Louisiana PurchaseThe Louisiana Purchase was the acquisition by the United States of America of 828,000 square miles of Frances claim to the territory of Louisiana on December 20, 1803.
The U.S. paid 60 million francs ($11,250,000) plus cancellation of debts worth 18 million francs ($3,750,000), for a total sum of 15 million dollars (less than 3 cents per acre) for the Louisiana territory.
The Louisiana Purchase added to the United States aregion very different from others on the American map. Louisiana had a more ethnically and racially diverse population than many parts of the United States, and its political and social systems were deeply rooted in the French and Spanish colonial period.
Louisiana was named by explorer René-RobertCavelier in the mid 1600s to honor King Louis XIV of France.
In 1804, the Louisiana Territory had a population of 35,932. It did not have the population to qualify for statehood.
Massive immigration of both free and enslavedAmericans into the Territory saw the population surge past the 60,000-person requirement by 1810.
According to the 1810 census, more than 76,000 people, about half black and half white, resided in the Territory of Orleans.
Louisiana was the first state to have a majority Catholic French- and Spanish- speaking population. Louisianas distinctive French Catholic Creole culture eventually blended with the American English Protestant culture to create a distinct Creole-American society.
Territory of OrleansIn 1804, the newly acquired Louisiana Territory wassubdivided, and the portion below the33rd parallel, which eventually formed the state of Louisiana, wasnamed the Territory of Orleans.
After the Orleans Territory came under U.S. rule, legal battles ensued over the interpretation of the Civil Code,which places emphasis on codified community laws, andCommon Law, which places greater reliance on judges for legal interpretation over the traditional Catholic Rule.
Cultural differences between Creoles and Americans manifested themselves in a variety of ways immediately after the Louisiana Purchase. Creole residents of colonial Louisiana had lived under the Catholic Church, a political monarchy, and the legal Civil (Napoleonic) Code.
In contrast, the new American political lawsenforced religious freedom, republicandemocracy, and English common law.
Today Louisiana remains the only U.S. state that follows the Civil Code, which is the most common legal system in the world.
The United States government made Louisiana residents go through a trial period before admitting Louisiana as a state.
In 1811 President James Madison signed abill allowing the people of Louisiana to form a state constitution.
This was the first time it had been proposed to make a new state out of lands that had not been part of the original thirteen states. Some lawmakers feared this would shift the balance of political power west of the Mississippi. Despite opposition, the bill passed congress by a large majority.
After the bill for statehood was passed, a convention of forty-three delegates met at Tremoulet’s Coffee House, in November of 1811, to write a constitution for thestate of Louisiana. It was presided overby prominent planterand politician Julien Poydras.
Following the state constitutional convention in New Orleans on April 14, 1812, President Madison signed the bill approving statehood. The bill designated April 30, 1812, as the day of formal admission.
William C. C. Claiborne In 1812 Louisiana voters elected William C. C. Claiborne to be the first governor.
Governor William C.C. Claiborne (1772-1817) 1816: Claiborne won an election for U.S. senator, but died less than a year into his term. Today his descendants include former congresswoman and ambassador Lindy Boggs and designer Liz Claiborne.
State FlagLouisianas flag, though used since the 1800s, was not officially adopted until 1912. The design consists of the pelican group from the state seal, in white and gold, and a white ribbon bearing the state motto, on a field of a solid blue.
State SealThe state seal was adopted in 1902 and features a pelican tearing flesh from its own breast to feed its young. The pelican and its three young are surrounded by the Louisiana motto, "Union, Justice, Confidence."
New OrleansThe Cabildo, on Jackson Square in New Orleans, was headquarters for Spanishcolonial administration. Built in 1795, it hosted the formal transfer of the LouisianaPurchase from France to the United States in 1803. The building is now theLouisiana State Museum.
Natchitoches Metoyer Descendants, owners of Melrose Plantation Natchitoches is Louisianas oldest settlement. At the time of statehood, Natchitoches population stood under 2,000 persons but contained one of the largest and wealthiest communities of Free Persons of Color in the U.S.
NatchitochesIn the 1990s, the National Park Service designated the Natchitoches-Cane River region as a National Heritage Area because of its distinctCreole culture and today interprets the two historic Magnolia and Oaklandplantations for the public.
MonroeOriginally founded as the Spanish settlement of Fort Miro, the American town wasestablished in 1807. At the time of statehood, Prairie de Canots, as the settlement was then known, was small but grew in importance with the rise of the cotton in the mid-1800s and lumber in the early 1900s.
Alexandria Originally established as a trade post (post des rapides) in the 1780s, Alexandria was officially incorporated in 1819, and emerged as an important cotton and lumber trade center for the lower Red River Valley in the 1800s. Baileys Dam under construction on the Red River at Alexandria, Louisiana, in May of 1865 Kent House At the time of statehood, it remained a small river trade settlement.
AgricultureCotton and sugar crops were central to the growth of Louisiana as a state.
Sugar CaneThe southern portion of the state emerged as a sugar cane-growing region.
CottonCotton plantations grew quickly in the central parishes as well as along the Red River.
Two hundred years after statehood, Louisiana remains one of the most distinctive states in the union. The states rich Creole heritage, the organization of parishes as local political units, and the celebration of Catholic traditions such as Mardi Gras.