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The Treaty of Fontainebleau was a secret agreement signed on November 13, 1762, in which Francemarker ceded Louisiana to Spainmarker. The treaty followed the last battle in the French and Indian War in North America at the Battle of Signal Hillmarker which solidified the Britishmarker routing of the French in September 1762. However, the associated world Seven Years War continued to rage. Faced with certain prospects of losing its territory in Canadamarker French King Louis XV proposed to Spanish King Charles III of Spain on November 13, 1762 to give Spain "the country known as Louisiana, as well as New Orleansmarker and the island in which the city is situated." Carlos accepted on November 13, 1762.

The territory as proposed would have included the vast Louisiana territory on both sides of the Mississippi River (including the vast Illinois Country on the east side). The treaty was kept secret even at the signing of the Treaty of Paris which formally ended the Seven Years War. The specific terms of the 1763 treaty deeded the land west of the Mississippi to the French while keeping the lands east of the Mississippi (including Baton Rouge, Louisianamarker and the Illinois Country) to the British. The Treaty of Paris provided a period of 18 months in which the French Canadians could freely emigrate. As a result many of the emigrants, whose descendants are today known as Cajuns, moved to Louisiana where they were to discover that France had also ceded Louisiana to Spain.

In a letter dated April 21, 1764, Louis sent a letter to Louisiana Governor Charles Philippe Aubry informing him of the transition:

Hoping, moreover, that His Catholic Majesty will be pleased to give his subjects of Louisiana the marks of protection and good will which only the misfortunes of war have prevented from being more effectual.


Settlers did not accept the transition, and even ran off the first Spanish governor. Alejandro O'Reilly (actually an Irishman) suppressed the Rebellion of 1768 and formally raised the Spanish flag in the territory in 1769. Both sides of the Mississippi including Baton Rouge which was ceded to the British and then sent back to West Florida after the American Revolutionary War were united again in the Louisiana Purchase in 1803 and Adams-Onís Treaty in 1819. The treaty solidified the Spanish empire of New Spain, stretching from Florida to the Mississippi River to the Pacific Oceanmarker, and north to modern day Canadamarker. The treaty also maintained Catholic social and cultural control over the region (as opposed to the perceived prospects of Protestant control if the British had taken the territory).

References

  1. Herbermann, Charles. The Catholic Encyclopedia: An International Work of Reference on the Constitution, Doctrine, Discipline, and History of the Catholic Church. Encyclopedia Press, 1913, p. 380 (Original from Harvard University).



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