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A Half Century of Conflict - Volume I by Parkman

319 Bienville tried to explain the disaster


found the colony again threatened with a general rising, or, as he calls it, a revolt, of the Indian tribes. The Carolina traders, having no advantage of water-ways, had journeyed by land with pack-horses through a thousand miles of wilderness, and with the aid of gifts had instigated the tribes to attack the French. The Chickasaws especially, friends of the English and arch-enemies of Louisiana, became so threatening that a crushing blow against them was thought indispensable. The forces of the colony were mustered to attempt it; the enterprise was mismanaged, and failed completely.[319] Bienville tried to explain the disaster, but his explanation was ill received at court; he was severely rebuked, reproved at the same time for permitting two families to emigrate to St. Domingo, and sharply ordered to suffer nobody to leave Louisiana without express license from Versailles. Deeply wounded, he offered his resignation, and it was accepted. Whatever his failings, he had faithfully served the colony, and gained from posterity the title of Father of Louisiana.

With the help of industrious nursing,--or, one might almost say, in spite of it,--Louisiana began at last to strike roots into the soil and show signs of growth, though feebly as compared with its sturdy rivals along the Atlantic seaboard, which had cost their King nothing, and had been treated, for the most part, with the coolest neglect. Cavelier de la Salle's dream of planting a firm settlement

at the mouth of the Mississippi, and utilizing, by means of it, the resources of the vast interior, was, after half a century, in some measure realized. New France (using that name in its broadest geographical sense) had now two heads,--Canada and Louisiana; one looking upon the Gulf of St. Lawrence, and the other upon the Gulf of Mexico. Canada was not without jealousy of her younger and weaker sister, lest she might draw away, as she had begun to do at the first, some of the most active and adventurous elements of the Canadian population; lest she might prove a competitor in the fur-trade; and lest she should encroach on the Illinois and other western domains, which the elder and stronger sister claimed as her own. These fears were not unfounded; yet the vital interests of the two French colonies were the same, and each needed the help of the other in the prime and all-essential task of keeping the British colonies in check. The chiefs of Louisiana looked forward to a time when the great southern tribes,--Creeks, Cherokees, Choctaws, and even the dreaded Chickasaws,--won over by French missionaries to the Church, and therefore to France, should be turned against the encroaching English to stop their westward progress and force them back to the borders of the Atlantic. Meanwhile the chiefs of Canada were maturing the plan--pursued with varying assiduity, but always kept in view--of connecting the two vital extremities of New France by a chain of forts to control the passes of the West, keep communications open, and set English invasion at defiance.


[287] _Henri de Tonty a Cabart de Villermont, 11 Septembre, 1694_ (Margry, iv. 3).

[288] _Memoire sur le Projet d'establir une nouvelle Colonie au Mississippi, 1697_ (Margry, iv. 21).

[289] _Iberville au Ministre, 18 Juin, 1698_ (Margry, iv. 51).

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