Theme 4: French in North America


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Theme 4: French in North America

  1. 1. Theme 4American Colonial Empires:The French in North America<br />History 140, Spring 2011<br />Shannon Lopez<br />
  2. 2. American Colonies 5: Canada and Iroquoia<br />Although no one nation controlled the fisheries, it attracted a broad mix of French, Basque, Portuguese, and English and by 1580 it employed around 400 vessels and nearly 12,000 men in the areas around Newfoundland and the Gulf of St. Lawrence.<br />These fisherman’s shore camps brought them into contact with the local Indian hunters that were wearing attractive furs from beaver, fox, otter, lynx, and martin and they would offer European goods such as beads, kettles, and knives in exchange for the furs.<br />The Indians were eager to engage in the trade because the Indians detecting manitou in the shiny objects where they would formally get from wampum.<br />They also traded for alcohol even though at first they were not fond of its taste and effects. Once they got familiar with it they would use it as a short cut to spiritual trances and as an easy release for their aggressions.<br />At first the Indians conducted trade in the traditional form through their chiefs as a ritualized exchanging of gifts to symbolize friendship, trust and alliance but the Europeans thought of trade as purely commercial but they adapted to their protocols. <br />Indians began very good traders, learning not to trade with the first ship that came their way and as the number of traders increased their goods became cheaper and more common. <br />The Indians began to value the goods not only for their manitou but also for their use; the tools helped ease the difficulty of their native work and the weapons increased the stakes of war and eased hunting. <br />
  3. 3. American Colonies 5:Canada and Iroquoia, Cont.<br />The French set their focus around 1613 to secure the St. Lawrence Valley, known as Canada, for their prime purpose of securing the fur trade and it was ideal for 5 reasons:<br />It was distant from the Spanish power<br />The northern location meant the furs would be especially thick and valuable<br />The resident Montagnais and Algonkin were hunters more skilled than the southern peoples<br />The St. Lawrence offered the deepest access westward into the continent <br />At a place the French called Quebec, the river narrowed to provide a good harbor and high ground ideal for a post<br />In the summer of 1608, Samuel de Champlain founded the colony of New France and built a small post at Quebec, but even after 2 decades it only had 85 colonists all of which were men and they relied on either French supply ships or Indian goodwill for their survival.<br />The Montagnais and Algonkin bands allowed their Huron allies access to the French traders. <br />The Huron would trade their agricultural surplus to the Algonkin, Nipissing, Ottawa, and Ojibwa bands in return for their furs, then they carried the furs eastward on the Ottawa River to trade with the French at Quebec. <br />They supplied New France with nearly 2/3 of the furs obtained annually. <br />By framing an alliance to control the east-west trade, the Montagnais, Algonkin, and Huron excluded the Five Nation Iroquois which included the Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga, and Seneca and as their price of business they expected the French to help them fight the Five Nation Iroquois.<br />In June 1609, Champlain and 9 French soldiers joined a large allied war party to attack the Iroquois, mortally wounding the 3 chiefs that led the advance and a year later they helped their allies win an even bloodier battle near the first site.<br />
  4. 4. 5 weeks after Champlain helped defeat the Iroquois, Henry Hudson, an English mariner in Dutch employ traveled up the river to initiate trade with the Mohawks. <br />In 1614, a Dutch company established a trading post initially called Fort Nassau and after 1624 Fort Orange which was the Dutch equivalent of the French Quebec on St. Lawrence.<br />The Mohawks understood the Dutch as suppliers of valuable goods and named them Kristoni “metal making people.”<br />The Dutch quickly offered their Indian customers guns than did the French at Quebec.<br />Now better armed, the Iroquois escalated their attacks primarily on canoe convoys seizing French trade goods and stealing furs to trade to the Dutch at Fort Orange.<br />To protect their fur trade the French moved their trading posts up the St. Lawrence westward founding Trois-Rivieres in 1634 and Montreal in 1642.<br />The French realizing they could not compete with the quality, quantity, and price of the Dutch trade goods for the better furs the northern Indians possessed, the Iroquois had a common interest with the French because of their inferior furs from the south. <br />As an effect the Iroquois and the French needed each other as enemies to keep apart the northern Indians and the Dutch. <br />American Colonies 5:Canada and Iroquoia, Cont.<br />
  5. 5. The fur trade launched New France, but the colony was sustained by a Catholic bid to convert the Indians and by converting them French leaders hoped to make them more dependent and dependable.<br />In 1615 the French launched their first effort to evangelize the Indians of Canada by sending 4 priests of the Recollet order to convert the Montagnais. <br />The priest were overmatched by numerous hardships and were sent reinforcements around 1625-26 of 8 priest of the Jesuit order. <br />The Jesuits were better organized, financed, and trained for missionary service and they proceeded farther west to target the Huron. <br />There they established 4 satellite missions around a central mission Sainte-Marie and by 1647 the Huron missions employed 18 priests and 24 lay assistants.<br />The Jesuits were more patient in converting the Indians, rather than making the Indians learn French and relocate to the mission towns, they mastered the native languages and went into the villages to build churches.<br />They also surprised the Indians by their lack of interest in the land, furs, and women like the other Europeans.<br />What proved to be their biggest hurdle was that the Indians did not believe in afterlife as a either a heaven or a hell and the Indian spiritual experts, shamans, who manipulated the spirits. <br />By competing with the shaman as divine magicians, the Jesuits inherited his obligations to preserve the people from disease and famine but lethal diseases followed the Jesuits from Europe and complicated their missions.<br />During the 1630s, epidemics killed half of the Huron and many suspected the priests of being deadly sorcerers.<br />Although the Jesuits insisted baptism secured salvation to the next world, the Indians suspected it as water sorcery that terminated lives.<br />American Colonies 5:Canada and Iroquoia, Cont.<br />
  6. 6. Canada belonged to the fur-trading Company of New France not the French crown because the company didn’t see purpose or profit in transporting people to the colony and fearing they would lose the colony to their English rivals, the French crown ordered the Company of New France to recruit more inhabitants but the French crown grew impatient with New France and took control of the colony in 1663.<br />By 1675, most of the land between Quebec and Montreal was divided between 70 seigneuries, army officers that received grants of land provided that they stayed in the colony.<br />The crown stimulated emigration by paying for the transatlantic passages and for the cases of the 12% that was female, it also provided cash marriage dowry, which was a great incentive for orphan girls but they were expected to marry within weeks of their arrival.<br />Most of the male emigrants arrived in servitude as either soldiers or indentured servants, known as engages and generally served 3 year terms.<br />At the end of their terms, 2/3 of the engages and ¾ of the soldiers returned to France despite the efforts to discourage them.<br />For the French that emigrated to Canada and stayed significantly improved their status and standard of living; their regular consumption of meat and white bread, being able to afford a horse, and privileges of hunting and fishing were things which few French peasants could do.<br />They enjoyed modest rents, usually less than 10% of the annual crop to the seigneur, and even though they lacked freehold land titles, as long as the rents were paid the habitants could pass their tenure on to their heirs or sell it to others.<br />American Colonies 16:French America<br />
  7. 7. New France consisted of 2 distinct sectors: the narrow St. Lawrence Valley and the vast interior of forest and lakes known as the upper country.<br />In the upper country, the French were a mix of missionaries, traders, soldiers, and habitants.<br />There the Indians and the French gradually developed an effective alliance based upon mutual accommodations which the historian Richard White has come to call “the middle grounds.”<br />During the 1670s-80s French traders established a remote network of small armed posts around the Great Lakes and in the Illinois country and despite their isolation, these post attracted ambitious officers eager to make their fortune by engaging in the fur trade on the side even though this went against their direct orders from France.<br />A growing number of young, defiant traders known as coureurs de bois, they paddled canoes beyond the posts to trade with the natives in their own villages and from the natives they learned the patterns of the rivers and seasons, the native languages, and the native ways of trade.<br />A trader lived longer and did more business if he entered a partnership with an Indian woman and over the generations, these relationships created mixed-blood people known as the metis.<br />The metis spoke multiple languages, lived in their own villages, and acted as intermediaries between their French and Indian relatives. <br />American Colonies 16: French America, Cont.<br />
  8. 8. In 1682 the Sieur de La Salle led a party of French and allied Indians down the river to the Gulf of Mexico and to flatter his king, La Salle named the valley and adjoining Gulf Coast “Louisiana.”<br />In Louisiana, the French made expanding trade, rather than religious conversions, their priority in Indian relations.<br />In 1702, Louisiana consisted of 122 soldiers and sailors, 80 slaves, and 77 habitants.<br />In 1718, after the crown entrusted Louisiana to the Company of Indies, it shifted its focus of the colony to the Mississippi Valley and established New Orleans.<br />Between 1717 and 1730, the Company of Indies transported 5,400 European colonists and 6,000 African slaves there and granted the colonist long, narrow riverfront farms of about 170 acres each.<br />Only 1/3 of the European emigrants remained alive in 1731 where the population numbered 2,000 whites and 4,000 Africans.<br />Because many mariners refused to sail to Louisiana, crown subsidies sustained the plantation sector and the colony depended on deerskin trade with the Indians.<br />In 1731 the Company of the Indies declared bankruptcy and surrendered the colony to the French crown.<br />American Colonies 16:French America, Cont.<br />
  9. 9. The Petites Nations welcomed the French as potential liberators, offering arms and other trade goods that the costal natives needed and they preserved the French during their difficult years.<br />As soon as the French grew secure in numbers they abandoned their gratitude.<br />In 1729 the governor armed black slaves to massacre the sleeping Chaouacha in their village.<br />Left as a weak minority, the survivors accepted French domination and surrendered most of their lands to provide plantations and farms for the colonists.<br />In the 1720s the French expanded their tobacco plantations up the Mississippi and built Fort Rosalie near the Natchez villages.<br />The Natchez longed for an opportunity to redeem their pride by restoring the world they knew before the French and on November 28, 1829 they staged an attack, killing the commander and most of the soldiers and colonist in the vicinity.<br />Lacking sufficient troops to suppress the rebels, the French had to rely on native allies and in return for generous gifts; the Choctaw attacked their old enemies destroying their villages in early 1730.<br />The rebellion demonstrated the French dependence on the Choctaw to defend Louisiana.<br />During the 1730s, the presents distributed to the Choctaw council annually cost the crown nearly 50,000 livres which was about 2 times the value of the deerskins received in trade from them.<br />American Colonies 16:French America, Cont.<br />