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Michigan Chapter Seven

Dangers Which Surrounded the New Settlements


DURING the regime of Cadillac the dangers which chiefly threatened his colony were due to the machinations of his enemies. Even while the colonizing party was en route to the Detroit persistent efforts were made by the Jesuit, Vaillant, it was charged, to breed discontent and insubordination among the soldiers and settlers. They were urged to desert and return to Montreal, and that some did not do so may be explained by their loyalty to their commander. So, from the outset there was a deliberate effort to discredit the enterprise. The reason for this course on the part of the Jesuit missionaries has been already hinted at. They objected to having their old mission at Michilimackinac injured by the withdrawal of the Indians. Inducing the natives to come to the new post at Detroit was part of Cadillac's program. It succeeded so well that the old post at the Straits was practically abandoned from that time, or at least ceased to flourish. The missionaries also had an establishment which had been maintained for many years among the Miamis at Fort St. Joseph, at the mouth of the St. Joseph river. Though there was no considerable military force at this post, it had managed to keep on peaceable terms with the natives and to flourish as a settlement of a few Frenchmen, almost altogether missionaries. Some of the Miamis came to Detroit and this constituted another grievance and aroused the jealousy of this post at the west side of the state. There were constant efforts to stir up hostility against Cadillac and he was obliged to combat them as best he could. He writes to Count Pontchartrain in 1708, complaining of the Jesuit interference with his affairs. He thinks it necessary for the firm establishment of Detroit that there should be five or six hundred inhabitants and troops in proportion, that a good fort of earth be made on the site of the present insecure fortification. He says a canal can be built connecting Lake Erie with Lake Ontario, which would greatly facilitate transportation by water. He complains that his plans are frustrated by the efforts to re-establish Michilimackinac.

Michigan


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