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Proclamation to the residents of the Province of Louisiana, December 20, 1803

In this proclamation William Claiborne, Territorial Governor of Mississippi, announced that “Louisiana” was now part of the Union and promised that the U.S. government would protect residents’ rights to liberty, property, and religion. His proclamation was issued in English, French, and Spanish. Claiborne later became the first governor of the Orleans Territory.

…all the military, civil and judicial powers…shall be exercised…for the maintaining and protecting the inhabitants of Louisiana, in the free enjoyment of their liberty, property and religion…

Records of the U.S. House of Representatives, National Archives and Records Administration

Proclamation to the residents of the Province of Louisiana, December 20, 1803 …all the military, civil and judicial powers…shall be exercised…for the maintaining and protecting the inhabitants of Louisiana, in the free enjoyment of their liberty, property and religion…

Creating a National Community

In 1803, the United States bought the Louisiana Territory from France, more than doubling the size of the country and adding new populations with diverse languages and cultures. Residents of New Orleans—of French, Spanish, African, Cajun, and Acadian descent—were apprehensive about the transfer of power. As they sought to learn about their new government, President Jefferson gathered data about Indian nations of the northwest, reaching into present-day North and South Dakota.