Seventeenth-century North America was a dangerous, untamed land, a vast wilderness where settlers, fur traders, and missionaries all struggled to eke out an existence. But the New World was also a place that attracted a special breed—men with a thirst for adventure and discovery. Robert Cavelier de La Salle, whose energy and single-minded ambition made him one of the greatest explorers of the time, was such a man.
At the age of twenty-four, La Salle crossed the Atlantic to America. Like Columbus before him, he was obsessed with finding a western passage to China. But the New World so intrigued him and inflamed his imagination that he abandoned the Far East for the mysteries of the still uncharted regions of North America.
La Salle’s explorations took him all over the continent, and finally, in 1682, he followed the Mississippi River to the Gulf of Mexico, where he claimed the territory he had traveled through for France, and named it Louisiana in honor of the Sun King, Louis XIV.
Throughout his adventurous years, he never lost sight of this grand strategic goal, which was to link the Great Lakes to warm water ports on the Gulf of Mexico. The author combines impeccable scholarship with a novelist’s narrative power and eye for stunning detail in this portrayal of La Salle’s life and explorations.
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About the Author
Table of Contents
Author's Note ix
1 From Rouen to Quebec, 1643-1667 1
2 Clearing the Land, 1667-1669 18
3 Monsieur de La Salle's Indian, 1669-1671 34
4 The Governor's Ear, 1672-1673 48
5 A Divided Colony, 1673-1675 65
6 A Canadian Seigneur, 1675-1678 79
7 The Sound of the Great Waters, 1678-1679 92
8 The Illinois Prairies, 1679-1680 108
9 Indian Territory, 1680-1682 126
10 The Mississippi River, 1681-1682 141
11 Quarreling in Quebec, 1682-1683 159
12 A New Departure, 1684 173
13 Tristes Tropiques, 1684-1685 185
14 Monsieur de La Salle's Death, 1687 202
Bibliographical Note 221