Louisiana was inhabited by Native Americans when European explorers arrived in the 17th century. Settlement and colonization began in the 18th century. Some current place names, including Atchafalaya, Natchitouches (now spelled Natchitoches), Caddo, Houma, Tangipahoa, and Avoyel (Avoyelles), are from Native American dialects.
Several native tribes inhabited the region (using current parish boundaries to describe approximate locations):
The Atakapa in southwestern Louisiana in Vermilion, Cameron, Lafayette, Acadia, Jefferson Davis, and Calcasieu parishes.
The Chitimacha in the southeastern parishes of Iberia, Assumption, St Mary, lower St. Martin, Terrebonne, Lafourche,St. James, St. John the Baptist, St. Bo St. Charles, Jefferson, Orleans, St. Bernard, and Plaquemines.
The Bayougoula, part of the Choctaw nation, in areas directly north of the Chitimachas in the parishes of St. Helena, Tangipahoa, Washington, East Baton Rouge, West Baton Rouge, Livingston, and St. Tammany.
The Houma in East and West Feliciana, and Pointe Coupee parishes (about 100 miles (160 km) north of the town named for them).
The Avoyel, part of the Natchez nation, in parts of Avoyelles and Concordia parishes along the Mississippi River.
The Tunica in northeastern parishes of Tensas, Madison, East Carroll and West Carroll.
The remainder of central and north Louisiana was home to a substantial portion of the Caddo nation.
Exploration and Settlement
The first European explorers to visit Louisiana came in 1528. The Spanish expedition (led by Panfilo de Panfilo de Narváez) located the mouth of the Mississippi River. In 1541, Hernando de Soto's expedition crossed the region. Then Spanish interest in Louisiana lay dormant. In the late 17th century, French expeditions, which included sovereign, religious and commercial aims, established a foothold on the Mississippi River and Gulf Coast. With its first settlements, France lay 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.
The French explorer Robert Cavelier de La Salle named the region Louisiana to honor France's King Louis XIV in 1682. The first permanent settlement, Fort Maurepas (at what is now Ocean Springs, Mississippi, near Biloxi), was founded by Pierre Le Moyne d'Iberville, a French military officer from Canada, in 1699.
The French colony of Louisiana originally claimed all the land on both sides of the Mississippi River and north to French territory in Canada. The following States were part of Louisiana: Louisiana, Mississippi, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota.
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 settlement in the Louisiana Purchase territory. The French settlement had two purposes: to establish trade with the Spanish in Texas, and to deter Spanish advances into Louisiana. Also, the northern terminus of the Old San Antonio Road (sometimes called El Camino Real, or Kings Highway) was at Natchitoches. The settlement soon became a flourishing river port and crossroads, giving rise to vast cotton kingdoms along the river. Over time, planters developed large plantations and built fine homes in a growing town, a pattern repeated in New Orleans and other places.
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 Peoria, Illinois and present-day St. Louis, Missouri. See also: French colonization of the Americas
Initially Mobile, Alabama and Biloxi, Mississippi functioned as the capital of the colony; recognizing the importance of the Mississippi River to trade and military interests, France made New Orleans the seat of civilian and military authority in 1722. From then until the Louisiana Purchase made the region part of the United States on December 20, 1803, France and Spain would trade control of the region's colonial empire.
Most of the territory to the east of the Mississippi was lost to the Kingdom of Great Britain in the French and Indian War, except for the area around New Orleans and the parishes around Lake Pontchartrain. The rest of Louisiana became a colony of Spain by the Treaty of Fontainebleau of 1762.
During the period of Spanish rule, several thousand French-speaking refugees from the region of Acadia made their way to Louisiana following British expulsion; settling largely in the southwestern Louisiana, the Acadian refugees were welcomed by the Spanish, and descendants came to be called Cajuns.
In 1800, France's Napoleon Bonaparte acquired Louisiana from Spain in the Treaty of San Ildefonso, an arrangement kept secret for some two years.
Then in 1803, Bonaparte sold the territory to the United States, which (see Louisiana Purchase) divided it into two territories: the Orleans Territory (which became the state of Louisiana in 1812) and the District of Louisiana (which consisted of all the land not included in Orleans Territory). The Florida Parishes were annexed from Spanish West Florida by proclamation of President James Madison in 1810. The western boundary of Louisiana with Spanish Texas remained in dispute until the Adams-Onís Treaty in 1819, with the Sabine Free State serving as a neutral buffer zone as well as a haven for criminals.
Louisiana was a slave state. It also had one of the largest free black populations in the United States. In the American Civil War, Louisiana seceded from the Union on January 26, 1861. New Orleans was captured by Federal troops 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.
[source: Wikipedia.org - the free Encyclopedia]
1500s - 1600s
(1519) Spanish explorer Alonso de Pineda reached the mouth of Mississippi River
(1541-42) Hernando de Soto explored region, discovered Mississippi River
(1682) Robert Cavalier, Sieur de La Salle, claimed Mississippi watershed for France; named area for King Louis XIV
(1714) Juchereau de St. Denis founded first permanent settlement in Louisiana
(1718) Jean Baptiste le Moyne, Sieur de Bienville, founded New Orleans
(1719) Black slaves imported into Louisiana
(1722) Hurricane destroyed most of New Orleans
(1723) New Orleans became capital of Louisiana
(1729) Natchez Indians massacred 250 settlers at Fort Rosalie
(1762) King Louis XV gave Charles II of Spain all land west of Mississippi
(1768) Louisiana colonists of Louisiana rebelled against Spanish rule
(1769) Spain regained control of Louisiana
(1788) Most of New Orleans destroyed by fire
(1800) Spain ceded Louisiana back to France
(1803) U. S. purchased Louisiana Territory
(1812) Louisiana became 18th state
(1815) British defeated by Andrew Jackson in Battle of New Orleans
(1832) Yellow fever and choloera epidemic killed more than 5,000 in New Orleans
(1837) New Orleans held first Mardi Gras parade
(1849) Baton Rouge became capital of Louisiana
(1853) Yellow fever epidemic killed more than 11,000 in New Orleans
(1861) Louisiana seceded from Union; joined the Confederacy
(1862) New Orleans captured by Union troops; salt mine discovered at Avery Island
(1866) Race riot in New Orleans killed 38 people, wounded 146
(1868) Louisiana readmitted to Union; state lottery established
(1870) Robert E. Lee beat Natchez in steamboat race
(1873) Colfax riot occurred, more than 100 African American men killed
(1874) Severe flooding occurred throughout the state
(1879) New state constitution adopted; mouth of Mississippi River deepened to allow large ocean vessels to reach New Orleans
(1884) World's Fair held in New Orleans
(1891) Mob in New Orleans lynched 11 Italians charged in murder of Police Chief Hennessy
(1892) Knights of Labor held general strike in New Orleans
(1893) Hurricane killed over 2,000 in Louisiana and Mississippi
(1901) First oil flow discovered at Jennings
(1915) Hurricane struck New Orleans, killed 275 people, caused $13 million in damages
(1916) Natural gas field discovered near Monroe
(1921) New state constitution adopted
(1927) Floods devastated 1,300,000 acres, 300,000 left homeless
(1928) Huey P. Long elected governor
(1932) Huey P. Long became U S Senator; new capitol completed in Baton Rouge
(1934) Outlaws Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow gunned down by law enforcement officers and posse near Gibsland
(1935) Huey Long assassinated on steps of state capitol
(1939) Political scandals forced resignation of Governor Richard Leche
(1947) First offshore oil well in Louisiana established
(1956) Longest over-water bridge in world - Lake Pontchartrain Causeway opened
(1957) Hundreds of people in Cameron Parish killed during Hurricane Audrey
(1958) Segregation on city buses abolished in New Orleans
(1960) Two public schools in Orleans Parish desegregated
(1965) Hurricane Betsy devestated southern Louisiana; over 60 deaths occurred
(1966) National Football League awarded franchise to New Orleans Saints
(1969) Hurricane Camille struck, killed 250 people
(1973) Lindy Boggs became first congresswoman in Louisiana
(1975) Super Dome in New Orleans completed
(1983) Edwin Edwards became first three-term governor
(1985) Governor Edwards indicted on federal racketeering charges
(1986) Governor Edwards acquitted of all charges
(1987) Pope John Paul II visited New Orleans; Cuban detainees at detention center in Oakdale staged eight-day seize, held 26 people hostage
(1988) Republican National Convention held in New Orleans
(1989) Former grand wizard of Ku Klux Klan, David Duke, elected to state legislature
(1991) State legislature approved riverboat gambling
(1992) Hurricane Andrew killed 11, caused $1 billion in damages
(1998) Major flooding throughout southern part of state from Tropical Storm Francis
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