American History and Genealogy Project

State of Louisiana

Page 356

Louisiana, the southernmost of the southern United States, is bounded n. by Arkansas and Mississippi; e. by Mississippi, from which it is separated by the Mississippi river, to the 31° n. lat., thence e. on that parallel to Pearl River, and down that river to its mouth; e. and s. by the Gulf of Mexico; and w. by Texas, from which it is separated by the Sabine river to 32° n. lat., and thence due N. to lat. 33° n., the s. boundary of Arkansas. It is 240 miles long from n. to s., and 210 broad from e. to w., containing 45,350 square miles, or 29,024,000 acres. The population in 1810, was 76,556; in 1820, 153,407; in 1830, 215,575; in 1840, 352,411, of which 168,452 were slaves. Of the free population 89,747 were white males; 68,710 do. females; 11,526 colored males; 13,976 do. females. Employed in agriculture, 79,289; in commerce, 8,549; in manufactures and trades, 7,565; navigating the ocean, 1,322; canals, lakes, &c, 662; learned professions, 1,018.

This state is divided into 38 parishes, which, with their population in 1840, and their capitals, were as follows:

County, Population, Capital

Eastern District
Ascension, 6,951, Donaldsonville Madison, 5,142, Richmond
Assumption, 7,141, Napoleonville Orleans, 102,193, New Orleans
Baton Rouge, e., 8,138, Baton Rouge Plaquemine, 5,060, Fort Jackson
Baton Rouge, w., 4,638, w. Baton Rouge C. H. Point Coupee, 7,898, Point Coupee
Carroll, 4,237, Providence St. Bernard, 3,237, St. Bernard C. H.
Concordia, 9,414, Vidalia St. Charles, 4,700, St. Charles C. H.
Feliciana, e., 11,893, Clinton St. Helena, 3,525, Greensburg
Feliciana, w., 10,910, St. Francisville St. James, 8,548, Bringiers
Iberville, 8,495, Plaquemine St. John Baptist, 5,776, Bonnet Carre
Jefferson, 10,470, La Fayette St. Tammany, 4,598, Covington
Lafourche Interior, 7,303, Thibodeauxville Terre Bonne, 4,410, Houma
Livingston 2,315, Springfield Washington, 2,649, Franklinton
Western District
Avoyelles, 6,616, Marksville Natchitoches, 14,350, Natchitoches
Caddo, 5,282, Shreveport Rapides, 14,132, Alexandria
Calcasieu, 2,057, Lisbon St. Landry, 15,233, Opelousas
Caldwell, 2,017, Columbia St. Martin's, 8,676, St. Martinsville
Catahoola, 4,955, Harrisonburg St. Mary's, 8,950, Franklin
Claiborne, 6,185, Overton Union, 1,838, Farmersville
La Fayette, 7,841, Vermilionville Washita, 4,640, Monroe

New Orleans is the seat of government, on the n. bank of the Mississippi river, 105 miles from its entrance into the Gulf of Mexico.

Below the mouth of the Red River the Mississippi divides into several branches, or outlets, which diverging from each other, slowly wind their way to the Gulf of Mexico, and divide the southwestern part of the state into a number of large islands. The western of these outlets is the Atchafalaya, which leaves the main stream 3 miles below the mouth of Red River, and, inclining eastward, flows into Atchafalaya bay in the Gulf of Mexico. About 128 miles below the Atchafalaya, is the outlet of Plaquemine, the main stream of which unites with the Atchafalaya; but other portions of it intersect the country in different directions. Thirty-one miles below the Plaquemini and 81 above New Orleans, is the outlet of Lafourche, which communicates with the Gulf of Mexico by two mouths. Below the Lafourche, numerous other smaller streams branch off from the river at various points. On the east side of the Mississippi the principal outlet is the Iberville, which communicates with the Gulf of Mexico through lakes Maurepas, Pontchartrain, and Borgne. The whole territory between the Atchafalaya on the west, and the Iberville, &c, on the east, is called the Delta of the Mississippi, from its resemblance in shape to the Greek letter of that name. A large extent of country in this state is annually overflowed by the Mississippi. From lat. 32° to 31°, the average width of the land inundated is 20 miles: from lat. 31° to the outlet of Lafourche, a little above lat. 30°, the width is 40 miles. Below the Lafourche, the country generally is over flowed. The lands thus overflowed, including those on the Red River, amount to 10,890 sq. miles; though the inundation is not complete, but consists of innumerable canals and lakes, which are interspersed everywhere. The country actually submerged would not, probably, exceed 4,000 sq. miles. More earth is deposited by the Mississippi in its overflow on its immediate margin than further back; and, consequently, the land is higher adjoining the river than it is in the rear of its banks. This alluvial margin, of a breadth from 400 yards to a mile and a half, is a rich soil, and to prevent the river from inundating the valuable tract in the rear, and which could not be drained, an artificial embankment is raised on the margin of the river, called the Levee. On the east side of the river, this embankment commences 60 miles above New Orleans, and extends down the river for more than 130 miles. On the west shore, it commences at Point Coupee, 172 miles above New Orleans. Along this portion of the river, its sides present many beautiful and finely cultivated plantations, and a continued succession of pleasant residences. The southwestern part of the state consists of swamps, on the margin of the Gulf, but of prairies further inland, some parts of which are barren, but others fertile, and containing flourishing settlements. This country is elevated not more than from 10 to 50 feet above high tide. The country between the Mississippi, Iberville, and Pearl rivers, in its southern parts, is generally level, and highly productive in cotton, sugar, rice, corn, and indigo. The northern part has an undulating surface, and has a heavy natural growth of white, red, and yellow oak, hickory, black walnut, sassafras, magnolia, and poplar. In the northwestern part, the Red river, after entering the state by a single channel, and flowing about 30 miles, spreads out into a number of channels, forming many lakes, and islands, and swamps, over a space of 50 miles long and 6 broad. The bottoms on the river are from 1 to 10 miles wide, and are very fertile. The timber on them is willow, cottonwood, honey locust, pawpaw, and buckeye; on the rich uplands, elm, ash, hickory, mulberry, black walnut, with a profusion of grape vines. On the less fertile and sandy uplands of the state are white, pitch, and yellow pines, and various kinds of oak.

The staple productions of the state are cotton, sugar, and rice. In 1840 there were in the state, 39,838 horses and mules; 331,248 neat cattle; 98,072 sheep; 323,220 swine; poultry to the value; of $233,559. There were produced 60 bushels of wheat; 107,353 of oats; 1,812 of rye; 5,952,912 of Indian corn; 834,341 of potatoes; 24,651 tons of hay; 49,283 pounds of wool; 1,012 of wax; 119,824 of tobacco; 3,604,534 of rice; 152,555,368 of cotton; 119,947,720 of sugar. The products of the dairy were valued at $153,069; of the orchard at $11,769; of lumber at $66,106. There were made 2,884 of gallons of wine; and 2,233 barrels of tar, pitch, &c

New Orleans is the place where the trade of the vast Mississippi valley centers, and its commerce is extensive.

The winters in this state are mild; though more severe than in the same latitude on the Atlantic Coast. The summers in the wet and marshy parts are unhealthy. New Orleans has frequently been visited by the yellow fever. But a considerable portion of the state is healthy.

The Mississippi divides this state from the state of Mississippi for a considerable distance, and in its lower parts runs wholly in this state, where it enters the Gulf of Mexico by several passes. It is navigable for vessels of any size. The Red River runs through the state in a s. e. direction, and discharges a vast amount of water into the Mississippi, 240 miles above New Orleans, the Washita runs in a s. direction in the n. part of the state, and enters Red River, a little above s entrance into the Mississippi. Bayou Lafourche and Atchafalaya are large outlets of the Mississippi. The other rivers are the Black, Tensaw, Sabine, Calcasieu, Mermentau, Vermilion, Teche, Pearl, Amite, and Iberville.

The largest lakes are Pontchartrain, Maurepas, Borgne, Chetimaches, Mermentau, Calcasieu and Sabine.

The exports of this state in 1840, amounted to $34,236,936; and the imports to $10,673,190. There were 24 commercial, and 381 commission houses engaged in foreign trade, with a capital of 16,770,000; and 2,465 retail drygoods and other stores, with a capital of $14,301,024; 597 persons are employed in the lumber trade, with a capital of $260,045; 3 persons employed in internal transportation, with 291 butchers, packers, &c, employed a capital of $144,523. The amount of homemade or family articles manufactured, was $65,190; 2 cotton manufactories, ith 706 spindles, employed 23 persons, producing articles to the amount of $18,900, with a capital of $22,000; 6 furnaces produced 1,400 tons of cast iron, and 2 forges produced 1,366 tons of bar iron, employing 145 persons, and a capital of $357,000; 25 tanneries employed 88 persons, and capital of $132,025; 7 other manufactories of leather, as saddleries, &c, produced articles to the amount of $103,500, with a capital of $89,550; 1 pottery employed 18 persons, producing articles to the amount of $1,000, with a capital of $3,000; 5 sugar refineries produced to the amount of $770,000; 1 persons produced confectionery to the amount of $20,000; machinery was produced to the amount of $5,000; and hardware and cutlery to the amount of $30,000; 51 persons produced carriages and wagons to the amount of $23,350, employing a capital of $15,780; mills of various kinds produced articles to the amount of $706,785, employing 972 persons, and a capital of $1,870,795; vessels were built to the amount of $30,500; 129 persons manufactured furniture to the amount of $2,300, with a capital of $576,050; 5 distilleries produced 285,520 gallons, and 1 brewery produced 2,400 gallons, employing 27 persons, and a capital of $110,000; 75 persons manufactured 2,202,200 pounds of soap, 3,500,030 pounds of tallow candles, 4,000 pounds of wax and spermaceti candles, with a capital of $115,500; 248 stone or brick houses, and 619 wooden houses, employed 1,484 persons, and cost $2,736,944; 35 printing offices, 5 binderies, 11 daily, 21 weekly and 2 semiweekly newspapers, and 3 periodicals, employed 392 persons, and a capital of $193,700. The whole amount of capital employed in manufactures, was $6,430,699.

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Louisiana College, at Jackson, was founded in 1825; Jefferson College, at Bringiers, was founded in 1831; St. Charles College, at Grand Coteau, is under the direction of the Catholics; Baton Rouge College, at Baton Rouge, was founded in 1838; Franklin College at Opelousas, was founded in 1839. These institutions had in 1840, 437 students. There were in the state, 52 academies, with 1,995 students; 179 common and primary schools, with 3,573 scholars, and 4,861 white persons over 20 years of age who could neither read nor write.

This state was originally settled by Catholics, who are still the most numerous denominations. In 1835, they had 27 ministers. The Methodists, Baptists, Presbyterians, and Episcopalians exist in considerable numbers, and are increasing.

At the commencement of 1840, there were 47 banks and branches in this state, with an aggregate capital of $41,736,768, and a circulation of $4,345,533. The state debt, at the close of 1840, amounted to $20,585,000.

The constitution of this state was formed in 1812. The governor is elected for four years. The people give their votes for governor at the same time that they vote for senators and representatives, and the legislature on the succeeding session elect by joint ballot a governor from the two candidates having the greatest number of votes of the people. The senators are elected for 4 years, one half being chosen every 2 years. The state is divided into 16 senatorial districts, each of which chooses a senator. The representatives are elected for two years, and cannot be less than 25 nor more than 50 in number, and they are apportioned according to the number of electors, an enumeration of which is made every 4 years. The legislature meets annually in January, except in the years of the election of President of the United States, when it meets in November.

The judges of the Supreme Court are appointed by the governor, with the consent of the senate, and hold their offices during good behavior.

This state has a number of important works of internal improvement. Pontchartrain railroad attends from New Orleans 4¼ miles to Lake Pontchartrain, at a cost of $450,000. West Feliciana railroad extends from St. Francisville, 20 miles to Woodville, Mississippi. New Orleans and Carrollton railroad extends from N. Orleans, 4½ miles to La Fayette. Orleans-street railroad, extends from N. Orleans, 4½ miles to the bay of St. Johns. The Mexico Gulf railroad, extends from N. Orleans, east to Pascagoula Sound. The Orleans Bank canal extends from N. Orleans, 6 miles to Lake Pontchartrain, and cost $1,000,000. Canal Carondelet extends from N. Orleans, H miles to the Bay of St. Johns. Barataria canal extends from N. Orleans, 85 miles to Berwick bay. Lake Veret canal extends from Lake Veret, 8 miles to Lafourche River. The N. Orleans and Nashville railroad extends 80 miles in this state, and if completed, will be 564 miles in length. It is in progress.

This country was first explored by the French, and received its name in 1682, from M. La Salle in honor of Louis XIV, and a settlement was attempted in 1684, 300 miles w. of the Mississippi but failed. In 1699 M. Iberville made an attempt to plant the country, but lost his life. His effort; were followed up by one Crozat, a man of wealth, who held the exclusive trade of the country for a number of years. About the year 1717, he transferred his interest in the province to a charters company, at the head of which was the notorious John Law, whose national bank and Mississippi speculation involved the ruin of half the French nobility. In 1731 the company resigned the concern to the crown, who in 1762, ceded the whole of Louisiana to Spain. In 1800, Spain reconveyed the province to the French, of whom it was purchased by the United States in 1803, for $15,000,000. This purchase included the territory of the United States w. of the Mississippi. In 1812, the present state of Louisiana formed a constitution, and was admitted into the Union.

Table of Contents

Source: A Complete Descriptive And Statistical Gazetteer Of The United States Of America, By Daniel Haskel, A. M and J. Calvin Smith, Published By Sherman & Smith, 1843

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