History of New Orleans

The mythical New Orleans is located in the state of Louisiana, in a subtropical climate. It is the most European and multicultural city in the United States. Nicknamed “Nola” or “Big Easy” for the famous nonchalance of its inhabitants, it is shaped by a rich and complex past.

A city founded in the edge of Mississippi

The history of New Orleans began in 1718. Montreal explorer Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne de Bienville founded a French colony on the southern shore of Lake Pontchartrain, which was occupied by native Americans of the Amerindian tribes. This privileged location offers easy access to the Mississippi Valley and the Gulf of Mexico. The name of the town pays homage to Philippe, Duke of Orleans, then Regent of the Kingdom of France.

The French colonization

New Orleans was first French. It was created by French settlers under the leadership of the colonist Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne, Sieur de Bienville, in 1718. So they called him in homage to the Duke of Orleans. The Duke of Orleans was Regent. He ruled France after the death of Louis XIV and until the minority of Louis XV. New Orleans became the capital of the colony of Louisiana. It has been sold and redeemed many times. It was ceded in 1762 to Spain, then to France in 1800. It was sold to the United States in 1803 by the First Consul, Napoleon Bonaparte, along with the rest of Louisiana. Its history makes it very marked by its French past.

The Duke of Orleans implemented several measures to populate and develop this strategic territory. Prisoners, vagabonds, beggars, and prostitutes are doomed to board for America. This event inspired Abbe Prevost in his novel Menon Lascaux. Slaves were also brought in from the African continent. Since its birth, New Orleans has been distinguished by its cultural intermingling due to the different communities that live there. Mixed marriages are accepted, and in some cases even encouraged, to promote population growth.

The Spanish Colonization

A first turning point occurred in 1762 when France ceded Louisiana to Spain. The significant heritage of this period is reflected in its architecture. The two great fires of 1788 and 1794 forced the Spanish to rebuild many buildings, notably in the historic French Quarter of Vieux carré. New Orleans takes on Cuban music. In 1800, the city returned to French rule for a short time.

The Creole influence of New Orleans

In 1804, the island of Santo Domingo underwent a revolution. The slaves rose and succeeded in taking power, founding Haiti: first black republic, free and independent of the modern world. About 10,000 people fled to New Orleans, doubling the local population, and introducing a new ethnic and cultural cohabitation in North America.

The acquisition of Louisiana by the United States

At the same time, Napoleon Bonaparte sold the immense territory of Louisiana to the United States. The Latin atmosphere of the city is changing under the influence of the Anglo-Saxon. The Americans are building new neighborhoods west of the old French Square in New Orleans. Canal Street separates the two areas. One is Creole, Catholic, francophone and festive, while the other is Anglo-American, Protestant, and Puritan. The culture shock is intense.

The decline of French

In the mid-19th century, New Orleans had a population of 170,000, 40% of whom were francophone. The Civil War, followed by the abolition of slavery and the mass arrival of Americans, forever transformed the face of New Orleans. The teaching of French in public schools is prohibited. Tolerance gave way to segregation, as everywhere in the southern United States.