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Mathieu Sagean

SAGEAN, Mathieu (sah-zhay-ong), Canadian explorer, born near La Chine about 1655; died in Biloxi, Louisiana, about 1710. He early entered the service of Robert Cavalier de La Salle (q. v.), assisted in the building of Port Saint Louis of the Illinois, and was left there under Henry Tonty (q. v.)in 1681. Being desirous to make new discoveries, he obtained leave shortly afterward from Tonty and set out at the head of eleven Canadians and two Mohegan Indians. They ascended the Mississippi about 500 miles, and then. their provisions being exhausted, stopped a month to hunt. While thus engaged they found another river flowing south southwest, carried their canoes to it, sailed about 450 miles, and found themselves in the midst of an Indian tribe dwelling in well-built villages and governed by a chief who claimed descent from Montezuma. On his return to Canada, Sagean was captured by English pirates upon the shores of the St. Lawrence and compelled to take service among them.. He followed a life of adventure for about twenty years in the East and West Indies, but toward 1700 he found his way to France and enlisted in a company of marines at Brest. There he revealed the secret of his discoveries in America. His story was written down from his dictation and sent to the secretary of the navy, Count de Pont-chartrain, who caused inquiries to be made, and, as a result, Sagean was sent to Biloxi, near the mouth of the Mississippi, with orders that he should be supplied with the means of conducting a party to the country he had discovered, and which he represented as being rich in gold. But the officers in command neglected their instructions, and suffered the order to remain unexecuted. Sagean's discov-cry has been contested, inasmuch as he described the country as a kind ofEl Dorado, but other authors contend that, aside from these exaggerations, Sagean's discovery was real, and that he saw the remains of an ancient Mexican tribe that had emigrated northward after the Spanish conquest. Sagean's story, written from his dictation, is preserved among the manuscripts in the National library at Paris. It was translated into English and published by John Gilmary Shea in his series of memoirs and narratives concerning the French colonies in America (1862).

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