History in New Orleans

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New Orleans is a city with both a rich cultural and historical background. It was founded by the French Mississippi Company on May 7, 1718. It was named after the city of Orleans in France. In 1763, the Spanish empire took over New Orleans as it was ceded to them in the Treaty of Paris. In 1801, New Orleans was surrendered back to the French. It was controlled by the French for only two years as the United States acquired it in 1803 through the Louisiana Purchase. From then, the city’s population began to grow, with Americans, the French and Creole French as well. Even now, a large percentage of Creole French occupy this territory.

The Slave Trade

During the time of the Atlantic Slave trade, the port of New Orleans played a very important role. In fact, it was the second leading port of entry in the United States before the Civil War.  It facilitated not only the exchange of goods but provided an outlet for migrant slaves. In fact, it had the largest slave market during the 1830s when its population doubled. Upon arriving at the Port of New Orleans, the slaves would be led to labor on large sugar and cotton plantations on the outskirts of the city. Furthermore, New Orleans became the wealthiest as well as the third-most populated city in the United States.

Mint Production

New Orleans flourished as a city. It not only provided a gateway to some of the South’s abundant natural resources such as cotton and sugar, but it became an important commercial center as well. In 1863, President Andrew Jackson declared an Executive Order that called for the use of cash in land transactions. As a result, need for coinage increased.  The U.S. Federal Government chose New Orleans as a site for the establishing a branch of the United States Mint. What set the New Orleans branch apart from the other U.S. Mint’s in the South was that it produced both silver and gold coinage.

Mardi Gras

One of the most important traditions in New Orleans is the celebration of Mardi Gras. It is a celebration marking the beginning of the Catholic lent season. This event takes place annually on Fat Tuesday which is the day before Ash Wednesday. Mardi Gras was first brought to New Orleans by the early French settlers and the first parade was held in 1857. It is celebrated throughout the city with numerous parades.

Hurricane Katrina

Since it is built below sea level, New Orleans has always been subject to destruction by natural calamities; more specifically, hurricanes. Though there have been numerous hurricanes that have impacted the city in the past, nothing hit it harder than Hurricane Katrina in 2005. While a number of tourists may flock to New Orleans for Mardi Gras festivities, there are now plenty that come to see the after-effects of what Hurricane Katrina did to the city. The city has yet to fully recovery from this unfortunate catastrophe.

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