Antoine Laumet, seigneur de Lamothe-Cadillac
Oeuvre de DELIE DUPARC
Crédits : MUSÉE LAMOTHE-CADILLAC
Antoine Laumet de La Mothe, sieur de Cadillac was a French explorer and adventurer in New France, now an area of North America stretching from Eastern Canada in the north to Louisiana in the south. Rising from a modest beginning in Acadia in 1683 as an explorer, trapper, and a trader of alcohol and furs, he achieved various positions of political importance in the colony. He was the commander of Fort de Buade, modern day St. Ignace, Michigan, in 1694. In 1701, he founded Fort Pontchartrain du Détroit, the beginnings of modern Detroit, which he commanded until 1710. Between 1710 and 1716 he was the governor of Louisiana, although he did not arrive in that territory until 1713.
His knowledge of the coasts of New England and the Great Lakes area was appreciated by Frontenac, governor of New France, and Pontchartrain, Secretary of State for the Navy. This earned him various favors, including the Order of Saint Louis from King Louis XIV. The Jesuits in Quebec, however, criticized his perceived perversion of the “Amerindians”, North America’s indigenous peoples, with his alcohol and fur trading. La Mothe was imprisoned for a few months in Quebec in 1704, and again in the Bastille on his return to France in 1717.
The city he helped found, Detroit, became the world center of automobile production in the 20th century. William H. Murphy and Henry M. Leland, founders of the Cadillac auto company, paid homage to him by using his name for their company and his armorial bearings as its logo in 1902.