New Orleans Under French Rule

For some sixty years during the eighteenth century, writes Sarah Searight, Louisiana was a colony owing allegiance to the King of France.

Map of New Orleans, 1728.

The Mississippi delta was one of the last places to be settled on the eastern seaboard of America and one can still appreciate the obstacles faced by the prospective settlers of the eighteenth century. Approached from the sea, it is a grey-green savanna without horizon or landmarks to help the explorer.

The featurelessness of the landscape is occasionally relieved by clumps of shrunken, contorted trees huddled on a bank of shells, but for the most part it is a maze of cane brakes, stagnant water and ‘bayous’—a Gallicised Indian word for the narrow waterways that wander hither and thither through the Delta, some of them tributaries of the Mississippi flowing into sea, others merely tidal reaches.

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