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Three decades after Columbus discovered the new world, with the aid of Native Americans, brave and solitary French individuals called coureurs de bois (forest runners) paddled deep into the heart of the new continent. In 1682 Sieur de La Salle traveled by boat down the Mississippi River staking claims along the way in the name of the king. One of the areas La Salle took possession of was the country now know as Louisiana.

In 1714 hostilities were raging on the American frontier with constant raids and reprisals between the French and English. By now, people on both sides of this conflict had realized the stakes were high since they included control over the entire West, including the Mississippi Valley. The French had noted that La Salle had claimed a territory, Louisiana, which included all people and resources located on streams and rivers flowing into the Mississippi River. In 1714 Louis Juchercaude St. Denis founded Fort St Jean Baptiste, which would later be called Natchitoches. Then, making good on La Salle's claim, the French established a military post two hundred miles up the Alabama River and in 1718 they settled in New Orleans.

In 1716 the French, suspecting their rivals intended to seize all of North America, urged the government to hasten the development of Louisiana. The original inhabitants, Iroquois, who favored the British and Algonquian, who favored the French, to their great sorrow found that they had unwittingly carried out imperial policies set by distant European kings that would lead to their destruction. A long struggle for power ensued in and around Louisiana that finally ended on September 8, 1760 when control of Louisiana passed into Spanish hands. Continued struggles eventually returned control to France in 1800. In 1799 President John Adams made peace with France when he signed the Convention of Mortefontaine agreement offered by a new government headed by Napoleon Bonaparte. This not only avoided war with France but opened the way for the purchase of the Louisiana Territory. In 1803 Louisiana formally became a part of the United States, with thriving settlements adding to the surge of growth and development as was experienced from 1717 through 1731.

On April 30, 1812, Louisiana was admitted as a state. It was the eighteenth state to join the Union and William Charles Cole Claiborne was elected as the first Governor. The state grew with sugar and cotton plantations which was aided by the use of steamboats on the Mississippi River. Louisiana seceded from the Union in January of 1861 but after the capture of New Orleans in 1861 by Admiral Farragut, was readmitted to Union in 1868. Today, the Capitol of Louisiana is Baton Rouge. The state bird is the Eastern Brown Pelican and the state flower is the magnolia.