History of American Exploration from 1650 to 1675

About the history of American exploration from 1650 to 1675 including explorations of Marquette and Lederer.


1654-1660 Brothers-in-law Medart Chouart, Sieur de Groseilliers (1625?-1697), and Pierre Esprit Radisson (1636?-1710) conducted several expeditions into the North American plains, where they may have been the first to contact Sioux Indians. Radisson's description of exploration is graphic and unromantic: "Sometimes one stands with one's backside in water, has fear in one's belly, an empty stomach, tired bones, and a great desire to sleep possessing one's whole body. And all of it in evil weather which must be borne, for it is an affliction against which there is no protection."

1669 Slightly mad and melancholy, an aristocratic seminarian turned fur trader, Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle (1643-1687) conducted his first New World exploration. He explored the area around the Ohio River.

1669-1670 German John Lederer, a doctor, three times searched for and did not find a pass from the Piedmont through the Appalachians. He said he saw lions and leopards and tree-climbing snakes. When he cut open one of the snakes, he found a squirrel in its stomach.

1673 Pere Jacques Marquette (1637-1675), a Jesuit who spoke six Indian languages, joined up with Louis Jolliet, cartographer, organist, businessman and native Canadian, to sail down the Fox and Wisconsin rivers to the Mississippi. Guided by Miami Indians, they cruised nearly 3,000 mi., in spite of heat, hostile tribes, and Indian warnings of "horrible monsters, which devoured men and canoes together." Though they did not reach the Gulf of Mexico, they came close enough to prove that the Mississippi did not empty into the Pacific. Nearly home, Jolliet lost all his records of the journey in a boat accident in the rapids near Montreal.

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