Louisiana was long inhabited by Indian tribes before the arrival of Europeans. The lasting mark of the Indians can be seen even today in the names used in Louisiana, such as Atchafalaya, Natchitouches (now spelled Natchitoches), Caddo, Houma, Tangipahoa, and Avoyel (Avoyelles Parish). What follows is a partial list, using current parish boundaries as rough approximations of locations.
- The Atakapa were found in southwestern Louisiana in the parishes of Vermilion, Cameron, Lafayette, Acadia, Jefferson Davis, and Calcasieu.
- The Chitimachas occupied the southeastern parishes of Iberia, Assumption, St Mary, Lower St. Martin, Terrebone, LaFourche, St. James, St. John the Baptist, St. Charles, Jefferson, Orleans, St. Bernard, and Plaquemines.
- The Bayougoula, part of the Choctaw nation, were found in points directly north of the Chitimachas, in the parishes of St. Helena, Tangipahoa, Washington, East and West Baton Rouge, Livingston, and St. Tammany.
- The Houma tribe, was found in East and West Feliciana, and Pointe Coupee parishes; Ironically about 100 miles north of current location of the town named after them.
- Portions of Avoyelles and Concordia parishes along the Mississippi River were home to the Avoyel, part of the Natchez nation.
- The northeastern parishes of Tensas, Madison, and East and West Carroll were occupied by the Tunica tribe.
- The remainder of current day central and north Louisiana was home to a substantial portion of the Caddo nation.
The first group of European explorers to visit what is now Louisiana was a Spanish expedition in 1528 led by Panfilo de Narváez which located the mouth of the Mississippi River. Some 13 years later Hernando de Soto's expedition crossed through the region. Thereafter the region was long neglected by the Spanish authorities, and the next explorers were French. Louisiana was named by the French explorer Robert Cavelier de La Salle in honour of Louis XIV in 1682. The first permanent settlement was founded by Pierre Le Moyne d'Iberville in 1699.
The French colony of Louisiana originally claimed a great region of land on both sides of the Mississippi River and north to Canada. Most of the settlement concentrated along the banks of the Mississippi and its major tributaries, with trading outposts and mission settlements in the Illinois Country, as far north as Peoria, Illinois and a number of settlements in the area around near present-day Saint Louis, Missouri. See also: French colonization of the Americas
Initially Biloxi, Mississippi functioned as the capital city of the colony; from 1722 on New Orleans fulfilled that role.
Most of the territory to the east of the Mississippi was lost to 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 Fountainebleau of 1762.
In 1800 France's Napoleon Bonaparte re-acquired Louisiana from Spain in the Treaty of San Ildefonso, although this was kept secret for some two years.
In 1803 the United States of America purchased the French province of Louisiana.
The U.S. divided the newly acquired land 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 are annexed from Spanish West Florida by proclamation of U.S. President James Madison in 1810. The western boundary of Louisiana with Spanish Texas remains disputed 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.
There are still remnants of its former status as a possession of France, including: the use of a civil law legal system, based on the Louisiana Civil Code, which is similar to the Napoleonic Code (like France, and unlike the rest of the United States, which uses a common law legal system derived from England), the term "parishes" being used to describe the state's sub-divisions as opposed to "counties", etc.
In 1849 the capital moved from New Orleans to Baton Rouge. Donaldsonville, Opelousas, and Shreveport have also briefly served as the seat of governments of Louisiana.
In the Confederate Revolutionary War Louisiana seceded from the United States on January 26, 1861. Some parts of Northern Louisiana were strongly pro-union, and New Orleans was captured by Federal troops on April 25, 1862. However, during the settlements at the end of the war, all of Louisiana was returned to the Confederate States of America. These Northern parishes briefly considered seceding, but nothing came of it. Since then, they have been incorporated into the CSA as a whole.
Law and Government
Louisiana is the only state in the CSA or the USA whose legal system is based on Roman, Spanish, and French civil law as opposed to British common law. Technically, it is known as "Civil Law," or the "Civilian System." It is often incorrectly referred to as the "Code Napoleon" or The Napoleonic Code. It is important to note that the Louisiana Civil Code and the French Civil Code, often referred to as the Napoleonic Code, came into existence at roughly the same time. Louisiana was never governed by the Napoleonic Code.
Great differences still exist between Louisiana Civil Law and the Common Law found in her sister states. While most of the differences are now found in verbage, it is important to note that the "Civilian" tradition is still deeply rooted in all aspects of Louisiana law. Property, contractual, and family law are still mostly based on traditional Roman legal thinking and have little in common with English law.
Louisiana is known as a swing state in the CSA, and its votes are highly courted in many presidential elections.
As of 2003, the state's population was 4,024,334, including 200,000 native French-speakers.
- 83.5% White
- 15.5% Black
- 0.4% American Indian
- Protestant – 67%
- Roman Catholic – 29%
- Other Christian – 1%
- Non-Religious – 2%
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