Under French Dominion

The governor of Canada, John Talon, was an able, vigorous and patriotic Frenchman. He cherished high hopes for the future of New France. He not only labored strenuously to develop the industrial resources of the colony, but addressed himself to discovering and occupying the interior of the continent "controlling the rivers, which were its only highways and securing it for France against every other nation." But the region was still, to a very great extent, an unknown world; yet sufficient knowledge had he of the upper lakes and circumjacent regions to resolve that possession must be taken at once of the country, to secure it to France; meanwhile, an active search was to be carried on for mines of copper.

The agent employed by Talon for the work of securing the great west to the king of France, was Daumont de St. Lusson. The latter set out in 1670, from the St. Lawrence, accompanied by a small party of men. With him was Nicholas Perrot, Canadian voyageur, who was to act as interpreter. Perrot spoke Algonquin fluently and' was favorably known to many of the tribes of that family. He was a man of enterprise, courage and address. His influence with many of the western nations was great. It was arranged that St. Lusson should winter at the Manitoulin Islands, while Perrot, having first sent messages to the tribes of the north, inviting them to meet the deputy of the governor at the Sault Ste. Marie, in what is now the state of Michigan, not far from the foot of Lake Superior, in the following spring, should proceed to Green Bay to urge the nations seated upon its waters to the meeting.

Perrot wintered among the tribes at the bay, and was industrious in making preparations for the journey of the principal chiefs of surrounding nations to the Sault, where they were to meet the representatives of many other tribes gathered for the conference with St. Lusson. Sachems of the Pottawattomies who also represented the Miamis, chiefs of the Sacs, head men of the Winnebagoes and Menominees, all embarked for the place of rendezvous, along with the indomitable interpreter, where they arrived May 5, 1671, finding that St. Lusson with his men, fifteen in number, had preceded them more than a month. Indians came from other directions - among them were Creez, Monsonis, Amikoues, Nipissings and others. When all had reached the rapids, the governor's deputy prepared to execute the commission with which he was charged - the taking possession of the country in the name of the French king, with the full consent of all the assembled chiefs deputed to give acquiescence for the surrounding nations.

Potawatomis Indians

The ceremony was to be an imposing one. To this end a large cross of wood had been prepared. It was now reared and planted in the ground. Then a post of cedar was raised beside it, with a metal plate attached, engraven with the royal arms. "In the name," said St. Lusson, "of the most high, mighty and redoubtable monarch, Louis, fourteenth of that name, most Christian king of France and of Navarre, I take possession of this place, Sainte Marie du Sault, as also of Lakes Huron and Superior, the island of Manitoulin, and all countries, rivers, lakes and streams contiguous and adjacent thereunto; both those which have been discovered and those which may be discovered hereafter, in all their length and breadth, bounded on the one side by the seas of the north, and of the west, and on the other by the south sea; declaring to the nations thereof, that from this time forth they are vassals of his majesty, bound to obey his laws and follow his customs; promising them on his part all succor and protection against the incursions and invasions of their enemies; declaring to all other potentates, princes, sovereigns, states and republics - to them and their subjects - that they cannot and are not to seize or settle upon any parts of the aforesaid countries, save only under the good pleasure of his most Christian majesty, and of him who will govern in his behalf; and this on pain of incurring his resentment and the efforts of his arms."

This was followed by a great shout of assent on part of the assembled savages and of "Vive le Roi" by the Frenchmen. Thus it was that the great northwest was not only placed under the protection of France, but became a part of her American possessions. And why not? She had discovered it - she had, to a certain extent, explored it - had, to a limited extent, established commerce with it - and her missionaries had proclaimed the faith to the red men of its forests.

The act of St. Lusson in establishing French supremacy in the country beyond Lake Michigan not being regarded as sufficiently definite, Perrot, in 1689, at the head of Green Bay, again took possession of this region, extending the dominion of New France not only over the territory of the upper Mississippi, but "to other places more remote." This completed the work so auspiciously carried forward in 1671, by this intrepid voyageur.


Information gathered and adapted from History of Sheboygan County, Wisconsin, Past and Present
Carl Zillier, Editor
Pubished by The S.J. Clarke Publishing Company, 1912, Chicago, IL

Back to Sheboygan County History

Quote 05