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Michigan Chapter Seven

Dangers Which Surrounded the New Settlements

ONE of the earliest discoveries made by the French after having fairly set foot on the continent was the fact that there were large profits in the fur trade. We have seen in a previous chapter something of the methods of carrying on the trade, as well as a glimpse of its magnitude and importance. On the other hand the first English settlers gave no thought to such matters. The circumstance that the regions into which the French first came and the remote districts which they first penetrated abounded in fur bearing animals, while the English came into contact with nothing of the sort, helps to account for it. The New England colonists had no interest whatever in the subject. They gave attention to inducing immigration, developing the resources of the country and establishing permanent homes. Some time and leisure were found for religious quarrels and incidentally to harass their French neighbors of Acadia. But it was not until they had driven the Dutch out of New York and started the, movement of westward expansion that the English began to see that there was something in the fur business. With their natural aptitude for commercial affairs it was to be expected that having a glimpse of possible profits in this direction they should proceed to make the most of their opportunities. Two French protestant adventurers opened the way. These were Medard Chouart, known as Sieur des Gro-seilliers, and Pierre Esprit Radisson. These men were born in France about 1620 and came to America when about sixteen years of age. They were full of energy and daring and entered with spirit into the wild life then so easily found in the new world. Radisson was captured by the Iroquois and adopted into one of their tribes. After two years he managed to escape. Chouart was for a time mission assistant, but that life was not to his liking and he became a forest ranger.

Michigan


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