La Salle's Claim and the Ohio River Valley
- Pennsylvania History: A Journal of Mid-Atlantic Studies
- Penn State University Press
- Volume 87, Number 2, Spring 2020
- pp. 338-363
- View Citation
- Additional Information
The 1754 incident precipitating the French and Indian War took place over a disputed claim between France and England for the Ohio River Valley. A young George Washington commanded a Virginia militia company to the Forks of the Ohio at the site of present-day Pittsburgh. The French duly rousted him and his men. The French had established Fort Duquesne, the latest in a series of forts on the Allegheny River built by them to protect their claim. They based their authority on the 1669 discovery of the Ohio River by an obscure former Jesuit priest, Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle. In the absence of a Procèss Verbal documenting his discovery, the legitimacy of France's claim has long been disputed. New research and insights into somewhat confusing primary sources bear out La Salle's discovery and the primacy of France's claim.