People of Detroit:
Antoine de la Mothe, Sieur de Cadillac
Antoine Laumet was born on March 5, 1658 in St. Nicholas de la Grave in Gascony, France (some sources say Department of Tarn and Garonne in place of Gascony). He was the fourth child of Jean Laumet, lawyer and counselor of the King at the Parliament of Toulouse, and Jeanne de Pechagut, the daughter of middleclass landowners. The couple were married on March 16, 1646.
True to the Gascons of legend (like D'Artagnan of the Three Muskeeters), Laumet was known for his prowess with the sword. He was also said to have a very prominent nose, earning him the nickname "Hawk" (le Faucon) and many comparisons to Dumas' Cyrano de Bergerac.
Laumet received an education in military school, after which he joined the army where he was first a cadet in the regiment of Dampierre-Lorraine, and later (in 1677) a lieutenant in the regiment of Clairembault. In 1683, his military career took him to Port Royal in New France (now Annapolis, Nova Scotia, Canada).
In Port Royal, Laumet earned a reputation of being an expert navigator. He is believed to have used trading vessels provided by shipowner, François Guyon of Beauport, for whom Laumet worked.
Laumet married Guyon's 17 year old niece, Marie Therese Guyon of Quebec on June 25, 1687. The church record of the marriage lists Laumet as: Antoine de la Mothe, Sieur de Cadillac, son of Jean de la Mothe, Sieur de Cadillac, de Launay et de Semontel and Jeanne de Malenfant. From this time forward, Laumet was known as Cadillac. The "Cadillac" portion may have come from a family estate.
The Cadillac's had many children. Some sources say 7, others say up to 13. In The City of Detroit, Burton lists the following 13 children:
- Judith, born in 1689 at Port Royal. Judith became an Ursuline nun at an annual cost to her father of 6,000 livres.
- Magdalene. Birth date and location unknown. Magdelene also became an Ursuline nun.
- Antoine, born April 26, 1692 in Quebec. He traveled with Cadillac to found Detroit. In 1707 he was made an ensign. He is believed to have died in 1730.
- Jacques, born March 16, 1695 in Quebec. Traveled to Detroit with his mother in the Fall of 1701 or Spring of 1702.
- Pierre Denis, born June 13, 1699 in Quebec. He died in Quebec around the age of 12 months. He was buried on July 4, 1700.
- Marianne, born June 7, 1701 in Quebec. Was buried on June 9, 1701.
- In a letter, Cadillac mentions a child born in Detroit in 1702 or 1703. The child likely died in the fire of 1703.
- Marie Therese, born Febraury 2, 1704 in Detroit. On February 16, 1729, she married Noble Francois de Pouzagues in Castelsarrasin, France. She died there in Febraury of 1753.
- Jean Antoine, born January 19, 1707 in Detroit. Buried in Detroit April 9, 1709.
- Marie Agathe, born December 28, 1707.
- Francois, born March 27, 1709 in Detroit. Lived until after Cadillac's death.
- Rene Louis, born March 17, 1710 in Detroit. Was buried in Quebec in October of 1714.
- Joseph, birth date and location unknown.
Hivert-Carthew (Cadillac and the Dawn of Detroit) says that the baby Mde. Cadillac was carrying when Cadillac left for Detroit marked her 7th pregnancy. If this is true, then Burton is missing a child in his list.
In 1688, Cadillac asked the Governor of New France for a parcel of land in an area known as Donaquec (near Port Machias), including part of the Donaquec River and the island of Mount Desert (off the coast of present day Maine). Governor Denonville granted the request on July 23, 1688. Louis XIV confirmed the transaction on May 24, 1689. At this time, Cadillac started referring to himself as: Antoine de la Mothe, Sieur de Cadillac, Donaquec and Mount Desert (or Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac, Sieur de Donaquec and Mount Desert).
In 1689, Cadillac was called back to France to help the court create a plan for a sea attack against New England. He impressed King Louis and his Minister of Marine, Louis de Ponchartrain, who would not forget his contributions to the war effort.
Cadillac was a favorite lieutenant of Frontenac, whom he considered his biggest mentor. In 1694, Frontenac notified the French Court that he had given control of Michilimackinac to Cadillac. Cadillac assumed the post, which gave him command of all posts and government interests in the west, and held it until 1697 (or 1698), when all but four posts in the west were ordered closed by the court as a result of Jesuit reports of undesirable goings on at the posts -- specifically the trading of brandy to Native Americans. Miquelon attributes the closing of the forts to a 10-year overstock of beaver pelts and the troubled economy. Four posts, Frontenac, Michilimackinac, St. Joseph of Miami, and St. Louis of Illinois, were to remain open as long as needed by the military. Michilimackinac and St. Joseph were abandoned immediately by their garrisons; St. Louis was abandoned by 1702.
Knowing that the abandoned forts were an invitation to the British to take over the area, Cadillac spoke to Frontenac about founding a new settlement in the Detroit area. Frontenac died before formalizing the agreement. Frontenac's replacement, Hector Louis de Callieres, was not too fond of Cadillac and thus not likely to agree to the plan. So, Cadillac set sail for France in 1698 in order to convince King Louis to allow him to found a new settlement lower in the Great Lakes. Specifically, he was interested in the area south of Lake Huron known as le détroit, or the straits.
The area known as le détroit was ideal for a new settlement because the land was fertile, the location on the river was felt to be easily defended against the British and the climate was more hospitable than that in the more northern settlements like Michilimackinac.
Cadillac returned to Quebec, then travelled to Montreal where he gathered canoes, farmers, traders, artisans, soldiers, and Native Americans to accompany him on his quest. The men set sail on June 4, 1701.
Cadillac and his men reached the Detroit River on July 23, 1701. The following day, July 24, 1701, the group traveled north on the Detroit River and chose a place to build the settlement. Cadillac named the settlement Fort Ponchartrain du Detroit in honor of King Louis's Minister of Marine.
Read More About Fort Ponchartrain and Cadillac.
In 1710, Cadillac was removed from duty at Fort Ponchartrain and made governor of the French Province of Louisiana. He left the village in 1711. In September of 1712, Cadillac gave exclusive trading rights in Louisiana to Parisian, Antoine Crozat. Crozat soon took over Cadillac's office entirely, albeit not formally. Cadillac may have gone to France at this time. Louisiana records indicate that he was aboard a French frigate when it arrived in Mobile Bay on May 17, 1713. Later that year, Cadillac caused the Louisiana headquarters to be moved from Mobile Bay to present day Mobile, Alabama. During the next few years, Cadillac made several expeditions in search of resources to support the Louisiana settlements.
In 1717, (?) de la Epinay succeeded cadillac as Governor of the French Province of Louisiana. In June of 1717, Cadillac, left Lousiana for France.
Not long after returning to France, Cadillac was arrested and sent to the Bastille in Paris for speaking against John Law, a man who petitioned french investors for help in establishing settlements along the Mississippi River. Cadillac spent a few months in the prison, but was never tried. Within a couple of years, his warnings against law proved to be well-founded.
In August of 1722, Cadillac was granted the position of governor of Castelsarrasin near the town of his birth, the appointment was made official on December 11, 1722..
Cadillac may have held that job until his death on October 16 (15?), 1730.
Links to more Cadillac Sites