American History Explorers

American History French Settlements

The French settled along the St. Lawrence and the Mississippi Rivers. Most of the people living in these outposts were men. They spent their time going up and down the river in canoes trapping or trading their furs. The beaver was the main trade fur.

A few people got rich on the beaver fur trades. Unfortunately they were not the trappers. The one who made money were the men who bought the furs from the trappers.

In the summer the trappers lived alone or in pairs in the woods. In the winter these trappers lived with the Indians. They usually lived with the Algonquians or the Huron. Because the French helped the Algonquians and Huron, they became enemies with the Iroquois who were enemies with the Algonquians and Huron. Many French settlers were killed by the Iroquois.

The French king controlled his empire in America. The king ruled the area through the Royal Governor. Men under the Royal Governor were called seigniors. The seigniors controlled large pieces of land. In this hierarchy the lowest group of people were called habitants. They were the workers.

The law stated that all furs, lumber, and fish from the French colonies could be traded only with France or other French colonies. This kept the money between the French colonies and France.

Go to Activities for this page.

French Settlements Activities

  1. Learn about the beaver. What was this animal like? Why was its fur so highly prized? What did the French make from the beavers' fur?

    1. Beaver

    2. Beaver

  2. Take the quiz on British explorers.

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