lation of a new continental policy. Essential to this policy was control of the wa- terway which crossed North America from almost top to bottom. Québec, Mont- real, Detroit, Michimilimackinac, were the first bastions of French domination extending westward. It stands to reason that the waters and portages between Lake Michigan and the Mississippi would be vital to a direct connection with the colony planted in Louisiana. Thus, the Illinois lands acquired forts alongside the churches of their missions. These forts were two: Kaskaskia, on the ridge above the village of the same name founded in 1703, and Fort de Chartres, eighteen miles to the north, initially built of wood in 1720, positioned on flat, perennially flooded land, with practically no effective control of the river. Nevertheless, Fort de Chartres - the "Versailles of the West," as it came to be called because of the expense of its reconstruction in stone in 1752 - and its small community of mili- tary dependents, La Nouvelle Chartres, assumed the role of military center for the nucleus of French along the Mississippi. There were three other villages, two nearby Fort de Chartres, Prairie du Rocher, Saint Phillipe; and the third, larger, some twenty miles to the north, Cahokia, which had been founded in 1699.
By 1752, these five communities and the farms in the area counted a total French population of 5,000, plus 5,000 black slaves (all imported via New Or- leans), and 600 soldiers.1 The great distance between Illinois and the centers of French presence brought a high number of conjugal alliances between the French and Indian women which perpetuated strong family ties with the local tribes.
Commercial traffic downriver was intense, with large quantities of flour and pork meat, as well as pelts, regularly sent by boat to New Orleans. The pros- perity of the area was solid, while not spectacular. Then the escalation of a local conflict in the Ohio Valley between French and English interests into a duel for empires carried out around the world, brought the growth of Illinois to a halt. Successful at first, the French lost Québec in 1758 and Montréal in 1760. Peace negotiations between France and Britain were to be long and arduous: not a small party in England considered the French island of Guadeloupe, with its sugar molasses, as a better spoil of war than Canada, with its long winter months and hostile population. However, when it became obvious that France was fi- nally ready to cede Canada and Britain ready to accept, the questions of bounda- ries was next to arise and, with it, the fate of Illinois. During the negotiations, the French tried to maintain that Canada included neither Ohio nor Illinois. But all diplomatic efforts were to no avail and Section VII of the Treaty of Paris ratified by King Louis XV in 1763, included all the land of the Illinois up to the Missis- sippi river.
With the ratification, Illinois was now nominally part of the British empire until such time as when the British troops would relieve the French garrisons and add de facto to de jure. Until then, the French commander of Illinois was in the peculiar position of ruling a country of which France had relinquished jurisdic-