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Louisiana (New Spain): Map


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DeSoto claiming the Mississippi as depicted in the United States capitol rotunda

Louisiana ( , ) was the name of an administrative district of New Spain from 1764 to 1803 that represented territory west of the Mississippi River basin, plus New Orleans, Louisianamarker. Spain acquired the territory from France: see Louisiana .

The area, comprising what is now known as the Louisiana Purchase, was turned over to the French for a few days in 1803 before it, in turn, was turned over to the United States.

Spain was to be largely a benign absentee landlord administering it from Havanamarker, Cubamarker and contracting out governing to people from many nationalities as long as they swore allegiance to Spain.

Although only maintaining it for 36 years, the Spanish were the ones who in fact were responsible for establishing much of New Orleans and Louisiana character that are normally associated with the French. Further, the Spanish control was to continue Catholic influence in the region.


Spanish Exploration

French Control

Spanish Control

St. Louis Cathedral

French Control

  • 1800 - In Third Treaty of San Ildefonso Napoleon secretly acquires the territory but Spain continues to administer it
  • 1801 - United States permitted to use New Orleans
  • 1803 - Announcement of Louisiana Purchase by United States
  • 1803 - Spain refuses Lewis and Clark permission to travel up the Missouri River since the transfer from France has never been made official. They spend winter in Illinois at Camp Dubois
  • 1804 - France officially takes control in December 1803 but word is not conveyed to St. Louis until 1804 at Three Flags Day


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