1759 - France cedes Louisana to Spain

French territories first explored by LaSalle and ceded to Spain for safe keeping during the Seven Years War

          After loosing the French and Indian War, France quickly ceded its territory in the 'new world' to Spain for safekeeping from Great Britain.

          This surreptitious cession sets up the secret treaty of San Illdefonso, 41 years later, the precursor to the French treaty with the United States in 1803 in which Napoleon Bonaparte - acting without the prior approval of his government or the king of Spain, sold the rights to govern the Louisiana Territory (very little land came with this sale) to the new American republic.

Single Panel Napoleon Bonaparte Took Louisiana Back From Spain Thumbnail

       Spain agreed to return the Louisiana territory to France in the secret treaty of San Ildefonso on the contition that Napoleon promise that he would never cede it to the United States.  After agreeing to those conditions he ceded the land to the American people two years later in a treaty that was both unlawful in execution, and deeply misunderstood by the American people in practice.  The treaty recognized the Native American Indians as the owners of the Lousiana Territory, and ceded only the lands beneath the towns of New Orleans and St. Louis to the United States government.  The treaty with Napoleon gave the U.S. government the right to govern the lands reaching to the Rocky Mountains, but reserved the right of ownership to the Indian nations.  When settlers began to clammor for 'national expansion' to the Pacific Ocean in the 1840s, politicians in Washington D.C. were astonished to discover that the United States did not own the lands of 'Lousiana,' and in order to acquire those lands for settlement, it would have to enter into treaty agreements with dozens of American Indian tribes.  In many respects, it was these gross distortions, compounded by a 'rascal citizenry' that led to depredations of Indian resources and the Indian Wars and the geocide of the American Indian people and tribal culture in the later half of the 19th century.