Article thumbnail

Page 2



the way; and were dropped into the sea, or covered with sand on the banks of the Mississippi River. The rest of the story is best told by Father Poisson, in an account written at Arkansas Post in 1726: "The French settlement on the Arkansas would have been an important one had Monsieur Law continued four or five years. His grant was on a boundless prairie, the entrance of which is two gunshots from the house in which I am .... His intention was to found a city here, to establish manufactures, to have a number of vessels and troops, and to found a duchy. The property he sent into the country amounted to more than 1,500,000 livres. ... He meant to arm and equip two hundred cavalrymen. . . . This was not a bad beginning for the first year, but Monsieur Law was disgraced; of the three or four thousand Germans who had already left their country, a large number died in the east; nearly all on landing in the country; the others were recalled. The Company of the Indies took back the grant and shortly afterward abandoned it; the entire enterprise has therefore fallen to pieces. About thirty Frenchmen have remained here; only the excellence of the soil and climate has kept them, for in other respects they have received no assistance. My arrival here has pleased them, for they now think that the Company of the Indies had no intention of abandoning this district ... in as much as they had sent a missionary here. I cannot tell you in what great joy the people received me. I found them in great need of all things." 3a Law had become bankrupt, and left France the latter part of 1720. Storehouses, cabins, and homes about Arkansas Post were soon deserted. Some of the settlers went to New Orleans, expecting, perhaps, to return to Europe. Others established a German settlement on the Mississippi near>rew Orleans. In 1722 one visitor said that only forty-seven persons remained at the Post, and that in 1723 it was entirely abandoned. But as we have seen, Father Poisson said that there were about thirty people there in 1726. After the downfall of Law, the.Western Company did not want to lose all that.he had accomplished, so a commandant, or director, was appointed for Arkansas Post at a salary of about $400. One of his duties was to try to secure colonists for the settlement there. A few soldiers from New Orleans were also stationed at the place for many years, and it was continued as a trading post. A number of boat-loads of supplies and products now passed yearly between the Illinois country and lower I Louisiana, Robber bands, composed of whites and Indians, who preyed upon this trade, became very troublesome about the mouth of the Arkansas River. "So a. small fort ; nd storehouse for supplies were built there, an was probably garrisoned in connection with Arkansas Post. This _____ 3a Goodspeed, op., 190-91 _______________ fort also served as a defense against the Chickasaws. These Indians fiercely attacked it in 1748, but they were driven away. A fort, or rendezvous, was built later at or near the mouth of the St. Francis River, but it was soon abandoned.4 The Western Company, after the fall of Law, sent out several exploring expeditions. One was that of La Harpe in 1721, who was selected to explore the Arkansas. It was now nearly two hundred years after De Soto. Bienville, the brother of D'Iberville, was acting governor at New Orleans. He ordered La Harpe to take sixteen soldiers, to start from Arkansas Post, and to ascend to the headwaters of the Arkansas. He was to learn the quality of the land, about the Indian tribes, and mines (if any) ; keep a journal; note the navigability of the stream; and ascertain whether or not the Spaniards had any settlements in the region. He left Arkansas Post March 10, and proceeded up the Arkansas River till April 17. The explorers were impressed by the "big rock" near the present city of Little Rock. They saw many wild animals in a very beautiful country. Sickness of La Harpe's men compelled him to abandon the expedition. He failed to secure all the information Bienville wanted. Some writers think he went as far as old Fort Gibson, but he had only reached the Big Rock by April 9, and he started back soon after this date. La Harpe was also instructed to repair the stockade at the Post of Arkansas. He did this on his return, and left Lieutenant de Boulage there. A permanent garrison wras now probably kept at the place. The effort to govern Louisiana through companies proved a failure. The monopolies granted them were very burdensome to the people. The Chickasaw and Natchez Indians on the banks of the Mississippi were troublesome. Burdensome crop regulations, trade restrictions, some dissolute, worthless settlers and many inefficient officials, all formed a combination of things that made such company rule impossible. One writer said in 1724: "There is graft and miscarriage of justice . . . the army is without discipline . . . the people are not protected . . . murderers and thieves go unpunished. . . . They (the people) are a disgrace to France ... without religion . . . without justice . . . without order."5 After Law's failure, the Western Company directed affairs in Louisiana through a Supreme Council, with a governor at New Orleans as chief director. After the company gave up its charter to the king in 1731, the governor and council were continued. The Louisiana Territory was divided into nine judicial districts, and Arkansas was made the eighth. Each district had a military commander and a judge. ________ 4. Thwaites: France in America, 208-12. 5. Ogg, 228

OAI identifier:
Download PDF:
Sorry, we are unable to provide the full text but you may find it at the following location(s):
  • http://digitalcollections.uark... (external link)

  • To submit an update or takedown request for this paper, please submit an Update/Correction/Removal Request.

    Suggested articles