A Guide to the French National Archives Records, 1697-1803
Parts of the Mississippi Valley were under French jurisdiction from approximately the late-17th century to the mid-18th century. French residents from Louisiana sought to establish trade routes with Native American tribes and Spanish outposts in East Texas. In 1699, a French-Canadian explorer, Louis Juchereau de St. Denis (1674-1744) sailed from La Rochelle, France, to Louisiana, where he was stationed at forts on the Mississippi River and Biloxi Bay. St. Denis explored parts of East Texas, including along the Red River, where he encountered Karankawa and Caddo Indians. In 1713, Louisiana governor Antoine de La Mothe, Sieur de Cadillac (1658-1730) sent St. Denis and a company of men on an expedition to assist Fray Francisco Hidalgo (1659-1726), in re-establishing missions throughout East Texas. Departing from Mobile, Alabama, St. Denis and his men voyaged up the Red River and established a fort at Natchitoches, Louisiana. He traveled to Spanish outposts on the Rio Grande, where he met and married Manuela Sánchez, the granddaughter of Diego Ramón, commander of the presido San Juan Bautista. St. Denis was then appointed a commissary officer in the Ramón expedition, and founded a presidio and several missions in East Texas between 1716 and 1717.
At the conclusion of the War of Spanish Succession, French and Spanish relations began to disintegrate, and between 1716 and 1821, trade relations became more tenuous. Additionally, an increased number of Spanish missions in East Texas led Spain to lay claim to land north of the Rio Grande. These newly established missions struggled, however, as Native American tribes in East Texas resisted conversion and joining the missions.
Chipman, Donald E. "Spanish Texas."Handbook of Texas Online. Accessed December 9, 2010. http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/nps01.
Comprised of typescripts and photocopies of original manuscripts from the Archives Nationales, the French National Archives Records, 1697-1803, document French activities in Spanish and French territories in the American South, including Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Florida. Letters, memoirs, narratives, journals of council minutes, and reports concern the French-Spanish and French-Native American relations, sea voyages to Mexico, missionaries, as well as French government and military affairs. Correspondence and reports pertain to Fray Francisco Hidalgo, Fray Manuel Sandoval, and Louis Juchereau de St. Denis and his expedition to East Texas.
This collection is open for research use.
French National Archives Records, 1697-1803, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin.
Basic processing and cataloging of this collection was supported with funds from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC) for the Briscoe Center’s "History Revealed: Bringing Collections to Light" project, 2009-2011.
Detailed Description of the Papers