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Economic life in Louisiana


State capitol of Louisiana
State capitol of Louisiana

After the War of 1812, settlers from the United States migrated in a steady stream to Louisiana, mainly from other parts of the South. By 1820, with a population of 153,407, Louisiana was thoroughly settled by whites except for some northern and western areas. One region that remained largely unsettled was the upper Red River valley, where a huge logjam north of Natchitoches made the river unnavigable. In the 1830s the logjam, known as the Great Raft, was cleared. By 1840, when the population reached 352,411, settlement of northwestern Louisiana was well under way. By 1860 the population had grown to 708,002, about half of whom were black slaves.

Between 1815 and 1860 Louisiana’s most prosperous farmers cultivated cotton or sugarcane. Cotton, which was less labor intensive than sugarcane, was grown by many small farmers as well as by proprietors of large plantations with many slaves. By 1850 cotton was grown in most parts of the state, with concentrations in the Mississippi Valley, and, to a lesser degree, the Red, Ouachita, and Tensas river valleys. Sugar plantations predominated in the bayou country of southern Louisiana. Sugar was consistently more profitable than cotton before 1860, but the climate kept it from becoming a staple crop in the northern parts of the state. Rice, grown at first along the Mississippi and in the bayou country as food for slaves, became a major commercial crop in the late 19th century, following the introduction of steam technology and irrigation techniques into the prairie country of southwestern Louisiana by Midwestern immigrants. "Louisiana" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia

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