No other state has a more varied or colorful past than Louisiana. The state has been governed under 10 different flags beginning in 1541 with Hernando de Soto's claim of the region for Spain. La Salle later claimed it for Bourbon France and over the years Louisiana was at one time or another subject to the Union Jack of Great Britain, the Tricolor of Napoleon, the Lone Star flag of the Republic of West Florida and the fifteen stars and stripes of the United States. (louisiana.gov).
As the United States spread across the Appalachians, the Mississippi River became increasingly important as a conduit for the produce of America’s West (which at that time refered to the land between the Appalachians and the Mississippi). Since 1762, Spain had owned the territory of Louisiana, which included 828,000 square miles, and which now makes up all or part of fifteen separate states between the Mississippi River and the Rocky Mountains. Friction between Spain and the United States over the right to navigate the Mississippi and the right for Americans to transfer their goods to ocean-going vessels at New Orleans had been resolved by the Pinckney treaty of 1795. With the Pinckney treaty in place and the weak Spanish empire in control of Louisiana, American statesmen felt comfortable that the United States’ westward expansion would not be restricted in the long run.
This situation was threatened by Napoleon Bonaparte’s plans to revive the French empire in the New World. He planned to recapture the valuable sugar colony of St. Domingue from a slave rebellion, and then use Louisiana as the granary for his empire. France acquired Louisiana from Spain in 1800 and took possession in 1802, sending a large French army to St. Domingue and preparing to send another to New Orleans. Westerners became very apprehensive about having the more-powerful French in control of New Orleans; President Thomas Jefferson noted, “There is on the globe one single spot, the possessor of which is our natural and habitual enemy. It is New Orleans.” Source: Office of the Historian, U.S. Department of State