hundred negroes from the Guinea coast were imported in 1719, and many hundreds more soon followed. The Law company eventually came to an end fatal to its creditors in France, but its misfortunes did not check the prosperity of “Louisiana.” The company retained its grant of the colony until 1731, when it reverted to the crown. Meantime New Orleans had become the seat of government in 1722. In 1766 an official census showed a total population of 5552. The years of royal rule were uneventful. Cotton culture began in 1740, and sugar-cane was successfully introduced from Santo Domingo by the Jesuits in 1751. Tafia rum and a waxy, sticky sugar syrup subsequently became important products; but not until the end of the century were the means found to crystallize sugar and so give real prosperity to the industry.
By a secret treaty of the 3rd of November 1762, “Louisiana” was transferred from France to Spain. This treaty was not made public for a year and a half, and Spain did not take full possession of the colony until 1769. By a treaty between Spain and France on the one hand and Great Britain and Portugal on the other, signed at Paris in February 1763, all that portion lying E. of the Mississippi river, the Iberville river, and Lakes Maurepas and Pontchartrain was ceded to Great Britain. The international interests thus created, and others that sprang from them, heavily burdened the diplomacy, and even threatened the safety of the United States after they were placed in possession of the eastern bank of the Mississippi down to 31° in 1783.
The news of the cession of the colony to Spain roused strong discontent among the colonists. Antonio de Ulloa (1716-1795), a distinguished Spanish naval officer and scholar, came to New Orleans in 1766 to take possession for his king. Merchants, people, and many civil officers held toward him from the beginning a hostile attitude; the military, especially, refused to pass into the Spanish service as stipulated in the treaty; and Ulloa was compelled to continue in an ambiguous and anomalous position—which his lack of military force probably first compelled him to assume—ruling the colony through the French governor, Philippe Aubry (who loyally supported him throughout), without publicly exhibiting his powers. The fear of Spanish commercial laws powerfully stimulated resistance to the transfer, and though Ulloa made commercial and monetary concessions, they were not sufficient. When the colonists found protests at Paris unavailing, they turned to the idea of independence, but sought in vain the armed support of the British at Pensacola. Nevertheless they compelled Ulloa to leave the colony or exhibit his credentials. He took his leave in November 1768. The open resistance by the colonists (October 1768) was a carefully planned revolt. There is no doubt that the men who led the Creole opposition contemplated independence, and this gives the incident peculiar interest. In the summer of 1769 Alejandro O’Reilly came to New Orleans with a strong military force (3600 troops). Beginning his rule with an affability that allayed suspicions and securing from Aubry proofs against the popular leaders, he invited them to a reception and arrested them while they were his guests. Five were put to death and others were imprisoned at Havana. O’Reilly put down the rebellion with determination and in accord with the instructions of his king. Regarded without republican sympathies, and in the light of 18th-century doctrines of allegiance, his acts, however severe, in no way deserve the stigma of cruelty ordinarily put upon them. He was liberal and enlightened in his general rule.
Among the incidents of these troubled years was the arrival in Louisiana (after 1765) of some hundreds of French exiles from Acadia, who made their homes in the Attakapas country. There their descendants live to-day, still somewhat primitively, and still in somewhat of the glamour thrown over land and people by the Evangeline of Longfellow.
On the 18th of August 1769 Louisiana was formally transferred to Spain. Spanish law and Spanish tongue replaced the French officially, but the colony remained essentially French. The Spanish rulers made efforts to govern wisely and liberally, showing great complaisance, particularly in heeding the profit of the colony, even at the expense of Spanish colonial commercial regulations. The judicial system was much improved, a better grade of officials became the rule, many French Creoles were appointed to office, intermarriages of French and Spanish and even English were encouraged by the highest officials, and in general a liberal and conciliatory policy was followed, which made Louisiana under Spanish rule quiet and prosperous. Bernardo de Galvez (1756-1794), a brilliant young officer of twenty-one, when he became the governor of the colony, was one of the most liberal of the Spanish rulers and of all the most popular. During the American War of Independence he gave valuable aid to the United States; and when Spain finally joined in the war against Great Britain, Galvez, in a series of energetic and brilliant campaigns (1779-1781), captured all the important posts in the British colony of West Florida. The chief interest of the Spanish period lies in the advance of settlement in the western territories of the United States, the international intrigues—British, French and Spanish—involving the future of the valley, the demand of the United States for free navigation on the Mississippi, and the growing consciousness of the supreme importance of the river and New Orleans to the Union. With the Spanish governor Estevan Miro, who succeeded Galvez in 1785, James Wilkinson of Kentucky, arrested at New Orleans with a flat-boat of supplies in 1787, intrigued, promising him that Kentucky would secede from the United States and would join the Spanish; but Wilkinson was unsuccessful in his efforts to carry out this plan. In 1794 Spain, hard pressed by Great Britain and France, turned to the United States, and by the treaty of 1794 the Mississippi river was recognized by Spain as the western boundary of the United States, separating it from Louisiana, and free navigation of the Mississippi was granted to citizens of the United States, to whom was granted for three years the right “to deposit their merchandise and effects in the port of New Orleans, and to export them from thence without paying any other duty than a fair price for the hire of the stores.” At the expiration of the three years the Spanish governor refused the use of New Orleans as a place of deposit, and contrary to the treaty named no other port in its place. Spanish rule, however, came unexpectedly to an end by the retrocession of Louisiana to France in 1800; and French dominion gave way in turn in 1803—as the result of a chain of events even more unexpected, startling, and for the United States fortunate—to the rule of the last-named country. On the 30th of November 1803 the representatives of the French republic received formal possession from the Spanish governor, and on the 20th of December lower Louisiana was transferred to the United States. (See Louisiana Purchase.)
By an Act of Congress of the 25th of March 1804, that portion of the Louisiana Purchase S. of 33° was organized as the Territory of Orleans, and was given a government less democratic than might otherwise have been the case, because it was intended to prepare gradually for self-government the French and Spanish inhabitants of the territory, who desired immediate statehood. The foreign slave-trade was forbidden by this organic act. English was made the official language. The introduction of English law, and the changes made in the judicial and legal systems of Louisiana after 1804 have already been described.
The machinations of Aaron Burr are of interest in connexion with Louisiana annals, and likewise the settlement and revolutionizing of West Florida by Americans. In November 1811 a convention met at New Orleans and framed a constitution under which, on the 30th of April 1812, the Territory of Orleans became the state of Louisiana. A few days later the portion of West Florida between the Mississippi and Pearl rivers (the present “Florida Parishes”) was included in its boundaries, making them as they are to-day. In this same year the first steamboat reached New Orleans. It descended the Ohio and Mississippi from Pittsburg, whence there had already been a thriving river trade to New Orleans for about thirty years. During the War of 1812 a decisive victory was won by the American forces at Chalmette, near New Orleans, on the 8th of January 1815. Up
- Other acts bearing on Territorial government are those of the 31st of October 1803 and the 23rd of March 1805.