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PURCHASE OF THE LOUISIANA TERRITORY.
and so pre-eminently necessary as that of a free outlet for commerce; so strong, indeed, that the federal government was more than once on the extreme verge of adopting their enterprise, or of forcibly preventing it. Spanish agents are busy here and there; and the well-known Wilkinson is the chief centre of an inextricable net of intrigue, actuated probably by many mixed motives, good and bad. While vexed with the progress of these restless, fearless, and ungovernable Anglo-Americans, the Spanish court is summoned by Napoleon Bonaparte to hand the province of Louisiana over to him. Weak and helpless, it has no resource but to obey. But finding his hands even over-full with the business which his enemies cut out for him on the continent of Europe, Napoleon resolves to give up his scheme of an armed occupation of Louisiana, and negotiates a sale of it to the United States, for sums and payments equivalent in all to sixteen inillions of dollars; and so the formal cession of the province by Spain to France is completed between Governor Salcedo and the Marquis de Casa Calvo, commissioners on the part of Spain, and M. Laussat, French commissioner, November 30th, 1803. The French frame of government was barely instituted, to be superseded; and on the 20th of the following December, Governor William C. O. Claiborne received possession of Louisiana for the United States amidst great display and rejoicing.
Thus, after an intermittent possession during more than a century, counting from the landing of D'Iberville upon the sands of Dauphin Island, and for about a century and a quarter from La Salle's formal ceremony of possession, the French rule in Louisiana came to a definite termination, and the French
population, as well as the small Spanish element, became in form, incorporated with the dominant Anglo-Ame. rican race. But even at this present writing, the French Creoles are the mass of population in many of the Louisiana parishes, and among them the French tongue and many French customs and characteristics, are so affectionately and carefully maintained, that they are yet a peculiar, though a peaceful and law-abiding people. A large section of New Orleans itself is inhabited almost exclusively by Creoles; the local laws of the State yet contain a very decided, if not predominant, infusion of the old Roman jurisprudence transferred from the Corpus Juris Civilis, the Pandects and the Code of Justinian, through the French codes, to the State statute-book; and the laws and public proceedings and records of Louisiana are published in duplicate, in French and English.
Louisiana, as first claimed for France by La Salle, in 1682, under that name (which, however, had been selected and bestowed by “the Great Liar," as the French called Hennepin, a year earlier) is defined in
the procès verbal of the ceremony of taking possession substantially as including the whole valley of the Mississippi and of its tributaries, from the Ohio River to the Gulf. Upon the double cession of this vast territory to Great Britain and Spain in 1763, that portion of the valley east of the river lost the
of Louisiana, which consequently now designated the Mississippi basin west of the river, together with that small district east of it, called the Island of New Orleans, and an unsettled claim over the present State of Texas, to the Colorado River.
Don Bernard Galvez subsequently annexed, by conquest from England, the “Natchez” and “ Baton Rouge” districts, thereby carrying the boundary of Louisiana east of the Mississippi to some distance north of the thirty-first degree of north latitude, and eastward nearly to the present boundary of Georgia.
The subsequent unwilling cession to the United States, of the northern portion of this territory, finally consummated in 1798, and the acquisition of the province by Napoleon, at which time Louisiana east of the river, except the Island of New Orleans, was annexed to Florida, again restricted these limits. Lower Louisiana, upon organization as a territory of the United States, was called the Territory of Orleans, and at last, upon its admission to the Union as a State, the name of Louisiana was conferred upon
territory, some additions being made to it upon the north and east.
The annals of the French occupation of Louisiana contain many of those curious traditions and narratives of adventure and character which lend so deep a tinge of romance to the early days of colonial commonwealths. Indians, Frenchmen, Germans, Spaniards, English, Scotch, Irish, and all manner of halfbreeds and mixed bloods, trading, hunting, fighting, intriguing, wandering or settling, as the case might be, pass in fantastic confusion across the scene, and
, add all the interest of human passions in their tiercest play, to the wild beauty and savage grandeur of the varied landscape of that vast region. Brief relations of some few of these early tales, will both relieve the gravity of the historical narrative, and supply vivid representations of the life and manners of the times, as well as indispensable items towards the full understanding even of the present situation of the country.
The Chevalier D’Aubant, an officer in the garrison at Mobile, observed one day a female of humble dress, yet ladylike carriage, whose features he seemed to have seen before. Reflecting upon the varied sights of his erratic life, he is startled at the idea that the face of the nameless emigrant, who has come to Mobile with the German settlers for John Law's distant grant upon the Arkansas River, is one which he had seen at St. Petersburg. She is, he cannot but
INCIDENTS OF FOREST LIFE.
believe, the same whom in that distant capital he had scen high in place, and surrounded with all the semibarbaric splendor of the court of the great Czar Peter —the wife of the Czarowitz, or heir-apparent, the luckless Alexis Petrowitz, the victim of his brutal father's mad passions. Growing more and more certain of his opinion, he accosts the fair fugitive, yet a delicate and beautiful lady, with chivalrous respect. Confused at the recognition, she yet confesses that he is right; and upon his promise to preserve her secret, she tells him a wild adventurous story; how her halfcrazy husband, the Czarowitz, had so vilely abused her, that as the only effectual escape from him she had pretended death, been actually entombed, and freed from her grave a few hours afterwards, had fled in poverty and obscurity, she scarcely knew whither, from the splendid terrors of her frightful princess-ship. Beautiful she was ; accomplished and good, D’Aubant knew or believed her to be, and his sincere and ardent courtship very speedily prevailed upon her to marry him. He afterwards held various commands in the province, during one of which, at Fort Toulouse, near the present town of Wetumpka, she long occupied a little cabin near the fort, where she used to pass many hours in sporting with the Indian children. She was an attached and faithful wife, and following her husband in his wandering military life to France, and then to the Isle of Bour