Book Review: Voices from Colonial America, Louisiana

Reading Level

Ages 9-12

Also in This Series

• California
• Delaware
• Georgia
• Massachusetts
• New Jersey
• New York
• Pennsylvania

Also on This Subject

• The 13 Colonies
• U.S. States
• The Making of the 50 States

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One would think that a series on Colonial America would stop with the 13th colony. But here we are with Louisiana, one of the more fascinating colonies with a tapestry of history and economics like no other.

The first thing the reader is greeted with is a period map of the Louisiana Territory, which if we remember, was quite large, many times larger than the present state. The Louisiana Territory doubled the size of the then-United States when it was purchased from France.

The lives, settlements, and standards of both La Salle, Marquette, and Joliet and the Choctaw and Chickasaw are given nearly equal weight. This is a good thing because the Native American tribes were living there long before the Frenchmen arrived to explore. What is also welcome is more than a passing to the brother explorers Bienville and Iberville, who are every bit as important in the development of Louisiana as are Marquette and Joliet.

The introduction of African slaves, always a touchy subject, is handled delicately here. The Louisiana Territory thrived in its later years thanks to a continual influx of slaves. The book includes a sidebar on the famous "Black Code" as well.

The war between European powers—in this case, France and Spain—is not at all glossed over; rather, it is given star treatment. The political upheaval that shaped the Louisiana Territory in the years leading up the French and Indian War is explored in good detail, as are the lives and influences of the various governors of the Territory.

One last welcome topic is the effect of the Revolutionary War on the Louisiana Territory and New Orleans in particular. New York, Massachusetts, Virginia, and South Carolina get all the press because that's where most of the battles were fought; but the war affected Louisiana, too, especially since it was about that time that Spain and France were swapping ownership of it, with France gaining the final possession by a European power.

The timeline at the back of the book helps keep in focus the myriad names, events, and dates that make up the fascinating history of this Territory and state. It is a perfect coda for a smooth-reading, very informative colonial history.

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