Year of Statehood: 1812

Demographics ... Then and Now

Total Population 216,000 4,219,973
Population Per Square Mile 4.8 96.9














Hispanic Origin

American Indian, Eskimo or Aleut

Asian or Pacific Islander














* - 1830 Census Data Not Available

Sources: Historical Statistics of the U.S., Colonial Times to 1970, Bicentennial Edition prepared by the U.S Bureau of the Census; and 1990 U.S. Census

December 31 - Visit to a sugar plantation and interview with Governor Sam Houston

Journal entry about the sugar plantation

Today, 31st December 1831, I went to see a fine sugar plantation 50 leagues from New Orleans on the Mississippi. It employed 70 slaves; the profit, I was told, is about 5 or 6,000 a year, all expenses paid, or 25 to 30,000 francs.

(Tocqueville, p. 252)

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Journal entry about marriage

Paternal Power
Mr. (Richards), mayor of Philadelphia, told me that generally when a father refused to give his consent to his daughter's marriage (a consent which is not required by the laws of many States), and when in consequence she escaped from the paternal roof and married her lover, public opinion almost always pronounced in favor of the daughter against her father, and forced the latter to grant his pardon. For it to be otherwise, the young girl's choice must have fallen on a man absolutely unworthy of her.

(Tocqueville, p. 269)

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Journal entry based on interview with Sam Houston about Native Americans

Conversation with Mr. Houston on 31st December 1831. This man has an extraordinary history. After a stormy and troubled youth he finally settled in the State of Tennessee. There his natural talents and no doubt also his obscure origin won him the people's votes. He had been elected Governor of the State.

At this time he had trouble inside his own family. He complained about his wife; others say that he behaved very badly to her. What is certain is that he left Tennessee, crossed the Mississippi, and withdrew among the Creeks in the district of Arkansas. There he was adopted by one of the chiefs and, it is said, married his daughter. Since then he has lived in the midst of the wilderness.

We met him on the 27th December at the mouth of the White River, where we had stopped to let the Choctaws get off. He was mounted on a superb stallion which had been caught in the prairies between Mexico and the United States. These immense wildernesses are grazing grounds for innumerable herds of wild horses, some of which are captured by the Spaniards or the Indians. Their origin is Andalusian, the horse, as is known, not being an animal native to America. Mr. Houston boarded our boat to go to New Orleans.

Mr. Houston is a man about forty-five years old; the sorrows and exertions of all sorts by which his existence has been beset have as yet left but slight trace on his features; his figure is athletic; everything about him indicates physical and moral energy.

We asked him a great many questions about the Indians, of which these are some:

Q. Have the Indians a religion?
A. Some of them have no belief in the immortality of the soul. But generally the Indians believe in a God who punishes or rewards the deeds of this life in the other world. ...

Q. Have they any form of worship?
A. The Osages, who live on the frontier of Mexico, pray every morning to the rising sun. The Creeks have no worship. It is only in times of great calamity, or before undertaking some great enterprise, that they devote themselves to some public manifestations of worship.

Q. Have you often seen Indian Christians?
A. Seldom. My view is that it is a very bad plan for civilizing the Indians to send missionaries among them. Christianity is the religion of an enlightened and intellectual people; it is above the intellectual level of a people as little advanced in civilization, and so much the slaves of mere material instincts as the Indians. In my view, one should first try to win the Indians away from their wandering life, and persuade them to cultivate the soil. The introduction of the Christian religion would follow naturally on the change that had taken place in their social condition. I have noticed that only Catholicism has been able to succeed in making a durable impression on the Indians. It strikes their senses and speaks to their imagination.

Q. What sort of government have the Indians whom you have seen?
A. Generally a patriarchal government. Birth makes the chiefs. Among the tribes which contact with Europeans has made more enlightened, they are elected.

Q. Have they any law?
A. There is an idea deeply rooted in the minds of all the Indians, which for many tribes makes the only penal code. It is that blood should be avenged by blood; in a word, the law of retaliation; so when a man has killed, he is consigned to the vengeance of the relations of the dead man,
to whom he is handed over.

Q. Does the law of compensation exist among the tribes you have seen?
A. No. The Indians of the South think it a disgrace to accept money as the price of the life of one of their brothers.

Q. The notions of justice of which you speak are very rough. Besides, they only apply to murder. What happens in the case of theft?
A. Theft was absolutely unknown to the Indians before the Europeans introduced among them objects calculated likely to tempt their cupidity. Since then it has been necessary to make laws to prevent theft. Among the Creeks who are beginning to get civilized and have a written penal code, theft is punished by strokes of the whip. It is the chiefs who pronounce the sentence. Adultery by a woman is punished in the same way. Besides, generally the guilty woman's nose and ears are cut. The law of the Creeks also punishes fornication.

Q. What is the status of women among the Indians?
A. A complete servitude. The women have to do all the unpleasant tasks, and live in great degradation.

Q. Is polygamy allowed?
A. Yes. One can have as many wives as one can feed. Divorce too is allowed.

Q. Do you think that the Indians have great natural intelligence?
A. Yes. I do not think they yield to any other race of men on that account. Besides, I am equally of the opinion that it is the same in the case of the Negroes. The difference one notices between the Indian and the Negro seems to me to result solely from the different education they have received. The Indian is born free; he makes use of this freedom from his first steps in life. He is left to look after himself as soon as he can act; even a father's power is an imperceptible bond for him. Surrounded by dangers, pressed by necessities, and unable to count on anyone, thus his mind must be ever active to find means to ward off such troubles and to maintain his existence.

This necessity imposed on the Indian gives his intelligence a degree of development and ingenuity which are often wonderful. The ordinary Negro has been a slave before he was born. Without pleasures as without needs, and useless to himse]f, the first notions of existence which he receives, make him understand that he is the property of another, that care for his own future is no concern of his, and that the very power of thought is for him a useless gift of providence.

Q. Is it true that the valley of the Mississippi shows signs of the passage of a race of men more civilized than those who inhabit it today?
A. Yes. I have often come across fortified works which bear evidence of the existence of a people who had reached a fairly high state of civilization. Whence did that people come? Whither did it vanish? There is a mystery there. But one cannot doubt that it existed, and nothing indicates that
the Indians of our day are the remnants thereof. The most probable view seems to me that they were Mexicans who in old days came and settled in the valley of the Mississippi.

Q. Could you give me any information about the line the American Government takes with the Indian tribes?
A. Yes. Very easily. There were and there still are within the Southern parts of the United States, several half-civilized Indian nations whose position vis-a-vis the governors of those States is equivocal, and who hold up the development that might take place in that part of the Union. Congress therefore, as much in the interests of the States of the South as those of the Indians themselves, has conceived the project of transporting them, with their consent, to country which should always remain essentially Indian land. Its choice fell on the upper part of the district of Arkansas.

The territory which should be inhabited by the Indian nations begins at an imaginary line that you can draw on the map from Louisiana to Missouri, and stretches right up to the frontiers of Mexico and to the vast prairies inhabited by the wandering hordes of the Osages. The United States have bound themselves by the most solemn oaths never to sell the lands contained within those limits, and never in any form to allow the introduction of a white population there. There are already 10,000 Indians in the territory. I think that in time there will be 50,000; the country is healthy and the soil extremely fertile.

Q. Do you think that by this means the Indian race can be saved from the disappearance that seems to threaten it? Do you think that this arrangement will not still be only provisional, and that the Indians will not soon be forced to retreat?
A. No. I think that the Indian tribes of the South will find a refuge there, and that they will civilize themselves, if the government is willing to take trouble to encourage civilization among them. Note that the isolated position in which the Indian tribes will be settled will make it possible to take effective measures to prevent the introduction of strong drink among them. Brandy is the main cause of the destruction of the natives of America.

Q. But do you not think that the tribes foreign to one another will carry on continual internecine war?
A. The United States have among them posts to prevent it.

Q. Do you believe in the possibility of saving the Indians?
A. Yes, surely. Twenty-five years of skilful handling by the government would certainly bring this result about. Several of the tribes of the South are already half-civilized.

Q. What degrees of civilization do you find among these people?
A. At the head of all come the Cherokees. The Cherokees live entirely by cultivating the soil. They are the only Indian tribe that has a written language. After the Cherokees come the Creeks. The Creeks subsist partly from hunting and partly from cultivating some land. They have some definite penal laws and a form of government.

Next I place the Chtokasaws and the Choctaws. One cannot yet say that they have begun to get civilized, but they have begun to lose many of the traits of their savage nature.

The Osages come last of all; they live in continually moving hordes, are almost naked, hardly use firearms at all, and know no Europeans except the fur traders.

The Osages are the last tribe of the South-West which has a treaty with the United States.

Q. But that reserve in Arkansas, of which we were speaking just now, is only intended to receive the Indians of the South. What line has been taken about those of the West and North?

A. The Indians of the West and North do not find themselves surrounded, as do those of the South, by white populations. They border the United States, and are pushed back before them as the latter advance.

(Tocqueville, p. 251)

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January 1

Journal entries written by Tocqueville

Impressions of New Orleans
Arrival at New Orleans. Forest of ships. Mississippi 300 feet deep. External appearance of the town. Beautiful houses. Huts. Muddy, unpaved streets. Spanish architecture: flat roofs; English; bricks, little doors; French: massive carriage entrances. Population just as mixed. Faces with every shade of color. Language French, English, Spanish, Creole. General French look, but all the same notices and commercial announcements mostly in English. Industrial and commercial world American. Visit to Mr. Mazureau.

We fall into the midst of children, sweets and toys. To the theater in the evening. Le Macon. Strange scene presented by the auditorium: dress circle, white; upper circle grey. Colored women very pretty. White ones among them, but a trace of African blood. Gallery black. Stalls: we felt we were in France; noisy, blustering, bustling, gossiping, and a thousand leagues from the United States. We left at 10 o'clock. Ball of the quadroons. Strange sight: all the men white, all the women colored or at least with African blood.

Only link produced by immorality between the two races. A sort of bazaar. Colored women destined in a way by the law to concubinage. Incredible laxity of morals. Mothers, young children, children at the ball. Yet another fatal consequence of slavery. Multitude of colored people at New Orleans. Small number in the North. Why?

Why of all the European races in the New World is the English race the one that has most preserved the purity of its blood, and has mixed the least with the native peoples? Apart from the strong reasons depending on national character and temperament, there is special cause for the difference. Spanish America was peopled by adventurers drawn by thirst for gold, who, transplanted alone to the other side of the Atlantic, found themselves in some sort forced to contract unions with the women of the people of the land where they were living. The English colonies were peopled by men who escaped from their country from reasons of religious zeal, and whose object in coming to the New World was to live there cultivating the land. They came with their wives and children, and could form a complete society on the spot.

(Tocqueville, p.165)

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"24 Hours in New Orleans"

We had if I am not mistaken, twenty-one letters [of introduction] for New Orleans. It would indeed be a difficult task to put all this formidable correspondence in order, and to classify each letter according to the importance of the person to whom it is addressed. But we are among those who think that, however much of a hurry one is in, one cannot make too many sacrifices in favor of logic.

Having settled the order, we directed our steps towards the house of Mr. Mazureau who had been described to us as the eagle of the New Orleans bar, and who speaks French, an advantage we had come to appreciate during our travels. We had a thousand troubles and wasted endless time in finding his house, the houses being unnumbered, or the numbers not following at all; 2 came before 1 and 10 followed 90. That is an arithmetic in use by the corporation of New Orleans to which we were not yet accustomed. Besides that served to give us a true respect for the Consul; to be able actually to conceive of good government in a city where the stranger cannot find his way!

We arrived at last. The Negro who opened the door for us and of whom we asked if we could see Mr. Mazureau, looked fixedly at us at first without seeming to understand us. Finally he said to us:

"How! Sir, today?"

"Yes, certainly fellow, why not?"

There was a fair amount of energy in our answer, but not a word of argument: but the slave seemed convinced, and lowering his head in a submissive way, opened the drawing room door.

The eagle of New Orleans, wrapped up in his dressing gown, and sitting beside what in Louisiana is called a French fire-place, and in France would be called a rustic one, was at that moment receiving the congratulations of his family united around him. One could see his children, grandchildren, nephews, first cousins once removed, even cousins' children, sweets, jam, toys, the whole family picture complete. It was only left for us to register emotion, to cry even with feeling as all the eighteenth-century philosophers do in their books. Joy seemed to reign in every face, concord in every heart. We are such good friends on the day of new year gifts!

For ourselves, we stopped struck with astonishment at the sight. Finally a ray of light reached even us. We understood the embarrassment of the Consul, the astonishment of the Negroes, those good Negroes whom we had treated as churls. To bring a letter of introduction on New Year's Day! What unseemly behavior! Alas! where is the happy time when I would sooner have forgotten my own name than the advent of the 1st of January!

At the sight of his unwelcome visitors, Mr. Mazureau got up quickly and came towards the door, enveloping in the eddies of his dressing-gown two grandchildren who, lost in the middle of this dark labyrinth, let out piercing cries in our direction. In our haste we upset I do not know how many of the toys that covered the floor and made a cardboard dog bark, which set a real pug barking and dashing for our legs. Finally we did meet in the middle of the sitting-room and expressed our mutual pleasure at making each other's acquaintance.

(Pierson, p. 625)

Interview with Etienne Mazureau
Conversation with Mr. Mazureau, one of the leading lawyers in Louisiana

Q. Before you came under American rule, did you have any of the forms of free government?
A. No.

Q. Was the change from complete subjection to complete freedom difficult?
A. No. Congress has been careful to give us independence by degrees. At first its rule was almost as absolute as that of our old Governors. Then it gave us the status of a territory. Finally it incorporated us int he Union as an independent State. We get on in that capacity as well as the other States in the Union, although the majority are still Creoles.

In my view Congress could even have done without putting us through an apprenticeship. A small State, placed as we were, is always able to govern itself. Hardly any of the troublesome consequences of the sovereignty of the people are to be feared in small societies.

Q. Do you think that in Louisiana the whites could cultivate the land without slaves?
A. I do not think so. But I was born in Europe and arrived here with the ideas you seem to have on that point. But experience has seemed to me to contradict the theory.

I do not think that Europeans can work the land, exposed to this tropical sun. Our sun is always unhealthy, often deadly. It is not that I think it completely impossible to work. But the white, to escape death, is bound to work in such a limited way that he can only barely gain his living. We have an example in the district of Arkapas; Spain formerly sent peasants from the Azores to this part of Louisiana, and they settled there and have remained without slaves. These men work the soil, but so little that they are the poorest people in Louisiana.

Q. But might not their poverty be attributed to their laziness rather than to the climate?
A. In my view the climate is the chief reason.

Q. People say that at New Orleans one finds a mixture of all the nations?
A. That is true. Here you see a mixture of all the races. There is not a country of America or of Europe that has not sent us some representatives. New Orleans is a sample of all the peoples.

Q. But amid this confusion which race dominates and sets the pace for the rest?
A. The French race up till now. It sets the tone and shapes manners.

Q. Are the ravages of yellow fever here as bad as said?
A. I think people exaggerate the evil. My experience indicates that of ten foreigners who live sensibly and do not allow themselves excesses of any sort, only two die. I speak of people who do not have to work with their hands to live. For of the same number of working-class men who spend the day in the open air, perhaps seven or eight would succumb. Besides you know that yellow fever is confined to the town of New Orleans. Two miles above or below no one ever has it.

Q. What is the lot of the Negroes in Louisiana?
A. Fairly pleasant. Severity towards the Negroes is exceptional. The condition of the Negroes has singularly changed during the last twenty years. Time was when they lodged in wretched huts which gave them, one may say, no protection from bad weather; their clothing was a blanket, and for food they were given a barrel of corn (containing about two bushels) for the month. Now they are generally fed enough and given proper clothes and healthy quarters.

Q. Does the law protect their lives?
A. Yes. I remember while I was Attorney General having a master condemned to death for killing his slave.

Q. People say that at New Orleans one finds a mixture of all the nations?
A. That is true. Here you see a mixture of all the races. There is not a country of America or of Europe that has not sent us some representatives. New Orleans is a sample of all the peoples.

(Tocqueville, p. 165)

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