« PrécédentContinuer »
| TEXAS * 209 their hearers at least believed that the river had
been found. Chief of these was Robert Cavelier de la Salle, l-La Salle hurried to France and laid before the King aplan to extend the fur trade to the Illinois country and explore the Mississippi, which rose in Asia, to its mouth. Four years later, having erected posts in Illinois, LaSalle landed at the mouth of the Mississippi and claimed the territory along its course for France. The discovery that the river emptied into the Mexican Gulf put a new idea into La Salle's fertile brain. He made another journey to France and proposed to plant a colony at the mouth of the Mississippi, and thus to secure the river highway for France and establish a vantage point for the control of the Gulf Vand for descent upon the Spanish mines of northern Mexico. In the summer of 1684 he sailed from France with his colony; and toward the end of the year he landed on the Texas coast at Matagorda Bay. It was because of faulty maps, perhaps, that he had missed the mouth of the Mississippi. One of his four ships had been captured by Spaniards en route and another was wrecked on entering the bay. Beaujeu, the naval commander, who had quarreled with La Salle from the first, turned his
-- ** ** * - - - " " ----
210 THE SPANISH BORDERLANDS
vessel about and returned to France, carrying away
* Not on the Lavaca River as stated by Parkman and Winsor. The author in 1914 determined that the site of the colony was | five miles above the mouth of the Garcitas River on the ranch of Mr. Cloude Keeran, in Victoria County, Texas.
Illinois posts. This would seem a hopeless undertaking; for he had not found the Mississippi, by which he had previously descended from the Illinois
country, and he had no idea of the distances he
must travel across an unknown wilderness. He set out nevertheless with a few companions, including his brother, the Abbé Jean Cavelier, and his nephew Moranget. He crossed the Colorado near the present Columbus and, keeping on northward, forded the Brazos just above Navasota. Here he was treacherously slain by some of his men,” who
... had already killed Moranget.
The survivors of La Salle's party continued northeastward. Some deserted in the Indian towns. The others, including La Salle's brother, crossed the Red River near Texarkana and the intervening country to the mouth of the Arkansas, ascended
# to Tonty’s post on the Illinois, and returned to ! st Canada. They did not inform Tonty of La Salle's He death, nor of the perilous condition of the little colgs ony on the Gulf. Except for two or three men and at: some children, who were taken by the Indians— of nine persons in all – the whole colony perished.
t : s' mitted near the Trinity or the Neches, but evidence now available makes it clear that the spot was between the Brazos and
* Historians have supposed that this dastardly act was com
Savasota rivers and near the present city of Navasota.
When the mishaps attending La Salle's venture are reviewed — including a former attempt to poison him, the capture of one of his ships by the Spaniards, the desertion of Beaujeu, his assassination and the suppression of the news of it from the faithful Tonty who might have succored the colony – it is difficult not to suspect that his efforts were beset with subtle treachery from the beginning.
t If the news of La Salle’s expedition caused a sensation in Spain, it roused the greatest alarm along the whole northern Spanish frontier in the New World, from Chihuahua to Cuba.) The West Indies were no longer solely Spanish. The progress of the century had brought English, French, and Dutch to the lesser islands neglected by Spain. English settlers now occupied the Bermudas and several other islands. English arms had taken Jamaica and, in the peace concluded in 1670, Spain had recognized England’s right to it and to the others she had colonized. The French West India Company had founded colonies on Guadeloupe, Martinique, and in the Windward Islands. The Dutch had trading stations on St. Eustatius, Tobago, and Curaçao; and English, French, and Dutch held posts in Guiana. Raids from these bases on Spanish ports and treasure fleets were all too frequent and too costly, even if no recent buccaneer had rivaled the exploit of Piet Heyn of the Dutch West India Company who, in 1628, had chased the Vera Cruz fleet into Matanzas River, Cuba, and captured its cargo worth $15,000,000. That sons of a France growing swiftly in power had pushed south from Canada through the hinterland and planted themselves on the Gulf where they could coöperate with the lively pirates of the French Indies was news to stir Mexico, Florida, and the Spanish West Indies to a ferment. The Spanish authorities hastily sent out expeditions east and west by sea and land to discover and demolish La Salle's colony. Mariners from Vera Cruz returned to that harbor to report two wrecked French ships in Matagorda Bay and no sign of a colony. It was concluded that La Salle's expedition had been destroyed and that the French menace was over, for the time being at least. The outposts in New León and Coahuila, just south of the Río Grande, had been no less roused than the harbor towns of Havana and Vera Cruz. To the Spanish frontiersmen, dreaming even yet of a rich kingdom “beyond,” the thought of a French colony expanding to bar their way was intolerable. Their spirit was embodied in the figure