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1st French Rule

Spanish Rule

2nd French Rule

US Rule

Armed Forces


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The river Mississippi was discovered by the Spaniards at the beginning of the 16th century. Because no gold was found they did not colonize the region. In 1673 the river was exploited by the french colonies in the north by Joliet and Marquette. They were succeeded in 1682 by René Robert Cavalier, Lord of La Salle who, looking for fur, sailed downstream the Illinois and Mississippi rivers. On 8 March 1682 he arrived in the delta and the same day he took possession of all of the Mississippi river basin for king Louis XIV of France by firing muskets and the erection of a cross.


First French Rule


The region, which was called La Louisiane, became a part of Nouvelle France and was exploited by the Mississipi Company, founded in 1684.


Arms of the Mississippi Company

From: Historische en geographische beschryving van Louisiana, 1721 [1]


The arms of the company were green and showed two Indians supporting a cornucopia, lying on a chest of drawers, pouring water in a sea in base (symbolizing the river Mississippi), and two fleurs de lys, crowned with a crown of three leaves (crown of a marquess) in chief.


In 1712 La Louisiane came into the possession of Antoine Crozat and in 1717 the french West-India Company (Compagnie d’Occident) of John Law became its owner. 

By Letters Patent of Louis XV Commercial priviliges, formerly granted to Seigneur Crozat for Louisiana and to the Seigneurs Néret and Gayot  for Canada were granted now to this Company.

An achievement for the Company was described in art. 54 of the Letters patent. It was:


Arms: Vert with a pile wavy Argent on which is resting a River proper, leaning on a cornucopia Or.

Crown: A crown of five leaves.

Supporters: Two savages proper [2]


Achievement of the Compagnie de l´Occident, founded in 1717.

Archives nationales du Canada. Photo NMC 18252.[3]


Æ See also: The French Companies.


In 1731 the region came under direct royal french rule and accordingly, because Louisiana was formally a part of Nouvelle France ruled by a viceroy, the Royal arms of France were valid in that time.

Seal of the Sovereign Council of New France, Quebec (1742) [4]


Spanish Rule


As a result of its defeat in the Seven Years’ War, France was forced to cede the eastern part of the territory in 1763 to the British, and the western part to Spain as compensation for that country’s loss of Florida.

For the western part the spaniards used the arms of the Compagnie de l’Occident, the chief replaced by the arms of Castile-Leon:


Coat of Arms of the Province of Louisiana. (1786). [5]


This achievement decorated the flags, grenadier caps, and war chests of the third new battalion of the Fixed Infantry Regiment of Louisiana.


Banner of the Spanish Louisiana Regiment, 1786 [6]


Second French Rule


By Treaty of Mortefontaine, signed 30 September 1800, France and the United States ended their alliance which had existed since 1778 for several reasons.

Somewhat prematurely it seems, the room in which the signing took place was decorated with an achievement  which cannot be but a provisional achievement of French America.


Signing of the Treaty of Mortefontaine with the United States 30.09.1800

By Victor Jean Adam (1801-´67), ca 1820

It is:

Arms: Azure, the cypher AF, in base a cock Or.

Crest: A crown of laurel surrounding a pile before a sun radiant proper.

Supporters: Four national flags being of three vertical stripes blue, white and red, two swords and two rifles  in saltire.


We may suppose that the cypher means: Amerique Française.


Another achievement, probably of the High Court of Justice, is also on the wall. This is:


Arms: Azure, the motto HONNEUR PATRIE, in base the Eye of Providence, Or.

Supporters: A republican fasces per pale, hanging therefrom a pair of scales in balance Or.



A later version of this picture, now in the Bibliotèque Nationale in Paris, shows the american flag as used from 1822-‘36 and the flag of France as flown from 1792-’94.




One day later, on 1 October 1800, the western part of the former french possessions in America were regained from Spain at the treaty of San Ildefonso.


For this newly obtained territory an emblem was used showing a lady seated on some merchandise, with a caduceus in het right and a branch of olive in her left hand. On her left a cock and an agave plant, on her right a french frigate.


Seal of the French Colonial Administration of Louisiana 1803
Print reproduced by courtesy of the New Orleans Public Library


Letterhead of the Prefet Colonial de la Louisiana, September 1803

The inscription on the compartment reads: REPUBLIQUE FRANÇAISE. In the upper right corner: Marine Colonies Louisiane


Letterhead on a decree of the Colonial Prefect Pierre Clement Laussat 30.11.1803


U.S. Rule


Strained by obligations in Europe, Napoleon Bonaparte decided to sell the territory to the United States in the Louisiana Purchase of 1803, ending France's presence in Louisiana.


Seal of the Territory of Louisiana


The seal of the short-living (US) Territory of Louisiana showed a landscape with mountains and some enigmatic figures of which an agave plant and a quadruped are recognizable, and the American eagle and 13 stars in chief. [7]


The new owners of the immense territory divided it in 1804 in smaller entities. The part south of 33° latitude became the Orleans Territory. Soon afterwards the emblems of the United States were used there.


American Eagle on a Louisiana Paper, 1810


This part was admitted on 30 April 1812 to the United States as the 18th State with the name of Louisiana.

It is not known when an official seal of the State of Louisiana was adopted. Asked for an impression of the seal  Mr. George Spencer, Assistant Secretary of State writes that “the statute which was passed in the year 1855 has no particular reference to the seal, except that it instructs the Governor to make a suitable seal””.

The seal of Louisiana is described as follows:

“The seal of Louisiana is circular, and one and three-quarter inches in diameter. On its white or silver circular shield is represented a pelican standing on her nest filled with young ones in the attitude of protection and defence, and in the act of feeding them, all sharing alike her maternal assiduity. This device occupies the whole of the shield. Over the head of the bird hang the scales of justice evenly balanced, and a cricle of eighteen stars around the upper part of the shield signifies the number of States in the Union in 1812, at the time of the admission of Louisiana. Over these stars, on the outer edge of the shield, is the motto, ‘Union, Justice, and Confidence,’ and around the lower edge the legend, ‘State of Louisiana;’both the motto and legend are in Roman capital letters, and separated by two white five-pointed stars.” [8]

Of this seal there several versions were used [9]:


On a shield, 1876

Without legend 1886


Without State Name 1893

Motto and state name on bordure.


Great Seal, 1902


© Constantine D

Pelecanus occidentalis - Pelecanidæ

The present Great Seal of the State of Louisiana was adopted as the official state seal of Louisiana in 1902. The seal slightly differs from the seal described above in that the stars are omitted. It shows a Brown Pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis - Pelecanidæ) "in her piety," that is a mother pelican wounding her breast to feed her young from her own blood. This symbol, emblematic of Christian charity, is also found on the Louisiana state flag.


í The pelican was already associated with Louisiana in the 17th-18th century. It is on a picture on a map called “Amplissimæ regionis Mississippi seu provincia Ludovicianæ” of Johann Baptist Homann, explored 1687 and published in Nurnberg, 1759.

This shows the arms of the Mississippi Company, a buffalo between two indians and a pelican below.


Picture on a map of Louisiana, 1687 (1759) [10]


At the initiative of an eighth-grader at Vandebilt Catholic High School in Houma, three drops of blood were depicted on the breast of the pelican. This was decided in April 2006, by House Bill 833/Act 92 of the Louisiana State Legislature.


Æ See illustration in the head of this essay.


Armed Forces


Louisiana State Area Command


Shoulder Sleeve Insignia




On a blue octagon edged with a 32 mm yellow border, the overall dimensions 6.35 cm in height and in width, a white pelican with yellow bill and blue eye, feeding three silver gray young all in a yellow nest. Symbolism

The design is taken from the device used on the Louisiana State Seal and is the crest approved for the regiments and separate battalions of the Louisiana Army National Guard.  The colors yellow and blue are taken from the Louisiana State Flag.


The shoulder sleeve insignia was originally approved for Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment and other nondivisional elements of the Louisiana Army National Guard on 18 June 1969.  It was redesignated for Headquarters, State Area Command, Louisiana Army National Guard on 30 December 1983.  (TIOH Dwg. No. A-1-521)


Distinctive Unit Insignia




A Silver color metal and enamel device 2.86 cm in height overall; on a wreath Or and Azure a pelican in her piety affronté with three young in nest Argent, armed and vulned Proper.


The design is taken from the device used on the Louisiana State Seal and is the crest approved for the regiments and separate battalions of the Louisiana Army National Guard.  The colors yellow and blue are taken from the Louisiana State Flag.


The distinctive unit insignia was originally approved for State Staff and State Detachment, Louisiana Army National Guard on 12 February 1934.  It was redesignated for Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment and noncolor bearing units of the Louisiana Army National Guard on 24 February 1969.  It was amended to change the description on 29 September 1969.  The insignia was redesignated effective 1 February 1983, for Headquarters, State Area Command, Louisiana Army National Guard.






That for the regiments and separate battalions of the Louisiana Army National Guard:

From a wreath of colors, a pelican in her piety affronté with three young in nest, Argent, armed and vulned Proper.


The crest is the charge of the  seal of the State of Louisiana.


The crest was approved for color bearing organizations of the State of Louisiana on 27 May 1924.


Retrieved and copied from:  Louisiana State Area Command




The emblem of the Louisana State Police shows the outline of the map of Louisiana charged with the device and motto of the seal of the state.




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© Hubert de Vries 2013-03-29



[1] Historische en geographische beschryving van Louisiana, gelegen in Noord America, aan de mond van de groote rivier Mississippi. Benevens een berigt van de nieuwe Fransche Indische Compagnie, en eenige aanmerkiningen over den tegewoordigen handel in actien. Met authentieke stukken voorzien. By Paul Jacob Marperger, 1720.

[2] Toussaint, Auguste: Sigillographie de L'Isle de Maurice (1721-1810). Mauritius Archives Publications N°  11. Port Louis, Mauritius, 1970. (- Archiviste en chef de l'Isle de Maurice).

[3] Vachon, Auguste (M.A., C.S.H.C., a.i.h. Héraut Saint-Laurent): des armoiries pour le canada au temps de louis xiv Article publié dans L'Héraldique au Canada, vol. XXV, no 1 (mars 1991), p. 13-17 et vol. XXV, no 2 (juin 1991), p. 6-8. Révisé en juin 2000.

[4] Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec-Centre d'archives de Québec, TL5,D1280,P11. http://www.civilisations.ca/musee-virtuel-de-la-nouvelle-france/colonies-et-empires/administration-et-lieux-de-pouvoir/

[5] España. Ministerio de Cultura. Archivo General de Indias. MP-Escudos, 129 http://online.nmhistorymuseum.org/threadsofmemory/documents/coat-of-arms-of-the-province-of-louisiana.php

[6] Bandera del Regimiento Fijo de Luisiana (1786) Diseño de la banderea del regimiento de Infantería Fijo de Luisiana M.P. Banderas, 4.  In: Gonzáles García, Pedro ed.: Archivo General de Indias. Barcelona/ Madrid 1995. p. 255.

[7] This seal only on: http://www.usgennet.org/usa/mo/county/stlouis/colonial.htm

[8] Zieber, Eugene: Heraldry in America. Published by the Department of Heraldry of the Bailey, Banks and Biddle Company. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1895. Pp. 132-133.

[9] Retrieved from Internet

[10] Detail of the map in the Library of Congress.

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