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LETTERS PATENT GRANTED BY THE KING OF FRANCE TO
THE SIEUR DE LA SALLE, ON THE 12TH OF MAY, 1678.
Louis, by the grace of God, King of France and of Navarre. To our dear and well-beloved Robert Cavelier, Sieur de la Salle, greeting.
We have received with favor the very humble petition, which has been presented to us in your name, to permit you to endeavor to discover the western part of our country of New France; and we have consented to this proposal the more willingly, because there is nothing we have more at heart than the discovery of this country, through which it is probable that a passage may be found to Mexico; and because your diligence in clearing the lands which we granted to you by the decree of our council of the 13th of May, 1675, and, by Letters Patent of the same date, to form habitations upon the said lands, and to put Fort Frontenac in a good state of defence, the seigniory and government whereof we likewise granted to you, affords us every reason to hope that you will succeed to our satisfaction, and to the advantage of our subjects of the said country.
For these reasons, and others thereunto moving us, we have permitted, and do hereby permit you, by these presents, signed by our hand, to endeavor to discover the western part of our country of New France, and, for the execution of this enterprise, to construct forts wherever you shall deem it necessary; which it is our will that you shall hold on the same terms and conditions as Fort Frontenac, agreeably and conformably to our said Letters Patent of the 13th of May, 1675, which we have confirmed, as far as is needful, and hereby confirm by these presents. And it is our pleasure that they be executed according to their form and tenor.
To accomplish this, and everything above mentioned, we give you full powers; on condition, however, that you shall finish this enterprise within five years, in default of which these presents shall be void and of none effect; that you carry
no trade whatever with the savages called Outaouacs, and others who bring their beaver skins and other peltries to Montreal; and that the whole shall be done at your expense, and that of your company, to which we have granted the privilege of the trade in buffalo skins. And we call on the Sieur de Frontenac, our Governor and Lieutenant-General, and on the Sieur du Chesneau, Intendant of Justice, Police, and Finance, and on the officers who compose the supreme
council in the said country, to affix their signatures to these presents ;, for such is our pleasure. Given at St. Germain en Laye, this 12th day of May, 1678, and of our reign the thirty-fifth.
LOUIS. And lower down,
By the King,
And sealed with the great seal of yellow wax.
The act of the Governor, attached to these presents, is dated the 5th of November, 1678.
CONCERNING LOUISIANA, ASCRIBED TO THE COUNT
DE VERGENNES. A VOLUME
was published at Paris, in the year 1802, containing a Mémoire historique et politique sur la Louisiane, the authorship of which is ascribed, by the anonymous editor, to the Count de Vergennes, and it has since passed under his name. The reasons assigned by the editor for supposing it to have been written by the Count de Vergennes, are, that "many phrases contained in the introduction addressed to the King, the discovery of the Memoir among his papers with
with his arms stamped upon it, the style, the thoughts, all go to prove that he was the author.” Whatever force there may be in these reasons, it is certain that the substance of the Memoir itself must utterly destroy their weight.
A large part of the Memoir iş devoted to an historical account of Louisiana, from the time of its first settlement. The accuracy or value of this account we need not stop to examine. The main purpose of the writer is to suggest a scheme for the recovery of the lost dominion of France in North America.
By the treaty of 1763, France had ceded to Great Britain the whole of Canada, and all its dependencies, except the small islands of St. Pierre and Miquilon, which were retained as fishing grounds, and had renounced her former pretensions to Nova Scotia. By another treaty she had ceded to Spain the whole of Louisiana. Now, it is the project of the writer of this Memoir, that Spain shall give back Louisiana, and that Great Britain shall restore Canada; and, as far as can be discovered, these cessions were to be considered as mere acts of grace, since no equivalents are proposed. It is true, he recommends that France should cede to Great Britain the northern parts of New York, which she never possessed, and the territory between the Allegany Mountains and the Ohio River, which she likewise never possessed, and which, with the whole country as far as the Mississippi, she had confirmed to Great Britain by the treaty of 1763. Can any one believe, that such crude reveries ever entered the head of the Count de Vergennes, or of any other statesman ?
The Memoir bears no date, but internal evidence shows it to have been written in 1776, or the year following. At this time it is well known that the Count de Vergennes, so far from seeking to negotiate cessions of territory, was expecting and urging a war. between France and Great Britain, and was at the head of the party, which proposed, at an early day, that France should join the United States in their struggle for independence. In the month of August, 1776, he read a memoir to the King in Council, the object of which was to prove that the honor and interest of France required the government to espouse the cause of the Americans, and to bring on a war with England. It is, moreover, well known that it was not the policy of the Count de Vergennes, nor of the French court, even after the treaty of alliance with the United States, to recover Canada. trary policy was pursued, both in principle and practice, during the whole war. This fact is confirmed by the official correspondence of the Count de Vergennes. Aside from the absurdity of such a project, therefore, as that of procuring a cession of Louisiana and Canada without equivalents, or even with such equivalents as France could give, an absurdity of which the Count de Vergennes could certainly never have been guilty, the scheme itself of recovering Canada on any terms is at variance with all his public acts at the time, and with his policy, as explained in his communications to the court, and in his correspondence on American affairs.