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Map of the German Coast, 1775 [1]

The German Coast (French: Côte des Allemands) was a region of early Louisiana settlement located above New Orleans on the Mississippi River — specifically, from east to west, in St. Charles, St. John the Baptist, and St. James parishes of present-day Acadiana.[2] The four settlements along the coast were Karlstein, Hoffen, Meriental, and Augsburg. [3] Originally, the Germans settled at the Arkansas Post however the conditions were intolerable. [4] Its name derived from the large population of German pioneers who were settled there in 1721 by John Law and the Company of the Indies. When the company folded in 1731, the Germans became independent land-owners.[5]

Despite periodic flooding, hurricanes, and the rigors of frontier life, the German pioneers made a success of their settlements. Their farming endeavors provided food not only for themselves but also for New Orleans' residents. Some historians credit these German farmers with the survival of early New Orleans.[6]

Engraving of the "Schlacht bei Neu-Orleans" or "Battle of New Orleans" in 1815.

In 1768, they joined with Acadians from the Cabannocé Post area to march on New Orleans and overthrow Spanish colonial governor Antonio de Ulloa. The German and Acadian settlers united again, under Spanish colonial governor Bernardo de Gálvez, to fight the British during the American Revolution.[7]

Most of the German Coast settlers hailed from the Rhineland region of Germany, the German-speaking cantons of Switzerland, and other places today called, Bayou des Allemands and Lac des Allemands (meaning Germans' Bayou and Germans' Lake, in French). Many Germans came from the German-speaking region of Alsace-Lorraine in France, and some from Switzerland and Belgium.[8]

Gradually, the German immigrants intermarried with the Acadians, other French settlers and their descendants, and began speaking French. Together with other settlers, they helped create Cajun culture. For example: German settlers introduced the diatonic accordion to the region, which become the main instrument in Cajun music by 1900.

The German Coast was the site of the largest slave revolt in US history, the 1811 German Coast Uprising. One of the leaders was Charles Deslondes, a free person of color from Haiti, who gathered more than 200 slaves from plantations along the River Road and marched toward New Orleans. The insurgents killed two white men before meeting much resistance, but were not well armed. Ninety-five slaves were killed by the militia or in executions after quick trials.[9]

However, during World War I, the Louisiana state legislature passed Act 114 which made all expressions of German culture and heritage, especially the printed or spoken use of the German language, illegal in the state. [10] [11] [12]

See also


  1. ^ "Course Of The River Mississipi, from the Balise to Fort Chartres. Ross, Lieut. 1775"
  2. ^ Wall et al., Louisiana: A History (Fourth Edition)
  3. ^ Merrill, Ellen C. Germans of Louisiana
  4. ^ Sternberg, Mary Ann. Along the river road: past and present on Louisiana's historic byway
  5. ^ Acadian-Cajun Genealogy and history
  6. ^ "German Americans", University of Louisiana - Lafayette Center for Cultural and Eco-Tourism, accessed 8 Dec 2008
  7. ^, original source: Brasseaux, Founding of New Acadia; Taylor, Louisiana; Wall et al., Louisiana
  8. ^ The German-Acadian Coast Historical and Genealogical Society
  9. ^ "January 8, 1811", African American Registry, 2005, accessed 8 Dec 2008
  10. ^ "Getting to Gemütlichkeit: German History and Culture in Southeast Louisiana"
  11. ^ "Acts of the Legislature By Louisiana"
  12. ^ "Acts Passed By The General Assembly of the State Of Louisiana At The Regular Session Begun And Held In The City Of Baton Rouge On The Thirteenth Day Of May, 1918", Baton Rouge, Ramires-Jones Printing Co., 1918, p188

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