Handing the colony of Louisiana back and forth between their empires, the French and Spanish left a legacy that lives in such forms as the architecture of the Vieux Carre and a civil law deriving from the Napoleonic Code. Acadian refugees, German farmers, black slaves and free blacks, along with Italians, Irish, and the "Kaintucks" who helped Andrew Jackson win the Battle of New Orleans added to the state's distinctiveness. Made rich by sugar cane, cotton, and Mississippi River commerce before the Civil War, Louisiana faced poverty afterward. Battles between Bourbon Democrats and Reconstruction Republicans followed, ultimately involving the Custom House Ring and the Knights of the White Camelia. By methods that remain controversial, Huey Long ended "government by gentlemen" with economic transformations other had sought. Gas, oil, and industrialization have additionally "Americanized" the state.
Something of Louisiana's historic joie de vivre remains, however, to the gratification of residents and visitors alike; both will enjoy Joe Gray Taylor's telling of the story.