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The Americas

North American Colonial Settlements

 

Louisiana (North America)

This territory in the Americas which the seventeenth century French first named Louisiana after their king, Louis XIV, was a vast region which consisted of all of the lands in North America which were drained by the Mississippi and its tributaries. It stretched from the Rocky Mountains to the Appalachian Mountains and from the Great Lakes to the Gulf of Mexico.

To the north were lands which were inhabited by Native American groups in what are now the prairie provinces and Ontario, Canada. To the north-east lay the rest of New France, to the east the British Colonies colonies along the Atlantic seaboard, and to the south-east the Spanish possession of Florida. To the west was a region which remained unclaimed by Europeans but which was inhabited by native groups. To the south-west was the Spanish Colonial headquarters of New Spain.

The great expanse of early Louisiana was officially divided into Upper Louisiana, the area to the north of the Arkansas River, and Lower Louisiana, which consisted of territory to the south of the same river. Later colonial Louisiana was reduced to the same region but was bounded on the east by the Mississippi River, still forming an enormous territory.

Finally, as a state of the United States of America, Louisiana consisted only of that territory which lay around the mouth of the Mississippi and for some distance northwards, bounded to the west by Texas, to the north by Arkansas, to the east by the state of Mississippi, and to the south by the Gulf of Mexico.

Recent archaeological and genetic evidence indicates that Palaeo-Indian humans who migrated from Asia managed to reach the region of French Louisiana from the north by at least 12,600 BC, although in theory it could have been used as a conduit to supply evidence of human habitation in New Mexico by around 40,000 BC. Clovis people populated the region from about 11,500 BC, and a great many subsequent Amerindian groups can trace some form of cultural descent from them.

In 1519, Spanish explorer Alonso Álvarez de Pineda became the first European to visit the mouth of the Mississippi while he was mapping the northern coast of the Gulf of Mexico. Between 1538-1542, Hernando de Soto, the Spanish governor of Cuba, explored what would become southern Louisiana territory. The expedition was unable to find the gold it sought and instead abandoned the area. Nevertheless it was claimed for Spain, although the Spanish made no attempt to settle the region.

The next Europeans to venture into the area (and the first to explore Upper Louisiana) were Jacques Marquette and Louis Jolliet, They travelled along the Mississippi, documenting native villagers which included the Illinois. Then in 1782, Robert de La Salle, French explorer, canoed from the province of Quebec through the Great Lakes to the Mississippi headwaters in Minnesota, and then down the full length of the river to its mouth in the Gulf of Mexico. He claimed the entire region for France as an administrative district of New France which he named Louisiana.

By the same year, Mobile had been established as an outpost in what is now Alabama. Louisiana alternated between French and Spanish rule (the latter always being temporary) until 1803, when the United States purchased it from Napoleon Bonaparte who needed the money to pay for his wars. In 1812 the area at the southern end of the territory was carved out and admitted into the US as the state of Louisiana.

Louisiana was one of those states which seceded from the union during the American Civil War to become a member of the Confederate States of America. After the confederacy lost the war, Louisiana came under northern military occupation in 1868, after which it was readmitted into the union.

Buffalo on the North American plains, by Dave Fitzpatrick

(Information by Peter Kessler and John De Cleene, with additional information from The Encyclopaedia of North American Indian Tribes, Bill Yenne (1986), from The Native Tribes of North America - A Concise Encyclopaedia, Michael Johnson (1993), from the Atlas of Indians of North America, Gilbert Legay (1995), from Colonization and Trade in the New World (National Geographic supplement, December 1977), from Spain in the Americas (National Geographic supplement, National Geographic Society, February 1992), and from External Links: First Nations: Issues of Consequence, Lee Sultzman, and Discover Canada - Canada's History (Government of Canada), and The story of New France (National Geographic), and The First Americans (Scientific American, 1 November 2012).)

1519

The Spanish explorer, Alonso Álvarez de Pineda, becomes the first European to visit the mouth of the Mississippi while he is mapping the northern coast of the Gulf of Mexico. This is the southernmost part of what will eventually be claimed as part of Louisiana.

1538

Hernando de Soto had arrived in the Spanish Colonies with Pedrarias Davila, first governor of Panama, in 1514. Then, in 1533, he had served as one of Francisco Pizarro's captains during the conquest of Peru.

Spanish conquistador and native slaves
The Spanish conquest of the Americas delivered vast resources in labour and slaves, but the territory was vast and frequently contested amongst native groups and Europeans alike

Now in 1538 he is given the governorship of Cuba and is charged with the task of colonising the North American continent for Spain within four years (territory which later forms part of the modern United States).

He leads the first European expedition deep into the territory of North America where, in a great arcing journey, he traverses Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, and Arkansas. After encountering ever greater difficulties, de Soto dies of a fever on 21 May 1542.

1673

Jacques Marquette and Louis Jolliet become the first Europeans to enter the northern part of the region. They travel along the Mississippi River, documenting for New France the native villagers which include the Illinois. The river will later become a border between Louisiana and the British Colonies.

Louisiana
One of the earliest Spanish areas of exploration in North America, Louisiana provided more of a challenge than had New Spain, with native groups proving quite hostile and New France eager to dominate there

1682 - 1699

The Spanish colony of Florida extends as far west as the outpost of Pensacola. Just forty-five kilometres farther west is the French outpost of Mobile, part of their Louisiana colony of New France.

The north-eastern section of French-claimed Louisiana is now affected by the Second Iroquois-French War of 1682-1701. This coincides with the Second Anglo-Abenaki War, in which the Iroquois, already at war with France, ally themselves with the British Colonies.

In 1689, Jacques-Rene de Brisay de Denonville, governor-general of New France, who had previously captured English fur trader posts on Hudson Bay, marches against the Iroquois, captures their leaders, and ships them to France as slaves before laying waste to the lands of the Seneca. The Iroquois retaliate, ravaging Quebec.

Due to the threat of French encroachment from New France's colony of Louisiana, in 1691 New Spain establishes its first presence in Texas, although these early missions quickly fail.

René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle
René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle ('Lord of the Manor'), explored the Great Lakes, the Mississippi and the Gulf of Mexico in 1669-1670, and claimed the entire Mississippi basin for New France

In 1698, the Iroquois sue for peace with the French. This allows the Europeans to establish a permanent presence within the Louisiana territory by 1699, commanded from Fort Maurepas, and firmly marking the territory as French Louisiana.

French Louisiana (New France)
AD 1699 - 1766

The vast territory in the Americas which France first named as Louisiana - after their king, Louis XIV - consisted of all lands in North America which were drained by the Mississippi and its tributaries. Although Spanish explorers visited and claimed the area as early as 1519, by 1542 they had abandoned any attempt to settle it. It was Robert de La Salle in 1682 who laid down the French claim to the region and named it Louisiana.

It was established as an administrative division of New France but initially it remained lightly settled by European colonists. A permanent colony was established within the territory in 1699, towards the conclusion of the Second Iroquois-French War which at last made possible such settlement.

The great expanse of territory was officially divided into Upper Louisiana, the area to the north of the Arkansas River, and Lower Louisiana, which consisted of territory to the south of the same river. Later colonial Louisiana was reduced to the same region but was bounded to the east by the Mississippi, still forming an enormous territory.

The capital was not fixed until the early eighteenth century. It was initially located at Fort Maurepas which was founded at the same time as the first colony, in 1699. It switched to Mobile under Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne de Bienville, governor of Louisiana between 1701-1713. Then it fluctuated between both of those, along with New Orleans and Biloxi, again under Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne, governor for a third time between 1718-1724. Finally the capital became set at New Orleans after 1718.

Buffalo on the North American plains, by Dave Fitzpatrick

(Information by Peter Kessler and John De Cleene, with additional information from The Encyclopaedia of North American Indian Tribes, Bill Yenne (1986), from The Native Tribes of North America - A Concise Encyclopaedia, Michael Johnson (1993), from the Atlas of Indians of North America, Gilbert Legay (1995), from Colonization and Trade in the New World (National Geographic supplement, December 1977), from Spain in the Americas (National Geographic supplement, National Geographic Society, February 1992), from Oxford Atlas of World History, Patrick K O'Brien (Gen Ed, Oxford University Press, 1999), and from External Links: First Nations: Issues of Consequence, Lee Sultzman, and Discover Canada - Canada's History (Government of Canada), and The story of New France (National Geographic), and The First Americans (Scientific American, 1 November 2012), and US States: Louisiana (World Statesmen), and 64 Parishes.)

1699

Pierre le Moyne, Sieur de'Iberville

Administrator. Naval hero of Hudson Bay campaign (1697).

1699 - 1701

Sauvole de la Villantry

First Louisiana territory governor. Died suddenly from fever.

1701 - 1713

Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne de Bienville

Governor. Younger brother of Pierre le Moyne.

1701

The Grande Paix ('Great Peace') Treaty is formalised following the end of the Second Iroquois-French War. The Iroquois adopt a policy of neutrality which lasts for fifty years, greatly benefiting the European settlement of northern areas of Louisiana.

1706

The Iroquois allow three hundred Susquehannock to return to the Susquehanna Valley in Pennsylvania. No longer a powerful people, they become known as the Conestoga (from the name of their village).

The Iroquois keep a watchful eye on them and use their homeland as a kind of supervised reservation for the displaced Eastern Algonquian and Siouan tribes (including the Conoy, Delaware, Mahican, Munsee, Nanticoke, Saponi, Shawnee, Tutelo, and also the New England Algonquin), who are allowed to settle there as members of the 'covenant chain'.

Map of the Susquehannock AD 1600
The Susquehannock territories were centred around the river which bore their name, but extended far to the east, towards Lake Erie where they abutted the generally peaceful Erie people and north to the Iroquois nations, who certainly were not peaceful (click or tap on map to view full sized)

1713 - 1716

Antoine Laumet de La Mothe

Governor. Founded Detroit (1701).

1716 - 1717

Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne de Bienville

Second term of office. Founded New Orleans (1718).

1716

New missions are established in Texas from New Spain in order to create a buffer zone between it and the New French colony of Louisiana. These are followed in 1718 by the first European settlement in Spanish Colonial Texas, at San Antonio.

1717 - 1718

Jean-Michel de Lepinay

Governor.

1718 - 1724

Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne de Bienville

Governor. Third term of office.

1718

Land which is part of the native Chitimacha tribe's possessions is taken for the town of La Nouvelle-Orléans (or New Orleans), founded by the French Mississippi Company on 7 May under the governor's direction and support.

1720

The Fox attack the Peoria (a member of the Illinois confederacy) for having killed the nephew of one of the Fox chiefs. They force the Peoria onto Starved Rock. The Peoria request help from the French, but by the time the French reach the site many of the Peoria warriors have been killed.

Delaware Stockbridge
The remnants of a great many tribes of the eastern seaboard congregated as the Stockbridge, Brotherton, and Housatonic, seeking protection amongst numbers - this oil painting is entitled 'Delaware Indians sign the Treaty of Penn with Benjamin West'

From this year onwards, the diminished Mahican begin to move west to join multi-ethnic groups, first on the Susquehanna and then to the Ohio country. Eventually, Europeans will label them 'Stockbridge Indians' based the mission settlement upon which they focus.

1724 - 1726

Pierre Dugué de Boisbriant

Governor.

1726 - 1733

Étienne Périer

Governor.

1730

The French and their Illinois, Miami, Potawatomi, and Sac allies have continued to battle the Fox, but have been unsuccessful until now. In this year the French besiege a Fox village on the Sangamon River and conduct a brutal attack.

1733 - 1743

Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne de Bienville

Governor. Fourth and final term of office.

1736

A delegation of over a hundred Iroquois from all six nations sign a treaty in Philadelphia with the government of Pennsylvania. This transfers all of their Susquehanna lands to Pennsylvania.

Logstown expedition 1749
As shown by this modern image, a French expedition visited Logstown in 1749 (location of the eponymous 1752 treaty), under the command of Pierre-Joseph Celeron de Blainville

Afterwards, when most delegates have returned home, the colonists get the remaining natives drunk and have them sign away lands which are owned by the Delaware. Antipathy amongst the Delaware prompt them and other natives groups to ally with New France in a war against the British Colonies which will last until 1764.

1738

The French-Canadian trader, Pierre Gaultier de Varennes, enters territory which will become North Dakota with an exploration party. It reaches the Mandan villages in the region. During this period, trading posts are also being set up in what is now Ohio, and New France lays claim to what is now Oklahoma.

1743 - 1753

Pierre François de Rigaud

Later the last governor-general of New France.

1744

The Treaty of Lancaster is signed, in which the Iroquois give permission to the British Colonies to build a trading post at the forks of the Ohio (at Pittsburgh). Both Pennsylvania and Virginia interpret the agreement to mean that the Iroquois are ceding their claims to Ohio.

Pennsylvania's claim is more modest and also focuses on eastern Ohio, but Virginia sees itself as master of the entire Ohio Valley, westwards to the Illinois River, and including New France Louisiana territory in what will later become Kentucky and lower Michigan.

Susquehanna Valley
The Susquehanna Valley became the focus of Susquehannock settlement from around the middle of the twelfth century, well before any Europeans had reached the Americas on a permanent basis

1747 - 1749

Plans in the British Colonies for opening the area to settlement get underway in 1747 when Virginia grants a charter to the Ohio Company. Pennsylvania considers the Ohio tribes to be subject to the Iroquois, but when they refuse the league's orders to return to the Susquehanna, it is obvious that something needs to be done.

No longer able to ignore the defection of their 'women', in 1749 the Iroquois create a system of half-kings (special Iroquois emissaries) to represent the Ohio tribes (who number 10,000 by this time) in their councils.

This seems to satisfy the Delaware and Shawnee and, when Pierre-Joseph Céloron de Blainville leads a French expedition to the Louisiana territory of the Ohio River in 1749 to expel British traders, he marks out the boundary of New France territory with lead plates. His reception is unfriendly, with the Ohio tribes demanding to know by what right the French are claiming Iroquois land.

1750

By now, French settlement is spreading. Settlers from New France found St Genevieve in what is now south-eastern Missouri. Later they establish St Louis as the centre of the fur trade in the region.

British capture of Fortress Louisbourg in 1745
The capture of Fortress Louisbourg by the British in 1745 was a good indicator of the way things were developing as far as French interests in North America were concerned, although a final British victory was far from certain

The French are also reaching the lands of the Apalachee in what are now central Mississippi and Alabama in the modern United States, although the Apalachee remain in the French frontier zone.

1751

Some of the Delaware, Mingo, and Shawnee in western Pennsylvania accept the invitation of the Wyandot (Huron) to settle in eastern Ohio, part of the Louisiana territory of New France. Ohio is being claimed by the British Colonies, the Iroquois, and also New France, but has largely been empty for almost a century following its conquest by the Iroquois during the Beaver Wars of 1630-1698.

1752

With traders of the British Colonies subverting the loyalty of their allies, and the Delaware, Mingo, and Shawnee defying its authority, New France decides to militarily enforce its claims to Louisiana's Ohio territory. In June, Charles Langlade, a French-Ojibwe of mixed blood, leads a war party of 250 Ojibwa and Ottawa from Mackinac and destroys the Miami village and British trading post at Piqua, Ohio.

General James Wolfe
General James Wolfe completed his victory over the French - giving the British nominal control of the vast and still largely unexplored northern territories - but paid for it with his life in 1759

1753 - 1763

Louis Billouart

Governor.

1762 - 1763

The Seven Years' War - the first truly 'global' conflict - comes to an end. Under the terms of the secret Treaty of Fontainebleau of 1762, France cedes the vast and wild Louisiana Territory from New France to Spain.

As part of the subsequent Treaty of Paris of 1763, the Spanish Colonies lose Florida to the British but the Spanish are happy to do so as they have already been handsomely compensated with Louisiana.

The British have been confirmed as possessors of Quebec following their victory at the Battle of Signal Hill in 1762. Spanish administrative control of Louisiana does not begin until 1766, while the easternmost section of Louisiana falls under British control as part of Florida.

Proclamation of 1763
The Royal Proclamation of 1763 has long been debated by historians in reference to its influence on the later revolutionary war, but it was a genuine attempt to respect the territorial rights of the native Americans following the conclusion of the French-American War

1763 - 1765

Jean-Jacques Blaise d'Abbadie

Governor. Died of flux.

1765 - 1766

Charles Philippe Aubry

Last French governor of Louisiana.

1766

With the eastern part of formerly-French Louisiana having gone to the British holdings in Florida as part of their conquest of New France, the western section of the shrinking territory remains. The Spanish - who are only to happy to enjoy their victory at the expense of the British - now formally take control of Spanish Louisiana.

Spanish Louisiana / West Louisiana (Spanish Empire)
AD 1766 - 1803

This territory in the Americas which France first named as Louisiana consisted of all lands in North America which were drained by the Mississippi and its tributaries. Although Spanish explorers visited and claimed the area as early as 1519, it was New France which claimed it, from 1682.

It was established as a French administrative division, but initially it remained lightly settled by European colonists. A permanent colony was established within the territory in 1699, towards the conclusion of the Second Iroquois-French War which at last made possible such settlement. Unfortunately for peace in the region, the eighteenth century saw France engaged in frequent wars against Britain and its British Colonies.

Ultimately it was France which lost, being forced to cede New France to Britain and ensuring that most of French Louisiana remained out of British hands by granting it to Spain. However, eastern Louisiana did go to Britain as part of its newly-acquired territories in Florida, including the former capital of Mobile, with this overall being a much bigger territory than is today's US state of the same name.

Spain took administrative control of 'West Louisiana' in 1766, although the territory had in fact been ceded to it in 1762 under the terms of the Treaty of Fontainebleau, which was kept secret by the cousins who held the French and Spanish thrones. A Spanish Colonial governor was placed in charge who was, to all intents and purposes, ignored by the French colonists there.

Spanish Louisiana consisted of territory which was bounded to the west by the Rocky Mountains, to the north by what would become western Canada, to the east by the Mississippi, and to the south-west by the older possessions of New Spain (now the south-western USA). When Spain acquired Louisiana, the territory became a province within the audiencia of Cuba, under New Spain. The region was mainly inhabited by a wide variety of Native American groups, although considerable French settlement had grown up during the eighteenth century, especially along the Mississippi.

Buffalo on the North American plains, by Dave Fitzpatrick

(Information by Peter Kessler and John De Cleene, with additional information from The Encyclopaedia of North American Indian Tribes, Bill Yenne (1986), from The Native Tribes of North America - A Concise Encyclopaedia, Michael Johnson (1993), from the Atlas of Indians of North America, Gilbert Legay (1995), from Colonization and Trade in the New World (National Geographic supplement, December 1977), from Spain in the Americas (National Geographic supplement, National Geographic Society, February 1992), from Oxford Atlas of World History, Patrick K O'Brien (Gen Ed, Oxford University Press, 1999), and from External Links: First Nations: Issues of Consequence, Lee Sultzman, and Discover Canada - Canada's History (Government of Canada), and The story of New France (National Geographic), and The First Americans (Scientific American, 1 November 2012), and US States: Louisiana (World Statesmen), and 64 Parishes.)

1766 - 1768

Antonio de Ulloa

First Spanish Colonial governor after New France's control.

1768

A Creole uprising expels the unwanted Spanish governor, Antonio de Ulloa. It matters not that he is a renowned explorer and astronomer, as well as being the discoverer of the existence of platinum.

1768 - 1769

Charles Philippe Aubry

Acting governor.

1769

Alejandro O'Reilly

Captain-general.

1769 - 1777

Luis de Unzaga y Amezaga

Later captain general of Venezuela and then Cuba.

1769 - 1777

Unzaga, who had previously taken part in the defence of Havana in 1762, improves relations between the French and Creole settlers on the one hand and their Spanish governors on the other by appointing French citizens to government positions and by permitting the local population to trade with the British, despite that practice being prohibited.

1776

As the Spanish governor of Louisiana, Unzaga supplies gunpowder to the revolutionary forces in the British Colonies, and later becomes captain general of Venezuela (1777-1782) and then Cuba (1782-1785).

First Continental Congress
The 'First Continental Congress' - the provisional government of the colony's rebels - began with prayer led by Chaplain Jacob Duché at Carpenter's Hall in Philadelphia in September 1774

1777 - 1785

Bernardo de Gálvez

Later viceroy of New Spain (1785-1786).

1779 - 1783

Bernardo de Gálvez invades West Florida as soon as he can after Spain declares war on Britain on 21 June 1779. He lays siege to Mobile's Fort Charlotte in March 1780, taking it after a strongly-defended thirteen day siege by former governor, Elias Durnford.

Then Jose de Ezpeleta attacks the Pensacola garrison and Britain's native allies from Mobile. As West Florida's last stronghold, Pensacola surrenders to Gálvez in May 1781, ending British rule there.

The province is occupied for the next two years and, as part of the Treaty of Paris which marks the end of the American Revolutionary War on behalf of the United States, Britain cedes West Florida back to Spain in 1783.

1784 - 1785

With a new war threatening, the Delaware decide that their old villages in eastern-central Ohio are vulnerable. They relocate most of them to north-western Ohio and southern Indiana. The new locations are crowded, and the Delaware habit of hunting for profit creates friction with neighbouring tribes.

Some of the Delaware and Shawnee peace factions soon separate from the militants and move to St Genevieve, Missouri, in Spanish Louisiana, even though that location is hit by disastrous floods in 1785.

St Genevieve, Missouri
The Spanish colony of St Genevieve in Missouri was first settled in 1735, a little to the south of its current centre, making it half a century old when the Delaware and Shawnee migrated there to avoid a fresh war in the north-east

1785 - 1791

Esteban Rodríguez Miró

Governor-general.

1788

The Spanish find the Native Americans useful as a buffer against the Americans and as protection against Osage horse thieves. The Spanish governor of Louisiana sends emissaries to the Shawnee and Delaware in Ohio, inviting others of their number to migrate southwards.

1791 - 1797

Francisco Luis Hector de Carondelet

Baron de Carondelet. Governor-general.

1793

The baron de Carondelet makes a formal land grant to the Missouri Delaware and Shawnee which covers an area of sixty-five square kilometres at Cape Girardeau. In the same year, the Delaware protect the survivors of the 1792 American delegation because their number includes Hendrick Aupamut, a Stockbridge (Mahican), with many Delaware relatives.

Peace negotiations which are held that summer eventually fail and, in October, 'Mad' Anthony Wayne of the USA begins his advance into north-western Ohio, sent by a President George Washington who has finally calmed himself following a humiliating defeat in western Ohio.

Shawnee warriors
The Shawnee were an Algonquian-speaking North American native people who lived in the central Ohio River valley and who attempted to avoid being dragged into the Revolutionary War

1794

After having one of the best viceroys in office - Güemes - New Spain now hosts its undisputed worst: Miguel de la Grúa Talamanca. His term of office is one of avarice and greed on his part, skimming funds from just about every source of income and seizing the property of all French colonists both in New Spain and Spanish Louisiana.

What he doesn't keep for himself during disturbances which are cause by war against France he passes to his equally corrupt superior, Spanish Prime Minister Manuel de Godoy. The Spanish Colonial viceroyalty is taken on a downwards path from which it never recovers.

1797 - 1799

Manuel Gayoso de Lemos

Governor-general. Died in office.

1799 - 1801

Sebastian de la Puerta y O'Farril

Governor-general.

1800

The French take the Louisiana territory back under their control under the terms of the Treaty of San Ildefonso. However, the easternmost section, which has formed part of West Florida since 1763, remains in Spanish hands.

Spanish St Augustine fort
The Spanish fortress at St Augustine would have presented a strong obstacle to conquest, although prior to its acceptance into the USA its two halves - east and west - had swapped hands with some regularity

1801 - 1803

Juan Manuel de Salcedo

Last Spanish governor-general of Louisiana.

1803

It takes until 1803 before the final Spanish governor-general of Louisiana leaves office. Republican France retakes full control, although this is merely an interim period between regaining a portion of its former New France territory from Spain and selling it to the United States of America. The capital remains at New Orleans for the duration of the existence of the restoration of French Louisiana.

French Louisiana (Colonial France)
AD 1803

The original territory of Louisiana in the Americas consisted of all lands in North America which drained into the Mississippi and its tributaries. Although Spanish explorers visited and claimed the area as early as 1519, it was New France which claimed it, from 1682. Initially it remained lightly settled by European colonists, but a permanent colony was established in 1699.

Ultimately France lost its various wars against Britain and the British Colonies. It was forced to cede New France to Britain, but it ensured that most of French Louisiana went to Spain. However, eastern Louisiana did go to Britain as part of its newly-acquired territories in Florida, including the former capital of Mobile, with this overall being a much bigger territory than today's US state of the same name.

Spain took administrative control of 'West Louisiana' in 1766, although the territory had in fact been ceded to it in 1762 under the terms of the Treaty of Fontainebleau, which was kept secret by the cousins who held the French and Spanish thrones. A Spanish Colonial governor was placed in charge who was, to all intents and purposes, ignored by the French colonists there. Settlement had come a long way since the early days, and was already quite heavy along the course of the Mississippi.

France took back control of the Louisiana territory in 1800, under the terms of the Treaty of San Ildefonso. The capital remained at New Orleans, and full control was acquired in 1803. However, this was merely an interim period between regaining the territory for France and selling it to the USA.

Buffalo on the North American plains, by Dave Fitzpatrick

(Information by Peter Kessler and John De Cleene, with additional information from The Encyclopaedia of North American Indian Tribes, Bill Yenne (1986), from The Native Tribes of North America - A Concise Encyclopaedia, Michael Johnson (1993), from the Atlas of Indians of North America, Gilbert Legay (1995), from Colonization and Trade in the New World (National Geographic supplement, December 1977), from Spain in the Americas (National Geographic supplement, National Geographic Society, February 1992), and from External Links: First Nations: Issues of Consequence, Lee Sultzman, and Discover Canada - Canada's History (Government of Canada), and The story of New France (National Geographic), and The First Americans (Scientific American, 1 November 2012).)

1803

Pierre Clement de Laussat

Last French governor of Louisiana.

1803 - 1806

On 30 April 1803, Napoleon Bonaparte, first consul of France, effectively sells off the final remnants of New France when he hands Louisiana to the United States of America for eighty million francs.

Governor Laussat has actively supported the acquisition of Louisiana from Spain and has eagerly lobbied to govern the territory, expecting it to serve as a steppingstone to his career advancement. He does not know that Napoleon Bonaparte has already agreed to sell the territory to the United States

While the USA also claims the former French territory which has been part of West Florida since 1763, Spain refuses to hand this over. The following year the Orleans Territory is formed as a subdivision of part of it (later to become the state of Louisiana).

Mississippi Queen river boat
New Orleans and the Mississippi basin have been the home to very distinctive paddle boats, such as this one, the Mississippi Queen, since their invention by Robert Fulton in 1807

1803 - 1812

William Charles Cole Claiborne

US Governor of the Orleans Territory (later Louisiana State).

1806 - 1812

The USA asks the viceroy of New Spain to remove his Spanish troops from New Orleans in Louisiana so that it can take possession of the area up to the River Sabine. The viceroy agrees and the troops are removed.

In 1812, the Orleans Territory becomes the state of Louisiana and the first permanent US governor of Louisiana is appointed in the form of William Charles Cole Claiborne. Fourteen further states are formed partially or wholly from the Louisiana territory to the north, all of which become part of the USA.

 
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