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About Pierre Clément, Baron de Laussat
Pierre Clement de Laussat (1756–1835) was a French politician, and the last French governor of Louisiana.
De 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 was elected in the Council of Ancients. After the coup of 18 Brumaire, he entered in the Tribunat on December 25, 1799. He was appointed by Napoleon Bonaparte to be colonial prefect (governor) of Louisiana in 1802. He arrived in the colony on March 26, 1803. This was just two weeks before Napoleon had made his decision to sell the Louisiana colony to the United States. For several months Laussat ruled as a normal governor and first he abolished the Cabildo and then he published the Napoleonic Code in the colony. Several months had gone by and Laussat was hearing that the colony had been sold to the U.S. but he did not believe it. On July 28, 1803, Laussat wrote to the French government that a rumor that the colony had been sold was going around New Orleans. On May 18, 1803 Laussat received word from Napoleon that France had declared war on England and that he was to transfer the colony to the United States. On December 20, 1803 he transferred the colony to James Wilkinson and William Charles Cole Claiborne. On April 21, 1804 he left the colony and became colonial prefect of Martinique, until 1809 when he was captured and imprisoned before the English conquest of the island. retired to the ancestral chateau in France and died in 1835.
Laussat came to Louisiana as Napoleon's representative before the transfer from Spain to France. His role was to prepare for the new French governor, Gen. Claude Victor. He served as interim governor from Nov. 30 to Dec. 20, 1803. Within weeks, Napoleon changed his mind and ordered negotiations to sell the territory to the United States.