« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »
suffering innumerable privations with his party, every one of his ships being wrecked, and his colony diminished from 250 to 50 persons, he resolved to leave 20 men at the fort, and to go with the residue to Canada in search of supplies. Whilst on his way thither, he was treacherously murdered on the 17th of March, 1687, by two of his own men, who, stung to madness by disappointment in their expectations of boundless wealth, resorted to assassination as the means, by which to avenge themselves upon the person of their generous commander. Thus perished miserably La Salle, no doubt the founder of the French dominion in the Mississippi valley, who by his courage, bis vast comprehension, his restless energy, and untiring efforts to promote the interests of his country, has secured to his name an immortality of renown.
Two years after his death war was declared between France and England; but though the French and English colonists devastated and plundered each other's frontiers, the military occupation of Illinois was continued without interruption. Public documents of the year 1696 mention a fort named St. Louis, and the wish of Louis XIV. to preserve it in good condition. The actual settlement of Illinois, however, advan. red but slowly. Gravier succeeded Allonez at the Jesuit mission of Kaskaskia, “the village of the Immaculate Conception.” Sebastian Rasles joined him in the year 1693 as fellowlaborer. He investigated the principles of the Illinois language and established its-principal rules, and preached the gospel, though surrounded by perils and opposed by Indian sorcerers. After the recall of Gravier and the decease of several of the missionaries, Gabriel Marest joined the mission, and for some time administered its affairs. “Our life,” said Marest, “is passed in wading through marshes, where we plunge sometimes to the girdle, over boundless prairies, and in rambling through thick woods and forests, in climbing over hills, in paddling the canoe across, lakes and rivers to catch a poor savage, who flies from us, and whom we can neither tame by teachings nor caresses.”
At the request of the Peorias, Marest established a mission among them. He was aided by Marmet, whose fervid eloquence, according to the testimony of Marest himself, made him the soul of the mission. His pupils at early dawn attended church neatly dressed in large deer skins, or in robes made of several. After receiving lessons they chanted canticles. Mass was then said in presence of the French and the converts, the women on one side and the men on the other. After prayer the missionaries visited the sick and administered medicine. In the afternoon they instructed in the catechism both young and oid, every one of whom had to answer their questions. In the evening all assembled at church for instruction, to offer prayers to the Most High, and to chant the hymns of the Church. On Sundays and festivals, as also after vespers, the people were edified with an eloquent sermon. After sunset, parties would meet in each other's cabins to spend the night in reciting the chaplet in alternate choirs, and in singing psalms, which were frequently homilies, with the words set to familiar tunes. Saturday and Sunday were the days appointed for confession and communion, every convert confessing once in a fortnight. Many of the Indians were converted, and their daughters married to the French emigrants, according to the rites of the Catholic Church.
In 1699 Lemoine de Ibberville was appointed Governor of Louisiana, and arriving with a French colony at the mouth of the Mississippi, built a fort twelve miles west of Pensacola River. From that time the Territory of Illinois was included in and became part of Louisiana. A line of fortified posts now existed between the Gulf of St. Lawrence and the Gulf of Mexico. Jealous of the growth of French power in America, the English planned an expedition for the reduction of Canada, and fitted out a fleet of fifteen ships of war and forty transports, with seven veteran regiments from Marlborough's army on board, under the command of Sir Hoveden Walker. The news of the intended expedition soon reached Quebec, the fortifications of which were immediately strengthened, and the Indian nations of the Far West, including the Illinois, summoned for its defence. Whilst the Indian warriors were assembling at Quebec and Montreal, the fleet, which, on the 25th of June, 1711, had arrived in Boston, took in supplies of stores, and the colonial forces which were to participate in the expedition, and sailed for the St. Lawrence. As it ascended the river, the fleet became enveloped in a dense fog, the Admiral proceeding too incautiously, eight of the vessels suffered ship wreck, and nearly a thousand men were drowned. At a council of war it was resolved to return; and thus this expedition, undertaken at great expense, ended in ignominious failure.
Peace being at length concluded between France and England, Louisiana and Canada were confirmed to the former. Obliged by the sanguinary and expensive wars in which he was involved, to withhold from Louisiana the usual supplies of money and men, and notwithstanding determined to prevent his enemies from taking possession of the same, the King of France, on the 14th of September, 1712, granted Louisiana, including also the State of Illinois and its territory of Wisconsin, to Anthony Crozat, whose character and abilities were sure pledges, that he would make the colony prosper under his direction, and put an end to the dissensions between the provincial authorities. Admitted into partnership with Crozat, De La Motte Catilla was appointed Governor of Louisiana under the royal grant, and entered accordingly upon its government. Agriculture being veglected by the settlers, large sums were expended for provisions by Crozat, who, at the end of five years, finding his disbursements to exceed his receipts by about 125,000 livres, and being unwilling to incur further loss, surrendered his grant to the Crown, two years after the death of Louis XIV. A trading company, known as the Western Company, divided into 200,000 shares of 500 livres each, was formed, and the grant surrendered by Crozat conferred upon it. The capital of the Company was composed of State Securities, then selling at a discount of 78 per cent. John Law, a Scotchman by birth, a gambler and banker by trade, a daring speculator throughout, and at that time a favorite of the French Regent, because, by establishing a bank which flooded the country with paper money to the amount of 1,000,000,000 livres, and enabled its unscrupulous founder to pay the interest on the public debt with its worthless issues, he had for a moment succeeded in arresting the national bankruptcy, paid also the whole of the interest due on this part of the public debt; in consequence whereof a sudden rise in its value took place to par, and John Law was entrusted hy the Duke of Orleans, who governed the State in the name of Louis XV , then a minor, with the direction of the affairs of the said Western, now called the Company of the Indies, the number of whose shares were immediately increased by him to a very large amount. Carrying on his system of colonization and trading with the utmost prodigality, John Law in 1720, when at the height of his fortune, built at a cost of several millions of livres, Fort Chartres, in the vicinity of Kaskaskia, and near the centre of the French settlements in Illinois. At length, however, his downfall, which cool reflecting men from the beginning had seen to be inevitable, took place. No sooner had more notes been issued, than the natural state of the business of the country could call for, and the specie been driven out of circulation by a superabundance of paper money, for the redemption of which nothing whatever of value had been pledged, than the bank exploded with a great crash. John Law, but a short time before the most influential person in the State, escaped with difficulty being torn to pieces by the excited populace, and died at Venice in the most wretched poverty in 1729..
The failure of the master spirit, who through his bank had so liberally supplied the India Company with the funds required to carry on their business, resulted of course in the dissolution of the said company. Louisiana being retroceded to the Crown in the year 1730, its interests were again the care of government; Louis XV. and his minister, Cardinal Fleury, being very anxious to promote its prosperity. Louisiana at that time included the entire valley of the Mississippi and its tributary streams; all the countries west of the Alleghany mountains, with the head-springs of the · Alleghany, the Monongahela, the Kapawba, the Tennessee, the Cumberland, and the Ohio, were claimed by Frenchmen as forming part of it. · The French incessantly labored to extend their power and authority through the valley of the Ohio, and built forts intended to control the Indians. Having induced the Shawnee nation to place themselves under the protection of Louis XV., they erected a fort on the north bank of the Ohio, in the State of Illinois, in the vicinity of the Shawnees. Displeased with the threatening aspect of this stronghold, the savages devised the following ingenious stratagem for its capture. A number of Indians, each of whom was covered with a bear skin and walked on all fours, appeared at daybreak on the opposite side of the river. Supposing them to be bears, the greater part of the garrison crossed the river and went in pursuit of them, whilst the remainder went to the bank of the river to witness the sport. Meanwhile the Indian warriors rushed forth from their hidiog places in the woods near by, entered it without opposition, and having thus possessed themselves of the fort, surprised and massacred the French on their return.
The French afterwards built another fort near that fatal spot, which, in commemoration of this disaster, they called Fort Massacre. It was occupied by the French until about 1750, when it was abandoned, and is now, like most of the ancient forts in America, but a heap of ruins.
On the 18th of May, 1756, another war broke out between France and England, of which war, since it resulted in the cession of Canada and the countries east of the Mississippi, Illinois included, to the English Crown, we shall state the general facts.
A British trading company having, previous to the declaration of war, encroached upon French territory, the French took the alarm, built the Fort Du Quesne on the site of the present city of Pittsburgh, and dispersed a party of British workmen engaged in building a fort on the Ohio. Having received information of these open acts of hostility, the Legislature of Virginia despatched, in the year 1754, a military force under the command of Col. Washington, afterwards the illustrious President of the United States, to the scene of action. A party was sent from Fort Du Quesne to surprise him, but was itself surprised by Col. Washington, and every man taken prisoner. After this action Col. Washington was assailed in a fort previously erected by him, by a much superior force of French and Indians, and, after a gallant resistance, obliged to surrender the fort and to retreat to Virginia..
In the summer of the following year Gen. Braddock, at the head of 2500 British veterans, and a body of Virginia militia, marched against Fort Du Quesne. Whilst proceeding through the woods in careless security, the troops were suddenly saluted with a tremendous fire of musketry from all sides, by an invisible foe. The panic at once became general. The American militia fought and died like soldiers, but the British veterans fled in the utmost confusion, notwithstanding the efforts of their officers, and especially of Col. Washington, who, during the whole action, displayed the most heroic bravery and admirable presence of mind, and was the only mounted officer who escaped unhurt; though four balls pierced his coat, and two horses were shot under him, he remained unwounded, his life being evidently preserved by Providence, which destined him to play, at a later period,