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Louisiana; A Brief History



A Brief History

No other state has a more varied or colorful past than Louisiana. The state has been governed under 10 different flags beginning in 1541 with Hernando de Soto's claim of the region for Spain. La Salle later claimed it for Bourbon France and over the years Louisiana was at one time or another subject to the Union Jack of Great Britain, the Tricolor of Napoleon, the Lone Star flag of the Republic of West Florida and the fifteen stars and stripes of the United States. At the outbreak of the Civil War, Louisiana became an independent republic for six weeks before joining the Confederacy.

Earlier, in 1803, Louisiana had become a part of the United States because of the region's importance to the trade and security of the American mid-west. New Orleans and the surrounding territory controlled the mouth of the Mississippi River down which much of the produce of the mid-west traveled to reach market. To get the vital region in American hands, President Thomas Jefferson negotiated the Louisiana Purchase with Napoleon.

With the acquisition of Louisiana, Jefferson nearly doubled the size of the fledgling U.S. and made it a world power. Later, 13 states or parts of states were carved out of the Louisiana Purchase territory.

Through much of its early history Louisiana was a trading and financial center, and the fertility of its land made it one of the richest regions in America as first indigo then sugar and cotton rose to prominence in world markets. Many Louisiana planters were among the wealthiest men in America.

The plantation economy was shattered by the Civil War although the state continued to be a powerful agricultural region. The discovery of sulphur in 1869 and oil in 1901, coupled with the rise of forestry sent the state on a new wave of economic growth. Eventually, Louisiana became a major American producer of oil and natural gas and a center of petroleum refining and petrochemicals manufacturing, which it remains to this day.

Important Dates In Louisiana History
1519 Alvarez de Pindea discovers mouth of the Mississippi
1541-42 Hernando de Soto discovers the Mississippi River
1682 Hernando de Soto discovers the Mississippi River
1682 Robert Cavalier, Sieur de la Salle, erects a cross at the mouth of the Mississippi River after descending the river from the Great Lakes and claims the territory for Louis XIV of France, for whom Louisiana is named.
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 Cathedral in New Orleans is built, the oldest in the United States
1723 New Orleans becomes the capital of Louisiana, superseding Biloxi
1735 Jean Louis, a sailor, leaves his savings to establish the first charity hospital in New Orleans
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
1763 Treaty of Paris ends Seven Years' War and confirms transfer of Louisiana to Spain. Florida Parishes ceded to England with Baton Rouge becoming New Richmond
1764 First four Acadian families arrive in Louisiana from New York
1796 Opera is first performed in the United States at New Orleans
1803 Louisiana is purchased from Napoleon I by the United States for $15,000,000
1804 Louisiana is divided into the Territory of New 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.
1808 First public school is established in Pointe Coupee Parish
1811 First institution of higher learning opens in New Orleans (College of Orleans)
1812 Louisiana is admitted to the Union
1812 The first steamboat to navigate the Mississippi River, the "The New Orleans," arrives at New Orleans from Pittsburgh on January 10, 1812
1815 Battle of New Orleans is won by General Andrew Jackson
1823 First natural gas field is discovered in Louisiana, at a depth of 400 feet
1837 Shreveport is founded
1838 First Mardi Gras parade is held in New Orleans
1840 Antoine's in New Orleans, the state's oldest continuously operating restaurant, is established
1849 Baton Rouge becomes capital of Louisiana
1861 Louisiana secedes from the Union and after a brief period as a republic, joins the Confederacy
1862 The first salt mine is discovered at Avery Island, oldest in the Western Hemisphere
1867 Shrimp first canned commercially at Grand Terre Island
1868 Louisiana is re-admitted to the Union
1869 First sulphur is produced in United States
1872 Rex, King of Carnival, parades for the first time on Mardi Gras
1901 The first oil is discovered about six miles from Jennings
1915 The name "Jazz" is given to music of New Orleans origin
1926 Louisiana's first public airport is built in Mansfield
1928 Grand Isle Tarpon Rodeo is established, the oldest fishing tournament in the United States
1932 New capitol is completed in Baton Rouge
1935 Senator Huey Long is assassinated in the state capitol
1935 First Sugar Bowl game is played -- Tulane 20, Temple 14
1947 Kerr-McGee Corporation, with offshore operations based in Morgan City, drills the first commercial producing oil well out of sight of land
1963 Tulane University accepts five black students, the first in its history
1973 A team of surgeons performs Louisiana's first heart transplant
1975 The Super Dome in New Orleans is completed, with a final cost of $163,313,315 for building and grounds
1977 Ernest Morial is elected mayor of New Orleans, becoming the city's first black mayor
1979 David Treen is elected governor, the first Republican governor since Reconstruction
1983 Edwin W. Edwards becomes the first three-term governor
1987 Louisiana celebrates the 175th anniversary of its admission into the Union

The above information was provided by the State of Louisiana.
For more information on the rich history and culture of our great state, click here to visit Louisiana's official state web site.

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