New Travels to the West Indies. Including an Account on the Peoples who Live by the Great Saint Louis River, also Known as the Mississippi River, 1768


Jean-Bernard Bossu (1720–92) was a French soldier and adventurer who in the late 18th century explored large parts of the French colony of Louisiana. He made three extended trips to the New World, in 1751, 1757, and 1760. In 1751 he traveled up the Mississippi River to the lands of the Arkansas Indians, also known as the Quapaw. Bossu wrote extensive letters to the Marquis de l’Estrade about his adventures among the native peoples of the Mississippi Valley, who included not only the Quapaw but also the Illinois, Alabama, Natchez, Chickasaw, Caddo, Choctaw, Osage, Yazoo, and other tribes. Nouveaux voyages aux Indes occidentales (New travels to the West Indies) is a compendium of these letters published in Paris in 1768, and based on his voyages of 1751 and 1757. In 1777 Bossu published a collection of his letters about his last trip, Nouveaux voyage dans l’Amérique septentrional (New travels in North America). In addition to his descriptions of the Native American tribes, Bossu offers insights into several famous episodes in the history of Louisiana, including the death in 1687 of Cavelier de La Salle, the visit of Indian chiefs to Versailles in 1725, and the Natchez uprising of 1729, partly as seen from the native perspective. Bossu was a great friend and admirer of the Quapaw. A believer in Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s concept of the “noble savage,” he stressed the humanity of the Quapaw, who he wrote were “capable of heroism, humanism, and virtue.”

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Subject Date

Publication Information

Le Jay, Paris


Title in Original Language

Nouveaux voyages aux Indes occidentales. Contenant une relation des differens peuples qui habitent les environs du grand fleuve Saint-Louis appele vulgairement le Mississipi

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Physical Description

2 parts in 1 volume


  1. Sonia Toudji, “Jean Bernard Bossu (1720–1792),” in Encyclopedia of Arkansas History & Culture (Little Rock, Arkansas: Butler Center for Arkansas Studies, Central Arkansas Library System, 2006‒ ).

Last updated: January 8, 2018