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governed them with an uncontrolled, but with a parental authority. They were not oppressed with taxes, nor do we read of their having any political grievances. They were unambitious and submissive.
The first adventurers to Louisiana and Canada, had exchanged the fruitful fields and vineyards of France, for the inhospitable wilds of the new world, not to pursue their former occupations, but to amass opulent fortunes by mining. They expected to find a country rich in precious minerals, and great was their disappointment when they came to realize their condition. The Indian trade furnished their only means of subsistence. They took little pains to ascertain the quality of their lands, or to ascertain what products were suited to the soil and climate. The consequence was that the great mass of them became poor, the spirit of enterprise was extinguished, and they grew as inert as they were inoffensive. They became boatmen and hunters, and the labors of ninetenths of the population on distant lakes and rivers, exposed to danger, privation, and death, served only to augment the wealth of a few traders and merchants. The physical strength of a community, depends more on agriculture than on any other pursuit. The ancient French were ignorant of this truth, and their descendants have not learned it to this day. They seldom attempted any thing more than the cultivation of their gardens, and the raising of a little grain for their own consumption. In the mechanic arts they made no progress; they still use some of the implements of agriculture introduced by their fore
fathers a century ago; and drive vehicles, such as were in fashion in some provinces of France at the same period. But they were contented. The most perfect equality reigned among them. They lived in harmony, all danced to the same violin, and preserved their national vivacity, and love of amusement.
When their country came into the possession of the American government, they were displeased with the change. There never was a stronger instance of the unfitness of republican institutions for an ignorant people. Accustomed to be ruled by the officers of the French crown, and to bestow no thought on matters of public policy, they disliked the machinery of municipal institutions, which they did not understand, and considered it a hardship to be called upon to elect officers, or perform civil duties. It is said that a few years ago, when the inhabitants of one of these villages were told that it would be proper for them to attend an election, to vote for a member to congress, one of their principal men declared that it was an imposition to send any man so far from home, that he would not go to congress, nor would he assist in imposing such an unpleasant duty upon any of his neighbors.
The influx of a population dissimilar to themselves in manners, language, religion, and habits, displeased them; the enterprise and fondness for improvement of the American settlers, fretted and annoyed them. The land lying waste around them, they had considered as a kind of common property, the natural inheritance of their children and countrymen; and when any one wished to convert a portion of it to his own
use, he applied to the lieutenant governor, who granted a concession for a certain number of acres. But now they saw all this domain surveyed and offered for sale to the highest bidder; and there was a fair prospect that in a few years there would be no wilderness remaining to hunt in, and no range for their wild ponies and cattle.
Another anecdote of these times is worth recording. · When General George Rogers Clarke, the Hannibal of the west, captured Kaskaskia, he made his head quarters at the house of a Mr. Michel one of the wealthiest inhabitants. Michel lived in a capital French house enveloped with piazzas and surrounded by gardens —all in the most approved style. He was a merry, contented, happy mang : abounding in good living and good stories, and as hospitable as any gentleman whatever. The general remained his guest some time, treated with the greatest kindness and attention, and took leave of Mr. A. with a high respect for his character, and a grateful sense of his warm-hearted hospitality. Years rolled away; General Clarke had retired from public life, and was dwelling in a humble log house, in Indiana, a disappointed man. His brilliant services had not been appreciated by his country; his political prospects had been blighted; he was unemployed and unhappy-a proud man, conscious of merit, pining away his life in obscurity. One day, as he strolled along the banks of the Ohio, he espied a circle of French boatmen, the crew of a barge, who were seated round a fire on the beach, smoking their pipes, and singing their merry French songs. One voice
arrested his ear-it was that of his old friend Michel; he could not mistake the blithe tones and ever buoyant humor of his former host. He approached, and there sat Michel in the garb of a boatman, with a red cap on his head, the merriest of the circle. They recognized each other instantly. Michel was as glad to see the General, and invited him to take a seat on the log beside him, with as much unembarrassed hospitality, as if he had still been in his spacious house surrounded by his train of servants. He had suddenly been reduced from affluence to poverty
- from a prosperous gentleman, who lived comfortably on his estate, to a boatman- the cook, if we mistake not, of a barge. Although a man of vivacity and strong mind, he was illiterate and unsuspecting. The change of government had brought in new laws, new customs, and keener speculators than the honest French had been accustomed to deal with, and Michel was ruined. But he was as happy as ever; while his friend, the general, whose change of circumstances had not been so sudden or complete, was a moody, discontented man. Such is the diversity of national character.
The city of St. Louis was founded in the year 1764, by Monsieur Laclede, one of the partners in a mercantile association, known under the name of Laclede, Ligueste, Maxan & Company, to whom the Director General of the province of Louisiana had granted the exclusive privilege of trading with the Indians of the Missouri, and those west of the Mississippi, above the Missouri, as far up as the river St. Peter. The traffic in furs and peltry with these distant tribes, though of great value, would have been unavailable without a suitable place for the deposit of merchandise; and to induce the company to hazard the establishment of such a depot, which would also serve as the nucleus of new settlements west of the Mississippi, extensive powers were given to the gentlemen engaged in this enterprise. M. Laclede, therefore, formed an expedition, at the head of which he set out from New Orleans, on the 3d of August, 1763, and arrived at Ste. Genevieve, where it seems there was already a small settlement, on the 3d of November— the voyage which is now accomplished in ten days by our steamboats, occupying those adventurers three months, with their inferior means of transportation. This point being too distant from the Missouri, he proceeded to the mouth of that river, and on his return fixed upon the site. Having wintered at Fort Chartres, and gained some recruits at