Little Bits of History

Tired of Looking

Posted in History by patriciahysell on March 19, 2014
René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle

René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle

March 19, 1687: René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle is murdered. La Salle was a French explorer of the Great Lakes region of the US and Canada as well as the Mississippi River and the Gulf of Mexico. He was born into a noble family in Rouen, France in 1643 and enjoyed science and nature as a young boy. He was schooled by Jesuits and took initial vows in 1660. He traveled to Canada and by 1667 was released from his vows with the religious order after citing “moral weaknesses” for cause. He never took his final vow and would later become hostile to the order. He was not a priest although his older brother was a Sulpician priest.

When he joined the Jesuits, he was required to reject his father’s legacy which meant that much of his exploration had to be done with limited funding or after begging others for monies. His brother had come to Canada a year before and Robert joined him after being granted a Seigneurie for land on the end of the Island of Montreal. This semi-feudal system left him able to amass enough wealth to continue explorations after selling his interest in the venture. La Salle had been told about a great river called the Ohio which flowed into the larger Mississippi. La Salle hoped that the Mississippi flowed all the way to the Gulf of Mexico. His goal was to find a westward passage to the bountiful Chinese trade.

He went as proxy for the Governor of New France to the mouth of the Cataraqui River to meet with leader of the Five Nations of the Iroquois and hoped to build a trade relationship. La Salle had a facility with languages and learned many native tongues and could effectively communicate with the tribes who could bring beaver pelts to be sold back home. He was able to establish some trade agreements. In 1679 he launched a ship, Le Griffon, filled it with the desired pelts and sent it off when it promptly disappeared, never to be seen again. He continued to seek a way westward and built forts at strategic locations over the years. He named the area he explored around the Mississippi River basin as La Louisiane, after King Louis XIV.

He traveled between the colonies and France and when returning in July 1684 returned leading a colonization fleet of four ships with 300 colonists aboard. One ship was lost to pirates, one sunk, one ran aground, and they finally landed and built a fort on Garcitas Creek in Victoria County, Texas. La Salle wanted to find the Mississippi and tried on three separate occasions to head east and locate the mouth of the mighty river. On the last attempt, the 36 surviving men mutinied near present day Navasota, Texas. At this point Pierre Duhaut rose up against La Salle and killed him. Duhaut was killed to avenge La Salle.

We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time. – T. S. Eliot

As beautiful as simplicity is, it can become a tradition that stands in the way of exploration. – Laura Nyro

The good is, like nature, an immense landscape in which man advances through centuries of exploration. – Jose Ortega y Gasset

We are living through a remarkably privileged era, when certain deep truths about the cosmos are still within reach of the human spirit of exploration. – Brian Greene

Also on this day: Avalanche – In 1775, four people were buried in an avalanche and three survived 37 days.
PTL Club – In 1987, Jim Bakker resigned as chairman of his PTL ministry.
And the Winner Is … – In 1953, the Oscars were televised for the first time.
Rack ‘Em Up – In 1954, Willie Mosconi ran the table, for 526 balls.

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