Perhaps the most consequential expedition in North American history wasn’t the Lewis and Clark Expedition. It was one that happened 130 years earlier and undertaken by a Catholic priest fluent in multiple Indian languages and a philosophy-student-drop-out-turned fur trapper. This was the 1673 Jolliet and Marquette expedition – in which French explorers mapped out the Mississippi Valley and confirmed that the river led to the Gulf of Mexico, not the Pacific or Atlantic – and it took place against a sprawling backdrop that encompassed everything from ancient Native American cities to French colonial machinations.
Today’s guest, Mark Walczynski, author of “Jolliet and Marquette: A New History of the 1673 Expedition“ place the explorers and their journey within seventeenth-century North America. His account takes readers among the region’s diverse Native American peoples and into a vanished natural world of treacherous waterways and native flora and fauna.
Walczynski also charts the little-known exploits of the French-Canadian officials, explorers, traders, soldiers, and missionaries who created the political and religious environment that formed Jolliet and Marquette and shaped European colonization of the heartland. A multifaceted voyage into the past, Jolliet and Marquette expands and updates the oft-told story of a pivotal event in North American history.
Cite This Article"The Mississippi Was First Mapped by a Polyglot Priest and a College Dropout-Turned-Fur Trapper" History on the Net
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