Louisiana History and Culture


The area that now forms the state of Louisiana was originally settled by Native American tribes such as the Choctaws. Old earthworks with raised terraces can be found in several places in the state, such as at Poverty Point. The first Europeans in the area were members of an expedition led by Spaniard Pánfilo de Narváez, who discovered the mouth of the Mississippi River in 1528. About thirteen years later, an expedition led by Hernando de Soto explored the area.

According to watchtutorials, the Spaniards had little interest in the region after that. The next scouts were therefore French. René Robert Cavelier de La Salle named the area La Louisiane in 1682 in honor of his monarch Louis XIV. The name La Louisiane at the time referred to the entire Mississippi River basin and was much larger than the current state. The river formed the heart of Louisiana Territory, which extended as far as present – day Canada. In 1763 with the Peace of Paris, the French largely lost the area to Spain. After an initial turbulent period, with a revolt by the French population, Spain expanded the area from a military outpost to a prosperous area. They imported en masse black slaves (who could also be freed relatively easily), they introduced the cultivation of sugar cane and cotton on plantations and they turned New Orleans into a trading center. In 1796 there was the first epidemic of yellow fever in Louisiana. This disease recurred regularly in the summer. In 1853, nearly 30,000 people became ill and 8,647 died. The disease, transmitted by mosquitoes, was only eradicated after 1905.

Around 1800, France, then ruled by Napoleon Bonaparte, regained territory that then only occupied the western side of the river basin. The eastern side was already largely in the hands of the Americans. In 1803, the area was sold to the United States, a transaction that has come to be known as the Louisiana Purchase. Louisiana became the 18th state of the United States on April 30, 1812. At the end of 1814, the Battle of New Orleans took place in which the English attempted unsuccessfully to capture the city as part of the War of 1812.

Louisiana’s economy was heavily dependent on slave labor and when Abraham Lincoln became president in 1861 and abolished slavery, the state joined the Confederate States of America, after which the American Civil War broke out. Louisiana was taken by Union troops (north) as early as 1862 as part of their strategy to occupy the Mississippi River and split the Confederacy in two.

After 1865, Louisiana actively recruited immigrants to Calabria and Sicily to replenish the workforce in the cotton fields and ports. In the system of segregation, the Italians were counted as whites, but they were scorned and called “dago”. In 1892 there was even a lynching after an attack on the white police commissioner of New Orleans. In 1901, to the horror of whites, Italian unions teamed up on an equality basis with the black unions in the “Dock and Cotton Group”.

In 1927, 700,000 people became homeless when the Mississippi overflowed its banks. In the elections that followed, Huey Long became the new governor. Long is still controversial to this day. He did a lot for the poor, invested in infrastructure and built the new Louisiana State Capitol, but was also known for being corrupt and authoritarian. He would later run for president but was assassinated in 1935.

In 2005, Louisiana was hit by Hurricane Katrina, which is considered the worst natural disaster the United States has ever known. In 2010, the Deepwater Horizon oil spill occurred off the coast.


Mardi Gras in the French Quarter (Old Town) of New Orleans. In the architecture, the influences of Spanish and French history are still clearly visible.

The best known Louisiana music genre is jazz, which originated in New Orleans in the early 20th century from a cross – pollination of ragtime, blues, folk, Negro spirituals and French marching music. The blues is also largely from the state. Then there is the Zydeco music, from the Creole community. New Orleans is known for its lavish celebration of Mardi Gras.

Since the 21st century, the state has become increasingly popular as a filming location, which has given it the nickname Hollywood South.

The Louisiana flag only dates back to 1861 (during the Civil War) before there was no official flag. The flag shows a pelican with three cubs, with the mother using her blood to feed the young. This symbolizes charity. The pelican is also a symbol of the state.

Francophone minority

Dishes from the Cajun kitchen

The white French speakers are descendants of the settlers who started a colony in 1604 at Port Royal, Acadia, in present -day Canada. This group of people who called themselves Acadians were exiled by the English Crown in 1755 to all sorts of places, but a large part ended up in the southwestern part of Louisiana that they called Acadiana. The word Acadian was corrupted into Cajun over time. The already established population in that area consisted of Creoles and Indians. At the end of the 18th century, many French fled from Saint-Domingue (present -day Haiti)) to Louisiana because of the Haitian Revolution. In Louisiana, about 7% of the population speaks French, which equates to about 320,000 people. The Cajun have their own culture with their own Cajun music, Cajun French, Cajun cuisine and religious traditions.

Louisiana History

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