After the American Revolutionary War in the 1700s, those soldiers and civilians who had either fought on the side of, or remained loyal to, the British were rewarded for their actions with tracts of land in the nearest crown colony. In order to accommodate this sudden influx of people looking for space, the former subjects of New France, themselves only recently conquered by the British, in the Maritime region of what would become Canada eventually, were displaced from their farms and cast adrift.
With nowhere else to go, these Acadians headed south to the last remaining French colony in North America, Louisiana. Here they not only joined other Francophones, but the closest thing to a multicultural community to be found in the New World at the time. For not only did they find Spaniards left over from its time as a Spanish colony, but ex-slaves from all over the Caribbean, settlers from the British Isles and sailors and pirates from home ports scattered around the globe.
When Jefferson purchased the territory from the French government, and its important access to the Mississippi River from the Gulf, the social order was shaken up as the majority non-anglo/non-white population became second class citizens in keeping with the laws and conventions of its rulers. Of course, having laws and enforcing them are two entirely different matters, so life in places like New Orleans probably continued on much the same as it did before the purchase.
In fact, if the new American government had harboured any hopes of subduing and assimilating the polyglot population of its newest territory, they were sorely mistaken. For not only have the distinct cultures stayed around with only minor variations - Acadians have become Cajuns - they have cross-pollinated and created a culture unique to the region.
While it's doubtful few will remember its true significance as the last big blowout before Lent, Mardis Gras is a reminder of the area's Catholic heritage, and the sounds of France, Spain and Africa can still be heard in the languages people speak and the words that come out of their mouths. However, where the glorious multicultural nature of the region really blooms is in its music. Where else are you going to find a place where music with origins in so many different cultures not only happily co-exists, but has merged and mingled with such ease and wonderful results? While its probably impossible to ever come up with a compilation that would include samples of all the musical influences present in the region, a new disc out on the Honeybee Entertainment label, Louisiana Swamp Stomp, provides listeners with a good indication of the diversity at play.