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History >> US Geography >> US State History
People have lived in Louisiana for thousands of years. Early cultures include the Woodland people and the Mississippian Culture. By the time Europeans arrived in the region, several Native American tribes inhabited the land. Some of these tribes included the Choctaw, the Natchez, the Chitimacha, and the Atakapa.
The Atchafalaya Basin in Louisiana
from US Army Corps of Engineers
Digital Visual Library
The first Europeans to arrive in Louisiana were Spanish explorers. First came Panfilo de Narvaez in 1528 and then Hernando de Soto in 1543. However, Europeans did not return and begin to settle the land for over 100 years. In 1682, French explorer Robert de La Salle sailed down the Mississippi River and claimed much of the interior of North America for France. He called this land the Louisiana Territory after King Louis XIV. The current state of Louisiana was just a small portion of this large territory.
The first permanent settlement in Louisiana, the city of Natchitoches, was established by the French in 1714 along the Red River. Over the next several years, more French began to settle the region, especially along the Mississippi River. In 1718, the city of New Orleans was established. It quickly became a major trade port for the territory as goods traveled down the Mississippi River and then to the Gulf of Mexico. New Orleans became the capital of the territory in 1722.
Large farms called plantations grew up near the cities and towns in the region. At first they grew sugarcane and later they grew cotton. Slaves were brought in from Africa to work the fields. Spain took control of Louisiana in 1763 and then returned it to France in 1800.
In 1803, the United States purchased Louisiana from France as part of the Louisiana Purchase. Initially, President Thomas Jefferson had only wanted to buy New Orleans because of its importance as a port. However, French leader Napoleon Bonaparte wanted to sell the entire territory. The purchase nearly doubled the size of the United States.
from the United States Navy
Becoming a State
At first, Louisiana was organized as the Territory of Orleans. The rest of the Louisiana Purchase was known as the Louisiana Territory. On April 30, 1812, Louisiana was admitted as the 18th state.
War of 1812
From 1812 to 1815 the United States fought a war with Britain called the War of 1812. The last major battle in the war was fought at New Orleans. The British invaded New Orleans with an overwhelming force of 11,000 soldiers. However, the U.S. Army under the leadership of General Andrew Jackson fought back and defeated the British. This was a great victory for the Americans and helped them to win the war.
When Abraham Lincoln was elected president in 1861, Louisiana joined the rest of the southern states in seceding from the United States. They joined a new country called the Confederate States of America. However, part of the Union military strategy was to gain control of the Mississippi River including the port of New Orleans. In 1862, Union forces captured New Orleans and held this important port throughout the rest of the war. When the war ended in 1865, Louisiana underwent a period of Reconstruction. The state was readmitted into the Union in 1868.
New Orleans food
by Jon Sullivan
More US State History:
- 1541 - Hernando de Soto explores the region searching for gold.
- 1682 - Robert de La Salle claims the Louisiana Territory for France.
- 1714 - Natchitoches is established as the first permanent settlement.
- 1718 - The city of New Orleans is founded.
- 1763 - Spain gains control of Louisiana.
- 1803 - The United States buys Louisiana as part of the Louisiana Purchase.
- 1812 - Louisiana becomes the 18th state.
- 1815 - General Andrew Jackson defeats the British in the Battle of New Orleans, the last major battle of the War of 1812.
- 1849 - Baton Rouge becomes the state capital.
- 1861 - Louisiana secedes from the United States and joins the Confederacy.
- 1862 - The Union army captures New Orleans.
- 1868 - Louisiana is readmitted to the Union.
- 1901 - Oil is discovered.
- 1928 - Famous politician Huey Long is elected governor.
- 1975 - The New Orleans Superdome is completed.
- 2005 - Hurricane Katrina hits the state devastating New Orleans and killing over 1,800 people.
- 2010 - A Massive oil spill occurs off of the coastline when a BP oil rig explodes.
History >> US Geography >> US State History