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Michigan Chapter Seven

Dangers Which Surrounded the New Settlements

It was not until the beginning oi the 18th century that the foresight and energy of Cadillac produced anything beyond a mere trading post, and even Cadillac's colony found its most important function, in his mind, in building up a settlement which would serve as a barrier against the English and so preserve to France the trade of the region beyond. When the English began to show activity in respect to trade with the Indians the cupidity of the French was stirred to put a stop to it. So we find from the very beginning of the contact between the two nations in the west that the commercial spirit was at the bottom of all the trouble. If France had possessed the true colonizing spirit and had been willing to deal liberally with the people of her race who would try their fortunes in a new land her grand opportunity was south of the St. Lawrence. Here was a vast and fertile region with a climate much more equable and agreeable than that of Canada. It was open to her and might have been hers by right of pre-occupation. She could as easily have made friends of the Iroquois as she did of the Hurons. But she was looking in another direction and her heart was with the huntsman and forest ranger. She watched closely the English adventurers who from time to time found themselves in the lake regions bent on exploration. But the greatest grievance of all lay in the fact that the lake Indians were tempted to trade at Albany. There was no way in which the natives could be prevented from taking their peltries where they could be sold to the best advantage. The English not only paid a better price for them than did the French but they offered better bargains on the articles which the natives wished to buy. They were under no compunctions or restraint against supplying strong drink and the demands of that nature were very considerable. As early as 1685 Governor Dongan of New York licensed several persons to trade for beaver in the country of the Ottawas.

Michigan


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