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Pierre Clément de Laussat arrived in New Orleans in 1803 as Napoleon's colonial prefect, directed to receive Louisiana from Spain and govern it, unaware until four months later that it had been sold to the United States. In the process of working through the preliminaries to the retrocession, Laussat encountered problems endemic to the racist ideology, slave economy, and paternalist organization of the colony, only exacerbated by the disorder of the end of the Spanish regime. He addressed these issues through official acts carried out during the three weeks that the French flag finally flew over the city. This paper reviews the political and social background for some of Laussat's final acts on behalf of France, all aimed at securing the goodwill of powerful inhabitants: the restoration of the Code Noir, establishment of the city's first fire brigade, and reactivation of the institutions of French government.