Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac was a middle-aged, French military officer. This man was determined to build a colony along the Detroit river bank. He discusses his prejudices, as well as how to make the colony, in a letter written to his superiors over in France, on October 18, 1700(Grimm, Michigan Voices, p17).
In a detailed and bulleted list(Grimm, Michigan Voices, p17), Cadillac tells those in France exactly how to form a perfect colony. He used this list to persuade King Louis XIV to agree and befriend the natives, even though Cadillac believe they were savages/wild beasts. He only wanted to use friendship as a way to “humanize them.” Some of these ideas included: marriages of the soldiers and Canadians to the savage maidens in order to strengthen friendships.
Throughout this list, Cadillac continually throws blows to the Indians. Calling them savages and wild beasts. But he knew that getting a French man wed to a Native American maiden, that their friendships would grow. He clearly didn’t care about the friendships though, he just wanted to get his way. I think he wrote this so he could become friends with the natives, but also so he could build his colony. But the main part was to build his colony. At the end of the day, a friendship with “the savages” was only needed so he could be successful in gaining a place along the Detroit River.
We can clearly tell that Cadillac did not care for the Indians in any sense, but even worse than seeing the men as savages, he saw the women as just pawns in this game of his. Stooping so low as to tell those back in France that the savage maidens “always prefer a Frenchman for a husband to any savage whatever.”(Grimm, Michigan Voices, p17) He wanted the Natives and French to bond. Only, though, so he could achieve his goal.
Luckily for the Indians, this plan did not take off. Cadillac was determined to use the King and other higher powers to achieve his goals. He also was willing to sacrifice just about anything and anyone to do so.
Joe Grimm Michigan Voices: Our State’s History in the Words of the People Who Lived It, pg. 17. Detroit Free Press and Wayne State University Free Press, 1987.
Rubenstein and Zlewacz Michigan: A History of the Great Lakes State, pgs. 34-37. Wiley, 2014.
PHOTO: Grand Quebec