Louisiana Purchase


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Louisiana Purchase Map

Map Showing the Territory of the Louisiana Purchase

LOUISIANA, STATE OF, was first visited by La Salle, who discovered the mouth of the Mississippi (1691), and took possession of the country in the name of Louis, King of France. Settlements were soon afterwards formed. In 1712 Louis XIV. named the region Louisiana, in honor of himself, and granted it to M. Crozat. The territory was granted to " The Western Company " in 1717. The French remained in possession until 1762, when they ceded it to Spain. In 1800 it was retroceded to France, and in 1803 it was bought from the latter by the United States for $15,000,000 by the Louisiana Purchase. The American flag was first raised in New Orleans on Dec. 20, 1803.

In 1804 the territory was divided into two governments—namely, "Territory of Orleans " and " District of Louisiana." The former entered the Union as the State of Louisiana April 8, 1812, and the name of the latter was changed, June 4, 1812, to Missouri. At the close of 1814 Louisiana was invaded by British troops, but they were speedily driven away.

Louisiana in the Civil War

As soon as the election of Mr. Lincoln was known, the governor of Louisiana took measures looking to the secession of the State from the Union. A convention assembled, Jan. 8, 1861, and on the 26th passed an ordinance of secession. The public property of the national government was seized by the State authorities. In the spring of 1862 an expedition under General Butler and Admiral Farragut captured all the defenses on the Mississippi below New Orleans, and took possession of the city. The State became the theatre of stormy events during the Civil War.

On Dec. 4, 1862, two congressional districts, under the control of National troops, were permitted to elect delegates to Congress, and Benjamin F. Flanders and Michael Hahn were chosen and took their seats. Local courts were organized under military rule, and in November, 1862, a provisional court for the State was organized by the President. In April, 1863, he appointed judges of the Supreme Court. Late in 1863 an election of State officers was held in a portion of Louisiana. Michael Hahn was elected governor and inaugurated March 4, 1864, and on the 15th was made military governor likewise. In April a convention adopted a constitution abolishing slavery and providing for the education of both races, which was ratified in September, when five Congressmen (Unionists) were chosen. The legislature ratified the Thirteenth Amendment to the national Constitution, but the Senators and Representatives of Louisiana were not admitted to seats in Congress, and the State was placed under military rule in 1867, Louisiana and Texas constituting one military district. Early in 1868 a convention in New Orleans formed a State constitution, which was ratified on April 17 and 18, and Henry C. Warmouth (Republican) was elected governor. By act of Congress, June 25, 1868, Louisiana delegates were admitted to seats in that body. Soon afterwards the State legislature ratified the Fourteenth Amendment to the national Constitution and chose United States Senators. The Fifteenth Amendment was ratified by the same body March 1, 1869.

In 1903 the State had an assessed property valuation of $336,118,348; and, March 1, 1904, a total bonded debt of $11,108,300, a floating debt of $1,139,778, and an unrecognized debt of $3,953,000. The population in 1890 was 1,118,587; in 1900, 1,381,625.

History of the Louisiana Purchase

In October, 1698, King William sent three ships to take possession of the Mississippi River, and prepare for planting a colony of French Protestants on its borders. Nothing came of it. In the same month Iberville and others sailed for the same river, and planted the seeds of French dominion there.

The first settlement in Louisiana was made at Biloxi (now in Mississippi) in 1699. In 1702 there were settlements begun on Dauphin Island and at Mobile, now in Alabama. The French government, wishing to promote more rapid settlements in that region, granted (1712) the whole province, with a monopoly of trade, to Anthony Crozat, a wealthy French merchant, who expected large profits from mines and trade with Mexico. Crozat contracted to send ships from France, with goods and emigrants, every year; and he was entitled to import a cargo of negro slaves annually. The French government also agreed to pay $10,000 a year for the civil and military establishments. Crozat established a trading-house on the site of Montgomery, on the Alabama River, and another at Natchitoches, on the Red River. Fort Rosalie was built on the site of Natchez, about which a town soon grew up, the oldest on the lower Mississippi. Crozat made ineffectual attempts to open a trade with Mexico, and the intercourse by sea was prohibited after the war. After five years of large outlay and small returns, Crozat resigned his patent (1717) ; but other speculators soon filled his place. The Mississippi Company (see LAW, JOHN) was granted the monopoly of all trade with Louisiana for twenty-five years. They attempted to introduce 6,000 white people and half as many negroes, and private individuals to whom grants of land had been made also sent out colonists. Law, having 12 square miles of land in Arkansas, undertook to settle the domain with 1,500 Germans. The Mississippi Company resigned Louisiana to the crown in 1732.

On Oct. 21, 1764, the King of, France gave orders to his director-general and commandant for Louisiana to deliver up to the King of Spain all the French possessions in North America not already ceded to Great Britain. These orders were given in consequence of an act passed at Fontainebleau on Nov. 3, 1762, by which the French King ceded to the King of Spain, and to his successors, " the whole country known as Louisiana, together with New Orleans, and the island on which the said city is situated," and of another act passed at the Escurial on Nov. 13, in the same year, by which his Catholic Majesty accepted that cession.

Thomas JeffersonWhen Bonaparte became actual ruler of France as First Consul he felt an ardent desire to reestablish the colonial empire of his country, and with that view he obtained from Spain (1800) the retrocession of Louisiana. Bonaparte had formed a plan for taking immediate possession of New Orleans by an armed expedition. Livingston, the American minister in France, advised his government of this expedition, and declared that it would not only oppress American commerce on the Mississippi, but that attempts would be made to seize Natchez and to carry out the plan of Genet and his successors in corrupting the Western people and dismembering the Union. Before the letter of Livingston had been received, the Spanish intendant at New Orleans, as if anticipating the wishes of Bonaparte, had issued a proclamation interdicting the privilege secured to the Americans by the treaty of 1795 of depositing merchandise at New Orleans. This interruption of their commerce on the great river produced a great commotion in the West. It was in this excited state of the public mind that the Seventh Congress assembled (Dec. 7, 1802) for its second session, and the state of affairs in the Southwest occupied their earnest attention. President Jefferson, alive to the interests, independence, and power of his country, wrote an able letter to Livingston, suggesting that France might be willing to cede a portion of Louisiana especially the island of New Orleans, to the United States, and thus remove all cause for irritation between the two governments.

Negotiations with this end in view were speedily made by Mr. Livingston, assisted by Mr. Monroe. Their instructions asked for the cession of the island of New Orleans and the Floridas, and that the Mississippi should be divided by a line that should put the city of New Orleans within the territory of the United States, thus securing the free navigation of that river. To the surprise of the American minister, it was announced by Marbois, Bonaparte's representative, that he would treat for the sale of the whole of Louisiana. Bonaparte had already experienced serious difficulties in the way of securing French colonial dominion, especially in the West Indies. He also needed troops at home and money to carry on the war with England, rather than far-off territory held by a doubtful tenure. " Irresolution and deliberation," said the First Consul to Marbois, " are no longer in season. I renounce Louisiana. It is not only New Orleans that I will cede; it is the whole colony, without any reservation. I know the price of what I abandon, and I have sufficiently proved the importance that I attach to this province, since my first diplomatic act with Spain had for its object the recovery of it. I renounce it with the greatest regret. To attempt to retain it would be folly. I direct you to negotiate this affair with the envoys of the United States." In less than a fortnight after the beginning of negotiations in France, a treaty was signed (April 30, 1803) by Robert R. Livingston and James Monroe on the part of the United States, and Barbe Marbois on the part of France, by which the United States came into possession of a vast, and to some extent undefined, domain, containing a mixed free population of 85,000 white people and 40,000 negro slaves, for the sum of $15,000,000. Livingston and Marbois had been personal acquaintances for about a quarter of a century. " We have lived long," said Livingston to Marbois, as he arose after signing the treaty, "but this is the noblest work of our whole lives. The treaty which we have just signed has not been obtained by art or force; equally advantageous to the two contracting parties, it will change vast solitudes into flourishing districts. From this day the United States take their place among the powers of the first rank; the English lose all exclusive influence in the affairs of America." With equally prophetic vision, Bonaparte said to Marbois, a few days after the negotiation was signed, " I would that France should enjoy this unexpected capital [75,000,000 francs], that it may be employed in works beneficial to her marine." The invasion of England, and the prostration of her maritime superiority, was then Bonaparte's pet project. " This accession of territory," he continued, exultingly, " strengthens forever the power of the United States, and I have just given to England a maritime rival that will sooner or later humble her pride." The centennial of the Louisiana Purchase is to be commemorated by a fair to be held in ST. LOUIS in 1903.

The Battle of New Orleans

The Americans claimed that the boundary between Louisiana and Mexico was the Rio Grande, while the Spaniards limited the territory acquired from France to a narrow strip along the western bank of the Mississippi. Both sides had hitherto regarded the Sabine as a sort of provisional boundary; but the Spanish commander in Texas crossed that river with a body of irregular cavalry, in 1805, and occupied the settlement at Bayou Pierre, on the Red River, a few miles above Natchitoches, the westernmost American military station. It was deemed necessary to repel this aggression, and orders were sent to General Wilkinson, at St. Louis, then commander-in-chief of the American army and governor of the District of Louisiana, to reinforce, from posts in his territory, the 500 regulars in the Orleans Territory, and himself to take the command, to drive back the Spaniards. Wilkinson went to the Sabine, and made a peaceful arrangement that stopped the invasion. It was at this crisis that Burr's mysterious enterprise was undertaken. See BURR, AARON.

When Jackson returned to Mobile, Nov. 11, 1814, after driving the British from Pensacola, he received messages from New Orleans urging him to hasten to the defence of that city. The government officials did not give credit to Lafitte's revelations (see LAFITTE, JEAN), but the people did; and they held a large meeting in New Orleans (Sept. 16), where they were eloquently addressed by EDWARD LIVINGSTON, who urged the inhabitants to make speedy preparations for repelling invasion. They appointed a committee of safety, composed of distinguished citizens of New Orleans, of which Livingston was chairman. Governor Claiborne, who also believed Lafitte's story, sent copies of the British papers to Jackson, then at Mobile. Then the latter issued a vigorous counter-proclamation, and proceeded to break up the nest of motley enemies at Pensacola. Finally, there were such omens of a speedy invasion of Louisiana that appeals to Jackson were repeated, and he left Mobile for New Orleans on Nov. 21. The patriotic governor had called the legislature together as early as Oct. 5, but there was neither union, harmony, nor confidence. The people, alarmed, complained of the legislature; that body complained of the governor; and Claiborne complained of both the legislature and the people. Money and credit were equally wanting, and ammunition was very scarce. There was no effective naval force in the adjacent waters ; and only two small militia regiments and a weak battalion of uniformed volunteers, commanded by Major Plauche, a gallant Creole, composed the military force for repelling invasion or defending the city. In every aspect the situation was most gloomy when Jackson arrived. His advent was hailed with joy. " Jackson's come! Jackson's come!" went from lip to lip. He did not rest for a moment. He at once organized the feeble military force in the city; took measures for obstructing the large bayous, whose waters formed convenient communication between the city and the Gulf of Mexico; and proceeded to inspect and strengthen the fortifications in the vicinity, and to erect new ones. Fort St. Philip, below the city, was his main reliance for preventing a passage of the British ships. The expected invaders soon appeared. In fifty vessels of all sizes 7,000 land troops were borne over the Gulf of Mexico from the island of Jamaica in the direction of New Orleans, and sighted the northern coast of the Gulf, a little east of Lake Borgne, on Dec, 9. Music, (laneing, theatrical performances, and hilarity of every kind had been indulged in during the voyage, every man feeling that the conquest of Louisiana would be an easy task. The wives of many officers were with them, anticipating great pleasure in the western world. Believing the Americans to be profoundly ignorant of the expedition, they anchored at the entrance to Lake Borgne, and prepared small vessels for the transportation of troops over the shallow waters, to take New Orleans by surprise. They did not dream of the fatal revelations of Lafitte. Two gunboats, sent out towards Mobile Bay to catch intelligence of the coming armament, discovered the great fleet Dec. 10, and hastened to report the fact to Lieut. Thomas Ap Catesby Jones, in command of a small flotilla at the entrance of Lake Borgne, to prevent the British from landing troops. Jones's flotilla was encountered by the British (much to their astonishment) on the 13th. The British fleet was under the command of Admiral Cochrane, and many of the troops were those which had been engaged in the invasion of Maryland. It would not do to attempt to land troops while the waters of the lake were patrolled by American gunboats, and so Cochrane sent sixty barges, nearly all carrying a carronade in the bow, and with six oars on each side, and all well filled with armed volunteers from the fleet, to capture or destroy Jones's flotilla. The latter was composed of an armed sloop (the flag-ship), a tender, and five gunboats, with an aggregate of twenty-three guns and 182 men. The British barges contained 1,200 men. On the morning of Dec. 14 an encounter took place, which the little flotilla sustained against overwhelming numbers for about an hour, when it was compelled to surrender. The British had now complete control of Lake Borgne. The transports, filled with troops, entered, and the latter were conveyed in barges to Pea Island, where General Keane organized his forces for future operations. Learning from some Spanish residents of New Orleans that there was a bayou navigable for large barges to within a short distance of the Mississippi River, just below New Orleans, Cochrane sent a party to explore it. They followed this bayou (the Bienvenu) and a canal across Villere's plantation, and when they reported favorably about one-third of the troops were taken through these watercourses. At the head of the bayou the active Lieutenant-Colonel Thorn-ton, with a detachment, surrounded the house of General Villere, the commandant of a division of Louisiana militia, and made him prisoner; but he soon escaped, and, hastening to New Orleans, gave warning of the invasion to General Jackson. General Keane, a gallant Irish officer, the commander-in-chief of the British land-forces, was with this advance party, with several of his officers, and felt confident that the invasion was unknown at New Orleans. The British formed a camp at Villere's (Dec. 23), within sight of the Mississippi, and prepared to move forward. The invaders were now within 9 miles of New Orleans. A proclamation, printed in the Spanish and French languages, and signed by General Keane and Admiral Cochrane, was sent forward by a negro to be distributed among the inhabitants. It read as follows: " Louisianians! remain quietly in your houses; your slaves shall be preserved to you, and your property shall be respected. We make war only against Americans." While all this work of invasion was going on, Jackson had been busy at New Orleans preparing to roll it back. He had heard of the capture of the gunboats on the 15th, and he called upon Generals Coffee, Carroll, and Thomas to hasten to New Orleans with time Tennessee and Kentucky troops. They came as speedily as possible. Coffee came first, and Carroll arrived on Dec. 22. A troop of horse under Major Hinds, raised in Louisiana, came at the same time. General Villere, soon after his capture, escaped, crossed the Mississippi, rode up its right bank on a fleet horse to a point opposite New Orleans, crossed over, and gave Jackson such full information of the position of the invaders that he marched with quite a large body of troops on the afternoon of the 23d to meet the intruders. The armed schooner Carolina, Captain Henley, moved down the Mississippi in the evening to within musket-shot distance of the centre of the British camp at Villere's. At half-past seven o'clock she opened a tremendous fire upon them, killing and wounding at least 100 men. The British extinguished their camp-fires, and hurled rockets and bullets upon the Carolina, with little effect. The schooner soon drove the British from their camp in great confusion. Meanwhile Jackson had pressed forward with his troops in the darkness in two columns, and, falling upon the bewildered invaders, soon achieved a victory which he dared not follow up in the gloom, and fell back. The astonished Britons were soon cheered by the arrival of reinforcements, and the advent of Gen. Edward Pakenham, one of Wellington's veterans, who took the chief command. After careful preparation, and getting his soldiers well in hand, he led them towards New Orleans. He was met by Jackson with a force behind intrenchments about halfway between the city and Villere's, and a severe battle ensued, in which the Americans were victorious. Immediately afterwards the British withdrew to their ships and departed. See JACKSON, ANDREW; NEW ORLEANS.

Louisiana Secession

In the legislature of Louisiana, assembled at Baton Rouge in special session, Dec. 10, 1860, the Union sentiment was powerful, yet not sufficiently so to arrest mischief to the commonwealth. An effort was made to submit the question of " Convention or No Convention " to the people, but it failed, and an election of delegates to a convention was ordered to be held on Jan. 8, the anniversary of Jackson's victory at New Orleans. On that occasion the popular vote was small, but it was of such a complexion that the Confederates were hopeful. The convention met at Baton Rouge, Jan. 23. The legislature had convened there on the 21st. The number of delegates in the convention was 130. Ex-Gov. Alexander Mouton was chosen president, and J. Thomas Wheat, secretary. Commissioners from South Carolina and Alabama were there, and were invited to seats in the convention; and they made vehement speeches in favor of secession. A committee of fifteen was appointed to draft an ordinance of secession. It reported on the 24th by their chairman, John Perkins, Jr., and the ordinance then submitted was adopted on the 26th by a vote of 113 against 17. Its phraseology bore the same general features as the ordinances passed by other States. Though a State purchased from France by the national government, the convention declared that Louisiana "resumed the
rights and powers heretofore delegated to the government Of the United States of America," its creator. At the conclusion of the balloting the president said: " In virtue of the vote just announced, I now declare the connection between the State of Louisiana and the federal Union dissolved, and she is a free, sovereign, and independent power." The convention, alarmed at the planting of cannon at Vicksburg by the Mississippians, resolved unanimously that they recognized the right of a "free navigation of the Mississippi River and its tributaries by all friendly States bordering thereon "; also " the right of egress and ingress of the mouths of the Mississippi by all friendly states and powers." A motion to submit the ordinance to the people for consideration was lost.

Prompted by advice from John Slidell and Judah P. Benjamin, then sitting as members of the United States Senate, the governor of Louisiana (Moore) sent expeditions from New Orleans to seize Forts Jackson and St. Philip on the Mississippi, below the city, then in charge of Major Beauregard; also Fort Pike, on Lake Pontchartrain, and the arsenal at Baton Rouge. A part of General Palfrey's division went down the river in a steam-vessel, and on the evening of Jan. 10, 1861, the commander of Fort St. Philip (Dart) surrendered it; but the commander of Fort Jackson (Sergeant Smith), which surrendered, gave up the keys under protest. State troops seized Fort Livingston, on Grand Terre Island, Barataria Bay, at the same time, and on the 20th the unfinished fort on Ship Island was seized and held by the Confederates. Troops left New Orleans, 300 in number, under Colonel Walton, on the evening of Dec. 9, in a steam- vessel, and on the following evening arrived at Baton Rouge to seize the arsenal, then in command of Major Haskin. He was compelled to surrender it on the 11th. By this act the Confederates were put in possession of 50,000 smallarms, four howitzers, twenty pieces of heavy ordnance, two field-batteries, 300 barrels of gunpowder, and a large quantity of other munitions of war. A part of this property Governor Moore turned over to Governor Pettus, of Mississippi. The barracks below New Orleans were seized on the 11th. They were used for a marine hospital. The United States collector at New Orleans was required to remove the 216 patients from the barracks immediately, as the State wanted the building for the gathering Confederates. The collector (Hatch) remonstrated, and they were allowed to remain. The authorities of Louisiana also seized the national mint and the custom-house there, with all the precious metals they contained in coin and bullion, and by order of the State convention this treasure, amounting to $536,000, was placed in the State coffers. Soon after this, a draft for $300,000 was received by the sub-treasurer at New Orleans, which that fiscal officer refused to pay, saying, " The money in my custody is no longer the property of the United States, but of the republic of Louisiana."




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