Louisiana, one of the United States, so called by La Salle, in 1682, in honor of his royal patron of France. It is situated between 29° and 33° north latitude, and 88°40' and 94°25' west longitude from Greenwich; and is bounded north by Arkansas and Mississippi, east by Mississippi, from which it is separated by the Mississippi and Pearl rivers, southeast and south by the Gulf of Mexico, and west by Texas, from which it is separated in part by the Sabine river. Its Superficial area is 46,341 square miles.
Physical Aspect-- The entire border of the state, from Pearl river to the Sabine, presents itself in a vast tract of irreclaimable sea marsh from 20 to 30 miles in width, extending farthest inland in the regions between the streams; for it is a singular feature, in all the rivers which flow into this part of the Mississippi, that narrow strips of arable land, of greater or less width, occur on their banks, extending far beyond the interior limits of the sea marsh; none, however, retain these elevated borders to the Mexican gulf. Contiguous to the sea marsh are vast prairies, with which the former has often been confounded, in consequence of their similarity in appearance. On the water of the Sabine, Calcasieu and Mermentau, the prairies have generally a thin sterile soil, while on the Vermilion, Teche and Cortableau, they are almost uniformly good. The Alluvial banks of the rivers of Louisiana, in their natural state, are more or less subject to inundation; but in many cases, where valuable tracts are situated in the rear of the elevated strips on their borders, in order to prevent them from being overflowed, artificial embankments, or dikes, called "levees" are raised, on the margins of the streams, These arable river borders are usually composed of a fine loose, rich soil; but the interior plains are hard, stiff and less fertile. In some instances, when these plains are laid dry, the soil becomes almost as hard as stone. Taken as a whole, Louisiana consists of inundated and non inundated lands. Above the mouth of the Red River, the tract liable to periodical inundation is narrow, but below that stream it widens and expands like a fan, and finally embraces the whole gulf border. All of the soil, sufficiently elevated for cultivation within the inundated region, is of superior quality. The northern part of the state has an undulating surface. Northward from the prairies of Opelousas, and westward of the inundated border near the Mississippi, lies what has been denominated the "pine region." The surface has been some what broken into hills, though of moderate elevation, and within the tract of some snow, and even waterfalls appear. The banks of the Vermilion, which, are generally fertile, are high, broken and diversified, above the termination of the timber near the sea marsh. The country between the Mississippi, Iberville and Pearl rivers, is an important part of the state. The southern or level portion is highly productive of the staple crops, and the northern portion, which, is undulating, has been considered as the "garden of Louisiana."
Rivers, Lakes and Bays-- Louisiana is intersected by numerous, creeks (bayous), and lakes, dividing the state into a great number of islands, or "deltas", similar in some respects to those at the mouths of the Ganges, the Nile and the Parana. The principal rivers are the Mississippi, Pearl, Bogue Chitto, Chifuncte, Tangipao, Tickfoha, Lafourche, Teche, Vermilion, Tenasa, Red, Mermentau, Atchafalaya, Amite, New, Calcasieu, Black, Bodcau, Dacheet, Saline, Washita, Plaquemine and the Sabine. The principal lakes are Ponchartrain, Maurepas, Brogne, Chetimaches, Mermentau, Calcasieu and Sabine. The chief bays are, Vermilion, Cote, Blanche, Atchafalaya, Timbalier, West and Chandeleur.
Climate-- In the southern part of the state the climate, in summer, is hot, sultry, and unhealthy; in the northern part it is more temperate and salubrious. The winters are usually mild, though snow sometimes falls at Opelousas, from ten to twelve inches deep; such instances are rare. The creeks and ponds at New Orleans are sometimes closed with ice and snow has been known to fall sufficiently deep for sleighing.
Productive Resources-- The staple products are cotton, sugar, molasses, tobacco and rice. This state also produces to some extent, horses, mules, neat cattle, sheep, swine, poultry, wool, hay, lumber, tar, turpentine, wheat, rye, oats, potatoes, Indian cor, wine. oranges and figs.
Manufactures-- The manufactures of Louisiana are confined chiefly to the eastern portion of the state. In 1850 there were 1,021 manufacturing establishments producing $50 and upward annually. The articles manufactured are principally to supply the immediate wants of the community.
Railroads and Canals-- Louisiana is so well provided with navigable channels, that little attention has been given to artificial means of internal communication. The public mind, however, has recently been awakened to the subject, and we may confidently predict that this state will ere long be traversed by iron bands, connecting New Orleans with important points within her own borders, and extending to other states. At present there are but about 50 miles of railroads and 100 miles of canal in the state.
Commerce-- The exports and imports of Louisiana are about $50,000,000 annually. Its coasting and river trade amounts to about double that sum. Shipping owned within the state is about 250,000 tons.
Education-- The principal collegiate institutions in Louisiana are, the St Charles college at Grande Coteau founded in 1833; the Baton Rouge college in 1838; the Franklin college at Opelousas in 1839; the Centenary college of Louisiana at Jackson in 1841; and the University of Louisiana at New Orleans. There are about 100 academies and 300 common schools in the state.
Government--The Legislative power is vested in a senate and house of representatives. The senators, 32 in number, are elected by the people, by districts, for the term of four years, one half being chosen every two years; the representatives are elected by the people by parishes, for a term of two years. The number of representatives can not be more than 100, nor less then 70, divided among the parishes, according to their total population, but each parish is entitled to a representative. The executive power is vested in a governor, who is elected by the people, for a term of four years, and is ineligible for the next four years. The elections are held in November, and the legislature meets biennially at Baton Rouge, the third Monday in January. The judicial power is vested in a supreme court of five judges, which has appellate jurisdiction only, and such inferior courts as the legislature may establish. The chief justice is elected for ten years, and the associate judges for eight years. The right of suffrage is extended to all white males, above 21 years of age, who have resided in the state one year, and in the parish six months, next preceding the election. All citizens are disfranchised, both as to voting and holding office, who may fight, or in any way be connected with fighting, a duel, with a citizen of the state, either in or out of it. The constitution provides for the establishment of free public schools throughout the state.
Population-- In 1732 was about 7,500; in 1810 was 76,556; in 1820 was 153,407; in 1830 was 215,739; in 1840 was 352,411 and in 1850 was 517,739. Number of slaves in 1800 was 3,489; in 1810 was 34,660; in 1820 was 69,064; in 1830 was 109,588, in 1840 was 168,452 and in 1850 was 244,786.
History--Louisiana embraces a part of the ancient territory bearing this name, once so comprehensive, including the entire valley of the Mississippi and its tributary streams, consisting of all the present states of Texas, Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee, Kentucky, Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, Arkansas and California, a portion of Mexico, North Carolina, Virginia and Pennsylvania, and all the undefined regions between the Rio del Norte and the northern sources of the Mississippi, extending westward to the Pacific. It also constitutes a portion of Florida, as named by Ponce de Leon, in 1512. The first permanent settlement in the present Louisiana was made at New Orleans, in 1718, by the emigrants of the "Mississippi Company" under the Auspices of John Law, who received a royal grant the year before of a complete monopoly of the trade and mines of the territory of 27 years. In 1732 for the want of success, this company surrendered its chartered rights to Louisiana, and the control of its commerce reverted to the King. In 1763, France was compelled to cede to England, not only Canada and Acadia, but all of Louisiana east of the Mississippi, as far south as the river D'Iberville, and hence all their territory north and east of a line running along that stream and Amite river, through Lakes Meurepas and Ponchartrain, to the Gulf of Mexico. The same year she formed a treaty with Spain, surrendering the remaining portion of Louisiana, not ceded to England, and thus deprived herself of all her possessions to the continent of North America.
In 1800, it was retro ceded to France by a secret treaty, who formally took possession of the country, in 1803, and immediately sold it to the United States for $15,000,000. In the meantime the Revolution had occurred, and all the former territory of Louisiana, lying east of the Mississippi, which had been ceded to England in 1763, had also become a part of the Union. By the act of Congress, in 1804, Louisiana was definitely subdivided; the northern part, above latitude 31° was called "The Territory of Mississippi," and the lower division, "The Territory of Orleans." In 1811, the latter was authorized to form a constitution of government, which, together with that portion of West Florida, west of Pearl river, was formally received into the Union, in 1812, under the name of Louisiana, as a sovereign state. Subsequently to this other lands were annexed to this state, until it received its present bounds. The original constitution was revised in 1845, and a new one adopted in 1852. Motto of the seal, "Union and Confidence."