Louisiana Under The Company Of The Indies 1717-1731

The Mississippi Bubble.—When Crozat surrendered his patent John Law was ushering in his era of speculation. Louisiana was taken over by the Compagnie d'Occident, which was granted complete political and commercial powers. The capital of the Company, amounting to one hundred million livres, was divided into two hundred thousand shares. In 1719 the company received, in addition, a monopoly of the trade of Africa and the Orient, and increased its capital by fifty thousand shares, thenceforth being known as the Compagnie des Indies. Law made Louisiana the center of his system, and represented the country as an earthly paradise, fabulous in mines.

New Orleans founded.—Bienville was made governor and the capital was established at New Biloxi. In 1718 New Orleans was laid out and named in honor of the regent. A garrison was established at the Natchitoches trading post, and Fort Chartres was built in the Illinois country. Feudal seignories were not extended as in Canada, but extensive tracts were granted to concessionaires, who agreed to bring out settlers. In a short time many tracts had been granted on Red River, on the Mississippi, and on the Yazoo. As colonists did not volunteer in sufficient numbers, emigrants were secured from hospitals and jails, or were spirited away from France. A few negro slaves had been previously introduced, but Law's company brought large numbers; the first cargo, landed in 1719, contained two hundred and fifty. With this introduction of slavery, agriculture developed rapidly.

War with Spain.—At this time a brief period of war ensued between Spain and France, due to the ambitions of Elizabeth Farnese and her advisor Alberoni. An expedition from Mobile captured Pensacola, but it was soon after retaken by the Spanish, who also attacked Mobile. Shortly afterward the French again captured Pensacola, but at the end of the war it was restored to Spain. At the same time the Spaniards were driven out of eastern Texas and an expedition under Villazur was defeated by French allies on the Platte River.

Growth of population.—In 1720 the Mississippi Bubble burst, stock in Law's numerous enterprises fell rapidly, and the great financier left France a ruined man. Though Louisiana ceased to be the center of the financial system of France, the Company continued operations with considerable success. The white population had increased to about five thousand. New Orleans had a considerable population, and in 1722 it was made the capital.

The government.—In order that the country might be better governed, it was divided into the nine judicial departments of Biloxi, Mobile, Alibamon, New Orleans, Yazoo, Natchez, Natchitoches, Arkansas, and Illinois. The negro population increased so rapidly that there was considerable fear of an uprising. To govern them, in 1724 a set of laws known as the Black Code was promulgated by the governor. The legal religion of the colony was decreed to be Catholic, and masters were to give religious instruction to slaves. Intermarriage of whites and blacks was prohibited. The slaves were forbidden to carry weapons or to gather in assemblies. Masters were bound to clothe, protect, and give subsistence to slaves, and negro families were not to be broken up by sales. Masters were also responsible for acts of their slaves. The crimes of those in bondage were punished by whipping, branding, or, in extreme cases, by death. This code was the last important act of Bienville, who shortly afterward returned to France. The central government under the company was practically the same as that of Canada in the time of Frontenac, and similar quarrels between governor and intendant ensued. Ecclesiastically Louisiana was divided roughly into three districts; the Mobile region was under the Carmelites, the Jesuits ministered to those in the Illinois country and along the lower Ohio, and the rest was under the Capuchins.

The Natchez War.—Owing to the French occupation of Natchez lands, the tribe in 1729 formed a conspiracy, which embraced the Choctaws and other tribes, for the purpose of exterminating the whites. In the first attack two hundred and fifty French at Fort Rosalie were killed, and many women and children taken into captivity. The Choctaws turned against the Natchez. An army of French and Choctaws was collected, and finally succeeded in dispersing the hostile tribe. A second expedition pursued the fugitives, and the Natchez were so severely chastised that they ceased to exist as a unit.

Louisiana Under Spain 1762-1783 Louisiana Under The Royal Governors facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail