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The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
VOLUME XVIII. Later National Literature, Part III.

XXXI. Non-English Writings I

§ 26. The Beginnings of Louisiana

To furnish an account of the French literature of Louisiana is not a simple task. The facts that are known concerning the lives of many of the writers, particularly in the early periods, are few or none. Nor is there any complete collection of the works which comprise this literature; unique copies of important books repose in private libraries, or lie moulding in the cellars of old Creole homes.

The beginnings of Louisiana were wholly French. The colony was founded by Iberville at Biloxi, in 1699. The immigrants during the following century were for the most part well-bred, and spoke the best French; during that century it was customary for the more favoured sons to return to France for their education, so that the colony kept fairly abreast of the parent civilization. Louisiana was ceded to Spain in 1762, and although Spanish thus became the official tongue, French continued as the language of society. When the territory was purchased by the United States in 1803, French was still almost universally spoken. Not until the middle of the nineteenth century was English the more generally employed.