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MICHIGAN CHAPTER 15

The Old French Habitants and their Ways

This feeling of humanity and sympathy is not characteristic of one nationality more than another; it pertains to all. The French pioneer was pleased to receive a friend, though he had never seen him before and might never see him again, and to furnish him with food and lodging, without expecting or accepting any compensation.
The old habitant was rather close in money matters. This was, perhaps the results of* early training, for it had always been necessary for him to practice the most rigid economy. He was conservative to the last degree. As the town expanded and his acres were in demand for building lots he would not sell; neither would he make improvements. He would lease and let his tenant make improvements. This policy has resulted in making some of his descendants rich. He did not take kindly to new fangled notions. He preferred to plod along in the old-fashioned way. It has been remarked that this old French spirit has characterized Detroit down, to the opening of the present century. The city has never entertained anything in the nature of a boom. It has been considered rather slow and unenterprising. Nevertheless, it has flourished in a business sense and its growth and expansions have kept pace with that of other and better advertised cities. Its conservatism has on, more than one occasion proved a strong staff of support, especially in the face of financial panics and monetary revolutions. Speculation has never run rampant. Business of all kinds has been done on a modest basis and although it may have been considered a slow town, it was an eminently safe and reliable one. So, even in modern times, when the descendants of the old habitants form but a mere handful of its population, the spirit of the former generation seems to pervade the city. In the long run, perhaps, it is better that this is so.

MICHIGAN


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