Friday, March 12, 2021

Chicago monuments under assault, Part 11: Robert Cavelier de La Salle

Among the reasons the secretive Chicago Monument Project has targeted some statues and other memorials is that they are "promoting narratives of white supremacy."

As far as I can gather that's only reason why the bronze statue  in Lincoln Park of RenĂ©-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle, who led the first European expedition to travel the Mississippi River to the Gulf of Mexico, is one of those monuments that "warrant attention."

Click here to see the La Salle statue, the work was designed by Belgian sculptor Jacques de Lalaing.

As with most 17th century explorers La Salle had some conflicts with Native Americans, but as far as I know the Frenchman has never been accused of genocide. 

After reaching the Gulf of Mexico in 1682 La Salle claimed the Mississippi River basin for France, calling it Louisiana. He passed by Chicago in an earlier voyage on Lake Michigan. But rather than traveling thru the Chicago Portage to reach the Mississippi basin, La Salle and his men utilized the St. Joseph River, which drains into Lake Michigan in southwestern Michigan, then portaged in northern Indiana to the Kankakee River. That expedition ended where Peoria now stands.

LaSalle Street, which is Chicago's answer to New York's Wall Street, is named for the explorer. So is LaSalle County and the town of LaSalle, which are about 90 miles southwest of Chicago. Nearby is Illinois' most-visited state park, Starved Rock. On his return trip from his Mississippi River journey La Salle established a fort there.

To comment on the monuments "under review" please visit the Chicago Monuments Project "Feedback page." Please be friendly but firm in your comments. 

Please Tweet this post. When you do so use the #ChicagoMonuments hashtag.

Update March 26

Also on Lightfoot's hit list is a La Salle plaque on the DuSable Bridge over the Chcago River. Somehow I missed that one.

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