Spanish New Orleans

Everyone knows that New Orleans was French, and that the US bought New Orleans and the immense Lousiana Purchase from the French in 1803. What is forgotten is that the city and the territory were ruled by Spain from 1762 until 1802. New Orleans was administered from Havana. St. Louis was a Spanish town, and so was New Madrid, in what is now Missouri. French did remain the main language spoken by the small total of European settlers. France lost its huge empire in North America when it was defeated by Britain in what Americans know as the French and Indian War. Spain took over French claims south of the Great Lakes and the British took Canada. During the American Revolution, Spain funneled guns and gunpowder up the Mississippi to the frontier, and after joining the French and American alliance, the Spanish had some important victories over the British. Under Spanish rule, several thousands of settlers from Spain’s Canary Islands enriched the ethnic mix, and large numbers of refugees came from Haiti, convulsed in the 1790s by revolution. Napoleon, the French dictator, forced Spain to return Louisiana to France in 1802, and he promptly sold it to the United States. New Orleans’ French Quarter really ought to be called the Spanish Quarter.

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