Jean Talon (1626–1694) government official


As intendant of the colonial territory of New France, Jean Talon vigorously implemented France’s new policy of colonial mercantilism. The structure of his government, a kind of benevolent autocracy, lasted nearly 100 years until the British takeover.
After a career in the service of Louis XIV (r. 1643–1715), in 1663, Talon was appointed intendant of New France by Jean-Baptiste Colbert, thus becoming responsible for finances and civil administration of the region. Talon diversified the economy and promoted trade with the French West Indies. He also pursued westward expansion, and his government-sponsored fur-trading expeditions established a pattern for private fur traders. In 1672, he dispatched Louis Jolliet to explore the course of the Mississippi River, thus establishing French claims to the Mississippi basin. After clashes with local authorities, Talon was recalled to France in 1672. His agreement with the Company of the West Indies to bring settlers to New France was at first successful, as more than 4,000 arrived between 1666 and 1675. The immigration could not be sustained, however, as most of those coming were indentured servants, convicts, soldiers released from the military, or women from orphanages or homes of charity. An efficient administrator, Talon also amassed a fortune during his nine-year tenure as intendant.

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