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Louisiana History

No other state has a more varied or colorful past than Louisiana. The state has been governed under 10 different flags beginning in 1541 with Hernando de Soto's claim of the region for Spain. La Salle later claimed it for Bourbon France and over the years Louisiana was at one time or another subject to the Union Jack of Great Britain, the Tricolor of Napoleon, the Lone Star flag of the Republic of West Florida and the fifteen stars and stripes of the United States. At the outbreak of the Civil War, Louisiana became an independent republic for six weeks before joining the Confederacy.

Earlier, in 1803, Louisiana had become a part of the United States because of the region's importance to the trade and security of the American mid-west. New Orleans and the surrounding territory controlled the mouth of the Mississippi River down which much of the produce of the mid-west traveled to reach market. To get the vital region in American hands, President Thomas Jefferson negotiated the Louisiana Purchase with Napoleon. With the acquisition of Louisiana, Jefferson nearly doubled the size of the fledgling U.S. and made it a world power. Later, 13 states or parts of states were carved out of the Louisiana Purchase territory. Through much of its early history Louisiana was a trading and financial center, and the fertility of its land made it one of the richest regions in America as first indigo then sugar and cotton rose to prominence in world markets. Many Louisiana planters were among the wealthiest men in America. The plantation economy was shattered by the Civil War although the state continued to be a powerful agricultural region. The discovery of sulphur in 1869 and oil in 1901, coupled with the rise of forestry sent the state on a new wave of economic growth. Eventually, Louisiana became a major American producer of oil and natural gas and a center of petroleum refining and petrochemicals manufacturing, which it remains to this day.

Important Dates


Alvarez de Pindea discovers mouth of the Mississippi


Hernando de Soto discovers the Mississippi River


Robert Cavalier, Sieur de la Salle, erects a cross at the mouth of the Mississippi River after descending the river from the Great Lakes and claims the territory for Louis XIV of France, for whom Louisiana is named.


Louis Juchereau de St. Denis establishes Fort St. Jean Baptiste (Natchitoches), first permanent settlement in the Mississippi Valley


New Orleans is founded and named for Phillippe Duc D'Orleans


The St. Louis Cathedral in New Orleans is built, the oldest in the United States


New Orleans becomes the capital of Louisiana, superseding Biloxi


Jean Louis, a sailor, leaves his savings to establish the first charity hospital in New Orleans


Sugar cane is first introduced into Louisiana


Louis XV gives the "Island of New Orleans" and all of Louisiana west of the Mississippi to his cousin, Charles III of Spain


Treaty of Paris ends Seven Years' War and confirms transfer of Louisiana to Spain. Florida Parishes ceded to England with Baton Rouge becoming New Richmond


First four Acadian families arrive in Louisiana from New York


Opera is first performed in the United States at New Orleans


Louisiana is purchased from Napoleon I by the United States for $15,000,000


Louisiana is divided into the Territory of New Orleans (south of 33 degrees latitude) and the District of Louisiana (north of 33 degrees latitude). W.C. C. Claiborne is appointed governor of the Territory of Orleans.


First public school is established in Pointe Coupee Parish


First institution of higher learning opens in New Orleans (College of Orleans)


Louisiana is admitted to the Union


The first steamboat to navigate the Mississippi River, the "The New Orleans," arrives at New Orleans from Pittsburgh on January 10, 1812


Battle of New Orleans is won by General Andrew Jackson


First natural gas field is discovered in Louisiana, at a depth of 400 feet


Shreveport is founded


First Mardi Gras parade is held in New Orleans


Antoine's in New Orleans, the state's oldest continuously operating restaurant, is established


Baton Rouge becomes capital of Louisiana


Louisiana secedes from the Union and after a brief period as a republic, joins the Confederacy


The first salt mine is discovered at Avery Island, oldest in the Western Hemisphere


Shrimp first canned commercially at Grand Terre Island


Louisiana is re-admitted to the Union


First sulphur is produced in United States


Rex, King of Carnival, parades for the first time on Mardi Gras


The first oil is discovered about six miles from Jennings


The name "Jazz" is given to music of New Orleans origin


Louisiana's first public airport is built in Mansfield


Grand Isle Tarpon Rodeo is established, the oldest fishing tournament in the United States


New capitol is completed in Baton Rouge


Senator Huey Long is assassinated in the state capitol


First Sugar Bowl game is played -- Tulane 20, Temple 14


Kerr-McGee Corporation, with offshore operations based in Morgan City, drills the first commercial producing oil well out of sight of land


Tulane University accepts five black students, the first in its history


A team of surgeons performs Louisiana's first heart transplant


The Super Dome in New Orleans is completed, with a final cost of $163,313,315 for building and grounds


Ernest Morial is elected mayor of New Orleans, becoming the city's first black mayor


David Treen is elected governor, the first Republican governor since Reconstruction


Edwin W. Edwards becomes the first three-term governor


Louisiana celebrates the 175th anniversary of its admission into the Union



Shreveport Office

U.S. Courthouse
300 Fannin St., Room 2240
Shreveport, LA 71101

Phone: 318-676-3085

Fax: 318-676-3100

Lake Charles Office

Capital One Tower
One Lake Shore Dr., Suite 1260
Lake Charles, LA 70629

Phone: 337-436-6650

Fax: 337-439-3762

Baton Rouge Office

Federal Building
707 Florida St., Room 326
Baton Rouge, LA 70801

Phone: 225-389-0395

Fax: 225-389-0660

New Orleans Office

Hale Boggs Federal Building
500 Poydras St., Room 1005
New Orleans, LA 70130

Phone: 504-589-2427

Fax: 504-589-4023

Northeast Office

U.S. Courthouse
300 Fannin St., Room 2240
Shreveport, LA 71101

Phone: 318-676-3085

Fax: 318-676-3100

Central Office

Federal Building
707 Florida St., Room 326
Baton Rouge, LA 70801

Phone: 225-389-0395

Fax: 225-389-0660

Washington, D.C. Office

703 Hart
Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

Phone: 202-224-5824

Fax: 202-224-9735

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