Louisiana Day a time for celebration

Today, April 30, is a momentous day in Louisiana and United States history.

It was on this day in 1803 that the United States officially purchased Louisiana from Napoleon’s France. It was also on this

day in 1812 that Louisiana was admitted to the Union as the 18th state.

The Louisiana Purchase added many

of the Southern, Midwestern and Western states to the United States.

President Thomas Jefferson

saw a bargain, and snapped it up, when Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte

offered to sell Louisiana for just 50 million Francs ($11,750,000)

and cancellation of debts amounting to 18 million Francs

($3,250,000) for a total of $15 million. The deal encompassed 828,000

square miles of territory, which included all or parts of 15

future states and two Canadian provinces. That was a cost of

just 4 cents an acre.

The admission of Louisiana to the

Union on April 30, 1812, was also of critical military importance for

the U.S. Just two

month’s later, on June 18, Congress declared war on the British

Empire. That was the beginning of the War of 1812, the last

battle of which was the Battle of New Orleans, which was actually a

three-month campaign that stretched from December 1814

to March 1815. The main battle was fought Jan. 8, 1815, at

Chalmette, just south of New Orleans.

The British claimed the Louisiana Purchase was illegal and wanted to seize control of the Mississippi River and detach Louisiana

from the U.S. and make it part of their empire. An American army under Gen. Andrew Jackson, including the Louisiana state

militia, was able to stop the British invasion and save the state and territory for the U.S.

While a peace treaty had already been signed in Europe, that fact was unknown in America at the time of the battle and it

might have been very difficult, and costly, to actually dislodge a successful British army from New Orleans if it had won

the campaign.

We are in the 200th anniversary

year of the Battle of New Orleans, and the Louisiana bicentennial

commission set up to plan

observance of the event is planning many special celebrations to

mark it this year and in 2015. For more information on the

Battle of New Orleans Bicentennial, check out the website at

www.battleofneworleans2015.com.

In spite of the historic importance

of this day in our history, Louisiana Day is not listed as an official

state holiday in

Louisiana Revised Statutes 1:55 for official state holidays for

2014. At one time Louisiana Day was observed and celebrated

in the state, either by custom or law, but it now appears to be

all but forgotten.

The fact is we need to have at least one day of the year when we celebrate the history, heritage and cultures of our beautiful

and magnificent state — Louisiana. Hopefully, in the future, the Legislature will correct this oversight.