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In 1682 La. was named and claimed for France by the Sieur de La Salle. French colonists began arriving after 1700; they founded New Orleans in 1718 and Baton Rouge in 1719, and were joined by Acadians after 1760. Spain acquired La. by the treaty of Paris (1763), but sent few colonists. French culture dominated southern La., where 40 percent of the 11,000 people were slaves in 1769. The treaty of San Ildefonso returned La. to France, which sold it to the US by the Louisiana Purchase. It entered the Union on 30 April 1812.
Anglo-Americans settled northern La. and large numbers of Europeans came to New Orleans. Cotton cultivation predominated in northern La. and sugar planting in the south of the state. In 1860 it had 708,002 people, of whom 47 percent were slaves and 11 percent were foreign-born; it ranked 17th among the states in population, 11th in the value of its agricultural goods, and 22nd in manufactures.
La. became the sixth CSA state on 26 January 1861. In the Civil War, it furnished 55,820 CSA troops and 29,276 USA soldiers (5,224 white and 24,052 black). La. was the site of 566 military engagements. USA forces occupied it after New Orleans was taken (1862).
By February 1864, a tenth of voters had sworn Union allegiance and elected a pro-US constitutional convention, which ended slavery. After white supremacists took over the legislature and passed a strict black code (see black codes), Washington imposed military rule on 2 March 1867, but restored self-government and congressional representation on 25 June 1868. Republican control ended eight-and-a-half years later on 2 January 1877. La. disfranchised most blacks in 1898 and enacted racial segregation after 1900.
In 1900 it had 1,381,625 people, of whom 74 percent were rural, 47 percent were black, and 4 percent were foreign-born; it ranked 23rd among the states in population, 23rd in the value of its agricultural goods, and 22nd in manufactures. From 1920 to 1970, it lost 343,500 out-migrants, mostly blacks moving to northern cities, and its racial composition shifted greatly. During the civil rights movement, its officials engaged in lengthy struggles with federal courts to frustrate school desegregation by token integration and other delaying tactics. The US Department of Justice spent 20 years of litigation (1974–94) before it certified that La. had fully complied with court orders to desegregate its college system. La. ranked as the 20th state by 1990, when its population was 4,219,973 (66 percent white, 31 percent black, 2 percent Hispanic, 1 percent Asian), of whom 69 percent were urban and 2.1 percent were foreign-born. Mining and manufacturing employed 23 percent of the work force.