Louisiana is named for King Louis XIV of France (1643-1715). It was so dubbed in 1682 by French Explorer Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle, the first European to explore the entire Mississippi River region. La Salle used the term to refer to all the lands drained by the Mississippi.
The Louisiana territory east of the Mississippi River was ceded to Britain by France following the French and Indian War (a.k.a. Seven Years War) and the western region was ceded to Spain. Napoleon reacquired the western territory in 1800 and sold it to the United States in 1803. The modern state of Louisiana is but a small portion of the original Louisiana territory, which stretched from the Great Lakes to the Gulf of Mexico and as far west as what is now Wyoming.1
1Webster’s Third New International Dictionary, edited by Philip Babcock Gove (Springfield, MA: Merriam-Webster, 1993), 1339;
Illustrated Dictionary of Place Names, edited by Kelsie B. Harder (New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold Company, 1976), 309.
Copyright 1997-2014, by David Wilton