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LE MOYNE DE LONGUEUIL, PAUL-JOSEPH, known as the Chevalier de Longueuil, seigneur, officer in the colonial regular troops, and governor of Trois-Rivières; b. 17 Sept. 1701 at Longueuil (Que.), son of Charles Le Moyne* de Longueuil, first Baron de Longueuil, and Claude-Élisabeth Souart d’Adoucourt; d. 12 May 1778 at Port-Louis, France.

Paul-Joseph Le Moyne de Longueuil was a member of a family with a strong military tradition and close connections to the Indian nations. He apparently spent much of his early life amongst the Iroquois, was accepted by them as a blood-brother, and spoke their language. This association, coupled with his family’s important social and political position within the colony’s administrative and military élite, shaped the course of his life.

He began his military career in France in 1717, and by 1719 was a lieutenant in the Régiment de Normandie. He returned to Canada only in 1726 when, in quick succession, he was made a lieutenant in the colonial regular troops, commandant at Fort Frontenac (Kingston, Ont.), and in 1727 captain of his own company. These rapid promotions were doubtless aided as much by his father’s position as governor of Montreal as by his own qualities. But his military capabilities were soon tested, for in 1728, after having been replaced as commandant at Fort Frontenac by the elderly René Legardeur* de Beauvais, he was ordered west under Constant Le Marchand* de Lignery in the unsuccessful campaign against the Foxes. He apparently led a party of Iroquois from Lac-des-Deux-Montagnes (Oka) against the Foxes in 1730; during this fighting he may have been wounded, for an ailing “M. de Longueuil” travelled to France in the autumn of that year, and on a document dated 1739 an anonymous hand notes that Longueuil “is able to serve usefully,” as if he had not been so earlier.

Whatever the reasons, Longueuil seems to have attended more to his personal affairs than to his military career during the 1730s. On 19 Oct. 1728 he had married Marie-Geneviève Joybert de Soulanges, and they were to have 11 children, only four of whom survived infancy. Through this marriage he acquired an interest in the seigneuries of L’Islet-du-Portage, Pointe-à-l’Orignal on the Ottawa River, and Soulanges, to the latter of which he added in 1733 lands originally conceded to Gabriel and Pierre Hénault. The following year he was granted the seigneury of Nouvelle-Longueuil, the westernmost seigneury conceded on the St Lawrence before the conquest.

Longueuil was recalled to military activity in 1739 and was posted commandant at Fort Saint-Frédéric (near Crown Point, N.Y.), but by September 1740 he was replaced there. In 1743 he succeeded Pierre-Joseph Céloron* de Blainville as commandant at Detroit, a post which Governor Beauharnois* and Intendant Gilles Hocquart considered a reward for officers having distinguished themselves in the service, and he remained there for the following six eventful years. Detroit played a major part in Canada’s system of western Indian alliances because it serviced the fur trade to the west and south. Both the British and the French employed the trade to use the Indian tribes for their own ends: the French to drive out encroaching British traders and settlers, and the British to break the French hegemony in the interior. During Longueuil’s service at Detroit the War of the Austrian Succession was exacerbating French difficulties in the west, for British naval successes on the Atlantic and local war requirements led to scarcities of merchandise and munitions among Canadian traders, at once creating discontent among the Indians and depriving the French of the means of defence.

In 1744 Longueuil frustrated a developing Indian conspiracy against the French [See Nissowaquet], and the following year he noted that the Indians around Detroit were quietly leaving the region. During 1746 British traders, intent on fomenting an uprising, increased their intrigues and the crisis came in the spring of 1747 with a plan by several tribes to kill the Detroit garrison and settlers. When their intention was revealed to Longueuil by a Huron woman, he called all settlers to the fort, and then revealed his knowledge of the affair to the Indians. For the entire summer the settlers ventured no great distance from the fort and no crops were planted; buildings in the vicinity were burned and cattle slaughtered as the Hurons under Orontony*, with the encouragement of Mikinak*, revolted against the French. Elsewhere the situation was equally grave: in the spring five Frenchmen had been killed at Sandusky (Ohio) and there had been a rising at Michilimackinac (Mackinaw City, Mich.). Longueuil’s position was strengthened in September by the arrival of a convoy with troops, but the food, military supplies, and trade goods it brought were barely sufficient for the winter. He immediately reinforced the detachments at Fort Saint-Joseph (Niles, Mich.), Ouiatanon (near Lafayette, Ind.), and in the Illinois country. One tribe after another sent delegations to negotiate a pardon and a peace. Longueuil, preferring a policy of conciliation to that of exemplary punishment advocated from Quebec, released a number of Indian prisoners. He was subsequently censured by the government for this action, but his policy was undoubtedly wise. Although isolated incidents occurred to the west throughout the winter, at a general conference held at Detroit in April 1748 the Ottawas, Potawatomis, Hurons, and Ojibwas returned to French allegiance. The arrival in the summer of another convoy with abundant supplies sealed the issue.

During Longueuil’s tenure as commandant at Detroit it seems probable that he was involved privately in the fur trade, even though Beauharnois and Hocquart wrote circumspectly in 1744 that they had not been informed whether this was so. About 1725 the king seems to have granted to the commanders at forts Frontenac and Niagara (near Youngstown, N.Y.), as well as at Detroit and Michilimackinac, the exclusive right to buy and sell furs in the pays d’en haut in hopes that the ties thus established between the officers and the Indians would facilitate the control of the tribes. This privilege would have been very lucrative, but it is not known if it was still valid when Longueuil was in command at Detroit. Longueuil’s seigneuries of Nouvelle-Longueuil, Pointe-à-l’Orignal, and Soulanges were all located on the fur trade routes to the west, and in 1750, after his return to Quebec from Detroit, he was granted land, which was probably used as a trading counter, near the Ottawa village opposite Detroit. He was said to have a number of engagés working for him in various posts.

Longueuil’s tenure at Detroit had been extended beyond that expected by the imperial authorities; he had been appointed town major of Quebec in 1748, and in 1749, before his return in the summer from the pays den haut, he was named king’s lieutenant. After Detroit, his term as king’s lieutenant in Quebec appears relatively uneventful. In 1754, however, he commanded the Iroquois on Claude-Pierre Pécaudy de Contrecœur’s Ohio valley expedition, and three years later he was second in command to François-Pierre de Rigaud de Vaudreuil and at the head of the Indians who covered the flanks in the attack on Fort George (also called Fort William Henry; now Lake George, N.Y.). He was also given more administrative duties: on 1 May 1757 he became governor of Trois-Rivières, although he does not appear to have taken up his position until later. In 1758 Governor Vaudreuil [Rigaud] planned to send a small army in the direction of Corlaer (Schenectady, N.Y.) to contain the Six Nations Confederacy, or if possible gain their support, but when he discovered the extent of British preparations to attack Fort Carillon (Ticonderoga, N.Y.), most of the troops were diverted there. However, Longueuil was sent in July at the head of a small force which included Gaspard-Joseph Chaussegros de Léry and 300 soldiers on a diplomatic mission to Cataraqui (Kingston, Ont.) and Chouaguen (Oswego; today Oswego, N.Y.) to induce the Iroquois to support the French. This expedition was his last major operation for in 1759 and 1760 he devoted his energies to preparing for the defence of Trois-Rivières. However, when Brigadier-General James Murray finally led the British expedition upriver from Quebec in July 1760, he bypassed Trois-Rivières and proceeded directly to Montreal, the capture of which brought the end of hostilities.

In conformity with article 16 of the capitulation at Montreal, in which he was specifically mentioned, Longueuil was transported to France. He was placed in charge of the Canadian officers in the province of Touraine, and in 1764 he received permission to return to Canada to settle his affairs and persuade his family to go to France. Although in September he sold to Gabriel Christie the seigneury of L’Islet-du-Portage, he left Canada for the last time in September 1766 without having completely settled his affairs, and without his family. Longueuil spent the remainder of his life at Tours, France, but died at Port-Louis aged and infirm on 12 May 1778. The seigneuries of Soulanges, Pointe-à-l’Orignal, and Nouvelle-Longueuil passed to his son Joseph-Dominique-Emmanuel*.

Longueuil’s superiors often praised him as an intelligent, energetic, and capable officer. On 24 April 1744, while at Detroit, he had been awarded the cross of Saint-Louis, and then was given the exceptional privilege of wearing the decoration before being officially received into the order. He was sufficiently fit to undertake an arduous midwinter campaign even in his late fifties, and his abilities in Indian diplomacy were tested on several occasions. At the height of western Indian risings in 1747 Beauharnois and Hocquart wrote that “we have great confidence in the adroitness of this officer to place the [Indian] nations again in our interest.” A decade later Governor Vaudreuil wrote that he “is generally liked, especially by the Indian nations.” He had probably had fur trade and other mercantile interests and had acquired in Canada four seigneuries and urban land holdings as well as investments, possibly in life annuities, in France. Longueuil’s military and administrative career was almost foreordained by his family’s position in Canada, and through his personal talents and interests he was able to continue its tradition of public service coupled with private gain.

Andrew Rodger

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General Bibliography

Cite This Article

Andrew Rodger, “LE MOYNE DE LONGUEUIL, PAUL-JOSEPH, Chevalier de Longueuil,” in Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 4, University of Toronto/Université Laval, 2003–, accessed December 19, 2014, http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/le_moyne_de_longueuil_paul_joseph_4E.html.

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Permalink: http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/le_moyne_de_longueuil_paul_joseph_4E.html
Author of Article: Andrew Rodger
Title of Article: LE MOYNE DE LONGUEUIL, PAUL-JOSEPH, Chevalier de Longueuil
Publication Name: Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 4
Publisher: University of Toronto/Université Laval
Year of publication: 1979
Year of revision: 1979
Access Date: December 19, 2014