Latest draft of paper proposal

Proposal Calvin Sherwood
History is affected by many factors, from battles to natural disasters, but the strongest influence left for future generations to view and appreciate comes from immigration. Mass movements of people transform and change everything from sheer demographics to cultural and social norms. Over time, they can reveal how a certain region evolved to its present status while retaining certain unique aspects. A perfect example is colonial Louisiana, where the survival of the colony often depended upon new migrant groups to tame and settle new lands. This proposal will concentrate on the different immigrant groups that settled the region in its earliest days, before the Louisiana Purchase, and what immediate cultural and ethnic ramifications their settlement meant for the colony.
Although that current topic is fairly broad and will need to be broken down, at this point it helps link together certain periods in early colonial history in Louisiana. From the Franco phonic Germans who settled in the early years of the colony, to the Acadian immigration wave following their expulsion from Canada, immigrant groups have contributed in the making of such a unique and diverse colony. The focus of this topic will analyze which demographic group remained the largest influence on Louisiana colonial culture. Initially, one expects to find differing results in the region, depending on records can turn up on the varying waves and movements of migration.
The most important primary sources, are statistics on migration patterns. into the colony and it is best if they follow where the different groups settled. So far, documentation providing such data is sporadically dispersed and confined mostly to secondary sources referencing them for their own arguments. However, this provides a picture for a starting point. The best primary source at the moment would be a map of the city of New Orleans in the 1740’s, which depicts the small initial population size of the city (just like the rest of the colony), making it very easy to be molded and influenced by waves of settlers, who were always in high demand. Secondary sources have been more helpful so far, especially a demographic research on Creole immigration from Haiti in the 1790’s by Nathalie Dessens; this article provides a clear sense of how important Free Men of Color were in preserving the supposedly ‘white French culture’. It also gives important census figures on the population and ethnic backgrounds of the immigrants, which helps understand their role in changing Louisiana’s culture. Another critical secondary source is Brousseaux’s ‘Founding of New Acadia’, whose analysis on Acadian culture and its impact on the rest of Colonial Louisiana documents where the waves of ‘Cajun’s’ settled and mingled with the Creole French. Such information is invaluable in estimating the amount of exchange between the two cultures, and will provide an excellent chance to see how the Acadians fundamentally transform the original Creole traditions.
For this study, tying these demographic changes to key events in the history of the colony will also be essential. The Seven Year’s War, slave rebellions and even slight participation and involvement in the American Revolution are examples in which the cultural and ethnic divisions resulted in political ramifications for the burgeoning colony. In researching the migration patterns into the country, there is substantial proof that French Louisiana was by no means a homogenous, French Creole settlement. It is arguable that from a demographic perspective, the White French Creoles made up one of the least influential groups in Louisiana. They relied so heavily on German, African, Spanish, Acadian and finally American immigrants that the initial ethnic group associated with New Orleans today (white French colonists) sustained greater change from the groups that came to settle there than vice versa. Other than imparting their language upon the region, the different migrant groups that arrived (especially the Acadians and Free Men of Color, as well as the Spanish, who left much more architecture and other tangible legacies behind) brought as much culture into the colony as the original French colonists.
Even today, Louisiana, especially New Orleans, retains a significant mark of diversity that sets it apart from almost anywhere else. This proposal will analyze the influx of immigrants into the new colony, and compare the cultural consequences that each group brought. The colony, though famously Creole French, did not retain its diverse status without much help from many other ethnic groups that left a strong of a legacy woven into the culture.

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