New Orleans, Louisiana

City: New Orleans

County: Orleans

State: Lousiana

Lat/Long: 29.9500, -90.0667

Founded by the French in 1718, New Orleans is located between Lake Pontchartrain and the Mississippi River, approximately 100 miles from the Gulf of Mexico. Unprofitable as a port, France ceded New Orleans to Spain under the terms of the Treaty of Paris of 1763. Spain returned it to France in 1800, and in 1803, Napoleon Bonaparte sold it to the United States as part of the Louisiana Purchase.

New Orleans was the capital of Louisiana from 1812 to 1849. On January 8, 1815, it was the scene of General Andrew Jackson's victory over the British--a victory that vaulted Jackson's into national prominence, validated American independence, and sparked an outpouring of patriotism and national pride. After the War of 1812, New Orleans became a major commercial transit point for flatboats, keelboats, and steamboats coming down the Mississippi River to meet ocean going vessels. In 1828 and 1831, Abraham Lincoln guided flatboats to New Orleans. By 1840, it dominated the exportation of western produce, and it was the third largest city in the country. Heavy immigration of Irish and Germans and migration of English-Americans from the eastern seaboard states, coupled with the native Creoles, gave New Orleans a cosmopolitan population.

Advent of railroads in the 1850, however, cost New Orleans its monopoly on the hinterland trade, and by 1860, its chief economic activity was the exportation of cotton and sugarcane. New Orleans joined Louisiana in seceding from the Union, and in April 1862, the Union Navy captured the city, and Union troops under General Benjamin F. Butler occupied the city. The Union Army would occupy New Orleans for the remainder of the war.

Gerald M. Capers, "New Orleans," Dictionary of American History rev. ed. (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1976), 5:62-63; "New Orleans," Webster's New Geographical Dictionary (Springfield, MA: Merriam-Webster, 1988), 839; Michael Burlingame, Abraham Lincoln: A Life, 2 vols. (Baltimore, MD: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2008), 1:43-44, 52-53.