(The FRENCH, DUTCH and ENGLISH to AMERICA – continued)
The English responded to French rivalry in the Americas by capturing Quebec militarily in 1629 – Quebec with only 20 adult males. Then in 1634 with the Treaty of Saint Germanine-en-Laye, the English agreed to return Quebec to the French. The following year, the French expanded farther to the southwest, up the Saint Lawrence River, building a fort on an island at what became known as Montreal, where fur traders had been gathering every summer. And the French built another fort farther to the southwest: Fort Niagara.
French Jesuit priests were expanding their work with Indians. They founded their first mission in 1612, on Mount Desert Island in Penobscot Bay. They followed the fur traders, and in 1634 they became missionaries to the Huron Indians, working from the village of Ihonatiria, at the southeast end of Lake Michigan.
A few Frenchmen on the frontier decided that the Indian way of life was superior and adopted Indians ways, Indian wives, Indian dress and Indian ways of worship. This was while Jesuits believed they were taking civilization as well as Christianity to the Indians. The Jesuits tried replacing Indian magic with Christian magic, putting a rosary around the necks of ill Indian children to restore their health or a crucifix above the beds of sick children in place of the medicine pouch of the child's father. The Jesuits spoke to the Indians about the terrors of hell and impressed the Indians by their puffs of fire from sulfur. The Jesuits managed to prohibit their fellow Frenchmen selling liquor to the Indians, offending French authorities who saw giving alcohol to the Indians as helpful in bargaining for furs.
The Jesuits converted Indians where they were able to synthesize Christianity with Indian practices, but frequently instead of converts they found ridicule. In the tradition of Christianity the Jesuits were brave in facing Indian hostility, and there was Indian torture of Jesuits, such as Jean de Brebceuf and Gabriel L'Allemant by the Iroquois.
Copyright © 2001-2015 by Frank E. Smitha. All rights reserved.