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Michigan Chapter Six

Cadillac as Feudal Lord

CADILAC'S successors in command at Detroit were military officers, usually of the rank of captain, and men of tried capacity who had a fairly good record. The post was regarded as an important and desirable one. For that reason there were no lack of applicants. Cadillac's oldest son, Antoine, who had served under his father at Detroit as an ensign, was, when 27 years of age, an applicant. But his rank and experience in the service were considered insufficient and his claims were passed by. An older man was thought preferable. Usually an officer who had served in similar capacity at Michilimackinac, St. Joseph or elsewhere was chosen, and at the end of his service at Detroit he was transferred to Montreal or Quebec, where he was assigned to a comfortable, easy berth, for his declining years. The term of office was limited to three years, but this does not appear to have been very strictly enforced. If his administration was fairly satisfactory, if he showed capacity for handling the Indians, who were most troublesome neighbors at all times, and if he was popular with the inhabitants, the incumbent was continued in office by re-appointment or by suffrance. So the actual service of the commandants varied from one to a dozen years and sometimes they were returned to the post for a second term after an interval of absence.
When Cadillac was relieved of his command Francois de Ia Foret was named as his successor. He was a native of Paris where he was born in 1648. The date of his arrival in New France is not known, but it was evidently when he was a young man, for we find him in 1680 accompanying La Salle on an expedition to Illinois. He had evidently commended himself to La Salle, for shortly after his return from this expedition the latter placed him in command at Fort Frontenac. In 1682 he aided Frontenac in negotiating a treaty with the Iroquois. While absent on this mission to Quebec, La Barre was sent out from France as governor to succeed Frontenac and he, disregarding the rights of La Salle, seized Fort Frontenac and would not permit La Foret to return to it.

Michigan


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