Period : Directory / 1st Empire
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This timeline forms part of our close-up on: the Louisiana Purchase.



25 August

Le Moyne de Bienville founded the city of Nouvelle-Orléans (New Orleans), named after the Duc d’Orléans, regent during period when Louis XV was too young to reign. Discovered by the Spanish in the 16th century, Louisiana was explored a century later by the Frenchman, Robert Cavalier de la Salle (1643-1682). He gave this land to the French king as a present. In 1699, Pierre Le Moyne de Bienville (1680-1768) took possession of Louisiana in the name of the King of France, becoming the first governor of the province in 1715.


The “Pacte des familles” (the Pact of the Families), a defensive alliance between the Bourbons of Spain, France and Naples, against England.



10 February

The Treaty of Fontainebleau, signed by England, France and Spain marking the end of the Seven Years War: France ceded to England Canada and all the territories east of the Mississippi, not however including the region of Nouvelle-Orléans. By a secret clause, France ceded to Spain the territories she possessed west of the Mississippi.



American War of Independence



3 September

Treaty of Versailles: England recognised the independence of her colonies in North America (thirteen states). France regained Saint-Pierre and Miquelon, two small islands near to Newfoundland, and Sainte-Lucie and Tobago in the West Indies.



General Toussaint Louverture (1743-1803), a freed slave, led a slave revolt on Haiti.



Abolition of slavery in the French colony of Saint-Domingue (Santo Domingo or Haïti).



22 July

Franco-Spanish peace Treaty of Bâle: Spain ceded her half of the island of Santo Domingo to France.



18 August
Alliance treaty of San Ildefonso between France and Spain.

30 December
Diplomatic break between France and the US, the beginning of the “Quasi War”.



2 March

French corsairs given governmental permission to attack American vessels.



12 March

France declares war on Austria and Tuscany.



30 September
Treaty of Mortefontaine between France and the US, closing the Quasi War begun three years earlier.

1 October
Secret preliminary treaty of San Ildefonso between France and Spain: France ceded the Grand Duchy of Tuscany to the Spanish heir to the throne, in exchange for Louisiana and the Duchy of Parma. The region of encompassed the modern states of Montana, North and South Dakota, Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Arkansas, Louisiana itself, and parts of Minnesota, Wyoming, and Colorado, in other words about 1.6 million km2.



9 February
Peace of Lunéville with Austria: the left bank of the Rhine returned to France. The Habsburg removed from tuscany was given a principality in Germany in return.

21 March
Treaty of Aranjuez between France and Espagne: confirmation of the preliminaries of San Ildefonso of October, 1800: the Grand Duchy of Toscany was officially transformed into the Kingdom of Toscany (later named the Kingdom of Etruria)

3 July
General Toussaint-Louverture proclaimed a Constitution for Santo Domingo, the work of the Assemblée Constituante on the island, which had begun sitting on 4 February, 1801.

31 August
In Alexandria (Egypt), General Menou (1750-1810) signed the French capitulation to the British: the expedition to Egypt was de facto over.

1 October
Preliminaries for the Peace of London between France and England: France regained her colonies and Britain agreed to leave Malta.

24 October
General Leclerc (1772-1802), Bonaparte’s brother-in-law, was given the order to stifle the desires for autonomy on Santo Domingo; he landed with his troops on 29 January, 1802.



17 February
Toussaint-Louverture was declared an ‘outlaw’ and then arrested 7 June; deported, he was imprisoned on 23 July, 1802, in the Fort de Joux (Jura).

25 March
Signature of the Peace of Amiens between France, Spain and Holland on the one hand and Great Britain on the other (based upon the conditions signed during the London preliminaries of 1 October, 1801). Peace was proclaimed two days later, bringing to a close the 10 years (since 20 April, 1792) that France had been at war.

20 March
Law re-introducing slavery in French colonies.

20 August
Pierre-Clément de Laussat (1756-1835) was appointed ‘préfet colonial’ for Louisiana; he arrived on 26 march, 1803, after having spent two and a half months in the crossing.

20 October
French demands made for Britain to leave Malta, as per the Amiens treaty.

2 November
General Leclerc died of yellow fever on Santo Domingo. Despite the seizure of Toussaint-Louverture, the insurrection on the island continued.



15 February
Lord Charles Whitworth (1752-1825), British ambassador in Paris, confirmed the refusal to leave Malta.

29 March
Bonaparte sent a letter to the King of Spain, Carlos IV, asking him to support French demands from Britain. Charles IV was never to reply to the letter.

30 April
Conclusion of an agreement concerning the cession of Louisiana to the United States, accompanied by two financial agreements; because of delays in the translation of the documents, the official signature of the Louisiana Purchase took place on 8 May. France handing over Louisiana for the sum of 80 millions francs (of which 20 million was to be used to cover French debts to American arms producers who had suffered during the Franco-British war). In terms of land mass, the United had almost doubled in size.

10 November
The British banker Baring, the financier for the United States for the payment of the 60 million francs, tendered a loan at 6% bearing the signature of the United States.

30 November
Spain officially handed Louisiana over to France: the ceremony took place in the Cabildo in Nouvelle-Orléans.

18 December
American troops arrived to take possession of New Orleans.

20 December
Official ceremony giving the northern part of Louisiana to the US.



9 March
Official ceremony giving the southern part of Louisiana to the US.

21 April
De Laussat left New Orleans for Martinique where he had been appointed ‘Préfet Colonial’.



Interest and capital finally totally paid to France by the US.

Irène Delage (April 2003) trans. P.H.

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