This is the first of two volumes presenting all seven parts of Francis Parkman
's monumental narrative history of the struggle for control of the American continent. Thirty years in the writing, Parkman's "history of the American forest" is an accomplishment hardly less awesome than the adventures he describes. This volume begins with the tragic settlement of French Huguenots
in Florida, then shifts north as explorers like Samuel de Champlain
map the wilderness and wage savage forest warfare against the Iroquois
; resolute Jesuits attempt to convert the Indians and suffer captivity, torture, and martyrdom in the wilderness; conflict rages in French Canada between religious extremists and fur traders
. Dominating all is the fiercely indomitable La Salle
, whose obsession with colonizing the Mississippi Valley
leads to vast treks across the western prairie and assassination in a lonely Texas swamp.
Samuel de Champlain was an explorer and the founder of French settlements in what became Quebec. Along with the Missouri, the Mississippi forms the longest river system in the world and ultimately drains almost all of the central United States. The Iroquois were the people of several tribes in the Eastern United States and Canada, who controlled large areas before European settlement and allied themselves variously with French, British and Americans during their 18th century wars. The European desire for North American furs motivated much of the early exploration and trade in the northern parts of North America.