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The La Salle Expedition on the Mississippi River presents the definitive English translation of Nicolas de La Salle’s diary account of René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle’s 1682 discovery expedition of the Mississippi River from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico. This previously unknown manuscript copy was discovered recently in the collection of rare books in the Texas State Archives.It provides the most complete and authoritative account available of this historic North American adventure and territorial claim. By careful cross- document analysis, Foster projects an extended expedition chronology that adds about two weeks to the journey, corrects the date that La Salle’s claim was announced, and revises erroneous interpretations made by most contemporary French and American scholars. The work includes maps prepared by the noted Southwest cartographer John V. Cotter[...]
The La Salle Expedition in Texas presents the definitive English translation of Henri Joutel’s classic account of Rene-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle’s 1684–1687 expedition to establish a fort and colony near the mouth of the Mississippi River. Written from detailed notes taken during this historic journey, Joutel’s journal is the most comprehensive and authoritative account available of this dramatic story of adventure and misadventure in Texas. Joutel, who served as post commander for La Salle, describes in accurate and colorful detail the daily experiences and precise route La Salle’s party followed in 1687 from the Texas coast to the Mississippi River. By carefully comparing Joutel’s compass directions and detailed descriptions to maps and geographic locations, Foster has established where La Salle was murdered by his men, and has corrected many erroneous geographic interpretations made by French and American scholars during the past century.Joutel’s account is a captivating narrative set in a Texas coastal wilderness. Foster follows Joutel, La Salle, and their fellow adventurers as they encounter Indians and their unique cultures; enormous drifting herds of bison; and unknown flora and fauna, including lethal flowering cactus fruit and rattlesnakes. The cast of characters includes priests and soldiers, deserters and murderers, Indian leaders, and a handful of French women who worked side-by-side with the men. It is a remarkable first hand tale of dramatic adventure as these diverse individuals meet and interact on the grand landscape of Texas.Joutel’s journal, newly translated by Johanna S. Warren, is edited and annotated with an extensive introduction by William C. Foster. The account is accompanied by numerous detailed maps and the first published English translation of the testimony of Pierre Meunier, one of the most knowledgeable and creditable survivors of La Salle’s expedition.[...]
Cabeza de Vaca’s mode of transportation, afoot on portions of two continents in the early decades of the sixteenth century, fits one dictionary definition of the word “pedestrian." By no means, however, should the ancillary meanings of “commonplace" or “prosaic" be applied to the man, or his remarkable adventures. Between 1528 and 1536, he trekked an estimated 2,480 to 2,640 miles of North American terrain from the Texas coast near Galveston Island to San Miguel de Culiacán near the Pacific Coast of Mexico. He then traveled under better circumstances, although still on foot, to Mexico City. About a year later, Cabeza de Vaca returned to Spain. In 1540, the king granted Cabeza de Vaca civil and military authority in modern-day Paraguay. After arriving on the coast of Brazil in 1541, he was unable to find transportation by ship to the seat of his governorship. He then led a group of more 250 settlers through 1,200 miles of unchartered back country, during which he lost only two men.Cabeza de Vaca’s travels are amazing in themselves, but during them he transformed from a proud Spanish don to lay advocate of Indian rights on both American continents. That journey is as remarkable as his travels. It was this “great awakening" that landed him in more trouble with Spaniards than Indians. Settlers at Asunción rebelled against the reformist governor, incarcerated him, tried to poison his food on two occasions, and finally sent him to Spain in irons. There he was tried and convicted on trumped-up charges of carrying out policies that were the exact opposite of what he had promoted—the humane protection of Indians.This book examines the two great “journeys" of Cabeza de Vaca—his extraordinary adventures on two continents and his remarkable growth as a humanitarian.[...]