National Geographic : 1899 Mar
ORIGINAL TERRITORY OF THE UNITED STATES 77 hostile to their pretensions as the mother country. The colonies of England, which in 1640 were threatened with being pushed into the sea, had become a continuous chain of eager contestants for supremacy, destined to sweep westward and drive the French dominion from the continent forever. The French had formed a bold and magnificent design for the possession of the vast interior west of the mountains.6 Near the close of the seventeenth century a brave and brilliant explorer, La Salle, continuing the career of Champlain, who had carried the trade and dominion of France westward to Wisconsin, de scended the valley of the Mississippi, after traversing the Great Lakes, and planted a French settlement in Louisiana. The St Lawrence, the Great Lakes, the Mississippi, these furnished the natural highway for the genius of the great Frenchman in his progress toward the fulfillment of his splendid dream of empire; but the chief necessity for its realization was men, and these were wanting. At the close of the seventeenth century the French in all the wide region claimed by them numbered only twelve thousand souls, while the English had grown to a hun dred thousand in New England and New York alone. " The paternal providence of Versailles," says Parkman, " mindful of their needs, sent to the colonists of Louisiana, in 1704, a gift of twenty marriageable girls, described as ' nurtured in virtue and piety and accustomed to work.'" But it required more than a cargo of girls to save New France. The forces of true coloniza tion were wanting to the French, whose adventurers were de scribed by an officer as " beggars sent out to enrich themselves," and who expected the government to feed them while they hunted for pearls and gold mines. A weak chain of forts and trading posts, occupied chiefly by priests and friendly Indians, was the only bond that held to gether the long interval of wilderness between the St Lawrence and the Gulf of Mexico. The governor of New France, La Jonquiere, perceived that the connecting link between these out posts was the rich valley of the Ohio, and demanded of his King the shipment of ten thousand French peasants to populate this intermediate region. But the thought had occurred too late; Louis was indifferent, preoccupied with the pleasures of his court; the inevitable conflict came at last and New France was erased from the map of North America. France resisted nobly in Europe, but left the defense of her 6See map of the territory of the present United States during the French and Indian wars.