Louisiana has a rich and diverse history that is tangled up in the politics of the United States. The state was once part of French territory, and even today there are traces of French culture in the food, music, and architecture. In 1803, Louisiana was sold to the United States as part of the Louisiana Purchase, and it became a coveted Southern state. Today, Louisiana is known for its Cajun culture, hurricanes, and Mardi Gras celebrations. Take a journey through time with this overview of the historical roots of Louisiana.
French explorers first arrived in the area that is now Louisiana in 1682. They claimed the land for France and named it after King Louis XIV. The French settlers brought with them their own culture and way of life, which quickly began to mix with the existing cultures of the Native Americans and Africans who were already living there. This melting pot of cultures would come to define Louisiana.
In 1762, the French lost control of Louisiana to the Spanish as a result of the Seven Years’ War. The Spanish ruled Louisiana for the next 40 years, and during that time they made some changes to the colony. However, many aspects of French culture remained, such as the use of the French language and the Roman Catholic religion.
In 1800, France regained control of Louisiana from the Spanish in a secret agreement with the United States. This was part of Napoleon Bonaparte’s plan to build an empire in North America. However, Napoleon soon realized that he didn’t have the resources to hold onto Louisiana, so he agreed to sell it to the United States in 1803. This event, known as the Louisiana Purchase, nearly doubled the size of the young nation.
In 1812, Louisiana became a state, and New Orleans became an important port city and gateway to the West. The city grew rapidly, and by the mid-19th century it was one of the largest and most vibrant cities in the United States. New Orleans was a melting pot of cultures, and it became known for its food, music, and architecture.
However, the city was also plagued by poverty and crime. In 1867, Louisiana passed a law that allowed gambling, which helped to boost the economy but also led to corruption. In 1881, a major fire destroyed a large part of the city, and in 1905, Hurricane Katrina caused widespread damage and death. Despite these challenges, New Orleans has remained a vibrant and unique city, and it is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the United States.
Historical sites in Louisiana
Some of the most popular historical sites in Louisiana include;
- The plantations along the Great River Road – The Great River Road is a network of routes along the Mississippi River that spans ten states, including Louisiana. The road runs for 3,000 miles from northern Minnesota to the Gulf of Mexico. Along the way, visitors can enjoy views of the river and stop at various historical sites, including plantations.
- The Fort St. Jean Baptiste State Historic – Fort St. Jean Baptiste was established in 1716 by the French and was the first European settlement in Louisiana. The fort was abandoned in 1768 and later served as a military post during the American Civil War. Today, the site is home to a museum that tells the story of the fort and its history.
- The Crescent City Connection Bridge – The Crescent City Connection Bridge is a twin cantilever bridge that spans the Mississippi River in New Orleans. The bridge was built in 1965 and is one of the most recognizable landmarks in the city.