La Salle is one of the best-known but least-understood explorers of human history. Celebrated for following the Mississippi to its mouth in present-day Louisiana, he was also berated for failing to relocate that same area when he came by sea. Justly known as the greatest of the canoe-carrying and paddle-wielding Frenchmen of his time, he was a failure when it came to colonization and conquest. There was greatness within him, including a powerful will to succeed, but there was also sheer stubbornness, which cost him when he attempted to create a French colony in what is now Texas. In ""Robert de La Salle"", read about a man whose journeys encouraged explorers from other European nations to survey the southeastern United States.
Samuel Willard Crompton lives near the Berkshire Hills of his native western Massachusetts. His interest in the American West began in his 20s, and he has contributed sections on explorers and exploration to a number of works, including the American National Biography and the Atlas of Exploration. He teaches history at Westfield State College and Holyoke Community College.