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Chapter 13

This webpage reproduces a chapter of
Early History of Illinois

by
Sidney Breese

published by E. B. Myers & Company,
Chicago, 1884

The text is in the public domain.

This page has been carefully proofread
and I believe it to be free of errors.
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Chapter 15
This site is not affiliated with the US Military Academy.

 p157  Chapter XIV

Louis XIV, in 1712, grants the country to Crozat
and it is called Louisiana

Crozat was a man of enterprise and talents, was one of his majesty's counselors, a secretary also of his household, of his crown and revenue, whose zeal and the singular knowledge he had acquired in maritime commerce had procured to the kingdom great quantities of gold and silver at critical conjunctures of its finances.

As fortifying the statement that the French government had not before this time directed their attention to this vast and fruitful region, the patent to Crozat recites that "notwithstanding the wars, the king had always desired to enlarge and extend the trade of his American colonies, that for the purpose he had given orders in 1683 to undertake a discovery of the countries and lands situated in the northern part of America, between New France and New Mexico, and that the Sieur de La  p158 Salle, to whom he committed the enterprise, had success enough to confirm a belief that a communication might be settled from New France to the Gulf of Mexico by means of large rivers, upon which, immediately after the peace of Ryswick, he had given orders for the establishment of a colony there, and maintaining a garrison to keep the possession he had taken in 1683, of the lands, coasts and islands in the Gulf of Mexico, between Carolina on the east and Old and New Mexico on the west.

Now, if in 1712 a belief only should have been entertained that this valley might be settled, the idea of the existence of a project to connect it immediately on its discovery with Canada and the gulf is certainly not well founded. If the king of France had made any efforts toward it, at that early day, he would have alluded to them in his grant to Crozat, to the military posts and missionary stations he had caused to be established in it. But no allusion of the kind is made, no reference whatever to any such establishments. The garrison and colony he speaks of were at or near the mouth of the Mississippi, and he seems not to have known of the secure foothold the Jesuits  p159 and others, under their patronage, had obtained in this portion of his domains.

To Crozat, for the reasons mentioned, was the commerce of the whole country granted for fifteen years in all the lands possessed by the French king as bounded "by New Mexico and the English of Carolina — all the establishments, ports, havens, rivers and principally the port and haven of the Isle Dauphine, heretofore called Massacre, from the edge of the sea as far as the Illinois, together with the river St. Philip, heretofore called the Missourys, and of St. Jerome, heretofore called Oubache, with all the countries, territories, lakes within land, and the rivers which fall directly or indirectly into that part of the river of St. Louis."

The king's pleasure was that all the above-mentioned lands, countries, streams, rivers and islands should be and remain under the name of "the Government of Louisiana, which shall be dependent upon the general government of New France, to which it is subordinate; and further, that all the lands we possess from the Illinois be united, so far as occasion requires, to the general government of New France and become part thereof," reserving to himself the  p160 liberty of enlarging the extent of the government of the country of Louisiana, as he, the king, might think fit. Crozat was also permitted "to search for, open and dig all sorts of mines, veins and minerals throughout the whole extent of the country of Louisiana, and to transfer the profits thereof into any part of France during the said fifteen years."

There was also granted to him, in perpetuity, his heirs and others claiming under him or them, the property of the said mines, veins and minerals, paying the king, in lieu of all claim, the fifth part of all the gold and silver, to be transported to France at the charge of Crozat, the king taking the risk of the sea and of war as to his fifth, and the tenth part of what effects he might draw from the other mines, veins and minerals, which tenth was to be deposited in the king's magazine in Louisiana.

He was also permitted to search for precious stones and pearls, paying to his majesty one‑fifth, in the same manner as was directed of the gold and silver.

It was further stipulated that the property in these mines should be forfeited, if Crozat, or his heirs, discontinued working them for the  p161 space of three years, and in such case they should be remitted to the king's domain ipso facto, without the formality of any legal process, but simply by an ordinance of reunion from such sub‑delegate of the intendant of New France as might, at the time, happen to be in the country.

The royal edicts and ordinances, and "the customs of Paris," were directed to be observed for the laws and customs of the country.

This grant bears date at Fontainebleau, September 14, 1712,1 and was registered in the Parliament of Paris, on the twentieth of the same month and year, being the seventieth of the old monarch's reign, when tired of wars and with an exhausted exchequer, he turned his eyes hither, hoping here gold might be had for the gathering, with which to replenish it. No other motive prompted him, no other object glittered on the horizon of his hopes.


The Editor's Note:

1 See Appendix D.


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