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Louisiana at the end of the 18th century


State capitol of Louisiana
State capitol of Louisiana

The transfer to Spain surprised and angered the colony’s largely French population. The colonists’ disappointment turned to despair when the first Spanish governor, Antonio de Ulloa, who arrived at New Orleans in March 1766, attempted to impose a harsher rule on the colony. In late October 1768 insurgents arose and drove Ulloa from the colony. General Alejandro O’Reilly restored Spanish control in August 1769. O’Reilly quickly established the Spanish government that would administer the colony for the next 34 years. Most of the population and local administrators, however, remained French. Although the Spanish tried to tip the balance by bringing in hundreds of Spanish colonists in 1779, most immigrants in the Spanish period were French-speaking refugees from political upheavals in France, Canada, and the West Indies. The two most important groups were the Acadians, about 3,000 of whom came from eastern Canada; and refugees from Saint-Domingue (present-day Haiti) fleeing that island’s black revolution (1791-1803). The Acadians, or Cajuns as they came to be known, settled in frontier areas west of New Orleans, becoming the dominant cultural group in rural south Louisiana.

Louisiana had some involvement in the American Revolution (1775-1783), in which the United States rebelled against Great Britain. Because Great Britain was Spain’s chief colonial rival in North America, the Spanish in New Orleans worked to undermine the British by supplying the United States with arms, ammunition, and provisions. In 1779 Spain formally declared war on Great Britain. Spanish forces, consisting of Louisiana militia, subsequently captured all of the major British settlements in West Florida, which included the Gulf Coast area between the Perdido and Mississippi rivers. Under the terms of the 1783 Treaty of Paris, which concluded the war, Great Britain ceded both East and West Florida to Spain. Following the revolution, Louisiana finally began to attain a level of modest prosperity. In addition, New Orleans emerged as the commercial gateway to the North American interior. Just as Louisiana was beginning to achieve its economic potential, Spain gave it back to France by another secret treaty in 1800. Spain, however, retained West Florida. France, in turn, sold Louisiana to the United States in 1803. "Louisiana" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia

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