Opening of the French Fur Trade
Digital History ID 698
Samuel De Champlain
Although Jacques Cartier established France's claim in the St. Lawrence Valley in 1534, it would not be until the early seventeenth century that France founded its first permanent settlements. Here, the explorer Samuel De Champlain describes how he encouraged Indians to participate in the fur trade.
...I went on shore with my companions and two of our savages who served as interpreters. I directed the men in our barque to approach near the savages, and hold their arms in readiness to do their duty in case they notice any movement of these people against us. Bessabez [the chief], seeing us on land, bade us sit down, and began to smoke with his companions.... They presented us with venison and game.
I directed our interpreter to say to our savages that...Sieur de Monts [Champlain's patron] had sent me to see them, and...that he desired to inhabit their country and show them how to cultivate it, in order that they might not continue to lead so miserable a life as they were doing....They expressed their great satisfaction, saying that no greater good could come to them than to have our friendship, and that they desired to live in peace with their enemies, and that we should dwell in their land, in order that they might in the future more than ever before engage in hunting beavers, and give us a part of them in return for our providing them with things which they wanted....
Source: William L. Grant, ed., The Voyages of Samuel De Champlain (New York: 1907), 49-50.
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