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State Research Guide: Louisiana
Follow your roots back to the bayou — here's help pursuing your Pelican State ancestors.

Throughout Louisiana's history, American Indians, Spanish, French, British, Africans, Germans, Anglo Americans, Irish, Italians and others have created the cultural mix that gives the Pelican State its distinctive character. European settlement began in the late 17th century as Spain, France and Great Britain vied to realize their dreams of wealth and empire in the New World. The earliest permanent European settlements within Louisiana's present boundaries were Natchitoches (1714) and New Orleans (1718). In 1763, after the Seven Years' War, France gave up its extensive American claims. Spain ended up with French lands west of the Mississippi River, including Louisiana; Britain got the piece of Louisiana east of the river.

France's Napoleon secretly arranged in 1800 to get Louisiana back from Spain, but American negotiators convinced him to sell it. Then in 1803, the United States acquired the vast Louisiana Purchase for $15 million, about 3 cents an acre. The land at its southernmost tip became the state of Louisiana in 1812.

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