Louis, by the grace of God, King of France and of Navarre.
To all who shall see these present letters, greeting:
The care we have always had to procure the welfare and advantage of our subjects, having induced us, notwithstanding the almost continual wars which we have been obliged to support, from the beginning of our reign, to seek for all possible opportunities of enlarging and extending the trade of our American colonies, We did, in the year 1683, give our orders to undertake a discovery of the countries and lands which are situated in the northern part of America, between New France and New Mexico, and the Sieur de la Salle, to whom we committed that enterprise, having 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, this obliged us immediately after the peace of Ryswick to give orders for the establishing a colony there, and maintaining a garrison which has kept and preserved the possession, we had taken in the very year 1683, of the lands, coasts and islands which are situated in the Gulf of Mexico, between Carolina on the east and Old and New Mexico on the west. But a new war having broke out p277 in Europe shortly after, there was no possibility, till now, of reaping from that new colony the advantage that might have been expected from thence, because the private men, who are concerned in the sea trade, were all under engagements with other colonies, which they have been obliged to follow. And, whereas, upon the information we have received concerning the disposition and situation of the said countries known at present by the name of the Province of Louisiana, we are of opinion that there may be established therein a considerable commerce, so much the more advantageous to our kingdom in that there has hitherto been a necessity of fetching from foreigners the greatest part of the commodities, which may be brought from thence, and because in exchange thereof, we need carry thither nothing but commodities of the growth and manufacture of our own kingdom.
We have resolved to grant the commerce of the country of Louisiana to Sieur Anthony Crozat, our councillor, secretary of the household, crown and revenue, to whom we intrust the execution of this project.
We are the more readily inclined hereunto, because his zeal and the singular knowledge he has acquired in maritime commerce encourage us to hope for as good success as he has hitherto had in the divers and sundry enterprises he has gone upon, and which have procured to our kingdom great quantities of gold and silver in such conjunctures as have rendered them very welcome to us.
For these reasons, being desirous to show our favor to p278 him, and to regulate the conditions upon which we mean to grant him the said commerce, after having deliberated this affair in our council, of our certain knowledge, full power and royal authority, we by these presents, signed by our hand, have appointed, and do appoint, the said Sieur Crozat, solely to carry on a trade in all the lands possessed by us, and bounded by New Mexico, and by the lands of the English of Carolina, all the establishment, ports, havens, rivers, and principally the port and haven of the Isle Dauphine, heretofore called Massacre, the river of St. Louis, heretofore called Mississippi, from the edge of the sea, as far as the Illinois, together with the river of Saint Philip, heretofore called the Missourys, and of Saint Jerome, heretofore called Ovabache, 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.
I. Our pleasure is that all the aforesaid lands, countries, streams, rivers and islands be and remain comprised under the name of the government of Louisiana, which shall be dependent upon the general government in New France, to which it is subordinate; and further, that all lands which we possess from the Illinois be united, so far as occasion requires, to the general government of New France, and become part thereof, reserving, however, to ourselves the liberty of enlarging, as we shall p279 think fit, the extent of the government of the said country of Louisiana.
II. We grant to the said Sieur Crozat, for fifteen successive years, to be reckoned from the day of enrolling these presents, a right and power to transport all sorts of goods and merchandise from France into the said country of Louisiana, and to traffic thither as he shall think fit. We forbid all and every person and persons, company and companies, of what quality or condition soever, and under any pretense whatever, to trade thither, under penalty of confiscation of goods, ships, and other more severe punishments, as occasion shall require; for this purpose we order our governors and other officers commanding our troops in the said country, forcibly to abet, aid, and assist the directors and agents of the said Sieur Crozat.
III. We permit him to search for, open and dig all sorts of mines, veins and minerals throughout the whole extent of the said country of Louisiana, and to transport the profits thereof into any part of France during the said fifteen years; and we grant in perpetuity to him, his heirs and others claiming under him or them, the property of, in and to the mines, veins and minerals, which he shall bring to bear, paying us, in lieu of all claim, the fifth part of the gold and silver which the said Sieur Crozat shall cause to be transported to France, at his own charges into what port he pleases (of which fifth, we shall run the risk of the sea and war) and the tenth part of what effects he shall draw from the other mines, veins p280 and minerals, which tenth he shall transfer and convey to our magazine in the said country of Louisiana.
We likewise permit him to search for precious stones and pearls, paying us the fifth part in the same manner as is mentioned for the gold and silver.
We will that the said Sieur Crozat, his heirs or those claiming under him or them the perpetual right, shall forfeit the proprietyº of the said mines, veins and minerals, if they discontinue the work during three years, and that in such case, the said mines, veins and minerals shall be fully reunited to our domain by virtue of this present article, without the formality of any process of law, but only an ordinance of reunion from the sub‑delegate of the intendant of New France, who shall be in the said country, nor do we mean that said penalty of forfeiture in default of working for three years be reputed a comminatory penalty.
IV. The said Sieur Crozat may send all such merchandise, goods, wares, commodities, arms and ammunitions, as he shall have caused to be transported into the said country and government of Louisiana, as well to the French as savages, who are or shall be there settled; nor shall any person or persons, under any pretense whatsoever, be capable of doing the like without his leave expressed in writing.
V. He may purchase in the said country all sorts of furs, skins, leather, wool and other commodities and effects of the said country, and transport them to France, during the said fifteen years; and as our intention is to p281 favor, as much as we can, our inhabitants of New France, and to hinder the lessening of their trade, we forbid him trafficking for castorº in the said country under any pretense whatsoever; nor to convey any from thence into our kingdom or foreign countries.
VI. We grant to the Sieur Crozat, his heirs, or those claiming under him or them, the property of, in and to all settlements and manufactories which he shall erect or set up in the said country for silk, indigo, wool, leather, mines, veins and minerals, or likewise the property of, in and to the lands which he shall cause to be cultivated, with the mansions, mills and structures which he shall cause to be built thereon, taking grants thereof from us, which grants he shall obtain upon the verbal process and opinion of our governor, and of the sub‑delegate of the intendant of New France, in the said country, to be by him reported unto us.
We will that the said Sieur Crozat, his heirs, or those claiming under him or them, shall keep in repair the said settlements, manufactories, lands and mills; and in default thereof during the space of three years, he and they shall forfeit the same, and the said settlements, manufactories, lands and mills shall be reunited to our domain, fully and amply, and in the same manner as is mentioned above, in the third article, concerning the mines, veins and minerals.
VII. Our edicts, ordinances and customs, the usages of the mayoralty and shrievalty of Paris shall be observed for laws and customs in the said country of Louisiana.
p282 VIII. The said Sieur Crozat shall be obliged to send to the said country of Louisiana two ships every year, which he shall cause to set out in the proper season, in each of which ships he shall cause to be embarked, without paying any freight, twenty-five tons of victuals, effects and necessary ammunition for the maintenance of the garrison and forts of the Louisiana, and in case we should cause to be laden above the said twenty-five tons in each ship, we consent to pay the freight to the said Sieur Crozat, at the common mercantile rates.
He shall be obliged to convey our officers of Louisiana in the ship, which we shall send thither, and to furnish them with subsistence and a captain's table for thirty sols per day, which we will cause to be paid for each.
He shall likewise give passage in the said ships to the soldiers which we shall please to send to the said country; and we will cause the necessary provisions for their subsistence to be furnished to him, or will pay him for them at the same price as is paid to the purveyor-general of our marine.
He shall be furthermore obliged to send on board each ship which he shall cause to set out for the said country, ten young men or women, at his own election.
IX. We will cause to be delivered out of our magazines, to the said Sieur Crozat, ten thousand weight of gunpowder every year, which he shall pay us for, at the price that it shall cost us, and this for so long time as the present privilege shall last.
X. The wares and merchandise which the said Sieur p283 Crozat shall consign to the said country of Louisiana shall be exempt from all duties of exportation laid, or to be laid, on condition that his directors, deputies and clerks shall engage to give within the space of a year to be reckoned from the date thereof, a certificate of their unlading in the said country of Louisiana, under penalty, in case of contravention, to pay the quadruple of the duties, reserving to ourselves the power of giving him a longer respite in such cases and occurrences as we shall think proper.
XI. And as for the goods and merchandise, which the Sieur Crozat shall cause to be brought from the said country of Louisiana, and upon his account, into the ports of our kingdom, and shall afterward cause to be transported into foreign countries, they shall pay no duties either of importation or exportation, and shall be deposited in the custom-house, warehouses or ports where they shall arrive, until they be taken away; and when the deputies and clerks of the said Sieur Crozat shall be minded to cause them to be transported in foreign countries, either by sea or land, they shall be obliged to give security to bring within a certain time a certificate from the last office, containing what they exported there, and another certificate of the unlading in foreign countries.
XII. In case the said Sieur Crozat be obliged, for the furtherance of his commerce, to fetch from foreign countries some goods and merchandise of foreign manufacture in order to transport them into the said country of p284 Louisiana, he shall make us acquainted therewith, and lay before us states thereof; upon which we, if we think fit, will grant him our particular permission with exemptions from all duties of importation and exportation. Provided, the said goods and merchandise be deposited afterwards in our custom-house, warehouses, until they be laden in the ships of the said Sieur Crozat, who shall be obliged to bring, in one year, to be reckoned from the day of the date hereof, a certificate of their unlading in the said country of Louisiana, under penalty, in case of contravention, to pay quadruple the duties. Reserving to ourselves in like manner the liberty of granting to the said Sieur Crozat a longer respite, if it be necessary.
XIII. The feluccas, canoes and other vessels belonging to us, and which are in the said country of Louisiana shall serve for loading, unloading and transporting the effects of the said Sieur Crozat, who shall be bound to keep them in good condition, and after the expiration of the said fifteen years, shall restore them, or a like number of equal bulk and goodness, to our governor in the said country.
XIV. If, for the cultures and plantations which the Sieur Crozat is minded to make, he finds it proper to have blacks in the said country of the Louisiana, he may send a ship every year to trade for them directly upon the coast of Guinea, taking permission from the Guinea Company so to do, he may sell those blacks to the inhabitants of the colony of Louisiana; and we forbid all other companies and persons whatsoever, under any pretense p285 whatsoever, to introduce blacks or traffic for them in the said country, nor shall the said Sieur Crozat carry any blacks elsewhere.
XV. He shall not send any ships into the said country of Louisiana, but directly from France, and he shall cause the said ships to return thither again, the whole under pain of confiscation and forfeiture of the present privilege.
XVI. The said Sieur Crozat shall be obliged, after the expiration of the first nine years of this grant, to pay the officers and the garrison which shall be in the said country, during the six last years of the continuance of the present privilege.
The said Sieur Crozat may in that time propose and nominate the officers, as vacancies shall fall, and such officers shall be confirmed by us, if we approve of them. Given at Fontainebleau, this 14th day of September, in the year of grace, 1712, and of our reign the 70th.
By the King.
Registered at Paris in the Parliament, the four and twentieth of September, 1712.
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