Gouverneur

Gouverneur (governor), the French monarch's official representative in NEW FRANCE. The office, created before a complete system of government had been established, was always granted to a member of the nobility by royal commission, and the appointment could be withdrawn at any time. The governor had to account for his administration annually to the minister of marine (see MINISTÈRE DE LA MARINE), who was responsible for the colonies. The governor had far-reaching powers, most importantly external affairs (relations with the native nations and with the British colonies) and military matters. As commander in chief of the army, he determined peace or war. He and the INTENDANT jointly supervised the colony's development, handled SEIGNEURIAL land grants and controlled the FUR TRADE. Through his prestige, power and advice, the governor played a major political and social role. Samuel de CHAMPLAIN has often been considered New France's first governor; celebrated ones of later years were FRONTENAC, Philippe de Rigaud de VAUDREUIL, and his son Pierre de Rigaud de VAUDREUIL. See also GOVERNOR GENERAL.