Louisiana Celebrates 200 Years of Statehood
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — When officials from the United States arrived in newly acquired Louisiana in 1804 to consider the prospects of the area for statehood, they found a bewildering landscape that could not have been more different from the New England countryside that gave birth to the nation just a few decades earlier.
The federal group found a population made up almost entirely of French-speakers, a third of whom were free people of color.
The delegation was perplexed, according to Connie Zeanah Atkinson, professor of U.S. history at the University of New Orleans.
In 1804, the area that would become a state was lacking the 60,000 in population needed to qualify with only 35,932 known residents.
Eight years later the population had grown, and Louisiana became a state.
On Monday, Louisiana celebrates its bicentennial.