Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

First Advisor

Paul E. Hoffman


Previous histories of the establishment of Spanish rule in Louisiana have centered primarily on its first two officials, Governor Antonio de Ulloa and Captain-General Alejandro O'Reilly. This work focuses on Luis de Unzaga y Amezaga, governor of Spanish Louisiana from 1770 to 1776. It challenges previous interpretations of Unzaga's tenure which have traditionally viewed the Bourbon Reforms as detrimental to the colony and viewed the governor as merely benign and transitional in the colony's history. Comparison of shipping records and governor's records from Cuba and Louisiana indicate that the colony actually maintained the same volume of shipping with Havana that other portions of empire did and that it often received exceptional freedoms unavailable to the remainder of empire. The colonial documents show that Unzaga integrated the colony's economy into the new reforms and that he fostered domestic industry. Treasury records also attest to the governor's stewardship which filled Louisiana's failing coffers. An exploration of the judicial records and correspondence of the post commandants points to a stabilized population re-oriented toward the rule of Spanish law because of the governor's conciliatory diplomacy. Unzaga's abilities also aided in establishing alliances with formerly hostile Indians and maintaining peace with the British under difficult circumstances. This dissertation argues that effective implementation of the Bourbon Reforms in Spanish Louisiana took place not in 1769--1770 with Alejandro O'Reilly, but in the arduous seven-year administration of Luis de Unzaga y Amezaga.