Texas Heritage, Volume 18, Number 4, Fall 2000 Page: 21
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Rene Robert Cavelier, Sieur de LaSalle
Though he was born and raised in
France, far from the shores of Texas, the
life of Rene Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La
Salle, is inextricably tied to this state.
Modem-day scientists and researchers are
involved in several projects, including
Fort St. Louis and the excavation and
conservation of one of his ship's, LaBelle,
that bear the mark of this famous explorer.
Rene Robert Cavelier was born in
1643 in Rouen, France. The title La Salle,
which Ren6 Robert assumed, was the
name of a family estate near his birthplace.
After giving up pursuit of the priesthood,
Cavelier sailed to Canada to join
his brother. He settled for a brief time near
Montreal, where he engaged in fur trapping
and studied the language of the Native
Indians. In 1669, he undertook his
first exploration and discovered the Ohio
River. A businessman from the beginning,
Cavelier began to carry out a plan establishing
trading posts across the Illinois
country and down the Mississippi. Solidifying
his alliances with the Indians,
LaSalle built outposts among several
tribes, but it was on April 7, 1682, that
he made his way to the mouth of the Mississippi
River, claiming for France all the
lands drained by that great river.
It is at this point in the life story of La
Salle, that the adventures of the explorer
turn toward Texas. Following his great
land claim in the name of France, La Salle
formulated another plan, which won the
support of Louis XIV. Sailing from France,
LaSalle wanted to build forts along the
mouth of the Mississippi and invade and
conquer Spanish provinces in Mexico.
The mission was plagued by misfortune
at every turn, including sickness and attack
by pirates, not to mention
La Salle's poor leadership
worse, maps were
not good, and La
Salle and his group
missed the mouth
of the Mississippi by
500 miles, landing at
Matagorda Bay in
Texas. The mission's failures
continued as ships sank, men
drowned, and precious cargo was lost. Despite
several attempts to correct this navigational
error and lead his party by land
to the Mississippi, La Salle was not successful;
he was eventually killed by his
own men near present-day Navasota in
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Texas Historical Foundation. Texas Heritage, Volume 18, Number 4, Fall 2000, periodical, Autumn 2000; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth45391/m1/21/: accessed October 17, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas Historical Foundation.