Misfortunes plagued LaSalle expedition

Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle.
From Texas Beyond History

 EDITOR’S NOTE: The story of the LaSalle odyssey is an important part of Matagorda County and Texas history.
   It’s the reason that the French flag is one of the six flags of Texas.
   And, perhaps more importantly, the LaSalle expedition alarmed the Spanish, who reacted by establishing missions throughout Texas.
   The Texas Beyond History website is a thoroughfare examination of this ill-fated journey and we thought this telling of the story would interest Sentinel readers.

   On a cold winter day in 1687, the small French ship Belle ran aground on the Texas coast, the victim of a run of bad luck and a howling north wind. 
      The Belle was the last of four ships of the expedition led by Robert Cavelier, sieur de La Salle. 
   La Salle had come to establish a colony near the mouth of the Mississippi River with multiple aims that included providing a warm-water port to serve the fur trade and a base for invading Mexico. 
   France and Spain were then at war, and La Salle, with the backing of his king, intended to challenge Spain's domination of the Gulf of Mexico. 
   This was not La Salle's first journey to the New World. In 1669 La Salle had set out to explore the Great Lakes region of North America.  
   By 1682 he had reached the Illinois country, establishing trading posts along the way.  
   From the mouth of the Illinois River, he began a journey of more than a thousand miles, following the Mississippi River to its mouth in the Gulf of Mexico. 
   There he laid claim, in the name of Louis XIV, king of France, to roughly one-third of the territory of today’s continental United States.  
   In light of such monumental successes and the hope of conquering more territory - including the Spanish silver mines in northern Mexico - the king was persuaded to back La Salle’s grandiose plan, providing ships, supplies, and personnel to carry out his vision. 
   The king’s largesse, however, had limits. Whereas La Salle saw a need for four ships, the monarch agreed to provide only two: the small frigate Belle and the escorting warship Joly.  
   To augment his force La Salle - drawing ever more heavily on borrowed money - leased from private merchants two additional vessels, L’Aimable and the ketch Saint François, and purchased additional trade goods and supplies.

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