Cadillac, Antoine de la Mothe [key], c.1658–1730, French colonial governor in North America, founder of Detroit. Of the minor Gascon nobility, he came to America in 1683 to seek his fortune and lived for a time at Port Royal (now Annapolis Royal, N.S.) and then on a grant of land in present-day Maine. He became a favorite of Frontenac, the governor of New France, and in 1694 he was placed in charge of the frontier post at Mackinac. In 1699, Cadillac went to France to urge establishment of a post on the Detroit River, which he believed would offer a better strategic position against the English than Mackinac. Receiving a grant of land, trade privileges, and command of the new post, he set out with a band of colonists. Detroit was founded in 1701. Cadillac persuaded many Native Americans to settle near the new colony. In 1711 he was appointed to the governorship of the vast territory of Louisiana. He reached his new post in 1713 to begin an administration that was remarkable only for the frequency and fierceness of internal quarrels. He was recalled in 1716 and spent his last years in Gascony.
See biography by A. C. Laut (1931).
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