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Home > Catholic Encyclopedia > L > Louisiana

Louisiana

Colonial

The history of Louisiana forms an important part of the history of the United States, and is romantic and interesting. It is closely connected with the history of France and of Spain, somewhat more with that of England, and for this reason is more picturesque than the history of any other state of the American Union. Alvarez de Pineda is said to have discovered the Mississippi River in 1519, but his Rio del Espiritu Santo was probably the Mobile River, and we have to leave to Fernando de Soto the honour of having been in 1541 the discoverer of the mighty stream into which his body was projected by his companions after the failure of this expedition, undertaken for the conquest of Florida. Some time before the discovery by De Soto, Pamphilio de Narvaez had perished in endeavouring to conquer Florida, but five of his followers had succeeded in reaching Mexico. One of them, Alvar Nuñez Cabeza de Vaca, described their wanderings, in which they must have crossed the Mississippi. Many years after de Soto the great Mississippi was rediscovered in 1673 by the Canadian trader Louis Joliet, and by the saintly missionary, father Jacques Marquette, forerunners of Robert Cavelier de La Salle, the celebrated Norman explorer. The latter floated down in Illinois River in 1682, and, entering the Mississippi, followed the course of the river to its mouth, and on 9 April took possession, in the name of Louis XIV, of the country watered by the Mississippi and its tributaries. To that vast region he gave the name of "Louisiane" in honour of the King of France, who carried royal power to the highest point, and who was always firm, energetic, and courageous. Among La Salle's companions were the chivalric Henry de Tonty and Fathers Zénobe Membré and Anastase Douay. The name Louisiane is found for the first time in the grant of an island to François Daupin, signed by La Salle, 10 June, 1679.

Louis XIV wished to colonize Louisiana, and unite it to his possessions in Canada by a chain of posts in the Mississippi valley. England would thus be hemmed in between the Atlantic Ocean and the Appalachian range of mountains. la Salle endeavoured in carry out this scheme in 1684, but his colony, Fort Louis, established by mistake on the coast of what is now Texas, perished when its founder was murdered on the Trinity river by some of his own men on 19 March, 1687. In 1688 James II was expelled from England, and the war which ensued between Louis XIV and William III lasted until 1697. When there was peace, the King of France thought once more of settling the land discovered by La Salle, and his Minister Maurepas chose Pierre Le Moyne d'Iberville as the man best fitted to accomplish that task. Iberville was the third son of Charles Le Moyne d'Iberville, a Norman established in Canada. He was a native of Villemarie (Montreal), was "as military as his sword", and was a brave and able marine officer. He left Brest on 24 Oct., 1698, and that date is of great importance in the history of the United States, for on board the small frigates, the Badine and the Marin, were the seeds from which was to grow Louisiana, the province which was to give the American Union thirteen states and one territory and to exert a great influence on the civilization of the United States. In February, 1699, Iberville, and his young brother Bienville saw the beautiful coast of the Gulf of Mexico, where are now Biloxi and Ocean Springs, and after having found the mouth of the Mississippi on 2 March, 1699, and explored the "hidden" river, they built Fort Maurepas and laid the foundation of the French colony on the Gulf Coast, on the Ocean Springs side of the Bay of Biloxi. Iberville ordered a fort to be built fifty-four miles from the mouth of the Mississippi. This was the first settlement in the present state of Louisiana, and was abandoned in 1705. On 4 May, 1699, Iberville sailed for France on board the Badine, with the Count de Surgères who commanded the Marin. Sauvole, a young French officer, had been given command of the fort at Biloxi, and Bienville had been appointed lieutenant (second in command). Sauvole, who may be considered the first governor of Louisiana, died on 22 August 1701, and Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne de Bienville succeeded him in the command of the colony. Iberville ordered Bienville to remove the seat of the colony from Biloxi and form an establishment on the Mobile River. This was done in January, 1702, when Fort Louis de la Mobile was constructed at a point eighteen leagues from the sea. In 1711 the settlement was moved to the site which is now occupied by the city of Mobile. In 1704 the devoted friend of La Salle, Henry de Tonty, died at Mobile, and on 9 July, 1706, Iberville, the founder of Louisiana, died at Havana of yellow fever.

The founders of Louisiana had made the mistake of neglecting the banks of the Mississippi, when the fort on the river was abandoned in 1705, and, although there was Old Biloxi and Mobile, the settlement could not proposer as long as it was limited in its site to the land on the gulf. The colony might not have been permanent had not Bienville, in February, 1718, twelve years after the death of Iberville, founded New Orleans, so admirably situated between the deep and broad Mississippi and beautiful lake Pontchartrain. In 1722 the seat of the colony was transferred from New Biloxi, which had been founded in 1719, to New Orleans, and the future of Louisiana was assured. It was then directed by the Western Company, had received for a time the help of the bank of John Law, and from 1712 to 1717 had been conceded to another banker, Crozat, who had agreed to develop the resources of the colony, but who had failed his enterprise. On 10 January, 1722, Father Charlevoix, in a letter dated from New Orleans says: "This wild and desert place, which the weeds and trees still cover almost entirely, will be one day, and perhaps that day is not distant, an opulent city, and the metropolis of a rich and great colony." The distinguished historian based this hope "on the situation of this town thirty-three leagues from the sea, and on the bank of a navigable river, which one can ascend to this place in twenty-four hours; on the fertility of its soil, and the mildness and goodness of its climate, at a latitude of thirty degrees north; on the industry of its inhabitants; on the proximity of Mexico, where one can go in two weeks by sea; on that of Havana, which is still closer, of the most beautiful islands of America and of the English colonies."

It was no easy matter to establish a successful colony in the New World, and the French under Iberville and Bienville, and the descendants of these men, were just as energetic as the Englishmen who settled in Virginia and Massachusetts. There were on the banks of the Mississippi primeval forests to be cut down, in order to cultivate properly the fertile land deposited by the great river in its rapid course toward the gulf. The turbulent waters of the river were to be held in their bed by strong embankments, and the Indians had to be subdued. It was only then that the work of civilization could be begun, and the admirable culture of the French extended to the Mississippi Valley. The elegance and refinement of manners of Paris in the eighteenth century were found in New Orleans from the every foundation of the city, and the women of Louisiana were mentioned by the early chroniclers with great praise for their great beauty and charm. They owed, to a great extent, their mental and moral training to the instruction and education they received at the convent of the Ursuline nuns. The sons of wealthy colonists were set to France to be educated, or were taught at private schools at home, such as the one kept in 1727 by Father Cécile, a Capuchin monk. As girls could not be sent to Europe to obtain an education, a school for them was absolutely necessary in New Orleans, and Bienville, at the suggestion of the Jesuit Father de Beaubois, asked that six Ursuline nuns be sent from France to attend to the hospital and to open a school for girls. The nuns arrived in July, 1727, and were received with great kindness by Governor Périer, his wife, and the people of the town. In her letters to her father Sister Madeline Hachard gives an interesting account of New Orleans in 1727, speaks of the magnificent dresses of the ladies, and says that a song was publicly sung in which it was said that the city had as much "appearance" as Paris, and she adds quaintly, "indeed, it is very beautiful, but besides that I have not enough eloquence to be able to persuade you of the beauty which the song mentions, I find a difference between this city and that of Paris. It might persuade people who have never seen the capital of France, but I have seen it, and the song will not persuade me of the contrary of what I believe. It is true that it is increasing every day, and may become as beautiful and as large as the principal towns of France, if there still come some workmen, and it become peopled according to its size. Sister Madeline was prophetic, as Father Charlevoix had been in his letter quoted above (in 1722). In 1734 the Ursulines occupied the convent, built for them by the Government, which is still standing on Chartres street. They remained there until 1824, when they moved to another building down the river. Their services as educators of the girls of Louisiana in colonial times were invaluable.

The Province of Louisiana had been divided on 16 May, 1722, into three spiritual jurisdictions. The first, comprising all the country from the mouth of the Mississippi to the Wabash, and west of the Mississippi, was allowed to the Capuchins, whose superior was to be vicar-general of the Bishop of Quebec and was to reside in New Orleans. The second extended north from the Wabash and belonged to the Jesuits, whose superior, residing in the Illinois country, was also to be vicar-general of the Bishop of Quebec in that department. The third comprised all the country east of the Mississippi from the sea to the Wabash, and was given to the Carmelites, whose superior was also vicar-general and resided usually at Mobile. The Capuchins took possession of their district in 1722. The Jesuits had already been in theirs a long time. The jurisdiction of the Carmelites was added to that of the Capuchins on 19 December, 1722, and the former returned to France. In December, 1723, the jurisdiction of the Capuchins was restricted to the country on both sides of the river from Natchez south to the sea, as the Capuchins were not very numerous. It was, however, decided in 1725 that no monks or priests could attend churches or missions within the jurisdiction of the Capuchins without the consent of the latter. A little later the spiritual care of all the savages in the province was given to the Jesuits, and their superior was allowed to reside in New Orleans, provided he performed no ecclesiastical functions without the consent of the Capuchins. Several Jesuits arrived in New Orleans with the Ursuline nuns, and Father de Beaubois soon became their superior. It was the Jesuits who in 1751 introduced the sugar cane into Louisiana from Hispaniola. They cultivated on their plateau the sugar cane, indigo, and the myrtle-wax shrub.

The tribes with which the early colonists had principally to deal were the Natchez, the Chickasaws, and the Choctaws. The last named were very numerous but not warlike, and were generally friendly to the French, while the Natchez and the Chickasaws were often at war with the colonists, and the former had to be nearly destroyed to insure the safety of the colony. The village of the Natchez was the finest in Louisiana, and their country was delightful. The men and women of their tribe were well-shaped and very cleanly. Their chief was called the Great Sun, and inheritance of that title was in the female line. They had a temple in which a fire was kept burning continually to represent the sun which they adored. Whenever the Great Sun died, or a female Sun, or any of the inferior Suns, the wife or husband was strangled together with the nearest relatives of the deceased. Sometimes little children were sacrificed by their parents. The Natchez were defeated by Périer and by St. Denis, and what remained of the tribe were adopted by the Chickasaws. The name of the Natchez as a nation was lost, but it will live forever in the literature on account of the charming pages devoted to them by Chateaubriand. Bienville wished to compel the Chickasaws to surrender the Natchez who had taken refuge among them, and his ill-success in two campaigns against that powerful tribe was the cause of his asking in 1740 to be allowed to go to France to recuperate his exhausted health. He left Louisiana in May, 1743, and never returned to the colony which he and Iberville had founded. He had endeavoured to establish in New Orleans a school for boys, but had not been successful. La Salle, Iberville, and Bienville are the greatest names in the history of French Louisiana.

Pierre Rigaud, Marquis de Vaudreuil, arrived in Louisiana on 10 May, 1743. He was known as the "Grand Marquis", and his administration was very popular. In 1752 he became governor of Canada, where he was not as successful as he had been in Louisiana. The time had come to settle forever the question of the supremacy on the American continent between France and England, and the brave Montcalm and his able lieutenant Lévis could not prevent the British from capturing Quebec and Montreal. On the plains of Abraham in 1759, where both Wolfe and Montcalm fell, the fate of Canada was decided, and the approaching independence of the English colonies might have been foreseen. By the Treaty of Paris in 1763, Canada was ceded by France to England, as well as the city of Mobile, and the part of Louisiana on the left bank of the Mississippi River, with the exception of New Orleans and the island of Orléans. Spain, in her turn, ceded to Great Britain the province of Florida and all the country to the east and south-east of the Mississippi. Already, by the secret Treaty of Fontainebleau (3 Nov., 1762), the wretched Louis XV had made to Charles III of Spain a gift of "the country known by the name of Louisiana, as well as New Orleans and the island in which that city is situated." This was the province which was retroceded to France in 1800, and ceded by France to the United States in 1803. Although the King of Spain had accepted, on 13 Nov., 1762, the gift of his gracious cousin, the Treaty of Fontainebleau was announced to the Louisianians only in 1764 by a letter from the King of France to the Director-General d'Abbadie, dated at Versailles, 21 April. The selfish monarch who cared nothing for his subjects in Europe, in India, or in America, ended his letter with these hypocritical words: "Hoping, moreover, that his Catholic Majesty will be pleased to give is subjects of Louisiana the marks of protection and good-will which they have received under my domination, and which only the fortunes of war have prevented from being more effectual." The Louisianians were remote from France and they were attached to their sovereign, whose defects they really did not know. They wished, therefore, to remain Frenchmen and sent Jean Milhet as their delegate to beg Louis XV not to give away his subjects to another monarch. It was in vain that Bienville went to see Minister Choiseul with Milhet. They were kindly received, but they were told that the Treaty of Fontainebleau could not be annulled. In the meantime Don Antonio de Ulloa had arrived in New Orleans on 5 March, 1766, as governor, and the Spanish domination had begun.

The rule of the Spaniards was more apparent than real, for Ulloa came with only two companies of infantry, and did not take possession officially of the colony in the name of the King of Spain. Indeed the Spanish banner was not raised officially in the Place d'Armes in New Orleans, the capital of Louisiana, and the orders of Ulloa were issued through Aubry, the French commandant or governor. The colonists should have been treated with gentleness at the very beginning of a change of regime, but Ulloa, who was a distinguished scientist, lacked tact in his dealings with the Louisianians and issued unwise commercial regulations. Jean Milhet returned from France at the end of 1767, and the colonists were greatly excited by the narrative of the failure of his mission. The inhabitants of Louisiana resolved to expel the foreign governor, and held a meeting in New Orleans, where it was decided to present a petition to the Superior Council on 28 Oct., 1768. The colonists said that they would "offer their property and blood to preserve forever the sweet and inviolable title of French citizen." Nicolas Chauvin de Lafrénière, the attorney-general, who had been the principal speaker at the great meeting in New Orleans, addressed the council in favour of the petition, and delivered a bold and eloquent discourse. On 29 Oct., 1768, the council rendered a decree in compliance with the demands of the inhabitants and the conclusions of Lafrénière. Aubry protested against the decree, but the council ordered its enforcement, and on 31 October Ulloa embarked aboard a French ship which he had chartered. The next day the cables of the vessel were cut by a named Petit, and the foreigner was expelled. It was a real revolution. The colonists were actuated by the highest and most patriotic motives, resistance against oppression and love of country. They endeavoured by all means in their power to induce the King of France to keep them as his subjects, and, not succeeding in their efforts, they thought of proclaiming a republic on the banks of the Mississippi in New Orleans. This contribution of a spirit of heroism and independence to the civilization of the future United States is of great importance, and deserves to be carefully noted.

The Louisianians were not successful in the revolution of 1768, for the Spanish government sent powerful troops to subdue the insurgents. General Alexander O'Reilly arrived in New Orleans with 3,000 soldiers on 17 Aug., 1769, and raised the Spanish flag in the Place d'Armes. At first he treated the chiefs of the insurgents with great politeness, and led them to believe that he would take no harsh measures with regard to the even of October, 1768. He acted, however, with great duplicity, and caused the principal insurgents against Ulloa to be arrested while they were attending a reception at the governor's house. Villeré, who was a planter on the German coast and one of the leaders of the revolution, was killed while resisting arrest, and Lafrénière, Marquis, Noyan, Carresse, and Joseph Milhet were condemned to be hanged. No one was found in the colony to act as executioner, and the five heroic men were shot by Spanish soldiers on 25 Oct., 1769. Six others of the insurgents were condemned to imprisonment in Morro castle at Havana. Among them were Jean Milhet, the patriotic merchant. O'Reilly acted with unpardonable severity, and his victims are known as "the Martyrs of Louisiana". Although the Spanish domination began with cruelty, it was afterwards mild and paternal, and at one time glorious. Most of the officials married creole wives, women of French origin, and the influence of charming and gentle ladies was most beneficial. Unzaga, who succeeded O'Reilly in the government of Louisiana, acted with great tact in dealing with the Louisianians, and Bernardo de Galvez gave them prosperity and glory and reconciled them to the rule of Spain. In 1779 the war between the United States and Great Britain was at its height. France had recognized the independence of the new republic, and Lafayette had offered his sword to aid Washington in his great work. Spain came also to the help of the Americans, and declared war against England on 8 May, 1779. On 8 July Charles III authorized his subjects in America to take part in the war, and Galvez, who had thus far acted as provisional governor, received his commission as governor and intendant. He resolved immediately to attack the British possessions in West Florida, and refused to accept the advice of a council of war, that he should not begin his operations until he had received reinforcements in Havana. He had already aided the cause of the Americans by furnishing ammunition and money to their agent in New Orleans.

He called a meeting of the principal inhabitants in the city and told them he could not take the oath of office as governor, unless the people of Louisiana promised to help him in waging war against the British. This was assented to with enthusiasm by all the men who were at the meeting, and Galvez made preparations to attack Baton Rouge, which the British had named New Richmond, and which for a time had been called Dironville by the French from Diron d'Artaguette, an early official of the colony. On 27 Aug., 1779, Galvez marched with an army of 670 against Baton Rouge, and sent his artillery by boats on the river. On 7 September he took by storm Fort Bute at Manchac, and on 21 September captured Baton Rouge. It was agreed that Fort Panmure at Natchez should capitulate also. The campaign of Galvez was glorious, and the greater part of his army was composed of Louisianian creoles of French origin, and of Acadians who wished to take vengeance upon the British for their cruelties against them, when they were so ruthlessly torn from their homes in 1755. The heroism of Galvez and his army in 1779 inspired Julien Poydras to write a short epic poem, "La Prise du Morne du Baton Rouge par Monseigneur de Galvez", a work which was published in New Orleans in 1779, and was the first effort of French literature in Louisiana. In 1780 Galvez attacked Fort Charlotte at Mobile and captured it, and in 1781 he resolved to make the conquest of Pensacola and to expel the British entirely from the country adjoining New Orleans. He went to Havana and obtained men and a fleet for his expedition. Among the ships was a man-of-war, the "San Ramon", commanded by Commodore Calbo de Irazabal. When an attempt was made to cross the bar and enter the harbour of Pensacola the "San Ramon" ran aground. Irazabal, thereupon, refused to allow the frigates of his fleet to cross the bar. Galvez, who understood how important it was that the fleet should enter the port, in order that the army should not be left without subsistence on the island of St. Rosa, resolved to be the first to force entrance into the port. He embarked aboard the brig "Galveztown", commanded by Rousseau, a , and which was directly under his orders, and, followed by a schooner and two gunboats, he boldly entered the port. He had caused his pennant to be raised on the "Galveztown", that his presence on board might be known, and acted with such valour that the Spanish squadron followed the next day and crossed the bar. After a siege of several months Fort George and Fort Red Cliff in the Barrancas were captured, and Pensacola surrendered on 9 May, 1781. For his exploits against the British the King of Spain made Galvez a lieutenant-general and captain-general of Louisiana and West Florida, and allowed him to place as a crest on his coat of arms the brig "Galveztown" with the motto "Yo Solo" (I alone). The campaigns of Galvez gave Louisianians the right to claim the honour of having taken part in the war for American independence, and the help given the Americans by the Spaniards was acknowledged by Washington in letters to Galvez. The heroic governor of Louisiana became Viceroy of Mexico in 1785 and died in 1786, aged thirty-eight.

During the Spanish domination, besides the exploits of Galvez, we may mention as being of importance in the history of the United States the attempts made by governor Miró of Louisiana in 1788, and Governor Carondelet in 1797, to separate the western country from the United States and join it to the Spanish possessions in the south. The Mississippi River was absolutely necessary to the people in the West for their exports, and the right of deposit of their product at New Orleans was guaranteed to them by a treaty between Spain and the United States in 1795. In 1800, however, Louisiana became French again by treaty, and the Americans seemed destined to have much more powerful neighbours than the Spaniards had ever been. France was at the time under the rule of Napoleon Bonaparte. He wished to revive the colonial empire of France, lost during the wretched reign of Louis XV. He easily obtained that province from Charles IV. By the secret treaty of St. Idefonso, 1 Oct., 1800, confirmed by that of Madrid, 21 March, 1801, Louisiana was retroceded to France, and Bonaparte made great plans for the administration and development of the province. He wished it to be a kind of storehouse for Santo Domingo, which he intended to reconquer from the blacks, and he appointed as captain-general of Louisiana one of his most distinguished officers, Victor, who later became Duke of Bellune and Marshall of France.

The plans of Bonaparte in regards to Louisiana were frustrated by the subsequent outbreak of hostilities between France and England. Victor never reached the province he was given to govern, and when Pierre-Clément de Laussat, the colonial prefect, arrived in New Orleans in March, 1803, Louisiana was on the point of becoming American. The right of deposit in New Orleans had been twice withdrawn by the Spanish intendant, and the people of the West feared they would lose the natural outlet for their products. There was great agitation on the subject in Congress, and President Jefferson sent James Monroe to France in March, 1803, to co-operate with Robert R. Livingston in the negotiations concerning the cession to the United States of New Orleans, and of the island of Orléans. Bonaparte, meanwhile, made up his mind to offer the whole province to the American negotiators, and on 30 April, 1803, Monroe, Livingston, and Barbé-Marbois signed the Treaty of Paris, by which Louisiana was ceded to the United States for about $15,000,000. Bonaparte himself prepared the third article of the treaty, which reads as follows: "The inhabitants of the ceded territory shall be incorporated into the Union of United States and admitted as soon as possible, according to the principles of the Federal Constitution, to the enjoyment of all the rights, advantages and immunities of citizens of the United States, and in the mean time they shall be maintained and protected in the free enjoyment of their liberty, prosperity, and the religion which they profess." In the old Cabildo building in New Orleans the province was transferred on 30 Nov., 1803, by the Spanish commissioners Casa Calvo and Salcedo to Laussat, the representative of France; and the latter, at the same place, transferred the sovereignty of Louisiana on 20 Dec., 1803, to the American commissioners Wilkinson and Claiborne. There was no longer a colonial Louisiana. In 1804 the territory of Orléans was organized, which became on 30 April, 1812, the State of Louisiana.

The state of Louisiana

The State of Louisiana, lying at the mouth of the Mississippi, was so named in honour of Louis XIV in 1682. Louisiana of the seventeenth century extended from the Mississippi River to the Rocky Mountains, and from the Rio Grande and Gulf of Mexico to British America. The present state of Louisiana is bounded on the south by the Gulf of Mexico; on the east by the state of Mississippi; on the west by the State of Texas, and on the north by the State of Arkansas. The thirty-third parallel of latitude forms the boundary between Louisiana and Arkansas.

Physical characteristics

The area of the state is 45,420 square miles, of which 2328 are water surface. The Red River enters the state from Texas a few miles south of the northern boundary, and traverses the whole state in a south-easterly direction, emptying itself into the Mississippi at the thirty-first parallel of latitude. The northern portion of Louisiana is mainly forest area with numerous small farms, but in the eastern portion, north of the Red River and for some distance south of its mouth, there are large cotton plantations on alluvial soil, while below the mouth of the Red River stretches the sugar country, all the south-eastern portions of Louisiana with small exceptions being devoted to sugar cultivation. In the south-western portion are the great salt and sulphur mines, oil-wells, and rice-fields. With means of communication from one part of the state to the other, Louisiana is probably better provided than any other state in the Union. Within the borders of the state are 3771 miles of navigable water, and 6162 miles of railroad (including 2000 miles of side-tracks). The alluvial lands along the rivers and larger streams are protected by 1430 miles of embankments, locally called levees and maintained by the state.

Industries

Agriculture is the chief resource of Louisiana, although of late salt, oil, and sulphur are beginning to produce large returns. The report of the Louisiana State Board of Agriculture form 1908, gives the agricultural output as follows:

The mineral products are chiefly sulphur, salt, and petroleum. The largest sulphur deposits in the world are at Sulphur City, whence 1000 tons a day are shipped. It is estimated that there are forty million tons of sulphur in this deposit. At Avery's Island is found a deposit of pure salt, 500 tons daily being mined. In this section the augur went down 1800 feet through salt. Large quantities of petroleum are piped out of wells in the south-western and north-western parts of the state.

History

The history of Louisiana as a colony has already been traced from the first settlements, and the growth of the population up to its admission to the Union. The cession of Louisiana by France to the United States took place on 20 December, 1803, and in 1804, Congress organized the territory of Orléans, which comprised a portion of the great district of Louisiana. In 1806 there were but 350 English-speaking white men in New Orleans. Between 1806 and 1809, 3100 Americans arrived. In 1809-10 came the immigration from the West Indies, due to the Santo Domingo and Haitian negro uprisings. In 1810 the Irish began to come, and they kept coming steadily for over forty years. The Civil War (1861-5) stopped all immigration until about 1900, since which time Italians are arriving in great numbers. The first steamboat, the "Orleans", from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, arrived in New Orleans, 10 January 1812.

In 1811 Congress authorized the inhabitants of the territory to draw up a constitution, with a view to establish a state government. The constitution was adopted in 1812, and immediately thereafter, on 30 April, 1812, Congress admitted Louisiana to the Union. Almost simultaneously with her admission, the war with England broke out, and on 8 January, 1815, the famous battle of New Orleans, between 12,000 English soldiers under Pakenham and 5000 American recruits under Andrew Jackson, was fought within a few miles of the city of New Orleans, resulting in the overwhelming defeat of the British. The commercial position of New Orleans being very advantageous, her growth was phenomenal. In 1840 she was the third city in population in the United States the Mississippi and its tributaries pouring great commercial wealth into Louisiana. However, as the railroads began to be built, much of this river commerce was carried by them to northern and eastern marts. On 26 January, 1861, an ordinance of cession was passed, withdrawing Louisiana from the Union, and on 21 March 1861, the Convention of Louisiana ratified the Confederate Constitution and joined the Confederacy. The Civil War laid waste to Louisiana in common with her sister states of the south. In April, 1862, the city of New Orleans was captured by the Union forces. In 1864, under the auspices of the federal troops, a convention was held to draw up a new constitution for the state, preparatory to its re-admission to the Union. Under Federal auspices it was ratified by a vote of the people in September, 1864. This constitution, although adopted under the auspices of the United States Government, was not satisfactory to that government, and in December, 1867, another convention was called and prepared a constitution that was adopted on 6 March, 1868, whereby Louisiana was against admitted to the Union upon condition of ratifying the Fourteenth Amendment to the Federal constitution. Thus was done on 9 July, 1868, and on 13 July the state was transferred from the military to the civil powers.

Then began the period of reconstruction, which was practically a seven years' orgy. Adventurers from the north, camp-followers left being by the Union armies, and renegade southerners, under the protection of federal bayonets, welded the recently emancipated negro slaves into a political party, and the disgraceful scenes, which form that blot upon American history known as the "Reconstruction Era", cost Louisiana millions of treasure and hundreds of lives. In September, 1874, a revolt occurred which overthrew the state government and placed the intelligent people of the state in office. Three days afterwards the United States troops expelled the popular government, and replaced the negroes and adventurers in office. In the election of 1876, the Democratic party carried the state for both state offices and for presidential electors. Then began the national dispute in Congress which resulted in a compromise being made, whereby the vote of Louisiana for President and Vice-President of the United States was counted for the Republican party, and the vote for state offices and legislature was counted for the Democratic party. The carrying out of this compromise by the seating of President Hayes in the White House, and the forming of a Democratic or white man's government in Louisiana, marked the end of the long period of misrule. The great moral movement against the Louisiana State Lottery, ending in its abolition in 1892, is probably the most creditable even in the history of the state.

Principal religious denominations

The latest available statistics for religious denominations are given in the U.S. Census Bulletin for 1906, from which we take the following table, except that the number of Jews is taken the "Jewish Year Book" for 1907: Catholics, 477,774; Baptists, 185,554; Methodists, 79,464; Jews, 12,000; Protestant Episcopalians, 9070; Presbyterians, 8350; Lutherans, 5793; German Evangelicals, 4354; Disciples, 2458; Congregationalists, 1773; all other denominations, 4222. It must be borne in mind that these figures do not give us a proper comparative view, because the bases of various denominations are different. For example, most Protestant bodies count as members only persons officially enrolled as members. And, in counting Catholics, the Census Bureau counts only those over nine years of age; whereas, in the figures given elsewhere in this article we count all those who have been baptized.

Catholicism

Because of her Latin origin, Catholics and Catholic influences have always been predominant in Louisiana. Her first governor, Clairborne, was a Protestant from Virginia, but nearly all his descendants were Catholics. Amongst noted Louisianians of the Catholic Faith we may include F. X. Martin, presiding judge of the Supreme Court for forty years, Bermudez, one of his successors, the present (1909) incumbent, Thomas J. Semmes, the eminent jurist and Confederate senator, Alexander Dimitry, who in 1847 organized the public school system of the state, Adrien Rouquette, the poet-priest and Indian missionary, Charles Gavarre, the historian, Justice E. D. White, now on the United States supreme bench, Paul Morphy, the famous chess-player, Father Etienne Vial, the first native-born Catholic priest (b. 1736).

The state comprises the Archdiocese of New Orleans (the southern half), and the Diocese of Natchitoches (the northern half). The "Catholic Directory" for 1909 gives the following figures: 1 archbishop; 1 bishop; 1 abbot; 181 secular and 132 regular priests; 152 churches with resident priests; 212 missions, stations, and chapels; 1 preparatory seminary with 30 students; 11 colleges and academies for boys with 2253 students; 29 academies for young ladies with 3519 students; 111 parishes have parochial schools. The Catholic population is 556,431, but no statistics are available to show its racial classification; the baptisms of 1908 were 15,853. Of the 3935 marriages only 472 were mixed.

Laws affecting religion and religious work

There is, of course, absolute freedom of worship recognized by law and practically carried out throughout the state. There is a Sunday Law prohibiting the opening of any place of business, except of certain classes, such as drug-stores, barber-shops, etc. All liquor saloons are kept closed. Theatres, however, are permitted to open on Sunday. In all the courts the oath is administered on the Bible to all witnesses. Blasphemy and profanity are prohibited by law. The Legislature opens each session in each house with prayer, clergymen of different denominations officiating. Among the legal holidays prescribed by law, on which all public offices are closed, we find New Year's Day, Shrove Tuesday, Good Friday, All Saints' Day, Christmas, and of course every Sunday. The Catholic churches of the state are not all incorporated. For instance, in the northern diocese called the Diocese of Natchitoches, all parochial property vests in the bishop; whereas, in the southern portion of the state, in the Archdiocese of New Orleans, every church is incorporated. There is a separate corporation for each church, the directors being the archbishop, the vicar general, the parish priest, and two laymen from the congregation, and this corporation holds title to all parish property. Church property used for the purpose of public worship, the actual residence of the pastor, the parochial school buildings and grounds, and, of course, all hospitals, asylums, and charitable institutions are exempt from all taxation. Cemeteries and places of public burial are exempt from all taxes and from seizure for debt.

All clergymen are exempt from jury and military service, and in fact from every forced public duty. The supreme court has held that, while public funds cannot be given to public institutions, yet the government may contract with religious institutions for the care of the sick or the poor, and for such pay them compensation. In all prisons and reformatories clergymen of all denominations are welcomed and given access to the inmates, and in most of the large institutions, where there are many Catholic inmates, Mass is celebrated every Sunday. Bequests made to priests for masses have been held as valid, and although there is an inheritance tax levied on inheritances in Louisiana, yet legacies, made eo nomine to churches and charitable institutions, are exempt from this tax, although a legacy left to a priest in his own name would be subject to the inheritance tax. Under the first Constitution of Louisiana (1812) no clergyman could hold a public office. The second Constitution (1845) excluded them only from the legislature. The third Constitution (1852) abolished the restriction, which has not been re-enacted in the subsequent Constitutions of 1868, 1879, and 1898.

Marriage and divorce

The marriage and divorce laws of Louisiana are not so loose as those of some other states. Marriages between whites and blacks is prohibited by law. Any clergymen has the power to perform a marriage ceremony, but, before doing so, he must be handed a license issued by the local secular authorities authorizing the marriage, and must have the marriage registered within ten days after its solemnization. Absolute divorce is permissible for the following causes: (1) adultery; (2) condemnation to an infamous punishment; (3) habitual intemperance or cruelty of such a nature as to render living together insupportable; (4) public defamation of the other by husband or wife; (5) desertion; (6) attempt of one spouse to kill the other; (7) when husband or wife is a fugitive from justice, charged with an infamous offense, but proof of guilt must be made. For the first and second mentioned causes immediate divorce is granted. For the other causes only a separation, which ripens into a divorce at the expiration of one year on the application of the plaintiff, provided no reconciliation has taken place, or also at the expiration of two years on the application of the defendant.

Population

The growth of population, as shown by the United States Census, is as follows:

Education

The educational system of Louisiana is under the control of the State Board of Education, and subordinate boards in the various parishes (such being the Louisiana name for counties):

At the head of the system is the Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, the state capital, with 57 instructors and 657 students. Tulane University, in New Orleans, is a semi-official institution, with an endowment of $5,454,423.83, 225 instructors, and 1600 students. The public school system, besides primary, grammar, and high schools, includes the following institutions:--State Normal School, with 32 instructors and 700 students; Audubon Sugar School for instruction in sugar making; three experimental stations for agricultural instruction; Ruston Industrial Institute, with 31 instructors and 500 students; Lafayette Industrial Institute, with 18 instructors and 250 students; State Institute for Deaf and Dumb; State Institute for the Blind; Gulf Biologic Station, located on Gulf Coast; Southern University for coloured youth, with 397 students.

Sources

I. FORTIER, History of Louisiana (Paris 1904); Report of Louisiana State Superintendent of education (1907); Report of Louisiana Commissioner of Agriculture (1908); Bulletin No. 103 of U. S. Census Bureau (1909); Jewish Year Book (1907); Catholic Directory (1909); GAYARRâ, History of Louisiana (New Orleans, 1903).

II. French and Spanish manuscripts in archives Louisiana Historical Society, New Orleans; transcripts from French and Spanish archives, among which are PIERRE MARGRY's Documents sur la Louisiane; manuscript memoir of FRANCISCO BOULIGNY, Military Governor of Louisiana in 1799 (1776); official royal orders, regulations, and edicts, in archives Louisiana Historical Society; Le Moniteur de la Louisiane (1794 to 1803). Consult MAGRY, Origines françaises des Pays d'Outre-Mer (6 vols., Paris, 1881); BENARD de LA HARPE, Journal Historique de l'établissement des Français à la Louisiane (New Orleans, 1831); LE PAGE DU PRATZ, Histoire de la Louisiane (3 vols., Paris, 1758); DUMONT, Mémoires Historiques sur la Louisiane (3 vols., Paris, 1753); Charlevoix, Journal d'un Voyage dans l'Amerique Septentrionale, VI (Paris, 1744); GRAVIER, Relation du Voyage des Ursulines (Paris, 1872); LAUSSAT, Mémoires (Pau, 1831); MARTIN, History of Louisiana (2 vols, New Orleans, 1827); MONETTE, History of the Valley of the Mississippi (2 vols., New York, 1846); GAYARRâ, Histoire de la Louisiane (2 vols., New Orleans, 1846-47); Idem, History of Louisiana (4 vols., New Orleans, 1854-6); KING, Sieur de Bienville (New York, 1893); HAMILTON, Colonial Mobile (Boston, 1898); Fortier, Louisiana Studies (New Orleans, 1894); Idem, History of Louisiana (4 vols., New York, 1904).

About this page

APA citation. Fortier, A., & McLoughlin, J. (1910). Louisiana. In The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/09378a.htm

MLA citation. Fortier, Alcée and James McLoughlin. "Louisiana." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 9. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1910. <http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/09378a.htm>.

Transcription. This article was transcribed for New Advent by M. Donahue.

Ecclesiastical approbation. Nihil Obstat. October 1, 1910. Remy Lafort, Censor. Imprimatur. +John M. Farley, Archbishop of New York.

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