The French and the Lewis & Clark Expedition

The French and the Lewis & Clark Expedition (HMHQQ)

Location: Kansas City, MO 64105 Jackson County
Country: United States of America

N 39° 6.303', W 94° 35.523'

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Les Fran?ais et l'Expedition de Lewis et Clark

Marker Front:
The French-speaking community made a significant contribution to the ultimate success of the epochal Lewis & Clark expedition. The St. Louis Chouteau brothers, fur traders Auguste and Pierre, lodged the two captains in their substantial homes many times during the winter of 1803-04, and assisted in procuring supplies, boats, and personnel. Pierre acted as a downstream agent and post office for the expedition.

French voyaguers had ventured up the Missouri for over a century before 1804. French explorers, the Verendryes, reached an area two-thirds of the way along Lewis & Clark's route in 1742 in present Montana, near the Rockies and the headwaters of the Missouri. Le Page du Pratz's 1758 "Histoire de la Louisiane" (with map) was a useful resource. The Indians had told the French of the Rockies and the West, including the Great Salt lake, and of mountains and a river system leading west (part of which eventually became known as the Bitterroots, the Snake, and the Columbia) and the Chouteaus had access to French maps and memoires alluding to these features. President Jefferson even obtained a French passport for Lewis since the Louisiana Territory had been French until less than a year before.

Patron (captain) Baptiste Deschamps and his Gaulle engages took supplies and personnel in the large "red pirogue" as far as the Mandan-Hidatsa villages in present North Dakota. A French-Shawnee interpreter, George Drouillard, also acted as chief hunter, arbiter of disputes, and enforcer of the two captains' orders, and Lewis praised him highly in his reports. Toussaint Charbonneau, another French-Indian interpreter, was occasionally a problem. But his young Indian wife, Sacagawea, procured from her brother, a Shoshoni chief, the indispensable horses to ride over the snow covered mountains. Her little French-Shoshoni papoose, Jean Baptiste Charbonneau, was with her on the entire voyage and later lived at kawsmouth as a youth. A probable expedition veteran, Frenchman Pierre La Liberte, deeded the land for the first Catholic church (now Cathedral) in Kansas City in 1834.

En route up the Missouri, the French boatmen recited the names given long before by their countrymen to features along the river. Near present Kansas City (French "Chez les Canses" or home of the Kansa) were: Pierre a Fleche, L'Eau d'Azur River, Charretin Creek, La Benite Creek, Petite Riviere Platte, Remore Creek, and Isles des Parques. Above present Leavenworth they pointed out the remains of French Fort de Cavagnial (1744-64) and Isle au Vache (Cow Island), where the French had kept their livestock.

The text on the reverse of the marker is in French:
La communaut? fran?aise contribua grandement au success de l' expedition historique de Lewis et Clark. Les fr?res Chouteau de St. Louis, les marchands de fourrures Auguste et Pierre, heb?rg?rent Plusieurs reprises les deux capitaines dans leurs riches ?tablissements durant l'hiver de 1803 - 1804, et leur fournirent du personnel, des bateaux et du ravitaillement. Pierre assura la base arri?re ainsi que la transmission du courrer pour l'exp?dition.

Des voyaguers fran?ais s'?taient d?j? aventur loin en amont du Missouri un si?cle avant que Lewis et Clark effectuent leur p?riple. .Des explorateurs fran?aise, les Verendrye, atteignirent en 1742 le cours sup?rieur du Missouri et la base des Montagnes Rocheuses dans l'actuel ?tat du Montana. "L'histoire de la Louisiane", ?crite en 1758 par Le Page du Pratz, et comprenant des cartes, fu tune source d'information utile pour l'exp?dition. Les Indiens avaient fourni aux fran?aise des informations sur les Montagnes Rocheuses et l'Ouest du pays, notamment sur le Grand Lac Sal?, et sur les cha?nes des montagnes et des rivi?res menant vers l'Ouest (don't une partie prendra par la suite les noms de "Bitterrouts", "Snake" et la Colombie). Les Chouteau avaient acce ? ces cartes et t?moignages faisant allusion ? ces faits. Le president Thomas Jefferson obtint m?me un passeport fran?aise pour Lewis, le territoire de Louisiane ?tant encore fran?aise moins d'un an auparavant.

Le capitaine Baptiste Deschamps et ses recrues gauloises transport?rent le ravitaillement et le personnel dans la "Grande pirogue rouge" jusqu'aux villages Mandan-Hidatsa dans le Dakota du Nord actuel. Georges Drouillard, un interpr?te Fran?ais-Shawnee, occupa ?galement les fonctions de chef des chasseurs, fut l'arbitre de nombreuses disputes et un ferme soutien des ordres donn par les deux capitaines; Lewis loua grandement ses services dans ses rapports. Toussaint Charbonneau, un autre interpr?te, ne rendit pas les m?mes services mais sa jeune ?pouse indienne, Sacagawea, fournit, par l'interm?diaire de son fr?re, un chef Shoshone, les chevaux indispensables pour franchir les montagnes couvertes de neige. Son petit papoose franco-shoshone, Jean Baptiste Charbonneau l'accompagna durant tout le voyage et s'installa plus tard a Kawsmouth o? il passa sa jeunesse. En 1834 un autre v?t?ran de l'exp?dition, le Fran?ais Pierra la Libert?, offrit le terrain pour b?tir la premi?re ?glise catholique (aujourd'hui cath?drale de Kansas City).

En remontant le Missouris, les bateliers fran?ais r?cit?rent les noms donn longtemps auparavant par leurs compatriotes, aux r?gions travers?es. Proche du Kansas City actuel (en francais "chez les Canses") se trouvent: Pierre a Fleche, la rivi?re a l'Eau d' Azur, la rivi?re Charretin, la rivi?re B?nite, la petite rivi?re Platte, la rivi?re Remore et les ?les des Parques. A hauteur du Leavenworth actuel, ils montr?rent les restes du fort fran?ais de Cavagnial (1744-1764) et l'?le aux vaches, ou les fran?ais avaient l'habitude de parquer leur b?tail.
Details
HM NumberHMHQQ
Series This marker is part of the Lewis & Clark Expedition series, and the Markers Attached to Sculpture series.
Tags
Placed ByLa Soci?t? Chouteau & the Helen S. Boylan Foundation
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Thursday, October 23rd, 2014 at 2:35am PDT -07:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)15S E 362342 N 4329640
Decimal Degrees39.10505000, -94.59205000
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 39° 6.303', W 94° 35.523'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds39° 6' 18.18" N, 94° 35' 31.38" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)816
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 670-698 W 8th St, Kansas City MO 64105, US
Alternative Maps Google Maps, MapQuest, Bing Maps, Yahoo Maps, MSR Maps, OpenCycleMap, MyTopo Maps, OpenStreetMap

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