expression in a party platform; that "the 
public lands — belong to the people and should not be 
sold to individuals nor granted to corporations, but 
should be held as a sacred trust for the benefit of the 
people and should be granted in limited quantities, 
free of cost, to landless settlers." 1 

It was ten years before this doctrine became em- 
bodied in law over the signature of Abraham Lincoln, 
but the agitation for its enactment had been active for 

1 Free-Soil Democratic Platform, 1852, p. 12. 



THE PARCELLING OF THE DOMAIN 169 

thirty years, beginning with the cry of a poor printer 
in New York City, 1 taught of French doctrine, who in 
season and out kept asserting the equal right of man 
to land. It was as a voice in the wilderness proclaim- 
ing a plan of salvation to the already congested areas 
on the seashore and, incidentally, a means of making 
the wilderness blossom. He was not then a disciple 
of Fourier (as many of his associates were and he him- 
self had been originally), threatening vested privileges 
of rights; he did not preach a communistic division of 
property; he was an individualistic idealist and saw 
in the opening of this wild, unoccupied land, not to 
speculators or to alien purchasers, but to actual set- 
tlers permitted to pre-empt in quarter-sections (one 
hundred and sixty acres) and forbidden to alienate it, 
a means of social regeneration that would not disturb 
the titles to property already granted to individuals 
by the State, and yet would bless all the property- 
less, for there was enough free land for every landless 
man who wanted it, and would be for decades if not 
for centuries beyond their lives, or so he thought. 2 

A German economist has expressed the view that it 
was only this movement, so inaugurated, that prevented 
America from going into socialism. One of our fore- 
most economists in America, in discussing this very 
subject, begins with these observations: 

"The French are a nation of philosophers. Starting 
with the theory of the rights of man, they build up a 
logical system, then a revolution, and the theory goes 
into practice. Next a coup d'etat and an emperor. 

1 George Henry Evans. 

2 See J. R. Commons, " Documentary History of American Industrial 
Society," VII : 287-349. 



170 THE FRENCH IN THE HEART OF AMERICA 

"The English are a nation without too much philos- 
ophy or logic. They piece out their constitution at 
the spot where it becomes tight. . . . They are prac- 
tical . . . unlogical. 

"The Americans are French in their logic and En- 
glish in their use of logic. They announce the uni- 
versal rights of man and then enact into law enough 
to augment the rights of property." 

The homestead law owed its origin to the doctrine 
of natural rights, whose transcendental glory faded 
often into the light of common day during the discus- 
sions but still enhaloes a very practical and matter-of- 
fact statute. Economic reasons, both of eastern and 
western motive, were gathered under the banner of 
its idealism, till finally it came to be an ensign not 
only of free soil for the landless but of free soil for 
the slaves. The "homestead" movement put an end 
to slavery, even if within a half century it has ex- 
hausted in its generosity the nation's domain of arable 
land. The voice in the wilderness cried for a legalized 
natural right that would not disturb vested rights, for 
an individualism based on private property given with- 
out cost, for equality by a limitation of that property 
to one hundred and sixty acres, and finally for the 
inalienability from sale or mortgage of that little plot 
of earth. Thirty years later the natural right to un- 
occupied land was recognized, individualistic society 
was strengthened by the great increase in the number 
of property holders, and inalienability was recognized 
by the States; but the failure to reserve the free lands 
to such actual settlers alone and to limit the amount 
of the holding left the way open for railroad grants, 
which alone have in two generations exceeded the 



THE PARCELLING OF THE DOMAIN 171 

homestead entries, and for the amassing of great 
stretches by a few. 

The logic of France, speaking through the voice of 
that leader and other men such as Horace Greeley, 
led the later exodus as certainly as her pioneers opened 
the way for the first American settlers. And though 
the logic was applied in English fashion, yet it had a 
notable part in making, as I have just said, the free 
soil of the Mississippi Valley contribute to the freeing 
of a whole people in slavery, inside and outside of the 
valley. That logic learned in France would doubtless 
have accomplished a conclusion needing less patch- 
ing and opportunistic repair if the immediate interests 
of those of the frontiers, those who wanted immediate 
settlement and development, had not disturbed one 
of the premises. At any rate, a great and perhaps the 
last opportunity to carry such doctrines to their con- 
clusions without overturning all social and industrial 
institutions has gone by. A half-billion acres of in- 
alienable farms, all of the same size, trespassing upon 
no ancient rights, interspersed with the white blocks 
held for the education of the children of that free soil, 
might have furnished an example for all time to be 
followed or shunned — if, indeed, all acres had been 
born of the primeval sea and glaciers not only free but 
equal in size. As it was, some acres were born large 
and some small, some fruitful and some barren, some 
with gold in their mouths and some with only the 
taste of alkali; and only an infinite wisdom could have 
adjusted them to the unequal capacities of that army 
of land lackers who declared themselves free and 
equal, and who, with free-soil banners, advanced to 
the territory where the squatters became sovereigns 
and homesteads became castles. 



172 THE FRENCH IN THE HEART OF AMERICA 

President Andrew Johnson (who as a congressman, 
in 1852, made the seven-hundred-year prophecy) 
estimated that a homestead (of one hundred and sixty 
acres) would increase every homesteader's purchasing 
ability by one hundred dollars a year; and if (he 
argued) the government enacted a 30-per-cent duty 
it would be reimbursed in seven years in the amount 
of two hundred and ten dollars, or ten dollars more 
than the cost of the homestead. By such reckoning 
he reached the conclusion that the homesteaders would 
defray the expenses of the government for a period 
of four thousand three hundred and ninety-two years 
— each homesteader of the nine millions contributing 
indirectly twenty-four thousand four hundred dollars 
in seven hundred years and all of them two hundred 
and nineteen billion six hundred million dollars — a 
scheme as ingenious, says one, as Fourier's "scheme to 
pay off the national debt of France with a setting 
hen." 1 

There are approximately nine million homes (or 
homes, tenements, and flats) in that domain to-day, 
and it is quite easily demonstrable that they not only 
contribute to the support of government, directly and 
indirectly, far more than the seemingly fantastic esti- 
mates of Andrew Johnson suggested but also give to 
the world a surplus of product undreamed of even in 
1850. It is hardly likely that any system of parcelling 
would have more rapidly developed this vast domain. 
There is a question as to whether some more logical, 
conserving, long-viewed policy might not have been 
devised for the "common good" of the generations 

1 Speech on the bill to encourage agriculture, July 25, 1850. Speeches on 
the homestead bill, April 29, 1852, and May 20, 1858. 



THE PARCELLING OF THE DOMAIN 173 

that are yet to occupy that valley with the generation 
that is there and the three or four generations that 
have already gone. It is that "common good" that is 
now engaging the thought of our foremost economists, 
natural scientists, and public men. Of that I shall 
speak later. 

Here we celebrate merely the fact that there are fifty 
or sixty million geographical descendants of France 
living in the midst of the valley at the mouth of whose 
river La Salle took immediate possession for Louis 
XIV, but prophetic possession for all the peoples that 
might in any time find dwelling there. 



CHAPTER IX 
IN THE TRAILS OF THE COUREURS DE BOIS 

["T is a mistake," said one of the statesmen of the 
Mississippi Valley, Senator Thomas H. Benton, 
"to suppose that none but men of science lay 
off a road. There is a class of topographical engineers 
older than the schools and more unerring than the 
mathematicians. They are the wild animals — buffalo, 
elk, deer, antelope, bears — which traverse the forest 
not by compass but by an instinct which leads them 
always the right way — to the lowest passes in the 
mountains, the shallowest fords in the rivers, the rich- 
est pastures in the forests, the best salt springs, and the 
shortest practicable lines between remote points. They 
travel thousands of miles, have their annual migra- 
tions backwards and forwards, and never miss the 
best and shortest route. These are the first engineers 
to lay out a road in a new country; the Indians fol- 
low them, and hence a buffalo road becomes a war- 
path. The first white hunters follow the same trails 
in pursuing their game; and after that the buffalo 
road becomes the wagon road of the white man, and 
finally the macadamized road or railroad of the scien- 
tific man." 1 

A hunter of wild sheep in the Rocky Mountains 
following their trails wonders if they were made a 

1 Speech on a bill for the construction of a highway to the Pacific, De- 
cember 16, 1850. 

174 



TRAILS OF THE COUREURS DE BOIS 175 

year, five, or ten years ago, and is told by the scientist 
at his side that they may have been sixteen thousand 
years old, so long have these first engineers been at 
work. In some places of Europe, I am told, their fel- 
low engineers, longer in the practice of their profession, 
have actually worn paths in the rocks by their cush- 
ioned feet. 

It is a mistake, therefore, we are reminded, to sup- 
pose that the forests and plains of the Mississippi 
Valley were trackless. They were coursed by many 
paths. If you have by chance read Chateaubriand's 
"Atala," you will have a rather different notion of the 
American forests, especially of the Mississippi Valley. 
"On the western side of the Mississippi," he wrote, 
"the waves of verdure on the limitless plains (savannas) 
appear as they recede to rise gradually into the azure 
sky"; but on the eastern half of the valley, "trees of 
every form, of every color, and of every perfume 
throng and grow together, stretching up into the air 
to heights that weary the eye to follow. Wild vines 
. . . intertwine each other at the feet of these trees, 
escalade their trunks and creep along to the extremity 
of their branches, stretching from the maple to the 
tulip-tree, from the tulip-tree to the hollyhock, and 
thus forming thousands of grottos, arches and porticos. 
Often, in their wanderings from tree to tree, these 
creepers cross the arm of a river, over which they throw 
a bridge of flowers. . . . A multitude of animals spread 
about life and enchantment. From the extremities of 
the avenues may be seen bears, intoxicated with the 
grape, staggering upon the branches of the elm-trees; 
caribous bathe in the lake; black squirrels play among 
the thick foliage; mocking-birds, and Virginian pigeons 



176 THE FRENCH IN THE HEART OF AMERICA 

not bigger than sparrows, fly down upon the turf, red- 
dened with strawberries; green parrots with yellow 
heads, purple woodpeckers, cardinals red as fire, clamber 
up to the very tops of the cypress-trees; humming-birds 
sparkle upon the jessamine of the Floridas; and bird- 
catching serpents hiss while suspended to the domes 
of the woods, where they swing about like creepers 
themselves. . . . All here ... is sound and motion. 
. . . When a breeze happens to animate these soli- 
tudes, to swing these floating bodies, to confound these 
masses of white, blue, green, and pink, to mix all the 
colors and to combine all the murmurs, there issue 
such sounds from the depths of the forests, and such 
things pass before the eyes, that I should in vain en- 
deavor to describe them to those who have never 
visited these primitive fields of nature." And when 
Rene and Atala were escaping through those forests 
they "advanced with difficulty under a vault of smilax, 
amidst vines, indigo-plants, bean-trees, and creeping- 
ivy that entangled our feet like nets. . . . Bell ser- 
pents were hissing in every direction, and wolves, 
bears, carcajous and young tigers, come to hide them- 
selves in these retreats, made them resound with their 
roarings." 1 

A trackless, howling wilderness, indeed, if we are to 
accept this as an accurate description of scenes which, 
as I have intimated, it is now suspected that Chateau- 
briand's imagination visited, unaccompanied of his 
body. But a recent indigenous writer on the valley 
and its roads — having in mind, to be sure, the forests 
a little farther north than those in which Atala and 
Rene wandered — assures us that they were neither 

1 Chateaubriand, "Atala," trans. Harry, pp. 2, 3, 19. 



TRAILS OF THE COUREURS DE BOIS 177 

"pathless" nor "howling." He writes that in 1775 
(eighteen years before the first white settlement in 
the State of Ohio) there were probably as many paths 
within the bounds of that State on which a man could 
travel on horseback at the rate of five miles an hour as 
there are railways in that State to-day. And the 
buffalo paths were — some of them, at any rate — roads 
so wide that several wagons might have been driven 
abreast on them — as wide as the double-track railroads. 
So the Indian farther west had his highways prepared 
for him by the instincts of these primitive engineers 
that knew nothing of trigonometry or the sextant or 
the places of the stars. 1 

Nor did these first makers of roads howl or bellow 
their way over them. On this same authority (Hul- 
bert) I am able to assure you that the forest paths 
were noiseless "traces," as they were originally called, 
in the midst of silences disturbed only by the wind and 
the falling waters. Wolves did sometimes howl in the 
forests or out upon the plains, but it was only in hunger 
and in accentuation of the usual silence. Neither they 
nor the bears growled or howled, except when they 
came into collision with each other, or starvation. 

And there were not even birds to give cheer to the 
gloom of these black forests, whose tree tops were 
knitted together by vines, but had no undergrowth, 
since the sun could not reach the ground. "The birds 
of the forest came only with the white man." There 
were parrots in Kentucky, and there were in Ohio 
pigeons and birds of prey, eagles and buzzards, but 
the birds we know to-day and the bees were later im- 
migrants from lands that remembered Aristophanes or 

1 Hulbert, "Historic Highways," vol. I, pt. II. 



178 THE FRENCH IN THE HEART OF AMERICA 

the hills of Hymettus, or that knew Shelley's skylark 
or Keats's nightingale or Rostand's tamer fowls or 
Maeterlinck's bees. 

Even if we allow to the forests Chateaubriand's 
color in summer and the clamor in times of terror — 
color and clamor which only a keen eye and ear would 
have seen and heard — we cannot longer think of them 
as pathless, if inhabited by those ancient pathmakers, 
the buffalo, deer, sheep. And, naturally, when the In- 
dian came, dependent as he was upon wild game, he 
followed these paths or traces made and frequented 
by the beasts — the ways to food, to water, to salt, to 
other habitats with the changing seasons. The buffalo 
roads and the deer trails became his vocational trails 
— the streets of his livelihood. And as his enemy was 
likely to find him by following these traces, they 
became not only the paths of peace but the paths of 
war. When the red man trespassed upon the peaceful 
trails of his enemy, he was, in an American idiom, "on 
the war-path." 

Then in time the European trader went in friendly 
search of the Indian by these same paths, and they 
became the avenues of petty commerce. As street 
venders in Paris, so these forest traders or runners went 
up and down these sheltered paths, as dark in summer 
as the narrowest streets, only they went silently, though 
they were often heard as distinctly in the breaking of 
twigs or in their muffled tread by the alert ears of the 
Indians as the musical voices of these venders are 
heard in the city. And the places where these traders 
put down their cheap trinkets before their dusky 
patrons grew into trading-posts, prophetic of future 
cities and towns. 



TRAILS OF THE COUREURS DE BOIS 179 

Such were the paths by which the runners of the 
woods, the French coureurs de bois, first emerged — 
after following the watercourses — upon the western 
forest glades and the edges of the prairies and as- 
tonished the aboriginal human owners of those wild 
highways that had known only the soft feet of the 
wolf and fox and bear, the hoofs of the buffalo and 
deer, and the bare feet or the moccasins of the In- 
dians (the "silent shoes," as I have seen such foot- 
gear advertised in Boulevard St. Germain). 

It has been said by a chemist of some repute that 
man came, in his evolution, out of the sea; that he 
has in his veins certain elements — potassium, calcium, 
magnesium, sodium — in the same ratio in which they 
appeared in the water of the Pre-Cambrian ocean. 
Whether this be true or not, one stage of human de- 
velopment carries marks of the forest, and from that 
period "having nothing but forest knowledge, forest 
dreams, forest fancies, forest faith," as an American 
writer has said, man emerges upon the plains of his- 
tory. 

So, though the French civilization still smells and 
sounds of the sea, and followed the streams that kept 
its first men in touch with it, it had finally, in its pio- 
neering, to take to the trails and the forests. And 
these runners of the woods were the amphibious am- 
bassadors from this kingdom of the sea to the kingdom 
of the land. They were, as Etienne Brule of Cham- 
plain's time, the pioneers of pioneers who, often in 
unrecorded advance of priest and explorer, pushed their 
adventurous traffic in French guns and hatchets, 
French beads and cloth, French tobacco and brandy, 
till they knew and were known to the aboriginal habi- 



180 THE FRENCH IN THE HEART OF AMERICA 

tants, "from where the stunted Esquimaux burrowed 
in their snow caves to where the Comanches scoured 
the plains of the south with their banditti cavalry." 

They were a lawless lot whom this mission, not only 
between water and land but also between civilization 
and barbarism, "spoiled for civilization." But they 
must not be judged too harshly in their vibrations be- 
tween the two standards of life which they bridged, 
making periodical confession to charitable priests in 
one, of the sins committed in the other, which, unfor- 
given, might have driven them entirely away from the 
church and into perdition. 

The names of most of these coureurs de bois are for- 
gotten by history (which is rather particular about the 
character of those whom it remembers — other than 
those in kingly or other high places). But they who 
have followed immediately in the trails of these men 
of the verges have written these names, or some of 
them, in places where they are more widely read than 
if cherished by history even. Etienne Brule — who, as 
interpreter, led Le Caron out upon the first western 
mission — after following trails and waters for hundreds 
of miles back of the English settlements, where the 
timid colonists had not dared to venture, suffered the 
martyrdom of fire, and is remembered in a tempestu- 
ous stream in the west and perhaps in an Indian tribe. 
The name of Jean Nicolet of Cherbourg (the ambassador 
to the Winnebagoes, from the record of whose pic- 
turesque advent in the "Jesuit Relations" the annals 
of the west really began) has been given to a path 
now grown into one of the most populous streets along 
the whole course of the Mississippi River — in Min- 
neapolis. 



TRAILS OF THE COUREURS DE BOIS 181 

And Du Lhut, the cousin of Tonty, a native of Lyons 
— a man of "persistent hardihood, not surpassed per- 
haps even by La Salle," says Parkman, "continually 
in the forest, in the Indian towns, or in the remote 
wilderness outposts planted by himself, exploring, 
trading, fighting, ruling lawless savages, and whites 
scarcely less ungovernable," 1 and crossing the ocean 
for interviews with the colonial minister, "amid the 
splendid vanities of Versailles" — he is remembered for 
all time in that city, built up against the far shores 
of Lake Superior, bearing his name, Duluth, the city 
that has taken the place of London in the list of the 
world's great harbors. Macaulay's vision of the New 
Zealander standing amid the ruins of London and 
overlooking the mastless Thames seems to have some 
realization in the succeeding of a city, founded in the 
path of a wood runner, out on the borders of civiliza- 
tion, to one of London's distinctions among the cities 
of the world. 

"This class of men is not extinct," said Parkman 
twenty or thirty years ago; "in the cheerless wilds be- 
yond the northern lakes, or among the solitudes of 
the distant west they may still be found, unchanged in 
life and character since the day when Louis the Great 
claimed sovereignty over the desert empire." 

But their mission, if any survive till now, is past. 
The paths, surveyed of the beasts and opened by these 
pioneers to the feet of priests, explorers, and traders, 
have let in the influences that in time destroyed all 
these forest lovers braved the solitude for. The 
trace has become the railroad, and the smell of the 
gasolene motor is even on the once wild Oregon trail; 

'Parkman, "La Salle," p. 274. 



1 82 THE FRENCH IN THE HEART OF AMERICA 

for, in general, it has been said of the forest part of 
the valley, "where there is a railway to-day there was 
a path a century and a quarter ago" (and that means 
longer ago); and it may be added that where there was 
a French trading-post, or fort, or portage, there is a 
city to-day, not because of the attraction of the popu- 
lations of those places for the prospecting railroad, but 
because of their natural highway advantage, learned 
even by the buffaloes. Not all paths have evolved 
into railroads, but the railroads have followed prac- 
tically all of these natural paths — paths of the coureurs 
de bois, instinctively searching for mountain passes, 
the low portages from valley to valley, the shortest 
ways and the easiest grades. 

One of America's greatest railroad presidents has 
noted this significant difference between the railroads 
of Europe and those of America, or at any rate of the 
Mississippi Valley. In Europe they "took the place 
of the pack-animal, the stage-coach, the goods-van that 
crowded all the highways between populous centers," 
whereas in the Mississippi Valley and beyond they 
succeeded the pioneer and pathfinder. The railroad 
outran the settler and "beckoned him on," just as the 
coureur de bois outran the slower-going migrant and 
beckoned him on to ever new frontiers. The buffalo, 
the coureur de bois, the engineer in turn. The rail- 
road, the more modern coureur de bois and coureur 
de planche, has not served the new-world society 
merely as a connecting-link between communities al- 
ready developed. It has been the "creator of cities." 1 

Out on those prairies beyond the forests I have seen 
this general statement of Mr. Hill's illustrated. Down 

1 James J. Hill, "Highways of Progress," pp. 235, 236. 



TRAILS OF THE COUREURS DE BOIS 183 

from Lake Michigan the first railroad crept toward 
the Mississippi along the Des Plaines and then the 
Illinois, where La Salle had seen from his canoe great 
herds of buffalo "trampling by in ponderous columns 
or filing in long lines morning, noon, and night." That 
railroad was a path, not to any particular city but to 
the water, a path from water to water, a long portage 
from the lake to the Mississippi and back again. 

One day, within my memory, a new path was marked 
by stakes that led away from that river, off across the 
prairie, to an uninhabited place which the first en- 
gineers had not known — a place of fire, the fields of 
coal, of which the practical Joliet had found signs on 
his memorable journey. And so one and another 
road crossed that prairie (on which I can even now 
clearly see the first engine standing in the prairie- 
grass), making toward the places of fire, of wood, of 
grain, of meat, of gold, of iron, of lead, till the whole 
prairie was a network of these paths — and now the 
"transportation machine" (as Mr. Hill calls it) has 
grown to two hundred and fifty-four thousand seven 
hundred and thirty-two miles (in 191 1), or about 40 
per cent of the world mileage, of which one hundred 
and forty thousand miles are within the Mississippi 
Valley, carrying with them wherever they go the 
telegraph and telephone wires, building villages, towns, 
and cities — still bringing the fashions of Paris, as did 
Perrot, in the paths of the buffalo. 

When the surveyors crossed that prairie, treeless 
except for the woods along the Aramoni River (just 
back of the Rock St. Louis) and along the Illinois 
River at the other edge, the wild animals and the In- 
dians had disappeared westward, the prairie ground 



1 84 THE FRENCH IN THE HEART OF AMERICA 

was broken and planted in patches; fences had begun 
to appear on the silent stretches; houses stood four 
to a section, with a one-room schoolhouse every two 
miles and churches at long intervals. After the 
construction train ploughed its slow way across that 
same prairie, in the trail staked by the surveyors, a 
place was marked for a village; the farmers upon whose 
land it promised to trespass wanted each to give it the 
name of his wife, his queen, as La Salle of his king; 
but one day a workman, representing the unsentimental 
corporation, without ceremony nailed a strip of board 
to a post, with the name " Aramoni," let us say, painted 
upon it. Wooden buildings, stores, elevators, black- 
smith, harness, and shoemaker shops, and the dwell- 
ings of those who did the work of the little town, 
gathered about; in time some of the pioneer settlers 
leaving their farms to the care of children or tenants 
moved into the town; the primitive stores were rebuilt 
in brick; houses of pretentious architecture crowded 
out of the best sites the first dwellings; and in twenty 
or thirty years it had become a village of several hun- 
dred people: retired farmers or their widows, men of 
the younger generation living on the income of their 
farms without more than nominal occupation, and 
those who buy the produce and minister to the wants 
of this little community. Most of the villagers and 
most of the farmers in all the country about have the 
telephone in their houses and can talk as much as they 
please with their neighbors at a very small yearly 
charge. They also keep track of the grain and stock 
markets by telephone, have their daily metropolitan 
paper, a county paper, monthly magazines (of which 
they are the best readers), perhaps a piano or an organ, 



TRAILS OF THE COUREURS DE BOIS 185 

more likely, now, a phonograph, which reproduces, if 
they choose, what is heard in Paris or in concerts or 
the grand opera; reproductions of pieces of statuary 
or paintings in the Louvre; and either a fast driving 
horse or an automobile. They are often within easy 
reach of a city by train, and the wives or daughters 
know the fashions of Paris and begin to follow the 
modes as quickly as local talent can make the adap- 
tations and transformations. 

Aramoni is not an imaginary much less a Utopian 
village. There are thousands of "Aramonis" where the 
railroads have gone, drawing all the physical conve- 
niences and social conventions after them, where once 
coureurs de bois followed the buffaloes. 

Mr. Hill, whom I have just quoted above, has said: 
"Next after the Christian religion and the public school 
the railroad has been the largest single contributing 
factor to the welfare and happiness of the people of 
that valley." 1 

The first great service of the railroads to the re- 
public, as such, was to make it possible that the people 
of a territory three thousand miles wide, crossed by 
two mountain ranges, should be bound into one re- 
public. The waters to the east of the Alleghanies ran 
toward the Atlantic, the waters west of the Rockies 
ran toward the Pacific, and the waters between the 
mountains ran to the Gulf of Mexico. If the great 
east-and-west railroads had not been built and some 
of the waters of the Lakes had not been made to run 
down the Mohawk Valley into the Hudson it is more 
than probable that there would have been a secession 
of the men who called themselves the "men of the 

'James J. Hill, "Highways of Progress," pp. 236, 237. 



1 86 THE FRENCH IN THE HEART OF AMERICA 

western waters," a secession of the west from the 
east, rather than of the south from the north. If the 
men of this valley had continued men of the "west- 
ern waters" there would probably have been at least 
three republics in North America and perhaps as 
many as in South America. 

When Josiah Quincy, a famous son of Massachu- 
setts, said for the men of the east in the halls of Con- 
gress, "You have no authority to throw the rights 
and liberties and property of this people into hotch- 
pot with the wild men on the Missouri, nor with the 
mixed though more respectable race of Anglo-Hispano- 
Gallo-Americans, who bask on the sands in the mouth 
of the Mississippi," he was visualizing the men whose 
interests followed the rivers to another tide-water 
than that of Boston and New York harbors. The 
railroads made a real prophecy of his fear that these 
men of the western rivers would some day be "man- 
aging the concerns of a seaboard fifteen hundred miles 
from their residences, and having a preponderance in 
the councils," into which, as he contended, "they should 
never have been admitted." 1 

He was thinking and speaking rather of the south- 
west than of the northwest, but it was the east-and- 
west lines of railroad that prevented the vital interest 
of that northern valley from flowing with the water 
along parallels of longitude to where the gulf cur- 
rents would catch its commerce, instead of over the 
mountains along the sterner parallels of latitude and in 
straighter course to Europe. 

The force of gravity, the temptation of the tropics, 

1 Speech on the bill to admit Orleans Territory into the Union. Annals of 
Congress, nth Cong., 3d Sess., 1810-n, pp. 524-542. 



TRAILS OF THE COUREURS DE BOIS 187 

the indifference of the east, the freedom from eastern 
and puritanical restraints, were all on the side of a "re- 
public of the western waters" and against that larger, 
continent-wide nationalism which now has its most 
ardent support in that valley through which the iron 
shuttles fly from sea to sea, weaving the waters as 
strands of color into a unified pattern of sublimer im- 
port. 

It looks now as if the north-and-south lines were 
to be strengthened the world over, as the occupied and 
exploited north temperate zone reaches north toward 
the frigid zone, now grown warmer by the very open- 
ing of the lands to the sun and the long burning of 
coal, and south toward the tropics, now made more 
habitable by the new knowledge of tropical medicine, 
and even across the tropics to the sister temperate zone 
of the southern hemisphere. 1 In the Mississippi Valley, 
the gulf ports, fed of river and railroad, are increas- 
ingly busy, partly, to be sure, because they look toward 
the east-and-west path through Panama, but partly, 
too, because they lie between the two temperate zones, 
which must inevitably be brought nearer to each other. 
We cannot imagine two permanently dissociated or dis- 
tantly associated temperate civilizations on this globe, 
which is becoming smaller every day. 

It was inevitable, perhaps, and happily inevitable, 
that the east-and-west lines should be well established 
before the temperate zone should venture into tropic 
lotus-lands again, and perhaps it was inevitable that 

1 1 have been told by one who has been studying conditions in the great 
northwest fields of Canada that it is now possible to grow crops there that 
could not have been grown before the country was opened and cultivated 
to the south of them, so much longer have the frosts been delayed in the 
autumn. 



1 88 THE FRENCH IN THE HEART OF AMERICA 

the west should eventually, even without the help of 
steam and steel, attach itself to the east — even by 
streams of water. 

Washington had hardly put off his uniform, after the 
peace of 1783, when he was planning for a western 
trip, and his diary on the third day of that trip of six 
hundred and eighty miles shows that his one object 
was to obtain information of the nearest and best 
communication between the eastern and the western 
waters. One of the kings of France said, when his 
grandson was made king of Spain, "There are no lon- 
ger any Pyrenees," and Washington, when he saw the 
new republic forming, said, in effect, "There must be 
no Alleghanies." He expected a canal to erase the 
mountains, but the railroad accomplished this gigantic 
task with but slight aid of water. 

And as the railroad tied the Mississippi Valley to 
the Atlantic coast, so in time, aided of a government 
that had every reason to be grateful, it reached across 
the uninhabited plains, over the Rocky Mountains, 
which even the western statesmen said were the 
divinely appointed barriers, and across the desert 
beyond to the Pacific slope and tied it to a capital 
which is now nearer to San Francisco than once it 
was to Boston. A man from Missouri is speaker of 
the house in which Josiah Quincy spoke his provincial 
fears. A man from the mouth of the Mississippi, the 
highest authority in America on the French code, was 
but a little time ago appointed as the chief justice of 
the Supreme Court of the United States by a Presi- 
dent who was born on the banks of the Ohio; that is, 
the highest office in each of the three independent 
branches of government (the executive, the legislative, 



TRAILS OF THE COUREURS DE BOIS 189 

and the judicial) have at one time been filled by men 
of the western waters. I am anticipating a fact that 
belongs to a later theme, but there is no single fact that 
can better illustrate the political service of the paths 
over which we are to-day travelling. 

On the economic consequences we need not now 
dwell. They have had too frequent and sufficiently 
conspicuous illustration in every foreign mind that 
knows anything whatever of that valley to make it 
necessary to insist in this cursory view upon their 
great contribution to physical comfort. It is, how- 
ever, begun to be felt that in the rapid development 
and exploitation of the resources of that valley (made 
possible only by the railroads) the future has not been 
enough in our minds. It was said a few years ago 
that there was not money enough in the world to lay 
track to take the traffic that the Mississippi Basin 
offered. The valley wanted to get everything to mar- 
ket in one generation, indifferent to the fate of those 
who should come after — the passes through the moun- 
tains being choked by cars carrying to the coasts crops 
from increasing acreage of declining productivity or 
the products of swiftly disappearing forests or the out- 
put of mines that must soon be exhausted. 

Perhaps the railroads are not to be blamed for this 
decrease in productivity — a passing phase of our agri- 
cultural life, as recent crop reports show. They are 
very loudly blamed that they do not carry these prod- 
ucts fast enough or cheaply enough, though, accord- 
ing to a recent authority, their rates are less on the 
average than the cost of the French water traffic. 

Nevertheless, their wheels alone have made possible 
that phenomenal draining of the riches of the land to 



190 THE FRENCH IN THE HEART OF AMERICA 

the coasts and other shores, assisting the waters that 
carry a half-billion tons of soil into the gulf every year. 
Perhaps this hurried, panting development has been 
for the good of all time, but until recently there has 
been little or no thought of that "all time" (as we 
observed in the policies of land parcelling). 

Practically the whole western country has tied itself 
to a wheel, and so whatever its happiness and welfare 
may be, come of or with the wheel. This territory is 
capable of self-support; it has still its independent 
spirit, bred of the pioneer who lived before the day of 
wheels; it is responsive to appeals that stop its rest- 
less movement — as the wheel of Ixion when Orpheus 
played; but none the less is it an eager, restless, un- 
quiet life, driven as a wheel, driven by the same hand 
that urged it into the valley. 

No one asks — or few ask — if the wheel brings good 
or ill. The only concern is that it shall run as quickly 
and safely as is humanly and mechanically possible 
and shall not discriminate between one shipper and 
another, one community and another, one consumer 
and another. That is the railroad problem. The 
wheel has removed watersheds at pleasure, created 
cities and fortunes by its presence or its taking thought. 
But under the new policy of the government it is not 
likely that there will ever again be such ruthless dis- 
turbance of nature, or such wild, profuse creation. 
Democracy, beginning in that valley, is seeking now a 
perfect impersonal transportation machine. 

But such a machine will drain quite as effectively 
the country districts. The census returns for 1910 
show, for example, that in one prosperous agricultural 
State, Missouri, just west of the Mississippi, while the 



TRAILS OF THE COUREURS DE BOIS 191 

State as a whole showed an increase of 187,00x3 in ten 
years, there was a net decrease of 84,000 in the rural 
districts. A partial explanation of the latter statistic 
is the moving on of farmers to still newer lands; an- 
other, the decline in the size of families; but it is at- 
tributable chiefly to the first statistic, the drift to the 
city — and to this the wheels contribute more than any 
other influence, carrying, as they do, the glamour or 
the opportunity of the city life daily before the eyes of 
the country boy. 

To be sure, these same wheels are lessening, to some 
extent, the congestion of the great centres of popula- 
tion, and lightening their shadows by extending them 
— spreading them — but none the less are the shadows 
spreading faster from the coming of the country to the 
city than of the suburbanizing of the city. 

This movement is not peculiar to the Mississippi 
Valley, but it is more rapid there, perhaps, than in any 
other great area. 

Let me give you an illustration of that demigrating 
influence. Two years ago I invited several leaders of 
great transportation and educational interests in New 
York to meet one of their number who, beginning life 
as a telegraph operator out beyond the Mississippi, 
was at the head of one of the two greatest railroads in 
the east. Of the guests, one, the president of another 
important railroad, was once a farm boy, then a freight 
brakeman in that same western State; another, the 
president of one of the longest railroads, was the son 
of a stone-mason out in that valley; another, the head 
of the Interborough system of New York, also a prairie- 
born boy; another, president of the greatest southern 
railroad, was born at the mouth of the Mississippi; 



192 THE FRENCH IN THE HEART OF AMERICA 

and still another, one of the wealthiest men in the 
world, was at one time a messenger boy and tele- 
graph operator just over the mountains on the site 
of Fort Duquesne. Only one man of the company of 
nearly twenty men, assembled without thought of 
origin, had been born in New York. All had come 
from the country or from across the water, and most 
of them from the great Mississippi Valley. I speak 
of this while discussing the railroad, because it is their 
paths through the valley of the French that have made 
this phenomenon possible. 

I have spoken of what the wheel has done in making 
the permanence of one republic of such an area a pos- 
sibility. Nothing save a loose, heterogeneous confeder- 
ation could have been practicable without its unifying 
service. It is only fair to those who made such gloomy 
prophecies in the early days to say that they had no 
intimation of what steam was destined to do. When 
Robert Fulton, the inventor of the steamboat, early in 
the nineteenth century, on a journey back from the 
west in a stage-coach, said that some day steam would 
drive wagons faster than they were going in the coach, 
his fellow passengers thought him a dreamer — a vision- 
ary. But it was only a man of such dreams or visions 
who in those days could have seen the possibility 
which has to-day been realized through the railroad. 

I have spoken of the part which the steam wheel has 
had in the rapid development and the exploitation of 
that great valley which, except for its pioneering in 
wild places, might have been seven hundred years, as 
Andrew Johnson predicted, in rilling up, or at least 
two or three centuries. 

I have intimated its influence in promoting migra- 



TRAILS OF THE COUREURS DE BOIS 193 

tion cityward — a movement as wide as European civ- 
ilization — but intensified there, where the inhabitants 
have not been tied through generations of inheritance 
or historic associations to particular fields, where primo- 
geniture has no observance, and where the traditions 
are of the wilderness and the visions are ever of a 
promised land beyond. The city is on every boy's 
horizon. Its glow is in every prairie sky at twilight. 

When a boy on those silent plains I had my Horace 
and my Euripides in the field. The unattainable 
eternal cities lent their charm and glory to the valley 
whose childhood horizon I had not crossed. But now 
no country boy thinks of the ancient or the mediaeval. 
It is the nearer city and civilization that impress the 
imagination. The valedictorian of a class, graduat- 
ing as I entered college, told me a few months ago 
that he was building a trolley-line in Rome, and that, 
after all, Falernian wine, of which we who had never 
tasted wine out in that vineless region thought as some 
drink of the gods, was very bitter. 

I have hinted at what the wheel has done, in what it 
carries, to make all look alike and think alike and act 
alike, but there is one supreme service that must have 
mention. In that country when travel was slow we 
had a representative government. But while we still 
have the same form, the wheel has made possible, and 
so necessary, a more democratic government. When a 
representative was weeks in reaching the capital he 
acted on his own responsibility in larger measure than 
now, when his constituency can reach him every morn- 
ing. The valley is reached every day, just as the 
people in a pure democracy were reached by the an- 
cient stentor. The people are reserving to themselves 



194 THE FRENCH IN THE HEART OF AMERICA 

more and more of the function of their one-time rep- 
resentatives, in such measures as the referendum 
and initiative intimate, and are trying to secure more 
accurate representation in such systems as the direct 
primary and proportional representation suggest; but 
these all are possible only through the aid of the wheel 
and of what it has brought. If the improvement of 
democracy is to come through more democracy, as 
some think, then the railroad is an essential agent of 
political progress as well as of economic exploitation 
and social homogeneity. I am not discussing this 
thesis but simply showing how dependent upon this 
physical agent is the machinery of democracy. 

Moreover, mobility is almost an essential quality 
of the spirit of democracy, the free way to the farthest 
horizons, the open road to the highest position and 
service. When the atom becomes practically fixed by 
its environment, reposeful and stable, stratification 
sets in. We may or we may not have then something 
better. 

It may seem to you a far cry from those rough, law- 
less coureurs de bois to the mobile but orderly people 
of that valley to-day. But after an experience of a 
few summers ago the distance does not seem so great. 

Here is a journal of three days: 

In the morning of an August day I was gathering 
some last data from the library of one of the greatest, 
though one of the newest, universities in the world 
— a two-hours' journey from where the coureur de bois 
Jean Nicolet, in robe of damask, first looked over the 
edge of the basin. (Not many years ago I sat there in 
an assembly of learned men gathered from the ends of 
the earth and arrayed in academic robes.) In the after- 



TRAILS OF THE COUREURS DE BOIS 195 

noon I walked over that first and most famous of the 
French portages, but not content with that, I walked 
on into the night along the Wisconsin, that I might 
see the river as the explorers saw it. However, at mid- 
night I took a palace car, with such conveniences as 
even Louis the Great did not have at Versailles, and 
woke well up the Mississippi. I spent the day at 
another great State university and at dusk set off by 
the actual trails of the French coureurs de bois (only 
by wheels instead of on foot), first through the woods 
and along rivers, above Green Bay to the "Soo," then 
above Lake Huron and the Nipissing and down the 
Ottawa River, where I saw the second day break, and 
then on past La Salle's seigniory of St. Sulpice, around 
Cartier's mountain into Montreal, and thence to the 
Rock of Quebec. 

It is a common, unimaginative metaphor in the 
United States to call the engine which leads the mighty 
trains across the country the iron horse; but it is de- 
serving of a nobler figure. It is the iron coureur de 
bois, still leading Europe into America, and America 
into a newer America. 



CHAPTER X 
IN THE WAKE OF THE "GRIFFIN" 

IN the lower St. Lawrence Valley, among the 
French Canadians, where France is best remem- 
bered and where the shut-in life is not disturbed 
by current events or changing conventions or evanes- 
cent fashions, I am told there are traces in their lan- 
guage of the sea life of their ancestors on the coasts 
of Brittany and Normandy. When, for example, a 
neighbor approaches a farmhouse on horseback he 
is asked not to "alight" or to "dismount" but to 
"disembark," and he is invited not to "tie" his horse 
but to "moor" it. It is as if they were still crying 
ever in their unconscious memories, "Thalassa, Tha- 
lassa"; as if the very shells of speech still carried the 
roar of the ocean which they who hold them to their 
ears have never seen. 

If the language of the upper valley of the St. Law- 
rence and of the valley of the Mississippi remembered 
as distinctly its origin we should everywhere hear the 
plash of the oar in all the hospitality of their settle- 
ments. But all such traces have disappeared, or all 
but disappeared, in the Mississippi Valley. The only 
one that comes to me now, as possibly of the old French 
days, is one which is preserved in an adage not at all 
French but quite characteristic of the independent 
life that has occupied the banks of all the rivers: 

196 



IN THE WAKE OF THE "GRIFFIN" 197 
• 
"Paddle your own canoe." Yet even in the space of 
one or two generations of agricultural life that, too, is 
disappearing, supplanted by a synonymous phrase, 
borrowed of fields that have entirely forgotten the 
primitive days, when men travelled only by water and 
lived near the streams: "Hoe your own row." 

The first sound of the overmountain migration of 
which I spoke above was of the stealthy step of the 
hunter, yet back of that for a century was the scarcely 
audible plash of the paddle and the answering swirl 
of the water. But as in overmountain migration the 
noisy wheel soon followed the foot, so in the other the 
noiseless sail followed the swishing paddle. 

The city of Paris bears a sailing ship upon her shield, 
though she sits a hundred miles or more from the sea. 
Whatever the significance of that symbol has been 
to the people of France, it has a peculiar appropriate- 
ness (probably never realized before) in the fact that 
the iron, cordage, and anchors for the first vessel 
which sailed upon the inland waters of the new world 
were carried out from France to the first shipyard, 
beyond the mountains, in the midst of the forest, above 
the mighty Falls of Niagara. 

Jason of Thessaly, sailing for the Golden Fleece in 
Colchis, and braving the fiery breath of the dragon, 
did not undertake a more perilous or more difficult 
labor than he who bore from the banks of the Seine 
the equipment of a vessel in which to bring back to 
France, as he hoped, the fleece of the forest and the 
plain. 

We are accustomed to call those who crossed the 
plains and the Rocky Mountains for the gold-fields of 
California nearly two centuries later (in 1849) the 



198 THE FRENCH IN THE HEART OF AMERICA 

Argonautae; but the first American Argonauts went 
from France, and they built their Argo on what is 
now Lake Erie, on the edge of the Field of the Bulls, 
near a place, grown into a beautiful city, which now 
bears the very name of the wild bull, the "buffalo," 
and within sound of the roaring of the dragon that had 
frightened all earlier explorers. So accurately do the 
details of the story of Jason's adventure become real- 
ities to-day! Champlain and others had heard only 
at a distance the thunder of the great cataract that 
was some day to become not only as docile as the 
dragon under Jason's taming but as useful as a million 
harnessed bulls. 

La Salle gathered his ship-carpenters and his ship 
furniture between his journeys to Rouen (the place of 
his birth) and elsewhere for the means of purchase. 
But before the winter had come in Normandy his mes- 
sengers were out amid the snows and naked forests of 
Canadian winters in continuance of that voyage toward 
the western Colchis. 

In the autumn of 1678 a Franciscan friar, Hennepin, 
set out with two canoemen, the first solitary figures of 
the expedition — a gray priest from the gray Rock of 
Quebec, in a birch canoe, carrying with him the "fur- 
niture of a portable altar" — a priest who professed a 
zeal for souls, but who admitted a passion for travel 
and a burning desire to visit strange lands. He re- 
lates of himself that, being sent from a convent in 
Artois to Calais at the season of herring fishing, he 
made friends of the sailors and never tired of their 
stories. "Often," he says, "I hid myself behind 
tavern doors while the sailors were telling of their 
voyages. The tobacco smoke made me very sick at 



IN THE WAKE OF THE "GRIFFIN" 199 

the stomach, but nevertheless I listened attentively. 
... I could have passed whole days and nights in 
this way without eating." 1 

Along the way up the St. Lawrence he stopped to 
minister to the habitants — too few and too poor to 
support a priest — saying mass, exhorting, and baptiz- 
ing. Early in November he arrived at the mission of 
Fort Frontenac, which he had two or three years be- 
fore helped to establish in the wilds. Soon La Salle's 
lieutenants, La Motte and Tonty, appeared with most 
of the men, and while some were despatched in canoes 
to Lake Michigan to gather the buffalo-hides and 
beaver-skins against the coming of the ship, whose 
keel had not yet been laid, the rest (La Motte, Henne- 
pin, and sixteen men) embarked for the Niagara River, 
by which the upper lakes empty into Lake Ontario 
and the St. Lawrence. After a tempestuous voyage 
up and across the lake they reached this river, whose 
torrent fury, gathered of "four inland oceans," stopped 
even the canoes. Then, led of the priest, they toiled 
up the cliffs called the "Three Mountains," because, I 
suppose, of the three terraces. (Having climbed up 
the face of the cliffs in winter, with a heavy camera 
for my portable altar, and having broken the great 
icicles formed by the trickling stream over one of the 
terraces, in order to make my way across a narrow 
ledge to the top of the precipice, I am able to know 
what the journey must have meant to those first 
European travellers.) Once upon the upper plateau, 
they marched through the wintry forest and at length, 
in "solitude unprofaned as yet by the pettiness of 

1 Parkman, "La Salle," p. 133. Hennepin, "A New Discovery of a 
Large Country in America," ed. Thwaites, I : 30. 



200 THE FRENCH IN THE HEART OF AMERICA 

man," they beheld the "imperial cataract" — the 
"thunder of water," as the Indians called it — or, as 
Hennepin described it, that "vast and prodigious 
cadence of water which falls down after a surprising 
and most astonishing manner, insomuch that the uni- 
verse does not afford its parallel, those of Italy and 
Switzerland being but sorry patterns." To this priest, 
Hennepin, we owe the first description and picture of 
Niagara, 1 probably now more familiar to the world 
than any other natural feature of this continent. He 
has somewhat magnified the height of these falls, 
making it five hundred feet in the edition of 1683, and 
raising it to six hundred in 1697; but they are impres- 
sive enough to acquit him of intentional falsification 
and powerful enough to run virtually all the manu- 
facturing plants in the United States, if they could be 
gathered within its easy reach. 

As it is, less than 9 per cent of the water that over- 
flows from the four upper Great Lakes into the lower 
lake, once known as Lake Frontenac and now as On- 
tario, is diverted for utilitarian purposes; it supplies 
the Americans and the Canadians almost equally be- 
tween the two shores five hundred thousand horse- 



1 "Four leagues from Lake Frontenac there is an incredible Cataract or 
Waterfall, which has no equal. The Niagara river near this place is only 
the eighth of a league wide, but it is very deep in places, and so rapid above 
the great fall that it hurries down all the animals which try to cross it, 
without a single one being able to withstand its current. They plunge 
down a height of more than five hundred feet, and its fall is composed of 
two sheets of water and a cascade, with an island sloping down. In the 
middle these waters foam and boil in a fearful manner. 

"They thunder continually, and when the wind blows in a southerly 
direction the noise which they make is heard for more than fifteen leagues. 
Four leagues from this cataract, or fall, the Niagara river rushes with extraor- 
dinary rapidity especially for two leagues into Lake Frontenac." — Hennepin, 
"Description of Louisiana," pp. 71-73. 



IN THE WAKE OF THE "GRIFFIN" 201 

power. 1 What the conversion of the strength of this 
Titan (for ages entirely wasted and for a century after 
Hennepin only a scenic wonder) means, or may mean, 
to industry in the future is intimated in some statistics, 
furnished by a recent writer on the Great Lakes, show- 
ing the relative cost per month of a certain unit of 
power in a number of representative American cities. 2 

Boston #937-50 

Philadelphia 839.25 

New York 699.37 

Chicago 629.43 

Cleveland 559-5° 

Pittsburgh 419.62 

Buffalo 184.91 

Niagara Falls I44 J 7 

These figures are more significant as one contem- 
plates the diminishing supply of coal in coming cen- 
turies, if not decades. According to the estimate of a 
reliable authority the available and accessible coal sup- 

1 "Under a treaty between the United States and the British Govern- 
ment only about 25 per cent of the theoretical horsepower of Niagara Falls 
can be developed. The estimate of the minimum amount of power that 
can be developed on the Niagara River above and including the Falls is 
5,800,000 h.p., and the assumed maximum is 6,500,000 h.p. The treaty, 
therefore, limits present possible minimum development on both sides of 
the Falls to 1,450,000 h.p. Under the treaty only five- fourteenths of the 
power made available thereby belongs to the United States, its share being 
reduced by the diversion of water from Lake Michigan into the Drainage 
Canal at Chicago. There is thus left at Niagara Falls only about 518,000 
h.p. that can at present be developed on the American side." About one- 
half of this total is now developed. — United States Commissioner of Corpo- 
rations. Report on water-power development in the United States. 191 2. 

2 "Assuming the maximum power used to be one hundred horse-power, 
the number of working hours a day to be ten, and the 'load factor,' or 
average power actually used, to be seventy-five per cent of the total one 
hundred, the cost per month in the cities named is as [above]." — Curwood, 
"The Great Lakes," p. 135. 



202 THE FRENCH IN THE HEART OF AMERICA 

ply of the United States will be exhausted at the pres- 
ent rate of exploitation by the year 2027, and the 
entire supply by the year 2050. 

Such statistics intimate the advantage possessed, per- 
haps beyond any other site in America, by the strip 
of shore on which La Salle's men, from the banks of 
the Seine, and Hennepin, the priest from Calais, that 
December night in 1678 encamped, building their 
bivouac fires amid the snows, three miles above the 
falls — and so opening to the view of the world a nat- 
ural source of power and wealth more valuable than 
extensive coal-fields or rich mines of gold or silver. 

It was but a great waterfall to La Salle and Tonty 
and Hennepin — an impeding, noisy, hostile object. 
And to the half-mutinous, quarrelsome workmen 
(French, Flemings, Italians) it was a demon, no doubt, 
whose very breath froze their beards into icicles. It 
was, in reality, potentially the most beneficent single, 
incarnate force bounded by any one horizon of sky, 
in that new world, developed by the tipping of the 
continent a little to the eastward after the upper lakes 
had been formed and the consequent emptying of their 
waters into the St. Lawrence instead of the Gulf of 
Mexico. 

In January, 1679, a n ^ e °f burdened men, some 
thirty in number, toiling slowly on their way over the 
snowy plains and "through the gloomy forests of 
spruce and naked oak trees," the priest accompany- 
ing with his altar lashed to his back, reached a favor- 
able spot beside calm water several miles above the 
cataract: the site is identified as situate a little way 
above the mouth of Cayuga Creek, just outside the 
village of La Salle, in the State of New York. There 



IN THE WAKE OF THE "GRIFFIN" 203 

is a stone erected by the local historical society to 
mark the spot. When I saw the bronze tablet the 
inscription was almost illegible, covered, as it was, with 
ice and the snow that was at that very hour falling 
upon it. 

There, began the felling and hewing of trees that were 
to touch the farther shores of Michigan. The supplies 
brought out from Paris had been lost by the wreck of 
La Salle's smaller vessel on the way up Ontario, but 
enough was saved, or brought by La Salle on his re- 
turn from Fort Frontenac, to give this sixty-ton vessel 
full equipment, for in the spring she was launched. 
The "friar pronounced his blessing on her; the as- 
sembled company sang Te Deum; cannon were fired; 
and French and Indians . . . shouted and yelped in 
chorus as she glided into Niagara." She carried five 
cannon and on her prow was carved such a "portentous 
monster" as doubtless is to be found among the gro- 
tesques of Notre Dame — a griffin (that is, a beast with 
the body of a lion and the head, beak, and pinions of 
a bird), in honor of the armorial bearings of Count 
Frontenac. 

Through spring and half the summer the vessel lay 
moored beyond reach of the Indians but near enough 
so that Hennepin "could preach on Sundays from the 
deck to the men encamped along the bank." When 
La Salle, who had been obliged by disasters to go back 
to Fort Frontenac during the building of the ship, 
again appeared above the falls in midsummer, the 
Griffin was warped up into the placid lake, and on the 
7th of August anchor was lifted and the fateful voyage 
was begun. 

There was (as when the Argo, the "first bold vessel, 



204 THE FRENCH IN THE HEART OF AMERICA 

dared the seas") no Orpheus standing "high on the 
stern" and "raising his entrancing strain." Nor did 
a throng of proud Thessalians or of "transported demi- 
gods" stand round to cheer them off. The naked In- 
dians, their hands over their mouths in wonderment 
or shouting, "Gannorom ! Gannorom !" alone saw the 
great boat move out over the waters without oar or 
paddle or towing rope. For music there was only the 
Te Deum again, sung by raw, unpractised voices, such 
as one might hear among the boatmen of the Seine. 
It was not such music, at any rate, as that of Orpheus, 
to make plain men grow "heroes at the sound." 
Doubtless no one felt himself a hero. The only in- 
timation of any consciousness of a high mission comes 
from Hennepin, who, when the Griffin, some days 
later, was ploughing peacefully through the straits that 
led to the Mer Douce — "verdant prairies, dotted with 
groves and bordered with lofty forests" on either side, 
"herds of deer and flocks of swans and wild turkeys" 
within sight, and the "bulwarks plentifully hung with 
game" — wrote: "Those who will one day have the 
happiness to possess this fertile and pleasant strait, 
will be very much obliged to those who have shown 
them the way." 

"Very much obliged"? No, Hennepin! Of the 
hundreds of thousands who now pass through or across 
those straits every year, or of those thousands who 
possess its shores, not a hundred, I venture to say, re- 
member "those who showed the way" ! They have 
even forgotten "that the first European voice that 
Niagara ever heard was French"! Ste. Claire! — the 
name you gave to the beautiful strait beyond the 
"Symplegades" of your voyage, in gratitude and in 



IN THE WAKE OF THE "GRIFFIN" 205 

honor of the day on which your company reached it — 
has become masculine in tribute to an American gen- 
eral. If your later praying to that patron of seamen, 
St. Anthony of Padua, had not availed to save you 
from the peril of the storm and you had gone to death 
in unsalted water, you could hardly have been more 
completely forgotten. One has spoken now and then 
lightly of the vow made by your commander, La Salle, 
to build a grateful chapel to St. Anthony if your lives 
were saved during that storm, forgetting that so long 
as the Mississippi runs to the sea there will be a chapel 
to St. Anthony (St. Anthony's Falls) in which grati- 
tude will be continually chanted through ages for the 
preservation of the ship and its crew to find haven in 
quiet waters behind Point St. Ignace. 

It was there, at St. Ignace that we have seen La 
Salle, in scarlet, kneeling before the altar, where Mar- 
quette's bones were doubtless by that time gathered 
by his devoted savage followers, and it was thence that 
they passed on to an island in Green Bay, the goal of 
their journey. 

From that far port the first cargo carried of sails 
was sent out, bound for the shore on which the Griffin s 
timbers had been hewn. That it never reached harbor 
of that calm shelter, or any other, we know; but that 
loss, once the path was traced in the waters, is hardly 
of consequence save as it helped further to illustrate 
the indomitable spirit of La Salle and his companions. 

What good came to Thessaly or Greece of the yellow 
peltry that Jason brought back is not even kept in 
myth or fable. The mere adventure was the all. 
They did not even think of its worth. The goatskin 
was valueless except as a proof or token, and the 



206 THE FRENCH IN THE HEART OF AMERICA 

boat Argo, though the greatest ship known to the 
early myths of Greece, and though dedicated, we are 
told, to Neptune at the end of the voyage, became the 
pioneer of no such mighty fleet as did the Griffin. The 
list of the Greek ships and commanders in the Iliad 
offers but a pygmy analogy. And if you were to go to 
Buffalo to-day, near the site of that first shipyard (a 
little farther away from the falls), you would know that 
the successors of La Salle in new Griffins had actually 
brought back the golden fleece — the priceless fleece, 
the fleece of the plains if not of the forests. Day after 
day its gold is hung against the sky as the grain is 
lifted from the ships into elevators which can store at 
one time twenty-three million bushels of wheat. 

The coasts of the lakes up which the Griffin led the 
oarless way are three thousand three hundred and 
eighty-five miles in length, or, including those of the 
lower lake, Frontenac, which was also first touched of 
French keels, over four thousand miles. The statistics 
of the traffic which has grown in the furrow of that 
wind-drawn plough would be fatiguing if they did not 
carry you to heights of a wider and more exhilarating 
view. 

We have occupied and apportioned the billion acres 
of French domain among sixty million people. Here 
is an added domain in which no landmarks can be set 
— which belongs to all men. 

These are a few graphic facts gathered from recent 
reports and books about the Great Lakes: 1 

Nearly as many people live in States that have 

1 Edward Channing and M. F. Lansing, "The Story of the Great Lakes." 
Macmillan, New York, 1909. James O. Curwood, "The Great Lakes." 
Putnam, New York, 1909. James C. Mills, "Our Inland Seas." McClurg, 
Chicago, 1910. 



IN THE WAKE OF THE "GRIFFIN" 207 

ports upon those shores as in France to-day — between 
thirty-five and forty millions. 

The lakes have a tonnage equal to one-third of the 
total tonnage of North America. 1 

They have made possible a saving in cost of trans- 
portation (and so of production) of several hundred 
million dollars in a single year. 2 

Only ninety million dollars have been spent by the 
government for their improvement in the whole his- 
tory of their occupation, above Niagara Falls, 3 while 
France in that time has spent for harbors and water- 
ways alone seven hundred and fifty million dollars. 4 
They have been privately developed. 

Six times as much freight passes over these lakes 
as through the Suez Canal in a year. 5 

Three thousand five hundred vessels and more than 
twenty-five thousand men are required to move the 
hundred million tons of freight which every year would 
fill a train encircling the globe. 6 

If one were to stand on the shore of that "charming 
strait," between Erie and Huron, the Detroit River 
(which Hennepin so covetously describes, wishing to 
make settlement there, until La Salle reminded him 
of his "professed passion for exploring a new country"), 
one would now see a vessel passing one way or the 

1 Curwood, "The Great Lakes," p. 4. "In 1913 the total tonnage of the 
Great Lakes was 2,940,000 tons, of the United States 7,887,000 tons." — Re- 
port United States Commission of Navigation. 

2 Curwood, "The Great Lakes," p. 4. 

3 Curwood, "The Great Lakes," p. 9. 

* "Four hundred and fifty million dollars of this total has been for the 
improvement and maintenance of the waterways." — Report of National 
Waterways Commission, p. 507. 

5 Curwood, "The Great Lakes," p. 6. 

4 Curwood, "The Great Lakes," pp. 25, 26, and Report of United States 
Commission of Navigation, 191 3. 



208 THE FRENCH IN THE HEART OF AMERICA 

other every twelve minutes, on the average, day and 
night during the eight months of open navigation. 

Nor are they small sailing vessels of a few tons' 
burden, but great sailless, steam-propelled hulks, 
carrying from five to ten thousand tons. 

So it is no fleet of graceful galleons — half bird, half 
lion, as the Griffin was — that have followed in her 
wake up what Hennepin called "the vast and unknown 
seas of which even the savages knew not the end." 
They have, in the evolution of nautical zoology, lost 
beak, wings, and feathers, and now like a shoal of wet 
lions, tawny and black, their powerful heads and long 
steel backs just visible above the blue water, they 
course the western Mediterranean from spring to 
winter. 1 

The ships of the lion brood are, some of them, five 
or six hundred feet in length, and carry eleven thou- 
sand tons of cargo. I have seen the skeleton of one of 
these iron-boned beasts, and I have been told that 
eight hundred thousand rivets go into its creation. 
And upon hearing this I could not but hear the deaf- 
ening clamor caused by La Salle's driving the first nail 
or bolt, Father Hennepin declining the honor because 
of the "modesty of [his] religious profession." 

As to the cargoes that these ships bring back, the 
story is even more marvellous. First in quantity is 

*It is an intruding and probably whimsical, but fascinating, thought 
that the wings of the griffin have become evolved into the air-ships which 
first began successfully to fly, in America, near the shores of the lake on 
which the Griffin itself was hatched. The Wright brothers were born near 
one of those lakes. It is not a far-fetched or labored thought which pictures 
that simple, rough-made galleon — very like the model of the ship on the 
shield of Paris — as leading two broods across the valley above the Falls, 
one of lions that cannot fly and one of sea-birds, hydroplanes, whose paths 
are the air, but whose resting-places are the calm water; the brood of the 
sea and the brood of the sky, hatched from one nest at the water's edge. 



IN THE WAKE OF THE "GRIFFIN" 209 

iron ore, forty-seven million four hundred and thirty- 
five thousand seven hundred and seventy-one tons in 
191 2 1 from the shores of Superior, where Joliet had 
made search for copper mines, where Father Allouez 
— in the midst of reports of baptisms and masses — 
tells of nuggets and rocks of the precious metal, and 
where has grown up in a few years the "second greatest 
freight-shipping port on earth" — a port that bears the 
name of that famous French coureur de bois, Du Lhut. 
Forty-seven millions of tons, and there are still a bil- 
lion and a half in sight on those shores, which have al- 
ready given to the ships hundreds of millions of their 
dark treasure. 

After the ore, lumber, one billion one hundred and 
sixty-five million feet 2 in one year (191 1); a waning 
amount from the vanishing forests that once completely 
encircled these lakes. Alexander Pope, whose "Ode 
on St. Cecilia's Day" I have quoted (and would there 
were a Homer, Pope, or Kipling to sing this true 
legend), speaks of Argo seeing "her kindred trees 
descend from Pelion to the Main " — from the mountain 
to the sea, where Jason's boat was launched. So, with 
the departure of the Griffin from her Green Bay Island, 
might a prophetic poet have seen her masts beckoning 
all the kindred trees to the water, in which one hun- 
dred and sixty billion feet of pine have descended from 
the forests of Michigan alone, 3 and that is but one of 
the circling States. And there is this singular fact to 
be added, that nearly a third of the annual cargo goes 
to the "Tonawandas," 4 the "greatest lumber towns" 

1 "Mineral Industry," 21 : 455. 

2 Monthly Summary of Internal Commerce of the United States, Decem- 
ber, 191 1. 

3 Curwood, "The Great Lakes," p. 57. 

4 Curwood, "The Great Lakes," p. 54. 



210 THE FRENCH IN THE HEART OF AMERICA 

in the world that have grown up practically on the 
very site of the shipyard at the mouth of Cayuga 
Creek, a little way above the falls. 

And after the ore and lumber, grain — the fleece of 
the fields, immensely more valuable than that of the 
forests; one hundred and fifty million bushels in one 
year and eleven million barrels of flour — a fortnight's 
bread supply for the entire world. 1 

And after ore and lumber and grain, fuel and other 
bulky necessities of life. 

The casual relation between the pioneer building 
and journey of the Griffin and these statistics cannot, 
of course, be established, but what no inspired human 
prophecy could have divined, or even the wildest 
dreaming of La Salle have imagined, is as sequential 
as the history that has been made to trace all new- 
world development in the wake of the caravels of 
Columbus. The storms of nature and the jealousies 
in human breasts thwarted La Salle's immediate am- 
bitions, but what has come into that northern valley 
has followed closely in the path of his purposes, the 
path traced by his ship built of the trees of Niagara 
and furnished by the chandleries of Paris. 

The mystery of the vanishing of this pioneer vessel 
only enhances the glory of its venture and service — as 
its loss but gave new foil to the hardihood of La Salle 
and Tonty. We can imagine the golden-brown skins 
scattered over the blue waters as the bits of the body 
of the son of the king of Colchis strewn by Medea to 
detain the pursuers of the Argonauts. It was the first 
sacrifice to the valley for the fleece. In the depths of 
these Lakes or on their shores were buried the bones of 

1 Curwood, "The Great Lakes," p. 49. 



IN THE WAKE OF THE "GRIFFIN" 211 

these French manners who, first of Europeans, trusted 
themselves to sails and west winds on those uncharted 
seas. 

But this is not the all of the tragic story. The Griffin 
carried in her the prophecies of other than lake ves- 
sels. She had in her hold on that fateful trip the 
cordage and iron for the pioneer of the river ships. 
So when she went down she spoke to the waters that 
engulfed her the two dreams of her builder and com- 
mander: one dream the navigation of the lakes and 
the other the coursing of the western rivers. 

The Spanish council which decreed long ago that 
"if it had pleased God that . . . rivers should have 
been navigable, He would not have wanted human as- 
sistance to make them such" would be horrified by the 
sacrilege that has been committed and is being con- 
templated by the followers of the men of the Griffin. 

They have made a canal around the Falls (which 
Hennepin first saw breathing a cloud of mist over the 
great abyss) — a canal that, supplemented by other 
canals along the St. Lawrence River, allows vessels of 
fourteen-foot draught to go from Lake Erie to Montreal 
and so on to the sea. If this achievement were put 
into the poetry of legend it would show the outwitting 
of the dragon. 

They have deepened the straits where the Griffin 
had to wait for favorable breezes and soundings to pass 
from Erie to Huron — the Symplegades (clashing rocks) 
of the new-world voyage. 

They have made canals on either side of the Sault 
Ste. Marie — the rapids of the St. Mary's River, by 
the side of which St. Lusson took formal possession of 
all that northern empire and Father Allouez made his 



212 THE FRENCH IN THE HEART OF AMERICA 

extraordinary address — canals through which sixty-two 
million tons passed in 1910 toward the east and south. 

They have made and deepened harbors all the way 
around the shores till ships two hundred times the size 
of the Griffin can ride in them. 

Yet this is not all. The symbols of La Salle's vision 
revived in the lakes memories of the days when their 
waters ran through the Mississippi Valley to the gulf 
— the very course which La Salle's unborn Griffin was 
to take. 

When the continent tilted a little to the east and in 
the tilting poured the water of the upper lakes over 
the Niagara edge into the St. Lawrence, that same 
tilting stopped the overflow down into the Mississippi 
and the Gulf of Mexico at the other end of the lakes. 
But so slight was the tilting that the water still sweeps 
over, in places, when the lakes are high, and sometimes 
even carries light boats across. 

Of late engineers have, in effect, been undoing with 
levels and scoops and dredges what nature did in a 
mighty upheaval. They are practically tipping the 
bowls back the other way and so making currents to 
run down the old channel toward the gulf through 
the valleys of the Des Plaines and the Illinois to the 
Mississippi. 

And so that dream which the dying Griffin spoke to 
the lake, and the lake to the rivers in the time of flood 
— when intercommunication was possible — is to be 
realized, except that steam or electricity will take the 
place of winds, and screws of sails. 1 

Meanwhile a great battle of the lakes is waging — 
a battle of levels, it might better be called, between 

1 Herbert Quick, " American Inland Waterways," New York, 1909. 



IN THE WAKE OF THE "GRIFFIN" 213 

those, on the one side, who wish to maintain the gran- 
deur of Niagara much as it was when Hennepin first 
pictured it, and with them those who for utilitarian 
reasons do not wish its thunderous volume diminished, 
except, perhaps, for their local uses, and those also who 
fear disaster to their harbors and canals all around 
the lakes, deepened at great expense, if water is led 
away toward the Mississippi; and, on the other side, 
the public health of millions at the western end of the 
lakes and the commercial hopes of other millions in 
the Mississippi Valley waiting for the Griffins of the 
lakes to come with more generous prices for their 
produce and bring to their doors what the rest of the 
world has now to send to them by the more expensive 
railroad. 

Some day, perhaps, the great upper lake, Superior, 
will be made a reservoir where enough water will be 
impounded in wet seasons for a steady and more gen- 
erous supply during the dry seasons; in which event 
there will be water enough to keep Niagara in peren- 
nial beauty and power, to fill all the present and pros- 
pective harbors and canals to their desired depths 
and float even larger fleets of Griffins, and, at the 
same time, have enough left to make the Mississippi, 
as the Frenchman who first saw it visualized it, and as 
President Roosevelt, two centuries later, expressed it, 
"a loop of the sea." 1 

But another amicable battle is on — a battle of the 
eastern levels — between the men of the old French 
valley to the north (i. <?., the St. Lawrence) and the 
men of the old Iroquois valleys to the south, of the 
Mohawk and the Hudson. In 1830 a canal was built 

1 Herbert Quick, " American Inland Waterways," New York, 1909. 



2i 4 THE FRENCH IN THE HEART OF AMERICA 

by the latter from above the Falls to the navigable 
Hudson, and with high ceremony a cask of the water 
of Lake Erie was emptied into New York harbor as 
symbol of the wedding of lake and ocean. Then 
Canada built her Welland Canal around Niagara and 
made canals along the St. Lawrence and channels in 
the St. Lawrence past the Lachine Rapids to Mon- 
treal, and even made the way from there to the sea 
deeper that the growing ocean vessels might come to 
old Hochelaga. Now New York has begun deepening 
the old and almost useless Erie Canal from seven and 
nine feet to twelve feet, and to take barges one hundred 
and fifty feet long and twenty-five feet beam, with a 
draught of ten feet, and Canada is contemplating still 
deeper channels that will let the ocean steamers into 
every port of the Great Lakes. She is even thinking 
of a canal that will follow the path of Champlain, up 
the Ottawa and across the old portage to Lake Nipis- 
sing and thence by the French River into Lake Huron; 
and of an alternative course by another of Champlain's 
paths, from Ontario across to Huron by way of Lake 
Simcoe and the Trent River, in either route avoiding 
Niagara altogether, paths that would shorten the water 
distance by hundreds of miles and bring Europe almost 
as near to the shores where Le Caron ministered to the 
Hurons as to New York City. 

It is a rivalry between the old Champlain paths 
and the La Salle paths, with just an intimation from 
those who look far into the future that a new water 
path still farther north — of which Radisson gave some 
premonition — may carry the wheat of the far north- 
west from Winnipeg beyond Superior and beyond the 
courses of the Mississippi up to Hudson Bay and 



IN THE WAKE OF THE "GRIFFIN" 215 

across the ocean to European ports, brought a thou- 
sand miles nearer. 

This is but the merest intimation of the prophetic 
service of the water pioneers. And when the prophecy 
of these pioneers, as interpreted in terms of steam 
and locks and dams unknown to them, is fulfilled, it is 
not beyond thinking that a captain of a seagoing ves- 
sel of ten or twenty thousand tons from Havre or 
Cherbourg may some day be calling in deep voice (as 
last summer in a room on the twenty-ninth floor of a 
Chicago "sky-scraper" I heard a local descendant of 
the Griffin screeching) for the lifting of the bridges that 
will open the way to the Mississippi, the heart of 
America. 



CHAPTER XI 

WESTERN CITIES THAT HAVE SPRUNG FROM 
FRENCH FORTS 

IT is a strange and varied crop that has grown 
from the leaden plates with French inscriptions, 
planted by St. Lusson, La Salle, and Celoron by- 
lakes and rivers in that western country. The myth- 
ical story of the sowing of Cadmus in the Boeotian field 
is again rather tame by comparison with a true relation 
of what has actually occurred within the memory of a 
few generations in a valley as wild when Celoron trav- 
ersed the course of La Belle Riviere (the name given 
by the French to the Ohio, which was known to the 
Indians as the "River of the Whitecaps") with his 
little fleet only a century and a half ago as was Boeotia 
when Cadmus set out from Phoenicia in search of his 
sister, Europa (that is, Europe), back beyond the 
memory of history. 

It was a bourgeoning, most miraculous, in those 
spots of the west, a new Europa, where soldiers sprang 
up immediately upon the sowing, like the sproutings 
of Cadmus' dragon's teeth, to fight one another and 
to build strongholds that should some day be cities, 
even as Cadmea, the fortress of the "Spartoi," became 
the city of Thebes. 

So, in this sowing, did France become the mother 
of western cities, of Pittsburgh and Buffalo, of Erie, of 
St. Louis, of Detroit and New Orleans, of Peoria and 

216 



WESTERN CITIES 217 

St. Joseph, and still other cities whose names have 
never been heard by the people of France — even as 
Phoenicia, in the wanderings of her adventurous son, 
Cadmus, became the mother of Thebes and the god- 
mother of Greek culture and of European literature. 
Palamedes and Simonides added some letters to the 
alphabet brought, according to tradition, by Cadmus 
to Greece, and Cadmus suffered the doom of those who 
sow dragon's teeth, as France has suffered, but still is 
his name kept in the memory of every school child; 
and so should be remembered those who planted the 
lead plates and sowed the teeth that sprang into the 
"Spartoi" of a new civilization. 

Of the sowing of St. Lusson at the "Soo" and La 
Salle at New Orleans we have spoken. Long later 
(1749), the first of whom we have record after La 
Salle, another French sower went forth to sow along 
the rivers close to the foot of the Alleghany Mountains 
— Celoron de Bienville, Chevalier de St. Louis. It is 
of his sowing that the main cities have sprung, for he 
planted a plate of "repossession" at the entrance of 
every important branch of the Ohio and fastened 
upon trees sheets of "white iron" bearing the arms of 
France. Chief among them is Pittsburgh, which stands 
on the carboniferous site of Fort Duquesne like the prow 
of a vessel headed westward, a place which Celoron 
is believed to have had in mind when he wrote in his 
journal, "the finest place on La Belle Riviere" — what 
was then a wedge of wild black land lodged between 
two converging streams that drained all the slope of 
the northern Alleghanies being now the foundation 
of the world's capital of a sterner metal than lead — 
scarred with fires and smothered with smoke from 



218 THE FRENCH IN THE HEART OF AMERICA 

many furnaces, two of which alone, it has been esti- 
mated by some one, have poured forth enough molten 
iron in the last thirty years to cover with steel plates 
an inch thick a road fifty feet wide stretching from 
the Alleghany edge of the valley not merely to the 
mouth of the Ohio but on to the other mountain bor- 
der, where all dreams of a way to the western sea 
were ended. 

And this highway of plates across the empire of New 
France gives but suggestion of the meagerest fraction 
of the fruitage of the planting of the leaden plates or 
the grafting of the arms of France upon the trees along 
the Ohio — forty pounds of iron, it has been estimated 
by one graphic statistician, for every man, woman, 
and child on the globe to-day, 1 and I do not know how 
much tin. And, in a sense, all from a small box or 
crate of plates made of lead — six, eight, or more in 
number, eleven inches long, seven inches wide, and one 
eighth of an inch thick, and engraved with an inscrip- 
tion — one of which was found not long ago, by some 
lads, protruding from the bank of one of the tributary 
rivers ! The inscription ran (in translation) : 

"Year 1749, in the reign of Louis XV., King of 
France, We, Celoron, commanding the detachment 
sent by the Marquis De la Galissoniere, Commander 
General of New France, to restore tranquillity in cer- 
tain villages of these cantons, have buried this plate 
at [here is inserted the name of the tributary at its 
confluence with the Ohio] this [date] as a token of 
renewal of possession heretofore taken of the aforesaid 
river, Ohio, of all streams that fall into it, and all 

1 H. N. Casson. United States produces thirty million tons annually, 
Pennsylvania eleven and a quarter million. "Mineral Resources," 191 2. 



WESTERN CITIES 219 

lands on both sides to the sources of the aforesaid 
streams, as the preceding Kings of France enjoyed it, 
or ought to have enjoyed it, and which they have 
upheld by force of arms and by treaties, notably by 
those of Ryswick, Utrecht, and Aix la Chapelle." 

And with these plates (to be buried at the con- 
fluences of the important rivers along the way) were 
carried sheets of tin — of white iron — on which the 
arms of France had been stamped, to be nailed to trees 
above the places of the plates. 

"As the Kings of France enjoyed it, or ought to 
have enjoyed it" — what a blight of regret was in the 
very seed that in its flower of to-day makes one wish 
for some delicate beauty or subtle fragrance that is 
not there, because the Kings of France did not let 
France enjoy it. 

One can but pause here again, as I have paused 
many, many times in the preparation of these chapters, 
to ask what would have been the result if France had 
but chosen as Portia's successful suitor in Shake- 
speare's "Merchant of Venice" when he was confronted 
with the caskets of gold, silver, and lead — had but 
chosen "to owe and hazard all for lead," instead of 
deciding as did the Prince of Morocco, the other 
suitor, that "a golden mind stoops not to shows of 
dross" — if France had hazarded all for the holding 
and settling of those regions whose worth was sym- 
bolized in those unpromising pieces of lead planted 
in the fertile soil of Louisiana, Michigan, and Ohio 
along the watercourses, rather than in the caskets of 
gold and silver sought among the mountains — if 
Louis XV, throwing dice at Versailles in the valley of 
the Seine, as Parkman describes him, with his piles of 



220 THE FRENCH IN THE HEART OF AMERICA 

louis d'or before him, and the princes and princesses, 
dukes and duchesses and courtiers about him, had but 
followed the advice of Marquis de la Galissonniere, the 
humpbacked governor-general of Canada, who fur- 
nished Celoron with his leaden seeds and appointed the 
place of the sowing — if Louis XV had but answered 
his Canadian governor's prayer and sent French peas- 
ants where the plates were buried, or had even let 
those who wanted to flee to that valley, as they would 
have fled by tens of thousands, preferring the hard- 
ships and privations of the pioneer to the galleys, the 
dungeons, or the gallows — then "Versailles" in that 
valley of the Ohio would not be merely what it is, a 
ward or township in a city that bears the name of a 
British statesman. 

"Or, if soldiers had been sent !" Parkman, approach- 
ing the great valley in imagination with Celoron, from 
the north, exclaims, "the most momentous and far- 
reaching question ever brought to issue on this con- 
tinent was: 'Shall France remain here or shall she 
not ?' If by diplomacy or war she had preserved but 
the half or less than half of her American possessions, 
then a barrier would have been set to the spread of 
the English-speaking races, there would have been no 
Revolutionary War and, for a long time at least, no 
independence." 1 (Which but emphasizes what I have 
said as to the part, the negative part as well as 
the positive, France conspicuously and unconsciously 
played in the making of a new nation.) 

If "the French soldiers left dead on inglorious con- 
tinental battle-fields could," as Parkman says, "have 
saved Canada, and perhaps made good her claim to 

'Parkman, "Montcalm and Wolfe," p. 5. 



WESTERN CITIES 221 

the vast territories of the West," 1 could they after all 
have done more for the world than those who, in effect, 
sacrificed their lives on glorious western battle-fields 
for the United States ? 

A little way back I spoke of the first expedition 
looking toward that valley from the Atlantic side of 
the Alleghanies — the expedition of the "Knights of 
the Golden Horseshoe" — and of its vain threats. In 
1748 a company of still wider horizon was formed in 
Virginia, George Washington's father being a mem- 
ber of it. It was known as the Ohio Land Company 
and derived its transmontane rights through George 
II from John Cabot, an Italian under English com- 
mission, who may have set foot nearly two centuries 
before somewhere on the coast of North America be- 
low Labrador, and from a very expansive interpreta- 
tion of a treaty with the Indians at Lancaster, Pa., in 
1744, the trans- Alleghany Indians protesting, however, 
not less firmly than the French, that the lands pur- 
chased by the English under that treaty extended no 
farther toward the sunset than the laurel hills on the 
western edge of the Alleghanies. 

News of this Virginia corporate enterprise was 
willingly carried, it is surmised, by jealous Pennsyl- 
vanians and hostile French, till it reached Montreal, 
and so it was that Celoron was despatched with his 
little company to bury "Monuments of the Renewal 
of Possession" by France. 

It was a significant and rather solemn, but most 
picturesque, processional that this chevalier of St. 
Louis led from Montreal through one thousand two 
hundred leagues of journey by water and land to the 

^arkman, "Montcalm and Wolfe," p. 41. 



222 THE FRENCH IN THE HEART OF AMERICA 

mouth of the Miami River and back. There are no 
hilarious songs in this prelude such as were heard 
from the crests of the Blue Ridge when Spotswood's 
horsemen came up from the other side. It has to me 
the atmosphere and movement of some Greek tragedy, 
though one writer likens it to mediaeval mummery. 
Perhaps it is only a knowledge of its import and the 
end that makes it sombre and grave despite the beau- 
tiful setting to this prelude which one may read to-day 
in the French archives. So full of portent and color 
it is that I wonder no one has woven its incidents, 
slight as they are, into French literature or into that 
of America. 

"I left Lachine on the 15th of June," begins Celoron's 
journal, 1 now in the Departement de la Marine, in 
Paris, "with a detachment formed of a captain, eight 
subaltern officers, six cadets, an armorer, twenty men 
of the troops, one hundred and eighty Canadians, and 
nearly thirty savages — equal number of Iroquois and 
Abenakes." They filled twenty-three canoes in a pro- 
cession that was halted by shipwreck, by heat, by lack 
of rain and by too much rain, by difficult portages, and 
damage to the canoes. 

Over a part of their first portage from Lake Erie 
I walked one night years ago through a drenching rain, 
such as they endured in the seven days in which they 
were carrying their canoes and baggage up those steep 
hills through the then dense forest of beech, oak, and 
elm, to the waters of Lake Chautauqua, where now 
many thousands gather every summer, from children 
to white-haired men and women, to study history, 
language, sciences, cooking, sewing, etc., and to attend 
conferences daily. 

1 Margiy, 6 : 666. 



WESTERN CITIES 223 

But the expedition then was often stopped by 
savages who ran away to avoid the excessive speech- 
making and lecturing of these old-world orators, con- 
ferenciers; and the ears and eyes of the auditors who 
did not run away were opened by strings of wam- 
pum, though they were often too little moved by the 
love of their father Onontio and his concern lest the 
English should make themselves masters and the In- 
dians their victims. 

There is in a Paris library a map of this expedi- 
tion made by the hand of Pere Bonnecamps, who signs 
himself " Jesuitte Mathematicians" He kept a diary 1 , 
also preserved in Paris, in which there has crept some 
of the sombreness of that narrow, dark valley (now 
filled with oil-derricks) surrounded by mountains some- 
times so high as to let them see the sun only from nine 
or ten o'clock in the morning till two or three in the 
afternoon. And across the mountains one may hear 
even to-day the despairful, yet appealing, voice of 
Celoron, speaking for the great Onontio: "My chil- 
dren," he says, "since I have been at war with the 
English I have learned that that nation has seduced 
you; and, not content with corrupting your hearts, 
they have profited by my absence from the country to 
invade the land which does not belong to them and 
which is mine. ... I will give you the aid you should 
expect from a good father. ... I will furnish you 
traders in abundance if you wish them. I will send 
here officers if that please you — to give you good spirit, 
so that you will only work in good affairs. . . . Follow 

1 Translation in "Jesuit Relations," ed. Thwaites, vol. 69. "Account of 
the voyage on the Beautiful River made in 1749 under the direction of 
Monsieur de Celoron." 



224 THE FRENCH IN THE HEART OF AMERICA 

my advice. Then the sky will always be beautiful and 
clear over your villages." 1 

"My father," said the spokesman for the savages 
at another council, "we pray you have pity on us; we 
are young men who cannot reply as the old men could; 
what you have said to us has opened our eyes [received 
gifts], given us spirit, we see that you only work with 
good affairs. . . . [The great Onontio in Paris is play- 
ing all the while in Paris with the louis d'or.] Examine, 
my father, the situation in which we are. If thou 
makest the English to retire, who give us necessaries, 
and especially the smith who mends our guns and 
hatchets, we would be without help and exposed to 
die of hunger and of misery in the Belle Riviere. Have 
pity on us, my father, thou canst not at present give 
us our necessaries. Leave us at least for this winter, 
or at least till we go hunting, the smith and some one 
who can help us. We promise thee that in the spring 
the English will retire." 2 

And so the expedition passed on from river to river, 
from tribe to tribe, planting plates and making ap- 
peals to the savages, down the Ohio to the Miami, up 
the Miami, stopping at the village of a chief known as 
La Demoiselle, thence by portage to the French set- 
tlement on the Maumee, and so back to Lake Erie. 
Then came the fort builders in their wake, and so the 
"Spartoi," the soldiers, almost literally sprang from the 
earth of the sowing of the plates. 

At one place (the place where the Loups prayed 
for a smith) they found a young Englishman with a 
few dozen workmen building a stockade, but they 
sent him back beyond the mountains over which he 

1 Margry, 6 : 677. 2 Margry, 6 : 683. 



WESTERN CITIES 225 

had come and built upon its site Fort Duquesne — 
the defense of the mountain gate to the great valley — 
here with a few hundred men on the edge of a hostile 
wilderness to make beginning of that mighty struggle 
which was to end, as we know, on the river by which 
Cartier and Champlain had made their way into the 
continent. 

It is a fact, remarkable to us now, that the first 
to bring a challenge from behind the mountains to 
that brave and isolate garrison sitting in Fort Duquesne 
at the junction of the water paths, was Washington 
("Sir Washington," as one chronicler has written it), 
not Washington the American but Washington the 
English subject, major in the colonial militia, envoy 
of an English governor of Virginia, Dinwiddie, who, 
having acquired a controlling interest in the Ohio 
Company, became especially active in planning to seat 
a hundred families on that transmontane estate of a 
half-million acres and so to win title to it. 

"So complicated [were] the political interests of [that] 
time that a shot fired in America [was] the signal for 
setting all Europe together by the ears," wrote Vol- 
taire, 1 and "it was not a cannon-shot" that gave the 
signal but, as Parkman said, "a volley from the hunt- 
ing pieces of a few backwoodsmen, commanded by a 
Virginia youth, George Washington." 2 

We must stop for a moment to look at this lithe 
young English colonist, twenty-one years of age, 
standing on the nearest edge of the French explora- 
tions and claims and the farthest verge of English ad- 

1 Voltaire, "The French in America" in his "Short Studies in English 
and American Subjects," p. 249. 
* Parkman, "Montcalm and Wolfe," 1:3. 



226 THE FRENCH IN THE HEART OF AMERICA 

venture, on the watershed twenty miles from Lake 
Erie, and requesting, in the name of Governor Din- 
widdie and of the shade of John Cabot, the peaceable 
departure of those French pioneers and soldiers, who, 
as the letter which the young colonel bore stated, were 
"erecting fortresses and making settlements upon the 
the river [Ohio] so notoriously known to be the prop- 
erty of the Crown of Great Britain." 

The edge of the Great Lakes' basin is only a little 
way, at the place where he stood, from the water- 
shed of the Mississippi River. A little farther up the 
shore, where Celoron made portage, it is only six or 
eight miles across, and here it is but a little more, and 
the "height of land" is hardly noticeable. The French 
built a fort on a promontory in the lake — a promon- 
tory almost an island — Presque Isle; and there, where 
the waters begin to run the other way, that is, toward 
the gulf, they built still another which they called 
Le Bceuf, an easier portage than the Chautauqua. 
From the former fort the city of Erie, a grimy, busy 
manufacturing city, has grown. The latter has pro- 
duced only a village, on whose weed-grown outskirts 
the ruins of a fort still look out upon the meadow 
where the little stream called "French Creek" starts, 
first toward France, in its two-thousand-mile journey 
to the gulf that lies in the other direction. 

For twenty miles I followed the stream one day to 
where it became a part of Celoron's river — in imagina- 
tion calling the French back to its banks again, but 
finding them slow to come, for that part of the valley 
seemed not particularly attractive. It is a little farther 
down the lake that the vineyards fill all the shore from 
the lake to the watershed. And in that very country 



WESTERN CITIES 227 

I have often wondered at the miracle which raised 
from one bit of ground the corn and the pumpkin, and 
from another the vine and filled its fruit with wine. 

The one-eyed veteran, Legardeur de St. Pierre, the 
commander of Fort Le Bceuf, asked Washington, in 
rich diplomatic sarcasm, to descend to the particular- 
ization of facts, and the lithe figure disappeared behind 
the snows of the mountains only to come again across 
the mountains in the springtime with sterner ques- 
tioning. There was then no talk of Cabot or La Salle, 
of Indian purchase or crown property. Jumonville 
may have come out from Duquesne for peaceable 
speech, but Washington misunderstood or would not 
listen. A flash of flint fire, a fresh bit of lead planted 
in the hill of laurel, a splash of blood on the rock, and 
the war for the west was begun. 

What actually happened out on the slope of that 
hill will never be accurately known; but, though Wash- 
ington was only twenty-two years old then, "full of 
military ardor" and "vehement," he could not have 
been guilty of wilful firing on men of peaceful intent. 

It doubtless seemed but an insignificant skirmish 
when Washington attacked Jumonville near Pittsburgh, 
and it is now remembered by only a line or two in our 
histories and the little cairn of stones "far up among 
the mountain fogs near the headwaters of the Yough- 
iogheny River," which marks the grave of Jumonville. 

Washington, the major of colonial militia in the Al- 
leghany Mountains, the scout of a land company, has 
been entirely forgotten in Washington, the father of a 
nation; but Jumonville, the French ensign with no 
land-scrip, fighting certainly as unselfishly and with 
as high purpose, is not forgotten in any later achieve- 



228 THE FRENCH IN THE HEART OF AMERICA 

ment. That skirmish ended all for him. But let it be 
remembered even now that he was a representative of 
France standing almost alone, at the confluence of all 
the waters for hundreds of miles on the other slope of 
the Alleghanies, in defense of what other men of 
France had won by their hardihood. 

I heard a great audience at the Academy applaud 
the brave endurance of French priests and soldiers in 
Asia. Some day I hope these unrenowned men who 
sacrificed as much for France in America will be as 
notably remembered. There is a short street in Pitts- 
burgh that bears Jumonville's name — a short street 
that runs from the river into a larger street with the 
name of one of his seven brothers, De Villiers, Coulon 
de Villiers, who hastened from Montreal, while an- 
other brother hastened from the Illinois to avenge his 
death. 

But the cairn on the hillside has grown to no high 
monument. Mr. Hulbert, who has written with filial 
pen of the valley, says that occasionally a traveller 
repairs a rough wooden cross made of boards or tree 
branches and planted among the rocks of the cairn. 1 
But on a recent visit to the grave out in that lonesome 
ravine, I found that a permanent tablet had been 
placed there instead of this fragile cross. 

I must leave to your unrefreshed memories the ex- 
ploits of Beaujeu and Braddock, of Contrecceur and 
Forbes, blow up Fort Duquesne of the past, and come 
into the city of to-day, for I wish to put against this 
background this mighty city where it is often difficult 
to see because of the smoke. 

The French, as we are well aware, came to their 

1 A. B. Hulbert, "The Ohio River," pp. 44, 45. 



WESTERN CITIES 229 

forts by water. Quebec, Frontenac, Niagara, Presque 
Isle, the Rock St. Louis, St. Joseph, Chartres, and 
many others stood by river or lake. But the going 
was often slow. Celoron (whose name is often spelled 
Celeron but would seem not to deserve that spelling) 
was fifty-three days in making his water journey from 
Montreal to the site of Pittsburgh. But a Celoron of 
to-day may see the light of the Bartholdi statue in 
New York harbor at ten o'clock by night and yet pass 
Braddock's field in the morning (before the time that 
Bonnecamp said the sun came up in the narrow valley 
of the Belle Riviere), and have breakfast at the Du- 
quesne Club in time for a city day's work. It was 
about as far from Paris to Marseilles in 1750 as it is 
to-day from Paris to Pittsburgh. 

Pittsburgh is the front door of the valley of La 
Salle, as we now know the valley, and the most im- 
portant door; for the tonnage that enters and leaves 
it by rail and water (177,071,238 tons in 1912 for the 
Pittsburgh district) exceeds the tonnage of the five other 
greatest cities of the world l and is twice the combined 
tonnage of both coasts of the United States to and 
from foreign ports — which is probably due to the fact 
that so much of its traffic is not in silks and furs 
but in iron and coal. And the multitudes of human 
beings that pass through it are comparable in number 
with the migrant tonnage and inanimate cargoes; for 
Pittsburgh is "the antithesis of a mediaeval town"; 
"it is all motion;" "it is a flow, not a tank." The 
mountains, once impenetrable barriers that had to be 
gone about, have been levelled, and in the levelling 

1 R. B. Naylor, address before the Ohio Valley Historical Association 
(quoted in Hulbert, "Ohio River," pp. 365-6). 



230 THE FRENCH IN THE HEART OF AMERICA 

the watersheds, as we have seen, have been shifted. 
One who sees that throng pass to-day back and forth, 
to and from the valley and the ocean, must know that 
there are no Alleghanies in our continental topography, 
as Washington saw and as Webster stated there could 
not be in our politics. If one makes the journey from 
the ocean in the night, one may hear, if one wakes, 
the puffing of two engines, as in the Jura Mountains, 
but there will be nothing else to tell him that the 
shaggy Alleghany Mountains have not been cast into 
the midst of the sea — nothing except the groaning of 
the wheels. 

The Indians near Pittsburgh, I have said, prayed 
the messenger of Onontio that they might keep their 
English smith — and the prayer seems to have been 
abundantly answered, for Pittsburgh appears at first 
to be one vast smithy, so enveloped is it in the smoke 
of its own toil, so reddened are its great sky walls by 
its flaming forges, so filled is the air with the dust from 
the bellows, and so clangorous is the sound of its 
hammers. It is a city of Vulcans — a city whose in- 
dustry makes academic discussions seem as the play 
of girls in a field of flowers. It is not primarily a 
market-place, this point of land, one of the places 
where the French and English traders used to barter 
guns, whiskey, and trinkets for furs. It is a making 
place — a pit between the hills, where the fires of crea- 
tion are still burning. 

Celoron and his sombre voyage had been in my mind 
all day, as I sat in a beautiful library of that city 
among books of the past; but in the evening, as 
Dante accompanied by Virgil, I descended circle by 
circle to the floor of the valley — with this difference, 



WESTERN CITIES 231 

that it was not to a place of torment but to the halls 
of the swarth gods of creation, those great, dim, 
shadowy sheds that stretch along the river's edge. 
Into these, men of France, has your Fort Duquesne 
grown — mile on mile of flame-belching buildings, with 
a garrison as great as the population of all New France 
in the day of Duquesne. 

The new-world epic will find some of its color and 
incident there — an epic in which we have already heard 
the men of France nailing the sheets of "white iron" 
against the trees of the valley of La Belle Riviere. And 
as I saw the white-hot sheets of iron issuing from those 
crunching rollers, driven by the power of seven thou- 
sand horses, I felt that the youth with the stamping 
iron should have put a fleur-de-lis upon each with all 
his other cabalistic markings, for who of us can know 
that any metal would ever have flowed white from the 
furnaces in that valley if the white-metal signs of 
Louis XV had not first been carried into it ? 

In each of these halls there pass in orderly succes- 
sion cars with varied cargoes; red ore from the far- 
away hills beyond Superior, limestone fragments from 
some near-by hill, and scrap of earlier burning. These, 
one by one, are seized by a great arm of iron, thrust 
out from a huge moving structure that looks like a 
battering-ram and is operated by a young man about 
whom the lightnings play as he moves; and, one by one, 
they are cast into the furnaces that are heated to a 
temperature of a thousand degrees or more. There 
the red earth is freed of its "devils," as the great 
ironmaster has named the sulphur and phosphorus — 
freed of its devils as the red child was freed of his sins 
by the touch of holy water from the fingers of Allouez 



232 THE FRENCH IN THE HEART OF AMERICA 

out in those very forests from which the red ore was 
dug — and comes forth purified, to be cast into flam- 
ing ingots, to be again heated and then crushed and 
moulded and sawed and pierced for the better service 
of man. 

In the course of a few minutes one sees a few iron 
carloads of ore that was a month before lying in the 
earth beyond Superior transformed into a girder for 
a bridge, a steel rail, a bit of armor-plate, a beam for 
a sky-scraper — and all in utter human silence, with 
the calm pushing and pulling of a few levers, the ac- 
curate shovelling by a few hands, the deliberate testing 
by a few pairs of experienced eyes. 

Here is the new Fort Duquesne that is holding the 
place of the confluence of the rivers and trails just 
beyond the Alleghanies, and this is the ammunition 
with which that begrimed but strong-faced garrison 
defends the valley to-day, supports the city on the 
environing hills and the convoluted plateau back of 
the point, spans streams the world around, builds the 
skeletons of new cities and protects the coasts of their 
country. 

There are many others in that garrison, but these 
makers of steel are the core of that city, in which "the 
modern world," to use the words of one of our first 
economists, "achieves its grandest triumph and faces 
its gravest problem" 1 — the "mighty storm mountain 
of capital and labor." 

I quote from this same economist a comprehensive 
paragraph descriptive of its riches: "Through hills 
which line these [confluent] rivers run enormous veins 
of bituminous coal. Located near the surface, the coal 

1 John R. Commons, in Survey, March 6, 1909, 21 : 105 1. 



WESTERN CITIES 233 

is easily mined, and elevated above the rivers, much of 
it comes down to Pittsburgh by gravity. There are 
twenty-nine billion tons of it, good for steam, gas or 
coke. Then there are vast stores of oil [seven million 
five hundred thousand gallons annually] natural gas 
[of which two hundred and fifty million feet are con- 
sumed daily], sand, shale, clay and stone, with which 
to give Pittsburgh and the tributary country the lead 
of the world in iron and steel, glass, electrical ma- 
chinery, street-cars, tin plate, air-brakes and fire- 
brick." 1 

And to all this natural bounty the national gov- 
ernment has added that of the tariff and of millions 
spent in river improvements, while Europe has con- 
tributed raw labor already fed to the strength of oxen 
and often already developed to highest skill. It was a 
young chemist trained in Europe who conducted me 
through the mills, explaining all the processes in a 
perfect idiomatic speech, though of broken accent. 

The white-hot steel ingot swinging beneath a smoky 
sky is a sign of the contribution of France through 
Pittsburgh to civilization, not merely the material 
but the human contribution. The ingot, a great 
block of white-hot steel, is the sign of her labor, which 
has assembled the scattered elements of the valley 
and, in the fierce heat of natural and unfed fires, has 
compounded them into a new metal that is some- 
thing more than iron, more valuable than gold. But 
it is only another sign, too, of forces that have as- 
sembled from all parts of the earth, men represented 
in the varied cargoes that are poured by a seemingly 

*J. R. Commons, "Wage Earners of Pittsburg," in Survey, March 6, 
1909, 21 : 1051-64. 



234 THE FRENCH IN THE HEART OF AMERICA 

omnipotent hand into those furnaces — red-blooded 
men, and with them slag that has gone through the 
fires of older civilizations. 

Here, let me say again, is being made a new metal; 
this no one can doubt. It is not merely a melting and 
a restamping of old coin with a new superscription, a 
new sovereignty — a composite face instead of a per- 
sonal likeness — it is the making, as I have said in other 
illustrations and metaphors, of a new race. 

If I had an instinct of human character, such as 
the intuitive sense of the fibre and tension of steel 
possessed by the man who watches the boiling in the 
furnaces and who, from time to time, puts aside his 
smoked glasses and looks at the texture of a typical 
bit of his metal, or who stands at the emptying of the 
furnace into the ladle and directs the addition of 
carbon or magnesium to bring his output to the right 
constituency, I could tell you what strains and stresses 
this new people would stand. As it is, I can only 
make a surmise, perhaps not more valuable than yours. 

The makers of steel were concerned only to get the 
primacy in steel. Human character was of concern 
only as it made better steel and more of it. They 
took the red ore where they could get it richest in iron 
and cheapest, and they took red-blooded labor where 
they could get it strongest-sinewed, clearest-eyed, and 
cheapest. "There are no able-bodied men between 
the ages of sixteen and fifty years left in my native 
town," said a Servian workman in the mills. "They 
have all come to America. The agricultural districts 
and villages of the mid-eastern valleys of Europe are 
sending their strongest men and youths, nourished of 
good diet and in pure air, stolid and care-free, into 



WESTERN CITIES 235 

that dim canyon — Servians, Croatians, Ruthenians, 
Lithuanians, Slovaks, with Italians, Poles, and Rus- 
sian Jews." 1 It is from Slavs and mixed people of the 
old European midland, says one, "where the suc- 
cessive waves of broad-headed and fair-haired peoples 
gathered force and swept westward to become Celt 
and Saxon, and Swiss and Scandinavian and Teuton," 
the old European midland with its "racial and religious 
loves and hates seared deep, that the new immigration 
is coming to Pittsburgh to work out civilization under 
tense conditions" — not with that purpose, to be sure, 
but with that certain result. The conscious purposes 
have been expressed in the tangible ingots, the wages 
they have offered them in their hot hands, and the 
profits. The civilization has been incidental. 

There is developing, however, an effort in the midst 
of this "dynamic individualism" to make both the new 
and the old immigration work out "civilization." 
This individualism was prodigal, profligate, at first. 
But it has learned thrift; it by and by came to burn its 
gas over and over; it made the purifying substances 
go on in a continued round of service; it became more 
mindful of human muscles and bones and eyes and 
ears; it took the latest advice of experts, but for steel's 
sake, not civilization's. 

Mr. Carnegie, when a manufacturer there, found 
90 per cent of pure iron in the refuse of his competitor, 
it is said. This he bought under long contract and 
worked over in his own mills. His neighbor's waste 
became a part of his fortune. And the result of that 

1 P. Roberts, "The New Pittsburg," in Charities and the Commons, 
January 2, 1909, 21 : 533. See also J. A. Fitch, "The Steel Workers," 
New York, 19 10. 



236 THE FRENCH IN THE HEART OF AMERICA 

discernment and thrift is now furnishing an analogue 
for the conscious utilization of other waste — waste of 
native capacity of the steel-worker for happiness and 
usefulness. 

Mr. Carnegie has indeed led the way in the estab- 
lishment of libraries, art galleries, museums, institutes 
of training and research out of what were but waste 
if spent as some millionaires spend their profits. All 
these things upon the hills are by-products of the steel- 
mills down in the ravine. In every luminous ingot 
swung in the mills that were his, there is something 
toward the pension of a university professor out in 
Oregon, something for an artist in New York or Paris, 
something for an astronomer on the top of Mount 
Wilson, something for the teacher in the school upon 
the hill, something for every library established by 
his gift. 

What is now making itself felt, however, is a desire 
to get the wage element in the ingot as thriftily, as 
efficiently, as nobly converted and used to the last 
ounce as is the profit element. There has been in the 
past a masterful individualism at work. Now there is 
a masterful aggressive humanism beginning to make 
itself felt, comparable in its spirit with the masterful 
venturing of the French explorers or the masterful 
faith of the French missionaries, that promises to con- 
strain the city "to the saving and enhancing of in- 
dividual and collective human power," even as the 
French missionaries tried to constrain the great fur- 
trading prospects of France to the saving of human 
souls. 

The attempt to realize an urban paradise is becom- 
ing a conscious purpose as this extract made from a 



WESTERN CITIES 237 

report made to a city-plan committee of a Pittsburgh 
commission will indicate: 

"A third undeveloped asset in the Pittsburgh water- 
front is its value for recreation and as an element of 
civic comeliness and self-respect. One of the deplorable 
consequences of the short-sighted and wasteful com- 
mercialism of the later nineteenth century lay in its 
disregard of what might have been the aesthetic by- 
products of economic improvement; in the false impres- 
sion spread abroad that economical and useful things 
were normally ugly; and in the vicious idea which fol- 
lowed, that beauty and the higher pleasures of civilized 
life were to be sought only in things otherwise useless. 
Thus the pursuit of beauty was confounded with ex- 
travagance. 

"Among the most significant illustrations of the fal- 
lacy of such ideas are the comeliness and the incidental 
recreation value which attach to many of the com- 
mercial water fronts of European river ports, and it is 
along such lines that Pittsburgh still has opportunity 
for redeeming the sordid aspect of its business centre. 

"Wherever in the world, as an incident of the high- 
ways and wharves along its river banks, a city has pro- 
vided opportunity for the people to walk and sit under 
pleasant conditions, where they can watch the water 
and the life upon it, where they can enjoy the breadth 
of outlook and the sight of the open sky and the op- 
posite bank and the reflections in the stream, the result 
has added to the comeliness of the city itself, the 
health and happiness of the people, and their loyalty 
and local pride. This has been true in the case of a 
bare paved promenade, running along like an elevated 
railroad over the sheds and tracks and derricks of a 
busy ocean port, as at Antwerp, in the case of a tree- 



238 THE FRENCH IN THE HEART OF AMERICA 

shaded sidewalk along a commercial street with the 
river quays below it, as at Paris and Lyons and hun- 
dreds of lesser cities; and in the case of a broad em- 
bankment garden won from the mud banks by dredging 
and filling, as at London." 

I had great difficulty in finding a bookstore in 
Pittsburgh. Some day that idealistic condition which 
makes the Seine so dear to thousands who know its 
every mood, and so dear both to the wise and the igno- 
rant, may obtain on La Belle Riviere. 

This is but one item of a planning for the future of 
this city which thinks not merely of its beautifying 
and of the pleasure of its people in their leisure, but of 
all conditions which affect the health, convenience, edu- 
cation, and general welfare of the whole district — that 
region once called the "black country," of which Pitts- 
burgh was the "dingy capital" — one of the regions 
where the French were pioneers. 

I have spoken of this as the "taking thought" of a 
democratic community. More accurately, a body of 
one hundred volunteer citizens, disposing themselves 
in fourteen different committees (including those on 
rapid transit, industrial accidents, city housing, and 
public hygiene), have undertaken all this labor of con- 
structive planning at their own expense (based upon a 
series of investigations made by endowed researchers), 
but with the hope of creating a public opinion favor- 
able to their plans, which look to the establishment by 
the democratic community of "such living and working 
conditions as may set a standard for other American 
industrial centres." 1 

'Olmsted, F. L., "Pittsburgh, Main Thoroughfares and the Down-Town 
District." Pittsburgh Civic Commission, 1910. Survey, February 4, 191 1, 
25:740-4- 



WESTERN CITIES 239 

No such thorough and systematic study of existing 
city conditions has been made anywhere else in Amer- 
ica. It is quite as scientific as the scholarly studies of 
buried cities, only immensely more complex and dif- 
ficult. Knowing itself and possessed of an uncon- 
querable spirit, it seems likely now that Pittsburgh 
will win back the beautiful site which Celoron remarked 
when he passed down La Belle Riviere — a site which 
even "Florence might covet" — and will make it a 
city that will deserve to keep always the other part 
of the name of the sower of the leaden plates — Bien- 
ville. 

A pillar of cloud stands over the city by day and a 
pillar of fire by night. They have together shown the 
way out of the wilderness. It now remains to be seen 
whether the highest things of men's longing will have 
realization, in giving that "dynamic individualism" a 
social ideal with distinct, practicable working plans. 

Pittsburgh stands on the edge of the valley of the 
new democracy. It has put its plates along every 
path. There is hardly a village of any size from the 
Alleghanies to the Rockies that it has not laid some 
claim to by its strips of steel. There is hardly a stream 
of any size that it has not claimed by a bridge. It 
has, indeed, the spirit of Celoron, in other body, still 
planting monuments of France's renewal of possession, 
wherever the steel rails and girders and plates from the 
Pittsburgh mills have been carried. And Pittsburgh 
is but one of the renewed cities which encompass the 
eastern half of the valley where once stretched the 
chain of French forts futile in defense but powerful 
in prophecy. 

When we see the American city, even through the 



240 THE FRENCH IN THE HEART OF AMERICA 

eyes of Walt Whitman, that poet of democracy, it 
seems a desperate hope that is left her: "Are there, 
indeed, men here in the city," he asks, "worthy the 
name ? Are there athletes ? Are there perfect women 
to match the generous material luxuriance ? Is there 
a pervading atmosphere of beautiful manners ? Are 
there crops of fine youths and majestic old persons ? 
Are there arts worthy freedom and a rich people ? Is 
there a great moral and religious civilization — the only 
justification of a great material one ? Confess that 
to severe eyes, using the moral microscope upon hu- 
manity, a sort of dry and flat Sahara appears, these 
cities crowded with petty grotesques, malformations, 
phantoms, playing meaningless antics. Confess that 
everywhere, in shop, street, church, theatre, barroom, 
official chair, are pervading flippancy and vulgarity, 
low cunning, infidelity — everywhere the youth puny, 
impudent, foppish, prematurely ripe — everywhere an 
abnormal libidinousness, unhealthy forms, male, female, 
painted, padded, dyed, chignon'd, muddy complexions, 
bad blood, the capacity for good motherhood decreas- 
ing or deceas'd, shallow notions of beauty, with a 
range of manners, or rather lack of manners (consider- 
ing the advantages enjoy'd) probably the meanest to 
be seen in the world." 1 

But it is no such desperate hope that the cities we 
have seen spring from French fort and portage keep in 
their hearts. It is not even a confession that one would 
have to make to-day in the American cities which 
Whitman had in mind in his gloomy, foreboding vision. 
I have seen on the streets of one of the Whitman cities 2 

1 "Democratic Vistas," in his "Complete Works," pp. 205, 206. 

2 New York City. 



WESTERN CITIES 241 

those same grotesques, malformations, and meaningless 
antics, that flippancy and vulgarity and cunning, that 
foppishness and premature ripeness, that painted, bad- 
complexioned, bad-mannered, shallow-beautied hu- 
manity; but touching, as I have had opportunity to 
touch, three of the great agencies of its aspirations — 
its philanthropies, its literature, and its schools — I 
know that no body of five million people, whether 
huddled in tenements or scattered over plain and moun- 
tain and along rivers and seas, has with more serious 
or sacrificing purpose aspired, though constantly dis- 
turbed in its prayers, its operations, by people of every 
tongue, nearly a million strong, who are emptied at her 
port every year from Europe and Asia, besides the 
hundreds of thousands who come up from the country. 
There are public schools, for example, in certain parts 
of that city where there is not a child of American 
parentage. There is one, in particular, which I visit 
frequently and which I call the "oasis" in the desert 
of humanity (Walt Whitman's Sahara), where two or 
three thousand children are gathered, literally from 
the plains of Russia, the valleys of Italy, and other 
parts of Europe — for these were their ancestral homes, 
though they come immediately from the swarming 
streets and dimly lighted, ill-smelling tenements of 
New York — and there, aspiring under the hopeful 
teaching of the city, I have heard them, boys and girls 
together, sing, with all the joy and cleanliness of 
shepherd children, of a leading in green pastures and 
by still waters. 

But to come back to the cities in the valley of Nou- 
velle France, there is no note of else than hope there. 
Mistakes, disappointments, crudities, infidelities ? 



242 THE FRENCH IN THE HEART OF AMERICA 

Yes, but the mistakes, disappointments, crudities, 
failures of youth — youth of strong passions and love 
of play but of a masterful will that a generous nature 
has so much encouraged and aided as to obscure its 
limitations. 

A few rods from the Carnegie Library and Museum 
of Art and Concert Hall in Pittsburgh is a baseball 
field, where a million people or more come in the course 
of the season to see trained men play an out-of-door 
game (and if it chanced that the President of the 
United States were visiting the city, he might be seen 
there accompanied by his secretary of state or the 
president of a great university). In Chicago I found 
the whole city, young and old, united in its interest in 
the results of the "game" of the day before or the 
prospects of the next. When games are played for the 
great championship pennant the city virtually takes a 
holiday. 

But that is the spirit of youth in those overgrown, 
awkward cities that are only now beginning to be self- 
conscious and seriously purposeful in doing more than 
the things conventionally and for the most part sel- 
fishly done by cities generally. In the conjugation of 
their busy, noisy life they do not often use the past 
tense, never the past-perfect, and they have had for 
the most part little concern as to the future, except 
the rise in real-estate values and the retaining of 
markets. When in Pittsburgh I asked a prominent 
man, of French ancestry, why the people did not keep 
from the destroying hand of private enterprise the 
site of old Fort Duquesne (the fecund plot from which 
the great city had grown), and he said it was all they 
could do to keep the little blockhouse that remained 



WESTERN CITIES 243 

of Fort Pitt, filling a space a few yards square. What 
claim has the past as against the needs of industry in 
the present ? That was the attitude of that grimy in- 
dividualism born in "barefoot square" or in "slab 
alley," in the land of smoke and flame and "rusty 
rivers." 

And the future ? Well, the voice of the French 
priest and of those ministers of his own and other 
faiths that have followed in his footsteps is still heard 
there crying of the world to come. 

Several years ago on my way into that valley, on 
one of those fast trains that tie the east and west to- 
gether, we came shrieking, thundering down the moun- 
tain slopes in the dusk of the day, past Jumonville's 
grave, past Braddock's field, past miles on miles of 
glowing coke-ovens, past acres upon acres of factories 
with their thousands of lighted windows, past flaming 
towers and chimneys into the midst of the modern 
babel, the tops of whose buildings were hidden in smoke, 
when suddenly, above the noise and clangor of whistles 
and wheels, I heard the rich, deep voice of a cathedral 
bell telling that the priest was still at the side of the 
explorer and trader and the iron coureur de bois. 

It is not, however, of the celestial but of the terres- 
trial future that I am permitted to speak. 

For, as I intimated, these young cities of the west, 
only a half-century old as cities — children by the side 
of Paris, London, Rome — are beginning seriously to 
take thought of the morrow, not simply of multiplying 
their numbers nor of sending their multitudes back 
to the country but of giving them prospect and 
promise of a better, more comfortable, more whole- 
some life, capable of a higher individual and collective 



244 THE FRENCH IN THE HEART OF AMERICA 

development within the city. For while cities have 
been preached against since the time when Jonah 
cried against Nineveh, and while cities have perished 
and have been buried, even as Nineveh, the generic 
city, the assembling of gregarious men, continues and 
increases. 

The census returns for 1910 for the American cities 
show, so far as I noticed, scarcely a single loss of popu- 
lation in the last ten years 1 and a large gain for nearly 
every city of the middle west. It is prophesied that 
before long one-half of the people of the United States 
will be living in cities, and there is the more distant 
prospect that the urban population will be two-thirds 
of the whole. 2 

It is hopeless to try to turn that tide away from the 
cities except to suburban fields. So the great problem 
of that valley is to improve the cities, since from them 
are to be the issues of the new life, since they are, in- 
deed, the hope of democracy. 

I have thought it of significance that the envisioned 
place of ultimate celestial felicity — seen though it was 
by a man in the solitude of a cave in an island of the 
Mediterranean (the place which the civilized world 
has dimly hanging over it, whenever it looks away from 
its tasks and into the beyond) — is not a lotus-land, not 
an oasis of spring and palm, not a stretch of forest and 
mountain, not even a quiet place by a sea of jasper, 
but a place of many tenements — a city, a perfect city 

1 Cities with losses of population in the decade are Galveston, Texas: 
37)3^9 in 1900, 36,981 in 1910; Chelsea, Mass.: 34,072 in 1900, 32,452 in 
1910; St. Joseph, Mo.: 102,979 in 1900, 77,403 in 1910. 

2 In 1910 46.3 per cent resided in communities classed by the census as 
urban, and 55.1 per cent in cities and incorporated or unincorporated 
villages. 



WESTERN CITIES 245 

to be sure, let down ultimately from the skies, with 
walls of precious stones — and no zone for Kipling's 
"Tomlinsons" about it — with gates whose octroi 
officials keep out whatever makes an abomination or 
a lie, but which are open to the east and west, the 
north and south, that the kings of earth may bring 
their glory and honor into it — a city whose streets are 
clean and smooth — a city that has flowing through it 
a river of pure water, on whose banks grow trees whose 
leaves are for the healing of the nations. 

The obvious thing to do, since, good or bad, the 
country is emptying its population into the cities, 
since we cannot go back through the gates of Eden 
into the garden paradise of Genesis, is to go toward the 
city of the Apocalypses, not, to be sure, as the Oriental 
mind of John saw it, paved and walled with precious 
stones and gold, but made as beautiful as the Occidental 
taste and architectural skill will permit, as comfortable 
as Occidental standards demand, and as sanitary as the 
mortal desire for immortality can with finite wisdom 
make it. 

I was speaking some time ago of a painting I once 
saw, in illustration of the death of Eve, which repre- 
sented her as on a journey in her haggard old age, 
accompanied by Cain (whose son built the first city 
in a wilderness), and as pausing in the journey on a 
height of ground, pointing toward a little cluster of 
trees in the distance, and saying to her son: "There 
was Paradise." But paradise is not to be realized by 
the masses of men in the return of man to the forests. 
The healing trees and the river are to be carried to the 
city. 



CHAPTER XII 

WESTERN TOWNS AND CITIES THAT HAVE 
SPRUNG FROM FRENCH PORTAGE PATHS 

THE old French portage paths were also fruitful 
of cities on the edge of the Mississippi Valley, 
though the growth of these short paths was 
not — with one notable exception — as luxuriant as that 
from the earth enriched of human blood and bones 
about the old French forts. 

These portages, or carrying paths, which differ 
from the trails of the wood runners in that they are 
but short interruptions of the water paths and were 
not designed or laid out, as a rule, by the wild en- 
gineers of the forests and prairies but by human feet, 
lie across the great highway along which, before the 
days of canals, one might have walked dry-shod from 
the Atlantic to the Pacific — between the basins of the 
St. Lawrence and the Atlantic, the Great Lakes and 
the Mississippi, the Pacific and the Arctic — a highway 
which has, however, been trodden by no one probably 
through its entire length, for in places it runs over 
inaccessible peaks of mountains and winds around the 
narrowest of ledges. But the paths across it — those 
connecting the streams that flow in opposite directions 
from the continental watersheds — are like isthmian 
paths between great oceans — great dry oceans with 
watercourses through them. 

There were, to be sure, still other portage paths 

246 



WESTERN TOWNS 247 

than those across watersheds, and the most common 
were those that led around waterfalls or impassable 
rapids, such as Champlain and the Jesuits followed on 
their journeys up the Ottawa to the Nipissing. It 
was of such portages that Father Brebeuf wrote — port- 
age paths passing almost continually by torrents, by 
precipices, and by places that were horrible in every 
way. In less than five days they made more than 
thirty-five portages, some of which were three leagues 
long. This means that on these occasions the traveller 
had to carry on his shoulders his canoe and all his 
baggage, with so little food that he was continually 
hungry and almost without strength and vigor. 1 An- 
other priest tells of a portage occupying an entire day, 
during which he climbed mountains and pierced forests 
and carried, the while, his chapel and his little store 
of provisions. 

Of whatever variety, however, these portage paths 
were frequently burying-grounds. Sometimes altars 
were erected beside them. They were often places of 
encampments, of assemblies, and more often of am- 
buscades. So it came about, too, that they were made 
the places of minor forts or gave occasion for forts 
farther on the way. In those precivilized Panama 
days, the neutrality of the isthmian paths could not 
be assured, and so they were fortified. 

Celoron tells of the mending of boats at the end 
of his Chautauqua portages, and that statement, with 
other like incidents, has led one authority to picture 
the birches — those beautiful white and golden trees 
of the sombre northern woods that gave their cloaks 
to the travellers who asked and shivered till they grew 

1 "Jesuit Relations" (Thwaites), 8 : 75-77. 



248 THE FRENCH IN THE HEART OF AMERICA 

others — stripped of their bark where those paths came 
down to the streams. He has even imagined primi- 
tive carpenter shops and ovens and huts on these paths 
where the voyageurs must stop for repairs, food, and 
rest — the precursors of garage, road-house, and hotel. 

But on maps in the Bibliotheque Nationale names 
of portage paths have been found which assure us that 
these difficult ways were not without charm to those 
early travellers, as they have been to many a wan- 
derer since; for there was Portage des Roses, where 
the wild rose brightened the way; and Portage de la 
Musique, where the water sang constantly its song in 
the solitude. Then there were Portage de la Roche 
Fendue, Portage des Chenes, Portage des Perches, 
Portage Talon, and Portage des Recollets, named in 
memory of experiences of men whom the voyageurs 
wished to recall or to honor, just as the French give 
to their streets such names as "Rue des Fleurs," 
"Boulevard des Capucines." 1 

The portage paths that became in time most fruit- 
ful were generally short, well-cleared, and deep-fur- 
rowed by feet. On three of the most important and 
historic of these paths from the basin of the Great 
Lakes to that of the Mississippi I have walked with 
the memories of these precursors; in one place it was 
suggested that I should ride in a carriage, but I re- 
fused, feeling that these men must be worshipped on 
foot. 

The first of these portages is that path of which I 
have already spoken several times (and which I never 
tire of letting my imagination travel again), the one 
over which Nicolet must have passed from the Fox 

1 A. B. Hulbert, " Historic Highways of America," 7 : 49. 



WESTERN TOWNS 249 

River into the Wisconsin River, if he got so far on his 
way to Muscovy — the path to which Father Dablon 
said the way was as through a paradise, but was as 
hard as the way to heaven 1 — the path which the 
coureurs de bois Radisson and Groseilliers doubtless 
followed; the path which La Salle may have found in 
those two years of mysterious absence in the valley; 
the path Marquette and Joliet and hundreds after 
them certainly took on their way from Montreal to 
the Mississippi or from the Mississippi back to Mon- 
treal. You would not know this narrow strip — not a 
mile wide — to be a watershed dividing the continent, 
the north from the south; you would not know it for 
the threshold to the Mississippi Valley. The plain 
which the path crosses seems to the eye as level as a 
table. Undoubtedly before the tipping of the bed of 
the lakes the water flowed over this path. Indeed, 
La Salle in one of his letters refers to the portaging 
here of canoes past an "oak grove and across a flooded 
meadow." The tree of which he speaks, with two 
canoes clumsily drawn upon it by the savages, to mark 
the beginning of the portage at the Wisconsin, has 
gone, but a monument of red granite now stands there 
with the names of Marquette and Joliet upon it. At 
the other end of the now macadamized "path" there 
is a little red bridge that leads across the Fox to where 
a portage fort grew later into an important trading- 
post; but now there is no trace of those monuments of 
war and trade. There is a farmhouse on their site whose 
tenants are in fear only of drought and early frosts. 

1 " If the country . . . somewhat resembles an earthly paradise in beauty, 
the way leading to it may be said to bear some likeness to the one depicted 
by our Lord as leading to Heaven." — "Jesuit Relations" (Thwaites), 55 : 
191. 



250 THE FRENCH IN THE HEART OF AMERICA 

A canal crosses this little isthmus and once it inter- 
locked the east and west, the arctic plains with the 
subtropic cane fields; but it has given over its work 
to the railroads, having served, however, I have no 
doubt, to water the roots of the beautiful town that 
bears the generic name of all those places where 
burdens were borne between waters. "Wauona," the 
Indians called it, more euphoniously, but with the 
same significance as "Portage" — in the State that has 
taken the name of the river that carried the burdens 
on to the Mississippi — Wisconsin. This town has 
lately crept modestly into our western literature as 
"Friendship Village." 1 Except that it has a more 
comely setting than most towns of the plains — even of 
those northern plains with their restful undulations — 
and has a brighter, cleaner aspect — since a light- 
colored brick is used instead of the red so much in 
favor where wood is forbidden by the fire laws — it 
is a typical western town — the next size larger than 
"Aramoni"; and so I must stop here for a moment 
where Marquette, son of Rose de la Salle of Rheims, 
and Joliet, the wagon maker of Quebec, came up out 
of the twisting little stream that is still one of the 
fountains of the Atlantic. 

For none the less is this village, standing beside 
this fountain (again more euphoniously called the Kaka- 
ling or Kaukauna), itself touching the Atlantic shores 
and even mingling with currents that reach the Euro- 
pean coasts. There was born in this village the his- 
torian 2 who has written so well of the rise of that 
western country that he has been called to the pro- 

1 Zona Gale, "Friendship Village." Macmillan, New York, 1908. 
* Frederick Jackson Turner. 



WESTERN TOWNS 251 

fessorship of American history at Harvard University, 
a literal son of the portage, who has rediscovered the 
west to the world. And recently all the valley, and 
other valleys, too, have been reading the stories of 
this place of portage (called, as I have said, " Friend- 
ship Village"), written by a young woman whose win- 
dows look out from her home upon the Wisconsin 
River not many paces from Marquette's place of em- 
barkation — a true daughter of the portage. 

The French, who have given the new continent this 
portage path out of Europe into the very heart of 
America, should read with some gratification of the 
more intimate life that dwells there back of and in 
the midst of the bustling, tireless, noisy industry of 
the valley. 

"The long Caledonian hills" [the same which La 
Salle describes], "the four rhythmic spans of the 
bridge" [a bridge of iron, not of vines and flowers such 
as Chateaubriand describes], "the nearer river, the is- 
land where the first birds build — these teach our win- 
dows the quiet and the opportunity of the home town, 
its kindly brooding companionship, its doors to an 
efficiency as intimate as that of fairy fingers." 1 And 
this is but one of thousands of "home towns" in that 
great basin, towns with Daphne streets and Queen 
Anne houses, and gloomy court-houses and austere 
churches and miniature libraries, towns that taper off* 
into suburban shanties, towns that have in these new 
bottles, of varied and pretentious shapes, the best 
wine of that western world. 

The author of "Friendship Village" has vision of 
the more beautiful towns into which these towns will 

'"Friendship Village," p. vii, author's note. 



252 THE FRENCH IN THE HEART OF AMERICA 

some day grow, as yours have grown more beautiful 
with age. "All the way," she writes, seeing the sun- 
set from that same river of the portage as Marquette 
saw it, "I had been watching against the gold the 
jogging homeward of empty carts. . . . Such a pro- 
cession I want to see painted upon a sovereign sky. I 
want to have painted a giant carpenter of the village 
as I once saw him, his great bare arms upholding a 
huge white pillar, while blue figures hung above and set 
the acanthus capital. . . . Some day we shall see these 
things in their own surprising values and fresco our 
village libraries with them." 1 That appreciation and 
expression of the beautiful is something that the French 
explorers in that other world — the valley reached of 
the pioneers of the seeing eyes and the understanding 
hearts — have carried and will continue to carry over 
those same portages, to give that virile life of the 
west some of those higher satisfactions of which this 
daughter of the portage is the prophetess. 

Another portage path of importance is that which 
Marquette may also have trodden, or may even have 
been carried over by his faithful attendants, Pierre 
Porteret and Jacques, on his death journey from the 
land of the Illinois to the mission of Michilimackinac, 
which he did not reach alive — a journey, the latter 
part of which was like that of King Arthur borne in a 
barge by his faithful knight, Sir Bedivere, to his last 
resting-place, the Vale of Avalon. This portage, vary- 
ing in length with the season from three to five miles, 
was the St. Joseph-Kankakee Portage. La Salle, 
Tonty, and Hennepin passed over it in 1679 on a less 
spiritual errand to the same land whose inhabitants 

'Zona Gale, "Friendship Village Love Stories," p. 47. 



WESTERN TOWNS 253 

Marquette had tried to instruct in the mystery of the 
faith. And it was well worn by adventurous and pious 
feet in the century that followed. 

What traffic in temporal and spiritual things was 
here carried over, is intimated by relics of that cen- 
tury found in the fields not far away, where for many 
years a French mission house stood with enough of a 
military garrison to invite for it the name "Fort St. 
Joseph." In the room of the Northern Indiana His- 
torical Society at this portage there are to be seen 
some of these relics, sifted from the dirt and sand: 
crucifixes, knives, awls, beads — which I am told are 
clearly the loot of ancient Roman cities, traded to the 
Indians for hides — iron rings, nails, and hinges — these 
with flint arrow-heads and axes, relics of the first mu- 
nitions of the stone and iron ages out on the edges of 
civilization. 

This portage path between the rivers is now ob- 
literated by railroads, paved streets, furrows, graves, 
factories, and dwellings; but down by the St. Joseph 
River there stands a withered cedar, perhaps several 
hundred years old, which bears scars that are believed 
to be the blaze marks of the broad-bladed axes of the 
French explorers — made to indicate the place where 
the portage out of the river began, the place which La 
Salle missed when lost in the forest but afterward 
found, where Father Gabriel made several crosses, as 
Hennepin records, on the trees — perhaps these very 
marks — and where La Salle left letters for the gui- 
dance over the prairie of those "who were to come in 
the vessel" — thinking of the captain of the Griffin who 
was ordered to follow him to the Illinois on his return. 

It is only a little more than a league from this land- 



254 THE FRENCH IN THE HEART OF AMERICA 

ing at the bend of the river (which has given the name 
"South Bend" to the town) across the "large prairie" 
to the wet meadows in whose ooze the tortuous Kan- 
kakee River became navigable, in La Salle's day, a 
hundred paces from its source, and increased so rapidly 
in volume that, as he says in a letter, "in a short time 
it becomes as broad and deep as the Marne" — the 
Marne which he knew in his boyhood and for which 
any but his iron heart must have longed. 

Charlevoix walked across those unchanged fields of 
St. Joseph a half century (1674-1720) after La Salle, 
and Parkman made the same journey nearly a century 
after Charlevoix, finding there what he called "a dirty 
little town." To-day a clean, industrious, eager city 
of over fifty-three thousand, with a world horizon, as 
well as a provincial pride, throws its shadow in the 
early morning across the path. Through its out- 
skirts I tried years ago to trace this portage path and 
there with my companion (who was always the "Tonty" 
of my voyages on those western streams), put my boat 
in the river and paddled and poled the seventy-five 
miles down the St. Joseph River to the lake, where, 
as I wanted to believe, Marquette had made his last 
journey. Hearing, some time after, of the blaze marks 
on the cedar-tree, I went again to the portage, and 
from this old red cedar-tree again traced the probable 
course of the French to the fields of corn, or maize, 
yellow in the autumn sun that hid the fountains of the 
Kankakee. This time, having but little leisure, I rode in 
an automobile from one end to the other through and 
along the path, looking occasionally toward the sky 
for air-ships that were due to alight there on their way 
from Chicago to New York. 



WESTERN TOWNS 255 

In La Salle's packs, carried over that portage, were 
blacksmith's tools — forge, bellows, anvil, iron for nails 
— and carpenter's and joiner's tools. One might easily 
believe that they were left there — such have been the 
products of that portage strip, two or three miles wide. 

First, there has grown there the largest wagon 
factory in the world. The path of the pack and the 
burden has here produced as its peculiar contribution 
to civilization that which is to carry burdens, instead 
of the backs of men, the world round. 

Second, here stands the world's largest plough fac- 
tory — a place from which ploughs are sent to every 
arable valley that civilization has conquered and made 
to feel its hunger. 

Third, here spreading its acres, or arpents, of build- 
ings across the high ground between the two rivers, is 
the largest factory in the world for the making of cer- 
tain parts of the sewing-machine; in every community 
of any size in the world it has an agency. 

And here, last of all, besides more than a hundred 
minor industries, is what is, to my great surprise, said 
to be the largest toy factory in the world. 

The gift of wagons for the bearing and easing of 
men's burdens; the gift of the steel plough that has 
lifted man from the primitive subsistence of the hoe; 
the gift of the shuttle which has released woman from 
the tyranny of the needle; the gift of toys to the chil- 
dren of all races; has not this portage prairie, this 
meadow of St. Joseph, had some element mixed with 
its loam and clay from the spirit of those Gallic 
precursors of American energy, something that has 
given this industry a wider venture, if not peculiar 
expression? At any rate, its gifts to its time have 



256 THE FRENCH IN THE HEART OF AMERICA 

been far beyond common, of the tangible at least; and 
as to the intangible, the day that I last spent on this 
portage an art league was being formed to foster an 
interest in art and bring the best examples available 
to what were, but a little time ago, dreary meadows 
half covered with snow and strewn with skulls and 
bones of the buffalo. The most modern schools are 
being developed and maintained by the public, and 
the University of Notre Dame and the College of St. 
Mary look across the river to this portage field and 
city. 

One might have passed this portage so difficult to 
discern, as La Salle did, and yet have found another 
way to the lower Mississippi, with a short portage 
from this same stream to the Wabash River. A still 
shorter way than any of these, and doubtless known to 
La Salle from his first years of wanderings in the 
eastern end of the Mississippi Valley, led from the west 
end of Lake Erie up the Maumee and then by portage 
to the Wabash and the Ohio. This was the path that 
Celoron followed homeward on his memorable plate- 
planting journey. But the portage was so long that he 
burned his shattered canoes near the source of the 
Miami and was furnished with boats at the French 
fort near the headwaters of the Maumee. The hos- 
tility of the Iroquois, as we have seen, made perilous 
to the French in the earlier days this path, so impor- 
tant among Indian highways as often to be called the 
"Indian Appian Way." 

Excepting the portage paths farther up the valley, 
notably that of St. Esprit, and important chiefly as 
fur-trading paths, there remains but one other historic 
portage path across the ridge of stone and swamp and 



WESTERN TOWNS 257 

prairie from which are pendent, on the one side, all the 
silver streams of the Mississippi Valley and, on the 
other side, all the Great Lakes and all the rivers that 
flow into them. 

This remaining path is the tenuous trail through the 
fields of wild onions that led from the river or creek 
called Chicago (the Garlic River — Riviere de l'Ail) 
into a stream that still bears a French name but of a 
pronunciation which a Parisian would not accept — 
the Des Plaines. This path, too, traversed a marsh 
and flat prairie so level that in freshet the water ran 
both ways and was once in the bed of a river that ran 
from the lake to the gulf. But it has been hallowed 
beyond all others of these trails, for it was beside this 
portage that Marquette suffered through a winter, de- 
tained there by a serious sickness when on his way to 
minister to the Illinois Indians a hundred miles below. 
His hut was the first European habitation upon its 
site — the site of the future city of Chicago. 

In a book-shop not a league from where that hut 
stood I found a volume valued at its weight in gold 1 
giving the account of the journey in which Mar- 
quette had passed up this portage on the way to Green 
Bay after the discovery of the upper Mississippi with 
Joliet. It tells in its closing paragraphs of the rich 
prairies just beyond this portage, but it recites with 
greater satisfaction the baptizing of a dying child 
brought to the side of his canoe as he was setting out 
for the mission house. "Had all this voyage," he said, 
"caused but the salvation of a single soul I should 

1 Thevenot, " Recueil de Voyages," with 2 folding maps and 14 plates, 
complete. Crown 8vo, white pigskin. Paris 1682. Contains Marquette's 
and Joliet's Discoveries in North America, etc. For an account of the vari- 
ous editions, see "Jesuit Relations," 59 : 294-9. 



258 THE FRENCH IN THE HEART OF AMERICA 

deem all my fatigue well repaid, and this I have reason 
to think. For, when I was returning, I passed by the 
Indians of Peoria, where I was three days announcing 
the faith, in all their cabins, after which, as we were 
embarking, they brought me on the water's edge a 
dying child which I baptized a little before it expired, 
by an admirable providence, for the salvation of an 
innocent soul." 1 

That was in 1673. It was more than a year before 
he again entered the Chicago River, wishing to keep 
his promise to minister to the Illinois savages and 
eager "to do and suffer everything for so glorious an 
undertaking." In the "Jesuit Relations" 2 the story 
of those winter days at the Chicago portage has been 
kept for all time. All through January his illness 
obliged him to stay in the portage cabin, but early in 
February he "commenced Novena (Neufuaine) with a 
mass, at which Pierre and Jacques [his companions], 
who do everything they can to relieve me, received com- 
munion — to ask God to restore my health." His ail- 
ment left him, but weakness and the cold and the ice 
in the rivers kept him still at the portage until April. 
On the eve of his leaving for the Illinois the journal 
ends with this thoughtful word of the French: "If 
the French procure robes in this country, they do not 
disrobe the savages, so great are the hardships that 
must be endured to obtain them." 8 

In the dusk of an autumn day I went out to find 
the place where the Novena had worked the miracle 
of his healing. As I have already intimated, few of all 

1 Shea, "Discovery and Exploration of the Mississippi Valley," 2d 
ed., p. 55. 

2 59: 165-183. '"Jesuit Relations" (Thwaites), 59 : 183. 



WESTERN TOWNS 259 

the hundreds of thousands there in that great city 
have had any consciousness of the background of 
French heroism and suffering and prevision in front 
of which they were passing daily, but I found that the 
policemen and the watchmen on the railroad near the 
river knew at least of the great black cross which 
stands by that drab and sluggish water, placed there 
in memory of Marquette and Joliet. The bit of high 
ground where the hut stood is now surrounded by great 
looming sheds and factories, which were entirely ten- 
antless when I found my way through a long unlighted 
and unpaved street in the direction of the river. The 
cross stood, in a little patch of white, black as the 
father's cowl, against the night with its crescent moon. 
I could not make out the inscription on the river side 
of the monument and, seeing a signal-lantern tied to a 
scow moored to the bank near by, I untied it and by 
its light was able to read the tribute of the city to the 
memory of the priest and the explorer "who first of 
known white men had passed that way," having trav- 
elled, as it recites, "two thousand five hundred miles 
in canoes in one hundred and twenty days." The 
bronze plate bears a special tribute to the foresight 
of Joliet, but it commemorates first of all the dwelling 
of the frail body and valorous soul of Father Marquette, 
the first European within the bounds of the city of 
Chicago. I wish there might be written on Missis- 
sippi maps, in that space that is shown between the 
Chicago and the Des Plaines, or the "Divine River," 
as it was sometimes called, the words: "Portage St. 
Jacques." That were a fitter canonization than to 
put his name among the names of cities, steamboats 
on the lake, or tobaccos, as is our custom in America. 



260 THE FRENCH IN THE HEART OF AMERICA 

The crescent moon dropped behind the shadows 
that now line the portage "like a sombre forest," but 
it is only a few steps through the darkness back into 
the light and noise of the city of more than two million 
people. 

Out of the black loam of this dark portage path 
fringed by marshes, in the field of wild onions, the 
newest of the world's great cities has sprung and spread 
with a promise that exceeds any other on the face of the 
planet, though within the life of men still living it was 
but a stretch of lake shore, a marshy plain with a path 
from its miniature river or creek toward the crescent 
moon. 

A metropolis was doubtless predestined on or near 
the very site of Chicago by natural conditions and the 
peopling of the lands to the northwest; but Louis 
Joliet was its first prophet. The inscription on the 
tablet at the foot of the black cross recites that in 
crossing this site Joliet recommended it for its natural 
advantages and as a place of first settlement. And 
he first suggested the lakes-to-the-gulf waterway — a 
prospect of which La Salle speaks with disfavor but 
which over two hundred years later was in some 
measure realized. 

The "Jesuit Relation" of August I, 1674, report- 
ing the conversation of Joliet, who had lost all his 
precious papers in the Lachine Rapids, makes this 
interesting prophecy: 1 "It would only be necessary to 
make a canal by cutting through half a league of 
prairie, to pass from the foot of the Lake of the Il- 
linois [Michigan] to the River St. Louis [Mississippi]. 
. . . A bark [built on Lake Erie] would easily sail 

1 Thwaite's edition, 58 : 105. 



WESTERN TOWNS 261 

to the Gulf of Mexico." The monument to him stands 
by the canal that has been cut through not merely a 
league but many leagues (thirty-eight miles) and lets 
the waters of Michigan flow southward to the Illinois. 
Of this site Joliet is quoted as saying, "The place 
at which we entered the lake is a harbor, very con- 
venient for receiving vessels and sheltering them from 
the wind;" 1 and of the prairies back of the harbor: 
"At first when we were told of these treeless lands I 
imagined that it was a country ravaged by fire, where 
the soil was so poor that it could produce nothing. 
But we certainly observed the contrary, and no better 
soil can be found, either for corn, for vines, or for any 
fruit whatever. ... 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 plough 
into the ground, and if he had no oxen from France, 
he could use those of this country, or even the animals 
possessed by the western savages, on which they ride, 
as we do on horses. After sowing grain of all kinds, 
he might devote himself especially to planting the 
vine, and grafting fruit-trees, to dressing ox-hides, 
wherewith to make shoes; and with the wool of these 
oxen he could make cloth, much finer than most of 
that which we bring from France. Thus he could 
easily find in the country his food and clothing, and 
nothing would be wanting except salt; but, as he could 
make provision for it, it would not be difficult to 
remedy that inconvenience." 2 If Marquette was the 
first martyr of the Illinois, Joliet was the first prophet 
of that great city of the Illinois. 

1 "Jesuit Relations" (Thwaites), 58 : 107. 
'"Jesuit Relations" (Thwaites), 58 : 107-9. 



262 THE FRENCH IN THE HEART OF AMERICA 

What he could not foresee was that Lake Michigan 
would make the Chicago of to-day not so much by giv- 
ing it a waterway to the markets of the east and Eu- 
rope as by standing as an obstacle in the way of a 
straight path to the sea from the northwest fields 
and so compelling those fertile lands to send all their 
riches around the southern end of Lake Michigan. 
He overestimated the economic importance, to be 
sure, of the buffalo. But if domesticated cattle be 
substituted for the wild species, he again showed re- 
markable prevision of the future of a city which has 
enjoyed a world fame by reason of its cattle-market — 
its stock-yards. 1 

Chicago is a city without a past, save for that glow 
of adventure which is almost as hazy as the myths or 
legends that lie back of Europe. It is just eighty-one 
years since it came into existence as a town, 2 and but 
twenty-eight voters voted for the first board of trustees 
of the town; its population was variously estimated 
at from above two hundred to three hundred and fifty. 
As a city, it is seventy-seven years old, 3 beginning its 
legal life as such with fewer than five thousand peo- 
ple. It was of its first mayor, William B. Ogden — 
though some years later than his administration — that 
Guizot, looking upon the portrait of his benevolent 
face, said: "That is the representative American, who 
is the benefactor of his country, especially the mighty 
West; he built Chicago." But the Chicago which he 
administered was but a small town in size. Its officials 
from treasurer to scavenger were appointed by the 

1 Of the importance of the lakes-to-the-gulf waterway we have already 
spoken. 

2 August 12, 1833. 3 Chartered March 4, 1837. 



WESTERN TOWNS 263 

common council and obliged to serve or pay certain 
fines. Every male resident over twenty-one was 
obliged to work three days each year on the streets 
and alleys or pay one dollar for each day. Fire war- 
dens had no compensation except release from jury or 
military service. There was at first meagre school 
provision, 1 no public sanitary provision, no consider- 
able public service of any sort. It was a neighborly 
but unsocialized place, where the individual had little 
restraint save of his own limitations and his personal 
love of his neighbors. What social functions the city 
performed were self-protective and not self-improving 
in motive. For example, fire might not be carried in 
the street except in a fire-proof vessel. 2 The aboriginal 
frog croaked on the very site of the place where grand 
opera is now sung. 

The city's development was largely left to the hap- 
hazard, unrestrained, but whole-souled, big-hearted, 
self-confident individualism, such as has been potent 
in Pittsburgh. The restrictions were mainly those of 
the prohibitory Mosaic commandments. And so this 
city, increasing its population by a half-million in each 
of the last three decades, has come to stand next 
to Paris in population and first of all great American 
cities in the constructive activity of its civic con- 
sciousness and urban imagination. The city is still 
smoke-enwrapped (when the wind does not blow from 
the lake); its streets run out into prairie dust and mud; 

1 The money derived from the sale of school lands in 1833 was distributed 
among the existing private schools which thus became free common schools. 
Less than $40,000 was received for lands now worth much more than $100, 
000,000. 

1 S. E. Sparling, "Municipal History and Present Organization of the 
City of Chicago," University of Wisconsin Bulletin, No. 23, 1898. 



264 THE FRENCH IN THE HEART OF AMERICA 

its harbor, of which Joliet spoke in praise, merits 
rather the disparagement of La Salle; there are offend- 
ing smells and sights everywhere. But in the midst 
of it all and over it all is moving now, as a healing 
efficacy in troubled waters, a spirit of democratic 
aspiration. What Louis XIV or Napoleon I or Na- 
poleon III, king and emperors, planned and did, com- 
pelling the co-operation of a people in making the 
city of Paris more beautiful, more habitable, that a 
people of millions out upon the prairies of Illinois are 
beginning to do out of their own desire and common 
treasury. 

It is of interest that the sovereign of France who 
gave her empire of those great stretches of plain, gave 
to Paris "those vast reaches of avenue and boulevard 
which to-day are the crowning features of the most 
beautiful of cities." But it must quicken France's in- 
terest further to know that this first systematic plan- 
ning for a city, as an organic whole, by Louis XIV and 
Colbert, Le Notre and Blondel is now being followed 
out on that plain by a self-governing people, who have 
been making cities for barely half a century, to bring 
order and form and beauty, and better condition of 
living out of that grimy collection of homes and 
shops and beginnings of civic enterprise and great 
private philanthropies. A great deal has been already 
accomplished, such as the widening of the leading 
avenue, the addition of acres upon acres to the park 
space on the lake shore, the establishment of an efficient 
small park system; but it is only the beginning of a 
scheme that thinks of Chicago as a city that will some 
day hold ten millions of people. The prophecy of one 
statistician (now of New York) predicts for Chicago a 



WESTERN TOWNS 265 

population of thirteen million two hundred and fifty 
thousand souls in 1952; 1 and the great railroad builder, 
James J. Hill, has estimated that "when the Pacific 
coast shall have a population of twenty millions, Chi- 
cago will be the largest city in the world." 

The specific plans for its improvement have been 
developed by a small body of public-spirited citizens, 
but they are simply that great urban democracy think- 
ing and speaking, trying to express itself. It has de- 
veloped with less interference or compulsion on the 
part of the State than any other great city of America, 
and now it is moving voluntarily to the noblest as well 
as the most practical of improvements. 

Under like leading it built the "White City," the 
ephemeral city of the World's Fair, in the celebration 
of the four-hundredth anniversary of the discovery of 
America, and that splendid achievement of the black, 
unkempt city back of it gave first hint, in the co-opera- 
tion that made this possible, of what a community 
could do and at the same time gathered to it the 
teaching of the older cities of the earth from their long 
striving for the city beautiful. 

The city provides its own water-supply, it lights 
its streets, it has recently acquired control of its 
street-car lines, and every passenger is notified as a 
shareholder that 55 per cent of the profits comes into 
the city treasury. And now under this inspiration 
and yet of its own will it has begun a transformation 
of itself into the likeness of what it dreamed in those 
evanescent buildings and courts and columns and 
statues and frescoes out by the opalescent waters of 

1 Bion J. Arnold, "Report of the Engineering and Operating Features of 
the Chicago Transportation Problem," pp. 95, 96. 



266 THE FRENCH IN THE HEART OF AMERICA 

its sea. It saw the reflection of that "White City" in 
the lake and then the image of its own workaday 
face — and it has not forgotten what manner of city it 
was. 

Remember again that what is and what is promised 
have come in a lifetime. Walking in the streets of that 
city early one morning a few years ago, as the trains 
were emptying the throngs who sleep outside along the 
lake and out on the prairie, into the canyons made by 
its tall buildings, I found myself immediately behind a 
robust old man, a civil engineer, who was born before 
Chicago had a hundred inhabitants. He was much 
older than the city whose buildings now reach out 
miles from the lake (one of its streets thirty-two miles 
long) and thirty and forty stories into the air. One 
hundred years ago it was the French wilderness un- 
touched. Eighty years ago most of its citizens bore 
French names. The portage path has literally yielded 
a harvest of streets. 

Chicago, the city of the French portage, Chicago, 
which despite all that casual visitors see and say of 
it, was, I contend, best defined by Harriet Martineau 
as a "great, embryo poet," moody, wild, but bringing 
about results, exulting that he — for he is a masculine 
poet — has caught the true spirit of things of the past 
and has had sight of the depths of futurity. But it is 
only now that the brooding poet is coming to express 
himself in verses that are recognized for their beauty. 

Chicago, the field of the wild onions, threaded by 
La Riviere de l'Ail, the place of the shambles, the 
capital of the golden calf. That is her fame. 

Only recently I read in a book which I found in 
Paris, written by an English traveller, that Chicago 



WESTERN TOWNS 267 

stands apart from all other cities in that "her people 
are really on earth to make money"; that, magnificent 
as she is in many ways, chiefly in distances, she is "too 
busy money-making to attend to civic improvements" 
or to have a "keen affection for worthier things." 

I have gone a hundred times in and out of that 
dirty, unkempt city, swept only by the winds, one would 
think, and I know its worst, its physical, moral, 
political worst. But if the people there have wor- 
shipped the golden calf in their wilderness, they have 
now drunk of the dust of their first image, and I should 
be disposed to say that nowhere among American 
cities is there a keener affection for worthier things 
showing itself. 

Again I shall have to admit that this "affection" 
is not the spontaneous expression of the entire demo- 
cratic community. As in Pittsburgh, a comparatively 
few men have voluntarily, and at their own expense, 
undertaken to study not only the conditions that make 
for better and cheaper travel, more profitable com- 
mercial intercourse and greater productiveness, but 
for a more wholesome and a higher spiritual existence. 
And again it is so with the hope that the great self- 
governing community will out of its desire and treasury 
bring about these conditions. 

These few men and women, possessed both by a love 
of that still uncouth city and an ideal objectively 
learned in the days when the "White City" stood be- 
tween it and the lakes, have already spent a half- 
million francs in study and in making plans — in ad- 
dition to all the months and years of volunteer, unpaid 
service. 

The principal items of this great scheme are: 



268 THE FRENCH IN THE HEART OF AMERICA 

i. The improvement of the lake front. 

2. The creation of a system of highways outside the 
city. 

3. The improvement of railway terminals and the 
development of a complete traction system for both 
freight and passengers. 

4. The acquisition of an outer park system and of 
parkway circuits. 

5. The systematic arrangement of the streets and 
avenues within the city, in order to facilitate the move- 
ment to and from the business districts. 

6. The development of centres of intellectual life 
and of civic administration, so related as to give co- 
herence and unity to the city. 

Is there not hope for democracy if in the places of 
its greatest strain and stress, in the midst of its fiercest 
passions, there is a deliberate, affectionate, intelligent 
striving toward cities that have been revealed not in 
apocalyptic vision but in the long-studied plans of 
terrestrial architects and engineers and altruistic souls, 
such as that of Jane Addams, cities that to such am- 
phionic music shall out of the shards of the past build 
themselves silently, impregnably — if not in a diviner 
clime, at any rate in a diviner spirit — on shores and 
slopes and plains of that broad valley of the new 
democracy, conterminous in its mountain boundaries 
with New France in America ? 

A little while ago some workmen who were digging 
trenches for the foundations of a new factory or ware- 
house along that portage path thrust their spades into 
a piece of wood buried sixteen feet below the surface. 
It was found to be a fragment of a French bateau, 
lying on one of whose thwarts was a sword — probably 



WESTERN TOWNS 269 

of one who had met his death on the edge of the por- 
tage — a sword with an inscription showing that it 
probably belonged to an early French voyageur. 

And so again in these relics but newly brought to 
light I find new words to remind ourselves that the 
roots of that mighty, virile, healthiest, most aspiring 
of America's great cities are entwined about the sym- 
bols of French adventure and empire in the west — 
the sword and the boat, and doubtless there was a 
crucifix not far away. 



CHAPTER XIII 
FROM LA SALLE TO LINCOLN 

IONCE heard a public lecturer in America telling 
a New York audience of an experience in the Mis- 
sissippi Valley, where he asked an audience of 
children what body of water lay in the middle of the 
earth — wishing them to name to him, of course, the 
Mediterranean Ocean — and unexpectedly got the seri- 
ous answer from a lad of deep conviction but narrow 
horizon, "the Sangamon River." I told the amused 
lecturer, who had never heard of this river, at any rate 
as locally pronounced, that the lad spoke more truly 
than the lecturer knew. For to those of even wider 
horizons, whose greatest and most beloved hero in his- 
tory lived and was buried near the banks of the Sanga- 
mon, it is the middle water of the earth. 

It is but a little river, and it is but one of the rivers 
of the valley of a hundred thousand streams, truly 
the Medimarenean Land, since all the oceans are now 
being gathered about it. The Sangamon flows into 
the Illinois, the Illinois into the Mississippi, and the 
Mississippi is now to flow into all the seas, even as the 
life of Lincoln is to flow into all history. 

How little competent I am to speak dispassionately 
of this great incarnation of the spirit of those western 
waters the distorted geography of the untravelled lad 
whom the alien lecturer found on the prairies will 
suggest, for the river of the home and the fame of Lin- 
coln empties into the river of my birth. 

270 



FROM LA SALLE TO LINCOLN 271 

It was along this latter river — the Illinois — as we 
know, that La Salle and his men, in midwinter of 1682, 
dragged on the ice their canoes, baggage, and disabled 
companions from the Chicago River, all the way to the 
site of Fort Crevecceur, where they found open water, 
and thence in their canoes made their way past the 
mouth of the Sangamon (which first appears on the 
maps of the new world in 1683, just after La Salle's 
journey, as the River Emicouen) and on into the Mis- 
sissippi. We recall their "adventurous progress" and 
the unveiling to their eyes more and more of the vast 
new world, where the warm and drowsy air and hazy 
sunlight succeeded the frosty breath of the north. We 
see them floating down the winding water path. We 
see the red children of the sun — the Indian sun-wor- 
shippers — clothed in white cloaks, receiving the white 
heralds of Europe; we hear the weather-beaten voy- 
ageurs chant on the shores of the gulf solemn, exulting 
songs learned in church and cloister of France; we 
hear the faint voice of their leader crying his claim to 
all the great valley from the mouth of the river to its 
source beyond the country of the Nadouesioux — the 
voice not of a human throat alone but of a vision in 
the wilderness. We discern after long years the 
sounds of its realization. We see the iridescence of the 
John Law bubble shining over the turbid waters of 
that river for a moment. We see the raising and lower- 
ing of flags of various colors. We hear Napoleon's rep- 
resentative saying: "May the inhabitants of this valley 
and a Frenchman never meet upon any spot of the 
globe without feeling brothers!" We see the general 
who is later to embody the west's crude democratic 
ideals, Andrew Jackson, victorious in the last struggle 



272 THE FRENCH IN THE HEART OF AMERICA 

of independence from Europe. We see the red wor- 
shippers of the sun in their white cloaks crossing the 
river, vanishing toward its setting; and we see the 
black shadows of men, the negro slaves, creeping out 
of Africa after the white heralds of Europe in America. 
Seeing and hearing all this, we have seen and heard 
the intimations of the glory of France in the new 
world, the birth of a world-power, the United States, 
the infancy of a new democracy, the disappearance of 
the aboriginal Indian, the menace of the black shadow 
that had made a nation half slave and half free, and 
the prophecy of the triumphant coming of the new-age 
producers and poets, the men of the Land of the Western 
Waters. 

It is out of this light and shade gathered by the 
Father of Waters — the Mississippi — along its banks, 
that there comes silently one day in 183 1, the lank, 
bony, awkward figure of Abraham Lincoln, then a 
young man of twenty-two, guiding a flatboat laden 
with prairie products down this same tortuous water- 
way, from the Sangamon to the sea. He was six feet 
four inches tall, homely, sad-faced, handy, and as 
little promising outwardly as any other pilot or boat- 
man of those days. It is still remembered in prairie 
legends, however, that at the beginning of the voyage, 
his boat being stuck midway across a dam, he had in- 
geniously managed to release it and save all from 
shipwreck. It seems now an incident fraught with 
prophecy. And it is said that many years later he 
made designs of a contrivance that would lift flatboats 
over shoals and even let them navigate on ice — an 
intimation of the resourcefulness of men left to fight 
alone with the forces of nature. 



FROM LA SALLE TO LINCOLN 273 

He was not a "Yankee," as one writing me in Paris 
characterized the men of that valley. This awkward 
landsman on water was born in a cabin in the Ken- 
tucky wilderness, a house replaced by one of unhewn 
timber, without door or floor or window, probably not 
better than the meanest of the gypsy houses just out- 
side the fortifications of Paris. He accompanied his 
restless, migratory father from one squatter home to 
another until he settled in Illinois, where the timber- 
land and prairie meet, near the Sangamon, and there 
built another cabin, made rails to fence ten acres of 
land — which gave him the sobriquet the "rail-split- 
ter" — "broke" the ground, and raised a crop of corn 
on it the first year. You may remember that Joliet 
made report of such a possibility there. 

Lincoln's origin you will recognize as typical of that 
frontier, except that the character which asserted 
itself in the son, if there is transmission of acquired 
character, seems to have come from the mother and 
the nurturing of his stepmother rather than from the 
shiftless, paternal pioneer who gave the wilderness 
environment and soil to the nurturing of this stock 
and was as little paternalistic as the government. 
Perhaps this ne'er-do-well father is to be classed as 
one of those rough coureurs de bois who, in his am- 
bassadorship from his ancestors to their frontier pos- 
terity, forgot the conventions and manners of the an- 
cestral life in the temptations of the open country to a 
man without a slave. When he started down the Ohio 
into Indiana with his family, his carpenter's tools, his 
household goods, and a considerable quantity of 
whiskey, he was going to treat, not as the coureurs de 
bois, with the Indians, the savage men of the forests; 



274 THE FRENCH IN THE HEART OF AMERICA 

he was going to treat with the savage forces of nature 
themselves. And one must, as I have said of Nicolet 
and Perrot and Du Lhut, judge charitably these men 
who made the reconciliations of the edges of things. 
They made the paths to western cities; he, to a west- 
ern character; that only need be remembered. 

Certain trees depend for the spread of their kind on 
seeds equipped with spiral wings that when they fall 
they may reach the ground outside the shadow of the 
parent tree and so have a chance to grow into wide- 
spreading trees. Thomas Lincoln, the father of Abra- 
ham, was as the spirals that carried the precious seed 
where it could have free air and an unshadowed soil 
to grow in. 

And there the tuition of the experiences that made 
all men kin and so made a natural democracy possible 
began. He had little teaching of the formal sort. 
Six months or a year in a log schoolhouse probably 
measured its duration. He had the sterner discipline 
of the fields, the waters, and the trees, for their very 
temptations became disciplines to those who resisted, 
as his father did not. He learned his parables of the 
fields and of the natural instincts of his neighbors. 
He knew both physical and human nature about him, 
and this he illustrated, expressed, in such manner as 
to make him a faithful and favorite exponent of its 
coarseness, its kindliness, its gallantry, its sympathies, 
and its heroisms. 

These neighborly fellowships, not affected but genu- 
ine, equipped him not only with a vital and never-fail- 
ing sense of brotherhood but with a faith in those 
whom he called the "plain people," the common man. 
His creed was, if not innate, innurtured. That fellow- 



FROM LA SALLE TO LINCOLN 275 

ship and that faith were at the bottom of his democracy 
— not merely patient love of his neighbors but faith 
in their ultimate judgments — democracy that made him 
a nationalist and a world humanist. 

But in the making of Lincoln there were more than 
the usual disciplines. He had also the tuition of the 
"solemn solitude," as Bancroft says. He sought the 
fellowships of the past — of that "invisible multitude 
of the spirits of yesterday." He read every book that 
he could get within fifty miles, it is said. But what is 
more certain is that he read thoroughly and "inwardly 
digested" a few books. He knew the Bible, Shake- 
speare, and Burns, iEsop's "Fables," Bunyan's "Pil- 
grim's Progress," and "Robinson Crusoe." He read a 
history of the United States and a life of Washington, 
and he learned by heart the statutes of the State of In- 
diana. Moreover, he studied without guidance algebra 
and geometry. It is said that later in life, when his 
political career was beginning, he continued his studies 
even more seriously and attempted to master a foreign 
language. 

So he had companionship of the patriarchs and 
prophets and poets of Israel. And it was the experi- 
ence of many another prairie boy that he knew inti- 
mately these Asiatic heroes of history before he con- 
sciously heard of modern or contemporary heroes. I 
knew of Joshua before I was aware of Napoleon, and I 
remember carving upon a primitive arch of triumph — 
which was only the stoop at the roadside, but the most, 
conspicuous public place accessible to my knife — the 
name of one of the cities taken in the conquest of 
Canaan, an instinct of hero-worship — so splendidly il- 
lustrated in French art and monuments. 



276 THE FRENCH IN THE HEART OF AMERICA 

Lincoln the youth had not only those ancient com- 
panionships but the intimate counsel of the greatest 
of teachers of democracy. He knew, too, the homely 
wisdom of Greece as well as he knew the treasured 
sayings of his own people handed on from generation to 
generation. He was as familiar with the larger-hori- 
zoned gossip and philosophies of Shakespeare's plays as 
with those which gathered around the post-office of 
Clary's Grove, where later this youth as postmaster 
carried the letters in his hat and read the newspapers 
before they were delivered. He loved Burns for his 
philosophy that "a man's a man for a' that." So with 
these and others he found his high fellowships, even 
while he "swapped" stories (enriched of his reading) 
with his neighbors at the store or his fellow lawyers 
at the primitive taverns. 

But there were less personal associations. He made 
the fundamental laws of a wilderness State an acquisi- 
tion of his instincts. There is preserved in a law 
library in New York the much-worn copy of the 
statutes of Indiana enacted in the first years of the 
existence of that State. It is stated that he learned 
these statutes by copying extracts from them — and 
from the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution 
of the United States, and the Ordinance of the North- 
west, included in the same volume — on a shingle when 
paper was scarce, using ink made of the juice of brier- 
root and a pen made from the quill of a turkey-buz- 
zard, and shaving the shingle clean for another extract 
when one was learned, till his primitive palimpsest 
was worn out. But whatever the medium of their 
transmigration from matter to mind, they became the 
law of his democracy, sacred as if they had been brought 



FROM LA SALLE TO LINCOLN 277 

to him on tables of stone by a prophet with shining 
face. It was in that school, I believe, that he learned 
his nationalism, his devotion to the Constitution — to 
which in maturer years he gave this famed expres- 
sion: "I would save the Union, I would save it in the 
shortest way under the Constitution. . . . My par- 
amount object in this struggle is to save the Union. 
If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I 
would do it; and if I could save it by freeing all the 
slaves, I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing 
some and leaving others alone, I would also do that. 
What I do about slavery and the colored race, I do 
because I believe it helps to save the Union, and what 
I forbear, I forbear because I do not believe it would 
help to save the Union." 1 

And when he had freed the negro by a proclamation 
that violated the letter of the Constitution, it was 
still that boy of the woods speaking in the man — the 
boy who had learned his lesson beyond all possibility 
of forgetting or misunderstanding — "I felt that mea- 
sures otherwise unconstitutional mighf become lawful 
by becoming indispensable to the preservation of the 
Constitution through the preservation of the nation." 

It was from those shingles that he learned, too, the 
place of the State in this nationalism. Its paternalism 
has grown tremendously since 1824, when democracy 
was a negative, a repressive and not a positive, aggres- 
sive political and social spirit, but, as it was, it gave 
him the foundation of the political structure within 
whose lines he had to build later. 

And with all this was a self-discipline in the two 
great knowledges by which men have climbed from 

1 Letter to Horace Greeley, August 22, 1862. 



278 THE FRENCH IN THE HEART OF AMERICA 

savages to gods — language and mathematics. He was 
told one day that there was an English grammar in a 
house six miles from his home, and he at once walked 
off to borrow it. And he studied geometry and algebra 
alone. This may seem to you an inconsequential thing, 
but having myself on those same prairies not far away 
from the Sangamon acquired my algebra with little 
teaching and my solid geometry with only the tuition 
of a book and of the sun or a lamp, I am able to ap- 
preciate what the hardship of that self-schooling was. 
It was more agreeable to watch the clouds while the 
horses rested at the end of the furrow, to address, as 
did Burns, lines to a field-mouse, or to listen to the song 
of the meadow-lark, than to learn the habits of the three 
dimensions then known, of points in motion, of lines 
in intersection, of surfaces in revolution, or to represent 
the unknown by algebraic instead of poetic symbols. 

But his private personal culture, as one 1 has observed, 
had no "embarrassing effects," because he shared so 
completely and genuinely the amusements and occupa- 
tions of his neighborhood. No "taint of bookishness" 
disturbed the local fellowships which gave him opportu- 
nity to express in "familiar and dramatic form" of 
story and illustration his more substantial philosophy 
and so find for it the perfect speech. His neighbors 
called him by homely, affectionate names, thinking he 
was entirely one of them — a little more clever, a little 
less ambitious in the usual channels of business and 
enterprise. He had no "moral strenuousness of the 
reformer" and no "exclusiveness" of learning. He 
"accepted the fabric of traditional American political 

1 Herbert Croly, Lincoln as more than an American in his "Promise of 
American Life," pp. 89-99. 



FROM LA SALLE TO LINCOLN 279 

thought." He seemed "but the average product," 
and yet, as this same writer has said, "at bottom Abra- 
ham Lincoln differed as essentially from the ordinary 
western American of the middle period as St. Francis 
of Assisi differed from the ordinary Benedictine monk 
of the thirteenth century." 1 He was not, like Jackson, 
simply a lar'ge, forceful version of the plain American 
trans-Alleghany citizen; he made no clamorous, boast- 
ful show of strength, powerful as he was physically and 
intellectually. He shared genuinely, with no conscious- 
ness of his own distinction, the "good-fellowship of 
his neighbors, their strength of will, their excellent 
faith, and above all their innocence." But he made 
himself, by discipline of his own, "intellectually candid, 
concentrated, and disinterested and morally humane, 
magnanimous and humble." This is not the picture 
of a conventional, generic democrat; and this is not, 
we are assured by the earlier writers, the picture of the 
westerner of that period. Indeed, Mr. Croly insists 
that while these Lincolnian qualities are precisely the 
qualities which Americans, in order to become better 
democrats, should add to their strength, homogeneity, 
and innocence, they are just the qualities (high intelli- 
gence, humanity, magnanimity, and humility) which 
Americans are "prevented by their individualistic 
practice and tradition from attaining or properly valu- 
ing." "Their deepest convictions," he contends, 
"make the average unintelligent man the representa- 
tive democrat, and the aggressive, successful individual 
the admired national type." To them Lincoln is 
simply "a man of the people" and an example of 
strong will. 

1 Croly, "Promise of American Life," p. 90. 



280 THE FRENCH IN THE HEART OF AMERICA 

But the man who said this did not know that land 
of Lincoln — which was the valley of La Salle, and even 
before that the valley of the tribe of men — for I be- 
lieve its inhabitants knew that he was the embodiment 
of what they coveted for themselves; that he was not 
their ordinary average but their best selves. 

Their individualism has been, I must say again, 
under practical compulsions and has had fruits that 
deceive the eye. It is so insistent upon national pro- 
ductivity, but none the less is it joined to a high ideal- 
ism that worships just the qualities that were so 
miraculously united in Abraham Lincoln. To be sure, 
some remember for their own excuse his coarse stories; 
some recall for their own justification his acceptance 
of the political standards that he found; but the great 
body of the people keep him in reverence and affection 
as the incarnation of patience, honesty, fairness, 
magnanimity, humility; not for his strength of will 
primarily, but for his strength of charity and honesty, 
and in so doing they reveal the ideal that is in and 
under their own individual struggle. 

Montalembert said that "a social constitution which 
produced a Lincoln and others like him is a good tree 
whose sure fruit leaves nothing to envy in the product 
of any monarchy or aristocracy." Lincoln was not, 
we want to believe, a freak, a sport of nature, but the 
"sure fruit" that should not only leave nothing to 
envy in others, but leave nothing to question in the 
soundness of a democracy that gives evidence of its 
spirit in remembering Abraham Lincoln more tenderly, 
more affectionately, more reverentially than any one 
else in its history. It is less to his praise but more 
accurate, I think, that, as his biographer put it: "His 



FROM LA SALLE TO LINCOLN 281 

day and generation uttered itself through him." He 
expressed their ugliest forms and their most beautiful 
developments. 

None the less is it remarkable that not only should 
the virility and nobility of the frontier have been ex- 
hibited in him, but that the consummate skill and char- 
acter known to the world's centres of culture should 
have had, in his speech and intellectual attitude and 
grasp, a new example. 

When he wrote his letter in acceptance of the nomi- 
nation to the presidency, he showed it to the superin- 
tendent of public instruction in Illinois, whom he 
called "Mr. Schoolmaster" (and who was years after 
my own beloved schoolmaster) saying: "I am not very 
strong on grammar and I wish you would see if it is 
all right." The schoolmaster had only to repair what 
we call a "split infinitive." But the great utterances 
of his life had no tuition or revision of schoolmasters. 
They were his own in conception and expression. He 
sent his Cooper Union speech in advance to several for 
advice, and they, I am told, changed not a word. 

Of his debates with Douglas (1858), his speech in 
Cooper Union, New York, i860, his oration at the 
dedication of the Soldiers' Cemetery at Gettysburg, 
and of his second inaugural address, it has been said 
that no one of them has been surpassed in its separate 
field. Goldwin Smith said of the Gettysburg speech: 
"Saving one very flat expression, the address has no 
superior in literature." 1 These appraisements I would 
hesitate to repeat in France, where all letters come 
finally to be adjudged, if I did not know that this last 

1 Goldwin Smith, "Early Years of A. Lincoln." In R. D. Sheppard, 
"Abraham Lincoln," p. 132. 



282 THE FRENCH IN THE HEART OF AMERICA 

document (the Gettysburg speech), at least, had been 
admitted to the seat of the immortal classics. It is said 
to have been written on scraps of paper, as the great 
care-worn man rode in the car from Washington to 
Gettysburg, and I have been told by one who was 
present at the ceremonies that the quiet had hardly 
come over the vast audience, stirred by the eloquence 
of Edward Everett's oration which had lasted two 
hours, before this briefest and noblest of American 
orations, spoken in a high and unmusical voice by the 
great lank figure, consulting his manuscript, was over. 
It is heard now in the memory of millions of school- 
children from the Atlantic to the Pacific: 

"Fourscore and seven years ago our fathers brought 
forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in 
liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men 
are created equal. 

"Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing 
whether that nation or any nation so conceived and so 
dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great 
battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a 
portion of that field as a final resting-place for those 
who here gave their lives that that nation might live. 
It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do 
this. 

"But in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate — we can- 
not consecrate — we cannot hallow — this ground. The 
brave men, living and dead, who struggled here have 
consecrated it far beyond our poor power to add or 
detract. The world will little note nor long remember 
what we say here, but it can never forget what they did 
here. It is for us, the living, rather, to be dedicated 
here to the unfinished work, which they who fought 



FROM LA SALLE TO LINCOLN 283 

here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for 
us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining 
before us — that from these honored dead we take in- 
creased devotion to that cause for which they gave the 
last full measure of devotion; that we here highly 
resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain; 
that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of 
freedom; and that government of the people, by the 
people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth." 

Bronze tablets bearing this oration for their in- 
scription have been put on the walls of schoolhouses 
and public buildings all the way across the continent — 
plates in renewal of possession, that are another fruit- 
age of the valley where the French planted their plates 
of possession and repossession a century before. 

But I would also have read — especially in France, 
where letters are still being written that have the 
quality of literature — a letter of this frontiersman. The 
professor of history in the College of the City of New 
York, showing me his museum, would have me read 
again this letter in the hand of Abraham Lincoln; and 
I would have those beyond America, as well as in that 
valley, hear what a man of the western waters could 
write before the coming of the typewriter: 

"Dear Madam: I have been shown in the files of 
the War Department a statement of the Adjutant- 
General of Massachusetts that you are the mother of 
five sons who have died gloriously on the field of 
battle. I feel how weak and fruitless must be any 
words of mine which should attempt to beguile you 
from the grief of a loss so overwhelming. But I can- 
not refrain from tendering to you the consolation that 



284 THE FRENCH IN THE HEART OF AMERICA 

may be found in the thanks of the Republic they died 
to save. I pray that our heavenly Father may assuage 
the anguish of your bereavement and leave you only 
the cherished memory of the loved and lost and the 
solemn pride that must be yours to have laid so costly 
a sacrifice upon the altar of freedom. 
"Yours very sincerely and respectfully, 

"Abraham Lincoln." * 

These two examples illustrate not only the form of 
his speech and writing, but the sympathy and the 
temper of the soul of the man. They need only the 
supplement of a comment on the strength of his 
thought in expression. It is said of his Cooper Union 
speech (his first speech before a large eastern urban au- 
dience, I think): "From the first line to the last, from 
his premises to his conclusion, he travels with a swift, 
unerring directness which no logician ever excelled, an 
argument complete and full, without the affectation 
of learning. ... A single, easy, simple sentence . . . 
contains a chapter of history that, in some instances, 
has taken days of labor to verify and which must have 
cost the author months of investigation to acquire. 
. . . Commencing with this address as a political 
pamphlet, the reader will leave it as an historical work, 
brief, complete, profound, truthful — which will survive 
the time and occasion that called it forth and be es- 
teemed hereafter, no less for its intrinsic worth than 
its unpretending modesty." 2 

^'Lincoln, Complete Works" (Nicolay and Hay edition), 2 : 600. To 
Mrs. Bixby, Boston, Mass., November 1, 1864. 

2 Pamphlet edition with notes and prefaces by C. C. Nott and Cephas 
Brainerd, September, i860. Quoted in Nicolay and Hay, "Abraham 
Lincoln," 2 : 225. 



FROM LA SALLE TO LINCOLN 285 

His first wide fame grew from a speech which he 
delivered on October 16, 1854, in Peoria, the city that 
had grown on the Illinois River by the side of La Salle's 
Fort Crevecceur. "When the white man governs him- 
self," he said there, "that is self-government; but when 
the white man governs himself and also governs an- 
other man, that is more than self-government — that is 
despotism." 1 Two years later he made near there an 
address so irresistible in its eloquence that the reporters 
forgot why they were there and failed to take notes. 
So there are but fragments preserved of what is known 
as "the lost speech." 

The minor anecdotes of his life that are treasured 
and the stories which he is said to have told would fill 
a volume — perhaps volumes. They all tell of a genius 
who through adversity became resourceful, who through 
the neighborly exchanges of a village learned a sym- 
pathy as wide as humanity, and who with an infinite 
patience and kindliness and good sense dealt with a 
divided people. 

The world outside the valley at first thought him a 
buffoon because it heard only the echo of the hoarse 
laughter after his stories. They found when he spoke 
in Cooper Union that he had a mind that would have 
sat unembarrassed and luminous in the company of 
the men of the age of Pericles. But he had a sense 
of humor that, had he been there, would have saved 
Socrates from the hyssop. Mr. Bryce says, that all 
the world knows the Americans to be a humorous 
people. 2 "They are," he has said, "as conspicuously 
the purveyors of humor to the nineteenth century as 

1 "Lincoln, Complete Works," ed. by Nicolay and Hay, 2 : 227. 

2 Bryce, "American Commonwealth," 2 : 286. 



286 THE FRENCH IN THE HEART OF AMERICA 

the French were the purveyors of wit to the eighteenth. 
. . . [This sense] is diffused among the whole people; 
it colors their ordinary life and gives to their talk that 
distinctively new flavor which a European palate en- 
joys." And he adds: "Much of President Lincoln's 
popularity, and much also of the gift he showed for 
restoring confidence to the North at the darkest mo- 
ments of the war, was due to the humorous way he 
used to turn things, conveying the impression of not 
being himself uneasy, even when he was most so." 
Yet it was no mask, it was instinctive. 

On one of those days when the anxiety was keenest 
and the sky darkest a delegation of prohibitionists 
came to him and insisted that the reason the north 
did not win was because the soldiers drank so much 
whiskey and thus brought the curse of the Lord down 
upon them. There was, we are told, a mischievous 
twinkle in his eye when he replied that he considered 
it very unfair on the part of the Lord, because the 
southerners drank a good deal worse whiskey and more 
of it than the soldiers of the north. 

Most of these stories and parables had a flavor of 
the west and of the fields where they were collected in 
the days when, as a lawyer, he followed the court from 
one town to another, and spent the nights in talk around 
the tavern stove. 

When asked one day how he disposed of a caller 
who had come to him in a towering rage, he told of the 
farmer in Illinois who announced one Sunday to his 
neighbors that he had gotten rid of a great log in the 
middle of his field. They were anxious to know how, 
since it was too big to haul out, too knotty to split, 
too wet and soggy to burn. And the farmer announced : 



FROM LA SALLE TO LINCOLN 287 

"I ploughed around it." "And so," he said, "I got 

rid of General . I ploughed around him, but it 

took me three hours to do it." 

This, then, was the lank boatman who came down 
the river (that was once the River Colbert) and who, 
seeing the horrors of the slave markets in New Orleans, 
went back to the Sangamon with a memory of them 
that was a "continual torment," as he said, and with a 
vow to hit that institution hard if ever he had a chance. 
It was this boatman who was twenty years later to 
have, of all men, the chance. 

One cannot tell here, even in outline, the story of 
that irrepressible conflict in which this western plough- 
man and lawyer became commander-in-chief of an 
army of a million men and carried on a war involving 
the expenditure of three billion dollars. One need not 
tell it. It need only to be recalled that it was this 
man of the western waters who first saw clearly, or 
first made it clearly seen, that the nation could not 
endure permanently half slave and half free. "I do 
not expect the Union to be dissolved," he said, "but 
I do expect it will cease to be divided. It will become 
all one thing or the other." And it was he who more 
than any one single force brought the fulfilment of 
his prophecy — of a nation reunited and all free. 

He hated slavery. "If slavery is not wrong," he 
said, "nothing is wrong." But he wanted to get rid 
of it without injustice to those to whom it was an in- 
herited, if cherished, institution. If he saw a venomous 
snake in the road he would take the nearest stick and 
kill it, but if he found it in bed with his children, "I 
might hurt the children," he said, "more than the 
snake and it might bite them." He was as tender and 



288 THE FRENCH IN THE HEART OF AMERICA 

considerate of the south as ever he was of an erring 
neighbor in Illinois, where it is remembered that he 
carried home with his giant strength one whom his 
comrades would have left to freeze, and nursed him 
through the night. So he sat almost sleepless, sad- 
hearted, through the four dark years, but resolute, 
cheering his own heart and those about him with a 
broad humor that came as "iEsop's Fables" out of the 
fields and their elemental wisdoms. 

One summer's day, when ploughing in the fields of 
that land of Lincoln, I heard a sound of buzzing in 
the air and, looking up, I saw a faint cloud against the 
clear sky. I recognized it as a swarm of bees making 
their way from a hive, they knew not where, and with 
an instinct born of the plains at once I began to follow 
them and to throw up clods of earth to stop their flight, 
bringing them down finally on the edge of the field 
upon a branch of a tree, where they were at evening 
gathered into a new hive and persuaded back to prof- 
itable industry instead of wasting their substance in 
the forest. So this great ploughman used the clods of 
earth, the things at his hand, illustrations from the 
fields, to bring the thoughts of his countrymen down to 
contentful co-operation again. 

"You may," said Alcibiades, speaking of Socrates, 
"imagine Brasidas and others to have been like 
Achilles, or you may imagine Nestor and Antenor to 
have been like Pericles; and the same may be said of 
other famous men. But of this strange being you will 
never be able to find any likeness, however remote, 
either among men that now are or who ever have been 
— other than . . . Silenus and the Satyrs, and they 
represent in a figure not only himself but his words. 



FROM LA SALLE TO LINCOLN 289 

For his words are like the images of Silenus which open. 
They are ridiculous when you first hear them. . . . 
His talk is of pack-beasts and smiths and cobblers and 
curriers. . . . But he who opens the bust and sees 
what is within will find they are the only words which 
have a meaning in them and also the most divine, 
abounding in fair images of virtue, and of the widest 
comprehension, or rather extending to the whole duty 
of a good and honorable man." 1 

The twenty-three centuries since Socrates do not 
furnish me with a fitter characterization of Lincoln. 
His image was as homely as that of Silenus was bestial. 
His talk was of ploughs and boats, polecats and 
whiskey. But those who opened this homely image 
found in him a likeness as of no other man, and in his 
words a meaning that was of widest and most ennobling 
comprehension. And, as Crito said for all ages, after 
the sun that was on the hilltops when Socrates took the 
poison had set and darkness had come: "Of all the men 
of his time, he was the wisest and justest and best." 
So has the poet of that western democracy given to 
all time this phrase, sung in the evening of the day of 
Lincoln's martyrdom, at the time when the lilac bloomed 
and the great star early dropped in the western sky 
and the thrush sang solitary: "The sweetest, wisest 
soul of all my days and lands." 2 

We ask ourselves if he was the gift of democracy. 
And we find ourselves answering: his peculiar excel- 
lence could have come of no other order of society. We 
ask ourselves anxiously if democracy has the unerring 
instinct to find such men to embody its wishes, or did 

1 Plato, " Symposium," Jowett's trans., I : 592. 

2 Walt Whitman, "When Lilacs Last." 



290 THE FRENCH IN THE HEART OF AMERICA 

it take him only for a talented rail-splitter — an aver- 
age man ? But we have no certain answer to this 
anxious questioning. What gives most hope in new 
confusions and problems, unknown to his day, however, 
is that the more clearly his disinterestedness and for- 
bearance and magnanimity and humility are revealed, 
the wider and deeper is the feeling of admiration and 
love for his character, which perhaps assures us, after 
all, better than anything else, of the soundness and 
nobility of the ideals of democracy. 

They carried this man at death over into the valley 
of his birth, into the land of the men of the western 
waters that was Nouvelle France, and there buried 
him among his neighbors, of whom he learned his 
spirit of democracy, in the midst of scenes where he 
had mastered its language, in the very ground that 
had taught him his parables, by the side of the stream 
that gave him sight of his supreme mission. It is the 
greatest visible monument to his achievement that the 
"Father of Waters . . . goes unvexed to the sea" 1 
through one country instead of the territory of two or 
more nations and that the slavery he witnessed is no 
more. But it is a greater monument to him, as it is 
a nobler monument to those who have erected it in 
their own hearts, that he is revered the length of the 
course of the river first traced by La Salle, and through 
all the reach of the rivers of his claim from its source, 
even as far as its mouth at the limitless sea. 

1 Letter to John C. Conkling, August 25, 1863. 



CHAPTER XIV 
THE VALLEY OF THE NEW DEMOCRACY 

FRANCE evoked from the unknown the valley 
that may, in more than one sense, be called the 
heart of America. Her coureurs de bois opened 
its paths made by the buffalo and the red men to the 
shod feet of Europe. Her explorers planted the water- 
shed with slender, silent portage traces that have 
multiplied into thousands of noisy streets and tied 
indissolubly the lakes of the north to the rivers of 
the south from which they were long ago severed by 
nature. Her one white sail above Niagara marked the 
way of a mighty commerce. Her soldiers sowed the 
molten seeds of tumultuous cities on the sites of their 
forts, and her priests and friars consecrated with their 
faith and prayers forest trail, portage* path, ship's sail, 
and leaden plate. 

But that is not all — a valley of new cities like the 
old, of new paths for greater commerce, of more 
altars to the same God ! The chief significance and 
import of the addition of this valley to the maps of the 
world, all indeed that makes it significant, is that here 
was given (though not of deliberate intent) a rich, wide, 
untouched field, distant, accessible only to the hardiest, 
without a shadowing tradition or a restraining fence, 
in which men of all races were to make attempt to live 
together under rules of their own devising and enforc- 
ing. And as here the government of the people by the 

291 



292 THE FRENCH IN THE HEART OF AMERICA 

people was to have even more literal interpretation 
than in that Atlantic strip which had traditions of 
property suffrage and church privilege and class dis- 
tinctions, I have called it the "Valley of the New 
Democracy." 

When the French explorers entered it, it was a 
valley of aboriginal, anarchic individualism, with little 
movable spots of barbaric communistic timocracy, as 
Plato would doubtless have classified those migratory, 
predatory kingdoms of the hundreds of red kings, con- 
temporary with King Donnacona, whom Cartier found 
on the St. Lawrence — communities governed by the 
warlike, restless spirit. 

The French communities that grew in the midst of 
those naked timocrats, whose savagery they soothed 
by beads and crucifixes and weapons, were the plant- 
ings of absolutism paternalistic to the last degree. 
One cannot easily imagine a socialism that would go 
further in its prescriptions than did this affectionate, 
capricious, generous, if unwise, as it now seems, govern- 
ment of a village along the St. Lawrence or the Missis- 
sippi, from a palace by the Seine where a hard-working 
monarch issued edicts "in the fulness of our power 
and of our certain knowledge." 

The ordinances preserved in the colonial records 
furnish abundant proof of that parental concern and 
restraint. They relate to the regulation of inns and 
markets, poaching, preservation of game, sale of 
brandy, rent of pews, stray hogs, mad dogs, matri- 
monial quarrels, fast driving, wards and guardians, 
weights and measures, nuisances, observance of Sun- 
day, preservation of timber, and many other matters. 

Parkman cites these interesting ordinances, which il- 



VALLEY OF THE NEW DEMOCRACY 293 

lustrate to what absurd lengths this jealous, paternal- 
istic care extended: 

"Chimney-sweeping having been neglected at Que- 
bec, the intendant commands all householders promptly 
to do their duty in this respect, and at the same time 
fixes the pay of the sweep at six sous a chimney. An- 
other order forbids quarrelling in church. Another 
assigns pews in due order of precedence." 1 

One intendant issued a "mandate to the effect that, 
whereas the people of Montreal raise too many horses, 
which prevents them from raising cattle and sheep, 
'being therein ignorant of their true interest, . . . now, 
therefore, we command that each inhabitant of the 
cotes of this government shall hereafter own no more 
than two horses or mares and one foal — the same to 
take effect after the sowing season of the ensuing year 
(1710), giving them time to rid themselves of their 
horses in excess of said number, after which they will 
be required to kill any of such excess that may remain 
in their possession." 2 

And, apropos of the trend toward cities, there is the 
ordinance of Bigot, issued with a view, we are told, of 
"promoting agriculture and protecting the morals of 
farmers" by saving them from the temptations of the 
cities: "We prohibit and forbid you to remove to this 
town (Quebec) under any pretext whatever, without 
our permission in writing, on pain of being expelled 
and sent back to your farms, your furniture and goods 
confiscated, and a fine of fifty livres laid on you for the 
benefit of the hospitals." 3 There is even a royal edict 

1 Parkman, "Old Regime in Canada," p. 341. 

2 Parkman, "Old Regime in Canada," p. 341. 

3 Parkman, "Old Regime in Canada," p. 342. 



294 THE FRENCH IN THE HEART OF AMERICA 

designed to prevent the undue subdivision of farms 
which "forbade the country people, except such as 
were authorized to live in villages, to build a house or 
barn on any piece of land less than one and a half 
arpents wide and thirty arpents long." 1 

And this word should be added in intimation of the 
generosity of the paternalism: 

"One of the faults of his [Louis XIV's] rule is the 
excess of his benevolence, for not only did he give 
money to support parish priests, build churches, and 
aid the seminary, the Ursulines, the missions, and the 
hospitals, but he established a fund destined, among 
other objects, to relieve indigent persons, subsidized 
nearly every branch of trade and industry, and in other 
instances did for the colonists what they would far 
better have learned to do for themselves." 2 

Like iEneas, therefore, these filial emigrants, seek- 
ing new homes, not only carried their lares et penates 
in their arms but bore upon their shoulders their father 
Anchises. 

Succeeding savage individualism, this benevolent 
despotism gave the valley into the keeping of an in- 
dividualism even purer and less restrained than that 
which it succeeded, for the sparse pioneer transmon- 
tane settlements were practically governed at first 
by only the consciences or whims of the inhabitants, 
instructed of parental commandments learned the other 
side of the mountains, and by their love of forest and 
of their prairie neighbors. 

And when formal government came — a pure democ- 
racy, social and political — it came of individual in- 

1 Parkman, "Old Regime in Canada," p. 342. 
2 Parkman, "Old Regime in Canada," p. 347. 



VALLEY OF THE NEW DEMOCRACY 295 

terest and neighborly love and of no abstract philo- 
sophical theory or of protest against oligarchy; it came 
from the application, voluntary for the most part, of 
"older institutions and ideas to the transforming in- 
fluence of land," free land; and such has been the 
result, says Professor Turner, 1 that fundamentally 
"American democracy is the outcome of the American 
people in dealing with the West," that is, the people 
of this valley of the French pioneers. 

The democratical man, as Socrates is made to define 
him in Plato's "Republic," was one in whom the 
licentious and extravagant desires have expelled the 
moderate appetites and love of decorum, which he 
inherited from his oligarchical father. "Such a man," 
he adds, "lives a life of enjoyment from day to day, 
guided by no regulating principle, but turning from 
one pleasure to another, just as fancy takes him. All 
pleasures are in his eyes equally good and equally 
deserving of cultivation. In short, his motto is 'Liberty 
and Equality/" 

But the early "democratical man" of that valley, 
even if he came remotely from such oligarchical sires 
as Socrates gives immediately to all democratical men, 
reached his motto of "Liberty and Equality" through 
no such sensual definition of life. 

It is true that many of those first settlers migrated 
from places where the opportunities seemed restricted 
or conventions irksome or privileges unequal, but it 
was no "licentious or extravagant desire" or flitting 
from pleasure to pleasure that filled that valley with 

1 See his " Significance of the Frontier in American History," in " Fifth 
Yearbook of the National Herbart Society, 1899," also his "Significance 
of the Mississippi Valley in American History," in "Mississippi Valley 
Historical Association Proceedings, 1909-10." 



296 THE FRENCH IN THE HEART OF AMERICA 

sober, pale-faced, lean-featured men and tired, gentle 
women who enjoyed the "liberty" not of a choice of 
pleasurable indulgences but of interminable struggles, 
the "equality" of being each on the same social, eco- 
nomic, and political footing as his neighbor. The 
sequent democracy was derived of neighborliness and 
good fellowship, the "natural issue of their interests, 
their occupations, and their manner of life," and was 
not constructed of any theory of an ideal state. Nor 
were they frightened by the arguments of Socrates, 
who found in the "extravagant love of liberty" the 
preface to tyranny. And they would not have been 
frightened even if they had been familiar with his 
doctrine of democracy. They little dreamed that they 
were exemplifying the doctrines of a French philoso- 
pher or refuting those of a Greek thinker. 

Those primitive democratic and individualistic con- 
ditions had not yet been seriously changed when, in 
that bit of the valley which lies in the dim background 
of my own memory, there had developed a form of gov- 
ernment more stern and uncaressing. But there was 
not a pauper in all the township for its stigmatizing 
care. There was not an orphan who did not have a 
home; there was not a person in prison; there was only 
one insane person, so far as the public knew, and she 
was cared for in her own home. The National Govern- 
ment was represented by the postmaster miles away; 
the State government by the tax assessor, a neighbor 
who came only once a year, if he came at all, to inquire 
about one's earthly belongings, which could not then 
be concealed in any way; and the local government 
by the school-teacher, who was usually a man incapaci- 
tated for able-bodied labor or an unmarried woman. 



VALLEY OF THE NEW DEMOCRACY 297 

The citizens made and mended the public roads, looked 
after the sick in a neighborly way, bought their chil- 
dren's schoolbooks, and buried their own dead. I can 
remember distinctly wondering what a "poor officer" 
was, for there were no poor in that society where 
none was rich. 

It was a community of high social consistency, pro- 
moted not by a conscious, disinterested devotion to 
the common welfare but by the common, eagerly in- 
terested pursuit of the same individual welfares, where 
there was room enough for all. 

It is well contended in a recent and most profound 
discussion of this subject by Professor Turner (of whom 
I spoke as born on a portage) that this homogeneity 
of feeling was the most promising and valuable char- 
acteristic of that American democracy. 1 

And it was, indeed, prolific of mighty consequences: 

First of all, it made it possible for the United States 
to accept Napoleon's proffer of Louisiana. 

Second, it compelled the War of 1812 and so con- 
firmed to the United States the fruits of the purchase, 
demonstrating at the same time that the "abiding- 
place" of the national spirit was in the west. 

And, third, that spirit of nationalism took into its 
hands the reins of action in the time when nationality 
was in peril. Before the end of the Civil War the 
west was represented in the National Government by 
the President, the Vice-President, the Chief Justice, 
the Speaker of the House, the Secretary of the Trea- 
sury, the Postmaster-General, the Attorney-General, 
the General of the Army, and the Admiral of the Navy. 
And it furnished, as Turner adds in summary, the 

1 See his "Significance of the Mississippi Valley in American History." 



298 THE FRENCH IN THE HEART OF AMERICA 

"national hero, the flower of frontier training and 
ideals." 

While the mere fact of office-holding does not in- 
dicate the place or source of power, it is noteworthy 
that the Presidents since the war — to the election of 
Wilson — Grant, Hayes, Garfield, McKinley, Harrison, 
and Taft all came from this valley. Cleveland went 
over the edge of it, when a young man, to Buffalo and 
left it only to become governor and President; Arthur, 
who succeeded to the presidency through the death of 
President Garfield, and President Roosevelt, who also 
came first to the presidency through the death of a 
President and was afterward elected, were both residents 
of New York, though the latter had a ranch in the far 
west and seems rather to belong to that region than 
the place of his birth. Thus of the elected Presidents 
there was not one who had not a middle-western 
origin, experience, or association. The Chief Justices 
since the war have been without exception western 
men, and so with few exceptions have been the Speakers 
of the House. And practically all these Presidents, 
Chief Justices, Speakers, were pioneers or sons of 
pioneers in that "Valley of the New Democracy" or, at 
any rate, were nurtured of its natural fellowships, its 
one-man-as-good-as-another institutions, and its un- 
hampered ambitions. 

It is not mere geographical and numerical majorities 
that are connoted. It is the dominancy of the social, 
democratic, national spirit of the valley — the suprem- 
acy of the average, the useful man, his power and self- 
sufficiency when standing squarely, firmly upon the 
earth. It was the secret of the great wrestler Antaeus, 
the son of Terra, that he could not be thrown even by 



VALLEY OF THE NEW DEMOCRACY 299 

Hercules so long as his feet touched the earth. How 
intimately filial to the earth and neighborly the middle- 
west pioneers were has been suggested. And it was 
the secret of their success that they stood, every man 
in his own field, on his own feet, and wrestled with his 
own arms in primitive strength and virtue and self- 
reliant ingenuity. 

Democracy did not theorize much, and when it 
did it stumbled. If it had indulged freely in the ab- 
stractions of its practices, it would doubtless have 
suffered the fate of Antaeus, who was finally strangled 
in mid-air by a giant who came over the mountains. 

As it was, this valley civilization apotheosized the 
average man. Mr. Herbert Croly, in his "Promise of 
American Life," makes this picture of him: "In that 
country [the very valley of which I am writing] it was 
sheer waste to spend much energy upon tasks which 
demanded skill, prolonged experience, high technical 
standards, or exclusive devotion. The cheaply and 
easily made instrument was the efficient instrument, 
because it was adapted to a year or two of use, and 
then for supersession by a better instrument; and for 
the service of such tools one man was as likely to be 
good as another. No special equipment was re- 
quired. The farmer was required to be all kinds of a 
rough mechanic. The business man was merchant, 
manufacturer, and storekeeper. Almost everybody 
was something of a politician. The number of parts 
which a man of energy played in his time was aston- 
ishingly large. Andrew Jackson was successively a 
lawyer, judge, planter, merchant, general, politician, 
and statesman; and he played most of these parts with 
conspicuous success. In such a society a man who per- 



3 oo THE FRENCH IN THE HEART OF AMERICA 

sisted in one job and who applied the most rigorous 
and exacting standards to his work was out of place 
and was really inefficient. His finished product did 
not serve its temporary purpose much better than did 
the current careless and hasty product, and his higher 
standards and peculiar ways constituted an implied 
criticism upon the easy methods of his neighbors. 
He interfered with the rough good-fellowship which 
naturally arises among a group of men who submit 
good-naturedly and uncritically to current standards." 1 

Is this what democracy, undefiled of aristocratic con- 
ditions and traditions, has produced ? it will be asked. 
Has pure individualism in a virgin field wrought of its 
opportunity only this mediocre, all-round, good-natured, 
profane, rough, energetic, ingenious efficiency ? Is this 
colorless, insipid "social consistency" the best wine 
that the valley can offer of its early vintages ? 

I know those frontier Antaei, who, with their feet on 
the prairie ground, faced every emergency with a 
piece of fence wire. They differed from their European 
brothers in being more resourceful, more energetic, and 
more hopeful. If it be true that "out of a million well- 
established Americans taken indiscriminately from all 
occupations and conditions," when compared to a 
corresponding assortment of Europeans, "a larger pro- 
portion of the former will be leading alert, active, and 
useful lives," though they may not be wiser or better 
men; that there will be a "smaller amount of social 
wreckage" and a "larger amount of wholesome and 
profitable achievement," it may be safely said that, if 
the middle-west frontier Americans had been under 
consideration, the proportion of alert achievement 

'Herbert Croly, "Promise of American Life," pp. 63, 64. 



VALLEY OF THE NEW DEMOCRACY 301 

would have been higher and the social wreckage smaller 
— partly because of the encouragement of the economic 
opportunity, and partly because of the encouragement 
of a casteless society. 

I cannot lead away from those familiar days without 
speaking of other companionships which that valley 
furnished beyond those intimated — companionships 
which did not interfere with the rough frontier fellow- 
ships that made democracy possible. For it was in 
these same fields that Horace literally sat by the 
plough and sang of farm and city. It was there that 
Livy told his old-world stories by lamplight or at the 
noon-hour. It was there that Pythagoras explained 
his ancient theorem. 

I cannot insist that these companionships and in- 
timacies were typical, but they were sufficiently numer- 
ous to disturb any generalizations as to the sacrifices 
which that democracy demanded for the sake of 
"social conditions" and economic regularity. 

The advancing frontier soon spent itself in the arid 
desert. The pioneer came to ride in an automobile. 
The people began to jostle one another in following 
their common aspirations, where once there was free- 
dom for the energy, even the unscrupulous energy, of 
all. Time accentuated differences till those who 
started together were millions of dollars apart. Fail- 
ures had no kinder fields for new trials. Democracy 
had now to govern not a puritanical, industrious, 
sparsely settled Arcady but communities of conflict- 
ing dynamic successes, static envies, and complaining 
despairs. 

It met the new emergencies at first, one by one, 
with no other programme than the most necessary re- 



302 THE FRENCH IN THE HEART OF AMERICA 

straints, encouragement of tariffs for the dynamic, 
improved transportation for the static, and charity for 
the despairful; but all with an optimism born of a 
belief in destined success. 

To this has succeeded gradually a more or less 
clearly defined policy of constructive individualism, 
under an increasingly democratic and less representa- 
tive control. The paternal absolutism of Louis XIV 
has evolved into the paternal individualism of a people 
who are constantly struggling in imperfect speech to 
make their will understood and by imperfect machinery 
to get it done — and, as I believe, with increasingly dis- 
interested purpose. It is, however, I emphasize, the 
paternalism of a highly individualized society. 

I described in an earlier chapter a frontier commu- 
nity in that valley. See what has come in its stead, 
in the city into which it has grown. The child coming 
from the unknown, trailing clouds of glory, creeps into 
the community as a vital statistic and becomes of 
immediate concern. From obliging the nurse to take 
certain precautions at its birth, the State follows the 
newcomer through life, sees that he is vaccinated, re- 
moves his tonsils and adenoids, furnishes him with 
glasses if he has bad vision, compels him to school, 
prepares him not only for citizenship but for a trade 
or profession, prevents the adulteration of his food, 
inspects his milk, filters his water, stands by grocer 
and butcher and weighs his bread and meat for him, 
cleans the street for him, stations a policeman at his 
door, transports his letters of business or affection, 
furnishes him with seeds, gives augur of the weather, 
wind, and temperature, cares for him if he is helpless, 
feeds him if he is starving, shelters him if he is homeless, 



VALLEY OF THE NEW DEMOCRACY 303 

nurses him in sickness, says a word over him if he dies 
friendless, buries him in its potter's field, and closes his 
account as a vital statistic in the mortality column. 

And there are many agencies of restraint or anxious 
care that stand in a remoter circle, ready to come in 
when emergencies require. I have before me a report 
of legislation in the States alone (that is, exclusive of 
national and municipal legislation) for two years. I 
note here a few characteristic and illustrative measures 
out of the thousands that have been adopted. They 
relate to the following subjects: 

Health of women and children at work; employer's 
liability; care of epileptics, idiots, and insane; regula- 
tion of dentistry and chiropody; control of crickets, 
grasshoppers, and rodents; exclusion of the boll-weevil; 
the introduction of parasites; the quenching of fires; 
the burning of debris in gardens; the destruction of 
predatory fish; the prohibition of automatic guns for 
hunting game; against hazing in schools; instruction 
as to tuberculosis and its prevention; the demonstra- 
tion of the best methods of producing plants, cut 
flowers, and vegetables under glass; the establishment 
of trade-schools; the practice of embalming. 

I introduce this brief but suggestive list as intimat- 
ing how far a democratic people have gone in doing for 
themselves what Louis XIV at Versailles in the "ful- 
ness of power" and out of "certain knowledge" did 
for the trustful habitants of Montreal, who were 
"ignorant of their true interest." 

And, of course, with that increased paternalism has 
come of necessity an army of public servants — gov- 
ernors and policemen, street cleaners and judges, 
teachers and factory inspectors, till, as I have esti- 



304 THE FRENCH IN THE HEART OF AMERICA 

mated, in some communities one adult in every thirty 
is a paid servant of the public. 

Such paternalism is not peculiar to that valley. I 
remember, years ago, when I was following the legisla- 
tion of an eastern State, that a bill was introduced 
fixing the depth of a strawberry box, and another 
obliging the vender of huckleberries to put on the 
boxes a label in letters of certain height indicating 
that they were picked in a certain way. And this 
paternalism is even more marked in the old-age pen- 
sion provision in England, where the "mother of 
parliaments," as one has expressed it, has been put on 
the level of the newest western State in its parental 
solicitude. 

But nowhere else than in this valley, doubtless, is 
that paternalism so thoroughly informed of the indi- 
vidualistic spirit. Chesterton said of democracy that 
it "is not founded on pity for the common man. . . . 
It does not champion man because man is miserable, 
but because man is so sublime." It "does not object 
so much to the ordinary man being a slave as to his 
not being a king." Indeed, democracy is ever dream- 
ing of "a nation of kings." 1 And that characteristic is 
truer of the democracy that came stark out of the forests 
and out of the furrows than of the democracy which 
sprang from protest against and fear of single kings. 

The constitution east of the mountains was made 
in fear of a system which permitted an immediate and 
complete expression of the will of the people. The 
movement in American democracy which is most 
conspicuous is the effort to get that will accurately 
and immediately expressed — that is, a movement 
toward what might be called more democracy — toward 

X G. K. Chesterton, "Heretics," p. 268. 



VALLEY OF THE NEW DEMOCRACY 305 

a direct control of "politics" by the people — and that 
movement has had its rise and strength in the Missis- 
sippi Valley and beyond. 

But who are the people who are to control ? Only 
those who are living and of electoral age and other 
qualification? I recall again Bismarck's definition: 
"They are the invisible multitude of spirits — the nation 
of yesterday and to-morrow." And that invisible mul- 
titude of yesterday and to-morrow, whose mouths are 
stopped with dust or who have not yet found human 
embodiment, must find voice in the multitude of to-day 
— the multitude that inherits the yesterdays and has 
in it the only promise of to-morrow. 

There may be some question there as to its being 
always the voice of God, but no one thinks of any other 
(except to add to it that of the woman). The "certain 
knowledge" and the "fulness of power" of Louis XIV 
have become the endowments of the average man — 
and the average man is one-half or two-thirds of all the 
voting men of the community or nation, plus one. 
But that average man, forgetful of the multitude of 
yesterday and ungrateful, has none the less wrought 
into his very fibre and spirit the uncompromising in- 
dividualism, the unconventional neighborliness, and 
the frontier fellowships of yesterday. It is of that 
that he is consciously or unconsciously instructed at 
every turn. And he is now beginning to think more 
and more of the invisible multitude, the nation of to- 
morrow. 

It is deplored that the so-called individuality de- 
veloped in that valley is "simply an unusual amount of 
individual energy, successfully spent in popular and 
remunerative occupations," that there is "not the 



306 THE FRENCH IN THE HEART OF AMERICA 

remotest conception of the individuality which may 
reside in the gallant and exclusive devotion to some 
disinterested and perhaps unpopular moral, intellec- 
tual, or technical purpose," as has such illustrious 
exhibition in France, for example. This is, we are told, 
one of the sacrifices to social consistency which menaces 
the fulness and intensity of American national life. 
And the most serious problem is to make a nation of 
independent kings who shall not exercise their inde- 
pendencies "perversely or irresponsibly." 

Men have been always prone to make vocational 
pursuits the basis of social classification. In the Scrip- 
ture record of man he had not been seven generations 
in the first inhabited valley of earth before his descen- 
dants were divided into cattlemen, musicians, and 
mechanics. For the record runs that Lamech had 
three sons, Jabal, Jubal, and Tubal — Jabal who became 
the father of those who live in tents and have cattle, 
Jubal the father of those that handle the harp and the 
organ, and Tubal the father of those who work in 
brass and iron. And we do not have to turn many 
pages to discover the social distinctions that grew out 
of the vocational. The first question of that western 
valley is, "Who is he?" and the answer is one which 
will tell you his occupation. No one who has not an 
occupation of some regularity and recognized practical 
usefulness is, as Mr. Croly intimates, likely to have 
much recognition. 

On the other hand, within the limits of approved 
occupations, there is, except in great centres, no marked 
social stratification based on vocation, as in old-world 
life and that of the new world more intimately touched 
by the old. The man is recognized for his worth. 



VALLEY OF THE NEW DEMOCRACY 307 

In the midst of that valley is a college town, 1 planted 
by a company of migrants from an older State sev- 
enty-five years ago who bought a township of land, 
founded a college, 2 and built their homes about on 
the wild prairie. It has now twenty thousand in- 
habitants and is an important railroad as well as edu- 
cational centre. It was nearly fifty years old when I 
entered it as a student. That I studied Greek did not 
keep me from knowing well a carpenter; that in spare 
hours I learned a manual trade and put into type my 
translation of "Prometheus Bound" did not bar me 
from the homes of the richest or the most cultured. 
Once, when a student, because of some little victory, I 
was received by the mayor and a committee of citizens, 
but the men at the engines in the shops and on the 
engines in the yards blew their whistles. When I went 
back to that college as its president it was not re- 
membered against me that I had sawed wood or driven 
a plough. I knew all the conductors and most of the 
engineers on the railroads. I knew every merchant 
and nearly every mechanic, as well as every lawyer, 
judge, and doctor. Men had, to be sure, their pref- 
erential associations, but these were personal and 
not determined of vocation or class. A recent mayor 
of this city of two colleges was a cigar maker and, I 
was assured by a professor of theology in a local 
university, the best mayor it has had in years, and 
he died driving a smallpox patient to a pest-house. I 
received when in Paris, by the same mail as I recall, 
a resolution of felicitation from a Protestant body of 
which I was a member in that town, and a letter 
of like felicitation from the Catholic parish priest of 

1 Galesburg, 111. * Knox College. 



308 THE FRENCH IN THE HEART OF AMERICA 

that same city. I do not know how better to illustrate, 
to those who are working at the problem of democracy 
in other valleys, how democracy has wrought for itself 
in that valley of neighborliness and resourcefulness and 
plenty, in the wake of the monarchical, paternalistic 
affection of France. 



CHAPTER XV 

WASHINGTON: THE UNION OF THE EASTERN 
AND THE WESTERN WATERS 

WE have followed the French explorers and 
priests as pioneers through the valleys of the 
St. Lawrence, the Great Lakes, and the Mis- 
sissippi to the gulf and the Rocky Mountains. But 
there remains one further conquest, a conquest of 
their adventurous imaginations only, for none of their 
adventurous or pious feet ever travelled over the val- 
ley lying south of the St. Lawrence watershed and 
east of the Alleghanies, though they were probably 
the first of white men to see those peaks rising in the 
north of what is now New England, known as the 
White Mountains. 

Standing on the summit of one of the White Moun- 
tains a few summers ago, I was shown a dim little in- 
dentation of the sky at the northwest which I was 
told was Mont Real. And since seeing that I have 
imagined Jacques Cartier in 1535 looking off to the 
southeast, when his disappointed vision of the west had 
tired his eyes, and catching first sight of these dim 
indentations of his sky, the White Mountains, which 
the colonists from England did not see until a century 
later and then only from their ocean side. 

But whether the master pilot from the white-bas- 
tioned St. Malo saw them or not, we have record that 

309 



310 THE FRENCH IN THE HEART OF AMERICA 

Champlain in his exploration of the Atlantic coast did 
discern their peaks upon his horizon; and so we may 
think of the French as the discoverers not merely of 
the northern and western valleys, of the Adirondacks, 
in whose shadows Champlain and Brule and Father 
Jogues fought with the Iroquois and suffered torture, 
and of the snow-capped Rockies at whose feet Chevalier 
de la Verendrye was obliged to turn back, but also 
of the tops of the white hills near the Atlantic coast, 
which I have often seen lighted at sunrise while the 
lower slopes and valleys were in darkness or shadow — 
hills touched by the French, as by that rising sun, only 
at their tops and by the trails of their eyes. 

For the moment those mountains stand upon the 
horizon as the symbol of the only part of North Amer- 
ica east of the Rockies which the French pioneers did 
not possess before others by the trails of their feet or 
the paths of their boats. Verrazano of Dieppe had 
sailed along the Atlantic shore front, but so, perhaps, 
had Cabot. Ribaut had been "put to the knife" in 
Florida, but it was the knife of a Spaniard whose com- 
patriots had been there before Ribaut. Etienne Brule 
had wandered all the way from Canada into Pennsyl- 
vania along the sources and upper waters of the Atlantic 
streams, but the colonists of other nations were sitting 
huddled at the mouths of the streams. And Father 
Jogues had endured the torturing portage from the 
shores of Lake George to the Mohawk, but the Dutch 
were by that time there to succor him from the Iro- 
quois. Only with their eyes had the French beheld 
first of Europe the America of the eastern waters, 
whose inhabitants, when they came to put on uniform 
and fight for its independence, called themselves 



WASHINGTON 311 

"Continentals," as if their little hem of the garment 
were the continent. 

One wonders — if to little purpose — what would have 
been the consequence if De Monts, whom Champlain 
accompanied to America in 1604, had planted his little 
colony at some place farther south in his continental 
grant made by Henry IV, stretching, as it did, all the 
way from what is now Philadelphia to the St. Lawrence 
— if, for example, he had anchored off the Island of 
Manhattan, as well he might have done, five years 
before Hudson came up the harbor in the Half Moon, 
had settled there instead of on the sterile island of Ste. 
Croix in the Bay of Fundy, where, amid the "sand, 
the sedge, and the matted whortleberry bushes," the 
commissioners to fix the boundaries between the United 
States and Canada discovered in 1793 — nearly two 
centuries later — the foundations of the "Habitation de 
l'isle Ste. Croix" that the French had built in the 
gloom of the cedars. Or if, when the scurvy-stricken 
colony left that barren site, they had followed Cham- 
plain to the mouth of the Charles, la riviere du Guast 
— the site of Cambridge or Boston — or even to the 
Bay St. Louis — which is remembered in Champlain's 
journal as the place where the friendly Indians showed 
him their fish-hooks made of barbed bone lashed to 
wood, but which has become better known as Plym- 
outh Bay where the Pilgrims landed fifteen years 
later — there instead of Port Royal, where even Les- 
carbot's "Ordre de Bon-Temps" could not overcome 
the evil reports in France concerning a "churlish 
wilderness"! Or if Champlain, instead of seeking 
later the Rock of Quebec — whose rugged charms he 
could not forget even in the presence of the site of 



312 THE FRENCH IN THE HEART OF AMERICA 

Boston or in the streets of Paris — had laid the founda- 
tions of his faith and his courage on the Susquehanna, 
for example ! In any one of these contingencies there 
might have been a more prosperous Acadia. New 
England might conceivably have become Nouvelle 
France, and New York City might be bearing to-day 
the name of a seventeenth-century French prince. 

An idle conjecture, but it does, I think, help us to 
appreciate the happy destiny (or by whatever name 
the sequence of events may be called) not that kept 
France out of that narrow Atlantic-coast strip but 
that put her in a position to become the power that 
should in a very true sense force the jealous, many- 
minded colonies of that strip into a union, make pos- 
sible the erection of that feeble union into a nascent 
nation, give it, though under certain compulsion, ter- 
ritory to become a world-power, and finally furnish 
it, if grudgingly, with a great western, overmountain 
domain in which to develop a democratic and a nation- 
alistic spirit strong enough to hold a continent-wide 
people in one republic. These services, intended and 
unintended, negative and positive, grudging and volun- 
tary, performed, however, all in unsurpassed sacrifice 
and valiance not only of the explorers and priests 
but of the exiled soldiers, intimate how, out of all the 
misery of finding the northern water gate and keeping 
it and following the northern waterway and fortifying 
it, came the harvests — even if France did not gather 
them into her own granaries — of those who "sow by all 
waters." 

We might not have had some of the institutions we 
do have if Champlain or Poutrincourt had anticipated 
the English Pilgrims at Plymouth, but we might still 



WASHINGTON 313 

be a colony or a cluster of republics, even with all 
that we have got by way of those and other English 
migrants, except for these hardy men who kept battling 
with the ice and snow and water and famine at the 
north. 

But what I wish to emphasize here — and I am much 
indebted to the young western historian Mr. Hulbert, 
for this view — is that France, struggling to keep the 
empire of her adventure and faith in the northern and 
western valleys of America, gave to the world George 
Washington. She made him, all unconsciously to be 
sure, first in war. She saved him, consciously, from 
the fate of an unsuccessful rebel. And she made it 
possible for him to be first in peace. These are all de- 
fensible theses, however much or little credit France 
may deserve in her purposes toward him. 

Up in those same White Mountains there rises one 
that bears his name, taller than the rest. It stands in 
a presidential range that has no rivalling peak. A 
singular felicity in the naming of the neighboring 
mountains has given the name Lafayette to the most 
picturesque of all. There are well-known and much- 
travelled trails to the austere peak of Mount Washing- 
ton. There is even a railroad now. Doubtless no 
mountain in America is known in its contour to more 
people, though there are many of loftier height and of 
more inviting slopes. 

So the outlines of the life of Washington are known 
more widely than those of any other American. The 
trails to the height of his achievement and genius have 
doubtless been learned in the histories of France. And 
asking my readers to travel over one of those well-worn 
trails again, I can offer no better reason than that I 



314 THE FRENCH IN THE HEART OF AMERICA 

may on the way call attention to objects and outlooks 
that should be of special interest to the eyes of a com- 
pany of men and women whose geographical or racial 
ancestors gave us him in giving us the west. 

Washington was born a British colonist. His great- 
grandfather settled in Virginia at about the time that 
La Salle was making his way up the St. Lawrence to 
the seigniory of St. Sulpice above the Lachine Rapids. 
His father, grandfather, and great-grandfather were 
frontiersmen, farmers, or planters. He had himself the 
discipline of the plantation, but he learned surveying 
and had also the sterner experiences of its frontier prac- 
tice. Then came his appointment at nineteen as an 
adjutant-general of colonial militia in Virginia and 
with that office the still sterner disciplines beyond 
the frontier, where France was tutor, without which 
tuition he would doubtless have become and remained 
a successful colonial Virginia planter and general of 
militia. 

I have estimated that all the young men in America 
of approximately Washington's age at that time could 
probably have been gathered into the Roman Colos- 
seum back of the Pantheon; at any rate, into an 
American university stadium. They could have been 
reached by the voice of one man. (Which will inti- 
mate how small America was — one-fourth the size of 
Paris when he was born, one-half the size of Paris 
when he became a major of militia.) 

They were practically all country-born. There were, 
indeed, no great cities in which to be born. New York 
was little more than a town with only eight or nine 
thousand inhabitants; and Boston, the largest city at 
that time, had but thirteen thousand in the year 1732. 



WASHINGTON 315 

They were men, as Kipling says of the colonials in 
the Boer War, who could "shoot and ride." And 
Washington was a strong athletic youth of fiery pas- 
sions, which, given free rein, would have made him a 
successful Indian chief. (Indeed, the Indians admired 
him and called him Ha-no-da-ga-ne-ars — "the destroyer 
of cities" — and at last admitted him, as a supreme 
tribute, to their Indian paradise, the only white man 
found worthy of such canonization.) But, rugged, 
country-born men though they were, it was in no such 
neighborly democracy as Lincoln knew that they were 
bred. Washington had his slaves, his coat of arms, 
and the occupations and leisures and pleasures, so far 
as the frontier would permit, of an English gentleman. 
And it is no such slouchy, shabbily dressed figure as 
Lincoln's that Washington presents. I saw a few 
years ago a letter in Washington's own hand, in which 
he gave directions to the tailor as to the number of 
buttons that his coat should have, the shape of its lapel, 
and the fit of its collar. He was most insistent upon 
the conventions, though if such an assembly had been 
held, as I have suggested, of the young men from the 
eastern waters, there would have been no such uni- 
formity of costume as now makes an audience of men 
in America, or in Europe, so monotonously black and 
white. 

These young men did not dress alike; they did not 
spell alike. Washington's letters show that he did not 
even spell consistently with himself. And that first 
man of the eastern waters to follow the French in 
establishing a settlement on the western waters, 
Daniel Boone, left this memorial of his orthography on 
a tree in Kentucky: "C-I-L-L-E-D A B-A-R." 



316 THE FRENCH IN THE HEART OF AMERICA 

They did not dress alike, they did not spell alike, 
they did not think alike. It was a great, and it must 
have seemed a hopeless, motley of men who were all 
unconsciously to lay the foundations of a new national 
structure. 

They were all of immigrant ancestors, and most of 
them of most recent immigrant ancestry, or of foreign 
birth. Though much more homogeneous in their lineage 
than the present immigration, they had not the unify- 
ing agencies that now keep Maine and Florida within a 
few minutes of each other by telephone or a few hours 
by rail. 

But there were in all, immigrants and sons of immi- 
grants, hardly more in number than now enter that 
same land as aliens in one or two years. I spoke a few 
years ago at a dinner of the descendants of the May- 
flower and was told that they numbered in all the 
country, as I recall, about three thousand — three thou- 
sand descendants in three hundred years of a hundred 
colonists, half of whom perished in the first winter; 
which leads one to wonder what the land of the May- 
flower and the nation of George Washington will be in 
three hundred years, when the descendants of each 
shipload of immigrants of to-day will have increased 
in like ratio. From a single steerage passenger cargo, 
of the Lusitania or Mauretania, let us say, we shall 
have twenty, thirty, or forty thousand Lusitanians or 
Mauretanians as descendants; and from a single year's 
immigration thirty millions. The descendants of the 
colonial ships will be lost in this mighty new progeny 
of the ships of Europe and will numerically be as negli- 
gible as the North American Indian is in our census to- 
day. 



WASHINGTON 317 

But to come back to Washington: the appointment 
of the stripling as adjutant-general with rank of major 
was two years after the humpbacked Governor Ga- 
lissonniere had sent Celoron down the Ohio on that 
historic voyage of plate-planting, the news of which 
had finally reached the ears of the governor of Vir- 
ginia, who with many planters of Virginia (Washing- 
ton's family included) had a prospective interest in 
lands along that same river. Then came the word 
through Indian and trader (the only long-distance 
telephones of that time) that forts were beginning to 
grow where the plates had been planted. 

It was then that the young farmer, surveyor, soldier, 
just come of age, was chosen to carry a message to 
the commander of the nearest French fort in the 
valley — Fort Le Boeuf, which I have already described 
— about fifteen miles from Lake Erie on the slight ele- 
vation from which the waters begin to flow toward the 
Mississippi. The commander was Legardeur de St. 
Pierre, a one-eyed veteran of wars, but recently come 
from an expedition out across the valley toward the 
Rockies. 

Parkman has made this picture of the momentous 
meeting of France and America in the western wilder- 
ness, which in its peopling has kept only a single tree 
of those forests, a tree pointed out to me as the Wash- 
ington tree, though it, too, may have come with the 
migrants: 

"The surrounding forests had dropped their leaves, 
and in gray and patient desolation bided the coming 
winter. Chill rains drizzled over the gloomy 'clearing,' 
and drenched the palisades and log-built barracks, raw 
from the axe. Buried in the wilderness, the military 



318 THE FRENCH IN THE HEART OF AMERICA 

exiles [Legardeur and his garrison] resigned themselves 
as they might to months of monotonous solitude; 
when, just after sunset on the eleventh of December, a 
tall youth [and he was only an inch shorter than Lin- 
coln, six feet three inches] came out of the forest on 
horseback, attended by a companion much older and 
rougher than himself, and followed by several Indians 
and four or five white men with packhorses. Officers 
from the fort went out to meet the strangers; and, 
wading through mud and sodden snow, they entered 
at the gate. On the next day the young leader of the 
party, with the help of an interpreter, for he spoke 
no French [a deficiency which he laments with great- 
est regret later in life], had an interview with the 
commandant and gave him a letter from Governor 
Dinwiddie. St. Pierre and the officer next in rank, 
who knew a little English, took it to another room 
to study it at their ease; and in it, all unconsciously, 
they read a name destined to stand one of the noblest 
in the annals of mankind, for it introduced Major 
George Washington, Adjutant-General of the Virginia 
Militia." 1 

At the end of three days the young British colonial 
officer of militia started on his perilous journey home- 
ward, having been most hospitably entertained by the 
one-eyed veteran, bearing on his person a letter which 
St. Pierre and his officer had been the three days in 
preparing. The brave, courteous, soldierly lines of the 
frontier deserve to be heard to-day both in France and 
America: 

"I am here by Virtue of the Orders of my General; 
and I entreat you, Sir, not to doubt, one Moment, but 

'Parkman, "Montcalm and Wolfe," i : 136-7. 



WASHINGTON 319 

that I am determined to conform myself to them with 
all the Exactness and Resolution which can be expected 
from the best Officer. ... I don't know that in the 
Progress of this Campaign [of repossession] anything 
passed which can be reputed an Act of Hostility or is 
contrary to the Treaties which subsist between the 
two Crowns. . . . Had you been pleased, Sir, to have 
descended to particularize the Facts which occasioned 
your Complaints I should have had the Honor of 
answering you in the fullest, and, I am persuaded, most 
satisfactory Manner." 

In the spring the two hundred canoes which Wash- 
ington saw moored by the Riviere aux Boeufs carried 
the builders of Fort Duquesne and a garrison for it 
down La Belle Riviere, and a little later is heard the 
volley of the Virginia backwoodsmen up on the Laurel 
ridges a little way back from Duquesne, the volley 
which began the strife that armed the civilized world 
— the backwoodsmen commanded by the Virginia 
youth, George Washington. 

It is in that lonely ravine up among the ridges 
which I have described in an earlier chapter that the 
union of the eastern and western waters began. And 
there should be a monument beside Jumonville's to 
keep succeeding generations mindful of the mighty 
consequence of what happened then. 

This fray of the mountains was one of the most 
portentous of events in American history. It was not 
only the grappling of two European peoples and two 
systems of government out upon the edges of the 
civilized world — the stone-age men assisting on both 
sides — a fray in which Legardeur de St. Pierre, 
Coulon de Jumonville, and de Villiers, his avenging 



320 THE FRENCH IN THE HEART OF AMERICA 

brother, were France, and Washington was England. 
It was the beginning of the making of a new nation, 
of which that tall youth, who found the whizzing of 
bullets a "charming sound," was to be the very corner- 
stone. 

He was here having his first tuition of war. De 
Villiers let him march back from Fort Necessity un- 
harmed, when he might, perhaps, have ended the 
career of this young major in the great meadows where 
they fought "through the gray veil of mists and rain." 
Washington was taught by France, in these years of 
border warfare — for he went four times over the moun- 
tains — he was spared by France in the end to help 
take from France the title of the west, or so it seemed 
when, in 1763, the war which his command had begun 
was ended in the surrender of that vast domain to 
England. But we know now that the struggle had 
other issue. 

The steep path of the years when the colonies were 
taught their first lessons of federation by their common 
fear of the French and their allies, led by the tall young 
man who emerged from the woods back of Fort Le 
Boeuf and later assisted by the moral and pecuniary 
sympathy of France, by the presence of her ships along 
their menaced coasts, by the counsels of her admirals 
and generals, and by the marching and fighting of her 
soldiers side by side with theirs, you know. It is a 
path so marked by memorials as to need no spoken 
word. Only one vista in this trail of gloom with over- 
hanging clouded sky need detain us a moment. It 
lets us see Benjamin Franklin rejoicing in Paris 
after the news of the surrender of Burgoyne at Sara- 
toga in 1777. We see Beaumarchais rushing away 



WASHINGTON 321 

from Franklin's lodgings in Passy to spread the good 
news, and in such mad haste that he upset his carriage 
and dislocated his arm. And when we next look out 
from the path we see the British soldiers passing in 
surrender between two lines drawn up at Yorktown, 
the American soldiers on one side with Washington at 
their head, and on the other the French soldiers under 
Count Rochambeau. 

Washington and Legardeur de St. Pierre at Fort Le 
Boeuf, Washington and Rochambeau at Yorktown ! 
You have been told again and again that except for 
the France of Rochambeau the War of Independence 
would probably have failed and that the colonies 
would have remained English colonies. But let us 
remember that except for the France of Legardeur de 
St. Pierre there would probably not have been, as 
Parkman says, a "revolution"; and by the France of 
Legardeur I mean the spirit of France that had illus- 
tration in his lonely, exiled watching of the regions won 
by her pioneers. 

The French man-of-war Triumph brought to Phila- 
delphia in May of 1783 the treaty of Paris. In the 
December following General Washington said farewell 
to his officers and returned to Mount Vernon, his 
estate on the Potomac. There he was busied through 
the next few months in putting his private affairs in 
order, in superintending the reparation of his planta- 
tion, and in receiving those who came to him for 
counsel or to express their gratitude. It was as a level 
bit of the mountain trail from which the traveller 
catches glimpses of a peaceful valley. And that is all 
that the traveller usually sees. 

But there is a farther view. From that level path 



322 THE FRENCH IN THE HEART OF AMERICA 

one can see over the Alleghanies the great valley so 
familiar to our eyes from other points of view, stretch- 
ing toward the Mississippi. 

In the autumn of 1784 (eight months after his fare- 
well to the army) Washington leaves his home, as it 
appears, to visit some lands which he had acquired 
as one result of his earlier and martial trips out beyond 
the Laurel Hills. He had title to forty thousand acres 
beyond the mountains. He had even purchased the 
site of this first battle in the meadows, where he had 
built Fort Necessity and where he was himself cap- 
tured by the French, but from which he was permitted 
to go back over the mountains with his flags flying and 
his drums beating. A "charming field of encounter" 
he called the place in his youthful exuberance before the 
battle in 1753. "Much Hay may be cut here When 
the ground is laid down in Grass; and the upland, East 
of the Meadow is good for grain," he wrote in his un- 
sentimental diary, September 12, 1784. For over the 
mountains he went again on what was thought but a 
trip of personal business. But on the third day of the 
journey, September 3d, he writes, incidentally, as ex- 
plaining his desire to talk with certain men: "one ob- 
ject of my journey being to obtain information of the 
nearest and best communication between the Eastern 
and Western Waters." And as he advances this be- 
comes the possessing object. 

Here are a few extracts from that diary still pre- 
served in his own hand which give the intimation of a 
prescience that should in itself hold for him a grateful 
place in the memory of the west and of a concern 
about little things that should bring him a bit nearer 
to our human selves: 



WASHINGTON 323 

September 6. "Remained at Bath all day and was 
showed the Model of a Boat constructed by the in- 
genious Mr. (James) Rumsey for ascending rapid cur- 
rents by mechanism. . . . Having hired three Pack 
horses to give my own greater relief. . . ." 

September II, "This is a pretty considerable water 
and, as it is said to have no fall in it, may, I conceive, 
be improved into a valuable navigation. . . ." 

September 12. "Crossing the Mountains, I found 
tedious and fatieguing [sic]. ... In passing over 
the Mountains I met numbers of Persons and Pack 
horses . . . from most of whom I made enquiries of 
the nature of the Country. . . ." 

September 13. "I visited my Mill" [a mill which 
he had had built before the Revolution]. . . . 

September 15. "This being the day appointed for 
the Sale of my moiety of the Co-partnership Stock 
many People were gathered (more out of curiosity I 
believe than from other motives). My Mill I could ob- 
tain no bid for. . . ." 

September 19. "Being Sunday, and the People liv- 
ing on my Land, apparently very religious" [these were 
Scotch-Irish who had squatted on a rich piece of land 
patented by Washington], "it was thought best to 
postpone going among them till to-morrow. . . ." 

September 20. "I told them I had no inclination 
to sell; however, after hearing a good deal of their 
hardships, their Religious principles (which had brought 
them together as a society of Ceceders [sic]) and un- 
willingness to seperate [sic] or remove; I told them I 
would make them a last offer. . . ." 

September 22. "Note — In my equipage Trunk and 
the Canteens — were Madeira and Port Wine — Cherry 



324 THE FRENCH IN THE HEART OF AMERICA 

bounce — Oyl, Mustard — Vinegar — and Spices of all 
sorts — Tea, and Sugar in the Camp Kettles (a whole 
loaf of white sugar broke up about 7 lbs. weight). . . . 
My fishing lines are in the Canteens. . . ." 

September 23. "An Apology made to me from the 
Court of Fayette (thro' Mr. Smith) for not addressing 
me." 

The Cheat at the Mouth is about 125 y ds wide — the 
Monongahela near d ble that — the colour of the two 
Waters is very differ 1 , that of Cheat is dark (occasioned 
as is conjectured by the Laurel, among which it rises, 
and through which it runs) the other is clear, & there 
appears a repugnancy in both to mix, as there is a 
plain line of division betw 11 the two for some distance 
below the fork; which holds, I am told near a Mile. — 
the Cheat keeps to the right shore as it descends, & 
the other the left. 

September 25. "At the crossing of this Creek McCul- 
loch's path, which owes its origen [sic] to Buffaloes. . . . 
At the entrance of the above glades I lodged this 
night, with no other shelter or cover than my cloak & 
was unlucky enough to have a heavy shower of Rain." 

September 26. "We had an uncomfortable travel to 
one Charles Friends, about 10 miles; where we could 
get nothing for our horses, and only boiled Corn for 
ourselves." 

October 1. "I had a good deal of conversation with 
this Gentleman on the Waters, and trade of the Western 
Country." 

October 4. "I breakfasted by Candlelight, and 
Mounted my horse soon after daybreak. I arrived at 
Colchester, 30 Miles, to Dinner; and reached home be- 
fore Sun down." 1 

1 A. B. Hulbert, "Washington and the West," pp. 32-85. 



WASHINGTON 325 

In this revelation of Washington out of the laconic 
misspelled entries of his diary we have not only a 
most human portrait but an intimation of his prac- 
tical far-seeing statesmanship. He looms even a larger 
figure as he rides through the fog of the Youghiogheny, 
for there he appears as the prophet of the eastern and 
western waters. In his vision the New France and the 
New England are to be indissolubly bound into a New 
America. He had written Chevalier de Chastellux 
from Princeton, October 12, 1783, after a return from 
the Mohawk Valley, that he could not but be struck 
by the immense extent and importance "of the vast 
inland navigation of these United States," that should 
bring that great western valley into communication 
with the east, and that he would not rest contented 
until he had explored that western country and tra- 
versed those lines which have given bounds to a new 
empire. And as he comes back over the Alleghanies 
from this journey of six hundred and eighty miles on 
the same horses he writes: "No well-informed mind 
need be told how necessary it is to apply the cement 
of interest to bind all parts together by one indissoluble 
band." And the indissoluble band is the smooth road 
and the navigable stream or canal. 1 

England and France had both restrained western 
migration, and the young provincial republic was 
doubtless of no mind to encourage it, so far as it then 
knew its mind. But Washington had a larger, wiser 
view than any other except Franklin, and even Frank- 
lin was not ardent for the canals. Washington was 
thinking, some will say, of the trade that would come 
over those paths; and so he was, but it was not prima- 
rily for his own advantage, not for the trade's sake, but 

*A. B. Hulbert, "Washington and the West," p. ioo. 



326 THE FRENCH IN THE HEART OF AMERICA 

for the sake of the weak little confederation of States 
for which he had ventured all he was and had. 

He was (as my old professor of history in Johns Hop- 
kins was the first to point out 1 ) the first to suggest the 
parcelling of the western country into "free, conve- 
nient, and independent governments," and here he ap- 
pears the first not to speculate about but to seek out 
by fording streams and climbing mountains a practical 
way to a "more perfect union," and not merely for 
those jealous States lying along the Atlantic and within 
reach of its commerce, but for all the territory and 
people of their new heritage. 

And singularly enough this very journey led not 
only to the establishment of those paths between the 
east and west, the national road, the canals reaching 
toward the sources of the rivers, and ultimately the 
trans-Alleghany railroad, but to the making of that 
unmatched document, the Constitution of the United 
States. And in this wise: 

Washington called the attention of Virginia and 
Maryland to the importance of opening a communica- 
tion between the Potomac and James and the western 
waters. He writes to Lafayette of being at the meeting 
of the Maryland Assembly in that interest. 2 These 
two States appointed commissioners to confer concern- 
ing this and other matters. Their recommendations 
resulted in the calling of a more widely representative 
convention, and this in turn in the convening of a body 
to revise the entire federal system. 

1 Herbert B. Adams, "Washington's Interests in Western Lands," in 
Johns Hopkins University Studies. Third series, No. I, 1885. 

2 John Pickell, "New Chapter in the Early Life of Washington in Con- 
nection with the Narrative History of the Potomac Company, 1856," pp. 
133-4. 



WASHINGTON 327 

So this peaceful journey of the warrior over the moun- 
tains to the great meadows and down into the tangled 
ravines of West Virginia became not only the prophecy 
of the indissoluble bond between the east and west; 
it became the first step in that movement which led 
the original States themselves into that more perfect 
union. 

The sequence, which did not occur to me until I read 
recently the diary of that trans-Alleghany journey, 
gives Washington a new, if a homelier, majesty. 

Napoleon the Great has spoken his praise of Washing- 
ton as a general. Many of our own historians agree that 
it is very doubtful if without Washington the struggle 
for independence would have succeeded. Other men 
were important. He was indispensable. This intimates 
the occasion we have for gratitude that the commander 
of the French let him march out of Fort Necessity 
in 1754. 

The world has for a century been repeating the 
eulogies that have outlived the invective of his day — 
and that are only now becoming humanized by the 
new school of historians who will not sacrifice facts to 
glowing periods. Washington is now more of a human 
being and less of a god than the Washington whom 
Lincoln found in Weems's "Life." 

Yet with all the humanizing is he the austere, rugged, 
inaccessible mountain, its fiery passions hidden, its 
head above the forests. And so will he stand in history 
the justest of men, a man of highest purity of purpose 
and of greatest practical wisdom; but, if as a mountain, 
then as one that hides somewhere in its slopes such a 
path as we have learned to know in our journeys over 
this course, a portage path between two great valleys 



328 THE FRENCH IN THE HEART OF AMERICA 

which its summit has blessed, for he was as a portage 
path between the eastern and western waters, between 
the institutions of New England and the fleur-de-lis 
fields of Nouvelle France. 

I have visited the unmarked field where Fort Le 
Boeuf once stood, by French Creek, the field where 
"the most momentous and far-reaching question ever 
brought to issue on this [American] continent" 1 was 
put by the stripling Washington to the veteran Legar- 
deur de St. Pierre. 

I have, in my worship of the great general, followed 
through the rain and sleet of a winter's night and in 
the mud of a country road his famous march from the 
crossing of the Delaware to Trenton, made in that 
December night of 1776 when the struggle seemed most 
hopeless. 

And I have been in the place in which — as to at 
least one historian — he seems to me the most of a man 
and the most of a prophet, even the most of a god, 
out in the glades and passes, the rains and fogs, of 
the Alleghanies, fording the streams and following the 
paths of buffalo and deer in an attempt to find a way 
between the east and west. 

1 Parkman, "Montcalm and Wolfe," 1 : 4. 



CHAPTER XVI 
THE PRODUCERS 

ON the wonderful background which the passing 
life of that valley has filled with dim epic fig- 
ures that are now but the incarnations of Euro- 
pean longings, as rich in color as that which lies more 
consciously back of Greece and Rome or in the fields 
of Gaul (the splendors of the court of Versailles shining 
through the sombre forests and into the huts of the 
simple habitants) — on this I have depicted the rather 
shadowy suggestions of a matter-of-fact, drab de- 
mocracy which is usually made to obscure all that 
background with its smoke. But if I have made your 
eyes see what I have tried to show, the colors and figures 
of the background still show themselves. 

I have now to put against that wonderful back- 
ground, dim as it is, the new habitants. I suggested 
earlier the emergence of their gaunt figures from the 
forests and the processional of their ships of the prairies 
through the tall grass that seemed as the sea itself. 

I had in my thought to speak of these new inhabi- 
tants as workers, but that word has in it too much of 
the suggestion of endless, hopeless, playless labor. Yet 
they are workers all — or nearly all. There are some 
tramps, vagrants, idlers, to be sure, the spray of that 
restless sea. But when a man of great wealth wishes 
to give up systematic work he generally goes out of the 

329 



33Q THE FRENCH IN THE HEART OF AMERICA 

valley or begins a migratory life, as do the wild birds 
of the valley. 

But these busy, ever-working people of the valley 
are better characterized by other names, and they may 
be divided into three overlapping classes: 

I. The precursors, those that run before, the ex- 
plorers, the discoverers, the inventors, the prophets. 

II. The producers, those, literally, who lead forth: 
the dukes, marshals, generals of democracy, bringers 
forth of things from the ground, the waters, by brain 
and muscle; and the transporters of the things brought 
forth to the places of need. 

III. The poets, that is, in the old pristine Greek 
sense, the makers, the creators, in the generic sense, 
and not merely in the specific sense of makers of verses. 

If you object to my terminology as exalting too 
much the common man, as putting sacred things to 
profane use, as demeaning prophecy and nobility and 
poesy, I shall answer that it is because of the narrowing 
definitions of convention that only the makers of 
verses, and not all of those, are poets, that only men of 
certain birth or ancestry or favor are dukes, and that 
prophets have entirely disappeared. And I bring to 
my support the more liberal lexicography of science, 
whose spectroscopy now admits the humblest elements 
into the society of the stars; whose microscopy, as 
Maeterlinck has helped us to become aware, has per- 
mitted the flowers to share the aspirations of animal 
intelligence; whose chemistry has gathered the elements 
into a social democracy in which no permanent aris- 
tocracy seems now to be possible, except that of ser- 
vice to man; whose physics has divided the atom and 
yet exalted it to a place which would lead Lucretius, 



THE PRODUCERS 331 

were he writing now, to include it in Natura Deorum 
instead of Natura Rerum. 

The son of Sirach, in his Book of Wisdom, has de- 
scribed the man who did the work of the world in an- 
cient times; for "how shall he become wise," begins 
this essay, "that holdeth the plough, that glorieth in 
the shaft of the goad, that driveth oxen, and is oc- 
cupied in their labors, and whose discourse is of the 
stock of bulls ? He will set his heart upon turning his 
furrows, his wakefulness is to give his heifers their fod- 
der. So is every artificer and work-master that passeth 
his time by night as by day, they that cut gravings 
of signets; and his diligence is to make great variety; 
he will set his heart to preserve likeness in his portrai- 
ture, and will be wakeful to finish his work. So is the 
smith, sitting by the anvil, and considering the un- 
wrought iron; the vapor of the fire will waste his flesh, 
and in the heat of the furnace will he wrestle with his 
work; the noise of the hammer will be ever in his ears, 
and his eyes are upon the pattern of the vessel; he will 
set his heart upon perfecting his works, and he will be 
wakeful to adorn them perfectly. So is the potter 
sitting at his work, and turning the wheel about with 
his feet, who is always anxiously set at his work, and 
all his handiwork is by number; he will fashion the 
clay with his arm, and will bend its strength in front of 
his feet; he will apply his heart to finish the glazing, 
and he will be wakeful to make clean the furnace. 
All these put their trust in their hands; and each be- 
cometh wise in his own work. Without these shall 
not a city be inhabited, and men shall not sojourn or 
walk up or down therein. They shall not be sought 
for in the council of the people, and in the assembly 



332 THE FRENCH IN THE HEART OF AMERICA 

they shall not mount on high; they shall not sit on 
the seat of the judge, and they shall not understand 
the covenant of judgment; neither shall they declare 
instruction and judgment, and where parables are 
they shall not be found. But they will maintain the 
fabric of the world; and in the handiwork of their 
craft is their prayer." 

The wisdom of the scribe, however, he said, "cometh 
by opportunity of leisure." That wisdom the west, 
as I have already intimated, has not yet learned. Such 
a scene as I witnessed a little time ago in the amphi- 
theatre of the Sorbonne, a scene typical of what oc- 
curs many times a day there, is not yet to be seen in 
the valley. I saw that hall filled in the early after- 
noon with an audience markedly masculine, listening 
to a lecture on early Greek life, interspersed with read- 
ings from the Homeric epics. I cannot visualize, much 
as I could wish to, a like scene in the Mississippi 
Valley, except in the atmosphere of a woman's club, 
or at an assembly on the shore of the lake Chautauqua, 
which I have described in the narrative of the "sow- 
ing of the leaden plates," where men and women are 
for a little time shut away from their normal occupa- 
tions in a fenced or walled town; or in a university 
where attendance upon the lecture is required for a 
degree. I cannot visualize it even with such a charm- 
ing and amphionic lecturer as the great scholar who 
gave the lecture on Greece 1 to which I have referred. 

It is that want, in the valley, of appreciation of the 
value of leisure and of its wisdoms, it is that worship 
of what the son of Sirach called the "wisdom of busi- 
ness," or busyness, it is that disposition not to listen 

1 Dean Croiset. 



THE PRODUCERS 333 

to the voices of the invisible multitude of spirits of the 
past (who after all help to constitute a nation no less 
than the multitude of spirits of the present, and of 
the future), it is that inability to credit disinterested, 
materially unproductive, purposes and pursuits, and 
fit them into the philosophy of a perfectibility based on 
material prosperity — it is all of these that intimate the 
shortcomings of that life of the Valley of Hurry. 

I saw another great and, as it seemed, non-univer- 
sity audience in the same amphitheatre in Paris listen- 
ing just after midday to a lecture on Montesquieu, and 
I had not sufficient imagination to picture such an 
audience as near the Stock Exchange of Chicago as 
the Sorbonne is to the Bourse — in that western city 
where men take hardly time at that hour of day to 
eat, much less to philosophize. They will not pause to 
hear Montesquieu remind them that "democracy is 
virtue" or to hear Homer speak of virtue as the ancients 
conceived it. 

But, on the other hand, and there is another side, 
they will give up private business, eating, and all to 
stop a patent dishonesty, to improve the mail service, 
to discuss the smoke nuisance that happens to be 
choking their throats, or get rid of the beggar at the 
door, or to go to a ball game. 

They do not there in any great number appreciate 
the wonderful, indefatigable, disinterested efforts of 
scholars, artists, poets, in the narrower sense — the 
wisdoms of seeming idleness or leisure. On the other 
hand, I am sure that the poetry and prophecy of those 
who (again in the language of the son of Sirach) are 
"building the fabric of the world" are not appreciated 
either in Paris or Chicago, partly because of conven- 



334 THE FRENCH IN THE HEART OF AMERICA 

tion and inadequate representation in the old world, 
and because of the smoke and noise and the thought 
of the "unwrought iron" in the new world. 

Of the geographical precursors of that valley I have 
spoken. But there are others who have enlarged the 
boundaries and increased the size of acres discovered 
by the first precursors. Let me without fatiguing sta- 
tistics give intimation of what I mean in one or two 
illustrations of the successors of the coureurs de bois, 
the runners before, the later prophets of the valley. 

Out of a trough up in the Alleghany Mountains — 
one of those troughs occupied by the sinewy Scotch- 
Irish pioneers who first, after the French, as you will 
recall, crept down into the great valley — there jour- 
neyed one day, a century after Celoron, a young man 
on horseback. He rode as many miles as La Salle 
went on foot in that memorable heart-breaking jour- 
ney from Fort Crevecoeur to Fort Frontenac. He rode 
through the territory which La Salle had so appeal- 
ingly described to Louis XIV, now yellow with ripe 
wheat. Men and women, children and grandmothers, 
were toiling day and night with scythes and sickles to 
harvest it by hand, but could not gather it all, and 
tons were left to rot under the "hoofs of cattle." 1 

This precursor came with a sword, beaten not into 
a ploughshare but into a something quite as indispen- 

1 "He saw hogs and cattle turned Into fields of ripe wheat, for lack of 
laborers to gather it in. The fertile soil had given Illinois five million 
bushels of wheat, and it was too much. It was more than the sickle and 
the scythe could cut. Men toiled and sweltered to save the yellow affluence 
from destruction. They worked by day and by night; and their wives and 
children worked. But the tragic aspect of the grain crop is this — it must 
be gathered quickly or it breaks down and decays. It will not wait. The 
harvest season lasts from four to ten days only. And whoever cannot 
snatch his grain from the field during this short period must lose it." — 
H. N. Casson, "Cyrus Hall McCormick," pp. 65, 66. 



THE PRODUCERS 335 

sable, a sickle — a vibrating sickle driven by horses, that 
would in a day do the work of a dozen, twenty, thirty, 
forty men, women, children, and grandmothers. In 
his eastern home he had, like La Salle, suffered from 
creditors, from jeering neighbors who thought him 
visionary, if not crazed, and from fearful laborers who 
broke his machines; but there in that golden western 
valley he found sympathy, and, on the Chicago por- 
tage, a site for the making of his sickles, fitted into 
machines called harvesters — there where the French 
precursor's boat and sword were found not long ago. 
Seventeen years later, on his imperial farm, Napoleon 
III (whose royal ancestors had given the very site for 
the factory) fastened the cross of the Legion of Honor 
upon the breast of this prophet. 

There were others who went with him or followed 
him into that richer valley, adding the self-rake to the 
sickle, then putting a platform on the harvester so 
that the men who bound the sheaves had no longer 
to walk and bend over the grain on the ground, as they 
had done since before the days of Ruth and Naomi, 
then devising an iron arm to take the place of one of 
flesh, and finally putting a piece of twine in the hand 
of that iron arm and making it do the work of the 
binder. I cannot help wondering what Tonty of the 
iron hand would have said could he have seen that 
half-human machine cutting the wheat, and with its 
iron hand tying it in bundles, there in the fields of 
Aramoni, just back of the Rock St. Louis. 

But I do not need to idealize or emphasize to men of 
France the service of this particular precursor, who was 
for years considering the unwrought iron, making ex- 
periment after experiment before he came down into 



336 THE FRENCH IN THE HEART OF AMERICA 

that golden valley, literally to multiply its acres a 
hundredfold; for the French Academy of Science de- 
clared that he had "done more for the cause of agri- 
culture than any other living man," and a late Presi- 
dent of the French Republic is quoted as saying that 
without this harvester "France would starve." The 
King of Spain, the Emperor of Germany, the Czar of 
Russia, the Sultan of Turkey, and the Shah of Persia 
have added their tributes to those of the President of 
the French Republic, and all the nations of the earth 
are literally bringing their glory and their honor into 
that city of the portage strip, which, in a sense, has 
leading across and out of it paths to all the other 
golden valleys of the earth, for we are told that the 
sickles are reaping the fields of "Argentina in January, 
Upper Egypt in February, East India in March, 
Mexico in April, China in May, Spain in June, Iowa in 
July, Canada in August, Sweden in September, Nor- 
way in October, South Africa in November, and Burma 
in December." 

When in France, walking one afternoon from Orange 
to Avignon, the first object I saw as I entered that 
charming city of the palace of the Pope was a sign ad- 
vertising the McCormick harvester. 

I do not mean to intimate that all the sickles, that 
is, harvesters, are made on that portage strip, for if 
all the factories and coal lands (twenty thousand acres) 
and timber lands (one hundred thousand acres) and ore 
lands (with their forty million tons of ore) and railway 
tracks that unite to make these harvesters were brought 
together around that portage strip there would be no 
place for the city itself; but through one building on 
that strip the myriad paths do run, connecting all the 



THE PRODUCERS 337 

tillable, grain-growing valleys of this planet; and yet 
a recent, most observing English critic, Mr. Wells, 
saw as he left that city only a "great industrial deso- 
lation" netted by railroads. He smelled an unwhole- 
some reek from the stock-yards, and saw a bituminous 
reek that outdoes London, with vast chimneys right and 
left, "huge blackened grain-elevators, flame-crowned 
furnaces, and gauntly ugly and filthy factory build- 
ings, monstrous mounds of refuse, desolate, empty 
lots, littered with rusty cans, old iron, and indescrib- 
able rubbish. Interspersed with these are groups of 
dirty, disreputable, insanitary-looking wooden houses." 1 
Nothing but these in a place whose very smoke was a 
sign of what had made it possible for the nations of 
the earth even to subsist at all in any such numbers, 
or if at all, on anything better than black bread. 

And, after all, this precursor, this runner before, was 
but one of hundreds of later Champlains, Nicolets, and 
La Salles, in the wake of whose visions came the pro- 
ducers, those who led forth the corn and wheat from 
the furrows, the trees from the forests, the coal from 
the ground, the iron from the hills, the steel from the 
retorts, the fire from the wells, the water from the 
mountains, electricity from the clouds and the cataract 
— dukes, field-marshals, generals, demigods whom no 
myth has enhaloed or poetry immortalized. 

Prometheus, bringing fire to mortals, did in a more 
primitive way what they have done who have led forth 
the oil of the rocks (petroleum) to light the lamps of 
the earth. Orpheus, who sang so entrancingly that 
mortals forgot their punishments and followed him, 
and Amphion, who drew the stones into their places 

1 H. G. Wells, "Future in America," p. 59. 



338 THE FRENCH IN THE HEART OF AMERICA 

in the walls by his music, performed no more of a 
miracle than a lad who tips a Bessemer converter. 
Hercules is remembered as a hero of the garden of the 
Hesperides for all time, whereas he probably but im- 
ported oranges from Spain to the eastern Mediter- 
ranean, and is hardly to be mentioned by the side of 
such a Mississippi Valley transporter and importer as 
Mr. Hill. 

But let us follow more particularly the producers 
of the fields, whom we call the farmers there, the men 
whom the son of Sirach had in mind when he said in 
the ancient days: "How shall he become wise that 
holdeth the plough, that glorieth in the shaft of the 
goad, . . . and whose discourse is of the stock of 
bulls?" It was a farmer's son who invented the har- 
vester, and four-fifths of the men (whom the writer, to 
whom I am indebted for many of these facts about 
the farmer, calls "harvester kings") — along with the 
plough kings and wagon kings of whom democracy has 
been dreaming — were farmers' sons. The plough, the 
self-binder, the thresher were all invented on the farm. 

The son of Sirach said: "They shall not be sought for 
in the council of the people, and in the assembly they 
shall not mount on high"; but fourteen of the first 
twenty-six Presidents were farmers' sons, and that 
statistic gives but merest suggestion of the farmer's 
part in all the councils of the people. 

Here are a few significant, graphic facts which would 
furnish interesting material for a new edition of Vir- 
gil's "Georgics" and "Bucolics" or lead Horace to re- 
vise his verses on rural life. 

There are practically five times as many farmers 
(under the early man-power definition of the farmer) as 



THE PRODUCERS 339 

the census shows, for the farmer now works with the 
old-time power of five men. 

Six per cent of the human race (and the larger part 
of that six per cent is in the Mississippi Valley) pro- 
duces one-fifth of the wheat of the world, two-thirds of 
the cotton, and three fourths of the corn (and this 
takes no account of its reapers and mowers that gather 
the crops in other valleys). 

It would cost three hundred million dollars more to 
harvest the world's wheat by hand, if it were possible, 
than it costs now by the aid of the harvester and reaper. 1 

Some years ago in a trial made in Germany in the 
presence of the Emperor and his ministers, it was 
shown that a Mississippi Valley harvester driven by 
one man could do more in one day than forty Polish 
women with old-fashioned sickles. 2 

The precursor of the harvester saw grandmothers 
and mothers in the fields working day and night to 
cut and gather the harvest, but he could not now 
(except among the new immigrant farmers) see that 
spectacle. I cannot recall that, until I met that old- 
world population coming over the mountains as I 
made my first journey east out of that valley, over 
twenty years ago, I ever saw a woman at work in the 
fields. 

The gallantry of that primitive pioneer life kept 
her in the cabin, which was the castle, and, while her 
labor was doubtless not less than her husband's, it had 
the sanctity of its seclusion and its maternal ministries 
to life. In the new industrialism that has invited the 
daughters of the Polish women harvesters into the 

1 H. N. Casson, "Romance of the Reaper," p. 178. 

*H. N. Casson, "Romance of the Reaper," pp. 134, 135. 



34Q THE FRENCH IN THE HEART OF AMERICA 

factories yonder there is this constant and increasing 
concern which is insisting upon a living wage, whole- 
some sanitary environment, and on shorter hours of 
labor for women and children — this purpose that will 
ultimately bring skies and sunsets without exposure or 
back-breaking labor. 

On my way to a provincial university in the north 
of France not long ago, I saw a peasant mother standing 
in the misty morning at the mouth of a small thresher, 
feeding into it the sheaves handed her by her husband, 
the horse in a treadmill furnishing the power. When 
I passed in the misty morning of the next day she was 
still feeding the yellow sheaves into the thresher; and 
I thought how much better that was than the flail. 

On a farm in the northwest, a hundred miles square, 
as long ago as 1893, three hundred self-binders were 
reaping the wheat at the cost of less than a cent a 
bushel — with practically no human labor beyond 
driving, 1 and there are seven thousand harvesting ma- 
chines made each week 2 by the one great harvester 
company alone. 

The time needed to handle an acre of wheat has 
been reduced by the use of machinery from sixty-one 
hours to three; of an acre of hay from twenty-one to 
four; of oats from sixty-six to seven; of potatoes from 
one hundred and nine to thirty-eight — which is signifi- 
cant in its promise of the wisdoms of leisure. 3 

But machinery has also increased the size of the 
farm. In France and Germany, I am told, the average 
farm is but five acres in size, and in England nine; 

J H. N. Casson, "Romance of the Reaper," p. 178. 
2 H. N. Casson, " Cyrus Hall McCormick," p. 196. 
J H. N. Casson, "Romance of the Reaper," p. 179. 



THE PRODUCERS 341 

while in the United States it is one hundred and thirty- 
eight acres, and in the States west of the Mississippi 
two hundred and eleven acres. 

And the product ? One harvest, in the picturesque 
words of Mr. Casson, would buy Belgium, two would 
buy Italy, three would buy Austria-Hungary, and five, 
at a spot-cash price, would take Russia from the Czar. 
Seven bushels of wheat for every man, woman, and 
child of the ninety or more millions in America and a 
thousand million dollars' worth of food to other nations ! 
That is the sum of the product — of what has been led 
forth in a single year. 

But the leader forth, the producer, the man who 
set his heart upon "turning his furrows," whose "wake- 
fulness was to give heifers their fodder," he has himself 
risen. He has, as I said of the farmers of Aramoni 
(the sons of the first settlers who are still turning up 
occasionally a flint arrow-head in the fields) — he has 
his daily paper, his daily mail, his telephone. He 
"pays his taxes with a week's earnings." He ploughs, 
plants, sows, cultivates, reaps by machinery. The 
poet Gray could find only with difficulty in that valley 
a footsore ploughman homeward wending his weary 
way, and Millet would in vain look for a sower, a man 
with a hoe, a woman reaper with a sickle, a man with 
a scythe or cradle. The new-world peasant is not 
only maintaining more than his per-capita share of the 
"fabric of the world" but he is taking his place in the 
councils of men. 

What is most promising now is that these followers 
of the old pioneers of France in that valley are be- 
ginning to add to their acres new dominions, discovered 
by the new pioneers of France, such as the chemists 



342 THE FRENCH IN THE HEART OF AMERICA 

Lavoisier and Berthelot, forerunners of the modern 
schools of agricultural chemistry and physical chemis- 
try. One hundred years after La Salle completed the 
waterway journey to the gulf through that valley, 
Lavoisier made a discovery of the composition of water 
itself that has been of immense benefit, I am told, to 
the farmer of that valley and of other valleys. And 
then came Berthelot with his teaching of how to put 
together again, to synthetize, what man has waste- 
fully dissipated. France's men of the lens and the 
retort have become precursors where France's men of 
the boat and the sword went first, and have opened 
paths to even richer fields than those in which the har- 
vesters have reaped. 

There are as many agricultural colleges in the United 
States as there are States; there are at least fifty agri- 
cultural experiment stations, and there is ever new 
provision for scientific agricultural research. 

Here is a partial catalogue of the enactments and 
appropriations of the legislature in the valley States 
for two years only: 

Laws and Appropriations Showing Work Done in Agri- 
cultural Experiment and Extension Work by 
Certain of the States, 1911-14. 

ALABAMA 

1912. — $27,000, experiments with fertilizers, combating boll- 
weevil, plant breeding, horticultural investi- 
gations, agricultural extension, etc. 

1913. — Same as for 1912. 

COLORADO 
1911-12. — $5,500, experiments with potatoes. 

5,000, experiments with alfalfa, grain, etc. 
3,500, dry farming. 



THE PRODUCERS 343 

1913. — $47,500, experimental work in dry farming, dairy- 
ing, etc. 

1913-14. — County commissioners, on petition of one hundred 
taxpayers, to appoint county agriculturist; 
salary paid by county and expenses by county, 
State, and United States. 

ILLINOIS 

191 3. — Authorized counties to appropriate $5,000 annually 
for soil and crop improvement. 

See "American Year Book, 1913," p. 466. 

IOWA 

191 3. — $500, cross-breeding of fruits and edible nuts. Au- 
thorizing establishment of county corpora- 
tions for improvement of agriculture. 
40,000, experiment station. 
10,000, veterinary investigation. 
17,000, experimental farm. 
40,000, agricultural extension. 

See "American Year Book, 1913," p. 465. 

KANSAS 

1913-14. — $55,000, experiment station. 

15,000, production and dissemination of im- 
proved seeds. 
102,500, for six branch stations, two of which are 

new. 
125,000, pumping-plants at experiment station. 

LOUISIANA 

1912. — Police juries of several parishes authorized to appro- 
priate not to exceed $1,000 annually in aid of 
farmers' co-operative demonstration work; also 
to acquire and establish experimental farms. 

MICHIGAN 

191 2. — Authorizing and regulating county agricultural de- 
partments for advice and assistance to farmers. 

MINNESOTA 

1913. — $60,000, maintenance of county agricultural agents; 
counties each to pay $1,000. 



344 THE FRENCH IN THE HEART OF AMERICA 

MISSOURI 
1913-14. — $25,000, county farm advisers. 
20,000, soil experiments. 
30,000, agricultural investigations. 

5,000, promotion of corn growing. 
12,000, soil survey. 
50,000, hog-cholera serum work. 

2,500, orchard demonstration. 
10,000, agricultural laboratories. 
12,000, animal husbandry. 

5,000, dairying. 

MONTANA 

191 2. — $20,000, demonstration of dry-land farming. 

1913. — County commissioners may, upon vote of 51 per cent 
of electors, appropriate $100 per month for 
agricultural instructor, remainder of salary to 
be paid by State and United States. 

NEBRASKA 

1911-12. — $100,000, establishment of school of agriculture. 

3,000, agricultural botanical work. 
1913-14. — $3,000, agricultural botanical work. County to 
employ farm demonstrator on petition 
of 10 per cent of farm-land owners. 
1,250 (maximum), annually to each accred- 
ited high school teaching agriculture, 
manual training, and home economics. 
85,000, for fireproof building for agronomy, 
horticulture, botany, and entomol- 
ogy. 

OHIO 

1913. — $229,200, aggregate of station appropriation. 

OKLAHOMA 

1913. — Counties authorized to appropriate $500 annually 
for farmers' demonstration work. 
See "American Year Book, 1913," pp. 465-6. 



THE PRODUCERS 345 

TEXAS 

1911. — Authorizing county commissioners' courts to estab- 
lish experimental farms. 
1913. — Railroads may own and operate experimental farms. 

WISCONSIN 

1913. — Beginning January 1, 1914, $10,000, county agricul- 
tural representatives, agricultural develop- 
ment, etc. 

WYOMING 

1912. — $4,000, agriculture and soil-culture experiments. 
1913. — $4,000, experiments along lines of agriculture and soil 
culture. 
5,000, purchase and maintenance of experimental 
farm. 
1914-15. — $5,000, dry-farm experiments. 

See "American Year Book, 1913," p. 466. 

And nearly every State availed itself by specific act 
of certain appropriations under a federal grant. In 
addition to all this, appropriations are generally made 
for the holding of farmers' institutes at which instruc- 
tion is given by experts and farmers exchange experi- 
ences. 

The agricultural colleges have a total of over one 
hundred thousand graduates, men and women, and it is 
they, and those who follow in increasing numbers, who 
are to cultivate the valley of Lavoisier and Berthelot 
even as the pioneers and producers of the past have 
cultivated for the world the valley of Marquette and 
La Salle. 

It is not all as bright and promising as this rather 
generalized picture may seem to indicate. There are 
still isolations, there are bad crops in unfavorable 
places and untoward seasons. There are human fail- 



346 THE FRENCH IN THE HEART OF AMERICA 

ures. It is an intimation of the darker side that Presi- 
dent Roosevelt appointed a commission 1 a few years 
ago to see what could be done for the ignorances, the 
lonesomenesses, the monotonies of country life in Amer- 
ica, and to prevent the migration to cities, even as 
Louis XIV. But all that I have described is there 
— aggressively, blusteringly, optimistically there — and 
is going most confidently on. It is for the most part 
a temperate life. All through that valley there has 
swept a movement, moral, economic, or both, which 
has closed saloons and prevented the sale of intoxicat- 
ing drink of any sort in States or communities all the 
way from the lakes to the gulf. 

But, singularly enough, there is promise of a new age 
of alcohol, I am told. Farmers can distil a variety of 
alcohol from potatoes at a cost of ten cents a gallon 
and use it in gasolene engines most profitably, which 
leads one who has written most informingly and hope- 
fully of the American farmer to foreshadow the day 
when the farmer "will grow his own power and 
know how to harness for his own use the omnipotence 
of the soil" and get its fruits most beneficially distrib- 
uted. 

That there is a strong utilitarian spirit possessing 
all the valley I do not deny. But I often wonder 
whether we are not conventionally astigmatic to much 
of the beauty and moral value of such utilitarian life 
and its disciplines. There is intimation of this in a 
recent statement of a western economist to the effect 
that there was as great cultural value in developing 
the lines of a perfect milk cow as in studying a Venus 
de Milo, and in growing a perfect ear of corn as in rep- 

1 Commission on Country Life. 



THE PRODUCERS 347 

resenting it by means of color or expressing the rhythm 
of its growth in metered words. But, I believe that 
there is as much beauty and poetry there as among 
the isles of Greece, if only it were interpreted by the 
disinterested spirit and skill of the artist, the scholar, 
and the poet. 

If we turn for a moment to the precursors who have 
led the way to the valley that lies beneath, the valley 
of the strata of coal and iron, with its subterranean 
streams of precious metal, its currents of gold and silver, 
and its lakes of oil and gas, and from these precursors 
to the producers and transporters who have led these 
elements forth to the uses of man, we shall find a like 
story — another chapter of democracy's dreaming of 
kings. 

The same author whom I have quoted liberally 
above has written what he calls "The Romance of 
Steel" in that valley. It begins with an Englishman 
of French ancestry, Bessemer, and one Kelly, an Irish- 
American, born on the old Fort Duquesne point. They 
had discovered and developed, each without the knowl- 
edge of the other, the pneumatic process of treating 
iron — that is, of refining it with air and making steel. 
Bessemer's name became associated with the process. 
But the industry has made Kelly's birthplace, the site 
of the old French fort, its capital (with another of 
those poetic fitnesses that multiply as we put the pres- 
ent against the past). 

France not only gave to Pittsburgh her site but the 
crucibles in which her fortunes lay. Bessemer was 
the son of a French artist living in London in poverty. 
Young Bessemer had invented many devices, when 
Napoleon III, one day in a conversation, complained 



348 THE FRENCH IN THE HEART OF AMERICA 

to him that the metal used in making cannon was of 
poor quality and expensive. He began experiments 
in London at the Emperor's suggestion and later 
sent the Emperor a toy cannon of his own making. 
It was in this experimenting, as I infer, that the idea 
struck him of making malleable iron by introducing 
air into the fluid metal. But his first experiments were 
not particularly encouraging, and when he read a 
paper on the process of manufacturing steel without 
fuel before the British Association for the Advance- 
ment of Science, it is said that every British steelmaker 
roared with laughter at the "crazy Frenchman" and 
that it was voted not to mention his silly paper in the 
minutes of the association. 1 

To-day, on the same authority, "there are more than 
a hundred Bessemer converters in the United States," 
and they "breathe iron into steel at the rate of eight- 
een billion pounds a year" — "two and a quarter mil- 
lions of pounds every hour of the day and night." 

With their companion open-hearth converters and 

1 "On the 13th of August, 1856, the author had the honor of reading a 
paper before the mechanical section of the British Association at Chelten- 
ham. This paper, entitled 'The Manufacture of Malleable Iron and 
Steel without Fuel,' was the first account that appeared shadowing forth 
the important manufacture now generally known as the Bessemer process. 

"It was only through the earnest solicitation of Mr. George Rennie, the 
then president of the mechanical section of this association, that the inven- 
tion was, at that early stage of its development, thus prominently brought 
forward; and when the author reflects on the amount of labor and expendi- 
ture of time and money that were found to be still necessary before any 
commercial results from the working of the process were obtained, he has 
no doubt whatever but that, if the paper at Cheltenham had not then been 
read, the important system of manufacture to which it gave rise would to 
this hour have been wholly unknown." 

Henry Bessemer, "On the Manufacture of Cast Steel: Its Progress and 
Employment as a Substitute for Wrought Iron." British Association for 
the Advancement of Science, Report, 1865. Mechanical Science Section, 
pp. 165-6. 



THE PRODUCERS 349 

attendant furnaces and mills, they not only hold the 
site of the old fort but make a circle of glowing for- 
tresses around the valley — in Buffalo, in Birmingham, 
Alabama, and in the "red crags" of the Rockies at 
Pueblo, beneath Pike's Peak. And within ten years a 
whole new city, 1 not far from Chicago, on Lake Mich- 
igan, has been made to order. A river was turned 
from its course, a town was moved, and an entirely 
new city was constructed with homes for nearly twenty 
thousand workmen near a square mile of furnaces and 
mills. 

The attention of the world has been centred upon 
the millionaires whom this mighty trade has made. 
The very book which I have quoted so literally carries 
as its luring subtitle, "The Story of a Thousand Mil- 
lionaires." "A huge, exclusive preoccupation with 
dollar-getting," says H. G. Wells. But an occupation 
that finds the red earth and the white earth, carries it 
hundreds of miles to where the coal is stored or the 
gas is ready to be lighted, assembles the labor from 
Europe, and converts that red earth, with almost 
human possibilities, into rails and locomotives (that 
have together made a republic such as the United States 
possible), into forty-story buildings and watch-springs, 
into bridges and mariners' needles, into battle-ships 
and lancets, into almost every conceivable instrument 
of human use, can hardly be rightfully called a pre- 
occupation with dollar-getting, though it has brought 
the perplexing problem that has so much disturbed the 
hopes of democracy, dreaming of such masterful chil- 
dren, producers, and poets, yet dreading the very in- 
equalities that their energies create. 

1 Gary, Indiana. 



350 THE FRENCH IN THE HEART OF AMERICA 

There comes constantly the question as to how all 
this initiative which has been so titanic is to be recon- 
ciled with the general good — a world-wide and insis- 
tent problem, which will be more serious there when 
the neighborliness is not so intimate. But the new 
neighborly element will be found, we must believe, as 
an element has been found for the strengthening of steel. 

I was told by a chemist, when visiting the mills in 
Pittsburgh, that every steelmaker knows that a little 
titanium mixed with the molten iron after its boiling 
in air multiplies its tensile strength immeasurably, 
though no one knows just why it is so. Perhaps, in 
the plans for the new cities of Pittsburgh and Chicago, 
we have sign of the social titanium that will increase 
the tensile strength of democracy in the places where 
the stress and strain are greatest. 

But my concern just now is that the reader shall 
see how the valley first explored by the French has 
given and is giving bread to the world, and has post- 
poned the dread augury of the Malthusian doctrine; 
how the larger valley of the explorers of the lens and 
crucible, Lavoisier and Berthelot, is opening into infin- 
ite distances; and how the under valley, when breathed 
upon by the air, has given its wealth to the over valley 
— and through this all to realize that France's geo- 
graphical descendants are out of those three valleys 
evoking, making, a new world. 

For they are a people of makers — of new-age poets, 
not mere workers glorying in the shafts of their goads, 
wakeful to adorn their work and keep clean the fur- 
nace, and making their "craft their prayer" (an im- 
possibility in these days of the high division of labor) 
but rough, noisy, grimy, braggart creators, caring not 



THE PRODUCERS 351 

for the straightness of the furrow unless it produces 
more, the beauty of the goad unless it promotes speed, 
the cleanliness of the furnace unless it increases the 
output, or the craft itself; but only of the product, the 
thing led forth, and its value to the world. If so much 
is said of the dollar, it is because the dollar is the kilo- 
watt, the measure of the product. And while we have 
not yet found the ideal way of distributing what has 
been led forth, do not let that fact obscure the world 
service of these new-world Prometheans, who have 
carried the fire to a mortal use which even the gods of 
Greece could not have imagined and have turned the 
air itself into fuel to feed it. 

A young man, born son of a stone-mason in that 
valley, who has been successively a student, clerk, 
lawyer, solicitor-general of a great railroad, its presi- 
dent, and later the head of an industry that is carrying 
electricity over the world, said to me not long ago 
that he was building a trolley-line in Rome. It seemed 
a profanation. But if the titular function of the official 
who holds the highest spiritual office there was once 
the care of bridges (Pontifex Maximus), will the higher 
utilization of those bridges not be some day made as 
poetic, as spiritual, as high a function of state and 
society ? 

I see that son of the stone-mason, with blanched 
face and set jaw, facing and quelling a body of strikers 
threatening to tear up the tracks along the Chicago 
River, as brave as Horatius at the bridge across the 
Tiber. There is a vivid picture of democracy's great- 
est problem in that valley. Then I see him flinging 
almost in a day a new bridge across the Tiber. There 
is a companion picture, a gleam of democracy's poesy. 



352 THE FRENCH IN THE HEART OF AMERICA 

One writing of the habitants of one of those smoky 
valley cities said: "They are not below poetry but 
above it." Rather are they making it — rough, virile, 
formless, rhymeless. It reminds me of some of Walt 
Whitman's verses that at first seem but catalogues of 
homely objects on his horizon but that by and by are 
singing, in some rough rhythm, a song that stirs one's 
blood. 

Oil of rocks, led from cisterns in the valley, that 
Bonnecamp found so dark and gloomy on the Celoron 
journey, to the lamp of the academician and the peas- 
ant; wheat from millions of age-long fallow acres to 
keep the world from fear of hunger; flour from the 
grinding of the mills of the saint to whom La Salle 
prayed; wagons, sewing-machines, ploughs, harvesters 
from the places of the portages; bridges, steel rails, 
cars, ready-made structures of twenty stories from the 
places of the forts; unheard-of fruits from the trees of 
the new garden of the Hesperides (under the magic of 
such as Burbank); flowers from wildernesses! Would 
Whitman were come back to put all together into a 
song of the valley that should acquaint our ears with 
that rugged music — that rugged music wakened by the 
plash of the paddle and the swirl of the water in the 
wake of the Frenchman's canoe ! As he is not, I can 
only wish that you who have read these chapters may 
have intimation of it, as not long ago in New York, 
standing before a rough, unsightly, entirely isolate 
frame in a university corridor — where there were heard 
normally only the noises of closing doors and shuf- 
fling feet — I put a receiver to my ears and heard, in 
the midst of these nearer, every-day noises, some dis- 
tant cello whose vibrations were but waiting in the 



THE PRODUCERS 353 

air to be heard. Some said there was but the slamming 
of doors, but I had evidence of my own ears that the 
music was there. I have not imagined this song of the 
valley, nor have I improvised it. Its vibrations which 
I myself feel are but transmitted as best an imperfect, 
detached frame in the midst of other sounds and in- 
terests can. 



CHAPTER XVII 
THE THOUGHT OF TO-MORROW 

THE clearing in the forest for the log schoolhouse 
where Lincoln got his only formal schooling il- 
lustrates the beginning of the field of public 
provision for culture, a territory then made up in that 
valley largely of the white acres set apart from the do- 
main of Louis XIV for the maintenance of public 
schools. I can tell you out of my own experience how 
meagre that provision was. Out on the open prairie 
a frame building — the successor of the log cabin — was 
built. I think the ground on which it stood had never 
been ploughed. I remember hearing, as if yesterday, 
a farmer's boy reciting in it one day what we thought 
a piece of lasting eloquence: "Not many generations 
ago where you now sit encircled by all the embellish- 
ments of life, the wild fox dug his hole unscared and the 
Indian hunter pursued the panting deer; here lived and 
learned another race of beings" — little realizing that, 
except in the encircling embellishments, we were sit- 
ting on such a site, and that we were the " new race of 
beings" and much nearer to the stone-age man than 
were they who built the ancient wall just back of the 
Pantheon in Paris. 

The thought of the nation for to-morrow was tan- 
gibly represented only by that hut twenty feet square, 
with its few nourishing acres, most primitively fur- 
nished, a teacher of no training in the art of teaching, 

354 



THE THOUGHT OF TO-MORROW 355 

a few tons of coal in a shed, a box of crayons, and per- 
haps a map. The master made his own fires and 
swept unaided, or with the aid of his pupils, the floor. 
When, years later, in a larger building on the same 
site I came to be master of the same school, and 
gathered for work at night the farmers' sons who could 
not leave the fields by day, except in winter, I even 
paid the expense of the light. Now, if not on that 
site, certainly on thousands of others, in schools spring- 
ing from such beginnings, the community provides not 
only chalk and electric light, but pencils, paper, books, 
lenses, compasses, lathes, libraries, gymnastic ap- 
paratus, pianos, and even food, if not free, at any rate 
at cost, in addition to trained teachers, trained in public 
normal schools, and janitors, and automatic ventila- 
tors to insure pure air, and thermostats to preserve an 
even temperature. The public has become father, 
mother, physician, and guild master as well as teacher 
of the new generation. 

The public has even become the nurse, for in most 
of the large cities the kindergarten has become trans- 
formed into a public institution which takes the child 
from the home, sometimes almost from the cradle, 
but more often from the street, at the age of four, 
five, or six years, and keeps it until it is ready for the 
tuitions of the elementary grades. In St. Louis, just 
across and up the river from Fort Chartres, where the 
initial municipal experiment was made, there are now 
more than two hundred and eighty-three such schools. 

It has, moreover, gone beyond these serious maternal 
employments. The strenuous civilization of the west 
has insisted that every man shall work. But now 
that it has succeeded in this, it is not only beginning 



356 THE FRENCH IN THE HEART OF AMERICA 

to insist that he shall not work too much — the maxi- 
mum hours of labor in many employments being fixed 
by law — but he is being taught how to play wisely. 
One of the most stirring books that I have read recently, 
"The Spirit of Play and the City Streets," is an appeal 
written by Miss Addams, of Chicago, whose noble 
work has been for years among the people who live 
close by Marquette's portage hut — an appeal for the 
recognition of the play instincts and their conversion 
into a greater permanent human happiness. There are 
statistics which intimate that the per-hour efficiency 
of men in some parts of America, whose number of 
hours of labor has been lessened, has also been dimin- 
ished — diminished because of their imprudent use of 
their leisure, of their play time. So the thought of 
social experts is turning to teaching children to play 
wisely, they whose ancestors were compelled to leave 
off playing. 

I speak of this here to intimate how far in its thought 
of the man of the future, the nation of to-morrow, that 
valley has travelled — first of all in its elementary 
training, and within much less than a half century, 
from chalk to grand pianos, and from inexpensive 
tuitions in reading, writing, and arithmetic to the 
dearer tuitions in singing, basket-weaving, cooking, 
sewing, carpentering, drawing, and the trained teach- 
ing of the old elementary subjects, with the addition 
of history, algebra, physiology, Latin, and modern 
languages. 

When the State of Iowa was admitted into the Union, 
in 1846, there were 100 log schoolhouses in use, valued 
each at $125. The latest statistics I have at hand show 
that in 1912 the average value of the 13,870 school 



THE THOUGHT OF TO-MORROW 357 

properties in the State was #2,170, that the average 
expenditure for each pupil was $28.86, and for each 
inhabitant $6.58, and that of the 507,109 pupils en- 
rolled in the State only six per cent were in private 
schools — the average for the States of the west vary- 
ing from less than one per cent to sixteen per cent. 

The elementary school followed the frontier at even 
pace. It was usually the first public building of every 
community, large or small. That everybody saw it 
for what it was, I cannot maintain; but that it was the 
symbol of the nation of to-morrow, borne daily before 
the people of the present is certain. The westerners 
carried rails in the Lincoln campaign, in their pride of 
his humble birth and vocation; they carried miniature 
log cabins in another campaign in exaltation of an- 
other frontier hero. They pictured ploughs and axes 
on the shields of their commonwealths. But if one 
were to seek a symbol for the democracy of that valley, 
one could find none more appropriate than the image 
of a frontier schoolhouse. It is the most poetical thing 
of all that western landscape, when it is seen for what 
it is, though it is not always architecturally imposing. 
A signal-box, says an English essayist, such as one 
sees along the railroads, is only called a signal-box, 
but it is the house of life and death, a place "where 
men in an agony of vigilance light blood-red and sea- 
green fires to keep other men from death." A post- 
box is only called a post-box; it is a sanctuary of human 
words, a place to which "friends and lovers commit 
their messages, conscious that when they have done so 
they are sacred, and not to be touched not only by 
others but even by themselves." 1 And so a school- 

1 G. K. Chesterton, on Mr. Rudyard Kipling, in his "Heretics," p. 41. 



358 THE FRENCH IN THE HEART OF AMERICA 

house is only called a schoolhouse, but it is a place 
where the invisible spirits of the past meet in the 
present the nascent spirits of the future — the meeting- 
house of the nation of yesterday and to-morrow. And 
I would show that image of the schoolhouse upon a 
field of white, as suggesting those white acres conse- 
crated of the domain of Louis XIV to the children of 
the west. 

Some years ago, when walking across the island of 
Porto Rico in the West Indies, just after its occupation 
and annexation by the United States, I met in the in- 
terior mountains one morning a man carrying upon 
his shoulders a basket filled with flowers, as it seemed 
to me at a distance. As he approached, however, I 
saw that he was bearing the dead body of his child, 
with flowers about it, to burial in consecrated ground 
miles away. The first task of the new government 
there, as in the western States, was to make fields con- 
secrated for the living child, to set apart sites for 
schoolhouses — the place for the common school. 

That the common school has not in itself brought 
millennial conditions to the valley we are aware, even 
as universal man suffrage has not brought the full fruits 
of democracy. French philosophers and American pa- 
triots alike have expected too much perhaps of an im- 
perfect human nature. But they have made their high 
demand of the only institution that can give in full 
measure what is sought in a democracy. 

First, it teaches the child the way and the means by 
which the race has come out of barbarism and some- 
thing of the rigor of the disciplines by which civilization 
has been learned. 

Second, it gives this teaching to the whole nation 



THE THOUGHT OF TO-MORROW 359 

of to-morrow. There are over ten million children in 
the public schools of that valley alone in America, and, 
as I stated above, less than eight per cent in the private 
schools; in the State of Indiana, where Lincoln had his 
slight schooling, less than three per cent are in private 
schools — that is, practically the entire people of the 
coming generation will have had some tuition of the 
common school, some equality of fitting. 

Third, as is to be inferred from the second fact, 
children of rich and poor, of banker and mechanic, 
doctor and tradesman, come together, and in a per- 
fectly natural companionship, though in the great 
cities, where there is less homogeneity, this mingling 
is somewhat disturbed by social stratification and the 
great masses of immigrants. 

So is the motto of the French Republic written the 
length and breadth of that valley, though it may never 
actually be seen upon a lintel or door-post: the "lib- 
erty" of access to the knowledges which are to assist 
in making men as free as they can be; an elevating 
"equality" such as a State can give to men of un- 
equal endowments, capacities, and ambitions; and a 
"fraternity" which is unconscious of else than real 
differences. 

I gave intimation in an earlier chapter of the cos- 
mopolitan quality of the human material gathered 
into those houses of prophecy. There is separation of 
Caucasian from African in the south, and there is more 
or less unwilling association of Caucasian and Oriental 
in places of the far west on the Pacific slope, but ex- 
cept for these and for individual instances where, for 
example, the social extremes are brought together, 
these minglings are but microcosms of the State itself. 



360 THE FRENCH IN THE HEART OF AMERICA 

The schools are not in that valley, in any sense, places 
provided by wealth for poverty, by one class for another 
— charity schools; they are the natural meeting-houses 
of democracy, with as little atmosphere of pauper or 
class schools as the highways, on which even the Presi- 
dent must obey the custom which controls the humblest. 

And let me say in passing: there is no body of men 
and women in America more useful to the State, more 
high-minded, more patriotic, than the army of public 
school-teachers — our great soldiery of peace. 

They are a body six times the size of our standing 
army — more than a half-million in number (547,289) 
— recruited from the best stock we have and animated 
by higher purposes, more unselfish motives than any 
other half-million public or private vocationalists of 
America. The total expenditure for the common schools 
is but four and a half times the appropriation for the 
standing army, though the number of teachers is six 
times (which intimates how little we pay our public 
school-teachers relatively — seventy-eight dollars per 
month to men, fifty-eight dollars to women teachers). 
These men and women, who take the place of father, 
mother, adviser, and nurse in the new industrial and 
social order — receive about one and a quarter cents a 
day per inhabitant, man, woman, and child — a little 
more than two sous per day. 

It is this two-sous-per-day army that is our hope 
of to-morrow. It is primarily upon its efficient valor 
that the future of democracy depends. For it is they, 
rather than the parents, especially in the great cities 
and in communities of large foreign elements, who 
have its making in their hands. Without them the 
nation of to-morrow would be defenseless. She would 



THE THOUGHT OF TO-MORROW 361 

have to increase her standing army of soldiers, and even 
then, with the multitudes of individual ignorances, 
malices, selfishnesses growing in her own valleys and 
being disembarked by millions at her ports, she would 
be powerless to defend her ideals. 

One whom I have already quoted as speaking so dis- 
paragingly of Chicago said that the most touching 
sight he saw in America was the marching of the 
phalanxes of the nation of to-morrow past one of the 
generals or colonels of that standing army of teachers. 
It was not in Chicago, but it might have been. This 
particular phalanx had not been in America long. 
They were singing "Sweet Land of Liberty" as they 
marched, swishing their flags, and then they paused 
and repeated in broken speech: 

"Flag of our great republic, inspirer in battle, guard- 
ian of our homes, whose stars and stripes stand for 
bravery, purity, truth, and union, we salute thee ! 
We, the natives of distant lands who find rest under 
thy folds, do pledge our hearts, our lives, and our 
sacred honor to love and protect thee, our country, 
and the liberty of the American people forever." 1 A 
little florid, you may say. "But think," said the 
English visitor, even as he passed out into the filthy 
street, "think of the promise of it ! Think of the flower 
of belief that may spring from this warm sowing!" 

And what gives most promise now is that this 
tuition has assumed a more positive interest in the 
nation of to-morrow. The pioneer school was a place 
of discipline, a place of fraternity, and it had the co- 
operation of the home discipline and of the discipline 
of the primitive industrial life in which the boy joined 

1 H. G. Wells, "Future in America," p. 205. 



362 THE FRENCH IN THE HEART OF AMERICA 

even during his school years. But that tuition was in 
a sense as unsocialized as was the democracy of that 
day. It was assumed that this meagre training would 
equip the boy with all the tools of citizenship. Being 
able to read, write, and cipher, his own instincts and 
interests would somehow procure good government and 
happiness. Whatever patriotic stimulus his school 
gave him, as I recall out of my experience, was through 
a history which engendered a feeling of hostility toward 
England. That is being succeeded by a positive pro- 
gramme that thinks very definitely of the boy's fullest 
development and of his social spiritualization. The 
schoolhouse has become, or is in the way of becoming, 
the civic centre of the nation. 

But on top of the eight years' training of the ele- 
mentary school, which was considered at first the full 
measure of the obligation of the community, the State 
in that region came to build additional years of dis- 
cipline — the high schools, first to equip young men for 
colleges or universities and then to fit them for the 
meeting of the more highly complex and specialized 
problems of life. These schools multiplied in the upper 
Mississippi Valley at an extraordinary rate after the 
elementary schools had prepared the way. In the 
northern part of that valley alone sixteen hundred were 
established between i860 and 1902. And there is 
hardly a community of five thousand inhabitants that 
has not its fully organized and well-equipped high or 
secondary school; while even towns of a thousand in- 
habitants or less have made such provision. 

Near the site of the village of the Illinois Indians, 
the village where Pere Marquette went from hut to 
hut in his ministries just before his death journey; 



THE THOUGHT OF TO-MORROW 363 

where La Salle gathered about his rock-built castle 
his red allies to the number of thousands and attempted 
to build up what La Barre, in his letter to Louis XIV, 
characterized as an imaginary kingdom for himself — 
there is a beautiful river city, bearing the Indian name 
of "Ottawa," and in the midst of it a large building 
that was for me the capital of an imaginary kingdom, 
my one-time world, though it is called a township 
high school. I speak of it because it is typical of the 
instruction and influence that have come out of the 
long past, and that are looking into the long future, 
in thousands of the towns and cities that have each 
about them as many aspiring men, women, and youth 
as La Salle had savage souls about his solitary castle in 
the wilderness. 

These are the new Rocks St. Louis, these the eagles' 
nests of the new Nouvelle France — I have visited 
scores of them — at Peoria, that was Fort Crevecceur; 
at Joliet, where is now one of the best-equipped schools 
in the valley; at Marquette, upon Lake Superior; at 
Chicago, where I spoke one day to four thousand 
high-school boys and girls, for in most of these 
schools the boys and girls are taught together. The 
valley has one of these schools every few miles, where 
are gathered for the higher, sterner disciplines of de- 
mocracy those who wish to prepare themselves for its 
larger service. 

Their courses are four years in length, and, though 
varying widely, have each a core of mathematics, Eng- 
lish, foreign languages, and either science or manual 
training or commerce. In some large cities the schools 
are differentiated as general, manual training, and com- 
mercial. 



364 THE FRENCH IN THE HEART OF AMERICA 

But the States of that valley have not stopped here. 
With the encouragement of national grants — again 
from the great domain of Louis XIV — they have estab- 
lished universities with colleges of liberal arts and 
sciences, and schools of agriculture, forestry, mining, 
engineering, pharmacy, veterinary surgery, commerce, 
law, medicine, and philosophy. There is not a State 
in all that valley that has not its university in name 
and in most instances in fact. They admit both men 
and women and there is no fee, or only a nominal fee, 
to residents of the State. These are the great strategic 
centres and strongholds of the new democracy. 

A little way back from Cadillac's fort on the Detroit 
River is one, the oldest, the University of Michigan — 
founded in 1837 — with 5,805 students. A few years 
ago I addressed there, at commencement, over eight 
hundred candidates for degrees and diplomas in law, 
medicine, pharmacy, liberal arts and science. 

A little way from the Fox-Wisconsin portage is an- 
other, the University of Wisconsin, with 5,970 students. 
A few years ago I sat in that beautiful seat of learning 
among men from all parts of the world offering their 
congratulations at its jubilee. And they sat in silk 
gowns only less ornate than Nicolet's when he came 
over the rim of the basin to treat with the Winne- 
bagoes — whom he had supposed to be Chinese man- 
darins. I heard, too, the graduates receive their degrees 
on theses ranging from the poetry of a lesser Greek 
poet to the "pancreas of a cat." I spent a month in 
its library at a later time and found it superior for my 
purposes to any other in America. 

No higher institution of learning in America is more 
strongly possessed by the spirit of the ministry of 



THE THOUGHT OF TO-MORROW 365 

scholarship directly to the people. It needs sorely ad- 
vice of the arts that centre in Paris, as most of those 
universities do. It needs advice not of industry but 
of the indefatigable disinterestedness of the French. 

Behind the Falls of St. Anthony in the Mississippi 
River, first described and named by Father Hennepin, is 
the University of Minnesota, with 6,642 students. The 
principal deity of the Sioux was supposed to live under 
these falls, and Hennepin, the priest of Artois, speaks 
in his journal of hearing one of the Indians at the 
portage around the falls, in loud and lamenting voice 
haranguing the spirit to whom he had just hung a robe 
of beaver-skin among the branches of a tree. The 
buildings that are and are planned to be on this site 
would tell better than a chapter of description what 
a single State has done and is purposing at this 
portage of St. Anthony of Padua, where hardly more 
than a lifetime ago the savage was sacrificing beaver- 
skins to the god of the Mississippi. There are many 
great laboratories and academic buildings upon that 
high shore at present, but a score more are in prospect 
for this mighty democratic university of letters and 
science, law and medicine, that will house in other 
centuries perhaps not merely the appeased spirit of 
the Mississippi but such learning as is in Paris or was 
in Padua, whose saint is still remembered by the falls; 
for the university has the necessary means. When 
the Eglise of the Sorbonne, which Richelieu had con- 
secrated, was being built, the French priests out along 
the shores of Superior were preparing the way for 
this new-world university. Certain lands in that iron 
region which they first explored were given by the 
nation as dowry to the university. These were not 



366 THE FRENCH IN THE HEART OF AMERICA 

thought to be valuable, as at the time of the grant the 
most valuable timber and farming land had been sold. 
Fifteen years ago, more or less, a train-load of iron ore 
was brought down from that region to Allouez, a town 
on the lake named in memory of the priest of St. 
Esprit — and now the lands of the university are valued 
at from thirty to fifty millions of dollars. 1 

One might follow the River Colbert all the way down 
the valley and trace its branches to the mountains on 
either side, and find in every State some such fortress: 
in Iowa a university with 2,255 students; in Illinois 
one with 4,330; and so on to the banks of the river in 
Texas where La Salle died — and there learn that the 
most extensive of all in its equipment may some day 
rise. These, besides the scores of institutions of private 
foundation, but compelled to the same public spirit 
as the State universities, tell with what thought of 
to-morrow the geographical descendants of France are 
doing their tasks of to-day, where Allouez and Mar- 
quette, Hennepin and Du Lhut, Radisson and Groseil- 
liers, and the Sieur de la Salle wandered and suffered 
and died but yesterday. 

Their paths have opened and multiplied not only 
into streets of cities and highways and railroads but 
into curricula of the world's wisdoms, gathered from 
Paris and Oxford and Edinburgh and Berlin and 
Bologna and Prague and Salamanca, even as their 
students are being gathered from all peoples. Perrot 
spoke truer than he knew when he said to the savages 
of Wisconsin, "I am but the dawn of the day"; and 
the Indian chief who first of human beings welcomed 
Europeans the other side of the Mississippi River 

1 "Forty Years at the University of Minnesota," p. 243. 



THE THOUGHT OF TO-MORROW 367 

spoke in prophecy when he said that the earth had 
grown more beautiful with their coming. 

The common school, the high school, the college and 
university — the common school compulsory for every 
child; the high school open to every boy and girl, with- 
out regard to race, creed, or riches; the university 
accessible to every young man and woman who has 
the ambition, the endurance, to make his way or her 
way to the frontiers of the spirit and endure their 
hardships ! For I think of these universities as the 
free lands that were out upon the borders of that 
valley, except that this frontier of the mind will never, 
never find its limit. There will always be a frontier 
beyond, for new settlers, new squatters, of the telescope 
which makes the universe smaller, of the microscope 
which enlarges it, of the written word, the spoken word, 
the unknown quantities, the philosophies of life. Do 
we not see the illimitable fields opening even beyond 
the vision of those men of the crucible and retort, who 
are but leading the new farmers on to visible fields of 
increasing richness ? 

Hardly less cosmopolitan are the men of science and 
letters who are actually in those regions, and only less 
so those tens of thousands, who, like migrants of the 
earlier days, are going forward, many to the farthest, 
lonesomest frontiers of knowledge, but all to something 
beyond their immediate ancestral lot or field. 

I am not thinking of the additions to the world's 
learning in all this, great as it is but impossible of ap- 
praisement. Nor am I thinking chiefly of the indus- 
trial and material advantages. I think it was some 
bacteriological discovery, known as the Babcock test, 
resulting in a great improvement in the making of 



368 THE FRENCH IN THE HEART OF AMERICA 

butter, that gave the University of Wisconsin its first 
wide sympathetic support. It was the discovery by 
a professor in one of the western universities of the 
means of inoculating with some fatal disease, and so 
exterminating, an insect that destroyed wheat and 
oats, which gave that professor a chancellorship, I am 
told, and his university more liberal appropriations. 
But those achievements and fames, while not to be 
belittled, I have no wish to catalogue and recite here. 
I am thinking of the social value of this great public 
educational system that is thinking constantly of to- 
morrow — of the world markets of to-morrow, to some 
extent, to which these curricula, as railroads' and ships' 
courses, lead; of the world's letters of to-morrow, per- 
haps; but more specifically and more especially of the 
higher happiness of those particular regions and the 
success of its democracy. I am thinking of what these 
institutions of the people's own devising are doing 
toward the making of a homogeneous spirit, in which 
individual, disinterested, and varied achievement will 
have a liberty to grow — as perhaps in no other soil of 
earth. 

Democritus said two thousand years and more ago: 
"Education and nature are similar. For education 
transforms the man, and in transforming him creates 
in him a new nature." The State in its three institu- 
tions — the common school, the high school, the college 
and university — has many in its care and under its 
tuitions for fifteen, sixteen, seventeen years, and in 
these tuitions has she created in her children a new 
nature, whatever their ancestry or place of birth. 
Memories of Europe's forges and trees, or fields of 
roses and golden mountains, and even of Asia's wil- 



THE THOUGHT OF TO-MORROW 369 

dernesses, are in the names of many who enter those 
doors; the memories of other languages are in the mus- 
cles of their tongues or the formation of their organs 
of speech. Like the ancient Ephraimites at the fords 
of Jordan, they cannot "frame to pronounce" certain 
words. And memories of persecution or of vassalage 
are in the physical and mental attitudes of some. But 
they are all reborn of a genealogy impersonal but 
loftier in its gifts than any mere personal heritage — a 
genealogy which, like that of the children of Deucalion, 
begins in the earth itself, the free soil. 

I have often thought and spoken of how artificial 
differences disappear when, let us say, Smith (English) 
and Schmidt (German) and Cohen (Hebrew), Coletti 
(Italian) and D'Artagnan (French) and McGregor 
(Scotch) and Olsen (Scandinavian) and McCarthy 
(Irish) and Winslow (of old America) travel together 
through the parasangs of the "Anabasis," or together 
follow Caesar into Gaul, or together compute a solar 
parallax, or build an arch, or do any one of a thousand 
things that have no national boundaries or racial char- 
acteristics. This is an extreme but not an unheard-of 
assembling of elements which the State has the task of 
assimilating to its own ideals. 

I have not spoken, I cannot speak, of methods of 
that teaching, of its shortcomings, of it crudities in 
many places, of its general want of appreciation of 
form and color (of its particular need of France there), 
of its utilitarian inclinations, and of its eager haste. 
The essential thing that I have wanted to say is that 
this valley is not only more democratic socially and 
politically than any other part of America, unless it 
be that narrow strip farther west, but is also more 



37o THE FRENCH IN THE HEART OF AMERICA 

consciously and vitally and constantly concerned about 
the nation of to-morrow. 

I spoke of the flaming ingot of steel swinging in 
the smoky ravine by the site of Fort Duquesne as the 
symbol of the new human metal that is made of the 
mingling of men of varied race, tradition, and ideals in 
the labor of that continent. But above that in a 
clearer sky shines a more hopeful symbol — the house 
of the school, the meeting-place of the invisible spirits, 
the place of prophecy, pictured against a white field. 

The historians have traced the origins of these in- 
stitutions to New England, to England, to Germany, 
to Greece. It is not remembered that France went 
first and hallowed the fields. But it is my hope that 
out in that valley, once a year, school and university 
may be led to look back to the men who there ven- 
tured all for the "greater glory of God" and majesty 
of France and found a field for the greater freedom 
and fraternity of mankind. 

My own thought goes back to the place by the St. 
Charles River where Cartier's boat, which he could 
not take back to St. Malo because so many of his men 
had died, was left to be buried by the river, the place 
where Montcalm gathered his shattered army after 
the defeat on the Plains of Abraham. It was there 
that a structure once stood, made of planks hewn out 
of the forest, plastered with mud and thatched with 
long grass from the meadows. It was the residence of 
Notre Dame des Anges, the house from which the first 
martyrs were to go forth toward the west. This was, 
says Parkman, the cradle of the great mission of New 
France. And to this my thought goes as the precursor 
of the university in the Valley of the New Democracy. 



CHAPTER XVIII 
"THE MEN OF ALWAYS" 

IF one travels along the lower St. Lawrence in sum- 
mer, one sees the narrow strips of the one-time 
great seigniories, clinging like ribbons of varied 
colors, green, gold, and brown, to the ancient river, of 
Cartier and Champlain. There is on each strip, a 
little way back from the river, a picturesque cottage, 
usually thatched, not roofed by shingles, with its out- 
buildings close about, such as Longfellow writes of in 
Acadia — memories of homes "which the peasants of 
Normandy built in the reign of the Henries." There 
is usually on each a section of meadow for the cattle, 
a section of tilled field for the wheat and corn and 
vegetables and a section of woodland for the fire-wood 
— each strip, so divided, being a complete miniature 
seigniory. Everything is neat. One feels that not a 
wisp of hay is lost (for it was in haying time that I 
passed), that every tree is as carefully watched as a 
child, that whatever is taken from the fields they are 
not impoverished. The living owners, when they go 
to their graves, leave their little patches of earth as 
rich as they found them. There is no hurrying. The 
habitants go at the pace of their oxen. They are 
thrifty, apparently contented, conservers of what they 
have; they spend prudently for to-day; they save for 
to-morrow — not for the to-morrow of the nation, but 
for the to-morrow of the family. They are avowedly 

371 



372 THE FRENCH IN THE HEART OF AMERICA 

individualistic, nepotic conservationists and only in 
effect national. 

This is one picture. I put beside it another. Out 
on the farther edge of the Mississippi Valley one finds 
the other extreme. Within the past twenty-two years 
certain tracts of vacant land have been purchased by 
the government from the Indians (and let me here 
say that the government has been trying to deal 
fairly with these people; mistakes have been made, 
but I should say that the nation had in its recent 
treatment of them, despite reports I have heard in 
Paris, pauperized rather than robbed them). These 
tracts have been opened to settlement — all the rest of 
the great public domain that was immediately desir- 
able having been occupied, as we have seen. When, 
in 1889, the first of these tracts, nearly two million 
acres, was to be opened, twenty thousand people were 
waiting just outside its borders — some on swift horses, 
some in wagons or buggies, and some in railroad trains. 
When the signal was given there was a race across the 
border and a scramble for farm sites; and on the part 
of the passengers on the trains, for town lots, when 
the trains had reached the predetermined sites of cities. 
At the close of the first day the future capital of what 
has for many years been a State had a population of 
several thousand inhabitants living in tents, and within 
a hundred days a population of fifteen thousand people, 
mostly men, an electric system in operation, a street- 
railway under contract, streets, alleys, parks, boule- 
vards, stores, and bridges, four thousand houses under 
construction, five banks, fifteen hotels, fifty grocery 
stores, six printing-offices, and three daily papers — 
about as striking and unpleasant a contrast to that 



"THE MEN OF ALWAYS" 373 

peaceful life on the St. Lawrence as one can well 
imagine. Practically all of the available land (nearly 
two million acres) was taken during the course of a 
few days. 

At the later opening of another tract one hundred 
thousand persons took part in the race for the "last 
of the people's land." And these scenes but illustrate 
the rough races to the gold-fields and the iron moun- 
tains and the oil-wells, in eagerness to seize whatever 
earth had to offer and turn it to immediate wealth — 
rough, restless precursors, producers, poets eager for 
to-day, yet coming by and by, as we have seen, to be 
ready to spend for to-morrow, building schools and 
universities, enlarging the field of public provision and 
service, and filling the land, once neighborly, individ- 
ualistic, with institutions of philanthropy. 

But the habitant of that farther valley is consider- 
ate neither of himself nor of generous nature. He is 
ready to spend his all, or her all, of to-day for to-day 
and for to-morrow, and to some extent unselfishly, but 
not to save it. He lives "angerously" and takes all 
the risks. His thought of the future is not nepotic or 
thrifty; it is likely to be altruistic, publicistic. I sup- 
pose that the constitution and laws of Oklahoma, 
whose land was the last to be added to the public do- 
main and its commonwealth among the last to the 
roll of States, has been more generous-minded toward 
its children than any other. It set apart not only 
sections sixteen and thirty-six in every township for 
the public schools; it reserved two more sections in 
every township for kindred uses. But in all this, as I 
pointed out, it is spending for the future, not saving, 
hoarding. 



374 THE FRENCH IN THE HEART OF AMERICA 

The nepotic conservationist of the St. Lawrence, 
fixed in his place, saves because if he leaves but an 
exhausted field behind him he is robbing his children 
and grandchildren of their rightful, personal heritage. 
The "boomer" of Oklahoma exploits and spends lav- 
ishly because of a sublime confidence in the illimitabil- 
ity of the resources of nature and in the resourceful- 
ness of the coming generations. 

But the natural scientists — the foresters, the physiog- 
raphers, the geologists — have within a very few years 
been making themselves heard in warning. They have 
said that "the mountains of France, of Spain, and China 
have been denuded of their forests in large measure so 
that the supply of wood is inadequate to meet the needs 
of the people," 1 that "in Spain and Italy, though 
warm countries, the people suffer more from the cold 
than in America because of insufficient fuel," 2 that 
"one-half of the people of the world go to bed hun- 
gry," 3 or at any rate insufficiently nourished for the 
next day's work. But few listened to them except in 
the hills and in the valleys of abandoned farms. France, 
Italy, Spain, China were remote. The optimism 
fostered of new teeming acres and newly discovered 
mines was heedless of the warning. It tore down 
barns and built bigger, and it gave even more gener- 
ously to the need of the hour and the day. 

But the scientists came even nearer home in their 
studies and statistics. These are some of the ominous 
and disturbing facts that are getting to the ears of the 
people out of their laboratories and experiment stations: 

1 C. R. Van Hise, "Conservation of Natural Resources in the United 
States," p. 3. 

2 Van Hise, p. 2. » Van Hise, p. 3. 



"THE MEN OF ALWAYS" 375 

The coal-fields of the United States (which lie al- 
most exclusively in and upon the eastern and western 
edges of the Mississippi Valley) were, at the rate at 
which coal was used a few decades ago, practically 
inexhaustible. But the per-capita consumption has 
increased from about a ton in 1870 to 5.6 tons in 
1907. 1 Up to 1908, 7,240,ooo,ooo 2 tons had been 
mined, but over ten million tons were wasted in the 
mining of seven billions. You may recall the prophecy 
which I quoted earlier, that if the mining and wasting 
go on at the same rate of increase as in the past few 
decades the supposed illimitable fields will be ex- 
hausted in one hundred and fifty years — that is by the 
year 2050. 3 This is one of the statistics of those 
watchmen on the walls who, instead of standing in 
high places with telescopes, sit at microscopes or over 
tables of figures. That seems a long period of time, 
one hundred and fifty years, but it was only a little 
longer ago that a French explorer saw the first signs 
of coal in that valley along the Illinois, and, as the 
scientist has intimated, there is no reason why we should 
not expect a future of thousands of years for the coal 
that has been thousands or millions of years in the 
making. 

The petroleum and natural-gas fields are also nearly 
all in that valley or on its edges. (I think it was in 
the narrow valley of La Belle Riviere, which Pere 
Bonnecamp found so dark on that Celoron expedition, 
that this oil of the rocks was first found.) 4 If we as- 

1 Van Hise, p. 23. a Van Hise, p. 25. 3 Van Hise, p. 25. 

4 Natural gas and burning springs were early known to the French 
pioneers and Jesuits who penetrated the Iroquois country, as the following 
extracts show: 

"It was during this interval that, in order to pass away the time, I went 



376 THE FRENCH IN THE HEART OF AMERICA 

sume that the fields have all been discovered and that 
the present rate of exploitation is to continue, the sup- 
ply of petroleum will be exhausted by 1935 (twenty- 
one years), or, if the present production goes on with- 
out increase, in ninety years (i. e., eighty-six years), 1 
and that of natural gas in twenty-five years (i. e., 
twenty-one years from 1914). 2 

Iron, the metal which the Indians worshipped as 
a spirit when they first saw it in the hands of the 
French, a substance so precious that their name for 
it meant "all kinds of good," has, too, been taken 
with feverish haste from its ancient places. Joliet and 

with M. de LaSalle, under the escort of two Indians, about four leagues 
south of the village where we were staying, to see a very extraordinary 
spring. Issuing from a moderately high rock, it forms a small brook. 
The water is very clear but has a bad odor, like that of the mineral marshes 
of Paris, when the mud on the bottom is stirred with the foot. I applied a 
torch and the water immediately took fire and burned like brandy, and was 
not extinguished until it rained. This flame is among the Indians a sign of 
abundance or sterility according as it exhibits the contrary qualities. There 
is no appearance of sulphur, saltpetre or any other combustible material. 
The water has not even any taste, and I can neither offer nor imagine any 
better explanation, than that it acquires this combustible property by pass- 
ing over some aluminous land."— Galinee's journal, 1669, in "Marshall 
Historical Writings," p. 209. 

"... The spring in the direction of Sonnontouan is no less wonderful; 
for its water — being of the same nature as the surrounding soil, which has 
only to be washed in order to obtain perfectly pure sulphur — ignites when 
shaken violently, and yields sulphur when boiled. As one approaches 
nearer to the country of the Cats, one finds heavy and thick water, which 
ignites like brandy, and boils up in bubbles of flame when fire is applied to 
it. It is, moreover, so oily, that all our Savages use it to anoint and grease 
their heads and their bodies." — "Jesuit Relations, 1657," 43 : 261. 

Pierre Boucher (governor of Three Rivers in 1653-8 and 1662-7) thus 
mentions the mineral products of Canada, in his "Histoire veritable et 
naturelle de la Nouvelle France" (Paris, 1664), chap. I: "Springs of salt 
water have been discovered, from which excellent salt can be obtained; and 
there are others, which yield minerals. There is one in the Iroquois Country, 
which produces a thick liquid, resembling oil, and which is used in place 
of oil for many purposes." — "Jesuit Relations," 8 : 289. 

1 Van Hise, p. 48 2 Van Hise, p. 56. 



"THE MEN OF ALWAYS" 377 

Marquette saw deposits of this ore near the mouth of 
the Ohio in 1673, but it was a century and a half 
before the harvesting of this crop, down among the 
rocks for millions of years before, began. And now, if 
no new fields are found and the increased use goes on 
at the rate of the last three decades, all the available 
high-grade ore will have become pig iron and steel 
billets, bridges, battle-ships, sky-scrapers, and loco- 
motives, and all kinds of goods, within the next three 
decades. 1 

The forests of the United States — the forests pri- 
meval, with the voice of whose murmuring pines and 
hemlocks Longfellow begins his sad story of the Aca- 
dians — contained approximately one billion acres, 2 a 
region not conterminous with, but almost as large as, 
the Mississippi Valley. Of that great, tempering, be- 
nign shadow over the continent, tempering its heat, 
giving shelter from its cold, restraining the waters, 
there is left about 65 per cent in acreage and not 
more than one-half the merchantable timber — five 
hundred million acres gone in a century and a half. 3 

And as to the land itself — the land first symbolized 
in the tuft of earth that St. Lusson lifted toward the 
sky that day in 1671 at Sault Ste. Marie, when he took 
possession of all the land between the seas of the north 
and west and south — in the first place, the loss each 
year from erosion is six hundred and ten million cubic 
yards. 4 This is, of course, inconsiderable in a short 
period but in a long period of years means a mighty 
loss of nourishing soil. With this loss is that of nitro- 

1 Van Hise, p. 68. 2 Van Hise, p. 210. 3 Van Hise, p. 210. 

*Van Hise, p. 307, quoted from W. J. Spillman, "Report National Con- 
servation Commission," 3 : 257-262. 



378 THE FRENCH IN THE HEART OF AMERICA 

gen, potassium, and phosphorus, things of which the 
farmer had not even heard the names a few years ago. 
The yield of farms in the United States during the 
last forty years does not show a decreased average, 
but it must be remembered that in this period there 
have been brought under cultivation new and virgin 
acres, which have in their bountiful yield kept up the 
general average. One authority says that, taking the 
country by regions and by districts and considering 
what has actually happened, he is led to the conclusion 
that the fertility of the soil for 50 per cent of our coun- 
try has been lessened. 1 

The significance of these facts lies in the desire of 
the people to know the truth and seek a remedy. 

In a sense the public domain has been exhausted. 
The pick of the land has been pre-empted, occupied. 
But if it is to grow with all its crops, and to put forth 
with all its products such a public spirit as this, France 
will have given to America a treasure infinitely more 
valuable than the land itself which her explorers gave 
to Europe and the world. 

The beaver, which the French regarded as the first 
opulence of the valley, remains only as a synonym for 
industry, one of the States being called the "Beaver 
State," perhaps in memory of the beaver days but 
now in characterization of the beaverlike activity of 
its people. The hide of the buffalo which La Salle 
showed in Paris is now almost as great a curiosity in 
the valley as it was in Paris in 1680. Wild beasts now 
slink only in the mountains' margins. Domestic ani- 
mals, natives of distant lands, live about the dwellings 
of men. 

1 Van Hise, p. 299. 



"THE MEN OF ALWAYS" 379 

Even the streams of water that bore the French into 
the valley have dwindled, many of them, or are in 
despair and tears, between shallows and torrents, long- 
ing for the forests, it is said by the scientists — longing 
for the days of the French, the poet would put it. So 
are the rivers crying, "In the days of Pere Marquette" 
— the days of the " River of the Immaculate Concep- 
tion." And so are the prophets of science crying as 
the prophets of inspiration cried of old: O valley of a 
hundred thousand streams, O valley of a million cen- 
turies of rock and iron and earth, O valley of a century 
of man ! The riches of the gathering of a million 
years are spent in a day. Baldness has com.e upon 
the mountains, as upon Gaza of old. The trees have 
gone down to the waters. The iron has flowed like 
blood from the hills. The fire of the ground is being 
given to the air. The sky is filled with smoke. The 
soil is being carried into the sea; its precious dust of 
nitrogen and phosphor blown to the ends of the earth. 
The fresh lands are no more. There are no mines to 
be had for the asking. The frontier has become as the 
centre, the new as the old. 

But it is not a hopeless prophecy — an unconstruc- 
tive, pessimistic, lamentation. The way of reparation 
is made clear. 

If I were to speak only of what has been done under 
the inspiration of that prophecy, I should have little 
that is definitely measurable to present, but in making 
a catalogue of the averting advice of that prophecy, I 
am giving intimation of what will in all probability be 
done. For the people of that valley are not wittingly 
going to give their once fertile lands as stones, even 
to the sons of others who ask for bread, nor their 



380 THE FRENCH IN THE HEART OF AMERICA 

streams as serpents of pestilence to those who ask for 
fish. 

These are some of the items of their constructive 
conservation programme: 

Coal. — The waste in the mining of coal must be re- 
duced from 50 and 150 per cent of the amount taken out 
to 25, 15, or 10 per cent by the working of upper beds 
first, the utilization of slack, etc. 1 The reckless waste 
of coal in the making of coke can be prevented by the 
use of the right sort of oven. It is estimated that 
there would be a saving of #50,000,000 per annum if 
such a substitution were made. 2 The tremendous loss 
of the power value, 3 from 20 to 33 per cent, and of 
illuminating value 4 (99 per cent) in coal because of its 
imperfect consumption can be greatly reduced by the 
employment of mechanical stokers and other devices. 
The use of the gas-engine in the place of the steam- 
engine, 5 the use of power developed from water, and 
the diffused carbon dioxide in the air tempering the 
climate are also intimations of forces that may lengthen 
the life of the coal, 99 per cent of which still remains in 
the keeping of the valley. It is not too late. 6 

Petroleum. — Its probable life may be lengthened be- 
yond ninety years by its restriction to lubricating and 
illuminating uses only and by the prevention of its 
exportation. 7 

Natural Gas. — Its flame is ephemeral at best, but 
its light may be kept burning a little longer if the 
prodigious waste is prevented. During 1907 four hun- 

1 Van Hise, pp. 26, 27. 2 Van Hise, p. 28. 

3 Van Hise, pp. 29, 30. 4 Van Hise, p. 32. 5 Van Hise, p. 31. 

6 See "The Coal Resources of the World," International Geological Con- 
gress, 1913. 

7 Van Hise, pp. 50-55. 



"THE MEN OF ALWAYS" 381 

dred billion feet were consumed and almost as great 
an amount wasted through uncontrolled wells, leaky- 
pipes, etc. 1 

Iron (and, in less measure, gold, silver, and other 
metals), whose life does not, as coal and oil and gas, 
perish with the using, but some of whose value is lost 
in the transformation from one state of use to another, 
needs only to be more economically mined and used. 2 
Non-metallic, inexhaustible materials, as stone, clay, 
cement, should be employed in their stead when pos- 
sible. 3 Every scrap of iron should be conserved, cry 
our constructive prophets, even as the Indians trea- 
sured it. We may not need it, but succeeding genera- 
tions will. It may be recast to their use. We are but 
its trustees. 4 

Forests} — A reduction of the waste in cutting (this 
is 25 per cent of the total value of the timber cut); of 
the waste in milling and manufacture, and in turpen- 
tining. This last waste is appalling but preventable 
in full or large measure. The lessening the demand 
for lumber by a preservative treatment of all mer- 
chantable timber. A utilization of by-products. (Un- 
doubtedly science will be most helpful here.) Precau- 
tions against fires and their control. Reforestation. 
Maintenance of forests on what are called essential 
areas, such as high altitudes and slopes, as tending to 
prevent floods and erosion. (France here gives most 
impressive example in planning to bring under con- 

1 Van Hise, p. 58. 2 Van Hise, p. 68. 

5 1 watched day by day for weeks the erection of a great building in 
Paris, and I noticed how little iron or steel was used as compared with 
that in such structures in New York. We shall undoubtedly come to that. 

4 See, "Iron Ore Resources of the World," International Geological Con- 
gress, 1910. 

6 Van Hise, pp. 223-262. 



382 THE FRENCH IN THE HEART OF AMERICA 

trol about three thousand torrential streams in the 
Alps, Pyrenees, Ardennes, and Cevennes by means, 
partly at least, of afforestation, #14,000,000 out of 
$40,000,000 being provided for this purpose. 1 Italy, 
because of the greatly increased destruction by the 
Po, has begun the reforestation of the Apennines to 
the extent of a million acres.) Battle with insect pests 
and finally the substitution of other materials for 
wood, thus not only saving the trees but diminishing 
the losses by fire. 

Land. 7, — The control of water to prevent erosion, 
deep tillage, and contour ploughing. The restoration 
of nitrogen and phosphorus by rotation of crops, phos- 
phates, fertilizers, and electricity. The destruction of 
noxious insects, mammals, and weeds. The reclama- 
tion of wet lands. The introduction of new varieties 
of crops. 

Water. — A fuller use in the place of other sources 
of power that are exhausted in use. It is believed that 
of the twenty-six million horse-power now developed 
by coal fifteen million could be more economically de- 
veloped by water, thus saving not only #180,000,000 
by the substitution, but 150,000,000 tons of coal for 
posterity. 3 The leading of this power through longer 
distances, as from Niagara Falls; its impounding for a 
more steady supply; 4 the digging of channels of irri- 
gation into arid places; 5 the drainage of wet regions; 
the fuller utilization of the carrying power of water to 
relieve the costlier use of wheels. 6 Making the escap- 
ing, unsatisfying stream of Sisyphus turn the mills of 
the gods. 

1 Van Hise, p. 247. 2 Van Hise, pp. 307-352. 

3 Van Hise, p. 124. * Van Hise, pp. 125-133. 

8 Van Hise, pp. 185-207. • Van Hise, p. 164. 



"THE MEN OF ALWAYS" 383 

This is, indeed, as the writing of that ancient prophet 
of Israel who, in his vision of the restoration of his 
city and his land and the healing of its waters, saw a 
man with a radiant face, a line of flax in his hand and 
a measuring reed. And wherever this man of radiant 
face measured he caused the waters to run in dry- 
places and deep rivers to course where the waters were 
but ankle-deep; fish to swarm again in the rivers and 
the seas to be free of pollution; salt to come in the 
miry places and trees to grow upon the land with un- 
withering leaves and abundant meat. 

So have these modern prophets with optimistic 
faces written of their vision, only the fulfilment comes 
not simply of the constructive measuring of statistics. 
It takes some trees a hundred years to grow; and dams 
and reservoirs for the deepening of shallow streams are 
not made over night as once they were by nature, or 
as they grew in the vision of Ezekiel. 

None the less is the prophecy a long way toward 
fulfilment when the vision is seen. And that it has 
been seen is intimated by this sentence, too optimistic 
no doubt, from a book on the subject by one of the 
major prophets of conservation, recently published in 
America. "Conservation," he says, "has captured the 
nation." 

It is not the thrifty, nepotic, static conservation of 
the St. Lawrence habitant, which depends upon the 
self and family interest of each landholder to keep the 
fields enriched and to prevent the washing away of 
the soil. It is a dynamic and paternalistic conserva- 
tion — a conservation that thinks of great dams for the 
restraint of waters and reservoirs for their impound- 
ing to the extent of millions or billions of cubic feet, 



384 THE FRENCH IN THE HEART OF AMERICA 

forestation of great stretches of mountain slope, of 
restrictions and compulsions of other than personal and 
family interests — a paternalism that looks beyond the 
next generation or even two generations and to the 
feeding of other children than one's own lineal descend- 
ants — a paternalism that is not exploiting but fiduciary. 

It is interesting to observe again how the beginnings 
of this conservation have been made in the fields 
where stood the first hospitals for the sick among the 
living, the first memorials to the dead, the first schools 
for the children of to-day that are to be the nation of 
to-morrow. Here also begin to rise the structures of 
the thought for the day after to-morrow. 

The first notable assembling of men in the interest 
of conservation, chiefly of men already in public service 
— the President of the United States, the Vice-Presi- 
dent, members of the cabinet, justices of the Supreme 
Court, members of Congress, the governors of thirty- 
four States, representatives of the other States, the 
governors of the Territories, and other public officials, 
with a number of representatives of societies and a 
few guests — met in 1908, to discuss questions relative 
to conservation. Probably not in the history of the 
nation has there sat in its borders an assembly of men 
so widely representative. This gathering resulted in 
the appointment of a National Conservation Commis- 
sion by the President, but Congress made no appro- 
priation for meeting the expense of its labors; and so 
private enterprise and providence have undertaken the 
carrying out of the movement. 

A great body of men and women scientists, public- 
spirited citizens from all parts of the nation, under the 
presidency of Doctor Charles W. Eliot, former president 



"THE MEN OF ALWAYS" 385 

of Harvard University, began a campaign of educa- 
tion to the end that ultimately and soon — before the 
riches have gone — this concern for the far future may 
become fixed in the law and conscious provision of the 
people. 

I spoke in the last chapter of Hennepin's seeing a 
savage making sacrifice to the spirit of the Mississippi, 
supposed to live under the Falls of St. Anthony. You 
will recall the description of the great public univer- 
sity beside it that represents the sacrifice of the de- 
mocracy of to-day for the nation of to-morrow. In- 
stead of the beaver-skin which the poor Indian hung 
in the branches of a tree near the falls as his offering, 
the State has hung its gift of forty million dollars for 
the highest training of its sons and daughters. But 
there is still, if possible, a nobler aspiration to put 
against that primitive background and beside the In- 
dian's beaver-skin, for the gift is as yet little more than 
an aspiration. 

A few miles back from these same falls there was 
held in 1910 a convention of many thousands from all 
parts of the Union, the President of the United States 
and his predecessor among them, assembled under the 
auspices of the National Conservation Congress to 
consider, as they avowed, not alone their own affairs, 
not even the good of their children with theirs, but 
primarily the welfare of unborn millions as well. It 
cannot be assumed that all were looking so far ahead, 
but the declaration of principles which had called this 
great assemblage had in it this import — something 
loftier than any declaration of personal rights. It was 
a declaration of duty — of duty not to the past, not even 
to the present, but to the long, long distant future. 



386 THE FRENCH IN THE HEART OF AMERICA 

"Recognizing the natural resources of the country 
as the prime basis of property and opportunity, we 
hold the rights of the people in these resources to be 
natural and inherent and justly inalienable and in- 
defeasible; and we insist that the resources should and 
shall be developed, used, and conserved in ways con- 
sistent with current welfare and with the perpetuity of 
our people." 

When this or a like sentiment is framed out of the 
consciousness of a free people into a controlling decla- 
ration of public policy, we shall have not merely a 
nobler offering to put beside the beaver-skin and the 
university, but a document worthy to be put above 
our Declaration of Independence even, and an inter- 
pretation of the words "the people of the United 
States" in our Constitution that will give them an 
import beyond the highest conception of its authors. 

The movement which embodies this sentiment is as 
yet chiefly a private effort, as I have said, but its in- 
fluence is beginning to run through the sentiment of 
the individualism which has so rapidly exploited the 
riches of the valley and spent with such generous hand 
for the immediate future. And the boundaries of 
public service are already enlarged in making room for 
the previsions of the "Children of Always," as the 
mankind now in the thought of conservationists may 
well be called. 

Already millions of acres of coal lands have been 
withdrawn from private entry, and plans are being 
made for the leasing of such lands; that is, the people 
are to keep them for their own. 

Like provision has also been made with respect to 
oil, natural gas, and phosphate fields. 



"THE MEN OF ALWAYS" 387 

Forest lands to the extent of nearly two hundred 
million acres have been reserved as a perpetual national 
domain, and, in addition to this, several States have 
forest reservations amounting to nearly ten million 
acres. 1 The volume of forest legislation in the States 
is unprecedented, providing for forest service, forest 
study, and the prevention of forest-fires, with a pros- 
pect of laws providing for a more rigid public control 
of private forests. 

An increasing public control of waters is another 
noticeable trend in legislation, and their increased 
utilization has already been noticed. Joliet's canal 
has been built. Champlain's is at last completed. A 
President of the United States has recommended the 
deepening of La Salle's river. The valley is coming 
back to the French paths. These and many others 
are conservation projects only indirectly, but they in- 
timate a thought of the future as do the heavy appro- 
priations for the reclamation of arid and subarid regions, 
the government having spent seventy million dollars 2 
in such undertakings, making "one hand wash the 
other," as our saying is; that is, making the well- 
watered regions meet the expense of watering the arid. 

And, finally, the States are beginning to take most 
serious and even radical measures to encourage farmers 
so to till their fields as to be able to bequeath them un- 
impoverished to those who come after. I think it not 
unlikely that eventually the demos, thinking of the 
future, will be as paternalistic as was Louis XIV, who 
told the habitant of the St. Lawrence how many horses 
he should keep. 

This review of the resources of the valley of France 

1 Van Hise, pp. 216, 217. *To June 1, 1912. 



388 THE FRENCH IN THE HEART OF AMERICA 

in the midst of America, and of the forces that are now- 
assembling to preserve for posterity its vast capital of 
earth, air, and water, is but an intimation of what 
might easily be expanded into a volume of itself. 
Indeed, much of my statistical material I have from a 
book by Doctor Charles R. Van Hise, president of the 
University of Wisconsin; but, meagre as this review is, 
it must give you, as it has given me, a stirring sense of 
the mighty reach of the paths of those few pioneers of 
France in those regions where the spirit of conservation 
is strongest. 

While it is true that every human life, as Carlyle 
has said, stands at the conflux of two eternities — the 
one behind him, the other before — in a sense have the 
material preparations, extending during a length of 
time that to our measurement seems an eternity, con- 
verged upon and in those pioneers of Europe in that 
valley; and from them has diverged a civilization that 
now begins to look forward in the eyes of her pro- 
phets through years that seem as another eternity. 
Probably, says this eminent scientist of that valley, 
speaking of the past, "some of the deposits at present 
being mined are the result of agents ... a hundred 
million years ago"; 1 and of the future: "We hope for 
a future . . . not to be reckoned by thousands of 
years but by tens of thousands or hundreds of thou- 
sands or even millions of years. And, therefore, so 
far as our responsibility is concerned, it is immaterial 
whether the coal will be exhausted in one hundred and 
fifty years or fifteen hundred years, or fifteen thousand 
years. Our responsibility to succeeding generations 
demands that we reduce its use to our absolute neces- 

1 Van Hise, p. 18. 



"THE MEN OF ALWAYS" 389 

sides, and therefore prolong its life to the utmost.*' 1 
Conservation has in such depth of years given a 
new perspective to the picture we have been painting 
of the life in that valley. The French were pioneers 
not merely of an exploiting individualism of a day, or 
of a hundred or two hundred years, not merely of a 
democracy thinking of an equality of the men of one 
generation, but also of the conserving dynamic civili- 
zation of hundreds of centuries of a people — to come 
back again to that best of definitions — who are the in- 
visible multitude of spirits, the nation of yesterday and 
to-morrow. 

The French priest, kneeling over the dying Indian 
child in the forest hut and stealthily touching its 
brow with water, had vision of another immortality 
than that, as we know; the empire which the French 
explorers and adventurers hoped to build with its 
capital on the Rock of Quebec, or on the Rock St. 
Louis of the Illinois, or at the mouth of the Missis- 
sippi did not grow in the fashion of their dream, as we 
of course realize. But we see, on the other hand, what 
promise of ages has been given to the faith and adven- 
ture which found incarnation in a frontier democracy 
whose energy and spirit made possible the great, lusty 
republic of to-day, that now begins to talk of a thou- 
sand centuries. 

Out in that far west, in a recent autumn, the men of 
the standing army were set to fighting forest-fires. 
This has seemed to me a happy omen of what the new 
conservatism of the world may ask of its soldiery — 
the conserving not of borders but of the resources of 
human life and of human life itself. And so have I 

x Van Hise, p. 25. 



39Q THE FRENCH IN THE HEART OF AMERICA 

added another class to the inhabitants of the valley, 
to the precursors, the producers, the poets, and the 
teachers of to-morrow — the conservers of the day after 
to-morrow. 

Our great philosopher William James gave expres- 
sion in one of his last utterances to a hope that every 
man, rich or poor, may come to serve the State (as 
now every man in France does his military service) in 
some direct duty that asks the same obedience, the 
same sacrifice, the same forgetting of self that is asked 
of the soldier — that every man by the payment of the 
blood tax may be able to get and keep the spirit of 
neighborliness, to know how to sympathize more deeply 
with his fellow men, and to learn the joy of disinterested 
doing for the nation. 1 

But in this demand and appeal of the new theory 
of our common responsibility, of a dynamic conser- 
vationism, is the germ of a larger patriotism than any 
that history has as yet defined — a patriotism that asks 
the lifetime service of an individualism with an all- 
time horizon. 

1 "Memories and Studies: The Moral Equivalent of War," pp. 267-296. 



CHAPTER XIX 
THE HEART OF AMERICA 

IN the little town of St. Die in the east of France 
there was printed in the year 1507 a "Cosmog- 
raphiae Introductio" — an introduction to a forth- 
coming edition of Ptolemy — in which was included an 
account of the journeys of one Amerigo Vespucci, who 
is credited with the discovery of a new part of the 
world — a fourth continent. For this reason, the author 
recites, "quarta orbis pars, quam quis Americus in- 
venit, Amerigen quasi Americi terram, sivi Americam 
nuncupare licit." And so the name America (for it 
was thought proper to give it the feminine form, 
"cum et Europa et Asia a mulieribus sua sortitae sint 
nomina") was probably first pronounced in the moun- 
tain-circled town of St. Die, where the scholars of the 
Vosges, shut away from the sea and its greedy rumors 
of India, conceived more accurately in their isolation 
the significance of the western discoveries and made the 
new-found shores the edge not of Asia but of another 
continent. 

Perhaps this new land should have been given some 
other name; but that it is futile now to discuss. Amer- 
ica it has been these four hundred years and America 
it is doubtless always to be. And it is particularly 
gratifying to one who has come to care so much for 
France to find that the name of his own land — a name 
most euphonious and delectable to his ears — came of 

391 



392 THE FRENCH IN THE HEART OF AMERICA 

the christening at the font of the River Meurthe, the 
beautiful French dame of St. Die standing by as god- 
mother, and that that name was first whispered to the 
world by the trees of the forests of the Vosges, whose 
wood may even have furnished the blocks to fashion 
first its letters. So may we go back and write this in- 
teresting if not important fact of French pioneering in 
America. 

But let us rehearse to ourselves once more before 
we separate the epic sequence of adventure and suffer- 
ing which tells how much more than a name France 
gave to that continent just rising from the seas when 
the savants of St. Die touched her face with the bap- 
tismal water of their recluse learning. 

Again the "boundless vision grows upon us; an un- 
tamed continent; vast wastes of forest verdure; moun- 
tains silent in primeval sleep; river, lake, and glim- 
mering pool; wilderness oceans mingling with the sky" 
— the America not of the imaging of the mountain men 
of St. Die but of the seeing and enduring of the sea- 
men of Dieppe and St. Malo and Rochelle and Rouen. 

Again Jacques Cartier stands alone within this 
"shaggy continent," a thousand miles beyond the 
banks of the Baccalaos and the Isles of the Demons. 
Again for a moment Acadia echoes of the Sorbonne and 
of Arcadian poesy. Again the unblenching "preux 
chevalier" Champlain stands with his back against the 
gray cliff of Quebec fighting red and white foe alike, 
famine and disease, to keep a foothold in the wilder- 
ness, with the sublime faith of a crusader and the pa- 
tient endurance of a Prometheus. Again the zealous but 
narrow rigor of Richelieu, flowering in his native land 
in the learning of the Sorbonne and preparing for him 



THE HEART OF AMERICA 393 

in the new world, as Le Jeune wrote, a "dazzling 
crown in heaven," builds by the St. Charles and the 
wreckage of Cartier's Petite Hermine, the house of 
Notre Dame des Anges, the "cradle of the great mis- 
sion of New France." Again the fireflies light the 
meadow altar of Maisonneuve at Montreal on its birth- 
night. Again the gray gowns and the black, Le Caron, 
Brebeuf, Jogues, and Gamier, enter upon their glorious 
toils, their bare and sandalled feet, accustomed to the 
smooth walks of the convents of Brouage and Rheims 
and Paris, begin to climb the rough paths to the west, 
ad majorem Dei gloriam. Again the swift coureurs de 
bois, half-savage in their ambassadorship of the woods, 
follow the traces of the most ancient road-makers, the 
buffalo and deer, and the voyageurs carry their boats 
across the portage places. Again the Griffin — the 
winged lion of the lakes — flies from Niagara to the is- 
land in Green Bay, France's percursor of the million- 
tonned commerce of the northern seas, but sinks with 
her cargo of golden fleece in their blue waters. Again 
Marquette, the son of Laon, beholds with joy unspeak- 
able the mysterious "great water," and yet again, La 
Salle stands by the lonely sea and cries his proclama- 
tion toward the limitless land. 

And, seeing and hearing all this again, we have seen 
a land as large as all Europe emerge from the unknown 
at the evocation of pioneers of France who stood all or 
nearly all sooner or later in Paris within three or four 
kilometres of the very place in which I sit writing these 
words. Cartier gave to the world the St. Lawrence 
River as far as the Falls of Lachine; Champlain, his 
Recollet friars and Jesuit priests and heralds of the 
woods added the upper lakes; and Marquette, Joliet, 



394 THE FRENCH IN THE HEART OF AMERICA 

La Salle, Tonty, Hennepin, Radisson, Groseilliers, Iber- 
ville, Bienville, Le Sueur, La Harpe, the Verendrye — 
father and sons — and scores of other Frenchmen, many 
of forgotten names, added the valley of the river of a 
hundred thousand streams, from where at the east 
the French creek begins, a few miles from Lake Erie, to 
flow toward the Ohio even to the sources of the Mis- 
souri in the snows of the Rockies — "the most magnifi- 
cent dwelling-place" — again to recall De Tocqueville, 
"prepared by God for man's abode; the valley destined 
to give the world a field for a new experiment in de- 
mocracy and to become the heart of America." 

I have not been able to write at any length of that 
part of all this vast region of France's pioneering and 
evoking where France is best remembered — remem- 
bered in speech that imitates that which is dearest to 
France's ears; remembered in voices that even in the 
harsh winds of the north keep something of the mel- 
lowness and softness of the south; remembered in the 
surnames that recall beautiful trees and fields of per- 
fume and hills of vines and things of the sea which 
surrounded their ancestors; remembered in the ap- 
pellations of the saints that protect their firesides and 
their fortunes; remembered in the names that still 
cling tenaciously to rivers and towns of that land which 
calls Champlain its father — Canada. 

A traveller in the lower St. Lawrence Valley might 
well think himself east of the Atlantic as he hears the 
guard on the railway train from Montreal to Quebec 
call: St. Rochs, Les Eboulements, Portneuf, Pont 
Rouge, Capucins, Mont Louis, Pointe au Chene; or 
hears the speech as he walks at the foot of the gray 
Rock of Quebec, or even reads the street signs in Mon- 



THE HEART OF AMERICA 395 

treal. There are memories there on every side, in 
their very houses and habits — yet memories which I 
fear are beginning to fade with the allurements of the 
land of hope to the far west and the northwest of 
Canada — the "land of hope," the new frontier of Amer- 
ica, now of such interest to the people of that other 
valley, the Mississippi, which was once separated from 
Canada by no boundaries save watersheds, and these 
so low that there was reciprocity of their waters. 

But even if I could keep you longer I am thinking 
that I should have asked you to spend it where there 
are fewer memories than in Canada, in the valley where 
the old French names, if kept at all, are often obscured 
in a new orthography or a different pronunciation. 
Up in the boundary of waters between the two lands 
there is a lighthouse on an island called "Skilligallee." 
I was a long time in discovering that this meaningless 
euphonic name was but the memory of the Isle aux 
Galets — the island of the pebbles. So have the mem- 
ories been lost in tongues that could not easily frame to 
pronounce the words they found when they entered 
that farther valley where France's pioneering is almost 
forgotten, but where France should be best remembered. 

A catalogue (and this book has been little else) of 
the reasons for such remembrance has doubtless brought 
little comfort; indeed, it may have brought some pain, 
because the recital of the reasons has but emphasized 
the forgetting and accentuated the loss. 

But is France not to find, in a fuller consciousness of 
what has developed in that valley into which she led 
Europe, a higher satisfaction than could have come 
through the formal relationship of mother and colony, 
or any other that could be reasonably conjectured ? 



396 THE FRENCH IN THE HEART OF AMERICA 

For Turgot's prophecy would have some day been 
realized, and there would perhaps have been a bitter- 
ness where now there is gratitude. I can think of no 
series of relations that could have been of more pro- 
found and momentous import in the history of that 
continent, or that should give higher satisfaction to 
France in her thought of America than that which this 
summation permits us to recall once more. 

France not only christened America; she not only 
stood first far inside that continent at the north and 
furnished Europe proof of its mighty dimensions; she 
also gave to this continent, child of her christening, the 
richest great valley of the world. 

This valley she held in the title of her own claim 
for more than a century from the time that her ex- 
plorers first looked over its brim, held it by valors 
and sufferings which would have been gloriously re- 
corded if their issue had been to keep by those 
waters the tongue in which they could be written and 
sung. 

When France did yield it, because of forces outside 
the valley, not inside (there was hardly a sound of 
battle there), she gave it in effect to a new nation. 
She shared it with the aboriginal American, she gave 
it to the ultimate American. She got her title from 
the first Americans who, as Chateaubriand said, called 
themselves the "Children of Always." She gave it to 
those who are beginning to think of it as belonging not 
to them but to the new "Children of Always." 

By her very valorous holding she taught the fringe 
of colonies along the Atlantic the first lessons in union, 
and she gave them a leader out of the disciplines of 
her borders, George Washington, whom in the course 



THE HEART OF AMERICA 397 

of time she directly assisted with her sympathy and 
means to make certain the independence of those same 
colonies. 

He, in turn, in the paths of the Old French War 
across the Alleghanies, found by a most singular fate 
not only the indissoluble bond between the eastern and 
the western waters but in those very paths the prac- 
tical way to the more "perfect union" of the young 
nation that was to succeed to this joint heritage of Eng- 
land and of France. 

To its estate of hundreds of millions of acres east of 
the Mississippi Napoleon added a half-billion more 
out of the one-time domain of Louis XIV and made it 
possible that the United States should some day de- 
velop into a world-power. 

The half-valley, enlarged to its mountain bounds 
through the influence of its free soil on those whose 
feet touched it as pioneers, nourished a natural de- 
mocracy founded in the equalities, the freedoms, and 
the fraternities of the frontier so vital, so powerful 
that it became the dominant nationalistic force in a 
continent-wide republic. Aided by the means of com- 
munication which a rampant individualism had pre- 
pared for it, it held that republic together, expressing 
itself most conspicuously in the democratic soul of 
Lincoln — who, following La Salle down the Mississippi, 
found his high mission to the world — and in the master- 
ful, resourceful generalship of Grant. 

The old French forts have grown into new-world 
cities, the portage paths have been multiplied into 
streets, the trails of the coureurs de bois have become 
railroads, and all are the noisy, flaming, smoky places 
and means of such an industry and exploitation as 



398 THE FRENCH IN THE HEART OF AMERICA 

doubtless are not to be found so extensive and so in- 
tensive in any other valley of the earth. 

A quantitative analysis has led me to present sta- 
tistics of its production and manufacture which would 
seem inexcusably braggart if it were not to remind the 
French and my own countrymen that it was the geo- 
graphical descendants of France who, out of the wealth 
of their heritage of France's bequeathing, untouched 
from the glaciers and the Indians, were confuting with 
their wheat the prophecies of Malthus and making 
the whole world a more comfortable and a somewhat 
brighter place with their iron, their oil, their reapers, 
their wagons, and their sewing-machines. It were 
nothing to be ashamed of unless that were all. 

But a careful qualitative analysis discovers in the 
life of that valley, which has been so widely advertised 
by its purely quantitative output, a certain idealism 
that is usually obscured by the smoke of its individual- 
ism. 

We have seen it in the grimy ravine by old Fort 
Duquesne, where, like the titanium which, in what 
way no chemist knows, increases the tensile strength 
of its steel, this practical idealism gives promise of a 
democracy that will stand a greater stress and strain. 

We have seen it in the plans for the future of the 
city that has risen from the onion field along the 
Chicago River, where Marquette's spirit lived in a sick 
body through a bitter winter. 

We have seen it in the setting apart of the white 
acres in every township for the training of the child of 
to-morrow, in the higher school that stands in thou- 
sands of towns and cities throughout the valley, and in 
the university supported of every State in that valley, 



THE HEART OF AMERICA 399 

such as that which we saw beside the falls where Henne- 
pin tells of the Indian sacrificing his beaver-skin to the 
river spirit. 

And, finally, we have seen the men of to-day, rising 
to that highest definition of a people — the invisible 
multitude of spirits, the nation of yesterday and of 
to-morrow — forgetting their interests of the moment, 
listening to the men of the universities speaking out 
of the past, and planning for the conservation of what 
they have left to them of the resources of the land for 
the "interests of mankind" — the true "Children of 
Always." 

This, then, is what France has prepared the way 
for, in one of the vast regions where she was pioneer in 
America. Through the venture and the faith of her 
sons she won the valley with a past of a million of 
ages; through unrecorded valors she held it as her 
very own for a century, and, though she lost nominal 
title to it as a territory, she has a ground-rent interest 
in it, real title to a share in its human fruitage, which 
time can neither take away nor cloud but only aug- 
ment. 

The social and industrial life which has developed 
there by mere coincidence, or of direct cause, is dis- 
tinctive and peculiar to that part of the United States 
which has a French background, though it now has 
made itself felt throughout the nation. And, however 
little in its feature and language the foreground may 
seem to take color of it, I shall always believe that the 
consecration of the rivers and paths, by explorations 
and ministries that were for the most part as unselfish 
as France's scholarship is to-day, must in some subtle 
way have had such a potency as the catalytic sub- 



400 THE FRENCH IN THE HEART OF AMERICA 

stances which work miracles in matter and yet are be- 
yond the discerning of the scientist. 

An English essayist 1 has estimated that we of the 
United States are no longer young and finds in the 
fact that we have produced great artists the intima- 
tions of age. The art of Whistler and the letters of 
Henry James are to him the "sweet and startling" but 
"unmistakable cry of a dying man." But this essayist 
could not have known the men of the valley which is 
the heart of the nation as it is the heart of the coun- 
try, the place of its dominant spirits. That valley, so 
rapidly exploited of its resources that it has grown ages 
poorer, is yet virile, youthful in its faults and its achieve- 
ments. It has no "fine futility" as yet, and the cry is 
not "sweet" though it may be "startling." It is the 
shout of a young god, of a Jason driving the bulls in 
the fields of Colchis. The attenuations of distance 
may easily deceive one's ears who listens from across 
the ocean and the mountains. 

I think it was this same essayist who said that to 
understand a people one must study them with the 
"loyalty of a child" and the patience not of a scientist 
but of a poet. I thank him for that, while I excuse his 
confounding of sounds that he hears in England from 
America, and agree that what we need in that valley 
to tell its story, to interpret it, is not a specialist in 
statistics nor an annalist, not a critic who looks at the 
smoke of the chimneys and visits the slaughter-houses 
only, but a poet who will have the patience to consult 
both the statistician and the annalist, a patient poet 
with the "loyalty of a child" toward his theme. 

1 G. K. Chesterton, "The Fallacy of the Young Nation," in his "Heretics," 
pp. 247-266. 



EPILOGUE 

FRANCIS PARKMAN 

The Historian of France in the New World 

I MAKE the epilogue of this story my tribute to 
Francis Parkman, who has in a sense made this all 
possible for me: first, by reason of the love he gave 
me long ago for his New France with its primeval 
forests, its virgin prairies, its glistening rivers, its un- 
tamed Indians, its explorers, its gray and black cowls, 
its coureurs de bois, its stars whose light had never 
before looked on a white face; and second, by reason 
of the mass of incident and color which he has supplied 
for the background of the life I have known in that 
valley. 

On entering a college out in the midst of that region 
— the middle of the Mississippi Valley — nearly thirty 
years ago I was assigned, as my first important task 
in English, the reading and criticism of one of Park- 
man's books. I think that "The Oregon Trail" was 
suggested. I read several volumes, however, but found 
my interest greatest in "The Pioneers of France in the 
New World" and "The Jesuits in North America." 
What I wrote I do not now remember (nor do I wish 
to refresh my memory), but so persistent was the grip 
of those graphic relations upon my imagination that 
years later, when leaving the presidency of that same 
college, I asked to be permitted to take from the li- 
brary three books (replacing them with fresher copies) : 

401 



402 THE FRENCH IN THE HEART OF AMERICA 

the chapel Bible — from which I had been read to by my 
president and professors and from which I in turn 
had read to succeeding students — a copy of Spenser's 
"Faerie Queene" — which my college's only poet, 
Eugene Field, had read through — and a volume of 
Parkman's on the pioneers of France. 

So I take the opportunity to pay my tribute to him 
who long ago put these figures on the frontier of my 
imagination, and who has prevented my ever speaking 
in dispassion or without favorable prejudice of them. 

When Parkman was leaving America for Paris in 
1868, "for medical advice and research," uncertain as 
to whether he would ever return to take up his unfin- 
ished story of the American forest, he left in the hands 
of a friend a parcel, "not to be opened during his life." 
It is that parcel, not opened until twenty-five years 
later — for Parkman lived to return to America and to 
return again to Paris more than once, and then to go 
back and finish, after a full half-century of struggle 
with physical maladies and infirmities, the last book of 
the plan virtually sketched fifty years before, and with 
a singular felicity of coincidence named "The Half- 
Century of Conflict" — it is that parcel which has kept 
for later generations his remarkable autobiography. 

While on his visits in Paris he was known in a wide 
circle. As he himself said in writing to his sisters, "if 
able to accept invitations," he "would have had the 
run of Faubourg St. Germain." I doubt, however, if 
his personality is remembered by many, much less 
that strangely tortured life which probably gave little 
mark of its suffering even to those who knew him best 
in France. 

I therefore recall some of the detail of the years 



FRANCIS PARKMAN 403 

preceding those days when he appeared in the streets 
of Paris seeking health, but seeing often Margry, the 
"intractable yet kindly keeper" of an important de- 
partment of French archives, who had in his secretive 
keeping documents most precious to the uses of Park- 
man. 

It is not altogether an agreeable chronicle, this 
autobiography. 1 It is rather like a "pathological re- 
cord," and as totally unlike the pages of his books as 
can be well imagined. But it is an essential docu- 
ment. 

The first pages of this biography were withheld by 
him and so removed from the parcel; the record begins 
with a general characterization of his childhood. There 
is no detail. But there are to be found elsewhere the 
memories of others which tell of his boyish enjoyment 
of the little wilderness of joyous colors near the school 
to which he was sent — microcosm of the greater wilder- 
ness in which his body and then his imagination were 
to wander through all his mature days till his death. 
His own chronicle has forgotten or ignored those elys- 
ian days and has not in all its length a joyful note 
or a bright color. 

This is the summary: His childhood was neither 
healthful nor buoyant. . . . Chemical experiment was 
his favorite hobby, involving a lonely, confined, un- 
wholesome sort of life, baneful to body and mind. . . . 
The age of fifteen or sixteen produced a revolution; 
retorts and crucibles were forever discarded. . . . He 
became enamoured of the woods, a fancy which soon 
gained full control over the course of his literary pur- 

1 Printed in "Proceedings Massachusetts Historical Society, 1892-4," 
series 2, 8 : 349-360. 



404 THE FRENCH IN THE HEART OF AMERICA 

suits. . . . He resolved to confine his homage to the 
muse of history. ... At the age of eighteen (born in 
1823) the plan (to whose execution he gave his long 
life) was, in its most essential features, formed. His 
idea was clear before him, yet attended with unpleas- 
ant doubts as to his ability to realize it to his own 
satisfaction. . . . The task, as he then reckoned it, 
would require about twenty years. The time allowed 
was ample; but here he fell into a fatal error, entering 
upon this long pilgrimage with all the vehemence of 
one starting on a mile heat. His reliance, however, 
was less on books than on such personal experience as 
should intimately identify him with his theme. 

Let me here say that I have found traces of his steps 
at nearly every site that I have visited. He had been 
at Fort St. Louis, at the most important portages, 
and at the places where the French forts once stood. 
His natural inclinations urged him in the same direc- 
tion, his thoughts were constantly in the forest, whose 
features, not unmixed with softer images, possessed 
his waking and sleeping dreams; he was as fond of 
hardships as he was vain of enduring them, cherishing 
a sovereign scorn for every physical weakness or de- 
fect. Moreover, deceived by a rapid development of 
frame and sinews which flattered him with the belief 
that discipline sufficiently unsparing would harden 
him into an athlete, he slighted precautions of a more 
reasonable woodcraft, tired old foresters with long 
marches, stopped neither for heat nor rain, and slept on 
the earth without a blanket. . . . He spent his sum- 
mer vacations in the woods or in Canada, at the same 
time reading such books as he thought suited to help 
him toward his object. . . . While in the law school he 



FRANCIS PARKMAN 405 

entered in earnest on two other courses, one of general 
history, the other of Indian history and ethnology, 
studying diligently at the same time the models of 
English style. . . . There developed in him a state of 
mental tension, habitual for several years, and abun- 
dantly mischievous in its effects. With a mind over- 
strained and a body overtaxed, he was burning his 
candle at both ends. ... A highly irritable organism 
spurred the writer to excess. . . . Labor became a 
passion, and rest intolerable yet with a keen appetite 
for social enjoyments. . . . His condition became that 
of a rider whose horse runs headlong with the bit be- 
tween his teeth, or of a locomotive, built of indifferent 
material, under a head of steam too great for its 
strength, hissing at a score of crevices, yet rushing on 
with accelerating speed to the inevitable smash. . . . 
Soon appeared, as a sign of mischief, weakness of sight. 
Accordingly he went to the Rocky Mountains to rest 
his failing vision and to get an inside view of Indian life. 
. . . Reeling in the saddle, he set forth, attended 
by a Canadian hunter. . . . Joining the Ogallala In- 
dians, he followed their wanderings for several weeks. 
To have worn the air of an invalid would have been an 
indiscretion, as he says, since "a horse, a rifle, a pair of 
pistols, and a red shirt might have offered temptations 
too strong for aboriginal virtue." So he hunted when 
he could scarcely sit upright. ... To the maladies 
of the prairies other disorders succeeded on his return. 
. . . Flat stagnation followed, reaching its depth in 
eighteen months. . . . The desire to return to the 
prairie was intense, but exposure to the sunlight would 
have destroyed his sight. . . . When his condition 
was at its worst, he resolved to attempt the composi- 



406 THE FRENCH IN THE HEART OF AMERICA 

tion of the "History of the Conspiracy of Pontiac," for 
which he had been collecting material since his days in 
college. Suffering from extreme weakness of sight, a 
condition of the brain prohibiting fixed attention, and 
a nervous derangement, he yet set out upon this labor, 
using a wooden frame strung with parallel wires to 
guide his crayon. Books and documents were read 
to him, but never, without injury, for more than a 
half-hour at a time, and frequently not at all for days. 
For the first half-year he averaged six lines of com- 
position a day. And he wrote, I suppose, at least ten 
hundred thousand lines. His health improving, he 
dictated, pacing a dark garret. He then entered upon 
"France in the New World." The difficulties were in- 
calculable. . . . Wholly unable to use his eyes, he 
had before him the task of tracing out, collecting, in- 
dexing, arranging, and digesting a great mass of in- 
congruous material, scattered on both sides of the 
Atlantic. He was unable to employ trained assistants 
and had to rely mainly on his own research, though, 
in some cases, receiving valuable aid of scholars and 
others. He used to employ as reader of French a 
public-school girl wholly ignorant of French (who, I 
suppose, gave English pronunciation to all the words), 
but with such help and that of members of his own 
family the work went on. Then came another disaster 
— an effusion of water on the knee which involved a 
close confinement for two years; and this in turn re- 
sulted in serious nervous disturbance centring in the 
head. These extreme conditions of disorder continued 
for many years. . . . His work was wholly inter- 
rupted for one year, four years, and numerous short 
intervals. . . . Later the condition of sight so far 



FRANCIS PARKMAN 407 

improved as to permit reading, not exceeding, on an 
average, five minutes at one time. By judicious use 
this modicum of power was extended. By reading for 
one minute and then resting for an equal time the 
alternate process could be continued for about half an 
hour, then, after a sufficient interval, repeated three 
or four times a day. Working under such conditions 
he makes this report, 1868, of progress: "Most of the 
material is collected or within reach; another volume, 
on the Jesuits of North America, is one-third written; 
another, on the French explorers of the Great West, 
is half written; while a third, devoted to the checkered 
career of Comte de Frontenac, is partially arranged for 
composition." During this period he had made many 
journeys in the United States and Canada for material, 
and had been four times in Europe. . . . He wonders 
as to the advantage of this tortoise pace, but says in 
conclusion that, "irksome as may be the requirements 
of conditions so anomalous, they are far less oppres- 
sive than the necessity they involve of being busied 
with the Past when the Present has claims so urgent, 
and of holding the pen with the hand that should have 
grasped the sword" (for he was greatly disappointed 
that he could not enter the army at the time of the 
Civil War). 

I have made this rather extensive summary of the 
singular autobiography — and largely in the author's 
own words — not to prepare your minds for lenient 
judgments of his work, but to inform them of the 
tenacious purpose of the man whose infirmities of the 
knees kept him most of his life from the wild forest 
trails and streams and compelled him to a wheel-chair 
in gardens of tame roses; whose weakness of the eyes 



408 THE FRENCH IN THE HEART OF AMERICA 

allowed him but inadequate vision of the splendor of 
the woods and even robbed him of the intimacy of 
books; whose malady of mind kept him ever in terror 
of devils more fierce than the inhuman tortures of 
Jogues and Brebeuf — a tenacious purpose that wrought 
its youth-selected, self-appointed work, and so well, so 
splendidly, so thoroughly that it needs never to be 
done again. 

One of his friends, in a memoir of Parkman, recalls 
an observation of Sainte-Beuve, in his paper on Taine's 
"English Literature," that has found its best illustra- 
tion in what Parkman accomplished in spite of lame- 
ness, blindness, and mental distress: "All things con- 
sidered, every allowance being made for general or 
particular elements and for circumstances, there still 
remain place and space enough around men of talent, 
wherein they can move and turn themselves with en- 
tire freedom. And, moreover, were the circle drawn 
round each a very contracted one, every man of talent, 
every genius, in so far as he is in some degree a magi- 
cian and an enchanter, possesses a secret entirely his 
own, whereby to perform prodigies within this circle 
and work wonders there." 1 

This autobiography has shown how short was the 
radius of the circle. The twelve volumes of his work 
attest, under Sainte-Beuve's definition, the degree of 
his powers of magic and enchantment. Men of strong 
knees, of good eyes, and of brains that do not keep 
them from sleep by night or from work by day, have 
travelled over this same field, but of most that they 
gathered it may be said: "To no such aureate earth 
'tis turned as, buried once, men want dug up again." 

'"Nouveaux Lundis," vol. VIII, English translation in "English Por- 
traits," p. 243. 



FRANCIS PARKMAN 409 

I have sat for days in the Harvard University Library 
among the books bequeathed to it by Parkman (being 
the greater part of the library which surrounded him 
in his work — books of history, of travel, and of biog- 
raphy; books about Indians, flints, and folk-lore; maps 
and guides — among them several guides to Paris — only 
twenty-five hundred volumes in all); but they are not 
the material of his magic. His work was not legerde- 
main, skilful manipulation, but recreation, and he 
found the aureate earth in the forests, on the prairies, 
and in documents contemporary to his theme. 

In a cabinet (bearing in its carving suggestions of 
the fleur-de-lis) in the rooms of the Massachusetts 
Historical Society, I found some of this precious ma- 
terial, also bequeathed by the historian. Its nature is 
suggested in the preface to his "Montcalm and Wolfe." 
"A very large amount," he says, "of unpublished ma- 
terial has been used in its preparation, consisting for 
the most part of documents copied from the archives 
and libraries of France and England. The papers 
copied for the present work ["Montcalm and Wolfe"] 
in France alone, exceed six thousand folio pages of 
manuscript, additional and supplementary to the 
'Paris Documents' procured for the State of New York. 
. . . The copies made in England form ten volumes, 
besides many English documents consulted in the 
original manuscript. Great numbers of autograph 
letters, diaries, and other writings of persons engaged 
in the war have also been examined on this [i. <?., 
American] side of the Atlantic." 

But even these were as the dry bones in the valley 
which Ezekiel saw, till he touched these scattered frag- 
ments with his genius. 



410 THE FRENCH IN THE HEART OF AMERICA 

The process employed by the blind workman is 
described by Frothingham, one of his friends: "The 
manuscripts were read over to him, slowly, one by one. 
First the chief points were considered, then the details 
of the story were gone over carefully and minutely. 
As the reading went on, he made notes, first of essen- 
tial and then of non-essential. After this he welded 
everything together, made the narrative completely 
his own, infused into it his own fire, quickened it by 
his own imagination, and made it as it were a living 
experience, so that his books read like personal remi- 
niscences." 1 

In a book of Parkman memorabilia of various kinds 
which I found in the Harvard Library, I happened one 
day upon a few scraps of paper which furnish illustra- 
tion of the first steps of the process — paper on which 
were notes made in Parkman's own hand: 

"Deserts covered with bones of buffalo and elk"; 
"No sign of man from Fort Union to Fort Mackenzie"; 
"White clay, cactus dried up, grasshoppers"; "Pop- 
lars, — wild roses, — gooseberries"; "prairie dogs, — heat, 
— aridity"; "extraordinary castellated mountains, 
stone walls, — etc. above Fort Union"; "in 1832 Black- 
feet are said to have killed 58 whites, three years before, 
80"; "Blackfeet do not eat dogs — Blackfeet Societies 
— beaver traps lent to Blackfeet"; "wood near Fort 
Clark chiefly poplar"; "fossils — terres mauvaises"; 
"maize cultivated by Mandans"; "catching the war 
eagle"; "Mandans etc. agricultural tribes"; "wolf-pits 
described"; "Exceptional cold Ft. Clark"; "Wolf at- 
tacked three women; — wooden carts no iron"; "Barren 

1 "Memoirs of Francis Parkman," in "Proceedings Massachusetts His- 
torical Society, 1892-4," series 2, 8 : 555. 



FRANCIS PARKMAN 411 

Mts. little dells with water, — gooseberries, strawberries, 
currants, very few trees, mad river." 

But these and many other notes on scraps of blue 
paper in his hand have significance only in their trans- 
lation, transfusion into the color or detail of some of 
his wonderful pictures. Somewhere in his books I felt 
certain, when reading these notes, I should find those 
poplars growing on the plains with wild roses and goose- 
berry bushes not far away; some day I should come to 
the barren mountains and the dells with water, or 
should hear the roaring of the mad river and witness 
the catching of the war-eagle. Indeed, some of these 
very notes had entered, as I found, into the description 
of that lonely journey of the brothers Verendrye as 
they passed through the bad lands (terres mauvaises of 
the notes), where the clay is sometimes white as chalk 
and the barren, castellated bluffs, "carved into fan- 
tastic shapes by the storms," stand about. 

"For twenty days the travellers saw no human being 
[see note above], so scanty was the population of these 
plains. Game, however, was abundant. Deer sprang 
from the tall reed grass of the river bottoms; buffalo 
tramped by in ponderous columns, or dotted the swells 
of the distant prairie with their grazing thousands; 
antelope approached, with the curiosity of their species, 
to gaze at the passing horsemen, then fled like the wind; 
and as they neared the broken uplands towards the 
Yellowstone, they saw troops of elk (later their bones) 
and flocks of mountain-sheep. Sometimes, for miles 
together, the dry plain was studded thick with the 
earthen mounds that marked the burrows of the 
curious marmots, called prairie dogs from their squeak- 
ing bark. Wolves, white and gray, howled about the 



412 THE FRENCH IN THE HEART OF AMERICA 

camp at night, and their cousin, the coyote, seated in 
the dusk of evening upright on the grass, with nose 
turned to the sky, saluted them with a complication of 
yelpings, as if a score of petulant voices were pouring 
together from the throat of one small beast." 1 

It is impossible to know how much of this came 
from his own actual seeing (for in his journey over 
the Oregon trail he had passed near the trail of the 
Verendrye brothers) and how much came from those 
scraps of color and incident picked up in his blindness 
from varied sources; nor is it of consequence, except as 
it connotes something of the quality and character of 
his genius, for it is all accurate and the brave brothers 
Verendrye move as living men across it. He was able 
to revivify a dusty document as well as a personal ex- 
perience. "To him," as Mr. Barrett Wendell said out 
of an intimate acquaintance with him and his work, 
"a document of whatever kind, — a state paper, a 
Jesuit 'relation,' the diary of a provincial soldier, the 
record of a Yankee church, — was merely the symbol of 
a fact which had once been as real as his own hardships 
among the western Indians, or as the lifetime of phys- 
ical suffering, which never bent his will." 2 I have 
never read "The Oregon Trail" with the same keen 
enthusiasm as his other books, largely, I think, because 
it is a mere report of personal adventure and not a 
composition fused of his imagination. It is an excellent 
photograph by the side of a master's painting. 

But all this accuracy of detail, this revivifying of 
dead Indians, knights, voyageurs and soldiers, this 
painting of prairie, forest, and mountain, was not in 

1 Parkman, " Half -Century of Conflict," 2 : 23, 24. 
2 " Proceedings American Academy of Arts and Sciences, 1893-4," 
29 : 439. 



FRANCIS PARKMAN 413 

itself to put him among the world's great historians. 
And, indeed, there are those who, appreciating the 
artist's skill, have expressed regret that he gave this 
skill to no great theme. It is as if he were (they 
would doubtless say) writing of the labors of sacrificing 
missionaries in Africa, or of colonial administration in 
Indo-China, or of forest adventure along the Amazon. 
In the Boston Public Library I found that every work 
of his had duplicate copies in the boys' department. 
(And how great the reading is to this day is intimated 
by my inability one evening to get a copy of "Pontiac's 
War," though there were several copies in the posses- 
sion of the library. A reserve had finally to be called 
in.) But I should say that this double classification 
intimated rather the genuine human interest of his 
story, appealing alike to men and to boys (as the great- 
est of human writings do) — a work "for all mankind 
and for all time." 

But I should go beyond this. His books are not 
merely of elemental entertainment. He has seized the 
most fundamental, far-reaching, and consequential of 
themes. He found going on in his forest, of which he 
set out to write, not merely flame-lighted scalpings and 
official rapacities and picturesque maraudings and 
quixotic pageants and the like. His theme was even 
greater than the mere gathering of all these raids and 
rapacities and maraudings and pageants into an in- 
formed racial, national struggle for the possession of a 
continent. It was nothing less than the grappling, out 
on the frontier of the world, between two principles of 
organized human life. The forests are so demanding, 
the incidents so stirring in themselves, that many have 
doubtless missed the high theme that expressed it- 



4H THE FRENCH IN THE HEART OF AMERICA 

self there. But that theme possessed its author, and 
it possesses every sensitive reader as some fateful, re- 
curring, tragic melody in an opera full of diverting in- 
cident and picturesque figures. 

Parkman is more likely to keep his generalizations 
within the overture, but frequently one gives summary 
to an act or scene, so that even he who comes for en- 
tertainment can hardly miss the significance of it all; 
though, as Mr. Wendell has said, to borrow again from 
his, the best, brief tribute: "Parkman was very spar- 
ing of generalization, of philosophic comment," whether 
from overconsciousness or from the intrusion of his 
malady which forbade long-continued thought. He 
made the course of events carry its own philosophy. 

Several noble and notable generalizations have, how- 
ever, already thrust themselves into these chapters to il- 
lustrate his appreciation of the loftiness of his theme, 
his candor, and his genuine sympathy with those to 
whose ill-fated heroism he gave such "precious testi- 
mony." 

One has only to associate with the persistent, clearly 
outlined purpose of a half-century a realization of the 
completeness of its achievement to be stirred, as by 
the victory not of a fortuitously reckless assault but 
of a long, carefully planned campaign. 

Among his papers (in the fleur-de-lis cabinet of 
which I have spoken) there are the first prophecies: 
two maps of the Lake George (Champlain) region 
drawn by him on the inside of a red portfolio cover, 
marked 1842, when he was nineteen years old; and 
next an odd-covered blank book in which he began 
his note-making on the "Old French War," with such 
notes as these: "Rights of the two nations"; "When 



FRANCIS PARKMAN 415 

did Marquette make his discoveries?" "When did La 
Salle settle?" "Had not the French a right both of 
prior discovery and prior settlement?" "The English 
never settled"; "The letters patent to Louisiana are 
preposterous, perhaps, but not more so than the Eng- 
lish claim from coasts back of the Mississippi"; "The 
first blood was spilt by Washington. Jumonville would 
seem to have been sent with peaceful intentions. His 
orders charged him to attack the French." 

The title is written in a strong hand, but before he 
has half filled the little book he makes entry that the 
"French War" is laid aside, for the time, for the his- 
tory of "Pontiac's War," and thus the latter part of 
this thin note-book grew into "The Conspiracy of 
Pontiac," and that in turn became sequel to the whole 
series of which it also was the promise, a series of books 
so closely related that John Fiske speaks of them as 
"one book." 

The scope, to be sure, is a restricted one. He has 
two great wildernesses to cover, but it is a century 
and a half after the epic narrative begins before enough 
people enter to prevent one from keeping track of all of 
them. It is as if he were writing the history of man, 
from the last day of creation forward, starting with a 
few transmigrant souls still under the control of their 
oversea existence. He begins at the beginning, with 
not even a twilight zone of tradition and with a stage 
"far more primitive than that which is depicted in the 
Odyssey or even Genesis." Cartier's route is as well 
known as that of the steamship that sailed yesterday 
through the "Square Gulf," if the ice permitted, and 
the incidents of his first days beyond the gates of the 
first wilderness have been as accurately recorded, to 



416 THE FRENCH IN THE HEART OF AMERICA 

say the least, as are yesterday's events yonder in the 
morning's papers here. And when his story ends, there 
are not as many people in the two great valleys along 
the St. Lawrence and the Mississippi as in a good-sized 
city to-day. But none the less, as I have said, are the 
forces (fighting in and through these few representatives 
of civilization) age-old and world-important. Never 
has historian had such fascinating theme — such "epic 
theme," says Fiske — "save when Herodotus told the 
story of Greece and Persia, or when Gibbon's pages re- 
sounded with the marshalled hosts through a thousand 
years of change." And Parkman met one of what 
Lowell calls "the convincing tests of genius" in the 
choice of this subject. 

When John Fiske said at the Harvard exercises in 
memory of Parkman that he was one of the world's 
greatest historians, I subtracted something because of 
the occasion and the nearness of view. But a year 
later he is saying of Parkman's work, in a critical re- 
view: "Strong in its individuality and like to nothing 
besides, it clearly belongs, I think, among the world's 
few masterpieces of the highest rank, along with the 
works of Herodotus, Thucydides, and Gibbon." 1 

There will never be such a story to write again, for 
the frontier of forest and prairie has disappeared. It 
is now in the midst of cities where civilizations grapple 
in their smoke and turmoil. So shall we hold even 
more precious his gift and thank Heaven for "sending 
us such a scholar, such an artist, such a genius before 
it was too late to catch the fleeting light and fix it 
upon immortal canvas." 

1 Atlantic Monthly, 73 : 674; "A Century of Science and Other Essays," 
p. 264. 



FRANCIS PARKMAN 417 

Among the writings of Francis Parkman there are a 
few pages — known not even to a score of his readers, I 
suppose — which might very well be printed in summary 
of his great work — though they find no place in any 
volume — for the symbol they carry of his achievement. 
These few pages make a leaflet — a reprint of a paper 
contributed to the Botanical Bulletin in 1878 by 
"Francis Parkman, late Professor of Horticulture at 
the Bussey Institution," and entitled "The Hybridi- 
zation of Lilies." In this brief paper is related the 
story of Parkman's own attempts, extending through 
seven years, to combine certain well-established vari- 
eties of lilies, and especially two superb lilies — the 
"Speciosum" (Lancifolium) and the "Auratum," — the 
pollen of the latter being carried to the deanthered 
flowers of the former. The patient, anxious, exquisite 
care with which he carried on these experiments sug- 
gests the infinite pains with which he gathered and 
classified and sifted and weighed his historical material 
(his material of "France Speciosum" and of "France 
Auratum"). The result of his floral experiment, the 
wonderfully beautiful flower which he produced, de- 
scribed in a London horticultural magazine as the 
"grandest flowering plant yet introduced into our 
gardens," and known as the "Lilium Parkmanni," is 
suggestive of his achievement in so depicting and defin- 
ing that civilization which is symbolized by the lily, 
the fleur-de-lis, in its strange, wild, highly colored 
flowering on the prairies and by the rivers of Nouvelle 
France, as to make it for all time identified with his 
memory and name. He lived among roses of his own 
growing, through his later invalid years, in the out- 
skirts of Boston. He even wrote a book about roses. 



418 THE FRENCH IN THE HEART OF AMERICA 

But his peculiar triumph (the one flower that lingers in 
gardens carrying a memory of him) is a "magnificent" 
lily. And though he lived amid the heritages of the 
English, in the new continent, with fair mind and most 
acute and industrious, he has preserved the hybrid 
heritages of the French spirit in the American regions 
— heritages that, save for his research lighted by 
imagination, might never have blossomed in the pages 
of history. 



INDEX 



Addams, Jane, 268; "Spirit of Youth 

and the City Streets," 356. 
Aeroplanes, 208. 
Agricultural colleges, 342-345. 
Agricultural experiment stations, 

342-345- 

Agricultural extension, 342-345. 

Agricultural machinery, importance 
of, 334-341; saving effected by, 
338-340; affects size of farms, 340- 
341. 

Allouez, Claude Jean, Jesuit priest, 
37; at Ste. Marie, 48; oration at 
Ottawa council, 51-54. 

America, origin of name, 391-392. 

Andre, Louis, Jesuit priest, at Ste. 
Marie mission, 48. 

Animals, first road-makers, 174-175. 

"Aramoni," a typical western town, 
184-185. 

Aramoni River, 183. 

Architecture of Mississippi Valley, 
86-88. 

Arnold, Bion J., on future popula- 
tion of Chicago, 265. 

Art, lack of appreciation of, in Mis- 
sissippi Valley, 333. 

Artaguette, Pierre d', French officer, 
89; murdered by Chickasaws, 115. 

Arthur, Chester A., 298. 

Aubert, Thomas, navigator, may 
have discovered Gulf of St. Law- 
rence, 6. 

Aubry (Captain), expedition to re- 
lieve Fort Niagara, 117. 

Aubry, Nicolas, secular priest, lost 
in Acadian forest, 16. 

Bancroft, George, "History of the 
United States" cited, 104-105, 
119. 



Baseball, 242, 333. 

Baxter, James Phinney, historian, 
"Jacques Carrier" cited, 11, 12. 

Beaumarchais, assumed name of 
Pierre Augustin Caron, 320-321. 

Beaver, 378. 

Benton, Thomas H., senator, 
speech on a bill for the construc- 
tion of a highway to the Pacific 
cited, 174. 

Berthelot, Pierre Eugene Marcellin, 

342- 

Bessemer, Henry, inventor, 347-348; 
experiments in iron manufacture, 
348; paper before the British Asso- 
ciation, 348; invents Bessemer 
converter, 348. 

Bienville, Jean Baptiste le Moyne, 
Sieur de, 106, 108, 394; founds 
New Orleans, no. 

Big Horn Mountains, discovered by 
La Verendrye brothers, 113. 

Birkbeck, Morris, "Notes on a 
Tour in America, 18 17," cited, 

139- 
Bismarck-Schonhausen, Otto Ed- 
uard von, his definition of a state, 

3°S- 

Bison, Hennepin pictures, 61; La 
Galissonniere describes importance 
as domestic animal, 116; paths 
made by, 174; disappearance of, 
378. 

Boll-weevil, control of, 303. 

Bonnecamps, Joseph Pierre de, Jes- 
uit, his diary of Celoron's expedi- 
tion, 223; his map, 223. 

Book of Wisdom quoted, 331-33 2. 

Boone, Daniel, 133, 315. 

Boston, Massachusetts, in 1732, 
314. 



419 



420 



INDEX 



Brebeuf, Jean de, Jesuit priest, 393; 

among Hurons, 32; tortured by 

Iroquois, 32; dies, 33. 
Bressani, Francesco Gioseppe, Jesuit 

priest, 31. 
Brouage (France), birthplace of 

Champlain, 14. 
Brule, Etienne, explorer, 179, 180, 

310. 
Bryce, James, "American Common- 
wealth" cited, 138; on American 

humor, 285-286. 
Buffalo, see Bison. 
Buffalo, New York, 216. 
Burke, W., "Remarks on the Letter 

Addressed to Two Great Men" 

cited, 119. 

Cabeca de Vaca, Spanish soldier, 73. 
Cabot, John and Sebastian, naviga- 
tors, 5. 
Cadillac, Antoine de la Mothe, gov- 
ernor of Louisiana, 1 10. 
Cadmus, 216. 

Cahokia, Illinois village, 88. 
Canals, 387. 
Canals, Canadian, 214. 
Carlyle, Thomas,|388. 
Carnegie, Andrew, 235-236; his 

charities, 236. 
Cartier, Jacques, French explorer, 
309, 392; explores St. Lawrence 
River, 4-13. 
First voyage, 1534. 

Seeks a way to China, 6; re- 
turns to St. Malo, 6; ex- 
plores Gulf of St. Lawrence, 
6. 
Second voyage, 1535. 
Explores St. Lawrence River, 
6; sights Quebec, 7; at 
Hochelaga (Montreal), 7; 
builds fort at Quebec, 10; 
returns to France, II. 
Third voyage, 1 541, 12. 
Supposed fourth voyage, 1543, 

13- 
Celoron, Pierre Joseph, French ex- 



plorer, Ohio expedition, 217-224, 
317; addresses Indians, 223-224. 
Champlain, Samuel, explorations, 
14-22, 392; born at Brouage, 14; 
voyage to West Indies, 1 599-1601, 
15; explores St. Lawrence, 1603, 
15; explores Atlantic coast, 1604, 
16, 311; settles in Acadia, 1604, 
16; in Paris, 1607-1608, 20; voyage 
of 1608, 20; founds Quebec, 20; 
first expedition against Iroquois, 
1609, 20; discovers Lake Cham- 
plain, 1609, 20; founds Montreal, 
161 1, 21; surrenders to English, 
1629, 22; re-establishes his colony, 
1633, 22; hears of Mississippi 
River from Nicolet, 24; predicts 
Panama Canal, 15, 97; dies, 1635, 
22. 

Charlevoix, Pierre Francois Xavier, 

254- 

Chartres, Fort, 88; importance of, 
115; fortified by Macarty, 116; 
refuses to surrender to English, 
117; St. Ange resumes command, 
130; Captain Pittman on, 118; 
Mississippi River inundates, 118. 

Chateaubriand, Francois Auguste, 
on Mississippi Valley, 84-85, 175- 
176; "Travels in America and 
Italy" cited, 85, 156; "Atala" 
cited, 175-176. 

Chautauqua Assembly, 332. 

Chesterton, Gilbert K., on democ- 
racy, 304; his "Heretics" quoted, 

304, 357, 4°°- 
Chicago, 260; early history, 262-263; 
school lands, 263; city plan, 264- 
268; future population, 264-265; 
World's Columbian Exposition, 
265-266; municipal enterprises, 
265; rapid growth, 266; Harriet 
Martineau on, 266; civic spirit, 
267; lake front, 268; traction sys- 
tem, 268; park system, 268; ar- 
rangement of streets, 268; civic 
centres, 268; H. G. Wells on, 337; 
schools, 363. 



INDEX 



421 



Chicago drainage canal, 212; see also 
Lakes-to-gulf waterway. 

Chicago railroad strike, 1894, 351. 

Chickasaw Indians, murder d'Arta- 
guette, 115. 

Child labor, 303. 

Chimney-sweeping, regulation of, in 
New France, 293. 

Chiropody, regulation of, 303. 

Choiseul, Etienne-Francois, Due de, 
119; cedes Louisiana to England 
and Spain, 121, 157. 

Cities, suburbanization of, 191; of 
Mississippi Valley, 216-269; m i- 
gration to, 190-193; regulation of, 
in New France, 293; social condi- 
tion, Whitman on, 240; improve- 
ment of, 243-245 ; growth of, 244. 

City planning, Pittsburgh, 237-239; 
Chicago, 264-268. 

Civil service, growth of, 303-304. 

Clark, Champ, congressman, 188. 

Clark, Captain George Rogers, 157. 

Coal lands, withdrawn from private 
entry, 386. 

Coal resources of Mississippi Valley, 
exhaustion, 375; conservation of, 
380. 

Commons, John R., "Wage Earners 
of Pittsburg" cited, 232-233. 

Confederation of English colonies, 
caused by French War, 1 19-120, 
396. 

Conservation, 371-390, 399; public 
interest in, 383; National Conser- 
vation Commission, 384; National 
Conservation Congress, 385; dec- 
laration of principles, 386. 

Constitutional Convention, 1787, 
movement for, indirectly started 
by Washington, 326. 

Conti, Prince de, La Salle has inter- 
view with, 103. 

Corn, production of, in Mississippi 
Valley, 339. 

"Cosmographia; Introductio," 1507, 

39i- 
Cotton, 339. 



Country life, 34S"347- 
Country life commission, 346. 
County agricultural agents, 343- 

345- 

Coureurs de bois, 170-180; see also 
Nicolas Perrot, Etienne Brule, 
Jean Nicollet, Daniel du Lhut. 

Cowboys, Paul Fountain on, 84. 

Crevecceur, Fort, built by La Salle, 
64, 76; destroyed by Iroquois, 66. 

Crickets, control of, 303. 

Croly, Herbert, "Promise of Amer- 
ican Life" quoted, 279. 

Crozat, Antoine, Louisiana given 
to, iio-iii. 

Cutler, Rev. Manasseh, 161. 

Dablon, Claude, Jesuit priest, 37, 
249; at Ste. Marie, 48-49. 

Dauphin Island, no. 

Dayton Flood Commission, 95. 

Deforestation, 95. 

Democracy, G. K. Chesterton on, 
304. 

Democracy of Mississippi Valley, 
291-308, 398; result of land policy, 
295. 

Democratic government, made pos- 
sible by railroads, 193-194. 

Denatured alcohol, 346. 

Dentistry, regulation of, 303. 

Denys, Jean, French navigator, may 
have entered Gulf of St. Law- 
rence, 6. 

De Quincey, Thomas, "Flight of a 
Tartar Tribe" cited, 135, 147-148. 

De Soto, Fernando, Spanish ex- 
plorer, 68, 71, 73. 

De Tocqueville, see Tocqueville. 

Detroit, 130, 216. 

Detroit River, commerce, 207. 

Dinwiddie, Robert, governor of Vir- 
ginia, sends Washington to Fort 
Le Bceuf, 225. 

Direct primary, 194. 

D'Olbeau, Jean, see Olbeau, Jean d\ 

Dollier du Casson, Francois, "His- 
toire du Montreal" cited, 9. 



422 



INDEX 



Donnacona, Indian chief, 7; taken 
to France, 11; presented to King 
Francis, 11; dies, II. 

Druilletes, Gabriel, Jesuit priest, at 
Boston, 37; at Ste. Marie, 48. 

Dry farming, 342-345. 

Du Lhut, Daniel Greysolon, ex- 
plorer, 181, 209. 

Duluth, Minn., 181; commerce, 209. 

Du Plessis, Pacificus, Recollet 
brother, 26. 

Duquesne, Fort, 242; built, 225. 

Du Tisne, Claude Charles, explores 
Missouri River, 113. 

Eads, General James Buchanan, en- 
gineer, 94. 

Education, provisions of Northwest 
Ordinance, 160; land grants for, 
160-164; m Mississippi Valley, 
162-167, 354-370, 398-399; hi 
New York City, 241 ; in Iowa, 356- 
357; function of, in democracy, 
354-369; social value of, 368-370; 
origin of American system, 370; 
see also Schools, Universities. 

Eliot, Charles W., 384. 

Emancipation Proclamation, 277. 

Embalming, 303. 

Employers' liability, 303. 

English colonists, covet western 
country, 60, 106, 109; united by 
French War, 1 19-120; indepen- 
dence of, made possible by French, 
I 19-120. 

Epileptics, care of, 303 . 

Erie, Lake, discovered by Joliet, 57. 

Erie, Pa., 216, 226. 

Erie Canal, 213-214; its influence on 
western society, 146. 

Espiritu Santo, Rio del, see Mobile 
River. 

Evans, George Henry, agitation for 
land reform, 169. 

Farm demonstrators, 344-345. 
Farmers' institutes, 345. 



Farmers of Mississippi Valley, 338- 
341- 

Farms of Mississippi Valley, 338- 
341; machinery on, 338-340; size 
of, 340; crops, 341. 

Finley, John, explores Kentucky, 
132-133. 

Fire control, 303. 

Fish, predatory, 303. 

Fiske, John, "New France and New 
England" cited, 104; on Parkman, 
416. 

Floods, 92-95, 379. 

Forest, aboriginal, Chateaubriand 
describes, 175-176, 178; influence 
on man, 179. 

Forest fires, 389. 

Forest legislation, 387. 

Forest parks, 387. 

Forest reserves, 167, 168, 387. 

Forests, exhaustion, 377; conserva- 
tion, 381-382. 

Fountain, Paul, "Great Deserts and 
Forests of North America" quoted, 
83-84. 

Franklin, Benjamin, 321; advises ac- 
quisition of New France, 120. 

Free-Soil party, 168. 

French and Indian War, 117-119, 

129, 3I7-3 20 - 

French Canadians, 196, 371, 394. 

French settlers in Louisiana, 130- 
131; Continental Congress allots 
land to, 130; intermarry with In- 
dians, 131. 

Frontenac, orders exploration of 
Mississippi River, 38. 

Frontiersmen, English, 132-149, 314. 

Fulton, Robert, 192. 

Gale, Zona, 250-252; her "Friend- 
ship Village," 250-251; on village 
improvement, 252; "Friendship 
Village Love Stories" quoted, 
252. 

Galesburg, 111., 307. 

Game laws, 303. 

Garay, Francisco de, 73. 



INDEX 



423 



Garfield, James G., 298. 

Garland, Hamlin, "Silent Missis- 
sippi" quoted, 86; on Mississippi 
River, 85-87. 

Gamier, Charles, Jesuit, 31, 393; 
tortured to death by Iroquois, 33. 

Gary, Indiana, 349. 

George III, king of England, for- 
bids colonization of western coun- 
try, 128. 

Gorges, Sir Ferdinando, explorer, 
152. 

Gospel lands, 161. 

Grain, commerce in, on Great Lakes, 
210. 

Grant, Ulysses S., 298. 

Grasshoppers, control of, 303. 

Great Lakes, extent, 206; commerce, 
54, 195-215; tonnage, 207; har- 
bor improvement, 207. 

Greeley, Horace, journalist, on land 
policy, 171. 

Griffin, ship, 393; built by La Salle, 
56, 62, 198-203; launched, 203; 
on Lake St. Clair, 204; in Green 
Bay, 205; lost, 62, 205-206, 210. 

Groseilliers, Medard Chouart, Sieur 
de, 394; explores northern Mis- 
sissippi River with Radisson, 26, 
249. 

Guadeloupe, cession of, to England, 
instead of New France, proposed, 
120. 

Gulf ports, increasing importance of, 
187. 

Gulf Stream, 79. 

Harbor improvement, Great Lakes, 

207; in France, 207. 
Harrison, Benjamin, 298. 
Hart, Albert B., "Future of the 

Mississippi Valley" cited, 80. 
Harvester, invented by McCormick, 

334-336; importance of, 336-341; 

manufacture of, at Chicago, 336- 

337- 
Hayes, Rutherford B., 298. 
Hazing, 303. 



Hennepin, Louis, Recollet friar, 394; 
accompanies La Salle's expedition, 
198-205, 208; at Fort Frontenac, 
199; embarks for Niagara River, 
199; describes Niagara Falls, 61, 
200; explores upper Mississippi, 
64-65; captured by Sioux, 65. 

Highway grants, 167. 

Hill, James J., "Highways of Prog- 
ress" cited, 182, 185; on impor- 
tance of railroad in development 
of Mississippi Valley, 182-185. 

Homestead grants, 167, 168. 

Homestead movement, social as- 
pects, 168-173; ends slavery in 
United States, 170; exhausts pub- 
lic domain, 170; effects settlement 
of west, 172. 

Homogeneity, social, railroad pro- 
motes, 193. 

Horse-raising, regulation of, in New 
France, 293. 

Hosmer, James K., " Short History of 
the Mississippi Valley" cited, 105. 

Huguenots, desire to settle in Loui- 
siana, 107-108, 220. 

Hulbert, Archer Butler, 313; "His- 
toric Highways" cited, 177. 

Humor, American, 285-286. 

Huron, Lake, discovered by Etienne 
Brule, 1615, 21. 

Iberville, Pierre le Moyne, Sieur d', 
394; colonizes Louisiana, 106-109. 

Idiots, care of, 303. 

Illinois country, described by Mar- 
quette, 42-43; La Salle plans col- 
ony in, 100-101; prosperity of, 

."S.- 
Illinois Indians, invite Marquette 

to preach among them, 38; wel- 
come Marquette and Joliet, 41. 

Illinois River, 76. 

Immigration, European, to Missis- 
sippi Valley, 146-147. 

Indian grants, 167. 

Indian reservations, 167. 

Indian trails, 174. 



424 



INDEX 



Indians, government treatment of, 
372. 

Initiative and referendum, 194. 

Insane, care of, 303. 

Iowa, school lands, 164; education 
in, 35&-357- 

Iron, commerce in, on Great Lakes, 
209; Bessemer process of manufac- 
ture, 347-348. 

Iron and steel industry, 347-350; 
in Pittsburgh, 230-234; steel-work- 
ers, 233-235. 

Iron resources of Mississippi Valley, 
exhaustion of, 376-377; conser- 
vation of, 381. 

Iroquois, Champlain's expedition 
against, 1609, 20; raid Illinois 
country, 66. 

Isle aux Galets, 395. 

Jackson, Andrew, 299. 

Jamay, Denis, Recollet friar, 26. 

James, Henry, 400. 

James, William, "Moral Equivalent 
of War" cited, 390. 

Jason, 197. 

"Jesuit Relations," 29-30; value as 
historical records, 30; conditions 
under which written, 30; Thwaites 
cited on characteristics of, 30. 

Jesuits, in New France, 27-45. 

Jogues, Isaac, Jesuit priest, 310, 393; 
captured by Iroquois, 34; at Lake 
George, 34; tortured, 34; escapes 
to Fort Orange, 35; in France, 36; 
granted dispensation by Pope 
Urban VIII, 36-37; tortured to 
death by Iroquois, 37. 

Johnson, Andrew, on public lands, 
153—154, 172; speech on home- 
stead bill cited, 154. 

Joliet, Louis, explorer, explores Mis- 
sissippi River with Marquette, 38- 
44, 73~74> 249; at Illinois village, 
41; reaches mouth of Arkansas 
River, 42; on Illinois River, 42; 
announces discovery of Mississippi 
River to Frontenac, 43; loses rec- 



ords in Lachine Rapids, 43 ; at Ste. 
Marie, 49; proposes lakes-to-gulf 
waterway, 96, 260; on Illinois 
country, 261-262; memorial cross 
erected to memory of, 259. 

Jonas, ship, voyages to Acadia, 16. 

Joutel, Henri, 109. 

Juchereau de St. Denis, Louis, ex- 
plores Red River, 113. 

Jumonville, Joseph Coulon, Sieur de, 
killed in battle near Fort Du- 
quesne, 117, 227. 

Kaskaskia, 89. 

Kelly, William, inventor, 347. 

Kentucky, described, 132-133; mi- 
gration to, 139. 

Kindergarten, 355. 

Knights of the Golden Horseshoe, 
131-132. 

Knox College, 307. 

Lachine Rapids, Cartier at, 7; Joliet 
loses records at, 43. 

La Galissonniere, Rolland-Michel 
Barron, Comte de, petition for aid 
for Illinois colony, 116; sends 
Celoron to take repossession of 
Ohio country, 218-224. 

La Harpe, Bernard de, 394; explores 
Red River, 113; explores Missouri 
River, 113. 

Lake steamers, 207-208. 

Lakes-to-gulf waterway, 96, 212- 
213, 260-261. 

Lalemant, Gabriel, Jesuit, tortured 
to death by Iroquois, 33. 

Land claims, 167. 

Land offices, 159. 

La Salle, Robert Rene Cavelier, Sieur 
de, 393; explorations of, 55-69; at 
St. Sulpice, 56; explores Lake On- 
tario, 1669, 57; meets Joliet, 57; 
may have explored Ohio, 57-58; in 
Paris, 1674, 59; builds Fort Fron- 
tenac, 59; in Paris, 1677, 59-60; 
describes western country, 59-60; 
receives authority to explore west, 



INDEX 



425 



60-61; sails from Rochelle, 61; on 
Great Lakes, 1678, 1679, 198- 
205; builds Griffin, 56, 62, 198-203 ; 
returns to Fort Frontenac, 203; on 
Lake Michigan, 63 ; at St. Joseph- 
Kankakee portage, 63, 253; at Illi- 
nois village, 64; builds Fort Creve- 
coeur, 64; begins building vessel 
for Mississippi River, 64; returns 
on foot to Fort Frontenac, 65; re- 
turns to Illinois country, 66; finds 
Tonty, 66; forms Indian confed- 
eracy, 67; explores Mississippi, 67- 
69, 74; reaches mouth of Missis- 
sippi, 67-69; takes possession of 
Louisiana for Louis XIV, 68; re- 
turn journey up Mississippi River, 
99-101; at Fort St. Louis, 101; his 
plans opposed, 101; in Paris, 1684, 
103 ; has interview with Louis XIV, 
103; expedition to mouth of Mis- 
sissippi, 103-104; lands in Texas, 
104; searches for Mississippi River, 
104; dies March, 1687, 104; trib- 
utes to, 104-105; Tonty on, 104; 
Parkman on, 104, 105; Fiske on, 
104; Bancroft on, 104-105; Hos- 
mer on, 105. 

Lavoisier, Antoine Laurent, chemist, 
342. 

Law, John, 85; forms Mississippi 
Company, IH-II2. 

Le Boeuf, Fort, Washington's expe- 
dition to, 225-227, 317. 

Le Caron, Joseph, Recollet friar, 26, 
393; quoted on hardship of wil- 
derness travel, 26-27. 

Le Clercq, Christian, "First Estab- 
lishment of the Faith in New 
France" cited, 27. 

Leighton, Marshall Ora, geologist, 95. 

Leisure, importance of, 332. 

Le Jeune, Paul, Jesuit priest, studies 
Algonquin language, 28. 

Lescarbot, Marc, at Port Royal, 17; 
his appeal to France, 18; his "His- 
toire de la Nouvelle France" cited, 
17, 19- 



Le Sueur, Pierre Charles, explorer, 
394; explores source of Mississippi, 
11$. 

Lincoln, Abraham, 270-290; signs 
homestead law, 168; Mississippi 
voyage of, 272, 287; parentage, 
273; in Illinois, 273; education, 
274-279; his democracy, 274-275, 
278; literary knowledge, 275; legal 
knowledge, 275-276; his devotion 
to the Constitution, 277; Eman- 
cipation Proclamation, 277; his 
neigh borliness, 278; intellectual 
qualities, 279; Montalembert on, 
280; literary style, 281; Cooper 
Union speech, 281, 284; Douglas 
debate, 281; Gettysburg speech, 
281-283; letter to Mrs. Bixby, 
283-284; speech at Peoria, 285; 
the "lost" speech, 285; his sense 
of humor, 285-287; attitude on 
slavery, 287; his greatness, 288- 
289. 

Lincoln, Thomas, 273-274. 

Louis XIV, king of France, de- 
scribed to Indians by Allouez, 51- 
54; forbids further exploration of 
Mississippi, 101-102; refuses per- 
mission to Huguenots to settle in 
Louisiana, 108, 219-220; abso- 
lutism of, 292-294. 

Louisiana, 396; La Salle plans French 
colony in, 100-102; Iberville 
founds colony, 106-109; popula- 
tion, 1712, no; under Crozat, 
iio-in; Mississippi Company 
formed to colonize, 111-112; east- 
tern part of, ceded to England, 
120; western part ceded to Spain, 
1 20-1 21; recovery of, urged by 
Talleyrand, 121-122; Napoleon 
obtains cession of, 122; ceded 
by Napoleon to United States, 
122-125; importance of, not ap- 
preciated by Americans, 151- 

153; 

Louisiana purchase, 123-125, 397; 
importance not appreciated at 



426 



INDEX 



time of purchase, 151—153; cost of 
considered excessive, 153. 

Lumber, commerce in, on Great 
Lakes, 209. 

Lussiere, La Motte de, French ex- 
plorer, 199. 

Macarty, Chevalier de, rebuilds 

Fort Chartres, 116. 
McCormick, Cyrus Hall, inventor, 

invents the harvester, 334-336; 

given cross of Legion of Honor by 

Napoleon III, 335; honored by 

French Academy of Science, 336. 
McKinley, William, 298. 
McMaster, J. B., "History of the 

People of the United States" 

cited, 152-153. 
Maeterlinck, Maurice, 330. 
Maisonneuve, Paul de Chomedey, 

founds Montreal, 8, 393. 
Makarty, see Macarty. 
Mallet, Paul, explores New Mexico, 

113- 
Mallet, Pierre, explores New Mex- 
ico, 113. 
Mance, Jeanne, 10. 
Maps — 

Marquette's map of Mississippi 

exploration, 44, 73. 
Joliet's map of Mississippi ex- 
ploration lost, 44. 
Waldseemuller's, 1507, 1 5 13, 73. 
Garay's map, 73. 
Bonnecamps map of Celoron's 
expedition, 223. 
Margry, Pierre, historian, "Decou- 
vertes et etablissements des Fran- 
cais" cited, 97, IOI, 109. 
Marquette, Jacques, Jesuit priest, 
393; at Pointe de St. Esprit, 37; at 
Point St. Ignace, 38; explores Mis- 
sissippi River with Joliet, 38-44, 
73-74, 249; at Illinois village, 41; 
reaches mouth of Arkansas River, 
42; on Illinois River, 42; second 
expedition to Illinois Indians, 44; 
dies at Chicago portage, 44, 76, 
258; tradition of, preserved among 



Illinois Indians, 44-45; brings 
Ottawas and Hurons to convoca- 
tion at Ste. Marie, 49; memorial 
cross erected to memory of, 259. 

Mayflower descendants, 316. 

Membre, Zenobius, Recollet friar, 
100, 109. 

Menard, Rene, Jesuit priest, lost in 
Wisconsin forests, 37. 

Michigan, Lake, Nicolet explores, 
25; Joliet and Marquette on, 38; 
La Salle on, 63. 

Military grants, 167. 

Mineral land grants, 167; with- 
drawn from private entry, 386. 

Mississippi bubble, see Mississippi 
Company. 

Mississippi Company, 85, m-112. 

Mississippi River, 70-98; discovered 
by Marquette and Joliet, 41; 
named Riviere de la Conception, 
41; named La Buade, 41; La Salle 
on, 67-69; Indian knowledge of, 
70-71; French appreciation of, 75, 
85; lack of appreciation by Amer- 
icans, 86; length, 77; crookedness, 
77; width, 77; discharge, 77-78; 
navigable length, 78; sediment, 78; 
water-power, 78; stages, 78; drain- 
age basin, 78; sources explored by 
Le Sueur, 113; by Nicollet, 81-83; 
mouth of, described by Mrs. Trol- 
lope, 83; Hamlin Garland on, 85- 
87; steamboat traffic on, 90; shift- 
ing channel of, 91, 93; difficulty of 
navigation, 91; control of floods, 
92, 94; storage reservoirs, 95, 96; 
floods, 93; loss by floods, 93; jet- 
ties on, 94; hydro-electric develop- 
ment, 95-96. 

Mississippi Valley, area, 78, 150; 
temperature, 79; rainfall, 79; agri- 
cultural resources, 80, 189; min- 
eral wealth, 80; future population, 
80; described by De Tocqueville, 
81; survivals of French in, 88-89; 
Germans plan settlement in, 92; 
economic development, 189, 329- 
353; American settlement of, 138- 



INDEX 



427 



146; democratic society of, 291- 
308, 399; result of land policy, 295; 
early individualism of, 297; politi- 
cal importance of, 297-298; social 
conditionson, 300-301 ; intellectual 
life, 301; social differentiation 
brought by wealth, 301; govern- 
ment regulations in, 301-305; con- 
structive individualism of, 302 
supposed lack of idealism in, 306 
popular esteem for labor, 306 
social homogeneity in, 306-308 
neighborliness in, 308; public spirit 
°f> 3335 virility of its civilization, 
400. 

Missouri River, explored by La 
Harpe and Du Tisne, 113. 

Mobile River, 73. 

Montesquieu, Baron de la Brede, et 
de, 333. 

Montreal, Cartier at, 7-8; aban- 
doned by Cartier, 13; Champlain 
at, 8; Maisonneuve at, 8, 393. 

Monts, Pierre du Guast, Comte de, 

Moscoso, Alvarado de, Spanish ex- 
plorer, 73. 
Mt. Washington, 313. 

Narvaez, Pamfilo de, Spanish ex- 
plorer, 5, 73. 

National Conservation Commission, 
384. 

National Conservation Congress, 
385; declaration of principles, 386. 

National Waterways Commission, 95. 

Nationalism, result of railroad de- 
velopment, 187, 188. 

Natural gas, 375-376; conservation 
of, 380-381. 

Natural resources, waste of, in Mis- 
sissippi Valley, 189-190; rapid ex- 
ploitation of, 337-341; movements 
for conservation of, 371-390. 

New Amsterdam, 35-36. 

New England, how different from 
New France, 22, 49, 71-72; char- 
acter of inhabitants, 314-316; 
coast of, explored by French, 309- 



313; westward expansion of, 142- 

143- 

New France, 392-397; Parkman de- 
scribes, 3 ; different from New Eng- 
land, 22, 49, 72; paternalism of 
government, 292-294; seigniories 
of, 371. 

New Orleans, 216; founded, no; im- 
portance of, to west, 152. 

New Orleans, battle of, 94. 

New York City, 240, 314. 

Niagara, Fort, La Salle builds, 61; 
Aubry's expedition to relieve, 117. 

Niagara Falls, described by Henne- 
pin,6l,200; water-power, 200-202. 

Nicolet, Jean, French explorer, 23, 
180; tells Champlain of Mississippi 
River, 24; appointed commis- 
sioner and interpreter at Three 
Rivers, 24; at Fox-Wisconsin port- 
age, 25. 

Nicollet, Jean Nicholas, explores 
sources of Mississippi, 81-83. 

Northwest Ordinance, 154, 160-161; 
Daniel Webster on, 160; provi- 
sions concerning education, 160. 

Notre Dame des Anges, 370, 393. 

Noue, Anne de, Jesuit priest, 28. 

Nouvelles Chartres, 89. 

Ohio, migration to, 138. 

Ohio Land Company, 221, 225. 

Ohio River, La Salle may have ex- 
plored, 57-58; control of floods, 
95; Celoron's expedition, 217-224. 

Oklahoma, 372-374; constitution, 
373; school lands, 373. 

Olbeau, Jean d', Recollet missionary, 
26. 

Old-age pensions, 304. 

Olier, Jean Jacques, priest, 127. 

Olmstead, F. L., report on Pitts- 
burgh city plan, 237-239. 

Ontario, Lake, explored by La Salle, 

57- 
"Order of Good Times," at Port 
Royal, 16. 

Panama Canal, prophesied by Cham- 
plain, 15, 97. 



428 



INDEX 



Parasites, useful, 303. 

Paris, arms, 197; centre of explora- 
tion of New France, 126-129. 

Parkman, Francis, 401-418; his auto- 
biography, 402; in Paris, 402; sees 
Margry, 403 ; interest in the woods, 
403 ; plans for historical work, 404; 
visits to historic sites, 404; in 
Canadian forests, 404; breakdown 
of his health, 405; visits Rocky 
Mountains, 405; among Ogallala 
Indians, 405; adverse conditions 
under which he worked, 405-408; 
weakness of sight, 406; progress of 
historical work, 407; visits to 
Europe, 407; interest in Civil War, 
407; his library, 409; method of 
historical work, 409-410; his note- 
books, 410, 414; vividness of his 
style, 412; Barrett Wendell on, 
412; popular appeal of his works, 
413; moral insight, 413; his phil- 
osophical generalization, 414; 
scope of his work, 415; his choice 
of a subject, 416; one of the 
world's greatest historians, 416; 
John Fiske on, 416; his "Hybridi- 
zation of Lilies," 417; rose cul- 
ture, 417; "Pioneers of France in 
the New World" cited, 3; "La 
Salle" cited, 40, 69, 101, 102, 104, 
105, 106, 181; "Montcalm and 
Wolfe" cited, 220. 

Penn, William, 152. 

Pennsylvania, Scotch-Irish in, 142. 

Peoria, Illinois, 216. 

Perrot, Nicholas, French explorer, 
among Winnebagoes, 46-54; trans- 
lates Lusson's proclamation, 53. 

Peter the Great, king of Russia, 108. 

Petite Hermine, ship, remains of, at 
St. Malo, 11. 

Petroleum, 352, 375; Indians' knowl- 
edge of, 375-376; conservation of, 
380. 

Pineda, Alonzo Alvarez de, Spanish 
explorer, 73. 

Pioneers, see Frontiersmen. 

Pitt, Fort, 242. 



Pittman, Captain Philip, on Fort 
Chartres, 118. 

Pittsburgh, 216; tonnage, 229; iron 
and steel industry, 217-218, 230- 
234; steel workers, 233-235; im- 
provement, 236; city plan, 237- 

239- 
Pittsburgh Civic Commission, 237- 

239- 

Pittsburgh Flood Commission, 95. 
Plant culture under glass, 303. 
Play, importance of, 356. 
Poetry, lack of appreciation of, in 

Mississippi Valley, 333. 
Point St. Ignace, Jesuit mission, 38. 
Pointe de St. Esprit, Jesuit mission, 

37- 

Ponce de Leon, Juan, Spanish ex- 
plorer, explores Florida, 5. 

Pontiac, Ottawa chief, ally of French 
against English, 117-118. 

Population, rural, 191; urban, 191. 

Port Royal, Acadia, 17, 19. 

Portage, Wisconsin, 250; Zona Gale 
on, 250-252. 

Portage paths, 246-257; French 
names of, 248; Chicago -Des 
Plaines, 76, 256-262; Marquette 
dies at, 44; Fox-Wisconsin, 76, 
248-252; Nicolet at, 25; Maumee- 
Wabash, 256; St. Joseph-Kanka- 
kee, 75, 252-256; LaSalle at, 63. 

Prairie du Rocher, Illinois, 88, 1 18. 

Prairie-schooners, 138, 147. 

Prairies, Paul Fountain on, 84. 

Presque Isle, Fort, 226. 

Professional schools, 364. 

Proportional representation, 194. 

Ptolemy, 391. 

Public lands, 150-173; Andrew John- 
son on, 153-154; settlement of, 
154; claims of States to, sur- 
rendered to Continental Congress, 
155; sold to pay Revolutionary 
debt, 157-158; sale of, to Ohio 
Company, 1 59-161; lands re- 
served for education, 160; grants 
to schools, 160-168; Iowa, 164; 
Minnesota, 365-366; grants for 



INDEX 



429 



religion, 161; democracy result of 
government's policy, 295; opening 
of last reservations, 372-373. 

Quincy, Josiah, 186; speech on the 
bill to admit Orleans Territory 
cited, 186. 

Race segregation in schools, 359. 

Radisson, Pierre Esprit, French ex- 
plorer, 394; Radisson and Groseil- 
liers explore the northern Missis- 
sippi River, 26, 249. 

Railroad land grants, 167, 170. 

Railroads, evolution of, in America, 
181-187; the "creator of cities," 
182; J. J. Hill on, 182-183, 185; in 
Mississippi Valley, 80, 183-192; 
economic importance of, 189; land 
grants to, 167, 170; prevent seces- 
sion of West, 145, 185-189. 

Raymbault, Charles, Jesuit priest, 34. 

Reclamation land grants, 167. 

Reclamation of arid lands, 387. 

Recollet friars in New France, 21, 
26-27. 

Red River, explored by La Harpe 
and Juchereau, 113. 

Referendum, 194. 

Rennie, George, 348. 

Reservoir, rights of way, 167. 

Rivers, irregular flow of, 379. 

Roads, evolution of, 174-179. 

Roberval, Jean Francois de la Ro- 
que, Sieur de, commissioned Lord 
of Norembega, 12. 

Rochambeau, Jean Baptiste Dona- 
tien de Vimeur, 321. 

Rocky Mountains, may have been 
discovered by the Mallet brothers, 
113; discovered by Chevalier de la 
Verendrye, 113-114. 

Rodents, control of, 303. 

Roosevelt, Nicholas, builds first 
steamboat on Ohio, 96; purchases 
coal-mines, 96. 

Roosevelt, Theodore, 298; predicts 
lakes-to-gulf waterway, 96-97. 

Rural population, decrease of, 191. 



St. Ange de Belle Rive, Louis, 
French officer, surrenders Fort 
Chartres to English, 118; resumes 
command, 130. 

St. Clair (Lake), (Sainte Claire), 
204. 

St. Die, France, 391. 

St. Joseph, Michigan, 217. 

St. Lawrence River, discovered by 
Cartier, 4, 6-8; Cartier describes, 
8; explored by Champlain, 15. 

St. Louis, Fort, 76; fortified by La 
Salle, 100; Franco-Indian colony 
at, 101. 

St. Louis, Missouri, 87, 216; kinder- 
gartens, 355. 

St. Lusson, Simon Francois Dau- 
mont, Sieur de, French officer, at 
Indian convocation at St. Marie, 
48; takes possession of northwest, 

St. Malo, France, 5. 

St. Marie, Indian convocation at, 

47-55- 

St. Mary's College, Notre Dame, 
Indiana, 256. 

St. Petersburg, Russia, 108. 

St. Pierre, Legardeur de, refuses 
Washington's demand for surren- 
der of Fort Le Bceuf, 317-318. 

Sainte-Beuve, Charles Augustin, 
"Nouveaux Lundis" quoted, 408. 

Sangamon River, 270. 

Santa Fe, expedition of the Mallet 
brothers to, 113. 

Sault Ste. Marie, canal, 211; com- 
merce of, 54. 

Scandinavians in Mississippi Valley, 
92. 

Scholarship, lack of appreciation of, 
in Mississippi Valley, 333. 

Schoolhouses, log, 354. 

School-teachers, 354-355; number, 
360; salary, 360; social value of, 
360-361. 

Schools, elementary, 355-362; equip- 
ment of modern schools, 355; cur- 
riculum, 356; evolution of system, 



43Q 



INDEX 



356-359; significance of, 357; func- 
tion of, in a democracy, 357-359; 
as instrument of social homo- 
geneity, 359-362; flag salute in, 
361. 

Schools, secondary, in Mississippi 
Valley, 362-363. 

Schools, see also Education. 

Scotch-Irish pioneers, in Mississippi 
Valley, 141-142. 

Scurvy, Cartier's men die of, 11; 
cure for, learned from Indians, 11; 
in Acadia, 16. 

Secession of west threatened, 145. 

Seigniories, of St. Lawrence Valley, 

371. 
Seven Years' War, see French and 

Indian War. 
Shipping, on Great Lakes, 207. 
Sioux Indians, 37, 38. 
Skilligallee, 395. 

Slavery, Lincoln's attitude on, 287. 
Social legislation, 302-304. 
Socrates, 288-289. 
Soil, erosion, 377; exhaustion, 377- 

378; conservation, 382. 
Soil surveys, 343-345. 
South Bend, Indiana, 253-256; 

wagon factory, 255; plough fac- 
tory, 255; sewing-machine factory, 

255; toy factory, 255. 
Spain, western part of Louisiana 

ceded to, 121; returned to France, 

122. 
Spotswood, Alexander, governor of 

Virginia, western expedition of, 

131-132. 
Storage reservoirs, 95. 
Swamp land grants, 167. 

Taft, William H., 188, 298. 

Talleyrand-Perigord, Charles Mau- 
rice de, Prince de Benevent, urges 
recovery of western Louisiana, 

X2I-I22. 

Talon, Jean Baptiste, intendant, 38. 
Teachers' pensions, 236. 
Tennessee, migration to, 139. 
Texas, migration to, 139. 



Thevenot, "Recueil de Voyages," 
1682, 257. 

Timber and stone grants, 167, 168. 

Timber-culture grants, 167. 

Titanium, use of, in steel manufac- 
ture, 350. 

Tocqueville, Alexis de, "Democracy 
in America" cited, 81, 134, 394. 

Tonawanda, New York, 209. 

Tonty, Henri de, French explorer. 
61, 109, 199, 394; at Fort Creve- 
cceur, 65; attacked by Iroquois, 
66; found by La Salle, 66; an- 
nounces discovery of mouth of 
Mississippi River, 100; letter from, 
to La Salle, 107. 

Towns of Mississippi Valley, 184. 

Trade-schools, 303. 

Traders, English, in western coun- 
try, 132. 

Trappers, English, in western coun- 
try, 132. 

Treaty of Paris, 1763, 119. 

Treaty of Paris, 1783, 321. 

Trollope, Mrs. T. A., "Domestic 
Manners of the Americans" cited, 
83; on mouth of Mississippi River, 

S3- 

Tuberculosis, control of, 303. 

Turner, Frederic Jackson, 250; "Sig- 
nificance of the Mississippi Valley 
in American History" cited, 137, 
295; "Rise of the New West" 
cited, 139. 

Twain, Mark, 90-92; "Life on the 
Mississippi" cited, 74, 77, 78, go- 
al- 

United States, debt to France, 120, 
392-400. 

Universities, of Mississippi Valley, 
364-368. 

University of Illinois, 366. 

University of Iowa, 366. 

University of Michigan, 364. 

University of Minnesota, 365; pub- 
lic lands granted to, 365-366. 

University of Notre Dame, 256. 

University of Texas, 366. 



INDEX 



431 



University of Wisconsin, 364-365. 
Urban population, see Cities. 

Van Hise, Charles R., 388; his "Con- 
servation of Natural Resources" 
quoted, 374~3 8 9- 

Verendrye, Pierre Gaultier de Va- 
renne de la, French explorer, 394, 
411-412; western explorations of, 

II3-IH- 

Verendrye, Pierre, Chevalier de la, 
394, 411-412; expedition to Rocky 
Mountains, 113-114; discovers 
Big Horn Mountains and Wind 
River Range, 113-114. 

Verrazano, Giovanni da, Italian nav- 
igator, explores east coast of Amer- 
ica, 5, 310; discovers White Moun- 
tains, 5, 3 10. _ 

Vespucci, Amerigo, 391. 

Vignau, Nicolas de, deceives Cham- 
plain as to a western waterway, 
21. 

Villiers, Coulon de, goes to avenge 
death of Jumonville, 228, 319-320. 

Villiers, Neyon de, French officer, 
117. 

Vimont, Barth61emy, Jesuit priest, 
at Montreal, 9. 

Vincennes, Indiana, 130. 

Virginia, interest in western country, 
132. 

Virginia-Indian Company, 132. 

Voltaire, "French in America" cited, 
225. 

War of Independence, rendered pos- 
sible by French, 119. 

Washington, George, 396-397; 
youth, 3 14; officer of Virginia mi- 
litia, 314; expedition against 
French in Ohio country, 117, 225- 
228, 317-320; at Fort Le Boeuf, 
317-319; attacks French under 
Jumonville, 319; defeated at Fort 
Necessity, 320; western trip of, 
188, 322-328; interest in develop- 
ment of country, 322-327; diary of 
western trip, 323-324; letter to 



Chastellux, 325; on importance of 
Potomac canal, 325; advocates for- 
mation of new States in west, 326; 
at Maryland Assembly in interest 
of western development, 326; in- 
directly instrumental in calling 
Constitutional Convention, 326; 
his greatness, 327-328. 

Water-power development, 382; Ni- 
agara Falls, 200-202, 382. 

Waterways, 387. 

Webster, Daniel, "First Speech on 
Foot's Resolution" cited, 160. 

Welland Canal, 21 1, 214. 

Wells, Herbert George, "Future in 
America" quoted, 337, 361. 

Wendell, Barrett, on Parkman, 412. 

West, racial elements of settlers in, 
142-149; society of, distinctive, 
137, 144-149; secession of west, 
threatened, 145; political impor- 
tance of, 188-189; see a l so Missis- 
sippi Valley. 

Western World, newspaper, 132. 

Westerner, versatility of, 299; social 
achievement, 300-301; construc- 
tive individualism of, 302. 

Westward migration, 132-149. 

Wheat, production of, in Mississippi 
Valley, 339. 

Whistler, James Abbott McNeill, 
400. 

White, Edward Douglas, Chief Jus- 
tice, 188. 

White Mountains, 5, 309; discovered 
by Verrazano, 5. 

Whitman, Walt, "Democratic Vis- 
tas" quoted, 240. 

Wind River Mountains, discovered 
by La Verendrye brothers, 113, 

"4- 

Winsor, Justin, "Mississippi Basin" 
cited, 80. 

Wisconsin River, 249. 

Wright, Orville and Wilbur, inven- 
tors, 208. 

Yorktown, surrender of British at, 
321. 



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