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Louisiana History

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French Colonial Period: 1688-1762, 1800-1803

The French Colonial Period became with the discovery of the Mississippi River by LaSalle in 1682 and ended with the secret treaty of Fontainebleau in 1762 when France ceded its Territory West of the Mississippi River and the Isle of Orleans to Spain.  See the LaSalle page for additional information on Lasalle; and the discovery and current restoration efforts of Ft. St. Louis and the ship "Belle"

Note: Spain did not assume administrative control of Louisiana until 1766.  From 1762-1766, Louisiana continued to be administered by French Officials.

In 1763, Spain ceded to Great Britain, the territory East of the Mississippi River and North of the Isle of Orleans, including the Florida parishes (see map) that were regained by Governor Galvez in 1779.  Many of the French on the East side of the Mississippi River came into Louisiana.  Those who remained in Mobile took an oath to the King George in October 1764; however, some later went to Louisiana.

1715 - Louis Juchereau de St. Denis establishes Fort St. Jean Baptiste (Natchitoches), first permanent settlement in the Mississippi Valley
1718 - New Orleans is founded and named for Phillippe Duc D'Orleans
1718 - The St. Louis Church in New Orleans is built, the oldest in the United States.  It was destroyed by fire in 1783 and rebuilt under Spanish rule.
1723 - New Orleans becomes the capital of Louisiana, superceding Biloxi
1751 - Sugar cane is first introduced into Louisiana
1762 - Louis XV gives the "Island of New Orleans" and all of Louisiana west of the Mississippi to his cousin, Charles III of Spain

Spanish Colonial Period: 1762-1800

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Bourbon Spain Flag

House of Castille

Bourbon Spain [1769]

As explained above, Spain did not assume administrative control until 1766. In 1800, Spain officially returned the Louisiana territory West of the Mississippi to France by the secret Treaty of San Ildefonso to avoid the continued deficits the colony caused and the growing possibility that Spain might have to fight the restless Americans to retain control of the lands. On May 2, 1803, the U.S. representatives Livingston and Monroe agreed to purchase the Louisiana territory for $15M and the size of the U.S. doubled overnight! Louisiana was officially transferred from Spain to France on November 30, 1803, and on December 20, 1803, France transferred Louisiana to the United States.

Arrival of the Acadians

Bernardo de Galvez
Maryland Resolution to General Galvez and the Spanish for Revolutionary War Service
Role of Galvez in the American Revolution
Role of Spain in the American Revolution - March 29, 1979 Address to the Louisiana Historical Society by the Hon. José Montero de Pedro, Marqués de Casa Mena, Consul General of Spain
Plaque Honoring General Bernado de Galvez
New Iberia: Established 1779
Los Islenos [Canary Islanders] of St. Bernard Parish

The Louisiana Territory: Dec. 20, 1803 - April 30, 1812

Upon concluding the purchase agreement, Robert Livingston, America's Minister to France, said of the transfer, "We have lived long, but this is the noblest work of our whole lives ... From this day the United States will take their place among the powers of the first rank ... The instruments which we have just signed will cause no tears to be shed; they prepare ages of happiness for innumerable generations of human creatures."

Over 900,000 square miles - nearly 600 million acres - were purchased for 15 million dollars (an average of only four cents an acre!).  Thirteen states or parts of states have been carved from The Louisiana Purchase Territory. They are as follows: Louisiana, Arkansas, Missouri, Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Wyoming, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Colorado and Montana.

A Report to Congress on Nov. 14, 1803 by President Jefferson entitled An Account of Louisiana provides a comprehensive overview of the history from the beginning to 1803. The report is in pdf format and a copy is provided for review: An Account of Louisiana

1804 - Louisiana is divided into the Territory of Orleans (south of 33 degrees latitude) and the District of Louisiana (north of 33 degrees latitude). W. C. C. Claiborne is appointed governor of the Territory of Orleans

1805 - The Territory of Orleans is divided into counties (see map).

Jan. 10, 1812 - The first steamboat to navigate the Mississippi River, the "The New Orleans," arrives at New Orleans from Pittsburgh.

The State of Louisiana: April 30,1812 (the 18th State)

Acadian-Cajun Governors:

Acdain Flag Louisiana

Henry Schuyler Thibodeaux - served one month in 1824
Alexander Mouton: 1843-1846
Paul Octave Hebert: 1853-1856
Edwin W. Edwards: 1972-1980, 1984-1988 & 1992-1996 [Note: Doesn't have a direct Acadian line]
Kathleen Babineaux Blanco: January 2004 - January 2008 First Woman Governor of Louisiana. She is also the first descendant of the Spanish Settlers from Malaga who arrived in New Iberia in 1779 to become Governor.

See the Governors of Louisiana for the list and brief bio of all the Governors

See Surnames for available reports


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