Place:Louisiana, United States


NameLouisiana
Alt namesLAsource: Webster's Geographical Dictionary (1988) p 1256
Louisianesource: Wikipedia
Orleans Territory
Louis
Louisanasource: common misspelling
TypeState
Coordinates31°N 92°W
Located inUnited States     (1812 - )
source: Getty Thesaurus of Geographic Names
source: Family History Library Catalog


the text in this section is copied from an article in Wikipedia

Louisiana is a state in the Deep South region of the South Central United States. It is the 31st most extensive and the 25th most populous of the 50 United States. Louisiana is bordered by the state of Texas to the west, Arkansas to the north, Mississippi to the east, and the Gulf of Mexico to the south. A large part of its eastern boundary is demarcated by the Mississippi River. Louisiana is the only U.S. state with political subdivisions termed parishes, which are equivalent to counties. The state's capital is Baton Rouge, and its largest city is New Orleans.

Much of the state's lands were formed from sediment washed down the Mississippi River, leaving enormous deltas and vast areas of coastal marsh and swamp. These contain a rich southern biota; typical examples include birds such as ibis and egrets. There are also many species of tree frogs, and fish such as sturgeon and paddlefish. In more elevated areas, fire is a natural process in the landscape, and has produced extensive areas of longleaf pine forest and wet savannas. These support an exceptionally large number of plant species, including many species of terrestrial orchids and carnivorous plants.[1] Louisiana has more Native American tribes than any other southern state, including four that are federally recognized, ten that are state recognized, and four that have not received recognition.

Some Louisiana urban environments have a multicultural, multilingual heritage, being so strongly influenced by a mixture of 18th-century French, Haitian, Spanish, Native American, and African cultures that they are considered to be exceptional in the US. Before the American purchase of the territory in 1803, present-day Louisiana State had been both a French colony and for a brief period a Spanish one. In addition, colonists imported numerous African people as slaves in the 18th century. Many came from peoples of the same region of West Africa, thus concentrating their culture. In the post-Civil War environment, Anglo-Americans increased the pressure for Anglicization, and in 1921, English was for a time made the sole language of instruction in Louisiana schools before a policy of multilingualism was revived in 1974. There has never been an official language in Louisiana, and the state constitution enumerates "the right of the people to preserve, foster, and promote their respective historic, linguistic, and cultural origins."[2]

Contents

History

the text in this section is copied from an article in Wikipedia

Pre-colonial history

Louisiana was inhabited by Native Americans for many millennia before the arrival of Europeans in the 16th century. During the Middle Archaic period, Louisiana was the site of the earliest mound complex in North America and one of the earliest dated, complex constructions in the Americas, the Watson Brake site near present-day Monroe. An 11-mound complex, it was built about 5400 BP (3500 BC). The Middle Archaic sites of Caney and Frenchman's Bend have also been securely dated to 5600–5000 BP (3700–3100 BC), demonstrating that seasonal hunter-gatherers organized to build complex earthwork constructions in present-day northern Louisiana. These discoveries overturned previous assumptions in archaeology that such complex mounds were built only by cultures of more settled peoples who were dependent on maize cultivation. The Hedgepeth Site in Lincoln Parish is more recent, dated to 5200–4500 BP (3300–2600 BC).

Nearly 2,000 years later, Poverty Point was built; it is the largest and best-known Late Archaic site in the state. The city of modern-day Epps developed near it. The Poverty Point culture may have reached its peak around 1500 BC, making it the first complex culture, and possibly the first tribal culture in North America. It lasted until approximately 700 BC.

The Poverty Point culture was followed by the Tchefuncte and Lake Cormorant cultures of the Tchula period, local manifestations of Early Woodland period. The Tchefuncte culture were the first people in the area of Louisiana to make large amounts of pottery. These cultures lasted until AD 200. The Middle Woodland period started in Louisiana with the Marksville culture in the southern and eastern part of the state, reaching across the Mississippi River to the east around Natchez and the Fourche Maline culture in the northwestern part of the state. The Marksville culture was named after the Marksville Prehistoric Indian Site in Avoyelles Parish.

These cultures were contemporaneous with the Hopewell cultures of present-day Ohio and Illinois, and participated in the Hopewell Exchange Network. Trade with peoples to the southwest brought the bow and arrow. The first burial mounds were built at this time.[3] Political power began to be consolidated, as the first platform mounds at ritual centers were constructed for the developing hereditary political and religious leadership.

By 400 the Late Woodland period had begun with the Baytown culture, Troyville culture, and Coastal Troyville during the Baytown Period and were succeeded by the Coles Creek cultures. Where the Baytown peoples built dispersed settlements, the Troyville people instead continued building major earthwork centers. Population increased dramatically and there is strong evidence of a growing cultural and political complexity. Many Coles Creek sites were erected over earlier Woodland period mortuary mounds. Scholars have speculated that emerging elites were symbolically and physically appropriating dead ancestors to emphasize and project their own authority.

The Mississippian period in Louisiana was when the Plaquemine and the Caddoan Mississippian cultures developed, and the peoples adopted extensive maize agriculture, cultivating different strains of the plant by saving seeds, selecting for certain characteristics, etc. The Plaquemine culture in the lower Mississippi River Valley in western Mississippi and eastern Louisiana began in 1200 and continued to about 1600. Examples in Louisiana include the Medora Site, the archaeological type site for the culture in West Baton Rouge Parish whose characteristics helped define the culture, the Atchafalaya Basin Mounds in St Mary Parish, the Fitzhugh Mounds in Madison Parish, the Scott Place Mounds in Union Parish, and the Sims Site in St Charles Parish.

Plaquemine culture was contemporaneous with the Middle Mississippian culture that is represented by its largest settlement, the Cahokia site in Illinois east of St. Louis, Missouri. At its peak Cahokia is estimated to have had a population of more than 20,000. The Plaquemine culture is considered ancestral to the historic Natchez and Taensa peoples, whose descendants encountered Europeans in the colonial era.

By 1000 in the northwestern part of the state, the Fourche Maline culture had evolved into the Caddoan Mississippian culture. The Caddoan Mississippians occupied a large territory, including what is now eastern Oklahoma, western Arkansas, northeast Texas, and northwest Louisiana. Archaeological evidence has demonstrated that the cultural continuity is unbroken from prehistory to the present. The Caddo and related Caddo-language speakers in prehistoric times and at first European contact were the direct ancestors of the modern Caddo Nation of Oklahoma of today. Significant Caddoan Mississippian archaeological sites in Louisiana include Belcher Mound Site in Caddo Parish and Gahagan Mounds Site in Red River Parish.

Many current place names in Louisiana, including Atchafalaya, Natchitouches (now spelled Natchitoches), Caddo, Houma, Tangipahoa, and Avoyel (as Avoyelles), are transliterations of those used in various Native American languages.

Exploration and colonization by Europeans

The first European explorers to visit Louisiana came in 1528 when a Spanish expedition led by Pánfilo de Narváez located the mouth of the Mississippi River. In 1542, Hernando de Soto's expedition skirted to the north and west of the state (encountering Caddo and Tunica groups) and then followed the Mississippi River down to the Gulf of Mexico in 1543. Spanish interest in Louisiana faded away for a century and a half.

In the late 17th century, French and French Canadian expeditions, which included sovereign, religious and commercial aims, established a foothold on the Mississippi River and Gulf Coast. With its first settlements, France laid claim to a vast region of North America and set out to establish a commercial empire and French nation stretching from the Gulf of Mexico to Canada.

In 1682, the French explorer Robert Cavelier de La Salle named the region Louisiana to honor King Louis XIV of France. The first permanent settlement, Fort Maurepas (at what is now Ocean Springs, Mississippi, near Biloxi), was founded in 1699 by Pierre Le Moyne d'Iberville, a French military officer from Canada. By then the French had also built a small fort at the mouth of the Mississippi at a settlement they named La Balise (or La Balize), "seamark" in French. By 1721 they built a wooden lighthouse-type structure here to guide ships on the river.

A royal ordinance of 1722—following the Crown's transfer of the Illinois Country's governance from Canada to Louisiana—may have featured the broadest definition of Louisiana: all land claimed by France south of the Great Lakes between the Rocky Mountains and the Alleghenies. A generation later, trade conflicts between Canada and Louisiana led to a more defined boundary between the French colonies; in 1745, Louisiana governor general Vaudreuil set the northern and eastern bounds of his domain as the Wabash valley up to the mouth of the Vermilion River (near present-day Danville, Illinois); from there, northwest to le Rocher on the Illinois River, and from there west to the mouth of the Rock River (at present day Rock Island, Illinois).[4] Thus, Vincennes and Peoria were the limit of Louisiana's reach; the outposts at Ouiatenon (on the upper Wabash near present-day Lafayette, Indiana), Chicago, Fort Miamis (near present-day Fort Wayne, Indiana), and Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin, operated as dependencies of Canada.[4]

The settlement of Natchitoches (along the Red River in present-day northwest Louisiana) was established in 1714 by Louis Juchereau de St. Denis, making it the oldest permanent European settlement in the modern state of Louisiana. The French settlement had two purposes: to establish trade with the Spanish in Texas via the Old San Antonio Road, and to deter Spanish advances into Louisiana. The settlement soon became a flourishing river port and crossroads, giving rise to vast cotton kingdoms along the river that were worked by imported African slaves. Over time, planters developed large plantations and built fine homes in a growing town. This became a pattern repeated in New Orleans and other places, although the commodity crop in the south was primarily sugar cane.

Louisiana's French settlements contributed to further exploration and outposts, concentrated along the banks of the Mississippi and its major tributaries, from Louisiana to as far north as the region called the Illinois Country, around present-day St. Louis, Missouri. The latter was settled by French colonists from Illinois.

Initially, Mobile and then Biloxi served as the capital of La Louisiane. Recognizing the importance of the Mississippi River to trade and military interests, and wanting to protect the capital from severe coastal storms, France developed New Orleans from 1722 as the seat of civilian and military authority south of the Great Lakes. From then until the United States acquired the territory in the Louisiana Purchase of 1803, France and Spain jockeyed for control of New Orleans and the lands west of the Mississippi.

In the 1720s, German immigrants settled along the Mississippi River, in a region referred to as the German Coast.

France ceded most of its territory to the east of the Mississippi to Great Britain in 1763, in the aftermath of Britain's victory in the Seven Years' War (generally referred to in North America as the French and Indian War). The rest of Louisiana, including the area around New Orleans and the parishes around Lake Pontchartrain, had become a colony of Spain by the Treaty of Fontainebleau (1762). The transfer of power on either side of the river would be delayed until later in the decade.

In 1765, during Spanish rule, several thousand French-speaking refugees from the region of Acadia (now Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island, Canada) made their way to Louisiana after having been expelled from their homelands by the British during the French and Indian War. They settled chiefly in the southwestern Louisiana region now called Acadiana. The Spanish, eager to gain more Catholic settlers, welcomed the Acadian refugees, the ancestors of Louisiana's Cajuns.

Spanish Canary Islanders, called Isleños, emigrated from the Canary Islands of Spain to Louisiana under the Spanish crown between 1778 and 1783.

In 1800, France's Napoleon Bonaparte reacquired Louisiana from Spain in the Treaty of San Ildefonso, an arrangement kept secret for two years.

Expansion of slavery

Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne, Sieur de Bienville brought the first two African slaves to Louisiana in 1708, transporting them from a French colony in the West Indies. In 1709, French financier Antoine Crozat obtained a monopoly of commerce in La Louisiane, which extended from the Gulf of Mexico to what is now Illinois. "That concession allowed him to bring in a cargo of blacks from Africa every year," the British historian Hugh Thomas wrote. Physical conditions, including disease, were so harsh there was high mortality among both the colonists and the slaves, resulting in continuing demand and importation of slaves.

Starting in 1719, traders began to import slaves in higher numbers; two French ships, the Du Maine and the Aurore, arrived in New Orleans carrying more than 500 black slaves coming from Africa. Previous slaves in Louisiana had been transported from French colonies in the West Indies. By the end of 1721, New Orleans counted 1,256 inhabitants, of whom about half were slaves.

In 1724, the French government issued a law called the Code Noir ("Black Code" in English) which "regulate[d] the interaction of whites [blancs] and blacks [noirs] in its colony of Louisiana (which was much larger than the current state of Louisiana). The law consisted of 57 articles, which regulated religion in the colony, outlawed "interracial" marriages (those between people of different skin color, the varying shades of which were also defined by law), restricted manumission, outlined legal punishment of slaves for various offenses, and defined some obligations of owners to their slaves. The main intent of the French government was to assert control over the slave system of agriculture in Louisiana and to impose restrictions on slaveowners there. In practice, the Code Noir was exceedingly difficult to enforce from afar. Some priests continued to perform interracial marriage ceremonies, for example, and some slaveholders continued to manumit slaves without permission while others punished slaves brutally.

Article II of the Code Noir of 1724 required owners to provide their slaves with religious education in the state religion, Roman Catholicism. Sunday was to be a day of rest for slaves. On days off, slaves were expected to feed and take care of themselves. During the 1740s economic crisis in the colony, owners had trouble feeding their slaves and themselves. Giving them time off also effectively gave more power to slaves, who started cultivating their own gardens and crafting items for sale as their own property. They began to participate in the economic development of the colony while at the same time increasing independence and self-subsistence.

Article VI of the Code Noir forbade mixed marriages, forbade but did little to protect slave women from rape by their owners, overseers or other slaves. On balance, the Code benefitted the owners but had more protections and flexibility than did the institution of slavery in the southern Thirteen Colonies.

The Louisiana Black Code of 1806 made the cruel punishment of slaves a crime, but owners and overseers were seldom prosecuted for such acts.

Fugitive slaves, called maroons, could easily hide in the backcountry of the bayous and survive in small settlements. The word "maroon" comes from the French "marron," meaning "feral" or "fugitive."

In the late 18th century, the last Spanish governor of the Louisiana territory wrote:

Truly, it is impossible for lower Louisiana to get along without slaves and with the use of slaves, the colony had been making great strides toward prosperity and wealth.[5]

When the United States purchased Louisiana in 1803, it was soon accepted that enslaved Africans could be brought to Louisiana as easily as they were brought to neighboring Mississippi, though it violated U.S. law to do so. Despite demands by United States Rep. James Hillhouse and by the pamphleteer Thomas Paine to enforce existing federal law against slavery in the newly acquired territory,[5] slavery prevailed because it was the source of great profits and the lowest-cost labor.

At the start of the 19th century, Louisiana was a small producer of sugar with a relatively small number of slaves, compared to Saint-Domingue and the West Indies. It soon thereafter became a major sugar producer as new settlers arrived to develop plantations. William C. C. Claiborne, Louisiana's first United States governor, said that African slave labor was needed because white laborers "cannot be had in this unhealthy climate." Hugh Thomas wrote that Claiborne was unable to enforce the abolition of the African slave trade, which the US and Great Britain adopted in 1808. The United States continued to protect the domestic slave trade, including the coastwise trade – the transport of slaves by ship along the Atlantic Coast and to New Orleans and other Gulf ports.

By 1840, New Orleans had the biggest slave market in the United States, which contributed greatly to the economy of the city and of the state. New Orleans had become one of the wealthiest cities, and the third largest city, in the nation. The ban on the African slave trade and importation of slaves had increased demand in the domestic market. During the decades after the American Revolutionary War, more than one million enslaved African Americans underwent forced migration from the Upper South to the Deep South, two thirds of them in the slave trade. Others were transported by their owners as slaveholders moved west for new lands.

With changing agriculture in the Upper South as planters shifted from tobacco to less labor-intensive mixed agriculture, planters had excess laborers. Many sold slaves to traders to take to the Deep South. Slaves were driven by traders overland from the Upper South or transported to New Orleans and other coastal markets by ship in the coastwise slave trade. After sales in New Orleans, steamboats operating on the Mississippi transported slaves upstream to markets or plantation destinations at Natchez and Memphis.

As the Deep South was developed for cotton and sugar in the first half of the nineteenth century, demand for slaves increased. This resulted in a massive forced migration (through the slave trade) of more than one million African Americans from the Upper South to the Deep South. Many traders brought slaves to New Orleans for domestic sale, and by 1840, New Orleans had the largest slave market in the country, was the third-largest city, and was one of the wealthiest cities.


Haitian migration and influence

Spanish occupation of Louisiana lasted from 1769 to 1800. Beginning in the 1790s, waves of immigration took place from Saint-Domingue, following a slave rebellion that started in 1791. Over the next decade, thousands of migrants landed in Louisiana from the island, including ethnic Europeans, free people of color, and African slaves, some of the latter brought in by each free group. 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 process of gaining independence in Saint-Domingue was complex, but uprisings continued. In 1803, France pulled out its surviving troops from the island, having suffered the loss of two-thirds sent to the island two years before, mostly to yellow fever. In 1804, Haiti, the second republic in the western hemisphere, proclaimed its independence, achieved by slave leaders.

Pierre Clément de Laussat (Governor, 1803) said: "Saint-Domingue was, of all our colonies in the Antilles, the one whose mentality and customs influenced Louisiana the most."


Purchase by the United States (1803)

When the United States won its independence from Great Britain in 1783, one of its major concerns was having a European power on its western boundary, and the need for unrestricted access to the Mississippi River. As American settlers pushed west, they found that the Appalachian Mountains provided a barrier to shipping goods eastward. The easiest way to ship produce was to use a flatboat to float it down the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers to the port of New Orleans, where goods could be put on ocean-going vessels. The problem with this route was that the Spanish owned both sides of the Mississippi below Natchez.

Napoleon's ambitions in Louisiana involved the creation of a new empire centered on the Caribbean sugar trade. By the terms of the Treaty of Amiens of 1802, Great Britain returned ownership of the islands of Martinique and Guadaloupe to the French. Napoleon looked upon Louisiana as a depot for these sugar islands, and as a buffer to U.S. settlement. In October 1801 he sent a large military force to take back Saint-Domingue, then under control of Toussaint Louverture after a slave rebellion.

When the army led by Napoleon's brother-in-law Leclerc was defeated, Napoleon decided to sell Louisiana.

Thomas Jefferson, third President of the United States, was disturbed by Napoleon's plans to re-establish French colonies in America. With the possession of New Orleans, Napoleon could close the Mississippi to U.S. commerce at any time. Jefferson authorized Robert R. Livingston, U.S. Minister to France, to negotiate for the purchase of the City of New Orleans, portions of the east bank of the Mississippi, and free navigation of the river for U.S. commerce. Livingston was authorized to pay up to $2 million.

An official transfer of Louisiana to French ownership had not yet taken place, and Napoleon's deal with the Spanish was a poorly kept secret on the frontier. On October 18, 1802, however, Juan Ventura Morales, Acting Intendant of Louisiana, made public the intention of Spain to revoke the right of deposit at New Orleans for all cargo from the United States. The closure of this vital port to the United States caused anger and consternation. Commerce in the west was virtually blockaded. Historians believe that the revocation of the right of deposit was prompted by abuses by the Americans, particularly smuggling, and not by French intrigues as was believed at the time. President Jefferson ignored public pressure for war with France, and appointed James Monroe a special envoy to Napoleon, to assist in obtaining New Orleans for the United States. Jefferson also raised the authorized expenditure to $10 million.

However, on April 11, 1803, French Foreign Minister Talleyrand surprised Livingston by asking how much the United States was prepared to pay for the entirety of Louisiana, not just New Orleans and the surrounding area (as Livingston's instructions covered). Monroe agreed with Livingston that Napoleon might withdraw this offer at any time (leaving them with no ability to obtain the desired New Orleans area), and that approval from President Jefferson might take months, so Livingston and Monroe decided to open negotiations immediately. By April 30, they closed a deal for the purchase of the entire Louisiana territory of for 60 million Francs (approximately $15 million).

Part of this sum, $3.5 million, was used to forgive debts owed by France to the United States. The payment was made in United States bonds, which Napoleon sold at face value to the Dutch firm of Hope and Company, and the British banking house of Baring, at a discount of 87½ per each $100 unit. As a result, France received only $8,831,250 in cash for Louisiana. English banker Alexander Baring conferred with Marbois in Paris, shuttled to the United States to pick up the bonds, took them to Britain, and returned to France with the money – which Napoleon used to wage war against Baring's own country.


When news of the purchase reached the United States, Jefferson was surprised. He had authorized the expenditure of $10 million for a port city, and instead received treaties committing the government to spend $15 million on a land package which would double the size of the country. Jefferson's political opponents in the Federalist Party argued the Louisiana purchase was a worthless desert, and that the Constitution did not provide for the acquisition of new land or negotiating treaties without the consent of the Senate. What really worried the opposition was the new states which would inevitably be carved from the Louisiana territory, strengthening Western and Southern interests in Congress, and further reducing the influence of New England Federalists in national affairs. President Jefferson was an enthusiastic supporter of westward expansion, and held firm in his support for the treaty. Despite Federalist objections, the U.S. Senate ratified the Louisiana treaty on October 20, 1803.

By statute enacted on October 31, 1803, President Thomas Jefferson was authorized to take possession of the territories ceded by France and provide for initial governance. A transfer ceremony was held in New Orleans on November 29, 1803. Since the Louisiana territory had never officially been turned over to the French, the Spanish took down their flag, and the French raised theirs. The following day, General James Wilkinson accepted possession of New Orleans for the United States. A similar ceremony was held in St. Louis on March 9, 1804, when a French tricolor was raised near the river, replacing the Spanish national flag. The following day, Captain Amos Stoddard of the First U.S. Artillery marched his troops into town and had the American flag run up the fort's flagpole. The Louisiana territory was officially transferred to the United States government, represented by Meriwether Lewis.

The Louisiana Territory, purchased for less than 3 cents an acre, doubled the size of the United States overnight, without a war or the loss of a single American life, and set a precedent for the purchase of territory. It opened the way for the eventual expansion of the United States across the continent to the Pacific.

Shortly after the United States took possession, the area was divided into two territories along the 33rd parallel north on March 26, 1804, thereby organizing the Territory of Orleans to the south and the District of Louisiana (subsequently formed as the Louisiana Territory) to the north.

Statehood (1812)

Louisiana became the eighteenth U.S. state on April 30, 1812; the Territory of Orleans became the State of Louisiana and the Louisiana Territory was simultaneously renamed the Missouri Territory. An area known as the Florida Parishes was soon annexed into the state of Louisiana on April 14, 1812.

From 1824 to 1861, Louisiana moved from a political system based on personality and ethnicity to a distinct two-party system, with Democrats competing first against Whigs, then Know Nothings, and finally only other Democrats.

Secession and the Civil War (1860–1865)

According to the 1860 census, 331,726 people were enslaved, nearly 47% of the state's total population of 708,002. The strong economic interest of elite whites in maintaining the slave society contributed to Louisiana's decision to secede from the Union in January 26, 1861. It followed other Southern states in seceding after the election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States. Louisiana's secession was announced on January 26, 1861, and it became part of the Confederate States of America.

The state was quickly defeated in the Civil War, a result of Union strategy to cut the Confederacy in two by seizing the Mississippi. Federal troops captured New Orleans on April 25, 1862. Because a large part of the population had Union sympathies (or compatible commercial interests), the Federal government took the unusual step of designating the areas of Louisiana under Federal control as a state within the Union, with its own elected representatives to the U.S. Congress.

Post-Civil War to mid-20th century (1865–1945)

Following the Civil War and emancipation of slaves, violence rose in the South as the war was carried on by insurgent private and paramilitary groups. Initially state legislatures were dominated by former Confederates, who passed Black Codes to regulate freedmen and generally refused to give the vote. They refused to extend voting rights to African Americans who had been free before the war and had sometimes obtained education and property (as in New Orleans.) Following the Memphis riots of 1866 and the New Orleans riot the same year, the Fourteenth Amendment was passed that provided suffrage and full citizenship for freedmen. Congress passed the Reconstruction Act, establishing military districts for those states where conditions were considered the worst, including Louisiana. It was grouped with Texas in what was administered as the Fifth Military District.

African Americans began to live as citizens with some measure of equality before the law. Both freedmen and people of color who had been free before the war began to make more advances in education, family stability and jobs. At the same time, there was tremendous social volatility in the aftermath of war, with many whites actively resisting defeat and the free labor market. White insurgents mobilized to enforce white supremacy, first in Ku Klux Klan chapters.

By 1877, when federal forces were withdrawn, white Democrats in Louisiana and other states had regained control of state legislatures, often by paramilitary groups such as the White League, which suppressed black voting through intimidation and violence. Following Mississippi's example in 1890, in 1898, the white Democratic, planter-dominated legislature passed a new constitution that effectively disenfranchised blacks and people of color, by raising barriers to voter registration, such as poll taxes, residency requirements and literacy tests. The effect was immediate and long lasting. In 1896, there were 130,334 black voters on the rolls and about the same number of white voters, in proportion to the state population, which was evenly divided.

The state population in 1900 was 47% African-American: a total of 652,013 citizens. Many in New Orleans were descendants of Creoles of color, the sizeable population of free people of color before the Civil War. By 1900, two years after the new constitution, only 5,320 black voters were registered in the state. Because of disfranchisement, by 1910 there were only 730 black voters (less than 0.5 percent of eligible African-American men), despite advances in education and literacy among blacks and people of color. Blacks were excluded from the political system and also unable to serve on juries. White Democrats had established one-party Democratic rule, which they maintained in the state for decades deep into the 20th century until after Congressional passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act provided federal oversight and enforcement of the constitutional right to vote.


In the early decades of the 20th century, thousands of African Americans left Louisiana in the Great Migration north to industrial cities for jobs and education, and to escape Jim Crow society and lynchings. The boll weevil infestation and agricultural problems cost many sharecroppers and farmers their jobs. The mechanization of agriculture also reduced the need for laborers. Beginning in the 1940s, blacks went West to California for jobs in its expanding defense industries.

During some of the Great Depression, Louisiana was led by Governor Huey Long. He was elected to office on populist appeal. His public works projects provided thousands of jobs to people in need, and he supported education and increased suffrage for poor whites, but Long was criticized for his allegedly demogogic and autocratic style. He extended patronage control through every branch of Louisiana's state government. Especially controversial were his plans for wealth redistribution in the state. Long's rule ended abruptly when he was assassinated in the state capitol in 1935.

Post-World War II (1945–)

Mobilization for World War II created jobs in the state. But thousands of other workers, black and white alike, migrated to California for better jobs in its burgeoning defense industry. Many African Americans left the state in the Second Great Migration, from the 1940s through the 1960s to escape social oppression and seek better jobs. The mechanization of agriculture in the 1930s had sharply cut the need for laborers. They sought skilled jobs in the defense industry in California, better education for their children, and living in communities where they could vote.

In the 1950s the state created new requirements for a citizenship test for voter registration. Despite opposition by the States Rights Party, downstate black voters had begun to increase their rate of registration, which also reflected the growth of their middle classes. In 1960 the state established the Louisiana State Sovereignty Commission, to investigate civil rights activists and maintain segregation.

Despite this, gradually black voter registration and turnout increased to 20% and more, and it was 32% by 1964, when the first national civil rights legislation of the era was passed. The percentage of black voters ranged widely in the state during these years, from 93.8% in Evangeline Parish to 1.7% in Tensas Parish, for instance, where there were white efforts to suppress the vote in the black-majority parish.

Violent attacks on civil rights activists in two mill towns were catalysts to the founding of the first two chapters of the Deacons for Defense and Justice in late 1964 and early 1965, in Jonesboro and Bogalusa, respectively. Made up of veterans of World War II and the Korean War, they were armed self-defense groups established to protect activists and their families. Continued violent white resistance in Bogalusa to blacks trying to use public facilities in 1965, following passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, caused the federal government to order local police to protect the activists. Other chapters were formed in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama.

By 1960 the proportion of African Americans in Louisiana had dropped to 32%. The 1,039,207 black citizens were still suppressed by segregation and disfranchisement. African Americans continued to suffer disproportionate discriminatory application of the state's voter registration rules. Because of better opportunities elsewhere, from 1965 to 1970, blacks continued to migrate out of Louisiana, for a net loss of more than 37,000 people. Based on official census figures, the African-American population in 1970 stood at 1,085,109, a net gain of more than 46,000 people compared to 1960. During the latter period, some people began to migrate to cities of the New South for opportunities. Since that period, blacks entered the political system and began to be elected to office, as well as having other opportunities.

On May 21, 1919, the Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, giving women full rights to vote, was passed at a national level, and was made the law throughout the United States on August 18, 1920. Louisiana finally ratified the amendment on June 11, 1970.


2000 to present

Due to its location on the Gulf Coast, Louisiana has regularly suffered the effects of tropical storms and damaging hurricanes. In August 2005, New Orleans and many other low-lying parts of the state along the Gulf of Mexico were hit by the catastrophic Hurricane Katrina. It caused widespread damage due to breaching of levees and large-scale flooding of more than 80% of the city. Officials had issued warnings to evacuate the city and nearby areas, but tens of thousands of people, mostly African Americans, stayed behind, many of them stranded. Many people died and survivors suffered through the damage of the widespread floodwaters.

In August 2016, an unnamed storm dumped trillions of gallons of rain on southern Louisiana, including the cities of Denham Springs, Baton Rouge, Gonzales, St. Amant and Lafayette, causing catastrophic flooding. An estimated 110,000 homes were damaged and thousands of residents were displaced.

Timeline

YearEventSource
1800France's Napoleon Bonaparte acquired Louisiana from Spain in Treaty of San IldefonsoSource:Wikipedia
1803Bonaparte sold Louisiana to the United StatesSource:Wikipedia
1810First census Source:Population of States and Counties of the United States: 1790-1990
1812Louisiana becomes 18th State to join the unionSource:Wikipedia
1861Civil War/Louisiana secedes from the unionSource:Wikipedia

Population History

source: Source:Population of States and Counties of the United States: 1790-1990
Census Year Population
1810 76,556
1820 153,407
1830 215,739
1840 352,411
1850 517,762
1860 708,002
1870 726,915
1880 939,946
1890 1,118,588
1900 1,381,625
1910 1,656,388
1920 1,798,509
1930 2,101,593
1940 2,363,880
1950 2,683,516
1960 3,257,022
1970 3,641,306
1980 4,205,900
1990 4,219,973

Note: Louisiana west of the Mississippi River was mostly part of the Louisiana Territory, which was ceded by Spain to France in 1803 and then sold by France to the United States. In 1804 much of the present State was included in the newly established Orleans Territory; the rest of the Louisiana Purchase became Louisiana Territory, renamed Missouri Territory in 1812. Louisiana was admitted as a State on April 30, 1812 and immediately added the Florida Parishes east of the Mississippi and north of Lake Pontchartrain, although these still were claimed by Spain until 1819. Also in 1819, the boundary with Mexico (Texas) was settled by treaty, bringing the State to essentially its present limits. In 1810 the census covered most of the settled parts of what is now Louisiana, except for the Florida Parishes east of the Mississippi River. By 1820 census coverage extended to virtually all of the present State. Louisiana's primary subdivisions have long been termed parishes instead of counties; both terms appear in early censuses.. Total for 1810 is for Orleans Territory, and excludes the Florida Parishes east of the Mississippi River. Total for 1830 includes 210 persons returned in the aggregate rather than by county. Total for 1890 includes 1 Indian in prison, not reported by parish.

Research Tips

Births, Marriages, and Deaths

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Research Guides

Outstanding guide to Louisiana family history and genealogy (FamilySearch Research Wiki). Birth, marriage, and death records, wills, deeds, county records, notarial records, archives, Bible records, cemeteries, churches, censuses, directories, immigration lists, naturalizations, maps, history, newspapers, and societies.


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