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Monday, September 13, 2010

The French influence in louisiana

    Ok, in my blog I say alot of stuff about being cajun and use some french words. To all my viewers out there, I just wanted to let you know where that comes from. All of louisiana has some french influence espacialy in south Louisiana.Cities and streets in Louisiana with French names, primarily in New Orleans and in the Acadiana area. No, people in Louisiana don't typically speak french or creole, however, a small portion of people in the acadiana area (in and around Lafayette) speak a version of French usually referred to as Cajun French. Both cajun and creole cooking techniques are partly influenced by French cooking techniques and the law of the State is based on French civil law which is different from the rest of the country where the law is based on British common law.So here is some of the History of the French influence in Louisiana.
     The story of the French in St. Louis was a part of the struggle of several European powers to dominate North America during the colonial era. The French were eager to start a colonial empire based on furs, trade, and sugar cane. They colonized four major areas in the Western Hemisphere: the North Atlantic maritime region, which became known as Acadia; the St.Lawrence River Valley and the Great Lakes, known as New France; the lower Mississippi river Valley and the Gulf Coast region, known as Louisiana; and various island holding in the Caribbean (the West Indies). In 1685, Henri Tonti established Poste des Arkansas on the Mississippi River; the French founded Natchitoches, Louisiana, in 1714, and New Orleans four years later.

    The French colonial empire was centered on the Caribbean island of Santo Domingo, with its cash crop of sugar cane. Louisiana, extending from New Orleans up the Missouri River to modern-day Montana, served as a granary for this empire and produced flour, grain, salt, furs, and lumber for the sugar islands. The Mississippi River was the major avenue of transportation, settlement, and trade.

    With European competition for America's resources came friction and a series of wars in America and Europe. By 1762, the French knew that they would lose the Seven Years War (called the French and Indian War in America), and with it their entire North American empire. The French did not want the British to possess Louisiana, and so ceded the area west of the Mississippi to Spain, which administered the colony for 40 years. By the terms of the 1763 Treaty of Fountainbleau, the British received the portion of Louisiana east of the Mississippi.

    In late December 1763, Pierre Laclede, a partner in the New Orleans fur trading company of Maxent, Laclede and Company, paddled his way up the Mississippi landing 18 miles south of the junction of the Mississippi and Missouri rivers. Laclede sought a suitable place to establish an Indian fur trading post, and chose a site near the present location of the Gateway Arch. At the time, the site consisted of a narrow, flat bank topped by rocky limestone bluffs. Laclede's 13 year old stepson, Auguste Chouteau, returned to the site on February 14, 1764 with a small group of men, including several African-Americans, to begin construction of a village. Laclede predicted that the site, named St. Louis in honor of France's King Louis IX, "might become, hereafter, one of the finest cities" of the continent, "by its locality and central position." Laclede and Chouteau realized that with the English moving into the Mississippi Valley, most of the French inhabitants of Illinois would be eager to move across the river to territory held by the Spaniards.

    By 1770, when the first Spanish governor arrived, the small community of St. Louis had taken shape. French settlers from Illinois brought windows, doors, and other parts of their houses across the river to start anew. They came to take advantage of the fertile soil on the west side of the river, and the protection that the new town offered from the English and Indians. The community of St. Louis was composed of French Canadians who had settled in Illinois in the late 1600s, and other French people from the Louisiana coast and Europe. With them they brought many African slaves, who were regulated by Roman law. This meant that slaves could earn money by working evenings and weekends, and could purchase their own freedom. The area's Indians were friendly to the French settlers, and enabled the community to thrive.

    Laclede and his patterned St. Louis after other French colonial cities of the day, especially new Orleans. The block where the south leg of the Arch now stands was reserved as a public square, known as the Place d'Armes or Place de Publique. Directly behind this square was the founder's home, which served as Laclede's residence and also as a headquarters for the growing village. The company block was set aside a short distance to the west, and adjoined the church square (where the Old Cathedral stands today), a religious center for the Catholic town. Father Gibault dedicated a temporary log chapel on the site in 1770 for the Roman Catholic Church. The first church bell of the village, hung in 1774, may still be seen in the museum of the Old Cathedral. A second, larger log church was constructed in 1776 and stood until 1820. In May 1818, Bishop Louis DuBourg laid the cornerstone for his brick cathedral; the present "Old Cathedral" was not built until 1834.

    All other land besides the company block and the church plot was given away by the Maxent-Laclede company to encourage settlement. Each lot was enclosed by a log palisade, called pieux en terre (stakes in earth). Some of the larger stone houses were surrounded by stone walls, and had courts or gardens which enclosed not only the house, but slave quarters as well. Great attention was paid to gardening, and orchards of apple and peach trees were also planted. At the top of the hill behind the town (today's Broadway) stood the Coteau des Granges (Hill of Barns), where the community's livestock, hay and grain were stored. The common fields (commune), used as community farm land, ran south to the River des Peres, seven miles away.

    Except for the church, the cluster of barns on the hill, and the fortification, nearly all community activities took place in the homes of private citizens. There were no retail districts, no waterfront warehouses, and no industrial centers. Houses were built in the Poste a terre fashion, and on average sheltered about five persons. When large trading parties returned from the upper Missouri, houses were crowded, for there were no inns or hotels. The houses varied in size from the very small to the home of Labusciere, the mason and carpenter, which was 66 feet long. They were topped by the steep French hip roof adopted from Canada, had casement windows, and were sided by a porch or "galerie" adopted from New Orleans and the Caribbean, which sometimes extended to all four sides of a building.

    St. Louis was administered by the Spanish from Havana, Cuba, by a Royal Governor located in New Orleans. Two Lieutenant Governors, one in Natchez and the other at St. Louis, supervised affairs and commerce along the Mississippi. Few Spaniards, however, ever lived in the colony. The French people of the Mississippi Valley gave their communities bitter nicknames fitting for frontier settlements; Carondelet was Vide Poche (empty pockets); Ste. Genevieve was Miseré (miserable), and St. Louis was Pain Court (short of bread). They gathered together in villages for reasons of security and sociability. In St. Louis, farmers lived alongside artisans, and houses formed compact residential blocks separate from pastured and cultivated fields. In this respect, early St. Louis resembled the old villages of Europe. There was a sawmill and two windmills for grinding grain, a bakery and a maple sugar works, and of course, in a town based on the fur trade, there were tanneries.

    In 1779 Spain, after years of covert help to the American cause, entered the Revolutionary War against England as an ally of France. (Spain never openly allied with the Americans). In St. Louis, a stone tower was built by order of Spanish Governor Fernando DeLeyba at the corner of today's Walnut and Broadway. Named Fort San Carlos, it was this simple stone watchtower which saved the city of St. Louis from destruction from a combined group of British subjects and Indian warriors who attacked on May 26, 1780. Sioux, Sac, Fox, and Winnebago warriors fell upon the community and its barely-completed entrenchments, killing several settlers and slaves who were tending the fields on the outskirts of town. The firing alerted the able-bodied male populace, who were all militiamen. The battle lasted two hours, with 21 villagers killed and 71 captured. The attack was repulsed, and the British were prevented from obtaining control of the Mississippi.

    In 1783, as part of the settlement of the Revolutionary War, the Mississippi River became the border between the new United States and Spain. Spanish Governor Esteban Miro (1782-1791) noted the growing westward migration of the Americans; he allowed settlement in Louisiana only if the newcomers pledged themselves to Spain and the Catholic Church.

    An era came to an end with the purchase of Louisiana by the United States from France in 1803. An official transfer ceremony was held in St. Louis on March 9, 1804, when Captain Amos Stoddard, a U.S. Artillery officer, received the territory for France, and Captain Meriwether Lewis delivered the territory for Spain, along with the Spanish Governor, Delessus. The following day, the French tricolor came down, and the stars and stripes were up the pole.



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