The present-day state of Louisiana has flown many flags through its existence. The Musee Conti Wax Museum recounted the early days of the area with several tableaux of the founders. From 1682 to 1803, names familiar to Louisiana residents took their turns in shaping the region which would one day become key to doubling the size of the young United States.
The Museum closes on January 31, 2016.
d’Iberville, Bienville rediscover the Mississippi
René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle, and Henri de Tonti proceeded down the Mississippi River in an attempt to identify the route and claim the river and its basin for France in 1682. In 1684, they were unsuccessful in returning to the river via the Gulf of Mexico. Not until 1699 did Pierre Le Moyne d’Iberville and his younger brother Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne, Sieur de Bienville, discover the way back up the river to find the letter left by Tonti with local Native Americans. The moment is commemorated in this scene.
John Law and the Mississippi Bubble
Bienville chose the site for the city of New Orleans in 1718. Named to honor the Duc d’Orléans, the not-yet-constructed community fell into the center of a scandal when John Law used it as part of a scheme to reconstruct the tattered finances of France. In this recreation, Law (center) explains the plan to the Duke (seated) and Louis Armand de Bourbon, Prince of Conti. The failed plan became known as the Mississippi Bubble.
The Casket Girls come to New Orleans
A smiling sister welcomes a group of immigrant girls to the Ursuline Convent in 1752. The young French women volunteered to come to the New World to wed French soldiers. The small cases or “caskets” they carried contained all of their worldly possessions as they entered their new lives. The cases gave them the nickname of Casket Girls.
Execution of Creole patriots
When France ceded control of the Louisiana territory to Spain in the 1763 Treaty of Paris, the French and Indian War came to an end. French Creoles later rebelled against Spanish authority, leading to an execution of several Creole patriots and the imprisonment of others in 1769.
The Americans come to town
While Louisiana territory was still under Spanish control, American river traders came to market the wares of a young nation in the growing city of New Orleans. When conflicts erupted between the two groups, leaders such as Governor Esteban Rodriguez Miró helped to negotiate peaceful resolutions.
April 7, 1803 marked the day Napoleon announced his decision to sell the Louisiana Territory to the young United States of America. Legend says he shared the decision with his brothers Joseph (standing on the left) and Lucien (seated far right) from his bathtub. Lucien reported in his diary that the butler (standing center) fainted when the brothers began a heated argument about the decision.
Signing the Louisiana Purchase
The United States purchased the Louisiana Territory for four cents an acre on April 30, 1803. Robert Livingston (seated left) and James Madison (standing center) represented the young nation while Francois Barbé-Marbois signed on behalf of France. The momentous meeting took place in Barbé-Marbois’s Paris apartment. The final signatures were added in New Orleans on December 20.