How Did Louisiana Get Its Name?

Ken Lund/CC-BY-SA 2.0

Louisiana is named for King Louis XIV. Rene-Robert Cavelier gave the territory its name in the mid-17th century. In French, the name was La Louisianne. The territory named by Rene-Robert Cavelier, however, is now divided among 15 different states formed from the Louisiana Purchase made by Thomas Jefferson in 1803.

The capital of the state of Louisiana is Baton Rouge. It officially entered into statehood in 1812. It was the first state to emerge from the territory that encompassed the Louisiana Purchase. In terms of land area, it is the 33rd-largest state.

When Thomas Jefferson purchased the Louisiana Territory, he essentially doubled the size of the United States. At the time, France was a dominant force in what now comprises the continental United States. Much of the Louisiana Territory, however, had recently been returned to it by Spain. Jefferson originally sent an envoy to France to inquire about the Louisiana Territory in order to work out a trade agreement. Devastated by the Haitian Revolution, however, France was eager to sell the entire territory to the United States. The price of the Louisiana Purchase totaled less than 3 cents per acre. The purchase is considered one of Jefferson’s greatest accomplishments as president.