Exploring the Mississippi

Robert Cavelier de La Salle was granted, in addition to the control of any lands he discovered, permission to construct two outposts south of Lakes Erie and Michigan. In 1680, he sailed down the Illinois River, stopping at the point where it joined the Mississippi. He learned from the Indians that the river was navigable, and that it emptied into the sea near where the Spanish colonies had been established.
Here, La Salle built Fort Crevecoeur. A ship which was to bring men and supplies never arrived, and La Salle returned to Fort Frontenac, while his second in command, Henri de Tonty, was taken prisoner by the Iroquois Indians. Father Hennepin, meanwhile, continued his exploration of the northern Mississippi River. The following year, La Salle continued his explorations, staying with the Arkansas Indians, and continued his descent of the Mississippi. The climate gradually grew warmer, and alligators appeared on the riverbanks. La Salle stayed first with the Taensas Indians, and then with the Natchez. Soon the banks became lower, reeds grew abundantly in the marshes that bordered the river, and the water became brackish. Sailing through the main channel, Tonty reached the open sea.
At the fork of the delta's three branches, La Salle prepared and erected a post on which he fastened the coat of arms of the King of France, which had been cast from a cooking pot.



Bocquin, Cavelier de La Salle claims Louisiana and the Mississippi in the name of Louis XIV, April 9, 1682 (1860)
BNF, Estampes

Bocquin, Cavelier de La Salle claims Louisiana and the Mississippi in the name of Louis XIV, April 9, 1682 (1860)
BNF, Estampes

some of the first travels