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Resolute Men of the Illinois Country
Class set order code: 7550S
The stories in this book delve into the political and social twists and turns that make up the history of America’s heartland, as well as the personal stories of the people involved.
Even before the Europeans were able to travel across the New World from the Atlantic to the Pacific, before they explored the vast landscape that made up what would become the United States of America, before they knew what kind of terrain lay before them as they pushed west, they understood the significance of the huge river that snaked across their path: the Mighty Mississippi. The Mississippi River watershed is one of the largest in the world, covering more than a million square miles of what is generally rich and fertile soil—ideal for planting crops or raising animals. Early explorers understood that both the river and the land around it carried tremendous value for whichever nation could claim them.
It was with this motivation in mind that Robert Cavelier de La Salle, along with his trusted friend Henri de Tonti, set out to build a chain of forts along the Mississippi River in the Illinois Country, an area that was comprised primarily of the upper Mississippi River watershed, especially the present states of Illinois and Missouri. His dream was to create a lucrative fur-trading business for France in what he hoped would soon be the nation of New France. Alas, dreams do not always come true, and as hard as La Salle and Tonti worked toward the realization of theirs, adversity met them head on in various forms at every pass. They did build their forts, but they did not keep them, and New France never came to be.
The British were next, ousting the French from their forts, despite the unwavering resistance of Chief Pontiac of the Native American tribe of Ottawas, who worked relentlessly to keep the newcomers from taking over his people’s lands. And finally came George Rogers Clark, who took the forts from the British on behalf of the newly formed United States.
Everyone wanted the land, and while it now seems inevitable that the United States should have won it from foreign influence (a claim that Pontiac would certainly argue against as faulty even in its premise), nothing, in fact, was inevitable. The European countries were jockeying for control over the glorious new land of wealth and abundance they had discovered, and without the determination and steadfast resolution of the men who shaped the history of the U.S. between the East Coast and the Great River, things may have gone entirely differently.
This book is also available as a series of dyslexia-friendly books. (See below.)