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- A Brief History of the United States - 6/72 -


Queen Elizabeth while conversing with those sent to England, first thought of colonizing the new world]

LAUDONNIERE (Lo-don-yare), two years after, built a fort, also called Carolina, on the St. John's River.

[Footnote: The history of this colony records an amusing story concerning the long life of the natives. A party visited a chief in the midst of the wilderness who gravely assured them that he was the father of five generations, and had lived 250 years. Opposite him, in the same hut, sat his father, a mere skeleton, whose "age was so great that the good man had lost his sight, and could speak one onely word but with exceeding great paine." The credulous Frenchmen gazed with awe on this wonderful pair, and congratulated themselves on having come to such a land,--where certainly there would be no need of Ponce de Leon's fabled fountain.]

Soon the colonists were reduced to the verge of starvation.

[Footnote: Their sufferings were horrible. Weak and emaciated, they fed themselves with roots, sorrel, pounded fish-bones, and even roasted snakes. "Oftentimes," says Laudonniere, "our poor soldiers were constrained to give away the very shirts from their backs to get one fish. If at any time they shewed unto the savages the excessive price which they tooke, these villaines would answer them roughly: 'If thou make so great account of thy merchandise, eat it, and we will eat our fish;' then fell they out a laughing, and mocked us with open throat."]

They were on the point of leaving, when they were reinforced by Ribaut. The French now seemed fairly fixed on the coast of Florida. The Spaniards, however, claimed the country. Melendez, about this time, had made a settlement in St. Augustine. Leading an expedition northward through the wilderness, in the midst of a fearful tempest, he attacked Fort Carolina and massacred almost the entire population.

CHAMPLAIN (sham-plane), at the beginning of the seventeenth century, crossed the Atlantic in two pigmy barks--one of twelve, the other of fifteen tons--and ascended the St. Lawrence on an exploring tour. At Hochelaga all was changed. The Indian town had vanished, and not a trace remained of the savage population which Cartier saw there seventy years before.

[Footnote: This fact illustrates the frequent and rapid changes which took place among the aboriginal tribes.]

Champlain was captivated by the charms of the new world, and longed to plant a French empire and the Catholic faith amid its savage wilds.

DE MONTS (mong) received a grant of all the territory between the fortieth and forty-sixth parallels of latitude.

[Footnote: Between the sites of Philadelphia and Montreal.]

This tract was termed _Acadia_, a name afterward confined to New Brunswick and the adjacent islands, and now to Nova Scotia. With Champlain, he founded Port Royal, N. S., in 1605. This was _the first permanent French settlement in America._ It was three years before a cabin was built in Canada, and two before the James River was discovered.

CHAMPLAIN RETURNED in 1608, and established a trading post at Quebec. _This was the first permanent French settlement in Canada._ The next summer, in his eager desire to explore the country, he joined a war party of the Hurons against the Iroquois, or Five Nations of Central New York.

[Footnote: The interference of Champlain with the Indians secured the inveterate hostility of the Iroquois tribes. Not long after, they seized the missionaries who came among them, tortured and put them to death. This cut off any farther explorations toward the south. The French, therefore, turned their attention toward the west.]

On this journey he discovered that beautiful lake which bears his name. Amid discouragements which would have overwhelmed a less determined spirit, Champlain firmly established the authority of France on the banks of the St. Lawrence. "The Father of New France," as he has been termed, reposes in the soil he won to civilization.

THE JESUIT MISSIONARIES.--The explorers of the Mississippi valley were mostly Jesuit priests. The French names which they gave still linger throughout that region. Their hope was to convert the Indians to the Christian faith. They pushed their way through the forest with unflagging energy. They crept along the northern shore of Lake Ontario. They traversed the Great Lakes. In 1668 they founded the mission of St. Mary, the oldest European settlement in Michigan. Many of them were murdered by the savages; some were scalped; some were burned in rosin-fire; some scalded with boiling water. Yet, as soon as one fell out of the ranks, another sprang forward to fill the post. We shall name but two of these patient, indefatigable pioneers of New France.

_FATHER MARQUETTE_ (mar-ket), hearing from some wandering Indians of a great river which they termed the "Father of Waters," determined to visit it. He floated in a birch-bark canoe down the Wisconsin to the Mississippi (1673), and thence to the mouth of the Arkansas.

[Footnote: Soon after, while on another expedition, he went ashore for the purpose of quiet devotion. After waiting long for his return, his men, seeking him, found that he had died while at prayer. He was buried near the mouth of the Marquette. Years after, when the tempest raged, and the Indian was tossing on the angry waves, he would seek to still the storm by invoking the aid of the pious Marquette.]

_LA SALLE_ was educated as a Jesuit, but had established a trading post at the outlet of Lake Ontario. He undertook various expeditions full of romantic adventure. Inflamed with a desire to find the mouth of the Mississippi, he made his way (1682) to the Gulf of Mexico. He named the country Louisiana, in honor of Louis XIV., king of France.

RESULTS OF FRENCH ENTERPRISE.--Before the close of the seventeenth century, the French had explored the Great Lakes, the Fox, Maumee, Wabash, Wisconsin and Illinois Rivers, and the Mississippi from the Falls of St. Anthony to the Gulf. They had traversed a region including what is now known as Louisiana, Arkansas, Mississippi, Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, Kansas, the Canadas and Acadia.

[Footnote: As we shall see hereafter, the English at this time clung to a narrow strip along the Atlantic coast.]

In 1688 it had a population of 11,000.

* * * * *

ENGLISH EXPLORATIONS.

We have seen how the Cabots, sailing under an English flag, discovered the American continent, exploring its coast from Labrador to Albemarle Sound. Though the English claimed the northern part of the continent by right of this discovery, yet during the sixteenth century they paid little attention to it. At the close of that period, however, maritime enterprise was awakened and British sailors cruised on every sea. Like the other navigators of the day, they were eager to discover the western passage to Asia.

[Illustration: Drake Beholds the Pacific]

FROBISHER made the first of these attempts to go north of America to Asia--Cabot's plan repeated. He pushed through unknown waters, threading his perilous way among icebergs, until (1576) he entered Baffin Bay. Here he heaped a pile of stones, declared the country an appendage of the British crown, and returned home.

[Footnote: One of the sailors brought back a stone which was thought to contain gold. A fleet of fifteen vessels was forthwith equipped for this new El Dorado The northwest passage to Cathay was forgotten. After innumerable perils incident to Arctic regions, the ships were loaded with the precious ore and returned. Unfortunately history neglects to tell us what became of the cargo.]

SIR FRANCIS DRAKE was a famous sailor. In one of his expeditions on the Isthmus of Panama, he climbed to the top of a lofty tree, whence he saw the Pacific Ocean. Looking out on its broad expanse, he resolved to "sail an English ship on those seas." Returning to England he equipped a squadron. He sailed through the Straits of Magellan, coasting along the Pacific shore to the southern part of Oregon. He refitted his ship in San Francisco harbor, and thence sailing westward, returned home (1579) by the Cape of Good Hope.

[Footnote: He was thus the first Englishman who explored the Pacific coast, and the second European who circumnavigated the globe.]

SIR HUMPHREY GILBERT was not a sailor, but he had studied the accounts of American discoveries, and concluded that instead of random expeditions after gold and spices, companies should be sent out to form permanent settlements. His attempts to colonize the new world, however, ended fatally. Sailing home in a bark of only ten-tons burden, in the midst of a fearful storm the light of his little vessel suddenly disappeared. Neither ship nor crew was ever seen again.

SIR WALTER RALEIGH was a half-brother of Gilbert, and adopted his views of American colonization. Being a great favorite with Queen Elizabeth, he easily obtained from her a patent of an extensive territory, which was named Virginia in honor of Elizabeth, the Virgin Queen.

[Footnote: Raleigh was not only a man of dauntless courage, but he also added to a handsome person much learning and many accomplishments. Meeting Queen Elizabeth one day while she was walking, he spread his mantle over a wet place in the path for her to tread upon. She was so pleased with his gallantry that she admitted him to court, and he continued a favorite during her entire lifetime. Conversing with her one day upon the singular properties of tobacco, the new Indian weed which was coming into use, he assured her that he could tell the exact weight of smoke in any quantity consumed. The incredulous Queen dared him to a wager. Accepting it, Raleigh weighed his tobacco, smoked it, and then carefully weighing the ashes, stated the difference. Paying the


A Brief History of the United States - 6/72

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