Louisiana State History
The area now known as Louisiana had been occupied for thousands of years by Native American tribes, such as the Woodland people and the Mississippian tribes.
These tribes included the Choctaw, the Natchez, the Chitimacha, and the Atakapa.
Related: Louisiana State Facts
Spanish and French Explorers
Two Spanish explorers arrived in the Louisiana area in the 1500s. They were de Narvaez in 1528 and de Soto in 1543.
It took another 100 years before European settlers followed them.
The French explorer Robert de La Salle and his group traveled down the Mississippi River in 1682 and claimed land on both sides of the river for France.
He named the region Louisiana, after King Louis XIV of France.
More French settlers settled in the area and established the first permanent settlement at Natchitoches.
In 1718, New Orleans was established as the first trading port on the Gulf of Mexico.
The port facilitated goods to be transported through the Gulf of Mexico to towns and settlements along the length of the Mississippi River. In 1722, New Orleans became the capital of the Louisiana Territory.
The Louisiana Purchase
Even though most of the settlers were French, the territory was claimed by Spain.
The United States bought the Louisiana Territory from Spain in 1803 as part of the Louisiana Purchase.
Cotton and sugarcane were crops that could be easily grown in Louisiana.
Very large farms were developed, called plantations.
Cheap labor was required and the owners of the plantations made deals with shipowners to bring African slaves to Louisiana to work for nothing, except shanties to live in and meager food to live on.
In 1812, Louisiana became the 18th state of the United States.
That same year, the United States and Britain were at war.
The British invaded New Orleans and were defeated by the U.S. Army led by General Andrew Jackson.
The Civil War
Abraham Lincoln became the president of the United States in 1861. One of the things he wanted to accomplish was to abolish slavery.
The southern states were against this idea as they were dependent on slaves to work on the farms and plantations.
Louisiana was a slave state and joined the southern states in opposition to the Union states. They named themselves as a new country called the Confederate States of America.
The Unionist army gained control of New Orleans and kept control until the end of the Civil War in 1868.
Which native tribes lived in Louisiana before the 1500s?
Which two explorers visited the Louisiana area in the 1500s?
Which country claimed ownership of Louisiana Territory and how did ownership pass to the United States?
How did Louisiana become a slave state?
Why was New Orleans an important port?
Native tribes that inhabited Louisiana were the Choctaw, the Natchez, the Chitimacha, and the Atakapa.
Two Spanish explorers, de Narvaez in 1528 and de Soto in 1543, visited the Louisiana area.
Spain controlled the Louisiana Territory and sold it to the United States as part of the Louisiana Purchase.
Plantation owners needed cheap labor to work the land and made deals with shipowners to buy captured African slaves.
New Orleans was an important port because it was the first port on the Gulf of Mexico and could transport goods to all the towns and settlements along the length of the Mississippi River.