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and in canoes, until he reached Lake Peoria, in Illinois. Building a fort here, he sent Father Hennepin forward to explore the upper Mississippi, while he returned to Frontenac to look after his property.
With two oarsmen, Father Hennepin went down the Illinois River until the Mississippi was reached, which was in the month of March. They were detained here some time by the floating ice; but when it had passed Father Hennepin, invoking the aid of St. Anthony of Padua, ascended the stream to the great falls which bear the name of his patron saint.
Hennepin is not an accurate chronicler, for, though he never went further up the river than the falls of St. Anthony, he claims to have discovered its source. The falls he describes with tolerable accuracy, considering his disposition to exaggerate, and near them he carved a cross and the arms of France upon the forest trees, and in the Autumn of 1680 he returned to Green Bay by the way of the Wisconsin and Fox Rivers. Meanwhile, Tonti, who had been driven out of Illinois by the Indians, took refuge among the barbarians on the western shore of Lake Michigan.
La Salle had not given up the exploration of the Mississippi. He brooded over it by day, dreamed of it at night, until with him the idea became a ruling passion. In 1682, he returned to the Illinois country with men and supplies for the enterprise.
Early in the year, with twenty-three Frenchmen and eighteen New England warriors, ten women and three children, that enterprise was undertaken. They reached the Mississippi in February and em. barked upon its bosom in a strong and spacious barge, which had been constructed for the purpose, and many of the natives followed in canoes. In this manner they descended the Mississippi to the Gulf of Mexico, everywhere observing the evidences of unbounded wealth in the bosom of the soil along its course. They stopped at many places and held intercourse with the natives, who came to the river banks in large numbers to meet them. At one place below the mouth of the Arkansas River, they found a powerful king over many tribes, to whom La Salle sent presents. His ambassadors were received with great respect, and the monarch sent word by them that he should visit their chief in person. He came in great state, preceded by two horses, and a master of ceremonies with six men, who cleared the ground over which his majesty was to pass, and erected a pavilion of mats to shield the king from the sun. The dusky monarch was dressed in a white robe falling to his knees, that had been beautifully woven of the inner bark of trees. He was on foot, and was preceded by two men bearing immense feather fans as white as snow. A third carried plates of copper highly polished. His interview with La Salle was grave and digni. fied, and he used many gracious words, so they parted with mutual assurances of friendship. The people over whom the king ruled were a part of those barbarians of the gulf region who worshipped the sun and were called the Taenses.
La Salle proceeded southward, planted a cross and the arms of France on the borders of the Gulf of Mexico and proclaimed that the whole Mississippi valley was a part of the dominions of King Louis. He named the magnificent dominion Loui. siana, in honor of his monarch, who was then in the height of his honor. So was planted in the very heart of the North American continent, the germ of the French empire which grew up there early in the eighteenth century.
Having accomplished this much, La Salle went back to Quebec, and thence to France, where he laid a report of his discoveries before the delighted monarch. Colbert was dead; but his son was in power and inherited his father's genius and enterprise. He procured for La Salle the king's commission to colonize Louisiana.
In the year 1684, when La Salle was at the French court, on the subject of his discoveries, he not only won the esteem of de Seignelay, the min
ister, but brought him to agree that he should prosecute lis discoveries and attempt to enter the mouth of the Mississippi by sea, in order to form a settlement. All winter was spent in making preparations for his expedition. By his commission, he was to command all the French and savages that lay between Fort Lewis, which he had already built upon the River Illinois, and that part of Florida called New Biscay; and the French commodore, who was to carry him to America, was enjoined to give him all the assistance in his power.
Four vessels were built at Rochefort, on board of which were embarked one hundred soldiers, a Canadian family, thirty volunteers, some of whom were gentlemen, and a few ladies and workmen. Three ecclesiastics, with four others, among whom was Father Zenobe, composed the rest of the company, together with a citizen of Rouen, one Joutel, who was a man of some capacity, and was intended as a kind of an assistant to La Salle. The ships destined for this discovery were the Joli, of forty guns, commanded by M. de Beaujeu; another vessel of six guns, which the French king made a present of to La Salle; the Amiable, a merchant ship of about three hundred tons burden, which carried La Salle's baggage and implements, and a ketch, of thirty guns, freighted with ammunition and mer. chandise.
This little squadron had scarcely cleared the land, when the main-mast of the Joli broke, and all the four ships returned to Rochelle, from whence they again set sail on the first of August, and on the sixteenth day were in sight of the Madeiras. By this time, La Salle and Beaujeu had quarrelled. The latter proposed to put into Madeira, to take in water and provisions; but as the success of the expedition depended on its being kept a secret from the Spaniards, La Salle resolutely opposed their stopping; and this circumstance increased their animosity. When they arrived in Hispaniola, Beaujeu came to anchor at Petit Guaves. Business of great importance had been entrusted to La Salle by the minister, with M. de Cussi, the French governor, who lived on the north side; so that Cussi, with two other French officers, was obliged to repair to Petit Guaves, where he found La Salle greatly indisposed, chiefly through vexation, two Spanish peraguas having taken his ketch off the island.
The growing discontents between La Salle and Beaujeu made all the adventurers despair of success. Having dispatched his business at Petit Guaves, La Salle set sail from thence the 25th of November, more embroiled than ever with Beaujeu. About the 12th of December, they entered the gulf of Mexico; but were obliged, by contrary