The French Come to the New World

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Giovanni da Verrazano
In 1524 Verrazano explored the New World for France. He searched for a route to the Indies through the continent. Verrazano sailed up and down the East Coast of America looking for a passage that would take him further west. He could not find one so he returned to France.

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Jacques Cartier
In 1534 Cartier tried to find a sea passage to the East Indies through North America. He could not find a river that would take ships west from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean. Instead he discovered the St. Lawrence River. The St. Lawrence River ended much sooner than Cartier expected. It ended on a high hill which Cartier named Mont Real or King's Mountain in honor of the King of France. Mont Real later became Montreal. Cartier named the area New France and claimed it in the name of the King of France. This discovery opened Canada for Europeans wanting to settle in North America. Cartier took colonists to Cape Rouge near Quebec. The colony was a failure. After this France lost interest in Canada. It would be more than 70 years before another Frenchman came to the mouth of the St. Lawrence River.

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Samuel de Champlain
In 1608 Champlain brought a group of settlers to the area around Montreal. They built a fort and a settlement. Champlain sent out traders to buy furs from the Indians. Champlain made friends with the Hurons. He brought missionaries to live with the Indians. These missionaries built churches. Champlain explored the Great Lakes and discovered Lake Champlain. Champlain was the first to systematically investigate the eastern shores of Canada and the New England coast.

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Father Marquette and Louis Joliet
In 1672 Father Marquette, a missionary living with the Huron Indians, contacted Louis Joliet. He wanted them to find a river to the Pacific Ocean. They discovered the Mississippi River. The two traveled as far as the Arkansas River then returned north.

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Robert LaSalle
Robert LaSalle finished the trip that Father Marquette and Louis Joliet had started earlier. LaSalle sailed all the way to the mouth of the Mississippi River. Along the way he built a chain of trading posts. LaSalle claimed the entire Mississippi River in the name of  France. LaSalle received money from the King of France. His plan was to build a trading post at the mouth of the Mississippi River at the location which is now New Orleans. He got lost and built the post on a small branch of the Mississippi River farther west. Through this the French had a valuable hold on the New World. They made money from the fur trade. The French did little to settle in the New World however. They were more interested in building an empire in Europe. One reason the French were not interested in settling in the New World was because most of the French outposts were in the cold north woods. Many colonists did not want to live under these cold conditions.

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