Pierre Clément de Laussat was the last representative of a foreign power to exercise authority in Louisiana. Appointed colonial prefect by Napoleon Bonaparte, Laussat departed for Louisiana in January 1803 to preside over the formal retrocession of the colony from Spain to France, only to have his mission altered entirely by the Louisiana Purchase on April 30, 1803. These memoirs, covering the period from January 1803 to July 1804, provide a unique firsthand perspective on the momentous transaction that doubled the size of the United States.
Laussat pens very personal observations on Louisiana’s people and customs, Spanish and American officials with whom he had frequent contact, the local physical environment and economic system, and the formalities involved with the transfer of the colony to the United States. Memoirs of My Life furnishes rare insights into culture, politics, and everyday life in early-nineteenth-century Louisiana.
Robert D. Bush, former head of research for the Historic New Orleans Collection, is the author of The Louisiana Purchase: A Global Context and editor of The First Constitution of the State of Louisiana and Observations on the Colony of Louisiana from 1796 to 1802. He was formerly an adjunct professor of history at Front Range Community College in Westminster, Colorado, from which he retired, and is currently living in Wickenburg, Arizona.
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