The area of Louisiana is the place of origin of the Mound Builders culture during the Middle Archaic period, in the 4th millennium BC.The sites of Caney and Frenchman's Bend have been securely dated to 5600–5000 BP (about 3700–3100 BC), demonstrating that seasonal hunter-gatherers from around this time organized to build complex earthwork constructions in what is now northern Louisiana.
Antebellum Louisiana was a leading slave state, where by 1860, 47% of the population was enslaved. Louisiana seceded from the Union on 26 January 1861. New Orleans, the largest city in the entire South at the time, and strategically important port city, was taken by Union troops on 25 April 1862.
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- Boundaries, Settlement and Geography
- Political and Administrative Organization
- Religious Establishment
- Colonial Society
- French and The Native Americans
- Economy of French Louisiana
- End of French Louisiana
- French Heritage Today
- See Also
In the 18th century, Louisiana included most of the Mississippi River basin (see drawing alongside) from what is now the Midwestern United States south to the coast of the Gulf of Mexico. Within this vast territory, only two areas saw substantial French settlement: Upper Louisiana (French: Haute-Louisiane), also known as the Illinois Country (French: Pays des Illinois), which consisted of settlements in what are now the states of Missouri, Illinois, and Indiana; and Lower Louisiana, which comprised parts of the modern states of Louisiana, Arkansas, Mississippi, and Alabama. Both areas were dominated numerically by Native Americantribes. At times, fewer than two hundred French soldiers were assigned to all of the colony, on both sides of the Mississippi. In the mid-1720s, Louisiana Indians numbered well over 35,000, forming a clear majority of the colony's population." Generally speaking, the French colony of Louisiana bordered the Great Lakes, particularly Lake Michigan and Lake Eri...
1. 1673: The Frenchmen Louis Jolliet and Jacques Marquettebegin to explore the Mississippi River from the north and determine that it must run into the Gulf of Mexico on the south. 2. 1675: Marquette founds a mission at the Grand Village of the Illinois. 3. 1680: Fort Crevecoeur founded in the Illinois Country 4. 1682: René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de la Salle, descends the Mississippi to its mouth on the Gulf of Mexico. 5. 1682: Fort St. Louis du Rocheron the Illinois River is founded 6. 1685–...
It was not easy for an absolute monarchy to administer Louisiana, a territory several times larger than European France. Louis XIV and his successors tried to impose their absolutistambitions on the colony, often without giving the colonial administration enough financial means to do its work.
The French possessions of North America were under the authority of a single Catholic diocese, whose seat was in Quebec. The archbishop, named and paid by the king, was spiritual head of all New France. With loose religious supervision, the fervor of the population was very weak; Louisianans tended to practice their faith much less than did their counterparts in France and Canada. The tithe, a tax by the clergy on the congregations, produced less revenue than in France. The Church nevertheless played an important part in the exploration of French Louisiana; it sent missions, primarily carried out by Jesuits, to convert Native Americans. It also founded schools and hospitals: By 1720, the Ursulines were operating a hospital in New Orleans. The church and its missionaries established contact with the numerous Amerindian tribes. Certain priests, such as Father Marquette in the 17th century, took part in exploratory missions. The Jesuits translated collections of prayers into numerous A...
It is difficult to estimate the total population of France's colonies in North America. While historians have relatively precise sources regarding the colonists and enslaved Africans, estimates of Native American peoples is difficult. During the 18th century, the society of Louisiana became quite creolized.
Ancien Régime France wished to make Native Americans subjects of the king and good Christians, but the distance from Metropolitan France and the sparseness of French settlement prevented this. In official rhetoric, the Native Americans were regarded as subjects of the king of France, but in reality, they were largely autonomous due to their numerical superiority. The local authorities (governors, officers) did not have the means of imposing their decisions, and often compromised. The tribes offered essential support for the French in Louisiana: they ensured the survival of the colonists, participated with them in the fur trade, and were used as guides in expeditions. Their alliance was also essential in wars against other tribes and European colonies. The two peoples influenced each other in many fields: the French learned the languages of the natives, who bought European goods (fabric, alcohol, firearms, etc.), and sometimes adopted their religion. The coureurs des...
This comparatively sparsely-settled northern area of French Louisiana was formerly the southern part of French Canada, and was transferred in 1717 by order of the King. It lies along the Mississippi and its tributaries, and was primarily devoted to grain and cereals agriculture. The French farmers lived in villages (such as near Fort de Chartres (the colonial administrative center), Kaskaskia, Prairie du Rocher, and Sainte-Geneviève). They cultivated the land with paid and slave laborers, pro...
Lower Louisiana's plantation economy was based on slave labor. The owners generally had their main residence in New Orleans and entrusted the supervision of the fields to a treasurer. Crops were varied and adapted to the climate and terrain. Part of the production was intended for use by Louisianans (corn, vegetables, rice, livestock), the rest being exported to France (especially tobacco and indigo).
Seven Years' War and its consequences
The hostility between the French and British flared up again two years before the beginning of the Seven Years' War in Europe. In North America, the war became known as the French and Indian War. After some early victories from 1754 to 1757, thanks to help from their Native American allies, the French suffered several disastrous defeats in Canada from 1758 to 1760, culminating in the surrender of the capital city Quebec. With the loss of Canada, defense of Louisiana became impossible.[citatio...
Ephemeral renewal of French Louisiana
During the French Revolution, Louisiana was agitated under Spanish control: certain French-speaking colonists sent petitions to the metropolis and the slaves attempted revolts in 1791 and 1795. The Third Treaty of San Ildefonso, signed in secrecy on October 1, 1800, envisaged the transfer of Western Louisiana as well as New Orleans to France in exchange for the Duchy of Parma. The transfer was confirmed by the Treaty of Aranjuez signed on March 21, 1801. However, Napoleon Bonaparte soon decid...
French colonization in Louisiana left a cultural inheritance that has been celebrated significantly in recent decades. The heritage of the French language, Louisiana Creole French, and Cajun French has been most threatened; for this reason, the CODOFIL (Council for the Development of French in Louisiana) was created in 1968. A subject of debate is the variety of French that should be taught: that of France, Canadian French, standard Louisiana French, or Cajun French. Today, many Cajun-dominated areas of Louisiana have formed associations with Acadiancommunities in Canada, which send French professors to re-teach the language in the schools. In 2003, 7% of Louisianans were French-speaking, though most also spoke English. An estimated 25% of the state's population has some French ancestry, carrying a number of last names of French origin (e.g., LeBlanc, Cordier, Dauthier, Dion, Menard, Pineaux, Hébert, Ardoin, Roubideaux). Many cities and villages have names of French origin. They inc...
- Upper and Lower, or the Louisianas
- Spanish communities in Louisiana
- Immigration from Saint-Domingue
Spanish Louisiana was a governorate and administrative district of the Viceroyalty of New Spain from 1762 to 1801 that consisted of a vast territory in the center of North America encompassing the western basin of the Mississippi River plus New Orleans. The area had originally been claimed and controlled by France, which had named it La Louisiane in honor of King Louis XIV in 1682. Spain secretly acquired the territory from France near the end of the Seven Years' War by the terms of the Treaty o
When Alejandro O'Reilly re-established Spanish rule in 1769, he issued a decree on 7 December of that year which banned the trade of Native American slaves. Although there was no movement toward abolition of the African slave trade, Spanish rule introduced a new law called coarta
Spanish colonial officials divided Luisiana into Upper Louisiana and Lower Louisiana at 36° 35' North, about the latitude of New Madrid, Missouri. This was a higher latitude than during the French administration, for whom Lower Louisiana was the area south of about 31° North or the area south of where the Arkansas River joined the Mississippi River at about 33° 46' North latitude. In 1764, French fur trading interests founded St. Louis in what was then known as the Illinois Country. The ...
To establish Spanish colonies in Louisiana, the Spanish military leader Bernardo de Gálvez, governor of Louisiana at the time, recruited groups of Spanish-speaking Canary Islanders to emigrate to North America. In 1778, several ships embarked for Louisiana with hundreds of settlers. The ships made stops in Havana and Venezuela, where half the settlers disembarked. In the end, between 2,100 and 2,736 Canarians arrived in Louisiana and settled near New Orleans. They settled in Barataria and ...
Beginning in the 1790s, following the slave rebellion in Saint-Domingue that began in 1791, waves of refugees came to Louisiana. Over the next decade, thousands of migrants from the island landed there, including ethnic Europeans, free people of color, and African slaves, some of the latter brought in by the white elites. They greatly increased the French-speaking population in New Orleans and Louisiana, as well as the number of Africans, and the slaves reinforced African culture in the city.
The French established settlements in French Louisiana beginning in the 17th century. The French began exploring the region from French Canada.