A Guide to the Henri Joutel Journal, 1684-1688
Henri Joutel (ca. 1643-ca. 1725) is best known for providing the preeminent eyewitness account of Robert de La Salle’s 1684 expedition, which aimed to find the mouth of the Mississippi River. Before serving with La Salle, Joutel spent sixteen or seventeen years in the army. This experience, along with connections to relatives of La Salle, enabled Joutel to immediately become a confidant of La Salle. By the time the expedition reached the Texas coast, Joutel was La Salle’s most trusted lieutenant. As such, Joutel commanded the colonists and built Fort Saint Louis (near current day Inez, Texas) while La Salle futilely searched for the mouth of the Mississippi. It is worth noting that Joutel never praises himself in his journal and seldom criticizes or questions La Salle. Moreover, while in control at Fort Saint Louis he seized and destroyed the journal of Father Maxime Le Clercq’s, which critciized La Salle.
Disease, hostile Native Americans, and low supplies wracked the colony, and, in 1687, Joutel joined La Salle on his last journey from Fort Saint Louis. The goal was to find sanctuary at a previously established fort in Illinois and then travel to New France. After disgruntled party members murdered La Salle, Joutel led the remaining colonists to French territory. In 1688, the survivors returned to France where Joutel found employment as a gate guardian in his hometown of Rouen. Pierre Le Moyne d’Iberville approached Joutel in 1698 about guiding his expedition to the Gulf of Mexico. Joutel rejected the offer: however, he did loan Iberville his journal for the voyage. Unfortunately, when the journal was returned pages were missing. Despite the lacuna, Joutel’s journal remains the best first-hand account of La Salle’s expedition.
Weddel, Robert S. "Joutel, Henri.Handbook of Texas Online. Accessed January 25, 2011.
The Henri Joutel Journal, 1684-1688, contains a typewritten English transcription of Joutel’s journal from Robert de La Salle’s last expedition, which aimed to find the mouth of the Mississippi River. The journal provides a detailed account of the expedition as well as anthropological information regarding the various Native American tribes they encountered.
This collection is open for research use.
Henri Joutel Journal, 1684-1688, 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