Pierre-Clément de Laussat

Pierre-Clément de Laussat (23 November 1756 10 April 1835) was a French politician, and the 24th Colonial Governor of Louisiana, the last under French rule. He later served as colonial official in Martinique and French Guiana, as well as an administrator in France and Antwerp.

Pierre-Clément de Laussat
Portrait by unknown artist
1st Governor of French Republic Louisiana
In office
MonarchNapoléon Bonaparte
First Consul of France
Preceded byJuan Manuel de Salcedo
as Spanish Governor of Louisiana
Succeeded byWilliam C.C. Claiborne
as Governor of the Territory of Orleans
William Henry Harrison Sr.
as Governor of the Louisiana District
2nd Colonial Prefect of Martinique
In office
MonarchNapoléon I
Preceded byCharles-Henri Bertin
Succeeded bySir George Beckwith
British Occupation
2nd Commandant of French Guiana
In office
MonarchLouis XVIII
Preceded byJean-François Claude Carra de Saint-Cyr
Succeeded byPierre Bernard Milius
Personal details
Born(1756-11-23)November 23, 1756
Pau, France
DiedApril 10, 1835(1835-04-10) (aged 78)
Bernadets, France
Spouse(s)Marie-Anne-Joséphine de Péborde de Pardiès
Military service
Allegiance Kingdom of France
 French First Republic
Kingdom of France


Laussat was born in the town of Pau. After serving as receveur général des finances in Pau and Bayonne, he was imprisoned during the Terror, but was released and recruited in the armée des Pyrénées. On April 17, 1797, he was elected to the Council of Ancients. After the coup of 18 Brumaire, he entered the Tribunat on December 25, 1798.

He was appointed by Napoleon Bonaparte to be colonial prefect (governor) of Louisiana in 1802 and arrived in the colony on March 26, 1803, just two weeks before Bonaparte made his decision to sell Louisiana to the United States. Laussat was initially only to be the interim head of Louisiana until arrival of the Governor General Jean-Baptiste Bernadotte appointed by Bonaparte. However, when Bonaparte rejected Bernadotte's request for additional settlers and support for the posting, Bernadotte declined the governorship.[1] This left Laussat ruling as governor for several months, during which time he abolished the local cabildo and then published the Napoleonic Code in the colony.

Within several months, Laussat heard that Louisiana had been sold to the U.S. but he did not believe it. On July 28, 1803, he wrote to the French government to inquire whether the rumor was true. On August 18, 1803, he received word from Bonaparte that France had declared war on Great Britain and that he was to transfer Louisiana to the United States.[2][3]

On November 30, 1803, Laussat served as commissioner of the French government in the retrocession of Louisiana from Spain to France. A few weeks later, on December 20, 1803, Laussat transferred the colony to the U.S. representatives, William C.C. Claiborne and James Wilkinson.

On April 21, 1804, Laussat left Louisiana to become colonial prefect of Martinique, serving until 1809 when he was captured and imprisoned by the British.

In 1810, Laussat returned to France and sought a new governmental posting. He was sent to the French Netherlands to oversee the port of occupied Antwerp (1810–1812) and then to serve as prefect of Jemmape (1812–1814). During the Hundred Days, he served as prefect of Pas-de-Calais until the defeat of Napoleon at Waterloo.[4]

During the Bourbon Restoration, he served as commandant of French Guiana from 1819 to 1823,[5] after which he retired to his ancestral chateau in France where he died in 1835.



  1. Olivier, Jean-Marc (2010). "Bernadotte, Bonaparte, and Louisiana: the last dream of a French Empire in North America" (PDF). In Belaubre, Christope; Dym, Jordana; Savage, John (eds.). Napoleon's Atlantic: The Impact of Napoleonic Empire in the Atlantic World. Leiden, Netherlands: Brill. pp. 141–150. ISBN 978-9004181540. Retrieved 11 November 2018.
  2. Langlois, Gilles-Antoine (2004). "La Nouvelle Orleans: Etat Sommaire des Espaces Urbains et Sociaux a l'Époque de Pierre Clement des Laussat (Mars 1803-Avril 1804)" [New Orleans: Summary of the State of Urban and Social Spaces at the Time of Pierre Clement de Laussat (March 1803-April 1804)]. French Colonial History (in French). 5 (1): 111–124. doi:10.1353/fch.2004.0009. ISSN 1543-7787.
  3. Rodriguez, Junius P. (2002). The Louisiana Purchase: A Historical and Geographical Encyclopedia. Santa Barbara, California: ABC-CLIO. p. 181. ISBN 978-1-57607-188-5. Retrieved 2 November 2018.
  4. Staes, Jacques (April 2003). "Une Lettre de Pierre-Clément de Laussat Concernant la Situation Religieuse en Béarn (1788)" [A Letter from Pierre-Clément de Laussat Concerning the Religious Situation in Béarn (1788)] (PDF). Centre d'Etude du Protestantisme Béarnais (in French) (33): 23–25. Retrieved 2 November 2018.
  5. Puyo, Jean-Yves Puyo (2008). "Mise en valeur de la Guyane française et peuplement blanc: les espoirs déçus du baron de Laussat (1819-1823)" [Enhancement of French Guyana and White Settlement: The Disappointed Hopes of Baron de Laussat (1819-1823)]. Journal of Latin American Geography (in French). 7 (1): 177–202. doi:10.1353/lag.2008.0005. JSTOR 25765204.
Government offices
Preceded by
Juan Manuel de Salcedo
As Governor of Spanish Louisiana
Governor of French Republic Louisiana
Succeeded by
William C.C. Claiborne
As Governor of the Territory of Orleans
William Henry Harrison Sr.
as Governor of the Louisiana District
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