Three hundred, fifty years ago, today…
On May 17, 1673, Louis Jolliet and Jacques Marquette departed from St. Ignace, Michigan, with two canoes and five other voyageurs of French-Indian ancestry. The group sailed to Green Bay. They paddled upstream (southward) on the Fox River to the site now known as Portage, Wisconsin. There, they portaged a distance of slightly less than two miles through marsh and oak forest to the Wisconsin River. Europeans eventually built a trading post at that shortest convenient portage between the Great Lakes and Mississippi River basins. On June 17, the canoeists ventured onto the Mississippi River near present-day Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin.
The Jolliet-Marquette expedition paddled along the west bank of the Mississippi until mid-July. When they passed the mouth of the Arkansas River, they became satisfied that they had established that the Mississippi flowed into the Gulf of Mexico.
The voyageurs then followed the Mississippi back to the mouth of the Illinois River, which friendly natives told them was a shorter route back to the Great Lakes. Following the Illinois river upstream, they turned up its tributary, the Des Plaines River near modern-day Joliet, Illinois. They continued up the Des Plaines River and portaged their canoes, and gear, at the Chicago Portage. They followed the Chicago River downstream until they reached Lake Michigan near the location of modern-day Chicago. Father Marquette stayed at the mission of St. Francis Xavier at the southern end of Green Bay, which they reached in August. Jolliet returned to Quebec to relate the news of their discoveries. On his way through the Lachine Rapids, Jolliet’s canoe overturned and his records were lost. His brief narrative, written from memory, is in essential agreement with Marquette’s, the chief account of the journey.
While Hernando de Soto was the first European to make official note of the Mississippi River by discovering its southern entrance in 1541, Jolliet and Marquette were the first to locate its upper reaches and, travel most of its length, about 130 years later. De Soto had named the river Rio del Espiritu Santo but, tribes along its length called it “Mississippi”, meaning “Great River” in the Algonquian languages.
♦ Louis Jolliet (Britannica)
♦ Louis Jolliet (Dictionary of Canadian Biography)
♦ Jacques Marquette (Britannica)
♦ Jacques Marquette (Biography)
♦ The Explorers (Canadian Museum of History)
♦ Archdiocese of Chicago (New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia/James Marquette)
Louis Jolliet & Jacques Marquette: PBS World Explorers
Marquette and Jolliet: The Beginning of the Voyage to the Mississippi
Jeannette Rankin was an American politician and women’s rights advocate and, the first woman to hold federal office in the United States. She was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives as a Republican from Montana in 1916 and, again, in 1940. As of 2022, Rankin is still the only woman ever elected to Congress from Montana.
Each of Rankin’s Congressional terms coincided with initiation of U.S. military intervention in the two World Wars. A lifelong pacifist, she was one of 50 House members who opposed the declaration of war on Germany in 1917. In 1941, she was the only member of Congress to vote against the declaration of war on Japan following the attack on Pearl Harbor.
A suffragist during the Progressive Era, Rankin organized and lobbied for legislation enfranchising women in several states including Montana, New York and North Dakota. While in Congress, she introduced legislation that eventually became the 19th Constitutional Amendment, granting unrestricted voting rights to women nationwide. She championed a multitude of diverse women’s rights and civil rights causes throughout a career that spanned more than six decades.
Rankin was born on June 11, 1880, to John and Olive Rankin at Grant Creek Ranch near Missoula, in what was then the Montana Territory. She was the first of seven children […] in a prosperous family. Her father […] was a rancher and builder who had come to Montana from Canada. Her mother […] had moved from New Hampshire to teach before marrying John Rankin and becoming a housewife. Jeannette attended Montana State University in Missoula (now the University of Montana) and graduated in 1902 with a degree in biology. [Her] career in politics began as a student volunteer with a local women’s suffrage campaign in Washington State, preparing for a referendum on voting rights. [In] February 1911, she became the first woman to address the Montana legislature when she testified in support of women’s suffrage.
History, Art & Archives
United States House of Representatives
Rankin held office in her first term from March 4, 1917, one-hundred and five years, ago, today, to March 3, 1919. Her second term was from January 3, 1941 to January 3, 1943. Powerful enemies made sure she could not get re-elected. Twenty-four years later, she reclaimed her seat. She never married and passed away May 18, 1973 at the age of 92. ~Vic
Jeannette Rankin (Biography/February 27, 2018)
Montana’s Women Candidates Are Out To Set Another Record (Billings Gazette/Web Archive/October 25, 2016)
Seven Things About Jeannette Rankin (History Channel/Jesse Greenspan/September 1, 2018)