IOWA OWNED BY EUROPEANS
After Columbus discovered America in 1492,
Spain claimed all of the "New World." Other countries became
jealous. They did not want Spain to become too rich and too
powerful. So they also sent expeditions to find new land.
England sent the Cabots. They landed on the mainland of
North America in 1497. Because of the Cabot discovery,
England laid claim to all of the continent of North America.
In 1673, as we have learned, France sent
Marquette and Joliet to explore the Mississippi region and
they found Iowa land. A few years later, in 1682, another
Frenchman, Robert Cavalier, Sieur de la Salle, commonly called
Le Salle, went down the Illinois River to where it enters the
Mississippi. From there he went south to the mouth of the big
river. He built a fort at the lower end of the Mississippi
and claimed for France all of the land that was drained by the
great river and its branches. It was La Salle who gave the
name Louisiana to the land he claimed for his king, Louis XIV.
La Salle never saw Iowa land; but a
missionary, Father Hennepin, who traveled with him, came north
on the Mississippi from the mouth of the Illinois River.
Hennepin was therefore, one of the first white men to see our
Later, La Salle tried to establish a French
colony at the mouth of the Mississippi. He sailed from France
with 280 colonists and hoped to find the river's mouth by way
of the Gulf of Mexico. He missed the place and landed too far
west. His colony settled in what is now Texas and proved a
failure. La Salle himself was shot to death by traitors in
his own expedition.
Still another Frenchman, D'Iberville,
established the first permanent settlement in the lower
Mississippi Valley. It was located eighty miles west of where
New Orleans now stands. From this settlement French explorers
and traders went through the valley of the great river, many
of them visiting Iowa land.
France may be said to have been the first
nation that really had a right to call itself the owner of the
Mississippi Valley. She could claim it by discovery, by
exploration, and by settlement.
FRANCE AND ENGLAND CLASH
By the middle of the eighteenth century (that
is, 1750) both France and England had many settlements in
certain parts of North America. Both wanted the same land.
They fought a war, usually called the French and Indian War,
to settle the quarrel, in which France was defeated. She lost
Canada and all of the land east of the Mississippi except a
strip near its mouth. In that part of the valley she was
given the right to own and control both banks of the river.
West of the Mississippi the territory left to the French,
reaching as far west as the Rocky Mountains and Spanish Mexico
was still called Louisiana.
England was the greatest sea power in the
world. France, now that she had been defeated, feared that
she could not keep England from getting the rest of her land
in North America. Because of that fear, France, in 1762,
secretly gave Louisiana to Spain. Thus Iowa land, because it
was a part of Louisiana Territory, became Spanish property.
The French people who had settled in North
America were now forced to live under either the English or
the Spanish flag. They hated England, and when George Rogers
Clark captured the Northwest Territory during the
Revolutionary War, the French in that section north of the
Ohio River were glad to help Clark and to declare allegiance
to the new American Government.
When Spain first took over the government of
Louisiana Territory, the French settlers refused to recognize
the Spanish officials. The King of Spain had to send a stern
governor as their new master. Spain, who had long owned
Mexico and California, now controlled also all the land
between the Rocky Mountains and the Mississippi. She also
owned, for three hundred miles from its mouth, the east bank
of the big river. This large area in 1768 had only about
Spain wanted to make a great and powerful
colony of Louisiana. She established Spanish courts and laws
and required that the people speak the Spanish language.
A few years after Louisiana Territory was
given to Spain, our Revolutionary War took place. As a result
of this was the thirteen English colonies along the Atlantic
Ocean became free from England. They set up a new government
and called themselves the United States of America. The
western boundary of the new nation was the Mississippi River.
The new American nation was a rival of the Spaniards in
Mississippi Valley. Spain feared losing her land to this new
The Spanish governor of Louisiana sent men
through the upper Mississippi Valley who tried to get the
settlers to turn against the United States. Spain even tried
to buy off the settlers. She had always levied heavy taxes on
goods that were sent down the Mississippi, but now she told
the settlers these would be no more taxes if they would join
the Spanish colony. Some of the settlers wanted to join
Spain, while others became angry and wanted to go to war with
her. The United States Government finally got Spain's
permission to let settlers send their goods down the river
without a tax.
UNDER FRANCE AGAIN
It was a weak French king who gave Louisiana
to Spain. When Napoleon became ruler of France, a few years
after our United States Government was organized, he wanted
Louisiana back. He intended to build a large colony in North
America. Because he had a large army and Spain did not dare
to oppose him, Louisiana was given back to France.
Napoleon's plans for a big American colony did
not come to pass. He was about to go to war with England and
he needed money. So, in 1803, he sold Louisiana Territory to
the United States.
Little progress was made in what is now Iowa
during the years it was owned by European countries. No
permanent settlements were made, although many trading posts
were established. A number of grants of land were given and
people were beginning to see the value of Iowa land. Soon
after the United States bought the Louisiana Territory from
Napoleon, many settlers came west to live. Iowa land,
however, was kept for the Indians for a number of years.