French country just look at the names of towns in and around St.
Louis, go there today, go to and around Ft. deChartre ILL along
the Mississippi and listen to the locals, many still have the
French in their voices, eat, sell and have the great cooking of
the French. Go to the fort in the spring and watch the colors
raised, 1st the French, then the British and last the Americans,
in that order as it was occupied in history.
built and ran Ft. deChartre, sold it to the English and the
Americans took it from them, this is a great event to watch -
the units march into the fort, the colors change and so on, the
best part is when the Americans come in and raise our flag the
chill goes up your spine and your eyes will fill, every time.
I've seen this more than a dozen times and have the same
reaction with every visit, one that everyone needs to experience
at least once. When you look at the history before Ft. deChartre
it becomes a clearer picture.
& the Northwest Passage: AD 1534-1542
northern Atlantic kingdoms, France and England, looked enviously
at the wealth which Portugal enjoyed from trade with the spice
islands of the east. France is the first to seek a western route
to the same pot of gold.
In 1534 the French king, Francis I, sends Jacques Cartier with
two ships and sixty-one men to look for a northwest passage
linking the Atlantic, above the continent of America, with the
Pacific. Cartier discovers the great inlet of the St Lawrence
river, which he hopes will prove to be the mouth of a channel
through the continent. He postpones the exploration until the
next summer and returns to France. Meanwhile he claims the whole
region for his king, under the title New France.
& Mississippi: AD 1669-1682
The great central valley
of North America, watered by the Ohio, Mississippi and Missouri
rivers, is first visited by Europeans during the late 1660s and
1670s. This development is the direct result of the growth of
the colony of New France during the 1660s. As the French explore
through and around the Great Lakes, they begin also to move down
the rivers running south from this region.
The nearest large river to the eastern lakes, is the Ohio.
Robert de La Salle explores the Ohio valley during 1669, in a
journey which provides the basis for the later French claim to
Four years later a
expedition is undertaken by a trader, Louis Jolliet, and a
Jesuit priest, Jacques Marquette (founder in 1668 of the mission
at Sault Sainte Marie). With five companions, in 1673, they make
their way round Lake Michigan in two birch bark canoes. From
Green Bay they paddle up the Fox river, then carry their canoes
overland to the Wisconsin and on to the Mississippi. They travel
down the Mississippi as far as the Arkansas River, convinced
that it must flow into the Gulf of Mexico rather than the
Pacific. Inspired by their example, La Salle becomes determined
to reach the mouth of the Mississippi. After two false starts
and disasters and struggle for funds, he finally gets there in
1682. At the mouth of the great river he claims possession for
France of the entire region drained by the Mississippi and its
many tributaries, naming it Louisiana.
Now the English, French and Spanish have interests in North
America during the 18th century. The quest for gold has brought
the Spanish into Mexico from their first landfall in the
Caribbean. The search for the northwest passage has sent the
French up the St. Lawrence river to establish a province based
largely on trade in furs, taken to the European market from the
interior of the continent. Now the English make their move to
found a string of colonies down the eastern seaboard.
The natural direction for
Spanish expansion is northwards, to the west of the Rockies,
into the regions which are now New Mexico, Arizona and
California. The French, from their base around the Great Lakes,
are drawn south along the rivers which drain into the
Mississippi, and then on down the great river itself. The
English enjoy the east coast neatly confined to the west by the
curving line of the Appalachian mountains.
Each of these three
colonial groups have its own argument with the existing
occupants of the land, the Indians. The first two centuries of
colonization the Europeans have little more than skirmishes with
each other, and these occur mainly at sea. The situation changes
in the 18th century, the main problem is between the French and
the English. The two nations are at war with each other in
Europe almost constantly from 1689. A more direct cause for
conflict in North America derives from the interest of each
colonial group in the Ohio valley. For the French this region is
the first route southwards, running west of the Appalachians
thus Ft. deChartre is constructed.
a little knowledge of what has taken place one sees the French
as the major player in the region. Just look in the grave yards,
check the names, the oldest grave sites are French and lots of
them, much earlier than what many realize, you'll see more
English, Irish and common names than Spanish, few Spanish names
compared to the others.
talk to the historians, like Crosby Brown (State of Missouri
Historical Society-retired), he'll tell you the frogs where
thick in this country, they even ran Ft. deChartre for the
English, just because of their numbers and worked at that fort
after the Americans took over.
Spanish appeared only after the territory was released to Spain
by the French when loosing the F&I War, because of this some
of the French living in the area recorded or changed their names
to a Spanish like name.
the fight that the French and their Indian friends had and
kicked the crap out of the Spanish in the south-eastern corner
of Kansas/Missouri - the buffalo robe recording this fight can
be seen in Santa Fe at the Governor's Palace. The Spanish where
not as welcome as they like to think.
L. Allen wrote; St. Louis was founded by Pierre Laclede, a
French fur trader, in 1764. His adjutant was his 13-year old
stepson, Rene Auguste Chouteau, founder of the great French fur
French settlements in the area were Ste. Genevieve (1750) and a
series of settlements in the lower Ohio River valley dating to
the French and Indian War, France (the loser) ceded the
territory of Louisiana to Spain. But Spanish never outnumbered
Frenchmen in St. Louis and the city remained French in culture
and language until the 19th century. Part of what is confusing
is that most French inhabitants of St. Louis and Louisiana
Territory swore allegiance to Spain and simply recorded their
names in the Spanish version. Thus, the early explorer of the
Missouri River, Jacques d'Eglise, became, in the hi storical
records of St. Louis, Santiago de Iglesia (both names mean the
same thing and translate into English as "James
Spanish were not first in St. Louis--either as founders or in
numbers of inhabitants or in importance in the fur trade on the
Missouri River. Manuel Lisa was a late-coming exception to the
domination of the Missouri River trade by the French house of
Chouteau and others.
good documentary history of the Missouri fur trade before the
American possession of Louisiana Territory is A.P. Nasatir,
AND CLARK, 2 vols., paperback edition available from Bison
Books, University of Nebraska Press.