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Antebellum Period

The Antebellum period started when Louisiana joined the Union on April 30, 1812 and ended as it left to join the Confederacy on March 21, 1861.
On entering the Union, the state's population stood at 80,000 with around 35,000 slaves included in that figure. In that same year, America was at war with Britain to defend its territorial waters and in 1815, Andrew Jackson successfully defeated the British army in what became known as The Battle of New Orleans.

The city of New Orleans had become the focal point for entertainment and commerce, a place for power hungry politicians and wealthy businessmen to meet and prosper.
Duels were not uncommon, with many reputations and lives ended by either swords or pistols.

This period witnessed the birth of daily newspapers and the evolving science of photography.

In 1835, the US Mint was installed in New Orleans and the first Mardi Gras was held that same year. The original Mardi Gras Krewe, the Mistick Krewe of Comus, was formed in 1856.

Paddle steamers arrived in New Orleans and became a common sight as they navigated the mighty Mississippi River.

At the turn of the 19th century, women's underwear was introduced and dresses were generally made of light cotton. Over the decades, Paris fashions influenced the styles of the colonies and puffy sleeves, narrow waists and whalebone or steel frames were favored by the upper classes. This was the age of the classic Southern Belle.

The architecture of this period is characterized by the neoclassical and Greek revival styles incorporated in the majority of plantation mansions. Many remain to this day, offering the public an insight into the beauty and hardships of plantation life.

At the end of the Civil War, many plantation owners fled the area, along with their possessions and the land came under new ownership, the large buildings often discarded and left to decay.

The reconstruction of the South witnessed unwanted attention from the North, unsettled politics and a change in attitudes regarding color and ethnicity.

 

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