On this day May 7, 1718

Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne de Bienville and the Mississippi Company founded New Orleans, naming the French colonial settlement after Philippe II, Duke of Orléans.

The Mississippi Company was a chartered company first established in 1684, founded at the request of René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle. He had projected it in 1660, and being appointed Governor of Fort Frontenac, at the mouth of the Mississippi River.

In August 1717, Scottish businessman John Law acquired a controlling interest in the then-derelict Mississippi Company and renamed it the Compagnie d’Occident (or Compagnie du Mississippi).

Its initial goal was to trade and do business with the French colonies in North America, which included much of the Mississippi River drainage basin, and the French colony of Louisiana. As he bought control of the company, he was granted a 25-year monopoly by the French government on trade with the West Indies and North America.

In 1718, against the suggestions and advice of everyone else involved, including the Royal Engineers and John Law himself, the company, through Governor Bienville, founded the town of New Orleans.

La Nouvelle-Orléans (New Orleans) was founded on land inhabited by the Chitimacha. The French colony was ceded to the Spanish Empire in the Treaty of Paris (1763) and remained under Spanish control until 1801, when it reverted to French control.

Most of the surviving architecture of the Vieux Carré dates from this Spanish period. Napoleon sold the territory to the United States in the Louisiana Purchase in 1803.

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