Page images
PDF

S. W. S Attakapas, county, 7,369 12,063 4,701

Section. '(Opelousas, county, 5,048 10,085 3,951

Total, 86,536 153,407 69,064

Name.] The whole country between Mississippi riTer and the Pacific ocean, now belonging to the United States, was once owned by France, and was called Louisiana, in honour of Louis XIV. In 1803 this country was purchased by the United States from France, lor about $15,000,000. It has since been divided into 4 parte, viz. 1. The slate of Louisiana. 3. The state of Missouri. 3. Missouri territory. 4. Arkansas territory. The name, Louisiana, is now applied only to the first of these divisions.

Rivers.] The Mississippi forms the eastern boundary of the state from 33° to 31° N. lat. Near lat. 31° it receives Red river from the N. VV. after which, instead of receiving the tribute of inferior streams, it divides into numerous branches or outlets, which diverging from each other, slowly wind their way to the sea, forming what is called the Delta of the Mississippi. Of these outlets, the most western is the Atchofalaya, which leaves the main stream 3 miles below the mouth of Ked river, and diverging westward, flows into Atchafalaya bay, in the gulf of Mexico About 130 miles below the Atchafalaya, is the outlet of the Plaquemine. Its main stream unites with the Atchafalaya, but it has other communications intersecting the country in different directions. Thirly-one miles below the Plaquemine, and 81 above New-Orleans, is the outlet of La Fourche, which communicates with the gulf of Mexico by several mouths. Below the La Fourche, numerous smaller streams branch off from the river at various points. On the east side of the Mississippi, the principal outlet is the Iberville, which, leaves the main stream about 100 miles below the mouth of Red river, and running in an easterly direction, receives the Amite from the north, and discharge* itself into lake Maurepas. Lake Matirepas discharges itself into lake Pontchartrain; lake Pontchartrain, into lake Borgne; and lake Borgne into the gulf of Mexico. The Iberville is navigable three months in the year for vessels drawing 3 nr 4 feet of water, but during the rest of the year it is entirely dry from the Mississippi to the mouth of Amite river.

The principal tributary of the Mississippi is Red rtvrr, which joins it in lat. 31° 5' N- It enters the state near the N. \V. corner in one undivided stream, and after flowing in a southerly direction about 30 miles, spreads out into a number of channels and lakes, forming an inundated swamp, six miles wide and M long. This overflowed tract in Red river may be regarded M the commencement of its delta, as the river never again unites in one continuous stream. The navigation of the river is interrupted at a place called Rapide, 135 miles from its mouth, by a ledge of rocks, and further up many parts of the channel nra choked with trees. The principal tributary of Red river is the Ouachita or Wachitta which rises in Arkansas territory, and flowing south into Louisiana, joins Red river 23 miles from its mouth. About 30 miles above its union with Red river it is joined by the Tensaw and Catahoula, and after their junction, it usually takes the name of Black river. The Ouachita can be ascended in boats 600 miles. The principal rivers east of the Mississippi are, the Amite, which rises in the state of Mississippi, and running in a southerly direction, joins the Iberville, 40 miles above its entrance into lake Maurepas; and Pearl river, which also rises in the state of Mississippi, and running in a southerly direction, discharges itself into the Rioglets, or channel of communication between lake Pontchartrain and lake Borgne, after forming for some distance the boundary between the states of Mississippi and Louisiana. The principal rivers west of the Mississippi are, the Teche, which rises near the centre of the state, and running in a S. E. direction, joins the Atchafalaya, about 15 miles above its entrance into the gulf of Mexico; the Vermillion, which is west of the Teche, and discharges itself into Vermillion bay; the Mermentau and Calcasiu, which run into the gulf of Mexico, west of the Vermillion; and the Sabine, which rises in the Spanish province of Texas, but from lat. 32° to its mouth forms the western boundary of Louisiana. The Mermentan, the Calcasiu and the Sabine, before entering the gulf of Mexico, spread out into broad lakes, and then contract again into narrow rivers. Face of the Country.] Along the whole southern border of the state, from Pearl river to the Sabine, are vast prairies, which for every purpose of a general sketch, may be described as one imtaense meadow, occupying 10,000 square miles, or one fifth of the surface of the state. The part of this tract about the months of the Mississippi, for 30 miles, is one continued swamp, destitute of trees, and covered with a species of coarse reed, 4 or 5 feet high. Nothing can be more dreary than the prospect from a ship's mast, while passing this immense waste.—The northern and central parts of the state have been but recently explored, and are as yet very imperfectly known. A large extent of country in this state is annually overflowed by the Mississippi. From lat. 32° to 31°the average width of the overflowed land may be estimated at 20 miles; from lat. 31° to the efflux of the La Fourche, a little above lat. 30°, the width is about 40 miles. All the country below the La Fourche is overflowed. The whole extent of lands thus inundated is 8,340 square miles; and if to this be added 2,550 square miles for the inundated lands on Red river, the whole amount in the state will he 10,890 square miles. It must not be imagined, however, that this extensive tract is one continued sheet of water. It is rather intersected by innumerable canals and lakes, which, interlocking in a thousand mazes, chequer the whole face of the country. The area actually submerged is estimated at only 4,000 square miles. It is remarkable that the banks of the Mississippi, and several of its branches, are considerably elevated above the level of the adjacent country. This is occasioned by a more copious deposi

tk>n of mud along the margins of the rivers than at a distance* from them. Hence it happen!) that all these rivers are skirted with a rich border of alluvial land, from 41)0 yards to a mile and nn half in breadth, while the surface in the rear is covered with, lakes and impassable swamps.

Levees.] The fenile tracts of alluvial land, which everywhere border the shores of the Mississippi, have given rise to an artificinl work of great extent, for confining it* stream, and for securing1 the country from the effects of its inundations. This work is an embankment on the margin of Jhe river, called the Levee. It is usually about 5 feet high, and 12 at the base,-with sufficient width at the top for a foot path. A-S there is no stone to be bad, the only material used is a soft clay with cypress staves placed next the river, and the whole covered with earth, and sodded. Every individual is required to keep up the levee in front of his own land, and before the season of high water, it is inspected by commissioners appointed for the purpose in each parish. During the continuance of the floods the levees demand the most vigilant attention ; they must be continually watched, and all hands are often drawn from the fields to guard them for whole days and nights.

A crevasse is a breach formed in the levee by the waters of the river in time of inundation. A crevasse, says Mr. Brackenridge. 11 rushes from the river with indescribable impetuosity, and with a noise like the roaring of a cataract, boiling and foaming, and tearing every thing before it. When a crevasse occurs, the inhabitants, for miles above and below, instantly abandon every employment, and hasten to the spot, where every exertion is made, day and night, to stop the breach, which is sometimes successful, but more frequently, the hostile element is suffered to take it* course. The consequences are, the destruction of the crop and the buildings, and sometimes the land itself is much injured, the current carrying away the soil, or leaving numerous log* and trees, which must be destroyed before the land can again be cultivated."

On the east side of the Mississippi, the embankment commences about 60 miles above New-Orleans, and extends down the river for mire than 130 miles. On the west shore it commences at Point Coupee, 172 miles above New-Orleans. It i* here that the navigator in descending the river emerges from n gloomy wilderness, presenting detached settlements at ions; and tedious intervals, into beautiful and finely cultivated plantations. On the side of this elevated, artificial bank, is a range of neatly built house*. appearing like one continued village as far as the city of New Orleans.

Soil and Productions.] The parts of the state which have been brought under cultivation are almost exclusively the narrow strips of rich alluvial land on the banks of the Mississippi, ibe Te.che, Red river, and Ouachita. The staple productions are cotton, sugar, and rice. Tobacco and indigo could be a* extensively cultivated as cotton, but they do not afford the same*profit. On the batiks of the Muwtssippi, La Fourcbe, the Teebt and the yermJI'-j«, below lat. 30° 12 N. wherever the soil is elevated above the annual inundation, sugar can be produced; and the lands are generally devoted to this crop. In all other parts of the stale cotton is the staple. The best districts for cotton are the banks of Red river, Ouachita, Tecbe, and the Mississippi. Rice ia more particularly confined to the bank*of the Mississippi, where irrigation can be easily performed. The quantity of land within the state, adapted to the cultivation of the three staples, has been estimated as follows: B*igar, iMi.Ooy acres; rice, 250,000; cotton, 2,400,000. Some of the sugar planters have derived a revenue in some years, of $1,000 from the labor of each of their hands; from $600 to $750 is the ordinary calculation. The amount of sugar made in Louisiana in 1810, was about 10,000,000 lbs; in 1814, not less than lf»,000,000; and in 18.17, 20,000,000, or nearly one third of the whole amount consumed ip the United States.

jfntmab-] The extensive prairie lands in the southwestern part of the state, embracing the county of Opelousas, and the greater part of Attakapas, are most admirably adapted to the rearing of cattle, and hare hitherto been u«ed almost exclusively for that purpose. From this region the rest of the state is supplied with beef, batter and cheese. Many of the wealthy planters on the Tecbe and Vermillion have stock farm* on Mennentau and Calcasiu rivers, and count their cattle by the thousand. The lakes near the mouths of Calcasiu and Sabine rivers are the retreat of immense docks of wild geese and ducks, during the winter aeasoo.

Chief Towiu.] A'ew-Orltans, the capital of the state, is on Use east (tank of the Mississippi, 90 miles from its mouth in a direct line, and 105 by the course of the river. The city is regularly laid out,- the streets are generally 40 feet wide, and cross each other at right angles. On the streets near the river the houses are principally of brick, but in the back part of the town, of wood. The buildings have no cellars, except the vacancy formed between the ground and the lower floors, which are raised 5 or 6 feet from the earth. The tornadoes, to which the conntry is subject, will not admit of the buildings being carried up many stories, as in other cities. Among the public buildings are an arsenal, a custom house, a hospital, a Catholic college, a female orphan asylum, two theatres, 5 banks and several churches for Catholics, Presbyterians and Episcopalians.

The city is admirably situated for trade, near the mouth -of a noble river, whose branches extend for thousands of miles in different and opposite directions. It is already one of the greatest emporium* ol commerce in America, and since steam-boat oovigatioo has been »ucce*sfully introduced on the Mississippi, it promise* to become, at no distant day, one of the roost commercial and populous places in the world. The river in front of-the city is crowded with boats from Kentucky, Tennessee, Missouri, Ohio, and even from Pennsylvania and New-York. The population has increased with great rapidity. In 1802 it was estimated at 10,000; in 1810, it mi 17,242; and in 1820, 27,176, of whom, 7,*35were flavcs, and 6,237 free blacks.

jVatchitoches, pronounced Xakitosh, the largest town in the •talc west of the Mississippi, is on the west bank of Red river, 200 miles above its junction with the Mississippi. The French established it as a military post in 1717, and about one third of the inhabitants at present are of French origin- In the neighborhood are salt springs from which the settlements on Ked river are supplied with this mineral. Alexandria, in the parish of Rapide, is a flourishing settlement on the right bauk of Red river, 120 miles from its mouth and 80 below Natchitoches. Baton Rouge, in east Baton Rouge parish, is on the east bank of the Mississippi, 15 miles above the efflux of the Iberville, and 14U above New-Orleans. Si. Francirville is a flourishing settlement in Feliciana parish, on the Mississippi, 30 miles above Baton Rouge. Madisonville, in St. Tamany parish, is 27 miles north of New-Orleans, on the small river Cbefuncti, two miles from Hbe point where it discharges itself into lake Pontchartrain.

History.] Louisiana was first settled by the French in 1699. In 1803 the whole country from the Mississippi to the Rocky mountains was purchased by the United States for about $15,000,000. Soon after the purchase, the present slate of Louisiana was separated from the rest of the territory, under the name of the Territory of Orleans. In 1811 the territory of Orleans was made a state, and admitted into the Union, under the name of the state of Louisiana- In 1812 the United States took possession of West Florida, and the part west of Pearl river wit incorporated with the state of Louisiana. In December, ISit. the British made an attack on New Orleans, but were repulsed by the Americans under General Jackson, with the Iota of about 3,000 men, killed, wounded and prisoners. The loos of tlte American army is stated at only seven men killed and six wounded.

Population and Religion.] In 1810 the population was 7fN55£, to which may be added 10,000 as the population of that part of West Florida which was annexed to the state in 1812. In 1820 the whole number was 153,407, of whom 69,064 were slave*, and 10,476 free blacks. Two thirds of this population is settled immediately upon the banks of the Mississippi. In the upper settlements the inhabitants are principally Canadians; in the oiklillr, Germans; and in the lower, French and Spaniards. A few years since the inhabitants were principally Roman Catholics. In lH\i there was not one Protestant church of any denomination in the state. Since that time many have been formed, and the constant introduction of emigrants from the north is effecting a rapid reio* lution in all the institutions of the country.

Stale of Society.] In journeying from New-Orleans to the month of Sabine river,we meet with men in every stage of civilization. In New-Orleans, and other places on the banks of lb« Mississippi, the sugar and cotton planters live in splendid edifices and enjoy all the pleasures that wealth can impart In AtUkapas

i the pieasi
sas, the gl

and Opelousas, the glare of e(pensive luxury vanishes, aad is

« PreviousContinue »