Having built Fort Crèvecoeur (Fort Heartbreak) 2 years earlier, la Salle set out to explore the Mississippi River in January 1682, accompanied by 23 French and 16 Native companions. They journeyed south via the Chigagou (Chicago), Renard (Fox) and Illinois Rivers, finally reaching the mouth of the Mississippi River on April 6. On April 9, near present-day Venice, Louisiana in the Mississippi Delta region, la Salle clothed himself in a scarlet, gold-trimmed robe and, to musket salvos and hymns being sung, he erected a huge cross and a pillar bearing the King's coat of arms. At the base of the cross, la Salle buried a brass plate with the following inscription:
"In the name of Louis XIV, King of France and of Navarre, this ninth of April, 1682."
In a regal ceremony, la Salle claimed the entire Mississippi Basin (all the land drained by the Mississippi and its tributaries) for France and named it 'Louisiana'. Effectively, France now owned most of central United States and everyone and everything within that area.
René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de la Salle
The Early Years
Incompetence and Failure
The Mississippi River
* Louisiana *
Deception and Murder