Orleans Territory

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Orleans Territory was a historic, organized territory of the United States formed out of the first subdivision of the Louisiana Purchase. Orleans Territory is what we today think of as the State of Louisiana; the remainder of the Louisiana Purchase became the District of Louisiana. (The District of Louisiana was later renamed the Territory of Louisiana, and still later, when the Territory of Orleans became the State of Louisiana, the Territory of Louisiana was renamed the Missouri Territory.) Orleans Territory was created on October 1, 1804 by the Organic Act of March 26, 1804, and became Louisiana, the 18th U.S. state, on March 30, 1812.

Orleans Territory was the land south of the Mississippi Territory and south of the 33rd parallel, west of the Mississippi River, within the Louisiana Purchase.

On April 10, 1805, the Territorial Legislature organized 12 counties (starting from the southeast corner moving west and north): Orleans County, LaFourche County, German Coast, Acadia County, Iberville County, Attakapas County, Pointe Coupée County, Opelouas County, Rapides County, Concordia County, Natchitoches County, and Ouachita County. The "Florida Parishes" on the east bank of the Mississippi were not included, as they were in the Spanish territory of West Florida until they were annexed in 1810. The western boundary with Spanish Texas was not fully defined until the Adams-Onís Treaty in 1819. A strip of land known as the Sabine Free State just east of the Sabine River served as a neutral ground buffer area from about 1807 until 1819.

Leaders and representatives

William C. C. Claiborne was appointed the first and only governor of the Orleans Territory. He later became the first governor of the state of Louisiana. There were two Territorial secretaries, James Brown (1804-1807) and Thomas Bolling Robertson (1807-1811). Daniel Clark became the first Territorial Delegate to the U.S. Congress, in December, 1806.

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