La Salle And The Discovery Of The Great West

The story of La Salle’s exploration was magnificently told in Francis Parkman’s The Discovery of the Great West. First published in 1860, this classic work was completely revised after Parkman gained access to a treasure trove of French manuscripts, and was republished in 1879. A selection from Parkman’s history, dealing with La Salle and the episodes which are shown in the Catlin paintings, begins below.

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La Salle On The Mississippi

“An unconquerable mind in a frame of iron”
Forgotten paintings by George Catlin, who saw the West unspoiled, turn up again to recall the marvels that unfolded before the eyes of the heroic French explorer


The annals of American exploration, studded as they are with action and adventure, hold no story more heroic, in the exact, Homeric sense of this much abused word, than that of the Sieur de la Salle, fighting every obstacle which civilization, savage man, and nature could devise to penetrate to its end the valley of the Mississippi. No one has described it better, although his book is largely forgotten, than Francis Parkman.