Borderlands in transition: Acadian immigration and British merchant networks in Louisiana, 1765-1790.
Kolb, Frances Bailey
Although Spain acquired Louisiana in 1762 to serve as a strategic border against British expansion, Spanish officials faced challenges in their attempt to establish the Mississippi River as an imperial boundary. These challenges included resistance of Acadians immigrating to the colony as well as the expansion of British trade networks into the Lower Mississippi Valley. Acadians settling in Louisiana between 1765 and 1770 resisted Spanish commercial and defense policies, particularly that of forced settlement, as reflected by their participation in local trade networks, and by their interaction with colonial officials, local Indians, and colonists. The disparity between official policy and colonial relations on the ground reveals the ability of groups such as the Acadians to negotiate their place in the colony and eventually influence policy. Contraband trade represented another challenge to Spanish authority during this era of transition. In spite of Spanish commercial policy, Louisiana colonists eagerly engaged in the British and later American trade networks, which gave them access to manufactured goods, flour, and slaves. Between 1765 and 1790, the frequent geopolitical shifts affecting the Lower Mississippi Valley forced nearly constant re-evaluation of Spanish commercial and defense policies at the same time as these shifts created a very fluid moment for residents of the region to negotiate their own balance of power.