Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
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DU LHUT, or DULUTH, Daniel Greysolon, explorer, born in Lyons, France; died near Lake Superior in 1709. He belonged to the numerous classes of lesser French nobles, many of who found themselves in Canada without incomes from their estates, and yet were prevented by pride from engaging in trade. It was these men and their sons that composed the "coureurs de bois." They were really forest outlaws, and many were the royal edicts launched against them, but without effect, At several periods of colonial history they comprised the entire male population under middle age, wives, children, and farms being abandoned for the free, fascinating life of the woods. Du Lhut is said to have induced, on one occasion, all the young men to enlist under his leadership for the period of four years, and at one time 800 men, out of a total population of 10,000, mysteriously disappeared.
The profit to be derived from the trade in furs, with the freedom from all priestly or secular control enjoyed in the wilderness, were the chief causes of this exodus. Du Lhut's traffic was carried on under the protection of Count Frontenac, and with the assistance of certain merchants, of whom his uncle, Patron, was one. He spent his time in the trackless forests, in the Indian towns, or in remote posts which he himself had planted, trading, fighting, ruling lawless sayages and scarcely less ungovernable whites, and from time to time going to France to hold interviews with Seignelay, the colonial minister. He built a trading post on the north side of Lake Superior, at the mouth of a River entering Thunder Bay, where Fort William now stands.
Du Lhut left Quebec in September 1678, to explore the upper Mississippi, visited three large Sioux towns in the summer of 1679, held a council near Lake Superior to reconcile the Assiniboines with the neighboring tribes, and in June 1680, started with four Frenchmen, an Indian, and two canoes to continue his explorations. On reaching the St. Croix he learned that there were three Europeans on the main River below. They proved to be Father Hennepin and his companions, with whom he joined forces, and to whom he was of great assistance.
In 1684 he caused two Indians, who had murdered several Frenchmen on Lake Superior, to be shot, undaunted by the crowd of excited savages that surrounded him and his small band of white men. In 1686 Denonville ordered him to fortify the "Detroit," or strait, between Lakes Er4e and Huron. He went there with fifty men and built a palisade fort, which he occupied for some time. The year following, with Tonty and Durantaye, he joined Denonville in his campaign against the Senecas, bringing with him a body of Indians from the upper lakes. During the panic among the colonists that followed the Iroquois invasion of Montreal in 1689, Duluth, with twenty-eight Canadians, attacked twenty-two Iroquois in canoes, received their fire without returning it, and bore down upon and killed eighteen of them, capturing three and allowing but one to escape. In 1695 he was in command of Fort Frontenac, and in 1697 succeeded to the command of a company of infantry. For twenty-five years Duluth was a martyr to the gout, although he thought himself cured at one time by the intervention of an Iroquois saint. Parkman says, "while an habitual breaker of the royal ordinances regarding the fur trade, yet his services were great to the colony and crown, and his name deserves a place of honor among the pioneers of American civilization."
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