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Louisiana: Pelican State

CAPITAL: Baton Rouge
JOINED UNION: April 30, 1812
MEANING OF STATE NAME: Named in honor of France's King Louis XIV
1992 POPULATION: 4,287,195
LAND AREA: 43,566 square miles
ECONOMY: Tourism, oil and petroleum, agriculture, commercial fishing, food products (Cajun
food is the hot new item)
HISTORY: Land of the Choctaw and Atakapa Indians, Louisiana was explored by Spaniards Pineda and de Soto in the early 1500s. In 1682, LaSalle claimed the region for France and the first permanent settlement was established by the French in 1699. Spain regained control of the area in 1763, returned it to France in 1800, which then sold it to the U.S. in 1803 as part of the Louisiana Purchase. French influence is strong in Louisiana with Creoles, descendants of the French-Spanish settlers, and Cajuns, descendants of French-Canadians (Acadians) who, in 1755, settled the bayous, or swampy areas, of the region. Louisiana was part of the Confederacy during the Civil War. Today, New Orleans hosts America's most festive Mardi Gras celebration and, along with the city's jazz heritage, draws many tourists each year.

Melting Pot Music 1923


Just as New Orleans is the home of gumbo, a spicy stew that blends many ethnic foods, so it is also the home of jazz, music that combines sounds of very diverse origins.

Before and after the Civil War, New Orleans was the most cosmopolitan of southern cities. This is where "ragtime" music developed -- a blend of parlor, Creole, and Cajun songs -- as well as Caribbean and church music, with some brass band marches thrown in as well. This spicy music later became known as "jass" or "jazz." This music was popular all over America at the turn of the century.

Another form of jazz developed at the same time, and this form is complex and based on individual improvisational styles of players blended into one sound. King Oliver's Creole Jazz Band, pictured here, is considered one of the first true jazz bands. Playing in Oliver's band was the young Louis Armstrong, shown in front with a slide trumpet.

The jazz style of music became so popular that bands across America, and later the world, adopted it. Writer F. Scott Fitzgerald called the 1920s the "Jazz Age." Jazz was identified with youth, sex, liquor, and a free style of living. Today, rock 'n' roll symbolizes much of this, but jazz remains a sophisticated and rich form of music whose masters are revered around the world.

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