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Summer 2002
A Publication of the St. Louis Public Library

Vol. 2   No. 3

They Came From… highlights dates in the history of a particular place.



1541 Herman De Soto discovers the Mississippi River.
1543 De Soto expedition survivors, under the command of Luis de Moscoso, become the first group of white men to travel down the Mississippi River to the Gulf of Mexico.
1673 Jacques Marquette & Louis Joliet reach the Mississippi River & later verify that it flows into the Gulf of Mexico rather than the Pacific Ocean.
1682 René-Robert Cavalier de La Salle reaches the mouth of the Mississippi River & claims possession for France of the territory. He names it Louisiana.
1712 Antoine Crozat receives a royal charter giving exclusive trading rights to Louisiana.
1714 Louis Juchereau St. Denis founds Fort St. Jean Baptiste on the Red River at site of present-day Natchitoches, the first permanent settlement in Louisiana.
1717 Company set up by John Law receives exclusive charter for development in Louisiana.
1718 New Orleans is founded.
1719 The first large importation of black slaves. German families begin arriving in Louisiana. So many die of pestilence during the journey that the boats become known as the "German Pest Ships." A few hundred survivors eventually make their way to present-day St. Charles & St. John the Baptist Parishes, which becomes known at the German Coast (Côte des Allemands in French).
1722 A hurricane destroys much of New Orleans.
1724 "Black Code" is declared in effect. (See the Did You Know? Column for definition.)
1731 Company of the Indies resigns its monopoly. Louisiana returns to royal administration.
1762 France cedes to Spain all of Louisiana west of the Mississippi by the Treaty of Fountainebleau.
1763 France cedes to England all of Louisiana east of the Mississippi by the Treaty of Paris.
1764 The first Acadians arrive in Louisiana.
1769 Alejandro O’Reilly arrives in New Orleans to take possession of Louisiana for Spain.
1793 Pope Pius VI establishes the first Diocese of Louisiana and the Floridas.
1795 A slave uprising in Pointe Coupée Parish is suppressed.
1795 Treaty of San Lorenzo gives Americans free navigation of the Mississippi River.
1800 Treaty of San Il Defonso provides for Spanish cession of Louisiana to France.
1803 Louisiana Purchase - dated April 30, signed May 2, ratified by U.S. Senate October 19.
1803 Pierre Laussat formally receives possession of Louisiana for France.
1803 U. S. Commissioners W.C.C. Claiborne & James Wilkinson formally receive possession of Louisiana for the U.S.
1804 Congress divides Louisiana Purchase into two territories with W. C. C. Claiborne as governor of the Territory of Orleans.
1811 Massive slave uprisings in St. Charles & St. John the Baptist Parishes are put down.
1812 The steamboat New Orleans arrives at the docks in New Orleans.
1812 Louisiana’s first constitution is adopted & it is formally admitted to the Union as the 18th state.
1815 Andrew Jackson’s forces defeat the British at the Battle of New Orleans (after the War of 1812 has officially ended).
1820 From 1820-1850 many of the thousands of Germans who come to Louisiana are redemptioners (indentured servants). These peasants agree to work on farms & plantations in order to support themselves & to pay for their passage to the New World.
1831 Severe storms & floods batter New Orleans. Pontchartrain Railroad begins operation with steam locomotive.
1832 An epidemic of yellow fever & cholera kills more than 5,000 people in New Orleans.
1838 New Orleans’ first Mardi Gras parade occurs.
1850 Although many German immigrants merely pass through Louisiana on their way to new lives in other states, 25,000 Germans have settled in the Pelican State.
1853 Fifty-three thousand German immigrants arrive at New Orleans—the nation’s second-leading antebellum port of entry. Louisiana’s worst yellow fever epidemic kills more than 11,000 people in New Orleans.
1860 John Breckinridge defeats John Bell & Stephen A. Douglas for Louisiana’s popular vote in the election of 1860 (Lincoln is not on the ballot).
1861 Louisiana’s Secession Convention overwhelmingly votes for secession.
1862 New Orleans captured by Federal flotilla headed by Admiral David Farragut.
1863 Siege of Port Hudson ends in Federal capture of the fort.
1864 Michael Hahn becomes Federal governor of Louisiana; Battles of Mansfield and Pleasant Hill.
1864 New constitution (Reunion) abolishes slavery. The final wave of German migration begins, peaks in 1882 & declines dra-matically by 1898. Almost 3 million German immigrants enter the U.S. during this period. New Orleans serves as initial stop for many of these new Americans, although it is not the final destination for most of the late 19th-century German immigrants.
1865 Edmund Kirby-Smith signs a surrender to Federal forces.
1867 General Philip Sheridan arrives in New Orleans to command the Fifth Military District (Louisiana & Texas) during Reconstruction.
1868 Louisiana’s Reconstruction constitution adopted.
1868 Louisiana formally readmitted to the Union.
1877 President Rutherford B. Hayes withdraws Federal troops from Louisiana, thus ending Reconstruction in the state.
1878 Yellow fever epidemic kills more than 5,000 people..
1879 Captain James B. Eads completes the jetty system at the mouth of the Mississippi River.
1893 A hurricane kills over 2,000 people in southern Louisiana & Mississippi.
1909 Louisiana’s last yellow fever epidemic occurs.
1915 A hurricane & flood devastate New Orleans.
1921 Louisiana adopts a new constitution.
1927 The worst flood in U.S. history devastates 1.3 million acres of land & leaves 300,000 people homeless.

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