Louisiana

State of the United States of America
State of Louisiana

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État de Louisiane  (French)
Flag of Louisiana State seal of Louisiana
Flag Seal
Nickname(s):

Bayou State • Creole State • Pelican State (official)
Sportsman’s Paradise • The Boot
Motto(s): Union, Justice, Confidence
State song(s): ““Give Me Louisiana”
“You Are My Sunshine”
“State March Song”
“Gifts of the Earth”
Map of the United States with Louisiana highlighted
Official language No official language
Spoken languages As of 2010[1]

  • English 91.26%
  • French 3.45% (incl. Cajun and Creole)
  • Spanish 3.30%
  • Vietnamese 0.59%
Demonym Louisianian (French: Louisianais)
Capital Baton Rouge
Largest city New Orleans[2][3][4]
Largest metro Greater New Orleans
Area Ranked 31st
 • Total 52,378.13 sq mi
(135,382 km2)
 • Width 130 miles (210 km)
 • Length 379 miles (610 km)
 • % water 15
 • Latitude 28° 56′ N to 33° 01′ N
 • Longitude 88° 49′ W to 94° 03′ W
Population Ranked 25th
 • Total 4,684,333 (2017 est.)[5]
 • Density 93.6/sq mi  (34.6/km2)
Ranked 24th
 • Median household income $45,992[6] (45th)
Elevation
 • Highest point Driskill Mountain[7][8]
535 ft (163 m)
 • Mean 100 ft  (30 m)
 • Lowest point New Orleans[7][8]
−8 ft (−2.5 m)
Before statehood Territory of Orleans
Admission to Union April 30, 1812 (18th)
Governor John Bel Edwards (D)
Lieutenant Governor Billy Nungesser (R)
Legislature State Legislature
 • Upper house State Senate
 • Lower house House of Representatives
U.S. Senators Bill Cassidy (R)
John Kennedy (R)
U.S. House delegation 5 Republicans
1 Democrat (list)
Time zone Central: UTC −6/−5
ISO 3166 US-LA
Abbreviations LA, La.
Website louisiana.gov
Louisiana state symbols
Flag of Louisiana.svg

The Flag of Louisiana
Seal of Louisiana.svg

The Seal of Louisiana
Living insignia
Bird Brown pelican
Dog breed Catahoula Leopard Dog
Fish White perch
Flower Magnolia
Insect Honeybee
Mammal Black bear
Reptile Alligator
Tree Bald cypress
Inanimate insignia
Beverage Milk
Fossil Petrified palmwood
Gemstone Agate
Instrument Diatonic accordion
State route marker
Louisiana state route marker
State quarter
Louisiana quarter dollar coin

Released in 2002
Lists of United States state symbols

Louisiana entrance sign off Interstate 20 in Madison Parish east of Tallulah

Louisiana (/luˌziˈænə/ (About this soundlisten), /ˌlzi-/ (About this soundlisten))[a] is a state in the Deep South region of the southeastern United States. It is the 31st most extensive and the 25th most populous of the 50 United States. Louisiana is bordered by Arkansas to the north, Mississippi to the east, the Gulf of Mexico to the south, and the state of Texas to the west. A large part of its eastern boundary is demarcated by the Mississippi River. Louisiana is the only U.S. state with political subdivisions termed parishes, which are equivalent to counties. The state’s capital is Baton Rouge, and its largest city is New Orleans.

Much of the state’s lands were formed from sediment washed down the Mississippi River, leaving enormous deltas and vast areas of coastal marsh and swamp.[10][self-published source] These contain a rich southern biota; typical examples include birds such as ibis and egrets. There are also many species of tree frogs, and fish such as sturgeon and paddlefish. In more elevated areas, fire is a natural process in the landscape, and has produced extensive areas of longleaf pine forest and wet savannas. These support an exceptionally large number of plant species, including many species of terrestrial orchids and carnivorous plants.[10] Louisiana has more Native American tribes than any other southern state, including four that are federally recognized, ten that are state recognized, and four that have not received recognition.[11]

Some Louisiana urban environments have a multicultural, multilingual heritage, being so strongly influenced by a mixture of 18th-century French, Haitian, Spanish, Native American, and African cultures that they are considered to be exceptional in the US. Before the American purchase of the territory in 1803, present-day Louisiana State had been both a French colony and for a brief period a Spanish one. In addition, colonists imported numerous African people as slaves in the 18th century. Many came from peoples of the same region of West Africa, thus concentrating their culture. In the post-Civil War environment, Anglo-Americans increased the pressure for Anglicization, and in 1921, English was for a time made the sole language of instruction in Louisiana schools before a policy of multilingualism was revived in 1974.[12][13] There has never been an official language in Louisiana, and the state constitution enumerates “the right of the people to preserve, foster, and promote their respective historic, linguistic, and cultural origins.”[12]

Contents

  • 1 Etymology
  • 2 Geology
  • 3 Geography

    • 3.1 Climate
    • 3.2 Hurricanes since 1950
  • 4 Publicly-owned land

    • 4.1 National Park Service
    • 4.2 US Forest Service
    • 4.3 State parks and recreational areas
    • 4.4 Wildlife management areas
    • 4.5 Natural and Scenic Rivers
  • 5 Transportation

    • 5.1 Interstate highways
    • 5.2 United States highways
  • 6 History

    • 6.1 Pre-colonial history
    • 6.2 Exploration and colonization by Europeans
    • 6.3 Expansion of slavery
    • 6.4 Haitian migration and influence
    • 6.5 Purchase by the United States (1803)
    • 6.6 Statehood (1812)
    • 6.7 Secession and the Civil War (1860–1865)
    • 6.8 Post-Civil War to mid-20th century (1865–1945)
    • 6.9 Post-World War II (1945–)
    • 6.10 2000 to present
  • 7 Demographics

    • 7.1 Race and ethnicity
    • 7.2 Religion
    • 7.3 Major cities
  • 8 Economy

    • 8.1 Federal subsidies and spending
    • 8.2 Energy
  • 9 Law and government

    • 9.1 Administrative divisions
    • 9.2 Civil law
    • 9.3 Marriage
    • 9.4 Elections
    • 9.5 Law enforcement
    • 9.6 Judiciary
  • 10 National Guard
  • 11 Media
  • 12 Education
  • 13 Sports
  • 14 Culture

    • 14.1 African culture
    • 14.2 Louisiana Creole culture
    • 14.3 Acadian culture
    • 14.4 Isleño culture
    • 14.5 Languages
    • 14.6 Literature
    • 14.7 Music
  • 15 See also
  • 16 Notes
  • 17 References
  • 18 Bibliography
  • 19 External links

    • 19.1 Geology links
    • 19.2 Government
    • 19.3 U.S. government
    • 19.4 News media
    • 19.5 Ecoregions
    • 19.6 Tourism

Etymology

Louisiana was named after Louis XIV, King of France from 1643 to 1715. When René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle claimed the territory drained by the Mississippi River for France, he named it La Louisiane.[14] The suffix -ana (or -ane) is a Latin suffix that can refer to “information relating to a particular individual, subject, or place.” Thus, roughly, Louis + ana carries the idea of “related to Louis.” Once part of the French Colonial Empire, the Louisiana Territory stretched from present-day Mobile Bay to just north of the present-day Canada–United States border, including a small part of what is now the Canadian provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan.

Geology

The Gulf of Mexico did not exist 250 million years ago when there was but one supercontinent, Pangea. As Pangea split apart, the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico opened. Louisiana slowly developed, over millions of years, from water into land, and from north to south.[10] The oldest rocks are exposed in the north, in areas such as the Kisatchie National Forest. The oldest rocks date back to the early Cenozoic Era, some 60 million years ago. The history of the formation of these rocks can be found in D. Spearing’s Roadside Geology of Louisiana.[15]

The youngest parts of the state were formed during the last 12,000 years as successive deltas of the Mississippi River: the Maringouin, Teche, St. Bernard, Lafourche, the modern Mississippi, and now the Atchafalaya.[16] The sediments were carried from north to south by the Mississippi River.

In between the Tertiary rocks of the north, and the relatively new sediments along the coast, is a vast belt known as the Pleistocene Terraces. Their age and distribution can be largely related to the rise and fall of sea levels during past ice ages. In general, the northern terraces have had sufficient time for rivers to cut deep channels, while the newer terraces tend to be much flatter.[17]

Salt domes are also found in Louisiana. Their origin can be traced back to the early Gulf of Mexico, when the shallow ocean had high rates of evaporation. There are several hundred salt domes in the state; one of the most familiar is Avery Island.[18] Salt domes are important not only as a source of salt; they also serve as underground traps for oil and gas.[19]

Geography

Map of Louisiana

Aerial view of Louisiana wetland habitats.

A field of yellow wildflowers in Saint Bernard Parish

Honey Island Swamp

Sign upon a trail in the woods

Entrance to the Bald Eagle Nest Trail at South Toledo Bend State Park

Bogue Chitto State Park

Louisiana is bordered to the west by Texas; to the north by Arkansas; to the east by Mississippi; and to the south by the Gulf of Mexico.

The state may properly be divided into two parts, the uplands of the north, and the alluvial along the coast.

The alluvial region includes low swamp lands, coastal marshlands and beaches, and barrier islands that cover about 20,000 square miles (52,000 km2). This area lies principally along the Gulf of Mexico and the Mississippi River, which traverses the state from north to south for a distance of about 600 mi (970 km)) and empties into the Gulf of Mexico; the Red River; the Ouachita River and its branches; and other minor streams (some of which are called bayous).

The breadth of the alluvial region along the Mississippi is from 10 to 60 miles (15 to 100 km), and along the other rivers, the alluvial region averages about 10 miles (15 km) across. The Mississippi River flows along a ridge formed by its own natural deposits (known as a levee), from which the lands decline toward a river beyond at an average fall of six feet per mile (3 m/km). The alluvial lands along other streams present similar features.

The higher and contiguous hill lands of the north and northwestern part of the state have an area of more than 25,000 square miles (65,000 km2). They consist of prairie and woodlands. The elevations above sea level range from 10 feet (3 m) at the coast and swamp lands to 50 and 60 feet (15–18 m) at the prairie and alluvial lands. In the uplands and hills, the elevations rise to Driskill Mountain, the highest point in the state at only 535 feet (163 m) above sea level. From years 1932 to 2010 the state lost 1,800 sq. miles due to rises in sea level and erosion. The Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority (CPRA) spends around $1 billion per year to help shore up and protect Louisiana shoreline and land in both federal and state funding.[20]

Besides the waterways already named, there are the Sabine, forming the western boundary; and the Pearl, the eastern boundary; the Calcasieu, the Mermentau, the Vermilion, Bayou Teche, the Atchafalaya, the Boeuf, Bayou Lafourche, the Courtableau River, Bayou D’Arbonne, the Macon River, the Tensas, Amite River, the Tchefuncte, the Tickfaw, the Natalbany River, and a number of other smaller streams, constituting a natural system of navigable waterways, aggregating over 4,000 miles (6,400 km) long.

The state also has political jurisdiction over the approximately 3-mile (4.8 km)-wide portion of subsea land of the inner continental shelf in the Gulf of Mexico. Through a peculiarity of the political geography of the United States, this is substantially less than the 9-mile (14 km)-wide jurisdiction of nearby states Texas and Florida, which, like Louisiana, have extensive Gulf coastlines.[21]

The southern coast of Louisiana in the United States is among the fastest-disappearing areas in the world. This has largely resulted from human mismanagement of the coast (see Wetlands of Louisiana). At one time, the land was added to when spring floods from the Mississippi River added sediment and stimulated marsh growth; the land is now shrinking. There are multiple causes.[22][23]

Artificial levees block spring flood water that would bring fresh water and sediment to marshes. Swamps have been extensively logged, leaving canals and ditches that allow saline water to move inland. Canals dug for the oil and gas industry also allow storms to move sea water inland, where it damages swamps and marshes. Rising sea waters have exacerbated the problem. Some researchers estimate that the state is losing a land mass equivalent to 30 football fields every day. There are many proposals to save coastal areas by reducing human damage, including restoring natural floods from the Mississippi. Without such restoration, coastal communities will continue to disappear.[24] And as the communities disappear, more and more people are leaving the region.[25] Since the coastal wetlands support an economically important coastal fishery, the loss of wetlands is adversely affecting this industry.

Climate

Baton Rouge
Climate chart (explanation)
J F M A M J J A S O N D
 
 
5.9
 
 
62
42
 
 
5
 
 
65
44
 
 
5
 
 
72
51
 
 
5.3
 
 
78
57
 
 
5.2
 
 
84
64
 
 
5.8
 
 
89
70
 
 
5.4
 
 
91
73
 
 
5.7
 
 
91
72
 
 
4.5
 
 
88
68
 
 
3.6
 
 
81
57
 
 
4.8
 
 
71
48
 
 
5.2
 
 
64
43
Average max. and min. temperatures in °F
Precipitation totals in inches
Source: [26]
New Orleans
Climate chart (explanation)
J F M A M J J A S O N D
 
 
5.9
 
 
64
44
 
 
5.5
 
 
66
47
 
 
5.2
 
 
73
53
 
 
5
 
 
79
59
 
 
4.6
 
 
85
66
 
 
6.8
 
 
90
72
 
 
6.2
 
 
91
74
 
 
6.2
 
 
91
74
 
 
5.6
 
 
88
70
 
 
3.1
 
 
80
61
 
 
5.1
 
 
72
52
 
 
5.1
 
 
65
46
Average max. and min. temperatures in °F
Precipitation totals in inches
Source: as above

Louisiana has a humid subtropical climate (Köppen climate classification Cfa). It has long, hot, humid summers and short, mild winters. The subtropical characteristics of the state are due in large part to the influence of the Gulf of Mexico, which at its farthest point is no more than 200 mi (320 km) away. The combined effect of the warm Gulf waters, low elevation, and low latitude create the mild subtropical climate Louisiana is known for.

Rain is frequent throughout the year, although the summer is slightly wetter than the rest of the year. There is a dip in precipitation in October. Southern Louisiana receives far more copious rainfall, especially during the winter months. Summers in Louisiana have high temperatures from mid-June to mid-September averaging 90 °F (32 °C) or more, and overnight lows averaging above 70 °F (22 °C).

In the summer, the extreme maximum temperature is much warmer in the north than in the south, with temperatures near the Gulf of Mexico occasionally reaching 100 °F (38 °C), although temperatures above 95 °F (35 °C) are commonplace. In northern Louisiana, the temperatures reach above 105 °F (41 °C) in the summer.

Temperatures are generally warm in the winter in the southern part of the state, with highs around New Orleans, Baton Rouge, the rest of south Louisiana, and the Gulf of Mexico averaging 66 °F (19 °C). The northern part of the state is mildly cool in the winter, with highs averaging 59 °F (15 °C). The overnight lows in the winter average well above freezing throughout the state, with 46 °F (8 °C) the average near the Gulf and an average low of 37 °F (3 °C) in the winter in the northern part of the state.

Louisiana gets some cold fronts, which frequently drop the temperatures below 20 °F (−8 °C) in the northern part of the state, but almost never do so in the southern part of the state. Snow is rare near the Gulf of Mexico, although residents in the northern parts of the state might receive snowfall, it is still rare. Louisiana’s highest recorded temperature is 114 °F (46 °C) in Plain Dealing on August 10, 1936, while the coldest recorded temperature is −16 °F (−27 °C) at Minden on February 13, 1899.

Louisiana is often affected by tropical cyclones and is very vulnerable to strikes by major hurricanes, particularly the lowlands around and in the New Orleans area. The unique geography of the region, with the many bayous, marshes and inlets, can result in water damage across a wide area from major hurricanes. The area is also prone to frequent thunderstorms, especially in the summer.[27]

The entire state averages over 60 days of thunderstorms a year, more than any other state except Florida. Louisiana averages 27 tornadoes annually. The entire state is vulnerable to a tornado strike, with the extreme southern portion of the state slightly less so than the rest of the state. Tornadoes are more common from January to March in the southern part of the state, and from February through March in the northern part of the state.[27]

Average temperatures in Louisiana (°F)
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sept Oct Nov Dec   Annual  
Shreveport[28] 47.0 50.8 58.1 65.5 73.4 80.0 83.2 83.3 77.1 66.6 56.6 48.3 65.9
Monroe[28] 46.3 50.3 57.8 65.6 73.9 80.4 82.8 82.5 76.5 66.0 56.3 48.0 65.5
Alexandria[28] 48.5 52.1 59.3 66.4 74.5 80.7 83.2 83.2 78.0 68.0 58.6 50.2 66.9
Lake Charles[29] 51.8 55.0 61.4 68.1 75.6 81.1 82.9 83.0 78.7 70.1 61.1 53.8 68.6
Lafayette[29] 51.8 55.2 61.5 68.3 75.9 81.0 82.8 82.9 78.5 69.7 61.0 53.7 68.5
Baton Rouge[30] 51.3 54.6 61.1 67.6 75.2 80.7 82.5 82.5 78.1 68.9 60.0 52.9 68.0
New Orleans[30] 54.3 57.6 63.6 70.1 77.5 82.4 84.0 84.1 80.2 72.2 63.5 56.2 70.3

Hurricanes since 1950

  • August 28–29, 2012, Isaac (Category 1 at landfall) hits southeast Louisiana 7 years after Katrina (2005).
  • September 1, 2008, Gustav (Category 2 at landfall) made landfall along the coast near Cocodrie in southeastern Louisiana. As late as August 31 it had been projected by the National Hurricane Center that the hurricane would remain at Category 3 or above on September 1, but in the event the center of Gustav made landfall as a strong Category 2 hurricane (1 mph below Category 3), and dropped to Category 1 soon after.[31] As a result of NHC’s forecasts, a massive evacuation of New Orleans took place after many residents having failed to leave for Katrina in 2005.[32] A significant number of deaths were caused by or attributed to Gustav.[33] Around 1.5 million people were without power in Louisiana on September 1.[34]
  • September 24, 2005, Rita (Category 3 at landfall) struck southwestern Louisiana, flooding many parishes and cities along the coast, including Cameron Parish, Lake Charles, and other towns. The storm’s winds weakened the damaged levees in New Orleans and caused renewed flooding in parts of the city.
  • August 29, 2005, Katrina (Category 3 at landfall)[35] struck and devastated southeastern Louisiana, where it breached and undermined levees in New Orleans, causing 80% of the city to flood. Most people had been evacuated, but the majority of the population became homeless. The city was virtually closed until October. It is estimated that more than two million people in the Gulf region were displaced by the hurricane, and that more than 1,500 fatalities resulted in Louisiana alone. A public outcry criticized governments at the local, state, and federal levels, for lack of preparation and slowness of response. Louisiana residents relocated across the country for temporary housing, and many have not returned.
  • October 3, 2002, Lili (Category 1 at landfall)
  • August 1992, Andrew (Category 3 at landfall) struck south-central Louisiana. It killed four people; knocked out power to nearly 150,000 citizens; and destroyed crops worth hundreds of millions of dollars.
  • August 1969, Camille (Category 5) caused a 23.4 ft (7.1 m) storm surge and killed 250 people. Although Camille officially made landfall in Mississippi and the worst damage occurred there, it also had effects in Louisiana. New Orleans remained dry, with the exception of mild rain-generated flooding in the most low-lying areas.
  • September 9, 1965, Betsy (Category 3 at landfall) came ashore in Louisiana, causing massive destruction as the first hurricane in history to cause one billion dollars in damage (over ten billion in inflation-adjusted USD). The storm hit New Orleans and flooded nearly 35% of the city (including the Lower 9th Ward, Gentilly, and parts of Mid-City). The death toll in the state was 76.
  • June 1957, Audrey (Category 3) devastated southwest Louisiana, destroying or severely damaging 60–80 percent of the homes and businesses from Cameron to Grand Chenier. 40,000 people were left homeless and more than 300 people in the state died.
  • August 15–17, 1915: A hurricane made landfall just west of Galveston. Gales howled throughout Cameron and Vermilion Parishes and as far east as Mobile. It produced storm surge of 11 feet at Cameron (called Leesburg at the time), 10 feet at Grand Cheniere, and 9.5 feet at Marsh Island; Grand Isle reported water 6 feet deep across the city. The lightkeeper at the Sabine Pass lighthouse had to turn the lens by hand, as vibrations caused by the wave action put the clockwork out of order. At Sabine Bank, 17 miles offshore the Mouth of the Sabine, damage was noted. Damage estimates for Louisiana and Texas totaled around $50 million.[36]
    • Over 300 people drowned below Montegut – four can be identified as white, none of the others have been identified and are assumed to be Indians. The Indian settlement was about 10 miles below Montegut, called by the Indians – Taire-bonne – is now in swamp and can only be reached by boat. This hurricane caused the survivors to move to higher ground.

Publicly-owned land

Owing to its location and geology, the state has high biological diversity. Some vital areas, such as southwestern prairie, have experienced a loss in excess of 98 percent. The pine flatwoods are also at great risk, mostly from fire suppression and urban sprawl.[10] There is not yet a properly organized system of natural areas to represent and protect Louisiana’s biological diversity. Such a system would consist of a protected system of core areas linked by biological corridors, such as Florida is planning.[37]

Louisiana contains a number of areas which, to varying degrees, prevent people from using them.[38] In addition to National Park Service areas and a United States National Forest, Louisiana operates a system of state parks, state historic sites, one state preservation area, one state forest, and many Wildlife Management Areas.

One of Louisiana’s largest government-owned areas is Kisatchie National Forest. It is some 600,000 acres in area, more than half of which is flatwoods vegetation, which supports many rare plant and animal species.[10] These include the Louisiana pine snake and Red-cockaded woodpecker. The system of government-owned cypress swamps around Lake Pontchartrain is another large area, with southern wetland species including egrets, alligators, and sturgeon. At least 12 core areas would be needed to build a “protected areas system” for the state; these would range from southwestern prairies, to the Pearl River Floodplain in the east, to the Mississippi River alluvial swamps in the north.[10]

National Park Service

Historic or scenic areas managed, protected, or otherwise recognized by the National Park Service include:

  • Atchafalaya National Heritage Area in Ascension Parish;
  • Cane River National Heritage Area near Natchitoches;
  • Cane River Creole National Historical Park near Natchitoches;
  • Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve, headquartered in New Orleans, with units in St. Bernard Parish, Barataria (Crown Point), and Acadiana (Lafayette);
  • Poverty Point National Monument at Epps, Louisiana; and
  • Saline Bayou, a designated National Wild and Scenic River near Winn Parish in northern Louisiana.

US Forest Service

  • Kisatchie National Forest is Louisiana’s only national forest. It includes 600,000 acres in central and north Louisiana with large areas of flatwoods and longleaf pine forest.

State parks and recreational areas

Louisiana operates a system of 22 state parks, 17 state historic sites and one state preservation area.

Wildlife management areas

Louisiana has 955,973 acres, in four ecoregions under the wildlife management of the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheriess. The Nature Conservancy also owns and manages a set of natural areas.

Natural and Scenic Rivers

The Louisiana Natural and Scenic Rivers System provides a degree of protection for 51 rivers, streams and bayous in the state. It is administered by the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries.[39]

Transportation

The Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development is the state government organization in charge of maintaining public transportation, roadways, bridges, canals, select levees, floodplain management, port facilities, commercial vehicles, and aviation which includes 69 airports.

Gulf Intracoastal Waterway near New Orleans

The Intracoastal Waterway is an important means of transporting commercial goods such as petroleum and petroleum products, agricultural produce, building materials and manufactured goods.

In 2011, Louisiana ranked among the five deadliest states for debris/litter-caused vehicle accidents per total number of registered vehicles and population size. Figures derived from[40] the NTSHA show at least 25 persons in Louisiana were killed per year in motor vehicle collisions with non-fixed objects, including debris, dumped litter, animals and their carcasses.

History

Pre-colonial history

Watson Brake, the oldest mound complex in North America

Louisiana was inhabited by Native Americans for many millennia before the arrival of Europeans in the 16th century. During the Middle Archaic period, Louisiana was the site of the earliest mound complex in North America and one of the earliest dated, complex constructions in the Americas, the Watson Brake site near present-day Monroe. An 11-mound complex, it was built about 5400 BP (3500 BC).[41] The Middle Archaic sites of Caney and Frenchman’s Bend have also been securely dated to 5600–5000 BP (3700–3100 BC), demonstrating that seasonal hunter-gatherers organized to build complex earthwork constructions in present-day northern Louisiana. These discoveries overturned previous assumptions in archaeology that such complex mounds were built only by cultures of more settled peoples who were dependent on maize cultivation. The Hedgepeth Site in Lincoln Parish is more recent, dated to 5200–4500 BP (3300–2600 BC).[42]

Poverty Point UNESCO site

Nearly 2,000 years later, Poverty Point was built; it is the largest and best-known Late Archaic site in the state. The city of modern-day Epps developed near it. The Poverty Point culture may have reached its peak around 1500 BC, making it the first complex culture, and possibly the first tribal culture in North America.[43] It lasted until approximately 700 BC.

The Poverty Point culture was followed by the Tchefuncte and Lake Cormorant cultures of the Tchula period, local manifestations of Early Woodland period. The Tchefuncte culture were the first people in the area of Louisiana to make large amounts of pottery.[44] These cultures lasted until AD 200. The Middle Woodland period started in Louisiana with the Marksville culture in the southern and eastern part of the state, reaching across the Mississippi River to the east around Natchez[45] and the Fourche Maline culture in the northwestern part of the state. The Marksville culture was named after the Marksville Prehistoric Indian Site in Avoyelles Parish.

Troyville Earthworks, once the second tallest earthworks in North America

These cultures were contemporaneous with the Hopewell cultures of present-day Ohio and Illinois, and participated in the Hopewell Exchange Network. Trade with peoples to the southwest brought the bow and arrow.[46] The first burial mounds were built at this time.[47] Political power began to be consolidated, as the first platform mounds at ritual centers were constructed for the developing hereditary political and religious leadership.[47]

By 400 the Late Woodland period had begun with the Baytown culture, Troyville culture, and Coastal Troyville during the Baytown Period and were succeeded by the Coles Creek cultures. Where the Baytown peoples built dispersed settlements, the Troyville people instead continued building major earthwork centers.[48][49][50] Population increased dramatically and there is strong evidence of a growing cultural and political complexity. Many Coles Creek sites were erected over earlier Woodland period mortuary mounds. Scholars have speculated that emerging elites were symbolically and physically appropriating dead ancestors to emphasize and project their own authority.[51]

The Mississippian period in Louisiana was when the Plaquemine and the Caddoan Mississippian cultures developed, and the peoples adopted extensive maize agriculture, cultivating different strains of the plant by saving seeds, selecting for certain characteristics, etc. The Plaquemine culture in the lower Mississippi River Valley in western Mississippi and eastern Louisiana began in 1200 and continued to about 1600. Examples in Louisiana include the Medora Site, the archaeological type site for the culture in West Baton Rouge Parish whose characteristics helped define the culture,[52] the Atchafalaya Basin Mounds in St Mary Parish,[53] the Fitzhugh Mounds in Madison Parish,[54] the Scott Place Mounds in Union Parish,[55] and the Sims Site in St Charles Parish.[56]

Plaquemine culture was contemporaneous with the Middle Mississippian culture that is represented by its largest settlement, the Cahokia site in Illinois east of St. Louis, Missouri. At its peak Cahokia is estimated to have had a population of more than 20,000. The Plaquemine culture is considered ancestral to the historic Natchez and Taensa peoples, whose descendants encountered Europeans in the colonial era.[57]

By 1000 in the northwestern part of the state, the Fourche Maline culture had evolved into the Caddoan Mississippian culture. The Caddoan Mississippians occupied a large territory, including what is now eastern Oklahoma, western Arkansas, northeast Texas, and northwest Louisiana. Archaeological evidence has demonstrated that the cultural continuity is unbroken from prehistory to the present. The Caddo and related Caddo-language speakers in prehistoric times and at first European contact were the direct ancestors of the modern Caddo Nation of Oklahoma of today.[58] Significant Caddoan Mississippian archaeological sites in Louisiana include Belcher Mound Site in Caddo Parish[59] and Gahagan Mounds Site in Red River Parish.[60]

Many current place names in Louisiana, including Atchafalaya, Natchitouches (now spelled Natchitoches), Caddo, Houma, Tangipahoa, and Avoyel (as Avoyelles), are transliterations of those used in various Native American languages.

Exploration and colonization by Europeans

Louisiana regions

The first European explorers to visit Louisiana came in 1528 when a Spanish expedition led by Pánfilo de Narváez located the mouth of the Mississippi River. In 1542, Hernando de Soto’s expedition skirted to the north and west of the state (encountering Caddo and Tunica groups) and then followed the Mississippi River down to the Gulf of Mexico in 1543. Spanish interest in Louisiana faded away for a century and a half.

In the late 17th century, French and French Canadian expeditions, which included sovereign, religious and commercial aims, established a foothold on the Mississippi River and Gulf Coast. With its first settlements, France laid claim to a vast region of North America and set out to establish a commercial empire and French nation stretching from the Gulf of Mexico to Canada.

In 1682, the French explorer Robert Cavelier de La Salle named the region Louisiana to honor King Louis XIV of France. The first permanent settlement, Fort Maurepas (at what is now Ocean Springs, Mississippi, near Biloxi), was founded in 1699 by Pierre Le Moyne d’Iberville, a French military officer from Canada. By then the French had also built a small fort at the mouth of the Mississippi at a settlement they named La Balise (or La Balize), “seamark” in French. By 1721 they built a 62-foot (19 m) wooden lighthouse-type structure here to guide ships on the river.[61]

A royal ordinance of 1722—following the Crown’s transfer of the Illinois Country’s governance from Canada to Louisiana—may have featured the broadest definition of Louisiana: all land claimed by France south of the Great Lakes between the Rocky Mountains and the Alleghenies.[62] A generation later, trade conflicts between Canada and Louisiana led to a more defined boundary between the French colonies; in 1745, Louisiana governor general Vaudreuil set the northern and eastern bounds of his domain as the Wabash valley up to the mouth of the Vermilion River (near present-day Danville, Illinois); from there, northwest to le Rocher on the Illinois River, and from there west to the mouth of the Rock River (at present day Rock Island, Illinois).[62] Thus, Vincennes and Peoria were the limit of Louisiana’s reach; the outposts at Ouiatenon (on the upper Wabash near present-day Lafayette, Indiana), Chicago, Fort Miamis (near present-day Fort Wayne, Indiana), and Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin, operated as dependencies of Canada.[62]

The settlement of Natchitoches (along the Red River in present-day northwest Louisiana) was established in 1714 by Louis Juchereau de St. Denis, making it the oldest permanent European settlement in the modern state of Louisiana. The French settlement had two purposes: to establish trade with the Spanish in Texas via the Old San Antonio Road, and to deter Spanish advances into Louisiana. The settlement soon became a flourishing river port and crossroads, giving rise to vast cotton kingdoms along the river that were worked by imported African slaves. Over time, planters developed large plantations and built fine homes in a growing town. This became a pattern repeated in New Orleans and other places, although the commodity crop in the south was primarily sugar cane.

French Acadians, who came to be known as Cajuns, settled the swamps of southern Louisiana, especially in the Atchafalaya Basin.

Louisiana’s French settlements contributed to further exploration and outposts, concentrated along the banks of the Mississippi and its major tributaries, from Louisiana to as far north as the region called the Illinois Country, around present-day St. Louis, Missouri. The latter was settled by French colonists from Illinois.

Initially, Mobile and then Biloxi served as the capital of La Louisiane. Recognizing the importance of the Mississippi River to trade and military interests, and wanting to protect the capital from severe coastal storms, France developed New Orleans from 1722 as the seat of civilian and military authority south of the Great Lakes. From then until the United States acquired the territory in the Louisiana Purchase of 1803, France and Spain jockeyed for control of New Orleans and the lands west of the Mississippi.

In the 1720s, German immigrants settled along the Mississippi River, in a region referred to as the German Coast.

France ceded most of its territory to the east of the Mississippi to Great Britain in 1763, in the aftermath of Britain’s victory in the Seven Years’ War (generally referred to in North America as the French and Indian War). The rest of Louisiana, including the area around New Orleans and the parishes around Lake Pontchartrain, had become a colony of Spain by the Treaty of Fontainebleau (1762). The transfer of power on either side of the river would be delayed until later in the decade.

In 1765, during Spanish rule, several thousand French-speaking refugees from the region of Acadia (now Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island, Canada) made their way to Louisiana after having been expelled from their homelands by the British during the French and Indian War. They settled chiefly in the southwestern Louisiana region now called Acadiana. The Spanish, eager to gain more Catholic settlers, welcomed the Acadian refugees, the ancestors of Louisiana’s Cajuns.

Spanish Canary Islanders, called Isleños, emigrated from the Canary Islands of Spain to Louisiana under the Spanish crown between 1778 and 1783.

In 1800, France’s Napoleon Bonaparte reacquired Louisiana from Spain in the Treaty of San Ildefonso, an arrangement kept secret for two years.

Expansion of slavery

Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne, Sieur de Bienville brought the first two African slaves to Louisiana in 1708, transporting them from a French colony in the West Indies. In 1709, French financier Antoine Crozat obtained a monopoly of commerce in La Louisiane, which extended from the Gulf of Mexico to what is now Illinois. “That concession allowed him to bring in a cargo of blacks from Africa every year,” the British historian Hugh Thomas wrote.[63] Physical conditions, including disease, were so harsh there was high mortality among both the colonists and the slaves, resulting in continuing demand and importation of slaves.

Starting in 1719, traders began to import slaves in higher numbers; two French ships, the Du Maine and the Aurore, arrived in New Orleans carrying more than 500 black slaves coming from Africa. Previous slaves in Louisiana had been transported from French colonies in the West Indies. By the end of 1721, New Orleans counted 1,256 inhabitants, of whom about half were slaves.

In 1724, the French government issued a law called the Code Noir (“Black Code” in English) which “regulate[d] the interaction of whites [blancs] and blacks [noirs] in its colony of Louisiana[64] (which was much larger than the current state of Louisiana). The law consisted of 57 articles, which regulated religion in the colony, outlawed “interracial” marriages (those between people of different skin color, the varying shades of which were also defined by law), restricted manumission, outlined legal punishment of slaves for various offenses, and defined some obligations of owners to their slaves. The main intent of the French government was to assert control over the slave system of agriculture in Louisiana and to impose restrictions on slaveowners there. In practice, the Code Noir was exceedingly difficult to enforce from afar. Some priests continued to perform interracial marriage ceremonies, for example, and some slaveholders continued to manumit slaves without permission while others punished slaves brutally.

Article II of the Code Noir of 1724 required owners to provide their slaves with religious education in the state religion, Roman Catholicism. Sunday was to be a day of rest for slaves. On days off, slaves were expected to feed and take care of themselves. During the 1740s economic crisis in the colony, owners had trouble feeding their slaves and themselves. Giving them time off also effectively gave more power to slaves, who started cultivating their own gardens and crafting items for sale as their own property. They began to participate in the economic development of the colony while at the same time increasing independence and self-subsistence.

Article VI of the Code Noir forbade mixed marriages, forbade but did little to protect slave women from rape by their owners, overseers or other slaves. On balance, the Code benefitted the owners but had more protections and flexibility than did the institution of slavery in the southern Thirteen Colonies.

The Louisiana Black Code of 1806 made the cruel punishment of slaves a crime, but owners and overseers were seldom prosecuted for such acts.[65]

Fugitive slaves, called maroons, could easily hide in the backcountry of the bayous and survive in small settlements. The word “maroon” comes from the French “marron,” meaning “feral” or “fugitive.”

In the late 18th century, the last Spanish governor of the Louisiana territory wrote:

Truly, it is impossible for lower Louisiana to get along without slaves and with the use of slaves, the colony had been making great strides toward prosperity and wealth.[66]

When the United States purchased Louisiana in 1803, it was soon accepted that enslaved Africans could be brought to Louisiana as easily as they were brought to neighboring Mississippi, though it violated U.S. law to do so.[66] Despite demands by United States Rep. James Hillhouse and by the pamphleteer Thomas Paine to enforce existing federal law against slavery in the newly acquired territory,[66] slavery prevailed because it was the source of great profits and the lowest-cost labor.

At the start of the 19th century, Louisiana was a small producer of sugar with a relatively small number of slaves, compared to Saint-Domingue and the West Indies. It soon thereafter became a major sugar producer as new settlers arrived to develop plantations. William C. C. Claiborne, Louisiana’s first United States governor, said that African slave labor was needed because white laborers “cannot be had in this unhealthy climate.”[67] Hugh Thomas wrote that Claiborne was unable to enforce the abolition of the African slave trade, which the US and Great Britain adopted in 1808. The United States continued to protect the domestic slave trade, including the coastwise trade – the transport of slaves by ship along the Atlantic Coast and to New Orleans and other Gulf ports.

By 1840, New Orleans had the biggest slave market in the United States, which contributed greatly to the economy of the city and of the state. New Orleans had become one of the wealthiest cities, and the third largest city, in the nation.[68] The ban on the African slave trade and importation of slaves had increased demand in the domestic market. During the decades after the American Revolutionary War, more than one million enslaved African Americans underwent forced migration from the Upper South to the Deep South, two thirds of them in the slave trade. Others were transported by their owners as slaveholders moved west for new lands.[69][70]

With changing agriculture in the Upper South as planters shifted from tobacco to less labor-intensive mixed agriculture, planters had excess laborers. Many sold slaves to traders to take to the Deep South. Slaves were driven by traders overland from the Upper South or transported to New Orleans and other coastal markets by ship in the coastwise slave trade. After sales in New Orleans, steamboats operating on the Mississippi transported slaves upstream to markets or plantation destinations at Natchez and Memphis.

As the Deep South was developed for cotton and sugar in the first half of the nineteenth century, demand for slaves increased. This resulted in a massive forced migration (through the slave trade) of more than one million African Americans from the Upper South to the Deep South. Many traders brought slaves to New Orleans for domestic sale, and by 1840, New Orleans had the largest slave market in the country, was the third-largest city, and was one of the wealthiest cities.

Free woman of color with mixed-race daughter; late 18th-century collage painting, New Orleans.

Haitian migration and influence

Spanish occupation of Louisiana lasted from 1769 to 1800. Beginning in the 1790s, waves of immigration took place from Saint-Domingue, following a slave rebellion that started in 1791. Over the next decade, thousands of migrants landed in Louisiana from the island, including ethnic Europeans, free people of color, and African slaves, some of the latter brought in by each free group. They greatly increased the French-speaking population in New Orleans and Louisiana, as well as the number of Africans, and the slaves reinforced African culture in the city. The process of gaining independence in Saint-Domingue was complex, but uprisings continued. In 1803, France pulled out its surviving troops from the island, having suffered the loss of two-thirds sent to the island two years before, mostly to yellow fever. In 1804, Haiti, the second republic in the western hemisphere, proclaimed its independence, achieved by slave leaders.[71]

Pierre Clément de Laussat (Governor, 1803) said: “Saint-Domingue was, of all our colonies in the Antilles, the one whose mentality and customs influenced Louisiana the most.”[72]

French pirate Jean Lafitte, who operated in New Orleans, was born in Port-au-Prince around 1782.[73]

Purchase by the United States (1803)

When the United States won its independence from Great Britain in 1783, one of its major concerns was having a European power on its western boundary, and the need for unrestricted access to the Mississippi River. As American settlers pushed west, they found that the Appalachian Mountains provided a barrier to shipping goods eastward. The easiest way to ship produce was to use a flatboat to float it down the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers to the port of New Orleans, where goods could be put on ocean-going vessels. The problem with this route was that the Spanish owned both sides of the Mississippi below Natchez.

Napoleon’s ambitions in Louisiana involved the creation of a new empire centered on the Caribbean sugar trade. By the terms of the Treaty of Amiens of 1802, Great Britain returned ownership of the islands of Martinique and Guadaloupe to the French. Napoleon looked upon Louisiana as a depot for these sugar islands, and as a buffer to U.S. settlement. In October 1801 he sent a large military force to take back Saint-Domingue, then under control of Toussaint Louverture after a slave rebellion.

When the army led by Napoleon’s brother-in-law Leclerc was defeated, Napoleon decided to sell Louisiana.

Map of Louisiana in 1800

Thomas Jefferson, third President of the United States, was disturbed by Napoleon’s plans to re-establish French colonies in America. With the possession of New Orleans, Napoleon could close the Mississippi to U.S. commerce at any time. Jefferson authorized Robert R. Livingston, U.S. Minister to France, to negotiate for the purchase of the City of New Orleans, portions of the east bank of the Mississippi, and free navigation of the river for U.S. commerce. Livingston was authorized to pay up to $2 million.

An official transfer of Louisiana to French ownership had not yet taken place, and Napoleon’s deal with the Spanish was a poorly kept secret on the frontier. On October 18, 1802, however, Juan Ventura Morales, Acting Intendant of Louisiana, made public the intention of Spain to revoke the right of deposit at New Orleans for all cargo from the United States. The closure of this vital port to the United States caused anger and consternation. Commerce in the west was virtually blockaded. Historians believe that the revocation of the right of deposit was prompted by abuses by the Americans, particularly smuggling, and not by French intrigues as was believed at the time. President Jefferson ignored public pressure for war with France, and appointed James Monroe a special envoy to Napoleon, to assist in obtaining New Orleans for the United States. Jefferson also raised the authorized expenditure to $10 million.

However, on April 11, 1803, French Foreign Minister Talleyrand surprised Livingston by asking how much the United States was prepared to pay for the entirety of Louisiana, not just New Orleans and the surrounding area (as Livingston’s instructions covered). Monroe agreed with Livingston that Napoleon might withdraw this offer at any time (leaving them with no ability to obtain the desired New Orleans area), and that approval from President Jefferson might take months, so Livingston and Monroe decided to open negotiations immediately. By April 30, they closed a deal for the purchase of the entire Louisiana territory of 828,000 square miles (2,100,000 km2) for 60 million Francs (approximately $15 million).

Part of this sum, $3.5 million, was used to forgive debts owed by France to the United States.[74] The payment was made in United States bonds, which Napoleon sold at face value to the Dutch firm of Hope and Company, and the British banking house of Baring, at a discount of 87½ per each $100 unit. As a result, France received only $8,831,250 in cash for Louisiana.
English banker Alexander Baring conferred with Marbois in Paris, shuttled to the United States to pick up the bonds, took them to Britain, and returned to France with the money – which Napoleon used to wage war against Baring’s own country.

Louisiana Purchase, 1803

When news of the purchase reached the United States, Jefferson was surprised. He had authorized the expenditure of $10 million for a port city, and instead received treaties committing the government to spend $15 million on a land package which would double the size of the country. Jefferson’s political opponents in the Federalist Party argued the Louisiana purchase was a worthless desert,[75] and that the Constitution did not provide for the acquisition of new land or negotiating treaties without the consent of the Senate. What really worried the opposition was the new states which would inevitably be carved from the Louisiana territory, strengthening Western and Southern interests in Congress, and further reducing the influence of New England Federalists in national affairs. President Jefferson was an enthusiastic supporter of westward expansion, and held firm in his support for the treaty. Despite Federalist objections, the U.S. Senate ratified the Louisiana treaty on October 20, 1803.

By statute enacted on October 31, 1803, President Thomas Jefferson was authorized to take possession of the territories ceded by France and provide for initial governance.[76] A transfer ceremony was held in New Orleans on November 29, 1803. Since the Louisiana territory had never officially been turned over to the French, the Spanish took down their flag, and the French raised theirs. The following day, General James Wilkinson accepted possession of New Orleans for the United States. A similar ceremony was held in St. Louis on March 9, 1804, when a French tricolor was raised near the river, replacing the Spanish national flag. The following day, Captain Amos Stoddard of the First U.S. Artillery marched his troops into town and had the American flag run up the fort’s flagpole. The Louisiana territory was officially transferred to the United States government, represented by Meriwether Lewis.

The Louisiana Territory, purchased for less than 3 cents an acre, doubled the size of the United States overnight, without a war or the loss of a single American life, and set a precedent for the purchase of territory. It opened the way for the eventual expansion of the United States across the continent to the Pacific.

Shortly after the United States took possession, the area was divided into two territories along the 33rd parallel north on March 26, 1804, thereby organizing the Territory of Orleans to the south and the District of Louisiana (subsequently formed as the Louisiana Territory) to the north.[77]

Statehood (1812)

Louisiana became the eighteenth U.S. state on April 30, 1812; the Territory of Orleans became the State of Louisiana and the Louisiana Territory was simultaneously renamed the Missouri Territory.[78] An area known as the Florida Parishes was soon annexed into the state of Louisiana on April 14, 1812.[79]

From 1824 to 1861, Louisiana moved from a political system based on personality and ethnicity to a distinct two-party system, with Democrats competing first against Whigs, then Know Nothings, and finally only other Democrats.[80]

Secession and the Civil War (1860–1865)

‘Signing the Ordinance of Secession of Louisiana, January 26, 1861’, oil on canvas painting, 1861

Capture of New Orleans, April 1862, colored lithograph of engraving

According to the 1860 census, 331,726 people were enslaved, nearly 47% of the state’s total population of 708,002.[81] The strong economic interest of elite whites in maintaining the slave society contributed to Louisiana’s decision to secede from the Union in January 26, 1861.[82] It followed other Southern states in seceding after the election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States. Louisiana’s secession was announced on January 26, 1861, and it became part of the Confederate States of America.

The state was quickly defeated in the Civil War, a result of Union strategy to cut the Confederacy in two by seizing the Mississippi. Federal troops captured New Orleans on April 25, 1862. Because a large part of the population had Union sympathies (or compatible commercial interests), the Federal government took the unusual step of designating the areas of Louisiana under Federal control as a state within the Union, with its own elected representatives to the U.S. Congress.[citation needed]

Post-Civil War to mid-20th century (1865–1945)

Following the Civil War and emancipation of slaves, violence rose in the South as the war was carried on by insurgent private and paramilitary groups. Initially state legislatures were dominated by former Confederates, who passed Black Codes to regulate freedmen and generally refused to give the vote. They refused to extend voting rights to African Americans who had been free before the war and had sometimes obtained education and property (as in New Orleans.) Following the Memphis riots of 1866 and the New Orleans riot the same year, the Fourteenth Amendment was passed that provided suffrage and full citizenship for freedmen. Congress passed the Reconstruction Act, establishing military districts for those states where conditions were considered the worst, including Louisiana. It was grouped with Texas in what was administered as the Fifth Military District.

African Americans began to live as citizens with some measure of equality before the law. Both freedmen and people of color who had been free before the war began to make more advances in education, family stability and jobs. At the same time, there was tremendous social volatility in the aftermath of war, with many whites actively resisting defeat and the free labor market. White insurgents mobilized to enforce white supremacy, first in Ku Klux Klan chapters.

By 1877, when federal forces were withdrawn, white Democrats in Louisiana and other states had regained control of state legislatures, often by paramilitary groups such as the White League, which suppressed black voting through intimidation and violence. Following Mississippi’s example in 1890, in 1898, the white Democratic, planter-dominated legislature passed a new constitution that effectively disenfranchised blacks and people of color, by raising barriers to voter registration, such as poll taxes, residency requirements and literacy tests. The effect was immediate and long lasting. In 1896, there were 130,334 black voters on the rolls and about the same number of white voters, in proportion to the state population, which was evenly divided.[83]

The state population in 1900 was 47% African-American: a total of 652,013 citizens. Many in New Orleans were descendants of Creoles of color, the sizeable population of free people of color before the Civil War.[84] By 1900, two years after the new constitution, only 5,320 black voters were registered in the state. Because of disfranchisement, by 1910 there were only 730 black voters (less than 0.5 percent of eligible African-American men), despite advances in education and literacy among blacks and people of color.[85] Blacks were excluded from the political system and also unable to serve on juries. White Democrats had established one-party Democratic rule, which they maintained in the state for decades deep into the 20th century until after Congressional passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act provided federal oversight and enforcement of the constitutional right to vote.

National Rice Festival, Crowley, Louisiana, 1938

In the early decades of the 20th century, thousands of African Americans left Louisiana in the Great Migration north to industrial cities for jobs and education, and to escape Jim Crow society and lynchings. The boll weevil infestation and agricultural problems cost many sharecroppers and farmers their jobs. The mechanization of agriculture also reduced the need for laborers. Beginning in the 1940s, blacks went West to California for jobs in its expanding defense industries.[86]

During some of the Great Depression, Louisiana was led by Governor Huey Long. He was elected to office on populist appeal. His public works projects provided thousands of jobs to people in need, and he supported education and increased suffrage for poor whites, but Long was criticized for his allegedly demogogic and autocratic style. He extended patronage control through every branch of Louisiana’s state government. Especially controversial were his plans for wealth redistribution in the state. Long’s rule ended abruptly when he was assassinated in the state capitol in 1935.

Post-World War II (1945–)

Mobilization for World War II created jobs in the state. But thousands of other workers, black and white alike, migrated to California for better jobs in its burgeoning defense industry. Many African Americans left the state in the Second Great Migration, from the 1940s through the 1960s to escape social oppression and seek better jobs. The mechanization of agriculture in the 1930s had sharply cut the need for laborers. They sought skilled jobs in the defense industry in California, better education for their children, and living in communities where they could vote.[87]

In the 1950s the state created new requirements for a citizenship test for voter registration. Despite opposition by the States Rights Party, downstate black voters had begun to increase their rate of registration, which also reflected the growth of their middle classes. In 1960 the state established the Louisiana State Sovereignty Commission, to investigate civil rights activists and maintain segregation.[88]

Despite this, gradually black voter registration and turnout increased to 20% and more, and it was 32% by 1964, when the first national civil rights legislation of the era was passed.[89] The percentage of black voters ranged widely in the state during these years, from 93.8% in Evangeline Parish to 1.7% in Tensas Parish, for instance, where there were white efforts to suppress the vote in the black-majority parish.[90]

Violent attacks on civil rights activists in two mill towns were catalysts to the founding of the first two chapters of the Deacons for Defense and Justice in late 1964 and early 1965, in Jonesboro and Bogalusa, respectively. Made up of veterans of World War II and the Korean War, they were armed self-defense groups established to protect activists and their families. Continued violent white resistance in Bogalusa to blacks trying to use public facilities in 1965, following passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, caused the federal government to order local police to protect the activists.[91] Other chapters were formed in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama.

By 1960 the proportion of African Americans in Louisiana had dropped to 32%. The 1,039,207 black citizens were still suppressed by segregation and disfranchisement.[92] African Americans continued to suffer disproportionate discriminatory application of the state’s voter registration rules. Because of better opportunities elsewhere, from 1965 to 1970, blacks continued to migrate out of Louisiana, for a net loss of more than 37,000 people. Based on official census figures, the African-American population in 1970 stood at 1,085,109, a net gain of more than 46,000 people compared to 1960. During the latter period, some people began to migrate to cities of the New South for opportunities.[93] Since that period, blacks entered the political system and began to be elected to office, as well as having other opportunities.

On May 21, 1919, the Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, giving women full rights to vote, was passed at a national level, and was made the law throughout the United States on August 18, 1920. Louisiana finally ratified the amendment on June 11, 1970.

View of flooded New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina

2000 to present

Due to its location on the Gulf Coast, Louisiana has regularly suffered the effects of tropical storms and damaging hurricanes. In August 2005, New Orleans and many other low-lying parts of the state along the Gulf of Mexico were hit by the catastrophic Hurricane Katrina. It caused widespread damage due to breaching of levees and large-scale flooding of more than 80% of the city. Officials had issued warnings to evacuate the city and nearby areas, but tens of thousands of people, mostly African Americans, stayed behind, many of them stranded. Many people died and survivors suffered through the damage of the widespread floodwaters.

In August 2016, an unnamed storm dumped trillions of gallons of rain on southern Louisiana, including the cities of Denham Springs, Baton Rouge, Gonzales, St. Amant and Lafayette, causing catastrophic flooding.[94] An estimated 110,000 homes were damaged[95] and thousands of residents were displaced.[96]

Demographics

Louisiana’s population density

Historical population
Census Pop.
1810 76,556
1820 153,407 100.4%
1830 215,739 40.6%
1840 352,411 63.4%
1850 517,762 46.9%
1860 708,002 36.7%
1870 726,915 2.7%
1880 939,946 29.3%
1890 1,118,588 19.0%
1900 1,381,625 23.5%
1910 1,656,388 19.9%
1920 1,798,509 8.6%
1930 2,000,000 11.2%
1940 2,363,516 18.2%
1950 2,683,516 13.5%
1960 3,257,022 21.4%
1970 3,641,306 11.8%
1980 4,205,900 15.5%
1990 4,219,973 0.3%
2000 4,468,976 5.9%
2010 4,533,372 1.4%
Est. 2017 4,684,333 3.3%
Source:[97]

The United States Census Bureau estimates that the population of Louisiana was 4,670,724 on July 1, 2015, a 3.03% increase since the 2010 United States Census.[98] The population density of the state is 104.9 people per square mile.[99]

The center of population of Louisiana is located in Pointe Coupee Parish, in the city of New Roads.[100]

According to the 2010 United States Census, 5.4% of the population aged 5 and older spoke Spanish at home, up from 3.5% in 2000; and 4.5% spoke French (including Louisiana French and Louisiana Creole), down from 4.8% in 2000.[101][102]

Race and ethnicity

According to the US census estimates, the population of Louisiana in 2014 was:[103]

  • White Americans – 63.4% (59.3% non-Hispanic white, 4.1% White Hispanic)
  • Black or African American – 32.5%
  • Asian – 1.8%
  • Multiracial American – 1.5%
  • Native American – 0.8%
  • Hispanic or Latino of any race – 4.8%

The major ancestry groups of Louisiana are African American (30.4%), French (16.8%), American (9.5%), German (8.3%), Irish (7.5%), English (6.6%), Italian (4.8%) and Scottish (1.1%).[104]

As of 2011, 49.0% of Louisiana’s population younger than age 1 were minorities.[105]

Louisiana Racial Breakdown of Population
Racial composition 1990[106] 2000[107] 2010[108]
White 67.3% 63.9% 62.6%
Black 30.8% 30.5% 32.0%
Asian 1.0% 1.8% 1.5%
Native 0.8% 0.8% 0.7%
Native Hawaiian and
other Pacific Islander
0.1%
Other race 0.5% 0.7% 1.5%
Two or more races 1.1% 1.6%

Religion

Religion in Louisiana (2014)[109]
religion percent
Protestant
57%
Catholic
26%
No religion
13%
Jehovah’s Witness
1%
Other Christian
1%
Buddhist
1%
Other faith
1%

The largest denominations by number of adherents in 2010 were the Catholic Church with 1,200,900; Southern Baptist Convention with 709,650; and the United Methodist Church with 146,848. Non-denominational Evangelical Protestant congregations had 195,903 members.[110]

As in other Southern states, the majority of Louisianians, particularly in the north of the state, belong to various Protestant denominations, with Protestants comprising 57% of the state’s adult population. Protestants are concentrated in the northern and central parts of the state and in the northern tier of the Florida Parishes. Because of French and Spanish heritage, and their descendants the Creoles, and later Irish, Italian, Portuguese and German immigrants, southern Louisiana and the greater New Orleans area are predominantly Catholic.[111]

Since Creoles were the first settlers, planters and leaders of the territory, they have traditionally been well represented in politics. For instance, most of the early governors were Creole Catholics.[112] Because Catholics still constitute a significant fraction of Louisiana’s population, they have continued to be influential in state politics. As of 2008[update] both Senators and the Governor were Catholic. The high proportion and influence of the Catholic population makes Louisiana distinct among Southern states.[113]

Jewish communities are established in the state’s larger cities, notably New Orleans and Baton Rouge.[114][115] The most significant of these is the Jewish community of the New Orleans area. In 2000, before the 2005 Hurricane Katrina, its population was about 12,000. Louisiana was among the southern states with a significant Jewish population before the 20th century; Virginia, South Carolina, and Georgia also had influential Jewish populations in some of their major cities from the 18th and 19th centuries. The earliest Jewish colonists were Sephardic Jews who immigrated with English colonists from London. Later in the 19th century, German Jews began to immigrate, followed by those from eastern Europe and the Russian Empire in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Prominent Jews in Louisiana’s political leadership have included Whig (later Democrat) Judah P. Benjamin (1811–1884), who represented Louisiana in the U.S. Senate before the American Civil War and then became the Confederate Secretary of State; Democrat-turned-Republican Michael Hahn who was elected as governor, serving 1864–1865 when Louisiana was occupied by the Union Army, and later elected in 1884 as a US Congressman;[116] Democrat Adolph Meyer (1842–1908), Confederate Army officer who represented the state in the U.S. House from 1891 until his death in 1908; Republican Secretary of State Jay Dardenne (1954–), and Republican (Democrat before 2011) Attorney General Buddy Caldwell (1946–).

Major cities

Economy

The total gross state product in 2010 for Louisiana was US$213.6 billion, placing it 24th in the nation. Its per capita personal income is $30,952, ranking 41st in the United States.[119][120]

In 2014, Louisiana was ranked as one of the most small business friendly states, based on a study drawing upon data from over 12,000 small business owners.[121]

The state’s principal agricultural products include seafood (it is the biggest producer of crawfish in the world, supplying approximately 90%), cotton, soybeans, cattle, sugarcane, poultry and eggs, dairy products, and rice. Industry generates chemical products, petroleum and coal products, processed foods and transportation equipment, and paper products. Tourism is an important element in the economy, especially in the New Orleans area.

The Port of South Louisiana, located on the Mississippi River between New Orleans and Baton Rouge, is the largest volume shipping port in the Western Hemisphere and 4th largest in the world, as well as the largest bulk cargo port in the world.[122]

New Orleans, Shreveport, and Baton Rouge are home to a thriving film industry.[123] State financial incentives since 2002 and aggressive promotion have given Louisiana the nickname “Hollywood South”. Because of its distinctive culture within the United States, only Alaska is Louisiana’s rival in popularity as a setting for reality television programs.[124] In late 2007 and early 2008, a 300,000-square-foot (28,000 m2) film studio was scheduled to open in Tremé, with state-of-the-art production facilities, and a film training institute.[125]Tabasco sauce, which is marketed by one of the United States’ biggest producers of hot sauce, the McIlhenny Company, originated on Avery Island.[126]

Louisiana has three personal income tax brackets, ranging from 2% to 6%. The sales tax rate is 4%: a 3.97% Louisiana sales tax and a .03% Louisiana Tourism Promotion District sales tax. Political subdivisions also levy their own sales tax in addition to the state fees. The state also has a use tax, which includes 4% to be distributed by the Department of Revenue to local governments. Property taxes are assessed and collected at the local level. Louisiana is a subsidized state, receiving $1.44 from the federal government for every dollar paid in.

Tourism and culture are major players in Louisiana’s economy, earning an estimated $5.2 billion per year.[127] Louisiana also hosts many important cultural events, such as the World Cultural Economic Forum, which is held annually in the fall at the New Orleans Morial Convention Center.[128]

As of July 2017, the state’s unemployment rate was 5.3%.[129]

Federal subsidies and spending

Louisiana taxpayers receive more federal funding per dollar of federal taxes paid compared to the average state. Per dollar of federal tax collected in 2005, Louisiana citizens received approximately $1.78 in the way of federal spending. This ranks the state fourth highest nationally and represents a rise from 1995 when Louisiana received $1.35 per dollar of taxes in federal spending (ranked seventh nationally). Neighboring states and the amount of federal spending received per dollar of federal tax collected were: Texas ($0.94), Arkansas ($1.41), and Mississippi ($2.02). Federal spending in 2005 and subsequent years since has been exceptionally high due to the recovery from Hurricane Katrina.
Tax Foundation.

Energy

The oil slick just off the Louisiana coast on April 30, 2010. The Deepwater Horizon oil spill is now considered the biggest environmental disaster in U.S. history.

Louisiana is rich in petroleum and natural gas. Petroleum and gas deposits are found in abundance both onshore and offshore in State-owned waters. In addition, vast petroleum and natural gas reserves are found offshore from Louisiana in the federally administered Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) in the Gulf of Mexico. According to the Energy Information Administration, the Gulf of Mexico OCS is the largest U.S. petroleum-producing region. Excluding the Gulf of Mexico OCS, Louisiana ranks fourth in petroleum production and is home to about 2 percent of total U.S. petroleum reserves.

Louisiana’s natural gas reserves account for about 5 percent of the U.S. total. The recent discovery of the Haynesville Shale formation in parts of or all of Caddo, Bossier, Bienville, Sabine, De Soto, Red River, and Natchitoches parishes have made it the world’s fourth largest gas field with some wells initially producing over 25 million cubic feet of gas daily.[130]

Louisiana was the first site of petroleum drilling over water in the world, on Caddo Lake in the northwest corner of the state. The petroleum and gas industry, as well as its subsidiary industries such as transport and refining, have dominated Louisiana’s economy since the 1940s. Beginning in 1950, Louisiana was sued several times by the U.S. Interior Department, in efforts by the federal government to strip Louisiana of its submerged land property rights. These control vast stores of reservoirs of petroleum and natural gas.

When petroleum and gas boomed in the 1970s, so did Louisiana’s economy. The Louisiana economy as well as its politics of the last half-century cannot be understood without thoroughly accounting for the influence of the petroleum and gas industries. Since the 1980s, these industries’ headquarters have consolidated in Houston, but many of the jobs that operate or provide logistical support to the U.S. Gulf of Mexico crude-oil-and-gas industry remained in Louisiana as of 2010[update].

Law and government

Louisiana
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The Louisiana State Capitol in Baton Rouge, the tallest state capitol building in the United States.

The Louisiana Governor’s Mansion

In 1849, the state moved the capital from New Orleans to Baton Rouge. Donaldsonville, Opelousas, and Shreveport have briefly served as the seat of Louisiana state government. The Louisiana State Capitol and the Louisiana Governor’s Mansion are both located in Baton Rouge. The Louisiana Supreme Court, however, did not move to Baton Rouge but remains headquartered in New Orleans.

Louisiana and California (whose supreme court is seated in San Francisco) are the only two states whose high courts are not headquartered in the state capital.

The current Louisiana governor is Democrat John Bel Edwards.The current United States Senators are Republicans John Neely Kennedy and Bill Cassidy. Louisiana has six congressional districts and is represented in the U.S. House of Representatives by five Republicans and one Democrat. Louisiana had eight votes in the Electoral College for the 2012 election. It lost one House seat due to stagnant population growth in the 2010 Census.

Administrative divisions

Louisiana is divided into 64 parishes (the equivalent of counties in most other states).[131]

  • List of parishes in Louisiana
  • Louisiana census statistical areas

Most parishes have an elected government known as the Police Jury, dating from the colonial days. It is the legislative and executive government of the parish, and is elected by the voters. Its members are called Jurors, and together they elect a President as their chairman.

A more limited number of parishes operate under home rule charters, electing various forms of government. This include mayor–council, council–manager (in which the council hires a professional operating manager for the parish), and others.

Civil law

The Louisiana political and legal structure has maintained several elements from the times of French and Spanish governance. One is the use of the term “parish” (from the French: paroisse) in place of “county” for administrative subdivision. Another is the legal system of civil law based on French, German, and Spanish legal codes and ultimately Roman law, as opposed to English common law.

Louisiana’s civil law system is what the majority of nations in the world use, especially in Europe and its former colonies, excluding those that derive from the British Empire. However, it is incorrect to equate the Louisiana Civil Code with the Napoleonic Code. Although the Napoleonic Code and Louisiana law draw from common legal roots, the Napoleonic Code was never in force in Louisiana, as it was enacted in 1804, after the United States had purchased and annexed Louisiana in 1803.

While the Louisiana Civil Code of 1808 has been continuously revised and updated since its enactment, it is still considered the controlling authority in the state. Differences are found between Louisianan civil law and the common law found in the other U.S. states. While some of these differences have been bridged due to the strong influence of common law tradition,[132] the civil law tradition is still deeply rooted in most aspects of Louisiana private law. Thus property, contractual, business entities structure, much of civil procedure, and family law, as well as some aspects of criminal law, are still based mostly on traditional Roman legal thinking.

Marriage

In 1997, Louisiana became the first state to offer the option of a traditional marriage or a covenant marriage.[133] In a covenant marriage, the couple waives their right to a “no-fault” divorce after six months of separation, which is available in a traditional marriage. To divorce under a covenant marriage, a couple must demonstrate cause. Marriages between ascendants and descendants, and marriages between collaterals within the fourth degree (i.e., siblings, aunt and nephew, uncle and niece, first cousins) are prohibited.[134]Same-sex marriages were prohibited by statute,[135][136] but the Supreme Court declared such bans unconstitutional in 2015, in its ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges. Same-sex marriages are now performed statewide. Louisiana is a community property state.[137]

Elections

Treemap of the popular vote by parish, 2016 presidential election.

From 1898 to 1965, a period when Louisiana had effectively disfranchised most African Americans and many poor whites by provisions of a new constitution,[138] this was essentially a one-party state dominated by white Democrats. Elites had control in the early 20th century, before populist Huey Long came to power as governor.[139] In multiple acts of resistance, blacks left behind the segregation, violence and oppression of the state and moved out to seek better opportunities in northern and western industrial cities during the Great Migrations of 1910–1970, markedly reducing their proportion of population in Louisiana. The franchise for whites was expanded somewhat during these decades, but blacks remained essentially disfranchised until after the civil rights movement of the mid-20th century, gaining enforcement of their constitutional rights through passage by Congress of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Since the 1960s, when civil rights legislation was passed under President Lyndon Johnson to protect voting and civil rights, most African Americans in the state have affiliated with the Democratic Party. In the same years, many white social conservatives have moved to support Republican Party candidates in national, gubernatorial and statewide elections. In 2004, David Vitter was the first Republican in Louisiana to be popularly elected as a U.S. Senator. The previous Republican Senator, John S. Harris, who took office in 1868 during Reconstruction, was chosen by the state legislature under the rules of the 19th century.

Louisiana is unique among U.S. states in using a system for its state and local elections similar to that of modern France. All candidates, regardless of party affiliation, run in a nonpartisan blanket primary (or “jungle primary”) on Election Day. If no candidate has more than 50% of the vote, the two candidates with the highest vote totals compete in a runoff election approximately one month later. This run-off method does not take into account party identification; therefore, it is not uncommon for a Democrat to be in a runoff with a fellow Democrat or a Republican to be in a runoff with a fellow Republican.

Congressional races have also been held under the jungle primary system. All other states (except Washington, California, and Maine) use single-party primaries followed by a general election between party candidates, each conducted by either a plurality voting system or runoff voting, to elect Senators, Representatives, and statewide officials. Between 2008 and 2010, federal congressional elections were run under a closed primary system – limited to registered party members. However, upon the passage of House Bill 292, Louisiana again adopted a nonpartisan blanket primary for its federal congressional elections.

Louisiana has six seats in the U.S. House of Representatives, five of which are currently held by Republicans and one by a Democrat. The state lost a House seat at the end of the 112th Congress due to stagnant population growth as recorded by the 2010 United States Census. Louisiana is not classified as a “swing state” for future presidential elections, as since the late 20th century, it has regularly supported Republican candidates. The state’s two U.S. senators are Bill Cassidy (R) John Neely Kennedy (R).

Law enforcement

Louisiana’s statewide police force is the Louisiana State Police. It began in 1922 with the creation of the Highway Commission. In 1927, a second branch, the Bureau of Criminal Investigations, was formed. In 1932, the State Highway Patrol was authorized to carry weapons.

On July 28, 1936, the two branches were consolidated to form the Louisiana Department of State Police; its motto was “courtesy, loyalty, service”. In 1942, this office was abolished and became a division of the Department of Public Safety, called the Louisiana State Police. In 1988, the Criminal Investigation Bureau was reorganized.[140] Its troopers have statewide jurisdiction with power to enforce all laws of the state, including city and parish ordinances. Each year, they patrol over 12 million miles (20 million km) of roadway and arrest about 10,000 impaired drivers. The State Police are primarily a traffic enforcement agency, with other sections that delve into trucking safety, narcotics enforcement, and gaming oversight.

The elected sheriff in each parish is the chief law enforcement officer in the parish. They are the keepers of the local parish prisons, which house felony and misdemeanor prisoners. They are the primary criminal patrol and first responder agency in all matters criminal and civil. They are also the official tax collectors in each parish. The sheriffs are responsible for general law enforcement in their respective parishes. Orleans Parish is an exception, as the general law enforcement duties fall to the New Orleans Police Department. Before 2010, Orleans parish was the only parish to have two sheriff’s offices. Orleans Parish divided sheriffs’ duties between criminal and civil, with a different elected sheriff overseeing each aspect. In 2006, a bill was passed which eventually consolidated the two sheriff’s departments into one parish sheriff responsible for both civil and criminal matters.[citation needed]

In 2015, Louisiana had a higher murder rate (10.3 per 100,000) than any other state in the country for the 27th straight year. Louisiana is the only state with an annual average murder rate (13.6 per 100,000) at least twice as high as the U.S. annual average (6.6 per 100,000) during that period, according to Bureau of Justice Statistics from FBI Uniform Crime Reports. In a different kind of criminal activity, the Chicago Tribune reports that Louisiana is the most corrupt state in the United States.[141]

According to the Times Picayune, Louisiana is the prison capital of the world. Many for-profit private prisons and sheriff-owned prisons have been built and operate here. Louisiana’s incarceration rate is nearly five times Iran’s, 13 times China’s and 20 times Germany’s. Minorities are incarcerated at rates disproportionate to their share of the state’s population.[142]

Judiciary

The judiciary of Louisiana is defined under the Constitution and law of Louisiana and is composed of the Louisiana Supreme Court, the Louisiana Circuit Courts of Appeal, the District Courts, the Justice of the Peace Courts, the Mayor’s Courts, the City Courts, and the Parish Courts. The Chief Justice of the Louisiana Supreme Court is the chief administrator of the judiciary. Its administration is aided by the Judiciary Commission of Louisiana, the Louisiana Attorney Disciplinary Board, and the Judicial Council of the Supreme Court of Louisiana.

National Guard

Louisiana has more than 9,000 soldiers in the Louisiana Army National Guard, including the 225th Engineer Brigade and the 256th Infantry Brigade. Both these units have served overseas during the War on Terror in either Iraq, Afghanistan, or both. The Louisiana Air National Guard has over 2,000 airmen and its 159th Fighter Wing has likewise seen overseas service in combat theaters.

Training sites in the state include Camp Beauregard near Pineville, Camp Villere near Slidell, Camp Minden near Minden, England Air Park (formerly England Air Force Base) near Alexandria, Gillis Long Center near Carville, and Jackson Barracks in New Orleans.

Media

Education

Louisiana is home to several notable colleges and universities, which include Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, and Loyola University and Tulane University in New Orleans. Louisiana State University is the largest and most comprehensive university in Louisiana.[143] Tulane University is a major private research university and the wealthiest university in Louisiana with an endowment over $1.1 billion.[144] Tulane is also highly regarded for its academics nationwide, ranked fortieth on U.S. News & World Report’s 2018 list of best national universities.[145]

The Louisiana Science Education Act[146] is a controversial law passed by the Louisiana Legislature on June 11, 2008 and signed into law by Governor Bobby Jindal on June 25. The act allows public school teachers to use supplemental materials in the science classroom which are critical of established science on such topics as the theory of evolution and global warming.[147][148]

Sports

Louisiana is nominally the least populous state with more than one major professional sports league franchise: the National Basketball Association’s New Orleans Pelicans and the National Football League’s New Orleans Saints. Louisiana has a AAA Minor League baseball team, the New Orleans Baby Cakes. The Baby Cakes are currently affiliated with the Miami Marlins.

Louisiana has 12 collegiate NCAA Division I programs, a high number given its population. The state has no NCAA Division II teams and only two NCAA Division III teams. The LSU Tigers football team has won 11 Southeastern Conference titles, six Sugar Bowls and three national championships.

Each year New Orleans plays host to the Sugar Bowl and the New Orleans Bowl college football games, and Shreveport hosts the Independence Bowl. Also, New Orleans has hosted the Super Bowl a record seven times, as well as the BCS National Championship Game, NBA All-Star Game and NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Championship.

The Zurich Classic of New Orleans, is a PGA Tour golf tournament held since 1938. The Rock ‘n’ Roll Mardi Gras Marathon and Crescent City Classic are two road running competitions held at New Orleans.

As of 2016, Louisiana was the birthplace of the most NFL players per capita for the eighth year in a row.[149]

Culture

Dishes typical of Louisiana Creole cuisine.

Louisiana is home to many, especially notable are the distinct culture of the Louisiana Creoles, typically people of color, descendants of free mixed-race families of the colonial and early statehood periods.

African culture

The French colony of La Louisiane struggled for decades to survive. Conditions were harsh, the climate and soil were unsuitable for certain crops the colonists knew, and they suffered from regional tropical diseases. Both colonists and the slaves they imported had high mortality rates. The settlers kept importing slaves, which resulted in a high proportion of native Africans from West Africa, who continued to practice their culture in new surroundings. As described by historian Gwendolyn Midlo Hall, they developed a marked Afro-Creole culture in the colonial era.[150][151]

At the turn of the 18th century and in the early 1800s, New Orleans received a major influx of white and mixed-race refugees fleeing the violence of the Haitian Revolution, many of whom brought their slaves with them. This added another infusion of African culture to the city, as more slaves in Saint-Domingue were from Africa than in the United States. They strongly influenced the African-American culture of the city in terms of dance, music and religious practices.

Louisiana Creole culture

Creole culture is an amalgamation of French, African, Spanish (and other European), and Native American cultures.[152] Creole comes from the Portuguese word crioulo; originally it referred to a colonist of European (specifically French) descent who was born in the New World, in comparison to immigrants from France.[153] The oldest Louisiana manuscript to use the word “Creole,” from 1782, applied it to a slave born in the French colony.[154] But originally it referred more generally to the French colonists born in Louisiana.

Over time, there developed in the French colony a relatively large group of Creoles of Color (gens de couleur libres), who were primarily descended from African slave women and French men (later other Europeans became part of the mix, as well as some Native Americans.) Often the French would free their concubines and mixed-race children, and pass on social capital to them. They might educate sons in France, for instance, and help them enter the French Army for a career. They also settled capital or property on their mistresses and children. The free people of color gained more rights in the colony and sometimes education; they generally spoke French and were Roman Catholic. Many became artisans and property owners. Over time, the term “Creole” became associated with this class of Creoles of Color, many of whom achieved freedom long before the Civil War.

Wealthy French Creoles generally maintained town houses in New Orleans as well as houses on their large sugar plantations outside town along the Mississippi River. New Orleans had the largest population of free people of color in the region; they could find work there and created their own culture, marrying among themselves for decades.

Acadian culture

The ancestors of Cajuns immigrated from west central France to New France, where they settled in the Atlantic provinces of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island, known originally as Acadia. After the British defeated France in the French and Indian War (Seven Years’ War) in 1763, France ceded its territory east of the Mississippi River to Britain. The British forcibly separated families and evicted them from Acadia because they refused to vow loyalty to the new British regime. The Acadians were deported to England, New England, and France. Some escaped the British remained in French Canada.

Others scattered, to France, Canada, Mexico, or the Falkland Islands. Many Acadian refugees settled in south Louisiana in the region around Lafayette and the LaFourche Bayou country. They developed a distinct rural culture there that was different from that of the French Creole colonists in the New Orleans area. Intermarrying with others in the area, they developed what was called Cajun music, cuisine and culture. Until the 1970s, the term “Cajun” was considered somewhat derogatory.

Isleño culture

A third distinct culture in Louisiana is that of the Isleños, descendants of Spanish Canary Islanders who migrated from the Canary Islands of Spain under the Spanish crown beginning in the mid-1770s. They developed four main communities, but many relocated to what is modern-day St. Bernard Parish. This is where the majority of the Isleño population is still concentrated. An annual festival called Fiesta celebrates the heritage of the Isleños.

St Bernard Parish has an Isleños museum, cemetery and church, as well as many street names with Spanish words and Spanish surnames from this heritage. Some members of the Isleño community still speak Spanish – with their own Canary Islander accent. Numerous Isleño identity organizations, and many members of Isleños society keep contact with the Canary Islands of Spain.

Languages

The languages of historic Native American tribes that occupied what is now Louisiana include: Tunica, Caddo, Natchez, Choctaw, Atakapa, Chitimacha and Houma.

According to a 2010 study by the Modern Language Association, among persons five years old and older,[155] 91.26% of Louisiana residents speak only English at home, 3.45% speak French (standard French, French Creole, or Cajun French), 3.30% speak Spanish, and 0.59% speak Vietnamese.

Historically, Native American peoples in the area at the time of European encounter were seven tribes distinguished by their languages: Caddo, Tunica, Natchez, Houma, Choctaw, Atakapa, and Chitimacha. Of these, only Tunica, Caddo and Choctaw still have living native speakers, although several other tribes are working to teach and revitalize their languages. Other Native American peoples migrated into the region, escaping from European pressure from the east. Among these were Alabama, Biloxi, Koasati, and Ofo peoples.

Starting in the 1700s, French colonists began to settle along the coast and founded New Orleans. They established French culture and language institutions. They imported thousands of slaves from tribes of West Africa, who spoke several different languages. In the creolization process, the slaves developed a Louisiana Creole dialect incorporating both French and African forms, which colonists adopted to communicate with them, and which persisted beyond slavery. In the 20th century, there were still people of mixed race, particularly, who spoke Louisiana Creole French.

During the 19th century after the Louisiana Purchase by the United States, English gradually gained prominence for business and government due to the shift in population with settlement by numerous Americans who were English speakers. Many ethnic French families continued to use French in private. Slaves and some free people of color also spoke Louisiana Creole French. The State Constitution of 1812 gave English official status in legal proceedings, but use of French remained widespread. Subsequent state constitutions reflect the diminishing importance of French. The 1868 constitution, passed during the Reconstruction era before Louisiana was re-admitted to the Union, banned laws requiring the publication of legal proceedings in languages other than English. Subsequently, the legal status of French recovered somewhat, but it never regained its pre-Civil War prominence.[156]

Several unique dialects of French, Creole, and English are spoken in Louisiana. Dialects of the French language are: Colonial French and Houma French. Louisiana Creole French is the term for one of the Creole languages. Two unique dialects developed of the English language: Louisiana English, a French-influenced variety of English; and what is informally known as Yat, which resembles the New York City dialect, particularly that of historical Brooklyn. Both accents were influenced by large communities of immigrant Irish and Italians, but the Yat dialect, which developed in New Orleans, was also influenced by French and Spanish.

Louisiana’s bilingual state welcome sign, recognizing its French heritage.

Colonial French was the dominant language of white settlers in Louisiana during the French colonial period; it was spoken primarily by the French Creoles (native-born). In addition to this dialect, the mixed-race people and slaves developed Louisiana Creole, with a base in West African languages. The limited years of Spanish rule at the end of the 18th century did not result in widespread adoption of the Spanish language. French and Louisiana Creole are still used in modern-day Louisiana, often in family gatherings. English and its associated dialects became predominant after the Louisiana Purchase of 1803, after which the area became dominated by numerous English speakers. In some regions, English was influenced by French, as seen with Louisiana English. Colonial French, although mistakenly named Cajun French by some Cajuns, has persisted alongside English.

Renewed interest in the French language in Louisiana has led to the establishment of Canadian-modeled French immersion schools, as well as bilingual signage in the historic French neighborhoods of New Orleans and Lafayette. Organizations such as CODOFIL promote use of the French language in the state.

Literature

Music

See also

  • Louisiana (New France)
  • Index of Louisiana-related articles
  • Outline of Louisiana – organized list of topics about Louisiana

Notes

  1. ^ Louisiana French: La Louisiane, [la lwizjan, luz-];[9]Louisiana Creole: Léta de la Lwizyàn; Standard French: État de Louisiane [lwizjan] (About this soundlisten); Spanish: Luisiana

References

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  41. ^ Amélie A. Walker, “Earliest Mound Site”, Archaeology Magazine, Volume 51 Number 1, January/February 1998
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  46. ^ “OAS-Oklahomas Past”. Archived from the original on May 31, 2010. Retrieved February 6, 2010.
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  55. ^ “Indian Mounds of Northeast Louisiana:Scott Place Mounds”. Archived from the original on December 25, 2012. Retrieved October 20, 2011.
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  62. ^ abc Ekberg, Carl (2000). French Roots in the Illinois Country: The Mississippi Frontier in Colonial Times. Urbana and Chicago, Ill.: University of Illinois Press. pp. 32–33. ISBN 9780252069246. Retrieved November 29, 2014.
  63. ^ The Slave Trade: The Story of the Atlantic Slave Trade, 1440–1870 by Hugh Thomas. 1997: Simon and Schuster. p. 242-43
  64. ^ “Code Noir of Louisiana – Know Louisiana”.
  65. ^ “The law of slavery – Master–slave legal relationships”. Encyclopædia Britannica. Archived from the original on October 7, 2014.
  66. ^ abc Hugh Thomas, The Slave Trade: The Story of the Atlantic Slave Trade, 1440–1870, Simon and Schuster, 1997, p. 548.
  67. ^ Thomas (1997), The Slave Trade, p. 549.
  68. ^ Walter Johnson, Soul by Soul: Life Inside the Antebellum Slave Market, Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1999, p.2
  69. ^ In Motion: The African-American Migration Experience- The Domestic Slave Trade, New York Public Library, Schomburg Center for Study of Black Culture, 2002, accessed April 27, 2008
  70. ^ Peter Kolchin, American Slavery: 1619–1877, New York: Hill and Wang, 1994, pp. 96–98
  71. ^ “The Slave Rebellion of 1791”. Library of Congress Country Studies.
  72. ^ Sieur de Bienville, “In Motion”, African American Migration Experience, accessed July 22, 2012
  73. ^ Saving New Orleans Archived May 30, 2012, at Archive.is, Smithsonian magazine, August 2006. Retrieved February 16, 2010.
  74. ^ Peter Kastor,The Nation’s Crucible: The Louisiana Purchase and the Creation of America, (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2004) 40
  75. ^ Bailey, Thomas A; Kennedy, David M (1994). The American pageant: a history of the republic – Thomas A. Bailey, David M. Kennedy – Google Books. ISBN 9780669339055. Retrieved April 23, 2014.
  76. ^ “A Century of Lawmaking for a New Nation: U.S. Congressional Documents and Debates, 1774 – 1875”. memory.loc.gov.
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  79. ^ “A Century of Lawmaking for a New Nation: U.S. Congressional Documents and Debates, 1774 – 1875”. memory.loc.gov.
  80. ^ John M. Sacher, A Perfect War of Politics: Parties, Politicians, and Democracy in Louisiana, 1824–1861, 0807128481, 9780807128480, Louisiana State University Press, 2003.
  81. ^ Historical Census Browser, 1860 US Census, University of Virginia, accessed October 31, 2007
  82. ^ “Louisiana’s Secession from the Union – Know Louisiana”. Know Louisiana. Retrieved 2017-11-14.
  83. ^ Pildes, Richard H (2000). “Richard H. Pildes, Democracy, Anti-Democracy, and the Canon, Constitutional Commentary, Vol.17, 2000, p.12-13, Accessed 10 Mar 2008”. SSRN Electronic Journal. doi:10.2139/ssrn.224731. SSRN 224731.
  84. ^ Historical Census Browser, 1900 US Census, University of Virginia, accessed March 15, 2008 Archived August 23, 2007, at the Wayback Machine.
  85. ^ Richard H. Pildes, “Democracy, Anti-Democracy and the Canon”, Constitutional Commentary, Vol. 17, p.12, accessed March 10, 2008
  86. ^ “African American Migration Experience: The Great Migration”, In Motion, New York Public Library, Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, accessed April 24, 2008
  87. ^ “African American Migration Experience: The Second Great Migration”, In Motion, New York Public Library, Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, accessed April 24, 2008
  88. ^ Adam Fairclough, Race & Democracy: The Civil Rights Struggle in Louisiana, 1915–1972, University of Georgia Press, 1999
  89. ^ Debo P. Adegbile, “Voting Rights in Louisiana: 1982–2006,” March 2006, p. 7 Archived June 26, 2008, at the Wayback Machine., accessed March 19, 2008
  90. ^ Edward Blum and Abigail Thernstrom, “Executive Summary” Archived April 17, 2009, at the Wayback Machine., Bullock-Gaddie Expert Report on Louisiana, February 10, 2006, p.1, American Enterprise Institute, accessed March 19, 2008
  91. ^ Douglas Martin (April 24, 2010). “Robert Hicks, Leader in Armed Rights Group, Dies at 81”. The New York Times.
  92. ^ Historical Census Browser, 1960 US Census, University of Virginia, accessed March 15, 2008 Archived August 23, 2007, at the Wayback Machine.
  93. ^ William H. Frey, “The New Great Migration: Black Americans’ Return to the South, 1965–2000”; May 2004, p. 3, The Brookings Institution Archived January 18, 2012, at the Wayback Machine., accessed March 19, 2008
  94. ^ Jason Samenow (August 19, 2016). “No-name storm dumped three times as much rain in Louisiana as Hurricane Katrina”. Washington Post. Retrieved August 19, 2016.
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  96. ^ Cusick, Ashley (August 16, 2016). “This man bought 108 pounds of brisket to cook for the displaced Baton Rouge victims”. The Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved August 20, 2016.
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  104. ^ “2010 US Census – SOCIAL CHARACTERISTICS IN THE UNITED STATES – Louisiana”. Factfinder2.census.gov. October 5, 2010. Retrieved April 23, 2014.
  105. ^ Exner, Rich (June 3, 2012). “Americans under age 1 now mostly minorities, but not in Ohio: Statistical Snapshot”. The Plain Dealer.
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  109. ^ “Religious Landscape Study”. May 11, 2015.
  110. ^ “The Association of Religion Data Archives | State Membership Report”. www.thearda.com. Retrieved November 15, 2013.
  111. ^ For Louisiana’s position in a larger religious context, see Bible Belt.
  112. ^ Wikisource-logo.svg Herbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). “Louisiana”. Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company.
  113. ^ Other Southern states – such as Maryland and Texas – have longstanding indigenous Catholic populations, and Florida’s largely Catholic population of Cuban emigres has been influential since the 1960s. Yet, Louisiana is still unusual or exceptional in its extent of aboriginal Catholic settlement and influence. Among states in the Deep South (discounting Florida’s Panhandle and much of Texas) the historic role of Catholicism in Louisiana is unparalleled and unique. Among the states of the Union, Louisiana’s unique use of the term parish (French la parouche or “la paroisse”) for county is rooted in the pre-statehood role of Catholic church parishes in the administration of government.
  114. ^ Isaacs, Ronald H. The Jewish Information Source Book: A Dictionary and Almanac, Northvale, NJ: Jason Aronson, Inc., 1993. p. 202.
  115. ^ “Sinai Scholars Seek Students”. Tulane University. January 12, 2010. Archived from the original on July 12, 2015. Registration is open for the spring session of the Sinai Scholars Society, Tulane chapter. The national organization provides funding for a course on Judaism each semester at more than 50 campuses nationwide.
  116. ^ Michael Hahn.” KnowLA Encyclopedia of Louisiana. Ed. David Johnson. Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities, 27 Jul 2011. Web. 2 Mar. 2016, accessed 2 March 2016″. Archived from the original on March 7, 2016. Retrieved March 2, 2016.
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  118. ^ “U.S. Census Bureau Quick Facts”. City Population. July 1, 2016. Retrieved December 2, 2017.
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  120. ^ “Katrina Effect: LA Tops Nation in Income Growth”. 2theadvocate.com. 2007. Archived from the original on July 7, 2011.
  121. ^ MIKE MACIAG. “The Most Small Business-Friendly States, Metro Areas”. Governing. Retrieved May 13, 2017.
  122. ^ [1] Archived January 7, 2010, at the Wayback Machine. linked from [2], accessed September 28, 2006
  123. ^ Troeh, Eve (February 1, 2007). “Louisiana to be Southern Filmmaking Capital?”. VOA News. Voice of America. Archived from the original on December 2, 2008. Retrieved December 25, 2008.
  124. ^ Robertson, Campbell (May 16, 2013). “Seeking Fame in the Bayou? Get Real”. The New York Times. pp. A13. Retrieved May 16, 2013.
  125. ^ “New Jersey Local Jobs –”. Nj.com. Retrieved April 23, 2014.
  126. ^ Shevory, Kristina. “The Fiery Family,” The New York Times, March 31, 2007, p. B1.
  127. ^ “Economy”. Doa.louisiana.gov. Archived from the original on October 12, 2013. Retrieved April 23, 2014.
  128. ^ “WCEF Culture”. wcefculture.com. Archived from the original on March 14, 2016.CS1 maint: Unfit url (link)
  129. ^ [3];Bureau of Labor Statistics
  130. ^ “EIA State Energy Profiles: Louisiana”. June 12, 2008. Retrieved June 24, 2008.
  131. ^ Native Americans from the Handbook of Texas Online
  132. ^ Kinsella, Norman (1997). “A Civil Law to Common Law Dictionary” (PDF). KinsellaLaw.com. Archived from the original (PDF) on December 7, 2010. Retrieved December 7, 2010.
  133. ^ “Covenant Marriage – Pros and Cons”. Marriage.about.com. January 1, 2012. Retrieved February 18, 2012.
  134. ^ “Louisiana Law Search”. www.legis.state.la.us.
  135. ^ “Louisiana Law Search”. www.legis.state.la.us.
  136. ^ Louisiana Civil Code §3520B
  137. ^ “Louisiana Law Search”. www.legis.state.la.us.
  138. ^ “Reading the Fine Print: The Grandfather Clause in Louisiana”. History Matters: The U.S. Survey Course on the Web. George Washington University. Retrieved October 11, 2013.
  139. ^ Cashman, Sean Dennis (1991). African-Americans and the Quest for Civil Rights, 1900–1990. New York University Press. p. 8. ISBN 9780814714416.
  140. ^ “Louisiana State Police – About Us – LSP History”. Lsp.org. Retrieved April 23, 2014.
  141. ^ Witt, Howard (March 27, 2009). “Most corrupt state: Louisiana ranked higher than Illinois”. Chicago Tribune.
  142. ^ Cindy Chang. “Louisiana is the world’s prison capital”. The Times-Picayune. Nola.com. Retrieved April 23, 2014.
  143. ^ (LSU), Louisiana State University. “About Us”. www.lsu.edu.
  144. ^ “Archived copy” (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on April 2, 2017. Retrieved March 23, 2017.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  145. ^ https://www.usnews.com/best-colleges/rankings/national-universities
  146. ^ Senator Ben Nevers. “SB733”. Louisiana Legislature. Retrieved June 25, 2008.
  147. ^ Dvorsky, George (January 15, 2013). “How 19-year-old Zack Kopplin is making life hell for Louisiana’s creationists”. Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science. Archived from the original on February 25, 2013. Retrieved March 9, 2013.
  148. ^ Weiss, Joanna (January 29, 2013). “Jindal’s creationism problem”. Boston Globe. via HighBeam Research (subscription required). Retrieved April 22, 2013.
  149. ^ “Woodland Hills High School in Pittsburgh has most NFL players; California leads states; Houston leads hometowns”. Usafootball.com. September 24, 2010. Retrieved April 23, 2014.
  150. ^ Gwendolyn Midlo Hall, Africans in Colonial Louisiana: The Development of Afro-Creole Culture in the Eighteenth Century (1992)
  151. ^ Gwendolyn Midlo Hall, comp. Afro-Louisiana History and Genealogy, 1719–1820. Database http://www.ibiblio.org/laslave/, 2003.
  152. ^ “French Creole Heritage”. Laheritage.org. Archived from the original on August 30, 2014. Retrieved April 23, 2014.
  153. ^ Delehanty, Randolph.New Orleans: Elegance and Decadence, Chronicle Books, 1995, pg. 14
  154. ^ Kein, Sybil. Creole: The History and Legacy of Louisiana’s Free People of Color, Louisiana State University Press, 2009, p. 73.
  155. ^ “United States”. Modern Language Association. Retrieved September 2, 2013.
  156. ^ Ward, Roger K (Summer 1997). “The French Language in Louisiana Law and Legal Education: A Requiem”. Louisiana Law Review. 57 (4).

Bibliography

  • The Sugar Masters: Planters and Slaves in Louisiana’s Cane World, 1820–1860 by Richard Follett, Louisiana State University Press, 2007.
    ISBN 978-0-8071-3247-0
  • The Slave Trade: The Story of the Atlantic Slave Trade, 1440–1870 by Hugh Thomas. 1997: Simon and Schuster. p. 548.
  • Inhuman Bondage: The Rise and Fall of Slavery in the New World by David Brion Davis 2006: Oxford University Press.
    ISBN 978-0-19-533944-4
  • Yiannopoulos, A.N., The Civil Codes of Louisiana (reprinted from Civil Law System: Louisiana and Comparative law, A Coursebook: Texts, Cases and Materials, 3d Edition; similar to version in preface to Louisiana Civil Code, ed. by Yiannopoulos)
  • Rodolfo Batiza, “The Louisiana Civil Code of 1808: Its Actual Sources and Present Relevance,” 46 TUL. L. REV. 4 (1971); Rodolfo Batiza, “Sources of the Civil Code of 1808, Facts and Speculation: A Rejoinder,” 46 TUL. L. REV. 628 (1972); Robert A. Pascal, Sources of the Digest of 1808: A Reply to Professor Batiza, 46 TUL. L. REV. 603 (1972); Joseph M. Sweeney, Tournament of Scholars Over the Sources of the Civil Code of 1808,46 TUL. L. REV. 585 (1972).
  • The standard history of the state, though only through the Civil War, is Charles Gayarré’s History of Louisiana’ (various editions, culminating in 1866, 4 vols., with a posthumous and further expanded edition in 1885).
  • A number of accounts by 17th- and 18th-century French explorers: Jean-Bernard Bossu, François-Marie Perrin du Lac, Pierre-François-Xavier de Charlevoix, Dumont (as published by Fr. Mascrier), Fr. Louis Hennepin, Lahontan, Louis Narcisse Baudry des Lozières, Jean-Baptiste Bénard de la Harpe, and Laval. In this group, the explorer Antoine Simon Le Page du Pratz may be the first historian of Louisiana with his Histoire de la Louisiane (3 vols., Paris, 1758; 2 vols., London, 1763)
  • François Xavier Martin’s History of Louisiana (2 vols., New Orleans, 1827–1829, later ed. by J. F. Condon, continued to 1861, New Orleans, 1882) is the first scholarly treatment of the subject, along with François Barbé-Marbois’ Histoire de la Louisiane et de la cession de colonie par la France aux Etats-Unis (Paris, 1829; in English, Philadelphia, 1830).
  • Alcée Fortier’s A History of Louisiana (N.Y., 4 vols., 1904) is the most recent of the large-scale scholarly histories of the state.
  • The official works of Albert Phelps and Grace King, the publications of the Louisiana Historical Society and several works on the history of New Orleans (q.v.), among them those by Henry Rightor and John Smith Kendall provide background.

External links

  • Louisiana at Curlie
  • Louisiana Geographic Information Center
  • Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities
  • Louisiana Weather and Tides

Geology links

  • Geology

    • Generalized Geologic Map of Louisiana, 2008
    • Generalized Geology of Louisiana (text to Generalized Geologic Map of Louisiana)
    • Loess Map of Louisiana
    • Other Louisiana Geological Maps
    • Louisiana Geofacts

Government

  • Official State of Louisiana website
  • Louisiana State Databases – Annotated list of searchable databases produced by Louisiana state agencies and compiled by the Government Documents Roundtable of the American Library Association.
  • Census Statistics on Louisiana

U.S. government

  • Energy Profile for Louisiana
  • USDA Louisiana Statistical Facts
  • USGS real-time, geographic, and other scientific resources of Louisiana
  • 1st district: Steve Scalise – Website
  • 2nd district: Cedric Richmond – Website & Campaign Website
  • 3rd district: Charles Boustany – Website
  • 4th district: John C. Fleming – Website
  • 5th district: Ralph Abraham – Website
  • 6th district: Garret Graves – Website

News media

  • The Times-Picayune major Louisiana newspaper
  • WWL-TV Louisiana television station

Ecoregions

  • Ecoregions of Louisiana
  • Ecoregions of the Mississippi Alluvial Plain

Tourism

  • Official site of Louisiana tourism
  • Official site of the New Orleans Convention & Tourism Bureau
  • Official site of New Orleans Plantation Country tourism
  • Geographic data related to Louisiana at OpenStreetMap

Preceded by
Ohio
List of U.S. states by date of admission to the Union
Admitted on April 30, 1812 (18th)
Succeeded by
Indiana

Coordinates: 31°N 92°W / 31°N 92°W / 31; -92


Louisiana

State of the United States of America
State of Louisiana

.mw-parser-output .nobold{font-weight:normal}
État de Louisiane  (French)
Flag of Louisiana State seal of Louisiana
Flag Seal
Nickname(s):

Bayou State • Creole State • Pelican State (official)
Sportsman’s Paradise • The Boot
Motto(s): Union, Justice, Confidence
State song(s): ““Give Me Louisiana”
“You Are My Sunshine”
“State March Song”
“Gifts of the Earth”
Map of the United States with Louisiana highlighted
Official language No official language
Spoken languages As of 2010[1]

  • English 91.26%
  • French 3.45% (incl. Cajun and Creole)
  • Spanish 3.30%
  • Vietnamese 0.59%
Demonym Louisianian (French: Louisianais)
Capital Baton Rouge
Largest city New Orleans[2][3][4]
Largest metro Greater New Orleans
Area Ranked 31st
 • Total 52,378.13 sq mi
(135,382 km2)
 • Width 130 miles (210 km)
 • Length 379 miles (610 km)
 • % water 15
 • Latitude 28° 56′ N to 33° 01′ N
 • Longitude 88° 49′ W to 94° 03′ W
Population Ranked 25th
 • Total 4,684,333 (2017 est.)[5]
 • Density 93.6/sq mi  (34.6/km2)
Ranked 24th
 • Median household income $45,992[6] (45th)
Elevation
 • Highest point Driskill Mountain[7][8]
535 ft (163 m)
 • Mean 100 ft  (30 m)
 • Lowest point New Orleans[7][8]
−8 ft (−2.5 m)
Before statehood Territory of Orleans
Admission to Union April 30, 1812 (18th)
Governor John Bel Edwards (D)
Lieutenant Governor Billy Nungesser (R)
Legislature State Legislature
 • Upper house State Senate
 • Lower house House of Representatives
U.S. Senators Bill Cassidy (R)
John Kennedy (R)
U.S. House delegation 5 Republicans
1 Democrat (list)
Time zone Central: UTC −6/−5
ISO 3166 US-LA
Abbreviations LA, La.
Website louisiana.gov
Louisiana state symbols
Flag of Louisiana.svg

The Flag of Louisiana
Seal of Louisiana.svg

The Seal of Louisiana
Living insignia
Bird Brown pelican
Dog breed Catahoula Leopard Dog
Fish White perch
Flower Magnolia
Insect Honeybee
Mammal Black bear
Reptile Alligator
Tree Bald cypress
Inanimate insignia
Beverage Milk
Fossil Petrified palmwood
Gemstone Agate
Instrument Diatonic accordion
State route marker
Louisiana state route marker
State quarter
Louisiana quarter dollar coin

Released in 2002
Lists of United States state symbols

Louisiana entrance sign off Interstate 20 in Madison Parish east of Tallulah

Louisiana (/luˌziˈænə/ (About this soundlisten), /ˌlzi-/ (About this soundlisten))[a] is a state in the Deep South region of the southeastern United States. It is the 31st most extensive and the 25th most populous of the 50 United States. Louisiana is bordered by Arkansas to the north, Mississippi to the east, the Gulf of Mexico to the south, and the state of Texas to the west. A large part of its eastern boundary is demarcated by the Mississippi River. Louisiana is the only U.S. state with political subdivisions termed parishes, which are equivalent to counties. The state’s capital is Baton Rouge, and its largest city is New Orleans.

Much of the state’s lands were formed from sediment washed down the Mississippi River, leaving enormous deltas and vast areas of coastal marsh and swamp.[10][self-published source] These contain a rich southern biota; typical examples include birds such as ibis and egrets. There are also many species of tree frogs, and fish such as sturgeon and paddlefish. In more elevated areas, fire is a natural process in the landscape, and has produced extensive areas of longleaf pine forest and wet savannas. These support an exceptionally large number of plant species, including many species of terrestrial orchids and carnivorous plants.[10] Louisiana has more Native American tribes than any other southern state, including four that are federally recognized, ten that are state recognized, and four that have not received recognition.[11]

Some Louisiana urban environments have a multicultural, multilingual heritage, being so strongly influenced by a mixture of 18th-century French, Haitian, Spanish, Native American, and African cultures that they are considered to be exceptional in the US. Before the American purchase of the territory in 1803, present-day Louisiana State had been both a French colony and for a brief period a Spanish one. In addition, colonists imported numerous African people as slaves in the 18th century. Many came from peoples of the same region of West Africa, thus concentrating their culture. In the post-Civil War environment, Anglo-Americans increased the pressure for Anglicization, and in 1921, English was for a time made the sole language of instruction in Louisiana schools before a policy of multilingualism was revived in 1974.[12][13] There has never been an official language in Louisiana, and the state constitution enumerates “the right of the people to preserve, foster, and promote their respective historic, linguistic, and cultural origins.”[12]

Contents

  • 1 Etymology
  • 2 Geology
  • 3 Geography

    • 3.1 Climate
    • 3.2 Hurricanes since 1950
  • 4 Publicly-owned land

    • 4.1 National Park Service
    • 4.2 US Forest Service
    • 4.3 State parks and recreational areas
    • 4.4 Wildlife management areas
    • 4.5 Natural and Scenic Rivers
  • 5 Transportation

    • 5.1 Interstate highways
    • 5.2 United States highways
  • 6 History

    • 6.1 Pre-colonial history
    • 6.2 Exploration and colonization by Europeans
    • 6.3 Expansion of slavery
    • 6.4 Haitian migration and influence
    • 6.5 Purchase by the United States (1803)
    • 6.6 Statehood (1812)
    • 6.7 Secession and the Civil War (1860–1865)
    • 6.8 Post-Civil War to mid-20th century (1865–1945)
    • 6.9 Post-World War II (1945–)
    • 6.10 2000 to present
  • 7 Demographics

    • 7.1 Race and ethnicity
    • 7.2 Religion
    • 7.3 Major cities
  • 8 Economy

    • 8.1 Federal subsidies and spending
    • 8.2 Energy
  • 9 Law and government

    • 9.1 Administrative divisions
    • 9.2 Civil law
    • 9.3 Marriage
    • 9.4 Elections
    • 9.5 Law enforcement
    • 9.6 Judiciary
  • 10 National Guard
  • 11 Media
  • 12 Education
  • 13 Sports
  • 14 Culture

    • 14.1 African culture
    • 14.2 Louisiana Creole culture
    • 14.3 Acadian culture
    • 14.4 Isleño culture
    • 14.5 Languages
    • 14.6 Literature
    • 14.7 Music
  • 15 See also
  • 16 Notes
  • 17 References
  • 18 Bibliography
  • 19 External links

    • 19.1 Geology links
    • 19.2 Government
    • 19.3 U.S. government
    • 19.4 News media
    • 19.5 Ecoregions
    • 19.6 Tourism

Etymology

Louisiana was named after Louis XIV, King of France from 1643 to 1715. When René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle claimed the territory drained by the Mississippi River for France, he named it La Louisiane.[14] The suffix -ana (or -ane) is a Latin suffix that can refer to “information relating to a particular individual, subject, or place.” Thus, roughly, Louis + ana carries the idea of “related to Louis.” Once part of the French Colonial Empire, the Louisiana Territory stretched from present-day Mobile Bay to just north of the present-day Canada–United States border, including a small part of what is now the Canadian provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan.

Geology

The Gulf of Mexico did not exist 250 million years ago when there was but one supercontinent, Pangea. As Pangea split apart, the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico opened. Louisiana slowly developed, over millions of years, from water into land, and from north to south.[10] The oldest rocks are exposed in the north, in areas such as the Kisatchie National Forest. The oldest rocks date back to the early Cenozoic Era, some 60 million years ago. The history of the formation of these rocks can be found in D. Spearing’s Roadside Geology of Louisiana.[15]

The youngest parts of the state were formed during the last 12,000 years as successive deltas of the Mississippi River: the Maringouin, Teche, St. Bernard, Lafourche, the modern Mississippi, and now the Atchafalaya.[16] The sediments were carried from north to south by the Mississippi River.

In between the Tertiary rocks of the north, and the relatively new sediments along the coast, is a vast belt known as the Pleistocene Terraces. Their age and distribution can be largely related to the rise and fall of sea levels during past ice ages. In general, the northern terraces have had sufficient time for rivers to cut deep channels, while the newer terraces tend to be much flatter.[17]

Salt domes are also found in Louisiana. Their origin can be traced back to the early Gulf of Mexico, when the shallow ocean had high rates of evaporation. There are several hundred salt domes in the state; one of the most familiar is Avery Island.[18] Salt domes are important not only as a source of salt; they also serve as underground traps for oil and gas.[19]

Geography

Map of Louisiana

Aerial view of Louisiana wetland habitats.

A field of yellow wildflowers in Saint Bernard Parish

Honey Island Swamp

Sign upon a trail in the woods

Entrance to the Bald Eagle Nest Trail at South Toledo Bend State Park

Bogue Chitto State Park

Louisiana is bordered to the west by Texas; to the north by Arkansas; to the east by Mississippi; and to the south by the Gulf of Mexico.

The state may properly be divided into two parts, the uplands of the north, and the alluvial along the coast.

The alluvial region includes low swamp lands, coastal marshlands and beaches, and barrier islands that cover about 20,000 square miles (52,000 km2). This area lies principally along the Gulf of Mexico and the Mississippi River, which traverses the state from north to south for a distance of about 600 mi (970 km)) and empties into the Gulf of Mexico; the Red River; the Ouachita River and its branches; and other minor streams (some of which are called bayous).

The breadth of the alluvial region along the Mississippi is from 10 to 60 miles (15 to 100 km), and along the other rivers, the alluvial region averages about 10 miles (15 km) across. The Mississippi River flows along a ridge formed by its own natural deposits (known as a levee), from which the lands decline toward a river beyond at an average fall of six feet per mile (3 m/km). The alluvial lands along other streams present similar features.

The higher and contiguous hill lands of the north and northwestern part of the state have an area of more than 25,000 square miles (65,000 km2). They consist of prairie and woodlands. The elevations above sea level range from 10 feet (3 m) at the coast and swamp lands to 50 and 60 feet (15–18 m) at the prairie and alluvial lands. In the uplands and hills, the elevations rise to Driskill Mountain, the highest point in the state at only 535 feet (163 m) above sea level. From years 1932 to 2010 the state lost 1,800 sq. miles due to rises in sea level and erosion. The Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority (CPRA) spends around $1 billion per year to help shore up and protect Louisiana shoreline and land in both federal and state funding.[20]

Besides the waterways already named, there are the Sabine, forming the western boundary; and the Pearl, the eastern boundary; the Calcasieu, the Mermentau, the Vermilion, Bayou Teche, the Atchafalaya, the Boeuf, Bayou Lafourche, the Courtableau River, Bayou D’Arbonne, the Macon River, the Tensas, Amite River, the Tchefuncte, the Tickfaw, the Natalbany River, and a number of other smaller streams, constituting a natural system of navigable waterways, aggregating over 4,000 miles (6,400 km) long.

The state also has political jurisdiction over the approximately 3-mile (4.8 km)-wide portion of subsea land of the inner continental shelf in the Gulf of Mexico. Through a peculiarity of the political geography of the United States, this is substantially less than the 9-mile (14 km)-wide jurisdiction of nearby states Texas and Florida, which, like Louisiana, have extensive Gulf coastlines.[21]

The southern coast of Louisiana in the United States is among the fastest-disappearing areas in the world. This has largely resulted from human mismanagement of the coast (see Wetlands of Louisiana). At one time, the land was added to when spring floods from the Mississippi River added sediment and stimulated marsh growth; the land is now shrinking. There are multiple causes.[22][23]

Artificial levees block spring flood water that would bring fresh water and sediment to marshes. Swamps have been extensively logged, leaving canals and ditches that allow saline water to move inland. Canals dug for the oil and gas industry also allow storms to move sea water inland, where it damages swamps and marshes. Rising sea waters have exacerbated the problem. Some researchers estimate that the state is losing a land mass equivalent to 30 football fields every day. There are many proposals to save coastal areas by reducing human damage, including restoring natural floods from the Mississippi. Without such restoration, coastal communities will continue to disappear.[24] And as the communities disappear, more and more people are leaving the region.[25] Since the coastal wetlands support an economically important coastal fishery, the loss of wetlands is adversely affecting this industry.

Climate

Baton Rouge
Climate chart (explanation)
J F M A M J J A S O N D
 
 
5.9
 
 
62
42
 
 
5
 
 
65
44
 
 
5
 
 
72
51
 
 
5.3
 
 
78
57
 
 
5.2
 
 
84
64
 
 
5.8
 
 
89
70
 
 
5.4
 
 
91
73
 
 
5.7
 
 
91
72
 
 
4.5
 
 
88
68
 
 
3.6
 
 
81
57
 
 
4.8
 
 
71
48
 
 
5.2
 
 
64
43
Average max. and min. temperatures in °F
Precipitation totals in inches
Source: [26]
New Orleans
Climate chart (explanation)
J F M A M J J A S O N D
 
 
5.9
 
 
64
44
 
 
5.5
 
 
66
47
 
 
5.2
 
 
73
53
 
 
5
 
 
79
59
 
 
4.6
 
 
85
66
 
 
6.8
 
 
90
72
 
 
6.2
 
 
91
74
 
 
6.2
 
 
91
74
 
 
5.6
 
 
88
70
 
 
3.1
 
 
80
61
 
 
5.1
 
 
72
52
 
 
5.1
 
 
65
46
Average max. and min. temperatures in °F
Precipitation totals in inches
Source: as above

Louisiana has a humid subtropical climate (Köppen climate classification Cfa). It has long, hot, humid summers and short, mild winters. The subtropical characteristics of the state are due in large part to the influence of the Gulf of Mexico, which at its farthest point is no more than 200 mi (320 km) away. The combined effect of the warm Gulf waters, low elevation, and low latitude create the mild subtropical climate Louisiana is known for.

Rain is frequent throughout the year, although the summer is slightly wetter than the rest of the year. There is a dip in precipitation in October. Southern Louisiana receives far more copious rainfall, especially during the winter months. Summers in Louisiana have high temperatures from mid-June to mid-September averaging 90 °F (32 °C) or more, and overnight lows averaging above 70 °F (22 °C).

In the summer, the extreme maximum temperature is much warmer in the north than in the south, with temperatures near the Gulf of Mexico occasionally reaching 100 °F (38 °C), although temperatures above 95 °F (35 °C) are commonplace. In northern Louisiana, the temperatures reach above 105 °F (41 °C) in the summer.

Temperatures are generally warm in the winter in the southern part of the state, with highs around New Orleans, Baton Rouge, the rest of south Louisiana, and the Gulf of Mexico averaging 66 °F (19 °C). The northern part of the state is mildly cool in the winter, with highs averaging 59 °F (15 °C). The overnight lows in the winter average well above freezing throughout the state, with 46 °F (8 °C) the average near the Gulf and an average low of 37 °F (3 °C) in the winter in the northern part of the state.

Louisiana gets some cold fronts, which frequently drop the temperatures below 20 °F (−8 °C) in the northern part of the state, but almost never do so in the southern part of the state. Snow is rare near the Gulf of Mexico, although residents in the northern parts of the state might receive snowfall, it is still rare. Louisiana’s highest recorded temperature is 114 °F (46 °C) in Plain Dealing on August 10, 1936, while the coldest recorded temperature is −16 °F (−27 °C) at Minden on February 13, 1899.

Louisiana is often affected by tropical cyclones and is very vulnerable to strikes by major hurricanes, particularly the lowlands around and in the New Orleans area. The unique geography of the region, with the many bayous, marshes and inlets, can result in water damage across a wide area from major hurricanes. The area is also prone to frequent thunderstorms, especially in the summer.[27]

The entire state averages over 60 days of thunderstorms a year, more than any other state except Florida. Louisiana averages 27 tornadoes annually. The entire state is vulnerable to a tornado strike, with the extreme southern portion of the state slightly less so than the rest of the state. Tornadoes are more common from January to March in the southern part of the state, and from February through March in the northern part of the state.[27]

Average temperatures in Louisiana (°F)
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sept Oct Nov Dec   Annual  
Shreveport[28] 47.0 50.8 58.1 65.5 73.4 80.0 83.2 83.3 77.1 66.6 56.6 48.3 65.9
Monroe[28] 46.3 50.3 57.8 65.6 73.9 80.4 82.8 82.5 76.5 66.0 56.3 48.0 65.5
Alexandria[28] 48.5 52.1 59.3 66.4 74.5 80.7 83.2 83.2 78.0 68.0 58.6 50.2 66.9
Lake Charles[29] 51.8 55.0 61.4 68.1 75.6 81.1 82.9 83.0 78.7 70.1 61.1 53.8 68.6
Lafayette[29] 51.8 55.2 61.5 68.3 75.9 81.0 82.8 82.9 78.5 69.7 61.0 53.7 68.5
Baton Rouge[30] 51.3 54.6 61.1 67.6 75.2 80.7 82.5 82.5 78.1 68.9 60.0 52.9 68.0
New Orleans[30] 54.3 57.6 63.6 70.1 77.5 82.4 84.0 84.1 80.2 72.2 63.5 56.2 70.3

Hurricanes since 1950

  • August 28–29, 2012, Isaac (Category 1 at landfall) hits southeast Louisiana 7 years after Katrina (2005).
  • September 1, 2008, Gustav (Category 2 at landfall) made landfall along the coast near Cocodrie in southeastern Louisiana. As late as August 31 it had been projected by the National Hurricane Center that the hurricane would remain at Category 3 or above on September 1, but in the event the center of Gustav made landfall as a strong Category 2 hurricane (1 mph below Category 3), and dropped to Category 1 soon after.[31] As a result of NHC’s forecasts, a massive evacuation of New Orleans took place after many residents having failed to leave for Katrina in 2005.[32] A significant number of deaths were caused by or attributed to Gustav.[33] Around 1.5 million people were without power in Louisiana on September 1.[34]
  • September 24, 2005, Rita (Category 3 at landfall) struck southwestern Louisiana, flooding many parishes and cities along the coast, including Cameron Parish, Lake Charles, and other towns. The storm’s winds weakened the damaged levees in New Orleans and caused renewed flooding in parts of the city.
  • August 29, 2005, Katrina (Category 3 at landfall)[35] struck and devastated southeastern Louisiana, where it breached and undermined levees in New Orleans, causing 80% of the city to flood. Most people had been evacuated, but the majority of the population became homeless. The city was virtually closed until October. It is estimated that more than two million people in the Gulf region were displaced by the hurricane, and that more than 1,500 fatalities resulted in Louisiana alone. A public outcry criticized governments at the local, state, and federal levels, for lack of preparation and slowness of response. Louisiana residents relocated across the country for temporary housing, and many have not returned.
  • October 3, 2002, Lili (Category 1 at landfall)
  • August 1992, Andrew (Category 3 at landfall) struck south-central Louisiana. It killed four people; knocked out power to nearly 150,000 citizens; and destroyed crops worth hundreds of millions of dollars.
  • August 1969, Camille (Category 5) caused a 23.4 ft (7.1 m) storm surge and killed 250 people. Although Camille officially made landfall in Mississippi and the worst damage occurred there, it also had effects in Louisiana. New Orleans remained dry, with the exception of mild rain-generated flooding in the most low-lying areas.
  • September 9, 1965, Betsy (Category 3 at landfall) came ashore in Louisiana, causing massive destruction as the first hurricane in history to cause one billion dollars in damage (over ten billion in inflation-adjusted USD). The storm hit New Orleans and flooded nearly 35% of the city (including the Lower 9th Ward, Gentilly, and parts of Mid-City). The death toll in the state was 76.
  • June 1957, Audrey (Category 3) devastated southwest Louisiana, destroying or severely damaging 60–80 percent of the homes and businesses from Cameron to Grand Chenier. 40,000 people were left homeless and more than 300 people in the state died.
  • August 15–17, 1915: A hurricane made landfall just west of Galveston. Gales howled throughout Cameron and Vermilion Parishes and as far east as Mobile. It produced storm surge of 11 feet at Cameron (called Leesburg at the time), 10 feet at Grand Cheniere, and 9.5 feet at Marsh Island; Grand Isle reported water 6 feet deep across the city. The lightkeeper at the Sabine Pass lighthouse had to turn the lens by hand, as vibrations caused by the wave action put the clockwork out of order. At Sabine Bank, 17 miles offshore the Mouth of the Sabine, damage was noted. Damage estimates for Louisiana and Texas totaled around $50 million.[36]
    • Over 300 people drowned below Montegut – four can be identified as white, none of the others have been identified and are assumed to be Indians. The Indian settlement was about 10 miles below Montegut, called by the Indians – Taire-bonne – is now in swamp and can only be reached by boat. This hurricane caused the survivors to move to higher ground.

Publicly-owned land

Owing to its location and geology, the state has high biological diversity. Some vital areas, such as southwestern prairie, have experienced a loss in excess of 98 percent. The pine flatwoods are also at great risk, mostly from fire suppression and urban sprawl.[10] There is not yet a properly organized system of natural areas to represent and protect Louisiana’s biological diversity. Such a system would consist of a protected system of core areas linked by biological corridors, such as Florida is planning.[37]

Louisiana contains a number of areas which, to varying degrees, prevent people from using them.[38] In addition to National Park Service areas and a United States National Forest, Louisiana operates a system of state parks, state historic sites, one state preservation area, one state forest, and many Wildlife Management Areas.

One of Louisiana’s largest government-owned areas is Kisatchie National Forest. It is some 600,000 acres in area, more than half of which is flatwoods vegetation, which supports many rare plant and animal species.[10] These include the Louisiana pine snake and Red-cockaded woodpecker. The system of government-owned cypress swamps around Lake Pontchartrain is another large area, with southern wetland species including egrets, alligators, and sturgeon. At least 12 core areas would be needed to build a “protected areas system” for the state; these would range from southwestern prairies, to the Pearl River Floodplain in the east, to the Mississippi River alluvial swamps in the north.[10]

National Park Service

Historic or scenic areas managed, protected, or otherwise recognized by the National Park Service include:

  • Atchafalaya National Heritage Area in Ascension Parish;
  • Cane River National Heritage Area near Natchitoches;
  • Cane River Creole National Historical Park near Natchitoches;
  • Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve, headquartered in New Orleans, with units in St. Bernard Parish, Barataria (Crown Point), and Acadiana (Lafayette);
  • Poverty Point National Monument at Epps, Louisiana; and
  • Saline Bayou, a designated National Wild and Scenic River near Winn Parish in northern Louisiana.

US Forest Service

  • Kisatchie National Forest is Louisiana’s only national forest. It includes 600,000 acres in central and north Louisiana with large areas of flatwoods and longleaf pine forest.

State parks and recreational areas

Louisiana operates a system of 22 state parks, 17 state historic sites and one state preservation area.

Wildlife management areas

Louisiana has 955,973 acres, in four ecoregions under the wildlife management of the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheriess. The Nature Conservancy also owns and manages a set of natural areas.

Natural and Scenic Rivers

The Louisiana Natural and Scenic Rivers System provides a degree of protection for 51 rivers, streams and bayous in the state. It is administered by the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries.[39]

Transportation

The Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development is the state government organization in charge of maintaining public transportation, roadways, bridges, canals, select levees, floodplain management, port facilities, commercial vehicles, and aviation which includes 69 airports.

Gulf Intracoastal Waterway near New Orleans

The Intracoastal Waterway is an important means of transporting commercial goods such as petroleum and petroleum products, agricultural produce, building materials and manufactured goods.

In 2011, Louisiana ranked among the five deadliest states for debris/litter-caused vehicle accidents per total number of registered vehicles and population size. Figures derived from[40] the NTSHA show at least 25 persons in Louisiana were killed per year in motor vehicle collisions with non-fixed objects, including debris, dumped litter, animals and their carcasses.

History

Pre-colonial history

Watson Brake, the oldest mound complex in North America

Louisiana was inhabited by Native Americans for many millennia before the arrival of Europeans in the 16th century. During the Middle Archaic period, Louisiana was the site of the earliest mound complex in North America and one of the earliest dated, complex constructions in the Americas, the Watson Brake site near present-day Monroe. An 11-mound complex, it was built about 5400 BP (3500 BC).[41] The Middle Archaic sites of Caney and Frenchman’s Bend have also been securely dated to 5600–5000 BP (3700–3100 BC), demonstrating that seasonal hunter-gatherers organized to build complex earthwork constructions in present-day northern Louisiana. These discoveries overturned previous assumptions in archaeology that such complex mounds were built only by cultures of more settled peoples who were dependent on maize cultivation. The Hedgepeth Site in Lincoln Parish is more recent, dated to 5200–4500 BP (3300–2600 BC).[42]

Poverty Point UNESCO site

Nearly 2,000 years later, Poverty Point was built; it is the largest and best-known Late Archaic site in the state. The city of modern-day Epps developed near it. The Poverty Point culture may have reached its peak around 1500 BC, making it the first complex culture, and possibly the first tribal culture in North America.[43] It lasted until approximately 700 BC.

The Poverty Point culture was followed by the Tchefuncte and Lake Cormorant cultures of the Tchula period, local manifestations of Early Woodland period. The Tchefuncte culture were the first people in the area of Louisiana to make large amounts of pottery.[44] These cultures lasted until AD 200. The Middle Woodland period started in Louisiana with the Marksville culture in the southern and eastern part of the state, reaching across the Mississippi River to the east around Natchez[45] and the Fourche Maline culture in the northwestern part of the state. The Marksville culture was named after the Marksville Prehistoric Indian Site in Avoyelles Parish.

Troyville Earthworks, once the second tallest earthworks in North America

These cultures were contemporaneous with the Hopewell cultures of present-day Ohio and Illinois, and participated in the Hopewell Exchange Network. Trade with peoples to the southwest brought the bow and arrow.[46] The first burial mounds were built at this time.[47] Political power began to be consolidated, as the first platform mounds at ritual centers were constructed for the developing hereditary political and religious leadership.[47]

By 400 the Late Woodland period had begun with the Baytown culture, Troyville culture, and Coastal Troyville during the Baytown Period and were succeeded by the Coles Creek cultures. Where the Baytown peoples built dispersed settlements, the Troyville people instead continued building major earthwork centers.[48][49][50] Population increased dramatically and there is strong evidence of a growing cultural and political complexity. Many Coles Creek sites were erected over earlier Woodland period mortuary mounds. Scholars have speculated that emerging elites were symbolically and physically appropriating dead ancestors to emphasize and project their own authority.[51]

The Mississippian period in Louisiana was when the Plaquemine and the Caddoan Mississippian cultures developed, and the peoples adopted extensive maize agriculture, cultivating different strains of the plant by saving seeds, selecting for certain characteristics, etc. The Plaquemine culture in the lower Mississippi River Valley in western Mississippi and eastern Louisiana began in 1200 and continued to about 1600. Examples in Louisiana include the Medora Site, the archaeological type site for the culture in West Baton Rouge Parish whose characteristics helped define the culture,[52] the Atchafalaya Basin Mounds in St Mary Parish,[53] the Fitzhugh Mounds in Madison Parish,[54] the Scott Place Mounds in Union Parish,[55] and the Sims Site in St Charles Parish.[56]

Plaquemine culture was contemporaneous with the Middle Mississippian culture that is represented by its largest settlement, the Cahokia site in Illinois east of St. Louis, Missouri. At its peak Cahokia is estimated to have had a population of more than 20,000. The Plaquemine culture is considered ancestral to the historic Natchez and Taensa peoples, whose descendants encountered Europeans in the colonial era.[57]

By 1000 in the northwestern part of the state, the Fourche Maline culture had evolved into the Caddoan Mississippian culture. The Caddoan Mississippians occupied a large territory, including what is now eastern Oklahoma, western Arkansas, northeast Texas, and northwest Louisiana. Archaeological evidence has demonstrated that the cultural continuity is unbroken from prehistory to the present. The Caddo and related Caddo-language speakers in prehistoric times and at first European contact were the direct ancestors of the modern Caddo Nation of Oklahoma of today.[58] Significant Caddoan Mississippian archaeological sites in Louisiana include Belcher Mound Site in Caddo Parish[59] and Gahagan Mounds Site in Red River Parish.[60]

Many current place names in Louisiana, including Atchafalaya, Natchitouches (now spelled Natchitoches), Caddo, Houma, Tangipahoa, and Avoyel (as Avoyelles), are transliterations of those used in various Native American languages.

Exploration and colonization by Europeans

Louisiana regions

The first European explorers to visit Louisiana came in 1528 when a Spanish expedition led by Pánfilo de Narváez located the mouth of the Mississippi River. In 1542, Hernando de Soto’s expedition skirted to the north and west of the state (encountering Caddo and Tunica groups) and then followed the Mississippi River down to the Gulf of Mexico in 1543. Spanish interest in Louisiana faded away for a century and a half.

In the late 17th century, French and French Canadian expeditions, which included sovereign, religious and commercial aims, established a foothold on the Mississippi River and Gulf Coast. With its first settlements, France laid claim to a vast region of North America and set out to establish a commercial empire and French nation stretching from the Gulf of Mexico to Canada.

In 1682, the French explorer Robert Cavelier de La Salle named the region Louisiana to honor King Louis XIV of France. The first permanent settlement, Fort Maurepas (at what is now Ocean Springs, Mississippi, near Biloxi), was founded in 1699 by Pierre Le Moyne d’Iberville, a French military officer from Canada. By then the French had also built a small fort at the mouth of the Mississippi at a settlement they named La Balise (or La Balize), “seamark” in French. By 1721 they built a 62-foot (19 m) wooden lighthouse-type structure here to guide ships on the river.[61]

A royal ordinance of 1722—following the Crown’s transfer of the Illinois Country’s governance from Canada to Louisiana—may have featured the broadest definition of Louisiana: all land claimed by France south of the Great Lakes between the Rocky Mountains and the Alleghenies.[62] A generation later, trade conflicts between Canada and Louisiana led to a more defined boundary between the French colonies; in 1745, Louisiana governor general Vaudreuil set the northern and eastern bounds of his domain as the Wabash valley up to the mouth of the Vermilion River (near present-day Danville, Illinois); from there, northwest to le Rocher on the Illinois River, and from there west to the mouth of the Rock River (at present day Rock Island, Illinois).[62] Thus, Vincennes and Peoria were the limit of Louisiana’s reach; the outposts at Ouiatenon (on the upper Wabash near present-day Lafayette, Indiana), Chicago, Fort Miamis (near present-day Fort Wayne, Indiana), and Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin, operated as dependencies of Canada.[62]

The settlement of Natchitoches (along the Red River in present-day northwest Louisiana) was established in 1714 by Louis Juchereau de St. Denis, making it the oldest permanent European settlement in the modern state of Louisiana. The French settlement had two purposes: to establish trade with the Spanish in Texas via the Old San Antonio Road, and to deter Spanish advances into Louisiana. The settlement soon became a flourishing river port and crossroads, giving rise to vast cotton kingdoms along the river that were worked by imported African slaves. Over time, planters developed large plantations and built fine homes in a growing town. This became a pattern repeated in New Orleans and other places, although the commodity crop in the south was primarily sugar cane.

French Acadians, who came to be known as Cajuns, settled the swamps of southern Louisiana, especially in the Atchafalaya Basin.

Louisiana’s French settlements contributed to further exploration and outposts, concentrated along the banks of the Mississippi and its major tributaries, from Louisiana to as far north as the region called the Illinois Country, around present-day St. Louis, Missouri. The latter was settled by French colonists from Illinois.

Initially, Mobile and then Biloxi served as the capital of La Louisiane. Recognizing the importance of the Mississippi River to trade and military interests, and wanting to protect the capital from severe coastal storms, France developed New Orleans from 1722 as the seat of civilian and military authority south of the Great Lakes. From then until the United States acquired the territory in the Louisiana Purchase of 1803, France and Spain jockeyed for control of New Orleans and the lands west of the Mississippi.

In the 1720s, German immigrants settled along the Mississippi River, in a region referred to as the German Coast.

France ceded most of its territory to the east of the Mississippi to Great Britain in 1763, in the aftermath of Britain’s victory in the Seven Years’ War (generally referred to in North America as the French and Indian War). The rest of Louisiana, including the area around New Orleans and the parishes around Lake Pontchartrain, had become a colony of Spain by the Treaty of Fontainebleau (1762). The transfer of power on either side of the river would be delayed until later in the decade.

In 1765, during Spanish rule, several thousand French-speaking refugees from the region of Acadia (now Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island, Canada) made their way to Louisiana after having been expelled from their homelands by the British during the French and Indian War. They settled chiefly in the southwestern Louisiana region now called Acadiana. The Spanish, eager to gain more Catholic settlers, welcomed the Acadian refugees, the ancestors of Louisiana’s Cajuns.

Spanish Canary Islanders, called Isleños, emigrated from the Canary Islands of Spain to Louisiana under the Spanish crown between 1778 and 1783.

In 1800, France’s Napoleon Bonaparte reacquired Louisiana from Spain in the Treaty of San Ildefonso, an arrangement kept secret for two years.

Expansion of slavery

Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne, Sieur de Bienville brought the first two African slaves to Louisiana in 1708, transporting them from a French colony in the West Indies. In 1709, French financier Antoine Crozat obtained a monopoly of commerce in La Louisiane, which extended from the Gulf of Mexico to what is now Illinois. “That concession allowed him to bring in a cargo of blacks from Africa every year,” the British historian Hugh Thomas wrote.[63] Physical conditions, including disease, were so harsh there was high mortality among both the colonists and the slaves, resulting in continuing demand and importation of slaves.

Starting in 1719, traders began to import slaves in higher numbers; two French ships, the Du Maine and the Aurore, arrived in New Orleans carrying more than 500 black slaves coming from Africa. Previous slaves in Louisiana had been transported from French colonies in the West Indies. By the end of 1721, New Orleans counted 1,256 inhabitants, of whom about half were slaves.

In 1724, the French government issued a law called the Code Noir (“Black Code” in English) which “regulate[d] the interaction of whites [blancs] and blacks [noirs] in its colony of Louisiana[64] (which was much larger than the current state of Louisiana). The law consisted of 57 articles, which regulated religion in the colony, outlawed “interracial” marriages (those between people of different skin color, the varying shades of which were also defined by law), restricted manumission, outlined legal punishment of slaves for various offenses, and defined some obligations of owners to their slaves. The main intent of the French government was to assert control over the slave system of agriculture in Louisiana and to impose restrictions on slaveowners there. In practice, the Code Noir was exceedingly difficult to enforce from afar. Some priests continued to perform interracial marriage ceremonies, for example, and some slaveholders continued to manumit slaves without permission while others punished slaves brutally.

Article II of the Code Noir of 1724 required owners to provide their slaves with religious education in the state religion, Roman Catholicism. Sunday was to be a day of rest for slaves. On days off, slaves were expected to feed and take care of themselves. During the 1740s economic crisis in the colony, owners had trouble feeding their slaves and themselves. Giving them time off also effectively gave more power to slaves, who started cultivating their own gardens and crafting items for sale as their own property. They began to participate in the economic development of the colony while at the same time increasing independence and self-subsistence.

Article VI of the Code Noir forbade mixed marriages, forbade but did little to protect slave women from rape by their owners, overseers or other slaves. On balance, the Code benefitted the owners but had more protections and flexibility than did the institution of slavery in the southern Thirteen Colonies.

The Louisiana Black Code of 1806 made the cruel punishment of slaves a crime, but owners and overseers were seldom prosecuted for such acts.[65]

Fugitive slaves, called maroons, could easily hide in the backcountry of the bayous and survive in small settlements. The word “maroon” comes from the French “marron,” meaning “feral” or “fugitive.”

In the late 18th century, the last Spanish governor of the Louisiana territory wrote:

Truly, it is impossible for lower Louisiana to get along without slaves and with the use of slaves, the colony had been making great strides toward prosperity and wealth.[66]

When the United States purchased Louisiana in 1803, it was soon accepted that enslaved Africans could be brought to Louisiana as easily as they were brought to neighboring Mississippi, though it violated U.S. law to do so.[66] Despite demands by United States Rep. James Hillhouse and by the pamphleteer Thomas Paine to enforce existing federal law against slavery in the newly acquired territory,[66] slavery prevailed because it was the source of great profits and the lowest-cost labor.

At the start of the 19th century, Louisiana was a small producer of sugar with a relatively small number of slaves, compared to Saint-Domingue and the West Indies. It soon thereafter became a major sugar producer as new settlers arrived to develop plantations. William C. C. Claiborne, Louisiana’s first United States governor, said that African slave labor was needed because white laborers “cannot be had in this unhealthy climate.”[67] Hugh Thomas wrote that Claiborne was unable to enforce the abolition of the African slave trade, which the US and Great Britain adopted in 1808. The United States continued to protect the domestic slave trade, including the coastwise trade – the transport of slaves by ship along the Atlantic Coast and to New Orleans and other Gulf ports.

By 1840, New Orleans had the biggest slave market in the United States, which contributed greatly to the economy of the city and of the state. New Orleans had become one of the wealthiest cities, and the third largest city, in the nation.[68] The ban on the African slave trade and importation of slaves had increased demand in the domestic market. During the decades after the American Revolutionary War, more than one million enslaved African Americans underwent forced migration from the Upper South to the Deep South, two thirds of them in the slave trade. Others were transported by their owners as slaveholders moved west for new lands.[69][70]

With changing agriculture in the Upper South as planters shifted from tobacco to less labor-intensive mixed agriculture, planters had excess laborers. Many sold slaves to traders to take to the Deep South. Slaves were driven by traders overland from the Upper South or transported to New Orleans and other coastal markets by ship in the coastwise slave trade. After sales in New Orleans, steamboats operating on the Mississippi transported slaves upstream to markets or plantation destinations at Natchez and Memphis.

As the Deep South was developed for cotton and sugar in the first half of the nineteenth century, demand for slaves increased. This resulted in a massive forced migration (through the slave trade) of more than one million African Americans from the Upper South to the Deep South. Many traders brought slaves to New Orleans for domestic sale, and by 1840, New Orleans had the largest slave market in the country, was the third-largest city, and was one of the wealthiest cities.

Free woman of color with mixed-race daughter; late 18th-century collage painting, New Orleans.

Haitian migration and influence

Spanish occupation of Louisiana lasted from 1769 to 1800. Beginning in the 1790s, waves of immigration took place from Saint-Domingue, following a slave rebellion that started in 1791. Over the next decade, thousands of migrants landed in Louisiana from the island, including ethnic Europeans, free people of color, and African slaves, some of the latter brought in by each free group. They greatly increased the French-speaking population in New Orleans and Louisiana, as well as the number of Africans, and the slaves reinforced African culture in the city. The process of gaining independence in Saint-Domingue was complex, but uprisings continued. In 1803, France pulled out its surviving troops from the island, having suffered the loss of two-thirds sent to the island two years before, mostly to yellow fever. In 1804, Haiti, the second republic in the western hemisphere, proclaimed its independence, achieved by slave leaders.[71]

Pierre Clément de Laussat (Governor, 1803) said: “Saint-Domingue was, of all our colonies in the Antilles, the one whose mentality and customs influenced Louisiana the most.”[72]

French pirate Jean Lafitte, who operated in New Orleans, was born in Port-au-Prince around 1782.[73]

Purchase by the United States (1803)

When the United States won its independence from Great Britain in 1783, one of its major concerns was having a European power on its western boundary, and the need for unrestricted access to the Mississippi River. As American settlers pushed west, they found that the Appalachian Mountains provided a barrier to shipping goods eastward. The easiest way to ship produce was to use a flatboat to float it down the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers to the port of New Orleans, where goods could be put on ocean-going vessels. The problem with this route was that the Spanish owned both sides of the Mississippi below Natchez.

Napoleon’s ambitions in Louisiana involved the creation of a new empire centered on the Caribbean sugar trade. By the terms of the Treaty of Amiens of 1802, Great Britain returned ownership of the islands of Martinique and Guadaloupe to the French. Napoleon looked upon Louisiana as a depot for these sugar islands, and as a buffer to U.S. settlement. In October 1801 he sent a large military force to take back Saint-Domingue, then under control of Toussaint Louverture after a slave rebellion.

When the army led by Napoleon’s brother-in-law Leclerc was defeated, Napoleon decided to sell Louisiana.

Map of Louisiana in 1800

Thomas Jefferson, third President of the United States, was disturbed by Napoleon’s plans to re-establish French colonies in America. With the possession of New Orleans, Napoleon could close the Mississippi to U.S. commerce at any time. Jefferson authorized Robert R. Livingston, U.S. Minister to France, to negotiate for the purchase of the City of New Orleans, portions of the east bank of the Mississippi, and free navigation of the river for U.S. commerce. Livingston was authorized to pay up to $2 million.

An official transfer of Louisiana to French ownership had not yet taken place, and Napoleon’s deal with the Spanish was a poorly kept secret on the frontier. On October 18, 1802, however, Juan Ventura Morales, Acting Intendant of Louisiana, made public the intention of Spain to revoke the right of deposit at New Orleans for all cargo from the United States. The closure of this vital port to the United States caused anger and consternation. Commerce in the west was virtually blockaded. Historians believe that the revocation of the right of deposit was prompted by abuses by the Americans, particularly smuggling, and not by French intrigues as was believed at the time. President Jefferson ignored public pressure for war with France, and appointed James Monroe a special envoy to Napoleon, to assist in obtaining New Orleans for the United States. Jefferson also raised the authorized expenditure to $10 million.

However, on April 11, 1803, French Foreign Minister Talleyrand surprised Livingston by asking how much the United States was prepared to pay for the entirety of Louisiana, not just New Orleans and the surrounding area (as Livingston’s instructions covered). Monroe agreed with Livingston that Napoleon might withdraw this offer at any time (leaving them with no ability to obtain the desired New Orleans area), and that approval from President Jefferson might take months, so Livingston and Monroe decided to open negotiations immediately. By April 30, they closed a deal for the purchase of the entire Louisiana territory of 828,000 square miles (2,100,000 km2) for 60 million Francs (approximately $15 million).

Part of this sum, $3.5 million, was used to forgive debts owed by France to the United States.[74] The payment was made in United States bonds, which Napoleon sold at face value to the Dutch firm of Hope and Company, and the British banking house of Baring, at a discount of 87½ per each $100 unit. As a result, France received only $8,831,250 in cash for Louisiana.
English banker Alexander Baring conferred with Marbois in Paris, shuttled to the United States to pick up the bonds, took them to Britain, and returned to France with the money – which Napoleon used to wage war against Baring’s own country.

Louisiana Purchase, 1803

When news of the purchase reached the United States, Jefferson was surprised. He had authorized the expenditure of $10 million for a port city, and instead received treaties committing the government to spend $15 million on a land package which would double the size of the country. Jefferson’s political opponents in the Federalist Party argued the Louisiana purchase was a worthless desert,[75] and that the Constitution did not provide for the acquisition of new land or negotiating treaties without the consent of the Senate. What really worried the opposition was the new states which would inevitably be carved from the Louisiana territory, strengthening Western and Southern interests in Congress, and further reducing the influence of New England Federalists in national affairs. President Jefferson was an enthusiastic supporter of westward expansion, and held firm in his support for the treaty. Despite Federalist objections, the U.S. Senate ratified the Louisiana treaty on October 20, 1803.

By statute enacted on October 31, 1803, President Thomas Jefferson was authorized to take possession of the territories ceded by France and provide for initial governance.[76] A transfer ceremony was held in New Orleans on November 29, 1803. Since the Louisiana territory had never officially been turned over to the French, the Spanish took down their flag, and the French raised theirs. The following day, General James Wilkinson accepted possession of New Orleans for the United States. A similar ceremony was held in St. Louis on March 9, 1804, when a French tricolor was raised near the river, replacing the Spanish national flag. The following day, Captain Amos Stoddard of the First U.S. Artillery marched his troops into town and had the American flag run up the fort’s flagpole. The Louisiana territory was officially transferred to the United States government, represented by Meriwether Lewis.

The Louisiana Territory, purchased for less than 3 cents an acre, doubled the size of the United States overnight, without a war or the loss of a single American life, and set a precedent for the purchase of territory. It opened the way for the eventual expansion of the United States across the continent to the Pacific.

Shortly after the United States took possession, the area was divided into two territories along the 33rd parallel north on March 26, 1804, thereby organizing the Territory of Orleans to the south and the District of Louisiana (subsequently formed as the Louisiana Territory) to the north.[77]

Statehood (1812)

Louisiana became the eighteenth U.S. state on April 30, 1812; the Territory of Orleans became the State of Louisiana and the Louisiana Territory was simultaneously renamed the Missouri Territory.[78] An area known as the Florida Parishes was soon annexed into the state of Louisiana on April 14, 1812.[79]

From 1824 to 1861, Louisiana moved from a political system based on personality and ethnicity to a distinct two-party system, with Democrats competing first against Whigs, then Know Nothings, and finally only other Democrats.[80]

Secession and the Civil War (1860–1865)

‘Signing the Ordinance of Secession of Louisiana, January 26, 1861’, oil on canvas painting, 1861

Capture of New Orleans, April 1862, colored lithograph of engraving

According to the 1860 census, 331,726 people were enslaved, nearly 47% of the state’s total population of 708,002.[81] The strong economic interest of elite whites in maintaining the slave society contributed to Louisiana’s decision to secede from the Union in January 26, 1861.[82] It followed other Southern states in seceding after the election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States. Louisiana’s secession was announced on January 26, 1861, and it became part of the Confederate States of America.

The state was quickly defeated in the Civil War, a result of Union strategy to cut the Confederacy in two by seizing the Mississippi. Federal troops captured New Orleans on April 25, 1862. Because a large part of the population had Union sympathies (or compatible commercial interests), the Federal government took the unusual step of designating the areas of Louisiana under Federal control as a state within the Union, with its own elected representatives to the U.S. Congress.[citation needed]

Post-Civil War to mid-20th century (1865–1945)

Following the Civil War and emancipation of slaves, violence rose in the South as the war was carried on by insurgent private and paramilitary groups. Initially state legislatures were dominated by former Confederates, who passed Black Codes to regulate freedmen and generally refused to give the vote. They refused to extend voting rights to African Americans who had been free before the war and had sometimes obtained education and property (as in New Orleans.) Following the Memphis riots of 1866 and the New Orleans riot the same year, the Fourteenth Amendment was passed that provided suffrage and full citizenship for freedmen. Congress passed the Reconstruction Act, establishing military districts for those states where conditions were considered the worst, including Louisiana. It was grouped with Texas in what was administered as the Fifth Military District.

African Americans began to live as citizens with some measure of equality before the law. Both freedmen and people of color who had been free before the war began to make more advances in education, family stability and jobs. At the same time, there was tremendous social volatility in the aftermath of war, with many whites actively resisting defeat and the free labor market. White insurgents mobilized to enforce white supremacy, first in Ku Klux Klan chapters.

By 1877, when federal forces were withdrawn, white Democrats in Louisiana and other states had regained control of state legislatures, often by paramilitary groups such as the White League, which suppressed black voting through intimidation and violence. Following Mississippi’s example in 1890, in 1898, the white Democratic, planter-dominated legislature passed a new constitution that effectively disenfranchised blacks and people of color, by raising barriers to voter registration, such as poll taxes, residency requirements and literacy tests. The effect was immediate and long lasting. In 1896, there were 130,334 black voters on the rolls and about the same number of white voters, in proportion to the state population, which was evenly divided.[83]

The state population in 1900 was 47% African-American: a total of 652,013 citizens. Many in New Orleans were descendants of Creoles of color, the sizeable population of free people of color before the Civil War.[84] By 1900, two years after the new constitution, only 5,320 black voters were registered in the state. Because of disfranchisement, by 1910 there were only 730 black voters (less than 0.5 percent of eligible African-American men), despite advances in education and literacy among blacks and people of color.[85] Blacks were excluded from the political system and also unable to serve on juries. White Democrats had established one-party Democratic rule, which they maintained in the state for decades deep into the 20th century until after Congressional passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act provided federal oversight and enforcement of the constitutional right to vote.

National Rice Festival, Crowley, Louisiana, 1938

In the early decades of the 20th century, thousands of African Americans left Louisiana in the Great Migration north to industrial cities for jobs and education, and to escape Jim Crow society and lynchings. The boll weevil infestation and agricultural problems cost many sharecroppers and farmers their jobs. The mechanization of agriculture also reduced the need for laborers. Beginning in the 1940s, blacks went West to California for jobs in its expanding defense industries.[86]

During some of the Great Depression, Louisiana was led by Governor Huey Long. He was elected to office on populist appeal. His public works projects provided thousands of jobs to people in need, and he supported education and increased suffrage for poor whites, but Long was criticized for his allegedly demogogic and autocratic style. He extended patronage control through every branch of Louisiana’s state government. Especially controversial were his plans for wealth redistribution in the state. Long’s rule ended abruptly when he was assassinated in the state capitol in 1935.

Post-World War II (1945–)

Mobilization for World War II created jobs in the state. But thousands of other workers, black and white alike, migrated to California for better jobs in its burgeoning defense industry. Many African Americans left the state in the Second Great Migration, from the 1940s through the 1960s to escape social oppression and seek better jobs. The mechanization of agriculture in the 1930s had sharply cut the need for laborers. They sought skilled jobs in the defense industry in California, better education for their children, and living in communities where they could vote.[87]

In the 1950s the state created new requirements for a citizenship test for voter registration. Despite opposition by the States Rights Party, downstate black voters had begun to increase their rate of registration, which also reflected the growth of their middle classes. In 1960 the state established the Louisiana State Sovereignty Commission, to investigate civil rights activists and maintain segregation.[88]

Despite this, gradually black voter registration and turnout increased to 20% and more, and it was 32% by 1964, when the first national civil rights legislation of the era was passed.[89] The percentage of black voters ranged widely in the state during these years, from 93.8% in Evangeline Parish to 1.7% in Tensas Parish, for instance, where there were white efforts to suppress the vote in the black-majority parish.[90]

Violent attacks on civil rights activists in two mill towns were catalysts to the founding of the first two chapters of the Deacons for Defense and Justice in late 1964 and early 1965, in Jonesboro and Bogalusa, respectively. Made up of veterans of World War II and the Korean War, they were armed self-defense groups established to protect activists and their families. Continued violent white resistance in Bogalusa to blacks trying to use public facilities in 1965, following passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, caused the federal government to order local police to protect the activists.[91] Other chapters were formed in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama.

By 1960 the proportion of African Americans in Louisiana had dropped to 32%. The 1,039,207 black citizens were still suppressed by segregation and disfranchisement.[92] African Americans continued to suffer disproportionate discriminatory application of the state’s voter registration rules. Because of better opportunities elsewhere, from 1965 to 1970, blacks continued to migrate out of Louisiana, for a net loss of more than 37,000 people. Based on official census figures, the African-American population in 1970 stood at 1,085,109, a net gain of more than 46,000 people compared to 1960. During the latter period, some people began to migrate to cities of the New South for opportunities.[93] Since that period, blacks entered the political system and began to be elected to office, as well as having other opportunities.

On May 21, 1919, the Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, giving women full rights to vote, was passed at a national level, and was made the law throughout the United States on August 18, 1920. Louisiana finally ratified the amendment on June 11, 1970.

View of flooded New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina

2000 to present

Due to its location on the Gulf Coast, Louisiana has regularly suffered the effects of tropical storms and damaging hurricanes. In August 2005, New Orleans and many other low-lying parts of the state along the Gulf of Mexico were hit by the catastrophic Hurricane Katrina. It caused widespread damage due to breaching of levees and large-scale flooding of more than 80% of the city. Officials had issued warnings to evacuate the city and nearby areas, but tens of thousands of people, mostly African Americans, stayed behind, many of them stranded. Many people died and survivors suffered through the damage of the widespread floodwaters.

In August 2016, an unnamed storm dumped trillions of gallons of rain on southern Louisiana, including the cities of Denham Springs, Baton Rouge, Gonzales, St. Amant and Lafayette, causing catastrophic flooding.[94] An estimated 110,000 homes were damaged[95] and thousands of residents were displaced.[96]

Demographics

Louisiana’s population density

Historical population
Census Pop.
1810 76,556
1820 153,407 100.4%
1830 215,739 40.6%
1840 352,411 63.4%
1850 517,762 46.9%
1860 708,002 36.7%
1870 726,915 2.7%
1880 939,946 29.3%
1890 1,118,588 19.0%
1900 1,381,625 23.5%
1910 1,656,388 19.9%
1920 1,798,509 8.6%
1930 2,000,000 11.2%
1940 2,363,516 18.2%
1950 2,683,516 13.5%
1960 3,257,022 21.4%
1970 3,641,306 11.8%
1980 4,205,900 15.5%
1990 4,219,973 0.3%
2000 4,468,976 5.9%
2010 4,533,372 1.4%
Est. 2017 4,684,333 3.3%
Source:[97]

The United States Census Bureau estimates that the population of Louisiana was 4,670,724 on July 1, 2015, a 3.03% increase since the 2010 United States Census.[98] The population density of the state is 104.9 people per square mile.[99]

The center of population of Louisiana is located in Pointe Coupee Parish, in the city of New Roads.[100]

According to the 2010 United States Census, 5.4% of the population aged 5 and older spoke Spanish at home, up from 3.5% in 2000; and 4.5% spoke French (including Louisiana French and Louisiana Creole), down from 4.8% in 2000.[101][102]

Race and ethnicity

According to the US census estimates, the population of Louisiana in 2014 was:[103]

  • White Americans – 63.4% (59.3% non-Hispanic white, 4.1% White Hispanic)
  • Black or African American – 32.5%
  • Asian – 1.8%
  • Multiracial American – 1.5%
  • Native American – 0.8%
  • Hispanic or Latino of any race – 4.8%

The major ancestry groups of Louisiana are African American (30.4%), French (16.8%), American (9.5%), German (8.3%), Irish (7.5%), English (6.6%), Italian (4.8%) and Scottish (1.1%).[104]

As of 2011, 49.0% of Louisiana’s population younger than age 1 were minorities.[105]

Louisiana Racial Breakdown of Population
Racial composition 1990[106] 2000[107] 2010[108]
White 67.3% 63.9% 62.6%
Black 30.8% 30.5% 32.0%
Asian 1.0% 1.8% 1.5%
Native 0.8% 0.8% 0.7%
Native Hawaiian and
other Pacific Islander
0.1%
Other race 0.5% 0.7% 1.5%
Two or more races 1.1% 1.6%

Religion

Religion in Louisiana (2014)[109]
religion percent
Protestant
57%
Catholic
26%
No religion
13%
Jehovah’s Witness
1%
Other Christian
1%
Buddhist
1%
Other faith
1%

The largest denominations by number of adherents in 2010 were the Catholic Church with 1,200,900; Southern Baptist Convention with 709,650; and the United Methodist Church with 146,848. Non-denominational Evangelical Protestant congregations had 195,903 members.[110]

As in other Southern states, the majority of Louisianians, particularly in the north of the state, belong to various Protestant denominations, with Protestants comprising 57% of the state’s adult population. Protestants are concentrated in the northern and central parts of the state and in the northern tier of the Florida Parishes. Because of French and Spanish heritage, and their descendants the Creoles, and later Irish, Italian, Portuguese and German immigrants, southern Louisiana and the greater New Orleans area are predominantly Catholic.[111]

Since Creoles were the first settlers, planters and leaders of the territory, they have traditionally been well represented in politics. For instance, most of the early governors were Creole Catholics.[112] Because Catholics still constitute a significant fraction of Louisiana’s population, they have continued to be influential in state politics. As of 2008[update] both Senators and the Governor were Catholic. The high proportion and influence of the Catholic population makes Louisiana distinct among Southern states.[113]

Jewish communities are established in the state’s larger cities, notably New Orleans and Baton Rouge.[114][115] The most significant of these is the Jewish community of the New Orleans area. In 2000, before the 2005 Hurricane Katrina, its population was about 12,000. Louisiana was among the southern states with a significant Jewish population before the 20th century; Virginia, South Carolina, and Georgia also had influential Jewish populations in some of their major cities from the 18th and 19th centuries. The earliest Jewish colonists were Sephardic Jews who immigrated with English colonists from London. Later in the 19th century, German Jews began to immigrate, followed by those from eastern Europe and the Russian Empire in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Prominent Jews in Louisiana’s political leadership have included Whig (later Democrat) Judah P. Benjamin (1811–1884), who represented Louisiana in the U.S. Senate before the American Civil War and then became the Confederate Secretary of State; Democrat-turned-Republican Michael Hahn who was elected as governor, serving 1864–1865 when Louisiana was occupied by the Union Army, and later elected in 1884 as a US Congressman;[116] Democrat Adolph Meyer (1842–1908), Confederate Army officer who represented the state in the U.S. House from 1891 until his death in 1908; Republican Secretary of State Jay Dardenne (1954–), and Republican (Democrat before 2011) Attorney General Buddy Caldwell (1946–).

Major cities

Economy

The total gross state product in 2010 for Louisiana was US$213.6 billion, placing it 24th in the nation. Its per capita personal income is $30,952, ranking 41st in the United States.[119][120]

In 2014, Louisiana was ranked as one of the most small business friendly states, based on a study drawing upon data from over 12,000 small business owners.[121]

The state’s principal agricultural products include seafood (it is the biggest producer of crawfish in the world, supplying approximately 90%), cotton, soybeans, cattle, sugarcane, poultry and eggs, dairy products, and rice. Industry generates chemical products, petroleum and coal products, processed foods and transportation equipment, and paper products. Tourism is an important element in the economy, especially in the New Orleans area.

The Port of South Louisiana, located on the Mississippi River between New Orleans and Baton Rouge, is the largest volume shipping port in the Western Hemisphere and 4th largest in the world, as well as the largest bulk cargo port in the world.[122]

New Orleans, Shreveport, and Baton Rouge are home to a thriving film industry.[123] State financial incentives since 2002 and aggressive promotion have given Louisiana the nickname “Hollywood South”. Because of its distinctive culture within the United States, only Alaska is Louisiana’s rival in popularity as a setting for reality television programs.[124] In late 2007 and early 2008, a 300,000-square-foot (28,000 m2) film studio was scheduled to open in Tremé, with state-of-the-art production facilities, and a film training institute.[125]Tabasco sauce, which is marketed by one of the United States’ biggest producers of hot sauce, the McIlhenny Company, originated on Avery Island.[126]

Louisiana has three personal income tax brackets, ranging from 2% to 6%. The sales tax rate is 4%: a 3.97% Louisiana sales tax and a .03% Louisiana Tourism Promotion District sales tax. Political subdivisions also levy their own sales tax in addition to the state fees. The state also has a use tax, which includes 4% to be distributed by the Department of Revenue to local governments. Property taxes are assessed and collected at the local level. Louisiana is a subsidized state, receiving $1.44 from the federal government for every dollar paid in.

Tourism and culture are major players in Louisiana’s economy, earning an estimated $5.2 billion per year.[127] Louisiana also hosts many important cultural events, such as the World Cultural Economic Forum, which is held annually in the fall at the New Orleans Morial Convention Center.[128]

As of July 2017, the state’s unemployment rate was 5.3%.[129]

Federal subsidies and spending

Louisiana taxpayers receive more federal funding per dollar of federal taxes paid compared to the average state. Per dollar of federal tax collected in 2005, Louisiana citizens received approximately $1.78 in the way of federal spending. This ranks the state fourth highest nationally and represents a rise from 1995 when Louisiana received $1.35 per dollar of taxes in federal spending (ranked seventh nationally). Neighboring states and the amount of federal spending received per dollar of federal tax collected were: Texas ($0.94), Arkansas ($1.41), and Mississippi ($2.02). Federal spending in 2005 and subsequent years since has been exceptionally high due to the recovery from Hurricane Katrina.
Tax Foundation.

Energy

The oil slick just off the Louisiana coast on April 30, 2010. The Deepwater Horizon oil spill is now considered the biggest environmental disaster in U.S. history.

Louisiana is rich in petroleum and natural gas. Petroleum and gas deposits are found in abundance both onshore and offshore in State-owned waters. In addition, vast petroleum and natural gas reserves are found offshore from Louisiana in the federally administered Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) in the Gulf of Mexico. According to the Energy Information Administration, the Gulf of Mexico OCS is the largest U.S. petroleum-producing region. Excluding the Gulf of Mexico OCS, Louisiana ranks fourth in petroleum production and is home to about 2 percent of total U.S. petroleum reserves.

Louisiana’s natural gas reserves account for about 5 percent of the U.S. total. The recent discovery of the Haynesville Shale formation in parts of or all of Caddo, Bossier, Bienville, Sabine, De Soto, Red River, and Natchitoches parishes have made it the world’s fourth largest gas field with some wells initially producing over 25 million cubic feet of gas daily.[130]

Louisiana was the first site of petroleum drilling over water in the world, on Caddo Lake in the northwest corner of the state. The petroleum and gas industry, as well as its subsidiary industries such as transport and refining, have dominated Louisiana’s economy since the 1940s. Beginning in 1950, Louisiana was sued several times by the U.S. Interior Department, in efforts by the federal government to strip Louisiana of its submerged land property rights. These control vast stores of reservoirs of petroleum and natural gas.

When petroleum and gas boomed in the 1970s, so did Louisiana’s economy. The Louisiana economy as well as its politics of the last half-century cannot be understood without thoroughly accounting for the influence of the petroleum and gas industries. Since the 1980s, these industries’ headquarters have consolidated in Houston, but many of the jobs that operate or provide logistical support to the U.S. Gulf of Mexico crude-oil-and-gas industry remained in Louisiana as of 2010[update].

Law and government

Louisiana
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The Louisiana State Capitol in Baton Rouge, the tallest state capitol building in the United States.

The Louisiana Governor’s Mansion

In 1849, the state moved the capital from New Orleans to Baton Rouge. Donaldsonville, Opelousas, and Shreveport have briefly served as the seat of Louisiana state government. The Louisiana State Capitol and the Louisiana Governor’s Mansion are both located in Baton Rouge. The Louisiana Supreme Court, however, did not move to Baton Rouge but remains headquartered in New Orleans.

Louisiana and California (whose supreme court is seated in San Francisco) are the only two states whose high courts are not headquartered in the state capital.

The current Louisiana governor is Democrat John Bel Edwards.The current United States Senators are Republicans John Neely Kennedy and Bill Cassidy. Louisiana has six congressional districts and is represented in the U.S. House of Representatives by five Republicans and one Democrat. Louisiana had eight votes in the Electoral College for the 2012 election. It lost one House seat due to stagnant population growth in the 2010 Census.

Administrative divisions

Louisiana is divided into 64 parishes (the equivalent of counties in most other states).[131]

  • List of parishes in Louisiana
  • Louisiana census statistical areas

Most parishes have an elected government known as the Police Jury, dating from the colonial days. It is the legislative and executive government of the parish, and is elected by the voters. Its members are called Jurors, and together they elect a President as their chairman.

A more limited number of parishes operate under home rule charters, electing various forms of government. This include mayor–council, council–manager (in which the council hires a professional operating manager for the parish), and others.

Civil law

The Louisiana political and legal structure has maintained several elements from the times of French and Spanish governance. One is the use of the term “parish” (from the French: paroisse) in place of “county” for administrative subdivision. Another is the legal system of civil law based on French, German, and Spanish legal codes and ultimately Roman law, as opposed to English common law.

Louisiana’s civil law system is what the majority of nations in the world use, especially in Europe and its former colonies, excluding those that derive from the British Empire. However, it is incorrect to equate the Louisiana Civil Code with the Napoleonic Code. Although the Napoleonic Code and Louisiana law draw from common legal roots, the Napoleonic Code was never in force in Louisiana, as it was enacted in 1804, after the United States had purchased and annexed Louisiana in 1803.

While the Louisiana Civil Code of 1808 has been continuously revised and updated since its enactment, it is still considered the controlling authority in the state. Differences are found between Louisianan civil law and the common law found in the other U.S. states. While some of these differences have been bridged due to the strong influence of common law tradition,[132] the civil law tradition is still deeply rooted in most aspects of Louisiana private law. Thus property, contractual, business entities structure, much of civil procedure, and family law, as well as some aspects of criminal law, are still based mostly on traditional Roman legal thinking.

Marriage

In 1997, Louisiana became the first state to offer the option of a traditional marriage or a covenant marriage.[133] In a covenant marriage, the couple waives their right to a “no-fault” divorce after six months of separation, which is available in a traditional marriage. To divorce under a covenant marriage, a couple must demonstrate cause. Marriages between ascendants and descendants, and marriages between collaterals within the fourth degree (i.e., siblings, aunt and nephew, uncle and niece, first cousins) are prohibited.[134]Same-sex marriages were prohibited by statute,[135][136] but the Supreme Court declared such bans unconstitutional in 2015, in its ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges. Same-sex marriages are now performed statewide. Louisiana is a community property state.[137]

Elections

Treemap of the popular vote by parish, 2016 presidential election.

From 1898 to 1965, a period when Louisiana had effectively disfranchised most African Americans and many poor whites by provisions of a new constitution,[138] this was essentially a one-party state dominated by white Democrats. Elites had control in the early 20th century, before populist Huey Long came to power as governor.[139] In multiple acts of resistance, blacks left behind the segregation, violence and oppression of the state and moved out to seek better opportunities in northern and western industrial cities during the Great Migrations of 1910–1970, markedly reducing their proportion of population in Louisiana. The franchise for whites was expanded somewhat during these decades, but blacks remained essentially disfranchised until after the civil rights movement of the mid-20th century, gaining enforcement of their constitutional rights through passage by Congress of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Since the 1960s, when civil rights legislation was passed under President Lyndon Johnson to protect voting and civil rights, most African Americans in the state have affiliated with the Democratic Party. In the same years, many white social conservatives have moved to support Republican Party candidates in national, gubernatorial and statewide elections. In 2004, David Vitter was the first Republican in Louisiana to be popularly elected as a U.S. Senator. The previous Republican Senator, John S. Harris, who took office in 1868 during Reconstruction, was chosen by the state legislature under the rules of the 19th century.

Louisiana is unique among U.S. states in using a system for its state and local elections similar to that of modern France. All candidates, regardless of party affiliation, run in a nonpartisan blanket primary (or “jungle primary”) on Election Day. If no candidate has more than 50% of the vote, the two candidates with the highest vote totals compete in a runoff election approximately one month later. This run-off method does not take into account party identification; therefore, it is not uncommon for a Democrat to be in a runoff with a fellow Democrat or a Republican to be in a runoff with a fellow Republican.

Congressional races have also been held under the jungle primary system. All other states (except Washington, California, and Maine) use single-party primaries followed by a general election between party candidates, each conducted by either a plurality voting system or runoff voting, to elect Senators, Representatives, and statewide officials. Between 2008 and 2010, federal congressional elections were run under a closed primary system – limited to registered party members. However, upon the passage of House Bill 292, Louisiana again adopted a nonpartisan blanket primary for its federal congressional elections.

Louisiana has six seats in the U.S. House of Representatives, five of which are currently held by Republicans and one by a Democrat. The state lost a House seat at the end of the 112th Congress due to stagnant population growth as recorded by the 2010 United States Census. Louisiana is not classified as a “swing state” for future presidential elections, as since the late 20th century, it has regularly supported Republican candidates. The state’s two U.S. senators are Bill Cassidy (R) John Neely Kennedy (R).

Law enforcement

Louisiana’s statewide police force is the Louisiana State Police. It began in 1922 with the creation of the Highway Commission. In 1927, a second branch, the Bureau of Criminal Investigations, was formed. In 1932, the State Highway Patrol was authorized to carry weapons.

On July 28, 1936, the two branches were consolidated to form the Louisiana Department of State Police; its motto was “courtesy, loyalty, service”. In 1942, this office was abolished and became a division of the Department of Public Safety, called the Louisiana State Police. In 1988, the Criminal Investigation Bureau was reorganized.[140] Its troopers have statewide jurisdiction with power to enforce all laws of the state, including city and parish ordinances. Each year, they patrol over 12 million miles (20 million km) of roadway and arrest about 10,000 impaired drivers. The State Police are primarily a traffic enforcement agency, with other sections that delve into trucking safety, narcotics enforcement, and gaming oversight.

The elected sheriff in each parish is the chief law enforcement officer in the parish. They are the keepers of the local parish prisons, which house felony and misdemeanor prisoners. They are the primary criminal patrol and first responder agency in all matters criminal and civil. They are also the official tax collectors in each parish. The sheriffs are responsible for general law enforcement in their respective parishes. Orleans Parish is an exception, as the general law enforcement duties fall to the New Orleans Police Department. Before 2010, Orleans parish was the only parish to have two sheriff’s offices. Orleans Parish divided sheriffs’ duties between criminal and civil, with a different elected sheriff overseeing each aspect. In 2006, a bill was passed which eventually consolidated the two sheriff’s departments into one parish sheriff responsible for both civil and criminal matters.[citation needed]

In 2015, Louisiana had a higher murder rate (10.3 per 100,000) than any other state in the country for the 27th straight year. Louisiana is the only state with an annual average murder rate (13.6 per 100,000) at least twice as high as the U.S. annual average (6.6 per 100,000) during that period, according to Bureau of Justice Statistics from FBI Uniform Crime Reports. In a different kind of criminal activity, the Chicago Tribune reports that Louisiana is the most corrupt state in the United States.[141]

According to the Times Picayune, Louisiana is the prison capital of the world. Many for-profit private prisons and sheriff-owned prisons have been built and operate here. Louisiana’s incarceration rate is nearly five times Iran’s, 13 times China’s and 20 times Germany’s. Minorities are incarcerated at rates disproportionate to their share of the state’s population.[142]

Judiciary

The judiciary of Louisiana is defined under the Constitution and law of Louisiana and is composed of the Louisiana Supreme Court, the Louisiana Circuit Courts of Appeal, the District Courts, the Justice of the Peace Courts, the Mayor’s Courts, the City Courts, and the Parish Courts. The Chief Justice of the Louisiana Supreme Court is the chief administrator of the judiciary. Its administration is aided by the Judiciary Commission of Louisiana, the Louisiana Attorney Disciplinary Board, and the Judicial Council of the Supreme Court of Louisiana.

National Guard

Louisiana has more than 9,000 soldiers in the Louisiana Army National Guard, including the 225th Engineer Brigade and the 256th Infantry Brigade. Both these units have served overseas during the War on Terror in either Iraq, Afghanistan, or both. The Louisiana Air National Guard has over 2,000 airmen and its 159th Fighter Wing has likewise seen overseas service in combat theaters.

Training sites in the state include Camp Beauregard near Pineville, Camp Villere near Slidell, Camp Minden near Minden, England Air Park (formerly England Air Force Base) near Alexandria, Gillis Long Center near Carville, and Jackson Barracks in New Orleans.

Media

Education

Louisiana is home to several notable colleges and universities, which include Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, and Loyola University and Tulane University in New Orleans. Louisiana State University is the largest and most comprehensive university in Louisiana.[143] Tulane University is a major private research university and the wealthiest university in Louisiana with an endowment over $1.1 billion.[144] Tulane is also highly regarded for its academics nationwide, ranked fortieth on U.S. News & World Report’s 2018 list of best national universities.[145]

The Louisiana Science Education Act[146] is a controversial law passed by the Louisiana Legislature on June 11, 2008 and signed into law by Governor Bobby Jindal on June 25. The act allows public school teachers to use supplemental materials in the science classroom which are critical of established science on such topics as the theory of evolution and global warming.[147][148]

Sports

Louisiana is nominally the least populous state with more than one major professional sports league franchise: the National Basketball Association’s New Orleans Pelicans and the National Football League’s New Orleans Saints. Louisiana has a AAA Minor League baseball team, the New Orleans Baby Cakes. The Baby Cakes are currently affiliated with the Miami Marlins.

Louisiana has 12 collegiate NCAA Division I programs, a high number given its population. The state has no NCAA Division II teams and only two NCAA Division III teams. The LSU Tigers football team has won 11 Southeastern Conference titles, six Sugar Bowls and three national championships.

Each year New Orleans plays host to the Sugar Bowl and the New Orleans Bowl college football games, and Shreveport hosts the Independence Bowl. Also, New Orleans has hosted the Super Bowl a record seven times, as well as the BCS National Championship Game, NBA All-Star Game and NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Championship.

The Zurich Classic of New Orleans, is a PGA Tour golf tournament held since 1938. The Rock ‘n’ Roll Mardi Gras Marathon and Crescent City Classic are two road running competitions held at New Orleans.

As of 2016, Louisiana was the birthplace of the most NFL players per capita for the eighth year in a row.[149]

Culture

Dishes typical of Louisiana Creole cuisine.

Louisiana is home to many, especially notable are the distinct culture of the Louisiana Creoles, typically people of color, descendants of free mixed-race families of the colonial and early statehood periods.

African culture

The French colony of La Louisiane struggled for decades to survive. Conditions were harsh, the climate and soil were unsuitable for certain crops the colonists knew, and they suffered from regional tropical diseases. Both colonists and the slaves they imported had high mortality rates. The settlers kept importing slaves, which resulted in a high proportion of native Africans from West Africa, who continued to practice their culture in new surroundings. As described by historian Gwendolyn Midlo Hall, they developed a marked Afro-Creole culture in the colonial era.[150][151]

At the turn of the 18th century and in the early 1800s, New Orleans received a major influx of white and mixed-race refugees fleeing the violence of the Haitian Revolution, many of whom brought their slaves with them. This added another infusion of African culture to the city, as more slaves in Saint-Domingue were from Africa than in the United States. They strongly influenced the African-American culture of the city in terms of dance, music and religious practices.

Louisiana Creole culture

Creole culture is an amalgamation of French, African, Spanish (and other European), and Native American cultures.[152] Creole comes from the Portuguese word crioulo; originally it referred to a colonist of European (specifically French) descent who was born in the New World, in comparison to immigrants from France.[153] The oldest Louisiana manuscript to use the word “Creole,” from 1782, applied it to a slave born in the French colony.[154] But originally it referred more generally to the French colonists born in Louisiana.

Over time, there developed in the French colony a relatively large group of Creoles of Color (gens de couleur libres), who were primarily descended from African slave women and French men (later other Europeans became part of the mix, as well as some Native Americans.) Often the French would free their concubines and mixed-race children, and pass on social capital to them. They might educate sons in France, for instance, and help them enter the French Army for a career. They also settled capital or property on their mistresses and children. The free people of color gained more rights in the colony and sometimes education; they generally spoke French and were Roman Catholic. Many became artisans and property owners. Over time, the term “Creole” became associated with this class of Creoles of Color, many of whom achieved freedom long before the Civil War.

Wealthy French Creoles generally maintained town houses in New Orleans as well as houses on their large sugar plantations outside town along the Mississippi River. New Orleans had the largest population of free people of color in the region; they could find work there and created their own culture, marrying among themselves for decades.

Acadian culture

The ancestors of Cajuns immigrated from west central France to New France, where they settled in the Atlantic provinces of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island, known originally as Acadia. After the British defeated France in the French and Indian War (Seven Years’ War) in 1763, France ceded its territory east of the Mississippi River to Britain. The British forcibly separated families and evicted them from Acadia because they refused to vow loyalty to the new British regime. The Acadians were deported to England, New England, and France. Some escaped the British remained in French Canada.

Others scattered, to France, Canada, Mexico, or the Falkland Islands. Many Acadian refugees settled in south Louisiana in the region around Lafayette and the LaFourche Bayou country. They developed a distinct rural culture there that was different from that of the French Creole colonists in the New Orleans area. Intermarrying with others in the area, they developed what was called Cajun music, cuisine and culture. Until the 1970s, the term “Cajun” was considered somewhat derogatory.

Isleño culture

A third distinct culture in Louisiana is that of the Isleños, descendants of Spanish Canary Islanders who migrated from the Canary Islands of Spain under the Spanish crown beginning in the mid-1770s. They developed four main communities, but many relocated to what is modern-day St. Bernard Parish. This is where the majority of the Isleño population is still concentrated. An annual festival called Fiesta celebrates the heritage of the Isleños.

St Bernard Parish has an Isleños museum, cemetery and church, as well as many street names with Spanish words and Spanish surnames from this heritage. Some members of the Isleño community still speak Spanish – with their own Canary Islander accent. Numerous Isleño identity organizations, and many members of Isleños society keep contact with the Canary Islands of Spain.

Languages

The languages of historic Native American tribes that occupied what is now Louisiana include: Tunica, Caddo, Natchez, Choctaw, Atakapa, Chitimacha and Houma.

According to a 2010 study by the Modern Language Association, among persons five years old and older,[155] 91.26% of Louisiana residents speak only English at home, 3.45% speak French (standard French, French Creole, or Cajun French), 3.30% speak Spanish, and 0.59% speak Vietnamese.

Historically, Native American peoples in the area at the time of European encounter were seven tribes distinguished by their languages: Caddo, Tunica, Natchez, Houma, Choctaw, Atakapa, and Chitimacha. Of these, only Tunica, Caddo and Choctaw still have living native speakers, although several other tribes are working to teach and revitalize their languages. Other Native American peoples migrated into the region, escaping from European pressure from the east. Among these were Alabama, Biloxi, Koasati, and Ofo peoples.

Starting in the 1700s, French colonists began to settle along the coast and founded New Orleans. They established French culture and language institutions. They imported thousands of slaves from tribes of West Africa, who spoke several different languages. In the creolization process, the slaves developed a Louisiana Creole dialect incorporating both French and African forms, which colonists adopted to communicate with them, and which persisted beyond slavery. In the 20th century, there were still people of mixed race, particularly, who spoke Louisiana Creole French.

During the 19th century after the Louisiana Purchase by the United States, English gradually gained prominence for business and government due to the shift in population with settlement by numerous Americans who were English speakers. Many ethnic French families continued to use French in private. Slaves and some free people of color also spoke Louisiana Creole French. The State Constitution of 1812 gave English official status in legal proceedings, but use of French remained widespread. Subsequent state constitutions reflect the diminishing importance of French. The 1868 constitution, passed during the Reconstruction era before Louisiana was re-admitted to the Union, banned laws requiring the publication of legal proceedings in languages other than English. Subsequently, the legal status of French recovered somewhat, but it never regained its pre-Civil War prominence.[156]

Several unique dialects of French, Creole, and English are spoken in Louisiana. Dialects of the French language are: Colonial French and Houma French. Louisiana Creole French is the term for one of the Creole languages. Two unique dialects developed of the English language: Louisiana English, a French-influenced variety of English; and what is informally known as Yat, which resembles the New York City dialect, particularly that of historical Brooklyn. Both accents were influenced by large communities of immigrant Irish and Italians, but the Yat dialect, which developed in New Orleans, was also influenced by French and Spanish.

Louisiana’s bilingual state welcome sign, recognizing its French heritage.

Colonial French was the dominant language of white settlers in Louisiana during the French colonial period; it was spoken primarily by the French Creoles (native-born). In addition to this dialect, the mixed-race people and slaves developed Louisiana Creole, with a base in West African languages. The limited years of Spanish rule at the end of the 18th century did not result in widespread adoption of the Spanish language. French and Louisiana Creole are still used in modern-day Louisiana, often in family gatherings. English and its associated dialects became predominant after the Louisiana Purchase of 1803, after which the area became dominated by numerous English speakers. In some regions, English was influenced by French, as seen with Louisiana English. Colonial French, although mistakenly named Cajun French by some Cajuns, has persisted alongside English.

Renewed interest in the French language in Louisiana has led to the establishment of Canadian-modeled French immersion schools, as well as bilingual signage in the historic French neighborhoods of New Orleans and Lafayette. Organizations such as CODOFIL promote use of the French language in the state.

Literature

Music

See also

  • Louisiana (New France)
  • Index of Louisiana-related articles
  • Outline of Louisiana – organized list of topics about Louisiana

Notes

  1. ^ Louisiana French: La Louisiane, [la lwizjan, luz-];[9]Louisiana Creole: Léta de la Lwizyàn; Standard French: État de Louisiane [lwizjan] (About this soundlisten); Spanish: Luisiana

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  87. ^ “African American Migration Experience: The Second Great Migration”, In Motion, New York Public Library, Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, accessed April 24, 2008
  88. ^ Adam Fairclough, Race & Democracy: The Civil Rights Struggle in Louisiana, 1915–1972, University of Georgia Press, 1999
  89. ^ Debo P. Adegbile, “Voting Rights in Louisiana: 1982–2006,” March 2006, p. 7 Archived June 26, 2008, at the Wayback Machine., accessed March 19, 2008
  90. ^ Edward Blum and Abigail Thernstrom, “Executive Summary” Archived April 17, 2009, at the Wayback Machine., Bullock-Gaddie Expert Report on Louisiana, February 10, 2006, p.1, American Enterprise Institute, accessed March 19, 2008
  91. ^ Douglas Martin (April 24, 2010). “Robert Hicks, Leader in Armed Rights Group, Dies at 81”. The New York Times.
  92. ^ Historical Census Browser, 1960 US Census, University of Virginia, accessed March 15, 2008 Archived August 23, 2007, at the Wayback Machine.
  93. ^ William H. Frey, “The New Great Migration: Black Americans’ Return to the South, 1965–2000”; May 2004, p. 3, The Brookings Institution Archived January 18, 2012, at the Wayback Machine., accessed March 19, 2008
  94. ^ Jason Samenow (August 19, 2016). “No-name storm dumped three times as much rain in Louisiana as Hurricane Katrina”. Washington Post. Retrieved August 19, 2016.
  95. ^ Baton Rouge Area Chamber (August 18, 2016). “BRAC’s preliminary analysis of potential magnitude of flooding’s impact on the Baton Rouge region” (PDF). Baton Rouge Area Chamber. Baton Rouge Area Chamber. Retrieved August 22, 2016.
  96. ^ Cusick, Ashley (August 16, 2016). “This man bought 108 pounds of brisket to cook for the displaced Baton Rouge victims”. The Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved August 20, 2016.
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  101. ^ Bureau, U.S. Census. “American FactFinder – Results”. factfinder2.census.gov.
  102. ^ Bureau, U.S. Census. “American FactFinder – Results”. factfinder2.census.gov.
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  104. ^ “2010 US Census – SOCIAL CHARACTERISTICS IN THE UNITED STATES – Louisiana”. Factfinder2.census.gov. October 5, 2010. Retrieved April 23, 2014.
  105. ^ Exner, Rich (June 3, 2012). “Americans under age 1 now mostly minorities, but not in Ohio: Statistical Snapshot”. The Plain Dealer.
  106. ^ “Historical Census Statistics on Population Totals By Race, 1790 to 1990, and By Hispanic Origin, 1970 to 1990, For The United States, Regions, Divisions, and States”. Census.gov. Archived from the original on July 25, 2008. Retrieved April 23, 2014.
  107. ^ Population of Louisiana: Census 2010 and 2000 Interactive Map, Demographics, Statistics, Quick Facts[dead link]
  108. ^ 2010 Census Data. “2010 Census Data”. Census.gov. Retrieved March 20, 2016.
  109. ^ “Religious Landscape Study”. May 11, 2015.
  110. ^ “The Association of Religion Data Archives | State Membership Report”. www.thearda.com. Retrieved November 15, 2013.
  111. ^ For Louisiana’s position in a larger religious context, see Bible Belt.
  112. ^ Wikisource-logo.svg Herbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). “Louisiana”. Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company.
  113. ^ Other Southern states – such as Maryland and Texas – have longstanding indigenous Catholic populations, and Florida’s largely Catholic population of Cuban emigres has been influential since the 1960s. Yet, Louisiana is still unusual or exceptional in its extent of aboriginal Catholic settlement and influence. Among states in the Deep South (discounting Florida’s Panhandle and much of Texas) the historic role of Catholicism in Louisiana is unparalleled and unique. Among the states of the Union, Louisiana’s unique use of the term parish (French la parouche or “la paroisse”) for county is rooted in the pre-statehood role of Catholic church parishes in the administration of government.
  114. ^ Isaacs, Ronald H. The Jewish Information Source Book: A Dictionary and Almanac, Northvale, NJ: Jason Aronson, Inc., 1993. p. 202.
  115. ^ “Sinai Scholars Seek Students”. Tulane University. January 12, 2010. Archived from the original on July 12, 2015. Registration is open for the spring session of the Sinai Scholars Society, Tulane chapter. The national organization provides funding for a course on Judaism each semester at more than 50 campuses nationwide.
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  123. ^ Troeh, Eve (February 1, 2007). “Louisiana to be Southern Filmmaking Capital?”. VOA News. Voice of America. Archived from the original on December 2, 2008. Retrieved December 25, 2008.
  124. ^ Robertson, Campbell (May 16, 2013). “Seeking Fame in the Bayou? Get Real”. The New York Times. pp. A13. Retrieved May 16, 2013.
  125. ^ “New Jersey Local Jobs –”. Nj.com. Retrieved April 23, 2014.
  126. ^ Shevory, Kristina. “The Fiery Family,” The New York Times, March 31, 2007, p. B1.
  127. ^ “Economy”. Doa.louisiana.gov. Archived from the original on October 12, 2013. Retrieved April 23, 2014.
  128. ^ “WCEF Culture”. wcefculture.com. Archived from the original on March 14, 2016.CS1 maint: Unfit url (link)
  129. ^ [3];Bureau of Labor Statistics
  130. ^ “EIA State Energy Profiles: Louisiana”. June 12, 2008. Retrieved June 24, 2008.
  131. ^ Native Americans from the Handbook of Texas Online
  132. ^ Kinsella, Norman (1997). “A Civil Law to Common Law Dictionary” (PDF). KinsellaLaw.com. Archived from the original (PDF) on December 7, 2010. Retrieved December 7, 2010.
  133. ^ “Covenant Marriage – Pros and Cons”. Marriage.about.com. January 1, 2012. Retrieved February 18, 2012.
  134. ^ “Louisiana Law Search”. www.legis.state.la.us.
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  136. ^ Louisiana Civil Code §3520B
  137. ^ “Louisiana Law Search”. www.legis.state.la.us.
  138. ^ “Reading the Fine Print: The Grandfather Clause in Louisiana”. History Matters: The U.S. Survey Course on the Web. George Washington University. Retrieved October 11, 2013.
  139. ^ Cashman, Sean Dennis (1991). African-Americans and the Quest for Civil Rights, 1900–1990. New York University Press. p. 8. ISBN 9780814714416.
  140. ^ “Louisiana State Police – About Us – LSP History”. Lsp.org. Retrieved April 23, 2014.
  141. ^ Witt, Howard (March 27, 2009). “Most corrupt state: Louisiana ranked higher than Illinois”. Chicago Tribune.
  142. ^ Cindy Chang. “Louisiana is the world’s prison capital”. The Times-Picayune. Nola.com. Retrieved April 23, 2014.
  143. ^ (LSU), Louisiana State University. “About Us”. www.lsu.edu.
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  145. ^ https://www.usnews.com/best-colleges/rankings/national-universities
  146. ^ Senator Ben Nevers. “SB733”. Louisiana Legislature. Retrieved June 25, 2008.
  147. ^ Dvorsky, George (January 15, 2013). “How 19-year-old Zack Kopplin is making life hell for Louisiana’s creationists”. Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science. Archived from the original on February 25, 2013. Retrieved March 9, 2013.
  148. ^ Weiss, Joanna (January 29, 2013). “Jindal’s creationism problem”. Boston Globe. via HighBeam Research (subscription required). Retrieved April 22, 2013.
  149. ^ “Woodland Hills High School in Pittsburgh has most NFL players; California leads states; Houston leads hometowns”. Usafootball.com. September 24, 2010. Retrieved April 23, 2014.
  150. ^ Gwendolyn Midlo Hall, Africans in Colonial Louisiana: The Development of Afro-Creole Culture in the Eighteenth Century (1992)
  151. ^ Gwendolyn Midlo Hall, comp. Afro-Louisiana History and Genealogy, 1719–1820. Database http://www.ibiblio.org/laslave/, 2003.
  152. ^ “French Creole Heritage”. Laheritage.org. Archived from the original on August 30, 2014. Retrieved April 23, 2014.
  153. ^ Delehanty, Randolph.New Orleans: Elegance and Decadence, Chronicle Books, 1995, pg. 14
  154. ^ Kein, Sybil. Creole: The History and Legacy of Louisiana’s Free People of Color, Louisiana State University Press, 2009, p. 73.
  155. ^ “United States”. Modern Language Association. Retrieved September 2, 2013.
  156. ^ Ward, Roger K (Summer 1997). “The French Language in Louisiana Law and Legal Education: A Requiem”. Louisiana Law Review. 57 (4).

Bibliography

  • The Sugar Masters: Planters and Slaves in Louisiana’s Cane World, 1820–1860 by Richard Follett, Louisiana State University Press, 2007.
    ISBN 978-0-8071-3247-0
  • The Slave Trade: The Story of the Atlantic Slave Trade, 1440–1870 by Hugh Thomas. 1997: Simon and Schuster. p. 548.
  • Inhuman Bondage: The Rise and Fall of Slavery in the New World by David Brion Davis 2006: Oxford University Press.
    ISBN 978-0-19-533944-4
  • Yiannopoulos, A.N., The Civil Codes of Louisiana (reprinted from Civil Law System: Louisiana and Comparative law, A Coursebook: Texts, Cases and Materials, 3d Edition; similar to version in preface to Louisiana Civil Code, ed. by Yiannopoulos)
  • Rodolfo Batiza, “The Louisiana Civil Code of 1808: Its Actual Sources and Present Relevance,” 46 TUL. L. REV. 4 (1971); Rodolfo Batiza, “Sources of the Civil Code of 1808, Facts and Speculation: A Rejoinder,” 46 TUL. L. REV. 628 (1972); Robert A. Pascal, Sources of the Digest of 1808: A Reply to Professor Batiza, 46 TUL. L. REV. 603 (1972); Joseph M. Sweeney, Tournament of Scholars Over the Sources of the Civil Code of 1808,46 TUL. L. REV. 585 (1972).
  • The standard history of the state, though only through the Civil War, is Charles Gayarré’s History of Louisiana’ (various editions, culminating in 1866, 4 vols., with a posthumous and further expanded edition in 1885).
  • A number of accounts by 17th- and 18th-century French explorers: Jean-Bernard Bossu, François-Marie Perrin du Lac, Pierre-François-Xavier de Charlevoix, Dumont (as published by Fr. Mascrier), Fr. Louis Hennepin, Lahontan, Louis Narcisse Baudry des Lozières, Jean-Baptiste Bénard de la Harpe, and Laval. In this group, the explorer Antoine Simon Le Page du Pratz may be the first historian of Louisiana with his Histoire de la Louisiane (3 vols., Paris, 1758; 2 vols., London, 1763)
  • François Xavier Martin’s History of Louisiana (2 vols., New Orleans, 1827–1829, later ed. by J. F. Condon, continued to 1861, New Orleans, 1882) is the first scholarly treatment of the subject, along with François Barbé-Marbois’ Histoire de la Louisiane et de la cession de colonie par la France aux Etats-Unis (Paris, 1829; in English, Philadelphia, 1830).
  • Alcée Fortier’s A History of Louisiana (N.Y., 4 vols., 1904) is the most recent of the large-scale scholarly histories of the state.
  • The official works of Albert Phelps and Grace King, the publications of the Louisiana Historical Society and several works on the history of New Orleans (q.v.), among them those by Henry Rightor and John Smith Kendall provide background.

External links

  • Louisiana at Curlie
  • Louisiana Geographic Information Center
  • Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities
  • Louisiana Weather and Tides

Geology links

  • Geology

    • Generalized Geologic Map of Louisiana, 2008
    • Generalized Geology of Louisiana (text to Generalized Geologic Map of Louisiana)
    • Loess Map of Louisiana
    • Other Louisiana Geological Maps
    • Louisiana Geofacts

Government

  • Official State of Louisiana website
  • Louisiana State Databases – Annotated list of searchable databases produced by Louisiana state agencies and compiled by the Government Documents Roundtable of the American Library Association.
  • Census Statistics on Louisiana

U.S. government

  • Energy Profile for Louisiana
  • USDA Louisiana Statistical Facts
  • USGS real-time, geographic, and other scientific resources of Louisiana
  • 1st district: Steve Scalise – Website
  • 2nd district: Cedric Richmond – Website & Campaign Website
  • 3rd district: Charles Boustany – Website
  • 4th district: John C. Fleming – Website
  • 5th district: Ralph Abraham – Website
  • 6th district: Garret Graves – Website

News media

  • The Times-Picayune major Louisiana newspaper
  • WWL-TV Louisiana television station

Ecoregions

  • Ecoregions of Louisiana
  • Ecoregions of the Mississippi Alluvial Plain

Tourism

  • Official site of Louisiana tourism
  • Official site of the New Orleans Convention & Tourism Bureau
  • Official site of New Orleans Plantation Country tourism
  • Geographic data related to Louisiana at OpenStreetMap

Preceded by
Ohio
List of U.S. states by date of admission to the Union
Admitted on April 30, 1812 (18th)
Succeeded by
Indiana

Coordinates: 31°N 92°W / 31°N 92°W / 31; -92


Alabama

State of the United States of America
State of Alabama
Flag of Alabama State seal of Alabama
Flag Seal
Nickname(s): The Yellowhammer State, The Heart of Dixie, and The Cotton State
Motto(s): Latin: Audemus jura nostra defendere We dare defend our rights
State song(s): “Alabama
Map of the United States with Alabama highlighted
Official language English
Spoken languages As of 2010[1]

  • English 95.1%
  • Spanish 3.1%
Demonym Alabamian[2]
Capital Montgomery
Largest city Birmingham
Largest metro Greater Birmingham
Area Ranked 30th
 • Total 52,419 sq mi
(135,765 km2)
 • Width 190 miles (305 km)
 • Length 330 miles (531 km)
 • % water 3.20
 • Latitude 30° 11′ N to 35° N
 • Longitude 84° 53′ W to 88° 28′ W
Population Ranked 24th
 • Total 4,863,300 (2016 est.)[3]
 • Density 94.7 (2011 est.)/sq mi  (36.5 (2011 est.)/km2)
Ranked 27th
 • Median household income $44,509[4] (47th)
Elevation
 • Highest point Mount Cheaha[5][6][7]
2,413 ft (735.5 m)
 • Mean 500 ft  (150 m)
 • Lowest point Gulf of Mexico[6]
Sea level
Before statehood Alabama Territory
Admission to Union December 14, 1819 (22nd)
Governor Kay Ivey (R)
Lieutenant Governor Vacant
Legislature Alabama Legislature
 • Upper house Senate
 • Lower house House of Representatives
U.S. Senators Richard Shelby (R)
Doug Jones (D)
U.S. House delegation 6 Republicans
1 Democrat (list)
Time zones  
 • most of state Central: UTC −6/−5
 • Phenix City area Eastern: UTC −5/−4
ISO 3166 US-AL
Abbreviations AL, Ala.
Website alabama.gov
Alabama state symbols
Flag of Alabama.svg

The Flag of Alabama
Seal of Alabama.svg

The Seal of Alabama
Living insignia
Amphibian Red Hills salamander
Bird Yellowhammer, wild turkey
Butterfly Eastern tiger swallowtail
Fish Largemouth bass, fighting tarpon
Flower Camellia, oak-leaf hydrangea
Horse breed Racking horse
Insect Monarch butterfly
Mammal American black bear
Reptile Alabama red-bellied turtle
Tree Longleaf pine
Inanimate insignia
Beverage Conecuh Ridge Whiskey
Colors Red, white
Dance Square dance
Food Pecan, blackberry, peach
Fossil Basilosaurus
Gemstone Star blue quartz
Mineral Hematite
Rock Marble
Shell Johnstone’s junonia
Slogan Share The Wonder,
Alabama the beautiful,
Where America finds its voice,
Sweet Home Alabama
Soil Bama
State route marker
Alabama state route marker
State quarter
Alabama quarter dollar coin

Released in 2003
Lists of United States state symbols

Alabama is a state in the southeastern region of the United States. It is bordered by Tennessee to the north, Georgia to the east, Florida and the Gulf of Mexico to the south, and Mississippi to the west. Alabama is the 30th largest by area and the 24th-most populous of the U.S. states. With a total of 1,500 miles (2,400 km) of inland waterways, Alabama has among the most of any state.[8]

Alabama is nicknamed the Yellowhammer State, after the state bird. Alabama is also known as the “Heart of Dixie” and the “Cotton State”. The state tree is the longleaf pine, and the state flower is the camellia. Alabama’s capital is Montgomery. The largest city by population is Birmingham,[9] which has long been the most industrialized city; the largest city by land area is Huntsville. The oldest city is Mobile, founded by French colonists in 1702 as the capital of French Louisiana.[10]

From the American Civil War until World War II, Alabama, like many states in the southern U.S., suffered economic hardship, in part because of its continued dependence on agriculture. Similar to other former slave states, Alabamian legislators employed Jim Crow laws to disenfranchise and otherwise discriminate against African Americans from the end of the Reconstruction Era up until at least the 1970s. Despite the growth of major industries and urban centers, white rural interests dominated the state legislature from 1901 to the 1960s. During this time, urban interests and African Americans were markedly under-represented. Following World War II, Alabama grew as the state’s economy changed from one primarily based on agriculture to one with diversified interests. The state’s economy in the 21st century is based on management, automotive, finance, manufacturing, aerospace, mineral extraction, healthcare, education, retail, and technology.[11]

Contents

  • 1 Etymology
  • 2 History

    • 2.1 Pre-European settlement
    • 2.2 European settlement
    • 2.3 Early 19th century

      • 2.3.1 Civil War and Reconstruction
    • 2.4 20th century
  • 3 Geography

    • 3.1 Climate
    • 3.2 Flora and fauna
  • 4 Demographics

    • 4.1 Ancestry
    • 4.2 Census-designated and metropolitan areas
    • 4.3 Cities
    • 4.4 Language
    • 4.5 Religion
    • 4.6 Health
  • 5 Economy

    • 5.1 Largest employers
    • 5.2 Agriculture
    • 5.3 Industry
    • 5.4 Tourism
    • 5.5 Healthcare
    • 5.6 Banking
    • 5.7 Electronics
    • 5.8 Construction
  • 6 Law and government

    • 6.1 State government
    • 6.2 Taxes
    • 6.3 County and local governments
    • 6.4 Politics
    • 6.5 Elections

      • 6.5.1 State elections
      • 6.5.2 Local elections
      • 6.5.3 Federal elections
  • 7 Education

    • 7.1 Primary and secondary education
    • 7.2 Colleges and universities
  • 8 Media
  • 9 Culture

    • 9.1 Literature
    • 9.2 Sports

      • 9.2.1 College sports
      • 9.2.2 Professional sports
  • 10 Transportation

    • 10.1 Aviation
    • 10.2 Rail
    • 10.3 Roads
    • 10.4 Ports
  • 11 See also
  • 12 References
  • 13 Further reading
  • 14 External links

Etymology

One of the entrances to Russell Cave in Jackson County. Charcoal from indigenous camp fires in the cave has been dated as early as 6550 to 6145 BC.

The European-American naming of the Alabama River and state was derived from the Alabama people, a Muskogean-speaking tribe whose members lived just below the confluence of the Coosa and Tallapoosa rivers on the upper reaches of the river.[12] In the Alabama language, the word for a person of Alabama lineage is Albaamo (or variously Albaama or Albàamo in different dialects; the plural form is Albaamaha).[13] The suggestion that “Alabama” was borrowed from the Choctaw language is unlikely.[14][15] The word’s spelling varies significantly among historical sources.[15] The first usage appears in three accounts of the Hernando de Soto expedition of 1540: Garcilaso de la Vega used Alibamo, while the Knight of Elvas and Rodrigo Ranjel wrote Alibamu and Limamu, respectively, in transliterations of the term.[15] As early as 1702, the French called the tribe the Alibamon, with French maps identifying the river as Rivière des Alibamons.[12] Other spellings of the name have included Alibamu, Alabamo, Albama, Alebamon, Alibama, Alibamou, Alabamu, Allibamou.[15][16][17][18]

Sources disagree on the word’s meaning. Some scholars suggest the word comes from the Choctaw alba (meaning “plants” or “weeds”) and amo (meaning “to cut”, “to trim”, or “to gather”).[15][19][20] The meaning may have been “clearers of the thicket”[19] or “herb gatherers”,[20][21] referring to clearing land for cultivation[16] or collecting medicinal plants.[21] The state has numerous place names of Native American origin.[22][23] However, there are no correspondingly similar words in the Alabama language.

An 1842 article in the Jacksonville Republican proposed it meant “Here We Rest.”[15] This notion was popularized in the 1850s through the writings of Alexander Beaufort Meek.[15] Experts in the Muskogean languages have not found any evidence to support such a translation.[12][15]

History

Pre-European settlement

The Moundville Archaeological Site in Hale County. It was occupied by Native Americans of the Mississippian culture from 1000 to 1450 AD.

Indigenous peoples of varying cultures lived in the area for thousands of years before the advent of European colonization. Trade with the northeastern tribes by the Ohio River began during the Burial Mound Period (1000 BC–AD 700) and continued until European contact.[24]

The agrarian Mississippian culture covered most of the state from 1000 to 1600 AD, with one of its major centers built at what is now the Moundville Archaeological Site in Moundville, Alabama.[25][26] This is the second-largest complex of the classic Middle Mississippian era, after Cahokia in present-day Illinois, which was the center of the culture. Analysis of artifacts from archaeological excavations at Moundville were the basis of scholars’ formulating the characteristics of the Southeastern Ceremonial Complex (SECC).[27] Contrary to popular belief, the SECC appears to have no direct links to Mesoamerican culture, but developed independently. The Ceremonial Complex represents a major component of the religion of the Mississippian peoples; it is one of the primary means by which their religion is understood.[28]

Among the historical tribes of Native American people living in present-day Alabama at the time of European contact were the Cherokee, an Iroquoian language people; and the Muskogean-speaking Alabama (Alibamu), Chickasaw, Choctaw, Creek, and Koasati.[29] While part of the same large language family, the Muskogee tribes developed distinct cultures and languages.

European settlement

With exploration in the 16th century, the Spanish were the first Europeans to reach Alabama. The expedition of Hernando de Soto passed through Mabila and other parts of the state in 1540. More than 160 years later, the French founded the region’s first European settlement at Old Mobile in 1702.[30] The city was moved to the current site of Mobile in 1711. This area was claimed by the French from 1702 to 1763 as part of La Louisiane.[31]

After the French lost to the British in the Seven Years’ War, it became part of British West Florida from 1763 to 1783. After the United States victory in the American Revolutionary War, the territory was divided between the United States and Spain. The latter retained control of this western territory from 1783 until the surrender of the Spanish garrison at Mobile to U.S. forces on April 13, 1813.[31][32]

Thomas Bassett, a loyalist to the British monarchy during the Revolutionary era, was one of the earliest white settlers in the state outside Mobile. He settled in the Tombigbee District during the early 1770s.[33] The district’s boundaries were roughly limited to the area within a few miles of the Tombigbee River and included portions of what is today southern Clarke County, northernmost Mobile County, and most of Washington County.[34][35]

What is now the counties of Baldwin and Mobile became part of Spanish West Florida in 1783, part of the independent Republic of West Florida in 1810, and was finally added to the Mississippi Territory in 1812. Most of what is now the northern two-thirds of Alabama was known as the Yazoo lands beginning during the British colonial period. It was claimed by the Province of Georgia from 1767 onwards. Following the Revolutionary War, it remained a part of Georgia, although heavily disputed.[36][37]

Map showing the formation of the Mississippi and Alabama territories

With the exception of the area around Mobile and the Yazoo lands, what is now the lower one-third Alabama was made part of the Mississippi Territory when it was organized in 1798. The Yazoo lands were added to the territory in 1804, following the Yazoo land scandal.[37][38] Spain kept a claim on its former Spanish West Florida territory in what would become the coastal counties until the Adams–Onís Treaty officially ceded it to the United States in 1819.[32]

Early 19th century

Before Mississippi’s admission to statehood on December 10, 1817, the more sparsely settled eastern half of the territory was separated and named the Alabama Territory. The United States Congress created the Alabama Territory on March 3, 1817. St. Stephens, now abandoned, served as the territorial capital from 1817 to 1819.[39]

Alabama was admitted as the 22nd state on December 14, 1819, with Congress selecting Huntsville as the site for the first Constitutional Convention. From July 5 to August 2, 1819, delegates met to prepare the new state constitution. Huntsville served as temporary capital from 1819 to 1820, when the seat of government moved to Cahaba in Dallas County.[40]

The main house, built in 1833, at Thornhill in Greene County. It is a former Black Belt plantation.

Cahaba, now a ghost town, was the first permanent state capital from 1820 to 1825.[41]Alabama Fever was underway when the state was admitted to the Union, with settlers and land speculators pouring into the state to take advantage of fertile land suitable for cotton cultivation.[42][43] Part of the frontier in the 1820s and 1830s, its constitution provided for universal suffrage for white men.[44]

Southeastern planters and traders from the Upper South brought slaves with them as the cotton plantations in Alabama expanded. The economy of the central Black Belt (named for its dark, productive soil) was built around large cotton plantations whose owners’ wealth grew mainly from slave labor.[44] The area also drew many poor, disfranchised people who became subsistence farmers. Alabama had an estimated population of under 10,000 people in 1810, but it increased to more than 300,000 people by 1830.[42] Most Native American tribes were completely removed from the state within a few years of the passage of the Indian Removal Act by Congress in 1830.[45]

Ruins of the former capitol building in Tuscaloosa. Designed by William Nichols, it was built from 1827 to 1829 and was destroyed by fire in 1923.

From 1826 to 1846, Tuscaloosa served as Alabama’s capital. On January 30, 1846, the Alabama legislature announced it had voted to move the capital city from Tuscaloosa to Montgomery. The first legislative session in the new capital met in December 1847.[46] A new capitol building was erected under the direction of Stephen Decatur Button of Philadelphia. The first structure burned down in 1849, but was rebuilt on the same site in 1851. This second capitol building in Montgomery remains to the present day. It was designed by Barachias Holt of Exeter, Maine.[47][48]

Civil War and Reconstruction

By 1860, the population had increased to 964,201 people, of which nearly half, 435,080, were enslaved African Americans, and 2,690 were free people of color.[49] On January 11, 1861, Alabama declared its secession from the Union. After remaining an independent republic for a few days, it joined the Confederate States of America. The Confederacy’s capital was initially at Montgomery. Alabama was heavily involved in the American Civil War. Although comparatively few battles were fought in the state, Alabama contributed about 120,000 soldiers to the war effort.

Union Army troops occupying Courthouse Square in Huntsville, following its capture and occupation by federal forces in 1864.

A company of cavalry soldiers from Huntsville, Alabama, joined Nathan Bedford Forrest’s battalion in Hopkinsville, Kentucky. The company wore new uniforms with yellow trim on the sleeves, collar and coat tails. This led to them being greeted with “Yellowhammer”, and the name later was applied to all Alabama troops in the Confederate Army.[50]

Alabama’s slaves were freed by the 13th Amendment in 1865.[51] Alabama was under military rule from the end of the war in May 1865 until its official restoration to the Union in 1868. From 1867 to 1874, with most white citizens barred temporarily from voting and freedmen enfranchised, many African Americans emerged as political leaders in the state. Alabama was represented in Congress during this period by three African-American congressmen: Jeremiah Haralson, Benjamin S. Turner, and James T. Rapier.[52]

Following the war, the state remained chiefly agricultural, with an economy tied to cotton. During Reconstruction, state legislators ratified a new state constitution in 1868 that created the state’s first public school system and expanded women’s rights. Legislators funded numerous public road and railroad projects, although these were plagued with allegations of fraud and misappropriation.[52] Organized insurgent, resistance groups tried to suppress the freedmen and Republicans. Besides the short-lived original Ku Klux Klan, these included the Pale Faces, Knights of the White Camellia, Red Shirts, and the White League.[52]

Reconstruction in Alabama ended in 1874, when the Democrats regained control of the legislature and governor’s office through an election dominated by fraud and violence. They wrote another constitution in 1875,[52] and the legislature passed the Blaine Amendment, prohibiting public money from being used to finance religious-affiliated schools.[53] The same year, legislation was approved that called for racially segregated schools.[54] Railroad passenger cars were segregated in 1891.[54] After disfranchising most African Americans and many poor whites in the 1901 constitution, the Alabama legislature passed more Jim Crow laws at the beginning of the 20th century to impose segregation in everyday life.

20th century

The developing skyline of Birmingham in 1915

The new 1901 Constitution of Alabama included provisions for voter registration that effectively disenfranchised large portions of the population, including nearly all African Americans and Native Americans, and tens of thousands of poor whites, through making voter registration difficult, requiring a poll tax and literacy test.[55] The 1901 constitution required racial segregation of public schools. By 1903, only 2,980 African Americans were registered in Alabama, although at least 74,000 were literate. This compared to more than 181,000 African Americans eligible to vote in 1900. The numbers dropped even more in later decades.[56] The state legislature passed additional racial segregation laws related to public facilities into the 1950s: jails were segregated in 1911; hospitals in 1915; toilets, hotels, and restaurants in 1928; and bus stop waiting rooms in 1945.[54]

While the planter class had persuaded poor whites to vote for this legislative effort to suppress black voting, the new restrictions resulted in their disenfranchisement as well, due mostly to the imposition of a cumulative poll tax.[56] By 1941, whites constituted a slight majority of those disenfranchised by these laws: 600,000 whites vs. 520,000 African-Americans.[56] Nearly all African Americans had lost the ability to vote. Despite numerous legal challenges that succeeded in overturning certain provisions, the state legislature would create new ones to maintain disenfranchisement. The exclusion of blacks from the political system persisted until after passage of federal civil rights legislation in 1965 to enforce their constitutional rights as citizens.[57]

The rural-dominated Alabama legislature consistently underfunded schools and services for the disenfranchised African Americans, but it did not relieve them of paying taxes.[44] Partially as a response to chronic underfunding of education for African Americans in the South, the Rosenwald Fund began funding the construction of what came to be known as Rosenwald Schools. In Alabama these schools were designed and the construction partially financed with Rosenwald funds, which paid one-third of the construction costs. The fund required the local community and state to raise matching funds to pay the rest. Black residents effectively taxed themselves twice, by raising additional monies to supply matching funds for such schools, which were built in many rural areas. They often donated land and labor as well.[58]

The former Mount Sinai School in rural Autauga County, completed in 1919. It was one of the 387 Rosenwald Schools built in the state.

Beginning in 1913, the first 80 Rosenwald Schools were built in Alabama for African-American children. A total of 387 schools, seven teachers’ houses, and several vocational buildings were completed by 1937 in the state. Several of the surviving school buildings in the state are now listed on the National Register of Historic Places.[58]

Continued racial discrimination and lynchings, agricultural depression, and the failure of the cotton crops due to boll weevil infestation led tens of thousands of African Americans from rural Alabama and other states to seek opportunities in northern and midwestern cities during the early decades of the 20th century as part of the Great Migration out of the South.[59][60] Reflecting this emigration, the population growth rate in Alabama (see “historical populations” table below) dropped by nearly half from 1910 to 1920.[61]

At the same time, many rural people migrated to the city of Birmingham to work in new industrial jobs. Birmingham experienced such rapid growth that it was called the “Magic City”.[62] By 1920, Birmingham was the 36th-largest city in the United States.[63] Heavy industry and mining were the basis of its economy. Its residents were under-represented for decades in the state legislature, which refused to redistrict after each decennial census according to population changes, as it was required by the state constitution. This did not change until the late 1960s following a lawsuit and court order.[64]

Beginning in the 1940s, when the courts started taking the first steps to recognize the voting rights of black voters, the Alabama legislature took several counter-steps designed to disfranchise black voters. The legislature passed, and the voters ratified [as these were mostly white voters], a state constitutional amendment that gave local registrars greater latitude to disqualify voter registration applicants. Black citizens in Mobile successfully challenged this amendment as a violation of the Fifteenth Amendment. The legislature also changed the boundaries of Tuskegee to a 28-sided figure designed to fence out blacks from the city limits. The Supreme Court unanimously held that this racial “gerrymandering” violated the Constitution. In 1961, … the Alabama legislature also intentionally diluted the effect of the black vote by instituting numbered place requirements for local elections.[65]

Industrial development related to the demands of World War II brought a level of prosperity to the state not seen since before the civil war.[44] Rural workers poured into the largest cities in the state for better jobs and a higher standard of living. One example of this massive influx of workers occurred in Mobile. Between 1940 and 1943, more than 89,000 people moved into the city to work for war-related industries.[66] Cotton and other cash crops faded in importance as the state developed a manufacturing and service base.

Despite massive population changes in the state from 1901 to 1961, the rural-dominated legislature refused to reapportion House and Senate seats based on population, as required by the state constitution to follow the results of decennial censuses. They held on to old representation to maintain political and economic power in agricultural areas. One result was that Jefferson County, containing Birmingham’s industrial and economic powerhouse, contributed more than one-third of all tax revenue to the state, but did not receive a proportional amount in services. Urban interests were consistently underrepresented in the legislature. A 1960 study noted that because of rural domination, “a minority of about 25 per cent of the total state population is in majority control of the Alabama legislature.”[67][64]

In the United States Supreme Court cases of Baker v. Carr (1962) and Reynolds v. Sims (1964), the court ruled ruled that the principle of “one man, one vote” needed to be the basis of both houses of state legislatures as well, and that their districts had to be based on population, rather than geographic counties, as Alabama had used for its senate.[68][69]

In 1972, for the first time since 1901, the legislature completed the congressional redistricting based on the decennial census. This benefited the urban areas that had developed, as well as all in the population who had been underrepresented for more than 60 years.[67] Other changes were made to implement representative state house and senate districts.

African Americans continued to press in the 1950s and 1960s to end disenfranchisement and segregation in the state through the civil rights movement, including legal challenges. In 1954, the US Supreme Court ruled in Brown v. Board of Education that public schools had to be desegregated, but Alabama was slow to comply. During the 1960s, under Governor George Wallace, Alabama resisted compliance with federal demands for desegregation.[70][71] The civil rights movement had notable events in Alabama, including the Montgomery Bus Boycott (1955–56), Freedom Rides in 1961, and 1965 Selma to Montgomery marches.[72] These contributed to Congressional passage and enactment of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Voting Rights Act of 1965 by the U.S. Congress.[73][74]

Legal segregation ended in the states in 1964, but Jim Crow customs often continued until specifically challenged in court.[75] According to The New York Times, by 2017, many of Alabama’s African-Americans were living in Alabama’s cities such as Birmingham and Montgomery. Also, the Black Belt region across central Alabama “is home to largely poor counties that are predominantly African-American. These counties include Dallas, Lowndes, Marengo and Perry.”[76]

Alabama has made some changes since the late 20th century and has used new types of voting to increase representation. In the 1980s, an omnibus redistricting case, Dillard v. Crenshaw County, challenged the at-large voting for representative seats of 180 Alabama jurisdictions, including counties and school boards. At-large voting had diluted the votes of any minority in a county, as the majority tended to take all seats. Despite African Americans making up a significant minority in the state, they had been unable to elect any representatives in most of the at-large jurisdictions.[65]

As part of settlement of this case, five Alabama cities and counties, including Chilton County, adopted a system of cumulative voting for election of representatives in multi-seat jurisdictions. This has resulted in more proportional representation for voters. In another form of proportional representation, 23 jurisdictions use limited voting, as in Conecuh County. In 1982, limited voting was first tested in Conecuh County. Together use of these systems has increased the number of African Americans and women being elected to local offices, resulting in governments that are more representative of their citizens.[77]

Geography

A general map of Alabama

Alabama is the thirtieth-largest state in the United States with 52,419 square miles (135,760 km2) of total area: 3.2% of the area is water, making Alabama 23rd in the amount of surface water, also giving it the second-largest inland waterway system in the United States.[78] About three-fifths of the land area is a gentle plain with a general descent towards the Mississippi River and the Gulf of Mexico. The North Alabama region is mostly mountainous, with the Tennessee River cutting a large valley and creating numerous creeks, streams, rivers, mountains, and lakes.[79]

Alabama is bordered by the states of Tennessee to the north, Georgia to the east, Florida to the south, and Mississippi to the west. Alabama has coastline at the Gulf of Mexico, in the extreme southern edge of the state.[79] The state ranges in elevation from sea level[80] at Mobile Bay to over 1,800 feet (550 m) in the Appalachian Mountains in the northeast.

The highest point is Mount Cheaha,[79] at a height of 2,413 ft (735 m).[81] Alabama’s land consists of 22 million acres (89,000 km2) of forest or 67% of total land area.[82] Suburban Baldwin County, along the Gulf Coast, is the largest county in the state in both land area and water area.[83]

Areas in Alabama administered by the National Park Service include Horseshoe Bend National Military Park near Alexander City; Little River Canyon National Preserve near Fort Payne; Russell Cave National Monument in Bridgeport; Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site in Tuskegee; and Tuskegee Institute National Historic Site near Tuskegee.[84]

Additionally, Alabama has four National Forests: Conecuh, Talladega, Tuskegee, and William B. Bankhead.[85] Alabama also contains the Natchez Trace Parkway, the Selma To Montgomery National Historic Trail, and the Trail Of Tears National Historic Trail. A notable natural wonder in Alabama is “Natural Bridge” rock, the longest natural bridge east of the Rockies, located just south of Haleyville.

A 5-mile (8 km)-wide meteorite impact crater is located in Elmore County, just north of Montgomery. This is the Wetumpka crater, the site of “Alabama’s greatest natural disaster.” A 1,000-foot (300 m)-wide meteorite hit the area about 80 million years ago.[86] The hills just east of downtown Wetumpka showcase the eroded remains of the impact crater that was blasted into the bedrock, with the area labeled the Wetumpka crater or astrobleme (“star-wound”) because of the concentric rings of fractures and zones of shattered rock that can be found beneath the surface.[87] In 2002, Christian Koeberl with the Institute of Geochemistry University of Vienna published evidence and established the site as the 157th recognized impact crater on Earth.[88]

Climate

Autumn tree in Birmingham

The state is classified as humid subtropical (Cfa) under the Koppen Climate Classification.[89] The average annual temperature is 64 °F (18 °C). Temperatures tend to be warmer in the southern part of the state with its proximity to the Gulf of Mexico, while the northern parts of the state, especially in the Appalachian Mountains in the northeast, tend to be slightly cooler.[90] Generally, Alabama has very hot summers and mild winters with copious precipitation throughout the year. Alabama receives an average of 56 inches (1,400 mm) of rainfall annually and enjoys a lengthy growing season of up to 300 days in the southern part of the state.[90]

Summers in Alabama are among the hottest in the U.S., with high temperatures averaging over 90 °F (32 °C) throughout the summer in some parts of the state. Alabama is also prone to tropical storms and even hurricanes. Areas of the state far away from the Gulf are not immune to the effects of the storms, which often dump tremendous amounts of rain as they move inland and weaken.

South Alabama reports many thunderstorms. The Gulf Coast, around Mobile Bay, averages between 70 and 80 days per year with thunder reported. This activity decreases somewhat further north in the state, but even the far north of the state reports thunder on about 60 days per year. Occasionally, thunderstorms are severe with frequent lightning and large hail; the central and northern parts of the state are most vulnerable to this type of storm. Alabama ranks ninth in the number of deaths from lightning and tenth in the number of deaths from lightning strikes per capita.[91]

Tornado damage in Phil Campbell following the statewide April 27, 2011, tornado outbreak.

Alabama, along with Oklahoma, has the most reported EF5 tornadoes of any state, according to statistics from the National Climatic Data Center for the period January 1, 1950, to June 2013.[92] Several long-tracked F5/EF5 tornadoes have contributed to Alabama reporting more tornado fatalities than any other state. The state was affected by the 1974 Super Outbreak and was devastated tremendously by the 2011 Super Outbreak. The 2011 Super Outbreak produced a record amount of tornadoes in the state. The tally reached 62.[93]

Snowfall outside Birmingham City Hall in February 2010

The peak season for tornadoes varies from the northern to southern parts of the state. Alabama is one of the few places in the world that has a secondary tornado season in November and December, along with the spring severe weather season. The northern part of the state—along the Tennessee Valley—is one of the areas in the U.S. most vulnerable to violent tornadoes. The area of Alabama and Mississippi most affected by tornadoes is sometimes referred to as Dixie Alley, as distinct from the Tornado Alley of the Southern Plains.

Winters are generally mild in Alabama, as they are throughout most of the Southeastern United States, with average January low temperatures around 40 °F (4 °C) in Mobile and around 32 °F (0 °C) in Birmingham. Although snow is a rare event in much of Alabama, areas of the state north of Montgomery may receive a dusting of snow a few times every winter, with an occasional moderately heavy snowfall every few years. Historic snowfall events include New Year’s Eve 1963 snowstorm and the 1993 Storm of the Century. The annual average snowfall for the Birmingham area is 2 inches (51 mm) per year. In the southern Gulf coast, snowfall is less frequent, sometimes going several years without any snowfall.

Alabama’s highest temperature of 112 °F (44 °C) was recorded on September 5, 1925, in the unincorporated community of Centerville. The record low of −27 °F (−33 °C) occurred on January 30, 1966, in New Market.[94]

Flora and fauna

A stand of Cahaba lilies (Hymenocallis coronaria) in the Cahaba River, within the Cahaba River National Wildlife Refuge.

Alabama is home to a diverse array of flora and fauna, due largely to a variety of habitats that range from the Tennessee Valley, Appalachian Plateau, and Ridge-and-Valley Appalachians of the north to the Piedmont, Canebrake, and Black Belt of the central region to the Gulf Coastal Plain and beaches along the Gulf of Mexico in the south. The state is usually ranked among the top in nation for its range of overall biodiversity.[99][100]

Alabama is in the subtropical coniferous forest biome and once boasted huge expanses of pine forest, which still form the largest proportion of forests in the state.[99] It currently ranks fifth in the nation for the diversity of its flora. It is home to nearly 4,000 pteridophyte and spermatophyte plant species.[101]

Indigenous animal species in the state include 62 mammal species,[102] 93 reptile species,[103] 73 amphibian species,[104] roughly 307 native freshwater fish species,[99] and 420 bird species that spend at least part of their year within the state.[105] Invertebrates include 97 crayfish species and 383 mollusk species. 113 of these mollusk species have never been collected outside the state.[106][107]

Demographics

Alabama’s population density

Historical population
Census Pop.
1800 1,250
1810 9,046 623.7%
1820 127,901 1,313.9%
1830 309,527 142.0%
1840 590,756 90.9%
1850 771,623 30.6%
1860 964,201 25.0%
1870 996,992 3.4%
1880 1,262,505 26.6%
1890 1,513,401 19.9%
1900 1,828,697 20.8%
1910 2,138,093 16.9%
1920 2,348,174 9.8%
1930 2,646,248 12.7%
1940 2,832,961 7.1%
1950 3,061,743 8.1%
1960 3,266,740 6.7%
1970 3,444,165 5.4%
1980 3,893,888 13.1%
1990 4,040,587 3.8%
2000 4,447,100 10.1%
2010 4,779,745 7.5%
Est. 2017 4,874,747 2.0%
Sources: 1910–2010[61]
2015 estimate[108]

The United States Census Bureau estimates that the population of Alabama was 4,858,979 on July 1, 2015,[108] which represents an increase of 79,243, or 1.66%, since the 2010 Census.[109] This includes a natural increase since the last census of 121,054 people (that is 502,457 births minus 381,403 deaths) and an increase due to net migration of 104,991 people into the state.[110]

Immigration from outside the U.S. resulted in a net increase of 31,180 people, and migration within the country produced a net gain of 73,811 people.[110] The state had 108,000 foreign-born (2.4% of the state population), of which an estimated 22.2% were undocumented (24,000).

The center of population of Alabama is located in Chilton County, outside the town of Jemison.[111]

Ancestry

According to the 2010 Census, Alabama had a population of 4,779,736. The racial composition of the state was 68.5% White (67.0% Non-Hispanic White and 1.5% Hispanic White), 26.2% Black or African American, 3.9% Hispanic or Latino of any race, 1.1% Asian, 0.6% American Indian and Alaska Native, 0.1% Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander, 2.0% from Some Other Race, and 1.5% from Two or More Races.[112] In 2011, 46.6% of Alabama’s population younger than age 1 were minorities.[113]

The largest reported ancestry groups in Alabama are: African (26.2%), English (23.6%), Irish (7.7%), German (5.7%), and Scots-Irish (2.0%).[114][115][116] Those citing “American” ancestry in Alabama are generally of English or British ancestry; many Anglo-Americans identify as having American ancestry because their roots have been in North America for so long, in some cases since the 1600s. Demographers estimate that a minimum of 20–23% of people in Alabama are of predominantly English ancestry and that the figure is likely higher. In the 1980 census, 41% of the people in Alabama identified as being of English ancestry, making them the largest ethnic group at the time.[117][118][119][120][121]

Alabama racial population breakdown
Racial composition 1990[122] 2000[123] 2010[124]
White 73.6% 71.1% 68.5%
Black 25.3% 26.0% 26.2%
Asian 0.5% 0.7% 1.1%
Native 0.4% 0.5% 0.6%
Native Hawaiian and
other Pacific Islander
0.1%
Other race 0.1% 0.6% 2.0%
Two or more races 1.0% 1.5%

Based on historic migration and settlement patterns in the southern colonies and states, demographers estimated there are more people in Alabama of Scots-Irish origins than self-reported.[125] Many people in Alabama claim Irish ancestry because of the term Scots-Irish but, based on historic immigration and settlement, their ancestors were more likely Protestant Scots-Irish coming from northern Ireland, where they had been for a few generations as part of the English colonization.[126] The Scots-Irish were the largest non-English immigrant group from the British Isles before the American Revolution, and many settled in the South, later moving into the Deep South as it was developed.[127]

In 1984, under the Davis–Strong Act, the state legislature established the Alabama Indian Affairs Commission.[128] Native American groups within the state had increasingly been demanding recognition as ethnic groups and seeking an end to discrimination. Given the long history of slavery and associated racial segregation, the Native American peoples, who have sometimes been of mixed race, have insisted on having their cultural identification respected. In the past, their self-identification was often overlooked as the state tried to impose a binary breakdown of society into white and black.

The state has officially recognized nine American Indian tribes in the state, descended mostly from the Five Civilized Tribes of the American Southeast. These are:[129]

  • Poarch Band of Creek Indians (who also have federal recognition),
  • MOWA Band of Choctaw Indians,
  • Star Clan of Muscogee Creeks,
  • Echota Cherokee Tribe of Alabama,
  • Cherokee Tribe of Northeast Alabama,
  • Cher-O-Creek Intra Tribal Indians,
  • Ma-Chis Lower Creek Indian Tribe,
  • Piqua Shawnee Tribe, and
  • Ani-Yun-Wiya Nation.

The state government has promoted recognition of Native American contributions to the state, including the designation in 2000 for Columbus Day to be jointly celebrated as American Indian Heritage Day.[130]

Census-designated and metropolitan areas

Birmingham, largest city and largest metropolitan area

Montgomery, second-largest city and fourth-largest metropolitan area

Huntsville, third-largest city and second-largest metropolitan area

Mobile, fourth-largest city and third-largest metropolitan area

Combined statistical areas[131]
Rank Combined statistical area Population (2016 estimate) Population (2010 Census)
1 Birmingham–Hoover–Talladega 1,361,299 1,302,283
2 Chattanooga–Cleveland–Dalton[CSA 1] 954,228 923,460
3 Huntsville–Decatur–Albertville 768,033 664,441
4 Mobile–Daphne–Fairhope 623,399 595,257
5 Columbus–Auburn–Opelika[CSA 2] 501,589 469,327
6 Dothan–Enterprise–Ozark 248,286 245,838
  1. ^ In Alabama, only Jackson County (2016 population: 52,138; 2010 population: 53,227) is included in the Chattanooga CSA)
  2. ^ In Alabama, only Lee, Russell, and Chambers Counties (total 2016 population: 251,006; total 2010 population: 227,409) are included in the Columbus CSA)
Metropolitan areas[132]
Rank Metropolitan area Population (2016 estimate) Population (2010 Census)
1 Birmingham–Hoover 1,147,417 1,128,047
2 Huntsville 449,720 417,593
3 Mobile 414,836 412,992
4 Montgomery 374,000 374,536
5 Tuscaloosa 241,378 230,162
6 Daphne–Fairhope–Foley 208,563 182,265
7 Decatur 152,256 153,829
8 Dothan 147,834 145,639
9 Auburn–Opelika 158,991 140,247
10 Florence–Muscle Shoals 146,534 147,137
11 Anniston–Oxford–Jacksonville 114,611 118,572
12 Gadsden 102,564 104,430

Cities

Largest cities[133]
Rank City Population (2017 census estimates) County
1 Birmingham 210,710 Jefferson
Shelby
2 Montgomery 199,518 Montgomery
3 Huntsville 194,585 Madison
Limestone
4 Mobile 190,265 Mobile
5 Tuscaloosa 100,287 Tuscaloosa
6 Hoover 84,920 Jefferson
Shelby
7 Dothan 68,202 Houston
8 Auburn 63,973 Lee
9 Decatur 54,405 Morgan
Limestone
10 Madison 48,861 Madison
Limestone
11 Florence 39,852 Lauderdale
12 Phenix City 36,219 Russell
13 Prattville 35,498 Autauga
14 Gadsden 35,409 Etowah
15 Vestavia Hills 34,291 Jefferson
Shelby

Language

95.1% of all Alabama residents five years old or older spoke only English at home in 2010, a minor decrease from 96.1% in 2000. Alabama English is predominantly Southern,[134] and is related to South Midland speech which was taken across the border from Tennessee. In the major Southern speech region, there is the decreasing loss of the final /r/, for example the /boyd/ pronunciation of ‘bird’. In the northern third of the state, there is a South Midland ‘arm’ and ‘barb’ rhyming with ‘form’ and ‘orb’. Unique words in Alabama English include: redworm (earthworm), peckerwood (woodpecker), snake doctor and snake feeder (dragonfly), tow sack (burlap bag), plum peach (clingstone), French harp (harmonica), and dog irons (andirons).[134]

Top non-English languages spoken in Alabama
Language Percentage of population
(as of 2010[update])[135]
Spanish 2.2%
German 0.4%
French (incl. Patois, Cajun) 0.3%
Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean, Arabic, African languages, Japanese, and Italian (tied) 0.1%

Religion

Highlands United Methodist Church in Birmingham, part of the Five Points South Historic District

Temple B’Nai Sholom in Huntsville, established in 1876. It is the oldest synagogue building in continuous use in the state.

The Islamic Center of Tuscaloosa, one of the Islamic centers that contain a mosque and facilities for the cultural needs of Muslims in the state.

In the 2008 American Religious Identification Survey, 86% of Alabama respondents reported their religion as Christian, including 6% Catholic, with 11% as having no religion.[136] The composition of other traditions is 0.5% Mormon, 0.5% Jewish, 0.5% Muslim, 0.5% Buddhist, and 0.5% Hindu.[137]

Religious affiliation in Alabama (2014)[138]
Affiliation % of population
Christian 86 86

 
Protestant 78 78

 
Evangelical Protestant 49 49

 
Mainline Protestant 13 13

 
Black church 16 16

 
Catholic 7 7

 
Mormon 1 1

 
Jehovah’s Witnesses 0.1 0.1

 
Eastern Orthodox 0.1 0.1

 
Other Christian 0.1 0.1

 
Unaffiliated 12 12

 
Nothing in particular 9 9

 
Agnostic 1 1

 
Atheist 1 1

 
Non-Christian faiths 1 1

 
Jewish 0.2 0.2

 
Muslim 0.2 0.2

 
Buddhist 0.2 0.2

 
Hindu 0.2 0.2

 
Other Non-Christian faiths 0.2 0.2

 
Don’t know/refused answer 1 1

 
Total 100 100

 

Alabama is located in the middle of the Bible Belt, a region of numerous Protestant Christians. Alabama has been identified as one of the most religious states in the United States, with about 58% of the population attending church regularly.[139] A majority of people in the state identify as Evangelical Protestant. As of 2010[update], the three largest denominational groups in Alabama are the Southern Baptist Convention, The United Methodist Church, and non-denominational Evangelical Protestant.[140]

In Alabama, the Southern Baptist Convention has the highest number of adherents with 1,380,121; this is followed by the United Methodist Church with 327,734 adherents, non-denominational Evangelical Protestant with 220,938 adherents, and the Catholic Church with 150,647 adherents. Many Baptist and Methodist congregations became established in the Great Awakening of the early 19th century, when preachers proselytized across the South. The Assemblies of God had almost 60,000 members, the Churches of Christ had nearly 120,000 members. The Presbyterian churches, strongly associated with Scots-Irish immigrants of the 18th century and their descendants, had a combined membership around 75,000 (PCA – 28,009 members in 108 congregations, PC(USA) – 26,247 members in 147 congregations,[141] the Cumberland Presbyterian Church – 6,000 members in 59 congregations, the Cumberland Presbyterian Church in America – 5,000 members and 50 congregations plus the EPC and Associate Reformed Presbyterians with 230 members and 9 congregations).[142]

In a 2007 survey, nearly 70% of respondents could name all four of the Christian Gospels. Of those who indicated a religious preference, 59% said they possessed a “full understanding” of their faith and needed no further learning.[143] In a 2007 poll, 92% of Alabamians reported having at least some confidence in churches in the state.[144][145]

Although in much smaller numbers, many other religious faiths are represented in the state as well, including Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism, the Bahá’í Faith, and Unitarian Universalism.[142]

Jews have been present in what is now Alabama since 1763, during the colonial era of Mobile, when Sephardic Jews immigrated from London.[146] The oldest Jewish congregation in the state is Congregation Sha’arai Shomayim in Mobile. It was formally recognized by the state legislature on January 25, 1844.[146] Later immigrants in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries tended to be Ashkenazi Jews from eastern Europe. Jewish denominations in the state include two Orthodox, four Conservative, ten Reform, and one Humanistic synagogue.[147]

Muslims have been increasing in Alabama, with 31 mosques built by 2011, many by African-American converts.[148]

Several Hindu temples and cultural centers in the state have been founded by Indian immigrants and their descendants, the best-known being the Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in Birmingham, the Hindu Temple and Cultural Center of Birmingham in Pelham, the Hindu Cultural Center of North Alabama in Capshaw, and the Hindu Mandir and Cultural Center in Tuscaloosa.[149][150]

There are six Dharma centers and organizations for Theravada Buddhists.[151] Most monastic Buddhist temples are concentrated in southern Mobile County, near Bayou La Batre. This area has attracted an influx of refugees from Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam during the 1970s and thereafter.[152] The four temples within a ten-mile radius of Bayou La Batre, include Chua Chanh Giac, Wat Buddharaksa, and Wat Lao Phoutthavihan.[153][154][155]

The first community of adherents of the Bahá’í Faith in Alabama was founded in 1896 by Paul K. Dealy, who moved from Chicago to Fairhope. Bahá’í centers in Alabama exist in Birmingham, Huntsville, and Florence.[156]

Health

A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study in 2008 showed that obesity in Alabama was a problem, with most counties having over 29% of adults obese, except for ten which had a rate between 26% and 29%.[157] Residents of the state, along with those in five other states, were least likely in the nation to be physically active during leisure time.[158] Alabama, and the southeastern U.S. in general, has one of the highest incidences of adult onset diabetes in the country, exceeding 10% of adults.[159][160]

Economy

The state has invested in aerospace, education, health care, banking, and various heavy industries, including automobile manufacturing, mineral extraction, steel production and fabrication. By 2006, crop and animal production in Alabama was valued at $1.5 billion. In contrast to the primarily agricultural economy of the previous century, this was only about 1% of the state’s gross domestic product. The number of private farms has declined at a steady rate since the 1960s, as land has been sold to developers, timber companies, and large farming conglomerates.[161]

Non-agricultural employment in 2008 was 121,800 in management occupations; 71,750 in business and financial operations; 36,790 in computer-related and mathematical occupation; 44,200 in architecture and engineering; 12,410 in life, physical, and social sciences; 32,260 in community and social services; 12,770 in legal occupations; 116,250 in education, training, and library services; 27,840 in art, design and media occupations; 121,110 in healthcare; 44,750 in fire fighting, law enforcement, and security; 154,040 in food preparation and serving; 76,650 in building and grounds cleaning and maintenance; 53,230 in personal care and services; 244,510 in sales; 338,760 in office and administration support; 20,510 in farming, fishing, and forestry; 120,155 in construction and mining, gas, and oil extraction; 106,280 in installation, maintenance, and repair; 224,110 in production; and 167,160 in transportation and material moving.[11]

According to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, the 2008 total gross state product was $170 billion, or $29,411 per capita. Alabama’s 2012 GDP increased 1.2% from the previous year. The single largest increase came in the area of information.[162] In 2010, per capita income for the state was $22,984.[163]

The state’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 5.8% in April 2015.[164] This compared to a nationwide seasonally adjusted rate of 5.4%.[165]

Alabama has no state minimum wage and uses the federal minimum wage of $7.25. In February 2016, the state passed legislation that prevents Alabama municipalities from raising the minimum wage in their locality. The legislation voids a Birmingham city ordinance that was to raise the city’s minimum wage to $10.10.[166]

As of 2018[update], Alabama has the sixth highest poverty rate among states in the U.S.[167] In 2017, United Nations Special Rapporteur Philip Alston toured parts of rural Alabama and observed environmental conditions that he said were poorer than anywhere he had seen in the developed world.[168]

Largest employers

The Space Shuttle Enterprise being tested at Marshall Space Flight Center in 1978.

Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Alabama in Montgomery in 2010

Shelby Hall, School of Computing, at the University of South Alabama in Mobile

The five employers that employed the most employees in Alabama in April 2011 were:[169]

Employer Employees
Redstone Arsenal 25,373
University of Alabama at Birmingham (includes UAB Hospital) 18,750
Maxwell Air Force Base 12,280
State of Alabama 9,500
Mobile County Public School System 8,100

The next twenty largest employers, as of 2011[update], included:[170]

Employer Location
Anniston Army Depot Anniston
AT&T Multiple
Auburn University Auburn
Baptist Medical Center South Montgomery
Birmingham City Schools Birmingham
City of Birmingham Birmingham
DCH Health System Tuscaloosa
Huntsville City Schools Huntsville
Huntsville Hospital System Huntsville
Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Alabama Montgomery
Infirmary Health System Mobile
Jefferson County Board of Education Birmingham
Marshall Space Flight Center Huntsville
Mercedes-Benz U.S. International Vance
Montgomery Public Schools Montgomery
Regions Financial Corporation Multiple
Boeing Multiple
University of Alabama Tuscaloosa
University of South Alabama Mobile
Walmart Multiple

Agriculture

Alabama’s agricultural outputs include poultry and eggs, cattle, fish, plant nursery items, peanuts, cotton, grains such as corn and sorghum, vegetables, milk, soybeans, and peaches. Although known as “The Cotton State”, Alabama ranks between eighth and tenth in national cotton production, according to various reports,[171][172] with Texas, Georgia and Mississippi comprising the top three.

Industry

Alabama’s industrial outputs include iron and steel products (including cast-iron and steel pipe); paper, lumber, and wood products; mining (mostly coal); plastic products; cars and trucks; and apparel. In addition, Alabama produces aerospace and electronic products, mostly in the Huntsville area, the location of NASA’s George C. Marshall Space Flight Center and the U.S. Army Materiel Command, headquartered at Redstone Arsenal.

Mercedes-Benz U.S. International in Tuscaloosa County was the first automotive facility to locate within the state.

A great deal of Alabama’s economic growth since the 1990s has been due to the state’s expanding automotive manufacturing industry. Located in the state are Honda Manufacturing of Alabama, Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Alabama, Mercedes-Benz U.S. International, and Toyota Motor Manufacturing Alabama, as well as their various suppliers. Since 1993, the automobile industry has generated more than 67,800 new jobs in the state. Alabama currently ranks 4th in the nation for vehicle exports.[173]

Automakers accounted for approximately a third of the industrial expansion in the state in 2012.[174] The eight models produced at the state’s auto factories totaled combined sales of 74,335 vehicles for 2012. The strongest model sales during this period were the Hyundai Elantra compact car, the Mercedes-Benz GL-Class sport utility vehicle and the Honda Ridgeline sport utility truck.[175]

Airbus Mobile Engineering Center at the Brookley Aeroplex in Mobile

Steel producers Outokumpu, Nucor, SSAB, ThyssenKrupp, and U.S. Steel have facilities in Alabama and employ over 10,000 people. In May 2007, German steelmaker ThyssenKrupp selected Calvert in Mobile County for a 4.65 billion combined stainless and carbon steel processing facility.[176] ThyssenKrupp’s stainless steel division, Inoxum, including the stainless portion of the Calvert plant, was sold to Finnish stainless steel company Outokumpu in 2012.[177] The remaining portion of the ThyssenKrupp plant had final bids submitted by ArcelorMittal and Nippon Steel for $1.6 billion in March 2013. Companhia Siderúrgica Nacional submitted a combined bid for the mill at Calvert, plus a majority stake in the ThyssenKrupp mill in Brazil, for $3.8 billion.[178] In July 2013, the plant was sold to ArcelorMittal and Nippon Steel.[179]

The Hunt Refining Company, a subsidiary of Hunt Consolidated, Inc., is based in Tuscaloosa and operates a refinery there. The company also operates terminals in Mobile, Melvin, and Moundville.[180]JVC America, Inc. operates an optical disc replication and packaging plant in Tuscaloosa.[181]

The Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company operates a large plant in Gadsden that employs about 1,400 people. It has been in operation since 1929.

Construction of an Airbus A320 family aircraft assembly plant in Mobile was formally announced by Airbus CEO Fabrice Brégier from the Mobile Convention Center on July 2, 2012. The plans include a $600 million factory at the Brookley Aeroplex for the assembly of the A319, A320 and A321 aircraft. Construction began in 2013, with plans for it to become operable by 2015 and produce up to 50 aircraft per year by 2017.[182][183] The assembly plant is the company’s first factory to be built within the United States.[184] It was announced on February 1, 2013, that Airbus had hired Alabama-based Hoar Construction to oversee construction of the facility.[185]

Tourism

Alabama’s beaches are one of the state’s major tourist destinations.

An estimated 20 million tourists visit the state each year. Over 100,000 of these are from other countries, including from Canada, the United Kingdom, Germany and Japan.[citation needed] In 2006, 22.3 million travellers spent $8.3 billion providing an estimated 162,000 jobs in the state.[186][187][not in citation given] Some of the most popular areas include the Rocket City of Huntsville, the beaches along the Gulf, and the state’s capitol in Montgomery.[188]

Healthcare

UAB Hospital is the only Level I trauma center in Alabama.[189][190] UAB is the largest state government employer in Alabama, with a workforce of about 18,000.[191]

Banking

Regions-Harbert Plaza, Regions Center, and Wells Fargo Tower in Birmingham’s financial district.

Alabama has the headquarters of Regions Financial Corporation, BBVA Compass, Superior Bancorp, and the former Colonial Bancgroup. Birmingham-based Compass Banchshares was acquired by Spanish-based BBVA in September 2007, although the headquarters of BBVA Compass remains in Birmingham. In November 2006, Regions Financial completed its merger with AmSouth Bancorporation, which was also headquartered in Birmingham. SouthTrust Corporation, another large bank headquartered in Birmingham, was acquired by Wachovia in 2004 for $14.3 billion.

The city still has major operations for Wachovia and its now post-operating bank Wells Fargo, which includes a regional headquarters, an operations center campus and a $400 million data center. Nearly a dozen smaller banks are also headquartered in the Birmingham, such as Superior Bancorp, ServisFirst, and New South Federal Savings Bank. Birmingham also serves as the headquarters for several large investment management companies, including Harbert Management Corporation.

Electronics

Telecommunications provider AT&T, formerly BellSouth, has a major presence in Alabama with several large offices in Birmingham. The company has over 6,000 employees and more than 1,200 contract employees.

Many commercial technology companies are headquartered in Huntsville, such as network access company ADTRAN, computer graphics company Intergraph, and IT infrastructure company Avocent. Cinram manufactures and distributes 20th Century Fox DVDs and Blu-ray Discs out of its Huntsville plant.

Construction

Rust International has grown to include Brasfield & Gorrie, BE&K, Hoar Construction, and B.L. Harbert International, which all routinely are included in the Engineering News-Record lists of top design, international construction, and engineering firms. (Rust International was acquired in 2000 by Washington Group International, which was in turn acquired by San-Francisco based URS Corporation in 2007.)

Law and government

State government

The State Capitol Building in Montgomery, completed in 1851

The foundational document for Alabama’s government is the Alabama Constitution, which was ratified in 1901. At almost 800 amendments and 310,000 words, it is by some accounts the world’s longest constitution and is roughly forty times the length of the United States Constitution.[192][193][194][195]

There has been a significant movement to rewrite and modernize Alabama’s constitution.[196] Critics argue that Alabama’s constitution maintains highly centralized power with the state legislature, leaving practically no power in local hands. Most counties do not have home rule. Any policy changes proposed in different areas of the state must be approved by the entire Alabama legislature and, frequently, by state referendum. One criticism of the current constitution claims that its complexity and length intentionally codify segregation and racism.

The Heflin-Torbert Judicial Building in Montgomery. It houses the Supreme Court of Alabama, Alabama Court of Civil Appeals, and Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals.

Alabama’s government is divided into three coequal branches. The legislative branch is the Alabama Legislature, a bicameral assembly composed of the Alabama House of Representatives, with 105 members, and the Alabama Senate, with 35 members. The Legislature is responsible for writing, debating, passing, or defeating state legislation. The Republican Party currently holds a majority in both houses of the Legislature. The Legislature has the power to override a gubernatorial veto by a simple majority (most state Legislatures require a two-thirds majority to override a veto).

Until 1964, the state elected state senators on a geographic basis by county, with one per county. It had not redistricted congressional districts since passage of its constitution in 1901; as a result, urbanized areas were grossly underrepresented. It had not changed legislative districts to reflect the decennial censuses, either. In Reynolds v. Sims (1964), the US Supreme Court implemented the principle of “one man, one vote”, ruling that congressional districts had to be reapportioned based on censuses (as the state already included in its constitution but had not implemented.) Further, the court ruled that both houses of bicameral state legislatures had to be apportioned by population, as there was no constitutional basis for states to have geographically based systems.

At that time, Alabama and many other states had to change their legislative districting, as many across the country had systems that underrepresented urban areas and districts. This had caused decades of underinvestment in such areas. For instance, Birmingham and Jefferson County taxes had supplied one-third of the state budget, but Jefferson County received only 1/67th of state services in funding. Through the legislative delegations, the Alabama legislature kept control of county governments.

Governor Kay Ivey is the current and second female Governor of Alabama. She is the only Republican female Governor in the state’s history.

The executive branch is responsible for the execution and oversight of laws. It is headed by the Governor of Alabama. Other members of executive branch include the cabinet, the Attorney General of Alabama, the Alabama Secretary of State, the Alabama State Treasurer, and the State Auditor of Alabama. The current governor of the state is Republican Kay Ivey. The office of lieutenant governor is currently vacant.

The members of the Legislature take office immediately after the November elections. Statewide officials, such as the governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, and other constitutional officers, take office the following January.[197]

The judicial branch is responsible for interpreting the state’s Constitution and applying the law in state criminal and civil cases. The state’s highest court is the Supreme Court of Alabama. Alabama uses partisan elections to select judges. Since the 1980s judicial campaigns have become increasingly politicized.[198] The current chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court is Republican Lyn Stuart. All sitting justices on the Alabama Supreme Court are members of the Republican Party. There are two intermediate appellate courts, the Court of Civil Appeals and the Court of Criminal Appeals, and four trial courts: the circuit court (trial court of general jurisdiction), and the district, probate, and municipal courts.[198]

Some critics believe that the election of judges has contributed to an exceedingly high rate of executions.[199] Alabama has the highest per capita death penalty rate in the country. In some years, it imposes more death sentences than does Texas, a state which has a population five times larger.[200] Some of its cases have been highly controversial; the Supreme Court has overturned[201] 24 convictions in death penalty cases.[citation needed] It was the only state to allow judges to override jury decisions in whether or not to use a death sentence; in 10 cases judges overturned sentences of life imprisonment without parole (LWOP) that were voted unanimously by juries.[200] This judicial authority was removed in April 2017.[202]

Taxes

Alabama levies a 2, 4, or 5 percent personal income tax, depending upon the amount earned and filing status. Taxpayers are allowed to deduct their federal income tax from their Alabama state tax, and can do so even if taking the standard deduction. Taxpayers who file itemized deductions are also allowed to deduct the Federal Insurance Contributions Act tax (Social Security and Medicare tax).

The state’s general sales tax rate is 4%.[203] Sales tax rates for cities and counties are also added to purchases.[204] For example, the total sales tax rate in Mobile is 10% and there is an additional restaurant tax of 1%, which means that a diner in Mobile would pay an 11% tax on a meal. As of 1999[update], sales and excise taxes in Alabama account for 51% of all state and local revenue, compared with an average of about 36% nationwide.[205] Alabama is one of seven states that levy a tax on food at the same rate as other goods, and one of two states (the other being neighboring Mississippi) which fully taxes groceries without any offsetting relief for low-income families. (Most states exempt groceries from sales tax or apply a lower tax rate.)[206]

Alabama’s income tax on poor working families is among the highest in the United States.[205] Alabama is the only state that levies income tax on a family of four with income as low as $4,600, which is barely one-quarter of the federal poverty line.[205] Alabama’s threshold is the lowest among the 41 states and the District of Columbia with income taxes.[205]

The corporate income tax rate is currently 6.5%. The overall federal, state, and local tax burden in Alabama ranks the state as the second least tax-burdened state in the country.[207]Property taxes are the lowest in the U.S. The current state constitution requires a voter referendum to raise property taxes.

Since Alabama’s tax structure largely depends on consumer spending, it is subject to high variable budget structure. For example, in 2003, Alabama had an annual budget deficit as high as $670 million.

County and local governments

Lauderdale County, Alabama Colbert County, Alabama Franklin County, Alabama Marion County, Alabama Lamar County, Alabama Pickens County, Alabama Greene County, Alabama Sumter County, Alabama Choctaw County, Alabama Washington County, Alabama Mobile County, Alabama Baldwin County, Alabama Escambia County, Alabama Monroe County, Alabama Clarke County, Alabama Marengo County, Alabama Hale County, Alabama Fayette County, Alabama Tuscaloosa County, Alabama Bibb County, Alabama Perry County, Alabama Dallas County, Alabama Wilcox County, Alabama Conecuh County, Alabama Covington County, Alabama Crenshaw County, Alabama Montgomery County, Alabama Butler County, Alabama Lowndes County, Alabama Autauga County, Alabama Chilton County, Alabama Shelby County, Alabama Jefferson County, Alabama Walker County, Alabama Winston County, Alabama Lawrence County, Alabama Limestone County, Alabama Madison County, Alabama Jackson County, Alabama DeKalb County, Alabama Cherokee County, Alabama Etowah County, Alabama Marshall County, Alabama Morgan County, Alabama Cullman County, Alabama Blount County, Alabama St. Clair County, Alabama Calhoun County, Alabama Cleburne County, Alabama Talladega County, Alabama Coosa County, Alabama Clay County, Alabama Randolph County, Alabama Tallapoosa County, Alabama Chambers County, Alabama Lee County, Alabama Elmore County, Alabama Macon County, Alabama Russell County, Alabama Barbour County, Alabama Coffee County, Alabama Pike County, Alabama Bullock County, Alabama Geneva County, Alabama Dale County, Alabama Henry County, Alabama Houston County, Alabama

Alabama counties (clickable map)

Treemap of the popular vote by county, 2016 presidential election.

Alabama has 67 counties. Each county has its own elected legislative branch, usually called the county commission. It also has limited executive authority in the county. Because of the constraints of the Alabama Constitution, which centralizes power in the state legislature, only seven counties (Jefferson, Lee, Mobile, Madison, Montgomery, Shelby, and Tuscaloosa) in the state have limited home rule. Instead, most counties in the state must lobby the Local Legislation Committee of the state legislature to get simple local policies approved, ranging from waste disposal to land use zoning.

The state legislature has retained power over local governments by refusing to pass a constitutional amendment establishing home rule for counties, as recommended by the 1973 Alabama Constitutional Commission.[208] Legislative delegations retain certain powers over each county. United States Supreme Court decisions in Baker v. Carr (1964) required that both houses have districts established on the basis of population, and redistricted after each census, in order to implement the principle of “one man, one vote”. Before that, each county was represented by one state senator, leading to under-representation in the state senate for more urbanized, populous counties. The rural bias of the state legislature, which had also failed to redistrict seats in the state house, affected politics well into the 20th century, failing to recognize the rise of industrial cities and urbanized areas.

“The lack of home rule for counties in Alabama has resulted in the proliferation of local legislation permitting counties to do things not authorized by the state constitution. Alabama’s constitution has been amended more than 700 times, and almost one-third of the amendments are local in nature, applying to only one county or city. A significant part of each legislative session is spent on local legislation, taking away time and attention of legislators from issues of statewide importance.”[208]

Alabama is an alcoholic beverage control state, meaning that the state government holds a monopoly on the sale of alcohol. The Alabama Alcoholic Beverage Control Board controls the sale and distribution of alcoholic beverages in the state. Twenty-five of the 67 counties are “dry counties” which ban the sale of alcohol, and there are many dry municipalities even in counties which permit alcohol sales.[209]

Rank County Population
(2010 Census)
Seat Largest city
1 Jefferson 658,466 Birmingham Birmingham
2 Mobile 412,992 Mobile Mobile
3 Madison 334,811 Huntsville Huntsville
4 Montgomery 229,363 Montgomery Montgomery
5 Shelby 195,085 Columbiana Hoover (part)
Alabaster
6 Tuscaloosa 194,656 Tuscaloosa Tuscaloosa
7 Baldwin 182,265 Bay Minette Daphne
8 Lee 140,247 Opelika Auburn
9 Morgan 119,490 Decatur Decatur
10 Calhoun 118,572 Anniston Anniston
11 Etowah 104,303 Gadsden Gadsden
12 Houston 101,547 Dothan Dothan
13 Marshall 93,019 Guntersville Albertville
14 Lauderdale 92,709 Florence Florence
15 St. Clair 83,593 Ashville &
Pell City
Pell City

Politics

During Reconstruction following the American Civil War, Alabama was occupied by federal troops of the Third Military District under General John Pope. In 1874, the political coalition of white Democrats known as the Redeemers took control of the state government from the Republicans, in part by suppressing the black vote through violence, fraud and intimidation.

After 1890, a coalition of White Democratic politicians passed laws to segregate and disenfranchise African American residents, a process completed in provisions of the 1901 constitution. Provisions which disenfranchised blacks resulted in excluding many poor Whites. By 1941 more Whites than Blacks had been disenfranchised: 600,000 to 520,000. The total effects were greater on the black community, as almost all of its citizens were disfranchised and relegated to separate and unequal treatment under the law.

From 1901 through the 1960s, the state did not redraw election districts as population grew and shifted within the state during urbanization and industrialization of certain areas. As counties were the basis of election districts, the result was a rural minority that dominated state politics through nearly three-quarters of the century, until a series of federal court cases required redistricting in 1972 to meet equal representation.

Alabama state politics gained nationwide and international attention in the 1950s and 1960s during the civil rights movement, when whites bureaucratically, and at times violently, resisted protests for electoral and social reform. Governor George Wallace, the state’s only four-term governor, was a controversial figure who vowed to maintain segregation. Only after passage of the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964[73] and Voting Rights Act of 1965 did African Americans regain the ability to exercise suffrage, among other civil rights. In many jurisdictions, they continued to be excluded from representation by at-large electoral systems, which allowed the majority of the population to dominate elections. Some changes at the county level have occurred following court challenges to establish single-member districts that enable a more diverse representation among county boards.

In 2007, the Alabama Legislature passed, and Republican Governor Bob Riley signed a resolution expressing “profound regret” over slavery and its lingering impact. In a symbolic ceremony, the bill was signed in the Alabama State Capitol, which housed Congress of the Confederate States of America.[210]

In 2010, Republicans won control of both houses of the legislature for the first time in 136 years.[211]

As of December 2017[update], there are a total of 3,326,812 registered voters, with 2,979,576 active, and the others inactive in the state.[212]

Elections

State elections

With the disfranchisement of Blacks in 1901, the state became part of the “Solid South”, a system in which the Democratic Party operated as effectively the only viable political party in every Southern state. For nearly 100 years, local and state elections in Alabama were decided in the Democratic Party primary, with generally only token Republican challengers running in the General Election. Since the mid to late 20th century, however, there has been a realignment among the two major political parties, and white conservatives started shifting to the Republican Party. In Alabama, majority-white districts are now expected to regularly elect Republican candidates to federal, state and local office.

Members of the nine seats on the Supreme Court of Alabama[213] and all ten seats on the state appellate courts are elected to office. Until 1994, no Republicans held any of the court seats. In that general election, the then-incumbent Chief Justice, Ernest C. Hornsby, refused to leave office after losing the election by approximately 3,000 votes to Republican Perry O. Hooper, Sr.. Hornsby sued Alabama and defiantly remained in office for nearly a year before finally giving up the seat after losing in court. This ultimately led to a collapse of support for Democrats at the ballot box in the next three or four election cycles. The Democrats lost the last of the nineteen court seats in August 2011 with the resignation of the last Democrat on the bench.

In the early 21st century, Republicans hold all seven of the statewide elected executive branch offices. Republicans hold six of the eight elected seats on the Alabama State Board of Education. In 2010, Republicans took large majorities of both chambers of the state legislature, giving them control of that body for the first time in 136 years. The last remaining statewide Democrat, who served on the Alabama Public Service Commission was defeated in 2012.[214][215][216]

Only two Republican Lieutenant Governors have been elected since the end of Reconstruction, when Republicans generally represented Reconstruction government, including the newly emancipated freedmen who had gained the franchise. The two GOP Lt. Governors were Steve Windom (1999–2003) and Kay Ivey (2011-2017).

Local elections

Many local offices (County Commissioners, Boards of Education, Tax Assessors, Tax Collectors, etc.) in the state are still held by Democrats. Many rural counties have voters who are majority Democrats, resulting in local elections being decided in the Democratic primary. Similarly many metropolitan and suburban counties are majority-Republican and elections are effectively decided in the Republican Primary, although there are exceptions.[217][218]

Alabama’s 67 County Sheriffs are elected in partisan, at-large races, and Democrats still retain the narrow majority of those posts. The current split is 35 Democrats, 31 Republicans, and one Independent Fayette.[219] However, most of the Democratic sheriffs preside over rural and less populated counties. The majority of Republican sheriffs have been elected in the more urban/suburban and heavily populated counties.[citation needed] As of 2015[update], the state of Alabama has one female sheriff, in Morgan County, Alabama, and ten African-American sheriffs.[219]

Federal elections

Presidential elections results
Year Republican Democratic
2016 62.08% 1,318,255 34.36% 729,547
2012 60.55% 1,255,925 38.36% 795,696
2008 60.32% 1,266,546 38.80% 813,479
2004 62.46% 1,176,394 36.84% 693,933
2000 56.47% 944,409 41.59% 695,602
1996 50.12% 769,044 43.16% 662,165
1992 47.65% 804,283 40.88% 690,080
1988 59.17% 815,576 39.86% 549,506
1984 60.54% 872,849 38.28% 551,899
1980 48.75% 654,192 47.45% 636,730
1976 42.61% 504,070 55.73% 659,170
1972 72.43% 728,701 25.54% 256,923
1968* 13.99% 146,923 18.72% 196,579
1964 69.45% 479,085 30.55% 210,732
1960 42.16% 237,981 56.39% 318,303
*State won by George Wallace
of the American Independent Party,
at 65.86%, or 691,425 votes

The state’s two U.S. senators are Republican Richard C. Shelby and Democrat Doug Jones. Shelby was originally elected to the Senate as a Democrat in 1986 and re-elected in 1992, but switched parties immediately following the November 1994 general election.

In the U.S. House of Representatives, the state is represented by seven members, six of whom are Republicans: (Bradley Byrne, Mike D. Rogers, Robert Aderholt, Morris J. Brooks, Martha Roby, and Gary Palmer) and one Democrat: Terri Sewell who represents the Black Belt as well as most of the predominantly black portions of Birmingham, Tuscaloosa and Montgomery.

Education

Primary and secondary education

Vestavia Hills High School in the suburbs of Birmingham

Public primary and secondary education in Alabama is under the purview of the Alabama State Board of Education as well as local oversight by 67 county school boards and 60 city boards of education. Together, 1,496 individual schools provide education for 744,637 elementary and secondary students.[220]

Public school funding is appropriated through the Alabama Legislature through the Education Trust Fund. In FY 2006–2007, Alabama appropriated $3,775,163,578 for primary and secondary education. That represented an increase of $444,736,387 over the previous fiscal year. In 2007, over 82 percent of schools made adequate yearly progress (AYP) toward student proficiency under the National No Child Left Behind law, using measures determined by the state of Alabama.

While Alabama’s public education system has improved in recent decades, it lags behind in achievement compared to other states. According to U.S. Census data (2000), Alabama’s high school graduation rate—75%—is the fourth lowest in the U.S. (after Kentucky, Louisiana and Mississippi).[221] The largest educational gains were among people with some college education but without degrees.[222]

Although unusual in the West, school corporal punishment is not uncommon in Alabama, with 27,260 public school students paddled at least one time, according to government data for the 2011–2012 school year.[223][224] The rate of school corporal punishment in Alabama is surpassed only by Mississippi and Arkansas.[224]

Colleges and universities

Harrison Plaza at the University of North Alabama in Florence. The school was chartered as LaGrange College by the Alabama Legislature in 1830.

Alabama’s programs of higher education include 14 four-year public universities, two-year community colleges, and 17 private, undergraduate and graduate universities. In the state are four medical schools (as of fall 2015) (University of Alabama School of Medicine, University of South Alabama and Alabama College of Osteopathic Medicine and The Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine – Auburn Campus), two veterinary colleges (Auburn University and Tuskegee University), a dental school (University of Alabama School of Dentistry), an optometry college (University of Alabama at Birmingham), two pharmacy schools (Auburn University and Samford University), and five law schools (University of Alabama School of Law, Birmingham School of Law, Cumberland School of Law, Miles Law School, and the Thomas Goode Jones School of Law). Public, post-secondary education in Alabama is overseen by the Alabama Commission on Higher Education and the Alabama Department of Postsecondary Education. Colleges and universities in Alabama offer degree programs from two-year associate degrees to a multitude of doctoral level programs.[225]

William J. Samford Hall at Auburn University in Auburn

The largest single campus is the University of Alabama, located in Tuscaloosa, with 37,665 enrolled for fall 2016.[226]Troy University was the largest institution in the state in 2010, with an enrollment of 29,689 students across four Alabama campuses (Troy, Dothan, Montgomery, and Phenix City), as well as sixty learning sites in seventeen other states and eleven other countries. The oldest institutions are the public University of North Alabama in Florence and the Catholic Church-affiliated Spring Hill College in Mobile, both founded in 1830.[227][228]

Accreditation of academic programs is through the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) as well as other subject-focused national and international accreditation agencies such as the Association for Biblical Higher Education (ABHE),[229] the Council on Occupational Education (COE),[230] and the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS).[231]

According to the 2011 U.S. News & World Report, Alabama had three universities ranked in the top 100 Public Schools in America (University of Alabama at 31, Auburn University at 36, and University of Alabama at Birmingham at 73).[232]

According to the 2012 U.S. News & World Report, Alabama had four tier 1 universities (University of Alabama, Auburn University, University of Alabama at Birmingham and University of Alabama in Huntsville).[233]

Media

Major newspapers include Birmingham News, Mobile Press-Register, and Montgomery Advertiser.[234]

Political websites include Alabama Political Reporter, Left in Alabama, and Yellowhammer News.[citation needed]

Major television network affiliates in Alabama include:

ABC

  • WGWW 40.2 ABC, Anniston
  • WBMA 58/WABM 68.2 ABC, Birmingham
  • WDHN 18 ABC, Dothan
  • WAAY 31 ABC, Huntsville
  • WEAR 3 ABC Pensacola/Mobile
  • WNCF 32 ABC, Montgomery
  • WDBB 17.2 ABC, Tuscaloosa

CBS

  • WIAT 42 CBS, Birmingham
  • WTVY 4 CBS, Dothan
  • WHNT 19 CBS, Huntsville
  • WKRG 5 CBS, Mobile
  • WAKA 8 CBS, Selma/Montgomery

Fox

  • WBRC 6 FOX, Birmingham
  • WZDX 54 FOX, Huntsville
  • WALA 10 FOX, Mobile
  • WCOV 20 FOX, Montgomery
  • WDFX 34 FOX, Ozark/Dothan

NBC

  • WVTM 13 NBC, Birmingham
  • WRGX 23 NBC, Dothan
  • WAFF 48 NBC, Huntsville
  • WPMI 15 NBC, Mobile
  • WSFA 12 NBC, Montgomery

PBS/Alabama Public Television

  • WBIQ 10 PBS, Birmingham
  • WIIQ 41 PBS, Demopolis
  • WDIQ 2 PBS, Dozier
  • WFIQ 36 PBS, Florence
  • WHIQ 25 PBS, Huntsville
  • WGIQ 43 PBS, Louisville[235]
  • WEIQ 42 PBS, Mobile
  • WAIQ 26 PBS, Montgomery
  • WCIQ 7 PBS, Mount Cheaha

The CW

  • WTTO 21, Homewood/Birmingham
  • WTVY 4.3, Dothan
  • WHDF 15, Florence/Huntsville
  • WFNA 55, Gulf Shores/Mobile/Pensacola, FL
  • WDBB 17, Tuscaloosa
  • WBMM 22, Tuskegee/Montgomery

Viewers in eastern Alabama are served by stations in Atlanta and Columbus, Georgia.

Culture

Literature

Sports

College sports

Bryant–Denny Stadium at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa

College football is extremely popular in Alabama, particularly the University of Alabama Crimson Tide and Auburn University Tigers, rivals in the Southeastern Conference. In the 2013 season, Alabama averaged over 100,000 fans per game and Auburn averaged over 80,000 fans, both numbers among the top 20 in the nation in average attendance.[236] Bryant–Denny Stadium is the home of the Alabama football team, and has a seating capacity of 101,821,[237] and is the fifth largest stadium in America.[238] Jordan-Hare Stadium is the home field of the Auburn football team and seats up to 87,451.[239]

Legion Field is home for the UAB Blazers football program and the Birmingham Bowl. It seats 71,594.[240]Ladd–Peebles Stadium in Mobile is the home of the University of South Alabama football team, and serves as the home of the NCAA Senior Bowl, Dollar General Bowl (formerly GoDaddy.com Bowl), and Alabama-Mississippi All Star Classic; the stadium seats 40,646.[241] In 2009, Bryant–Denny Stadium and Jordan-Hare Stadium became the homes of the Alabama High School Athletic Association state football championship games, after previously being held at Legion Field in Birmingham.[242]

Professional sports

Regions Field in Birmingham

Hank Aaron Stadium in Mobile

Alabama has several professional and semi-professional sports teams, including three minor league baseball teams.

Club City Sport League Venue
Birmingham Barons Birmingham Baseball Southern League (AA) Regions Field
Huntsville Havoc Huntsville Ice hockey Southern Professional Hockey League Von Braun Center
Mobile BayBears Mobile Baseball Southern League (AA) Hank Aaron Stadium
Montgomery Biscuits Montgomery Baseball Southern League (AA) Montgomery Riverwalk Stadium
Birmingham Hammers Birmingham Soccer National Premier Soccer League Sicard Hollow Athletic Complex
Tennessee Valley Tigers Huntsville Football Independent Women’s Football League Milton Frank Stadium

The Talladega Superspeedway motorsports complex hosts a series of NASCAR events. It has a seating capacity of 143,000 and is the thirteenth largest stadium in the world and sixth largest stadium in America. Also, the Barber Motorsports Park has hosted IndyCar Series and Rolex Sports Car Series races.

The ATP Birmingham was a World Championship Tennis tournament held from 1973 to 1980.

Alabama has hosted several professional golf tournaments, such as the 1984 and 1990 PGA Championship at Shoal Creek, the Barbasol Championship (PGA Tour), the Mobile LPGA Tournament of Champions, Airbus LPGA Classic, and Yokohama Tire LPGA Classic (LPGA Tour), and The Tradition (Champions Tour).

Transportation

Terminal at the Montgomery Regional Airport in Montgomery.

Interstate 59 (co-signed with Interstate 20) approaching Interstate 65 in downtown Birmingham.

Aerial view of the port of Mobile.

Aviation

Major airports with sustained commercial operations in Alabama include Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport (BHM), Huntsville International Airport (HSV), Dothan Regional Airport (DHN), Mobile Regional Airport (MOB), Montgomery Regional Airport (MGM), and Muscle Shoals – Northwest Alabama Regional Airport (MSL).

Rail

For rail transport, Amtrak schedules the Crescent, a daily passenger train, running from New York to New Orleans with station stops at Anniston, Birmingham, and Tuscaloosa.

Roads

Alabama has six major interstate roads that cross the state: Interstate 65 (I-65) travels north–south roughly through the middle of the state; I-20/I-59 travel from the central west Mississippi state line to Birmingham, where I-59 continues to the north-east corner of the state and I-20 continues east towards Atlanta; I-85 originates in Montgomery and travels east-northeast to the Georgia state line, providing a main thoroughfare to Atlanta; and I-10 traverses the southernmost portion of the state, traveling from west to east through Mobile. I-22 enters the state from Mississippi and connects Birmingham with Memphis, Tennessee. In addition, there are currently five auxiliary interstate routes in the state: I-165 in Mobile, I-359 in Tuscaloosa, I-459 around Birmingham, I-565 in Decatur and Huntsville, and I-759 in Gadsden. A sixth route, I-685, will be formed when I-85 is rerouted along a new southern bypass of Montgomery. A proposed northern bypass of Birmingham will be designated as I-422. Since a direct connection from I-22 to I-422 will not be possible, I-222 has been proposed, as well.

Several U.S. Highways also pass through the state, such as U.S. Route 11 (US-11), US-29, US-31, US-43, US-45, US-72, US-78, US-80, US-82, US-84, US-90, US-98, US-231, US-278, US-280, US-331, US-411, and US-431.

There are four toll roads in the state: Montgomery Expressway in Montgomery; Tuscaloosa Bypass in Tuscaloosa; Emerald Mountain Expressway in Wetumpka; and Beach Express in Orange Beach.

Ports

The Port of Mobile, Alabama’s only saltwater port, is a large seaport on the Gulf of Mexico with inland waterway access to the Midwest by way of the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway. The Port of Mobile was ranked 12th by tons of traffic in the United States during 2009.[243] The newly expanded container terminal at the Port of Mobile was ranked as the 25th busiest for container traffic in the nation during 2011.[244] The state’s other ports are on rivers with access to the Gulf of Mexico.

Water ports of Alabama, listed from north to south:

Port name Location Connected to
Port of Florence Florence/Muscle Shoals, on Pickwick Lake Tennessee River
Port of Decatur Decatur, on Wheeler Lake Tennessee River
Port of Guntersville Guntersville, on Lake Guntersville Tennessee River
Port of Birmingham Birmingham, on Black Warrior River Tenn-Tom Waterway
Port of Tuscaloosa Tuscaloosa, on Black Warrior River Tenn-Tom Waterway
Port of Montgomery Montgomery, on Woodruff Lake Alabama River
Port of Mobile Mobile, on Mobile Bay Gulf of Mexico

See also

  • Flag of Alabama.svg Alabama portal
  • Outline of Alabama – organized list of topics about Alabama
  • Index of Alabama-related articles

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