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Gaeta, Italy, about 1650; son of Lorenzo Tonti; inventor of the Tontine system of association; entered the French army in his youth, and in the French naval service he lost a hand. In 1678 he accompanied La Salle to Canada, and assisted him in his Western explorations, building a fort on the site of Peoria, Ill., in 1680. He descended the Mississippi to its mouth with La Salle in 1682. In 1684 he went to the mouth of the Mississippi to meet La Salle, and attempted a settlement of Europeans in Arkansas. In 1685 he incited a force of Western Indians to attack the Senecas. Again he went down to the Gulf to meet La Salle, and was again disappointed; and in 1699 he went down to meet Iberville, and remained in the Gulf region, dying in Fort St. Louis, Mobile, in September, 1704.
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