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World Harbors from The Maritime Heritage Project in San Francisco.

Seaports of the World




United States: Louisiana

° New Orleans ° The Mississippi Bubble

The Port of New Orleans has been at the epicenter of American history for centuries: Wars were fought over it and Louisiana was purchased by the United States in order to obtain New Orleans.

The state has been governed under ten different flags beginning in 1541 with Hernando de Soto's claim of the region for Spain. La Salle later claimed it for Bourbon France and over the years Louisiana was at one time or another subject to the Union Jack of Great Britain, the Tricolor of Napoleon, the Lone Star flag of the Republic of West Florida and the fifteen stars and stripes of the United States.

In 1803, Louisiana had become a part of the United States because of the region's importance to the trade and security of the American mid-west. New Orleans and the surrounding territory controlled the mouth of the Mississippi River down which much of the produce of the mid-west travelled to reach market. To get the vital region in American hands, President Thomas Jefferson negotiated the Louisiana Purchase with Napoleon.

The New Orleans, the first steamboat to navigate the Mississippi River, arrived at New Orleans from Pittsburgh on January 10, 1812, thereby opening the river to even more commerce.

Through much of its early history Louisiana was a trading and financial center, and the fertility of its land made it one of the richest regions in America as first indigo then sugar and cotton rose to prominence in world markets. Many Louisiana planters were among the wealthiest men in America.

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Map Depicting Plantations on the Mississippi River
from Natchez to New Orleans. 1858

The plantation economy was shattered by the Civil War although the state continued to be a powerful agricultural region.

Sacramento Daily Union, October 5, 1863

The Capture of the British Steamer Sir William Pitt.

New York, October 4th.

Particulars of the capture of the British steamer Sir William Pitt show that she landed a cargo of arms, etc., in Mexican waters and took on board a cargo of cotton, when the French authorities ordered her to leave Mexican waters, which she did, coming over to the American side of the Rio Grande. Captain Orlando, of the gunboat Seminole, promptly seized her, and transferred her officers arid crew to the Seminole as prisoners of war. He sent the vessel to New Orleans. Captain Hood, of the British ship Pylades, demanded an explanation, which he received from Captain Orlando, to the effect that she had landed contraband of war in American waters and had contraband on board.

Daily Alta California, February 24, 1871

Andrew Jackson's Mother.

When Andrew Jackson left his home in North Carolina for Tennessee, his mother gave him this, advice, as related by himself to W. H. Sparks, of Georgia: "Andy." said she, (she always called me Andy), "you are going to a new country, and among rough people; you will have to depend on yourself, and cut your own way through the world; I have nothing to give you but a mother's advice. Never tell a lie, nor take what is not your own, nor sue anybody for slander or assault and battery; always settle them cases yourself." I promised, and I have tried to keep that promise."

California Farmer and Journal of Useful Sciences
January 3, 1878

Battle of New Orleans

This memorable day, the Eighth of January, should always be kept in remembrance, as one of the land marks of our Nation's Freedom. General Andrew Jackson's great battle with the Cotton Bags for bulwarks was a great victory and aided grandly in closing the great conflict of our Nation. Let us then keep in mind these events, and never forget those who were so instrumental in securing for us the great blessings our Nation now enjoys.

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General Andrew Jackson at the Battle of New Orleans

The discovery of sulphur in 1869 and oil in 1901, coupled with the rise of forestry sent the state on a new wave of economic growth.

The era of the modern Port of New Orleans began in 1879 with the construction of jetties in South Pass, one of three passes that flow from the river into the gulf. Sandbars had formed at intervals in these passes and had hindered ships entering the river since the city's founding. The jetties narrowed South Pass, forcing the river to cut a deeper channel to a depth of 30 feet (9 metres).

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New Orleans, Louisiana - Panoramic Map

The Atlanta Constitution, December 6, 1901
Atlanta, Georgia, U.S.A.

Welcome to the Crooks.
(From The New Orleans Picayune.)

New Orleans has for a century been famous for the speed and prowess of the horses that have gained their triumphs upon its turf.

Time was when the studs of the great Virginia and other noted stables were brought here by sea in sailing vessels around the capes of Florida, and the celebrated Kentucky coursers came down the great rivers in steamboats and even in the ancient arks or covered barges that floated down with the current. The ancient annals of racing are filled with the names and pedigrees of horses that won great victories and heavy purses on the old Carrollton and Metalrie courses.

Possibly the ancient glories have not in later times been so often repeated, but, nevertheless, winter racing in New Orleans is still a matter of much importance, and it is one of the winter attractions of the city.

It is true that the advent of the racing season brings not a few sharpers, thieves and other rascals; but good times and the climate are in large part responsible for that. Such scoundrels always follow prosperity, and never calamity. It is a good sign when they come, and the police force should be strengthened to look after them.

Mark Twain on the River.
Samuel Clemens - Mark Twain - at Work
Paul Rainer

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Rain on Royal Street
Diane Millsap, Artist

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The French Quarter:
An Informal History of the New Orleans Underworld

Herbert Asbury
Home to the notorious "Blue Book," which listed the names and addresses of every prostitute living in the city, New Orleans's infamous red-light district gained a reputation as one of the most raucous in the world. But the New Orleans underworld consisted of much more than the local bordellos. It was also well known as the early gambling capital of the United States, and sported one of the most violent records of street crime in the country. In The French Quarter, Herbert Asbury, author of The Gangs of New York, chronicles this rather immense underbelly of "The Big Easy." From the murderous exploits of Mary Jane "Bricktop" Jackson and Bridget Fury, two prostitutes who became famous after murdering a number of their associates, to the faux-revolutionary "filibusters" who, backed by hundreds of thousands of dollars of public support—though without official governmental approval—undertook military missions to take over the bordering Spanish regions in Texas, the French Quarter had it all. Asbury takes the reader on an intriguing, photograph-filled journey through a unique version of the American underworld.

A Walking Tour of New Orleans - The French Quarter, LouisianaWalking tour of New Orleans.


River of Dark Dreams: Slavery and Empire in the Cotton Kingdom
Walter Johnson


The Militant South, 1800-1861
John Hope Franklin
The author identifies the factors of the South's festering propensity for aggression that contributed to the outbreak of the Civil War in 1861. Franklin asserts that the South was dominated by militant white men who resorted to violence in the face of social, personal, or political conflict. Fueled by their defense of slavery and a persistent desire to keep the North out of their affairs, Southerners adopted a vicious bellicosity that intensified as war drew nearer. Drawing from Southern newspapers, government archives, memoirs, letters, and firsthand accounts, Franklin masterfully details the sources and consequences of antebellum aggression in the South. First published in 1956, this classic volume is an enduring and impeccably researched contribution to Southern history. This paperback edition features a new preface in which the author discusses controversial responses to the book.

The First Louisiana Special Battalion: Wheat's Tigers in the Civil War
Gary Schreckengos

United States History

Battle At Sea.
Battle at Sea and
3,000 Years of Naval History

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