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stillness of midnight, was silently sunk into the middle of the stream. The discoverer of the Mississippi slept beneath its waters. large part of the continent in search of gold, and found nothing so remarkable as his burial place.” The remains of this vaunted expedition, in number not
* Bancroft’s “History of the United States,” vol. i., p. 57. VoI. I.-4
He had crossed a
half that with which they embarked, floated down the Mississippi to its mouth, and in September, 1543, reached a Spanish settlement near the present site of Tampico. Florida was thenceforth abandoned.
Not a settlement was made; not a sin
gle site occupied by the Spaniards; yet Spain, under the name of Florida, laid claim to the entire sea-coast of America, as far even as Newfoundland. Their first actual settlement arose out of that bitter hatred and fierce persecuting zeal which characterized at that time, on the Continent, both Roman Catholics and Protestants. The illustrious and excellent Admiral de Coligny, one of the ablest of the French Protestant leaders, was desirous of finding a home in America for the persecuted Huguenots. Accordingly— an expedition to Brazil in 1555 having failed—he fitted out an expedition, sanctioned by the bigotted but feeble Charles IX, and gave the command to Jean Ribault of Dieppe, an experienced mariner and decided Protestant. The expedition consisted of two ships, with a goodly company who went out as colonists. Ribault reached the coast of Florida in May, entered a spacious inlet which he named Port Royal, and built a fort called CAROLINA, a name which still remains to us, although the early colony perished. Twenty-six were left to found a settlement, while Ribault returned to France for supplies; but becoming disheartened, they hastily resolved to abandon the settlement; the commandant was killed in a mutiny; and well-nigh starved, they were
May, now the St. John's, and built a fort. Mutinies occurred, and some of the colonists set out on piratical expeditions, and took two Spanish vessels, thus becoming the first aggressors in the New World. In great distress for provisions, they were about to abandon the settlement when the notorious Sir John Hawkins, the slave-merchant, relieved them. Ribault arrived in August with an abundant supply of all kinds. But the colony was by no means as yet in security. A fierce and unsparing soldier, Pedro Melendez, obtained permission from Philip II. of Spain, to conquer and occupy Florida, and also to drive out the French as both intruders and heretics. “Death to the Huguenots!” was the cry; and with some three hundred soldiers and over two thousand volunteers, the expedition left Spain in July; although weakened by the violence of a storm, Melendez did not delay in Porto Rico; but anxious to make quick work of his enemies, he sailed to the coast of Florida. Land was seen on St. Augustine's day, August 28th, and Melendez named the inlet and haven which he entered two days after, St. Augustine. The
town here founded by this name still
remains, and though not a place of much size, is by more than forty years the oldest town in the United States. Melendez was not long in finding the French colony. Ribault's vessels cut their cables and put to sea; a violent storm arose, and the French vessels which had set out to attack the Spaniards, were scattered and cast on shore. Melendez marched overland from St. Augustine through the forests and swamps, surprised the French fort, and indiscriminately butchered men, women, and children. A few escaped to the woods, and having found two small vessels in the harbor, after severe suffering ultimately reached Bristol. But Ribault and his shipwrecked companions, half famished, reached the fort to find it in the hands of the Spaniards. Relying on the word of honor of the per
fidious Melendez, they gave themselves
up, and were massacred, near St. Augustine, with circumstances of most shocking barbarity. A number of the mangled limbs of the victims were then suspended to a tree, to which was attached the following inscription:-"Not because they are Frenchmen, but because they are heretics and enemies of God.” . • * > When intelligence of this horrible outrage reached France, it excited an almost universal feeling of grief and rage, and a strong desire for vengeance.
Charles IX. was invoked in vain, by the
prayers of the widows and orphans of the slain, to require of the Spanish monarch that justice should be awarded against his murderous subjects. An avenger, however, was speedily found. Dominic de Gourgues, a brave Gascon,
determined to devote himself, his for
tune, and his whole being, to the achievement of some signal and terrible retribution. He found means to equip three small vessels, and to put on board of them eighty sailors, and one hundred and fifty troops. Having crossed the Atlantic, he sailed along the coast of Florida, and landed at a river about fifteen leagues' distance from the river May. The Spaniards, to the number of four hundred, were well fortified, principally at the great fort, begun by the French, and afterwards repaired by themselves. Two leagues lower, towards the river's mouth, they had made two smaller forts, which were defended by a hundred and twenty soldiers, well supplied with artillery and ammunition. Gourgues, though informed of their strength, proceeded resolutely forward, and, with the assistance of the natives, made a vigorous and desperate assault. Of sixty Spaniards in the first fort, there escaped but fifteen; and all in the second fort were slain. After a company of Spaniards, sallying out from the third fort, had been intercepted, and killed on the spot, this last fortress was easily taken. All the surviving Spaniards were led away prisoners, with the fifteen who escaped the massacre at the first fort; and were hung on the boughs of the same trees on which the Frenchmen had been previously suspended. Gourgues, in retaliation for the label Melendez had attached to the bodies of the French, placed over the corpses of the Spaniards the following declaration:-"I do not this as unto Spaniards or mariners, but as
unto traitors, robbers and murderers.” Having razed the three forts, and not being strong enough to remain in the country, he returned to France in May, 1568. Such was the end of the efforts made by the French Protestants to found settlements in Florida. Had France been wise enough to have protected her sons in this attempt, she might easily have obtained a flourishing empire in the south, before England had planted a single spot on the Continent. But she did not, and Spain consequently retained her claim—such as it was—to Florida undisputed. The long and bloody struggles between Protestants and Roman Catholics in France during the latter half of the 16th century, effectually prevented all attempts at colonization by that nation in the New World. The accession of Henry IV., his abjuration of Protestantism, and especially the issue of the Ldict of Nantes, which secured civil and religious freedom to the Huguenots, restored peace and prosperity to France; and the wise and skilful administration of Sully fostered the arts of peaceful industry and trade. A commission was obtained in 1598, by the Marquis de la Roche, of Brittany, to take possession of CANADA and other neighboring countries “not possessed by any Christian prince;” the attempt, however, failed entirely. On the death of La Roche, Chauvin, a naval officer, and Pontgravé, a merchant of St. Malo, entered profitably into the fur trade, without, however, doing anything of moment towards colonization. In 1603, a company of merchants was formed at Rouen, and Samuel Champlain, an able and scientific officer, was sent out in command of an expedition. This celebrated man, after careful exploration and examination, selected the site of Quebec as a suitable place for a fort. This same year a patent was issued to De Monts, a Huguenot gentleman of the king's bedchamber, and the sovereignty of ACADIE, from the fortieth to the forty-sixth degree of north latitude—i. e., from about the latitude of Philadelphia as far northerly as Cape Breton—was granted to him, together with a monopoly of the fur trade, etc. In 1604, the expedition, consisting of four ships, sailed for its destination. Poutrincourt, an officer of the expedition, obtained permission to remain in the harbor, which he called Port Royal, now Annapolis. Champlain explored the Bay of Fundy, discovered and named the River St. John's, and selected a site for a settlement on the island St. Croia, in the river of the same name. But the spot was not well chosen, and in the spring of the following year the colony removed to Port Royal. Here the first actual settlement on the American Continent by the French was made. The hostility of the natives along the coast rendered it dangerous to attempt settlements in the vicinity of Cape Cod. During the following ten years, numerous and successful ef. forts were made by Jesuit priests to convert the natives. The monopoly of De Monts having been revoked, a company of merchants of Dieppe and St. Malo founded Quebec. This was principally due to Champlain, who not only laid the
foundation of the city of Quebec, but
also the next year explored and was the first of white men to enter the beautiful lake which bears his name and perpetuates his memory. This persevering and energetic man lived through many and severe trials and afflictions which beset his efforts in establishing the authority of his countrymen on the St. Lawrence. He died in 1635. Consequent upon the explorations of Champlain and others, the French laid claim to that vast tract of interior America, which, together with Canada and Acadie, was denominated NEW FRANCE. In concluding the present chapter, in which has been attempted a brief sketch of some of the early voyagers and discoverers, to whom succeeding generations owe so large a debt of gratitude, the language of Mr. Bancroft may very appropriately be quoted: “Such were the voyages which led the way to the colonization of the United States. The daring and skill of these earliest adventurers upon the ocean deserve the highest admiration. The difficulties of crossing the Atlantic were new, and it required the greater courage to encounter hazards which ignorance exaggerated. The character of the prevalent winds and currents was unknown. The possibility of making a direct passage was but gradually discovered. The imagined dangers were infinite; the real dangers exceedingly great. The ships at first employed for discovery were generally of less than one hundred tons burden; Frobisher sailed in a vessel of but twenty-five tons; two of those of Columbus were without a
Origin of the name INDIANs—Preceding Races—American Antiquities — General characteristics of the Indian tribes — Columbus's Letter — Manners and customs — Government, laws, chiefs, priests — Law of retaliation — War the Indian's great business — Females — Numbers—Dialects spoken — Mr. Schoolcraft's paper – Intimations of prophecy — View of Europeans as to the rights of Indians — Decision of the Supreme Court
Origin of difficulties,
WHEN Columbus had succeeded in demonstrating the truth of his long and anxiously advocated views respecting the existence of land to be discovered by sailing to the west, he supposed that he had reached the farfamed Cathay, or the East Indies. This natural error was one which the great navigator did not live to correct, and it led to the name INDIANS being applied to the inhabitants of the islands and main land of America. It is a name which time and custom have sanctioned as the designation of the natives of the soil when Columbus and his successors reached the New World, as also of their descendants; and how
ever inappropriate, it is now too late to seek to change it. Before proceeding with the history of the gradual colonization of America, and the many and severe contests between the new-comers and those whom they found in possession of the country, it may be well to devote a brief space to some account of the aborigines of the Western Contiment, more especially of North America.
Without entering into a discussion of the question, whence came the people who first settled America—a question more curious than profitable—it is quite certain that the Indian tribes scattered over the face of the country were the successors of a race or races