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)