Louisiana (New Spain)

Spanish colonial Louisiana
Luisiana
District of New Spain

1762–1802
FlagCoat of arms
Cross of BurgundyCoat of arms
Location of New Spain
Louisiana (New Spain) (1762)
CapitalNueva Orleans
History
 • Acquisition from France1762
 • Return to France15 October 1802
Political subdivisionsUpper Louisiana;
Lower Louisiana
Today part of Canada
 United States
DeSoto claiming the Mississippi, as depicted in the United States Capitol rotunda

Louisiana (Spanish: Luisiana) was the name of an administrative district of the Viceroyalty of New Spain from 1762 to 1802 that consisted of territory west of the Mississippi River basin, plus New Orleans. Spain acquired the territory from France, which had named it La Louisiane in honor of King Louis XIV in 1682. It is sometimes known as Spanish Louisiana. The district was retroceded to France, under the terms of the Third Treaty of San Ildefonso (1800) and the Treaty of Aranjuez (1801). In 1802, King Charles IV of Spain published a royal bill on 15 October, effecting the transfer and outlining the conditions.

However, Spain agreed to continue administering the colony until French officials arrived and formalized the transfer (1803). The ceremony was conducted at the Cabildo in New Orleans on 30 November 1803, just three weeks before the formalities of cession from France to the United States pursuant to the Louisiana Purchase.

History

History of Louisiana
Flag of Louisiana.svg Louisiana portal

Spain was largely a benign absentee landlord administering it from Havana, Cuba, and contracting out governing to people from many nationalities as long as they swore allegiance to Spain. During the American War of Independence, the Spanish funneled their supplies to the American revolutionists through New Orleans and the vast Louisiana territory beyond.

In keeping with being absentee landlords, Spanish efforts to turn Louisiana into a Spanish colony were usually fruitless. For instance, while Spanish officially was the only language of government, the majority of the populace firmly continued to speak French. Even official business conducted at the Cabildo often lapsed into French, requiring a translator on hand.[citation needed]

Slavery

When Alejandro O'Reilly re-established Spanish rule in 1769, he issued a decree on December 7, 1769, which banned the trade of Native American slaves.[1] Although there was no movement toward abolition of the African slave trade, Spanish rule introduced a new law called coartación, which allowed slaves to buy their freedom, and that of others.[2]

A group of maroons led by Jean Saint Malo resisted re-enslavement from their base in the swamps east of New Orleans between 1780 and 1784.[3]

Pointe Coupée conspiracy

On May 4, 1795, 57 slaves and three local white men were put on trial in Point Coupee. At the end of the trial 23 slaves were hanged, 31 slaves received a sentence of flogging and hard labor, and the three white men were deported, with two being sentenced to six years forced labor in Havana.[1]