René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle (1643-1687) was a French explorer best known for leading expeditions down the Mississippi and Illinois Rivers, claiming the region for France and naming it Louisiana after King Louis XIV.

His last expedition (to establish fur trading posts along the Mississippi), failed and cost La Salle his life.

Though René-Robert La Salle failed in his last mission, his expeditions built a network of forts from Canada, across the Great Lakes, and along the Ohio, Illinois, and Mississippi rivers. This defensive front line established the French territory in North America and defined its commercial and diplomatic policy for almost a century. His friendships with numerous Native American tribes assisted and supported French colonial settlers and the military up to the Seven Years’ War.

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