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Early French Map of North America Illustrating La Salle's Explorations

Joutel's map of North America illustrated one of the most important accounts of early French exploration of the Mississippi Valley region. The map emphasizes the regions explored by René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle between 1681 and 1686, as well as the route taken by La Salle and later by Joutel and his group of survivors, as they proceeded north from Texas to the Mississippi River and ultimately up the Mississippi to the more established French Colonial strongholds in Canada.

The route of La Salle's party is shown departing Texas and proceeding northward to Boucan (the Smokehouse referenced in Joutel's account), then crossing several rivers in a northeasterly direction, before turning east and crossing a number of other rivers in Texas, finally reaching the Mississippi.  The maker of the map is quite conservative in the treatment of these rivers and does not speculate on their courses, which are not shown with downriver connections to any other rivers.

La Salle & Joutel

Joutel's report is the premiere account of La Salle's tragic final voyage, compiled from the diary of his close subordinate. The party embarked in 1684, ostensibly to establish a French base at the mouth of the Mississippi as headquarters for operations, but as well to push as far as possible into the region in order to gain a foothold against the Spanish. In fact, and via a conscious deceit, the base was established at Espiritu Santo Bay, in Texas, where the party spent two years making excursions into the surrounding territory.

When expected reinforcements failed to appear, La Salle and his men determined to return to Canada via the Mississippi. Unfortunately for La Salle, a member of the expedition assassinated La Salle when they reached the Trinity River, and the company split up. Some of the survivors, including Joutel, pressed on, reaching Canada by way of the Mississippi and Arkansas rivers.


While Joutel's report appears periodically on the market, the map itself is very rarely offered separately, this being the second example we have offered in the past 20 years.