Today in History – France claims Louisiana

April 9,1682, Robert La Salle claimed lower Mississippi River and all lands that touch it for France. This French explorator (“René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle“)  had departed Fort Crevecoeur with a group of Frenchmen and Native Americacan, and sailed down the Mississippi River. He named the Mississippi basin “La Louisiane” in honor of Louis XIV and claimed it for France. At what later became the site of Memphis, Tennessee, he built the small Fort Prudhomme. On April 9, 1682, at the mouth of the Mississippi River near modern Venice, Louisiana, he buried an engraved plate and a cross, claiming the territory for France.


French Acadians, who came to be known as Cajuns, settled the swamps of southern Louisiana, especially in the Atchafalaya Basin. With the growth in slavery, in 1724, the colony adopted Louis XV’s “Code Noir” (Black Code) in Louisiana. Louis XIV’s “Code Noir” dates to the late seventeenth century. It was nominally to protect the living and working conditions for African slaves. They were treated as slaves, inferior beings, which is a crime against humanity, but under the French rule, they gained rights for a minimal independence and decency (no work Sundays, right to fabric goods they could sell for their own for example). Their life changed brutally when Louisiana became American territory, the slave status being downgraded to nothing but disposable animals.


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