Louisiana County Histories

When the United States won its independence from Great Britain in 1783, one of its major concerns was having a European power on its western boundary, and the need for unrestricted access to the Mississippi River. As American settlers pushed west, they found that the Appalachian Mountains provided a barrier to shipping goods eastward.

Flag of LouisianaThe easiest way to ship produce was to use a flatboat to float it down the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers to the port of New Orleans, from whence goods could be put on ocean-going vessels. The problem with this route was that the Spanish owned both sides of the Mississippi below Natchez.

Thomas Jefferson authorized Robert R. Livingston, U.S. Minister to France, to negotiate for the purchase of the City of New Orleans, portions of the east bank of the Mississippi, and free navigation of the river for U.S. commerce. Livingston was authorized to pay up to $2 million.

When an initial deal fell through, President Jefferson ignored public pressure for war with France, and appointed James Monroe a special envoy to Napoleon, to assist in obtaining New Orleans for the United States. Jefferson also raised the authorized expenditure to $10 million.

However, on April 11, 1803, French Foreign Minister Talleyrand surprised Livingston by asking how much the United States was prepared to pay for the entirety of Louisiana, not just New Orleans and the surrounding area. Monroe agreed with Livingston that Napoleon might withdraw this offer at any time (leaving them with no ability to obtain the desired New Orleans area), and that approval from President Jefferson might take months, so Livingston and Monroe decided to open negotiations immediately.

Louisiana Purchase, 1804

Louisiana Purchase, 1804

By April 30, they closed a deal for the purchase of the entire Louisiana territory of 828,000 square miles for 60 million Francs (approximately $15 million). Part of this sum was used to forgive debts owed by France to the United States. The payment was made in United States bonds, which Napoleon sold at face value to the Dutch firm of Hope and Company, and the British banking house of Baring, at a discount of $87.50 for each $100 unit. As a result, France received only $8,831,250 in cash for Louisiana.

When news of the purchase reached the United States, Jefferson was surprised. He had authorized the expenditure of $10 million for a port city, and instead received treaties committing the government to spend $15 million on a land package which would double the size of the country.

Jefferson’s political opponents in the Federalist Party argued that the Louisiana purchase was a worthless desert, and that the Constitution did not provide for the acquisition of new land or negotiating treaties without the consent of the Senate. What really worried the opposition was the new states which would inevitably be carved from the Louisiana territory, strengthening Western and Southern interests in Congress, and further reducing the influence of New England Federalists in national affairs.

President Jefferson was an enthusiastic supporter of westward expansion, and held firm in his support for the treaty. Despite Federalist objections, the U.S. Senate ratified the Louisiana treaty on October 20, 1803. In New Orleans on November 30, 1803, General James Wilkinson accepted possession of New Orleans for the United States.

Collection Details

  1. THEODORE CLAPP, AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES AND RECOLLECTIONS DURING A 35 YEARS RESIDENCE IN NEW ORLEANS, PHILLIPS, SAMPSON & CO, 1857
  2. BIOGRAPHICAL AND HISTORICAL MEMOIRS OF LOUISIANA: EMBRACING AN AUTHENTIC AND COMPREHENSIVE ACCOUNT OF THE CHIEF EVENTS IN THE HISTORY OF THE STATE, A SPECIAL SKETCH OF EVERY PARISH, GOODSPEED, 1892
  3. BIOGRAPHICAL AND HISTORICAL MEMOIRS OF NATCHITOCHES PARISH, LOUISIANA , SOUTHERN PUBLISHING CO., 1890
  4. HISTORY OF AVOYELLES PARISH LOUISIANA; BIOGRAPHICAL AND HISTORICAL MEMOIRS OF NORTHWEST LOUISIANA, SOUTHERN PUBLISHING CO., 1890
  5. HISTORY OF BIENVILLE PARISH LOUISIANA; BIOGRAPHICAL AND HISTORICAL MEMOIRS OF NORTHWEST LOUISIANA, SOUTHERN PUBLISHING CO., 1890
  6. HISTORY OF BOSSIER PARISH LOUISIANA; BIOGRAPHICAL AND HISTORICAL MEMOIRS OF NORTHWEST LOUISIANA, SOUTHERN PUBLISHING CO., 1890
  7. HISTORY OF CADDO PARISH LOUISIANA; BIOGRAPHICAL AND HISTORICAL MEMOIRS OF NORTHWEST LOUISIANA, SOUTHERN PUBLISHING CO., 1890
  8. HISTORY OF CLAIBORNE PARISH LOUISIANA; BIOGRAPHICAL AND HISTORICAL MEMOIRS OF NORTHWEST LOUISIANA, SOUTHERN PUBLISHING CO., 1890
  9. HISTORY OF DE SOTO PARISH LOUISIANA; BIOGRAPHICAL AND HISTORICAL MEMOIRS OF NORTHWEST LOUISIANA, SOUTHERN PUBLISHING CO., 1890
  10. HISTORY OF GRANT PARISH LOUISIANA; BIOGRAPHICAL AND HISTORICAL MEMOIRS OF NORTHWEST LOUISIANA, SOUTHERN PUBLISHING CO., 1890
  11. E. BUNNER, HISTORY OF LOUISIANA, HARPER & BROS, 1861
  12. HISTORY OF NATCHITOCHES PARISH LOUISIANA; BIOGRAPHICAL AND HISTORICAL MEMOIRS OF NORTHWEST LOUISIANA, SOUTHERN PUBLISHING CO., 1890
  13. HISTORY OF RAPIDES PARISH LOUISIANA; BIOGRAPHICAL AND HISTORICAL MEMOIRS OF NORTHWEST LOUISIANA, SOUTHERN PUBLISHING CO., 1890
  14. HISTORY OF RED RIVER PARISH LOUISIANA; BIOGRAPHICAL AND HISTORICAL MEMOIRS OF NORTHWEST LOUISIANA, SOUTHERN PUBLISHING CO., 1890
  15. HISTORY OF SABINE PARISH LOUISIANA; BIOGRAPHICAL AND HISTORICAL MEMOIRS OF NORTHWEST LOUISIANA, SOUTHERN PUBLISHING CO., 1890
  16. HISTORY OF SABINE PARISH, LOUISIANNA,. , THE SABINE BANNER PRESS, 1912
  17. HISTORY OF WEBSTER PARISH LOUISIANA; BIOGRAPHICAL AND HISTORICAL MEMOIRS OF NORTHWEST LOUISIANA, SOUTHERN PUBLISHING CO., 1890
  18. HISTORY OF WINN PARISH LOUISIANA; BIOGRAPHICAL AND HISTORICAL MEMOIRS OF NORTHWEST LOUISIANA, SOUTHERN PUBLISHING CO., 1890
  19. ALCÈE FORTIER, LIT. D. PROFESSOR OF ROMANCE LANGUAGES IN TULANE UNIVERSITY, LOUISIANA – VOLUME I. , CENTURY HISTORICAL ASSOCIATION, 1914
  20. ALCÈE FORTIER, LIT. D. PROFESSOR OF ROMANCE LANGUAGES IN TULANE UNIVERSITY, LOUISIANA – VOLUME II. , CENTURY HISTORICAL ASSOCIATION, 1914
  21. ALCÈE FORTIER, LIT. D. PROFESSOR OF ROMANCE LANGUAGES IN TULANE UNIVERSITY, LOUISIANA – VOLUME III. , CENTURY HISTORICAL ASSOCIATION, 1914
  22. LOUISIANA; COMPRISING SKETCHES OF PARISHES, TOWNS, EVENTS, INSTITUTIONS, AND PERSONS, ARRANGED IN CYCLOPEDIC FORM VOL. 2 1914,
  23. GRACE KING, NEW ORLEANS: THE PLACE AND THE PEOPLE, MACMILLAN & CO., LTD, 1899
  24. AMOS STODDARD, SKETCHES, HISTORICAL AND DESCRIPTIVE, OF LOUISIANA, M. CAREY, 1812
  25. WILLIAM HENRY PERRIN, SOUTHWEST LOUISIANA BIOGRAPHICAL AND HISTORICAL. , THE GULF PUBLISHING COMPANY BIOGRAPHICAL AND HISTORICAL WORKS, 1891
  26. FRANCOIS BARBA-MARBOIS, THE HISTORY OF LOUISIANA: PARTICULARLY OF THE CESSION OF THAT COLONY TO THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA : WITH AN INTRODUCTORY ESSAY ON THE CONSTITUTION AND GOVERNMENT OF THE UNITED STATES, CAREY & LEA, 1830
  27. WESTON A. GOODSPEED, THE PROVINCE AND THE STATES: A HISTORY OF THE PROVINCE OF LOUISIANA UNDER FRANCE AND SPAIN, AND OF THE TERRITORIES AND STATES OF THE UNITED STATES FORMED (7 VOLS.) (VOL 1), THE WESTERN HISTORICAL ASSOCIATION, 1904
  28. WESTON A. GOODSPEED, THE PROVINCE AND THE STATES: A HISTORY OF THE PROVINCE OF LOUISIANA UNDER FRANCE AND SPAIN, AND OF THE TERRITORIES AND STATES OF THE UNITED STATES FORMED (7 VOLS.) (VOL 2), THE WESTERN HISTORICAL ASSOCIATION, 1904
  29. WESTON A. GOODSPEED, THE PROVINCE AND THE STATES: A HISTORY OF THE PROVINCE OF LOUISIANA UNDER FRANCE AND SPAIN, AND OF THE TERRITORIES AND STATES OF THE UNITED STATES FORMED (7 VOLS.) (VOL 3), THE WESTERN HISTORICAL ASSOCIATION, 1904
  30. WESTON A. GOODSPEED, THE PROVINCE AND THE STATES: A HISTORY OF THE PROVINCE OF LOUISIANA UNDER FRANCE AND SPAIN, AND OF THE TERRITORIES AND STATES OF THE UNITED STATES FORMED (7 VOLS.) (VOL 4), THE WESTERN HISTORICAL ASSOCIATION, 1904
  31. WESTON A. GOODSPEED, THE PROVINCE AND THE STATES: A HISTORY OF THE PROVINCE OF LOUISIANA UNDER FRANCE AND SPAIN, AND OF THE TERRITORIES AND STATES OF THE UNITED STATES FORMED (7 VOLS.) (VOL 5), THE WESTERN HISTORICAL ASSOCIATION, 1904
  32. WESTON A. GOODSPEED, THE PROVINCE AND THE STATES: A HISTORY OF THE PROVINCE OF LOUISIANA UNDER FRANCE AND SPAIN, AND OF THE TERRITORIES AND STATES OF THE UNITED STATES FORMED (7 VOLS.) (VOL 6), THE WESTERN HISTORICAL ASSOCIATION, 1904
  33. WESTON A. GOODSPEED, THE PROVINCE AND THE STATES: A HISTORY OF THE PROVINCE OF LOUISIANA UNDER FRANCE AND SPAIN, AND OF THE TERRITORIES AND STATES OF THE UNITED STATES FORMED (7 VOLS.) (VOL 7), THE WESTERN HISTORICAL ASSOCIATION, 1904