Illinois Country

The Illinois Country (French: Pays des Illinois, lit. "land of the Illinois (plural)", i.e. the Illinois people) — sometimes referred to as Upper Louisiana (French: la Haute-Louisiane; Spanish: Alta Luisiana) — was a vast region of New France in what is now the Midwestern United States. While these names generally referred to the entire Upper Mississippi River watershed, French colonial settlement was concentrated along the Mississippi and Illinois Rivers in what is now the U.S. states of Illinois and Missouri, with outposts in Indiana. Explored in 1673 from Green Bay to the Arkansas River by the Canadien expedition of Louis Jolliet and Jacques Marquette, the area was claimed by France. It was settled primarily from the Pays d'en Haut in the context of the fur trade. Over time, the fur trade took some French to the far reaches of the Rocky Mountains, especially along the branches of the broad Missouri River valley. The French name, Pays des Illinois, means "Land of the Illinois [plural]" and is a reference to the Illinois Confederation, a group of related Algonquian native peoples.

Up until 1717, the Illinois Country was governed by the French province of Canada, but by order of King Louis XV, the Illinois Country was annexed to the French province of Louisiana, with the northeastern administrative border being somewhat vaguely on or near the upper Illinois River.[1] The territory thus became known as "Upper Louisiana." By the mid-18th century, the major settlements included Cahokia, Kaskaskia, Chartres, Saint Philippe, and Prairie du Rocher, all on the east side of the Mississippi in present-day Illinois; and Ste. Genevieve across the river in Missouri, as well as Fort Vincennes in what is now Indiana.[2]

As a consequence of the French defeat in the Seven Years' War, the Illinois Country east of the Mississippi River was ceded to the British, and the land west of the river to the Spanish. Following the British occupation of the left bank (when heading downstream) of the Mississippi in 1764, some Canadien settlers remained in the area, while others crossed the river, forming new settlements such as St. Louis.

Eventually, the eastern part of the Illinois Country became part of the British Province of Quebec, while the inhabitants chose to side with the Americans during the Revolutionary War. Although the lands west of the Mississippi were sold in 1803 to the United States by France—which had reclaimed possession of Luisiana from the Spanish in the Third Treaty of San Ildefonso—French language and culture continued to exist in the area, with the Missouri French dialect still being spoken into the 20th century.[2]

Because of the deforestation that resulted from the cutting of much wood for fuel during the 19th-century age of steamboats, the Mississippi River became more shallow and broad, with more severe flooding and lateral changes in its channel in the stretch from St. Louis to the confluence with the Ohio River. As a consequence, many architectural and archaeological resources were lost to flooding and destruction of early French colonial villages originally located near the river, including Kaskaskia, St. Philippe, Cahokia, and Ste. Genevieve.[3]

Pais des Illinois
Pais des Ilinois (Illinois Country) in 1717 French map

Location and boundaries

Claude Bernou Carte de lAmerique septentrionale
1681 map of the New World: New France and the Great Lakes in the north, with a dark line as the Mississippi River to the west and the mouth of the river (and future New Orleans) then terra incognita

The boundaries of the Illinois Country were defined in a variety of ways, but the region now known as the American Bottom was nearly at the center of all descriptions. One of the earliest known geographic features designated as Ilinois was what later became known as Lake Michigan, on a map prepared in 1671 by French Jesuits. Early French missionaries and traders referred to the area southwest and southeast of the lake, including much of the upper Mississippi Valley, by this name. Illinois was also the name given to an area inhabited by the Illiniwek. A map of 1685 labels a large area southwest of the lake les Ilinois; in 1688, the Italian cartographer Vincenzo Coronelli labeled the region (in Italian) as Illinois country. In 1721, the seventh civil and military district of Louisiana was named Illinois. It included more than half of the present state, as well as the land between the Arkansas River and the line of 43 degrees north latitude, and the country between the Rocky Mountains and the Mississippi River. A royal ordinance of 1722—following the transfer of the Illinois Country's governance from Canada to Louisiana—may have featured the broadest definition of the region: all land claimed by France south of the Great Lakes and north of the mouth of the Ohio River, which would include the lower Missouri Valley as well as both banks of the Mississippi.[1]

A generation later, trade conflicts between Canada and Louisiana led to a more defined boundary between the French colonies; in 1745, Louisiana governor general Vaudreuil set the northeastern bounds of his domain as the Wabash valley up to the mouth of the Vermilion River (near present-day Danville, Illinois); from there, northwest to le Rocher on the Illinois River, and from there west to the mouth of the Rock River (at present day Rock Island, Illinois).[1] Thus, Vincennes and Peoria were the limit of Louisiana'a reach; the outposts at Ouiatenon (on the upper Wabash near present-day Lafayette, Indiana), Chicago, Fort Miamis (near present-day Fort Wayne, Indiana) and Prairie du Chien operated as dependencies of Canada.[1]

This boundary between Canada and the Illinois Country remained in effect until the Treaty of Paris in 1763, after which France surrendered its remaining territory east of the Mississippi to Great Britain. (Although British forces had occupied the "Canadian" posts in the Illinois and Wabash countries in 1761, they did not occupy Vincennes or the Mississippi River settlements at Cahokia and Kaskaskia until 1764, after the ratification of the peace treaty.[4]) As part of a general report on conditions in the newly conquered lands, Gen. Thomas Gage, then commandant at Montreal, explained in 1762 that, although the boundary between Louisiana and Canada wasn't exact, it was understood the upper Mississippi above the mouth of the Illinois was in Canadian trading territory.[5]

Distinctions became somewhat clearer after the Treaty of Paris in 1763, when Britain acquired Canada and the land claimed by France east of the Mississippi and Spain acquired Louisiana west of the Mississippi. Many French settlers moved west across the river to escape British control.[2] On the west bank, the Spanish also continued to refer to the western region governed from St. Louis as the District of Illinois and referred to St. Louis as the city of Illinois.[1]

Exploration and settlement

Western New France, 1688
Map of western New France, including the Illinois Country, by Vincenzo Coronelli, 1688

The first French explorations of the Illinois Country were in the first half of the 17th century, led by explorers and missionaries based in Canada. Étienne Brûlé explored the upper Illinois country in 1615 but did not document his experiences. Joseph de La Roche Daillon reached an oil spring at the northeasternmost fringe of the Mississippi River basin during his 1627 missionary journey.

In 1669–70, Father Jacques Marquette, a missionary in French Canada, was at a mission station on Lake Superior, when he met native traders from the Illinois Confederation. He learned about the great river that ran through their country to the south and west. In 1673–74, with a commission from the Canadian government, Marquette and Louis Jolliet explored the Mississippi River territory from Green Bay to the Arkansas River, including the Illinois River valley. In 1675, Marquette returned to found a Jesuit mission at the Grand Village of the Illinois. Over the next decades missions, trade posts, and forts were established in the region.[6][7] By 1714, the principal European, non-native inhabitants were Canadien fur traders, missionaries and soldiers, dealing with Native Americans, particularly the group known as the Kaskaskia. The main French settlements were established at Kaskaskia, Cahokia, and Sainte Genevieve. By 1752, the population had risen to 2,573.[8]

From the 1710s to the 1730s, the Fox Wars between the French, French allied tribes and the Meskwaki (Fox) Native American tribe occurred in what is now northern Illinois, southern Wisconsin, and Michigan, in particular, over the fur trade. During the conflict, in what is now McLean County, Illinois, French and allied forces won a consequential battle against the Meskwaki in 1730.[9][10]

Fort St. Louis du Rocher

French explorers led by René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle built Fort St. Louis on a large butte by the Illinois River in the winter of 1682.[11] Called La Rocher, the butte provided an advantageous position for the fort above the river.[11] A wooden palisade was the only form of defenses that La Salle used in securing the site. Inside the fort were a few wooden houses and native shelters. The French intended St. Louis to be the first of several forts to defend against English incursions and keep their settlements confined to the East Coast. Accompanying the French to the region were allied members of several native tribes from eastern areas, who integrated with the Kaskaskia: the Miami, Shawnee, and Mahican. The tribes established a new settlement at the base of the butte known as Hotel Plaza. After La Salle's five-year monopoly ended New France governor Joseph-Antoine de La Barre wished to put Fort Saint Louis along with Fort Frontenac under his jurisdiction.[12] By orders of the governor, traders and his officer were escorted to Illinois.[12] On August 11, 1683, LaSalle's armorer, Pierre Prudhomme, obtained approximately one and three-quarters of a mile of the north portage shore.[12]

During the earliest of the French and Indian Wars, the French used the fort as a refuge against attacks by Iroquois, who were allied with the British. The Iroquois forced the settlers, then commanded by Henri de Tonti, to abandon the fort in 1691. De Tonti reorganized the settlers at Fort Pimitoui in modern-day Peoria.

1708 De L'Isle Map of North America (Covens and Mortier ed.) - Geographicus - AmeriqueSeptentrionale-covensmortier-1708
French Map of North America 1700 (Covens and Mortier ed. 1708) -- "PAYS DES ILINOIS", near center

French troops commanded by Pierre De Liette occupied Fort St. Louis from 1714 to 1718; De Liette's jurisdiction over the region ended when the territory was transferred from Canada to Louisiana. Fur trappers and traders used the fort periodically in the early 18th century until it became too dilapidated. No surface remains of the fort are found at the site today. The region was periodically occupied by a variety of native tribes who were forced westward by the expansion of European settlements. These included the Potawatomi, Ottawa, and Ojibwe.

On April 20, 1769, an Illinois Confederation warrior assassinated Chief Pontiac while he was on a diplomatic mission in Cahokia. According to local legend, the Ottawa, along with their allies the Potawatomi, attacked a band of Illini along the Illinois River. The tribe climbed to the butte to seek refuge from the attack. The Ottawa and Potawatomi continued the siege until the Illini tribe starved to death. After hearing the story, Europeans referred to the butte as Starved Rock.

Fort de Chartres

Fort de Chartres-front curtain and gatehouse
Reconstructed curtain and gatehouse of Fort de Chartres

On January 1, 1718, a trade monopoly was granted to John Law and his Company of the West (which was to become the Company of the Indies in 1719). Hoping to make a fortune mining precious metals in the area, the company with a military contingent sent from New Orleans built a fort to protect its interests. Construction began on the first Fort de Chartres (in present-day Illinois) in 1718 and was completed in 1720.

The original fort was located on the east bank of the Mississippi River, downriver (south) from Cahokia and upriver of Kaskaskia. The nearby settlement of Prairie du Rocher, Illinois, was founded by French-Canadian colonists in 1722, a few miles inland from the fort.

A plan of the several villages in the illinois country
Thomas Hutchins map of settlements in the Illinois Country in 1778

The fort was to be the seat of government for the Illinois Country and help to control the aggressive Fox Indians. The fort was named after Louis, duc de Chartres, son of the regent of France. Because of frequent flooding, another fort was built further inland in 1725. By 1731, the Company of the Indies had gone defunct and turned Louisiana and its government back to the king. The garrison at the fort was removed to Kaskaskia, Illinois in 1747, about 18 miles to the south. A new stone fort was planned near the old fort and was described as "nearly complete" in 1754, although construction continued until 1760.

The new stone fort was headquarters for the French Illinois Country for less than 20 years, as it was turned over to the British in 1763 with the Treaty of Paris at the end of the French and Indian War. The British Crown declared almost all the land between the Appalachian Mountains and the Mississippi River from Florida to Newfoundland a Native American territory called the Indian Reserve following the Royal Proclamation of 1763. The government ordered settlers to leave or get a special license to remain. This and the desire to live in a Catholic territory caused many of the Canadiens to cross the Mississippi to live in St. Louis or Ste. Genevieve. The British soon relaxed its policy and later extended the Province of Quebec to the region.

The British took control of Fort de Chartres on October 10, 1765 and renamed it Fort Cavendish. The British softened the initial expulsion order and offered the Canadien inhabitants the same rights and privileges enjoyed under French rule. In September 1768, the British established a Court of Justice, the first court of common law in the Mississippi Valley (the French law system is called civil law).

After severe flooding in 1772, the British saw little value in maintaining the fort and abandoned it. They moved the military garrison to the fort at Kaskaskia and renamed it Fort Gage. Chartres' ruined but intact magazine is considered the oldest surviving European structure in Illinois and was reconstructed in the 20th century, with much of the rest of the Fort.

Agricultural settlement

According to historian, Carl J. Ekberg, the French settlement pattern in Illinois Country was generally unique in 17th- and 18th-century French North America. These were unlike other such French settlements, which primarily had been organized in separated homesteads along a river with long rectangular plots stretching back from the river (ribbon plots). The Illinois Country French, although they marked long-ribbon plots, did not reside on them. Instead, settlers resided together in farming villages, more like the farming villages of northern France, and practiced communal agriculture.[13]

After the port of New Orleans, along the Mississippi River to the south, was founded in 1718, more African slaves were imported to the Illinois Country for use as agricultural and mining laborers. By the mid-eighteenth century, slaves accounted for as much as a third of the population.[14]

Other settlements

Fort Pimiteoui
Fort Pimiteoui (Old Peoria) circa 1702
  • Peoria was at first the southernmost part of New France, then the northernmost part of the French Colony of Louisiana, and finally the westernmost part of the newly formed United States. Fort Crevecoeur was first founded in 1680. Another fort, often called Fort Pimiteoui, and later Old Fort Peoria, was established in 1691.[15] French interests dominated at Peoria for well over a hundred years, from the time the first French explorers came up the Illinois River in 1673 until the first United States settlers began to move into the area around 1815. A small French presence persisted for a time on the east bank of the river, but was gone by about 1846. Today, only faint echoes of French Peoria survive in the street plan of downtown Peoria, and in the name of an occasional street, school, or hotel meeting room: Joliet, Marquette, LaSalle.
  • The Mission of the Guardian Angel was established near the Chicago portage between 1696-1700.
Holy Family Log Church Cahokia 063
French Church of the Holy Family in Cahokia
  • Cahokia, established in 1696 by French missionaries from Quebec, was one of the earliest permanent settlements in the region. It became one of the most populous of the northern towns. In 1787, it was made the seat of St. Clair County in the Northwest Territory. In 1801, William Henry Harrison, then governor of Indiana Territory, enlarged St. Clair County to administer a vast area extending to the Canada–US border. By 1814, the county had been reduced to almost the size of the present St. Clair County, Illinois. The county seat was shifted from Cahokia to Belleville. On April 20, 1769, the great Indian leader Chief Pontiac was murdered in Cahokia by a chief of the Peoria.
  • Kaskaskia, established in 1703, was at first a tiny mission station. It later flourished to become capital of the Illinois Territory, 1809–1818, and the first capital of the state of Illinois, 1818-1820. The French built a fort here in 1721, which was destroyed in 1763 by the British. (The fort was situated above what was then the lower course of the Kaskaskia River, but became the new channel of the Mississippi in 1881.) During the American Revolutionary War, General George Rogers Clark took possession of the village in 1778. The residents rang the church bell in celebration, and it became known as the "liberty bell". (It had been sent in 1741 by King Louis XV.) Flooding and a lateral shift of the river channel in 1881 cut off the old settlement from the mainland of Illinois and destroyed some of the village and its archaeology. Much of the village cemetery was transferred to the higher ground of Fort Kaskaskia State Park across the river. Today visitors can reach the remnants of Kaskaskia only by a bridge and road from the Missouri side. In the Great Flood of 1993, the Mississippi submerged all but a few rooftops and the steeple of the Catholic Church of the Immaculate Conception, built in 1843 and moved brick by brick to the new location on Kaskaskia Island about 1893.
  • In 1720, Philip Francois Renault, the Director of Mining Operations for the Company of the West, arrived with about 200 laborers and mechanics and 500 African slaves from Saint-Domingue to work the mines. However, the mines yielded only unprofitable coal and lead, providing insufficient revenues for the Company of the West to survive. In 1723, Renault, with his workers and slaves, established the village St. Philippe (on the Bottoms down from the present-day unincorporated community of Renault, Illinois in Monroe County, Illinois.) It was about 3 miles north of Fort de Chartres. This is the first record of African slaves in the region. Some of the French farmers also used slaves for labor, but most families held only a few, if any. The village quickly produced an agricultural surplus, with its goods sold to lower Louisiana, as well as to settlements less successful than those in the Illinois Country, such as Arkansas Post.
  • The original Ste. Genevieve was established around 1750 along the western banks of the Mississippi River. The village consisted of mostly farmers and merchants of French-Canadian descent from the settlements on the east side. Despite flooding, the town remained in that location until the great flood of 1785 destroyed much property. The villagers decided to move the entire village to higher ground about two miles north and half a mile back from the river floodplain. The city has retained the most buildings of French Colonial architecture in the US.
  • The French established Fort Orleans in 1723 along the Missouri River near Brunswick, Missouri.
  • Fort Vincennes, on the Wabash River, later known as St. Vincennes and eventually Vincennes, Indiana, was established in 1732. The British renamed it Fort Sackville after their capture in the French and Indian War (also known as the Seven Years' War.) George Rogers Clark renamed it Fort Patrick Henry, for the Governor of Virginia, when he took it in the American Revolution. Although part of the original expansive Illinois Country, as part of the Northwest Territory, it became the seat of a separate county.
  • The French built Fort de L'Ascension (later, de Massiac) on the Ohio River in 1757 near the present Metropolis, Illinois.
  • St. Louis was founded in 1764 by French fur traders. In 1765, it was made the capital of Upper Louisiana; and after 1767, control of the region west of the Mississippi was given to the Spanish. In 1780, St. Louis was attacked by British forces, mostly Native Americans, during the American Revolutionary War.[16]

Illinois Country under American control

British colonies 1763-76 shepherd1923
Map of British America's Province of Quebec and the Illinois Country (center-left) under the Quebec Act of 1774.

During the Revolutionary War, General George Rogers Clark took possession of the part of the Illinois Country east of the Mississippi for Virginia. In November 1778, the Virginia legislature created the county of Illinois, comprising all of the lands lying west of the Ohio River to which Virginia had any claim, with Kaskaskia as the county seat. Captain John Todd was named as governor. However, this government was limited to the former Canadien settlements and was rather ineffective.

For their assistance to General Clark in the war, settled Canadien and Indian residents of Illinois Country were given full citizenship. Under the Northwest Ordinance and many subsequent treaties and acts of Congress, the Canadien and Indian residents of Vincennes and Kaskaskia were granted specific exemptions, as they had declared themselves citizens of Virginia. The term Illinois Country was sometimes used in legislation to refer to these settlements.

Much of the Illinois Country region became an organized territory of the United States with the establishment of the Northwest Territory in 1787. In 1803, the old Illinois Country area west of the Mississippi was gained by the U.S. in the Louisiana Purchase.

See also

Notes

  1. ^ a b c d e Ekberg, Carl (2000). French Roots in the Illinois Country: The Mississippi Frontier in Colonial Times. Urbana and Chicago, Ill.: University of Illinois Press. pp. 32–33. ISBN 9780252069246. Retrieved 29 November 2014.
  2. ^ a b c Carrière, J. -M. (1939). "Creole Dialect of Missouri". American Speech. Duke University Press. 14 (2): 109–119. doi:10.2307/451217. JSTOR 451217.
  3. ^ Norris, F. Terry (1997). "Where Did the Villages Go? Steamboats, Deforestation, and Archaeological Loss in the Mississippi Valley". In Hurley, Andrew. Common Fields: An Environmental History of St. Louis. Missouri History Museum. pp. 73–89. ISBN 978-1-883982-15-7.
  4. ^ Hamelle, W.H. (1915). A Standard History of White County, Indiana. Chicago and New York: Lewis Publishing Co. p. 12. Retrieved 29 November 2014.
  5. ^ Shortt, Adam; Doughty, Arthur G., eds. (1907). Documents Relating to the Constitutional History of Canada, 1759-1791. Ottawa: Public Archives Canada. p. 72. Retrieved 29 November 2014.
  6. ^ a b Native Americans-Historic:The Illinois-Society, The French Illinois State Museum
  7. ^ a b Jacques Marquette 1673 | Virtual Museum of New France Canadian Museum of History
  8. ^ Guy Frégault, Le Grand Marquis: Pierre de Rigaud de Vaudreuil et la Louisiane (Montreal, 1952), pp. 129–130
  9. ^ Edmunds, R. David (2005). "Mesquakie (Fox)". Encyclopedia of Chicago. Retrieved 2018-05-01.
  10. ^ Bahmueller, Charles F., ed. (2007). Illinois History. The 50 States (2nd ed.). Salem Press. p. 247. ISBN 9781587653674.
  11. ^ a b "The Illinois Archaeology - Starved Rock Site". Museum Link - Illinois State Museum. 2000. Retrieved June 15, 2011.
  12. ^ a b c Skinner, Claiborne A. (2008). The Upper Country: French Enterprise in the Colonial Great Lakes. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. ISBN 978-0-8018-8837-3.
  13. ^ Ekberg (2000), p. 28-32
  14. ^ Ekberg (2000), p. 2-3
  15. ^ The First European Settlement in Illinois
  16. ^ Usgennet.org Archived February 23, 2001, at the Wayback Machine Attack On St. Louis: May 26, 1780.

References

Bibliography

  • Alvord, Clarence W. and Sutton, Robert M., The Illinois Country, 1673–1818, ISBN 0-252-01337-9
  • Belting, Natalia Maree, Kaskaskia under the French Regime by ISBN 0-8093-2536-5
  • Brackenridge, Henri Marie, Recollections of Persons and Places in the West (Google Books)
  • Ekberg, Carl J., Stealing Indian Women: Native Slavery in the Illinois Country, Urbana, IL: University of Illinois Press, 2007.
  • Ekberg, Carl J., Francois Vallé and His World: Upper Louisiana Before Lewis and Clark, Columbia, MO: University of Missouri Press, 2002.
  • Ekberg, Carl J., French Roots in the Illinois Country: The Mississippi Frontier in Colonial Times, Urbana, IL: University of Illinois Press, 2000, ISBN 0-252-06924-2
  • Ekberg, Carl J., Colonial Ste. Genevieve: An Adventure on the Mississippi Frontier, Tucson, AZ: Patrice Press, 1996, ISBN 1-880397-14-5

External links

Coordinates: 40°15′N 90°15′W / 40.250°N 90.250°W

American Bottom

The American Bottom is the flood plain of the Mississippi River in the Metro-East region of Southern Illinois, extending from Alton, Illinois, south to the Kaskaskia River. It is also sometimes called "American Bottoms". The area is about 175 square miles (450 km2), mostly protected from flooding in the 21st century by a levee and drainage canal system. Immediately across the river from St. Louis, Missouri are industrial and urban areas, but many swamps and the major Horseshoe Lake are reminders of the Bottoms' riparian nature. This plain served as the center for the pre-Columbian Cahokia Mounds civilization, and later the French settlement of Illinois Country. Deforestation of the river banks in the 19th century to fuel steamboats had dramatic environmental effects in this region. The Mississippi River between St. Louis and the confluence with the Ohio River became wider and more shallow, as unstable banks collapsed into the water. This resulted in more severe flooding and lateral changes of the major channel, causing the destruction of several French colonial towns, such as Kaskaskia, which relocated; Cahokia, and St. Philippe, Illinois.

The southern portion of the American Bottoms is primarily agricultural, planted chiefly in corn, wheat, and soybean. The American Bottom is part of the Mississippi Flyway used by migrating birds and has the greatest concentration of bird species in Illinois. The flood plain is bounded on the east by a nearly continuous, 200- to 300-foot high, 80-mile (130 km) long bluff of limestone and dolomite, above which begins the great prairie that covers most of the state. The Mississippi River bounds the Bottom on its west, and the river abuts the bluffline on the Missouri side. Portions of St. Clair, Madison, Monroe, and Randolph counties are in the American Bottom. Its maximum width is about 9 miles (14 km) in the north, and it is about 2 to 3 miles in width throughout most of its southern extent.

Fort de Chartres

Fort de Chartres was a French fortification first built in 1720 on the east bank of the Mississippi River in present-day Illinois. It was used as an administrative center for the province. Due generally to river floods, the fort was rebuilt twice, the last time in limestone in the 1750s in the era of French colonial control over Louisiana and the Illinois Country.

A partial reconstruction exists of this third and last fort. The site is now preserved as an Illinois state park and is four miles (6 km) west of Prairie du Rocher in Randolph County, Illinois. It is south of St. Louis, Missouri in the floodplain area that became known as the American Bottom. The site and its associated buildings were placed on the National Register of Historic Places and recognized as a National Historic Landmark on October 15, 1966, and it was named one of the contributing properties to the new French Colonial Historic District in 1974, along with other area French-influenced sites such as the Creole House, the Pierre Menard House, the Kolmer Site (a former Indian village), and the site of Fort Kaskaskia.The name of the fort honored Louis, duc de Chartres, son of the Regent of France. The fort's stone magazine, which survived the gradual ruin that overtook the rest of the site, is considered the oldest building in the state of Illinois. The state historic site today hosts several large re-enactments at the fort of colonial-era civil and military life each summer.

French colonization of Texas

The French colonization of Texas began with the establishment of a fort in present-day southeastern Texas. It was established in 1685 near Arenosa Creek and Matagorda Bay by explorer Robert Cavelier de La Salle. He intended to found the colony at the mouth of the Mississippi River, but inaccurate maps and navigational errors caused his ships to anchor instead 400 miles (640 km) to the west, off the coast of Texas. The colony survived until 1688. The present-day town of Inez is near the fort's site.

The colony faced numerous difficulties during its brief existence, including Native American raids, epidemics, and harsh conditions. From that base, La Salle led several expeditions to find the Mississippi River. These did not succeed, but La Salle did explore much of the Rio Grande and parts of east Texas. During one of his absences in 1686, the colony's last ship was wrecked, leaving the colonists unable to obtain resources from the French colonies of the Caribbean. As conditions deteriorated, La Salle realized the colony could survive only with help from the French settlements in Illinois Country to the north, along the Mississippi and Illinois Rivers. His last expedition ended along the Brazos River in early 1687, when La Salle and five of his men were murdered during a mutiny.

Although a handful of men reached Illinois Country, help never made it to the fort. Most of the remaining members of the colony were killed during a Karankawa raid in late 1688, four children survived after being adopted as captives. Although the colony lasted only three years, it established France's claim to possession of the region that is now Texas. The United States later claimed, unsuccessfully, this region as part of the Louisiana Purchase because of the early French colony.

Spain learned of La Salle's mission in 1686. Concerned that the French colony could threaten Spain's control over the Viceroyalty of New Spain and the unsettled southeastern region of North America, the Crown funded multiple expeditions to locate and eliminate the settlement. The unsuccessful expeditions helped Spain to better understand the geography of the Gulf Coast region. When the Spanish finally discovered the remains of the French colony at the fort in 1689, they buried the cannons and burned the buildings. Years later, Spanish authorities built a presidio at the same location. When the presidio was abandoned, the site of the French settlement was lost to history.

The fort was rediscovered by historians and excavated in 1996, and the area is now an archaeological site. In 1995, researchers located the ship La Belle in Matagorda Bay, with several sections of the hull remaining virtually intact. They constructed a cofferdam, the first to be used in North America to excavate the ship as if in dry conditions. In 2000, excavations revealed three of the original structures of the fort, as well as three graves of Frenchmen.

History of slavery in Illinois

Slavery in Illinois existed for more than a century. Illinois did not become a state until 1818, but earlier regional systems of government had already established slavery. France introduced African slavery to the Illinois Country in the early eighteenth century. French and other inhabitants of Illinois continued the practice of owning slaves throughout the Illinois Country's period of British rule (1763), as well as after its transfer to the new United States in 1783 (See, Illinois County, Virginia). The Northwest Ordinance (1787) banned slavery in Illinois and the rest of the Northwest Territory. Nonetheless, slavery remained a contentious issue, through the period when Illinois was part of the Indiana Territory and the Illinois Territory and some slaves remained in bondage even after statehood until their gradual emancipation by the Illinois Supreme Court.

During the early decades of statehood, the number of slaves in Illinois dwindled. Nevertheless, in the decade before the American Civil War an anti-Black law was adopted in the state, which made it difficult for new Black emigrants to enter or live in Illinois. Near the close of the civil war, Illinois repealed that law and became the first state to ratify the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, which abolished slavery nationally.

Illinois Territory

The Territory of Illinois was an organized incorporated territory of the United States that existed from March 1, 1809, until December 3, 1818, when the southern portion of the territory was admitted to the Union as the State of Illinois. Its capital was the former French village of Kaskaskia (which is still a part of the State of Illinois, but is now accessible only from Missouri, as it now lies west of the Mississippi River).

The area was earlier known as "Illinois Country" while under French control, first as part of French Canada and then its southern region as part of French Louisiana. The British gained authority over the region east of the Mississippi River with the 1763 Treaty of Paris, marking the end of the French and Indian War.

During the American Revolutionary War, Colonel George Rogers Clark took possession of the region for Virginia, which established the "County of Illinois" to exercise nominal governance over the area. Virginia later (1784) ceded nearly all of its land claims north of the Ohio River to the Federal government of the United States.

The area became part of the United States' Northwest Territory (from July 13, 1787, until July 4, 1800), and then part of the Indiana Territory. On February 3, 1809, the 10th United States Congress passed legislation establishing the Illinois Territory, after Congress received petitions from residents in the Mississippi River areas complaining of the difficulties of participating in territorial affairs in Indiana.

Illinois campaign

The Illinois Campaign, also known as Clark's Northwestern Campaign (1778-1779), was a series of events during the American Revolutionary War in which a small force of Virginia militiamen, led by George Rogers Clark, seized control of several British posts in the Illinois Country, in what are now Illinois and Indiana in the Midwestern United States. The campaign is the best-known action of the western theater of the war and the source of Clark's reputation as an early American military hero.

In July 1778, Clark and his men crossed the Ohio River from Kentucky and took control of Kaskaskia, Vincennes, and several other villages in British territory. The occupation was accomplished without firing a shot because most of the Canadien and Native American inhabitants, who peacefully co-existed with one another, were unwilling to take up arms on behalf of the British Empire. To counter Clark's advance, Henry Hamilton, the British lieutenant governor at Fort Detroit, reoccupied Vincennes with a small force. In February 1779, Clark returned to Vincennes in a surprise winter expedition and retook the town, capturing Hamilton in the process. Virginia capitalized on Clark's success by establishing the region as Illinois County, Virginia.

The importance of the Illinois campaign has been the subject of much debate. Because the British ceded the entire Northwest Territory to the United States in the 1783 Treaty of Paris, some historians have credited Clark with nearly doubling the size of the original Thirteen Colonies by seizing control of the Illinois Country during the war. For this reason, Clark was nicknamed the "Conqueror of the Northwest", and his Illinois campaign—particularly the surprise march to Vincennes—was greatly celebrated and romanticized. Other historians have downplayed the importance of the campaign, arguing that Clark's "conquest" was a temporary occupation that had no impact on the boundary negotiations in Europe.

Jean Baptiste Point du Sable

Jean Baptiste Point du Sable (also spelled Point de Sable, Point au Sable, Point Sable, Pointe DuSable; before 1750 – August 28, 1818) is regarded as the first permanent non-Indigenous settler of what later became Chicago, Illinois, and is recognized as the "Founder of Chicago". A school, museum, harbor, park, and bridge have been named in his honor. The site where he settled near the mouth of the Chicago River around the 1780s is identified as a National Historic Landmark, now located in Pioneer Court.

Point du Sable was of African descent but little else is known of his life prior to the 1770s. During his career, the areas where he settled and traded around the Great Lakes and in the Illinois Country changed hands several times among France, Britain, Spain and the new United States. Described as handsome and well educated, Point du Sable married a Native American woman, Kitiwaha, and they had two children. In 1779, during the American Revolutionary War, he was arrested by the British military on suspicion of being an American sympathizer. In the early 1780s he worked for the British lieutenant-governor of Michilimackinac on an estate at what is now the city of St. Clair, Michigan.

Point du Sable is first recorded as living at the mouth of the Chicago River in a trader's journal of early 1790. He established an extensive and prosperous trading settlement in what later became the city of Chicago. He sold his Chicago River property in 1800 and moved to St. Charles, now in Missouri, where he was licensed to run a Missouri River ferry. Point du Sable's successful role in developing the Chicago River settlement was little recognized until the mid-20th century.

List of commandants of the Illinois Country

The Illinois Country was governed by military commandants for its entire period under French and British rule, and during its time as a county of Virginia. The presence of French military interests in the Illinois Country began in 1682 when Robert de La Salle built Fort St. Louis du Roche on the Illinois River. The commandant of the fort was the top French official in the region and was responsible to the Governor General of New France. In 1718 Illinois was transferred to Louisiana and renamed Upper Louisiana. The new seat of government was Fort de Chartres, located in what is now southeastern Illinois among the growing French settlements of Cahokia, Kaskaskia and Prairie du Rocher.

In 1763, at the conclusion of the Seven Years' War, the entire area of Louisiana was divided, with Great Britain receiving the lands east of the Mississippi and Spain claiming the lands west of it. The new city of St. Louis, in present-day Missouri, became the seat of government of Spanish Upper Louisiana. The government of the British side, present-day Illinois, remained in the hands of military commandants at Fort de Chartres; upon that fort's abandonment the seat of government moved to Kaskaskia. British rule in Illinois was ad hoc and unsystematic. The Quebec Act of 1774 would have organized a government for the region, but before it could be put into effect Illinois was captured by Virginia militia in the Illinois Campaign.After 1787 Illinois received a civil government as part of the Northwest and Indiana Territories before becoming a distinct Illinois Territory in 1809. The United States acquired the rest of Upper Louisiana in the Louisiana Purchase of 1803; military rule continued for a few months before it was transferred to civilian government, first under the Indiana Territory, and then as the Louisiana Territory in 1805.

Louisiana (New France)

Louisiana (French: La Louisiane; La Louisiane française) or French Louisiana was an administrative district of New France. Under French control 1682 to 1762 and 1801 (nominally) to 1803, the area was named in honor of King Louis XIV, by French explorer René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de la Salle. It originally covered an expansive territory that included most of the drainage basin of the Mississippi River and stretched from the Great Lakes to the Gulf of Mexico and from the Appalachian Mountains to the Rocky Mountains.

Louisiana included two regions, now known as Upper Louisiana (French: la Haute-Louisiane), which began north of the Arkansas River, and Lower Louisiana (French: la Basse-Louisiane). The U.S. state of Louisiana is named for the historical region, although it is only a small part of the vast lands claimed by France.French exploration of the area began during the reign of Louis XIV, but French Louisiana was not greatly developed, due to a lack of human and financial resources. As a result of its defeat in the Seven Years' War, France was forced to cede the east part of the territory in 1763 to the victorious British, and the west part to Spain as compensation for Spain losing Florida. France regained sovereignty of the western territory in the secret Third Treaty of San Ildefonso of 1800. But strained by obligations in Europe, Napoleon Bonaparte sold the territory to the United States in the Louisiana Purchase of 1803, ending France's presence in Louisiana.

The United States ceded part of the Louisiana Purchase to the United Kingdom in the Treaty of 1818. This section lies above the 49th parallel north in a part of present-day Alberta and Saskatchewan.

Missouri French

Missouri French (French: français du Missouri) or Illinois Country French (French: français du Pays des Illinois) also known as français vincennois, Cahok and nicknamed "Paw-Paw French" often by individuals mainly outside the community but not exclusively, is a variety of the French language formerly spoken in the upper Mississippi River Valley in the Midwestern United States, particularly in eastern Missouri. The language is one of the major varieties of French that developed in the United States and at one point was widely spoken in areas of Bonne Terre, Valles Mines, Desloge, De Soto, Ste. Genevieve, Old Mines, Saint Louis, Richwoods, Prairie du Rocher, Cahokia, Kaskaskia, and Vincennes as well as several other locations. Speakers of Missouri French may call themselves "créoles" as they are descendants of the early French settlers of Illinois Country.

Today the dialect is highly endangered, with only a few elderly native speakers. It is thought that any remaining speakers live in or around Old Mines, Missouri.

New France

New France (French: Nouvelle-France) was the area colonized by France in North America during a period beginning with the exploration of the Gulf of Saint Lawrence by Jacques Cartier in 1534 and ending with the cession of New France to Great Britain and Spain in 1763 under the Treaty of Paris (1763).

At its peak in 1712 (before the Treaty of Utrecht), the territory of New France, also sometimes known as the French North American Empire or Royal New France, consisted of five colonies, each with its own administration: Canada, the most developed colony and divided into the districts of Québec, Trois-Rivières and Montréal (before 1717, extending south through the Illinois Country); Hudson's Bay; Acadie, in the northeast; Plaisance, on the island of Newfoundland, and Louisiane. (after 1717, extending north through the Illinois Country); Thus, it extended from Newfoundland to the Canadian prairies and from Hudson Bay to the Gulf of Mexico, including all the Great Lakes of North America.

In the sixteenth century, the lands were used primarily to draw from the wealth of natural resources such as furs through trade with the various indigenous peoples. In the seventeenth century, successful settlements began in Acadia, and in Quebec by the efforts of Champlain. By 1765, the population of the new Province of Quebec reached approximately 70,000 settlers.The 1713 Treaty of Utrecht resulted in France relinquishing its claims to mainland Acadia, the Hudson Bay and Newfoundland to England. France established the colony of Île Royale, now called Cape Breton Island, where they built the Fortress of Louisbourg.Acadia had a difficult history, with the British causing the Great Upheaval with the forced expulsion of the Acadians in the period from 1755 to 1764. This has been remembered on July 28 each year since 2003. Their descendants are dispersed in the Maritime Provinces of Canada, and in Maine and Louisiana in the United States, with small populations in Chéticamp, Nova Scotia and the Magdalen Islands. Some also went to France.

In 1763, France had ceded the rest of New France, except the islands of Saint Pierre and Miquelon, to Great Britain and Spain at the Treaty of Paris, which ended the Seven Years' War (known as the French and Indian War in North America and especially the United States). Britain received Canada, Acadia, and the parts of French Louisiana which lay east of the Mississippi River – except for the Île d'Orléans, which was granted to Spain, along with the territory to the west – the larger portion of Louisiana.

In 1800, Spain returned its portion of Louisiana to France under the secret Treaty of San Ildefonso. However, French leader Napoleon Bonaparte in turn sold it to the United States in the Louisiana Purchase of 1803, permanently ending French colonial efforts on the North American mainland.

New France eventually became absorbed within the United States and Canada, with the only vestige remaining under French rule being the tiny islands of Saint Pierre and Miquelon. In the United States, the legacy of New France includes numerous placenames as well as small pockets of French-speaking communities. In Canada, institutional bilingualism and strong Francophone identities are arguably the most enduring legacy of New France.

Pierre Menard

Pierre Menard (7 October 1766 – 13 June 1844) was a fur trader and U.S. political figure. Pierre Menard was born at St. Antoine-sur-Richelieu, near Montreal, Canada, third in a family of ten children. His father was Jean Baptiste Ménard, a French soldier in the regiment of Guyenne.Resident in the Illinois Country by the end of the 18th century, Marnard became a successful businessman. He served in the legislature of the Indiana Territory, and then presided over the Illinois Territory Council. He was elected the first Lieutenant Governor of the State of Illinois in 1818.

Pontiac's War

Pontiac's War (also known as Pontiac's Conspiracy or Pontiac's Rebellion) was launched in 1763 by a loose confederation of elements of Native American tribes, primarily from the Great Lakes region, the Illinois Country, and Ohio Country who were dissatisfied with British postwar policies in the Great Lakes region after the British victory in the French and Indian War (1754–1763). Warriors from numerous tribes joined the uprising in an effort to drive British soldiers and settlers out of the region. The war is named after the Odawa leader Pontiac, the most prominent of many native leaders in the conflict.

The war began in May 1763 when Native Americans, offended by the policies of British General Jeffrey Amherst, attacked a number of British forts and settlements. Eight forts were destroyed, and hundreds of colonists were killed or captured, with many more fleeing the region. Hostilities came to an end after British Army expeditions in 1764 led to peace negotiations over the next two years. Native Americans were unable to drive away the British, but the uprising prompted the British government to modify the policies that had provoked the conflict.

Warfare on the North American frontier was brutal, and the killing of prisoners, the targeting of civilians, and other atrocities were widespread. The ruthlessness and treachery of the conflict was a reflection of a growing divide between the separate populations of the British colonists and Native Americans. Contrary to popular belief, the British government did not issue the Royal Proclamation of 1763 in reaction to Pontiac's War, though the conflict did provide an impetus for the application of the Proclamation's Indian clauses. This proved unpopular with British colonists, and may have been one of the early contributing factors to the American Revolution.

Pontiac (Ottawa leader)

Pontiac or Obwandiyag (c. 1720 – April 20, 1769) was an Odawa war chief known for his role in the war named for him, from 1763 to 1766 leading Native Americans in a struggle against British military occupation of the Great Lakes region. It followed the British victory in the French and Indian War, the North American front of the Seven Years' War. Pontiac's importance in the war that bears his name has been debated. Nineteenth-century accounts portrayed him as the mastermind and leader of the revolt, but some subsequent scholars argued that his role had been exaggerated. Historians today generally view him as an important local leader who influenced a wider movement that he did not command.

The war began in May 1763 when Pontiac and 300 followers attempted to take Fort Detroit by surprise. His plan foiled, Pontiac laid siege to the fort, where he was eventually joined by more than 900 warriors from a half-dozen tribes. Meanwhile, messengers spread the word of Pontiac's actions, and the war expanded far beyond Detroit. In July 1763, Pontiac defeated a British detachment at the Battle of Bloody Run, but he was unable to capture the fort. In October, he lifted the siege and withdrew to the Illinois Country. Pontiac's actions contributed to the British Crown's issuance of the Proclamation of 1763, which prohibited British settlers west of the Appalachian Mountains. This was an effort to preserve an area for Native Americans.

Pontiac's influence declined around Detroit because of the unsuccessful siege, but he gained stature as he continued to encourage resistance against the British. Seeking to end the war, British officials made him the focus of their diplomatic efforts. In July 1766, he made peace with British Superintendent of Indian Affairs Sir William Johnson. The British attention to Pontiac aroused resentment among other tribal leaders, as the war effort was decentralized. Pontiac claimed greater authority than he possessed. He was increasingly ostracized, and in 1769 he was assassinated by a Peoria warrior.

Prairie du Rocher, Illinois

Prairie du Rocher ("The Rock Prairie" in French) is a village in Randolph County, Illinois, United States. Founded in the French colonial period in the American Midwest, the community is located near bluffs that flank the east side of the Mississippi River along the floodplain often called the "American Bottom". The population was 604 at the 2010 census.Prairie du Rocher is one of the oldest communities founded as a French settlement that survives in the 21st century. About four miles to the west, closer to the Mississippi River, is Fort de Chartres, site of a French military fortification and colonial headquarters established in 1720. Some buildings were reconstructed after falling into ruins, and the complex is now a state park and historical site. The fort and town were a center of government and commerce at the time when France claimed a vast territory in North America, New France or La Louisiane, which stretched from present-day Louisiana and the Illinois Country to Canada.

The village was founded in 1722 by French colonists, mostly migrants from Canada.

Slavery in Canada (New France)

Slavery in Canada was practiced by many of the indigenous populations and predates the arrival of Europeans to the continent, however it was not until the colonization and commencement of trade with England's southern colonies that commercial chattel slavery became common place in New France.This institution, which endured for almost two centuries, affected thousands of men, women, and children descended from Indigenous and African peoples.

Ste. Genevieve, Missouri

Ste. Genevieve (Sainte-Geneviève with French spelling) is a city in Ste. Genevieve Township and is the county seat of Ste. Genevieve County, Missouri, United States. The population was 4,410 at the 2010 census. Founded in 1735 by French Canadian colonists and settlers from east of the river, it was the first organized European settlement west of the Mississippi River in present-day Missouri.

Vincennes Trace

The Vincennes Trace was a major trackway running through what are now the American states of Kentucky, Indiana, and Illinois. Originally formed by millions of migrating bison, the Trace crossed the Ohio River near the Falls of the Ohio and continued northwest to the Wabash River, near present-day Vincennes, before it crossed to what became known as Illinois. This buffalo migration route, often 12 to 20 feet wide in places, was well known and used by American Indians. Later European traders and American settlers learned of it, and many used it as an early land route to travel west into Indiana and Illinois. It is considered the most important of the traces to the Illinois country.It was known by various names, including Buffalo Trace, Louisville Trace, Clarksville Trace, and Old Indian Road. After being improved as a turnpike, the New Albany-Paoli Pike, among others. The Trace's continuous use encouraged improvements over the years, including paving and roadside development. U.S. Route 150 between Vincennes, Indiana, and Louisville, Kentucky, follows a portion of this path. Sections of the improved Trace have been designated as part of a National Scenic Byway that crosses southern Indiana.

Étienne de Boré

Jean Étienne de Boré (27 December 1741 – 1 February 1820) was a Creole French planter, born in Kaskaskia, Illinois Country, who was known for producing the first granulated sugar in Louisiana. At the time, the area was under Spanish rule. His innovation made sugar cane profitable as a commodity crop and planters began to cultivate it in quantity. He owned a large plantation upriver from New Orleans.

Boré was a prominent planter in the area when the United States made the Louisiana Purchase and acquired the former French territories west of the Mississippi River. In 1803 the American governor of the territory appointed de Boré as the first mayor of New Orleans under the U.S. administration.

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