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Before a territory can be settled it has to be explored Through an exquisite quest amongst adventure and hardships Sir Rene Robert Cavelier de La Salle set out to explore the Great Lakes and Mississippi River In the winter of 1681-1682 the French explorer Rene Robert Cavalier Sieur de la Salle led an expedition from Canada down the Mississippi River to the Gulf of Mexico La Salle reached the rivers outlet to the gulf where he set up a cross and a wooden post carved with the coat of arms of his king Louis XIV In the presence of a handful of followers the thirty-nine-year old explorer claimed the entire Mississippi watershed for France and named the new territory Louisiana His goals were to chart the lands for claims and settlement of his beloved France Unfortunately not all explorers achieve success and hardships come with the tide La Salle returned to French Canada then set sail for France to seek the kings support for a scheme to fortify and colonize the Mississippi valley and the Gulf Coast Arriving in Paris LaSalle presented the royal court with a glowing description of the settlement potential of the great river valley emphasizing that he had already made five journeys of more than five thousand leagues through unknown country largely on foot among savages and cannibals all in the name of his sovereign Cox The most forceful point in La Salles presentation to the king was a proposal to challenge Spanish control of the Gulf of Mexico The king of Spain had issued a territorial decree barring the ships of other nations from entering the gulf Some French ships that had ventured into the forbidden waters had been attacked and had their crews imprisoned or enslaved by the Spanish At the same time the fame of Spanish silver mines in northern Mexico provided a strong incentive for the French to invade the region and claim its treasures La Salle
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