Why Did Marquette And Joliet Explored The Mississippi River

Explaining the Motivation for Exploration

Beginning in 1673, French explorers Louis Jolliet and Pere Jacques Marquette, with the help of local Indigenous tribes, began a historic journey towards the source of the Mississippi River. The mission was commissioned by King Louis XIV of France, and while Jolliet was a trader and an adventurer, Marquette was a trained Jesuit priest, and the two men made an formidable duo. But why did they decide to explore the Mississippi?
In order to find the answer, we must look back upon the 17th century European world view. During this period, a new emphasis was placed upon scientifc discovery and expansion. European leaders believed it was their duty to spread their faith and culture, but to do this successfully – and to stay ahead of their enemies and competitors – they needed to extend their empires and explore new lands. So, while their motivation was initially religious, they quickly realized the potential economic rewards of their expedition and the prospects of forming trading partnerships with Indigenous tribes.

The Two Explorers

Marquette and Jolliet both played pivotal roles in the Mississippi expedition. With Marquette’s knowledge of Native American languages, the route went much smoother than what was expected. He was a master negotiator and mediator, which enabled him to form diplomatic ties with the various Indigenous tribes they encountered during their travels. As an added bonus, Marquette had a talent for mapping, which proved invaluable as they navigated uncharted waters.
Jolliet, on the other hand, possessed a lifetime of trading experience and knowledge of the local waterways. He was also a daring adventurer, who rarely hesitated when it came to the hours upon hours of journey. His attitude towards risk-taking and leadership made him a perfect companion for Marquette, and the two quickly became close friends.

Groundbreaking Discoveries

Prior to the Marquette-Jolliet mission, there was very little known about the Upper Mississippi River – especially its source. Yet, the two explorers persevered and eventually stumbled upon a river that originated in one of the Dakotas. They were so amazed by the size and abundance of the river that they named it the “River of the Immense Inlets,” and they wrote several letters to their sponsors in France commending the effort and highlighting their discoveries.
The expedition was also the first of its kind to make contact with various Indigenous groups, as well as the first expedition led by non-Native Americans. Marquette and Jolliet earned the trust of the local Native tribes and ultimately opened the way for future French expeditions and the eventual French control of much of the Upper Mississippi River.

Impact on the Early U.S.

In the centuries that followed Marquette and Jolliet’s expedition, the United States was founded, and eventually the river was to become one of the nation’s most important economic resources. Trade along the Mississippi River provided much needed income for the early settlers. Goods such as timber, flour, tobacco, rice, and cotton were shipped up and down the river, and it quickly became one of the most important transportation corridors in the country.
The river also allowed settlers to move items quickly and cheaply to different parts of the country, leading to a rise in commerce and eventually to the industrial revolution. For this reason, the journey explored by Marquette and Jolliet is seen as a significant milestone in U.S. history.

Relationships with Indigenous Tribes

Today, historians see the mistrust between Indigenous tribes and the European settlers who ventured into traditional tribal territories as a major factor that contributed to the eventual displacement of Indigenous people. However, it is important to note that during the Marquette-Jolliet expedition, relations between Indigenous tribes and the French explorers were encouraging. Indeed, the expedition found allies in many of the Indigenous communities they encountered, and it is believed that Indigenous people helped guide the explorers towards the realization of their mission.

Environmental Impact

The exploration of the Mississippi River also had a major impact on the environment. The navigation of the river increased dramatically following the expedition, leading to heavy traffic and pollution along the river. Mining, logging, and industrialization of the river led to further environmental damage, and it is only in recent years that the pollution of the Mississippi has finally become a focus for U.S. politicians.

Tribute to the Explorers

Marquette and Jolliet are no longer with us, but their legacy lives on. The two men’s intrepid journey down the Mississippi River opened up the possibility for future exploration, trade, and settlement of the Midwest. Both men are remembered for their courageous spirit and dedication to exploration, and their expedition was yet another important chapter in the history of America.

Growing Recognition for Indigenous People

While the story of Marquette and Jolliet’s exploration allows us to glimpse a moment in the early history of the United States, it is important to view the partnership between Europeans and Indigenous people within the cultural context of the time. The partnership formed by Marquette and Jolliet was a genuine one that was based in trust and respect, and it is an example of the relationship that should have existed between Europeans and Indigenous people in the United States throughout history. In recent years, there has been a growing recognition of the Native Americans and their contribution to the nation’s past, present and future, and this recognition has only been made possible through the actions of people such as Marquette and Jolliet.

Present Day Relevance

The story of Marquette and Jolliet’s exploration of the Mississippi River continues to be relevant today, and not just in the United States. In the wake of the expedition, other countries, including France, Denmark and the Netherlands, began to explore and develop their own river routes. These routes ultimately became international trade routes, and they are still in use today.
The explorations of Marquette and Jolliet also impacted the course of history in other ways. For example, the success of their mission opened up the possibility for further French settlement of the Missouri River Valley and the Great Lakes region. It is this settlement that enabled the French to gain control of the Upper Mississippi, which eventually led to the Louisiana Purchase.

Continued Impact of the Mississippi River

The story of Marquette and Jolliet stands as a testament to the power and influence of the Mississippi River – and of its two intrepid explorers. While their journey opened up the possibility for future explorations and settlements, it also signaled the beginning of a new era of discoveries and innovations that continue to affect us today. The Mississippi still serves as an important source of transportation, trade and culture that connects people and cultures across the country, and it will remain a major source of prosperity and growth for generations to come.

Raymond Strasser is a passion-driven writer and researcher, dedicated to educating readers on the topic of world rivers. With a background in Geography and Environmental Studies, Raymond provides insightful pieces which explore the impact and importance that rivers have around the world.

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