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JHE Creoles 




George W. 

Author of *' Old Creole Days*' ** T/ic Craudisunifs,'' ''Madame Dcl/'hinf,'* 

" Dy. S.'7t\'f;" «•/. . 



VS ^ilO^^^s" 

{' »i;S.|. m 




I.— Who AiiE THE Cjiboles? 1 

n.— French Fouxdeus, j> 

III. — The Cueoles' City, . . . . .17 

n'. — Afkic'ax Slaves and Indian Wajis, . . . 2JS 

V.—The Xkw Gene ration, a? 

VI. --The First Creoles, 41 

Vn.— Praying to the Kino, 52 

Till. — Ulloa, Aubry, and the Superior CouNciii, . . 57 

IX. —The Insurrection, 04 

X. — The Price of Half-convictions, .... OS 
XL— Count O'Reilly and Spanish Laavs, . .72 

XII.— Sp.vnish Conciliation, 80 

XIII.— The American Revolution on the Gulf Side, . 8*» 

XIV, — Spanish New Orleans, iU 

XV. — How Bore made Sugar, ION 

XVI. — The Sing the Marseillaise, . . .114 
XVII. — ^The Americans, 118 




XIX.— Nkw Orleans Sought — Louisiana Bought, 
' .XX.— -Nkw Orleans in 1808, . 
XXI.— t'uoM SiJiwECTS TO Citizens, . 
XXII. — BuKJi's Conspiracy, . 
XXIII.— The West Indian Cousin, 
XXIV. — The Pirates oe Bahatarta, . 
XXV. — Bauataria Destroyed, . 
XXVI.— The Bj{itish Invasion, . 
XXVII. — The Baitle of New Orleans, 







The End f»K the Pirates, 
Fat'roirg Ste. Maiue, . 
A HrNJ>RED Thousand People, 
Plush Times, .... 
Why not Big<}er than London, 
-The S(^hool-m aster, 

XXXIV. -Later Days, 
XXXV.— Inuniiations, . 


XXXVIl.— The Days of Pestilence, 
XXXVIII. — The Great Epidemic, 
















Jackson Square, New Orleans, formerly the Place 

d'Armes, Fwntispiece 

AIat of Louij^iana, Facing p. 1 

Bienville, 11 

PiiAK OF City, showing Buildings,-; 15 

Old Ursuline Con^-ent, 21 

In the New Convent Garden, 24 

Old Villa on Bayou St. John, . . . . . .43 

Old Canal formerly in Dauphine Street, . . . .47 

"Cruel O'Reilly." (From a miniature in possession of Hon. 

Charles Gayarre, of Louisiana. ), 75 

Old Cabildo as built by Almon aster, 1794, and corner of 
THE Plaza, . . ' 07 

** Gratings, balconies, and lime-washed stucco," . . 101 

The *' Old Basin," 105 

Etienne de Bore, Ill 

In the Cabildo, 114 

A Royal Street Corner, 117 



Tjie Marigxy II()x:sk, wiierk Lotis Piiiltppe stopped in 

1798, 127 


Transom in the Poxtalua BriLDixos, Jackson Sqi ake, . 140 


WiLiiiAM Cii. MILES Cole Clatuokne, Governor ok lA^risi- 

ANA FHOM 1808 TO 1810 142 

Rev. Father Antonio de Sei)Eij,a (rr.RE Antoini:), . 145 

In Rue i>ij Maine, 159 


ilACKSoN's JIeadqiarters, 195 

Packeniiam's Headquarters (from the rear), . 107 

The Raitle-Groi;ni), . , 201 

Ot,i» Spanish Cottage in Royal Stiieet, Scene of Andrew 

Jackson's Trial, . 20-1 

TOMR OF GovERNOH CiiAirorne's Famji.y, ... 20H 

Oi.D Bourse and St. Louis TTotei., (.Vfteuward the State 

House.), 221 

The PiOAn^NE Tier, 22(» 

A (;oTTON Press and Yard, 220 

Entrance to a Gchton Yard, 2;»:t 

The Old Bank in Toilouse Street 2:»T 

Among the Mai{Kets, ... . . 24:* 

Exchange Alley. (Old Passage de i.a Boi rse.) ^jxikin^. 

toavard the American Qu a rtek, 247 

Old Pa?s vge de la Bourse. Lookincj toward the French 

Qr.VRTEH, 250 



Behind the Old Fuencu Makket, .... 
A Crevasse. (Stouy's Plantation, 1882. )i 

In TiiK Qi:aduoon Quautkk, 

A FuiiL River. (Lower front cornkr ok the Old Tow 
A Cemetery Walk. (Tombs and *' Ovens.";, . 

The Old Calaiioza, 

An Inner Corirr — Royal Sti:ekt, .... 
Old Sp.vnish Gateway and Stair in the Carildo, 











/^NE citj'^ in the United States is, witliout pretension 
^"^^ or intention, picturesque and antique. A quaint 
Southern-European asj)eet is encountered in the narrow 
streets of its early boundaries, on its old Place d'Annes, 
along its balconied fa9ades, and about its cool, flowery 
inner courts. 

Among the great confederation of States whose Anglo- 
Saxon life and inspiration swallows up all alien immigra- 
tions, there is one in which a Latin civilization, sinewy, 
valiant, cultm'ed, rich, and proud, holds out against extinc- 
tion. There is a people in the midst of the population of 
Louisiana, who send representatives and senators to the 
Federal Congress, and who vote for the nation's rulers. 
They celebrate the Fourth of July ; and ten days later, 
with far greater enthusiasm, they connnemorate that great 


Fourteentli that saw the fall of the 1>astile. Otlier citi- 
zens of tlie United States, but not themselves, thej call 

Who are they i AVTiere do they live i 

Take the niaj) of Lonisiaiia. Draw a line from the 
southwestern to the northeasteni corner of the State : let 
it tnni thencc3 down the Alississippi to the little river-side 
town of Raton Rouge, the State's seat of goNcnuuent; 
there draw it eastward through lakes lilauixipas, I\mtehar- 
t»*ain, and P»orgne, to the Gulf of Mexico; thence pass 
along the Gulf coast hack to the starting-point at the mouth 
of the Sabine, and you will have compassed rudely, but 
accurately enough, the State's eighteen thousand seven 
hundred and iil'ty square miles of delta laiids. 

About half the State lies outside these bounds and \f 
more or less hilly. Its population is mainly an Anglo 
American monevcKl and landed class, and the blacks and 
nudattoes who were once its slaves. Tlie sanu) is true of 
the population in that part of the delta lands north of 
lied liiver. The Creoles are not there. 

Across the southern end of the State, from Sabine 
Lake to Chandeleur Ray, with a north-and-south widtli of 
from ten to thirty miles and an averaire of about fifteen, 
stretch the Gulf juarshes, the wild haunt of mAriads of 
birds and water-fowl, serpents and saui-ians, hares, rac- 
coons, wild-cats, deep-belloAnng frogs, and clouds of in- 
sects, and by a few hunters and oysto-men, whose solitarj^ 
and rarely frequented huts speck the wide, green horizon 


at remote intei-vals. Neitlier is the home of the Creoles 
to be found here. 

Xorth of these marshes and within the bounds ah*eady 
set lie still two other sorts of delta country. In these 
dwell most of the French-speaking people of Louisiana, 
both white and colored. Here the names of bayous, 
lakes, villages, and plantations are, for the most part, 
French ; the parishes (counties) are named after saints and 
church-feasts, and although for more than half a centuiy 
there has been a strong inflow of Anglo-Americans and 
English-speaking blacks, the youth still receive their edu- 
cation principally from the priests and nuns of small 
colleges and convents, and two languages are current : in 
law and trade, English ; in the sanctuary and at home, 

These two sorts of delta country are divided by the 
Bayou Teche. West of this stream lies a beautiful ex- 
panse of faintly undulating prairie, some thirty-nine hun- 
dred square miles in extent, dotted with artificial home- 
stead groves, with fields of sugar-cane, cotton, and corn, 
and with herds of ponies and keen-horned cattle feeding 
on its sliort, nutritious turf. Their herdsmen speak an 
ancient French patois, and have the blue eyes and light 
brown hair of Xortheni France. 

But not yet have we found the Creoles. The Creoles 
smile, and sometimes even frown at these ; these are the 
children of those famed Xova Scotian exiles whose ban- 
ishment from their homes by British arms in 1755 has so 


often been celebrated in romance ; they still bear the name 
of Acadians. They are found not only on this western 
side o£ the T6che, but in all this French-speaking region 
of Louisiana. But these vast prairies of Attakapas and 
Opelousas are peculiarly theirs, and here they largely out- 
number that haughtier Louisianian who endeavors to 
withhold as well from him as from the " American " the 
proud appellation of Creole. 

Thus we have drawn in the lines upon a region lying 
between the mouth of lied River on the north and the 
Gulf marshes on the south, east of the Teche and south of 
Lakes Borgne, l^ontcharti-ain, and Maurepas, and the 
Bayou Manchac. However lie may be found elsewhere, 
this is the home, tlie realm, of the Louisiana (Creole. 

Tt is a region of incessant and curious paradoxes. The 
feature, elsewhere so near!}" uni\ ersal, of streams rising 
from elevated sources, gi'owing by tributary inflow, and 
moving on to empty into larger water-courses, is entii-ely 
absent. Tlie ciixjuit of inland water supply, to M'hich our 
observation is accustomed elsewhere— -commencing with 
e^'aporation from remote waterj'^ expanses, iind ending with 
the junction of streams and their down-flow to the sea — 
is here in great paii; reversed ; it begins, instead, M'ith the 
influx of streams into and over the land, and though it in- 
cludes the seaward movement in the channels of main 
streams, yet it yields up no small paii: of its volume by an 
cnonnous evaporation from millions of aci'es of overflowed 
iswamp. it is not in the general rise of waters, but in 


their sabeidence, tliat the smaller streams deliver their 
contents toward the sea. From Red Kiver to the Gulf 
the early explorei*s of Louisiana fomid the Mississippi, 
on its western side, receiving no true tributary; but 
instead, all streams, though tending toward the sea, yet 
doing so by a course dii^ected away froin some lai*ger 
channel. Being the offspring of the larger sti*eams, and 
either still issuing from them or being cut off from them 
only by the growth of sedimentary deposits, these smaller 
bodies were seen taking their coui'se obliquely away from 
the greater, along the natu]*al aqueducts raised slightly 
above the general level by the deposit of their own allu- 
vion. This deposit, therefore, formed the bed and banks 
of each stream, and spread outward and gently downward 
on each side of it, varying in width from a mile to a few 
yards, in proportion to the size of the stream and the dis- 
tance from its mouth. 

Such streams called for a new generic term, and these 
explorers, generally military engineers, named them bay- 
ous, or hoyaxts: in fortification, a branch trench. The 
Lafourche (" the fork,") the Boeuf , and other baj'ous wei-e 
manifestly mouths of the Red and the Mississippi, 
gradually grown longer and longer through thousands of 
years. From these the lesser bayous branched off con- 
fusedly hither and thither on their reversed watersheds, ^ 
not tributaries, but, except in low water, tribute takers, / v^ 
bearing off the sediment-laden back waters of the swollen ,' 
channels, broad-casting them in the intervening swamps, 


and, as the time of snbsicleiice camo on, retnrniiii^ them, 
greatly diminished by evaporation, in dark, wood -stained, 
and shiggish, but clear streams. The whole S3'stem 
was one j)i'imarily of irrigation, and only secondai'ily of 

On the banks of tliis immense fretwork of natm'al dykes 
and sluiees, though navigation is still slow, circuitous, and 
impeded witJi risks, now lie hundreds of miles of the 
richest plantations in America ; and here it was that tlie 
French colonists, first on the Mississippi and later on the 
great bayous, laid the foundations of the State's agricul- 
tural wealth. 

The scenery of this land, where it is still in its wild 
K Htate, is weii'd and funereal : but on the banks of the large 
bayous, bj-oad fields of corn, of cotton, of cane, and of lice, 
open out at frecjuent intervals on either side of the l)ayou, 
pushing Ijack the dark, pall-like curtain of moss-draped 
8wamp, and presenting to the passing eye the neat and 
often imjiosing residence of the planter, the wliite double 
row of field-1 lands' cabins, the tall rod chimnev and broad 
gray roof of the sugar-house, and beside it the huge, 
s(juare, red brick bagasse-burner, into which, during the 
grinding season, i\\Q residuum of crushed sugar-cane passes 
unceasin^clv dav and nisrht, and is consumed with the 
Hmoke and glai*e of a conflagi*ation. 

Even wJien the forests close in upon the banks of the 

' stream th(»re is ji wild and solemn beautv in the shiftini:: 

scene which appeals to the imagination with special 


strength when the cool morning lights or the warmer 
glows of evening impart the colors of the atmosphere to 
the sun'ounding wilderness, and to the glassy waters of 
the narrow and tortuous bayous that move among its 
shadows. In the last hour of day,, those scenes are often 
illuminated with an extraordinary splendor. '*' From the 
boughs of the dark, broad-spreading live-oak, and the 
phantom-like arms of lofty cj^^resses, the long, motionless 
pendants of pale gray moss point down to their inverted 
images in the unruffled waters beneath them. "^Kothing 
breaks the wide-spread silence. The light of the declin- 
ing sun at one moment brightens the tops of the cy- 
presses, at another glows like a furnace behind their black 
branches, or, as the voyager reaches a western turn of the 
bayou, swings slowly round, and broadens down in dazz- 
ling crimsons and pui'ples upon the mirror of the stream. 
Now and then, from out sonje hazy shadow, a heron, 
white or blue, takes silent flight, an alligator crossing the 
stream sends out long, tinted bars of widening ripple, or 
on some high, fire-blackened tree a flock of roosting vul- 
tures, silhouetted on the sky, linger with half-opened, 
unwilling wing, and flap away by ones and twos until the 
tree is bare. Should the ti-aveller descrv, first as a 
mote intensely black in the midst of the brilliancy that 
overspreads the water, and by-and-by revealing itself 
in true outline and proportion as a small canoe con- 
taining two men, whose weight seems about to engulf 
it, and by whose paddle- strokes it is impelled with 


Eiicb evenness and speed ttiat a long, glassy wave gleams 
continually at either side a foil indi higlier than the edge 
of the boat, he will have beforo him a picture of nature 
and human life that might liave been seen at any time 
since tho Fi-encli fathers of the LouiEianft Creoles colonized 
the Delta. 

Xear the Eouthcastem limit of this region is the spot 
where these ancestoi's first stinck permanent root, and 
the growth of this peculiar and interesting civilization 



TT ET ns give a final glance at the map. It is the 
general belief that a line of elevated land, now some 
eighty or ninety miles due north of the Louisiana coast, 
is the prehistoric shore of the Gulf. A range of high, 
abrupt hills or bluffs, which the Mississippi first en- 
counters at the city of Vicksburg, and whose southwest- 
ward and then southward trend it follows thereafter 
to the town of Baton Kouge, swerves, just below this 
point, i-apidly to a due east course, and declines gradually 
until, some thirty miles short of the eastern boundary of 
Louisiana, it sinks entirely down into a broad tract of 
green and fioweiy sea-marsh that skirts, for many leagues, 
the waters of Mississippi Sound. 

Close along under tliese subsiding bluffs, where they 
stretch to the east, the Bayou !Manchac, once Iberville 
River, and the lakes beyond it, before the bayou was 
artificially obstructed, united the waters of Mississippi 
River with those of Mississippi Sound. Apparently this 
line of water was once the river itself. Now, however, 
the great flood, turning less abruptly, takes a southeasterly 
course, and, gliding tortuously, wide, yellow, and sunny, 


between low sandy banks lined with endless brakes of 
Cottonwood and willow, cuts off between itself and its 
ancient channel a portion of its own delta formation. 
This fragment of half-made conntiy, comprising some- 
thing over seventeen hundred square miles of river-shore, 
dark swamp-land, and bright marsh, was once widely 
known, both in commerce and in international politics, as 
Orleans Island. 

r.ts outline is extremely iri'cgular. At one place it i^^ 
fifty-seven miles across from the river shore to the eastern 
edge of the marshes. Xear the lower end tliere is scarceh- 
the range of a " musket-shot "' between river and sea. At 
a point almost nn'dway of the island's length the river 
and Lake Pontchartrain approach to within six miles of 
each other, and it was here that, in February, 1718, was 
founded the citv of jNew Orleans. 

. Strictly, the genesis of Lonisiana dates nhieteen years 
earlier. In IGOD, while Spain and Oreat Ih-itain. each 
foi* itself, were endeavoring to pre-empt the southei*n out- 
let of the ^Mississippi Valley, France had sent a small fleet 
from Brest for the same purpose, under command of the 
bj-ave and adventurous Canadian, D' Iberville. This ual- 
lant sailor was the oldest livins: member in a rcmarkablv 
brilliant group of brothers, the sons of M. Lomoyne de 
Bienville, a gentleman of Quebec, who had been able, as 
it appears, to add to the family name of Lemoyne the 
title of a distinct estate for six of his seven sons. 

With D' Iberville came several remoter kinsmen and at 



least t^o of his brothers, Sa\ivoUe and Bienville. Tlie 
eldest of the seven was dead, and the name of his estate, 
Bienville, had fallen to the youngest, Jean Baptiste by 
name, a inidEhipnian of but twenty-two, but destined to 

be the builder, as his older brother was the founder, of 
Louisiana, and to weave bis name, a golden thread, in- 
to the history of the Creoles in the Mississippi delta. 

D'Iberville'a arrival in the northern waters of the Gulf 
was none too soon for his pui'pose. He found the Span- 


lards just establishing themselves at Pensacola with a fleet 
of too nearly his own's strength tp be amiably crowded 
aside, and themselves too old in diplomacy to listen to his 
graceful dissimulations ; wherefore he sailed farther west 
and planted his colony upon some low, infertile, red, 
sandy bluffs covered with live-oaks and the towering 
yellow-pine, on the eastern shore of a beautiful, sheltered 
water, naming the bay after the small tribe of Indians 
that he found there, Biloxi. The young Bienville, sent on 
to explore the water-ways of the country westward, met a 
British officer ascending the Mississippi with two vessels 
in search of a spot fit for colonization, and by assertions 
more ingenious than candid induced him to withdraw, 
where a long bend of the river, shining in the distant 
plain, is still pointed out from the towers and steeples 
of New Orleans as the English Tm'n. 

The story of the nineteen years that followed may be 
told almost in a line. SauvoUe, left by D'Iberville in 
charge at Biloxi, died two years after and was succeeded by 
Bienville. The governorship of the province thus assumed 
by the young French Canadian sailor on the threshold of 
manhood he did not finally lay down until, an old Knight 
of St. Louis turning his sixty-fifth year, he had more tlian 
earned the title, fondly given him by the Creoles, of " the 
father of Louisiana." He was on one occasion still their 
advocate before the prime minister of France, when 
bowed by the weight of eighty- six winters, and still the 
object of a public affection that seems but his just due 


when we contemplate in his portrait the broad, calm fore- 
head, the studious eye, observant, even searching, and yet 
quiet and pensive, the slender nostrils, the firm-set jaw, 
the lines of self-discipline, the strong, wide, steel-clad 
shoulders and the general air of kind sagacity and reserved 
candor, which it is easy to believe, from his histoiy, were 
nature's, not the painter's, gifts. 

It was he who projected and founded Kew Orleans. 
The colony at Biloxi, and later at Mobile, was a feeble and 
ravenous infant griped and racked by two internal factions. 
One was bent on finding gold and silver, on pearl-fishing, 
a fur trade, and a commerce with South America, and, 
therefore, in favor of a sea-coast establishment ; the other 
advocated the importation of French agriculturists, and 
their settlement on the alluvial banks of the Mississippi. 
Bienville, always the foremost explorer and the wisest 
counsellor, from the beginning urged this wiser design. 
For yeara he was overruled under the commercial policy 
of the merchant monopolist, Anthony Crozat, to whom the 
French king had farmed the province. But when Crozat's 
lai^e but unremunerative privileges fell into the hands of 
John Law, director-general of the renowned Mississippi 
Company, Bienville's counsel prevailed, and steps were 
taken for removing to the banks of the Mississippi the 
handful of French and Canadians who were struggling 
against starvation, in then* irrational search after sudden 
wealth on the sterile beaches of Mississippi Sound and 
Massacre Island. 


The year before Bienville secured tliifi long-sought 
authorization to found a new ])Ost on the Mississippi he 
liad selected its site. Tt was immediately on the bank 
of the stream. So later sagacity has ever succeeded in 
pointing out a more favorable site on Avhich to ])ut up the 
gates of the gi-eat valley ; and here- though the land was 
only ten feet above sea-level at tlie water's edge, and sank 
quickly back to a nn'nimuni lieight of a few inches; 
though it was almost wholly covered Avith n cyj>rcs.s 
swamp and Avas visibly subject to fix»<iuent, it* not annual 
ovci'fiow; aud though a hxnidrc<l miles lay between it and 
the mouth of a river whose current, in times of flood, it 
was maintained, no vessel could overconwv hero l»ienville, 
hi 1.718, changed from the midshipman of twenty-two to 
the frontiersman, explorer, and commander of forty-one. 
placed a fletachment of twentv-five convicts and as manv 
carpenters, who, with some voyagcm-s from tho Illinois 
liiver, made a clearhifi: an<l erected a few scattered huts 
along the bank of the river, as the beginning of that which 
ho was determined later to make the (Capital of the ciA^ili- 
zation to whose planting in this gloomy Anldcrncss he had 
dedicated his life. 



Ql C ARCELY had the low, clay chimneys of a few woods- 
^^ men's cabins sent up, through a single change of 
seasons, their lonely smoke-wreaths among the silent wil- 
low jungles of tlie Mississippi, when Bienville began boldly 
to advocate the i*emoval of the capital to this so-called 
"Kew Orleans.'' But, even while he spoke, the place 
suffered a total inundation. Yet he continued to hold it 
as a trading post of the Mississippi Company, and, by the 
close of 1720, began again, in colonial council, to urge it as 
the proper place for the seat of government ; and though 
out- voted, he sent his chief of engineers to the settlement 
" to choose a suitable site for a city worthy to become the 
capital of Louisiana." 

Thereupon might have been seen this engineer, the 
Sieur Le Blond de la Tour, in the garb of a knight of St. 
Louis, modified as might be by the exigencies of the fron- 
tier, in command of a force of galley-slaves and ai-tisans, 
driving stakes, drawing lines, marking off streets and lots, 
a place for the chm-cli and a middle front square for a 
place-d'armes ; day by day ditching and palisading; 


throwing np a rude levee along the ] ivcr-front, and gradu- 
ally gathering the scattered settlers of the neighborhood 
into the form of a town. J3ut the location remained the 

A hundred frail palisade huts, some rude shelters of 
larger size to serve as church, hospital, government house, 
and company's warehouses, a few vessels at anchor in the 
muddy river, a population of thiee hundred, mostly jnen 
— such was the dreaiy hunter's camp, iiidden in the stifling 
undergrowth of the half-cleared, miry ground, where, in 
the naming of streets, the dukes of Orleans, Oliartres, 
TVTaine, and l>ourbon, the princes of Conti and Conde, and 
the Count of Toulouse, had been honored ; where, finally, 
in June to August, 1722, the royal commissioners con- 
senting, the company's effects and troops were gradu- 
ally removed and Bienville set up his head-quarters ; and 
where this was but just done when, in September, as 
an earnest of the land's fierce in hospitality, a tornado 
whisked away church, hospital, and thirty dwellings, 
prostrated the crops, and, in particular, destroyed the 
priceless rice. 

The next year, 1723, brought iio better fortune. At 
home, the distended Mississippi Bubble began to show 
its filminess, and the distress which it spread everywhere 
came across the Atlantic. As in Fi*ance, the momentary 
stay-stomach was ci*edit. On this basis the company's 
agent and the plantation grantees liarmoni/.ed ; new in- 
dustries, Jiotably indigo cultiu'e, wej'e introduced ; debts 


were paid with paper, and the embryo city reached the 
number of sixteen hundred inhabitants; an agricul- 
tural province, whose far-scattered plantations, missions, 
and military posts counted nearly five thousand souls, 
promised her its commercial tribute. 

Then followed collapse, the scaling of debts by royal 
edict, four i-cpetitions of this gross expedient, and, by 
1726, a sounder, though a shorn, prosperity. 

The year 1728 completed the first decade of the town's 
existence. Few who know its histoiy will stand to-day in 
Jackson Square and glance from its quaint, old-fashioned / 
gardening to the foi'eign and antique aspect of the sur- 
rounding architectui*e — its broad verandas, its deep ar- 
cades, the graceful patterns of its old wrought-iron balco- 
nies, its rich effects of color, of blinding sunlight, and 
of cool shadow — without finding the fancy presently 
stirred up to overleap the beginning of even these time- 
stained features, and recall tlie humbler to\^Ti of Jean- 
Baptiste Lemoyne de Bienville, as it huddled about this 
classic spot when but ten years had passed since the first 
blow of the settler's axe had echoed across the waters of 
the Mississippi. 

This, from the beginning, was the Place d'Armes. It 
was of the same rectangular figure it has to-day : larger 
ohly by the width of the present sidewalks, an open plat 
of coarse, native grass, crossed by two diagonal paths and 
occupying the exact middle of the town fi'ont. Behind 
it, in the mid-fi'ont of a like apportionment of ground 



reserved foi* ecclesiastical uses, where St. Tx)iii8 Cathedral 
now overlooks tlie square, stood the church, built, like 
most of the puhlic huildbigs, of bj'ick. Ou the chuj'ch's 
riglit were the small guard-house and prisons, and on the 
left tlie dwelling of some Capuchins. The spiritual care 
of all that portion oE the province between the mouths 
of the Mississippi and the Illinois \vas theirs. On the 
front of the square that flanked the Place d- Amies ahove, 
the government- house looked out upon the rivei*. In the 
con-esponding s([uare, on tlie lower side, but facing from 
the river and diagonally opposite the (Capuchins, were the 
quarters of the government employes. The grounds that 
faced the upper and lower sides of the Place d' Amies were 
still unoccupied, except by coi-dwood, entrenching tools, 
and a few pieces of parked artillei'v, on the one side, and 
a small house for issuinar rations on the other. Just off 
the river front, in Toulouse Street, wore the smithies of 
the Marine ; correspond mgly placed in !3u l\raine Street 
were two long, narrow buildings, the king's wanJiouses. 

LTrsidines Sti'cet was then Arsenal Street. On its first 
upper corner was the hospital, with its grounds extending 
back to the street behind ; while the om])ty square oppo- 
site, below, reserved for an arsenal, was just receiving, in- 
stead, the foundations of the convent-building that stands 
there to-day. A company of Ursuline nuns had come the 
year before from France to open a school for girls, and 
to attend the sick in hospital, and were qiuirtered at the 
other end of the Uavm awaitiuir n»e constj-uction of their 



nunnery. It was finished in 1730, They occupied it for 
ninety-four years, and vacated it only in 1824 to remove 
to the larger and more retired convent on the river shore, 
near the present lower limits of the city, whei*e they 
remain at the present day. The older house — one of the 
oldest, if not the oldest building, standing in the Missis- 
sippi Yalley — became, in 1831, the State House, and in 
1834, as at present, the seat of the Archbishop of 

For the rest, there was little but forlorn confusion. \ 
Though the pl an of the town comp rised ^-.parallelogram 
of five jthoufiand_feet-riv^r-fi*oat by a depth of eighteen 
hundi'ed, and was divided into regular squares of three I 
hundred feet front and breadth, yet the appearance of the j 
place was disorderly and squalid . A few cabins of split -J 
boards, thatched with cypress bark, were scattered con- 
fusedly over the ground, surrounded and isolated fi'om 
each other by willow-brakes and reedy ponds and sloughs 
bristling with dwarf palmetto and swarming with reptiles. 
Ko one had built beyond Dauphine Street, the fifth from 
the river, though twenty-two squares stood empty to choose 
among ; nor below the hospital, nor above Bienville Street, 
except that the Governor himself dwelt at the extreme 
upper corner of the town, now the corner of Customhouse 
and Decatur Streets. Orleans Street, cutting the town 
transversely in half behind the church, was a quarter fa- 
vored by the unimportant ; while along the water-fi'ont, 
and also in Chart res and Eoyale Streets, just behind, rose 


the bomes of the colonj's official aud commercial poten- 
tates : 8ome small, low, and built of cypress, others of 
brick, or brick and frame, broad, and two or two and a 
half stories in height. But about and over all was the 
rank growth of a wet semi-tropical land, especially the 
Wftter^illow, planted here and there in avenues, and else- 
where springing np at wild random amid occasional es- 
says at gardening. 

Gonnnt Ginlin. 

Such was New Orleans in 1728. The restraints of so- 
cial life had, until now, been few and weak. Some of the 
higher officials had brought their wives from France, and 
a few Canadians theira from Canada; but they were a 
small fraction of all. The mass of the men, principally 
soldiers, trappers, i-edemptioners bound to three yeai-s' 


service, miners, galley-slaves, knew little, and eared less, 
for citizenship or public order; while the women, still 
few, were, almost all, the unreformed and forcibly trans- 
ported inmates of houses of correction, with a few Choc- 
taw squaws and African slaves. They gambled, fought 
duels, lounged about, di-ank, wantoned, and caroused — 
'^ Sans religion, sans justice, sans discipline, sans ordre, 
et sans police." 

Yet the company, as required by its charter, had begun 
to improve the social as well as the architectural features 
of its pro^dncial capital. The importation of male vaga- 
bonds had ceased ; stringent penalties had been laid upon 
gambling, and as already noted,. steps had been taken to 
promote education and religion. Tlic aid of the Jesuits 
had been enlisted for the training of the male youth and 
the advancement of agriculture. 

In the winter of 1727-2S a ci'owning benefit had been 
reached. On the lev-ee, just in front of the Place d'Ainnes 
the motley public of the wild town was gathered to see a 
goodly sight. A ship had come across the sea and up the 
river with the most precious of all possible earthly car- 
goes. She had tied up against the grassy, willow-planted 
bank, and there were coming ashore and grouping to- 
gether in the Place d'Ai'mes under escoi't of the Ur- 
suline nuns, a good threescore, not of houseless girls 
from the streets of Paris, as heretofore, but of maidens 
from the hearthstones of Fi*ance, to be disposed of under 
the discretion of the nuns, in mamage. And then there 


came ashore and were set down in the rank grass, many 
small, stout chests of clothing. Inhere was a trunk for 
eacli maiden, a maiden for each trunk, and both maidens 
and trunks the gift of the king. 

Vive h roi ! it was a golden da3\ Better still, this was 
hut the initial consignment. Similar companies came iji 
subsequent years, and the girls with ti-unks were long 
known hi the traditions of their colonial descendants by 
the honorable distinction of the ''^jilhn a te casftette " —the 
casket-girls. There cannot but linger a regret around this 
/ slender fact, so full of romance and the best poetry of real 
life, that it is so slender. But the Crcioles liave never 
been careful for the authentication of their traditions, and 
the only assurance left to us so late as this is. that the 
good blood «>f these modest girls of long-forgotten names, 
and of the braver soldiers to whom they i^av^ Iheir hands 
with the kino's assent and dower, flows in tJie veins of 
the best Creole families of the present day. 

Thus, at the end of the first ten xears, the town summed 
up all the true, though roughly outlined, features of a 
civilized community: the church, the school, courts, hos- 
pital, council-hall, virtuous homes, a military arm and a 
commerce. 'I^his last was fettered by the monopoly rights 
of the company ; but the thirst for gold, silver, and pearls 
had yielded to wiser thought, a fur trade had developed, 
and the scheme of an asrricultural colony was rewarded 
with suc(*ess. 

Hut of this town and province, to whose development 


their fonnder had dedicated all his energies and sagacity, 
Bienville was no longer governor. In October, 1726, the 
schemes of official rivals had procured not only his dis- 
placement, but that of his various kinsmen in the colony. 
It was under a new commandant-general, M. Pericr, that 
protection fi'om flood received noteworthy attention, and 
that, in 1726, the fii'st levee worthy of the name was built 
on the bank of the Mississippi. 



rriJlE problem of civilization in Louisiana was early 
(*omplieated by the presence and nuitual contact of 
tliree races of men. The Mississippi ( 'ompany's agricul- 
tural colonial scheme was based on the AVest Indian idea 
of African slave labor. Alreadv the total Jiuml)er of 
blacks had risen to equal thai of the whites, and within 
the Delta, outside of Xew Orleans, they must have largely 
preponderated. In 1727 this idea began to be put into 
effect just without the town's upper boundary, Avhere the 
Jesiiit fathers accommodated themselves to it in model 
form, and between 172G and 1715 gradually ae<)uii-ed and 
put under cultivation the whole tract of laud now covered 
by the First District of Xew Orleans, the centre of the 
city^'s wealth and commerce. The slender, w(Mlge-shaped 
space l>etweeu Common and Canal Stj-eets, and the sub- 
sequent accretions of soil on the river front, are the only 
parts of the F'irst District not once comprised in the Jesu- 
its' plantations. Education seems not to have had their 
immediate attention, but a myrtle orchard was planted 
on their river-front, and the orange, tig, and sugar-cane 


were iiiti*oduced by them into the country at later inter- 

Other and older plantations wore yearly sending in 
the products of the same imfortunate agricultural system. 
The wheat and the flour from the Illinois and the Wabash 
were the results of free farm and mill labor; but the 
tobacco, the timber, the mdigo, and the rice came mainly 
from the slave-tilled fields of the company's grantees scat- 
tei*ed at wide intervals in the more accessible regions 
of the great Delta. The only free labor of any note 
employed within that basin was a company of Alsatians, 
which had been originally settled on the Arkansas by 
John Law, but which had descended to within some 
thirty miles of Xcw Orleans, had there become the mar- 
ket-gai*deners of the growing town, in more than one ad- 
verse season had been its main stay, and had soon won 
and long enjoyed the happy distinction of hearing their 
region called in fond I'cmembrance of the nch Burgun- 
dian hills of the same name far beyond the ocean — the 
Cote iVOr, the " Golden Coast." 

The Indians had welcomed the settling of the French 
with feastmg and dancing. The erection of forts among 
them at Biloxi, Mobile, the Natchez bluffs, and elsewhere, 
gave no confessed offence. Their game, the spoils of their 
traps, their lentils, their corn, and their woodcraft were 
always at the white man's service, and had, more than 
once, come between liim and starvation. They were not 
the less acceptable because their donors counted on gener- 


OU8 offsets in powder and ball, brandy, blankets, and gew- 

In the Delta proper, the Indians were a weak and di- 
vided remnant of the Alibamon race, dwelling in scat- 
tevoA sub-tribal villages of a few scores or hundreds of 
waiTiors each. It was only beyond these limits that the 
fMiwei-fnl nations of the Choctaws, the (Hiickasaws, and 
the >Jatchez, offered any suggestions of possible war. 

Bienville had, from his first contact with them, sliouTi 
a thorough knowledge of the Indian character. By a pat- 
I'onage supported on one side by inflexibility, and on the 
other by good faith, he inspired the respect and confi- 
dence of all alike ; and, for thirty years, neither tlic sloth- 
ful and stupid Alibamons of the Delta nor the proud and 
fierce nations around his distant posts ga\'o any serious 
<^au60 to fear the disappearance of good-will. 

But M. Perier, who had succeeded Bienville, though up- 
right in his relations with his ministerial superiors, was 
more harsh than wise, and one of his subordinates, hold- 
ing the command of Fort Rosalie, among the distant 
Jsatchez (a position requiring the greatest diplomacy), was 
arrogant, cruel, and unjust. Bienville had not long been 
displaced ^^'hen it began to be likely that the Frenchmen 
who had come to plant a civilization in the swamps of 
Ijoujsiana, under cii*cumstanccs and surroundings so new 
and strange as those we have noticed, would have to take 
intf) their problem this additional factor, of a warfare with 
the savages of the count)*y. 


When the issue came, its bloody scenes were far re- 
moved from that region which has grown to be special- 
ly the land of the Creoles ; and, in that region, neither 
Fi'enchman nor Creole was ever forced to confront the 
necessity of defending his home from the torch, or his 
wife and children from the tomahawk. 

The first symptom of danger was the visible discontent 
of the Chickasaws, with whom the English were in amity, 
and of the Choctaws. T*erier, however, called a coimcil 
of their chiefs in Kew Orleans, and these departed with 
protestations of friendship and loyalty that deceived him. 

Suddenly, in the winter of 1729-30, a single soldier 
arrived in Xew Orleans fi-om Fort TJosalie, with the 
word that the Xatchez had surprised and destroyed the 
place, massacred over two hundred men, and taken cap- 
tive ninety-two women and one hundred and fifty-five chil- 
di*en. A few others, who, with their forerunner, were all 
who had escaped, appeared soon after and confirmed the 
news. Smaller settlements on the Yazoo Kiver and on 
Sicily Island, on the Washita, had shared a like fate. 

In New Orleans all was confusion and alarm, with prep- 
arations for war, offensive and defensive. Arms and am- 
munition were hurriedly furnished to every house in the 
town and on the neighboruig plantations. Through the 
weedy streets and in from the adjacent country, along 
the levee top and by the plantation roads and causeways, 
the militia, and, fi*om their wretched barracks in Koy- 
ale Street, the dilapidated regulars, rallied to the Place 


d'Armes. Thence the governor presently despatched 
three hundred of each, under one of his captams, to the 
seat of war. The entrenching tools and artillery were 
brought out of the empty lot in St. Peter Street, and a 
broad moat was begun, on which wo)*k was not abandoned 
until at the end of a year the town was, for the first time, 
surrounded with a lino of rude fortifications. 

Meanwhile, the burdens of war distributed themselves 
upon the passive as well as upon the active ; terror of at- 
tack, sudden alarms, false hopes, anxious suspense, further 
militia levies, the issue of colonial paper, industrial stag- 
nation, the care of homeless refugees, and, by no means 
least, the resti^ eness of the negroes. The bad effects of 
slave-holding began to show themselvos. The nearness 
of some small n agrant bands of friendl)^ Indians, habitual 
hangers-on of the settlement, became " a subject of ter- 
ror,-' and, with a like fear of the blacks, fierce Africans 
taken in war, led to an act of shocking cnielty. A band 
of negi'oes, slaves of the company, armed and sent for the 
purpose by Perier himself, foil upon a small partj^ of 
Chouachas Indians dwelling peaceably on the town's lower 
boi'der, and massacred the entire village. Emboldened 
by this the ncgi'oes plotted a blow for their own freedom ; 
but their plans were discovei^ed and the leaders were 
executed. In the year after, the same blacks, incited by 
fugitive slaves sent among them by the Ohickasaws, 
agreed upon a night for the massacre oi' the whites ; but 
a negress who had been struck by a soldier let slip the 


secret in her threats, and the ringleaders, eight men and 
the woman, were put to death, she on the gallows and 
they on tlie wheel. The men's heads were stuck upon 
posts at the upper and lower ends of the town front, and 
at the Tchoupitoulas settlement and the king's plantation 
on the farther side of the Mississippi. 

But turning a page of the record we see our common 
human nature in a kindlier aspect. Two hundred and 
fifty women and children taken by the Natchez had been 
retaken, and were brought to New Orleans and landed on 
the Place d'Armes. There they were received by the 
people with tears and laughter and open arms. At first, 
room was made for them in the public hospital ; but the 
Ursulines, probably having just moved into their com- 
pleted convent, adopted the orphan girls. The boys 
found foster-parents in well-to-do families, and the whole 
number of refugees was presently absorbed, many of the 
widows again becoming wives. 

The Chickasaws and Yazoos became allies of the 
Natchez, and the Choctaws of the French. But space 
does not permit nor our object require us to follow the 
camp of the latter, to recount their somewhat dilatory suc- 
cesses on the Natchez hills, and in the swamps of the 
Washita, or on the distant banks of Red River under the 
inti'epid St. Denis. The Natchez nation was completely 
dismembered. The prisoners of war were sent across the 
Gulf to die in the cruel slaver v of the San Domiuo^o suorar 
plantations. The few survivors who escaped captivity 


were adopted into the Chickasaw nation ; but even so, they 
qnalified by repeated depredations the limited peace that 

In J7'^«3, JJienvillc was restored to the governorship; 
l»ut his power to eonimand the confidence and good faith 
of thf3 savages was lost. In 1785, afi^^ressions still con- 
tinuing, he demanded of the Chickasaws the surrender 
of tlieir Katchez and Yazoo i^efugees, and was i-efused. 
Thcrcu|K>n he was ordered to make war, and tlie early 
spring of 1 780 saw Jsew Orleans again in the stuTuig con- 
fusion of marshalling a small anuy. The scene of its em- 
barkakion was the little village of SL John, on the bayou 
<»f tliat name, where, in thirty barges and as many ca- 
noes, this motley gathering of uniformed regulars, leathcr- 
fehirted militia, naked blacks, and feathered and painted 
Indians, set off through the tall buli-uslics, and canebrakes, 
and moss-hnng cypresses, and so on by way of the lakes, 
Mississippi Somul, and the .Alabama Tliver, to exterminate 
the (Chickasaws. A few months passed, and the same 
s):»ot witnessed another scene, when Bienville disembarked 
under its wide-spreading oaks and .stately magnolias, the 
remnant of his forces, sick, wounded, and discouraged, 
after a short, inglorious, and disastrous campaign in what 
is now Northeastern Mississi})pi. 

Bienville-s vears — ho was still but fiftv-six — will 
hardly account for the absence of that force and sai^acitv 
which had once made him so admirable and of such srreat 
value ; but M'hatever may have been the cause, the colo- 


nists, in whose affections be still held the foremost i:>lace, 
found in him onlj a faltering and mismanaging leader 
into disasteiTS, whose record continued from this time to be 
an unbroken scries of pathetic failures. 

The year 1739 saw the French authority still defied and 
the colony's frontier harassed. In September, Bienville 
mustered another force. The regulars, the militia, three 
companies of marines lately from France, and sixteen 
hundred Indians, filed out through Tchoupitoulas gate and 
started for the Chickasaw countrj-, this time by way of 
the Mississippi. At the ])resent site of Memphis, they 
were joined by levies from Canada and elsewhere, and 
Bienville counted a total force in hand of thirty-six hun- 
dred men, white, red, and black. Xo equal force had 
ever taken the field in Louisiana. But plans had mis- 
carried, proWsions were failing, ill-health was general, the 
wide country lying eastward and still to be crossed was 
full of swollen streams, and when the little army again 
took up the line of march, it actuallj' found itself in full 
retreat without havine reached the enemv's countrv. 
Onlv a detachment of some six or seven hundred Cana- 
dians, Fi*ench, and ^Northern Indians, under a subordinate 
officer, moved upon the Chickasaws, and meeting them 
Avith sudden energy, before their own weakness could be 
discovei*ed, extorted some feeble concessions in exchange 
for peace. In the spring of 1740 Bienville retm^ned witli 
a sick and stai'ving remnant of his men, and with no 
better result than a discreditable compromise. 


Ten years of unrest, of stmggle against savage aggre^i- 
sion, and for tlio mastery over two naked races, liad now 
|)assed. Meantime, the commerce of the colony had 
lyitgan to have a history, "flic Company of the Indies, 
into which tiie (Jompagnie de I'Occident, or Mississippi 
O^mpany, had been absorbed, discouraged by the Natchez 
war and better pleased with its pnvi leges on the Guinea 
coant, and in the Kast Indies, liad, as early as .Inne, 1731, 
teiulered, and in April had effected, tJjc siiri-ender of its 
western charter. The king had thereuj)on established be- 
tween Louisiana and his subjects elsewhere a virtual free- 
tratle ; a fresh mtercourse had sprung up with I^Vance aud 
ilie West Indies ; an ininiigjation had sot in from these 
islands, and, <lespite the Chickasaw campaigns and paper 
money, liad incj'cased from year to year. At the close of 
thene campaigns, business further revived, and tlie town, 
as it lunor had done l)efore, began spontaneously to de- 
velop from within outward by the enterprise of its own 

The colony's star was rising, but lUenville's was still 
going down. The new prosperity and growth was not 
attributed, nor is it traceable, to bis continued govern- 
ment. As time passed on he was made easily to see that 
he had lost the favor of the Krencli muiistcr. lie besj^red 
to be recalled ; and in May, 1 743, on the arrival of the Mar- 
(juis do Vaudreuil as his successor, he bade a last farewell 
to the city he hud founded and to that Louisiana of which 
it was pi'opor for the ^wople still to (?all him "• the fatlie)*." 



TTTHEN, on the 10th of May, 1743, the Marquis de 
Vaudreuil landed in New Orleans, private enter- 
prise — the true foundation of material prosperity — was 
firmly established. Indigo, rice, and tobacco were moving 
in quantity to Europe, and lumber to the West Indies. 
Ships that went out loaded came back loaded again, es- 
pecially from St. Domingo ; and traffic with the Indians, 
and with the growing white population along the immense 
length of tlie Mississippi and its tributaries, was bringing 
money into the town and multiplying business 3'ear by 

Hope ran high when the Marquis was appointed. His 
family had much influence at court, and anticipations were 
bright of royal patronage and enterprise in the colony 
and in its capital. But these expectations, particularly as 
to Xew Orleans, were feebly met. There was an increase 
in the number of the troops and a great enhancement of 
superficial military splendor, with an imscrupulous getting 
and reckless spending of Government goods and money, 
and a large importation of pretentious frivolity from 


the Bourbon camps and palaces, By 1 751, evciy second 
man in tlie streets of Xew Orleans was a soldier in daz- 
zling uniform. They called the governor the "Grand 
ACarqnis.'' Jle was graceful and comely, dignified in 
bearing, fascinating in address, amiable, lavish, fond of 
pleasure, and, with his marchioness, during the twclvu 
years of his sojourn in Louisiana, maintained the little 
colonial court with great ])omp and dissi]>ation. 

Otlujrwise the period was of a quiet, fo]-mativo sort, 
and the few stimulants to i!:ro\vth ofFcircd bv Government 
overshot the toMn and fell to the a2:ricultural eirantees. 
The pj'cxluction of tobacco and myrtle-wax was encour- 
aged, but it was also taxed. Through the ffesuit fathers, 
fiugar-eanc was introduced. Ihit one boon continued to 
eclipse all the rest: year by yo«r came the casket-girls, 
and were ici^on in maiTiaire to the soldiers chosen for 
good conduct, with a tract of land to begin life on. The 
last shi]>-load came ashore in 1751, 

The most conspicuous attentions offered Now Oj'leans 
Avere a |>rohibition against trading with the Knglisli and 
Dutch, and further inundations of paper money. The 
little port continued to grow, though pirates infested the 
Gulf, l>ritish privateers were sometimes at tlio very 
month of the river, seasons were adverse, and Indian allies 
insolent. Tt was reported with pride, that forty-five 
brick liouses were erected between the autunms of 17-19 
and 1752. 

Among the people a trausnuitatiou was going on. 


French fathers were moving aside to make room foi* 
Creole sons. The life of the seniors had been what the 
life of redemptiouers and liberated convicts, combining 
with that of a Trench and Swiss line and staff in and 
about the outposts of such a frontier, might be : idle, 
thriftless, gallant, bold, rude, free, and scornful of labor, 
which the company had brought into permanent contempt 
by the introduction of African slaves. In this atmos- 
phere they had brought up their children. Xow thc?e 
children were taking their parents' places, and with Latin A 
ductility were conforming to the mold of their nearest 
surroundings. They differed from their transatlantic stock 
much as the face of nature in Louisiana differed from that 
in France. A soil of unlimited fertility became, througli 
slavery, not an incentive to industry, but a promise of un- 
earned plenty. A luxurious and enervating climate joined 
its influence with this condition to debase even the Gallic 
love of pleasure to an unambitious apathy and an untrained 
sensuality. The courteous manners of France were 
largely retained ; but the habit of commanding a dull and^ 
abject slave class, over which a " black code " gave every 
white man full powers of police, induced a certain flerce 
imperiousness of will and temper ; Avhile that proud love , 
of freedom, so pervasive throughout the American wildei< 
ness, rose at times to an attitude of arrogant superiority/ 
over all constraint, and became the occasion of harsh com- 
ment in the reports sent to France by the otficers of their 
king. In the lakes, canubrakes, and swamps, and on the 


bayou ridges, of their dark, wet foi'csts, and on the sunny 
expanses of their marshes, a gi-eat abundance of bears, 
panthers, deer, swan, geese, and lesser game gave a bold 
zest to arduous sport. The chase because almost the only 
form of exertion, and woodcraft often the only education. 
As for the gentler sex, catching less grossness from 
negro slavery and less rudeness from the wilderness, they 
were, in mind as well as morals, superior to the men. 

Thev could read and write and make a little music. Such 


French vivacity as still remahied chose the ball-i*oom as 
their (Jiicf delight, while the gaming-table was the indoor 
passion of the men. Unrestrained, proud, intrepid, self- 
reliant, rudelj" voluptuous, of a high intellectual order, 
3'ct uneducated, imreasoning, impulsive, and inflammable 
— such was the first native-born generation of Franco- 



\ A THAT is a Creole ? Even in Louisiana the question 
would be variously answered.* The title did not 
hei'e fii'st belong to the descendants of Spanish, but of 
French settlers. But such a meaning implied a certain 
excellence of origin, and so came early to include any 
native, of French or Spanish descent by either parent, 
whose non-alliance Avith the slave race entitled him to 
social rank. Later, the tenn was adopted by — not con- 
ceded to — the natives of mixed blood, and is still so used 
among themselves. At length the spirit of commerce 

' As to the etymology of the word there are many conjectures, but 
few bold assertions. Is it Spanish ? — Italian ? — Carib ? — an invention 
of West Indian Spanish conquerors ? None of these questions meet an 
answer in the form of hearty assertion. In the American Journal of 
Philology i^October, 1882), Professor Harrison, of W^ashington and Leo 
University, Virginia, after exhausting Littro on the subject, saj'S of 
Skeat, that ''He proceeds with agile jien — dashes, abbreviations, equa- 
tion lines — to deduce the word, though with many misgivings, from the 
Spanish ciHdlo^ a native of America or the West Indies ; a corrupt word 
made by the negroes, said to be a contraction of criadillo, diminutive of 
crirtdo — one educated, instructed or bred up, pp. of cnar, lit. to create, 
also to nurse, instruct." 


saw the money value of so honored a title, and broadened 
its meaning to take in any creature or thing of variety or 
manufacture peculiar to Louisiana that might become an 
object of sale : as Creole ponies, cluckcns, cows, slioes, 
eggs, wagons, baskets, cabbages, negroes, etc. ^'et the 
(^i-eolos pj'oper will not share their distinction with thc5 
worthy "Acadian." lie is a Creole only by courtesy, 
and in the second ])er6on singular. I>esidos ]^rench and 
Spanish, there are oven, fen* convenience of speech, "col- 
ored" ("Creoles: bnt there are no Italian, or Sicilian, nor 
any English, Scotch, Irish, or "Yankee" Creoles, unless 
of paj'ontage married into, and themselves thoroughly^ 
proselyted in, Creole society. Neither Spanish jior A^mer- 
lean domination has taken from the Creoles theii* French 
vernacular. T'his, also, is part of their title ; and, in fine, 
there seems to be no moj'o serviceable definition of the 
V Creoles of Louisiana than this: that they are the French- 
speaking, native ]>oj*tion of the ruling class. 

There is no ]ieod to distinoiiish betwecTi the hiolier and 
humbler grades of those from whom they sprans;, A few 
settlej-s only were persons of rank and station. IVTany 
were the children of the casket-girls, and many Avere of 
such stock as societv pronounces U^ss than nothimr ; vet, 
in view of that state of societ}' which the French revolu- 
tion later overturned, any present overplus of honor may 
as well fall to the children of those who Hlled the i>i'isons 
before, as of those who filled them during that bloody 


In the days of De A^aiidreuil, the dwellings of the bet- 
ter class that had stood at first on the ininiediate front 
of the town, or on the first street behind, seem to have 
drawn back a square or two. They were also spreading 
toward and out through a gate in the palisade wall near 
its north comer. Bayou Iload, now a street of the city, 
issued from this gate northward to the village and bayou 
of St. John. Along this suburban way, surrounded by 
broad grounds, deeply shaded with live-oaks, magnolias, 
and other evergreen forest trees, and often having behind 
them plantations of indigo or myrtle, rose the wide, red- 
roofed, but severely plain dwellings of the rich, generally 
of one or one and a half stories, but raised on pillara 
often fifteen feet from the ground, and surrounded by 
wide verandas. 

In the lofty halls and spacious drawing-rooms of these 
homes — frequently, too, in the heart of the town, in the 
houses of the humblest exterior, their low, single-story 
wooden or brick walls rising from a gromid but partly 
drained even of its storm water, infested with reptile life 
and frequently overflowed — was beginning to be shown a 
splendor of dress and personal adornment hardly in har- 
mony with the rude simplicity of apartments and furni- 
ture, and scarcely to he expected in a town of unpaved, 
unlighted, and often impassable streets, surrounded by 
swamps and morasses on one of the wildest of American 

Slaves — ^not alwavs or acenerallv the dull, ill-featured 


C/Ongo or fierce lianbara, imported for the plantations, but 
comely Yaloff and Mandingo boys and girls, the shapelier 
for thei)' scanty dress — waited on every caprice, whether 
good or ill, and dropped themselves down in the corridors 
and on the verandas for stolen na])s among tlie dogs, and 
whips and saddles, in snch odd moments of day or night as 
found their masters and mistresses tired of being served. 
New Orleans had been the one colonized spot in the Delta 
: where slaves wej*e few, but now they rapidly became 
■numerous, and black domestic service made it easy for the 
Creoles to emulate the ostentatious living of the colonial 

To their bad example in living, these dignitaries, almost 
without exception, added that of corruption in office, 
(rovei-uors, royal commissaries, post-commandants, — the 
Marchioness do A'^audreuil conspicuously, — and many 
lesser ones, stood boldly accusing and accused of the 
grossest and the pettiest misdemeanors. Doubtless the 
corruption ^^'as exaggerated ; yet the testimony is official, 
abundant, and corroborative, and is verified in the ruinous 
expenses wliich at length drove France to a])andon the 
maintenance and sovereignty of the colony she had mis- 
governed for sixty-three years. 

Meanwhile, public morals were debased; idleness and 
intemperance were general ; speculation in the depreciated 
paper money which flooded the colony becanu) the prin- 
cipal business, and iiisolvency the connnon condition- 
Religion and education made pooi* headway. Almost 


the only item in their history is a " war of the Jesuits and 
Capuchins." Its " acrimonious writings, squibs, and pas- 
quinades" made much heat for years. Its satirical songs 
were heard, it appears, in the drawing-rooms as well as in 
the street ; for the fair sex took sides in it with lively 
zeal. In July, 1763, the Capuchins were left masters of 
the field. The decree of the French parliament had the 
year before ordered the Jesuits' expulsion from the 
realm ; their wide plantations just beyond the town wall 
being desirable, the Creole "Superior Council" became 
bold, and the lands already described as the site of the 
richest district iu the present !New Orleans were confis- 
cated and sold for $180,000. 

In this same year, a flag, not seen there before, began 
to appear in the yellow harbor of ]S'ew Orleans. In Feb- 
imar}', a treaty between England, France, and Spain, gave 
Great Britain all that immense part of the Mississippi 
Vallcv east of tlie river and north of Orleans Island. The 
Delta remained to France and to her still vast province of 
Louisiana. The navigation of the Mississippi was made 
free to the subjects of both empires alike. Trade with 
British vessels was forbidden the French colonies : vet a 
lively commerce soon sprang up with them at a point just 
above the plantations of the dispossessed Jesuits, after- 
ward the river front of the city of Lafayette, and now of 
the Fourth District of Xew Orleans. Here numerous 
trading vessels, sailing under the British flag, ascending 

the river and passing the town on the pretext of visiting 


the new Britisli posts of Manchac and Haton Rouge, 
tied tx) the waterside willows and earned on a commerce 
with the meixihants of the post they had just passed hy. 

The corrupt authorities winked at a practice that 
brought wealth to all, and the getting of honest rights by 
disingenuous and dishonest couj'ses became the justified 
liabit of the highest classes and the leading minds. The 
slave trade, too, received an unfortunate stimulus : a large 
business was done at this so-called '* F.ittle Nfanchac,'' in 
(iuinea negroes, whom the colonists bought of the Eng- 

The go\'enior o£ Louisiana at this time was Kerlerec, a 
distinguished captain in the French navy. He had suc- 
ceeded the Marcjuis in J 753, and iiad now governed the 
province for ten years. But he had lately received orders 
to return to >Vance and render account of his conduct in 
office. A work of j'etrenchment was begun. The tj'oops 
were reduced to three himdred. In June, a M. d' Abba- 
die landed in T^ew Orleans, commissioned to succeed the 
governoi" under the sJiorn honors and seini-(*ommercial 
title of director-general. Jverlerec, saib'ng to h^'i'ance, was 
cast uito the Bastile and " died of grief shortly after his 

I^he Oi'eoles noted, with much agitation, these and 
otlier symptoms of some unrevealcd design to alter their 
])olitical condition. By and by, rumor of what had sc- 
cretlv becji transacted besran to reach their ears in the 
most offensive shape. Yet, for u time, M. d'Abbadic 


Iiimself remained oflScially as uninformed as they; and 
it was only in October, 1754, twenty- three months after 
the signing of a secret act at Fontainebleau, that the au- 
thoritative announcement reached New Orleans of her 
cession, with all of French Louisiana, to the King of 

Such is the origin, surrounding influences, and resulting 
chaiticter and life of the earliest Creoles of Louisiana. 
With many influences against them, they rose fi'om a 
chaotic condition below the plane of social order to the 
station of a proud, freedom-loving, agricultural, and com- 
mercial people, who M'^ere now about to strike the first 
armed blow ever aimed by Americans against a royal de- 

Their descendants would be a community still more 
imique than they are, had they not the world-wide trait of 
a pride of ancestry. V>\\t they might as easily be excused 
for boasting of other things which they have overlooked. 
A pride of ascent would be as well grounded ; and it will 
be pleasant to show in later chapters that the decadence 
unputed to them, sometimes even by themselves, has no 
foundation in fact, but that their course, instead, has 
been, in the main, upward from first to last, and so con- 
tinues to-day. 



A SI>^'GLE paragi*apli in recapitulation. 

In 160y, Fi-ance, by tlic lian<l of her gallant 
sailor, D'lberville, founded the province of Louisiana. 
Ju 171 vS, his brother, Bienville, laid out the little paral- 
lelogram of streets and ditches, and palisaded lots which 
t'ornied New ( )rleans. Here, amid the willow-jungles of 
ihe Mississippi's low banks, under the glaring sunshine of 
bayou clearings, in the dark shadows of the Delta's wet 
forests, the Louisiana Creoles came into existence — val- 
orous, unletteied, and unresti'ained, as military outpost 
life in such a land might make them. In sentiment they 
were loyal to their king; in priuci])le, to themselves and 
their soil. Sixty -three years had passed, with floods and 
famines and Lidian wars, corrupt misgovcrnment and its re- 
sultant distresses, when in 1T02 it suited the schemes of an 
unj)rincipled court secretly to convey the unprofitable colony 

land and people, all and singular — to the Xing of Spain. 

Tn the earlv summer of 170J:, before the news of this 
imfeelino: barter had startled the ears of the colonists, a 
certain class in Xew Orleans had begun to make formal 


complaint of a condition of affairs in theii* sorry little 
town (commercial and financial rather than political) that 
seemed to them no longer bearable. There had been 
commercial development ; but, in the light of theii* griev- 
ances, this only showed through what a debris of public 
disorder the commerce of a country or town may make a 
certain progress. 

These petitioners were the merchants of Xew Orleans. | 
Their voice was now heard for the first time. The pri- I 
vate material interests of the town and the oppressions of 
two corrupt governments were soon to come to an open 
struggle. It was to end, for the Creoles, in ignominy and 
disaster. But in bettei* j^ears further on there was a time 
in stoi*e when arms should no longer overawe; but \vhen 
commerce, instead, was to rule the destinies, not of a 
French or Spanish military post, but of the great south- 
ern sea-port of a nation yet to be. Meanwhile the spirit 
of independence was stirring within the inhabitants. 
They scarcely half recognized it themselves (there is a 
certain unconsciousness in truth and right) ; but their 
director-gen ei-aPs zeal for royalty was chafed. 

" As I was finishing this letter," wrote M. d'Abbadie, 
" the merchants of Xew Orleans presented mo with a 
petition, a copy of which I have the honor to forward. 
You will find in it those characteristic features of sedition 
and insubordination of which I complain." 

A few months later came w^oi*d of the cession to Spain. 
The people refused to believe it. It was nothing that the 


king's letter directly stated the fact. It was nothing that 
official instructions to M. d'Abbadie as to the manner of 
evacuating and surrendering the pi'ovinco were full and 
precise. Tt was nothing that co]>ies of the treaty and of 
Spain's letter of acceptance were spi'ead ont in the council 
chamber, where the humblest white man could go and 
read them. Such pei-fidy was simply incredible. The 
Iransfoj' inu8t be a make-believe, or they were doomed to 
bankruptcy- not figuratively only, but, as we shall i)res- 
ently see, literally also. 

So, when doubt could stay no longer, hope took its 
place— the hope that a prayer to tl)eir sovereign might 
avert the consummation of the tieaty, which ha<l already 
be(in so inexplicably delayed. On a certain dny, there- 
fore, early in JT()5, there was an im]>osing gathering on 
that Place d' Amies already the place of romantic remin- 
is(3ences. The voice of the people was to be heard in 
advocacy of their risrhts. Nearly all the notables of the 
town Avei'C pr(».sent ; planters, too, from all tlie nearer 
parts of tlie Delta, Avith some of tjie superior coniicil and 
other officials — an odd motley of lace and tiannel, pow- 
dcre<l wigs, buckskin, dress-swords, French leather, and 
cow-hide. One Jean Milhet was there. Mo was tlie 
wealthiest merchant in the town, lie had signed rhe 
petition of the previous June, with its '"features oi' sedi- 
tion and insubordinatioji.-' And he was now stint to 
1^'rance with this new prayer that the king would an-ange 
with Spain to nullify the act of cessioji. 


Milhet, in Paris, sougiit out Bienville. But the ex-gov- 
ernor of the province and unsuccessful campaigner agamst 
its Indian foes, in his eighty-sixth j'car, was fated to fail 
once more in his effort to serve Louisiana. They sought 
together the royal audience. But the minister, the Due 
de Choiseul (the transfer had been part of his policy) 
adroitly barred the way. They never saw the king, and 
their mission was brought to naught with coui'teous des- 
patch. Such was the word Milhet sent back. But a 
hope without foundations is not to be undermined. The 
Creoles, in 176(», heard his ill-tidings without despair, and 
fed their delusion on his continued stay in France and on 
the non-display of the Spanish authority. 

By another treatj^ Great Jhitain had received, as already 
mentioned, a vast territorv on the eastern side of the 
Mississippi. This transfer was easier to understand. The 
English had gone promptly into possession, and, much to 
the mental distress of the acting-governor of Louisiana, 
M. Aubry (M. d'Abbadie having died in 17C5), were mak- 
ing the harbor of New Orleans a highway for their men- 
of-war and transports, while without ships, ammunition, 
or money, and with only a few soldiers, and they entitled 
to their discharge, he awaited Spain's languid receipt of 
the gift which had been made her only to keep it from 
these very English. 

But, at length, Spain moved, or seemed about to move. 
Late in the summer a letter came to the superior council 
from Havana, addressed to it by Don Antonio de Ulloa, a 


commodore in tlie Spanish navy, a scientific scliolar and 
author of reno^ni, and now revealed as tlie royally com- 
missioned governor of liOuisiana. Tliis letter announced 
that Don Antonio would soon arrive in New Orleans. 

Here was another seed of cniel dehision. I^^'or moutli 
after month went by, the year dosed, January and Feb- 
rnary, 17(>G, came and passed, and the new governor had 
not made his appearance. Surelj^ it seemed, this was all 
a mere diplomatic manoeuver. But, when the delay had 
done as nmch harm as it could, on the 5th of Mai*ch, 
J 706, UUoa landed in New Orleans, lie brought with 
him only two companies of Spanish infautr}-, liis Govern- 
ment having taken the assurance of France that moi'e 
troops would ]iot be needed. 



r I ^HE cession had now only to go into effect. It seemed 
to the Louisianians a sentence of commercial and 
industrial annihilation, and it was this belief, not loyalty 
to France, that fmnished the tnie motive of the Creoles 
and justification of the struggle of 17GS. The merchants 
were, therefore, its mainspring. But merchants are not 
apt to be public leaders. They were behind and under the 
people. AVlio, then, or what, was in front ? An official 
body whose growth and power in the colony had had great 
influence in forming the public character of the Creoles 
— the Superior Council. 

It was older than Kew Orleans. Formed in 1712 of 
but two members, of whom the governor was one, but 
gradually enlarged, it dispensed justice and administered 
civil government over the whole colony, under the ancient 
" custom of Paris," and the laws, edicts, and ordinances 
of the kingdom of France. It early contained a germ of 
popular government in its power to make good the want 
of a quorum by calling in notable inhabitants of its own 
selection. By and by its judicial fimctions had become 


pnrelj appellate, and it took on features suggestive, at 
least, of representative rule. 

It was this Superior Council which, in 1722, with Bien- 
ville at its Iiead, removed to the new settlement of Xew 
Orleans, and so made it the colony's capital. In 1 723, it 
was exercising powers of police. It was by this body 
that, in 172-1:, was issued that dark enactment which, 
throusrh the dominations of three successive national 
powers, remained on the statute-book -the l>lack Code. 
One of its articles forbade the freeing of a slave without 
i-eason shown lo the Council, and by it esteemed good. Fn 
1720, its too free spirit was ah'eady receiving the repri- 
mand of the home government. Vet, in IT2S, the king 
assigned to it the supervision of land titles and power to 
appoint and remove at will a lower court of its own mem- 

With each important development in the colony it had 
grown in numbers and powers, and, in 1748, especially, 
had been mvQu discretionarv anthoritv ovei* land titles, 
such, as must have been a virtual control of the whole aii:- 
i'icnltui*al counnunity's moj*al support. About 1752 it is 
seen resisting tlie encroachments of the Jesuits, though 
these were based on a commission from the Bishop of 
Quebec; and it was this body that, in 1708, boldly dis- 
possessed this same order of its plantations, a year l)efoj-e 
the home government expelled it from France. In 1 75S, 
with Iverlerec at its head, this Council had been too strong 
for Itochemore, the inlendant-commissaj-y, and too free — 


jostled him rudely for three years, and then procured of 
the king his dismissal from office. And lastly, it was this 
body that d'Abbadie, in another part of the despatch 
already quoted from, denounced as seditious in spirit, 
urging the displacement of its Creole members, and the 
filling of their seats with imported Frenchmen. 

Ulloa, the Spanish governor, stepped ashore on the 
Place d'Armes in a cold rain, with that absence of pomp 
which characterizes both the sailor and the recluse. The 
people received him in cold and haughty silence that soon 
turned to aggression. Foucault, the intendant-commis- 
sarv, was the first to move. On the ver^' day of the srov- 
ernor's arrival he called his attention to the French paper 
money left unprovided for in the province. There were 
seven million livres of it, worth oniv a fourth of its face 
value. " AVhat was to be done about it ? " The governor 
answered promptly and kindly : It should be the circulat- 
ing medium at its market value, pending instructions 
from Spain. But the people instantly and clamorously 
took another stand : It must be redeemed at par. 

A few days later he was waited on by the merchants. 
They presented a series of written questions touching 
their connnercial interests. Thev awaited his answers, 
they said, in order to know hoic to direct their future 
actions. In a despatch to his government, Ulloa termed 
the address " imperious, insolent, and menacing.-' 

The fii'st approach of the Superior Council was quite as 
offensive. At the head of this body sat Aubry. He was 


Joya] to his king, brave, and determined to execute the 
orders he held to transfer tJie province. The troops were 
under liis command. But, by tlio rules of the Comicil it 
was the intendant, Foucault, the evil genius of the hour, 
who performed the functions of president. Foucault 
ruled the insiu'gent Council and signed its pronuncianiien- 
tos, while Aubry, the sternly protesting but helpless 
governor, filled the seat of honor. .Vnd here, too, sat 
Tjafrojiicre, the attorney-general. It was lie who had 
harangued the notables and the people on the Place 
d'Armes when they sent Milhet to France. The ])etition 
to the king was from his turgid pen. He was a Creole, 
the son of a poor Canadian, and a striking type of the 
people that now looked to him as their leader : uf com- 
manding mien, hixm*ious in his tastes, passionate, over- 
bearing, ajnbitious, replete with wild energy, and 
equipped witli the wordy eloquence tJiat moves the ignor- 
ant or half -informed. I'he Council requested IJlloa to 
exhibit his commission. He replied coldly that he would 
not take possession of the colony until the arrival of ad- 
ditional Spanish troops, which he was expecting ; and 
that then his dealings would be witli the Kreneh gov- 
ernor, Aubry, and not Avith a subordinate civil body. 

Thus the populace, the merchants, and the civil govern- 
ment — which included the judiciary — ranged themselves 
at cmce in hostility to Spain. The military soon moved 
forward and took their stand on the same line, refusing 
point-blank to pass into the Spanish service. Aubry 


alone recognized the cession and UUoa's powers, and to 
him alone Ulloa showed his commission. Yet the Span- 
ish governor virtually assumed control, set his few Span- 
ish soldiers to building and garrisoning new forts at im- 
portant points in various quarters, and, Avith Aubry, 
endeavored to maintain a conciliatory policy pending the 
arrival of troops. It was a policy wise only because 
momentarily imperative in dealing with such a people. 
They were but partly conscious of their rights, but they 
were smarting under a lively knowledge of their wrongs*, 
and then' impatient temper could brook any other treat- 
ment with better dignitj^ and less resentment than that 
which trifled with their feelings. 

Ill-will began, befoie long, to find open utterance. An 
arrangement by which the three or four companies of 
French soldiers remained in service under Spanish pay, 
but under French colors and Aubiy's command, was 
fiercelv denounced. 

Ulloa was a man of great amiability and enlighten- 
ment, but nervous and sensitive. Kot only was the de- 
fective civilization around him discordant to his gentle 
tastes, but the extreme contrast which his personal char- 
acter offered was an intolerable offence to the people. 
Yet he easily recognized that behind and beneath all their 
frivolous criticisms and imperious demands, and the fierce 
determination of their Superior Council to resist all con- 
tractions of its powers, the true object of dread and aver- 
sion was the iron tyrannies and extortions of Spanish 


colonial I'cvonnc laws. This feeling it was that had pro- 
duced the offensive memorial of the merchants ; and yet 
he met it kindly, and, only two months after his arrival, 
began a series of concessions looking to the i)reservation 
of trade with France and tlic French AVest Indies, which 
the colonists had believed themselves doomed to lose. 
The people met these concessions with resentful remoji- 
sti'ance. One of the governors proposals was to fix a 
schedule of reasonable prices on all imported goods, 
througJi the appi'aisement of a board of disinterested citi- 
zens. Certainly it was unjust and oppressive, as any 
Spanish connnercial ordinance was likely to be ; but it 
was intended to benefit the mass of consumers. Ihit con- 
sumers and suppliers for once had struck Ijands, and the 
whole ])eople raised a united ^oico of such grievous com- 
plaint tliat the ordinance was verbally r(»vokc(l. 

A further motive— the fear of dis])lacemcnt — moved 
the oflice-liolders, and kept rhem maliciously diligent. 
Everv harmless incident, evcrv trivial mistake, was 
caught up vindictively. The governor's '• manner of liv- 
hig, his tastes, liis habits, his conversation, the most triv- 
ial occurrences of his household/' were construed off(}n- 
sivelv. lie m'cw incensed and l)ciran to threaten. In 
December, L767, Jean Milhet returned from l^Vance. His 
final word of ill-success Mas onlv fuel to tlie fire. The 
year passed away, and nine months of 176S followt^d. 

Ulloa and Aubry kept well together, though Aubry 
thought ill of the Spaniard's adniinistrati\ e powers. In 


their own eyes they seemed to he having some success. 
They were, wrote Anhry, " gradually molding Frenchmen 
to Spanish domination." The Spanish flag floated over 
the new military posts, the French ensign over the old, 
and the colony seemed to be dwelling in peace under both 

But Ulloa and the Creoles were sadly apart. Eepeated 
innovations in matters of commerce and ix>lice were only 
so many painful surprises to them. They were embar- 
rassed. They Mere distressed. AVhat was to become of 
their seven million livres of paper money no one yet could 
tell. Even the debts that the Spaniards had assumed 
were unpaid. Values had shrunk sixty-six per cent. 
There was a specie famine. Insolvency was showing it- 
self on every hand ; and the disasters that were to follow 
the complete establishment of Spanish ix>wer were not 
known but might be guessed. They returned the gov- 
ernor distnist for distrust, censure for censure, and scorn 
for sconi. 

And now there came rnnior of a royal decree suppress- 
ing the town's commerce with France and the A\"est 
Indies. It was enough. The people of 2\ew Orleans and 
its adjacent river " coasts," resolved to expel the Span- 


THE msuRHFxrnoN. 

nVTEW OELEAXS, in 1708, was still a towm of some 
thirty-two hundred persons only, a third of whom 
were black slaves. It had lain for thirty-five years in the 
I'eeds and willows with scarcely a notable change to re- 
lieve the poverty of its aspect. Dm'ing the Indian wars 
barracks had risen on eitlier side of the Place d'Arnies. 
AV^hen, in 1758, the French evacuated Fort Ouquesne 
and floated down the Ohio and Mississippi to Xew Or- 
leans, Kerlerec added other barmeks, part of whose luin 
still stands in the neighborhood of Barracks Street. Sa- 
lients liad been made at the corners of its palisade Avail ; 
there was "a banquette within and a very trifling ditch 
without." ,lust beyond this wall, on a part of the land of 
the banished eiesuits, in a large, deeply shaded garden, 
was a house that had become the rendezvous of a con- 

Lafi'cniSi'e sat at the head of its board. His majestic 
airs had got him the nickname of "Louis Quatorze."' 
Foucault was conspicuous. His friendship with Madame 
Pradal, the lady of the house, was what is called notor- 


ious. Jean Milliet and a brother, Joseph Milhet, and 
other leading merchants, Caresse, Petit, and Poupet, were 
present ; also Doncet, a prominent lawyer, and Marquis, a 
captain of Swiss troops ; with Balthasar de Masan, Hardy 
de Boisblanc, and Joseph Villerd, planters and public 
men, the last, especially, a man of weight. And, as if 
the name of the city's founder must be linked with all 
patriotic disaster, among the number were two of Bien- 
ville's nephews — ^Xoyan, a young ex-captain of cavalry, 
and Bienville, a naval lieutenant, Xoyan's still younger 

On the 25th of October, 1768, the mine was sprung. 
From twenty to sixty miles above Ifew Orleans, on the 
banks of the Mississippi, lies the Cote des Allemands, the 
German coast, originally colonized by John Law's Alsa- 
tians. Here the conspirators had spread the belief that 
the Spanish obligations due the farmers there would not 
be paid ; and when, on the date mentioned, DUoa sent an 
agent to pay them, he was arrested by a body of citizens 
under orders from Viller6, and deprived of the money. 

Just beyond the German coast lay the coast of the 
" Acadians." From time to time, since the peace with 
England, bands of these exiles from distant Nova Scotia 
had found their way to Louisiana, some by way of the 
American colonies and the Ohio River, and some — many, 
indeed— by way of St. Domingo, and had settled on the 
shores of the Mississippi above and below the mouth of La 
Fourche and down the banks of that bayou. Hardships 



and afflictions had come to be the salt of their bread, and 
now a last hope of ending their daj-s under the flag for 
which tliey had so pathetic an affection depended upon 
the success of this uprising. They johied the insurgents. 

On the 27th, Foucault called a meeting of the Superior 
Council for the 28th. In the night, the guns at Tchou- 
pitoulas gate — at the upper river cornej* — were spiked. 
Farther away, along a narrow road, with the wide and 
silent Mississippi now hidden bj' intervening brakes of 
cotton- wood oi* willow and now broadening out to view, 
but always on the right, and the dark, wet, moss-draped 
forest always on the left, in i*udc garb and with rude 
weapons — muskets, fowling pieces, anything — the Ger- 
mans and Acadians were marching upon tlie town. 

On the moniing of the 28tli, they entered Tchoupi- 
tonlas tratc. At the head of the Acadians was Xovan. 
A^illere led the Germans. Other gates were forced, other 
companies entered, stores and dwellings were closed, and 
the insurgents paraded the streets. "^Vll,-- says Aubry, 
"was in a state of combustion/' The people gathered on 
the square. " Louis Quatorze" harangued them. So did 
Doucet and the brothers Milhet. Six liundred persons 
signed a petition to the Suj>erior Council, asking the 
official action M'hich the members of that bodv, then sit- 
ting, were ready and waiting to give. 

Aubiy had a total force of one hundred and ten men. 
>T'hat he conld do he did. lie sent for Lafr^nicre, and 
af tenvard for Foucault, and protested bitterly, but in vain. 


Under his protection, UUoa retired with his family on 
board the Spanish frigate, which liad slipped her cables 
from the shore and anchored out in the river. The Span- 
ish governor's staff remained in his house, which they had 
barricaded, sniTounded by an angry mob that filled the 
air \dth huzzas for the King of France. The Council met 
again on the 29th. A French flag had been hoisted in 
the Place d'Armes, and a thousand insurgents gathered 
around it demanding the action of the Council. As that 
body was about to proceed to its final measure, Aubiy ap- 
peared before it, warning and reproaching its members. 
Two or three alone Avavei*ed, but Lafreniere's counsel pre- 
vailed, and a i^eport was adopted enjoining Ulloa to 
" leave the colony in the frigate in which he came, with- 
out delay." 

Aubry was invited by the conspirators to resume the 
government. His response was to charge them with re- 
bellion and predict their ruin. Ulloa, the kindest if not 
the wisest well-wisher of Louisiana that had held the gu- 
beraatorial commission since Bienville, sailed, not in the 
Spanish frigate, which remained " for repairs," but in a 
French vessel, enduring at the last moment the songs and 
jeers of a throng of night roysterers, and the menacing 
presence of sergeants and bailiffs of the Council. 




^T^HE next move on tlie part of all concerned was to 
hurry foi'ward messengers, Avith declarations, to the 
courts of France and Spain. The colonists sent theh-s ; 
Aubry and Ulloa, each, his ; and Foucault, his — a paper 
characterized by a shameless double-dealing which leaves 
the intendant-commissary alone, of all the participants in 
these events, an infamous memory. 

The memorial of the people was an absurd confusion of 
ti*uth and misstatement. It made admissions fatal to its 
pleadings. It made arrogant announcements of unap- 
plied principles. It enumerated real wi'ongs, for which 
France and Spain, but not Ulloa, were to blame. And 
with these it mingled such charges against the banished 
governor as: That he had a chapel in his own house; 
that he absented himself f ix)m the French churches ; that 
he enclosed a fourth of the public common to pasture his 
private horses; that he sent to Havana for a wet-nurse; 
that he ordered the abandonment of a brick-yard near the 
town, on account of its pools of putrid water ; that he re- 
moved leprous childi*en fi'om the town to the inhospitable 


settlements at the moiith of the river; that he forbade 
the public whipping of slaves in the town ; that maste]*s 
had to go six miles to get a negro flogged ; that he had 
landed in New Orleans during a thunder-and-rain storm, 
and under other ill omens ; that he claimed to be king of 
the colony ; that he offended the people with evidences of 
sordid avarice ; and that he added to these crimes — as the 
text has it — "many others, equally just [!] and terrible!" 

Not less unhappy were the adulations offered the king, 
who so justly deserved their, detestation. The conspira- 
tors had at first entertained the bold idea of declaring the 
colony's independence and setting up a republic. To this 
end Xoyan and his brother Bienville, about three months 
before the outbreak, had gone secretly to Governor El- 
liott, at Pensacola, to treat for the aid of British troops. 
In this they failed ; and, though their lofty resolution, 
which, by wiser leaders, among a people of higher disci- 
pline or under a greater faith in the strength of a just 
cause, might have been communicated to the popular will, 
was not abandoned, it was hidden, and finally suffocated 
under a pretence of the most ancient and servile loyalty : 
" Great king, the best of kings [Louis XV.], father and 
protector of your subjects, deign, sire, to receive into yoiur 
royal and fraternal bosom the children who have no other 
desire than to die your subjects," etc. 

The beai-ers of this address were Le Sassier, St. Lette, 
and Milhet. They appeared before the Due de Choiseul 
imsupported ; for the aged Bienville was dead. St. Lette, 


chosen becanse he had once been an intimate of the duke, 
was cordially received. But the deputation as a body met 
only frowns and tlie intelligence that the King of Spain, 
earlier informed, was taking steps for a permanent occu- 
pation of the refractoiy province. St. Lette remained in 
the duke's bosom. Milhet and Le Sassier returned, carrv- 
ing with them only the cold comfort of an order refund- 
ing the colonial debt at three-fifths of its nominal value, 
in five per cent, bonds. 

It was the fate of the Creoles — possibly a climatic i*e- 
Bult — to be slack-handed and dilatorv. Month after 
month folloMcd the October uprising without one of those 
incidents that would have succeeded in the historv of au 
earnest people. In March, 17G9, Foucault covertly de- 
serted his associates, and denounced them, by letter, to 
the French cabinet. In April the Spanish frigate sailed 
from Xew Orleans. Three intrepid men (Loyola, Gay- 
arre, and Xavarro), the governmental staff which UUoa 
had left in the province, still remained, unmolested, ^ot 
a fort was taken, though it is probable not one could have 
withstood assault. Not a spade was struck into the 
ground, or an obstruction planted, at any strategic point, 
throughout that whole " Creole " spring time which 
stretches in its exuberant perfection from January to 

At length the project of forming a republic Mas revived 
and was given definite shape and advocacy. Eut priceless 
time Jiad l>een thrown away, the opportune moment had 


passed, an overwhelming Spanish array and fleet was 
approaching, and the spirit of the people was paralyzed. 
The revolt against the injustice and oppression of two 
royal powers at once, by " the first European colony that 
entertained the idea of proclaiming her independence," 
was virtually at an end. 

It was the misfortune of the Creoles to be wanting in 
habits of mature thought and of self-control. They had 
not made that study of reciprocal justice and natural 
rights which becomes men who would resist tyranny. 
They lacked the steady purpose bred of daily toil. With 
these qualities, the insurrection of 176S might have been 
a revolution for the overthrow of French and Spanish 
misrule and the establishment and maintenance of the 
right of self-government. 

The Creoles were valorous but unreflecting. They had 
the spirit of freedom, but not the profound principles of 
right which it becomes the duty of revolutionists to assert 
and struggle for. They arose fiercely against a confusion 
of real and fancied grievances, sought to be imgovemed 
rather than self-governed, and, following distempei'ed 
leaders, became a warning in their many-sided short-sighted- 
ness, and an example only in their audacious courage. 

They had now only to pay the penalties ; and it was by 
an entire inversion of all their first intentions that they at 
length joined in the stniggle which brought to a vigorous 
birth that American nation of which they finally became 
a part. 





/^NE morning toward the end of July, 1769, the peo- 
ple of New Orleans were brought suddenly to their 
feet by the news that the Spaniards were at the mouth of 
the river in overwhelming force. There was no longer 
any room to postpone choice of action. 

Marquis, the Swiss captain, with a white cockade in his 
hat (lie had been the leading advocate for a republic), and 
Petit, with a pistol in either hand, came out upon the 
ragged, sunburnt grass of the Place d'Armes and called 
upon the people to defend their liberties. About a hun- 
dred men joined tlieni ; but the town was struck motion- 
less with dismay ; the few who had gathered soon disap- 
peared, and by the next day the resolution of the leaders 
was distinctly taken, to submit. But no one fled. 

On the second morning Aubry called the people to the 
Place d'Armes, promised the clemency of the illustrious 
Irishman who commanded the approaching expedition, 
and sent them away, commanding them to keep within 
their homes. 

Lafreniere, Marquis, and Milhet descended the river. 


appeared before the commander of the Spaniards, and by 
the mouth of Lafreniere in a submissive bnt brave and 
manly address presented the liomage of the people. The 
captain-general in his reply let fall the word seditious. 
Marquis boldly but respectfully objected. He was ans- 
wered with gracious dignity and the assurance of ultimate 
justice, and the insurgent leaders returned to "New Or- 
leans and to their homes. 

The Spanish fleet numbered twenty-four sail. For 
more than three weeks it slowly pushed its way around 
the bends of the Mississippi, and on the 18th of August 
it finally furled its canvas before the town. Aubry drew 
up his French troops with the colonial militia at the bottom 
of the Place d'Armes, a gun was fired from the flagship 
of the fleet, and Don Alexandro O'Reilly, accompanied 
by twenty-six hundred chosen Spanish troops, and with 
fifty pieces of artillery, landed in unprecedented pomp, 
and took formal possession of tlie province. 

On the 21st, twelve of the principal insurrectionists 
were arrested. Two days later Foucault was also made a 
prisoner. One other, Braud, the printer of the seditious 
documents, was apprehended, and a proclamation an- 
nounced that no other arrests would be made. Foucault, 
pleading his official capacity, was taken to France, tried 
by his government, and thrown into the Bastile. Braud 
pleaded his obligation as government printer to print all 
public documents, and was set at liberty. Villere either 
" died raving mad on the day of his arrest," as stated in 


the Spanish official report, or met his end in the act of 
resisting the guard on board the frigate where he had 
been placed in confinement. Lafreniore, Noyan, Caresse, 
Jilarquis, and Joseph Milhet were condemned to be 
lianged. The supplications both of colonists and Spanish 
officials saved them only from the gallows, and they fell 
before the fire of a file of Spanish grenadiers. 

The volley made at least one young bride at once an 
orphan and a widow. For the youthful De Xoyan had 
been newly wed to the daughter of Laf rcniere. Judge 
Gayarre, in his liistory of Louisiana, tells, as a tradition, 
that the young chevalier, in prison awaiting execution, 
being told that his attempt to escaj^ would be winked 
at by the cruel captain-general, replied that he would 
live or die with his associates, and so met his im timely 

Against his young brother, Bienville, no action seems 
to have been taken beyond the sequestration of his prop- 
erty. He assumed the title of his unfortunate brother, 
and as the Chevalier de Xoyan and lieutenant of a ship 
of the line, died at St. Domingo nine years after. But 
Petit, Masan, Dbucet, Boisblanc, Jean Milhet, and Pou- 
l>et were consigned to the Alorro Castle, Havana, where 
they remained a year, and were then set at liberty, but 
wei-e forbidden to return to Louisiana and were deprived 
of their property. About the same time Foucault was re- 
leased from the Bastile. The declaration of the Superior 
Council was buraed on the same Place d'Armes that had 



seen it first proclaimed. Anbiy refused a liigli commis- 
sion in the Spanish army, departed for Fi-ance, and Lad 
already entered tlie Itiver Garonne, wlien he was eliip- 
wrecked and lost. " Cruel O'Reilly ": — the captain-gen- 
eral was justly named. 

>l O'Rtilly. 

There could, of course, be but one fate for the Superior 
Council as an official body, and the Count O'Reilly, 
armed with plenary powers, swept it out of existence. 
The calnldo took its place. This change fi-om French 
rule to Spanish lay not principally in the laws, but in the 
redistribution of power. The ciown, the swoi-d, and the 


crosA absorbed the liou's share, leaving bnt a morsel to be 
doled out, with mach form and pomp, to the cdbUdo. 
Yery quaint and redolent with Spanish romance was this 
body, which for the third part of a century ruled the 
pettier destinies of the Louisiana Creoles. Therein sat 
the six regidorsj or rulere, whose seats, bought at first at 
auction, were sold from successor to successor, the crown 
always coming in for its share of the price. Five of 
them were loaded down with ponderous titles; the alferez 
real or royal standard bearer ; the cdcalde-mayor-provin- 
cialj who overtook and tried offenders escaped beyond 
town limits ; the alguazU-mayor, with his eye on police 
and prisons; the depositcmo-ffeneral, who kept and dis- 
pensed the public stores ; and the recihidor de jpenaa de 
cdmara^ the receiver of fines and penalties. Above these 
six sat four whom the six, annually passing out of office, 
elected to sit over their six successors. These four must 
be residents and householders of New Orleans. No of- 
ficer or attach6 of the financial department of the realm, 
nor any bondsman of such, nor any one aged under 
twenty-six, nor any new convert to the Catholic faith, 
could qualify. Two were alcaldes 07'dina7'ioSj common 
judges. In addition to other duties, they held petty 
courts at evening in their own dwellings, and gave un- 
written decisions ; but the soldier and the priest were be- 
yond their jurisdiction. A third was sindico-procurador- 
generalj and sued for town revenues ; and the fourth was 
town treasm'er, the mayor-domO'de-jiTopTioa. At the bot- 


torn of the scale was the escribano, or secretary, and at 
the top, the governor. 

It was like a crane, — all feathers. A sample of its 
powers was its right to sell and revoke at will the meat 
monopoly and the many other petty municipal privileges 
which characterized the Spanish rule and have been 
handed down to the present day in the city's offensive 
license system. The underlying design of the cabildo's 
creation seems to have been not to confer, but to scatter 
and neutralize power in the hands of royal sub-officials 
and this body. Loaded with titles and fettered with 
minute ministerial duties, it was, so to speak, the Superior 
Council shorn of its locks ; or if not, then, at least, a body 
whose members recognized their standing as (/uardians of 
the people and servants of the king. 

O'Keilly had come to set up a government, but not to 
remain and govern. On organizing the cabildo, he an- 
nounced the appointment of Don Louis de Unzaga, colonel 
of the regiment of Havana, as governor of the province, 
and yielded him the chair. But under his own higher 
commission of captain-general he continued for a time in 
control. He had established in force the laws of Castile 
and the Indies and the use of the Spanish tongue in the 
courts and the public offices. Those who examine the 
dusty notarial records of that day find the baptismal 
names, of French and Anglo-Saxon origin, changed to a 
Spanish orthography, and the indices made upon these in- 
stead of upon the surnames. 



So, if laws and goverament conld have done it, Loni- 
Biana would have been made Spanish. But the change in 
the laws was not violent. There was a tone of severity 
and a feature of arbitrary surveillance in those of Spain ; 
but the principles of the French and Spanish systems had 
a common origin. One remotely, the other almost di- 
rectly, was from the Roman Code, and they were point- 
edly similar in the matters which seemed, to the Creole, 
of supreme importance, — the marital relation, and inheri- 
tance. But it was not long before he found that now 
under the Spaniard, as, earlier, under the French, the 
laws tliemselves, and their administration, pointed in very 
different directions. Spanish rule in Louisiana was better, 
at least, than b^'ench, M'hich, it is true, scarcely deserved 
the name of government. As to the laws themselves, it 
is worthy of notice that Louisiana " is at this time the 
only State, of the vast territories acquired from France, 
Spain, and Mexico, in which the civil law has been re- 
tained, and forms a large portion of its jurisprudence." 

On the 29th of October, 1770, OUleilly sailed from 
Xew Orleans M-ith most of his troops, leaving the Spanish 
power entirely and peacefully established. The force left 
bv him in the colon v amounted to one thousand two hun- 
dred men. He had dealt a sudden and terrible blow; but 
he had followed it only with velvet strokes. His suffcres- 
tions to the home government of commercial measures 
advantageous to Xew Orleans and the colony, were 
many, and his departure was the signal for the com- 


mencement of active measures intended to induce, if 
possible, a change in the sentiments of the people, — one 
consonant with the political changes he had forced 
upon them. Such was the kindlier task of the wise and 
mild Unzaga. 



/^ROZAT— Law— Lonis XV.— Charles m.— whoever 
at one time or aiiotlier was tlie transatlantic master 
of Louisiana managed its affairs on the same bad prin- 
ciple : To none of them had a colony any inherent rights. 
They entered into possession as cattle are let into a pas- 
ture or bi-eak into a field. It was simply a commei-cial 
venture projected in the interests of the sovereign's or 
monopolist's revenues, and restrictions were laid or indul- 
gences bestowed upon it merely as those interests seemed 
to I'equire. And so the Mississippi Delta, until better 
ideas could prevail, could not show other than a gaunt, 
ill-nourished civilization. The weight of oppression, if 
the governors and other officers on the spot had not 
evaded the letter of the roval decrees and tausjht tlie 
Creoles to do the same, would actually have crushed the 
life out of the province. 

The merchants of New Orleans, when Unzaga took the 
governor's chair, dared not import from France anything 
but what the customs authorities chose to consider articles 
of necessit}\ With St. Domingo and Martinique they 


could only exchange lumber and grain for breadstuffs and 
wine. Their ships must be passported; their bills of 
lading were offensively policed ; and these " privileges " 
were only to last until Spain could supplant them by a 
commerce exclusively her own. They were completely 
shut out from every other market in the world except 
certain specified ports of Spain, where, they complained, 
they could not sell theii' produce to advantage nor buy 
what was wanted in the province. They could employ 
only Spanish bottoms commanded by subjects of Spain ; 
these could not put into even a Spanish- American inter- 
mediate port except in distress, and then only under oner- 
ous restrictions. They were virtually throttled merely by 
a rigid application of the theory which had always op- 
pressed them, and only by the loose and flexible adminis- 
tration of which the colony and town had survived and 
gi'own, while Anthony Crozat had become bankrupt, 
Law's Compagnie d'Occident had been driven to other 
fields of enterprise, and Louis XV. had heaped up a loss 
of millions more than he could pay. 

Ulloa's banishment left a gate wide open which a kind 
of cattle not of the Spanish brand lost no time in enter- 

"I found the English," wrote O'Reilly, in October, 
1769, "in complete possession of the commerce of tlie 
colony. They had in this town their merchants and 
traders, with open stores and shops, and I can safely as- 
sert that they pocketed nine-tenths of the money spent 


here. ... I drove oflF all the English traders and 
the other individnals of that nation whom I found in this 
town, and 1 shall admit here none of their vessels." But 
he recommended what may have seemed to him a liberal 
measure, — an entirely free trade witli Spain and Havana, 
and named the wants of the people : " flom*, wine, oil, 
iron insti*uments, arms, ammunition, and every sort of 
manufactured goods for clothing and other domestic pur- 
poses," for which they could pay in " timber, indigo, cot- 
ton, furs, and a small quantity of com and rice." 

Unzaga, a man of advanced years and a Spaniard of 
the indulgent type, when in 1770 he assumed control, saw 
the colony's extremity, and began at once the old policy 
of meeting desirable ends by lamentable expedients. His 
method was double-acting. Tie procured, on the one 
hand, repeated concessions and indulgences from the 
king, while on the other he overlooked the evasion by the 
people of such bm'dens as the government iiad not lifted. 
The Creoles on the plantations took advantage of this 
state of affairs. Under cover of trading with the British 
posts on the eastern bank of the ICississippi above Orleans 
Island, the English traders returned and began again to 
supply the Creole planters with goods and slaves. Busi- 
ness became brisk, for anything offered in exchange was 
acceptable, revenue laws were mentioned only in jest, 
profits were large, and credit was free and long. Against 
the river bank, where now stands the suburb of Gretna, 
lay moored (when they were not trading up and down the 


shores of the stream) two large floating warehouses, fitted 
up with counters and shelves and stocked with assorted 
merchandise. The merchants, shut out from these con- 
traband benefits, complained loudly to Unzaga. But they 
complained in vain. The trade went on, the plantei*s 
prospered ; the meixjliants gave them crop-advances, and 
they turned about and, ignoring their debt, broadened 
their lands and bought additional slaves from tlie British 
traders. Hereupon Unzaga moved, and drawing upon his 
large reserve of absolute power, gently but firmly checked 
this imposition. 

The governor's quiet rule worked another benefit. 
While the town was languishing under the infliction of 
so-called concessions that were so narrowed by provisos as 
to be almost neutralized, a new oppression showed itself. 
The newly imported Spanish Capuchins opened such a 
crusade, not only against their French brethren, but also 
against certain customs which these had long allowed 
among the laity, that but for TJnzaga's pacific intervention 
an exodus would have followed M-liich he feared might 
even have destroyed the colony. 

The province could not bear two, and there had already 
been one. Under O'Reillv so many merchants and me- 
chanics had gone to St. Domingo that just before he left 
he had ceased to grant passports. Their places were not 
filled, and in 1773 Unzaga wrote to the Bishop of Cuba 
that, " There were not in Xew Orleans and its environs 
two thousand souls (possibly meaning whites) of all pro- 


f essions and conditions," and that most of these were ex- 
tremely poor. 

But conciliation soon began to take effect. Commis- 
sions were eagerly taken in the govemoi^'s " regiment of 
Louisiana," where the pay was large and the sword was 
the tnie emblem of power, and the offices of regidoi* and 
alcalde were by-and-by occupied by the bearers of such 
ancient Creole names as St. Denis, La Chaise, Fleurieu, 
Forstall, Duplessis, Bien venue, Dufossat, and Livaudais. 

In 1776, Unzaga was made captain-general of Caracas, 
and the following year, left in charge of Don Bernardo 
de Galvez, then about twenty-one years of age, a people 
still French in feeling, it is time, yet reconciled in a 
measure to Spanish rule. 



"VrOW, at length, the Creole and the Anglo-American 
were to come into active relation to each other — a 
relation which, from that day to the present, has qualified 
every public question in Louisiana. 

At a happy moment the governorship of Unzaga, a man 
advanced in life, of impaired vision and failing health, 
who was begging to be put on the retired list, gave place 
to the virile administration of one of the most brilliant 
characters to be seen in the history of the Southwestern 
United States. Galvez was the son of the Vicerov of 
Mexico and nephew of the Spanish secretary of state, 
who was also president of the council of the Indies. lie 
was barely grown to manhood, but he was ardent, engag- 
ing, brave, fond of achievement and display, and, withal, 
talented and sagacious. Says one who fought under him, 
" He was distinguished for the affability of his manners, 
the sweetness of his temper, the frankness of his charac- 
ter, the kindness of his heart, and his love of justice.*' 

A change now took place, following the drift of affairs 
in Europe. The French, instead of the English, mer- 


cliants, commanded the trade of the Mississippi. The 
British traders found themselves suddenly treated with 
great rigor. Eleven of their ships, richly laden, were 
seized by the new governor, while he exceeded the letter 
of the Franco-Spanish treaty in bestowing privileges upon 
the French. Xew liberties gave fresh value to the trade 
with French and Spanish-American ports. Slaves were 
not allowed to be brought thence, owing to their insurrec- 
tionary spirit ; but their importation direct from Guinea 
was now specially encouraged, and presently the prohibi- 
tion against those of the West Indies was removed. 

Galvez was, as yet, only governor ad interinh ; yet, by 
his own proclamation, he gave the colonists the right to 
trade with France, and, a few days later, included the 
ports of the thirteen British colonies then waging that 
war in which the future of the Creoles was so pi'ofound- 
ly, though obscurely, involved. Xew liberties were also 
given t/O traders with Spain ; the government became the 
buyer of the tobacco crop, and a French and French- West 
Indian immigration was encouraged. 

But these privileges were darkly overshadowed by the 
clouds of war. The English issued letters of marque 
against Spanish commerce, and the French took open 
part in the American revolution. The young governor 
was looking to his defences, building gun-boats, and 
awaiting fi*om his king the word which would enable him 
to test his military talents. 

Out of these very conditions, so disappointing in one 


direction, sprang a new trade, of the greatest possible 
significance in the history of the people. Some eight 
years before, at the moment when the arrival of two 
thousand six himdred Spanish troops and the non-appear- 
ance of their supply-ships had driven the price of pro- 
visions in Isew Orleans almost to famine rates, a brig 
entered port, from Baltimore, loaded with flour. The 
owner of the cargo was one Oliver Pollock. He offered 
to sell it to O'Eeilly on the captain-general's own terms, 
and finally disposed of it to him at fifteen dollars a bar- 
rel, two-thirds the current price. O'Eeilly rewarded his 
liberality with a grant of free trade to Louisiana for his 
life-time. Such was the germ of the commerce of Kew- 
Orleaus with the great ports of the Atlantic. In 1776, 
Pollock, with a number of other merchants from Kew 
York, Philadelphia, and Boston, who had established 
themselves in ^New Orleans, had begun, with the counte- 
nance of Galvez, to supply, by fleets of large canoes, arms 
and ammunition to the American agents at Fort Pitt 
(Pittsburg). This was repeated in 1777, and, in 1778, 
Pollock became the avowed agent of the American Gov- 

Here, then, was a gi-eat turning-point. Immigration 
became Anglo-Saxon, a valuable increase of population 
taking place by an inflow from the Floridas and the 
United States, that settled in the town itself and took the 
oath of allegiance to Spain. The commercial acquaint- 
ance made a few years before with the Atlantic ports was 


now extended to the growing West, and to be cut oflE 
from European sources of supply was no longer a calamity, 
but a lesson of that frugality and self-help in the domestic 
life which are the secret of public wealth. Between St. 
Louis and Xew Orleans, !Natchitoches and Tfatchez (Fort 
Panmui*e), there was sufficient diversity of products and 
industries to complete the circuit of an internal com- 
merce ; the Attakapas and Opelousas prairies had been 
settled by Acadian herdsmen ; in 177S, immigrants from 
the Canary Islands had founded the settlement of Vene- 
zuela on La Fom-che, Galveztowni on the Amite, and that 
of Terre aux Bceufs just below Kew Orleans. A paper 
currency supplied the sometimes urgent call for a circu- 
lating medium, and the colonial treasury wan-ants, or lib- 
eranzciSj were redeemed by receipts of specie from Vera 
Cruz often enough to keep them afloat at a moderately 
fair market value. 

Were the C]-eoles satisfied i This question was now to 
be practically tested. For in the sunnner of 1779 Spain 
declared war against Great Britain. Galvez discovered 
that the British were planning the suq^rlse of New Or- 
leans. Under cover of preparations for defence he made 
haste to take the offensive. Onlv four davs before the 
time when he had appointed to move, a hurricane struck 
the town, demolishing many houses, ruining crops and 
dwellings up and down the river " coast/' and sinking his 
gun flotilla. Xothing dismayed, the young commander 
called the people to their old rallying ground on the 


Place d'Armes, and with a newly received commission in 
one hand confirming him as governor, and his drawn 
sword in the other, demanded of them to answer his chal- 
lenge: "Should he appear before the cabildo as that 
commission required, and take the oath of governor? 
Should he swear to defend Louisiana ? Would tliey stand 
by him ? " The response was enthusiastic. Then, said 
he, " Let them that love me follow wliere I lead," and the 
Creoles flocked around him ready for his behest. Ke- 
pairiug his disasters as best he could, and hastening his 
ostensibly defensive preparations, he marched, on tlie 
22d of August, 1779, against the British forts on the Mis- 
sissippi. His force, besides the f om' Spanish officers who 
ranked in turn below him, consisted of one hundred and 
seventy regulars, three hundred and thirty recruits, 
twenty carbineers, sixty militia men, eighty free men-of- 
color, sL\ hundred men from the coast (" of every condi- 
tion and color"), one hundred and sixty Lidians, nine 
American volunteers, and Oliver Pollock. This little 
army of 1,430 men was without tents or other military 
furniture, or a single engineer. The gun fleet followed in 
the river abreast of their line of march, carrying one 
twenty-four, five eighteen, and four four-pounders. On 
the 7th of September Fort Bute on Bayou Manchac, with 
its garrison of twenty men, yielded easily to the first as- 
sault of the unsupix>rted Creole militia. The fort of 
Baton Rouge was found to be very strong, armed with 
thiiteen heavy guns, and garrisoned by five hundred men. 


The troops begged to bo led to the assault ; but Galvez 
landed his lieavy artillery, erected batteries, and on the 
21st of September, after an engagement of ten hours, re- 
duced the fort. Its capitulation included the suiTcnder of 
Fort Panmure, with its gaiTison of eighty grenadiere, a 
place that by its position would have been very difficult 
of assault. The Spanish gim-boats captured in the Mis- 
sissippi and Manchac four schooners, a brig, and two cut- 
ters. On lake I^ontchartrain an American schooner fitted 
out at New Orleans captured an English privateer. A 
party of fourteen Creoles sui^prised an English cutter in 
the narrow waters of Bayou Manchac, and rushing on 
board after then* first fire, and fastening down the 
hatches, captured the vessel and her crew of seventy men. 
The Creole militia won the generous praise of their com- 
mander for discipline, fortitude and ardor ; the Acadians 
showed an impetuous f my : wliilo the Indians presented 
the remarkable spectacle of harming no fugitives, and of 
bearing in their arms to Galvez, uninjm*ed, children who 
with their mothers had hid themselves in the woods. 

In the following February, reenforced from Ilavana, 
and commanding the devotion of his Creole militia, Gal- 
\ez set sail down the Mississippi, with two thousand men, 
— regulai*s, Creoles, and free blacks — and issued from 
that mouth of the river known as the Balize or Pass ^ 
rOutre, intending to attack Fort Charlotte, on the Mobile 
River. His fleet nan'owly escaped total destruction, and 
his landing on the eastern shoi*e of Mobile Iliver was at- 


tended with so mncli confusion and embarmssment tliat 
for a moment he contemplated a precipitate retreat in the 
event of a British advance from Pensacola. But the 
British for some reason Mere not prompt, and Galvez 
pushed forward to Fort Charlotte, erected six batteries, 
and engaged the fort, which suiTcndered on the 14:th of 
March, to avoid being stormed. A few days later, the 
English arrived from Pensacola in numbers sufficient to 
have raised the siege, but with no choice then but to re- 
turn whence they had come. Galvez, at that time twenty- 
four years of age, was rewarded for this achievement with 
the rank of major-general. 

He now conceived the project of taking Pensacola. 
But this was an entei'prise of altogether another magni- 
tude. Failing to secure recnforcements from Havana by 
writing for them, he sailed to that place in October, 1780, 
to make his application in person, intending, if successful, 
to move thence directly upon the enemy. Delays and 
disappointments could not baffle him, and early in March, 
1781, he appeared before Pensacola with a ship of the 
line, two frigates, and transports containing fourteen hun- 
dred soldiers, well furnished with artillery and ammuni- 
tion. On the 16th and 17th, such troops as could be 
spared fi'om Mobile, and Don Estevan Miro from Xew 
Orleans, with the Louisiana forces, arrived at the western 
bank of the Perdido Biver ; and on the afternoon of the 
18th, though unsupported by the fleet until dishonor was 
staring its jealous commander in the face, Galvez moved 


under hot fire, through a passage of gi-eat peril, and took 
up a besieging position. 

The investing lines of Galvez and Miro began at once 
to contract. Early in April, their batteries and those of 
the fleet opened fire from every side. But the return 
fire of the English, from a battery erected under their 
fort, beat off the fleet, and as week after week wore on it 
began to appear that the siege might be unsuccessful. 
However, in the early part of May, a shell from the 
Spaniards having exploded a magazine in one of the Eng- 
lish redoubts, the troops from Mobile pressed quickly for- 
ward and occupied the ruin, and Galvez was preparing to 
storm the main fort, when the English i*aised the white 
flag. Thus, on the 9tli of May, 17S1, Pensacola, with a 
garrison of eight hundred men, and the whole of West 
Florida, was surrendered to Galvez. Louisiana had here- 
tofore been included under one domination with Cuba ; 
but now one of the several rewards bestowed upon her 
governor was the captain-generalship of Louisiana and 
West Florida. He, however, sailed from St. Domingo to 
take part in an expedition against the Bahamas, leaving 
Colonel Miro to govern ad interim^ and never resumed 
the governor's chair in Louisiana. In 17S5, the captain- 
generalship of Cuba was given him in addition, and later 
in the same year, he laid down these offices to succeed his 
father, at his death, as Ticeroy of Mexico. He ruled in this 
oflice with great credit, as well as sj^lendor, and died sud- 
denly, in his thirty-eighth year, from the fatigues of a hunt. 


Such is a brief summary — too brief for full justice — of 
the achievements of the Creoles under a gallant Spanish 
soldier in aid of the war for American independence. 
Undoubtedly the motive of Spain was more conspicuous- 
ly and exclusively selfish than the aid furnished by the 
French ; yet a greater credit is due than is popularly ac- 
corded to the help afforded in the brilliant exploits of 
Gralvez, discouraged at first by a timid cabildo, but sup- 
ported initially, finally, and in the beginning mainly, by 
the Creoles of the Mississippi Delta. The fact is equally 
true, though much overlooked even in Xew Orleans, that 
while Andi'ew Jackson was yet a child the city of the 
Creoles had a deliverer from British conquest in Bern- 
ardo de Galvez, by whom the way was kept open for the 
United States to stretch to the Gulf and to the Pacific. 



TX that city yon may go and stand to-day on the spot — 
still, as antique and qnaint as the Creole mind and 
heart which cherish it, — where gathered m 1765 the 
motley throng of townsmen and planters whose bold re- 
pudiation of tlieir barter to the King of Spain we have 
just reviewed ; where in 170S Lafreniere liarangned them, 
and they, few in number and straitened in purse but not 
in daring, rallied in arms against Spain's indolent show of 
authority and drove it into the Gulf. They were the first 
people in America to make open war distinctly for the 
expulsion of European rule. But it was not by this epi- 
sode — it was not in the wearinsr of the white cockade — 
that the Creoles were to become an iudejiendent republic 
under British protection, or an American State. 

We have seen them in tlie followinir vear overawed bv 
the heavy hand of Spain, and bowing to her yoke. We 
have seen them ten vears later, under her banner and led 
bv the chivalrous Galvez, at Manehac^ at Baton Bouije, at 
Mobile, and at Pensacola, strike victoriously and ^' wiser 
than they knew " for the discomfitm-e of Britisli power in 


America and the promotion of American independence 
and nnity. But neither was this to bring them into the 
union of free States. For when tiie United States became 
a nation the Spanish ensign still floated from tlie flag-stafE 
in the Plaza de Armas where " Cmel O'Eeilly " had hoisted 
it, and at wliose base the colonial connciPs declaration of 
rights and wrongs had been burned. There was much more 
to pass through, many events and conditions, before the 

hand of Louisiana should be nnclasped from the hold of 
distant powers and placed in that of the American States. 
Through all, Xew Orleans continned to be the key of 
the land and river and of all questions concerning them. 
A glance around the old square, a walk into any of the 
Btreets that run from it north, east, or soutli, shows t!ie 
dark imprint of the hand that held the to\vn and pi-ovince 
nntil neither ai-ms, nor guile, nor counterplots, nor bribes, 
conld hold them back from a destiny that seemed the ap- 
pointment of nature. 


For a while, under Unzaga and Galvez, the frail wooden 
town of thirtj-two hundred bouU, that had been the cap- 
ital under Frcnch domination, showed but little change. 
But 1783 brought peace. It brought also Miro's able ad- 
ministration, new trade, new courage, " forty vessels [in 
the river] at the same time,'' and, by 1788, an inci-ease in 
number to fifty-three hundred. In the same year came 
the great purger of to\vns — fii-e. 

Don Vicente Jose Nufiez, the military treasurer, lived 
in Cliarti*e5 Street, near St. Louis, and had a private 
chapel. On Good Friday, the 21st of March, the wind 
was very high and from the south, and, either from a fall- 
ing candle of the altar, or from some other accident or 
inadvertence, not the first or the worst fire kindled by 
Spanish piety flared up and began to devour the in- 
flammable town. The people were helpless to stop it. 
The best of the residences, all the wholesale stores, fell 
before it. It swept around the north of tlie plaza, bi-oad- 
ening at everj- step. The town hall, the ai*senal, tlie 
jail — the inmates of which were barely rescued alive 
— the parish church, the quarters of the Capuchins, dis- 
appeared. In the morning the plaza and the levee 
M'ei-e white with tents, and in the smoldering path of 
the fire, the naked chimneys of eight hundred and fifty- 
six fallen roofs stood as its monuments. The buildings 
along the immediate river-f ix)nt still remained ; but 
nearly half the town, including its entu-e central part, lay 
in ashes. 


Another Spaniard's name stands as the exponent of 
a miniature renaissance. Don Andreas Almonaster y 
Koxas was the roj^al notary and alferez real. As far back 
as 1770 the original government reservations on either 
side the plaza had been granted the town to be a source 
of pei'petiial revenue by ground-rents. Almonaster be- 
came their perpetual lessee, the old barracks came down, 
and two rows of stores, built of brick between wooden 
pillars, of two and a half stories height, with broad, tiled 
roofs and dormer windows and bright Spanish awnings, 
became, and long continued to be the fashionable retail 
quarter of the town. 

Just outside the " Eampart," near St. Peter Street, the 
hiuTicane of 1779 — Galvez's hurricane, as we may say — 
had blown down the frail charitj^ hospital which the few 
thousand livres of Jean Louis, a dying sailor, had founded 
in 1737. In 1784r-86 Ahnonaster replaced it with a brick 
edifice costing 8114,000. It was the same institution 
that is now located in Common Street, the pride of the 
city and State. 

In 1787 ho built of stuccoed brick, adjoining their con- 
vent, the well-remembered, quaint, and homely chapel of 
the Ursulines. And now, to repair the i*avages of fire, he 
in 1792 Ijegan, and in two years completed sufficiently for 
occupation, the St. Louis Cathedral, on the site of the 
burned parish church. Louisiana and Florida had just 
become a bishopric separate from Havana. All these 
works had been at his own charge. Later, by contract, 


he filled the void made by the boming of the town hall — 
which had stood ou tlie sonth Me of the church, facing 
tlie plaza — ei-ecting in its ]>lace tlie hall of the cabildo, the 
same that stands there stiil, made more outlandish, bat 
not more beautifnl, by the addition of a French roof. 
Tlio Capuchins, on the other siile of the chiurclu had 
alre:\dy replaeetl their presbyter}- by the building tliat 
now serves as a court-house. The town erected, on tlie 
river-front just l»elow the plaza, a ^'f/A' ah* ^MtncherltiJi — 
the "old French market."* Hut, except for these two 
structures, to the hainl of the (Jd •df^r^ i^aL t^r roval 
standard-l>earer. belongs tlie fame of having throiiii 
together aromul tlie most classit^ s|x»t m tiie Mississippi 
\* alley, the uK^st picturesque grvnip oi' fa^ides, rv»ofs, aiul 
spinas in pictmt?Sipie New Orleans. 

l»ut fate mado rvK>m again fi^r imprv*vement. On the 
Sth of Decemlier, IT^M — tin* wiml wns this time from the 
iK^rtli — s^Hue children, i^lavinv^ tri a ixnirt in I {ovale Street, 
tvK^ near an aiiK^iniu:! hav«stoi\\ set ti'v lo tin* ha v. iJov- 
enior CarvMuIolet — tVk^iel Fmu^^v^rs Louis llecti>r. Ban>u 
de i'arv>auelet* a sIk^^ pluinj\ chv^orn- Fleming of strvHig 
bnsim*ss qualities^ iu 171^. wlion ho susxvi\iotl ilinx bad 
prvA-idevU as Ik* tli^Hisrtn. against tuts vx^tuiiu-etK'^v. l>ot» 
desjnte hisfvmr i«AMAAx< t^ e*//* ''*\ with their tire-engines 
ainl tirvnneu and axim^u tin* ttrv* s|>rv*tid: iiKl ia llnree 
hours — ^fv>r the Uvhv^^j^ wvrv^ UK-rv^ thnW^ agak?n bmmed 
»H« v>f the lie«irt of the town $>\v hiunlrwl aa«t twelve 
<torvs ami vlweitings^ ItK" ^:cw ntikliu^ a: ;ltt* KHtom 


of the plaza escaped ; but the loss was greater than that 
of six years before, which was nearly §2,600,000. Only 
two stores were left standing ; the levee and the square 
again became the camping-ground of hundreds of inhab- 
itants, and the destruction of provisions threatened a 

So shingles and thatch and cypress boards had cost 
enough. From this time the tile roof came into general 
use. As the town's central parts filled up again, it was 
with better structures, displaying many Spanish- American 
features — adobe or brick walls, arcades, inner courts, pon- 
derous doors and windows, heavy iron bolts and gratings 
(for houses began to be worth breaking into), balconies, 
portes'cocheres, and white and yellow lime-washed stucco, 
soon stained a hundred colors by sun and rain. Two-story 
dwellings took the place of one-stoiy, and the general ap- 
pearance, as well as public safety, was enhanced. 

The people were busy, too, in the miry, foul-smelling 
streets, on the slippery side-walks and on the tree-planted 
levee. Little by little the home government, at the inter- 
cession of the governors — old Unzaga, young Galvez, the 
suave and energetic Miro — had relaxed its death-grip. 
A little wooden custom-house, very promptly erected at 
the upper fi-ont corner of the town, had fallen into signifi- 
cant dilapidation, though it was not yet such a sieve but 
it could catch an export and import duty of six per cent, 
on all merchandise that did not go round it. The conces- 
sions of 1778, neutralized by war and by English block- 


ade, had been revived, enlarged, and extended ten years. 
[Moored against the grassy bank of the brimming river, 
the black ships were taking in hides and fnrs, bales of 
cotton, stavo:?, and skhis of indigo for the Spanish market, 
box-shooks foi' the AVest Indian sngar-nuikers, and to- 
bacco, bonght by the Government ; and were letting ont 
ovei* their sides machincrv and ntonsils, the red wines of 
Catalonia, and every prodnct of the manufacturer, — be- 
sides negro men and women, girls and bo^'S, for sale 
sintrlv or in lots on the landinu:. 

On the other side of tlie town, also, there was, by and 
b\', no little activitv. A lake and bavou bnshiess Avas 
asking room, and a question of sanitation was demandhig 
attention, and in lTlU-00 the jn'actical Carondelet gath- 
ei*ed a lai-<re force of slaves, borrowed from their town 
and country oM'ners, and dug with pick and shovel in the 
roekinii: black soil iust lievond the rear fortifications of 
the town, tbe *'01d Uasin" and canal that still bear his 
name. The ('anal joined the l>ayou St. flohn, and thus 
connected ten thousand square yai'ds of artificial harbor 
with Lake Pontchartrain and tbe sea-coast bevond. The 
lands contiirnous to this basin and cnnal were covered with 
noisome pools, the source of putrid fevers, and, some 
years later, as Cai-ondelet had ui-ged tVom the lirst, the 
cabildo divided them into garden lots and let them out 
at low cround-rents to those who would destroy their in- 
salubrity by ditching and di-ahiing them into the canaL 
They began soon to be built on, and have long been en- 


tirely settled up ; but their drainage can hardly be con- 
sidered to have been thorough and final, as, during an in- 
undation eighty years afterward, the present writer passed 
through its streets in a skiff, with the water as high as 
the gate-knobs. 

By such measures it was that the Spanish king sought 
" to secure to his vassals the utmost felicity.-' This M^as 
much more than the possession of Louisiana afforded the 
king. The treaty of peace, signed in 1783 by Great 
Britain, the United States, France, and Spain, had made 
the new American power his rival. The western bound- 
ary of the States was fixed on the Mississippi from the 
great lakes to a point nearly opposite the mouth of Bed 
River, and the fortified points along that line, which had 
fallen so short a time before into the hands of Galvez, 
were required to be yielded up. Such was the first en- 
croachment of American upon Spanish power in the great 

Another influence tending to turn the scales in favor of 
the States was a change in the agricultural products of the 
Delta, giving to the commerce of 'Ngw Orleans a new 
value for the settlers of the West and the merchants of 
the Atlantic seaports. 



'^f'^UK plantci's of tlu» Delta, on tlicir transfer to Span- 
ish domination, Si4\v indiir*>, the chief prodnet of 
their land^^ shut out i»f market. Vivneh jm>tection was 
hv^t and Kivnoh [X>rt5i wen* elo<ed :o them. Tliose i»f 
Sjviin iwxMvvxl them onlv into nuni»n> i>»m}H^titii•^ with 
the !vtter artiele mavK* in the i»ldor and nK»re :?imtheni 
Sjviiudi i\»louie^ Uy and lu kinder vxnuiuereial rcgiila- 
ik^n?^ ofh*n\l a ivri;iin r^^lief : Imi tLeu :se\\ drawl «eks 
K^u to Ih^>\^i theuK Soa><^n after ^ea^on was nntavor- 
aUU\ 5invl :U xen^rth an in<^v: aj^x\iYwi \v::k*a, l.v use years 
iT>^^ iMs wa5> maki:u;c >iK*h ravages rua: :he plaiiter? were 
^u \H^>a^r. It :!h"\ \\ndd :k^5 uiake 'iKii^N* :!vev k:H^w iH>t 

TtK^x ha\l trK>l mvrtk^wax auvt >:^n, a^nl !iaJ Ivisg ai» 
^twHx th^u xu\ VNYrv\vlv nv*.ic :; ■:::!<' ;o^sjK^^\ bat ttae 
>\xisi^tkvts wv^v^ ^K>l tawi^Kv^ :or .i; 'iny e^.M> :a trie 

Vt^ s.^^ .<^Ni >o^e^;\'' alv^vx^ v\C*eij^^:?s !s^ciTx: ^^r.^^i ir. dLSKi h 
Sjtvx AA\a^x> Xv^ r^isiwJ ^^, :vsvv^te x^ir:::y. >!. IV. 

now BORij MADE SUGAR. 109 

holder, a leading mind among the people, had invented a 
cotton-gin effective enough to induce a decided increase 
in the amount of cotton raised in the colony. Yet a still 
better mode of ginning the staple fi-om the seed Avas 
needed to give the product a decided commercial value. 
Tliere was some anticii^ation of its possible importance, 
and certain ones who gave the matter thought had, in 
1760, recommended the importation of such aj)paratus as 
could be found in India. In 17G8 cotton had become an 
article of export from New Orleans, and in the manifesto 
with which the insurgents banished TJlloa it is mentioned 
as a product Avhose culture, " improved by experience, 
promised the planter the recompense of his toils." 

At the time of the collapse in the indigo production, 
the Creoles were still experimenting with cotton ; but the 
fame of Eli Whitney's newly invented cotton-gin had 
probably not reached them. There must have been few 
of them, indeed, who supposed that eight years later the 
cotton crop of Louisiana and export from New Orleans 
would be respectively 20,000 and 3J:,000 300-pound bales. 
Thev turned for a time in another direction. The lower 
Delta was a little too far south for cotton as a sure crop. 
Thev would trv once more, as their fathers had tried, to 
make merchantable susrar. 

On a portion of the city's present wholesale business 
district, near Tchoupitoulas Street, this great staple had 
been first planted in Louisiana by the Jesuit fathers in 
1751. They had received their seed, or rather lajere. 


from St. Domingo. It had been growji in the town's 
vicinity ever since, but there only, and in trivial quantity. 
Nothing jnore tlian synip, if even so niucJi, watt made 
from it until in 1758 J!iJ. Debrenil, tlie same \vho had ex- 
perimented with cotton, built a sugar nj ill on his planta- 
tion now that part of tlie third district adjoining the 

second, ou the liver-front — and endeavored to turn a 
large cj-op of cane into sugar. 

Accounts of the j-esult vary. Sugar, it secnns. however, 
was made, and for a time the indu.stry gixiw. Ihit the 
sugar was not of a sort to ship l:o the M-orld'^ unirkets ; it 
was poorly gj'amilated and very wet, nml for several years 
was consumc^d within the province. In 1705 the effort 
was at length luade to export it to France; hut half the 
Hrst cargo leaked out of the packages before the vessel 
could make j»ort. 

'I'hen came tUe cession to S]>ain, and Avith it paralysis. 
The half-developed industry collapsed. Ihit in ITOJ the 
blacks of St. J)omino:o rose in rebellion. IJefuiroes llew 
ill every direction. A. few found their wav to Louisiana. 
They had been ])rosperous sugar-nmkers, an<l ))resently 
the efforts that had ceased for twentv-five vears came 
again to life. 'Two Spaniards. JMendez a»)d Sol is, in that 
vear erected on the coniines of New Orleans, the one a 
distillery and the other a battery of sugar-kettles, and 
manufactured rum and syi'up. 

Still the Creoles, every vear less able than the vear he- 
fore to make rash experiments, striiggled again>t the mis- 


fortunes tliat multiplied around the cultivation of indigo, 
until 1794 found tliem without hope, i^ 

At tliis juncture appeared Etienne de Bore. He was a 
man of fifty-four, a Creole of the Illinois district,, but of a 

diBtingiiished Norman family ; he had lived in France 
from the age of four to tliirty-two, had served with the 
king's motisQueiaires, had married a lady whose estate was 
in Louisiana near New Orleans, and returning witli her 



to the province, bad become an indigo planter. The 
year 1Y94 found him face to face with ruin. His father- 
in-law, Destreban, had in former years been one of the 
last to abandon sugar culture. His wife and friends 
warned him against the resolution he was taking ; but he 
persisted in his determination to abandon indigo, and risk 
all that was left to him on the chance of a success which, 
if achieved, would insure deliverance and fortune to him- 
self and the community. He bought a_quantity of canes 
from Mendez and Solis, planted on the land where the 
Seventh District (late CarroUton) now stands, and while 
his crop was growing erected a mill, and prepared himself 
for the momentous season of " grinding." 

His fellow-planters looked on with the liveliest — not 
always with the most hopeful — interest, and at length 
they gathered about him to see the issue of the experi- 
ment in which only he could be more deeply concerned 
than they. In the whole picturesque history of the Loui- 
siana Creoles few scenes offer so striking a subject for the 
painter as that afforded in this episode : The dark sugar- 
house; the battery of huge caldrons, with their yellow 
juice boiling like a sea, half -hidden in clouds of steam ; 
the half -clad, shining negroes swinging the gigantic uten- 
sils with which the seething flood is dipped from kettle 
to kettle ; here, grouped at the end of the battery, the 
Creole planters with anxious faces drawing around their 
central figure as closely as they can ; and in the midst the 
old moiisquetaire^ dipping, from time to time, the thick- 


ening juice, repeating again and again his simple tests, 
until, in the moment of final trial, there is a common look 
of suspense, and instantly after it the hands are dropped, 
heads are raised, the brow is wiped, and tliere is a long 
breath of relief — " it granulates ! " 

The people were electrified. Etienne de Bore mar- 
keted §12,000 worth of sui^erior sugar. The absence of 
interdictions that had stifled earlier trade enabled him to 
sell his product to advantage. The agriculture of the 
Delta was revolutionized ; and, seven years afterward, 
Xew Orleans was the market for 200,000 gallons of rum, 
250,000 gallons of molasses, and 5,000,000 pounds of 
sugar. The town contained some twelve distilleries — 
probably not a subject for unmixed congratulation — and a 
sugar refinery which produced about 200,000 pounds of 
loaf sugar; while on the other hand the production of 
indigo had declined to a total of 3,000 pounds, and soou 

after ceased. 



^ I ^IlE Spanish occupation never became more than a 
conquest. T]ie Spanish tongue, enforced in the 
courts and principal public offices, never superseded the 
French in the mouths of the people, and left but a few 
M'ords naturalized in the corrupt French of the slaves. 
To African organs of speech eot'odni\ from cocodrilo^ tlie 

crocodile, was easier than 
caiman^ the alliirator : the 
terrors of the calaboza, with 
its chains and wliips and 
lu-andinor irons, vrere con- 
densed into the French 
tri-svllabic calaboose: M'hile 
the pleasant institution of 
najta — the i>etty gratuity 
added, bv the retailer, to 
anything bought — grew the 
pleasanter, drawn out into 
(rallicized laiina]}i}e. 
The only newspaper in the town oj* province, as it was 
also the first, though published under the auspices of Car- 

in the Cabiido. 


ondelet, was the "Monitenr de la Louisiane," printed 
entirely in French. It made its first appearance in 1794. 
Spanish Ursulines, sent from Havana to impart their 
own tongue, had to teach in French instead, and to con- 
tent themselves with the feeble achievement of extorting 
the Spanish catechism from girls who recited with tears 
rolling down their cheeks. The public mind followed — 
though at a distance — the progress of thought in France. 
Many Spaniards of rank cast their lot with the Ci*eoles. 
Unzaga married a Maxent ; Galvez, her sister — a woman, 
it is said, of extraordinary beauty and loveliness; Gaj"- 
arro wedded Constance de Grandpre ; the intendant Od- 
vardo, her sister ; Miro, a de Macarty. But the Creoles^ 
never became Spanish ; and in society balls where the : 
Creole civilian met the Spanish military official, the cotil- , 
Ion was French or Spanish according as one or the other 
party was the stronger, a question more than once decided 
by actual onset and bloodshed. The Spanish rule was . 
least unpopular about 1791, when the earlier upheavals of 
the French revolution were regarded distantly, and before 
the Eepublic had arisen to fire the Creole's long-sup- 
pressed enthusiasm. Under Galvez, in 1779-82, they ral- 
lied heartily around the Spanish colors against their hered- 
itary British foe. But when, in 1793, Spain's foe was 
i-epublican France, Carondelet found he was only holding 
a town of the enemy. Then the Creole could no longer 
restrain himself. "La Marseillaise! La Marseillaise!" 
he cried in his sorry little theatre ; and in the drinking- 


shops — that were thick as antniNn leaves— he sang, de- 
fiantly, " (/a ira^ Qa ira^ les mnstocrcUes d la laiiter^iey'^ 
tliough tliere was not a lamp-post in his town until thi'ee 
years latej', when the same governor put up eighty. 

Meantime Spain's hand came down again with a pres- 
sure that brought to mind the cruel past. The people 
were made to come up and subscribe themselves Span- 
iards, and suudry persons were ari-ested and sent to 
Havana. The baron rebuilt the fortifications on a new 
and stronger plan. At the lower river corner Avas Foii: 
St. Charles, a live-sided thing for one hundred and fifty 
men, with brick-faced parapet eighteen feet thick, a ditch, 
and a covert way ; at the upj^er ri\cr corner was Fort St. 
Louis, like it, but smaller. Tbcy were armed vd\\\ about 
twelve eighteen- and twelve-pounders. I>etween them, 
where Toulouse Street opened upon the rivej'-front, a 
large battery crossed fires with botb. In the rear of the 
town were three lesser forts, mere stockades, with fraises. 
All around from fort to fort ran a parapet of eaith sur- 
mounted with palisades, and a moat forty feet Avide and 
seven deep. ''These fortifications," wrote Oarondelet, 
'• would not only protect the city against the attack of an 
enemv, but also keei> in check its inhabitants. But for 
them," he said, " a revolution would have taken plaee." 

This was in 1794. The enemv looked for from Avith- 
out was the piojieers of Kentucky, (Georgia, etc. The 
abridgment of their treaty rights on the lifississippi had 
fi'etted them. Instiirated bv (renct. the F)*ench minister 



to the United States, and headed by one Clark and by 
Auguste de la Chaise, a Louisiana Creole of powerful 
family, who had gone to Kentucky for the pui'pose, they 
were preparing to make a descent upon Ifew Orleans for 
its deliverance ; when events that await recital arrested the 

• .» 

v o 'v». 

A Royal Street Corner. 



/^AROXDELET had strengthened the walls that im- 
inured the Creoles of New Orleans; but, outside, 
the messenger of their better destiny was knocking at the 
gate with angry impatience. Congress had begun, in 
1770, to claim the freedom of the Mississippi. The 
treaty of 1783 granted this ; but in words only, not in 
fact. Spain intrigued, Congress menaced, and oppres- 
sions, concessions, aggressions, deceptions, and corruption 
lenscthened out the vears. Xew Orleans — " C)rleen6" the 
Westeniers called it — there was the main difficulty. 
Every one could see now its approaching commercial 
greatness. To Spain it was the key of her possessions. 
To the West it was the only possible breathing-hole of its 

Miro was still governing ad intern?), when, in 17S5, 
there came to him the connnissioners from the State of 
Oeorgia demanding liberty to extend her boundary to the 
]\Iississippi. as granted in the treaty of peace. Miro an- 
swered wiselv, referrino: the matter to the irovernments of 
America and Spain, and delays and exasperations con- 


tinned. By 1786, if not earlier, the flat-boat fleets that 
came floating ont of the Ohio and Cumberland, seeking 
on the lower Mississippi a market and port for theu* hay 
and bacon and flour and com, began to be challenged 
from the banks, halted, seized, and confiscated. The 
exasperated Kentuckians openly threatened and even 
planned to descend in flat-boats full of long rifles instead 
of breadstuff s, and make an end of controversy by the 
capture of Xcw Orleans. But milder counsels restrained 
them, and they appealed to Congress to press Spain for 
the commercial freedom which they were determined to 
be depi'ived of no longer. 

Miro, and Xavarro, the intendant, did well to be 
alarmed. They wrote home urging relief through cer- 
tain measures which they thought imperative if Xew 
Orleans, Louisiana, the Floridas, or even Mexico, was to 
be saved from early conquest. " No hay que jyenlev 
tienvpo '' — " There is no time to be lost." They had two 
schemes : one, so to indulge the river commerce that the 
pioneers swarming down upon their borders might cross 
them, not as invaders, but as immigrants, yielding alle- 
giance to Spain ; the other, to foment a revolt against Con- 
fijress and the secession of the West. These schemes were 
set on foot ; a large American immigration did set in, 
and the small town of Xew Madrid still commemoi-ates 
the extravagant calculations of Western grantees. 

There had lately come to Kentucky a certain man 
whose ready insight and unscrupulous spirit of intrigue 



had promptly marked the turn o£ events. This was Gen- 
eral James Wilkinson, of the United States service, a 
man early distrusted by President Washington, long sus- 
pected by the people, and finally tried for treasonable 
designs and acquitted for want of evidence which the 
arclli^•es of Sjiain, to which access could not at that time 
be obtained, have since revealed. Thic? cunning schemer 
and speculator, in June, 17S7, sent and followed to ^'ew 
Orleans a large fleet of flat-boats loaded with the produce 
of the West, and practising on the political fe^ars of Miro, 
secured many concessions. My this means he made way 
For a trade which began at once to 1)6 very profitable to 
Xew Orleans, not to say to many Spanish oflicials. But 
it was not bv this means onlv. At the same time, he 
entei'ed into a secret plot with JEiro and Spain for that 
disruption of the West from the East which she sought 
to effect. '' The delivering up of Kcntucikv into his 
AFajcsty's hands, which is the main object to which Wilk- 
inson has pj'omised to devote himself entirely,*' so wrote 
Miro to the Spanish Secretary of State, January 8, 1788, 
and Wilkinson's own letters, written originally in cipher, 
and now in the archives of Spain, reduced to the Spanish 
tongue, complete the overwhelming evidence. '* When 
this is done, ... I shall disclose so inuch of our 
ffreat scheme," etc. " Be satisfied, nothiuo- nliall deter 
me fi'om attending exclusively to the object we have on 
hand." " The only feasible plan " — this was a year later 
— '* , . . was . . . separation from the United 


States, and an alliance with Spain." Such was the flat- 
boat toll paid by this lover of money and drink. 

But, neither for the Kentiiekian nor the Creole was an 
export trade more than half a commerce. Philadelphia 
partly supplied the deficiency, though harried by corrupt 
double-dealings. Miro and Navarro favored and pro- 
moted this trade ; but Gardoqui, the Spanish minister at 
Philadelphia, not sharing in the profits, moved vigorously 
against it, and there was dodging and doubling — all the 
subterfuges of the contrabandist, not excepting false ar- 
rests and false escapes. The fire of 17S8 gave Navarro 
excuse to liberate a number whom fear of the king had 
forced him to imprison, and to give them back their con- 
fiscated goods. Such was one branch of the academy 
that, in later years, gi*aduated the pirates of Bai*ataria. 

The scarcity- of provisions after the fire was made to 
help this Philadelphia trade. Miro sent three vessels to 
Gardoqui (who was suddenly ready to cooperate) for 
3,000 barrels of flour, and such other goods as the general 
ruin called for. And here entered Wilkinson, and in 
August, 1788, i-eceived through his agent, Daniel Clark, 
in New Orleans, a cargo of dry goods and other articles 
for the Kentucky market, probably the first boat-load of 
manufactured commodities that ever went up the Missis- 
sippi to the Ohio. Others followed Wilkinson's footsteps 
in matters oi trade, and many were the devices for doing 
one thing while seeming to do another. A pretence of 
coming to buy lands and settle secured passports for their 


flat-boats and keol-boats, and the privilege of selling and 
buying free of duty. A pi-ofession of returning for fam- 
ilies and property opened the way back again up the tor- 
tuous rivei', or along the wild, robber-hainited trails of the 

So the Creoles, in their domestic connnerce, were strik- 
ing hands with both the eastern and wcstei-n " American." 
As to their tj-ansatlantic connnerce, tlie concessions of 
1782 had yielded it into the hands of the French, and 
there it still remained. " France,'' wrote Miro in 1.790, 
"has the monopoly of the commerce of tliis colony/' It 
suited him not to mention Philadelphia or the ( >hio. J3ut 
war pj'esentl}' brought another change. 



T^IIE port of Xew Orleans was neither closed nor open. 
Spain was again in fear of Great Britain. The 
United States minister at Madrid was diligently pointing 
to the possibility of a British invasion of Lonisiana from 
Canada, by way of the Mississippi ; to the feebleness of 
the Spanish foothold; to the unfnlfilled terms of the 
treat}* of 1TS3 ; to tlie restlessness of the Kentnekians ; to 
everything, indeed, that could have effect in the effort to 
extort the cession of " Orleans '' and the Floridas. Bnt 
Spain held fast, and Miro, to the end of his governorship, 
plotted with Wilkinson and with a growing number of 
lesser schemers equally worthy of their country's execra- 

Difficulties were multiplying when, at the close of 
1791, Miro gave place to Carondelet. Some were in- 
ternal; and the interdiction of the slave-trade M'ith re- 
volted St. Domingo, the baron's fortifications, the banish- 
ment of Yankee clocks branded with the Goddess of 
Libertv, etc., were sisjrns of them, not cures. In Februarv, 
1793, America finally wormed from Spain a decree of 


open commerce, for her colonies, with the United States 
and Europe. Thereupon Philadelphians began to estab- 
lish commercial houses in New Orleans. 

On the side of the great valley, the Iventuckian was 
pressing with all the strength of his lean and sinewy 
shoulder. "Since my taking possession of the govern- 
ment," wrote Carondelet, in 179i, " this province . . . 
has not ceased to be threatened by the ambitious designs 
of the Americans." " A nation," as Xavarro had earlier 
called them, " I'estless, proud, ambitious, and capable of 
the most daring entei'prise." Besides them, there were 
La Ohaise, also, and Genet, and the .lacoblns of Phila- 

It was to President "Washington's vigilance and good 
faith that the baron owed the deliverance of the province 
from its dangers ; not to liis own defences, his rigid police, 
nor his counter-plots with Thomas Power and others. 
These dangers past, he re^'ived the obstruction and op- 
pression of the river trade, lioping, so, to separate yet 
the Western pioneers from the union of States, to which 
thev had now become devoted. 

But events tended ever one wav, and while Carondelet 
was still courtiuix Wilkhison through Power, a treatv, 
signed at ^S^Fadrid October 20, 171>5, declared the IMissis- 
sippi free to the Americans. .New Orleans was made a 
port of deposit for three years, free of all duty or charge, 
save " a fair price for the hire of the store-houses." The 
privilege was renewable at the end of the term, unless 


transferred by Spain to some " equivalent establishment " 
on the river bank. 

Still Carondelet held the east bank of the river, tem- 
porizing with the American authorities through his col- 
league, General Gayoso de Lemos, the Spanish commis- 
sioner, for making the transfer. He spent bribes freely, 
and strengthened his fortifications, not against Federal 
commanders only, but against the western immigrants 
who had crowded into the province, and against the re- 
newed probability of invasion from Canada. 

He made two other efforts to increase his strength. 
At the request of the cabildo he prohibited, for the time, 
the fmther importation of slaves, a plot for a bloody 
slave insurrection having been discovered in Pointe 
Coupee, a hundred and fifty miles up the Mississippi 
from Xew Orleans, and put down with much killing, 
whipping, and hanging. And he i*eceived with extrava- 
gant hospitality certain noble French refugees, who had 
sought asylum from the Keign of Terror on the wild 
western border of the United States. They were fur- 
nished with transportation from New Madrid to the 
AVashita, and were thei-e to receive two hundred acres 
of land and one hundred dollars in monev for cverv 
mechanic or farmer brought by them into the projected 
colony. The grant to the !Marquis of Maison Kouge 
under these conditions was to embrace thirtv thousand 
acres. That to the Baron de Bastrop was to cover one 
hundred and eight square miles, and there were others 


of less imperial extent. The royal approval was secured 
upon these grants, hut the grantees never fulfilled the 
conditions laid ujx)n them, and these great enteqn'ises 
melted down to famous lawsuits. French emiyres. never- 
theless, did and had already settled in Jx)uis]ana under 
more I'easonablc grants got M'ith more modest, promises. 
The town of St. Martinsville, on the Bayou 1\'!che, was 
settled by them and nicknamed lo jK-t'd Parin — the little 
Palis ; and a chapter might well be devoted to this 
episode in the history of the (^reoles. Xew Orleans 
even had the pleasm'e at length of entertaining for many 
M'eeks, with great gayety and social pomp, the J^uke of 
Orleans, afterward King Louis Philipj^e, .ind his two 
brothers, the Duke of Montpcnsier and the Count of 
J>eaujolais. ]]or6 and the Marquis Marigny de Mande- 
villc w(^re among their entertainers. 

The Creoles' republican enthusiasm found vent in a 
little patj-iotic shiging and shouting, that cost six of 
them twelve months each of Culian exile : otherwise 
they jcmained, through all, passive. AVe have seen how 
they passed through an agricultural revolution. Ihit they 
wej*e no more a writing than a reading peoj^le, and what 
tempests of emotion many of them 3nay have concealed 
while waj* was being waged against I'rance, while the Gulf 
was being scoured by Frencii privateci's. and when one of 
these seized, and for eijirht davs held, the mouth of the 
Mississippi, may only be conjectured. We know that 
Etienne de Bore escaped arrest and transportation only by 


reason of his rank and the people's devotion to him as a 
public benefactor. 

In 1797 Carondelet gave place to Gayoso de Lemos. 
Wilkinson, who was in chief command of the Ameri- 
can forces in tlio West, grew coy and cold. The en- 
croachments of the double-dealing genei'al's subordinates 
could be resisted by the Spaniard no longer, and in 
March, 1798, he abandoned by stealth, rather than sur- 
rendered, the territory east of the Mississippi, so long 
unjustly retained from the States. 

All the more did the Creole city remain a bone of con- 
tention. On the close of the three-years' term named hi 
the treaty of 1795, the intendant, Morales, a narrow and 
quarrelsome old man, closed the port, and assigned no 
other point to take its place. 

But the place had become too important, and the States 
too strong for this to be endured. The West alone could 
muster twenty thousand fighting men. John Adams was 
President. Secret preparations were at once set on foot 
for an expedition against Xew Orleans in overwhelming 
force. Boats Averc built, and troops had already been 
ordered to the Oliio, when it began to be plain that the 
President iinvst retire from office at the close of his term, 
then drawing near ; and by and by Spain disavowed her 
intendant's action and reopened the closed port. 

Meanwhile another eye was turned covetously upon 
Louisiana, and one who never moved slowly was about to 
hurrv her fate to a climax. 



^ Li^ILAXCE has cut die knot,"* \m>te 31inister IJving- 
ston to Secretary ALadison. It is tlie w^wtl of 
Bonaparte Limself, that his first diplomatic act with 
Spain had for its object the recorerr of L».>aisiana. His 
power enabled liim easily to ootstrip Aineriiaii negotia- 
tions, and on the 1st of October, 1S*»\ the Sponi^ King 
entered privatelv into certain a«nnee«ients bv which, on 
the 21st of March, 1S*>1, Lonisiana, vast, bat to Spain nu- 
renmneratire and indefensible, passed <ecretly into the 
hands of the First Consnl in exeiiange fvr the petty 
Italian '^kin^oia K»i Etroria.*' AVhen Minister IJving- 
ston wrote, in November, lSi>?, the Si.vret was no lonser 

On the 2»>th of March, 1S»Xk M. I-aussat, as French 
Colonial Prefect, landed in New Orleans* s{ieciaKy com- 
missioned to prepare fwr the exjxv'tevl arrr\-ai of iieneral 
Victor with a large Kxiy of trvx^x^ destinevl for the ocva- 
patiim of the province, atnl to arran^ for the establish- 
ment of a new foru* of govennnenr. The Creoles wwe 
filled with seen?! cotistertMilK>ax Their tWds* and streets^ 


and dwellings M-ere full of slaves. They had heard the 
First Consul's words to the St. Domingans : " Whatever 
be your color or your origin, you are free." But their 
fears were soon quieted, -when Laussat proclaimed the de- 
sign of their great new ruler to " preserve the empire of 
the laws and amend them slowly in the light of experience 
only." The planters replied that "their long-eherislied 
hope was gratified, and their souls filled with the delir- 
ium of extreme felicity ; " and the townsmen responded : 
"ilappy are the colonists of Louisiana who have lived 
long enough to see their reunion to France, which they 
have never ceased to desire, and which now satisfies their 
utmost wish." 

Governor Gavoso had died of velJow fever in 1799 — it 

t/ I' 

is said shortly after a night's carousal with Wilkinson. 
He had been succeeded by the Marquis of Casa Calvo, 
and he, in 1801, by a weak, old man, Don Juan flannel 
de Salcedo. The intendant Morales had continued to 
hate, dread, and hamper American innnigration and com- 
merce, and in October, 1802, had once more shut them 
out of Xcw Orleans until six months later a2:ain discoun- 
tenanced bv liis kinsj. 

In Congress debate narrowed down to the question 
wliether Xew Orleans and the Floridas should be bouglit 
or simply swept down upon and taken. But the execu- 
tive department was already negotiating : and, about the 
time of Laussat's landing in Louisiana, Mcssi's. Livingston 
and Monroe were commissioned to treat with France for 


a cession of Xew Orleans and the Floridas, " or as mnch 
thereof as the actual proprietor can be prevailed on to 
part with." 

Bonaparte easily saw the larger, but unconfessed wish 
of the United States. Louisiana, always light to get and 
heavy to hold, was slipping even from his gi*asp. lie 
was about to rush into war with the English. "They 
have," he exclaimed passionately to his ministers, "twenty 
ships of war in the Gulf of Mexico. ... I have not 
a moment to lose in putting it [his new acquisition] out 
of their i-each. They [the American commissioners] only 
ask of me one town in Louisiana ; but I already consider 
the colony as entirely lost." And a little later, walking 
in the garden of St. Cloud, he added to Marbois — ^whom 
he trusted rather than Talleyrand — "Well! you have 
chaise of the treasury; let them give you one hundred 
million francs, pay their own claims, and take the whole 
country." AYhen the minister said something about the 
rights of the colonists, "Send your maxims to the London 
market," retorted the First Consul. 

The price finally agreed upon was eighty million francs, 
out of which the twenty million francs of American citi- 
zens' claims due by France were to be paid, and Loui- 
iana was bought. Monsieur Marbois and Messrs. Living- 
ston and Monroe signed the treaty on the 30th of April, 
1803. As they finished, they rose and shook hands. 
" We have lived long," said Livingston, " but this is tlie 
noblest work of our lives." 


About the last of July, M'lien Casa Calvo and Salcedo, 
Spanish commissioner and governor, had proclaimed the 
coming transfer to France, and Laussat, the French pre- 
fect, was looking hourly for General Victor and his forces, 
there came to Xew Orleans a vessel from Bordeaux with 
the official announcement that Louisiana had been ceded 
to the United States. 

On the 30th of November, witli troops drawn up in 
line on the Place d'Armes, and witii discharges of artil- 
lery, Salcedo, fitly typifying, in his infirm old age, the de- 
caying kingdom which he represented, delivered to Laus- 
sat, in the hall of the cabildo, the keys of Kew Orleans ; 
while Casa Calvo, splendid in accomplishments, titles, and 
appearance, declared the people of Louisiana absolved 
from their allegiance to the King of Spain. From the 
flag-staff in tlie square the Spanish colors descended, the 
French took their place, and the domination of Spain in 
Louisiana was at an end. 

On Monday, December the 20th, 1803, with similar 
ceremonies, Laussat turned the province and the keys of 
its port over to Commissioners Claiborne and Wilkinson. 
The French tricolor, which had floated over the Place 
d'Armes for but twenty days, gave place to the stars and 
stripes, and Xew Orleans was an American town. 

Within a period of ninety-one years Louisiana had 
changed hands six times. From the direct authority of 
Louis XIY. it had been handed over, in 1712, to the com- 
mercial dominion of Anthony Crozat. From Crozat it 


1 ad paSEccI 11 fo tlio Co npagn e de 1 Oec dent 

from tl e o «! a J n 1 31, to tlie u delegated a tl o ty 
of Lo 119 \^ from I m, in 1T62 to Sj a n fro u Spain 

in ISOl, back to France a d at I 1 I ?03, from 

Frauee to the United Stiitee fi 11 e a c [ ate I from tlie 
Bervice and bargainiuga of Euro[ e a te s 



"VTEW ORLEANS had been under the actual sway of 
^ the Spaniard for thh-ty-four years. Ten thousand 
inhabitants were gathered in and about its walls. Most 
of the wliites were Creoles. Even in the province at 
large these were three in every four. Immigrants from 
Malaga, the Canaries, and Xova Scotia had passed on 
through the town and into the rural districts. Of the 
thousands of Americans, only a few scores of mercantile 
pioneers came as far as the town — sometimes with fam- 
ilies, but generally without. Free trade with France 
had brought some French merchants, and the Reign 
of Terror, as we have seen, had driven here a few 
royalists. The town had filled and overflowed its orig- 
inal boundaries. From the mast-head of a ship in the 
harbor one looked down upon a gathering of from 
twelve hundred to fourteen hundred dwellings and 
stores, or say four thousand roofs — to such an extent 
did slavery multiply outhouses. They wei*e of many 
kinds, covered with half -cylindrical or with flat tiles, with 
shingles, or with slates, and showed an endless variety in 


he gl t and n b „ht conf s on of colo and foi'in — veran- 
das and 1 alco c do n e ndo s lattices, and bohe- 
de ea D de 1 e e bank « bin ten Bteps of 

- — Tchonpitoulas 

- "^ Sti-ect," where 

laud has since 
foj'Uicd and boon 
covered with 
biteli Ptores for 
Eevci-al sfinares, 
the fleets of 
barges and flat- 
boats from the 
A\ e t inooi-nd and nn- 
loadc 1 i-etailfd their con- 
te tB at ti ator's edge. I'ar- 
tlier down, inuiiodiately abrcast of 
tlio town, between the upper limits and 
rue FJacu d'-Vnnes, iit\- tho shipping — 
twenty or more vessels of from llHi to 'JOO tons 
' biii'dcii, Iiauled c!ose against the bank. Still f arllier 

on, bejond tlie Government warehouses, was the mooring- 
place of the vessels of war. Looking down into the sti'ccts 
— Tonlouse, St. Peter, Conti, St. bonis, Koyale, Chartres 
— one eanght the brisk movements of a commoreial port. 
They ■(ici-e straight, and fairlv spaeion?, for the times ; but 
uupaved, ill-di'ained, filthy, ijoorly iightetl, and often im- 
passable for tho mire. 

NEW ORLEANS IN 1803. 137 

The town was fast becoming one of the chief seaports 
of America. Already, in 1802, 158 American merchant- 
men, 104 Spanish, and 3 French, registering 31,241 tons, 
had sailed from her harbor, loaded. The incoming ton- 
age for 1803 promised an increase of over 37 per cent. 
It exported of the products of the province alone over 
82,000,000 vahie. Its imports reached $2,500,000. 
Thu'ty-four thousand bales of cotton ; 4,500 hogsheads of 
sugar; 800 casks — equivalent to 2,000 barrels — of mo- 
lasses ; rice, peltries, indigo, lumber, and sundries, to the 
value of 8500,000 ; 50,000 barrels of flour ; 3,000 barrels 
of beef and pork; 2,000 hogsheads of tobacco ; and smaller 
quantities of corn, butter, hams, meal, lard, beans, hides, 
staves, and cordage, had passed in 1802 across its famous 

Everywhere the restless American was conspicuous, 
and, with the Englishman and the Irishman, composed 
the majority of the commercial class. The French, ex- 
cept a few, had subsided into the retail trade or the 
mechanical callings. The Spaniards not in military or 
civil service were generally humble Catalans, keepers of 
shops, and of the low cabarets that occupied almost every 
street corner. The Creole was on every side — handsome,\ 
proud, illiterate, elegant in manner, slow, a seeker of 
office and militarv commission, rulin<x societv with fierce / 
exclusiveness, looking upon toil as the slave's proper 
badge, lending money now at twelve and now at twenty- 
four per cent., and taking but a secondary and unsympa- 



tlietic part in the commercial life from wliicli was spring- 
ing the future greatness of liis to\vii. AVhat could he do ? 
The American filled the upper Mississippi V^alley. Eng- 
land and the Atlantic States, no longer France and Spahi, 
took its products and supplied its wants. The Anglo- 
Saxon and the Irishman held every advantage ; and, ill- 
equipped and uncommercial, the (.^I'cole was fortunate to 
secure even a third or fourth mercantile rank in the city 
of his birth. But he had one stroncrhold. lie owned the 
lU'ban and suburban real estate, and presently took high 
station as the seller of lots and as a rentier. The confis- 
cated plantations of the Jesuits had been, or were being, 
laid out in streets. From 1801, when Faubourg St. Mary 
contained only five houses, it had grown with great 

Other faubourgs were about springing up. The high 
roofs of the aristocratic suburb St. Jean could be seen 
stretching away among their groves of evergreen along the 
Bayou road, and clustering presently into a village near 
where a '• Bayou bridge " still crosses the stream, some 
two hundred vards below the site of the old one. Here 
gathered the larger craft of the lake trade, while tlie 
smaller still pushed its way up Carondelet's shoaled and 
neglected, yet busy canal. 

Outwardly the Creoles of the Delta had become a 
graceful, well-knit race, in full keeping with the freedom 
of their surroundings. Tlieir complexion lacked ruddiness, 
but it was free from the sallowness of the Indies. There 

NEW ORLEANS IN 1803. 139 

was a much larger proportion of blondes among them than 
is commonly supposed. Generally their hair was of a 
chestnut, or but little deeper tint, except that in the city 
a Spanish tincture now and then asserted itself in black 
hair and eyes. The women were fair, symmetrical, with 
pleasing features, lively, expressive eyes, well-rounded 
throats, and superb hair ; vivacious, decorous, exceedingly 
tasteful in dress, adorning themselves with superior effect 
in draperies of muslin .enriched with embroideries and 
much garniture of lace, but with a more moderate display 
of jewels, which indicated a community of limited wealth. 
They were much superior to the men in quickness of wit, 
and excelled them in amiability and in many other good 
qualities. The more pronounced faults of the men were 
generally those moral provincialisms which travellers re- 
count with undue impatience. They are said to have 
been coarse, boastful, vain ; and they were, also, deficient 
in energy and application, without well-directed ambition, 
unskilful in handicraft — doubtless through negligence only 
— and totally wanting in that community feeling which 
begets the study of reciprocal rights and obligations, 
and reveals the individual's advantage in the promotion 
of the common interest. Hence, the Creoles were fonder 
of pleasant fictions regarding the saiuBntyTijeauty, good 
order, and advantages of their town, than of measures to 
justify their assumptions. JW^ifehr-African slavery they 
were, of course, licentious, and they were always ready for 
the duelling-ground ; yet it need not seem surprising that 


IS people BO beset by evil inflnences from every direction 
were generally nnconBcious of a reprehensible state of af- 
fairs, and preserved tlieir self-reBpect and a proud belief 
in their moral excellence. Easily inflamed, tliey were as 
easily discouraged, thrown into confusion, and overpow- 
ered, and they expended the best of their energies in 
trivial pleasures, especially the masque and the dance; 
yet they were kind parents, affectionate wives, tractable 
L_ children, and enthusiastic patriots. -^ 



T ITTLE wonder that it is said the Creoleswegt^ as 
-^ they stood on the Place d'Armes and saw the stand- 
ard of a people, whose national existence was a mere 
twenty-years' experiment, taking the place of that tricolor 
on which perched the glory of a regenerated France. On 
that very spot some of them had taken part in the armed 
repudiation of the first cession. The two attitudes and 
the two events differed alike. The earlier transfer had 
come loaded with drawbacks and tyrannous exactions ; the 
latter came freighted with long-coveted benefits and with 
some of the dearest rights of man. This second, there- 
fore, might bring tears of tender regret ; it might force 
the Creole into civil and political fellowship with the de- 
tested Ainericain ; but it could not rouse the sense of 
outrage produced by the cession to Spain, or of uniform 
popular hatred against the young Virginian whom Presi- 
dent Jefferson had transferred from the Governorship of 
the Territory of Mississippi to that of Louisiana. O'Reilly, 
the Spanish Captain-General, had established a go verament 
whose only excellence lay in its strength ; Claiborne came 



to set up a power whose only strength lay in its excel- 
lence, liis tAsk -was difficalt mainly because it was to be 
done among a people distempered by tlie badness of earlier 
rule, and diligently wrouglit upon by intriguing Frenchmen 
and Spanish officials. Ris wisest measures, equally with his 
broadest mistalies, were wordily resented. His ignorance 

of the French language, his large official powers, Wilkin- 
son's bad habits, a scaicity oE money, the introduction of 
the English tongue, and of a just propoition of American 
appointees into the new courts and pnbhc offices, the use 
of bayonets to suppress disorder at public balls, a sup- 
posed partiality for Americans in court, the personal char- 


acter of ofBcials, the formation of American militia com- 
panies and their parades in the streets — all alike fed the 
flames of the Creoles' vehement indignation. 

In March, 1804:, Congress passed an act dividing the 
province into two parts on the present northern boundary 
of Louisiana, giving each a distinct government, and to 
the lower the title of the territory of Orleans. This act, 
which was to take effect the following October, inter- 
dicted the slave-trade. Then, indeed, anger burned. In- 
surrectionary sentiments were placarded on the street 
corners, crowds copied them, and public officers attempt- 
ing to remove them were driven awav. But that was all. 
Claiborne — ^young, like Bienville and like Galvez, but 
benevolent, wise, and patient — soon saw it was not the 
Government, but only some of its measurcs, that caused 
so much heat. The merchants, who in 1768 had incited 
revolt against legalized ruin, saw, now, on the other hand, 
that American rule had lifted them out of commercial 
serfdom, and that, as a port of the United States, and 
only as such, their crescent city could enter upon the great 
future which was hers by her geographical position. But 
we have seen that the mei'chants were not prmcipally 

Although the Creoles looked for a French or Spanish 
re-cession, yet both interest and probability were so 
plainly against it that they were presently demanding im- 
patiently, if not imperiously, the rights of American citi- 
zens as pledged to them in the treaty. They made no 


appeal to that France which had a second time cast them 
off; but at three pubh'c meetings, in June and Jnly, 
petitioned Congress not to rescind the cession but to leave 
Louisiana undivided, and so hasten their admission into 
the Union. Tliis appeal was fniitless, and the territorial 
government went into operation, (Claiborne being retained 
as governor. The partition, the presidential appointment 
of a legislative council instead of its election by the peo- 
ple, the nullification of certain Spanish land grants, and 
an official re-inspection of all titles, were accepted, if not 
with patience, at least with that grace which the Creole 
assumes before the inevitable. But his respect Avas not 
always forthcoming toward laws that could be opposed or 
evaded. " This city,"' wrote Claiborne, " requires a strict 
police : the inhabitants are of various descriptions ; many 
highly respectable, and some of them very degenerate."' 
A sheriff and posse attempted to arrest a Spanish officer. 
Two hundred men interfered; swords were drawn, and 
resistance ceased onlv when a detachment of United States 
troops were seen hurrying to the rescue. Above all, the 
slave-ti'ade- -" all-important to the existence of the coun- 
try*' — M'as diligently plied through the lakes and the in- 
lets of Barataria. 

The winter of 1804-05 was freer from bickerings than 
the last had been. The intrigues of Spanish officials who 
lingered in the district were unavailing, and the Gov- 
(?rnor reported a gratifying state of order. On the 2d of 
March, with many unwelcome safeguards and limitations, 


the right n-aa accorded the people to elect a House of 
BeprcBentatives, and "to form for theinselveB a constitu- 
tion and State government so soon as the free population 

of the territory should reaeli sixty thousand souls, in order 
to he admitted into the Union." 

For a time following there.was feverishness rather than 
events. Great Britain and Spain were at war ; Havana 
was open to neutral vessels; the commeree of Xew Or- 
leans was stimulated. But the pertinacious lingering of 


Casa-Calvo, Morales, and others, — whom Claiborne At 
last had to force away in February, 1806, — the rumors 
they kept alive, the fear of war with Spain, doubts as to 
how the Creoles would or should stand, party strife among 
the Americans in New Orleans, and a fierce quarrel in the 
Church between the vicar-general and the famed Pere 
Antoine, pastor of the cathedral, kept the public mind in 
a perpetual ferment. Still, in all these tilings there was 
only restiveness and discord, not revolution. The Creoles 
had at length undergone their last transplanting, and 
taken root in American privileges and principles. From 
the guilt of the plot whose events were now impending 
the Creole's hand is clean. We have Claiborne's testi- 
mony : 

" Were it not for the calnmnies of some Frenchmen 
who are among us, and the intrigues of a few ambitious, 
unprincipled men whose native language is English, I do 
believe that the Louisianians would be very soon the most 
zealous and faithful members of our republic." 

On the 4th of November, 1811, a convention elected by 
the people of Orleans Territory met in New Orleans, and 
on the 28th of the following January adopted a State 
constitution ; and on the 30th of April, 1812, Louisiana 
entered the Union. 



/^N one of those summer evenings when the Creoles, 
^-"^ in the early years of the century, were wont to 
seek the river air in domestic and social groups under the 
willow and china ti-ees of their levee, there glided around 
the last bend of the Mississippi above Kew Orleans " an 
elegant barge," equipped with sails and colors, and im- 
pelled by the stroke of ten picked oarsmen. It came 
down the harbor, drew in to the bank, and presently set 
ashore a small, slender, extremely handsome man, its only 
passenger. He bore letters from General Wilkinson, in- 
troducing him in Xew Orleans, and one, especially, to 
Daniel Clark, Wilkinson's agent, stating that " this great 
and honorable man would communicate to him many 
things improper to letter, and which he would not say to 
any other." Claiborne wrote to Secretaiy Madison, " Col- 
onel Burr arrived in this city on this evening." 

The date was June 26, 1805. The distinguished vis- 
itor, a day or two later, sat down to a banquet given to 
him by the unsuspecting Governor. He was now in full 
downward career. Only a few years before he had failed 
of the presidency by but one electoral vote. Only a few 


months had passed since, on completing his term, he had 
vacated the A^ice-presidency. In the last year of that term 
Alexander Hamilton had fallen by his hand. Friends 
and power, both, were lost. But he yet had strength in 
the West. Its people Averc still wild, restless, and eager 
for adventure. The conquest of " Orleans " was a ti^a- 
ditional idea. Its banks were full of specie. (Clouds of 
revolution were gathering all around the Gulf. The 
regions beyond the lied and the Sabine Kivers invited con- 
quest. The earlier schemes of Adams and Hamilton, to 
seize Orleans Island and the Floridas for the United 
States ; that of Miranda, to expel the Spanish power from 
the farther shores of the (4ulf : tlie plottings of AVilkin- 
son, to surrender the AVest into the hands of Spain — all 
these abandoned projects seem to have cast their shadows 
on the mind of Burr and colored his designs. 

Tlie stem patriotism of the older States had weighed 
him in its balances and rejected him. lie had turned 
with a vagueness of plan that waited for clearer definition 
on the chances of the future, and, pledged to no principle, 
had set out in quest of aggrandizement and empire, either 
on the Mississippi or among the civilizations that encircle 
the Gulf of Mexico, as the tuni of events might decree. 
In the AVest, he had met AVilkinson, and was now in cor- 
respondence with him. 

The Govci'nor who had feasted him moved much in the 
irav socictv of the Creoles. It was not siiddiness, but 
anxious thought and care that pushed liim into such 

burr's conspiracy. 149 

scenes. Troubles and afflictions marked his footsteps; his 
wife and child stricken down by yellow fever, her young 
brother-in-law rashly championing him against the sneers 
of his enemies, fallen in a duel ; but it M-as necessaiy to 
avoid the error — Ulloa's earlier error — of self-isolation. 
He wisely, therefore, mingled in the gayeties of the touchy 
people, even took from among them — after a short year of 
widowhood — a second wife, bore all things without resent- 
ment, and by thus studying the social side of the people, 
viewed public questions from behind. 

The question ever before him — which he was inces- 
santly asking himself, and which he showed an almost 
morbid wish to be always answering to the heads of de- 
partments at Washington— was whether the Creoles over 
whom ho M'as set to rule were loval to the government of 
the nation. It was a vital question. The bonds of the 
Union, even outside of Louisiana, were as jet slender and 
frail. The whole Mississippi valley Mas full of designing 
adventurers, suspected and unsuspected, read}' to reap any 
advantage whatever of any disaffection of the people, lie 
knew there were such in Xew Orleans. 

The difficulty of answering this question lay in one 
single, broad difference between Claiborne himself and 
the civilization which he had been sent to reconstruct into 
harmony with Xorth American thought and action. 
"With him loyaltv to the State meant obedience to its 
laws. The Creole had never been taught that there was 
any necessary connection between the two. The Govern- 



or's young Virginian spii-it assumed it as self-evident that 
a man would cither keep the laws or overturn them. It 
was a strange state of society to him, where one could be 
a patriot and yet ignore, evade, and override the laws 
of the country he loved. " Occasionally, in conversation 
with ladies," — so he Avrites — " I have denounced smug- 
gling as dishonest, and very generally a reply, in substance 
as follows, would be I'eturned : ' That is impossible, for 
my grandfather, or my father, or my husband was, under 
the Spanish Government, a great smuggler, and he was 
always esteemed an honest man.'" They might have 
added, " and loyal to the king." 

With some men Claiborne had had no trouble. "A 
beginning must be made," said Poydras, a wealthy and 
benevolent Frenchman ; " we must be initiated into the 
sacred duties of freemen and the practices of liberty." 
But the mass, both high and low, saw in the abandonment 
of smuggling or of the slave-trade only a surrender of ex- 
istence — an existence to which their own consciences and 
the ladies at the ball gave them a clean patent. These, 
by their angry obduracy, harassed their governor witli 
ungrounded fears of sedition. 

In fact, the issue before governor and people was one 
to which the question of fealty to government was quite 
subordinate. It was the struggle of a North American 
against a Spanish American civilization. Burr must have 
seen this; and probably at tliis date there was nothing 
clearly and absolutely fixed in his mind but this, that the 

burr's conspiracy. 151 

former civilization had cast him off, and that he was about 
to offer himself to the latter. 'New events were to an- 
swer the Governor's haunting question, and to give a new 
phase to the struggle between these two civilizations in 
the Mississippi valley. 

Colonel BuiT remained in New Orleans ten or twelve daj^s, 
receiving much social attention, and then left for St. Louis, 
saying he would return in October. But he did not appear. 

During the winter the question of boundaries threat- 
ened war with Spain, and the anger of Spain rose high 
when, in February, 1806, Claiborne expelled her agents, 
the resplendent Casa-Calvo and the quarrelsome Morales, 
from the Territory. The Spanish governor of Florida 
retorted by stopping the transmission of the United States 
mails through that province. Outside, the Spaniards 
threatened ; inside, certain Americans of influence did 
hardly less. The Creoles were again supine. Tere An- 
toine, the beloved pastor of the cathedral, was suspected 
— unjustly — of sedition ; "Wilkinson with his forces was 
unaccountably idle. " All is not right," wrote Claiborne ; 
" I know not whom to censure ; but it seems to me that 
there is wrong somewhere." 

^The strange character of the Creole people pei-plexed 
and wearied Claiborne. Unstable and whimsical, public- 
spirited and sordid by turns, a display of their patriotism 
caused a certain day to be "among the happiest of his 
life ; " and when autumn passed and toward its close their 
enthusiasm disappeared in their passion for money-getting, 


he " began to despair." J3ut, alike unknown in the Creole 
town — to money-getters and to patriots — the only real dan- 
ger had passed. AVilkinson had decided to betray Buit. 

Late in September the General had arrived at Xatchi- 
toehes, and had taken chief command of the troops con- 
fronting the Spanish forces. On the Sth of October, one 
Samuel Swartwout brought him a confidential letter from 
Colouel Jiurr. He was received by Wilkinson with much 
attention, stayed eight days, and then left for New Or- 
leans. On t]ie 21st, AVilkinsoii determined to expose the 
plot. lie despatched a messenger to the President of the 
United States, bearing a letter which apprised him of 
Colonel Burr's contemplated descent of the Mississippi 
with an armed force. Eight days later, the General ai'- 
ranged with the Spaniards for the troops under each flag 
to withdraw from the contested boundary, leaving its 
location to be settled by the two governments, and hast- 
ened toward Xew Orleans, hurrviniir on in advance of him 
a force of artificers and a company of soldiers. 

Presently the people of Xew Orleans were startled 
from apathetic tranquillity into a state of panic. Al\ un- 
explained, these troops had arrived, others had re-enforced 
them ; there was hurried repair and preparation ; and the 
air Avas agitated with rumors. To Claiborne, the revela- 
tion had at length come from various directions that 
Aaron Bun* was plotting treason. Thousands were said 
to be involved with him ; the first outbreak was expected 
to be in New Orleans. 

burr's conspiracy. 153 

Wilkinson had amved in the town. In the bombastic 
style of one who plays a part, he demanded of Claiborne 
the proclamation of martial law. Claiborne kindlj'^, and 
with expressions of confidence in the General, refused; 
but the two met the city's chamber of commerce, laid the 
plot before it, and explained the needs of defence. Sev- 
eral thousand dollars were at once subscribed, and a tran- 
sient embargo of the port recommended, for the purpose 
of procuring sailors for the fom* gun-boats and two bomb- 
ketches lying in the harbor. 

There were others in whose confidence Wilkinson held 
no place. The acting-governor of Mississippi wrote to 
Claiborne : " Should he [Colonel Burr] pass us, your fate 
will depend on the General, not on the Colonel. If I stop 
Burr, this may hold the General in his allegiance to the 
United States. But if Burr passes the temtory with two 
thousand men, I have no doubt but the General will be vour 
worst enemy. Be on your guard against the wily General. 
He is not much better than Catiline. Consider him a traitor 
and act as if certain thereof. You may save yourself by it." 

On Sunday, the 14th of December, a Dr. Erick Boll- 
man was arrested by Wilkinson's order. Swartwout and 
Ogden had already been apprehended at Fort Adams, 
and were then confined on one of the bomb-ketches in the 
harbor. On the 16th, a court officer, armed with writs of 
haheaa corjms^ sought in vain to hire a boat to carry him 
off to the bomb-ketch, and on the next day, when one 
could be procured, only Ogden could be found. 


He was liberated, but only to be re-arrested with one 
Alexander, and held in the face of the habeas covjpuB. 
The court issued an attachment against Wilkinson. It 
was powerless. The Judge — Workman — appealed to Clai- 
borne to sustain it with force. The Cxovernor promptly 
declined, the Judge resigned, and Wilkinson ruled. 

One of Burr's intimates was General Adair. On the 
lith of January, 1807, he appeared in Xew Orleans un- 
announced. Colonel Burr, lie said, M'ith only a servant, 
would arrive in a few days. As ho was sitting at dinner, 
his hotel was surroimded by regulars, an aide of Wilkin- 
son appeai'ed and arrested him ; he M-as confined, and 
presently was sent away. The troops beat to arms, regulars 
and militia paraded through the terrified city, and Judge 
Workman, with two others, were thrown into confinement. 
They were j'eleased within twenty-four hours ; but to inten- 
sify the general alarm, four hundred Spaniards from Pen- 
sacola arrived at the mouth of Jiavou St. John, a few miles 
from the citv, on their wav to Baton Rouge, and then* 
commander asked of Claiborne that he and his staif might 
pass through Xew Orleans. He was refused the liberty. 

jVll this time the Creoles had been silent. iJ^ow, how- 
ever, through their legislature, they addressed their gov- 
ernor. They washed their hands of the treason which 
threatened the peace and safety of Louisiana, but boldly 
announced their intention to investigate the " extraordin- 
ary measures " of Wilkinson and to complain to Congress. 

Burr, meanwhile, with the mere nucleus of a force, had 

burk's conspiract. 155 

set his expedition in motion, and at length, after twenty 
yeai*s' thi'eatening by the Americans of the West, a fleet 
of boats actually bore an armed expedition down the Ohio 
and out into the Mississippi, bent on conquest. 

But disaster lay in wait for it. It failed to gather 
strength as it came, and on the 28th of January the news 
reached New Orleans that Bun', having amved at a point 
near Natchez with fourteen boats and about a hundred 
men, had been met by Mississippi militia, arrested, taken 
to Natchez, and released on bond to appear for trial at the 
next term of the Territorial Court. 

This bond Burr ignored, and left the Territory. The 
Grovernor of Mississippi offered $2,000 for his apprehen- 
sion, and on the 3d of March the welcome word came to 
New Orleans that he had been detected in disguise and 
re-ari-ested at Fort Stoddart, Alabama. 

About the middle of Mav, Wilkinson sailed from New 
Orleans to Virginia to testify in that noted trial which, 
though it did not end in the conviction of Burr, made 
final wreck of his designs, restored public tranquillity, 
and assured the country of the loyalty not only of the 
West, but also of the Creoles of Louisiana. The struggle 
between the two civilizations withdrew finally into the 
narrowest limits of the Delta, and Spanish American 
thought found its next and last exponent in an individual 
without the ambition of empire, — a man polished, brave 
and chivalrous ; a patriot, and yet a contrabandist ; an 
outlaw, and in the end a pirate. 



TDETWEEX 1S04 and 1810, Xew Orleans doubled its 
population. The common notion is that there was 
a large influx of Anglo-Americans. This was not the case. 
A careful estimate shows not more tlian J3,100 of these in 
the city in 1809, 3'et in tlie following year the whole 
population, including the suburbs, was 21,552. The 
Americans, therefore, were numerically feeble. The in- 
crease came from another direction. 

Xapoleou's wars were convulsing Europe. The navies 
of his enemies fell upon the Fj'ench West Indies. In 
Cuba large numbers of white and nudatto refugees who, 
in the St. Domingan insurrection, had escaped across to 
Cuba with their slaves, were now, by hostilities between 
France and Spain, forced again to become exiles. AVith- 
in sixty days, between May and eluly, 1800, thirty-four 
vessels from Cuba set ashore in the streets of Xew Or- 
leans nearly fifty-eight hundred i)ersons — whites, free 
raulattoes, and black slaves in almost equal numbers. 
Others came later from Cuba, Guadaloupe, and other 


islands, until they amounted to ten thousand. I^'early all 
settled permanently in New Orleans. 

The Creoles of Louisiana received the Creoles of the 
"West Indies with tender welcomes. The state of society 
in the islands from which these had come needs no de- 
scription. As late as 1871, '72, and '73, there were in the 
island of Guadaloupe only three mamages to a thousand 
inhabitants. But they came to their better cousins with 
the ties of a common religion, a common tongue, much 
common sentiment, misfortunes that may have had some 
resemblance, and with the poetry of exile. They were re- 
enforcements, too, at a moment when the power of the 
Americans — few in number, but potent in energies and 
advantages — was looked upon with hot jealous}'. 

The Anglo-Americans clamored against them, for they 
came in swarms. They brought little money or goods. 
They raised the price of bread and of rent. They 
lowered morals and disturbed order. Yet it was certainly 
true the Anglo-Americans had done little to improve 
either of these. Some had come to stay ; many more 
to make a fortune and get away ; both sorts were sim- 
ply and only seeking wealth. 

The West Indians had not come to a city whose civili- 
zation could afford to absorb them. The Creole element 
needed a better infusion, and yet it was probably the best 
in the community. The Spaniards were few and bad, de- 
scribed by one as capable of the vilest depredations, " a 
nuisance to the country," and even by the mild Claiborne 


as " for the most part . . . well suited for mischiev- 
ous and wicked enterprises." Tlie free people of color 
were about two thousand, unaspiring, coiTupted, and 
feeble. The floating population was extremely bad. 
Sailors from all parts of the world took sides, according 
to nationality, in bloody street riots and night bi*awls ; 
and bargemen, flat-boatmen, and raftsmen, from the wild 
banks of the Ohio, Tennessee, and Cumberland, aban- 
doned themselves at the end of their journey to the most 
shameful and reckless excesses. The spirit of strife ran 
up into the better classes. A newspaper article reflecting 
upon Xapoleon all but caused a riot. A public uprising 
was hardly prevented when three young navy officers re- 
leased a slave girl who was being whipped. In Septem- 
ber, 1807, occurred the " batture riots.-' The hatture was 
the sandy deposits made by the MississijDpi in front of the 
Faubourg St. Marie. The noted jurist, Edward Living- 
ston, representing private claimants, took possession of 
this ground, and was opposed by the public in two dis- 
tinct outbreaks. In the second, the Creoles, ignoring the 
decision of the Supremfe Court, rallied to the spot by 
thousands, and wei'e quieted only by the patient appeals 
of Claiborne, addressed to them on the spot, and hy the 
recommittal of the contest to the United States courts, in 
whose annals it is so well-known a cause. Preparations 
for war with Spain heightened the general fever. Clai- 
borne's letters dwell on the sad mixture of societv. 
*' England," he writes, ''has her partisans; Ferdinand 


the Seventh, sorfie faithful Bubjects ; Bonaparte, his ad- 
mirerB ; and thei'e is a fourth description of men, com- 
monly called BurriteSy who would join any standard 
which would promise rapine and plunder." These last 
had a newspaper, " \a Lanteme Magique," whose libels 
gave the executive much anxiety. 

Now, into such a city — say of fourteen thousand inhab- 
itants, at most — swarm ten thousand white, yellow, and 
black West India islandei-s; some with means, others in 
absolute destitution, and " many ... of doubtful 
character and desperate fortune." Americans, English, 


Spanish, cry aloud; the laws forbid the importation of 
n \ slaves ; Claiborne adjures the American consuls at Ha- 
S 4t^ i ^^^* ^^^ Santiago de Cuba to stop the movement ; the 
free people of color are ordered point-blank to leave the 
countiy ; the actual effort is made to put the order into 
execution ; and still all three classes continue to pour into 
the streets, to throw themselves upon the town's hospit- 
ality, and daily to increase the cost of living and the 
number of distressed poor. 

V They came and they stayed, in Orleans Street, in Du 

Maine, St. Philippe, St. Peter, Dauphine, Burgundy, and 

the rest, all too readily dissolving into the corresponding 

parts of the native Creole community, and it is easier to 

underestimate than to exaggerate the silent results of an 

• event that gave the French-speaking Louisianians twice 

^ i the numerical power with which they had begun to wage 

^ n their long battle against American absorptionv^ 



TT has already been said that the whole Gulf coast of 
Louisiana is sea-marsh. It is an immense, wet, level 
expanse, covered everywhere, shoulder-high, with marsh- 
gi'asses, and indented by extensive bays that receive the 
rivers and larger bayous. For some sixty miles on either 
side of the Mississippi's mouth, it breaks into a grotesque- 
ly contorted shore-line and into bright archipelagoes of 
hundreds of small, reedy islands, with narrow and ob- 
scure channels writhing hither and thither between them. 
These mysterious passages, hidden from the eye that 
overglances the seemingly unbroken sunny leagues of sur- 
rounding distance, are threaded only by the far-seen 
white or red lateen-sail of the 03'ster-gatherer, or by the 
pirogue of the hunter stealing upon the myriads of wild 
fowl that in winter haunt these vast green wastes. 

To such are known the courses that enable them to 
avoid the frequent cuU-desac of the devious shore, and 
that lead to the bayous which open the way to the inhab- 
ited interior. They lead through miles of clear, brown, 

silent waters, between low banks fringed with dwarf oaks, 


across pale gi^oen distances of " quaking prairie," in whose 
shallow, winding cooUea the smooth, dark, shining needles 
of the I'ound rush stand twelve feet high to oveipeer the 
bulrushes, and at length, under the solemn sliadesof cy- 
press swamps, to the near neighboi'hood of the Mississippi, 
from whose flood the process of delta-growth has cut the 
bayou off. Aci'oss the mouths of the frequent l)ays that 
indent this marshy coast-line strotcli long, slender keys of 
dazzling, storm-heaped sand — sometimes of cultivable soil. 
A-bout sixtv miles south from the l)ank of the JSiHssis- 
sippi as tliat river flows eastward by N'ew Orleans, lies 
Grande Terro, a very small island of this class, scarce two 
miles long, and a fourth as wide, stretehing aci'oss two-thirds 
of the entrance of Barataria Bay, but leaving a pass of about 
a mile ^vidth at its western end, with a navigable channel. 
Behind this island the waters of the bay give a safe, deep 
harboi\ At the west of the bav lies a multitude of small, 
fenny islands, interwoven \x\t]i lakes, bays, and passes, 
named and unnamed, affording cunning exit to the bayous 
La Fourche and Terre Bonne and the waters still bevond. 
They are populous beyond estimate with the prey of 
fowler and fisherman, and of the huge cormorant, the gull, 
the jnan-of-war bird, the brown pelican and the alba- 
tross. Here in his time the illustrious Creole nat- 
uralist, Audubon, sought and found in great multi- 
tude the white pelican, now so rare, that rose at the 
sound of his gun and sailed unwillingly away on wings 
that measured eight feet and a half from tip to tip. 


Xortliward the bay extends some sixteen miles, and then 
breaks in every direction across the illimitable wet prai- 
ries into lakes and bayous. Through one of these — the 
bayou Barataria, with various other local names — a way 
opens irregularly northward. Ifow and then it widens into 
a lake, and narrows again, each time more than the last, 
the leagues of giant reeds and rushes are left behind, a few 
sugar and rice plantations are passed, standing, lonely and 
silent, in the water and out of the water, the dark shad- 
ows of the moss-hung swamp close down, and the stream's 
windings become more and more difficult, until near its 
head a short canal is entered on the right, and six miles 
farther on the forest opens, you pass between two plan- 
tations, and presently are stopped abruptly by the levee of 
the Mississippi. You mount its crown, and see, opposite, 
the low-lying city, with its spires peering up from the 
sunken plain, its few wreaths of manufactory smoke, and 
the silent stir of its winding harbor. Canal Street, its 
former upper boundary, is hidden two miles and a half 
away down the stream. There are other Baratarian 
routes, through lakes Salvador or Des Allemands, and 
many obscure avenues of return toward the Gulf of Mex- 
ico or the maze of wet lands intervening. 

In the first decade of the century the wars of France 
had filled this gulf with her privateers. Spain's rich 
commerce was the prey around which they hovered, and 
Guadaloupe and Martinique their island haunts. From 
these the English, operating in the West Indies, drove 


them out, and when in February, 1810, Guadaloupe com- 
pleted the list of their conquests, the French privateers 
were as homeless as K^oah's raven. 

They were exiled on the open Gulf, with the Spaniards 
lining its every shore, except one, where American neu- 
trality motioned them austerelj' away. This was Louis- 
iana. But this, of all shores, suited them best. Thou- 
sands of their brethren already filled the streets of Xew 
Orleans, and commanded the sympathies of the native 
Creoles. The tangled water-ways of Barataria, so well 
known to smugglers and slavers, and to so few beside, 
leading by countless windings and intersections to the 
markets of the thrivins: citv, offered the rarest facilities 
for their purposes. Between this shelter and the distant 
harbors of France there could be no question of choice. 

Hither they came, fortified Grande Terre, built store- 
houses, sailed away upon the Gulf, and re-appeared with 
prizes which it seems were not always Spanish. The 
most seductive auctions followed. All along this coast 
there are vast heaps of a species of clam-shell, too great to 
admit the idea of their being othei' than the work of 
nature. Great oaks grow on them. The aborigines, 
mound-builders, used these places for temple-sites. One 
of them, in Barataria, distinguished from larger neighbors 
by the name of Petit Temple, "the Little Temple," re- 
moved of late years for the value of its shells as a paving 
material, yielded three hundred thousand barrels of them. 
A notable group of these mounds, on one of the larger 


islands of Barataria, became the privateers' chief place of 
sale and barter. It was known as the Temple. There 
was no scarcity of buyers from Kew Orleans and the sur- 
rounding country. Goods were also smuggled up the 
various bayous, especially La Fourche. Then the cap- 
tured vessels were burned or refitted, sails were spread 
again, and prows were pointed toward the Spanish Main. 
The Baratarians had virtually revived, in miniature, the 
life of the long-extinct buccaneers. 

On the beautiful, wooded, grassy and fertile " Grande 
Isle," lying just west of their stronghold on " Grande 
Terre," and separated from it only by the naiTOw pass 
that led out to sea, storehouses and dwellings were built, 
farms and orangeries yielded harvests, and green meadows 
dotted with wax-myrtles, casinos, and storm-dwarfed oaks 
rose from the marshy inland side where the children and 
women plied their shrimp and crab nets, and, running 
down to the surf- beach on the southern side, looked 
across the boundless open Gulf toward the Spanish Main. 

The fame of the Baratarians spread far and wide ; and 
while in neighboring States the scandalous openness of 
their traffic brought loud condemnation upon Louisiana 
citizens and officials alike, the merchants and planters of 
the Delta, profiting by these practices, with the general 
public as well, screened the contrabandists and defended 
their character. 

Much ink has been spilled from that day to this to 
maintain that they sailed under letters of marque. But 


certainly no commission could be worth the unrolling 
when carried bj' men who had removed themselves be- 
yond all the restraints that even seem to distinguish 
privateering from piracy. They were often overstocked 
with vessels and booty, but they seem Jiever to have been 
embarrassed with the care of ]:)risoners. 

There lived at this tune, in ?scw Orleans, John and 
Pierre Lafitte. John, the younger, but more conspicuous 
of tlie two, was a handsome man, fair, with black hair 
and eyes, wearing his beard, as the fashion was, shaven 
neatly away from the front of his face. IIis manner was 
generally courteous, though he was irascible and in graver 
moments somewhat harsh. Jle spoko tluently English, 
Spanish, Italian, and French, using them witli nmch af- 
fability at the hotel where he resided, and indicating, in 
the peculiarities of his French, his nativity in the city of 

The elder brother was a seafarino: man and had served 
in the French navy, lie appears to have been every way 
less sliowv than the otliei' ; but bevoiid doubt both men 
were above the occupation with which they began life in 
Louisiana. This was the trade of blacksmith, though at 
their forgo, on the corner of St. Philip and Bourbon 
Streets, probably none but slave hands swung the sledge 
or shaped the horseshoe. 

It was durins: the embar2:o, enforced bv the United 
Stiites Government in ISOS, that John Lalitte began to be 
a merchant. IIis store was in Roval Street. M*here« be- 


hind a show of legitimate trade, he was busy running the 
embargo with goods and Africans. He wore the disguise 
carelessly. He was cool and intrepid and had only the 
courts to evade, and his unlawful adventures did not lift 
his name from the published lists of managers of society 
balls or break his acquaintance with prominent legislators. 

In 1810 came the AVest Indian refugees and the Guad- 
aloupian privateers. The struggle between the Xorth 
American and the West Indian ideas of public order and * 
morals took \\e\v energy on the moment. The plans of 
the "set of bandits who infested the coast and oveiTan 
the country " were described by Government as " exten- 
sive and well laid," and the confession made that " so gen- 
eral seemed the disposition to aid in their concealment, 
that but faint hopes were entertained of detecting the 
parties and bringing them to justice." 

Tlieir trade was impudeiitlj^ open. Merchants gave and 
took orders for their goods in the streets of the town as 
frankly as for the merchandise of Philadelphia or Kew 
York. Frequent seizures lent zest to adventure without 
greatly impairing the extravagant profits of a commerce 
that paid neither duties nor first cost. 

John and Pierre Lafitte became the commercial agents 
of the " privateers." By and b}' they were their actual 
chiefs. They won great prosperity for the band ; prizes 
were rich and frequent, and slave cargoes profitable. 
John Lafitte did not at this time go to sea. He equipped 
vessels, sent them on their cruises, sold their prizes and 


slaves, and moved hither and thither throughout the 
Delta, administering affairs with boldness and sagacitj-. 
The Mississippi's " coasts " in the parishes of St. James 
and St. John the Baptist were often astir with his known 
presence, and his smaller vessels sometimes pierced the 
interior as far as Lac des Allemands. He knew the value 
of popular admiration, and was often at country balls, 
where he enjoyed the fame of great riches and courage, 
and seduced many of the simple Acadian youth to sail 
in his cruises. His two principal captains were Beluche 
and Dominique You. "Captain Dominique" was small, 
graceful, fair, of a pleasant, even attractive face, and a 
skilful sailor. There were also Gambi, a handsome Ital- 
ian, who died only a few yeai-s ago at the old pirate village 
of Cheniere Caminada ; and Rigoult, a dark Frenchman, 
whose ancient house still stands on Grande Isle. And 
yet again Johnness and Johannot, unless — which appears 
likely — these were only the real names of Dominique and 

Expeditions went out against tliese men more than 
once ; but the Government was pre-occupied and embar- 
rassed, and the expeditions seemed feebly conceived. 
They only harassed the Baratarians, drove them to the 
mouth of La Fourche in vessels too well armed to be at- 
tacked in transports, and did not prevent their prompt re- 
turn to Grande Terre. 

The revolution for the independence of the Colombian 
States of South America began. Venezuela declared her 


independence in July, 1811. The Baratarians procured 
letters of marque from the patriots in Carthagena, low- 
ered the French flag, ran up the new standard, and thus 
far and no farther joined the precarious fortunes of the 
new states, while Barataria continued to be their haunt 
and booty their only object. 

They reached the height of their fortune in 1813. 
Their moral condition had declined in proportion. 
"Among them," says the Governor, "are some St. Do- 
mingo negroes of the most desperate character, and no 
worse than most of their white associates." Theu' 
avowed purpose, he says, was to cruise on the high seas 
and commit " depredations and piracies ou the vessels of 
nations in peace with the United States." 

One of these nations was the British. Its merchant- 
men were captured in the Gulf and sold behind Grande 
Terre. The English more than once sought redress with 
their own powder and shot. On the 23d of June, 1813, 
a British sloop-of-war anchored off the outer end of the 
channel at the mouth of La Fourche and sent her boats to 
attack two priNateers lying under the lee of Cat Island ; 
but the pirates stood ground and repulsed them with con- 
siderable loss. 

Spain, England, and the United States were now their 
enemies; yet they grew bolder and more outrageous. 
Smuggling increased. The Government was " set at defi- 
ance in broad daylight." " I remember," reads a manu- 
script kindly furnished the present writer, " when three 


Spanish vessels were brouglit in to Caillon Islands. They 
were laden with a certain Spanish wine, and the citizens 
of Attakapas went out to see them and purchased pail; of 
the captured cargoes. There wei'e no traces of the former 

In October, 1813, a revenue officer seized some contra- 
band goods near New Orleans. lie was fired upon by a 
party under John Lafitte, one of his men wounded, and 
the goods taken from him. The Governor offered §500 
for Lafitte's apprehension, but without avail. 

In Januaiy, 1S14, four hundred and fifteen negi'oes, 
consigned to John and Pierre Lafitte, were to be auc- 
tioned at " The Temple." An inspector of customs and 
twelve men were stationed at the spot. John Lafitte at- 
tacked them, killed the inspector, wounded two men, and 
made the rest prisoners. 

Still he was not arrested. J lis island was fortified, his 
schooners and feluccas were swift, his men were well or- 
ganized and numbered four hundred, the Federal Govern- 
ment was o'cttinij: the worst of it in war with Great 
r>ritain, and, above all, the prevalence of W^est Lidian 
ideas in ^New Orleans was a secure shelter, lie sent his 
spoils daily up La Fonrche to Donaldsonville on the Mis- 
sissippi, and to other points. Strong, well-armed escorts 
protected them. Claiborne asked the legislatui-e to raise 
one hundred men for six months' service. The request 
was neglected. At the same time a filibustering expedi- 
tion against Texas was only stopped by energetic meas- 


ures. The Federal courts conld effect nothing. An ex- 
pedition captured both Lafittes, but they disappeared, and 
the writs were returned " not found." 

But now the tide turned. Society began to repudiate 
the outlaws. In July, 1S14, a grand jury denounced 
them as pirates, and exhorted the people " to remove the 
stain that has fallen on all classes of society in the minds 
of the good people of the sister States." Indictments 
were found against Johnness and Johannot for piracies in 
the Gulf, and against Pierre Lafitte as accessoiy. Lafitte 
was arrested, bail was refused, and he found himself at 
last shut up in the calaboza. 



TT/""^^^^^''^^^ ^^^ *^^® facts, it is small wonder that the 
Delta Creoles coquetted with the Baratarians. To 
say no more of Spanish American or French AVest Indian 
tincture, there was the Embargo. There were the war- 
ships of Europe skimming ever to and fro in the en- 
trances and exits of the Gulf. Rarelv in davs of French 
or Spanish rule had this purely agricultural country and 
non-manufacturing town been so removed to the world's 
end as just at this time. Tlie Mississippi, northward, was 
free ; but its perils had hardly lessened since the days 
of Spanish rule. Then it was said, in a curious old West- 
ern advertisement of 1797, whose English is worthy of 
notice : 

** Xo danger need be apprehended from the enemy, as everr person 
whatever wiU he und(?r cover, made proof against rifle or musket baUs, 
and convenient jiort-holes for firing out of. Each of the boats are 
armed with six pieces, carry a pound baU, also a number of muskets, 
and amply supplied with plenty of ammunition, strongly manned with 
choice hands, and masters of approved knowledge." 


Scarcely any journey, now, outside of Asia, Africa, and 
the Polar seas, is more arduous than was then the trip 
from St. Louis to New Orleans. Vagabond Indians, white 
marauders, Spanish-armed extortion and arrest, and the 
natural perils of the stream, made the river little, if any, 
less dangerous than the Gulf. Culbert and Maglibray 
were the baser Lafittes of the Mississippi, and Cotton- 
wood Creek their Barataria. 

And the labors and privations were greater than the 
dangers. The conveyances were keel-boats, barges, and 
flat-boats. The flat-boats, at Xew Orleans, were broken 
up for their lumber, their slimy gunwales forming along 
the open gutters edge in many of the streets a narrow 
and treacherous substitute for a pavement. The keel- 
boats and barges retui-ncd up-stream, propelled now by 
sweeps and now by warping or by cordelle (hand tow- 
ropes), consuming " three or four months of the most 
painful toil that can be imagined." Exposure and bad 
diet " ordinarily destroyed one-thu*d of the crew." 

But on the 10th of January, 1812, there had pushed in 
to the landing at Xew Orleans a sky-blue thing with a 
long bowsprit, " built after the fashion of a ship, with port- 
holes in the side," and her cabin in the hold. She was 
the precursor of the city's future greatness, the Orleans^ 
from Pittsburg, the first steam vessel on the Mississippi. 

Here was a second freedom of the great river mightier 
than that wrested from Spain. Commercial grandeur 
seemed just at hand. All Spanish America was asserting 


its independence; Whitney's genius was making cotton 
the world's greatest staple; imraigi'ants were swarming 
into the West ; the Mississippi valley would be tlie pro- 
vision-house of Europe, the impoi'ter of mitold millions of 
manufactures; Xew Orleans would keep the only gate. 
Instead of this, in June, 1S12, Cougress declared war 
against Great Britain. Barataria seemed indispensable, 
and T^ew Orleans was infested with danc^ers. 

In 1813, Wilkinson, still commanding in the West, 
marched to Mobile Iliver ; in April ho drove the Span- 
iards out of Fort Charlotte and raised a small fortification. 
Fort Bowyer, to command the entrance of Mobile Bay. 
Thus the Spanish, neighbors only less objectionable than 
the British, were crowded back to Pensacola. But, this 
done, Wilkinson was ordered to the Canadian frontier, 
and even took part of his few regulars with him. 

The Enorlish were alreadv in the Gulf : the Lidians 
were growing offensive; in July seven hundred crossed 
the Perdido into Mississippi ; in September they massa- 
cred three hundred and fiftv whites at Fort ilimms, and 
opened the (^reek war. Within Xew Orleans bands of 
drunken Choctaws roamed the streets. Tbc Baratarians 
were seen daily in the public resorts. Incendiary fires be- 
came alarmingly common, and the hatture troubles again 
spi*ang up. Xaturally, at such a junction, Lafitte and his 
men reached the summit of power. 

In Februaiy, 1S14, four hundred country militia re- 
ported at Magazine Barracks, opposite Xew Orleans. The 


Governor tried to force out the city militia. He got only 
clamorous denunciation and refusal to obey. The country 
muster offered their aid to enforce the order. The city 
companies heard of it, and only Claiborne's discreetness 
averted the mortifying disaster of a battle without an 
enemy. The country militia, already deserting, Avas dis- 
banded. Even the legislature withheld its support, and 
Claiborne was everywhere denounced as a traitor. He 
had to report to the President his complete failure. Still, 
he insisted apologetically, the people were emphatically 
ready to "turn out in case of actual invasion." Only so 
patient a man could understand that the Creoles were con- 
scientious in their lethargj'. Fortunately the invasion did 
not come imtil the Creek war had brought to view the 
genius of Andrew Jackson. 

In April, Government raised the embargo. But the re- 
lief was tardy ; the banks suspended. Word came that 
Paris had fallen. Is"apoleon had abdicated. England 
would throw new vigor into the war with America, and 
could spare troops for the conquest of Louisiana. 

In August the Creeks made peace. Some British 
officers landed at Apalachicola, Florida, bringing artilleiy. 
Some disaffected Creeks joined them and were by them 
armed and drilled. But now, at length, the Government 
took steps to defend the Southwest. 

General Jackson was given the undertaking. He wrote 
to Claiborne to hold his militia ready to march — an order 
very easy to give. In September he repaired to Mobile, 


which was ah*eady threatened. Tlie British Colonel 
Kicholls had landed at Peiisaeola w-itli some companies 
of infantry, from two sloops-of-war. The officers from 
Apalachicola and a considerable body of Indians had 
joined him, without objection from the Spaniards. 

Suddenly attention M'as drawn to the Baratarians. On 
the third of September an armed brig had appeared off 
Grande Terre. She fired on an inbound vessel, forcing 
her to run aground, tacked, and presently anchored some 
six miles from shore. Certain of the islanders went off 
in a boat, ventured too near, and, turning to retreat, were 
overhauled by the brig's pinnace, canying British colors 
and a white flag. In the pinnace were two naval officers 
and a captain of infantry. The}' asked for Mr. Lafitte, 
one officer speaking in French for the other. 

"lie is ashore," said the chief ])crson in the island boat, 
a man of dignified and pleasing address. The officers 
handed him a packet addressed "To Mr. Lafitte, Bara- 
taria," and asked that it be carefully delivered to him in 
person. The receiver of it, liowcver, induced them to 
continue on, and when they were plainly in his power 
revealed himself. 

" I, myself, am Mr. Lafitte."' As they drew near the 
shore, he counselled them to conceal their business from 
his men. More than two hundred Baratarians lined the 
beach clamoring for the arrest of the " spies,-' but Lafitte 
contrived to get them safely to his dwelling, quieted his 
men, and opened the packet. 


There were four papers in it. First, Colonel NichoUs's 
appeal to the Creoles to help restore Louisiana to Spain ; 
to Spaniards, French, Italians, and Britons, to aid in 
abolishing American usurpation ; and to Kentuckians, to 
exchange supplies for money, and neutrality for an open 
Mississippi. Second, his letter to Lafitte offering a naval 
captain's commission to him, lands to all his followei*8, 
and protection in persons and property to all, if the 
pirates, with their fleet, would put themselves under the 
British naval commander, and announcing the early in- 
vasion of Louisiana with a powerful force. Third, an 
order fi'om the naval commander in Pensacola Bay, to 
Captain Lockyer, the bearer of the packet, to procure I'cs- 
titution at Barataria for certain late piracies, or to "carry 
destruction over the whole place ; -' but also repeating 
Colonel Nicholls's overtures. And fourth, a copy of the 
orders under which Captain Lockyer had come. He was 
to secure the Baratarians* co-operation in an attack on 
Mobile, or, at all events, their neutrality. According to 
Lafitte, the captain added verbally the offer of 8^0,000 
and many other showj' inducements. 

Lafitte asked time to consider. He withdrew ; when in 
a moment the three oflScers and their crew were seized bv 
the pirates and imprisoned. They were kept in confine- 
ment all night. In the morning Lafitte appeared, and, 
with many apologies for the rudeness of his men, con- 
ducted the officers to their pinnace, and they went off to 

the brig. The same day he addressed a letter to Captain 


l^ekyer asking a fortnight to ^* put his affairs in order,-' 
when he would be " entire!}^ at liis disposal." It is notice- 
able for its polished dignity and the purity of its Eng- 

Was this anything more than stratagem ? The Span- 
iard and Englishman Averc his foe and his i»rcy. The 
Creoles were his friends. ]lis own lari::e interests were 
scattered all over Lower JAUiisiana. Jiis patriotism has 
been overpraised ; and yet we may allow liin] patriotism. 
His whole war, on the main-land side, was only with a 
set of ideas not superficially fairer than his own. They 
seemed to him un suited to the exisreneies of the times and 
the coimtrv. Thousands of Louisianians thou<rht as Jie 
did. They and he — to borrow from a distance the phrase 
of another — were ''polished, agreeable, dignified, averse 
to baseness and vulgarity.-' They accepted friendship, 
honor, and party faith as suflScient springs of action, and 
only dispensed Avith the sterner question of j-ight and 
Avrong. True, Pierre, his brother, and Dominique, his 
most intrepid captain, lay then in the calaboza. Yet 
should he, so able to take care of himself against all 
comers and all fates, so scornful of all subordination, for 
a paltry captain's commission and a doubtful thirty thou- 
sand, help his life-time enemies to hivade the country and 
eitv of his commercial and social intimates ? 

He sat down and penned a letter to his friend Blanque, 
of the legislature, and sent the entire British packet, ask- 
ing but one favor, the '' amelioration of the situation of 


his nnliapi^y brother ; " and the next moniing one of the 
New Orleans papers contained the following advertise- 
ment : 

§1,000 BEWAKD 

Will be paid for the apprehending of Pierre Lafitte, who broke 
and escaped last night from tlie prison of tlie parish. Said Pierre La- 
fitte is about five feet ten inches heiglit, stout made, light complexion, 
and somewhat cross-eyed, further descrii)tiou is considered unneces- 
sary, as ho is very well known in the city. 

Said Lafitte took with him three negroes, to wit: [giving their names 
and those of their owners] : the above reward will be paid to any per- 
son delivering the said Lafitte to the subscriber. 

J. H. Holland, 

Keeper of the Priaoji, 

On the Ttli, John Lafitte wrote again to Blanque, — the 
British brig and two sloops-of-war still hovered in the 
oiRng, — should he make overtures to the United States 
Government ? Blanque's advice is not kno\\'n ; but on 
the 10th, Lafitte made such ovcrtm-es by letter to Clai- 
boi-ne, inclosed in one fi'oni Pierre Lafitte — who had 
joined him — to iL Blanque. 

The outlawed bi'others offered themselves and their 
men to defend Barataria, asking only oblivion of the past. 
The high-spirited periods of John Lafitte challenge ad- 
miration, even while they betray tinges of sophistry that 
may or may not have been apparent to their Avriter. 
"All the offence I have committed,-' wrote he, "I was 
forced to by certain vices in our laws." He did not say 


tliat these vices consisted mainly of enactments against 
smuggling, piracy, and the slave-trade. 

The heads of the small naval and militaiy force then 
near New Orleans were Commodoi^e Paterson and Colonel 
Ross. They had organized and were hnri'iedly i)reparing 
a descent upon the Baratarians. A general of the Creole 
militia was Villerc, son of the unhappy j)atrjot of 1768. 
Claiborne, with these three officers, met in council, with 
the Lafittes' letters and the British overtures before them, 
and debated the question w^hether the pirates' services 
should be accepted. Claiborne being in the chair was not 
called upon for a vote. It would be interesting to know, 
what, with his now thorough knowledge of the Creole 
character and all the expediencies of the situation, his vote 
would have been. Yillei-e vot.ed yea, but lloss and Pater- 
son stoutly nay, and thus it was decided. ]!sor did the 
British send ashore for Lafitte's final answer. They only 
lingered distantly for some days and then vanished. 

Presently the expedition of Ross and Paterson was 
ready. Stealing down the Mississippi, it was joined at 
the mouth by some gun-vessels, sailed M-estward into the 
Gulf, and headed for Barataria. Tliere was the schooner 
Carolina^ six gun-vessels, a tender, and a launch. On the 
1 Otli of September they sighted Grande TciTe, formed in 
line of battle, and stood for the entrance of the bav. 

Within the harbor, behind the low island, the pimte 
fleet was soon descried forming in line. Counting all, 
schooners and feluccas, there were ten vessels. Two miles 


from shore the Carolina was stopped by shoal water, and 
the two lieavier gun-vessels gi-ounded. But armed boats 
were launched, and the attack entered the j^ass and moved 
on into the harbor. 

Soon two of the Baratarians' vessels were seen to be on 
fire; another, attempting to escape, grounded, and the 
pirates, except a few brave leaders, were flying. One of 
the fired vessels burned, the other was boarded and saved, 
the one which grounded got off again and escaped. All 
the rest M-ere presently captured. At this moment, a fine, 
fully armed schooner appeared outside the island, was 
chased and taken. Scarcely was this done when another 
showed herself to eastward. The Carolina gave chase. 
The stranger stood for Grande Teri*e, and ran into water 
where the Carolina could not follow. Four boats were 
launched ; whereupon the chase opened fire on the Caro- 
lina^ and the gun-vessels in turn upon the chase, firing 
across the island from inside, and in half an hour she sur- 
rendered. She proved to be the General Bolivar^ armed 
with one eighteen, two twelve, and one six-pounder. 

The nest was broken up. ^' All their buildings and es- 
tablishments at Grande Torre and Grand Isle, with theii* 
telegraph and stores at Cheniere Caminada, were de- 
stroyed. On the last daj^ of September, the elated squad- 
ron, with their prizes — seven cruisers of Lafitte, and three 
armed schooners under Carthagenian colors — arrived in 
Kew Orleans harbor amid the peal of guns from the old 
barracks and Fort St. Charles. 


But among tlie prisoners the commanding countenance 
of John liafitte and the cross-eyed visage of his brotlier 
Pierre were not to be seen. Both men had escaped up 
Bayou La Fourche to the " German Coast." Otbers who 
had had like fortune by and by gathered on Last Island, 
some sixtv miles west of Grande Terre, and others found 
asylum in Xew Orleans, M'here they increased the fear of 
internal disorder. 



"pATEKSON and lloss had struck the Baratarians just 
in time. The fortnight asked of the British by La- 
fitte expired the next day. The British themselves were 
far away eastward, drawing off from an engagement of 
the day before, badly worsted. A force of seven hundred 
British troops, six hundred Indians, and four vessels of 
war had attacked Fort Bowyer, commanding the en- 
trances of Mobile Bay and Mississippi Sound. Its small 
garrison had repulsed them and they retired again to Pen- 
sacola with serious loss, including a sloop-of-war grounded 
and burned. 

l^ow General Jackson gathered four thousand men on 
the Alabama Kiver, regulars, Tennesseeans, and Missis- 
sippi dragoons, and early in ]S^ovember attacked Pensacola 
with great spirit, took the two forts — which the Spaniards 
had allowed the English to gan-ison — drove the English 
to their shipping and the Indians into the interior, and 
returned to Mobile. Here he again called on Claiborne 
to nmster his militia. Claiborne convened the Legislature 
and laid the call before it. 


Ilis was not the master-spirit to command a people so 
different from himself in a moment of extremity. On 
every side was discord, apprehension, and despondency 
that he could not cure. Two committees of safetv en- 
gaged in miserable disputes. Credit was destroyed. 
Money commanded three or four per cent, a month. 
The Legislature dawdled until the ll,ouisianian himself 
uttered a noble protest. " No other evidence of patriot- 
ism is to be Eound," cried Louallier, of Opelousas, " tlian a 
disposition to avoid eveiy expense, every fatigue." 

It was eas}^ to count up the resources of defence : Pat- 
erson's feeble navy, the weak Fort St. Philip on the 
river, the unfinished Fort Petites Coquilles on the Kigo- 
lets, Koss's seven hundred regulars, a thousand militia 
mustered at last after three imperative calls, a wretchedly 
short supply of ammunition- -nothing more. "Our situ- 
ation,-' says La Carriere Latoiir in liis admirable memoir, 
" seemed desperate." Twelve thousand chosen British 
ti'oops were known to lla^'e sailed for Louisiana. 

TUit suddenly, one day, the first of winter, confidence 
returned ; enthusiasm sprang up ; ail Avas changed in a 
moment by the arrival of one man, whose spare form 
thrilled evorvthins: with its electric enersrv. Tie reviewed 
the Creole troops, and praised their equipment and driU ; 
he inspected their forts; ho was ill, but he was every- 
where : and evervone wlio saw that intense eve, that un- 
f iu*)*owed but fixed brow, the dry locks falling down oxex 
it as if blown there by hard riding, and the two double 


side lines which his overwhelming and pei'petual " must 
and shall " had dug at either corner of his firm but pas- 
sionate mouth, recognized the master of the hour, and 
emulated his confidence and activity. Like the Ci'eoles 
themselves, brave, impetuous, patriotic, and a law unto 
himself, and yet supplying the qualities they lacked, the 
continent could hardly have furnished a man better fitted 
to be their chief in a day of peril than Avas Andrew Jack- 
son. . 

Soon the whole militia of city and State were added to 
the first thousand, organized and ready to march. There 
was anotlier spring to their tardj'^ alacrity. Eighfy British 
ships, it was said, were bearing down toward Ship Island. 
Cochrane, the scourge of the Atlantic coast, was admiral 
of the fleet. On the 14th of December forty-five barges, 
canying forty-three guns and one thousand two hundred 
British troops, engaged the weak American flotilla of six 
small vessels near the narrow passes of Lake Borgne. 
There was a short, gallant struggle, and the British were 
masters of the lake and its shores. 

Even then the Legislature pronounced against Clai- 
borne's recommendation that it declare martial law and 
adjourn. But Jackson instantly proclaimed it in ringing 
words. " The district's safety," he said, " must and will be 
maintained with the best blood of the country,'' and he 
would " separate the country's friends from its enemies." 

Measures of defence were pushed on. Forts and stock- 
ades were manned, new companies and battalions were 


mustered, among them one of Choctaw Indians and two 
of free men of color. The jails were emptied to swell 
the ranks. 

And hereupon John Lafitto, encouraged by Claiborne 
and the Legislature, came forward again. Jackson in one 
of his proclamations had called the Baratarians "hellish 
banditti," whose aid he spurned. But now these two in- 
trepid leaders met face to face in a room that may still be 
pointed out in the old cabildo, and the services of Lafitte 
and his skilled artillerists were offered and accepted for 
the defence of the city. All proceedings against them 
were suspended ; some were sent to man the siege-guns 
of Forts Petites Coquilles, St. John, and St. Philip, and 
others were enrolled in a body of artillery under " Cap- 
tains" Beluche and Dominique. One of the General's 
later reports alludes to the Baratariaus as " these gentle- 



/^XCE more the Creoles sang the "Marseillaise." The 
^^^ invaders hovering along the marshy shores of Lake 
Borgne were fourteen thousand strong. Sir Edward 
Paekenham, brother-in-law to the Duke of Wellington, 
and a gallant captain, was destined to lead them. Gibbs, 
Lambert, and Keun were his generals of division. As to 
Jackson, thirty-seven hundred Tennesseeans under Gen- 
erals Coffee and Carroll, had, when it was near Christmas, 
given him a total of but six thousand men. Yet confi- 
dence, animation, concord, and even gaiety, filled the 
hearts of the mercurial people. 

"The citizens," says the eye-witness, Latour, "were 
preparing for battle as cheerfully as for a party of plea- 
sure. The streets resounded with * Yankee Doodle,' 
'La Marseillaise,' 'Le Chant du Depart,' and other 
mai'tial au's. The fair sex presented themselves at the 
^vindow8 and balconies to applaud the troops going 
through their evolutions, and to encourage their hus- 
bands, sons, fathers, and brothers to protect them from 
theii' enemies." 


That enemy, reconnoitring on Lake Borgne, soon 
found in the marshes of its extreme western end the 
mouth of a navigable stream, the Bayou Bienvenuc. 
This water flowed into the lake directly from the west — 
the direction of Xew Orleans, close behind whose lower 
suburb it had its beginning in a dense cypress swamp. 
Within its moutli it was ovci* a hundred yards wide, and 
moi'c than six feet deep. As they ascended its waters, 
everywhere, as far as the eye could reach, stretched only 
the unbroken quaking prairie. But soon they found and 
bribed a village of Spanish and Italian fishermen, and 
imder their guidance explored the whole region. By 
turning hi to a smaller bayou, a branch of the first, the 
Mississippi M'as found a very few miles away on the left, 
hidden from view by a narrow belt of swamp and hurry- 
ing southeastward toward the Gulf. From the plantations 
of sugar-cane on its border, varioiis draining canals ran 
back northward to the bavou, offerino; on their maii^ins 
a fair though narroM' walking M'ay through the wooded 
and vine-tangled morass to the open plains on the river 
shore, just below ?scw Orleans. By some oversight, 
which has never been explained, this easy route to the 
citv's very outskirts had been left unobstructed. On the 
21st of December some Creole scouts posted a picket at 
the fishermen's village. 

The traveller on the Xew Orleans & Mobile Railroad, 
as he enters the southeastern extreme of Louisiana, gliding 
along the low, wet prairie mai-gin of the Gulf, passes 


across an island made by the two mouths of Pearl E-iver. 
It rises just high enough above the surrounding marsh 
to be at times tolerably dry ground. A sportsmen's sta- 
tion on it is called English Look-out ; but the island itself 
seems to have quite lost its name. It was known then as 
Isle aux Poix (Pea Island). Here on December the 21st, 
1814, the British had been for days disembarking. Early 
on the 22d General Kean's division re-embarked from this 
island in barges, shortly before dawn of the 23d captured 
tlie picket at the fishers' village, pushed on up the bayou, 
turned to the left, southwestward, into the smaller bayou 
(Mazant)^ entered the swamp, disembarked once more at 
the mouth of a plantation canal, marched southward along 
its edge through the wood, and a little before noon emerged 
upon the open plain of the river shore, scarcely seven 
miles from Xew Orleans, without a foot of fortification 
between them and the city. But the captured pickets had 
reported Jackson's forces eighteen thousand strong, and 
the British halted, greatly fatigued, until they should be 
joined by other divisions. 

Not, however, to rest. At about two o'clock in the 
afternoon, while the people of the city were sitting at 
their midday dinner, suddenly the cathedral bell startled 
them with its notes of alarm, dinims sounded the long-roll, 
and as military equipments were hurriedly put on, and 
Creoles, Americans, and San Domingans, swords and mus- 
kets in hand, poured in upon the Place d'Armes from 
every direction and sought their places in the ranks, word 


passed from inoiitli to month that there had been a blun- 
der, and tliat the enemy was but seven miles away in 
force — ''sur Vhahitatioii Villere T- — "on Yillere's planta- 
tion ! " But com'age was in every heart. Quickly the 
lines were formed, the standards were unfurled, the huzza 
resounded as the well-known white horse of Jackson came 
galloping down their front with his staff — Edward Living- 
ston and Abner Duncan among tliem — at his heels, the 
drums sounded quickstep and the columns moved down 
tln-ough the streets and out of the anxious town to meet 
the foe. In half an hour after the note of alarm the 
Seventh regulars, with two pieces of artillery and some 
marines, had taken an advanced position. An hour and 
a half later General Coffee, with his Tennessee and Missis- 
sippi cavalry, took their place along the small Ilodriguez 
canal, that ran from the river's levee to and into the 
swamp, and which afterward became Jackson's permanent 
line of defence. Just as the sun was setting the troops 
that had been stationed at Bavou St. John, a battalion of 
free colored men, then the Forty-fourth regulars, and then 
the brightly uniformed Creole battalion, fost came into 
town by way of the old Bayou Eoad, and swept through the 
streets toward the enemy on the run, glittering with accou- 
trements and arms, under the thronged balconies and amid 
the tears and plaudits of Creole mothers and daughters. 

Tylight came on, very dark. The Carolina dropped noise- 
lessly down opposite the British camp, anchored close in 
shore, and opened her broadsides and musketry at short 


range. A moment later Jackson fell upon the startled 
foe with twelve hundred men and two pieces of artillejy, 
striking them first near the river shore, and presently 
along their whole line. Coifce, with six hundred men, 
unseen in the darkness, issued from the woods on the 
north, and attacked the British right, just as it was trying 
to turn Jackson's left — Creole troops, whose ardor would \. 
have led them to charge with the bayonet, but for the 
prudence of the Regular officer in command. A fog rose, 
the smoke of battle rested on the field, the darkness thick- 
ened, and all was soon in confusion. Companies and bat- 
talions — red coats, blue coats. Highland plaidies, and 
" dirty shirts " (Temiesseeans), from time to time got lost, 
fired into friendly lines, or met their foes in hand to hand 
encounters. Out in the distant prairie behind the swamp 
forest the second division of the British coming on, heard 
the battle, hurried forward, and began to reach the spot 
while the low plain, wrapped in darkness, was still flashing 
with the discharge of artillery. 

The engagement was soon over, without special results 
beyond that jrrestiye which we may be confident was, at 
the moment, Jackson's main aim. Before dav he fell back 
two miles, and in the narrowest part of the plain, some 
four miles from town, began to make his permanent line 
behind Kodriguez Canal. 

Inclement weather set in, increasing the hardships of 

friend and foe. The British toiled incessantly in the 

muy ground of the sugar-cane fields to bring up their 


heavy artillery, and Loth sides erected breastworks and 
batteries, and Imrried foi'ward their j*e-enforcenients. 
Skii-niishing was frequent, and to »lackson's raw levies 
\'orv vaUiable. Ued-hot shot fjoni the liritish works de- 
8trovod the Carolina : but lier arnianient M'as saved and 
made a sliorc batterv on the farther rixer bank. On Kew 


\*ears day a few hales of eotton, forming part of the 
.American fortiHcai ions, were scatt(jr(jd in all directions and 
>iet on iire, and this M*as the first and la^t use made of tliis 
nuiterial durini^ the campaign. AVhen it liad been called 
to (ieneral Jackson's notice that this cottx>n Mas the prop- 
erty of a foniigner, — " Give him a gun nnd let him defend 
it.-' was hisS answer. On the 4t.h, two thousand two linn- 
dred and fifty i\entuekians, poorly clad and worse armed 
arrived, aiul such as bore .scrvi(!eabJe Mcapons j*aised Jack- 
son's forco to three thousand two hundred meji on Jiis main 
line : a line, savs tluj Duke of >Sa\e- Weimar, '• the verv fee- 
blest an en<rin<jer could have devised, tliat is, a straiuht one." 
Yet on this line th(^ defentlers of New (^rleajis were 
about to be victoj-ious. It consisted of half a mile of verv 
uneven earth woj*ks stretching across the plain along the 
inner ed<re of I he canal, from the river to the cdi»*e of the 
wood, and contimiing a like distance into the forest. In 
here it (juickly dwindled to a more <loubie row of logs two 
fe(it apart, tilled in between with earth. Tlio entire artil- 
lery on this whole line was twehe ])icces. Ihit it was 
served l)y men of rare skill, artillei-ists of the regular army, 
the sailors of the bm*nt Carolina^ some old French soldiers 



under Flaiijeac one of Bonaparte's gunners, and Dominique 
and Beluclio, witii the tried cannoneers of tlieir pirate siiips. 
From battery to battery tlie rude line was filled out 
with a droll confusion of arms and trappings, men and 
dress, Heie on the eUieine iiglit, jnst on and under 
the levee, weie some legiiiar infantry and a company of 
" Orleans Rifles," with some diagoons who served a how- 

itzer. Next to them was a battalion of Louisiana Ci-e- 
oles ill gay and varied uniforms. The sailors of the Caro- 
lina were groni)ed around the battery between. In the 
Creoles' midst woue the swarthy privateers with their tivo 
twenty-fours. Then came a battalion of native men of 
color, another bunch of sniloi's around a thifty-two- 
pounder, a battalion of St..Domingan inulattoes, a stretcli 


of blue for some regular artillery and the Forty-fourth in- 
fantry, then Flaujeac and his Francs behind a brass 
twelve-pounder ; next, a long slender line of brown home- 
spun hunting-shirts that draped Carroll's lank Tennes- 
seeans, then a small, bright bunch of marines, then some 
more regular artilleiy beliind a long brass culverine and a 
six-pounder, then Adair's ragged Kentnckians, and at the 
end, Coffee's Tennesseeans, disappearing in the swamp, 
where they stood by day knee-deep in water and slept at 
night in the mud. 

Wintry rains had retarded everything in the British 
camp, but at length Lambert's division came up, Packen- 
ham took command, and plans were perfected for the 
final attack. A narrow continuation of the canal by 
which the English had come up through the swamp to 
its head at the rear of Yillere's plantation was dug, so that 
their boats could be floated up to the river front close 
under the back of the levee, and then dragged over its 
top and launched into the river. The squalid negi'esses 
that fish for crawfish along its rank, fiowery banlcs still 
call it, "Cannal Packin'am." All night of the 7th of 
January there came to the alert ears of the Americans 
across the intervening plain a noise of getting boats 
through this narrow passage. It was evident that the 
decisive battle was impending. Packenham's intention 
was to throw a considerable part of his force across the 
river to attack the effective marine battery abreast of the 
American line, erected there by Commodore Paterson, 


vliile he, on the hither shoi-e, unembarrassed by its fire 
on his dank, should fail furiously upon Jackson's main 
line, in thi-ee pei-pendicular cohnnns. 

But the rivei- had fallen. Colonel Thornton, who waa 
to lead the movement on the fartlter hank, waa long get- 
ting his boats across the levee. The current, too, was far 
swifter than it had seemed. Eight priceless hours slipped 
away and only a third of t!ie intended force crossed. 

A little before daybreak of the 8th, the British main 
force moved out of camp and spread across tlie plain, six 
thousand strong, the Americans in front, the river on 
theii' left, and the swamp-forest on their right. They had 
planned to begin at one signal the three attacks on the 
nearer and the one on the farther shore. The air was 
chilly and obscure, A mist was slowly clearing. off from 
the wet and slippery ground. A dead silence reigned ; 
but in that mist and eUeuce their enemy was waiting for 


them. Presently day broke and rapidly brightened, tlie 
mist lifted a little and the red lines of the British were fit- 
fully descried from the American works. Outside the levee 
the wide river and farther shore were quite hidden by the 
fog, which now and then floated hitherward over the land. 

Packenham was listening for the attack of Colonel 
Thornton on the opposite bank, that was to relieve his 
main assault from the cross-fire of Paterson's marine bat- 
tery. The sun rose ; but he heard nothing. He waited 
till half-past seven ; still there was no sound. 

Meanwhile the Americans lay in their long trench, 
peering over their sorry breastworks, and wondering 
at the inaction. But at length Packenham could wait no 
longer. A British rocket went up near the swamp. It 
was the signal for attack. A single cannon-shot answered 
from the Americans, and the artillery on both sides 
opened with a frightful roar. . On Jackson's extreme left, 
some black troops of the British force made a feint 
against the line in the swamp and were easily repulsed. 
On his right, near the river, the enemy charged in solid 
column, impetuously, upon a redoubt just in advance of 
the line. Twice only the redoubt could reply, and the 
British were over and inside and pressing on to scale the 
breastwork behind. Their brave and much-loved Colonel 
Rennie was leading them. But on the top of the works 
he fell dead with the hurrah on his lips, and they were 
driven back and out of the redoubt in confusion. 

Meantime the niahi attack was being made in the opeu 


plain near the edge of the swamp. Some four hundred 
yards in front of the American works lay a ditch. Here 
the English formed in close column of about sixty men 
front. They should have laid off their heavy knapsacks, 
for they were loaded besides with big fascines of ripe 
sugar-cane for filling up the American ditch, and with 
scaling ladders. But with muskets, knapsacks and all, 
they gave three cheers and advanced. Before them went 
a shower of Congreve rockets. Por a time they were 
partly covered by an arm of the forest and by the fog, but 
soon they emerged from both and moved steadily forward 
in perfect order, literally led to the slaughter in the brave 
old British way. 

"Where are vou ijoinor?" asked one Eno^lish officer of 

" I'll be hanged if I know." 

" Then," said the first, " you have got into what I call 
a good thing ; a far-famed American battery is in f nmt 
of you at a short range, and on the left of this spot is 
flanked, at eight hundred yards, by their batteries on the 
opposite side of the river." 

" The first objects we saw, enclosed as it were in this 
little world of mist," says this eve-witness, "were the can- 
non-balls tearing up the ground and crossing one another, 
and bounding along like so many cj*icket-balls through tlie 
air, coming on our left flank from the American batteries 
on the right bank of the river, and also from their lines in 


The musketry fire of the Americans, as well as the ar- 
tillery, was given with terrible precision. Unhappily for 
the English they had singled out for their attack those 
homely-clad men whom they had nick-named the " Dirtj^- 
shu'ts," — the riflemen of Kentucky and Tennessee — In- 
dian fighters, that never fired but on a selected victim. 
Flaujeac's battery tore out whole files of men. Yet the 
brave foe came on, veterans fi'om the Cape of Good Hope 
and from the Spanish Peninsula, firmly and measuredly, 
and a few i:)latoon8 had even reached the canal, when the 
column faltered, gave way, and fled ))recipitately back to 
the ditch where it had first formed. 

IJere there Mas a rally. The knapsacks weie taken off. 
Re-enforcements came up. The first charge had been a 
dreadful mistake in its lack of speed. }sow the start was 
(piickcr and in less order, but again in the fatal columnar 

" At a run," \mtes the participant already quotod, " wo 
tieared the American line. The mist was now rapidly 
clearing away, but, owing to the dense smoke, we could 
not at first distinguish the attacking column of the Britisli 
troops to oui' right. . . . The echo from the can- 
nonade and musketry was so tremendous m the forests 
that the vibration seemed as if the earth were cracking 
and tumbling to pieces. . . . The flashes of fii^e 
looked as if coming out of the bowels of the earth, so little 
above its surface were the batteries of the Americans." 

Packenham led the van. On a black horse, in brilliant 



nniform, waving his hat and clieering the onset, he was a 
mark the backwoodatnen could not miss. Soon he reeled 
and fell from his horse with a mortal wound; Gibbs fol- 
lowed him. Then Kean was struck and borne from tlie 
field with many others of high rank, and the column again 
recoiled and fell back, finally discomfited. 

" Did you ever see such a scene t " cried one of Packen- 
ham's staff. " Thei'e is nothing left but the Seventh and 
Forty-third ! " 

" They fell," says another Englishman, " like the very 
blades of grass beneath the scythe of tlie mower. Seven- 
teen hundred and eighty-one victims, including three 
generals, seven colonels, and seventy-five lesser officers, 
were the harvest of those few minutes." 

At length the American musketry ceased. Only the bat- 
teries were answering shot for sliot, when from the further 
side of the Mississippi came, all too late, & few reports of 


cannon, a short, brisk rattle of fire-arms, a hush, and three 
British cheers to tell that the few raw American troops on 
that side had been overpowered, and that Paterson's bat- 
tery, prevented from defending itself by the blundering of 
the militia in its front, had been spiked and abandoned. 

The batteries of the British line continued to fire until 
two in the afternoon ; but from the first signal of the morn- 
ing to the abandonment of all effort to storm the American 
works was but one hour, and the battle of New Orleans 
was over at ]ialf-past eight. General Lambert reported 
the British loss two thousand and seventeen ; Jackson, the 
American at six killed and seven wounded. 

From the 9th to the 18th four British vessels bom- 
barded Fort St. Philip without result ; on the morning of 
the 19th the British camp in front of Jackson was found 
deserted, and eight days later the last of the enemies' 
forces embarked from the shores of Lake Borgne. 

The scenes of triumphant rejoicing, the hastily erected 
arches in the Place d'Armes, the symbolical impersona- 
tions, the myriads of banners and pennons, the columns of 
victorious troops, the crowded balconies, the rain of flowers 
in a town where flowers never fail, the huzzas of the 
thronging populace, the salvos of artillery, the garland- 
crowned victor, and the ceremonies of thanksgiving in the 
solemn cathedral, form a part that may be entrusted to the 
imagination. One purpose and one consummation made 
one people, and little of sorrow and naught of discord in 
that hour mingled with the joy of deliverance. 



"VTEW OELEANS emerged from the smoke of battle "j 
comparatively Americanized. Peace followed, or J 
rather the tardy news of peace, which had been sealed at 
Ghent more than a fortnight before the battle. With 
peace came open ports. The highways of commercial 
greatness crossed each other in the custom-house, not be- 
hind it as in Spanish or embargo days, and the Baratari- 
ans were no longer esteemed a public necessity. Scattered, 
used, and pardoned, they passed into eclipse — not total, 
but fatally dark where they most desired to shine. The 
ill-founded tradition that the Lafittes were never seen 
after the battle of New Orleans had thus a figurative 

In Jackson's general order of January 21st, Captains 
Dominique and Beluche, "with part of their former 
crew," were gratefully mentioned for their gallantry in 
the field, and the brothers Lafitte for " the same courage 
and fidelity." On these laurels Dominique You rested 
and settled down to quiet life in New Orleans, enjoying 
the vulgar admu'ation which is given to the survivor of 



lawless adventures. It may seem Buperfluous to add that 
he became a leader in ward politics. 

In the spriug of 1815, Jackson, for certain imprison- 
ment&'of men who boldly opposed the severity of his pro- 
longed dictatorship in New OrleanB, was forced at length 








to regard the decrees of court. It was then that the 
"hellish banditti," tumed " Jacksonites," did their last 
swaggering in the famous Exchange CofFee-hoDse, at the 

corner of St. Louis and Chartres Streets, and when he was 
fined $1,000 for contempt of court, aided in drawing Iiis 
carriage by hand through tlie streets. 


Of Belnclie or of Pierre Lafitte little or nothing more 
is known. But John Lafitte continued to have a record. 
After the city's deliverance a ball was given to officers of 
the army. General Coffee was j^rcsent. So, too, was La- 
fitte. On their being brought together and introduced, 
the General showed some hesitation of mamier, where- 
upon the testy Baratarian advanced haughtilj^ and said, 
with cmj)hasis, " Lafitte, the pirate." Thus, unconsciously, 
it may be, he foretold that part of his life which still lay 
in the future. 

That future belongs properlj'^ to the history of Texas. 
Galveston Island had early been one of Lafitte's stations, 
and now became his permanent depot, whence he cari'ied 
on extensive operations, contraband and piratical. His 
principal cruiser was the Jupiter, She sailed under a Tex- 
an commission. Under the filibuster Long, who ruled at 
Xacogdoches, Lafitte became Governor of Galveston. 

An American ship was robbed of a quantity of specie 
on the high seas. Shortly afterward the Jupiter came 
into Galveston with a similar quantity onboard. A Unit- 
ed States cruiser accordingly was sent to lay off the coast, 
and watch her manoeuvres. Lafitte took offence at this, 
and sent to the American commander to demand explana- 
tion. His letter, marked with more haughtiness, as well 
as with more ill-concealed cunning than his earlier corre- 
spondence with the British and Americans, was not an- 

Tn 1818 a storm destroyed four of his fleet. lie sent 


ojie Lafiigc to Xow Orleans, who brought out thence a 
new schooner of two guns, manned by fifty men. Jle 
presently took a prize ; but had liardly done so, when he 
was met by the j-evenue cutter Alahamciy answered her 
challenoje with a broadside, cni!:ai?ed lier in a hard battle, 
and only surrendered after heavy Joss. The schooner and 
prize were carried into Hayou St. John, the (trew taken to 
Xew Orleans, tried in the United States Court, condemned 
and executed 

Once more Lafitte took the dissjuise of a (Colombian 
coinnijssion and fitted out three vessels. The name of one 
is not known. Another was the (rvncral Metorla, and a 
tliird the schooner Blxud' — or, we may venture to spell 
ji nUtiUfue, lie coasted westward and southward as far 
as Sisal, Yur*atan, taking several small prizes, and one that 
was vcr\ valuable, a scIn>oner that had been a slaver. 
Thenco he turned toward Capo Antonio. Cuba, and in the 
open (.Tulf disclosed to his followers that his Colombian 
cunnnissiun had expired. 

Fortv-one men insisted on loavinsj: him. lie removed 
the guns of the General Ylrtovicis crippled hei- rigging, 
imd irave Imv into their hands. Thev sailed for the ^[is- 
sissippi, and after three weeks arrived thei-e and surren- 
dered to the officers of the customs. The Spanish Consul 
churned the vessel, but she was decided to belong to the 
men Avho had fitted her out. 

Lafitte seems now to have become an open pirate. Yil- 
lere, Govei'uor of Louisiana aftcj* Claiborne, and the same 



who had counselled the acceptance of Lafitte's first over- 
tures in 1819, spoke in no measured terms of " those men 
who lately, under the false pretext of serving the cause of 
the Spanish patriots, scoured the Gulf of Mexico, making 
its waves groan," etc. It seems many of them had found 
homes in Xcw Oi-leans, making it " the seat of disorders 
and crimes which he would not attempt to describe." 

The end of this unconnnon man is lost in a confusion 
of improbable traditions. As late as 1822 his name, if not 
his person, was the terror of the Gulf and the Straits of 
Florida. But in that year the United States Navy swept 
those waters with vigor, and presently reduced the perils 
of the Gulf — for the first time in its histoiy — to the 
hazard of wind and wave. 

A few steps down the central walk of the middle ceme- 
tery of those that lie along Claiborne Street from Custom- 
house down to Conti, on the right-hand side, stands the 
low, stuccoed tomb of Dominique You. The tablet bears 
his name surmounted bv the emblem of Free Mason rv. 
Some one takes good care of it. An epitaph below pro- 
claims him, in r^rench verse, the " intrepid hero of a hun- 
dred battles on land and sea ; who, without fear and with- 
out reproach, will one day view, unmoved, the destruction 
of the world." To this spot, in 1880, he was followed on 
his way by the Louisiana Legion (city militia), and laid to 
rest with military honors, at the expense of the town 

Governor Claiborne left the executive chau' in 1816 to 



rrtpresent the State in tlio United States Senate. His buc- 
cessor ivas a Creole, the eon, as we have seen, of tliat Jierv 
\'illere who in 1769 Jiad died in S})anisli captivity one of 
tlio very eailiest martyrs to tlie 8pii-it of American free- 

Temb ol Go • no C • bo ns > Fa y 
[F nm a PHoiogi j A ] 

dim tlailwrno did not ]i\e out tlie Tcai bnt in thewin- 
1e diel I I the e\tieno leai of the old ''t Lonis ceme- 
tpry on Basiti htreet. Aow Orleans, lu an angle of its liigli 
brifk wall, elint ofF from fiie rest, of the place by ft nide, 
low fence of cypress palisades, is a nari-ow piece oi unoon- 


secrated ground where the tombs of some of New Orleans' 
noblest dead are huddled together in miserable oblivion. 
Hank weeds and poisonous vines have so choked up the 
whole place, that there is no way for tlie foot but over the 
tops of the tombs, and one who ventures thus, must be- 
ware of snakes at everj step. In the midst of this spot 
is the tomb of Eliza Washington Claibi^rne, the Gover- 
nor's first wife, of her child of three years who died the 
same day as she, and of his secretary, her brother, of 
twenty-five, who a few months later fell in a duel, the 
rash victim of insults heaped upon his sisters husband 
thi'ough the public press. Xear by, just within the pick- 
eted enclosure, the sexton has been for years makins: a 
heap of all manner of gmve-yard rubbish, and under that 
pile of old coffin planks, broken-glass, and crockery, tin- 
cans, and rotting evergreens, lie the tomb and the ashes of 
William Charles Cole Claiborne, Governor of Louisiana. 




TF one will stand to-day on the broad levoe at Xew Or- 
" leans, with his back to the Mis8issij)pi, a short way 
out to the left and riverward from the spot where tlie long- 
vanished little Fort St. Louis once made pretence of guard- 
ing the town's upper river corner, he will look down two 
streets at once. Thev are Canal and Common, which 
gently diverge from their starting-))oint at his feet and 
narrow away before his eve as thev run down toward the 
low, unsettled lots and commons behind the citv. 

Canal Street, the centre and pride of Xew Orleans, takes 
its name from the slimy old moat that once festered under 
the palisade wall of the Spanish town, where it ran back 
from river to swamp and turned northward on the line 
now marked by the beautiful tree-planted Rainpart Street. 

Common Street marks the ancient boundary of the es- 
tates wrested from the exiled Jesuit fathers by confisca- 
tion. In the beginning of the present eentuiy, the long 
wedge-shaped tract between these two lines was a (Tovern- 
jnent reservation, kept for the better efficiency of the for- 
tifications that overlooked its lower boj'der and for a 


public road to No-maa's land. It was called the Terre 

That pai*t of the Jesuits' former plantations that lay 
next to the Terre Commune was mainly the property of a 
singular personage named Jean Gravier. Its farther-side 
boundary was on a line now indicated by Delord Street. 
When the fire of 1788 laid nearly the half of Xew Orleans 
in ashes, his father, Bertrand, and his mother, Marie, had 
laid off this tract into lots and streets, to the depth of three 
squares backward from the river, and called it Villa Gra- 
vier. On her death, the name w«*s changed in her honor, 
and so became the Faubourg Ste. Marie. 

Capitalists had smiled upon the adventure. Julian Poy- 
dras, Claude Girod, Julia a free woman of color, and 
others had given names to its cross-streets by buying cor- 
ner-lots on its river-front. Along this front, under the 
breezy levee, ran the sunny and dusty Tchoupitoulas road, 
enteidng the town's southern river-side gate, where a 
sentry-box and Spanish coi-poral's guard drowsed in the 
scant shadow of Fort St. Louis. Outside the levee the 
deep Mississippi glided, turbid, silent, often overbrimming, 
with many a swirl and upward heave of its boiling depths, 
and turning, sent a long smooth eddy back along this 
" making bank," while its main current hurried onward, 
townward, northicard^ as if it would double on invisible 
pursuers before it swept to the east and southeast from 
the Place d'Armes and disappeared behind the low groves 
of Slaughterhouse Point. 


In the opening years of the century only an occasional 
villa and an isolated roadside shop or two had arisen along 
the front of Faubourg Ste. Marie and in the drst street 
behind. Galle eld Ahnazen^ the Spanish notary wrote 
this street's name, for its lower (northern) end looked 
across the Terro Commune upon the large Almazen or 
store-house of Kentucky tobacco which Don Estevan Mxvb 
thought it wise to keep filled with purchases from the per- 
fidious AVilkinson. Kue du Magasin, Storehouse Street, 
the CJj'eoles translated it, and the Americans made it Mag- 
azine Street ; but it was still only a straight road. Truck- 
gardens covci-ed the fertile arpents between and beyond. 
Here and there was a grove of wide-spreading live-oaks, 
here and there a clump of persimmon trees, here and thei*e 
.an orchard of figs, here and there an avenue of bitter 
oranges or of towering pecans. The present site of the 
'' St. Oharles " was a cabbafi;e-£:arden. IMidwav between 
Poydras and Girod Streets, behind Magazine, lay a cariipo 
\de necjros^ a slave camp, probably of cargoes of Guinea or 
( .'ongo slaves. The street that cut through 5t became Calle 
'del Oarapo — Camp Street. 

Far back in the rear of these lands, on the old Povdras 
draining canal, long since filled up and built upon — in a 
lonely, dreary waste of M'eeds and bushes dotted tliick 
with cypress stumps and dwarf palmetto, full of rankling 
ponds choked with bulrushes, flags, and jiiekerel-weed, 
fringed bv willows and reeds, and haunted bv fi'osrs, 
snakes, crawfisli, rats, and mosquitoes, on the edge of the 


tangled swamp forest — stood the dilapidated home of 
"Doctor" Gravier. It stood on high pillars. Its win- 
dows and doors were lofty and wide, its verandas were 
broad, its roof was steep, its chimneys were tall, and its 
occupant was a childless, wifeless, companionless old man, 
whose kindness and medical attention to negroes had won 
him his professional title. He claims mention as a type 
of that strange group of men which at this early period 
figured here as the shrewd acquirers of wide suburban 
tracts, leaders of lonely lives, and leavers of great fortunes. 

John McDonough, who at this time was a young man, 
a thrifty trader in Guinea negroes, and a suitor for the 
hand of Don Andreas Almonaster's fair daughter, the late 
Baroness Pontalba, became in after days a like solitary 
type of the same class. Jean Gravier's house long sur- 
A^ved him, a rendezvous for desperate characters, and, if 
rumor is correct, the scene of many a terrible murder. 

In the favoring eddy under the river-bank in fi*ont of 
Faubourg Ste. Marie landed the flat-boat fleets from the 
Ohio, the Tennessee, and the Cumberland. Buyers 
crowded here for cheap and fresh provisions. The huge, 
huddled arks became a floating market-place, with the 
kersey- and woolsey- and jeans-clad bargemen there, and 
the Creole and his sometimes brightly clad and sometimes 
picturesquely ragged slave here, and the produce of the 
"West changing hands betweeni\ But there was more than 
this. Warehouses began to appear on the edge of Tchou- 
pitoulas road, and barrels of pork and flour and meal to 


run bickering down into their open doors from the levee's 
top. Any eye could see that, onlj' let war cease, there 
would be a wonderful change in the half-drained, sun- 
baked Tuarshes and kitchen-gardens ol: Faubourg Ste. 

Presently the change came. It outran the official news 
of peace. " Oui* harbor," wrote Claiborne, the Governor, 
in March, 1815, " is again whitening with canvas; the 
levee is crowded with cotton, tobacco, and other articles 
for exportation." 

A full sunrise of prosperity shone upon Xew Orleans. 
Tlie whole great valley above began to fill up with won- 
derful speed and to pour down into her lap the fruits of 
its agi'iculture. Thirty-three thousand people were astii* 
in her homes and streets. They overran the old bounds. 
They pulled up the old palisade. They shovelled the earth- 
works into the moat and pushed their streets out into the 
fields and thickets. In the old narrow wa^'s — and the 
wider new ones alike — halls, chui'ches, schools, stores, 
warehouses, banks, hotels, and theatres sprang up by day 
and night. 

Faubourg Ste. Marie out5tri]iped all other quarters. 
The unconsorvative Ajnerican was evorvwhere, but in 
Faubourg Ste. Mane he was supreme. The \resteni trade 
crowded down like a breaking up of ice. In 1817, 
1,500 flat-boats and 500 barges tied up to the willows of 
the levee before the new faubourg. Inflation set in. Ex- 
ports ran up to thirteen million dollars' worth. 


In 1819 camo the collapse, but development overrode it. 
Large areas of the hatture were i*eelairaed in front of the 
faubonrg, and the Americans covered them with store 
buildings. In 1812, the first steam vessel had come down 
tlie Mississippi ; in 1816, for the first time, one overcame 
and reascended its current ; in 1821, 441 flat-boats and 174 
barges came to port, and there were 287 arrivals of steam- 

The kitchen-gardens vanished. Gravier Street, between 
Tchoupitoulas and Magazine, was paved with cobble- 
stones. The Creoles laughed outright. " A stone pave- 
ment in New Orleans soil ? It will sink out of sight ! " 
But it bore not only their ridicule, but an uproar and 
gorge of wagons and drajs. There was an avalanche of 
trade. It crammed the whole harbor-front— old town and 
new — with river and ocean fleets. It choked the streets. 
The cry was for room and facilities. The Creoles heeded 
it. Up came their wooden sidewalks and curbs, brick and 
stone went down in their place, and by 1822 gangs of 
street paviors were seen and heard here, there, and yonder, 
swinging the pick and ramming the roundstone. There 
were then 41,000 people in the town and its suburbs. 

The old population held its breath. It clung bravely to 
the failing trades of the AVest Lidies, France, and Spain. 
Coffee, indigo, sugar, rice, and foreign fruits and wines 
were still handled in the Hues Toulouse, Conti, St. Louis, 
Chartres, St. Peter, and Royale; but the lion's share — 
the cotton, the tobacco, pork, beef, corn, flour, and north- 


cm and British fabrics — poured into and out of Faubourg 
Ste. Marie tlirough the liauds of the swarming Americans. 
" Xcw Orleans is going to be a mighty city," said they 
in effect, "and we are going to be jS'ew Orleans." Hut 
the Creole was still powerful, and jealous of everything 
that hhited of American absorption. We have seen that, 
in 1810, he elected one of his own race, Cieneral AMllei*c, to 
succeed Claiborne in the governor's chair, and to guard the 
rights that headlong Americans might forget. " Indeed," 
tills governor wrote in a special message on the " sciin- 
dalous practices almost every instant taking place in ]Sew 
Orleans and its suburbs" — "Indeed, we should be cautious 
in receiving all foreigners." That caution was of little 



A^TIIAT a change ! The same Governor Yillere could 
not but say, " The Louisianian who retraces the 
condition of his country under the government of kings 
can never cease to bless the day when the great American 
confederation received him into its bosom." It was easy 
for Louisianians to be Americans ; but to let Americans be 
Louisianians ! — there was the rub. Yet it had to be. In ten 
years, the simple export and import trade of the port had 
increased fourfold ; and in the face of inundations and 
pestilences, discord of sentiment and tongues, and the sad- 
dest of public morals and disorder, the population had 
nearly doubled. 

Nothing could stop the inflow of people and wealth. In 
the next ten years, 1S20-30, trade increased to one and 
three-quarters its already astonishing volume. The inhab- 
itants were nearly 50,000, and the strangers from all parts 
of America and the commei'cial world were a small armj'. 
Sometimes there would be five or six thousand up-river 
bargemen in town at once, wild, restless, and unemployed. 
On the levee especially this new tremendous life and 


218 Tliy^ CllKOLi:S OF L0T7ISXANA. 

energy heaved and palpitated. l»ctween 1S«^11 and 1835, 
the more foreign exports and imports ran up from twenty- 
six to neai'ly fifty-four million dollars. 'J'liertj were no 
wharves built out into the harbor yet, and all. the vast 
mass of produce and goods lay out under tlie open sky on 
tlic long, wide, mibroken level of the curving harbor-front, 
where Ohio bargemen, (rermaiKs, ^Mississipjii raftsmen, 
Iris)im(»,n, F]-en(tli, English, Creoles, Yankees, and negro 
and mulatto slaves surged and jostled and filled the air 
M'ith shouts and imprecations. 

AMce put on the same activity that commerce showed. 
The Cr(K)le ha<l never been a sti'ojiij: moral force. The 
j\merican came in as to gold diggings or diamond fields, 
to *xvah and nm. The transatlantic innniicrant of those 
days was frec[uently the oflfscouring of Kurope. The AVest 
Indian was a leader in licentiousness, gambling and duel- 
ling. 1'he mimber of billiard-rooms, gaming-houses, and 
lotterv-ofRces was immense. In. the old town thcv seemed 

a. « 

to be everv second house. There was tbe I'reuch Evan- 
gelical (Church Lottery, the Ijaton liouge Chmcli Lottery, 
the J^atchitoches Catholic Church Lotrcry, and a host of 
others less piously hiclined. The cafes i)f the central town 
were full of filibusters. Li 1819, " (Jeneral '■ Long sailed 
hence against Calveston. Li LS2!2, a hundi-ed and fifty 
men left New Orleans in the sloop-of-war Emxlxa^ and 
assisted in the takiuii: of Porto Cabello. Venezuela. The 
paving movement had been only a flurry or two, and even 
in the heart of the town, where carriasjes sometimes sank 


to tlieir axles in mud, highway robbery and murder lay 
always in wait for the incautious night wayfarer who ven- 
, tured out alone. The police was a mounted genda'i'iiiet^. 
If the Legislature committed a tenth of the M^ickedness it 
was charged with, it was sadly corrupt. The worst day 
of all the week was Sunday. The stores and shops were 
open, but toil slackened and license gained headway. 
Gambling-rooms and ball-rooms were full, weapons were 
often out, tlie quadroon masques of the Salle de Cond6 
were thronged with men of high standing, and crowds of 
barge and raftsmen, as well as Creoles and St. Domingans, 
gathered at those open-air African dances, carousals, and 
debaucheries in the rear of the town that have left their 
monument in the name of " Congo *' Square. 

Yet still prosperity smiled and commerce roared along 
the streets of the town and her faubourgs — Ste. Marie on 
her rigrht, Mari<?nv on her left — with ever-risins: volume 
and value, and in spite of fearful drawbacks. The climate 
was deadly to Americans, and more deadly to the squalid 
immigrant. Social life, unattractive at best, received the 
Creole and shut the door. The main town was without 
beauty, and the landscape almost without a dry foothold. 
Schools Avere scarce and poor, churches few and ill at- 
tended, and domestic service squalid, inefficient, and cor- 
rupt. Between 1810 and 1837 there were fifteen epidem- 
ics of yellow fever. Small-pox was frequent. In 1832, 
while yellow fever was still epidemic, cholera entered and 
carried off one person in every six ; many of the dead 


were buried where they died, and many were thrown into 
the river. Moreover, to get to the town or to leave it was 
a jouiTiey famed for its dangers. On one steamboat, three 
himdj'cd lives were lost ; on another, one hundred and 
thirty ; on another, the same number ; on another, one 
hundred and twenty. The cost of running a steamer was 
six times as gniat as on the northern lakes. 

A\^it:]iout these dmwbacks what would ^cw Orleans 
liav(3 been ? Vor, with them all, and with others which we 
pass by, her ]x>pulation between 1.830 and 184:0 ojice more 
doubled its nnmbers. She was the fourth city of the Unit- 
ed States in the number of her people. Cincinnati, which 
in the pi-evious decade had outgrown licr, was sui'passed 
and distanced. Only Mew 5'ork, Philadelphia, and Balti- 
more were larger. Boston was nearly as large ; but be- 
sides these there was no other citv in tha TTuion of half 
her numbers. Faubourg Ste. Marie had swallowed up tlie 
suburbs above her until it comprised the wJiole expanse of 
the old Jesuits' plantations to the line of Felicity Koad. 
Tbc old ^[arquis Marigny de Mandeville, whose plantation 
lay on the lower edge of the town just across the Espla- 
nade, had turned it into lots and streets, and the town 
had run over upon it and covered it with small residences, 
and here and there a villa. The city boundaries had been 
tixtended to take in both these faubourgs ; and the three 
" municipalities," as they were called, together numbered 
on(i hundred and two thousand inhabitants. 

The ends of the harbor-front were losing sight of each 



other. In the seasons of high water the tall, broad, frail- 
looking BteAmerB that crowded in together, " bow on;" at 
the haej levee, hidden to tlieir hurricane roofs in cargoes 

of cotton bales, looked down npon not merely a quiet little 
Spanish- American town of naiTow streets, ■ low, heavy, 
rugged roofs, and Latin richness and variety of color peep- 
ing out of a maBB of overshadowing greenery. Fort St. 


Charles, the last fraction of the old fortifications, was 
gone, and the lofty chiinney of a United States mint 
smoked in its place. The new Bourse, later known as St. 
Louis Hotel, and yet later as the famed State-house of 
Reconstruction days, just raised its low, black dome into 
view above the intervening piles of brick. A huge prison 
lifted its frowning walls and quaint Spanish twin belfries 
gloomily over Congo Square. At the white-stuccoed Mer- 
chants' Exchange, just inside the old boundary on the Ca- 
nal Street side, a stream of men poured in and out, for there 
was the Post-office. Down in the lower arm of the river's 
bend shone the Third Municipality, — which had been Fau- 
bourg Marigny. On its front, behind a net-work of ship- 
ping, stood the Levee Cotton Press ; it had cost half a 
million dollars. Here on the south, sweeping far around 
and beyond the view almost to the " Bull's Head Coffee- 
house," was the Second Municipality, once Faubourg Ste. 
Marie, with its lines and lines of warehouses, its Orleans 
Press, that must needs cost a quarter million more than 
the other, and many a lesser one. The town was full of 
banks : the Commercial, the Atchafalaya, the Orleans, the 
Canal, the City, etc. Banks's Arcade was there, a glass- 
roofed mercantile court in the midst of a large hotel in 
Magazine Street, now long known as the St. James. Ho- 
tels were numerous. In Camp and St. Charles Streets 
stood two theatres, where the world's stars deigned to pre- 
sent themselves, and the practical jokers of the upper gal- 
leries concocted sham fights and threw straw men over 



into the pit below, witli ciies of muider. Here and there 
a clmi-ch — the First Presbyterian, the Carondelet Metlio- 
dist — raised au admonitoiy finger. The site of old Jean 
Gravier's house was hidden beliind Po^'dras Market ; the 

uncanny iron frames of tiie Gas AV'orks rose beyond. Tlie 
reseiToir of the water-Horka lay in here to tlie left near 
the river, whose irniddj- water it used. Back yonder in 
the street named for Julia, tlie f. w. c.,* a little bunch of 
schooner masts and pennons showed where theCaiia! Bank 
had dug a *'New Basin " and bronght the waters of Tjike 
Ponteliartrain up into this part of tlie city also. 

It was the ]>eriod when the American idea of ai-ehitect- 

• " Free woniiiii of color "■ 
notarial dociimciitH, 

-initials DEed in the Louisiaua courts ant) 


uro had passed from its untrained innocence to a sopho* 
moric aflfoctation of Greek forms. Banks, hotels, churches, 
theatres, inansions, cottages, all weixj Ionic or (Corinthian, 
and the whole American quarter was a gleaming white. 
But the commercial shadow of tJiis quarter fell darkly npon 
the First Municipality, the old town. A quiet crept into 
the Tine Toulouse. The fashionahle shops on the Hue 
tloyale slipped away and spread out in Canal Street. The 
vault of the St. Louis dome still echoed the voice of tlie 
douhle-tonOTcd. Frcnch-Enjirlish auctioneer of town lots 
and slaves; but in the cabbage-garden of ''old Mr. 
Percy,'' in the heart o£ Faubourg Ste. INfaritJ, a z'esplen- 
dent rival, the palatial St. Charles, lifted its dazzling 
cupola high al»ove all sun-oundings and overpoci'cd old 
town and new, river, plaii], and receding forest, its ro- 
tunda was the unofficial guildhall of all the city's jjiost 
active elements, flere met the capitalist, iho real estat.o 
operator, the inerchant, the soldier, the tourist, tlnj politi- 
cian, the filibuster, the coiivivialist, the steamboat captain, 
the horse-fancier ; and ever conspicuous among the throng 
— whi(^h had a trick of separating suddenly and dodging 
behind the pillars of the rotunda at the sound of high 
words-was a man, a tvpe, an index of great wealth to 
New Orleans, who in this spot was never a stranger and 
was n(n'er quit<3 at home. 



T^HE brow and cheek of this man were darkened hy 
outdoor exposure, but they were not weatlier-beaten. 
His shapely, bronzed hand was no harder or rougher than 
was due to the use of the bridle-rein and the gunstoek. 
His eye was the eye of a steed ; his neck — the same. His 
hair was a little luxuriant. His speech was positive, his 
manner was n:iilitaiy, his sentiments were antique, his cloth- 
ing was of broadcloth, his boots were neat, and his hat 
was soft, broad, and slouclied a little to show its fineness. 
Such in his best aspect was the Mississippi Eiver planter. 
When sugar was his crop and Creole French his native 
tongue, his polish would sometimes be finer still, with a 
finish got in Paris, and his hotel would be the St. Louis. 

He was growing to be a great power. The enormous 
agi'icnltural resources of Louisiana, Mississippi, Arkansas, 
and Tennessee were his. The money-lender gyrated 
around him with sweet smiles and open purse. He was 
mort£:a£:ed to the eyes, and still commanded a credit that 
courted and importuned him. He caused an immense 
increase of trade. His extravairant wants and the needs 


of liiff armies of slaves kept t]io (*itv drained of its capital 
almost or quite the wliole year joimd. Borrower and 
lender vied Avitli caeh other in r<^eklessiiess. Much tlie 
large)* poition of all the varied products of the West re- 
ceived in New Orleans Mas resliippod, not to sea, but to 
the plantations of the interior, often returning along the 
sanuj route half the distance they had originally come. 
]\rillions of capital that would have yielded slower but 
innnenselv better final results in other channels went into 
the planters' jmper, based on the ^alue of slaves and of 
lands whoso value depended on slave labor, — a species of 
Avealth imexehangeable in the great world of commerce, 
fictitious as paper money, and even more illusory. But, 
like the paper money that was then immdating the coun- 
try, this system produced an innjicnse volume of business; 
and this, in turn, called into the citv, to fdl the streets and 
landings and the thousands of humble dwellings that 
sprang up throughout the old V'aubourg Marigny and 
spread out on the right flank of J'^aubourg Ste. Marie, the 
Frish and (jerman emi<n*ant, bv tens of thousands. 

It was in the midst of these conditions that mad specu- 
lations in Western lands and the downfall of the United 
States I3ank rolled the great financial crisis of 183T across 
the continent. Where large results had intoxicated enter- 
prise, banks without number, and often M'ithout founda- 
tion, strewed their notes among the infatuated people. 
Ijut in Xew (Orleans enterprise had forgotten everything 
but the factorage of the staple crops. The l^anks were 


not so many, but they followed the fashion in liaving 
make-believe capital and in crumbling to ashes at a 
touch. Sixty millions of capital, four of deposits, twelve 
hundred thousand specie, eighteen hundred thousand real 
estate, and seventy-two millions receivables, mostly pro- 
tested, — such was their record when they suspended. 

*' A whirlwind of ruin," said one of the newspapers, 
"prostrated the greater portion of the city." Everybody's 
hands were full of " shin-plasters." There was no other 
currency. Banks and banking were execrated, and their 
tnie office so ill understood that a law was passed prevent- 
ing the establishment of any such institution in the State. 
A few old banks that weathered the lono^ financial stress 
accepted, with silent modesty, the monopoly thus thrown 
into their hands, and in 1S43, having abandoned the 
weaker concerns to shipwreck, resumed si^ecie payment. 
The city's foreign connnerce had dropped to thirty-four 
and three-quarters million dollars, a loss of nineteen uur 
lions ; but, for the first time in her history, she sent to »eft 
a million bales of cotton. 

The crisis had set only a momentary check npt»H wy* r 
culture. The financiers of Kew Orleans camo out nf Jf 
more than ever infatuated with the plantation Uw^: ty 
had become the ruling principle in the social orpirtHl^lO m 
the South, the one tremendous drawback to the hM 4^ 
velopmcnt of countrj^ and city ; and now the wlUM*' r^' t 
Mississippi Talley threw all its energies and all tU f^mw^ 
into this seductive luistake. 


And still the city grew ; grew as Lhe Delta sands on 
whieJi it stands had grown, by tlic (tompulsory trilnite of 
the Mississippi. Tlie great staples of the A'allev- poured 
down ever more and njore. In IS4:2, the vaJne of these re- 
ceipts was §4o, 700, 000 ; in .1844, it Mas ,S6O,O0O,UO0 ; in 
184G, it was ovei* JS77,000,000 ; in lS47,it was $90,000,000 ; 
in 1850, it was close to r^97,000,OU0. Tlie city lengthened ; 
it hj'oadened ; it lifted its head highej". The ti'owel rang 
every where on hunie-niade brick and inip(>rt(id granite, and 
honses lot^c l»v hnndreds. The Irish and Germans 
tJirongod down from tiie decks of emigrant ships at the 
rate of thirtv thousand a year. Tliev even partly crowded 
out slave servicti. In 3 850, there Mere 5,J}30 slaves less 
in the citv than in 1840. The free Jiiulatto also gave wav. 
/ irjientei'jirising, dc^spised, jDersccuted. this caste, once so 
scant in nmnbcrs, had grown, in 1840, to bo nearly as nii- 
merons as the Avhitos. The '• abolition '' (question brought 
them double hatred and suspicion ; and re»=itrictive, unjust, 
and iu tolerant State legislatioji reduced their numbers — 
it nnist have been bv exodus-— fi'oni 10,000 to less than 
10,000 soids. Allowing for natural increase, eleven or 
twehe thousand Jinist hav(i left the city. The ]>ropoi*tion 
of M'liites rose from fifty-eight to seventy-eight pej* cent., 
and the M'hole ]K»|)ulation of Xe\v Orleans and its environs 
was i;i8,050. 

Aiu>ther city had sprung u]> on the city's upper boun- 
darv. In Jv^o3. three suburbs, Lafavett(% J^ivaudais, and 
IJeligeuses, tiie last occupying an old plantation of the 



Ursnline nuns, combined into a town. Abont 1840, the 
wealthy Americana began to move np here into "large, 

commodious, one-story houses, full of windows on all 
Eides, and suiTounded by bi-oad and shady gai'dens." 


Here, but nearer the river, Germans and Irish — especially 
the former — ^filed in continually, and by 1850 the town of 
Lafayette contained over fourteen thousand residents, 
nearly all white. 

It was a red-letter year. The first street pavement of 
large, square granite blocks was laid. Wharf building set 
in strongly. The wires of the electro-magnetic telegi*aph 
drew the city into closer connection with civilization. 
The mind of the financier was aroused, and he turned his 
eye toward railroads. The " Tehuantepec route " received 
its first decided impulse. Mexican grants were bought ; 
surveys were procured ; much effort was made — and lost. 
The Mexican Government was too unstable and too fickle 
to be bargained with. But in 1851, meantime, two great 
improvements were actually set on foot ; to wit, the two 
railways that eventually united the city with the great 
central system of the Union in the Mississippi-Ohio Valley, 
and with the vast Southwest, Mexico, and California. 
These two works moved slowly, but by 1855 and 1857 the 
railway trains were skimming out across the flowery j!?rai- 
ries tremhlantes eighty miles westward toward Texas, and 
the same distance northward toward the centre of the 
continent. In 1852, Lafayette and the municipalities were 
consolidated into one city government. Sixteen years of 
subdivision under separate municipal councils, and similar 
expensive and obstructive nonsense, had taught Creole, 
American, and immigrant the value of unity and of the 
American principles of growth better than unity could 


have done it. Algiers, a suburb of machine shops and 
nautical repair yards, began to grow conspicuous on the 
farther side of tlie river. 

The consolidation was a great step. The American 
quarter became the centre and core of the whole city. Its 
new and excessively classic marble municipality hall be- 
came the city hall. Its public grounds became the chosen 
rendezvous of all popular assemblies. All the great trades 
sought domicile in its streets ; and the St. Charles, at 
whose memorable burning, in 1S50, the people wept, being 
restored in 1852-53, made final eclipse of the old St. 

A small steel-engraved picture of New Orleans, made 
just before this period, is obviously the inspiration of the 
commercial and self-important American. The ancient 
plaza, the cathedral, the old hall of the cabildo, the cala- 
boza, the old Spanish barracks, the emptied convent of 
the Ursulines, the antiquated and decayed Hue Toulouse, 
the still quietl}' busy Chartres and Old Levee Streets — all 
that was time-honored and venerable, are i>nshed out of 
view, and the lately humble Faubourg Ste. Marie fills the 
picture almost from side to side. Long ranks of huge, 
lofty -chimneyed Mississippi steamers smoke at the levee ; 
and high above the deep and solid phalanxes of brick and 
stone rise the majestic dome of the first St. Charles 
and the statelj' tower of St. Patrick's Church, queen and 
bishop of the board. 

But the ancient landmarks trembled to a worse fate than 

being left out of a picture. Ucnovatioii ciune in. In 
JS/>(>, tlio cathedral was torn down to its foundatious, and 
hdo-an to lise again with all of its Spanifcih pictnrosqueness 
lost and little or jiothing gained iji heauty. On its right 
and left absurd French roofs were clapped upon the ca- 
l)ildo and the court-house. Old Don Anch'eas's daughter, 
the J^aroness .l\)ntalba, replaced the (juaint tile-roofed 
store buildings that her father had built on cither side of 
the square with large, jiew rows of j-ed brick. The city 
laid out the Place dWrnies, i)nc(i \\v.r grassy play ground, 
in blindini^ white-:<liell walks, ti'innned shrubberv, and 
dusly flower-beds, and later, in l>>.">ri, placed in its ccriti'e 
the bronze e([uesti'ian figuj-e of the deliverer of Xew 
Oj'leans, and called tbe classic. sp(»t Jackson Scpiaro. Yet, 
even so, it renuiins to the present the last lurkiiig-plaec of 
tluj romance of ]iriniitive ?\ew Orleans. 

It was not a time ti> look for vej'v crood taste. All 
thou2:hts were led awav bv (he irolden charms of com- 
merce. In 1851, the value of leceipts fronj the interior 
wasnearly SLOT J H)nj MM. The mint coined slO,000,UOO, 
mostly the product of California's new-found treasmx)- 
Holds. The rear 18.5;] brouirht .-^till i^reater increase. Of 
cotton alone, thei'c came sixty-eight and a ijuarter milliou 
dollars' worth. The sugar crop was tens of thousands of 
hogsheads larger than ever before. Over a tenth of all 
the arrivals from sea were of st(?aniships. There Avas 
another inflation. Leaviiiix out the immense unascertained 
amounts of shij^ments into the intej-ior, the city's business, 

Th* Old Bink ir Toulgui* St' 

FLUSH TniES. 239 

in 1856, rose to two hundred and seventy-one and a quar- 
ter millions. In 1857 it was three hundred and two mil- 
lions. In this year came a crash, which the whole country 
felt. K^ew Orleans felt it rather less than other cities, and 
quickly recovered. 

We pause at 1860. In that year New Orleans rose to 
a prouder commercial exaltation than she had ever before 
enjoyed, and at its close began that sudden and swift de- 
scent which is not the least pathetic episode of our unfor- 
tunate civil war. In that year, the city that a hundred 
and forty years before had consisted of a hundred bark 
and palmetto-thatched huts in a noisome swamp counted, 
as the fraction of its commerce comprised in its exports, 
imports, and domestic receipts, the value of three hundred 
and twenty-four million dollars. 



r I ill E great Creole city's geographical position has al- 
ways dazzled every eye except the cold, cov scrutiny 
of capital. " The position of ?se\v Orleans,-' said Presi- 
dent Jefferson in 1S04, ''certainly destines it to be the 
greatest city the world has ever seen/' lie excepted 
neither Home nor Uabvlon. But man's most positive pre- 
dictions are based upon contingencies ; one unforeseen 
victory over nature bowls them down : the seemino; cer- 
tainties of to-morrow are changed to the opposite certain- 
ties of to-day ; deserts become gardens, gardens cities, and 
older cities the haunts of bats and foxes. 

When the early Kentuckian and Ohioan accepted na- 
ture's highway to market, and proposed the conquest of 
Xew Orleans in order to lav that highway open, they hon- 
estly believed there was no other possible outlet to the 
commercial world. When steam nayio:ation came, thev 
hailed it with joy and without question. To them it 
seemed an ultimate result. To the real-estate hoarding 
Creole, to the American merchant who was crowding and 
dialing him, to every superficial eye at least, it seemed a 


pledge of unlimited commercial empire bestowed by the 
laws of gravitation. Few saw in it the stepping-stone 
from the old system of commerce by natural highways to 
a new system by direct and artificial lines. 

It is hard to understand, looking back from the present, 
how so extravagant a mistake could have been made by 
wise minds. From the first — or perhaps, we should say, 
from the peace of 1815 — the development of the West 
declined to wait on Xew Orleans, or even on steam. In 
1825, the new principle of commercial transportation — 
that despises alike the aid and the interference of nature 
— opened, at Buffalo, the western end of the Erie Canal, 
the gate-way of a new freight route to northern Atlan- 
tic tide-waters, many hundreds of leagues more direct 
than the long journey down the Mississippi to New Or- 
leans and around the dangerous capes of Florida. In the 
same year another canal was begun, and in 1832 it con- 
nected the Ohio with Lake Erie; so that, in 1835, the 
State of Ohio alone sent through Buffalo to Atlantic 
ports 86,000 barrels of flour, 98,000 bushels of wheat, and 
2,500,000 staves. 

Another outlet was found, better than all transits — 

manufactures. Steam, driving all manner of machinery, 

built towns and cities. Cincinnati had, in 1820, 32,000 

inhabitants ; in 1830, 52,000. Pittsburg became, " in the 

extent of its manufactures, the onlv rival of Cincinnati in 

the AVest." St. Louis, still in embryo, rose from 10,000 to 

14,000. Buffalo, a town of 2,100, quadrupled its numbers. 


Meanwhile, far down in Xew Orleans the Cj'eole, grimly, 
and the American, more boastfully, rejoiced in a blaze of 
in'osperity that blinded both. How should they, i)i a rain 
of wealth, take note that, to keep pace with the wonder- 
ful development in the great valley above, their increase 
should have been tliree times as great as it was, and that 
the sun of illimitable empire, Avhich had promised to 
sliine brightest upon them, was shedding brighter prom- 
ises and kinder rays eastward, and e>en northward, across 
nature's hio:hwavs and barriers. Even steam navigation 
began, on the great lakes, to demonstrate tliat the golden 
toils of the Mississippi were not all to be collected at one 
or even two gates. 

JJow might this have been stopped ? By no means. 
The jjioment East and AVest saAv that straighter courses 
toward conmiei'cial Eui-opc could be taken than wild 
nature offered, the direct became the natural route, and 
the circuitous the unnatural. East-and-west trade lines, 
nieant, sooner or later, the conunercial subordination of 
?sow Orleans, until such time as the growth of countries 
behind her in the Southwest should bring her also upon 
an east-and-west line. Meantime the new svsteni could 
l)e delayed by improving the old, many of whose draw- 
l)acks were ]*emovable. That which could not be stopped 
could yet be postponed. 

Ihit there ^\'as one drawback that riveted all the rest. 
Through slave-holding, and the easy fortune-getting it 
afforded, an intellectual indolence s])read everywhere, and 



the merchant of Faubourg Ste. Marie, American — often 
!New Englander — as he was, sank under the seductions 
of a livelihood so simple, so purely executive, and so rich 
in perquisites, as the marketing of raw crops. From this 
mental inertia sprang an invincible provincialism ; the 
Creole, whose society ho was always com'ting, intensified 
it. Better civilizations were too far away to disturb it. 
A "peculiar institution-' doubled that remoteness, and an 
enervating, luxurious climate folded it again upon itself. 
It colored liis financial convictions and all his conduct of 
public affairs. lie confronted obstacles with serene apa- 
thy ; boasted of his city's natm*al advantages, forgetting 
that it was man, not nature, that he had to contend with ; 
suiTendered ground which he might have held for gene- 
rations ; and smilingly ignored the fact that, M'ith all her 
increase of wealth and population, his town was slipping 
back along the comparative scale of American cities. 
" Was she not the greatest in exports after Xew York ? '' 
The same influence that made the Creole always 
and only a sugar, tobacco, or cotton factoiV waived away 
the classes which might have brought in manufactures 
with them. Its shadow fell as a blight upon intelligent, 
trained labor. Immigrants from the British Isles and from 
Europe poured in ; but those adepts in the mechanical and 
productive arts that so rapidl}'' augment the fortunes of a 
commonwealth staid away ; there was nothing in surround- 
ing nature or society to evolve the operative from the hod- 
carrier and drayman, and the prospecting manufacturer and 


his capital turned aside to newer town is where ial^or was 
iinconlemned, and skill and technical knowledge sprang 
forward at the call of enlightened enterprise. 

Men never arnessed the whole nionev value of time until 
the gj'cat inventions for tlie facilitation of connnerce began 
to appear. " Adopt us," these seemed to say as they came 
forward in procession, '* or you cannot become or even i^c- 
maiu great." Hut, even so, onJy those, cilies lying some- 
wiicre on right lines between Mio great centres of supply 
and demand could seize and iiold tJiem, It was the fate, 
not the fault, of Xew Orleans not fo he one such. St. 
Louis, r.ouisvillc, Cinchmati, I^'ttsburg, Boston, "Xew 
Vork, Philadelphia, l>altimoro. wcn-e more fortunate; 
while Cleveland, Buffalo, ("liicngo, Mcro born of these new 
conditions. The locomotive eno-ino smote the commercial 
domain of Xew Orleans in half, and divided tJie best part 
of her trade bcvond the mouth o£ the Ohio amonoj her 
rivals. U\ that decade of develupmeiit — lv^*^0 40- —when 
the plantation idea was enriching lier witJi one hand and 
robbing lier of dou1)le with the othi^r, the West was filling 
with town life, and raih'oads and Cranals were starting 
oaojej'Iv eastward and westward, boarinir immense burdens 
of freio;lit and travel, and chan^rinii: tlie scale of miles to 
that of minutes. Boston and New ^^ork had pre-empted 
the futin^e with their darhig outlays, and clasped hands 
tighter with the States along the Ohio by lines of direct 
traiisit. Pennsylvania joined IMiiladolphia Avith the same 
river, and s])cnt more money in railroads and canals than 

e,=h.r>g. AM.,. |OI 


any other State in the Union. Baltimore reached out her 
Chesapeake & Ohio canal and railwaj^ Ohio and Indi- 
ana spent millions. But the census of 1840 proclaimed 
^ew Orleans the fourth city of the Union, and her mer- 
chants openly professed the belief that they were to be- 
come the metropolis of America without exertion. 

Rapid transit only amused them, while raw crops and 
milled breadstuffs still sought the cheapest rates of freight. 
They looked at the tabulated figures ; they were still ship- 
ping their share of the Valley's vastly increased field pro- 
ducts. It was not true, they said, with sudden resentment, 
that they " sold the skin for a groat and bought the tail 
for a shilling." But they did not look far enough. Im- 
proved transportation, denser settlement, labor-sa^dng ma- 
chinery, had immensely increased the T.Yest's producing 
power. !New Orleans should have received and exported 
an even gi'eater proportion — not merely quantity — of those 
products of the field. Partly not heeding, and partly un- 
able to help it, she abandoned this magnificent surplus to 
the growing cities of the West and East. Still more did 
she fail to notice that the manufactures of the Mississippi 
and Ohio States had risen from fifty to one hundred and 
sixty-four millions. She began to observe these facts only 
as another decade was closing with 1850, when her small 
import trade had shrunken to less than a third that of 
Boston and a tenth that of New York. 

Her people then began to call out in alami. Now ad- 
mitting, now denying, they marked, with a losei^'s impa- 


TiiK ci:k<ii,ks of Lriiisr-VXA. 

tieiice, the progress of otlior cities at wUal seemed to Ixs 
tJicir expUQSO. Boston had snrpasiwd tliciii in nuirtbci'^ ; 
lifrookljni was foiTi-liftiis tlieir size; Ht. Louis, «eveii- 

3^^ _ 

ei 1 C a en fif i)e d L is- 

vi 1 fE 1 i, ith 

lM>p a o . ^^ a d "\\ e -e ere 


the days when New Orleans was the commercial empress 
of her great valley and heir-apparent to the sovereignty 
of the world's trade ? Is ew York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, 
Liverpool — could they ever he overtaken ? American 
merchant and Creole property-holder cried to each other 
to throw off their lethargy and place Kew Orleans where 
Xaturc had destined lier to sit. 

The air was full of diagnoses : There had been too ex- 
clusive an attention to the moving of crops ; there had 
been too much false pride against mercantile pursuits ; 
sanitation had been neglected ; there had not been even 
the pretense of a quarantine since 1825 ; public improve- 
ments had been few and trivial ; a social exclusiveness 
made the town unhomelike and repellant to the highei* 
order of immigrant ; the port charges were suicidal. One 
pen even brought out the underlying fact of slave labor, 
and contrasted its voiceless acceptation of antiquated 
methods of work with the reflecting, outspeaking, acting 
liberty of the [Northern workman which filled the North- 
ern communities M'ith practical thinkers. The absurd 
municipality system of city government, which split the 
city into four towns, was rightly blamed for much non- 

much, too, was the more unjust blame laid at the door 
of financiers and capitalists. "Railways ? But who could 
swing a railway from xs"ew Orleans, in any direction, that it 
would not be better to stretch from some point near the cen- 
tre of Western supply to some other centre in the manii- 


factTiriiig and coiisnining East ? Slave lal)or had handed 
over the ricli prize of European and Xew England immi- 
gj-ation to the nnmonopolized West, and the purely for- 
tune-hunting canal-boat and locomotive pushed aside the 
slave and his owner and followed the free innnigrant. 
And, in truth, it was rears later, when the outstretched 
iron arms of .Noj*thern enterprise began to grasp the pro- 
ducts of the Southwest itself, that Xew Orleans capitalists, 
with more miscrivinoj tban enthusiasm, thrust out theur first 
}"ailwaj worthy of the name thi'ough the great plantation 
State of ^Mississippi. 

Some lamented a lack of banking capital. i>ut bankers 
knew that T^ew York's was comparatively smaller. Some 
cried. against summer absenteeism; but absenteeism was 
equally bad in the cities that had thriven most. Some 
pointed to the large p]*oportiou of foreigners ; but the fii*st 
census that gave this proportion showed it but forty-fom* 
and a half per cent, of the whites in Xcw Orleans, against 
fortv-two in Cincinnati, fortv-eiiifht in ?<ew York, and 
fifty -two in St. Louis. The truth lay deeper hid. In 
those cities American thought prevailed, and the incoming 
foreigner accepted it. In Xew Orleans American thought 
was foreign, unwelcome, disparaged by the unaspiring, 
satirical Creole, and often apologized for by the American, 
who found himself a minoritv in a combination of social 
forces oftener in sympathy with European ideas than with 
the moral enermes and the enthusiastic and venturesome 
enterprise of the Xew World. Moreo\'er, twcntj'-eight 


tbouBand slaves and free blacks liampei-ed the spirit of 
progress by sheer dead weiglit. 

Was it true tliat tlie import trade needed only to be cul- 


tivated ? AVlio slionld snpport it beside the planter ? And 
the planter, all powerful as he l^■as, nas niiinerically a 
small minority, and his favoi'ite investments were land and 
negi-oes. Tlie wants of his slaves were only tlio most 


primitive, and their stupid and slovenly eyc-servicc made 
the introduction of labor-saving machinery a farce. AVho 
or what should make an import trade? Not the Southern 
A'alley. xSot the AVest, either; for her imports, she must 
have straight lines and prompt deliveries. 

Could manufactures be developed 'i ?s ot easily, at least. 
The same fatal shadow fell upon them. 1'he unintelligent, 
uneconomical black slave was unavailable for its service ; 
and to graft u])on the slave-bui-dencd South the high- 
spij'ited operatives of other comitries Avas imi:)ossible. 

AVhat did all this sum up ( Stri])ped of disguises, it 
stood a triumph of machinery over slaverj^ that could not 
be reti'ieved, sa\e possibly througii a social revolution so 
great and apparently so ruinous that the mention of it 
kindled a white heat of public exasperation. 

All this was emphasized by the (^-eole. lie retained 
much power still, as well by his natural force as by his 
ownership of real estate and his easy coalition with for- 
eiorners of like ideas. Me caj-ed littlcj to imderstand. Jt 
was his pride Jiot to be understood. He divided and para- 
lyzed public sentiment when lie could no longer rule it, 
«ind often met the most imperative calls for innovation 
with the most unbendinfir conservatism. For everv move- 
ment was change, and everv chanoe carried him nearer 
and nearer toward the curj*ent of American ideas and to 
absoii^tion into their flood, which bore too much the sem- 
blance of annihilation. Hold back as he might, the trans- 
formation was appallingly swift. And now a new influ- 


ence had set in, which above all others was destined to 
promote, ever more and more, the unity of all the diverse 
elements of ;Xew Orleans society, and their equipment for 
the task of placing their town in a leading rank among the 
greatest cities of the world. 



nnilE year 1841 dates the rise in Xew Orleans of the 
modern system of free public schools. It really be- 
gan in the German- American suburb, Lafayette ; but the 
next year a single school was opened in the Second ilu- 
nicipality *• with some dozen scholar's of both sexes." 

All the wav back to the Cession, efforts, more or less 
feeble, liad been made for public education : but all of 
them lacked that idea of popular and universal benefit 
which has made the American public school a welcome 
boon throughout America, not excepting Louisiana. In 
1804, an act had passed ''to establish a univei-sity in the 
territory of Orleans." The university was to comprise the 
"collei^e of Xew Orleans." But seven vears later nothing 

O I/O 

had been done. In 1812, however, there rose on the old 
Bayou road, a hundred yards or so bevond the former line 
of the town's rear rampails, at the cornei* of St. Claude 
Sti^eet, such a modest Orleans college as 5sl 5,000 would 
build and equip. But it was not free, except to fifty 
charity scholars. The idea was still that of eondescendina: 
benevolence, not of a paying investment by society for its 

THE school-:master. 257 

own protection and elevation. Ten years later this was 
the only school in the city of a public character. In 1826, 
tliere were three small schools where " all the branches of 
a polite education " were taught. Two of these were in 
tlie old Ursuline convent. A fourth finds mention in 1838, 
but the college seems to have disappeared. 

Still the mass of educable youth, — the children who 
played " oats, peas, beans," with French and German and 
Irish accents, about the countless sidewalk doorsteps of a 
city of one and two-story cottages (it was almost such) ; 
the girls who carried their little brothers and sisters on 
one elbow and hip and stared in at weddings and funerals; 
the boys whose kite-flying and games were full of terms 
and outcries in mongrel French, and who abandoned every- 
thing at the wild clangor of bells and ran to fires where 
the volunteer firemen dropped the hose and wounded and 
killed each other in pitched battles ; the ill-kept lads who 
risked their lives daily five months of the year swimming 
in the yellow whirlpools of the Mississippi among the 
wharves and flat-boats, who, naked and dripping, dodged 
the dignified police that stalked them among the cotton 
bales, who robbed mocking-birds' nests and orange and fig- 
trees, and trapped nonpareils and cardinals, orchard-orioles 
and indigo-birds in the gardens of Lafayette and the sub- 
urban fields, — these had not been reached, had not been 
sought by the educator. The public recognition of a 
common vital interest in a common elevation was totally 




At length this feeh'ng was aroused. Men of public 
spirit spoke and acted ; and such pioneers as Peters, Burke, 
Touro, Martin, De Bow, and the Creoles Dimitiy, Forstall, 
Gajarre, and others are gratefully remembered by a later 
generation for their labors in the cause of education. In 
the beginning of 1842 there were hi the American quarter 
300 children in private schools and 2,000 in none. At its 
close, the public schools of this (juarter and J^afayette had 
over 1,000 pupils. In the next year, there were OAer 
1,300 ; in 1844, there were 1,800. In 1S45, the University 
of Fjouisiana was really established. The medical dej^art- 
ment had ah'cady an existence ; this branch and that of 
law were in full operation in 1847, and Creole and Ameri- 
can sat side by side before their Joctnrci's. 

Meanwhile the impulse for popular enlightenment took 
another ^rood dii'cction. In 1842, ]Mr. T>. V. French threw 
open a library to the public, M'hich in four years numbered 
7,500 volumes. The State Librarv was formed, with 3,000 
volumes, for the use, mainly, of the Legislature. The City 
Library, also 3,000 volumes, was formed. In 1848 it num- 
bered 7,500 volumes ; but it was intended principally for 
the schools, and was not entii^elv free. An association 
threw^ open a collection of 2,0OC) volumes. An historical 
society was revived. In 1S4G and 1847 public lectures 
were given and heartily supported; but, in 1848, a third 
series was cut short b}' a terrible epidemic of cholera. 
About the same time, the " Fisk " Libraiy of 6,000 vol- 
umes, with '• a building for their j-eception," was offered 


to the city. But enthusiasm had declined. The gift was 
neglected, and as late as 1854, the city was still without a 
single entirely free library. 

In 1850 there was but one school, Sunday-school, or 
public libraiy in Louisiana to each 73,966 persons, or 100 
volumes to each 2,310 persons. In Ehode Island, there 
were eleven and a half times as many books to each per- 
son. In Massachusetts, there were 100 volumes to every 
188 persons. In the pioneer State of Michigan, without 
any large city, there was a volume to every fourth person. 
True, in Louisiana there were 100 volumes to everj^ 1,218 
free persons, but this only throws us back upon the fact 
that 245,000 persons were totally without books and were 
forbidden by law to read. 

It is pleasanter to know that the city's public schools 
grew rapidly in numbers and efficiency, and that, even 
when her library facilities were so meagre, the proportion 
of youth in these schools was larger than in Baltimore or 
Cincinnati, only slightly inferior to St. Louis and Xew York, 
and decidedly suq^assed only in Philadelphia and Boston. 
In the old French quarter, the approach of school-hour saw 
thousands of Creole children, satchel in hand, on their 
way to some old live-oak-shaded colonial villa, or to some 
old theatre once the scene of nightly gambling and sword- 
cane fights, or to some ancient ball-room where the now 
faded quadroons had once shone in splendor and waltzed 
with the mercantile and official dignitaries of city and 
State, or to some bright, new school building, all windows 


and verandas. Thither they went for an English educa- 
tion. It was not first choice, but it was free, and — tlie 
father and mother admitted, with an amiable shrug — it 
was also best. 

The old, fierce enmity against the English tongue and 
American manners began to lose its practical weight and 
to be largely a matter of fireside sentiment. The rich 
Creole, both of plantation and town, still drew his inspira- 
tions from French tradition, — not from books, — and sought 
both culture and pastime in Paris. His polish heightened ; 
his language improved ; he dropped the West Indian soft- 
ness that had crept into his pronunciation, and the African- 
isms of his black nurse. His childi'cn still babbled them, 
but they were expected to cast them off about the time of 
their first communion. However, the suburban lands were 
sold, old towji and down-town property was sinking in 
value, the trade with Latin countries languished, and the 
rich Creole was onh^ one here and there among throngs of 
humbler brethren who were learning the hard lessons of 
pinched living. To these an Engl isli -American training 
was too valuable to be refused. They took kindly to the 
American's counting-room desk. They even began to 
emi£:rate across Canal Street. 



"^rOT schools only, but churches, multiplied rapidly. 
•^^ There was a great improvement in public order. 
Affrays M'ere still common ; the Know-Xothing movement 
came on, and a few " thugs " terrorized the city with cam- 
paign broils, beating, stabbing, and shooting. Base politi- 
cal leaders and spoilsmen utilized these disorders, and they 
reached an unexpected climax and end one morning con- 
fronted by a vigilance committee, which had, under cover 
of night, seized the town arsenal behind the old Cabildo 
and barricaded the approaches to the Place d'Armes with 
uptora paving-stones. But riots were no longer a feature 
of the city. It was no longer required that all the night- 
watch within a mile's circuit should rallv at the sound of 
a rattle. Fire-engines were no longer needed to wet down 
huge mobs that threatened to demolish the Carondelet 
Street brokers' shops or the Cuban cigar stores. Drunken 
bargemen had ceased to swarm by many hundreds against 
the peace and dignity of the State, and the publicity and 
respectability of many other vicious practices disappeared. 
Communication with the outside world was made much 


easier, prompter, and more freqneiit by the growth of 
railroads. Both the avei'age Creole and the average 
American became more refined. The two tj^es lost 
some of their points of difference. The American ceased 
to crave entrance into Creole society, having now separate 
circles of his own ; and when they mingled it was on moi*e 
equal tenns, and the Creole was sometimes the proselyte. 
They were one on the great question that had made the 
American southerner the exasperated champion of ideas 
contrary to the ground principles of American social order. 
The New Orleans American was apt, moreover, by this time 
to be xSew-Orleans born. lie had Icanied some of the 
Creole's lethargy, much of his love of pleasiu*e and his child- 
ish delight in pageantry'. St. Charles Street — the centre 
of the American quarter, the focus of iVmencan theati'es 
and American indulorences in decanter and dice — seemed 
strangely unA merican when Mardigras filled it with dense 
crowds, tinsel, rouge, grotesque rags, Circean masks, fool's- 
caps and harlequin colors, lewdness, mock music, and tipsy 
buflfooneiT. '* ^,Ve want," said one American of strause 
ambition, " to make our city the Xaplos of America." 

By and by a cloud darkened the sky. Civil war came 
on. The Creole, m that stniggle, was little difl^erent from 
the Southerner at large. A little more impetuous, it may 
be, a little more gayly reckless, a little more prone to rea- 
son from desire ; gallant, brave, enduring, faithful ; son, 
grandson, great-grandson, of good soldiers, and a better 
soldier every way and truer to himself than his courageous 


forefathers. He was early at Pensaeola. He was at 
Charleston when the first gun was fired. The first hero 
that came back from the Virginia Peninsula on his shield 
was a Creole. It was often he who broke the quiet 
along the Potomac, now with song and now with rifle-shot. 
He was at Bull-Run, at Shiloh, on all those blood-steeped 
fields around Richmond. He marched and fought with 
Stonewall Jackson. At Mobile, at the end, he was there. 
Ko others were quite so good for siege guns and water- 
batteries. What fields are not on his folded banners? 
He went through it all. But we will not follow him. 
Neither will we write the history of his town in those 
dread days. Arming, marching, blockade, siege, surrender, 
militarj" occupation, grass-grown streets, hungry women, 
darkened homes, broken hearts, — ^let us not write the 
chapter ; at least, not yet. 

The war passed. The bitter days of Reconstruction fol- 
lowed. They, too, must rest unrecounted. The sky is 
brightening again. \ The love of the American Union has 
come back to the Creole and the American of !Xew Orleans 
stronger, for its absence, than it ever was before ; stronger, 
founded in a triple sense of right, necessity, and choice. 

The great south gate of the Mississippi stood, in 1880, 
a city of two hundred and sixteen thousand people, and 
has been srrowino: ever since. Onlv here and there a broad 
avenue, with double roadway and slender grassy groves of 
forest trees between, marks the old dividing lines of the 
faubourgs that have from time to time been gathered 


within her boundaries. Her streets measnrc five hundred 
and sixty- six miles of length. One hundred and forty 
miles of street railway traverse them. Her wealth in 1SS2, 
was §112,000,000. Her imports are light, but no other 
American city save Xew York has such an annual export. 
Her harbor, varying from CO to 2S0 feet in depth, and 
from J, 500 to 3,000 feet in width, measures twelve miles 
in length on either shore, and more than half of this is in 
actual use. In 1SS3, over 2,000,000 bales of cotton passed 
through her gates, to home or foreign markets. 

One of the many developments in the world's commerce, 
imforeseen by ^ew Orleans in her days of over-confidence, 
was the increase in the size of sea-going vessels. It had 
been stcad\' and rapid, but was only noticed when the 
larger vessels began to shun the bars and mud-lumps of 
the rivers mouths. In 1852 there were, for weeks, nearly 
forty ships agroimd there, suffering detentions * of from 
two days to eight weeks. It is true, some slack-handed 
attention had been given to these bars from the earliest 
times. Even in 1721, M. de Paugei-, a French engineer, 
had recommended a svstem for scouj'inoj them awav, bv 
contininff the current, not materiallv different from that 
which proved so successful one hundred and fifty years 
later. The United States Government made surveys and 
reports in 1S20, '37, '39, '47, and '51. But, while nature was 
now shoaling one " pass " and now deepening another, the 
effort to keep them open artificially was not efficiently or 
persistently made. Dredging, harrowing, jettying, and 


side-canalling — all were proposed, and some were tried ; 
but nothing of a permanent character was effected. In 
1853 vessels were again grounding on the bars, where 
some of them remained for months. 

At length, in 1874, Mr. James B. Eads came forward 
with a proposition to secure a permanent channel in one 
of the passes, twenty-eight feet deep, by a system of jet- 
ties. He met with strenuous opposition from professional 
and unprofessional sources, but overcame both man and 
nature, and in July, 1879, successfully completed the work 
which has made him world-famous and which promises to 
Xew Orleans once more a magnificent future. Through 
a " pass " where a few years ago vessels of ten feet draft 
went aground, a depth of thirty feet is assured, and there 
are no ships built that may not come to her wharves. 
Capital has responded to this great change. Kailroads 
have hurried and are hurrying do\m upon the city, and 
have joined her with Mexico and California ; manufactur- 
ing interests are multiplying steadily ; new energies, new 
ambitions, are felt by her people ; for the first time within 
a quarter of a century buildings in the heart of the to\^'n 
are being torn down to make room for better. As these 
lines are being written the citj'' is engrossed in prepara- 
tions for a universal exposition projected on the largest 
scale ; the very Creole himself is going to ask the world to 
come and see him. In everv department of life and everv 
branch of society there is earnest, intelligent effort to remove 
old drawbacks and prepare for the harvests of richer years. 



nnilE people of Xew Orleans take pride in Canal Street. 
It is to the modern town what the Place d'Arines 
was to the old. Here stretch out in long parade, in va- 
riety of height and color, the great retail stores, display- 
ing their silken and fine linen and golden seductions ; and 
the fair Creole and American girls, and the self -deprecia- 
ting American mothers, and the majestic Creole matrons, 
all black lace and alabaster, swarm and hum and push in 
and out and Hit here and there among the rich things, 
and fine things, the novelties and the bargains. Its eigh- 
teen-feet sidewalks are loftily roofed from edge to edge by 
continuous balconies that on gala-days are stayed up with 
extra scantlings, and yet seem i-eady to come splintermg 
down under the crowd of parasolled ladies sloping upward 
on them from front to back in the fashion of the amphi- 
theatre. Its two distinct granite-paved roadways are each 
forty feet wide, and the tree-bordered " neutral ground " 
between measures fif tv-f our feet across. It was ^' neutral " 
when it divided between the French quarter and the 



American at the time when their " municipality " govern- 


nients were distinct from each other. 

In Canal Street, well-nigh all the street-car lines in 
town begin and end. The Grand Opera House is here ; 
also, the Art Union. The club-houses glitter here. If 
Jackson Square has one bronze statue, Canal Street has 
another, and it is still an open question which is the worst. 
At the base of Henry Clay's pedestal, the people rally to 
hear the demagogues in days of political fever, and the 
tooth-paste orator in nights of financial hypertrophy. 
Here are the grand reviews. Here the resplendent Mys- 
tic Krewe marches by calcium lights on carnival nights up 
one roadway and down the other, and 

** Perfume and flowers faU in showers, 
Tliat lightly rain fioni ladies' hands." 

Here is the huge granite custom-house, that " never is 
but always to be " finished. Here is a row of stores monu- 
mental to the sweet memory of the benevolent old Portu- 
guese Jew whom Xewport, Ehode Island, as well as Xew 
Orleans, gratefully honors — Judah Touro. Here sit the 
flower marchandes^ making bouquets of jasmines and roses, 
clove-pinks, violets, and lady-slippers. Here the Creole 
boys drink mead, and on the balconies above maidens and 
theu' valentines sip sherbets in the starlight. Here only, 
in K^ew Orleans, the American ^' bar " puts on a partial 
disguise. Here is the way to West End and to Spanish 
Fort, little lakeside spots of a diminished Coney Island 


sort. Here the gay cai-riage-parties turn northwestward, 
scurrying away to the races. Yea, here the funeral train 
breaks into a trot toward the cemeteries of Metairie Ridge. 
Here is Christ's Church, with its canopied weddings. 
Here the ring-politician mounts perpetual guard. Here 
the gambler seeks whom ho may induce to walk around into 
his parlor in the Hue lloyale or St. Charles Street. And 
here, in short, throng the members of the great Xew Orleans 
Creole- American house of '• Walker, Doolittle & Co." 

One does not ]ieed to be the the oldest resident to re- 
member when this neutral gi-ound in Canal Street was still 
a place of tethered horses, roaming goats, and fluttering 
lines of drying shirts and petticoats. In those days an 
old nuile used to drag his dejected way slowly x'ound and 
round in an nnchanfi:in<x circle on the shabby cri'assed ave- 
nue, just behind the spot where the statue of Henrj' Clay 
was later erected bv crood AVhiics in IS5G. An a^red and 
tattered nec^ro was the mule's rinojm aster, and an artesian 
well was the object of his j^eaceful revolution. 

is o effort deeply to probe the city's site had ever before 
been made, nor has there been any later attempt thus to 
draw up the pro-historic records of the Delta. The allu- 
vial surface deposit is generally two or three feet thick, 
and rests on a substratum of uniform and tenacious blue 
clay. The well in Canal Street found this clav fifteen feet 
deep. Below it lay four feet more of the same clay mixed 
with woody matter. Under this was a mixture of sand 
and clay ten feet thick, resembling the annual deposits of 



the river. Beneath this was found, one after another, 
continual, irregular alternations of these clay strata, some- 
times a foot, sometimes sixty feet thick, and layers of sand 
and shells and of mixtures of these with clay. Sometimes 
a stratum of quicksand was passed. At five hundred and 
eighty-two feet was encountered a layer of hard pan ; but 
throughout no masses of rock were found, only a few 
water-worn pebbles and some contorted and perforated 
stones. No abundance of water flowed. Still, in the 
shabby, goat-haunted neutral ground above, gaped at by 
the neutral crowd, in the wide, blinding heat of midsum- 
mer, the long lever continued to creak round its tremu- 
lous circle. At length it stopped. At a depth of six hun- 
dred and thirty feet the well was abandoned — for vague 
reasons left to the custody of tradition; some say the 
mule died, some say the negro. 

However, the work done was not without value. It 
must have emphasized the sanitary necessity for an elabo- 
rate artificial drainage of the city's site, and it served to 
contradict a very prevalent and solicitous outside belief 
that New Orleans was built on a thin crust of mud, which 
she might at any moment break through, when towers, 
spires, and all would ingloriously disappear. The continual 
alternations of tough clay and loose sand and shells in such 
variable thicknesses gave a clear illustration of the condi- 
tions of Delta soil that favor the undermining of the Mis- 
sissippi banks and their fall into the river at low stages of 
water, levees being often carried with them. 



These cavings are not generally erevaeses. A crevaBBe 
is commODlj the result of tlie levee yielding to the preBS- 
lire of the river's waters, heaped np against it often to the 
height of ten or fifteen feet above the level of the laud. 
But the cavingiQ of old levees requires their replacement 
by new and higher ones on the lower land farther back, 

and a ci'evaBse often occurs through the weakness of a 
new levee which is not yet solidified, or whose covering 
of tough Bermuda turf has not yet grown. The fact is 
widely familiar, too, that when a craw-fish has borrowed 
in a levee, the water of the river may squirt in and out of 
this little tunnel, till a section of the levee becomes satu- 
rated and softened, and sometimes slides shoreward bodily 


from its base, and lets in the flood, — roaring, leaping, and 
tumbling over the rich plantations and down into the 
swamp behind them, levelling, tearing up, drowning, de- 
stroying, and sweeping away as it goes. 

Kew Orleans may be inundated either by a crevasse or 
by the rise of backwater on its northern side from Lake 
Pontchartrain. Bayou St. John is but a prehistoric cre- 
vasse minus only the artificial levee. A long-prevailing 
southeast wind will obstruct the outflow of the lake's 
waters through the narrow passes by which they commonly 
reach the Gulf of Mexico, and the rivers and old crevasses 
emptying into the lake from the north and east will be 
virtually poured into the streets of Xcw Orleans. A vio- 
lent storm blowing across Pontchartrain from the north 
produces the same result. At certain seasons, the shores 
of river, lake, and canals have to be patrolled day and 
night to guard the wide, shallow basin in Avhich the city 
lies from the insidious encroachments of the waters that 
overhang it on every side. 

It is difficult, in a faithful description, to avoid giving 
an exaggerated idea of these floods. Certainly, large por- 
tions of the city are inundated : miles of streets become 
canals. The waters rise into vards and sjardens and then 
into rooms. Skiffs enter the poor man's parlor and bed- 
room to brinoj the morninsy's milk or to carry awav to 
higher ground his goods and chattels. All manner of 
loose stuff floats about the streets : the house-cat sits on 
the gate-post : huge rats come swimming, in mute and 


loathsome despair, from that house to this one, and are 
pelted to deatli from tlie windows. E^'en snakes seek the 
same asyhun. Those who have the choice avoid such dis- 
tricts, and the city has consequently lengthened out awk- 
wardly along the higher grounds down, and especially up, 
the river shore. 

But the town is not ingulfed ; life is not endangered ; 
tj'ade goes on in its main districts mostly dry-shod, and the 
nierchant goes and comes between his home and his count- 
ing-room as usual in the tinkling street-cars, merely catch- 
ing glimpses of the water down the cross streets. 

The humbler classes, on the other hand, suffer severely. 
Their gardens and poultry are destroyed, their houses and 
household goods are damaged ; their working days are dis- 
counted. The rich and the authorities, having defaulted 
in the ounce of preventive, come forward with theu* in- 
eflFectual jxyund of cure ; relief committees are formed and 
skiffs ply back and forth distributing bread to the thus 
doubly humbled and doublj' damaged poor. 

No considerable increase of sickness seems to follow 
these oveiHows. They cannot more completely drench so 
ill-drained a soil than M'ould any long term of rainy 
weather ; but it hardly neetl be said that neither condition 
is healthful under a sou them sky. 

In the beginning of the town's existence, the floods 
came almost yearly, and for a long time afterward they 
M*ere frequent. The old moat and palisaded embankment 
around the Spanisli town did not always keep them out 


There was a disastrous one in 1780, when the Creoles 
were strained to the utmost to bear the burdens of their 
daring young Governor Galvez's campaigns against tiic 
British. Another occurred in ITSo, when Miro was gov- 
ernor ; another in 1701, the last year of his incumbency ; 
another in 1799. All these came from river crevasses 
above the town. The last occurred near where CarroUton, 
now part of Xew Orleans, was afterward built. Another 
overflow, in 1813, came from a crevasse only a mile or two 
above this one. 

Xext followed the noted overflow of May, 1816. The 
same levee that had broken in 1799 was undermined by 
the current, which still strikes the bank at CarroUton with 
immense power ; it gave M'ay and the floods of the Missis- 
sippi poured through the break. On the fourth day after- 
ward, the waters had made their way across sugar-fields 
and through swamps and into the rear of the little city, 
had covered the suburbs of Gravier, Treme, and St. Jean 
with from three to five feet of their turbid, jellow flood, 
and were crawling up toward the front of the river-side 
suburbs— Montegut, La Course, Ste. Marie, and Marigny. 
In those davs, the corner of Canal and Chartres Streets 
was onlv some three hundred vards from the river shore. 
The flood came up to it. One could take a skifF at that 
point and row to Dauphine Street, down Dauphine to 
Bienville, down Bienville to Bui-gundy, in Burgundy to 
St. Louis Street, from St. Louis to Eampart, and so 

throughout the rear suburbs, now the Quadroon quarter. 



The breach was stopped by sinking in it a thi-ee-masted 
vessel. The waters found vent tlirongh Bayous St. John 
and Eienvenu to the lake ; but it was twenty-five days be- 
fore they were quite gone. Tiiis twelvemonth was the 
healthiest in a period of forty years. 

In 1S31, a storm blew the waters of J-akcPontchartrain 
lip to within si.v Imndi-cd yards of the levee. The same 
tiling occun-ed in October, ISH", when baiikniptcy as well 
as back waters ewamped the town. The same waters were 
driven ahnoBt as far in 1844, and again in tS4fi. 

It would seem as if town pride alone wrmld have seized 
fl spade and thrown up a serviceable levee around the city. 


But town pride in Xew Orleans was only bom about 1836, 
and was a puny child. Kot one American in five looked 
on the place as his permanent home. As for those who 
did, the life they had received from their fathers had be- 
come modified. Some of them were a native generation. 
^/ Creole contact had been felt. The same influences, too, 
of climate, landscape, and institutions, that had made the 
Creole unique was de-Saxonizing the American of the 
" Second Municipality," and giving special force to those 
two traits which everywhere characterized the slave-holder 
— improvidence, and that feudal self-completeness which 
looked with indolent contempt upon public co-operative 

The Creole's answer to suggestive inquiry concerning 
the prevention of overflows, it may easilj'' be guessed, was 
a short, warm question : " IIow ? " lie thought one ought 
to tell him. He has ten good " cannots " to one small 
" can -' — or once had ; the proportion is better now, and 
so is the drainage ; and still, heat, moisture, malaria, and 
provmcial exile make a Creole of whoever settles dowii 
beside him. 

In 1836, a nmnicipal draining company was formed, 
and one draining wheel erected at Baj'ou St. John. In 
1838, a natural drain behind the American quarter was 
broadened and deepened into a foul ditch known as 
Melpomene Canal. And in 1849, came the worst inunda- 
tion the city has ever suffered. 



/^N the 3d of May, 1849, the Mississippi was higher 
^^ than it had been before in twenty-one years. Eveiy 
liere and there it was licking the levee's crown, swinging 
heavily around the upper end of its great bends, gliding 
in wide, enormous volume down wpon the opposite bank 
below, heaving its vast weight and force against the 
earthen barrier, fretting, quaking, recoiling, boiling like 
a pot, and turning again and billowing awaj' like a mon- 
strous yellow serpent, ci'ested with its long black line of 
di'iftwood, to throw itself once more against the farther 
bank, in its mad, blind search for outlet. 

Everywhere, in such times, the anxious Creole planter 
may be seen, broad-hatted and swarthy, standing on his 
levee's top. All night the uneasy lantern of the pati'ol 
flits along the same line. Eills of seepage water wet the 
road — which in Louisiana always runs along against the 
levee's inner side — and here and there make miry places. 
^* Cribs " are being built around weak spots. Sand-bags 
are held in readiness. The huge, ungainly cane-carts, 
with their high, broad-tired wheels and flaring blue bodies, 


each drawn by three sunburned mules abreast, come him- 
bering from the sugar-house yard with loads of haffosse, 
with which to give a fibrous hold to the hasty earthworks 
called for by the hour's emergency. Here, at the most 
dangerous spot, the muscular strength of the estate is 
grouped ; a saddled horse stands hitched to the road-side 
fence ; the overseer is giving his short, emphatic orders in 
the negro French of the plantations,; and the black man, 
glancing ever and anon upon him with his large brown 
eye, comes here and goes there, U vinl 'ci, U coitrri Id. 
"Will they be able to make the levee stand ? Nobody 

In 184:9, some seventeen miles above Xew Orleans by 
the river's course, and on the same side of the stream, was 
Sauve's plantation. From some cause, known or unknown, 
— sometimes the fact is not even suspected, — the levee 
along its river-front was weak. In the afternoon of the 
3d of May, the great river suddenly burst through it, and, 
instantly defying all restraints, plunged down over the 
land, roaring, rolling, writhing, spmwling, whirling, over 
pastures and cane-fields and rice-fields, through groves and 
negro quarters and sugar-houses, slipping through rose- 
hedged lanes and miles of fence, gliding through willow 
jungles and cj-press forests, on and on, to smite in rear 
and flank the city that, seventeen miles away, lay peering 
alertly over its front breastworks. Tlie people of the 
tovra were not, at first, concerned. They believed and 
assured each other the water would find its way across into 



i^ake Pontcliartrain without coming down npon them. 
Tlie Americans exceeded tlie Creoles in absolute torpor. 
They tlirew up no line behind then* nuniicipality. Every 
dRy that passed saw the swamp filling more and more with 
yellow water ; presently it crawled up into the suburbs, 
and Avhcn the twelfth day had gone by, Kampart Sti'eet, 
the old town's rear boundary, was co\'ered. 

The Creoles, in their quai-ter, had strengthened the 
small levee of canal Carondelct on its lower side and shut 
off the advancint: flood from the district bevond it : but 
Lafayette and the older American quarter were completely 
exposed. TJie water crept on daily for a fortnight longer. 
In the subni-b ]>ouligny, afterward part of Jefferson or the 
Sixth District, it reached to Camp Street, in Lafayette, 
it stopped Mithin thirty yards of whei'o these words are 
being Mritten, and withdrawing toward the forest, I'an 
along behind Bacchus (Baronne) Street, sometimes touch- 
ing Cai'ondclct, till it reached Canal Street, crossed that 
street between lloval and ]>ourbon, and thence stretched 
downward and backwai'd to the Old Basin. '• About two 
hundred and twenty inhabited squares were flooded, more 
than two thousand tenements suri-ounded by Avater, and a 
population of Jiearly twelve thousand souls driven from 
their homes or compelled to live an aquatic life of much 
privation and suffering/' 

In the meantime, Inmdreds of men. Avhite and black, 
were constantly at the breach in the levee, trying to close 
it. Pickets, sand-bags, hagasse^ were all in vain. Seven 


hundred feet of piling were driven, but unskilfully placed ; 
a ship's hull was filled with stone and sunk in the half- 
closed opening, but the torrent burrowed around it and 
swept away the works. Other unskilled efforts failed, and 
only on the third of June was professional scientific aid 
called in, and seventeen days afterward the crevasse was 

At length, the long- submerged streets and sidewalks 
rose sliniily out of the retreating waters, heavy rains fell 
opportunely and washed into the swamp the offensive 
deposits that had threatened a second distress, and the 
people set about repairing their disasters. The streets 
were in sad dilapidation. The Second Municipality alone 
levied, in the following year, four hundred thousand dol- 
lars to cover " actual expenditures on streets, wharves, and 
crevasses." The wharves were, most likel}', in the main, 
new work. A levee was thrown up behind the nmnici- 
pality along the line of Claiborne Street and up Felicitj'' 
road to Carondelet Street. 

Still ovei flows came, and came, and overcame. A 
serious one occurred onl}- four years ago.* At such times, 
the fortunate are nobly generous to the unfortunate ; but 
the distress passes, the emotional impulses pass with it, 
and precautions for the future are omitted or soon fall 
into neglect. The inundation of ISSO simply ovei-ran the 
dilapidated top of a neglected levee on the town's lake 



side. The uneconomical habits of the old South still cling. 
Private buixlens ai-e but faintly recognized, and the next 
norther may swamp the little fortunes of the city's hard- 
working poor. 

The hopeful in New Orleans look for an early day wheu 
a proper drainage system shall change all this, —a system 
which shall include undergi'ound sewerage and complete 
the levee, ah*eady partly made, whicli is to I'epeat on a 
greatly enlarged scale, above and below the city and along 
the lake shore behind it, the old Avail and moat that once 
surrounded the Spanish town in Canal, Kampart, and Es- 
planade Streets. The present system consists mereh' of a 
poor and partial surface drainage in open sti-eet-gutters, 
emptying into canals at whose further end the waters are 
lifted over the rear levees by an appliance of old Dutch 
paddle-wheel pumps run by steam. Even the sudden 
heavy showers that come with their singeing lightnings 
and ear-cracking peals of thunder, are enough, at present, 
to overflow the streets of the whole town, often from sill 
to sill of opposite houses and stores, holding the life of a 
great city water-bound for hours, making strange arch- 
way and door-way groups of beggar and lady, clerk, fop, 
jnerchaut, artisan, fruit-peddler, negro porter, priest, 
tattered girl, and every other sort of fine or pitiful human 

An adequate system, comprising a thorough under- 
drainage, would virtually raise the city's whole plain ten 
feet, and give a character of soil under foot incalculably 


valuable for the improvement it would effect in the health 
and energies of the people. Such a system is entirely 
feasible, is within the people's means, has been tested else- 
where, extensively and officially approved, and requires 
only the subscription of capital. 

But we go astraj'. We have got out upon the hither 
side of those volcanoes of civil war and reconstruction 
which it were wiser for a time yet to stop short of. Let 
us draw back once more for a last view of the " Crescent 
Gitv'5 " earlier and calmer, thoudi once tumultuous and 
all too tragic, past. 



rpiIE New Orleans resident congratulates himself — and 
lie does well — that he is not as other men are, in 
other great cities, as to breathing-rooin. The desperate 
fondness with which the Ci-eole still clings to domestic 
isolation has passed into the sentiment of all types of the 
city's life ; and as the way is always open for the town, 
M'ith just a little river-sand filling, to spread farther and 
farther, there is no huddlins: in Xew Orleans, or onlv veiT 
little here and there. 

There is assnrance of plenty not only as to space, bnt 
also as to time. Time may be money, but niouey is not 
evervthinsr, and so there never has been imich crowdino' 
over one another's heads about business centres, never any 
livinciT in skv-roacliino: strata. The lassitude which loads 
every warm, damp breeze that blows in across the all-sur- 
rounding marsh and swamp has always been against what 
an old Xew Orleans writer calls ^nuiee-cracking stair- 
wavs." Few bouses lift their roofs to dizzv heiirhts, and 
a third-storv bedroom is not near euouo;h to be coveted bv 



Shortly before the war — and the case is not materially 
changed in Isew Orleans to-day — the number of inmates 
to a dwelling was in the proportion of six and a half to 
one. In St. Louis, it was seven and three-quarters; in 
Cincinnati, it was more than eight ; in Boston, nearly nine ; 
and in Xew York, over thirteen and a half. The number 
of persons to the acre was a little more than forty-five. 
In Philadelphia, it was eighty ; in Boston, it was eighty- 
two ; in Xew York, it was one hundred and thirty-five. 

The climate never Avould permit such swarming in jSTew 
Orleans. Keither would the badly scavenged streets or 
the soil which, just beneath, reeks with all the foul liquids 
that human and brute life can produce in an unsewered 
city. It is fortunate that the average Xew Orleans dwell- 
ing is loosely thrown together, built against sun and rain, 
not wind and frost. This, Avith the ample spacings be- 
tween houses, and an open plain all round, insures circula- 
tion of air — an air that never blows extremes of hot or 

It is true the minimum temperature is lower than that 
on the sea-coast of California, in pai*t of Arizona, and in 
South Florida. That of the Gulf coasts and the Atlantic 
shores of Georgia and South Carolina is the same. But 
in every other part of the United States it is lower. 
Once only the thermometer has been known to sink to 
sixteen degrees Fahrenheit. Its mean January tempera- 
ture is fifty-five degrees to sixty degrees Fahrenheit, milder 
than that of any other notable city in the Union, except 


(xalveston and Mobile, wliicli have tlie same. Only Middle 
and Southern Florida have a warmer midwinter. As to 
its summers, eveiy State and Territory, except the five 
Now England States east and north of Connecticut, expe- 
riences in some 2X)rtion of it a liigher maximum tempera- 
ture than the land of the Ci'coles, and the entire country 
as high a temperature, except parts of California, Oi'egon, 
Washington Territory, and two or thi-ee regions directly 
within the Rocky Mountains. Even its mean temperature 
in the hottest month of tlic year, July, is only the same, 
eighty to eightj-five degrees, as that in every part of tlie 
South that is not mountainous, even to the mouth of the 
Ohio, with the Indian Territory and two-thirds of Ivansas. 
Only throe times since 1S19 has it risen to one hmidred 
degi*ees, and never beyond. "Whatever wind prevails 
comes tempered by the waters and wet lands over which 
it has blo^vn. The duration of this moderate heat, liow- 
cver, is what counts. The mean temperature of Xew 
Orleans for the year exceeds that of any region not on the 
Gulf. It is exceeded only in southernmost Florida. That 
of Arkansas, middle Mississippi, middle Georgia, and South 
Carolina is ten degrees cooler, and the northeastern quar- 
ter of Alabama, North Georgia, and AVestern Xoilh Caro- 
lina have a mean fifteen, twenty, and in the mountainous 
parts, thirty and more degrees lower. The humidity, 
moreover, is a2:ain5t stronoj vitalitv. The countiw is not 
to be called a rainv one : there is no rainv season ; but the 
rains, when they come, are very heavy. Over five feet depth 


of water falls yearly on this land of swamps and marshes 
south of the thirty-first parallel between Lake Sabine 
and Apalachee Bay; a fall from four to six times as 
great as the rainfall in the arid regions of the far AVest, 
more than twice the average for the whole area of the 
United States, and greater than that experienced by over 
ninety-eight per cent, of the whole population. The air's 
diminished evaporating powers make it less cooling to man 
and beast in summer and more chilling in winter than drier 
winds at greater and lower temperatures would be, and 
it comes always more or less charged with that uncanny 
quality which Creoles, like all other Xorth Americans, 
maintain to be never at home, but always next door — 

The city docs not tremble with ague; but malarial 
fevers stand high in the annual tables of mortality, almost 
all complaints are complicated by more or less malarial 
influence, and the reduction of vital force in the daily life 
of the whole population is such as few residents, except 
physicians, appreciate. Lately, however, — we linger in 
the present but a moment, — attention has turned to the 
fact that the old Creole life, on ground floors, in a damp, 
warm climate, over an undrained clay soil, has given 
more victims to malarial and tubercular diseases than j^el- 
low fever has claimed, and efforts to remove these condi- 
tions or offset their ill effects are giving a yearly improv- 
ing public health. 

"What figures it would require truthfully to indicate the 


early insalubrity of New Orleans it would be hard to 
guess. Governor Perier, in 172G, and the Baron Caron- 
delet, toward the close of tlio last century, stand alone as 
advocates for measures to ]*cduce malarial and putrid fe- 
vers. As time wore on, partial surface drainage, some 
paving, some improvement in house-building, wiser do- 
mestic life, the gradual retreat of the dank forest and 
xmdergrowth, a better circulation of air, and some reduc- 
tion of humidity, had their good effects. Drainage canals 
— narrow, shallow, foul, ill-placed things — began to be 
added one by one. AVhen h system of municipal cleans- 
ins: came in, it was made as vicious as injs^enuitv could 
contrive it ; or, let us say, as bad as in other American 
cities of the time. 

rseither the Creole nor the American ever accepts sep- 
ulture in the sj:round of Orleans Parish. Onlv the He- 
brew, whose religious law will not take no for an answer, 
and the pauper, lie down in its undrained soil. The 
tombs stand above irround. Thev are now made of brick 
or stone onlv ; but in earlier davs wood entered into their 
construction, and thev often fell into decav so earlv as to 
expose the bones of the dead. Every day the gi'ound, 
M'hich the dead shunned, became more and more poison- 
ous, and the city spread out its homes of the living more 
and more over the poisoned ground. In 1S30, the pop- 
ulation of Usew Orleans was somethino: over forty-six thou- 
sand ; her life was busy, her commerce great, her precau- 
tions against nature's penalties for human herding about 


equal to nothing. She was fully ripe for the visitation 
that was in store. 

In that 3'ear the Asiatic cholera passed around the 
shores of the Caspian Sea, entered European Russia, and 
moved slowly westward, preceded by terror and followed 
by lamentation. In October, 1831, it was in England. 
In January, 1832, it swept through London. It passed 
into Scotland, into Ireland, France, Spain, Italy. It 
crossed the Atlantic and ravaged the cities of its western 
shore ; and, on the 25th of October, it reached Xew Orleans. 

An epidemic of yellow fever had been raging, and had 
not yet disappeared. Many of the j^eople had fled from 
it. The population was reduced to about thirty-five thou- 
sand. How many victims the new pestilence carried off 
can never bo known ; but six thousand, over one-sixth of 
the people, fell in twenty days. On some days five 
hundred persons died. For once, the rallying-gi'ound 
of the people was not the Place d'Armes. The ceme- 
teries were too small. Trenches took the place of graves ; 
the dead were hauled to them, uncoffined, in cart-loads 
and dumped in. Large numbers were carried by night 
to the river-side, weighted with stones from the ballast- 
piles abreast the idle shipping, and thrown into the 
Mississippi. The same mortality in Xew Orleans with its 
present population would carry oflF, in three weeks, thirtj'- 
nine thousand victims. The Xew Basin was being dug by 
hand. Hundreds of Irish were standing liere in water 

and mud and sun, throwing up the corrupted soil with 


their shovels, and the havoc among them, says tradition, 
was awful. 

The histoiy of the town shows that years of much snm- 
mer-digging have always been years of great mortality. 
In 1811, when Carondelet's old canal was cleaned out, 
seven per cent, of the people died. In 1S18. when it was 
cleaned out again, seven per cent, again died. In 1822, 
when its cleaning out was again begun, eight and a half 
per cent. died. In 1833, when, the year after the gi*eat 
cholera fatality, the Xew Canal was dug to the lake, eight 
and a half per cent, again died. In 1837, when many 
draining trenches were dug, seven per cent. died. In 184:7, 
there was much new ditching, JMelpomene Canal was 
cleaned out, and over eight per cent, of tlie people died. 
The same work went on through '48 and '49, and seven 
and eight per cent. died. But never before or after 1832 
did death recruit his pale annies by so frightful a con- 
scription, in this plague-hauntod town, as marked that 
year of double calamity, when, from a total population 
of but fifty-five thousand, present and absent, over eight 
thousand fell before their Asian and African destrovers. 



rpHEEE-QUAKTEES of a ceiitmy had passed over 
the little Franco-Spanish town, hidden under the 
Mississippi's downward-retreating bank in the edge of 
its Delta swamp on Orleans Island, before the sallow 
spectre of yellow fever was distinctly recognized in her 
streets and in her darkened chambers. 

That it had come and gone earlier, but unidentified, is 
altogether likely. In 1TG6 especially, the year in which 
TJlloa came with his handful of Ilavanese soldiers to take 
possession for Spain, there was an epidemic which at 
least resembled the great "West Indian scourge. Under 
the commercial concessions that followed, the town ex- 
panded into a brisk port. Trade with the West Indies 
grew, and in 1796, the yellow fever was confronted and 
called bv name. 

From that date it appeared frequently if not yearly, 
and between that date and the present dav twentv-four 
lighter and thirteen violent epidemics have marked its 
visitations. At their own horrid caprice they came and 
went. In 1S21, a quarantine of some sort was established. 


and it was continued until 1S25 ; but it did not keep out 
tlio plague, and it was then abandoned for more than 
thirty years. Between 1837 and 1843, fifty-five hundred 
deatlis occurred from the fever. In the summer and fall 
of 1S4T, over twenty-eight hundred people perished by 
it. In the second half of 184:8, eight hundred and seventy- 
two Avere its victims. It had barely disappeared when 
cholera entered again and carried off forty-one hundred. 
A month after its disappearance, — in August, 1849, — the 
fever returned ; and when, at the end of Xovember, it 
had destroyed seven hundi-ed and forty-four persons, the 
cholera once more appeared ; and by the end of 1850 had 
added eiorhteen hundred and fiftv-one to the loner rolls. 

In the verv midst of these visitations, it was the confi- 
dent conviction and constant assertion of the average Xew 
Orleans citizen, Creole or Amei'ican, on his levee, in the 
St. Charles rotunda, at his counting-room desk, in the 
columns of his newspaper, and in his family circle, that 
his town was one of the healthiest in the world. The 
fatality of the epidemics was principally among the un- 
acclimated. lie was not insensible to their sufferings, he 
was famous for his care of the sick : the town was dotted 
with orphan asylums. But in this far-away corner crucial 
comparisons escaped him. Tlie Creole did not readily 
take the fever, and, taking it, commonly recovered. He 
had, and largely retains still, an absurd belief in his entire 
immunity from attack. AYhen he has it, it is something 
else. xVs for strangers, — he threw up his palms and eye- 


brows, — nobody asked them to come to New Orleans, y 
The mind of the American turned only to comnaerce ; 
and the commercial value of a well-authenticated low 
death-rate he totally overlooked. Every summer might 
bring plague — granted; but winter brought trade, wealth. 
It thundered and tumbled through the streets like a surf. 
The part of a good citizen seemed to be to shut his eyes 
tightly and drown comment and debate with loud asser- 
tions of the town's salubrity. 

It was in these days that a certain taste for books 
showed itself, patronized and dominated by commerce. 
De Bow's excellent monthly issue, the Commercial Re- 
mew of the Sotctfi and Westj was circulating its invalu- 
able statistics and its pro-Southern deductions in social 
and political science. Judah P. Benjamin wrote about 
sugar ; so did Valcour-Aime ; Eiddell treated of Missis- 
sippi Eiver- deposits, etc. ; Maunsell White gave reminis- 
cences of flat-boat navigation ; Chief Justice Martin wrote 
on contract of sale; E. J. Forstall on Louisiana history in 
French archives ; and a great many anonymous " Ladies 
of New Orleans " and " Gentlemen of New Orleans " and 
elsewhere, upon the absorbing topic of slavery — to while 
away the time, as it were. " New Orleans, disguise the' 
fact as we may," wrote De Bow in 1846, " has had abroad^ 
the reputation of being a great charnel-house. . . . 
We meet this libel with facts." But he gave no figures. 
In January, 1851, the mayor oflicially pronounced the city 
" perfectly healthy during the past year," etc., omitting to 


eay that the mortality had been three times as high as a 
moderate death-rate would have been. A few medical men 
alone, — Barton, Symonda, Fenner, Axson, — had begmi to 
drag from oblivion the city's vital statiatics and to pabliah 
facts that shoold have alarmed any community. But the 

blind are not fi-ightened with ghosts. Barton showed that 
the mortality of 18i9, over and aiove the deaths by cholera, 
bad been about twice the common average of Boston, New 
York, Philadelphia, or Charleston. What then ? Noth- 
ing. He urged under-ground sewerage in vain. Quar- 
antine was proposed; commerce frowned. A plan was 


oflFered for daily flushing the city's innumerable open 
street-gutters ; it was rejected. The vice of burying in 
tombs above ground in the heart of town was shown ; but 
the burials went on. 

As the year 1S53 drew near, a climax of evil conditions 
seemed to be approached. The city became more dread- 
fullv unclean than before. The scavenffiner was beins: 
tried on a contract system, and the " foul and nauseous 
steams" from gutters, alleys, and dark nooks became in- 
tolerable. In the merchants' interest Carondelet basin 
and canal were being once more dug out ; the Isew Canal 
was being widened ; gas and Avater mains were being ex- 
tended ; ill the Fourth District, Jackson Street and St. 
Charles Avemie were being excavated for the road-beds of 
their railways. In the Third District, many small drain- 
ing trenches were being dug. 

On the 12th of March, the ship Augusta sailed from 
Bremen for ^Xew Orleans with upward of two liundred 
emigrants. Thirteen days afterward the NoHlmmjyto^i 
left Liverpool, bound in the same direction, with between 
three and four hundred Irish. She had sickness on board 
during the voyage, and some deaths. The Augusta had 
none. "While these were on their way, the bark Siri^ in the 
port of Kio de Janeiro, lost her captain and several of her 
crew by vellow fever, and afterward sailed for New Orleans. 
The ship Camhoden C\7«^Z^ cleared fi*om Kingston, Jamaica, 
for the same port, leaving seven of her crew dead of the 
fever. On the 9th of May, the NoHliamiyton and the Siri 


aiTived in the Mississippi. The NoHhanvpton was towed 
to the citj' alone, and on the 10th was moored at a wharf in 
the Fourth District, at the head of Josephine Street. The 
Siri M'as towed up in company with another vessel, the 
Haxon. She was dropped at a wharf in the First District. 
The Saxon moved on and rested sojne distance away, at 
a wharf opposite the waterworks reservoir, in front of 
Market Street. The N'orthampton was found to be very 
foul. Ilands sent aboard to unload and clean her left on 
the next day, believing they had detected " black vomit " 
in her hospital. One of them fell sick of yellow fever 
three days af tei', but recovered. A second force was em- 
ployed ; several became ill ; tliis was on the 17th. On 
the same day, the Augusta and the Camhoden Castle en- 
tered the harbor in the same tow. The Cavihoden CastU 
was moored alongside the Saxon. At the next wharf, 
two or three hundred feet below, laj'^ abreast the Niagara 
and the Harvest Queen. The Augusta passed on up and 
cast off her tow-lines only when she was moored close to 
the Northamjyton. The emigrants went ashore. Fi\'e 
thousand landed in Xew Orleans that vear. Tiere, then, 
was every condition necessary to the outbrenk of a pesti- 
lence, whether indigenous, imported, or both. 

On the same day that the fever broke out on theA^/'M- 
ampton it appeared also on the Augusta. About the 
same time it showed itself in one or two distant parts of 
the city without discernible connection Mith the shipping. 
On the 29th. it appeared on the JTarvcst Queen, and, five 


days later, on the Saxon. The Niagara had put to sea ; 
but, on the 8th, the fever broke out on her and carried off 
the captain and a number of the crew. Two fatal cases 
in the town the attending physician reported under a 
disguised term, " not wishing to create alarm." Such was 
the inside, hidden history of tlie Great Epidemic's begin- 

On the 27th of Ma\', one of the emigrants from the 
Nortlumvpton was brought to the charity hospital. He 
had been four days ill, and he died the next day, of yel- 
low fever. The Board of Health made official report of 
the case; but the daily papers omitted to publish it. 
Other ]-eports followed in June ; they were shunned in 
the same wav, and the m-eat citv, with its one hundred 
and fifty-four thousand people, one in every ten of whom 
was to die that year, remained in slumberous ignorance 
of the truth. It was one of the f asliions. On the 2d of 
July, twenty-five deaths from yellow fever were reported 
for the closinoj week. Manv "fever centres" had been 
developed. Three or four of them pointed, for their ori- 
gui, straight back to the JS'orthaniptou / one to the Au- 
gicsta^ and one to the Saxon, 

A season of frequent heavy rains, alternating with hot 
suns and calms — the M'orst of conditions — set in. At the 
end of the next week, fifty-nine deaths were reported. 
There had not been less, certainly, than three hundred cases, 
and the newspapers slowly and one by one began to ad- 
mit the presence of danger. But the truth was already 


guessed, and alarm and dismay lurked everywhere. Kot 
in eveiy breast, however ; there were still those who 
looked about with rather impatient surprise, and— often 
in Creole accent, and often not — begged to be told what 
was the matter. The deaths around them, they insisted, 
in print, were at that moment "fewer in number than in 
any other city of similar population in the Union." 

Indeed, the fever was still only prowling distantly in 
those regions most shunned by decent feet and clean robes ; 
about Itousseau Street, and the like, along the Fourtli 
District river-front, where the forlorner German inuni- 
gi'ants boarded in damp and miry squalor ; in the places 
where such little crowded living as there was in the town 
was fi:athered ; l^^-nch's Kow and other blocks and courts 
in the filthy Irish quarters of St. Thomas and Tchoupi- 
toulas streets ; and the foul, dark dens about the French 
market and the Mint, in the old French quarter ; among 
the Gascon vacheries and houcheru^j of repulsive unclean- 
ness, on the upper and rear borders of the Fourth Dis- 
tj'ict : and around Gormlev's Basin — a small artificial har- 
Lor at the intersection of Dryades Walk and Felicity Road, 
for the wood-cutters and shingle-makers of the swamp, 
and ^' a pestilential muck-and-mire })ool of dead animals 

and filth of everv kind." 


But suddenly the contagion leaped into the midst of 
the people. In the single week ending July 16th, two 
hundred and four persons were cari'ied to the cemeteries. 
X panic seized the town. Everywhere porters were toss- 


ing trunks into wagons, carriages rattling over the stones 
and whii'ling out across the broad white levee to the 
steamboats' sides. Foot-passengers were hurrying along 
the sidewalk, luggage and children in hand, and out of 
breath, many a one with the plague already in his pulse. 
The fleeing crowd was numbered by thousands. 

During the following week, the charity hospital alone 
received from sixty to one hundred patients a day. Its 
floors were covered with the sick. From the 16th to the 
23d, the deaths averaged sixty-one a day. Presently, the 
average ran up to seventy-nine. The rains continued, with 
much lightning and thunder. The weather became tropi- 
cal : the sun was scorchinsj hot and the shade chillv. The 
streets became heavy Avith mud, the air stifling with bad 
odors, and the whole town a perfect Constantinople for 

August came on. The week ending the Gth showed one 
hundi-ed and eighty-seven deaths from other diseases, an 
enormous death-rate, to which the fever added nine hun- 
dred and fortv-seven victims. For a week, the deaths in 
the charity hospital — where the poor immigrants lay — ^had 
been one every half hour. 

The next day two hundred and twenty-eight persons 
died. The pestilence had attacked the Creoles and the 
blacks. In every direction were confusion, fright, flight, 
calls for aid, the good " Howards " hurrying from door to 
door, widows and orphans weeping, till the city was, as an 
eye-witness says, a " theatre of horrors." 



"Alas,'' cried one of tlic city journals, 'mvo have not 
even grave-diggers!'' Five dollars an hour failed to hire 
enough of them. Some of the dead went to the tomb 
still with pomp and martial honors ; but the city scaven- 
gers, too, with theu' carts, went knocking from house to 
house asking if there M'ere anv to Ijc biu-ied. Lone; rows 
of coffins were laid in furrows scarce two feet deep, and 
hurriecllj' covered with a few shovclfnlls of earth, which 
the daily rains washed away, and the whole mass was 
left, "filling the air far and near with the most intolerable 
pestilential odors.'' A]*ound the grave-\ards funeral trains 
jostled and quarrelled foj- place, in an air reeking with 
the effluvia of the earlier dead. Many " fell to work and 
buried their own dead.'' Manv sick died in carria<res and 
carts. Many were found dead i)i their beds, in stores, in 
the streets. Yice and crime broke out tiercely : tlie police 
were never so bus v. Heroism, too, was seen on every 
hand. Hundreds toiled for the comfort of sick and dvin<r, 
and hundreds fell victims to their own noble self-abnesra- 

tion. Fortv-fi\'e distant cities and towns sent relief. 


On one dav, the 11 th of Auirust, two hmidred and three 
persons died of the fever. In the week ending two days 
later, the total deaths were fourteen hundred and ninetv- 
four. Eain fell everv dav for two months. Streets be- 
came so bad that hearses could scarcely reach the cem- 
eteries. On the 20th, the week's mortality was fifteen 
hundred and thirtv-four. 

Despair now seemed the only reasonable frame of mind. 


In the sky above, eveiy new day brought the same merci- 
less conditions of atmosphere. The earth below bubbled 
with poisonous gases. Those who M-ould still have fled 
the scene saw no escape. To leave by ship was to court 
the overtaking stroke of the plague beyond the reach of 
medical aid, and probably to find a grave in the sea ; while 
to escape to inland towns was to throw one*s self into the 
arms of the pestilence, carried there by earlier fugitives. 
The numbers of the dead give but an imperfect idea of 
the wide-spread suffering and anguish. The disease is re- 
pulsive and treacherous, and requires the most unremit- 
ting and laborious attention. Its fatal ending is inexpres- 
sibly terrible, often attended with raving madness. Among 
the Creoles of the old French quarter, a smaller proportion 
than one in each eleven suffered attack. But in the Fourth 
District, where the imacclimated M'ere most numerous, 
there were whole wards where more than half the popula- 
tion had to take their chances of life and death from the 
dreadful contagion. In the little town of Algiers, just 
opposite the city, a thirty-sixth of all its j^eople died in 
one week. 

On the 22d dav of Ausiist, the climax was at last 
reached. Death struck that day, from midnight to mid- 
nisrht, a fresh victim everv five minutes, and two hundred 
and eighty-three deaths summed up an official record that 
was confessedly incomplete. The next day, there were 
twenty-five less. The next, thirty-six less than this. 
Each day was better than the preceding. The crisis had 


passed. Hope rose into rejoicing. The 1st of September 
showed but one hundred and nineteen deaths, and the 
lOth but eighty. North winds and cool, dry weather set 
in. On the 20th, there were but forty-nine deaths ; on 
the 30th, only sixteen. In some of the inland to\nis it was 
still raging, and so continued until the middle of October. 

In the cemeteries of Xew Orleans, between the 1st of 
June and the 1st of October, nearly eleven thousand per- 
sons were buried. To these must be added the manv 
buried without certificate, the hundreds who perished in 
their flight, and the multitudes who fell in the towns to 
which tlie pestilence was canied. It lingered through 
autumn, and disappeared only in December. During the 
year 1853 nearly thirty thousand residents of Xew Orleans 
were ill of the yellow fever, and there died, from all causes, 
nearlv sixteen thousand. 

In the next two summers, 185 J: and '55, the fever re- 
turned and destroyed more than five thousand persons. 
Cholera added seventeen hundred and fiftv. The two 
years' death-rates were seventy -two and seventy-three per 
thousand. That of 1853 was one hundred and eleven. 
In three years, thirty -seven thousand people had died, and 
wherever, by ordinary rate of moi'tality, there should have 
been one grave or sepulchre, there were four. One can 
but draw a sisjh of relief in the assui^ance that this is a 
history of the past, not the present, and that new condi- 
tions have made it next to impossible that it should ever 
be repeated in the future. 


" /~\UT of this nettle, danger," says the great hard, " we 
^"^ pluck this flower, safetj'." The dreadful scoiirg© 
of 1853 roused the people of Xew Orleans, for the fli-st 
time, to the necessity of knowing the pi-oven trutli con- 
cerning thenieelves and the city in which they dwelt. 

In the midst of the epidemic, the city council had ad- 
journed, and a number of its members had fled. But, in 
response to popular demand, a board of health had ap- 
pointed the foremost advocates of quarantine and muni- 
cipal ideansing a commission to study and i-eport the met- 


anelioly lessons of the plague. It labored arduously for 
many jnonths. ^Vt its head was that mayor of Xe\r Or- 
leans, Grossman by name, whose fame for wise and pro- 
tracted nile is still a pleasant tradition of the city, and 
whose characteristic phrase — " a great deal to be said on 
both sides '• — remains the most frequent quotation on the 
lil)S of the common people to-day. Doctors TJarton, Ax- 
son, McXcil, Symonds, and lliddell, — men at the head of 
the medical profession, — completed the body. They were 
bold and faithful, and they effected a revolution. 

The thinking and unbiased few, who in all communities 
must first receive and fi'uctifv the irerm of truth, were 
convijiced. The technical questic»n of the fever's conta- 
giousness reniai]ied unsettled ; but its transportability was 
fearfully proven in a multitude of interior towns, and its 
alacrit)' in seeking foul quartei's and its malignancy there 
were plainly shown bv its historv in the citv. The coinmis- 
sion pronounced i]i favor of < .uaj*antine, and it was perma- 
nently established, and has ever since become, annually, 
mo]'e and more effective. They earnestly recommended, 
also, the purging of the city, and keeping it purged, by 
proper drainage and se^verage, of all those foul conditions 
that were daily poisoning its eartli and air. The response 
\ this was extremely feeble. 

Tt would seem as if the commercial value both of quar- 
iintine and cleanliness mio:ht have been seen bv the mer- 
chant, since the aggregate value of exports, imports, and 
domestic receipts fell oif twenty-two and a half millions, 


and did not entirely recover for three years. But it was 
not. The merchants, both Creole and American, saw only 
the momentary inconveniences and losses of quarantine 
and its defective beginnings ; the daily press, in bondage 
to the merchant through its advertising columns, carped 
and cavilled in two languages at the innovation and ex- 
panded on the filthiness of other cities, while the general 
public thought what they read. 

Yet, in the face of all set-backs, the city that once was 
almost annually scourged, has, in the twenty-seven years 
since the Great Epidemic, which virtually lasted till 1S55, 
suflFei'ed but one mild and three severe epidemics. In 
1878, occurred the last of these, and the only severe one 
in fourteen years. Its fatality was but little over half as 
great as that of the Great Epidemic. In the five years 
ending with 1855, the average annual mortality had been 
seventy. In the next five, it fell to forty-five. In the 
five of the secession and war period, it was forty. In the 
next, it was thirty-nine ; in the next, it sank to thirty-four 
and a half ; in that which closed in 1880, notwithstand- 
ing the terrible epidemic of 18TS, the rate was but thirty- 
three and a half, and in the five years since that affliction 
it was under twenty- seven. 

The popular idea that a sudden revolution in the sani- 
tary affairs of the Creole city was effected by Genei-al B. F. 
Butler in 1862 is erroneous. It has just been shown that 
the city's health had already been gi'eatly improved before 

the Civil War set in. Whien General Butler assumed 


control of its affairs tliere had been no epidemic of yellow 
fever for four yeai's. Tlie jear of his domination was 
actually less healthy than the year before, its death-rate 
being thirty-six, against thirtj'-four for IvSGl. In the sec- 
ond summer of Federal occupation the 3*ate was an entire 
third larger than in the summer before the city fell. Xo 
five years since tlie close of the war, dividing the time off 
in regular periods of that length, has failed thus far to 
show a better mortality-rate than that live which ended 
with 18()5 ; and in ten of the eighteen years immediately 
follo\\'in£: that of Butler's notorious rule, the mortalitv has 
been ]i<j:hter than it was that vear. The mortalitv of 1S79 
was under twenty-four, and that of ISSO, twenty-six per 

The events of ISTS are fresh in the public mind. In 
Xew Orleans they overwhelmed the people at large with 
the convictions which 1S53 had impressed upon the more 
thoughtful few. To the merchant, '* shot-gun quarantines'' 
throughout the Southern Mississippi Yalley explained 
themselves. The commercial necessity of quarantine and 
sanitatioii was established without a sinjrle scientific liirht, 
and measures were taken in hand foi* perfecting both — 
measures which are growing and bearing fruit day by day. 
Thev have alreadv reduced the insalubrity* of Xew Or- 
leans to a point whei*e it may be compared, though timidly, 
with that of other great cities, and promise before long to 
make the city, really and emphatically, the home of health, 
comfort, and safetv. 


In the study of liis expanded city, we have wandered 
from the contemplation of the Creole himself. It remains 
to he said that, unquestionably, as his town has expanded 
and improved, so has he. As the improvements of the 
age draw the great world nearer and nearer to him, he 
becomes more and more open to cosmopolitan feeling. 
The hostility to Americans, as such, is little felt. The 
French tongue is falling into comparative disuse, even in 
the family circle. The local boundaries are overstepped. 
He lives above Canal Street now without feeling exiled. 
The social circles blend into each other. Sometimes, with 
the old Gallic intrepidity of conviction, he moves ahead 
of the American in progressive thought. 

In these matters of sanitary reform, he has his share — 
or part of it. The old feeling of castellated immunity in 
his own high-fenced home often resents, in sentiment at 
least, official house-to-hoiise inspection and the disturbance 
of a state of aff au'S under which his father and grandfather 
reached a good old age and left no end of children. Yet 
the movement in general has his assent ; sometmies his 
co-operation ; sometimes his subscription ; and his doctors 
take part in debates and experiments. He is in favor of 
all this healthful flushing ; this deepening and curbing of 
canals ; this gratuitous and universal distribution of cop- 
peras, etc. Against one feature only he wages open war. 
He laughs, but he is in earnest ; copperas, he tolerates ; 
lime, the same ; all odorless disinfectants, indeed ; but 
carbolic acid — ^no ! In Gallic fierceness, he hmis a nick- 


name at it — '^acide diaholique.^^ When lie smells it, he 
loads his gun and points it through his shutters. You 
shall never sprinkle him with that stufE — never! And 
who knows but he is nearest to the right ? 

On his sugar plantations, in the parishes named for the 
saints, he has grown broad and robust — a strong, manly 
figure in neat, spuiTed boots, a refined blood flushing 
through his bronzed but delicate skin, making him at 
times even florid. He is not so mortsrafijed as he used to 
be. Yankee neighbors have dropped in all about him 
lately, as they did in earlier days about his city cousins ; 
some from the eastern, some from the Avestern ^North — he 
calls them all by one generic term. But he likes them. 
They are preferable to " Cadians -' — much. They stimu- 
late him. lie is not so wedded to " open kettle " sugars 
as he once was. He is jDutting '• vacuum pans " into his 
sugar-house — nay, did not the Creole, Valcour-^Vime, in- 
troduce the vacuum pan into Louisiana ? — and studies chem- 
istry till he beats his breast in the wholeness of his atten- 
tion. Yet he is full, too, of the questions of the day. The 
candor with which he grasps the new turn of affairs re- 
sulting from the Civil AVar is worthy of imitation by 
many an Anglo-American Southern community. He is apt 
to say he never did believe heartily in African slavery and 
now he knows it was a sad mistake. Tlie cruel senti- 
ments of caste that sprang from it still survive, but they 
burn with no fierceness. They cannot easily perish, for 
they have been handed down through generations. They 


are like those old bi-onze Argands, once so highly prized, 
still Btanding, rayless, ou his mantelpiece; lamps without 
oil. You may still see Congo Square, where the slave 
once danced his savage African Bongs in tattered half- 

ratedness on Sabbath afternoons ; but the thunder of 
African drums rumbles there no more, and the Creole and 
the freedman are alike well pleased that "the jig is up." 
The Calaboza remains, buti,the ironi? that once burnt the 
flowcr-de-liice into the recaptured runaway's slioiUder, and 



the four whipping-posts to which the recalcitrant slave 
was once made fast by hands and feet, are gone, and the 
Creole is glad of it. He is willing to be just to his former 
bondservant, now fellow-citizen, and where he holds the 
old unjust attitudes does so with little consciousness. The 
old Gallic intrepidity of thought comes to his aid, and is 
helping him out of the fiercely extreme conservatism en- 
gendered by an institution that could not afford to enter- 
ic tain suggestions of change. There is no other part of 
: Louisiana where the slave has made so much progress, as a 
mass, toward the full possession of freedom as he has in the 
" sugar parishes." The colored man's history in the land of 
the Creoles we cannot write here. It would throw light upon 

^ our theme, but some other time. It is a theme by itself, 

too large to be hung upon this. Later, the Creole himself 
will be more prepared for it. Meantime he quotes the 
New York papers, and tells you frankly that he only wishes 
he could be rid of North Louisiana — where the " Ameri- 
can " planter reigns supreme — it is so behind the times. 

When he is not so he is very different. In such case he 
bows his head to fate. His fences are broken ; his levee 
is dangerous ; the plastering is falling in his parlor ; his 
garden has become a wild, damp grove, weed-grown and 
untrodden ; his sugar is dark, his thin linen coat is home- 
made ; he has transferred his hopes to rice and made hid 
home sickly with irrigation ; he doesn't care who you are, 
and will not sell a foot of his land — no, not for price that 
man can name ! — till the red flag hangs out for him on 


'iJK^*' tS 



^^A '"Wmm 





• I Court— Royal Stiaa 


the courthouse square and the man with one drumstick 
drums him out of house and home. 
\^ In New Orleans, sad shrinkages in the value of down- 
town property have played havoc with the old Creole 
rentier. Court officers and lawyers are full of after-dinner -. 
stories illustrating the pathetic romance of his fate. He J 
keeps at home, on the front veranda. His wife and daugh- 
ter take in sewing and make orange marmalade and fig 
preserves on small private contracts. His son is a lounger 
in the court-rooms. The young man buttons his worn coat 
tightly about his small waist, walks with a brisk affectation 
of being pressed for time, stops you silently in Royal Street 
or Pere Antoine's Alley, on the stairway of the old Cabildo, 
to light his cigarette from your cigar — symbolic action, al- 
ways lighting his cigarette from somebody's cigar — gives 
you a silent, call-it-square sort of bow as full of grace as a 
Bourbon prince's, and hurries on, hoping soon to become 
fifth assistant to some deputy sheriff or public surveyor, 
or, if he have influential relatives, runner for a bank. He 
" plays the lottery," that curse of his town. 

"Well, of co'se," he says, blowing the tobacco smoke 
through his nose, " thaz the way with evveybody, those 
time' — sinz ladely." Really he would ask you around to 
" The Gem," but— his poor, flat pocket ! nothing in it but 
his " memo'andum book," and not even a " memo'andum " 
in that. 

But he has kinsmen, in goodly number, who blush for 
him ; he will tell you so with a sti'ange mixture of pride 



and hnmility ; sn<j who are an honor and a cx>mfort to their 
beloved city. They sit on the most important committeee 
in the great Cotton Exchange, and in the Produce £x- 

Old SpiniiK Qiltwiy *im) SUi. 

change, and in reform movements. They are cashiers 
and vice-presidents and presidents of street railway com- 
panies, of insurance companies, of banks. They stand in 
the front ranks at the bar. They gain fame and rever- 


ence on the bench. They have held eveiy office witliin 
the gift of tlie State. And they have been great beyond 
their own boundaries — out in the great world. A Louisi- 
ana Creole was once, for a short time, Minister of War in 
France, under the Directory. Another sat in the Spanish 
Cortes. Another became a Spanish Lieutenant-General. 
Another was a general of patriot forces when the South 
American provinces threw off the yoke of Spain. Jean 
Jacques Audubon was a Creole of Louisiana. Louis Gotts- 
chalk was a Kew Orleans Creole. General Beaiu-egard 
is a Creole of an old Creole line. 

They are not "dying out." Why should they ? " Doze 

climade sood dem " better than it suits any alien who has 


ever tried the drowsy superabundance of its suimner sun- 
light, and they are becoming ever more and more worthy 
to survive. Their pride grows less fierce, their courage is 
no weaker for it, their courtesy is more cordial, they are 
more willing to understand and be understood, and their 
tastes for moral and intellectual refinements are srrowino;. 

Even in their headlong gayeties — the spectacular pa- 
geants of the carnival — they have stricken hands with the 
" American," borrowed his largeness of pretension and the 
barbaric ambition of the South' s retarded artistic impulse. 
The unorganized rout of masks peculiar to the old Latin 
cities has been turned into gorgeous, not to say gaudy, 
tableaux drawn through the streets under the glare of 
blazing petroleum and frequent lime-lights, on tinselled 
cars, by draped teams, to the blare of brass music and the 


3'oar of popular acclamation, in representation of one or 
another of the world's great myths, epics, or episodes. 
Many thousands of people are drawn from contiguous or 
distant parts, with the approach of each Mardi-gras, to see 
— may the good town forgive the term — these striding 
puerilities. Some come to gaze in wonder on these mira- 
cles in jxipier-macM and plaster-of-Paris, and some, it is 
feared, to smile behind their hats at make-believe art, 
frivolous taste, and short-sighted outlay. The expenditure 
of time, money, and labor on these affairs is gi'eat — 
worthy of more lasting achievements. One Carnival day 
and night some years ago the crowds were more enormous 
than ever, the displays were goi'geous, the whole city was 
one wide revel. All through the hours of a glorious day 
the long, dazzling procession passed with their jewelled king 
sparkling in their midst, in street-full after sti'eet-full of 
multitudes that made the warm air quiver with acclama- 
tions. Xight fell, and Comus and his Ivi*ewe came forth 
in a blaze of torches and made everything seem tame that 
had gone before ; and when at midnight, with the tinkle of 
a little bell, all disappeared, the people said that thei'e had 
never been such a carnival. But when the sun rose again 
they prayed there might never be just such another. For on 
his nciijlected couch, sought too tardilv, the victim of over- 
fatigue, the royal Comus, lay dead. The "American," 
as well as the Creole, owns an imdividcd half of this folly, 
and the Creole, as well as the "American," is beginning 
to deprecate it. Already better aspirations are distinctly 


shown, and the city's efforts are reaching forth in many 
directions to adorn herself with attractions that do not 
vanish at cockcrow, bnt, inviting the stranger to become a 
visitor, also tempt him to remain, a resident. 

We have said that the air which the Creole breathes 
with unvarying satisfaction and exhales in praises of its 
superior merits is never very hot or very cold, by the mer- 
cuiy. Even in July and August the column lingei's, for 
the ]nost part, under 95°, and in mid-winter seldom sinks 
more than four or five degrees below the freezing-point. 
But since it is the evaporation from the surrounding 
swamps, marshes, and other shallow^ waters that makes this 
moderation, the effects upon the person are those of de- 
cidedly greater extremes of heat and cold. Yet the long and 
dazzlingly beautiful summers are generally salubrious, and 
it would be difficult to exaggerate the channs of the exu- 
berant spring wdiich sets in before January is gone, and 
rises gently in fervor until May ushers in the summer. 
As to the summer, it goes, unwillingly, in November. 

Its languid airs have induced in the Creole's speech 
great softness of utterance. The relaxed energies of a 
luxurious climate find publication, as it were, when he 
turns final Jc into g ; changes th^ and t w^hen not initial, to 
d ; final jL» to J, drops initial ^, final fe, and t after k; 
often, also, the final d of past tenses ; omits or distorts his 
/•, and makes a languorous z of all ^'s and soft c'S except 
initials. On the other hand, the old Gallic alertness and 
wu'e-edge still asserts itself in the confusing and inter- 


changing- of long e and slioi-t i — sheep for ship, and ship 
for sheep— in tlie flattening of long t, as if it were coming 
through cane-cnishei'S, in the prolonging of long or, the 
intrusion of uncalled-for initial A's, and the shortening and 
narrowing of nearly all long and broad vowels. 

The African slave in Louisiana — or, it may be more 
correct to say, in St. Domingo, before coming to Louisi- 
ana — corrupted the French tongue as grossly, or even 
more so, than he did the English in the rice plantations of 
South Carolina. Xo knowledge of scholarly French is a 
guarantee that the stranger will understand the " Creole '' 
negro's gonibo. To the Creole sang pur this dialect is an 
inexhaustible fountain of amusement. Li the rural par- 
ishes the ha]'sh archaisms of the Acadian perform the 
same office and divide the Creole-s attention. But in '• the 
City '' they Acadian dialect is hardl known, and for a cen- 
tury or more the juelodious drollery and grotesqueness of 
tlie MQ^o patois has made it the favorite vehicle of humor- 
ous song and satirical prose and verse.' 

' In Le Carillon, *' Journal Holxlomadaire, organo clos iiopulation?* 
Franco-Loui-iiauaises, Bureaux, 125 Buc Royale," ajipeared in 1ST4 a 
series of wittv i^olitical lampoons, from one of which a few lines mar In? 
drawn h}- way of illusti-ation. 

j\rich6 CarUlon, 

Y a qucqnes jours mo te ape fouille mo champ pislaches, et rous ra 
connin, y a rien comme fouille pistaches pour gaguin zidces. Et jour- 
la mo te plein zide'os. 3^Io te lire bo matin la que nous to w^ couri 
gagnin cine nouvelle election, el mo coiUr to batte si fort ^ nouvelle-lA 
cj ue mo t6 bo Man Cribiche quatre f ois et Man 3Iagritte trois f ois, eu 


It would make a long chapter to untangle its confused 
mass of abbreviations, suppressions of inflections, liasons^ 
nazalizations, omissions, inversions, startling redundancies, 
and original idioms. The Creole does not tolerate its use 
in polite conversation, and he is probably seldom aware 
that his English sparkles and crackles with the same 
pretty conniptions. For example, or as the Creole himself 
would say, "faw egzamp," let us take the liberty of in- 
venting a sentence and setting it in his lips : 

" I am going to do my utmost to take my uncle there, 
but he is slightly paralyzed and I do not think he ^vill feel 
like going." He would say — 

" I goin' do my possib' fedge ma hunc' yond', bud, 
'owevva, 'e's a lit' bit pa'aZy^d an' I thing 'e don' goin' fill 

Examples need not be multiplied. One innocent asser- 
tion that found its way to a page of the present writer s 
scanty notes from the lips of a Creole country physician 
will stand for a hundred. The doctor, like manv of his 
race, would have known at once that the foregoing illustra- 
tion was bad English ; but he is not aware, to this day, 
that there was any inaccuracy in his own simple assertion : 

m'^criant: "Oh! nies femmes! mes epoiises I voiis va zetes bientot 
p6tete Lietnantes-Gouverneuses." 

Jour-la, yd td oule fait saiil4 Mechanic's avec tous so mecaniques, yd to 
pas capabe counin ou Antoudne td passe, re troiivc li, lendemain matin, 
11 16 attachd .ipres so maiUet et 11 te ape dit : ** O reiue Voudoux, saurez 
le Lidtnaut-Gouveruair, — " etc. 


" I've jiiz been pulling some teeth to your neighbor." 
There are reasons — who can deny it ? — why we should 
be glad that the schoolmaster is abroad in Louisiana, 
teaching English. But the danger is, that somewhere in 
the future lurks a day when tlie Ci*eole will leave these 
loveable drolleries behind him, and speak our tx^ngue with 
the same dull correctness with whicli it is delivei-ed in the 
British House of Lords. May ho live long, and that time 
be very, very far away ! 


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