Louisiana History Timeline

Important Dates, Events, and Milestones in Louisiana History

Offers a chronological timeline of important dates, events, and milestones in Louisiana history.

Native Americans settle what is now Louisiana at least as long as 6,000 years ago. Tribes of the Muskhogean language occupy the east-central and southeastern region. Tunican tribes live along the coast and in the northeast, and tribes of the Caddoan group inhabit the north and northwest.

At the time of European arrival in the 16th century, there are more than 10,000 Native Americans in Louisiana. By about 1700, 15,000 from six different linguistic groups are likely present

Louisiana sits above the Gulf of Mexico at the mouth of the Mississippi River, bordered by Arkansas to the north, Mississippi to the east and Texas to the west. Originally colonized by the French during the 18th century, it became U.S. territory as part of the historic Louisiana Purchase in 1803, and was admitted to the union in 1812.

16th Century Louisiana History Timeline

1519 - Alvarez de Pindea discovers mouth of the Mississippi

1541 - Hernando de Soto discovers the Mississippi River

1543 - July 18 - 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.

17th Century Louisiana History Timeline

1673 - Jacques Marquette and Louis Joliet reach the Mississippi River - and later verify that it flows into the Gulf of Mexico rather than the Pacific Ocean.

1682 - Robert Cavalier, Sieur de la Salle, erects a cross at the mouth of the Mississippi River after descending the river from the Great Lakes and claims the territory for Louis XIV of France, for whom Louisiana is named.

1699 - March - Pierre Le Moyne Iberville becomes the first European to find the Mississippi River from the open sea.

18th Century Louisiana History Timeline

1700 - Fort Maurepas established on Bay of Biloxi. Fort de La Boulaye established near Pointe ƒ¡ la Hache or Phoenix.

1701 - August 22 - Jean Baptiste Le Moyne Bienville succeeds Ensign de Sauvolle (Sauvolle's first name is unknown) as commandant of Louisiana.

1712 - September 17 - Antoine Crozat receives royal charter giving exclusive trading rights to Louisiana.

1714 - Louis Juchereau de St. Denis founds Fort St. Jean Baptiste on the Red River at site of present-day Natchitoches - the first permanent settlement in Louisiana.

1716 - Fort Rosalie established at present-day Natchez.

1717 -

  • Company set up by John Law receives exclusive charter for development in Louisiana.
  • Measuring three feet tall, the first levee is built on the Mississippi River to protect the below-sea-level New Orleans from flooding. The problem will plague residents and cause numerous disasters over the centuries.

1718 -

  • New Orleans is founded and named for Phillippe Duc D'Orleans
  • The St. Louis Cathedral in New Orleans is built, the oldest in the United States

1719 - The first large importation of black slaves. German families arrive in Louisiana.

1722 - September - A hurricane destroys much of New Orleans.

1723 - New Orleans becomes the capital of Louisiana, superseding Biloxi

1724 - March - "Black Code" (restriction on former black slaves' freedom of movement - required them to labor - punishment of "insubordinate behavior" - etc.) is declared in effect.

1727 - August 6 - Ursuline nuns arrive in New Orleans and begin a school for girls.

1729 - November - Natchez Indians massacre 250 people at Fort Rosalie (Natchez).

1730-31 - Governor etienne de Perier leads successful battle against the Natchez Indians near Sicily Island.

1731 - November - Company of the Indies resigns its monopoly. Louisiana returns to royal administration.

1732 - King Louis XV names Bienville governor of Louisiana.

1735 - Jean Louis, a sailor, leaves his savings to establish the first charity hospital in New Orleans

1736 - June - (Forerunner of) Charity Hospital founded.

1743 - May - Bienville leaves Louisiana for the last time.

1751 - Sugar cane is first introduced into Louisiana

1762 - November 3 - By the Treaty of Fontainebleau - France cedes to Spain all of Louisiana west of the Mississippi.

1763 - Treaty of Paris ends Seven Years' War and confirms transfer of Louisiana to Spain. Florida Parishes ceded to England with Baton Rouge becoming New Richmond

1764 - First four Acadian families arrive in Louisiana from New York

1766 - March 5 - Antonio de Ulloa becomes the first Spanish governor of Louisiana; arrives in New Orleans but does not take possession.

1768 - October 28 - Superior Council orders Ulloa out of Louisiana.

1769 - August 17 - Alejandro O'Reilly arrives in New Orleans to take possession of Louisiana for Spain.

1771 - Spanish government sets up public (state) schools.

1777 - Governor Bernardo de Gƒ¡lvez begins to lend Louisiana aid in the American Revolutionary struggle against England.

1788 - March 21 - Much of New Orleans destroyed by fire.

1793 - April 3 - Pope Pius VI establishes the first Diocese of Louisiana and the Floridas.

1794 -

  • December 8 - After a limited fire in 1792 - a third fire ravages New Orleans.
  • December 23 - St. Louis Cathedral dedicated.

1795 -

  • April - A slave uprising in Pointe Coupee Parish suppressed.
  • October 20 - Treaty of San Lorenzo gives Americans free navigation of the Mississippi River. Work begins on Cabildo and Presbytere. etienne de Bore develops a process for making sugar from Louisiana cane.

1796 - Opera is first performed in the United States at New Orleans

19th Century Louisiana History Timeline

1800 - October 1 - Treaty of San Ildefonso provides for Spanish cession of Louisiana to France.

1803 -

  • Louisiana Purchase - dated April 30 - signed May 2 - ratified by US Senate October 19.
  • November 30 - As Colonial Prefect - Pierre Laussat formally receives possession of Louisiana for France.
  • December 20 - United States Commissioners W.C.C. Claiborne and James Wilkinson formally receive possession of Louisiana for the United States for $15,000,000

1804 - Louisiana is divided into the Territory of New Orleans (south of 33 degrees latitude) and the District of Louisiana (north of 33 degrees latitude). W.C. C. Claiborne is appointed governor of the Territory of Orleans.

1808 - First public school is established in Pointe Coupee Parish

1810 -

  • September - West Florida declares its independence from Spain. Baton Rouge becomes the capitol of the West Florida Republic.
  • October-December - West Florida Republic requests annexation to the USA. President James Madison orders Governor Claiborne to occupy.

1811 -

  • January - A massive slave uprising in St. Charles and St. John the Baptist parishes suppressed.
  • First institution of higher learning opens in New Orleans (College of Orleans)

1812 -

  • Louisiana is admitted to the Union
  • The first steamboat to navigate the Mississippi River, the "The New Orleans," arrives at New Orleans from Pittsburgh on January 10, 1812

1815 - Battle of New Orleans is won by General Andrew Jackson

1819 - February 22 - In the Adams-Onƒ­s Treaty - Spain acknowledges the Sabine River as Louisiana's western boundary.

1823 - First natural gas field is discovered in Louisiana, at a depth of 400 feet

1831 -

  • August 16-17 - Severe storms and floods batter New Orleans.
  • Pontchartrain Railroad begins operation with steam locomotive.

1832 - An epidemic of yellow fever and cholera kills more than 5,000 people in New Orleans.

1833 - April 11 - Captain Henry Miller Shreve begins clearing the Red River for navigation.

1837 -

  • Shreveport is founded
  • The New Orleans Picayune established.

1838 - First Mardi Gras parade is held in New Orleans

1840 - Antoine's in New Orleans, the state's oldest continuously operating restaurant, is established

1849 - Baton Rouge becomes capital of Louisiana

1850 - John McDonogh bequeaths more than $750,000 to establish public schools in Orleans and Jefferson parishes.

1853 - Louisiana's worst yellow fever epidemic kills more than 11,000 people in New Orleans alone.

1856 - August 11 - A hurricane kills more than 200 people vacationing at Isle Derniere (Last Island).

1859 - New Orleanian Paul Morphy defeats the best chess players of Europe to become the unofficial world champion.

1860 - John Breckinridge defeats John Bell and Stephen A. Douglas for Louisiana's popular vote in the crucial election of 1860.

1861 - January 26 - Louisiana's Secession Convention overwhelmingly votes for secession.

1862 -

  • The first salt mine is discovered at Avery Island, oldest in the Western Hemisphere
  • March 17 - Louisiana's Judah P. Benjamin becomes Confederate Secretary of State.
  • April 25 - New Orleans captured by Federal flotilla headed by Admiral David Farragut.

1863 - May-July - Siege of Port Hudson ends in Federal capture of the fort.

1864 -

  • January 25 - Henry W. Allen succeeds Thomas Overton Moore as Confederate governor of Louisiana.
  • March 4 - Michael Hahn becomes Federal governor of Louisiana.
  • April 8-9 - Battles of Mansfield and Pleasant Hill.
  • July 23 - New constitution (Reunion) abolishes slavery.

1865 - June 2 - Edmund Kirby-Smith signs a surrender to Federal forces.

1866 - July 30 - New Orleans: Attack on rump constitutional convention defended by black Metropolitan police degenerated from battle into race riot resulting in the deaths of 38 persons and the wounding of 146.

1867 -

  • March 6 - General Philip Sheridan arrives in New Orleans to command the Fifth Military District (Louisiana and Texas) during Reconstruction.
  • Shrimp first canned commercially at Grand Terre Island

1868 -

  • Louisiana is re-admitted to the Union
  • April - Louisiana's Resconstruction constitution adopted.
  • August 11 - The Louisiana State Lottery is established.

1869 - First sulphur is produced in United States

1870 - June 30-July 2 - Robert E. Lee beats the Natchez in the most famous steamboat race in history.

1872 -

  • Rex, King of Carnival, parades for the first time on Mardi Gras
  • December - William Pitt Kellogg recognized as governor of Louisiana by the Grant adminstration.

1873 - April - Colfax Riot: A pitched battle between whites and blacks that ended in a massacre that killed 25 blacks. In all - at least 63 and quite possibly more than 100 African-American men died violently during the riot.

1874 -

  • April - Severe floods ravage Louisiana.
  • April 27 - The White League (a paramilitary organization; its members wore no masks) organized to combat the Kellogg racial policies.
  • August 30 - Coushatta Massacre: The White League lynched five recalcitrant Republican officeholders. The Northern public expressed far more outrage of these five whites than over the deaths of many more blacks at Colfax a year earlier.
  • September 14 - The White League defeats the New Orleans Metropolitan Police in the Battle of Liberty Place.

1877 -

  • January 8 - Both Democrat Francis T. Nicholls and Republican Stephen B. Packard claim victory in election for governor; both take oath of office.
  • February - Packard relinquishes his claims to the governorship.
  • April 20 - President Rutherford B. Hayes withdraws Federal troops from Louisiana - thus ending Reconstruction of the state.

1878 - Yellow fever epidemic kills more than 5,000 people in Louisiana.

1879 - Captain James B. Eads completes the jetty system at the mouth of the Mississippi River.

1884-1885 - The World's Industrial and Cotton Centennial Exposition held in New Orleans.

1891 - March 14 - A New Orleans mob lynches 11 of 19 Italians charged in the murder of Police Chief David C. Hennessy.

1892 - James J. Corbett knocks out John I. Sullivan to become the new world heavyweight boxing champion.

1893 - October 1 - A hurricane kills over 2,000 people in southern Louisiana and Mississippi.

1894 - March 12 - Edward Douglass White appointed to the United States Supreme Court.

1898 - May 12 - New constitution includes the "Grandfather Clause" to permit illiterate whites to vote; a poll tax and literacy test included to disqualify black voters.

1899 - February 13 - Record lowest temperature ever recorded for Louisiana: - 16‚° F. at Minden.

20th Century Louisiana History Timeline

1901 - The first oil is discovered about six miles from Jennings

1909 - Commercial mining of sulphur begun near Sulphur - Louisiana. Louisiana's last yellow fever epidemic occurs.

1910 - December 9 - Edward Douglass White appointed Chief Justice of the United States.

1915 -

  • September 29 - A hurricane and flood devastate New Orleans.
  • The name "Jazz" is given to music of New Orleans origin

1916 - A large natural gas field discovered near Monroe.

1921 - June 15 - Louisiana adopts a new constitution.

1926 -

  • The completion of waterways to the Gulf of Mexico enables Lake Charles to become a large seaport.
  • Louisiana's first public airport is built in Mansfield

1927 - April-May - The worst flood in United States history devastates 1,300,000 acres of land and leaves 300,000 people homeless.

1928 -

  • Huey P. Long becomes US Senator.
  • Grand Isle Tarpon Rodeo is established, the oldest fishing tournament in the United States

1932 - New capitol is completed in Baton Rouge

1934 - May 23 - Law enforcement officers and posse members gun down outlaws Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow beside the Jamestown-Sailes Highway - about eight miles from Gibsland.

1935 -

  • September 8 - US Senator Huey Long shot in Baton Rouge on the steps of the state capitol.
  • September 10 - Senator Huey Long dies
  • First Sugar Bowl game is played - - Tulane 20, Temple 14

1936 - August 10 - Record highest temperature ever recorded for Louisiana: 114‚° F. at Plain Dealing.

1939 - Political scandals force resignation of Governor Richard W. Leche.

1940 - Sam Jones and reform forces hand the Long machine its first political defeat in over a decade.

1947 - Kerr-McGee Corporation, with offshore operations based in Morgan City, drills the first commercial producing oil well out of sight of land

1948 - Long machine regains control when Earl Long defeats Sam Jones in gubernatorial election.

1957 - June 27 - Hurricane Audrey kills hundreds of people in Cameron Parish.

1959 - May-June - Governor Earl K. Long briefly confined to mental asylums in Texas and Louisiana.

1960 - November - Two public schools in Orleans Parish desegregated.

1963 - Tulane University accepts five black students, the first in its history

1965 - September 9-10 - Hurricane Betsy devastates southern Louisiana.

1973 -

  • A team of surgeons performs Louisiana's first heart transplant
  • Corrine Claiborne "Lindy" Boggs becomes Louisiana's first congresswoman after her husband - Congressman T. Hale Boggs - is killed in a plane crash.

1975 - The Super Dome in New Orleans is completed, with a final cost of $163,313,315 for building and grounds

1977 - Ernest Morial is elected mayor of New Orleans, becoming the city's first black mayor

1979 -

  • David Treen is elected governor, the first Republican governor since Reconstruction
  • October - David C. Treen elected as Louisiana's first Republican governor since Reconstruction.

1983 -

  • October 22 - Edwin W. Edwards wins landslide victory over incumbent David C. Treen for governor of Louisiana.
  • December - Coldest December on record in Louisiana.
  • Edwin W. Edwards becomes the first three-term governor

1984 -

  • June - Legislature passes $700 million tax increase.
  • November 11 - Louisiana World Exposition closes with financial loss.

1985 -

  • January 21 - Governor Edwards indicted on federal racketeering charges.
  • April - Tulane University discontinues basketball program because of point-shaving scandal.

1986 - June - Governor Edwards acquitted of all charges.

1987 -

  • Louisiana celebrates the 175th anniversary of its admission into the Union
  • September 17 - Pope John Paul II visits New Orleans.
  • October 24 - Congressman Charles E. "Buddy" Roemer III upsets Edwin W. Edwards in governor's election.

1988 - August 15-18 - Republican National Convention meets in New Orleans.

1989 -

  • February 18 - Voters turn down Governor Buddy Roemer's fiscal reform and tax increase package.
  • February 18 - Former Ku Klux Klan grand wizard David Duke elected to legislature.

1990 - October - Voters approve state lottery.

1991 - October - Edwards wins fourth term in landslide win over Duke. Edward's campaign slogan was "Vote for the Crook. At Least He's Honest!"

1992 - June - Legislature authorizes riverboat and land-based casino gambling.

1993 - July - Louisiana leads all 50 states in violent crime rate.

1994 - April - Marc Morial (son of former Mayor Dutch Morial) elected Mayor of New Orleans.

1995 - November - Mike Foster defeats Cleo Fields in governor's election.

1996 - April Legislature passes concealed weapons and tort reform laws.

21st Century Louisiana History Timeline

2005 -

  • Hurricane Katrina struck southeastern Louisiana, damaged levees flooded New Orleans, more than 1,500 people killed, over two million homeless;
  • Hurricane Rita caused major flooding in New Orleans

2008 -

  • Threat of Hurricane Gustav foreced 1.9 million people to evacuate southern Louisiana, with 200,000 being residents of New Orleans, largest evacuation in the history of Louisiana, 800,000 people left without power, property damages of $8 billion;
  • Louisiana had highest per capita murder rate of all US states for 20th cosecutive year

2010 -

  • New Orleans Saints won Super Bowl;
  • 11 people killed, 17 injured in explosion of British Petroleum (BP - off-shore oil rig in Gulf of Mexico;
  • massive oil spill occurred; over 65 miles of Louisiana coastline oiled

2011 - BP sued Transocean, the owner of the oil rig that exploded in Gulf in 2010, for $40 billion in damages

2012 - BP reached $7.8 billion settlement with largest group of plaintiffs over 2010 oil rig spill


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