Chapter 1: Transport’s Punctuated Precession in North America
INTRODUCTION The early French explorers in the North American wilderness named the majestic, but awesome river they first encountered, the St. Laurentius to honour a courageous third-century martyr. To their insignificant settlement in the vastness of the new continent, they gave the name Montreal, and, perhaps hopeful of an early breakthrough in their quest for the Northwest Passage, the major rapids guarding one of the gateways to the Appalachian barrier, they called Lachine. It was not China they had entered, however, but a gargantuan drainage basin covering over 270 thousand square miles, encompassing a quintet of Great Lakes comprising an area of some 9500 square miles, the threshold of the country that was to become Canada. Further exploration by Marquette and LaSalle located portages between the St. Lawrence uniting, under French control, the great river of the central plains, the Mississippi, with the mighty St. Lawrence. Prior to 1713, France held the vast area west of the Great Lakes and down the Mississippi to New Orleans. At that time Britain’s colonies were confined primarily to the eastern seaboard. That was to change in 1713, when, in terms of the Treaty of Utrecht, the Spanish possessions east of the Mississippi became British. When, in 1763, St. Lawrence also came under British control, the French possessions were divided and the formerly united St. Lawrence and Mississippi basins were separated politically. When, in 1776, these states gained independence they quickly broke into civil factions, with the seaboard states establishing port fees that were...
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