Collier's New Encyclopedia (1921)/Louisiana
LOUISIANA, a State in the South Central Division of the North American Union; bounded by Arkansas, Mississippi, the Gulf of Mexico, and Texas; admitted to the Union, April 30, 1812; number of parishes, 60; capital, Baton Rouge; total area, 48,720 square miles; pop. (1890) 1,118,587; (1900) 1,386,625; (1910) 1,656,388; (1920) 1,798,509.
Topography.—The surface of the State may properly be divided into two parts, the uplands, and the alluvial and coast and swamp regions. The alluvial regions, including the low swamps and coast lands, cover an area of about 20,000 square miles; they lie principally along the Mississippi, which traverses the State from north to south for a distance of about 600 miles, the Red river, the Ouachita and its branches, and other minor streams. The breadth of the alluvial region along the Mississippi is from 10 to 60 miles, and along the other streams it averages about 10 miles. The Mississippi flows upon a ridge formed by its own deposits, from which the lands incline toward the low swamps beyond at an average fall of six feet per mile. The lands along other streams present very similar features. These alluvial lands are never inundated save when breaks occur in the levees by which they are protected against the floods of the Mississippi and its tributaries. These floods, however, do not occur annually, and they may be said to be exceptional. With the maintenances of strong levees these alluvial lands would enjoy perpetual immunity from inundation. The uplands and contiguous hill lands have an area of more than 25,000 square miles, and they consist of prairie and woodlands. The elevations above sea-level range from 10 feet at the coast and swamp lands to 50 and 60 feet at the prairie and alluvial lands. In the uplands and hills the elevations rise from 60 feet to something under 500 feet in north Louisiana, where the greatest altitudes are to be found. Besides the navigable rivers already named (some of which are called bayous), there are the Sabine, forming the W. boundary, and the Pearl, the E. boundary, the Calcasieu, the Mermentau, the Vermilion, the Teche, the Atchafalaya, the Boeuf, the Lafourche, the Courtableau, the D'Arbonne, the Macon, the Tensas, the Amite, the Tchefuncta, the Tickfaw, the Matalbany, and a number of other streams of lesser note, constituting a natural system of navigable waterways, aggregating over 4,000 miles in length, which is unequalled in the United States and probably in the world. The State also has 1,060 square miles of land-locked bays, 1,700 square miles of inland lakes, and a river surface of over 500 square miles.
Soil.—The soil of Louisiana, generally, is exceedingly fertile and it varies from 10 to 40 feet in depth. The alluvial lands are world-renowned for their productiveness, and the larger part of the uplands surpass in fertility the same character of lands in most of the States. The pine flats, which elsewhere are considered sterile, are rendered productive when fertilized, and they would be more so with irrigation. The only non-productive portions of Louisiana are the salt sea-coast marshes. The principal forest trees include long and short leaf pine, oak, honey locust, ash, elm, sweet gum, magnolia, cypress, willow, cottonwood, palmetto, osage, poplar, orange, maple, walnut, wild cherry, persimmon, linden, tulip, holly, lime and hackberry.
Agriculture.—The State possesses exceptionally great agricultural advantages, embracing varieties of products appertaining to the temperature and to the semi-tropical zones. Cotton is grown throughout the State, and gives the largest general average yield per acre in the South. S. of the Red River, because they are usually more remunerative than cotton, sugar cane and rice are by preference cultivated in a great portion of the alluvial lands, and in recent years the prairie region of S. W. Louisiana has been converted into the most extensive region of rice culture in the United States. In 1919 the valuation of the productions of the State was as follows:
Cotton and by-products, $52,500,000; rice and by-products, $53,420,000; com, oats, and hay, $60,362,000; and fruits, vegetables, live stock, etc., $5,000,000. Sugar is one of the most important. The production in 1919 was about 1,000,000 tons.
The animals on farms and ranches in 1916 were: Horses 193,000, valued at $15,626,000 mules, 132,000, valued at $15,972,000; sheep, 185,000, valued at $426,000; milch cows, 271,000, valued at $10,027,000; and other cattle, 475,000, valued at $7,980,000.
Manufactures.—There were reported by the United States census in 1914 2,211 manufacturing establishments employing $261,635,000 in capital, 77,665 persons, paying $39,544,000 in wages and $157,886,000 for materials; and having finished products valued at $255,313,000. The principal manufactures were sugar and molasses, lumber and timber products, cottonseed oil and cake, foundry and machine shop products, and clothing.
Geology.—The underlying strata of the State are of Cretaceous formation, and are covered by alluvial deposits of Tertiary and post-Tertiary origin. A large part of Louisiana is the creation and product of the Mississippi River. It was originally covered by an arm of the sea, and has been built up by the silt carried down the valley by the great river.
Mineralogy.—The mineral resources of the State are imprfectly known and only partially developed. Brown coal is found in the northwest, iron in north Louisiana, and sulphur in south Louisiana. Salt is found on the five islands of the Gulf coast, and is of the purest quality. Other discoveries of salt have recently been made on the mainland. Salt is extensively mined on Avery's Island and at Belle Isle, and its output is extensive, and Louisiana also has become one of the leading oil-producing States. The production in 1919 was over 40,000,000 barrels. Limestone, gypsum, and marble occur in several localities. Louisiana is the principal State in the production of sulphur.
Banking.—In 1919 there were 32 National banks in operation, with $7,550,000 in capital, $4,372,000 in outstanding circulation, and $17,164,000 in United States bonds. There were also 222 State banks, with $17,042,000 capital, and $9,052,000 surplus. In the year ending Sept. 30, 1919, the exchanges at the United States clearing house at New Orleans aggregated $2,890,884,000; an increase over the previous year of $315,229,000.
Education.—In 1916 the school population was 538,119; the enrollment in public schools, 320,300, and the average daily attendance, 235,933. There were 4,157 teachers; public school property valued at $1,125,000; receipts for the year $1,126,112; and expenditures, $1,126,112.
Churches.—The strongest denominations in the State are the Roman Catholic; Regular Baptist, colored; Regular Baptist, South; Methodist Episcopal, South; African Methodist; Protestant Episcopal; and Presbyterian, South.
Railroads.—The total length of railroads in the State on January, 1918, was 5,358 miles. The Texas and Pacific has the longest mileage.
State Government.—The governor is elected for a term of four years. Legislative sessions are held biennially and are limited in length to 60 days each. There are 8 representatives in Congress under the new apportionment. The State government in 1920 was Democratic, as in previous years.
History.—Louisiana was colonized by the French in 1699, and was ceded in 1717 to a chartered company (one of the schemes of the notorious Law). In 1732 it was resumed by the crown; in 1763 ceded by France to Spain; in 1800 receded to France; and in 1803 purchased from France by the United States for $15,000,000. The territory comprehended in this purchase included the present State and all the country now occupied by Arkansas, Missouri, Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska, Indian Territory, North and South Dakota, and the greater part of Minnesota. By the act of Congress of March 26, 1804, the territory was divided into two governments, that of Orleans including the present State of Louisiana, and that of Louisiana, including all the country N. and W. of it. On Feb. 11, 1811, an Act of Congress enabled the inhabitants to form a constitution and State government; and by a subsequent act, the territory of Orleans was admitted to the Union, under the title of the State of Louisiana, on April 30, 1812. The State seceded from the Union Jan. 25, 1861, and became the theater of important military operations during the ensuing Civil War. On July 13, 1868, Louisiana was readmitted to representation in the Federal Congress, and in 1877, the governments growing out of reconstruction ceased and stable government was resumed. With this resumption has come the era of progress, which is shown in the foregoing.