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Document Number: AJ-052
Author: Marquette, Jacques, 1637-1675
Title: Last Voyage, 1674-1675
Source: Kellogg, Louise P. (editor). Early Narratives of the Northwest, 1634-1699. (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1917). Pages 261-280.
Pages/Illustrations: 22 / 0
Citable URL:

Author Note

Jacques Marquette, born in Laon, France in 1637, entered the Jesuit order in 1654 and was sent on a foreign mission to Canada in 1666. Replacing Father Allouez at Chequamegon Bay in 1669, Marquette went on to build the St. Ignace mission at Mackinac, Michigan, in 1671 before being selected to explore the Mississippi with Louis Joliet.

Marquette’s Final Voyage, 1674-1675

Earlier exploration in the western Great Lakes and reports from by Native Americans revealed the possibility that a great river drained either west or south of the region. These stories continued to feed the hope that a northwest passage to the Pacific remained undiscovered. French officials commissioned Louis Joliet and Father Marquette to explore the region and to claim that vast stretch of land for the French Crown. Count de Frontenac, vice-regent to Louis XIV, saw this expedition as the first step in creating a French empire stretching from the Atlantic to the Pacific. As Joliet lost his accounts of the trip, Marquette’s descriptions became the only record of this historic expedition.

After returning from his trip down the Mississippi with Father Joliet in 1673, Marquette secured permission to build a mission among the Illinois Indians in 1674. He set off from present-day Green Bay, Wisconsin on October 25, 1674, despite illness. A harsh winter froze the lakes and streams early, forcing him to stop en route for three and a half months at the site that became Chicago. Though he managed to spend Easter among the Illinois at his new mission, Marquette was soon too sick to remain there more than a few days and died on May 18, 1675, near the present-day city of Luddington, Michigan on his return to the St. Ignace Mission.

Document Note

This account includes Marquette’s brief journal of the trip (from Thwaites’ Jesuit Relations and Allied Documents, Volume LIX), and an account of the events that followed his death by Claude Dablon, from a manuscript in the archives of the College of St. Mary in Montreal.

Other Internet and Reference Sources

Biographical information and maps of the expedition can be accessed at the Virtual Museum of New France, at

The Catholic Encyclopedia has a biography of Father Jacques Marquette at

Other contemporary primary sources are available at Early Canadiana Online

English translations of the Jesuit Relations from The Jesuit Relations and Allied Documents, edited by Reuben Gold Thwaites (Cleveland: Burrows Bros. Co., 1896-1901), Volume LIX, have been published online at

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