Louisiana Under The Royal Governors
Bienville again governor.—The expense of the Natchez War convinced the directors of the company that the Louisiana project could not be made a paying investment, and in 1731 the king released them from their charter. In 1731 the Company of the Indies withdrew from Louisiana and it became a royal province. A council was organized to replace the company and Bienville was again made governor.
The Chickasaw War: Fort Tombecbé.—After the Natchez War the remnant of the tribe had fled to the Chickasaws. In 1736 Bienville made war on the latter tribe, who had not only harbored the Natchez, but were in alliance with the English and had formed a league to cut off French activities along the Mississippi, Mobile, and Tombigbee Rivers. Bienville led troops from Natchitoches, Natchez, Mobile, and New Orleans, while D'Artaguette from the Illinois coöperated. As a base of attack Fort Tombecbé was built on the Tombigbee River in the Choctaw country. The expedition against the Chickasaws ended in disaster, but Fort Tombecbé continued to be important as a base for the control of the Choctaws, who were kept hostile toward Chickasaws and English. In 1740 a second attempt was made. At Fort Assumption, on the site of Memphis, a force of thirty-six hundred was gathered. The size of the army frightened the Chickasaws, who sued for peace. The French, however, failed to secure their friendship, and they remained allies of the English.
End of Bienville's rule.—In 1743 Bienville retired from the governorship without having succeeded in making the colony a success. The white population near the Gulf had declined to thirty-two hundred and there were about two thousand slaves in the colony, while the Illinois country contained about fifteen hundred people. During the remaining twenty years of French rule in Louisiana the New Orleans region showed but slight development.
The Illinois.—The Illinois district throve especially under the Company of the Indies. At first the settlements had been governed from Canada, but because of the Fox wars and difficulties of transportation, there was little connection with Canada, and after 1717 the Illinois district was attached to Louisiana. The settlement profited by the John Law "boom" in 1719, eight hundred new colonists coming, chiefly from Canada and New Orleans. In 1720 Fort Chartres, in 1723 St. Philippe, and ten years later Prairie du Rocher, were established. Across the river St. Genevieve and St. Charles were founded. Further east, the Wabash was fortified to keep out the advancing English traders. In 1720 Ouiatanon post was established at Lafayette. This post and Fort Miami, at Fort Wayne, were attached to Canada, while Vincennes, founded in 1731, belonged to Louisiana, as did Fort Massac founded later on the Ohio. The dividing line between the districts was Terre Haute, or the highlands. Ouiatanon was at the head of navigation on the Wabash for larger pirogues. Here peltries for Canada were reshipped in canoes. Twenty thousand skins a year were sent from Ouiatanon in the decade after 1720.
The Garden of New France.—The Illinois district became an important agricultural center, whence large shipments of grain were made to Detroit, the Ohio River posts, New Orleans, Mobile, and Europe. Negro slaves were introduced and tobacco-raising was begun. At Kaskaskia there was a Jesuit academy for white boys, and at Cahokia a Sulpician Indian school.
The Missouri lead mines.—During the rule of the Company of the Indies lead mines were opened in Missouri, where lead had been early discovered, especially on Maramec River. While governor, Cadillac had made a personal visit to inspect them. Mining was begun on an important scale by Renault, who received grants on the Missouri in 1723. He is said to have taken to these mines two hundred miners from France, and five hundred negroes from Santo Domingo. He was actively engaged in mining until 1746.
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