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Louisiana Anthology

John Smith Kendall.
“History of New Orleans.”

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Chapter IV
Establishment of the Municipal Government

Within less than one hundred years Louisiana had passed through six changes of government. Originally governed directly by the crown, Louis XIV had put it, in 1712, in the hands of Antoine Crozat. In 1717 it had been transferred from Crozat to the Compagnie de l'Occident. The Company ceded it in 1731 back to the Government of France. Spain acquired the country in 1762. In 1801 the king of Spain had relinquished the province to France and now France had sold all of its rights in this vast and fertile domain to the United States.

At the time of the cession, New Orleans had been for thirty-four years under Spanish control. During the early part of this long period, its interests had been neglected, and its progress had been slow. Onzaga, for instance, admitted that, during the first four years, the population had not increased. The increment by birth had been offset by the loss through emigration. But better times followed. The governmental policies underwent certain relaxations; commerce revived, and by 1785 an official census revealed within the walls of New Orleans 4,980 persons, while by 1788 this number grew to 5,338. There was an increase in the first sixteen years of Spanish control of 56 percent , or, in the nineteen years, of 57 percent . Immigration was not encouraged. The growth of the population was due to natural causes. With the exception of some agriculturalists from Malaga, the Canaries, and Nova Scotia; and the American immigration which Spain at first impeded and then fostered, there were very few imported additions to the total number of inhabitants. In 1778, when Galvez required all the English-speaking residents to take an oath of fidelity to Spain, there were but 170 persons affected by his order. The British traders whom O'Reilly had expelled in 1769 gradually returned to the city, or were replaced by others. The trade concessions of 1782 brought to the city some French merchants; their number was augmented a few years later when the French Revolution compelled the Royalists to seek refuge in foreign lands; a respectable contingent sought the shores of the Mississippi. Some Germans and some Italians established themselves, as they naturally would do, in a seaport. The slave-revolt in Santo Domingo in 1791 drove many refugees into New Orleans, amongst whom were the members of the first theatrical troupe that ever played in Louisiana. Nevertheless, the population remained essentially Creole. Outside of official circles there were few Spaniards, and a number of them were identified with the dominant element through marriage.

At the beginning of the nineteenth century New Orleans was reckoned one of the most important of North American seaports. In 1802, 158 American, 104 Spanish, and 3 French vessels — a total of 265 — with an aggregate tonnage of 31,241, sailed from the harbor. In the following year the import tonnage showed an increase of from 35 to 37 percent . Already, along the river-bank just above the city, "within ten steps of Tchoupitoulas Street," the fleets of flatboats and barges from the upper part of the Mississippi Valley were finding a convenient mooring place. In front of the town, near the Place d'Armes, lay the shipping, often twenty or more vessels at a time, made fast to the bank, where "they received and discharged with the same ease as from a wharf." The small tonnage of the individual vessels, and the depth of water made this possible. Below the Place d'Armes was the anchorage of war vessels, visits from which were not frequent.

The town had already outgrown its original boundaries. It is estimated that there were from 1,200 to 1,400 separate premises, or about 4,000 roofs of one sort and another. Some of the larger buildings were substantially constructed of brick and roofed with slate. Those on the three or four streets nearest the river were sometimes two or even two and a half stories in height. Those farther back were usually one story high, of wood, roofed with shingles, and often elevated on wooden pillars from eight to fifteen feet above the ground. The homes of the poor were scattered in all parts of the city, but especially on the rear streets. Even among the most prosperous classes there were many whose domiciles were small and rude. In the center of the river-front rose the unfinished cathedral, flanked on the upper side by the arcaded front of the Principal, where the Cabildo had held its stately convocations; and on the lower side by a widespreading wooden building occupied by the priests attached to the cathedral. On either side of the Place d'Armes ran two long rows of one-story buildings, containing the principal retail stores of the town. The Government House, the Barracks, the hospital, the home of the Ursuline nuns, and a few other buildings survived here and there from the first French regime. The streets were straight and tolerably wide, but none of them were paved. In bad weather they were often impassable to vehicles. There were few sidewalks; such as existed were made of wooden planks pegged down to the earth, except in the heart of the town, where there were some narrow brick "banquettes." The streets were not lighted. At night it was a difficult operation to find one's way about. All the refuse of the city found its way into the gutters, which were filthy and emitted an unspeakable stench. Business was concentrated largely on Toulouse, St. Peter, Conti, St. Louis, Royal and Chartres streets along the levee. The French were for the most part content to invest their savings in real estate. They were the proprietors of the retail establishments. They lent money — often at one or two percent per month. The Spanish, who, except for those in Government employ, were mainly Catalans, kept the lesser shops and the cheap drinking places which infested all parts of the town. The wholesale business, in fact, almost all the larger commercial establishments of every description, were in the hands of Americans, English and Irish. In society and politics, however, the conditions were reversed. There the Creole was dominant. Creoles held many important governmental employments; they sought commissions in the military forces; they influenced very largely the government of the city.

Around the "Old Square" — the Vieux Carré — as the original city was called — stretched a line of marshy, grass-covered mounds and fosses — all that remained of the fortifications erected by old Spanish governors, and long since fallen to ruin. Just beyond the tiny Fort St. Ferdinand, which was still maintained in tolerable repair, lay the Carondelet basin, with the canal of that name stretching away through the tropical greenery towards Bayou St. John. Both basin and canal had been neglected for years, and were now so shoal that only small craft could use them. Larger vessels coming in with cattle and farm produce from East and West Florida, as they were then called, could approach the city no nearer than the suburban town of St. Johnsburg, on the bayou. The number of vessels arriving at these points in 1802 was 500. They were mainly of small size, the largest of 50 tons, the majority well under that figure.

The moral condition was not good. An intelligent French traveler who visited New Orleans at this time has left a lurid picture of the idle, luxurious, dissipated life which he found in the city. Gambling was the almost universal vice of the men. At the numerous games of chance ship agents, ship-masters, planters, travelers, and the leisured classes generally wagered their entire available funds, and, losing, fell into the hands of a hoard of money lenders who infested the city. The presence in the community of a large class of quadroon women was another undesirable feature. The balls at which these attractive, unprincipled persons figured were already notorious. The respectable white women, on the other hand, had few opportunities for social and mental development. Their lives were passed in a monotonous round of household duties, which left them little material for conversation. There was, moreover in all classes, a singular indifference to law and order. The clergy had little influence over their parishioners insofar as the regulation of their daily conduct was concerned. Education was neglected. Aside from the benefits of travel in Europe, which were reserved for the wealthier classes, the opportunities for improvement were few and not much valued. Smuggling was so generally practiced as to be regarded almost as a profession.

Such, then, in a few of its most striking aspects, was the community which now passed under the control of the United States.

The sentimental regret with which the Creoles had seen the tri-color lowered at the Place d'Armes on the 30th of November, was soon intensified by a variety of circumstances, due to differences of language, usages and habits, as well as to the insolence of some of the American patrols towards the inhabitants. The discretion and firmness of the new governor easily repressed the outward manifestations of this irritation, but he could not immediately change the thoughts and feelings which prompted them. These antagonisms were artfully stimulated by intriguing French and Spanish officials, who lingered in the city for several months, after the cession had put an end to their employments. A captious, irritable spirit resulted, which vented itself in incessant complaints against the individuals who composed the Governor's official family, and especially against the Governor. The starting point of this opposition was probably a fear that annexation to the United States meant the suppression of the slave trade. That trade was "all important to the very existence of the country," as a protesting delegation represented to Congress. It was secretly but persistently carried on through Lakes Borgne, Maurepas and Pontchartrain, and through scores of inlets in the labyrinthine coastline of the gulf, where the channels were indistinguishable from the marshes, and where enterprising but unscrupulous smugglers and buccaneers, like the Lafittes, might easily elude pursuit. Nor were the people pleased to see some of the old Spanish grants nullified, and all titles subjected to official re-inspection.

W. C. C. Claiborne,

First American Governor of Louisiana

From a painting

in the Louisiana State Museum

In part the situation had been prepared in advance of the arrival of the American commissioners by the quarrels that had arisen between Laussat and the Spanish governor Salcedo, and between Laussat and Casa Calvo. As has already been said, these disputes had marshalled the populace into two camps. The long delay which preceded the surrender of the city into Laussat's hands had helped also to irritate the public mind. Now Claiborne was appointed governor of Louisiana with all the powers possessed by both the governor and the Intendant of former times. In other words, he was made the absolute ruler of the land, uniting in himself all executive, judicial and legislative authority — a range and variety of power probably never before or since confided to a single American citizen. His tenure of this despotic power was brief, but, even so, it would have been better had it been still further curtailed. Probably Claiborne's task would have been greatly simplified had Congress immediately created some sort of temporary legislative and judicial authority, some council, or chamber, composed of the best informed men in the city and delegated a part of the governor's too extensive powers to it. Certainly this course would have tended to conciliate the Creoles. Claiborne would himself have made some such arrangement, had he possessed the power.

Laussat, like all revolutionary spirits, was more eager to destroy than to create. With the exception of the new "municipality," he failed to organize new tribunals to replace the Spanish judicial institutions which he suppressed. Yet such were imperatively necessary if the ordinary business of life was to be carried on. Claiborne was compelled to supply the need. He could not reinstitute the courts abolished by Laussat. To do so would have been instantly construed as siding with Casa Calvo and the Spanish faction. At that moment it was not clear that Spain would not dispute the cession of Louisiana to the United States. The Spanish king had registered a protest against the action of the first consul; his minister in Washington had notified the American Government that there existed certain defects in the instrument of alienation which impaired its validity — the chief of which was a solemn promise by France that the territory should never be parted with. It was therefore clearly impossible for Claiborne to allow himself for a moment to be confounded with the intriguing Spanish clique. Unfortunately, however, Claiborne had no specific instructions from the Washington Government as to the procedure to follow in the premises. In taking the course he finally adopted he was guided wholly by his own discretion. He found himself virtually the only person in the community invested with judicial power. The principal, provisional and ordinary alcaldes were all involved in Laussat's suppression of the Cabildo, and disappeared with that institution. Only the "alcaldes de barrio" remained and their usefulness was so limited as to be practically nil. Under the Spanish, the principal jurisdiction in law suits, had, as we have seen, been enjoyed by two "alcaldes," who were annually elected by the Cabildo and who, on election, became members of that body. The Cabildo itself possessed appellate jurisdiction in certain civil suits. The re-establishment of the Spanish tribunals would have necessitated the revival of the Cabildo and the suppression of the new municipality, which was out of the question.

There were other weighty considerations which had to be regarded also. Louisiana was destined to be admitted into the union of American States. Its government had to be assimilated to that of the other American commonwealths as rapidly as circumstances permitted. Claiborne realized that similarity of legal institutions constituted a strong bond of union throughout the United States as it already existed. The differences which had, in fact, existed between the legal customs of France and those of her colonial possessions during the time when Louisiana was under her control, had been deplored by the ablest French jurists and philosophers. It was recognized that these differences constituted a serious weakness in the organization of the colonial governments. If then, these anomalies had proven detrimental under amonarchical form of government, how much more so would they be in a federated community like that of the United States?

But, as a matter of fact, no defense is needed to justify Claiborne in setting up his Court of Pleas. This court was established on December 30, 1803. It consisted of seven justices. Their civil jurisdiction was limited to cases not exceeding $3,000 in value, with the right of appeal to the Governor when the amount in litigation rose above $500. Their criminal jurisdiction extended to all cases where the punishment did not exceed a fine of $200 or imprisonment of more than sixty days. Each individual justice was vested with summary jurisdiction over all cases involving $100 or less, but the parties at interest possessed the right to appeal in all cases to the court itself — that is to say, to the seven justices sitting en banc. This arrangement reserved to the governor original jurisdiction in all civil and criminal matters save as specifically conceded and also appellate jurisdiction over the new tribunal. It had, however, the very great merit of furnishing a method by which the government of the city could be carried on. Without it, the municipality, as constituted by Laussat and temporarily retained in office by Claiborne, was futile.

The Spanish laws were, on the whole, admirable, but the system of executing them was effete and corrupt. Their most objectionable feature was that the judge might hear, examine and decide in secret. Claiborne's new court brought all these operations out into the light; trial by jury was introduced and the judge was amenable to public opinion. But no act of his whole administration caused more dissension in New Orleans, brought upon the author more criticism, than the establishment of this court. No attention was paid to the fact that Claiborne only very reluctantly retained any judicial functions for himself. It was passionately asserted that justice could not be administered by a man who, like himself, had no knowledge of the two popular tongues — French and Spanish. As a matter of fact, Claiborne had at hand competent interpreters; and to the charge that these men did not always possess a thorough knowledge of the law, it may be answered that most of the cases which came before Claiborne were commercial, that the law on such matters is generally the same in all parts of the world, and that it was perfectly possible for him to decide equably without any special study, from his own general knowledge of the principles involved.

Casa Calvo, down to the date of his departure, early in 1806, worked persistently to estrange the people from the governor. Nor can we blame him altogether for this; since, if he really anticipated an effort by his Government to prevent the permanent acquisition of the Province by the United States, such was his duty, looking towards the possible military exigencies of the case. Every effort was made to discredit the Americans; the fact that Claiborne was constantly surrounded by his own countrymen was exploited to the utmost. It was alleged that he thrust as many of these into office as he could, ignoring the Creole population, though this, as we have seen, outnumbered the foreign element in the proportion of 12 to 1. This was an unjust criticism. Claiborne, if anything, favored the "antient population," as "Laelius" called it. Lewis Kerr, who was a citizen of the Mississippi Territory, was made sheriff on account of his special legal and general qualifications; but the clerk of the new court was Pierre Derbigny. Of four newly-appointed notaries only two were Americans. Offices of honor not involving profit were generally assigned to Creoles. All "civil commandants" but two or three, all of the officers of the militia, a majority of the municipal council, most of the judges of the Court of Pleas, and the larger number of the members of the Board of Health which Claiborne felt obliged to create — these were all "antient" Louisianans. Still another sore spot was the use of English in official business. This, said the critics, menaced "old Louisiana" with political annihilation. English was used exclusively in the custom house; the governor's official letters were written in that language, and it was used in his own court. But in the Court of Pleas French as well as English was officially recognized; in the proceedings of the municipality, French alone was used; and French was the medium in which the correspondence of most of the Louisiana magistrates with the new government was conducted. In reorganizing the militia, Claiborne retained the services of the Americans who had been enlisted by Laussat, but he distributed them through the four companies which he created and gave the command of the battalion to Major Dorci re, a Creole, whose language was French. Still another ground of criticism was the surreptitious immigration into Louisiana of undesirable persons, especially negroes from the French West Indies. Claiborne, as a matter of fact, did all in his power to prevent these unwelcome additions to the population. He ordered that all ships should be inspected at the Balize by the officer in command there; they were next detained at Fort Plaquemines [below New Orleans] till the commandant there was satisfied as to the propriety of permitting the resumption of the voyage; and finally, on arriving at New Orleans, no one was suffered to land until the vessel had been inspected by a committee of the Board of Health. In spite of these precautions, however, there was a steady infiltration of undesirable persons.

It is not to be denied that, on the other hand, something was done to justify the fear and distrust with which the Creoles regarded the new government. A writer in the "Gazette" in November, 1804, while on the whole defending Claiborne refers to the "indiscretion of all parties, their impudent writings and discourses, the contests about country dances. [. . .] An essay written merely to gratify the author's humor has been imputed to the governor of the province as a predetermined insult towards its inhabitants; a private quarrel between two gentlemen, one of them English and one of them French, has almost occasioned a riot." At night insurrectionary placards posted around the streets attracted crowds who resisted efforts to remove the incendiary publications. Duels were frequent; Governor Claiborne's own private secretary and brother-in-law was killed in one, in an attempt to refute a slander. In June and July three public meetings were held, at which prominent citizens joined in preparing a memorial to Congress asking to be speedily admitted to the Union, partly because of the commercial advantages which that would entail, but also because it seemed to offer a route by which the objectionable governor might be eliminated. In one instance the attempt of the sheriff and his posse to arrest a Spanish officer was prevented by the violent opposition of 200 men. Swords were drawn and it was not until a detachment of United States troops appeared that resistance ceased. "This city," wrote Claiborne," requires a strict police; the inhabitants are of various descriptions — many highly respectable and some of them very degenerate." It is a remarkable fact that the amiable and patient governor lived down all these multitudinous causes of complaint; and when he died in 1816 he was surrounded by the respect and affection of his people. The details here set forth have interest as shedding light upon the character of the community, but, most of all, because they explain the origins of that prejudice against Americans and things American, which is the great motive in the history of New Orleans down to the Civil war, a prejudice so deep and all-pervading that the Creole population could come to look on the yellow fever with complacency, nay, almost with affection, since, as Gayarr has said, it attacked the stranger almost exclusively and was, as it were, a weapon against those who threatened the "antient" Louisiana, its language and its supremacy.

Etienne de Bor

First Mayor of New Orleans

Immediately upon taking over the government, Claiborne arranged for the government of the city. He issued a proclamation on December 20th retaining in office provisionally all of the functionaries appointed under the French administration. These included the members of Laussat's Municipality, all except Johns and Sauv, who, being opposed to the new governor on general principles, handed him their resignations. The others, "thus re-elected and confirmed," took their seats anew that afternoon.10 Bor was continued as mayor and the post of "adjoint," or deputy-mayor, made vacant by the resignation of Sauv, was filled by the appointment of Cavalier Petit. Claiborne, in a letter to President Madison, commenting upon these arrangements congratulated himself upon having been able to secure a man of the social prominence of Bor to head the administration. As a matter of fact, Bor was one of the most active leaders of the party opposed to Claiborne. He, Bellechasse and Johns were soon conspicuous in the meetings held by the citizens to protest against the "kind of government which had been forced upon them." They were supported by Daniel Clark, now by the new order of things relieved of his consulate. Claiborne does not seem to have been ruffled in the least by Bor's criticism. On the other hand, Bor's views as to the American Government do not seem to have prevented him from discharging his duties as mayor with assiduity and success.

The members of the municipality renewed their oaths before Claiborne on November 24th. On this occasion the governor made a short address outlining their duties, which were, in effect, to continue the same as under Laussat's administration. The council met for the first time under the new conditions on December 28th and held thereafter sessions once every two weeks. It immediately addressed itself to the matter of the condition of the streets, the regulation of the police force, and the reduction in the number of the "taverns," which was inordinately large. On January 9th we find under consideration regulations for the guidance of persons using the river-front for business purposes. At the next meeting regulations were adopted for the government of public balls. On February 8th the council supplemented its previous action with regard to the bakeries by adopting a whole series of regulations. The bakers were important persons in New Orleans at that time. According to Robin, their business was one of the most profitable in the community. "Many of them make considerable fortunes in a few years," he writes, "and that is not at all astonishing. Kentucky and the other parts of the United States which communicate with the Mississippi send their flour to New Orleans. This flour is of varying quality and consequently at different prices, selling at from $3 to $10 or $12 per barrel of about 190 pounds weight. Sometimes the supply is so great in the city that the price declines below that at the point from which it has been brought. Bakers who are farsighted can lay in a stock at these times, and they make a further profit by mixing flours of inferior grade with the superior." Under the Spanish there was a tax of a picayon per pound on bread. The municipality did not continue the tax, but made rules to regulate the price, thus establishing a precedent which was followed for many years. It now also interfered in regard to other articles of food and passed a resolution fixing the price of beef at one "picayon" a pound, mutton one shilling a pound, and veal and pork eight cents per pound. Other ordinances passed at this time provided for the government of the police, and placing a tax on vehicles. This was all useful and important work. The Council was, however, constantly embarrassed by the fact that it was a temporary organization. It was, moreover, eclipsed by the authority of the governor. His approval was required in practically all cases when important legislation was proposed. It is remarkable, then, that on the whole the municipal government worked with as little friction as it did and still more so, that its achievements were so substantial.

Bor resigned on May 26, 1804, on the ground that his private affairs required his entire attention. He was succeeded by Cavalier Petit as acting mayor. The council saw Bor's retirement with regret and adopted resolutions expressing this feeling and also the hope that the vacancy would be filled by a man equally as able and patriotic. At the same time it endorsed James Pitot as a suitable person for the position. On June 6 Claiborne appointed Pitot to the office. Pitot was descended from a distinguished French family, the founder of which was Ti-Pitot, who commanded a squadron of cavalry in the Seventh Crusade. Antoine Pitot d'Aramon, in order to avoid the religious quarrels then in progress in certain parts of France, removed to Languedoc at the beginning of the sixteenth century and thereafter the family was identified with that province. The father of the new mayor was born in Languedoc in 1695 and died in 1771. He was inspector to the army of the famous Marshal de Saxe, distinguished himself as an engineer and scientist, and became a member of the French Academy. The mayor was born in Rouen in 1761a and was educated at one of the best schools in Paris. At the outbreak of the French Revolution he was taken to Santo Domingo. Thence he moved to Philadelphia and then to Norfolk, Va. In early manhood he settled in New Orleans, where he went into business in partnership with Daniel Clark. Pitot built one of the first cotton presses in New Orleans. It stood at the corner of Toulouse and Burgundy streets. Gayarr speaks of him as "a gentleman of respectability and talent." His career as mayor lasted till July 19, 1805, and was signalized by the incorporation of the city, and the taking of the first steps towards the substitution of an elective magistracy for the appointive one.

Pitot exerted himself to introduce economy into the various branches of the administration, and took an especial interest in the police. In the preceding chapter we have seen that among the first acts of the Laussat Municipality was the enactment of a comprehensive ordinance defining what acts constituted offenses against public order. To enforce this ordinance a small police force was subsequently created, with Pierre Achille Rivery at its head, under the title of "Commissioner General of Police in the City and Suburbs of New Orleans." The wretched pay which the members, officers and men received attracted only the riff-raff of the city into the service. A few ex-Spanish soldiers were enlisted but the council soon found it necessary to authorize the employment of mulattoes to fill the ranks. It was, however, stipulated that the officers should always be white men.

The utter inefficiency of this organization occasioned general complaint and in 1804 it was supplemented by a patrol of citizens, drawn from the militia, and under the command of Colonel Bellechasse. This subsidiary force of volunteers was divided into four squads of fifteen men each, each squad serving eight days, and then being relieved by another. The militia patrol did duty chiefly in the outlying districts. It received no part. In 1805, Pitot made a further reform in the police organization by reconstituting the gendarmerie as a mounted corps, with three officers, three non-commissioned officers and thirty-two men. This was subsequently changed so as to give a force of twenty-two mounted men and ten infantrymen. The mayor was made chief of this corps. In spite of some disputes over matters of authority, particularly as involving the right to appoint the members of this force — a right which the mayor claimed was assigned to him by the city charter — the new system worked fairly well. The militia patrol, which was continued, however, fell steadily in popular favor, partly because of its composition, but chiefly because it made considerable demands upon the leisure of the citizens, and they were not prepared to render indefinitely the services required.

On March 25, 1804, Congress divided the Province of Louisiana into two parts — the upper part being annexed to the Indiana Territory,b and the lower part, which corresponds in boundaries approximately to what is now the State of Louisiana, was erected into the Territory of Orleans. Its government was entrusted to a governor, jointly with a council of thirteen freeholders, to be selected by him; and the judicial powers were to be exercised by a superior court and such inferior courts as this council might establish, the judges of the former, however, to be appointed by the President of the United States. New Orleans was made a port of entry and delivery, and "the town of Bayou St. John" was made a port of entry. On October 1 the new government went into operation. Claiborne was retained as governor. He had been formally inaugurated at the Principal at noon, on October 5. He took the oath before Mayor Pitot, and then delivered an oration in English which was translated into flowery French by Pierre Derbigny. The people were displeased at having the legislative council appointed, instead of elected by them; but the national government, through Claiborne, exercised a wise discretion in the matter of introducing the forms of democratic government, and it was some years yet before the heterogeneous population of New Orleans could be regarded as fit to exercise all the functions of American citizenship. However, a long step forward was made in February, 1805, when the Territorial Council furnished the city with a charter. This charter went into effect early in March. With its adoption the real history of New Orleans, as distinguished from the remainder of the Province or Territory, may be said to begin.

The charter consists of some nineteen sections. It begins by precisely determining the area of the municipality. It was bounded "on the north by Lake Pontchartrain, from the mouth of Chef Menteur to the Bayou Petit Gouyou, which is about three leagues to the west of Fort St. John; on the west by Bayou Petit Gouyou to the place where the upper line of the grant or concession formerly called St. Baine, and now called Mazage passes; from thence along the line of the plantation of Foreel to the River Mississippi and across the same to the canal of Mr. Harang; and along the said canal to the Bayou Bois Piquant; from thence by a line drawn through the middle of the last mentioned Bayou to Lake Cataoucha and across the same to the Bayou Poupard, which falls into the Lake Barataria; on the south by the Lake of Barataria, from the Bayou of Poupard to the Bayou Villars; from thence ascending the Bayou Barataria to the place where it joins the canal of Fazande, and continuing in the direction of the last mentioned canal to the Mississippi, and finally on the east by ascending the Mississippi to the plantation of Rivi re and then along the canal of his present saw mill to the Bayou Depres, which leads to Lake Borgne, and from the point where the last mentioned bayou falls into the said Lake Borgne by a line along the middle of that lake to the mouth of Chef Menteur, and from thence to the Lake Pontchartrain." "All the free white inhabitants" of this extensive tract of land, water, and marsh were declared "to be a body corporate, by the name of the mayor, aldermen and inhabitants of the City of New Orleans."

The officers of this corporation were to be a mayor, a recorder, fourteen aldermen, a treasurer and "as many subordinate officers not herein mentioned for preserving the peace and well-order United States the affairs of the said city, as the city council shall direct." It was made the duty of the governor within ten days after the passage of the act to appoint the mayor and the recorder "out of the inhabitants who shall have resided at least two years therein." The mayor and the recorder were to hold office for at least two years, or until their successors were appointed, and then they were to be appointed annually thereafter. The aldermen, however, were to be elected by the people of the city "on the first Monday of next March." In each ward of the city they were to select by ballot "two discrete inhabitants" to be "aldermen, and represent said ward in the city council." The mayor and the municipality were charged to appoint two inspectors and one clerk in each ward to have charge of this election. The clerk was to record in a book the name of each voter; the inspectors were to receive his ballot and, "without inspecting it, deposit it in a box of which one of them shall keep the key." The election was to last from 9:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M., and then the inspectors were to count the ballots "in the presence of such voters as care to remain." The returns were to be made by certificate signed by the inspectors and attested by the clerk, to the mayor, who thereupon should publish them and notify the clerk of the city council of the results.

The aldermen thus chosen were to compose the city council. The recorder for the time being was constituted president of this body, but with no vote save in case of a tie; in case of his disability a president pro-tempore might be elected. The aldermen were to take their seats in the City Hall (Principal) on the second Monday in March, 1805, and one-half of the members should serve thereafter till the same date in 1806, and the remainder till the same date in 1807; "so that in every ward there shall be an annual election for one out of the two aldermen." The majority of the council would be deemed a quorum. The council would be judge of the election of its own members. It was empowered to select its own clerk, doorkeeper, and other officers. It was required to meet at least once a month. On the third Monday in March, a "fit and discrete" person was to be elected treasurer thereof, who, under bond of $20,000, with the assistance of two secretaries, was to hold office for one year. The council was invested with the power to make and pass laws and by-laws, and these ordinances, after receiving the signature of the mayor, were to have the force of laws. If the mayor should not approve of these ordinances, he was required to return them within five days, with his objection stated in writing. If two-thirds of the council then present were to vote in favor of the law in spite of the mayor's disapproval, then it was to become a law notwithstanding the veto. If the mayor did not return the law within five days it was to be deemed approved; but under no circumstances could an ordinance of the council have force which contravened any provision of the charter, the laws of the Territory, or those of the United States.

To the mayor and council thus acting together the charter gave the right to tax all real and personal property, with a view to raise funds "to supply any deficiency for lighting, cleaning, paving and watering said city; for supplying the city watch, the levee of the river, the prisons, workhouses, or other public buildings, and for such other purposes as the police and good government of said city may require." But it was provided that no tax for police, lighting, or watering might be put on property not within the parts of the city not laid off into streets. To the mayor and council, moreover, was committed the duty of regulating the price of bread, but not of other provisions, nor could they license drays or carts except in a manner specifically set forth in the charter.

The mayor when elected was to take the oath of office before the governor; the other officers were to taketheirs before the mayor. In case of the disability of the mayor the recorder was to act as mayor pro-tempore, and while so employed the council was to elect a president pro tempore who should preside at its meetings.

The ninth section of the charter dealt with the qualifications of voters, who were to be "free white males residing for one year" in the city, "owning real estate valued at $500 or renting a property of an annual value of $100, or, in case of doubt, to be examined under oath." The tenth section dealt with the duties of the treasurer, and the eleventh with those of the mayor. Among the duties of the mayor were: to appoint "measurers, weighers, gaugers, marshals, constables, scavengers, wharfingers and other officials, as directed by the city council; to license taverns and boarding houses; and to license carriages and coaches for hire." Importance was attached to this licensing matter, inasmuch as it was made an offense subject to a fine not to have the proper license, and one-half of such fines went to "the person who shall sue for same," — presumably, the informant. The mayor was entitled to collect $2.50 for every warrant he might issue, and to any other compensation that the council might decree.

The mayor and the recorder were declared by the charter to be ex-officio justices of the peace. The mayor was to superintend the police and make ordinances for the control of the watchmen and the city guard. He was "to be informed of the intent of every order from the council ordering the disposal of any money or public property." No member of the council could be appointed to any employment or office created by the council. Section XIII transferred to the new corporation any estates previously owned by the Cabildo. The following section provided that all ordinances established by the previously existing municipality were to continue in force insofar as they did not conflict with the present instrument. Section XV divided the city into seven wards. The sixteenth section conferred on mayor and council the right to build sewers, drains, canals, etc., in any part of the city; to open and grade streets; to enjoy certain powers of expropriation of property for these purposes; all expenses incurred for these purposes were to be met out of the city funds. The eighteenth section fixed the recorder's salary at $1,000 per annum. The closing section reserved to the legislature the right to amend and alter the charter at will.

Although brief, this document was fairly comprehensive. The verbiage is often quaint, but its terms are clear and definite. It is remarkable to observe that all of the subsequent city charters reproduce the ideas incorporated in this original instrument. In fact, one cannot but admire its homely wisdom. No less authority than the Supreme Court of Louisiana declared that this charter "like all the statutes passed at the commencement of the American government of Louisiana — to the honor of their authors be it said — is a model of legislative style and exhibits its intendment with a clearness and precision which render it impossible to be misunderstood. [. . .] The whole tenor of the act is a delegation of power for municipal purposes, guarded by limitations, and accompanied by such checks as experience had shown to be wise, expedient, and even necessary for the interests of those who were to be affected by it."

In accordance with the new law, an election for aldermen was called for Monday, March 4. The announcement was made in the columns of the Louisiana Gazette on March 1. Mayor Pitot was deeply impressed with the significance of this first step towards local self-government. In the call he referred earnestly to "the importance of the election," and expressed the hope that the citizens "would consider what degree of zeal and reflection is required in" their "first step towards the enjoyment of 'their' rights." It was also pointed out that "the new council would not be restrained, as may frequently have happened to the municipality, from uncertainty respecting the true extent of their powers and the confidence placed in them by the people." The polling places were established at the residences of Messrs. Lefauchew, Coquet, Romain, M'Laren, Macarty and Bienvenu, and "at the Ball Room." The election duly took place and the following aldermen were chosen: First Ward — Felix Arnaud, James Garrick; Second Ward — Colonel Bellechasse, Guy Dreux; Third Ward — LaBertonni re, Ant. Argotte; Fifth Wardomits the Fourth Ward'? T. L. Harman, P. Lavergne; Sixth Ward — J. B. Macarty, Monsieur Dorville; Seventh Ward — Pore, Guerin.

The installation of the new council was effected with some pomp at the Cabildo (as the Principal was now beginning to be called, ignoring the real significance of that name) on March 11. Claiborne appeared at midday in the council chamber, accompanied by various civil and military authorities, and many citizens. "The members of the municipal corps were found present and measures for the public order having been taken, Monsieur the Governor, proclaimed mayor of the new council James Pitot, who previously had filled the place, and when he had taken the oath in that capacity, the nomination of the governor of Jean Watkins to the post of recorder, or assessor, having been officially read, he took the oath at the hands of the mayor, who then received successively those of Messrs. Felix Arnaud, James Garrick, Joseph Faurie, Fran ois Duplantier, Guy Dreux, Pierre Bertonni re, Antoine Argotte, Thomas Harman, P. Lavergne, J. B. Macarty, F. K. Dorville, Thomas Pore and Fran ois Guerin, chosen by the citizens aldermen or members of the common council." Bellechasse was not present. At the close of this little ceremony Mayor Pitot made a short address in which he gave an account of his past administration, and in particular described what he had done with regard to the police, and the economy which he had introduced into the management of the government. He, Claiborne, and the public generally then withdrew. Watkins took the chair and called the council to order. The secretary, Bourgeois, being absent, Achille Rivery was appointed to act in his place. The only business done was the adoption of a resolution authorizing the mayor to put in force all the ordinances regarding the police already in existence. Thereafter the council regularly met under the presidency of Watkins, until July 27, when Bellechasse having been elected president, he took the place.

Pitot resigned his office in July, 1805. In his message of resignation, he said: "My affairs not allowing me to fulfil the functions of mayor, I have sent to the governor my resignation of that post. Appreciating all the marks of kindness and of confidence which I have received at your hands, I beg you to accept my acknowledgements. Give me your esteem and believe me deeply grateful." That was the ceremonious and graceful way in which things were done in those days. A little later, however, Pitot was able to accept another, though perhaps less onerous post, when Claiborne appointed him Judge of the First Probate Court of the Territory. He remained on the bench till his death, November 4, 1831. When this sad event occurred eulogies upon his life and character were pronounced by the leaders of the local bar, including Pierre Soul, Mazureau, and Bernard Marigny. Chief Justice Bermudez, speaking of Pitot's services as a judge, has said that "in the early days and more advanced life of this State, with Judge Martin and his associates, all of imperishable memory and luster, he proved of unappreciable assistance in expounding the new laws which followed the anterior legislation in giving good judicial proceedings a proper form and shape for the administration of justice, and in laying down a solid basis for the statutory jurisprudence with which the state is blessed."

The Author’s Notes

  • Figure. Waring and Cable, Social Statistics of Cities, Report on New Orleans, 29-32.
  • Profession. Robin, Voyage dans l'intrieur de la Louisiane, II, 75 ff., quoted in Phelps, Louisiana, 207-214.
  • Times. Martin, History of Louisiana, Howe's edition, 295.
  • Citizen. Gayarr, History of Louisiana, IV, 1-3.
  • Powers."Laelius," in the Louisiana Gazette, November 9, 1804. This article was evidently written with the full knowledge and approval of Claiborne, of whose acts it is a convincing defense.
  • Territory. Martin, Louisiana, 294. Casa Irujo subsequently withdrew for his master all opposition to the cession, and denied that there had ever been any intention of resisting it.
  • Justices. Gayarr, History of Louisiana, IV, 3; Martin, Louisiana, 319; Dart, Sources of the Civil Law of Louisiana, 37-40.
  • Riot.Louisiana Gazette, November 9, 1804. See also the "Esquisse de la Louisiane," printed anonymously in 1804, referred to in Robertson, "Louisiana under the French and the American Regimes," II, 269.
  • Supremacy. Gayarr, Louisiana, IV, 636.
  • Disappeared.The official record of the installation of the municipality as preserved in the City Archives of New Orleans reads; "Proces-verbal of the Reinstallation of the Municipal Corps the Day of taking possession of the colony by the United States."Today, December 20, 1803, of the Christian era, the commissioners or agents of the United States, W. C. C. Claiborne and James Wilkinson, being present at the Hotel de Ville, in the meeting room of the municipality, with the citizen Pierre Clement Laussat, Colonial Prefect of the French government, in order to receive from him possession of the colony or Province of Louisiana, and this important act having been effected, His Excellency, W. C. C. Claiborne, named by the President of the United States Governor General and Intendant of said Province, has had read his proclamation, by which he orders maintained provisionally in their functions all of the public officers who existed under the French government, and also all municipal enactments issued to date; consequently Messrs. the Mayor and the members of the Municipal Council (except Johns and Sauv, who have resigned), thus re-elected and confirmed, have taken their seats anew, and the meeting has adjourned to Thursday, the 24th of the current month; in faith whereof the present proces-verbal has been signed by the recording secretary. "Signed: Bor, Tureaud, Faurie, Donaldson, Destrehan, Fortier, Livaudais; Derbigny, Secretary."
  • Superior. Quoted in Phelps, Louisiana, 211.
  • Corps.Resolution of May 6, 1805.
  • Required. See Rightor, Standard History of New Orleans, 110, 111.
  • United States. Phelps, Louisiana, 222, 223; Martin, Louisiana, 320, 321.
  • Section. Louisiana Gazette, February 22, 1805. This act was approved by Claiborne February 17, 1805.
  • Act. Louisiana State Bank vs. Orleans Navigation Co., 3rd annual repts., 305.
  • Pore,Guerin. Louisiana Gazette, March 5, 1805.
  • Council. Records of the City Council, in the New Orleans City Archives, Session of March 11, 1804.
  • Days. See the letters of the mayors in the City Archives of New Orleans, July 19, 1805.
  • Bernard Marigny. Pitot's son, Armand Pitot, born in New Orleans in 1803 and died in 1885, had a scarcely less distinguished career than his father. He was educated in France, and on returning to New Orleans was named Clerk of the Supreme Court, was admitted to the bar, named translator to the House of Representatives, and became a member of the City Council (1838) and, finally, was made secretary of the commission appointed to revise the Civil Code of Louisiana. For thirty years and more he was the legal advisor of some of the most prominent banks in the city, notably the Citizens' Bank.
  • Blessed. See King, "Old Families of New Orleans," Chap. XXXV.

  • Chapter V
    The First Two Mayors

    The appointment of John Watkins to be mayor, vice Pitot, resigned, was announced on June 27, 1805. In selecting Watkins for the vacancy, Claiborne was governed by the fact that he had served acceptably as recorder and was in line for promotion. He was a physician by profession and had previously been a member of the territorial council. The two years over which Watkins' administration extended were interesting and important. They witnessed, among other things, the incorporation of the College of Orleans, the visit of Aaron Burr, and the establishment of the first Protestant Church in New Orleans. He came into office at a time when people were disposed to complain of the small benefit resulting from the creation of the city government. He had to sustain a good deal of adverse criticism. Two matters of importance urged before the council were, the improvement of the market and the extension of the streets. The existing market had been erected by the Spanish Government in 1791. What was now needed was an extension to accommodate the vegetable venders. The finances of the city were not just then in a condition to permit this work to be done. Not until 1822 was it possible to meet this demand. The growth of the "fauxbourgs" was so rapid that the need for extensions of the streets of the "Vieux Carré" out into the new regions was obvious, but for some reason the council refused to accede to this reasonable demand, and even declined to order the removal of Davis' rope-walk, which blocked the egress from the "Old Square" for a considerable distance along Canal Street. We may suspect that in this opposition to the extension of the streets the prejudice of the Creole against the American figured to no inappreciable extent.

    Watkins was more successful in regard to the police. There was a strong prejudice against the "gens d'armes," as they were called. These were composed to a considerable extent of soldiers who had served under the Spanish. A writer in the Louisiana Gazette referred to them as a "nuisance," and said that the corps was "unlawful and unnecessary." In deference to public opinion the council in 1806, created a city police force, known as the "garde de ville." This organization was intended to be a purely civic police. The military element was eliminated. It consisted of one chief, two sub-chiefs or assistants, and twenty men for the city proper; two sub-chiefs and eight men for the Faubourg Ste. Marie, now called the First Municipal District; a total of thirty-three men. The chief was provided with a horse and allowed a salary of $60 per month, from which he was supposed to provide feed for his mount. The sub-chiefs received $20 each, and the watchmen $20 each. The men were armed with the old-fashioned half-pike, and carried a saber suspended from a cross-belt of black leather adorned with a large brass-buckle, on which the words, "Garde de Ville" were conspicuously engraved. The headquarters were at the City Hall (Cabildo). Here two men and one sub-chief were always on duty as a sort of relief force or reserve. The guard was changed in summer at 7:00 A.M. and in winter at 9:00 A.M. This new force went on duty on March 14, 1806. It did not last long. Two years later it was suppressed by the city council as incompetent. There was good ground for this action. Within two months after its organization, it undertook to suppress a riotous demonstration in the city, but not only was unsuccessful, but the mob set upon the watch, deprived it of its weapons, and beat the men badly. For this exhibition of cowardice the council formally deprived the watch of its arms. The grand jury joined in the popular demonstration against the police for its failure to enforce order, and rendered a report in which it declared that "the city was at the mercy of brigands to loot and pillage at pleasure." The case specifically referred to by the grand jury was the murder of a man in the Faubourg Ste. Marie by footpads. The body was left lying in the streets three days, untended by the police, until at last some charitable persons removed and gave it burial.

    New Orleans in 1803a

    Under Watkins' initiative the council also undertook to deal with the problem of fire prevention. This was a problem always urgent in the early history of the city. Although there was at this time a growing disposition to build solidly of brick, and consequently, there has been no repetition of the great conflagrations of 1788 and 1794 — the majority of the dwellings in the city were of inflammable construction and there was consequently constant peril of serious fires. In 1806 the council passed a number of wise regulations, one of which prohibited the use of shingle roofs, and another provided for the inspection of chimneys, and others still established rules for the police in case of fire to prevent looting and other depredations, of which there was much complaint at this time.

    The territorial council passed the act creating the College of Orleans in April, 1805, and in July an organization was effected to put in operation, Ex-Mayor Pitot being chosen vice chancellor. The college was the first institution of learning projected in the Territory of Orleans. It was the outcome of an attempt on the part of the government to create a complete educational system, which would include preparatory schools and public libraries in all parts of the territory subject to its jurisdiction, but which would have the university as its head and crown. The territorial council made various ill-judged plans to finance the institution, including a lottery scheme, but at Claiborne's wise motion, finally determined to impose a tax for the purpose. The city contributed a site and buildings, which were located at the corner of Hospital and St. Claude streets, on the site now occupied by St. Augustine's Church. In spite of further assistance from private parties, the institution was not ready to open its doors till 1811. In the meantime the matter of public education was much neglected. Rev. Philander Chase, who was called by the Protestants of the city to take charge of the congregation of Christ Church, opened a school on his arrival in the city in 1806, which soon had a good attendance, and thrived until his departure in 1811. The Ursuline nuns conducted a successful school for girls, but otherwise there seems to have been no provision for the important matter of the instruction of youth.

    New Orleans has always been a predominantly Catholic city, but with the establishment of the American government in Louisiana, there was gradually formed in the city a group of Protestants sufficiently large to make the need felt of a church in which they might worship. As early as 1803 there is record of a Rev. Lorenzo Dow who ministered to the scattered Protestants in the Attakapas. In 1805 the Rev. Elisha Bowman, who was regularly stationed in Opelousas, is said to have occasionally conducted services in New Orleans. In 1805 the Louisiana Gazette printed an appeal to the English speaking population of New Orleans to "show that it was not irreligious." Resolutions to establish a Protestant church in the city were adopted at a meeting held on May 29 at Francisque's ball-room. A second meeting was held on June 2 at the residence of Mme. Forager, on Bourbon Street, between Customhouse and Bienville streets. At another meeting on June 11 it was decided to call a Protestant clergyman to take charge of the proposed congregation, and the sum of $2,000 per annum was guaranteed by subscriptions from those present to pay his salary. On June 16 a vote was taken to see with what denomination the congregation should affiliate, with the following result: Episcopalians, 43; Presbyterians, 7;Methodist, 1. The act incorporating the congregation under the name of Christ Church, received the approval of Governor Claiborne on July 3, 1805. Under this act Protestant services were held, for the first time in the history of New Orleans (except, perhaps, for such occasional ministrations as the Rev. Mr. Bowman had supplied) on Sunday, July 15, 1805, at the residence of a Mr. Freeman. Doctor Chase, who was called to the rectorate, arrived in the city from New York, October 20, 1805. He held his first service at the City Hall (Cabildo) on November 17, 1805. Thereafter Protestant forms of worship were observed regularly every Sunday, though the congregation had no permanent domicile until nearly twenty years later, meeting sometimes at the Cabildo, sometimes at the courthouse, and more often at private residences.

    The period of Watkins' administration was one of no small anxiety for Claiborne and the territorial government. The ownership of West Florida was arousing much ill feeling between the Spanish and the Americans, particularly among the hardy adventurers in the West whose insistence had influenced so largely the acquisition of the Province of Louisiana by the United States. Jefferson's desire to settle all such difficulties by diplomacy rather than by force did not appeal to the Kentuckians and Tennesseans, and there was a strong tendency to filibustering throughout the Mississippi Valley. Of this restive spirit both General James Wilkinson and Aaron Burr were eager to take advantage. Burr was then vice president of the United States, but on account of his duel with Hamilton, in which the latter had been killed, he was in ill repute in the North and East, and sought elsewhere fields of activity in which his distressing antecedents would not be remembered, or, at least, would not be held against him.

    On the afternoon of July 25, 1805, in "an elegant Barge," with "sails, colors and oars," manned by "a sergeant and ten able, faithful hands," the ostracized vice president arrived in New Orleans. He was fresh from a visit to Wilkinson at Fort Massac, and brought with him now letters from that officer to Governor Claiborne, General John Adair and Daniel Clark. In his epistles to Adair and Clark, Wilkinson hinted darkly at some magnificent design which Burr entertained, and which he would unfold to them. To Adair he wrote: "He understands your merits and reckons on you. Prepare to visit me and I will tell you all. We must take a peep into the unknown world beyond me." He told Clark that "this great and honorable man would communicate to him many things improper to put in writing, and which he would not say to any other." It is supposed that Burr had ideas of separating the western part of the United States from the remainder and setting up there an independent government of some sort with himself at his head; failing which, he dreamed of an attempt against the Spanish in Mexico, with New Orleans as a basis of operations. There was at that time in New Orleans a strong sentiment in favor of independence for Mexico. A society, in which Mayor Watkins was a leading spirit, existed to promote this idea. Burr met Watkins, and through the latter's influence secured the endorsement of this organization. The visitor remained ten or twelve days in the city, during which time he received much social attention. Claiborne, who was not informed of his vague schemes of personal aggrandizement, entertained him at a banquet. Then he departed in the "elegant barge," for St. Louis, leaving behind no definite idea of what he proposed to do, save an impression that he meditated a great filibustering expedition against the Spaniards somewhere, sometime, somehow.

    It is not necessary here to follow Burr's subsequent career; suffice it to say that the rumors of his shadowy enterprise were kept afloat in the country a twelvemonth, and served to agitate the public mind everywhere, but especially in New Orleans. Claiborne, partly on the basis of these reports, but also from what he knew of the state of partial mobilization in which the Spanish forces were kept on the frontiers of his territory, anticipated war between the United States and Spain at no distant date, and made what preparations he could for that event. He was surprised, therefore, when in the winter of 1805-6 Wilkinson removed from New Orleans a large part of the little garrison and sent it up into the Mississippi Territory. To supply the gap in his ranks he appealed to the loyalty of the Creoles, and at first met with a gratifying response. Later on, as the first flush of enthusiasm evaporated, he was compelled to find excuses for their delinquencies: "Society," he wrote, regretfully in January, "is now generally engaged in what seems to be a primary object, the acquisition of wealth," to the exclusion of all other objects.

    Two incidents which tended to convince Claiborne that he had reason to fear Spanish designs on New Orleans now occurred. The first was the affair of P re Antoine de Sedella, the Spanish monk, who, as we have seen, tried to introduce the Inquisition in the times of Miro, and who, as we shall see later on, having been purged of many faults, ended by dying reverenced as a saint by the entire community. Sedella was apparently wholly under the influence of Casa Calvo, Morales, and the rest of the Spanish clique which for several years after the acquisition of the Province by the United States made its headquarters in New Orleans, and labored to create difficulties for the new government. "We have here a Spanish priest who is a very dangerous man," wrote Claiborne, in one of his letters to the Secretary of War in Washington; "he rebelled against the superiors of his church, and, I am persuaded, would even rebel against this government, whenever a fit occasion may serve." He accused him of "embracing every opportunity to render" the negro population "discontented with the American government." Sedella fell out with the vicar general, Walsh, with the result that in June, 1803, he was deprived of his "faculties," and forbidden to exercise any priestly offices. This action occasioned great turmoil in New Orleans. The people supported him almost to a man, and, as Miss King says, in her delightful account of this famous controversy, "elected" him parish priest in the face of the opposition of his clerical >superior. Watkins supported Sedella, and when he learned that Walsh was meditating the publication of a pamphlet in which the whole matter was to be set forth, interposed to prevent its >publication, on the ground that such a work would tend to cause a violation of the public peace. Walsh took the quarrel up to Claiborne. He alleged "the interruption of the public tranquility," in justifying his request for the support of the civil arm, "which has resulted from the ambition of a refractory monk supported in his apostacy by a misguided populace, and by the constitution of an individual (Casa Calvo?) whose interference is fairly to be attributed less to zeal for the religion he would be thought to serve, than to the indulgence of private passion and the promotion of views which are equally dangerous to religious and civil order." But Claiborne declined to interfere unless there were some actual violation of the peace, and advised "harmony and tolerance." Later on, in October, Claiborne, feeling that Sedella's influence was being used to undermine the position of the Americans in New Orleans, and to prepare the way for a Spanish descent upon the city, summoned the priest to the government house, and, in spite of his protestations of loyalty, required him to take the oath of allegiance, in the presence of Mayor Watkins and of Colonel Bellechasse.

    The other incident was connected with Casa Calvo, himself. This wily intriguer went, in October, 1805, on a journey into the western part of the territory. There was this much occasion for his perturbation about New Orleans and the Spanish — in the bank of the little city lay a sum of money reckoned very large in those days — not less than $2,000,000. The bank had been organized in 1804 under the name of the Louisiana State Bank, and opened for business in January, 1805; but in addition, there was a branch of the United States Bank, of Philadelphia, which likewise had on hand a large amount of specie. Claiborne seems to have felt that one phase of the Spanish plot, which he suspected but could not precisely put his finger on, was to loot these institutions. He sent an American military officer to accompany Casa Calvo to Natchitoches, and report his actions; and they were sufficiently suspicious to convince the young governor that immediate action was necessary. On the return of the Spanish nobleman he received a courteous letter suggesting that he and Morales ought now to bring to an end their unnecessarily prolonged stay in Louisiana. They ignored the hint, and in February, 1806, Claiborne sent them their passports, politely wishing them a pleasant voyage to whatever part of the Spanish king's dominions they might wish to proceed. Casa Calvo was naturally very indignant at this procedure, but had no option save to depart. The incident had, of course, the effect of increasing the tension between the United States and Spain, and the young American governor was more than ever certain that he had now to look to hostilities between the nations.

    Into this strained situation there was now injected another and troublesome element. When Burr left New Orleans, in July, 1805, it was with the understanding that he would return in the autumn. He never returned but he sent to the city certain emissaries, whose duty it was to keep alive the sentiment in his favor there. The most prominent of these were Samuel Swartwout, Dr. Eric Bollman and Peter V. Ogden. In October Swartwout, with a confidential letter from Burr, went to Natchitoches where Wilkinson had established his headquarters. He was received with much attention, remained eight days, and then returned to New Orleans. What happened after that is not clear. Wilkinson adopted a procedure which cannot well be explained, but which, at any rate was productive of the most singular consequences for New Orleans. He dispatched a letter to the President of the United States, exposing Burr's nefarious schemes, so far as he knew of them. Then he sent Major Porter to New Orleans with a force of artificers and a company of a hundred regulars, and a few days later he himself hastened down to the city. They arrived in New Orleans early in November. Then followed the hurried repairing, remounting and equipping of every piece of artillery in the town, the preparation of munitions of all descriptions, the overhauling of harnesses and the manning of the forts, the issue of contracts for palisades and instruments of defense, and other evidences of preparations for what was supposed to be an expected attack; and the city was plunged into a state of panic.

    In the meantime Burr was on his way down the Mississippi with a force of men which rumor multiplied into a formidable little army, but which was actually a mere handful. Wilkinson had ordered it stopped at Natchez. Was he apprehensive that the arch-conspirator would elude his representatives at that point, and make his way down to the city? Or was he fearful that Clark, Watkins, and other known confidants of Burr in New Orleans would, on hearing of his approach, raise the city in his favor? At any rate, he contrived to create in the minds of the loyal citizens the impression that a grave military necessity existed. He demanded that Claiborne declare martial law. The discrete governor refused to take this extreme step, but consented to a meeting of the Chamber of Commerce, and called out the militia, one company of which remained under arms thereafter until the disturbances were at an end. Wilkinson furnished vague but lurid information to the Chamber of Commerce; a large sum of money was subscribed for purposes of defense, and a temporary embargo was recommended on the port for the purpose of facilitating the enrollment of sailors, whom Wilkinson declared he needed. Claiborne mistrusted Wilkinson's motives. He had been advised by Cowles Mead, acting governor of the Mississippi Territory, that Wilkinson was a "traitor [. . .] little better than Cataline." Wilkinson, on the other hand, declared that he "had been betrayed, and therefore 'would' abandon the idea of temporising or concealment the moment after I have secured two persons now in this city." These persons were Burr's confidential agents. On December 14th he arrested Bollman. Two days later Swartwout and Ogden were apprehended at Fort Adams and brought down to New Orleans on a bomb-ketch, which anchored in front of the city. A writ of habeas corpus was sued out, but the people, who evidently approved heartily of Wilkinson's measures, offered a passive resistance to its execution which was entirely effective; the court official who undertook to serve the writ found that he could not hire a boat to take him out to the ketch, and the following day, when he did succeed in getting a skiff, he reached the vessel only to find that Swartwout had in the meanwhile been spirited away. Ogden, however, was set free, but Wilkinson immediately had him re-arrested along with a man named Alexander, and held them both in defiance of writs of habeas corpus issued by judge Workman, an attachment against himself, and an appeal to the governor to sustain the authority of the court with force. Workman resigned by way of protest. Wilkinson was in supreme control of the city.

    On January 14, 1807, General Adair arrived in New Orleans with the intelligence that Burr would reach the city within the next three days, but without an army — with, in fact, only a single attendant. One would think that discouraging piece of news would have disposed of any possibility of danger, if any ever threatened, of an uprising in New Orleans, as it did of any possibility of an attack on the city at Burr's hands. Burr, as a matter of fact, never passed Natchez. Wilkinson, however, for some reason, felt it necessary to take Adair into custody. A force of 120 regular soldiers surrounded the hotel at which he was staying, and he was arrested while seated at the dinner table, thrust into confinement, and a few days later removed from the city. That day the troops were all under arms; patrols marched up and down the streets of the terrified city, and every person of whom the commander seems to have felt any suspicion was put under arrest, including Judge Workman. At this inopportune moment a Spanish force of 400 men from Pensacola arrived at the mouth of Bayou St. John and sent a messenger in to the governor to request permission to cross American territory to the post at Baton Rouge. Needless to say, this privilege was refused. The circumstances seemed to justify Wilkinson's wildest apprehensions.

    Suddenly the whole strange business came to an end. The community awoke from the bad dream which obsessed it. The Legislative Council on January 22d addressed to the governor a communication in which it disclaimed on behalf of the Creoles any sympathy with or participation in the treasonable designs of Burr. Then the members announced their intention to investigate Wilkinson's "extraordinary measures [. . .] and the motives which had induced them, and to present the same to the Congress of the United States." There is, however, some indication that Wilkinson was acting with Jefferson's approval.

    On January 28th the news of Burr's arrest at Natchez was received in New Orleans, and on the 3d of March, that he had been re-arrested at Fort Stoddard, Alabama. About the middle of May, Wilkinson sailed from New Orleans for Virginia, to testify in the trial of Burr. With his departure the last trace of disorder disappered.

    In the midst of this exciting episode Mayor Watkins was called on to deal with another danger much more real and terrible in character. This was a conspiracy among the negro slaves to burn the city and slaughter the inhabitants. "It seems that a white man, a fresh importation from Santo Domingo, where he had doubtless served an apprenticeship to the crimes which have plunged that unfortunate island into the depths of destruction, has been for some time employed as a workman in the shops of Mr. Duverne, a respectable citizen of the Faubourg Ste. Marie," wrote Watkins, in a long communication to the council, describing the occurrence, under date of September 28, 1805. "One day this wretch, who was named Grandjean, confided to a fellow employee, a mulatto man named Celestin, who was likewise employed by Duverne, a plan for a general insurrection of the slaves, the success of which would involve the destruction of the lives and fortunes of the whites." "Celestin," continued Watkins, "guided by natural sentiments of humanity, like a faithful slave, and without loss of time, communicated the information to Mr. Duverne, who, in turn, and conjointly with Celestin, apprised me thereof, accompanied for that purpose by Colonel Dorci re. Measures were immediately taken not only to frustrate the plot and apprehend its author, but to secure sufficient proof to convict him of the appalling crime which he was concerting against the peace of the territory. With this object in view we advised several free persons of color, both intelligent and of good character, to get themselves presented to Grandjean as individuals likely to second him in his enterprise, and who, under this disguise, were to obtain from him all the details of the conspiracy, in order to fit themselves to give testimony eventually before the courts. This plan proved successful, for Grandjean committed himself fully to them and explained his scheme, which was to be carried out in the following manner: He said that, although the real leader, he was to be known only to ten persons, who were to be the ostensible chieftains. These ten chiefs were then to communicate the secret to ten others, and so on indefinitely. Messengers were to be sent among the negroes at Natchez and to those at adjacent places. 'Commandeurs' or negro 'drivers' were to be especially won over, and at an appointed hour on a certain day the decisive blow was to be struck. The insurgents were to make themselves masters of the different streets of the city, get possession of the soldiers' barracks, and of the different public warehouses, surprise the state house, and other government buildings, massacre everyone who offered resistance, and finally set the city on fire, if it could not be subjugated in any other way."

    As soon as the mayor had in hand all the threads of the conspiracy he called in consultation Colonel Bellechasse, Col. Dorci re and Mr. Duverne. A force of gendarmes was taken along. They surrounded the Duverne workshop. Bellechasse found a position where, without being himself seen, he was able to overhear Grandjean talking to his fellow operatives and obtained in this way a confirmation of the information that had already been laid before the mayor. The place was then raided and Grandjean was put under arrest. He was put in prison, brought to trial and received a life sentence at hard labor in the chain gang.

    The mayor brought before the City Council the matter of an award for Celestin and the other colored people who had by their loyalty averted what could hardly have failed to prove a serious situation, even had the projected uprising failed of the terrible completeness which its originator hoped for it. The Council deputed two of its members, Messrs. Pedesclaux and Arnaud, to confer with Celestin's master, a Mr. Robelot, with reference to his manumission; and the price of $2,000 having been agreed upon, the corporation appropriated the money, and the mulatto became a "free man of color." The Council also adopted resolutions eulogizing the other negroes who had assisted in trapping Grandjean and made substantial grants of money in their favor.

    A few minor events connected with the administration of Mayor Watkins may also be noted.In the printed text, this sentence and the following all belong to the preceding paragraph. In 1805 steps were taken to improve the paving by requiring the laying of sidewalks, or "banquettes," in front of property throughout the city. It was required that these "banquettes" should be of brick, wood or masonry of some sort, at least five feet wide, with curbs of cypress. In that year, also, Matthew Flannery undertook the publication of the first city directory. We may note, also, an election of councilmen on February 23, 1807, when Por e, Faurie, De Fl chier, Bertonni re, Carraby, LeBreton, Des Chapelles, and F. M. Guerin were elected to the City Council. On August 19, 1805, Claiborne addressed to Mayor Watkins a letter agreeing to withdraw the regular troops from the Cabildo, where they had hitherto been stationed, in order to leave the lower floor of that building clear for the use of the police. Up to this time a detachment of United States soldiers had been on duty there both by day and by night. Their principal duty was to turn out when the ruffling of drums announced the approach of the mayor, line up in two ranks before the great door of the Cabildo and present arms as his honor passed between them to enter or to leave the building. Their place was now taken by the police, but this picturesque ceremony was continued, nor was it abolished until Mayor Freret's time. That democratic official, considering this parade a useless and absurd survival of Spanish days, directed its discontinuance, with the result that his "democratic spirit" was warmly praised in the newspapers.

    Watkins adorned his retirement from office with a few flowers of rhetoric. "If I have been so happy as to have served the public usefully," he said, in his last message to the City Council, "it has been due principally to the assistance which you have given me, and to the wisdom of the measures which you have adopted. In this persuasion [. . .] I beg of you to receive the offer of my gratitude and that you will receive the assurance that, if there is anything which can add to the satisfaction furnished by a pure conscience in my retirement, it will be found in the hope that you will honor me with your esteem."

    He was succeeded by James Mather, appointed mayor by Claiborne on March 9, 1807. Mather served till October 8, 1812. He was an Englishman by birth, but upon the acquisition of the Province of Louisiana by the United States, seems to have identified himself wholeheartedly with the American cause. His residence in New Orleans dated back many years. As early as 1780 we hear of him as a merchant in good circumstances, contracting with the Spanish Government to operate two vessels out of the port, with a view to import articles required in the trade with the Indians. In 1804, when Bor , Bellechasse, Jones and Clark had refused to serve on the Territorial Council under an appointment from the President of the United States, he had been selected by Claiborne, along with Dorci re, Flood and Pollock, to take their places. The principal event in Mather's administration was the arrival of the West Indian emigrants. A few other incidents, however, may be first mentioned. Scarcely had he taken his seat when he was informed that Burr's friends in the city, including some of the most prominent people, had formed an association and were conspiring with the Spanish to deliver New Orleans into their hands. Claiborne, although disposed to make light of the intelligence, deemed it wise to reinforce the garrison heavily, and this precaution caused the conspiracy, if such there were, to evaporate. In November, 1809, a negro insurrection was averted by the employment of a similar expedient. Disturbances among the negroes on the German Coast, not far from New Orleans, were expected to react on the black population in New Orleans, but the militia was set to patrol the streets and two companies of regulars were hurried to the scene and the peace was not troubled. Finally, in August, 1812, a severe storm did extensive damage to the city. Buildings belonging to the corporation sustained damages to the extent of about $60,000.

    In 1806 the population of New Orleans was about 12,000 souls, of whom about 7,500 were whites. Within the next four years the total rose to 24,552. The reason for this remarkable increase was the arrival in New Orleans of several thousand persons who had formerly been residents of the Island of Santo Domingo, but who had been driven from that place by the servile wars. There was also a small influx of Americans. But the increase in the population from this source was smaller than is generally supposed. In 1806 the entire number of white inhabitants in New Orleans whose language was neither French nor Spanish was about 1,400. Three years later the proportion of Americans was about 12 to 100 of the total population — or about 14, counting the white population only. The Santo Domingans, on fleeing from their own island, had found refuge with their slaves and other property in Cuba. But now war broke out between France and Spain, and they were compelled to seek another place of exile. The ties of a common religion, a common language, and a common political sentiment, attracted them to Louisiana. Within the space of two months, from May 19 to July 18, 1809, thirty-four vessels arrived in the port of New Orleans from Cuba, with 5,754 of these hapless people on board. Thirty-two of these vessels were from Santiago de Cuba, one from Havana, and one from Baracoa. They were all small; the hardships of the voyage had been great, even to the point of starvation, and not a few arrived sick and destitute. Mayor Mather has left on record the fact that 400 poor widows, children and old men were cared for by the charity of the community. In this first delegation were 1,798 whites, 1,977 free persons of color, and 1,979 slaves. Subsequently, other groups of fleeing French, white and black, found their way to the city — in all a total estimated at 10,000.

    The city was in no condition to receive so considerable an addition to its population. There was a particular objection to immigration from this source. The Creoles did not welcome the newcomers because of their fear that with them would come the terrible spirit which had led up to the servile revolt in Santo Domingo. Claiborne appealed to the American consuls at Havana to stop the movement; the free people of color were ordered to leave the territory, though few of them did so; and other futile measures were taken to fend off the imaginary danger. The Americans also saw the influx of these refugees with disfavor. The latter reinforced the Creoles, who, as a class, were already beginning to show that hostility to the Americans which down to the Civil War prevented the amalgamation into one homogeneous community all of the various elements that made up New Orleans. The price of bread and lodging was forced up abnormally by this sudden increase of population.

    Mayor Mather has left us an account of the Santo Domingans. "The blacks," he writes, "have been trained up to the habits of strict discipline and consist wholly of Africans brought up from Guineamen in the Island of Cuba, or faithful slaves who have fled with their masters from St. Domingo as early as 1803. [. . .] A few characters among the free people of color have been represented to me as dangerous to the peace of the territory. [. . .] I have been particular in causing such as have been informed against to give bond for their leaving the territory within the time allotted for such cases." The white contingent excited the good mayor's sympathy. "The whites," he adds, "consisting chiefly of planters and merchants of St. Domingo who took refuge on the shores of Cuba about six years ago, appear to be an active, industrious people. They evince until now on every occasion their respect for our laws and their confidence in our Government. They have suffered a great deal both at sea and in the river. [. . .] Several have died and many are now a prey to diseases originating, as it appears, from the use of unwholesome food and from the foul air they have breathed while heaped together with their slaves in the holds of small vessels during their passage from Cuba." Most of these people supported themselves in New Orleans by hiring out their slaves as day laborers. They were quickly absorbed into the population of the city. Not after this eventful year are the Santo Domingans ever heard of again as a separate class. "The men became overseers, managers of plantations, clerks, teachers, musicians, actors — anything to make the first bare necessities of life. The women did embroidery, sewing, dressmaking, millinery, living or lodging, not in the new brick houses, but in little two-room cottages opposite or alongside. [. . .] It was the refugees from the West Indies that brought the love of luxury into the colony, the Creoles before that time, many believing and maintaining, being simple in their tastes and plain in their living. It would seem, from the constant mention made of it in family legends, that the tropical ease and languor of the West Indian women was indeed as much a novelty in the feminine world as the always emphasized distinction, the literary tastes, and accomplishments of the West Indian men were in the masculine world."

    In September of this same year Mayor Mather was called on to face a serious situation which arose as a result of the attempt of the eminent lawyer, Edward Livingston, to get possession of the "batture," or sandy deposits, made by the Mississippi River in front of the Faubourg Ste. Marie.b Livingston was a brother of the celebrated Chancellor Livingston. His home was originally in New York City. He came to New Orleans in 1801 as a fugitive from justice. He was an intimate friend of Daniel Clark, and it is supposed that the latter's influence shielded him from prosecution when New Orleans passed under American control. At any rate, he continued to practise his profession in this city with great success. Livingston purchased a property above Canal Street and claimed as riparian owner all the river deposits between his land and the water line. The claim was opposed by President Jefferson on the ground that the "batture" was public land belonging to the United States under the treaty of cession. The question was long before the courts; in fact, it was not settled until after both Livingston and Madison had been laid to rest, and resulted finally in a decision in the Supreme Court of the United States confirming the title to this immensely valuable property to the City of New Orleans.

    The attempt of Livingston to take possession of the property which he claimed led to two outbreaks, somewhat inaccurately remembered in New Orleans as "riots." The "batture" had been used for many years by the city as a commons. Livingston, having obtained an order confirming his claim from the Superior Court of the territory, in August, 1807, sent some negroes to work to dig a canal there, but the citizens assembled in considerable force and drove them away. This took place during a temporary absence of Claiborne from the city. On his return he found the city greatly excited over the incident. Livingston appealed to the governor. The City Council, on its side, passed a resolution requesting the governor to take steps to have its title confirmed without delay. Claiborne was non-plussed. "The opposition of the people to a decision of the court is in itself so improper and furnishes a precedent so dangerous that it cannot be constituted," he said. "But the opposition is on the present occasion so general that I feel myself compelled to resort to measures the most conciliatory as the only means of avoiding still greater tumult, and, perhaps,bloodshed." Livingston lost no time in instituting civil proceedings against the more prominent citizens who had opposed his attempt to take possession of the "batture." On September 15th he again sent laborers to the scene. At 4:00 o'clock the sound of a drum was heard in the streets of the city; the population rallied by thousands, and, pouring out in the direction of the "batture," prepared to enforce their wishes. Only the prompt interposition of Claiborne averted serious consequences; and that only when he agreed to commend to the President of the United States the claim of the city, and to place the matter in the hands of Colonel Macarty, who was present as one of the leaders of the populace. The long litigation which ensued had a bad effect upon the development of the Faubourg Ste. Marie, which might otherwise have become the real center of the city much sooner than it actually did.

    Other events which agitated the city in this year were a series of collisions between American and European sailors, who met each other in genuine battle on the levee so frequently that Claiborne felt again the necessity of moving additional regulars into the city. The libelous publications in a newspaper called "La Lanterne Magique," the local organ of the Burr faction, help also to stir up excitement against the Government p89and its offices. The municipality found itself involved in extensive litigation with one Tr m over the property on which the now demolished fortifications had stood at the lower extremity of the city. Tr m , it appears, obstructed the drains there, on the ground that the property was his, having been acquired before the building of the forts. There was also litigation with one Lafon over the possession of a strip of the common lying between the upper boundary of the city and the Faubourg Ste. Marie. Many similar suits were brought on titles which Mather, writing to Claiborne, in August, 1809, said had been outlawed in Spanish times, and were now resurrected with a view to annoy the administration. In 1812 the mayor and the Council disagreed when the latter undertook to appoint commissioners of election without first getting the former's approval. "I must infer that you are determined to oppose all the measures which I may propose in accord with the law," he wrote bitterly; but agreed to issue the appropriate proclamation, with the understanding that his rights in the premises had been vindicated.

    Map of New Orleans, 1815

    Mather was able to accomplish little with regard to the police but did succeed in organizing a tolerably efficient fire department. The former continued to be the scandal and menace of the city. The "Garde de Ville" created in 1806, having proven a complete failure, was, in 1808, reduced to eight men, who thereafter were known as constables. The militia patrol of 1804 was then revived, with the chief of the "Garde de Ville" in charge thereof. This system continued for fourteen years, with only such changes as arose from the necessity of increasing the number of constables as the city grew in size. The men who served in the patrol were, like the firemen, volunteers. They were private citizens and received no pay.

    The frequency of incendiary fires made the necessity of a good fire department evident. In 1807, therefore, the City Council passed a rigid law, fixing the limits in which the building of wooden structures was forbidden, and requiring every householder to have on his premises a well equipped with at least two buckets. A depot for four engines, known as the Depot des Pompes, was located at the city hall (Cabildo). Here were deposited twelve dozen buckets, twelve ladders, ten grappling-irons and chains, ten gaffs and quantities of axes, sledge hammers, shovels and other implements employed at that time, when the principal method of preventing the spread of fire was to tear down the adjoining properties. Six other engines were provided for, one of which was stationed in each of the four "quarters" into which the city was divided for the purposes of combating fire; one at the St. Philip Theater, and one in the Faubourg Ste. Marie. To each engine was assigned company of from twelve to twenty-four men. In addition was a reserve company of thirty "sapeurs," composed of workingmen habituated to the use of tools, whose duty was to tear down property to prevent the spread of fire. A review of the department was held every month, on Sunday, in the Place d'Armes, where the engines, which were operated by hand, were tested.

    The firemen were all volunteers, like the militia patrolmen. Their only compensation was a provision by which they were exempted from jury duty. This privilege was enjoyed by the firemen thereafter down to the disbandment of the volunteer fire department, over eighty years later. Provision was also made for a fire alarm service, but it was of an exceedingly primitive order. A watchman was stationed day and night on the upper part of the St. Louis cathedral, whose duty it was, in addition to sounding the hours, to keep a lookout for signs of fire, and on the first sight of a blaze to ring the church bell by way of signal. All the watchmen who were not otherwise specially detailed were required to report to the Cabildo immediately upon the sounding of the alarm. Thence they were to proceed to the scene of the conflagration in squads along parallel streets, obliging all persons whom they met to accompany them, in order to man the engines and aid in extinguishing the flames.

    In view of the frequency of incendiary fires the Council in 1807 also passed a resolution offering a reward of $500 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of any person guilty of this crime. The Legislature also took cognizance of the crime by passing an act by which slaves were allowed to give testimony against their masters in cases of arson. In such cases, where the slave furnished the information upon which the prosecution was based, it was provided that he should be rewarded by receiving his freedom. Still another and important improvement concerned the water supply. In May, 1810, the Council made a contract with Louis Gleizes to furnish "a sufficient supply of the Mississippi water not only for the use of the inhabitants but also to water the streets and to extinguish fire in the case of conflageration. " Gleizes laid a system of wooden conduits to various parts of the town. He was paid not by the municipality but by selling the water to the persons with whose houses the system was connected.

    The closing years of Mather's administration brought him much criticism. He was accused of being under the influence of certain individuals; of failing to protect the interests of the city by vetoing the unwise measures of the City Council; of hiring people to write anonymous letters attacking his enemies and paying them with public funds. There does not appear to have been any grounds for these accusations. They were, however, in part responsible for the determination arrived at in 1812 to retire from public life. Advancing years and declining health were also considerations which prompted his withdrawal.

    The Author’s Notes

    1. Unnecessary. Louisiana Gazette, 1805.
    2. Burial. Rightor, "Standard History of New Orleans," 111-112.
    3. Methodist. Louisiana Gazette, May 31, June 2, 14, 16, 1805.
    4. Residences. Smith, "Life of Philander Chase," 63-65.
    5. Operstions. Channing, "The Federalist System," 155-159.
    6. Superior. King, New Orleans, the Place and the People, 176; Latrobe, Journal of Latrobe, 190.
    7. Publication. Records of the City Council, May 29, 30, 1805, in New Orleans City Archives.
    8. Colonel Bellechasse. Shea, "Life and Times of Bishop Carroll."
    9. Jefferson's Approval. See Jefferson's letter to Claiborne, quoted in Fortier, Louisiana, I, 136: "The Federalists will try to make something of the infringement of liberty by the military arrest and deportation of citizens," he writes; and he expresses the hope that public would in the end approve the actions of Wilkinson, if the infringement did not go too far.
    10. Disappeared.See Wilknson, "Memoirs of My Own Times, II, Chaps. VIII, IX.
    11. Favor. See Records of the Municipality in the New Orleans City Archives, September-October, 1805, passim.
    12. Esteem. Records of the City Council, March 7, 1807, in New Orleans City Archives.
    13. Indians. Gayarr , "History of Louisiana," II, 162.
    14. Places. Martin, "History of Louisiana," II, 252.
    15. Evaporate. Rowland, "Letter Books of W. C. C. Claiborne," IV, 279, 304, 309.
    16. Troubled. Ibid., 18.
    17. Cuba. Rowland, "Letter Books of W. C. C. Claiborne," IV, 381-402, 403, 405.
    18. World. Grace King, New Orleans, the Place and the People, 171, 172.
    19. Justice. Sparks, "Memories of Fifty Years," 426.
    20. New Orleans. Ibid., 427.
    21. Bloodshed. Gayarr , "History of Louisiana," IV, 186. See also Louisiana Courier, November 4, 16, 1807.
    22. Populace. Waring and Cable, "Social Statistics of Cities, Report on the History and Present Condition of New Orleans," 36, 37.
    23. Officers. Ibid., 37.
    24. Vindicated. Records of City Council, September 19, 1812, in the New Orleans City Archives.
    25. Pay. See Louisiana Courier, December 18, 1807.
    26. Flames. Ordinances of February 14, 1806, and March 14, 1807.
    27. Freedom. Rightor, "Standard History of New Orleans," 120-121.
    28. Conflageration. Record of the City Council, May 10, 19, 1810, in the City Archives of New Orleans.
    29. Funds. Louisiana Gazette, 1810.

    Footnotes completed by:

    Chapter VI
    The Battle of New Orleans

    The time had now come when the citizens of New Orleans might be admitted to the exercise of all the rights and privileges of full-fledged citizens of the great American Republic. The year 1812 is a turning point in the history of the city. In this year the Creole population, augmented by the Santo Domingans, attained its greatest numerical strength, as compared with the Americans, and definitely challenged the rival civilization to that long conflict — ? the longest and most resolute ever waged against it by a small and isolated community — ? that lasted to the Civil war.1 In this year, on January 10th, "the inhabitants of New Orleans witnessed the approach of the first vessel propelled by steam" which ever navigated the Mississippi.2 In this year Louisiana was admitted to the Union. In this year the charter of the city was amended in a way which permitted the citizens to elect their own chief magistrate. Hitherto that official had been appointed by the governor. And finally, in this year, war broke out between the United States and England, with consequences which, while at first they threatened disaster to New Orleans, ended in the most brilliant episode in all its eventful history.

    On November 4, 1811, a convention composed of delegates elected by the people of the entire territory, met in New Orleans and on January 28th following adopted a State constitution. The admission of Louisiana to the Union was effected on April 30th. The changes in the city charter which followed as a corollary to the latter event were embodied in an act approved by the governor on September 1st. This act provided that, on the third Monday following its promulgation, the citizens "who possessed the qualifications to elect" should meet "at the places pointed out by the present mayor and City Council, in their respective wards, and there by ballot elect a citizen to be mayor for two years; and one other citizen to be recorder, also for two years; and two other citizens for each of the first, second, third, fourth, fifth and sixth wards, and one citizen from each of the seventh and eighth wards, of good fame and possessed of property in their respective wards, to be aldermen to represent said wards in the City Council." The mayor, it was provided, should be a resident of the city or of the incorporated suburbs thereof. These officials, when elected, were to enter upon the duties of their offices on the second Monday succeeding the day of their election and continue "to exercise the said duties for two weeks succeeding the election of their successors, and until they [the successors] shall have taken their oath, or affirmation, required by the constitution." The biennial election of mayor and recorder was fixed thereafter on the first Monday of September. The act fixed the length of the term of the aldermen at two years, but divided them into two classes, one of which retired at the end of each year, in such a manner that there was an election for one alderman every year in every ward except the seventh and the eighth. In case p92the mayor was incapacitated for any reasons to perform the duties of his office, it was provided that his place should be filled pro tempore and that an election should be called within fifteen days at which a person should be chosen to fill out the unexpired remainder of his term. Similar provisions were made with regards to the recorder and the aldermen. The conditions under which the franchise might be exercised were numerous. The voter had to be twenty-one years of age, a free white male, resident in the city for at least one year previous to the election, who had paid a state, parish, or city tax for six months on real estate valued at not less than $500, or paid rent at the rate of $50 per annum. The mayor, moreover, was to have attained the age of thirty and have resided in the city for four years previous to his election. He was required to possess real estate in the city valued on the tax list at not less than $3,000. For his services the mayor was to receive a salary the amount of which was to be fixed by the Council, but might not exceed $4,000 per annum; nor could he, the recorder, nor the councilmen receive any augmentation of salary voted during their terms.

    In conformity with the foregoing act an election for mayor was called for September 21st. The proclamation was not signed by Mather, but by Charles Trudeau, "Recorder, filling the functions of mayor." Mather, as a matter of fact, abandoned the mayoralty on May 23rd. It is not clear why he did so, but apparently his age and infirmities made it impossible for him to attend to his official duties after that date. Trudeau, who by virtue of his office automatically replaced him, served until October 8th, when he relinquished the post to his successor.4 The election took place as ordered, but the ballot boxes were not opened until the 25th, when the Council met and solemnly proceeded to this duty. There does not seem to have been any formal nominations. The voters cast their ballots for any person or persons that pleased them. The consequence was a very scattering vote. Nicholas Girod received 859 votes; James Pitot, 461; D. Bellechasse, 79; and Charles Trudeau, Benjamin Morgan and Monsieur Villemel, one vote each. Girod was accordingly declared elected mayor. For recorder the vote was still more extensively distributed. Pierre Missonet received 712 votes; Charles Trudeau, 174; Felix Arnaud, 168; Thomas McCormick, 135; Monsieur Robelot, 66; J. B. Pr vost, 93; S. Ducourneau, 26; Monsieur Dorville, 22; Bernard Marigny, 5; Zenon Trudeau, 2; Jean Chabaud, 2; and Lebreton Dorgenoy, D. Bellechasse, J. Blanquet, A. Chastant, Monsieur Guinault and J. G. Lespinasse, one vote each. Missonet was accordingly declared elected.

    At the same time a complete council was elected, as follows: First ward, John R. Grymes, Maunsell White; Second ward, Ferd. Percy, Paul Lanusse; Third ward, J. B. Dejan, Sr., Honor Landreau; Fourth ward, p93J. Lanna, Nicholas Lauve; Fifth ward, J. Blanque, B. Marigny; Sixth ward, James Freret, Antoine Carraby; Seventh ward, Chevalier Doriocourt, LeBreton Dorgenoy.5

    The retiring council notified the new officials that the next regular meeting would be held on the following Saturday (September 26th) at 10:00 A.M. and suggested that they attend, presumably in order to get acquainted with the routine of official duty. The new mayor, however, was not installed until October 5th. The occasion was made one of some ceremony. Governor Claiborne was present at the Cabildo, received the oaths and made a short address.6

    Girod served to September 5, 1814, and was then re-elected at an election held on that date. It is interesting to note that on this occasion the polls were located at the residences of the most prominent citizens in each ward. In the First ward the ballot box was set forth at the home of Stephen Henderson; in the second at that of A. Chastant; in the third at that of J. Lanna; in the fourth at that of Bernard Marigny; in the fifth at that of James Johnson; in the Sixth at that of M. Saulet; and in the Seventh at that of LeBreton Dorgenoy. The mayor's proclamation establishing the election precincts omits to mention where the polls would be found in the Eighth ward. Again there was no formal nomination and again the vote was scattered widely. Girod received 309 votes; Macarty, 286; Labatut, 195; Relf, 102; Dorgenoy, 67; Pedesclaux, 33; Lanusse, 1. Girod was accordingly declared successful. For recorder the vote was: Arnaud, 343; Percy, 326; Pr val, 154; Missonet, 83; Caissergne, 67. Arnaud was declared elected. The new members of the Council were chosen at the same time, with the following result: First ward, Dr. Spencer; Second ward, Alex Choppin; Third ward, Pierre Roger; Fourth ward, J. B. Thierry; Fifth ward, B. Marigny; Sixth ward, James Freret; Seventh ward, Louis Foucher; Eighth ward, Samuel Young.7

    Girod, fifth mayor of New Orleans, was thus its first regularly elected chief magistrate. He was about sixty-five years of age and looked upon as one of the substantial business men of the city. He had settled in New Orleans in Spanish times and acquired a fortune as a merchant. He owned immense properties above the city, in the vicinity of Girod Street. He made his home, however, in the Vieux Carré , in a house which still stands at the corner of Chartres and St. Louis. He died almost forgotten on September 1, 1840, when, in chronicling his interment, the editor of the Bee commented with melancholy indignation upon the fact that only a few intimate friends assembled to follow to the grave one who deserved better of his fellow citizens. His name is remembered in New Orleans in connection with two matters which may be convenient dealt with here, though a little out of the proper chronological order. The first is a legend which represents him as promoting in conjunction with Dominique You a scheme to rescue Napoleon from his captivity at St. Helena.8 It is said that the once magnificent residence at the corner of St. Louis and Chartres was erected by Girod for the reception of the emperor, who was to be brought to the p94city by You, on board a swift-sailing yacht provided for the purpose by the conspirators. The death of the emperor, which occurred before the rescue could be effected, is said to have prevented an attempt to put this fantastic plan into execution. The only basis for the legend which has been discovered is the fact that when Napoleon escaped from Elba the news reached New Orleans while the leading citizens were assembled at the St. Philip Theater at a dramatic performance there. The wildest enthusiasm prevailed; the entertainment broke up and the excited populace, amongst whom Napoleon was extremely popular, collected at the Cabildo. The impression was current that the emperor would make for America; nowhere could he count upon so warm a welcome or feel himself so entirely at home as in New Orleans. Mayor Girod made a speech in which he dwelt on these ideas, and announced that he would place his own residence at the disposition of the illustrious exile upon his arrival. The house said to have been erected especially for the emperor was, unfortunately for the story, erected some years previously.9 The other matter which keeps green in New Orleans the memory of Girod is the famous legacy which at his death it was found that he had left to the mayor, as custodian, for the purpose of establishing an institution for the support and education of orphans of French parentage. The will assigned $100,000 for this purpose. The bequest was, however, made the subject of litigation; the city only received $28,000, and that was frittered away without realizing the benevolent purposes which suggested the legacy.a The four years of Girod's administration were uneventful except insofar as concerns the war of 1812. That war was unfortunate for New Orleans. It came at a juncture when the future seemed to offer almost limitless prosperity. The Spanish-American countries bordering on the Gulf of Mexico were beginning to free themselves from the yoke of the mother country. Once independent, they promised to be valuable customers of New Orleans. The invention of cotton-handling machinery made it certain that cotton would be one of the world's chief staples. p95New Orleans was already one of the principal centers of the cotton business. The introduction of steam-navigation on the Mississippi River opened boundless vistas of commercial expansion in the Mississippi Valley. All this, however, was postponed by the war. The embargo and the British blockade caused extensive business depression in New Orleans. In April, 1813, the paralysis of commerce compelled the local banks to suspend specie payment on their notes. Money became hard to get. People paid 3 to 4 percent per month on loans. The Creek Indians went on the warpath in Mississippi and Alabama, burning and murdering indiscriminately. A "crevasse" overflowed a portion of the town. Bands of drunken Choctaw Indians perambulated the city streets. The authorities were loath to restrain them for fear of provoking a rising which would lead to a repetition in Louisiana of tragedies such as that at Fort Mimms. A series of incendiary fires produced a state of general alarm. Amidst all these anxieties there was a recrudescence of the "batture" trouble. In this condition of affairs the arrival of occasional prizes taken by the American privateers, occasioned only a passing relief from the prevailing apprehension, discord, and despondency. The first of these prizes was the ship, "Jane," from Glasgow, taken in January, 1813, by the American schooner, "Spy." The "Jane" was a smart vessel which mounted 12 guns and her capture was a clever exploit, in line with the achievements of the American navy in the Atlantic.

    The management of the war by the American government was not brilliant. It was attempted to confine the hostilities to Canada. For the benefit of the army on the northern frontier, New Orleans was stripped of part of the little garrison necessary for its protection. The British, on the other hand, were keenly appreciative of the importance of New Orleans as a strategic point in the campaign. Early in the war the Canadian newspapers announced that a great expedition was organizing against the city. The government ignored these rumors until the enemy was virtually at the mouth of the Mississippi. Wilkinson, who was assigned to the command at New Orleans early in the war, was soon relieved and sent to the Canadian frontier. When the foe finally appeared, Claiborne could rely only on some 700 regular soldiers, and a small force of militia. A flat-bottomed frigate which was destined to carry 42 guns was on the ways at Tchefuncta, on the opposite side of Lake Pontchartrain, but she was less than half-finished, and therefore useless. To patrol — nearly 600 miles of coast there were available only one sloop-of-war and six gunboats. Fort St. Philip, on the Mississippi, — about seventy-five miles below New Orleans, was an unimportant work. At the Rigolets, barring the most likely route of an enemy against the city, Fort Petites Coquilles was incomplete and only partially defensible. At the mouth of Bayou St. John a tiny work dating from Spanish times was a negligible element in the system of defense. Later on, two small vessels, the "Louisiana" and the "Carolina," the latter a schooner, were put in service on the Mississippi. The latter, especially, did valiant service until destroyed by a hot-shot from one of the enemy's batteries.

    Claiborne was a man of peace. He lacked the iron firmness, the uncompromising resolution which were necessary to hold the fractious city under control at this critical juncture. He had, however, done his best to prepare for eventualities. He had appealed for re-enforcements to the officials in the adjacent States, but none came till the last moment. p96He had, therefore, to depend upon the Louisiana militia. These troops, so far as the country contingents were concerned, showed an excellent spirit; but in the city they evinced a most discouraging lack of zeal and ability to comprehend the serious nature of the crisis which impended. Only after three imperative calls was the Governor successful in getting the city companies into the field. The first effort was made on a requisition for troops from the commander of the United States forces in the Seventh Military District, of which Louisiana formed a part. This was in February, 1814. It not only proved abortive, but nearly involved a bloody clash between the city companies and a contingent of 400 country militiamen who had been collected at the Magazine Barracks on the opposite side of the city. These men offered their services to coerce the insubordinate city commands into doing their duty. The offer was fiercely resented in New Orleans. Only the tactful refusal of Claiborne averted bloodshed. The city companies for the most part flatly refused to volunteer or be drafted. A few signified their willingness to serve in the State; a number were ready to serve in the city, but none were prepared to fight under American officers, and all insisted that they should be relieved at frequent intervals.10 Something may be said in defense of their unpatriotic and illogical behavior. Wilkinson's dictatorship of 1804 had left behind a bad impression of the American officer. The ill-success of the wars far did not tend to breed confidence in the national government. But their course naturally created grave doubts in Claiborne's and, later, in Jackson's minds.

    New Orleans was full of elements of which, to say the least, the loyalty remained to be proved. The Santo Domingans, who, as we have seen, constituted nearly one-half of the population, were newcomers, unfamiliar and possibly unsympathetic with American ideas. There was an English faction which could be expected to support the enemy, if not actively, then passively. The Spanish could not be relied upon; in fact, they were Spanish fishermen, who guided the British forces through the swamps to the solid lands along the Mississippi River, and thereby greatly facilitated their attack. The Baratarian pirates were possible enemies. In spite of the fact that they were outlaws, Jean and Pierre Lafitte frequented the public places in the city, ignoring the officers of the law, and encouraged by the populace, not a few of whom profited by their illicit trade. There was every reason to suppose that they would co-operate with the Britain in an attempt against a government which menaced their existence. The destruction of their stronghold at Barataria was a necessary element in the defense of the city. Commodore Patterson and Colonel Ross, both regular United States officers, were sent to the city to do this. In the meantime the British had established themselves at Apalachicola, on the Gulf Coast, and were in touch with the Baratarians. The commander, Nicholls, offered the pirate chieftain a captaincy in the British army and $30,000 for his aid. But one of the deepest emotions in Jean Lafitte's dark heart was a hatred of the English. Either this sentiment, or, as was believed at the time, a desire to forestall Pattison's and Ross' expedition, led him now to lay Nicholls' letter before Claiborne, with a tender of his own and his men's services, coupled with the proviso that, in case of acceptance, all prescriptions against them should be annulled.b Claiborne was in favor of accepting p97the proposal, but a council which he assembled for the purpose, after much deliberation, thought otherwise; and Pattison and Ross fitted out their expedition, and, in September, broken up the pirate settlement and dispersed its inhabitants. The pirates fled in various directions; some found refuge in New Orleans, and added a further perplexity to the already complicated situation which Claiborne had to face.11

    In March, Claiborne had to suppress a filibustering expedition against Texas. In April came news of the fall of Paris and the abdication of Napoleon. This meant that England was now free to devote her undivided attention to the American war. On the other hand, in July, the Creeks sued for peace. With the termination of the Creek war disappeared the danger long feared by Claiborne of a rising of the Choctaws. Another fortunate development followed. This was the appointment of Gen. Andrew Jackson to take command at New Orleans, and the announcement that he would be in the city in a short time.

    Jackson's Headquarters, New Orleans Jackson, however, had first to brush away the British from Pensacola, where they had established themselves with the tacit approval of the Spanish commandant. He conducted a campaign with that end in view in the autumn, and was completely successful. But these operations necessarily delayed his arrival in New Orleans. Pending his advent p98everything there went from bad to worse. A little body of patriotic citizens assembled at the Tr monlet Hotel on September 15 with Edward Livingston as president, and after passing appropriate resolutions formed themselves into a committee to co-operate with the authorities in matters relating to the public defense. A few days later a rival body with Roffignac as president was formed for the same purpose. The two were soon embroiled in hot disputes over foolish questions of precedence and authority, and checkmated each other's plans of usefulness.12 About the same time Claiborne convened the State Legislature to take action upon a request from Jackson that the militia be got ready for immediate service; but it, too, became involved in interminable controversies, and frittered away the precious time without accomplishing anything. The absurdity of its conduct finally stirred one of the members, Louallier, of Opelousas, to an indignant arraignment of his fellow-members. "Are we so situated that we have no dangers to dread? [. . .] Shall we always confine ourselves to letters and proclamations?" he asked, impatiently. "Are we always to witness the several departments entrusted with our defense languishing in a state of inactivity, hardly to be excused even in the most peaceful times? No other evidence of patriotism is to be found than a disposition to avoid every expense, every fatigue. Nothing as yet has been performed. It is the duty of the Legislature to give the necessary impulse."13 Everywhere was visible the need of a real leader; and he was at hand.

    Jackson reached the city on December 1. His rough manners and imperious tone offended the Creoles, but his energy, persistence, and serene self-confidence speedily begot a spirit of confidence on all sides. Then, all at once, the community found itself. The city shook off its lethargy. The cantankerous spirit of the last few months evaporated. In its place appeared a zeal, patriotism and self-sacrifice which is all the more startling and all the more moving because of the stubborn fractiousness which preceded it. Here was a man who knew his own mind, and spoke with authority, and immediately everybody was glad to obey. The Legislature busied itself getting together money to put at the disposal of the commander for building fortifications. It called on slave-owners to place their negroes at his orders for the same purpose. Many promptly complied. The women went to work making uniforms and providing comforts for the troops. The French consul, the Chevalier de Tousac who had served in the Revolution, was precluded by his office from participating personally in the campaign, but he urged his compatriots to enroll. Among those who thus enlisted in the American army was General Humbert, one of Napoleon's veterans, who had commanded the French army that invaded Ireland, in 1798. About the time that Burr visited New Orleans he had come to the city to make it his home thenceforward to his death in 1823.14 p99 Another veteran was named Roche. He had served under Napoleon in Egypt. He was of great service in equipping and drilling the militia. When Jackson reviewed the troops immediately after his arrival, Roche's battalion was the "only perfectly armed, well equipped and really well disciplined battalion in the local forces."15 One old Frenchman whose age made it impossible to join the army, sent 700 coats, valued at $4,000, as his contribution to the good cause. Lafitte renewed his offer of service, and Jackson, who had in one of his proclamations issued from Mobile had denounced the Baratarians as "hellish banditti,"c but who had the virtue of inconsistency, promptly accepted him, and assigned his men to the artillery, or sent them to man the forts. Jackson had brought with him a small force of frontiersmen. He was re-enforced in December by Carroll with 2,500 Tennesseans, and by Coffee with 1,200 more. In all his forces were between 6,000 and 7,000 men when the time of action finally arrived. At present his care was to strengthen the fortifications. He visited the river forts, reconnoitered the country around the city, and ordered all bayoux and irrigation — ? or drainage — ? canals leading through the swamps in the vicinity of the city to be obstructed or filled in. This order was vitally important; it was slackly carried out. The officer responsible for its execution was left exonerated from all blame by a court-martial; it is not clear whose negligence was responsible for a failure which enabled the British to approach unmolested within easy striking distance of the city.16

    Other steps taken by Jackson which may be attributed to his want of confidence in the fickle population of the city, gave great offense there. He proposed, for instance, that the writ of habeas corpus be suspended, and that the State Legislature adjourn. The former was desirable in order to facilitate Pattison's impressment of sailors; the latter seemed necessary to avoid the danger of divided authority. Claiborne pointed out to the Legislature that this was no time for calm deliberation and the making of laws; but the legislators got the idea that it was a patriotic duty to remain in session. Jackson got around the awkward situation by proclaiming martial law. All strangers thereafter had on arrival to report themselves at the office of the adjutant-general; no one and no vessel might leave the city without a passport; all the street lights were extinguished at 9 P.M., and good citizens were expected to be indoors at that hour. This difference with the Legislature led to important developments, as we shall see later on. Meanwhile, Jackson distributed his men with great judgment. The Garrison at Spanish Fort was increased. Major Lacoste and a company of colored men, and one from Feliciana, were stationed at Gentilly, to defend the road from Chief Menteur. The city was under the control of General Labatut. He had a force of veterans under him, largely men who were by age incapacitated from more exacting service in the field. Jackson gave a captain's commission to a Negro named Savary, and directed him to raise a corps of free men of color. This command was attached to Major D'Aquin's regiment of militia. The command of all the Negro troops was given to Colonel Fortier. They did good service in the engagements which were shortly to occur. Savary's men distinguished themselves in the fighting p100on December 23, and received special mention in Jackson's orders after that battle. Juzan enlisted all the Choctaw Indians in the vicinity of the city. St. Rome, editor of the Courier de la Louisiane, and St. G me, a French emigr , to whom we shall have occasion to allude again, were put in command of battalions. Maunsell White raised a company of Irishmen. A volunteer company of riflemen was formed by a Virginian named Beale. Beale was a crack marksman and socially prominent. Many Americans enlisted in his command, among others Lewis, Chew, Story, Montgomery, Kenner, Henderson, McCall, Lind, Sheperd, Baker, and Parmelee — ? all men whose names are well remembered to this day. Beale's company was stationed on the Rodriguez Canal. Coffee encamped — four miles above the city. Governor Claiborne, with the First, Second and Fourth Regiments of Louisiana militia, were to cover the approaches of the city from the direction of Gentilly Ridge.17 The British expedition consisted of over fifty vessels, some of the largest size, like the great Tonnant, 80 guns, which had been one of Nelson's prizes at the battle of the Nile. There were five 74s. The fleet was under the redoubtable Cochrane, whose exploit of burning the capitol at Washington had made his name of dread all along the Atlantic coast. The troops were about 7,500 in number, under Gen. Sir John Pakenham, a distinguished soldier, who had won his knighthood by leading a singularly gallant charge at Salamanca. The force was divided into three divisions, commanded respectively by Generals Gibbs, Lambert and Keane. It was composed for the most part of veterans of the Peninsula wars, and was splendidly armed and equipped. The first clash between the British and the Americans took place at Fort Bowyer, a small fortification thrown up two years before by Wilkinson, to protect the approaches to Mobile. Here the British were severely repulsed. The next encounter was with a small American flotilla under Captain Jones, which a British scouting expedition ran foul of near Malheureux Island, off the Rigolets, at the entrance to Lake Borgne. The Americans, after a gallant resistance, which cost the assailants near 300 men in killed and wounded, were captured.18 On the 20th of December a disguised British officer, guided by Spanish fishermen from a settlement on Bayou Bienvenue, reconnoitered the territory below the city as far as the river, and, returning, reported that the city might easily be approached from that direction. Bayou Bienvenue, was a considerable stream which flowed into Lake Borgne from the west. It rose close to the lower suburb of New Orleans. It was habitually used by Spanish and Italian fishermen to get their wares to market. No heed had been given to these humble people; they came and went daily, and thus their treachery was facilitated by an intimate knowledge of the situation in the city. Bayou Bienvenue, was among the streams ordered obstructed; it was one of those ignored in the execution of Jackson's orders. Had these instructions been carried out the British advance might have been retarded until news had had time to reach the contending armies that peace was actually concluded between America and Great Britain on December 24th, and thus the sanguinary affair of January 8th might have been avoided. p101However, this intelligence did not arrive till February 18th. In the meantime, the campaign had been fought and won.

    Battle of New Orleans From the print made by Laclotte The British made their way up Bayou Bienvenue, through Bayou Mazant, and by the Viller Canal. On December 23rd, 3,000 British soldiers appeared unexpectedly at the Viller plantation, captured the American outpost there, and found themselves upon the open plain alongside the Mississippi, with nothing between them and New Orleans in the way of fortifications. They were exhausted with the hardships of their journey through the swamps. Therefore it was decided to rest and wait for the arrival of re-enforcements. They were also restrained by the idea which they had received from some of their prisoners, that the Americans in New Orleans numbered 12,000 well-armed troops. Otherwise, it is possible they might have pressed on, taken the town by surprise, and won a brilliant success. The news of their approach was brought to Jackson by young Major Viller , who made his escape from the plantation at the approach of the enemy, and by hard riding reached Jackson's headquarters on Royal Street early in the afternoon. Jackson determined to attack at once. He immediately ordered forward towards the Laronde and Lacoste plantations a detachment of Marines under Major Carmick, who fell, badly wounded, a week later; a corps of artillery, the Mississippi Dragoons, the Orleans Riflemen, the Tennesseans, Major Plauch 's battalion of militia, and the free men of color — ? in all about 1,200 men. The "Carolina" also dropped down the river. At 7 P.M. this vessel opened an unexpected fire on the British position. Jackson attacked all along the line. The engagement which followed, while a hot one, reflected little credit upon the generalship of either commander. The British right attempted to outflank Jackson's left, but fell in with a division under General Coffee, and was only saved p102from capture by an unfortunate order, which restrained Creoles at the moment when they were about to charge with the bayonet. The night was very dark and foggy. Companies lost themselves. Some fired into their friends by mistakes. There were long series of hand-to-hand combats. Under cover of the smoke and fog, the British withdrew towards the Viller plantation. They were saved from a serious disaster by the arrival of their main body, which, hearing in the distance, the sound of firing, had hastened its advance up the bayoux, and pressed forward to the support of the sorely-beset advance guard. The loss was over 400. The American loss was 24 killed, 115 wounded, and 75 prisoners.

    Jackson, on his part, fell back at daybreak — about two miles nearer the city and took up a position along a canal which ran from the river towards the swamp. This was known as Rodriguez's Canal. It was a little drainage ditch, partly overgrown with grass, which had to be largely re-excavated in order to make it a definite military obstacle. This was to be the permanent American line. It was only — four miles from the city. There is an interesting story to the effect that in selecting this position Jackson was influenced by the advice of Livingston, who was now serving on his staff, and St. G me, to whom allusion has already been made. In 1804 the celebrated French General Moreau paid a visit to New Orleans. He rode over much of the adjacent country. One day, on passing this particular place, accompanied by St. G me, he had commented on its advantages from a military point of view, and said that, if New Orleans were ever attacked, there was the spot where the enemy could be most effectively resisted. This remark was now repeated to Jackson,19 and is said to have determined his decision. During the subsequent days preparations for the defense went rapidly on. A low breastwork was thrown up all the way from the river to the woods. In the woods less care was taken to fortify the line. Some cotton bales belonging to a merchant resident in New Orleans were seized and incorporated into the fortifications, apparently to face the embrasures where the artillery was placed.20 Jackson established his headquarters in a plantation residence just inside the lines belonging to a Mr. Montgomery.21 During the subsequent fighting this building was struck repeatedly by cannon-balls, some of which remained imbedded in its walls, where they were seen more than twenty years later, neatly gilded by the then owner of the property.22

    Rodriguez Canal Along the Line of Which General Jackson Posted His Troops at the Battle of New Orleans, January, 1815 The weather was very bad — ? cold and wet. The British suffered keenly from it, and from the scarcity of supplies. Jackson had had the foresight to remove everything possible from the vicinity. Their foraging parties therefore had constantly to push farther and farther afield, as far, in fact, as Detour des Anglais, and usually with small success. The miry ground made it difficult to bring up their heavy guns. Jackson caused the levee to be cut in hopes that the rising river would flood the country and drive the enemy away; but the water only served to swell the current p103in the canals and bayoux, and in this way facilitated the labors of the enemy without covering the country, as Jackson had expected would happen. Pakenham arrived on the 25th. On the 27th the destruction of the "Carolina" relieved the British from a serious annoyance. No longer exposed to its batteries, they were enabled to push forward to the Bienvenu and Chalmette plantations. The loss of the schooner was made up to the Americans in part by Pattison's establishing a battery on the other side of the river, which, fitted with guns from the "Louisiana," did good service from this time on.

    Jackson kept two regiments in advance of his position, mainly on the Laronde place. These scouts ascertained that great activity was in progress in the British camp. It was clear that attack was to be expected. This came on the morning of the 28th. The British numbered about 5,000 men. Jackson had now in line about 4,000 men. The superior artillery fire of the Americans pulverized the British attack, and it recoiled after suffering a loss of between 200 and 300 men. The American loss was 7 killed and 10 wounded. On the night of December 31st the British erected three "demilunes" in front of the American position, partly of earth, but strengthened with hogsheads of sugar requisitioned from adjacent sugar-houses. Heavy guns from the fleet were mounted here. The infantry fell back, and left to these formidable engines the task of breaking the American lines. The firing began early in the morning and lasted one and a half hours. For a time the American line was thrown into confusion by the British fire, and especially by the rockets, a form of missile quite new to the backwoodsmen and Creoles, some of which set fire to the cotton-bales in the American parapet. But You and B luche soon destroyed the British works with a well-directed fire from their batteries, and the anticipated attack was abandoned. That night the British withdrew their undamaged guns.

    This failure nerved Pakenham to renewed efforts. It was clear that unless he could carry the American position in one determined assault he must retreat to his ships and acknowledge the campaign a failure. He determined to attack on both sides of the river at once. He himself would command forces operating against Jackson's main position, but Colonel Thornton was assigned to the duty of carrying the American positions on the opposite side of the Mississippi, where General Morgan with a somewhat heterogeneous force, was stationed. In order to get troops across it was necessary to extend the Viller Canal to the river, and bring up barges along that route — ? a heavy task, which required time to complete. Therefore, the final attack was not ready till January 8th. In the meantime Jackson had been re-enforced, and had approximately as many troops at his disposal as the British commander. The morale of the Americans was excellent, and while they lacked the technical training of their opponents, their long experience as hunters and Indian fighters gave them an incomparable advantage. The battle which was now about to take place has a special interest as probably the first fair test of the system of fighting which had till then been in vogue, as compared with the loose, irregular order in which the Americans habitually fought, and which thereafter was gradually adopted throughout the world as the only effective battle formation.

    The disposition of the American forces on January 8th is a matter of some interest. On the road along the levee was a battery of artillery p104under Captain Humphrey, U. S. A., supported by St. G me's dragoons. In the most elevated position along the line, — 70 feet from the river bank, was another battery under Lieutenant Norris. — Fifty yards farther towards the woods was B luche's battery, and 20 yards further another under Lieutenant Crawley. Then at an interval of 170 yards was a fifth battery under Colonel Perry and Lieutenant Kerr; and a sixth, at a corresponding interval, was under Lieutenant-General de Flaujac. The eighth battery was in bad condition and unable to render any service during the battle. Here a corporal of artillery was in charge. On the river was a redoubt held by detachments of the Seventh and Forty-fourth Regulars, under Lieutenants Ross and Marant. The line was held thence by the Orleans Riflemen, Major Pierre's detachment of the Seventh Regiment; the colored troops under Majors Plauche, D'Aquin and Lacoste; and beyond these, the remainder of the Forty-fourth Regiment, commanded by Captain Baker. The positions in the woods and swamps on the left were occupied by the troops under Coffee, Carroll, Adair and Bellevue. The right wing was under the general command of Colonel Ross; the left, of General Coffee. The American standard fluttered from a staff planted where the tall shaft of the commemorative monument rears itself today.

    A little after daybreak on the morning of the 8th the British moved out of their camps and spread across the level ground, about two-thirds of the distance between the river and the woods. Apparently, about 6,000 men were in line. At 8:30 a rocket went up on the British right as a signal to begin the attack. A single cannon shot from the American line gave the corresponding signal. The foe moved to the attack in perfect order. On the extreme right the advance was so rapid that before the American battery there could fire its third shot the British were in the p105redoubt and had overpowered its defenders; but in a desperate attempt to scale the breastworks beyond, they were repulsed, the commander killed, and the Americans were able to retake the position in part. At the opposite extremity of the line the attack was obviously a feint. Coffee was able easily to repulse the feeble onset. In the center General Gibbs opened the attack under terrific fire from the American guns. The Forty-fourth Regiment was charged with the duty of bringing up the scaling ladders with which it was expected to mount the American parapet. For some unaccountable reason these necessary implements were forgotten. The mistake was discovered only after the troops had come under fire. It was then necessary to halt and wait while the culprit regiment went back to equip itself with the ladders. No more trying position than this of waiting passively under a severe fire; the British stood it as long as human nerves could endure the strain; then Gibbs took the responsibility of ordering the attack pressed home without further delay. The men advanced within 100 yards of the American position, but here they were greeted by a continuous sheet of shot, and began to waver. Only the frantic efforts of their officers held them momentarily in position under the terrible punishment. In the meantime Pakenham led up the Forty-fourth with the missing ladders. The American sharpshooters were concentrating their fire especially upon the officers. Pakenham's horse soon fell. He mounted a small black pony and urged his men forward by his own dauntless example. They struggled into the ditch, set their ladders against the parapet, and attempted to scale the top. It was a valorous attempt, but was met with equal courage, and after a moment of desperate effort broke and recoiled. Keane now ordered up a regiment of Highlanders hitherto held in reserve; the whole line led by him, Gibbs and Pakenham in person, surged forward, only to recoil again at the very foot of the American works. Pakenham, struck by a charge of grape shot, fell mortally wounded; Keane was disabled, and when Lambert arrived on the field with the reserves, he could do nothing but cover the retreat of men hopelessly shattered and making for cover. The British loss was over 2,000 men, of whom 289 were killed. The American loss was 71, including only 13 men killed. The only point at which the British entered the American lines was at the river redoubt. The battle had lasted not more than 25 minutes.23

    On the opposite side of the river the British, however, scored a success which, but for the death of Pakenham, and the resulting discouragement and disorganization of the army, might have been improved into a decisive advantage. Thornton was expected to cross the river on the night of the 7th, surprise Morgan, and as soon as this was done signal by means of rockets the fact to the British main body, which would then deliver its attack on Jackson's position. While the Americans would be busy with the attack on their front, Thornton would move up, recross the river, and cut off Jackson from the city. Unfortunately, the barges necessary for this movement were not all got up through the Viller Canal, owing to the collapse of its banks, and only three-fourths of the force allotted to Thornton ever became available for the execution of the manoeuvers. The current of the river swept the little flotilla down far below the point of intended landing, with the result that the attack on Morgan was delivered many hours late. Gibbs, having waited in vain for the concerted p106signal from across the river, was finally compelled to attack without it; with the result already described. Morgan's men rested upon Patterson's redoubt with its battery of naval guns. His force broken at the first onslaught.24 They fell back in disorder as far as Verret's Canal, in what is now the Fifth District (Algiers) of New Orleans. The British captured a flag which was afterwards hung up at Whitehall, in London, as a trophy of the battle.25 Thornton's men remained at the redoubt, inactive, till the next day, when they recrossed the river.

    The only other incident of the campaign was a feeble attempt on the part of the British fleet to ascend the river and pass Fort St. Philip.d This attempt was abandoned on the 18th. Lambert had enough to do to get his beaten army away. He was unable to return by way of the bayou, as he had come, on account of the loss of many of his boats. He was compelled to build a road along the bank from the battlefield to Lake Borgne. This took some days. It was January 18th before he was in a position to abandon the scene of the disaster. His heavy guns were spiked; campfires were left lighted, and stuffed uniforms were substituted for the sentinels as they were withdrawn — ? all to deceive the watchful enemy. The following morning, however, General Humbert, inspecting the British line with a telescope from the attic of the Montgomery house, saw birds perched upon the figures of what he supposed to be sentries. He guessed at once what the British had done. The intelligence was communicated to Jackson. The news was confirmed an hour or two later by an officer who arrived under a flag of truce to ask that the wounded whom the retreating British had been forced to abandon, should be cared for. This of course was done. The British fleet, however, did not disappear from American waters for nearly a month longer. It sailed March 17, and arrived to deliver its passengers in Europe in time to participate in the Battle of Waterloo, where Lambert especially distinguished himself.

    On January 21st Jackson ordered most of his troops back to the city, leaving guards at the exposed points. But the army was not disbanded. He himself removed his headquarters to the Marigny Mansion, on Victory Street, where he remained until the celebration of the victory on the 23rd.26 On the latter occasion a triumphal arch was erected in the Place d'Armes; pretty Creole girls dressed to represent the States scattered flowers before the victors' feet, and a Te Deum was sung in the cathedral. For a moment it looked as though in the glory of the victory all the rancors that had preceded it had been forgotten. But on February 2nd, when the State Legislature adopted a resolution of thanks to the gallant volunteers from Kentucky, Tennessee and Mississippi who had done so much to insure the victory, there was no mention of Jackson, who had done most of all. That resolution was significant of a situation which may here be but briefly described.

    Jackson was not officially notified of the conclusion of the war until March 13th. Unofficially, he had news to that effect as early as February 13th. On that date Cochrane wrote him that he had received the intelligence in a bulletin from Jamaica. The citizens saw no reason why under such circumstances the army should not be disbanded and martial law p107rescinded at once. Jackson thought otherwise. The fact was that the misunderstandings between Jackson and the Legislature had left behind a harvest of mutual distrust. On December 23rd a rumor had been circulated in New Orleans that in case of defeat Jackson intended to burn the city. Of course, any such action would have worked untold hardship upon the population. A committee of the Legislature was sent down to Jackson's headquarters to ascertain the truth. The general fell into a great rage. There was no foundation for the report. It would have been wiser for the commander to have explained this to his interrogators. "If I thought that the hair of my head knew my thoughts," he exclaimed, by way of only answer, "I would cut it off and burn it." And he bade the committee return and say, that if driven from his lines and compelled to retreat through New Orleans, "Your honorable body [. . .] will have a warm time of it." Murmurs, reproaches, questions crossed each other. The debate which followed in the Legislature was represented to Jackson as an exhibition of disloyalty. He instructed Claiborne to close the assembly, which was done, and for twenty-four hours Labatut's men kept guard at the portals and prevented the members from entering. Then Jackson, having been furnished with a copy of the proceedings, and realizing that an unjustifiable construction had been put upon them, cancelled his order and the Legislature resumed its meetings. But the incident served to increase the local feeling against the general.

    This unfortunate controversy was supplemented by a series of events which followed after the successful close of the campaign. Jackson involved himself in heated controversy by his act in arresting the editor of the "Louisiana Gazette" for publishing news of the peace; prematurely, as Jackson thought. The desire of the French who had enlisted to be mustered out led them to apply to their consul. Jackson suspected that this official lent his office to the service of other than those rightfully entitled to its protection, and expelled Tousac from the city. Louallier published a vehement protest against Jackson's conduct in refusing to disband the army or terminate the martial law.27 Jackson ordered him arrested as a spy. Judge Dominique Hall, who issued a writ of habeas corpus in favor of Louallier, was promptly consigned to a cell in the barracks for aiding in the "mutiny." The clerk of court was threatened with the same fate when he tried to issue the writ on the plea that his official duty required him to obey the order of the judge. The marshal of the court was met with similar menaces when he attempted to serve the writ. It must be confessed that Jackson's conduct in these matters was arbitrary and irritating. Nevertheless, as a soldier, it was not in his power to disband the army until officially directed to do so. The propriety of continuing the martial law may be debated. The general paralysis of business, and the fact that some of the families of men detained in the service were in want, would probably have justified a milder and more conciliatory course. But Jackson was first of all a soldier, with no very sympathetic feeling for the civilian point of view. Dick, the United States District Attorney, who applied to Judge Lewis for a writ of habeas corpus for Judge Hall, was arrested; and Lewis p108for having issued the writ, was likewise taken into custody. Louallier having been tried by court-martial and acquitted was released; the other parties involved in the regrettable squabble were also speedily set at liberty. Finally, on March 15, the official notice of the termination of the war was received, and with it orders to pardon all military offenses. Jackson complied fully and promptly. On March 21st his enemies had their revenge. The general had been haled before Hall's court and fined $1,000 for contempt of court in having resisted its writs. The fine was paid on the spot. Then the gallant soldier's admirers — ? he still had a few in the city which he had saved — ? drew his carriage to Maspero's Exchange — ? where, in a room on the upper floor, he and his officers had planned the campaign — ? and there he made a speech in which he commended to them his own example of submission to lawfully constituted authority.

    A few incidents connected with this memorable chapter in the history of Louisiana may be appended here. During the battle the women and children of the city assembled regardless of creed at the chapel of the Ursuline nuns on Chartres Street, and there awaited in tears and prayer the news from the scene of conflict. The Abbe DuBourg implored at the altar the help of the Most High, and asked the intercession of Our Lady of Prompt Succor. How soon and how effectively these supplications were answered has been seen. Jackson gratefully attributed to Providence his signal success, and on his return to the city went in person to the Ursuline convent to thank the community for their intercessions on his behalf. As soon as the British withdrawal was confirmed, he addressed a letter to the Abbe DuBourg in which he asked that there be public services of thanksgiving in honor of the victory.

    The battle cost the life of the owner of land upon which it was fought. The scene of the conflict was the Chalmette plantation; it was the property of a wealthy and respected citizen, Ignace Martin, Sieur de Lino de Chalmette, a man of the most distinguished ancestry, whose wife was the daughter of the Marquis de Vaugine. On the approach of the British he and his family were compelled to abandon their stately home. One of his grand-daughters has left a narrative of the terror of that eventful day, when the faithful slaves hastened through Jackson's lines carrying what they could of family plate, crystal, and other valuable heirlooms — ? only part, however, of the splendid furnishings of the building. De Lino found refuge in a small house on Bourbon, between Conti and Bienville. After the battle, on February 2nd, he rode down to his deserted home, only to find that it had been committed to the flames. The loss was irreparable. He was too old to repair his shattered fortunes. Within a few days he passed away and was laid to rest in the St. Louis cemetery.28

    Jackson remained in the city until April 6th, when he and his family left on a steamboat via the Mississippi on his way to Tennessee. They went by boat as far as Natchez, where the general was detained for a time by the trial of a suit brought against him by Blennerhassett, remembered for his brief connection with Aaron Burr.29 Otherwise the trip was a p109continuous ovation. He reached the Hermitage in May, there to enjoy the repose which twenty-one months of the most strenuous exertion richly merited.

    The labors and anxieties of the war had proven very burdensome also for the mayor of New Orleans, although during all of this critical period the functions of the city government had been limited to the transaction of routine business, and carrying out the measures suggested to it by Claiborne and by Jackson. Girod's private interests had suffered during the long period of depression entailed by the hostilities; now that they were ended, it seemed to him necessary to give his entire time to putting them in order. These various motives led him to send his resignation to the City Council in August, 1815.

    The Author’s Notes

    1 Waring and Cable, Social Statistics of Cities, Report on New Orleans, 37. 2 Martin, "History of Louisiana," 354. 3 Moreau-Lislet, "General Digest of the Acts of the Legislature," 1804-1827, pp118-122. In 1816 this act was amended by the addition of clauses prohibiting any member of the city government from participating directly or indirectly in any contract with the city. In 1818 the date of the election of the mayor and recorder was transferred to the first Monday in May, and the time at which the new officials should take their seats, to the third Monday in September following their election. — ? Ibid., 124-126. 4 The only matter of interest occurring during Trudeau's incumbency was a hurricane which raged over the city on August 19, 1812, doing great damage. He addressed a long message to the council a few days later, giving details of the effect of the storm upon city property. 5 Louisiana Courier, September 25, 1812. 6 Records of the City Council, October 5, 1812, in the New Orleans City Archives. 7 Louisiana Courier, September 7, 1814. 8 Castellanos, "New Orleans as It Was," 148. Castellanos gives the story on the authority of Mayor John L. Lewis. 9 Statement to the author of Gaspard Cusachs. See also "Some Bonapartes in America," by H. B. Seebold, M.D., in the New Orleans Catholic Monthly, July, 1915. The author of this paper accepts as a fact the New Orleans plot to rescue Napoleon. "That the Emperor Napoleon I felt it confident of being rescued from the Island of St. Helena is proven by the letter which was written to Joseph Bonaparte while at Bonaparte Park by Marshal Bertrand, constant companion of the Emperor. [. . .] That the scheme was a substantial one is a fact. It started in New Orleans, and had interested parties in St. Louis, Philadelphia, Bordentown and Canada. The originator was a millionaire of St. Louis, named M. Girod,'+BadF+'Girard'+CloseF+' (see further on).',WIDTH,170)" onMouseOut="nd();"> who was a close friend of M. Girod of new Orleans. M. Girod's lieutenant was M. Peugny of St. Louis, who was an ex-officer of Napoleon's army, who had been decorated with the Legion of Honor, being related to Count de Montholon, who shared Napoleon's exile in St. Helena. All was in readiness when news of the Emperor's death reached New Orleans. M. Girod had erected at his own expense a home close to his own (old No. 124 Chartres) and furnished it elegantly, ready to receive the Emperor when he should arrive. The grandsons of M. Peugny, now prominent men of St. Louis, have in their possession documents and souvenirs that came from St. Helena." Dr. Seebold mentions that Prince Charles Louis Napoleon Achille Murat, son of the King of Naples, and nephew of the Emperor, practiced law in New Orleans. He had his office in Exchange Place, and his residence on Esplanade between Bourbon and Dauphine. He died in Tallahassee, Fla., April 18, 1847. A commission made out to Murat is preserved in the State Museum in the Cabildo. It is quite possible that the story of the attempted rescue of Napoleon by New Orleans conspirators has arisen from a confusion of the names of Stephen Girard and of Nicholas Girod. Thayer's Note: For a more cogent and detailed account of the apparent plot, and a photograph of the house, see Macartney and Dorrance, The Bonapartes in America, pp263-265. According to the same authors, pp136-137, Achille Murat settled in Florida; and owned a plantation "near Baton Rouge". The same chapter includes an excerpt of Murat's highly unflattering description of New Orleans, p140. 10 Gayarr , "History of Louisiana," IV, 322-324. 11 Parton, "Life of General Andrew Jackson," I, Chap. LIV. See also Harper's Magazine, "The Defense of New Orleans," January, 1865. 12 Waring and Cable, Social Statistics of Cities, Report on New Orleans, 39. 13 Martin, Louisiana, 369. 14 Humbert was interred in the Girod Street Cemetery. When in the '80s that burying ground was reduced in size along one side in order to widen a street, his tomb was dismantled. His skull was preserved by the late Maj. W. M. Robinson, afterwards city editor of the New Orleans Picayune. Humbert had been a prominent Mason, and this relic found an appropriate resting place in the rooms of the Polar Star lodge. The rest of the skeleton was cast into the common resting-place to which were consigned the dead dispossessed in the process of the rearrangement of the cemetery, and forgotten. The fate of the skull is likewise involved in mystery. — ? Statement of W. M. Robinson to author. 15 Heloise Hulse Cruzat, in Times-Picayune, January 10, 1915. 16 Waring and Cable, Social Statistics, 40; Harper's Magazine, "Defense of New Orleans," January, 1865. 17 Heloise Hulse-Cruzat, Times-Picayune, January 10, 1915. These dispositions were changed as the campaign developed. 18 The American loss is variously stated; some authorities give forty-two killed and wounded. Phelps, however, says sixty men were killed. — ? Louisiana, 267. 19 Castellanos, "New Orleans as It Was," 72. There is no reason to question Castellanos' statement. He had opportunities to converse with persons who took part in the battle, and gives the story as an "historical fact." 20 Nolte, "Fifty Years in Both Hemispheres," 216. 21 Waldo's Illustrated Visitors' Guide to New Orleans, 17. 22 Heloise Hulse Cruzat, in Times-Picayune, January 10, 1915. An interesting fact connected with this building, which still stands, in a good state of preservation, is that it was here that Lafayette was received when he visited New Orleans. 23 Parton, "Life of Jackson," II, 206. 24 Parton, "Life of Jackson," II, 213-217. 25 Seymour, "The Story of Algiers," 11; Parton, 217. 26 Waldo, Illustrated Visitors' Guide, 17. This book was the work of John Dimitry. 27 Courier de la Louisiane, March 3, 1815. 28 Heloise Hulse Cruzat in Times-Picayune, January 10, 1915. 29 Parton, "Life of Jackson," II, 328.

    Chapter VI: Author's Notes

    1. Charles Trudeau served as the acting mayor of New Orleans in 1812 (May 16, 1812 — October 8, 1812.
    2. crevasse A deep open crack.
    3. Bayou Bienvenue.a 12.1-mile-long bayou in southeastern Louisiana.

    Text prepared by:

    Footnotes completed by:

    Chapter VII
    Macarty and Roffignac

    Auguste Macarty, who served the city as mayor from September 7, 1815 to May 1, 1820, was a member of an influential Creole family allied by marriage to one of the last Spanish Governors, Miro. Another relative was L. B. Macarty, who served as Secretary of State under Governor Claiborne in 1812; and still another was the aristocratic Mademoiselle Macarty, whose vast plantation just above the city ultimately became the site of the suburban town of Carrollton, and is now part of the Seventh District. The resignation of Girod had, as we have seen, brought Macarty to the Principal as acting mayor; it was now necessary to hold a special election for an officer to fill out the unexpired testimony. "Mr. A. Macarty will receive the suffrages of a great number of the citizens of New Orleans for mayor at the election which takes place in September next," ran a paragraph in the Louisiana Gazette on August 22nd, 1815, announcing his candidacy. The election took place on September 7th, and resulted in Macarty's election without opposition. Col. P. F. Dubourg, who had been mentioned as a rival candidate by certain "citizens fond of good order and a strict observance of the laws,"1 withdrew from the contest in the latter part of August. That Macarty filled this provisional term with credit to himself and satisfaction to his constituency may be inferred from the fact that in the following year, at the regular election, he was again elected mayor. On this occasion he was opposed by Ferdinand Percy, whom he defeated by the extraordinary disparate vote of 813 to 87. At this election the candidates for the council were Nathan Morse, Zenon Cavalier, Fran ois Dreux, Eug ne Laveau, Edmond M ance, J. B. Plauch , James Freret, Thomas Bryant and S. C. Young. These were all elected. For recorder the candidates were J. Soulie, Felix Arnaud, James Sterrett and Zenon Cavalier. Soulie was elected, receiving 813 votes. His next nearest competitor, Arnaud, received 12 votes.

    Macarty's first term was signalized by an outbreak of a disease which we now recognize as yellow fever, but which the medical knowledge of that day was not sufficient to recognize. The Medical Society, after long debate, pronounced it "American typhus." The mortality appears to have been considerable. The measures to counteract the spread of the disease were pathetic in their inefficiency; as, for example, the watering of the streets, which was undertaken as a sanitary procedure calculated to eradicate the fever. It was believed that the epidemic was brought to the city from Havana, and an official inquiry was addressed to the Governor at that city, with a view to collect information on the subject for future use, but it elicited merely the reply that no unusual diseases prevailed in that city, and that the infection could not have proceeded thence. An important consequence of this visitation was the creation of the first Board of Health in the history of the city, which came into existence in 1817, under an act of the Legislature, the provisions of which p111were certainly comprehensive. It required that all premises be kept clean, that oysters be not sold from May to September; that no refuse be allowed to accumulate in drains or gutters; that slaughter houses in the city limits be licensed and inspected, and all unauthorized slaughtering of animals be stopped; that dressed meat in transit through the streets be kept covered, and that no burials be made except in the public cemeteries. The public markets were, moreover, required to close at noon, in order that they might be thoroughly cleaned; and a contract was made for the proper collection of garbage and street cleanings; the collector having a bell at the neck of his horse in order that householders might have warning of his approach and set out the refuse which they desired to have carried away. These regulations were enforced by the police. A species of quarantine was also instituted, under which the mayor had the right to prevent the landing from the shipping of anything deemed injurious to health. The Board of Health operated till 1819, when the law under which it existed was repealed, and the Governor of the State was invested with the right to establish quarantine by proclamation. In that year, also, a registrar was appointed for the Parish of Orleans to compile the statistics of births and deaths. He was empowered to charge a fee for his services in this particular. Hitherto the collection of vital statistics had been in the hands of the clergy.

    Otherwise, the first term of Mayor Macarty was occupied with the routine business of the city, the character of which may be inferred from an enumeration of the more important ordinances passed during this time. In October, 1815, for example, the contract was let for the collection of the tax on gambling houses, which tax went to the support of the Charity Hospital. Other ordinances dealt with the details of paving; the carting of firewood; port charges;6 the fees for public balls;7 the compensation to be made for houses torn down to prevent the spread of fire; regulating gambling houses;8 granting quarters to a society organized to promote a library;9 prohibiting bathing in the Mississippi in front of the city during daylight;10 prohibiting the erection of wooden houses within the city limits;11 requiring the citizens to clear their premises of the deposits left by the long-standing water from the Macarty crevasse;12 prohibiting any interference with the "natural drainage;"13 regulating the p112hire of slaves by the day;14 and providing a system of house numbering.15 Annually an ordinance was passed regulating the price of bread.16 A good deal of attention was paid to the public amusements. There were several ordinances in which attempts were made to regulate balls and theatrical performances, which appear to have constituted chief diversions of the day. The ordinance on the theaters is of sufficient interest to warrant a description here. It provides that no person might open a theater without having first procured a license from the mayor, who likewise should prescribe the day and hour at which the performances might take place. The interior of the building should be carefully swept between performances, and as soon as the doors were opened, must be lighted; and these lights must not be extinguished until the spectators had all departed. Tickets should be sold only in proportion to the seating capacity of the auditorium. During the performance the doors between the auditorium and the parts of the house "behind the scenes" should be kept closed, and only members of the management and of the police force might penetrate into that mysterious professional arcanum. All plays must be submitted to the mayor in advance of production, and receive his approbation, which should not be extended to any composition such as might tend to "corrupt the morals or disturb the public tranquillity." The penalty for failure in this regard was a fine of from $20 to $100; the mayor might, moreover, at his discretion take steps to prevent the performance, or even close the theater altogether. Any actor or actress who failed to appear when his part required, unless prevented by "unforeseen accident," or who committed "any indecorous action," or was "wanting in respect to the public," was liable to a fine of from $5 to $50. Persons entering the theater without a ticket were, on detection, to be fined not less than $5 or more than $15. The audience was forbidden to behave "boisterously," to leave the seats while the curtain was raised, or to "shriek or use improper language." Moreover, it was required to leave when so required, or run the risk of arrest and a fine of from $10 to $50 per person. No white person might occupy seats set aside for colored spectators, or vice versa, under heavy penalties. Moreover, carriages waiting outside for spectators must observe an order of precedence to be fixed by the mayor. Guards to prevent the peace went on duty half an hour before the entertainment began. Finally, the management was required to provide tubs filled with water at various points in the building, as a precaution against fire, and keep a "fire engine" ready on all days of performance.17 Another ordinance provides that no spectator may enter a public "spectacle" carrying a stick, cane, sword, sabre, or other arms; all such articles to be deposited at the door with an employee stationed there to receive them.18 p113 We may note in passing an election for aldermen on August 27, 1817, at which the following were elected: First District, H. Landreau; Second District, F. Percy; Third District, P. Urtebuise and F. B. Languille; Fourth District, M. Blache, "ain "; Faubourg Ste. Marie, J. Roffignac; Faubourg Marigny, L. B. Macarty.

    The election for mayor in 1818 brought about a spirited contest. The candidates for that office were Nathan Morse, "whose zeal for the public weal needs no eulogium,"19 J. Roffignac, John Chabaud, and Auguste Macarty. Macarty was re-elected. He received 354 votes, as against 222 cast for Morse, 112 for Chabaud, and 69 for Roffignac. There was only one candidate for Recorder — ? Soulie; who was re-elected by 756 votes.20

    This second term of Macarty was uneventful. The city was deeply interested in the litigation which arose over the grant made by the State Legislature, in a moment of ill-advised generosity, of the monopoly for steam navigation on the Mississippi for a period of twenty-five years to Livingston and Fulton, in recognition of their enterprise in bringing down the river the steamboat "New Orleans," in 1812. This litigation was carried to the Supreme Court on the ground of unconstitutionality, and ended in the revocation of the grant, greatly to the satisfaction of the commercial interests of New Orleans which saw "the prosperity of the city, so dependent upon the upper country, greatly restricted, if not materially jeopardized," by its existence.21 The Council, at Macarty's suggestion, addressed petitions to the United States Government, soliciting donations of public funds for the Charity Hospital and the College of New Orleans; and to build a lazaretto at English Turn. The last-named request was based upon the allegation that "the disease of the previous summer was introduced from the West Indies," and was apparently motived by the not unreasonable feeling that the national government ought to take steps to prevent a repetition of the event.22

    Nothing came of these petitions, nor of a similar petition requesting the building of a custom house "near the center of the town [. . .] on the ground where with stands the arsenal in this city, and near where are situate the magazines."23 In May, 1818, an "Inspector General" of police was appointed under an ordinance of the Council. His duty was to inspect streets and "banquettes" and, generally, to look after the health of the city, as well as to superintend the enforcement of the laws. He may be regarded as the first chief of police in the history of the city. In March, 1819, the city entered into a contract with Benj. H. B. Latrobe, for the erection of water works to be run by steam. Latrobe erected a small building with appropriate equipment on the levee near the French Market, and for many years supplied the city with water for drinking purposes and for public uses. Up to this time drinking water drawn from the river had been hawked about the city by itinerant vendors, who sold four bucketfuls for a "picayune" (6 cents) or a hogshead for 50 cents. The public water supply was derived from shallow wells, which, however, did not supply potable water. Latrobe's enterprise, unpretentious as it p114would seem at the present time, was looked upon as a remarkable improvement upon these antiquated methods of supply.

    The repeal of the law establishing the Board of Health has already been alluded to. The opposition to this body was unquestionably based principally upon the idea that its regulations hampered unnecessarily the growth of the port. There was, also, some resentment towards it as a creature of the State Legislature, thus representing the tendency of that body to interfere in purely local matters. This interference was hotly resented at all times in the early history of New Orleans. In the latter part of 1818 the Board proposed to levy the tax which it was empowered by the Legislature to impose, and with that end in view made a demand on the City Council for the assessment rolls. The Council refused to supply the document, on the ground that the board had not been elected by the people of the city, or by the Council, and that the city charter "assured to the citizens the right to appoint the public officers necessary for the administration of the police of the city."24 It seems probable that the inability of the Board to obtain funds as a result of the Council's perfectly correct attitude, was what led to the changes which resulted in the concentration of the quarantine power in the hands of the Governor in 1819.

    Other matters which engaged the attention of the city government were embodied in the ordinances which assessed fines on all property-owners whose chimneys caught fire through lack of proper cleaning;25 prohibited the accumulation of combustible materials in public places;26 forbade all persons to carry through the city "banners, pictures and caricatures calculated to disturb the public peace";27 regulated dogs;28 prohibiting slaves from sleeping in houses other than their masters', or hiring rooms in such houses even with the consent of their owners; ordering that all strangers "liable to the prevailing malady" should dwell as much as possible on the outskirts of the city, in huts to be provided gratuitously by the city for their use during the progress of the epidemic of 1817;29 and providing for the payment of physicians to attend the "sick poor" under similar circumstances.30 The interest of the city fathers in public amusements is illustrated by the fact that John Davis, the impresario of the Orleans Theater, applied in October, 1818, for a loan of $15,000 — ? an immense sum for that time — ? to be used in completing his theater; a request which was promptly granted, and a mortgage taken as security.31

    The Council, however, was not so ready to pay the salaries of the judges of the Criminal Court; declining to make the necessary appropriations in July, 1818, on the ground that the "funds of the city were to go to certain specified purposes, and the salaries of these judges had nothing to do with the affairs of the police."32 We must note, also, as of interest in this period, the fact that the city accepted from Jean Gravier a donation of a site for a market in the square bounded by St. Charles, Camp, p115Poydras, and Girod;33 and that the people of the Faubourgs Ste. Marie, Delord, Annunciations, and LaCourse were given permission to unite to erect a market house.34

    In 1818, also, the limits of the city were extended to the lower boundary of Mlle. Macarty's plantation. The annexed region was made the Eighth Ward.

    It will be seen from this survey of Macarty's career as mayor, that it covered a period of municipal growth, although nothing of outstanding importance occurred. The population was steadily increasing. In 1810 the population of the city and its suburbs was 24,552, having trebled since the Cession, under the administration of the American Government.35 In 1815 it had increased to 33,000, and in 1820 to 41,000. Emigration "pressed in from all the States in the Union and from almost every kingdom in Europe." The commerce of the city increased in a corresponding ratio. In 1817, for instance, the products of the rapidly developing Mississippi Valley were delivered at New Orleans in 1,500 flatboats and 500 barges. Four years later there were 287 steamboats, 174 barges and 441 flatboats, but the value of the receipts had jumped to the then impressive figure of nearly $12,000,000 — ? an increase of between $5,000,000 and $7,500,000 in a period of five years; and this in spite of the financial inflation and collapse which swept the country between 1815 and 1819. In fact, New Orleans was now upon the threshold of that era of great prosperity, so long predicted as the consequence of its location; than which, in the language of one of her citizens, none ever existed more suited "for the accumulation of wealth and power."36

    During the mayoralty of Count Roffignac New Orleans entered upon that new era. Louis Philippe de Roffignac was born in Angoul me, France. His godfather and godmother were the Duke and Duchess of Orl ans, whose son afterwards ascended the French throne, as Louis Philippe. At fourteen young Roffignac was a page in the duchess' household; at seventeen, he held a commission as lieutenant of artillery in the French army. He first saw service in Spain, under his father, who held an important post in the forces operating in that country. At twenty-four he was promoted captain for gallant and meritorious service in the field. He was in the French army sent to America, and in 1800 found himself in Louisiana. Under the Treaty of Paris, French citizens were entitled to the same privileges of naturalization as natives. He availed himself of the opportunity to identify himself completely with New Orleans, which he ever afterwards regarded as his home. His attachment to the country of his adoption was profound and sincere.

    In Louisiana he held many offices of honor and trust. He served ten consecutive terms in the State Legislature. When the Louisiana Legion was formed, in 1822, he became its colonel. He already held the rank of brigadier-general, a rank conferred in recognition of his services in the American army at the battle of New Orleans, seven years before. He was active in business also, serving for a time as director of the State Bank of Louisiana. His connection with the City Council covered a long term of years. He was a member of that body when elected mayor. p116 As his term drew to a close Macarty, weary of the cares of office, announced that he would not be a candidate for re-election. His retirement was followed by a contest which aroused more interest than had previously been known, though, perhaps, judged by present day standards, the canvass was only mildly exciting. At that time it was the custom for candidates to make their ambitions known by a modest announcement in the papers, as we have seen Macarty doing. This usually took the form of a statement that a number of his friends desired to recommend him to the voters as a suitable person to fill the coveted position. There were no primaries and no conventions; on the proper day the voters cast their ballots for whatever candidates they preferred, and the City Council tabulated and announced the result. In this way Roffignac's candidacy was put before the people early in April, 1820. A few days, no less unostentatiously, J. B. Gilly was nominated. Gilly was likewise a member of the city Council. "He cannot rectify all the evils in the police," said the card published by his friends, in the Gazette, on April 20th, "but he can better it." Towards the end of the month, Gallien Pr val also entered the race. The election took place on May 1st. Roffignac received 537 votes, Gilly 388, and Pr val, 112. At the same time Soulie was again chosen Recorder practically by a unanimous vote.37

    Roffignac's administration lasted eight years. He was repeatedly re-elected apparently without opposition. On the whole his administration was successful, in spite of many handicaps. He seems to have been the first official in New Orleans to appreciate its dawning commercial importance, and set himself earnestly and laboriously to prepare the city for its coming greatness. The contemporary press is full of accounts of hard work done by him. The timid accused him of extravagance, because he did not hesitate to incur debts in carrying out his ambitious projects. In 1822, for example, he induced the State Legislature to authorize him to issue "city stock" — ? bonds — ? to the amount of $300,000, which were used "exclusively for watering and paving" the city. He restored order to the finances of the city by a policy of systematic retrenchment. Soon after taking office he made a sweeping reduction in salaries, his own included. A little later, by disposing of a large part of the real estate owned by the city on a system of long-time ground rents, he created a new and much needed source of revenue. He gave constant attention to the cleaning of the streets. In the first year of his administration he caused trees to be planted in the Place d'Armes (Jackson Square), which till then had been a bare and somewhat unsightly expanse of untrimmed grass. In the same way he beautified Circus (Congo) Square and the levee in front of the city. A year later Councilman Montgomery, seconding and extending the mayor's efforts, introduced into the Council an ordinance to plant sycamores all around the city, and the town was speedily girdled by beautiful trees, some of which survive to the present time. Roffignac also advocated the extension of the levee in front of the city, and when the project was opposed in the Council, on the ground that funds were lacking with which to pay for the work, a patriotic citizen, Nicholas Girod, offered to do it at his own expense. The city fathers, shamed at this evidence of a public spirit superior to p117their own, gave way, and somewhat reluctantly authorized the expenditure. Attempts were made also to improve the sanitary condition of the city, by developing a natural drain in the rear of the American quarter; widened and deepened a few year later, this became the Melpomene Canal. In 1821, looking in the same direction, a quarantine was established, but having failed to protect the city from the yellow fever, was discontinued in 1825, as ineffective.

    Roffignac was a constant advocate of paving the city. Experiments in 1817 in the American quarter had demonstrated the fact that cobblestones could be successfully used, in spite of the alleged instability of the ground. In that year a block on Gravier Street, between Magazine and Tchoupitoulas, had been laid with this material by Benjamin Morgan with satisfactory results. The mayor urged the use of stone pavements in the "Vieux Carré ," as well as in the American quarter. The money obtained from the bond issue of 1822 went in large part for this work. A Northern business man named Scott was induced to take the contract. He paved several of the main streets, including St. Charles, with cobblestones, over which fine gravel was laid; and substantial stone curbing was put along the sidewalks.38 The work, however, does not seem to have been carried very far, as in 1835 we hear that only two streets had been paved through their entire length. Roffignac's work, however, was a great improvement. Parts of it were still in existence thirty years later, when the system of paving with square granite blocks came into vogue. In 1821 the city was lighted for the first time. Posts were erected at the diagonal corners of the principal streets, and twelve large lamps, with reflectors, were swung from them on ropes. This was regarded as a notable example of progress, in a community in which until then every individual abroad after nightfall was compelled to carry his own lantern. The custom of carrying lanterns, however, lingered in New Orleans till 1837.39

    The fact that the Legislature held its meetings in New Orleans and possibly for that reason, felt a special interest in its affairs, caused it to continue to pass much purely local legislation, to the renewed chagrin of its people. There was justifiable complaint, for example, when the Legislature granted a monopoly for supplying the city fish. Other acts were more progressive. The law authorizing the Council to fix the wages of day laborers was repealed; the possession of property was made a condition of eligibility for election to the mayoralty, the council, or the recordership. The recorder, for instance, was required to possess property valued at $3,000. On the other hand, the salary attached to this office was raised from $500 to $1.000. The City Council was in 1825 invested with the powers of a Board of Health, the law of 1821, with its elaborate sanitary provisions being thereupon repealed. In Roffignac's time New Orleans was divided into eight wards. In 1821 the rapid growth of the city made it necessary to define the limits of the port. On the left bank it was fixed between the Bourg Declouet (near the present site of the United States Barracks) and Rousseau's plantation; while on the right bank, its upper limit was McDonogh's plantation, and the lower, Duverje's plantation (Algiers).


    Throughout his administration Roffignac was troubled by the problem of public order. The police of that and succeeding administrations were wretched.40 Roffignac reorganized the gens d'armes who were included in the police force. Their main duties were to help put out fires, repress tumult, and keep the negro population in a properly submissive state. At that time the city was constantly filled with strangers who came thither in barges and flatboats, with cargoes of flour, corn, cured meats, and other products. They were largely from the Western country. In New Orleans they found a profitable market for their wares. Most of them were honest farmers and traders. But in their wake came hordes of reckless men, gamblers and criminals, who fattened on the river business and settled in numbers in the city. Their behavior was so reprehensible that Governor Viller felt compelled to allude to it in scathing terms in his message to the State Legislature in 1818. Some of the other difficulties of the situation may be inferred from the fact that in May, 1820, sixteen men were arrested for piracy41 and two of them were executed after having been found guilty by the Criminal court which, to curb this lawless element, had been set up in 1818. In 1825 another step was taken in the same direction, when the "city court" was added. This consisted of one presiding and four associate judges. It replaced the justices of the peace, some of whose functions, however, were now committed to the mayor, the recorder and the councilmen.42

    Another source of disorder was the licensed gambling halls. Gambling in New Orleans was a problem which both the Legislature and the Council strove in vain to solve. Licensing and suppression were tried alternately, neither with satisfactory results. A law of 1811 had prohibited gambling anywhere in the State, but three years later it was deemed advisable to permit gambling in New Orleans at least. A system of municipal regulation which was then introduced was attended only by the most deplorable results; it merely "encouraged this alarming vice under sanction of the law," as the preamble to one of the acts on this subject runs. In 1820, accordingly, the legislative prohibition was re-enacted. Apparently, however, the financial needs of the community made it necessary for the city fathers to resort to every expedient to raise money; among others, to taxes on gambling. A new law was passed in 1823, therefore, to authorize the licensing in New Orleans of six gambling halls, each to pay a tax of $5,000. Part of the revenue thus procured was devoted in 1825 to the support of the College of Orleans.

    The gambling halls remained open day and night, and were a prolific source of disorder and crime. It was necessary to maintain a strict watch over the frequenters of these resorts. The night police were too few to perform this duty effectively; moreover, they were notoriously inefficient. The newspapers of the day contain endless reports of robberies, assaults and felonies of all kinds, committed in the very center of the town. In 1822 there were fifty so-called "constables," who patrolled the town by night in small squads. They had the right to halt and examine any wayfarers whom they might encounter; and there was much complaint about the arbitrary way in which they exercised p119their powers upon responsible men and women. In addition, there was a sort of volunteer police, in part recruited from the local militia organization, and in part from among the citizens. Its character can be inferred from one of the city ordinances, which makes it a misdemeanor, punishable with a fine of $10 and the publication of the names of the offenders, for anyone to refuse "to walk the square watch" when commanded to do so by the commissioner of his square.43 The usual punishment for minor offences was the pillory. Here culprits were exposed from morning to sunset, on a platform in the Place d'Armes, with a great placard inscribed with their names and offenses hanging around their necks. This punishment was visited upon both white and black down to 1827; when it was abolished as far as the former were concerned, but as for the negroes, it remained in constant use down to 1847.44

    Another fertile source of anxiety to the Mayor and Council was the fire department. Incendiary fires were frequent in New Orleans throughout Roffignac's administration. An organized gang of incendiarists operated in the city in 1827 and 1828, the existence of whom came to light only when two members were discovered by the citizens in the very act of applying the torch to some buildings in the rear of the town. Somewhat earlier, two negroes were arrested on charges of conspiring to burn the town.45 To these problems Roffignac addressed himself with characteristic energy and courage. The city had no regularly organized fire department. There was, however, a board of fire commissioners organized in July, 1816. They were thirty in number, five in each of the six wards into which the city was then divided. They carried white truncheons as emblems of office. Their duty was "to repair to the place of fire in order to employ and direct all persons, whether free or slaves, who shall come to the fire, by forming them into ranks for the purpose of handling buckets to supply the fire engines with water; to keep as far as possible from the fire all idle persons; and for that purpose they shall call upon the city guard" [in Roffignac's day the Gendarmerie was regularly detailed for the purpose] "to station a sufficient number of sentinels to keep back the idle multitude; to superintend and facilitate the conveyance of the engines and other implements necessary for extinguishing fires, and to direct them to the most suitable places, to be put at the disposal of the workmen; to call upon and employ a sufficient number of carts for the transportation of the aforesaid implements, as well as the effects and furniture of the persons most exposed to the danger of the fire."46 A short time later we find an appeal made to the people generally to enroll in the fire companies, and notice was given that free men of color would be encouraged to form companies of firemen or engineers, or "sapeurs," as they were officially termed. This matter was taken up by Roffignac in his first official communication to the city council, and reference is made at intervals thereafter to the same subject throughout the first years of his administration.47 These companies were to consist of sixty men each. They were formed, p120but their efficiency could not have been great, as Castellanos speaks of the members usually being found at the end of the fire lying drunk in the streets.48 Apparently, at this time a small monthly wage was paid to persons enrolled in the fire department. In July, 1824, the defects of the system were so obvious that Roffignac felt compelled to assemble the leaders for a conference at city hall. As a result of their deliberations the council undertook to enlarge the force. A special committee which was charged with the investigation, recommended that an additional company be recruited from among the lamp-lighters and the city guard, to be paid at the rate of $3 per month each. The demand for improvement in the department, however, continued, though it is not clear that any further steps were taken to meet it, down to April, 1829, when the organization of the Volunteer Company No. 1 initiated the volunteer fire department of New Orleans, which, in one form or another, was thereafter the highly efficient reliance of the community for the performance of an intensely important public function.

    Some attention was also given to education, although not till long after Roffignac's time was the idea of free public schools developed. The principal school in the city was the College of Orleans, founded in 1811. It received an appropriation of $1,000 annually from the State. It was managed by a board of regents down to 1821, but in that year the organization was altered, and a board of administrators appointed by the governor was put in charge. This institution was obliged by law to receive eight indigent students, who were instructed without charge; but fees were exacted from all the other students. This institution came to an end in 1826, as a result of the prejudices of the population against the regicide, Lakanal, who had been appointed director by the administrators. Lakanal was a very eminent man, and as far as attainments went, admirably suited for the position; but the loyal people of New Orleans would not entrust their offspring to the blood-stained hands of the veteran republican, and the withdrawal of their patronage led to the closing of the school.a It had many illustrious pupils; among them the great historian, Gayarr .

    The state law of 1826 required the city to open one central and two primary schools, which were placed under the direction of a board of regents, with authority to employ a director. These schools were each to receive and educate gratis fifty poor children, between seven and fourteen years of age. To these needy scholars textbooks were furnished free. The only condition imposed upon them was that they should attend regularly. A year later the total number of poor students to be received into these schools was fixed at $100. For the support of these institutions a tax of $1,500 was laid upon the two theaters then open in the city, "to encourage these useful and ornamental institutions," as the legislatures defined their purpose, somewhat ambiguously, in the title of the act. Other cultural enterprises were likewise inaugurated in considerable numbers in Roffignac's time. The Physico-Medical Society came into existence in 1820, with the famous Dr. W. N. Mercer as one of its founders. The Mechanics Society followed soon after. A year or two later a free library was formed "for the purpose of extending knowledge and promoting virtue among the inhabitants."b Judah Touro, the well-known p121Jewish merchant and philanthropist, was expected to provide a building in which the library could be domiciled; and for that reason his name was coupled with the foundation.c The First Methodist and the First Presbyterian Churches date from this period.49

    A regrettable incident which occurred towards the close of Roffignac's administration was the burning of the State House. This building stood on the lower corner of Toulouse and Front, or Levee, streets. It was erected in 1761, and had witnessed every important act of the government since that date, including the various cessions of the Province of Louisiana, now to France and now to Spain; and was at this time used by Governor Derbigny as his official residence. The fire which destroyed it was probably accidental, though at the time it was freely said that it was a case of arson. The building was entirely consumed, and then the flames extended along Front Street into Chartres, destroying, in all, six large structures, including the residence of Baron Pontalba, and causing a loss estimated at $150,000. There were several casualties. A negro child was burned to death; a white man died as a result of drinking acid under the impression that he had found a bottle of wine; and another man was fatally hurt under falling walls. The colored firemen on this occasion, at least, rendered heroic service. A few days later the city council recognized their deserts by voting them a gratuity of $300. The legislature, deprived by fire of its usual meeting place, first reassembled in Davis' Theater on Orleans Street; and then moved to the upper story of the old Ursuline Convent, which had for some time been in use as the Central School of the city.

    A pleasanter incident was the visit of the Marquis de Lafayette to the city. The Marquis had come to the United States to renew old friendships, visit the scenes of his first battles, and look after some property which had been presented to him by the American Congress in recognition of his services in founding of the republic.d Lafayette and Roffignac were friends and correspondents of many years standing. In January, 1825, Lafayette wrote to Roffignac, acknowledging an invitation to visit the city, and announcing that he would arrive early in the spring. The legislature, apprized of the Marquis' intention, appropriated $15,000 for his entertainment. The steamboat "Natchez" was dispatched to Mobile to convey the distinguished guest to the city. With it went a delegation of prominent citizens, headed by Joseph Armand Duplantier, who, with Roffignac and the banker, Vincent Nolte, was probably the only person in New Orleans at that moment having a personal acquaintance with the celebrity. Duplantier had been a comrade in arms; Nolte had known him in Europe, and is said to have provided the cash with which the impoverished old soldier undertook the long journey to America.50

    The "Natchez" discharged its distinguished freight at Chalmette on April 10th. Lafayette came ashore escorted by General Viller and Duplantier, and was conducted to the plantation house which, in 1815, had been used by General Jackson as his headquarters during the battle of New Orleans. Here Governor Johnson made him an address of welcome, to which he feelingly replied. Accompanied by a brilliant cavalcade, in which history makes mention of Bernard Marigny, "and p122many ladies," the illustrious guest proceeded to New Orleans, entering the city between two lines of troops, amid the cheers of the crowd and the booming of cannon. In the Place d'Armes an arch — 68 feet high, designed by Pili , had been erected in honor of the event; and here Mayor Roffignac received the visitor. Lafayette was then taken to the city hall, where Denis Prieur, at that time recorder of the city, greeted him on behalf of the city council. Both to Roffignac and to Prieur, Lafayette made fitting replies. The Cabildo had been elaborately fitted up for the reception of the city's guest. From the balcony overlooking Chartres Street Lafayette reviewed the troops as they paraded that afternoon in his honor. He was then permitted to withdraw for repose to the stately suite prepared for him at the Hotel des Etrangers. The next day the Legislature in a body called to pay its respects. Then came the members of the bar, headed by Pierre Derbigny, who made an eloquent address on behalf of his fellow professionals. That night the Marquis visited both the French and the American theaters. In the ensuing days Lafayette received numerous delegations of one sort and another, all of which declaimed long addresses in honor of the eminent patriot. At meals at his hotel the more distinguished citizens of the city sat down with him to the number of thirty at a time. In all Lafayette remained five days in New Orleans. He departed on April 15th, on the "Natchez," for Baton Rouge, where further festivities awaited him.51

    Roffignac determined at last to pay a visit to his native land. Anticipating a long, though not a permanent, absence, he felt that he should give up his post as mayor. Accordingly, in May, 1828, the city council received and accepted his resignation. Flattering resolutions were adopted on this occasion. They drew from the retiring official a letter in which he alluded with much good feeling to the work which they had done together. "In the government of a city, just as in that of a state, no useful forces can exist except such as are derived from public opinion," he wrote, "and this opinion never manifests itself spontaneously except when the measures proposed are profitable to the mass of the citizens. Keenly alive to the importance of this commercial city, now advancing to the front rank in the metropolitan center of this Union, I have been anxious to introduce all the improvements which the progress of the age has placed at our disposal. I have been of the opinion that a slow advance was not in keeping with the spirit of the age, nor with the wants and interests of an active and enterprising generation. I have thought, in other words, that this great mart of so many wealthy states should be in a position to offer to industry and to commerce everything needed to facilitate and hasten their operations. I have not shrunk, in order to bring this useful result about, from borrowing capital, as I am convinced that the financial resources of an opulent city like ours with its yearly increasing revenues, will be able to liquidate its liabilities through a funding system both gradual and not at all onerous."52 In these plans he said, in conclusion, he had attained complete success.

    On the eve of his departure he was received in the council chamber and took an affecting farewell of his associates; on April 13th he embarked. The remainder of his life was spent in France in the elegant p123literary and social pursuits of which he was extremely fond. During his residence in New Orleans he had maintained a regular correspondence with many illustrious writers; at his death a great mass of letters from the most eminent men of his generation was found among his effects. He died under tragic circumstances at his chateau, near P rigueux, in the latter part of 1846. For some time previously he had suffered from a chronic disease; while seated in an invalid chair, examining a loaded pistol, he was suddenly overwhelmed by an apoplectic stroke and fell to the floor. In the fall, the pistol exploded, and the charge lodged in Roffignac's head, causing instant death. The suspicion of suicide, which naturally arose under the circumstances, was disposed of by a medical examination, which revealed the facts. Roffignac was a man of real ability, although his enemies accused him of being vain, conceited, and disposed to arrogate to himself credit for many things which were really achieved by others.

    To the period of Macarty and Roffignac belongs the development of the "American Quarter." This part of the city grew up outside of the "Vieux Carré ," upon a vast tract of country which had originally belonged to the Jesuits, and by them had been developed as a sugar and indigo plantation. Part of this property was conveyed by Bienville to the Jesuits in April, 1726. This first acquisition included an area bounded by what today are Common, Tchoupitoulas and Terpsichore streets, and the Bayou St. John, which stream then flowed for a considerable distance parallel with the Mississippi, near where Hagan Avenue now runs. The tract measured — about 3,600 feet front by about 9,000 feet in depth. To it in the following January was added a further grant — about 1,000 feet wide by 9,000 feet deep, immediately above the original tract; and in 1745 the Jesuits, by purchase from Monsieur LeBreton, extended their property up to what is now Felicity Street. The space between Canal and Common streets was reserved by the French government for public uses, and was known as the "terre commune." After the expulsion of the Jesuits from Louisiana, in 1763, their possessions were declared forfeited to the crown. Their plantation was parcelled out into five portions. The part which was adjudicated to the city passed through the hands of various purchasers, and in 1788 was inherited by Mme. Bernard Gravier. A year or two later, in the reaction of prosperity that followed upon the great fire of Miro's time, and stimulated by the consequent movement of expansion which, at that time, caused the city suddenly to outgrow its ancient boundaries, she caused a portion of her estate to be laid out into streets and squares along what was called the Tchoupitoulas Road, from the upper boundary of the "terre commune" to the lower boundary of another portion of the Jesuit estates which had now become the property of one Delord. Mme. Gravier called the prospective suburb Ville Gravier; a few years later, after her death, her husband extended the streets, squares, etc., back as far as the further side of St. Charles Street, and in her memory gave them the name of Faubourg Ste. Marie. Street names which still survive interestingly perpetuate incidents in the history of the Faubourg — ? recalling Gravier, the founder; Delord, Foucher, and other of his fellow-capitalists; Magazine Street, so-called from the immense "magazine" or storehouse upon which the lower extremity of the thoroughfare abutted, near the site of the present customhouse; Camp Street, which owes its name to the fact that a "campo de negros," or slave-camp, probably for the reception p124of cargoes of African slaves, stood upon it midway between Poydras and Girod; St. Charles Street, named in honor of the King of Spain; and the Rue de la Briqu terie, which led to a brickyard, and is now called Carondelet; while still another, originally Salcedo, was renamed in honor of Carondelet's wife, Madame la Baronne. Julien Poydras, who wrote verses and was at one time member of the Territorial Council, purchased the corner of Tchoupitoulas and the street which now bears his name; Claude Girod owned the corner of Tchoupitoulas and what is now Girod; and still another lot on Tchoupitoulas became the property of a free woman of color, named Julie, after whom Julia Street is named.53

    In 1801, when Maunsell White arrived in New Orleans, and for the first time strolled down Poydras Street, the Faubourg Ste. Marie consisted of five houses. Between Common and Poydras, from Magazine to Carondelet, the whole space was given up to truck-gardens. The site of the St. Charles Hotel was the garden of "old Mr. Percy." But the conditions of life in New Orleans were changing, and this lonely district was destined to prosper and improve from this time on. The Creole merchants continued to rely upon their European connections. The new trade which sprang up in the next ten years with the North and West, by way of the Mississippi, was suffered to fall into American hands. The produce fleets drifting down the river, found a convenient landing along the batture, in front of the Faubourg Ste. Marie. By 1816 the lower end of Tchoupitoulas had become a busy and important street. There were few business houses above Canal Street; those which had ventured so far afield were located here, overlooking the river. Along the bank ran a low levee crowned with willow trees, to which the keel-boats and the immense flatboats called "chalants" used to be tied. When the river fell, the great "chalants" were left high and dry on the batture and were broken up for firewood or timber. The side-pieces called "gun-whales" were used to make sidewalks over the "great quagmire," as an early writer calls the Faubourg Ste. Marie. "Above Canal Street there was not a street paved. There was not a wharf upon which to discharge freight, consequently the cotton bales had to be rolled from the steamers to the levee, which in the almost continued rains of winter were muddy and almost impassable at times for loaded vehicles. Below Canal Street the levee was made firm by being well shelled, and the depth of water enabled boats and shipping to come close alongside of the bank, which the accumulating batture prevented above."54

    Tchoupitoulas Road, which was the prolongation of Tchoupitoulas Street, ran as far as Carrollton Point, where lay Mlle Macarty's plantation. Above Delord Street, as far as what is now the Fourth District, but which was, in 1816, the plantation of Fran ois Livaudais, the road was lined with pretty, rural residences, surrounded with truck-gardens or sheep-pastures, dairies, and orchards, where slave labor earned a respectable income for city-dwelling masters. Through the middle of the Faubourg ran the old Poydras Canal, long neglected, and at this date a sink of pestilential filth.

    The Livaudais plantation suffered heavily severely from the flood from the Macarty crevasse of 1816. In fact, all the back region of the plantation in this section was observed. But when the water ran off, it p125was found that a great quantity of silt had been carried in and deposited, and that the level of the land had been raised over a foot. A few years later, when the speculative enterprise of Caldwell and Peters transformed this rural district into a great and flourishing city, the beneficial effects of what had been at the time regarded as an irreparable catastrophe were seen, and the plantation, divided into lots and streets, was sold at fancy prices.55

    The attention of James H. Caldwell and of Samuel J. Peters was drawn to this district about 1822. They at first planned to develop the opposite end of the city — ? what was then called the Faubourg Marigny. For at the close of the eighteenth century, at the time that the Ville Gravier was laid out, the same impulse of expansion led to the creation of several other Faubourgs. The aristocratic suburb of St. John sprang up along the road which led northwestwardly from the city to the Bayou St. John; at the end of which a prosperous village arose where a bridge then crossed and today still crosses the stream. In 1816 this settlement was known as St. Johnsburg. Elsewhere might be seen the clustered roofs of Annunciations, St. Claude, DeClouet, and Daunois; and just below the lower line of the city — ? where Elysian Fields Avenue ran northwest from the river, the princely estate of Bernard de Marigny was being laid out in streets and squares and offered for sale. The depth of the river in front of the Faubourg Marigny seemed to indicate this as the logical theater of the future commercial development of the city. Caldwell developed a magnificent scheme of warehouses and cotton presses on Elysian Fields; a hotel opposite the terminus of the Pontchartrain Railroad; gas works, water works and many other important enterprises. Bernard de Marigny was approached with this object in view; he was notoriously a hater of the Americans, and disinclined to sell to them; but after long dickering, a price was fixed on, in consideration of which he was willing to part with practically the whole of his extensive property. Marigny seems to have promptly repented of his agreement. "When the necessary legal document had been drawn up," says Castellanos, in relating this incident, "all the parties in interest met at the notary's office, to ratify the agreement and conclude the sale, except Mrs. Marigny, who, it was surmised, had purposely absented herself at her husband's suggestion. As her dotal and paraphernal rights were involved in the matter of transfer, her refusal to ratify the character broke up the project. Mr. Peters, it is said, was so enraged at this act, which he bluntly described as double-dealing, that, turning to the Saxon-hating Creole, he cried out: "I shall live, by God, to see the day when rank grass shall choke up the streets of your old faubourg,' a prophecy that has, unfortunately, been verified to the letter."56

    Marigny was severely blamed by the rest of the Creole population for thus yielding to his anti-American prejudices. This feeling ultimately worked his political destruction. Thereafter he was not looked on as a safe leader, and when he became a candidate for the governorship, they refused to support him. His action, however, indicates the extent to which the estrangement of the two races had proceeded at this early date. In turning to the Faubourg Ste. Marie, Peters and Caldwell now frankly undertook to exploit these antagonisms. They felt that the p126Americans would flock into a quarter where they could be separate from those whom they regarded as their oppressors. The two men purchased a considerable part of the holdings of Jean Gravier, son of the original owners, to whom the property had now passed by inheritance. With the assistance of Banks, Pritchard, and other local capitalists, they developed the tract so rapidly, that by 1835 the new quarter rivalled in population and exceeded in wealth and importance the original "Carr de la Ville." Gravier yielded to the speculative fever of the time, embarked in a vast enterprise designed to develop the remaining part of his property, and met with reverses which reduced him to the direst poverty. He died in October, 1834, at age of ninety-five, and was laid to rest in a grave, the location of which has now been long forgotten. "During the last period of his earthly career he had been the object of attack from designing ingrates, who sought by every means known to the law to dispossess him of his long-acquired acres and to precipitate him in his decrepit and imbecile state into a condition of hopeless embarrassment."57

    Neither Peters nor Caldwell were natives of New Orleans. The former was a Canadian of American descent. He was educated in New England, and began his business career in New York. He arrived in New Orleans in 1821, being then twenty years of age. Within eight years, by dint of indomitable energy and remarkable powers of organization, he had succeeded in acquiring a commanding position in business circles, and was elected a member of the city council. The first two years of his residence in the city were spent in the employ of a well known merchant, like himself, an emigrant from the City of New York. In 1823 the firm of Peters & Millard was formed, with Samuel J. Peters as senior partner. It dealt in groceries, wholesale and retail. It soon ranked among the wealthiest and most honorable firms in the South. Peters' election to the council was a remarkable event. Up to that time no person not a native had represented in that body any precinct of the Old Square. He was, however, elected by a large majority. He was made chairman of the committee on Streets and Landings, and in that capacity inaugurated a system of public improvements which led to the building of over — four miles of levees along the river-front, and the paving of over — sixty miles of streets "with commodious sidewalks, not surpassed by any of our northern cities," as he himself remarks, in his autobiography. At the end of two or three years he determined to withdraw from politics, and devoted himself to plans for the general betterment of the city. The Chamber of Commerce was founded about this time under his inspiration. He became president of the Pontchartrain Railroad; of the City Bank; and was instrumental in building the Merchants Exchange, a building, which, long dedicated to other uses than its original ones, still stands on Royal Street, near Canal.58

    Caldwell, the other moving spirit in the great enterprise which meant so much to New Orleans, was an Englishman. He was a player by profession. His theatrical career in the United States began in the District of Columbia, in 1817. He was invited to go to New Orleans with a company of actors in 1820. On arriving in that city he took over temporarily the St. Philip Theater, and there introduced the English p127drama to a public which till then had heard only French. It was at this early date, apparently, that he formed the idea of constructing in one of the faubourgs a theater which would be dedicated exclusively to the production of plays in English. At first his plan was to locate this edifice in the Faubourg Marigny, but after the failure of that project, he transferred the location to the new American quarter, and on May 29, 1822, laid the corner stone of what was afterwards known as the American Theater. The building was opened on May 9, 1823, while yet incomplete; but it was complete in every detail when it opened for its second season on the 1st of January following. It is not necessary here to follow in detail the history of this theater, nor of the St. Charles Theater, which was Caldwell's second and more magnificent theatrical venture. The importance of the American Theater resides in the fact that it was the first important structure erected in the new quarter; from its completion it is customary to date the rise of that section of the city. Other important enterprises followed within the next ten or fifteen years; the St. Charles and the Verandah hotels were built, and the New Basin Canal and Shell Road inaugurated. The last-named was intended to do for the new quarter what the Old Basin, or Carondelet Canal, was doing for the Vieux Carré ; and this purpose it efficiently served, with the result that the commercial, as well as the mercantile, supremacy of the American part of the city was assured. Caldwell had a part in many of these undertakings. He was associated with Peters in the building of the St. Charles Hotel. Through his energetic efforts gas was introduced into the city as an illuminant. The first building lighted in this way was his American Theater. He subsequently organized companies which extended the services into almost all parts of the city, and into the suburban town of Lafayette.

    The Author’s Notes

    1 Louisiana Gazette, August 19, 1815. 2 Louisiana Gazette, September 4, 1816. 3 Louisiana Courier, August 29, 1817. 4 Courier, October 4, 1817. 5 Dodd, Report on the Health and Sanitary Survey of New Orleans, 1918-1919, pp4-5. It may be of interest to add that there was no organized health supervision, apparently, from 1825 till 1841, when a new Board of Health was established. There was, however, a vigorous Medical Society, and two physicians were detailed from this body to act as medical advisors to the mayor. The Board of Health established in 1841 lasted only a few months. The Medico-Chirurgical Society became the acting board of health down to 1855, when the State Board of Health took over the active sanitary supervision of the city. In 1877 the State Board of Health was given control of the work of controlling vital statistics in New Orleans. In 1898 a City Board of Health was created, which has been in charge of the health of New Orleans ever since. 6 Ordinance of December 11, 1815. 7 Ordinance of Jan. 26, 1816. 8 Ordinance of October 21, 1816. 9 Ordinance of September 21, 1816. 10 Ordinance of June, 1816. 11 Ordinance of June 24, 1816. 12 Ordinance of June 7, 1816. 13 Ordinance of December 15, 1817. 14 Ordinance of December 10, 1817. 15 Ordinance of August 11, 1817. 16 Ordinance of September 24, 1816. This ordinance stipulates that if flour cost $2 per barrel, then 52 ounces of bread should be sold for a "shilling;" if $5, then 47 ounces, if $6, then 42 ounces, etc. There seems to have been great profit in the baking business, and many attempts were made to impose taxes and licenses on the bakers with a view to help out the city's revenues, which were already beginning to be inadequate. 17 Ordinance of June 8, 1816. 18 Ordinance of October 27, 1817. 19 Louisiana Gazette, May 5, 1818. 20 Ibid. 21 Louisiana Gazette, May 5, 1818. 22 Ordinance of January 3, 1818. 23 Ordinance of November 2, 1818. 24 September 7, 1818. 25 Ordinance of July 1, 1817. 26 Ordinance of July 1, 1817. 27 Ordinance of March 29, 1817. 28 Ordinance of August 12, 1819. 29 Ordinance of September 26, 1817. 30 Ordinance of August 24, 1819. 31 Ordinance of October 30, 1818. 32 Ordinance of July 20, 1818. 33 Ordinance of June 26, 1818. 34 Ordinance of May 25, 1818. 35 Jewell, Crescent City Illustrated. 36 Waring and Cable, Social Statistics of Cities, Report on New Orleans, 43. 37 Courier de la Louisiane, May 3, 1820. 38 De Bow's Review, VII, 415. 39 Castellanos, "New Orleans as It Was," 20. 40 Castellanos, 218. 41 Gazette, May 26, 1820. 42 Martin, "History of Louisiana"; Condon's Annals, 423. 43 Louisiana Gazette, May 3, 1820. 44 The stocks themselves may still be seen in New Orleans in the museum of the Cabildo. 45 Gazette, May 20, 1820. 46 Quoted in O'Connor, "History of the New Orleans Fire Department," 45. 47 See the messages of the mayor, May 20, 1820, in the Archives of the City of New Orleans. 48 "New Orleans as It Was," 23. 49 Martin, "History of Louisiana," Condon's Annals, 413-430. 50 Nolte, "Fifty Years in Both Hemispheres," Chapter XVI. 51 Castellanos, "New Orleans as It Was," 72-74. 52 See messages of the mayors, in the New Orleans City Archives, April, 1828. 53 Cable and Waring, Social Statistics of Cities, Report on New Orleans, 31. 54 Sparks, "Memoirs of Fifty Years," 441-442. 55 "The Environs of New Orleans," Crescent, January-November, 1866, passim. 56 "New Orleans as It Was," 251-252. 57 Castellanos, "New Orleans as It Was," 271-272. 58 Publications of the La. Hist. Soc., Vol. VII, 1913-14, pp67-74.

    Author's Notes

    1. Yellow fever disease caused by a virus that is spread through mosquito bites.
    2. Havanacity capital of Cuba.

    Text prepared by:

    Chapter VIII

    As a result of Roffignac's retirement, an election for mayor became necessary. This was called for April 7, 1828. At that time political parties in New Orleans were very evenly balanced. There were democratic and the federalist factions. The former supported General Jackson's candidacy for the presidency of the United States; the latter was for Adams, for the same exalted office. The campaign as waged in the newspapers was exceedingly bitter. Peter K. Wagner was the leading literary champion of the Jacksonians; John Gibson, in the columns of the Argus, advocated the election of Adams. Epithets like "turncoat" and "scribbler," "scoundrel," "coward," "rogue," were regular features of the editorial pronouncements. Castellanos, writing of this period, professes to be amazed that violence did not occur more often than it did, considering the provocation, and the fact that the editors and politicians habitually went armed.1 Denis Prieur was the nominee for mayor of the Jackson faction. He had served creditably as recorder, a position second in importance in the city only to that of mayor. From his candidacy is said to date the existence of the democratic party as an organization in Louisiana. Prieur himself was a man of chivalrous instincts, very popular, brave, charitable, and accessible to all.

    The Adams faction named for mayor another Creole, A. Peychaud. His name was presented to the public by a small group of men who had fastened their control upon their faction, and against whom it was beginning to rebel. They were dubbed a "ring." They were not a "ring" in the sense in which the word has since been used. There was no attempt to organize the voters, or force them through mistaken notions of party loyalty to vote for a candidate whose fitness for office was questionable. In fact, every candidate ran on his personal record; if elected, he was in a special sense the choice of the community, and owed his post to the fact that he had more friends and well-wishers than his antagonists.

    The election resulted in a victory for Prieur, who received 888 votes as against Peychaud's 531. Throughout the country the Jackson faction made capital of the result. It was acclaimed a crushing defeat for the Adams faction. It was declared to indicate the result which was going to occur in the presidential campaign. In this there was much exaggeration, but it is a fact that Jackson secured all five of the electoral votes of Louisiana in 1828 and again in 1832.

    Prieur served till 1838. He was re-elected regularly by almost the unanimous vote of the city. His was an exceedingly eventful and important administration. Almost at its outset it was embarrassed by an event which threatened for a time to tie up the whole machinery of local government. Among the members elected to the city council at the same time that Prieur became mayor, was a Federalist named William Harper. He was chosen from the Sixth Ward. As his politics differed from that of the mayor, and as feeling was very high on the subject, it was expected that he would prove an active opponent of all administration projects. p129His elimination from the council was therefore desirable. It happened that Harper held an office under the United States. When he presented himself to take his seat in the council objection was made on the ground that the state constitution prohibited anybody from holding more than one office of honor and profit at a time. The objection was clearly well founded, and Harper was denied his seat. He instantly applied to the court for a writ of mandamus directed to the mayor and the council. The case was tried before Judge Lewis, who granted the desired writ.

    The council, however, refused to recognize the mandamus, claiming with much show of reason that it alone was the judge of the qualifications of its members, and that the court was without jurisdiction. The Judge's reply was to order the sheriff to sequester all the revenues of the corporation. The matter reached a crisis on May 1, 1828. If the government were to function, the matter must be adjusted without delay. The case was hurried to the Supreme Court, which three weeks later rendered judgment in favor of the city. The court held that the mandamus issued in favor of Harper was ultra vires, and that the sheriff was guilty of trespass in executing the judge's orders relative to the sequestration. It was also held that the sheriff was bound to inquire into the validity of all orders addressed to him, and rendered himself liable if he executed illegal orders. There can be no question that the court was at least in part influenced in this decision by considerations of the political nature of the whole transaction; at any rate, the new administration was thus rid of a prospective antagonist. The affair illustrates strikingly the extent to which political animosities went in the early history of the city.

    Another interesting situation followed. It appears that in the confusion following the burning of the state capitol, the state legislature had passed and the governor had inadvertently approved an act repealing all acts of a date prior to the promulgation of the Civil Code of 1824. This legislation was in the form of an act amending that code and the code of practice, but its effect was to annul the charters of many corporations, including that of the City of New Orleans, and threatened the courts, and many other departments of the government. The state was thrown into confusion, but a corrective measure was hastily prepared, the legislature convened in special session, and the mischief was undone as promptly as possible.2

    The early days of Prieur's administration were troubled by a good deal of the same disorderly conduct on the part of the lawless element in the community, as had been the case under Roffignac. Incendiary fires and robberies were a frequent occurrence. The council authorized the mayor to organize more efficiently the "square watch," which at this time superseded the militia patrol. At the same time an effort was made to improve the fire department by raising the standard for the colored men permitted to join the fire companies. The prevailing spirit of lawlessness was shown by the fact that in April, 1828, one of the largest shops in town was broken into and robbed of a large quantity of goods; and the next month the postoffice was plundered and the registered mail carried off. A few days later the office of the Registrar of Conveyances was entered, two stores looted, and attempts were made to break into others. As the whole population of New Orleans at that time did not much p130exceed 40,000 souls, including slaves, the incessant chronicle of crime in the newspapers suggests a very low state of morals.

    The same trouble continued under Prieur's successor, in spite of earnest and energetic efforts to cure it. In fact it persisted as long as gambling was permitted in the city. This vice flourished under licenses from the state, and the municipality was thus unable to do anything to reach the root of the matter. The policy of the legislature on the subject of gambling fluctuated in Prieur's time as in Roffignac's. In 1831, for instance, gambling was again permitted in New Orleans although forbidden elsewhere in the state. In the following year a tax of $7,500 was put on gambling houses in New Orleans. But in 1835 an act was passed under which to keep a gambling house was made an offense punishable with a fine of from $5,000 to $10,000 or imprisonment of from one to five years. The effect of this drastic measure, however, does not seem to have been all that its promoters hoped. The "sporting fraternity" continued to operate in New Orleans, perhaps not so openly and brazenly as before, but on a scale to affect injuriously the reputation of the city throughout the nation.

    Connected with the matter of police regulation, was, of course, the question of the slaves. In 1828 the city, in obedience to a mandate from the legislature, enacted regulations governing the traffic in slaves, especially forbidding the exposing of negroes for sale in the more frequented parts of the city. Two years later the community was greatly excited over the possibilities of a slave rising. It was, as Martin observes, "a time of vigilance." The first promise of trouble came from persons from other parts of the United States, presumably abolition agents, who were detected traveling around in the parishes, trying to incite the blacks to insurrection. Had these individuals been apprehended, the white population would probably have summarily disposed of them. They made their escape, however, but the legislature was led thereby to pass laws making it a capital crime to incite the slaves against the whites in any way, whether by word, deed, or merely by importing into the state pamphlets composed elsewhere which tended to that end. In fact, the danger being apparently apprehended chiefly from free men of color, a very severe law was enacted expelling all persons of this description from the state. Within a twelvemonth the excitement seems to have been allayed, as some of the harsher provisions in these laws were then modified, and the decree of banishment was limited to those half-breeds who were known to be "worthless."3

    On the whole, the relations between the races in New Orleans appear to have been friendly, the masters kindly and considerate, the slaves loyal and devoted. Cases like those of Mme. Lalaurie and of Bras Coup were exceptional. Mme. Lalaurie was undoubtedly demented. The rage exhibited by the white population upon discovering her cruelties, shows that the ill-treatment of slaves was condemned by public opinion. Her story is significant only because it has become, along with that of Bras Coup, part of the legendary lore of New Orleans, and has a place in literature, thanks to the use which has been made of it by a celebrated American novelist.4 The woman had long held a prominent place in p131local society, was wealthy, and some say, beautiful. Her residence stood at the corner of Royal and Hospital streets. Fire was discovered there one day in April, 1834. While efforts were being made to extinguish the flames, a rumor spread that some negroes were confined in a part of the house menaced with destruction. Judge Canonge, of the Criminal Court, who was present, demanded of Mme. Lalaurie the keys to the attic. She refused to give them to him. Then he and some others burst into the building. They found seven slaves chained in various ways, all bearing marks of the most frightful ill-usage. One of them declared that he had been five months in confinement, most of the time with no food except a handful of meal once a day. Another was confined to her bed, suffering from a terrible wound on the head. A variety of instruments of torture, including one specially dreadful collar fitted with sharp points and edges, were discovered. It was Mme. Lalaurie's secret pastime to torment her wretched dependents. As soon as she realized that her crimes were discovered, she took advantage of a moment when the mob was occupied in the rear of her premises, to flee by the front door. It is said that her flight was aided by some of the very slaves whom she had mistreated in times past. The authorities made no effort to apprehend her. She remained in hiding for some days, then took passage on an outgoing vessel, went to France, and spent her later years in Europe. The infuriated populace, meantime, looted her residence, and set it on fire. It was entirely consumed, except the outer walls. The work of destruction there went on for several days uninterrupted by the authorities, either because they sympathized with the mob, or because they were afraid to intervene. Only when the anger of the crowd had completely satiated itself were the local troops called out, and, re-enforced by the United States regulars, accompanied by the sheriff, John Holland, proceeded to the scene, and compelled a few last loiterers to disperse.5

    Bras Coup, on the other hand, represents rebellion against the whites. He seems to have been a wild, untamable soul, probably less the Robin Hood that he has been represented to be, than a natural criminal. His real name was Squier. His sobriquet was earned by the loss of an arm, amputated as the result of a gunshot wound. He belonged to Gen. William DeBuys, known as a humane and considerate master. He was DeBuys' hunting companion and personal attendant. But not could keep him at home. His frequent disappearances, the pursuits by the sheriff or a posse of citizens, his recapture — these were topics of constant discussion in the city. Finally, several serious crimes caused a price to be set on his head. He sought refuge in the swamps. In July, 1837, he was killed by a Spanish fisherman, in his hiding place on Lake Pontchartrain. Just how Bras Coup came to his end was never clearly established. His slayer claimed to have been attacked while at work in his boat. Seeing Bras Coup about to shoot at him, he seized an iron bar and beat him to death. On the other hand, there were not lacking those who said that the fisherman was in reality a confederate of the negro's, and murdered him treacherously in sleep. At any rate, the body was brought to the city and exposed to the public view in the Place d'Armes where it was viewed by thousands.

    Bras Coup's adventures had interest for his generation because he was the type of negro runaway from whom the whites felt they had p132most to apprehend. The newspapers of Prieur's time are full of notices of fugitive slaves, and of rewards offered for their capture and return. Sometimes these negroes turned bandit, like Bras Coup, and from their hiding places in the swamps near the city issued at night to perpetrate the robberies so often chronicled in the press of that day. They were usually arrested through the efforts of the law officers; sometimes they returned voluntarily after a vacation more or less protracted. But always over the white population hung the threat of danger, which was slavery's menace to the slave-holding class.

    In 1829 the state capital was removed from New Orleans to Donaldsonville, partly, no doubt, because the legislature had no proper meeting-place in the city, as a result of the burning of the state house; but also because it was deemed unwise to expose the members to the distractions of city-life. The exile did not last long. In 1831 the seat of government was returned to the city. A year later the buildings previously occupied by the Charity Hospital, on Common and Baronne streets, fell vacant through the removal of this institution to its present site on Tulane Avenue. They were thereupon purchased by the state, and became the home of the various governmental departments and the meeting place of both branches of the legislature during the next sixteen years. As usual, a good deal of legislation followed regarding purely local matters. For example, in 1832, as part of the wild-cat speculation of the time, the municipality was invested with extensive powers to lay out streets, improve public places, and develop the suburbs. Fortunately, these powers were not very extensively utilized. Some attempt also was made to better the sanitary conditions of the city, which, while probably not worse than those of the average American city of the time, were undeniably bad. The population now numbered about 42,000. Life in the warm, moist climate, lived mainly on the ground floor of buildings erected directly upon an undrained soil, encouraged the existence of tuberculosis and malaria. Sanitary theories had not progressed much over those of Perier and Carondelet. The removal of the adjacent forests, and the digging of drainage canals were among the wisest measures advocated; but the former was not carried far, and the canals were few in number, and not very scientifically located. In 1835 the Municipal Drainage Company was incorporated with a capital of $1,000,000, both the state and the city being among the stockholders. Its object was to drain the area behind the city as far as Lake Pontchartrain and open it to settlement. It began operations with a drainage machine on Bayou St. John, but the general financial collapse which soon followed put an end to the enterprise.

    The canals were excavated by hand. There was at that time no suitable machinery to perform the work. Irish laborers were the main reliance. It was noticed that whenever there was much disturbance of the soil, outbreaks of disease occurred. In 1811, for example, when the Carondelet Canal was cleaned, an epidemic of yellow fever carried off seven percent of the population; the same thing occurred in 1818, and in 1822, when that work was repeated. In 1832, when the New Basin was cut through to the lake, the fever was attended by a mortality of 8 percent . Nothing was known of the mosquito theory of the propagation of the disease, but practical experience furnished hints which might have been advantageously followed up. However, the community was too busy with gainful pursuits to concern itself much about the p133fever, which was looked on rather as an established institution. Generous provision was made for the support of the hospital, but the only other recourse seems to have been the oft-repeated assertion that the climate was unusually salubrious, and that acclimatized were immune to the disease.

    During Prieur's administration occurred an appalling outbreak of cholera. This happened in 1832. The disease visited the city both before and after that date, but never was the mortality such as to compare with that of this terrible year. The conditions described above favored in exceptional ways the spread of the plague. The defective water supply had much to do with it. The disease appeared in October on that year. The regular annual epidemic of yellow fever had been that summer very severe; it had not yet entirely disappeared, when on the morning of the 25th persons walking along the levee were surprised to find stretched out on the ground the bodies of two dying men. An hour or so later they were dead. They perished of cholera. The disease had reached the city the previous day on two ships among the passengers on which the disease had developed during the voyage from Europe. At the moment the idlers were inspecting the ghastly bodies of these two first two victims, few guessed the cause of their dreadful death. That same day, however, a few scattering cases of cholera were reported from different parts of the city. On the 26th the alarm became general, and from that time forward, with fearful rapidity, the terrible pest swept over the city and through all ranks of society.6 Many fled at once; the population was thus reduced to about 35,000 persons, yet 6,000 perished within twenty days. On some days the death rate was 500.

    A New Orleans streetcar in 1832

    From an engraving in the Louisiana State Museum

    Terrible scenes took place. Doctor Clapp, a young Protestant minister, who settled in New Orleans in 1822, tells how he was kept busy performing the burial service all day long; sometimes he did not leave the cemetery till 9:00 P.M., the interments were being made by candle light. One day, he writes, he went to a funeral at 6:00 A.M., but in spite p134of the early hour, on arriving at the cemetery, he found more than 100 uncoffined bodies waiting for burial. Trenches were dug, and on some days, at the height of the epidemic, the dead were unceremoniously tumbled into them. In the absence of gravediggers and undertakers, the chain gang was impressed into service. One of the hospitals, deserted by all the physicians and attendants, was found filled with corpses, and with its ghastly contents was burnt by order of Mayor Prieur. All places of business were closed. All vehicles were seized to be used to bury the dead. Strangely dramatic incidents are recorded; a bride died on the night of her wedding, and was buried in the wedding finery she had scarcely had time to doff. A man died while waiting for a coffin to be finished which he had ordered for a friend's burial. Three brothers died on the same day. A family of nine which sat down to the evening meal apparently in perfect health, were all dead the next day at the same hour. A boarding house where thirteen people were lodging, was completely depopulated. Corpses were found lying in the street in the early morning. Tar and pitch were kept burning to purify the heavy atmosphere. Cannon were fired at intervals with the same purpose. Priority of right to the employment of hearses became the subject of contention. Grim struggles for precedence took place between the various funeral processions resorting to the churches. The city council added a final touch to the horror of the situation by publishing hideous statistics and the most ruthless resolutions.

    It is not wonderful that in the emergency the ordinary bonds of morality were loosened, and scenes of wild dissipation were enacted. Miss King, in her "New Orleans, the Place and the People," relates the story of a party of revellers, one of whom, after taking a hilarious farewell of his comrades, was found a few hours later in a public grave, still wearing his festal garb, but in posture indicating that he had been buried while still alive. There were rumors that many were thus prematurely hurried to a peculiarly agonizing death. Hundreds of bodies were weighted and sunk in the river.7 The mortality was especially heavy among the laborers on the canals, as it always was. In all, over eight percent of the population died. The epidemic reappeared in the summer of 1833, and took a fresh toll of victims; so that there were 10,000 deaths within those twelve fearful months.8

    Before passing to more cheerful themes, let us make brief mention of the death of two prominent citizens, although they did not die of the plague. P re Antoine passed away amidst the love and tears of the whole city, in 1829; and Dominique You, the ex-pirate, went to his award in the following year. For three days P re Antoine's body lay exposed in the main aisle of the Cathedral, where 3,000 wax tapers shed a solemn light upon his pallid face and rude brown cassock. It was then borne to the grave followed by a heterogeneous multitude, not of Catholics only, but of Masons, avowed atheists, and everybody to whom the simple goodness of the venerable ecclesiastic had endeared him.

    You died at his home at the corner of Love and Mandeville streets, in extreme indigence, too proud to let his friends know of his piteous situation. He had been pardoned for his youthful offenses in recognition of his services in the American army at the Battle of New Orleans, and p135thereafter lived in peace in New Orleans. He had even figured in local politics, as a valiant supporter of General Jackson. Old comrades rallied around him to see that he should have, dead, the tribute that carelessness and ignorance had failed to render him, living. The city council accorded him a military funeral, in which the Louisiana Legion — that famous organization of all the volunteer troops — took a prominent part. All places of business were ordered closed, flags were put at half mast, and salvos of cannon fired by the Orleans Artillery, of which he was one of the founders, thundered a requiem over the last resting place of Lafitte's ablest and most famous lieutenant.

    Politics occupied a place in the social and intellectual life of New Orleans in Prieur's time to an extent which we of a later generation find it difficult to comprehend. The lines of cleavage followed national issues; the time had not yet fully arrived when there should be a definite alignment of parties over purely municipal questions. The incidents connected with the visit of General Andrews Jackson to New Orleans in 1828 illustrate these facts amusingly. His presence in the city afforded an opportunity for the exploitation of the old hero for partisan purposes of which the democrats were not slow to take advantage.

    Jackson was a candidate for the presidency of the United States, but in coming to New Orleans, his prime object was to revisit the scenes of his celebrated victory over the British, to renew old friendships, and to enjoy himself. The invitation extended to him by the State legislature referred only to his distinguished services to his country, and was in line with similar resolutions passed by the legislatures in other southern states. The supporters of President Adams, who was a candidate in opposition to Jackson, saw in the invitation deep political significance. They determined to act on the defensive. Jackson landed in front of the city and was received by the state and municipal officials with appropriate ceremonies. He was made the recipient of the customary banquet, and attended the usual performances at the theaters. He was escorted through the streets in a splendid carriage drawn by six white steeds, acclaimed by the shouts of the multitude, and attended by the local soldiery. These celebrations lasted several days, and then the leading politicians of the democratic party in the city — Livingston, Davezac, Wagner, De Marigny — received him in turn as their guest at balls and receptions at their homes. This monopoly of the city's honored visitor aroused the ire of the excluded federalists. The newspapers printed abusive articles, and the Argus began the publication of a scurrilous biography of the old hero, so untruthful and offensive that Jackson, bitterly indignant, left the city in anger. His departure did not placate the federalists, whose animosities led them to make objection in the legislature to the bill for his entertainment when it was presented for approval. The account was only settled after much discussion and considerable curtailment.9

    The ill feeling between the Creoles and the Americans, also, continued a fertile source of discord. At last, largely through the persistence of the American element, a new charter was procured for the city, which, it was hoped, would safeguard their interests by removing all control over their part of the town from the hands of the French. The latter, by virtue of their ownership of some of the most valuable real estate p136in the city, as well as by the facility with which they united with the foreign elements that flocked into the city from all parts of Europe,10 and not less by native ability, had succeeded so far in retaining power.11 When they were unable to control, they divided and paralyzed public sentiment, and met the most urgent demand for innovation with unyielding conservatism.12 The feeling between the two dominant races was very strong in 1836, as proven by the deplorable Giquel-Brooks affair. Brooks was a member of the Washington Guards and prominent in the American quarter. Giquel was a Creole, and equally well-known below Canal Street. A difficulty between the two men was followed by Brooks sending a challenge to a duel. Giquel's reply was to prefer charges against brooks before the Recorder of the Second Municipality. A few days later both parties met on Royal Street, an affray followed, and Brooks was killed. His slayer was, of course, arrested, taken to the mayor's office, and put under appearance bonds. The city was greatly excited over the affair. Brooks was followed to his grave by an immense concourse of friends and citizen soldiers.

    Giquel was arraigned before Judge Prval, the privilege of bail was revoked, and he was committed to prison under charges of murder. Public opinion immediately divided as to the propriety of Prval's course. The American section warmly supported the judge's action; the Creole population as warmly attacked what they declared was a violation of a constitutional right. The friends, both of Brooks and Giquel, were active, the former determined, as they announced, to see that justice was done; the latter employed eminent counsel to see that every legal remedy should be employed to save their friend. One of these remedies was a writ of habeas corpus.

    The writ was argued in the court of Judge Joachim Bermudez, a distinguished jurist, whose son later became chief justice of Louisiana. The atmosphere of his court room during the case was, it is said, filled with "threatening rumors and dire menaces." When the judge released Giquel on $15,000 bond "the muttered curses of the baffled enemies" of the accused preluded the stormy events that were soon to follow. It was evident that the judge's life was in danger. On the night of September 5, 1836, while seated with his family quietly in his home on Bayou Road, between Rampart and Burgundy, a mob composed of Brooks' friends, including members of the Washington Guards, attacked the place. The judge had been warned; some friends were present to protect him and the assailants, on bursting in the front door, were greeted by a volley of bullets. Two were shot by Bermudez; one expired immediately; the other mortally hurt, was carried away by his companions. The dead body of another of the mob was later found in Esplanade Avenue, and several others were ascertained to have been wounded. Mrs. Bermudez had taken a heroic part in the encounter, arming herself with her husband's sword and beating back the assailants as they attempted to enter the drawing room.

    Captain Hozey of the Washington Guards took steps to prevent any further trouble. He tendered the use of his command to guard the judge's person. This put his men on their mettle and helped considerably p137to avert further trouble. The proposition was declined. A guard was unnecessary. Public opinion had been outraged; everybody was now on Bermudez' side and the danger passed.13 The prevalent antagonists of Creole and American expressed themselves constantly in the City Council. There the representatives of the two races divided sharply on every question of public policy. The aldermen from the ancient part of the city outnumbered two to one the members of what was termed "le faubourg Amricain." "All paving and all improvements to the landings were made within the limits of the lower part of the city, while above, where already a vast proportion of the trade was located, although as heavily taxed as other parts, not a wharf was permitted to be made or even repaired, and the streets were left unpaved. In consequence of this, damage was sustained one year to an extent exceeding one million of dollars by the impassable condition of the streets. What made such a state of things the more insupportable was the fact that streets were being paved where a cartload of merchandise never passed, a mile distant from the center of commerce."14

    The levee in front of the Faubourg St. Mary were'+SearchF+'The levees . . . were'+CloseF+'?

    '+SearchF+'The levee . . . was'+CloseF+'?)',WIDTH,160)" onMouseOut="nd();"> lined with vessels, but about 1835 the extension of the "batture" or river deposits became so great as to impede seriously the access thereto. A petition addressed by the merchants and real estate owners of this region to the City Council, asking that the wharves be extended, was unceremoniously rejected. This added to the resentment felt by the Americans. A meeting was held shortly thereafter, at which a proposition to solicit from the Legislature an act entirely separating this community from the rest of the city was enthusiastically received. It was opposed by Samuel J. Peters with grave and weighty arguments; but only when he personally undertook to secure from the city government such redress as his fellow citizens considered themselves entitled to did the agitation die down.

    The matter was first carried to the Legislature and summarily rejected. Mr. Peters then exerted himself to influence the Council and when met by the objection that the municipality was without funds, offered, in conjunction with some of his wealthy friends, to lend the money at 6 percent , to be repaid at the end of ten years. The Council then definitely refused to comply with any of Peters' suggestions, though by a majority of only one vote. "There was no longer any grounds for hope of justice and Mr. Peters determined, as he had pledged himself to do on such a contingency, to devise a plan for a city government which would secure all the advantages which the advocates of a separate and independent city expected, without incurring the dangers of such a project."15

    The charter of 1836, which embodied the results of Peters' labors, was a "curious experiment in city affairs."16 It divided the city into three corporations, wholly distinct from one another, but subordinate to one mayor and to a General Council. The powers of the mayor and of the General Council, while superior, were limited. This council retained only authority to legislate on points of common interest to all the three p138municipalities. It could, for example, fix a uniform rate of wharfage, drayage and ferriage. It established the tax on carriages and licenses to be paid by peddlers, taverns, etc. But it had no financial powers. It could make no appropriations. Although it was privileged to determine the salaries of the mayor and of its own members, these were paid by appropriations made in their due proportions by the councils of the individual municipalities. All the other expenses of a general character were met in the same way. In fact, the only really important function with which the General Council was clothed was the supervision of the police. It could enact any legislation that might seem necessary for the regulation of the "city watch," the "operation of which should be uniform in all parts of the city." The Council, however, was made up of the entire membership of all the various municipal councils sitting together. Its resolutions, therefore, were generally effective, being followed by appropriate action in the individual councils. However, there was no very clear definition of the limit of powers either way, and the consequence was endless dispute and litigation.17 The General Council met only once a year, though the mayor had the right, which appears to have been frequently exercised, to convene it in extraordinary session, whenever in his judgment this was desirable.

    The mayor was charged with a sort of general supervisory power over all the municipalities. He was required to be a citizen of the United States, at least thirty years of age, and own, in the city, property valued at not less than $5,000. The way in which the mayor's functions were circumscribed may be gathered from the fact that the charter permitted him to cause the removal of undesirable public servants by lodging with the council of the municipality concerned an "information" on the subject; but if the ejected official were thereupon re-elected by the Council, the mayor was than entitled to proceed further against him during the term for which he had been elected. As a matter of fact, practically all the power previously concentrated in the office of mayor was now parceled out among the Recorders, as the presiding officers in each municipality were called.

    The first municipality was virtually the "Old Square" of the city. The upper boundary extended from the river along Canal Street to the New Basin Canal and thence to Lake Pontchartrain; thence along the lake to Bayou St. John, and thence along the bayou and Esplanade Avenue to the river. In the rear of the "Old Square" it included a vast area of almost wholly uninhabited swamp; but at the mouth of the New Basin Canal — called, somewhat quaintly, in the act, the "Canal of the Bank" was a small settlement which fell within the municipal boundaries. On the opposite bank another little settlement was similarly included within the frontiers of the second municipality. The boundaries of the second municipality were Canal Street, the New Basin Canal, the Lake, and Carrollton Avenue as far as the fauxbourgs of Nuns and Annunciation. This somewhat irregular boundary gave to the American quarter practically all the upper part of the present city except the thriving little town of Lafayette. The third municipality embraced all the rest of what is now New Orleans — that is, a region included within a line running along Esplanade Avenue to Bayou St. John and thence along the bayou to the Lake; thence along the Lake to Chef Menteur River, and p139thence to Lake Borgne; thence as far as Bayou Bienvenu and Fishermen's Canal; and thence back to the river and the point of departure. The upper boundary of the second municipality was the divisional line between the parishes of Orleans and Jefferson; and the lower limit of the third municipality was the divisional line between the parishes of Orleans and St. Bernard.

    Each of these municipalities was governed by a recorder and a council elected by the wards. The qualifications for the recorder were that he should be at least thirty years of age, a "man of family" and own, in the municipality, at least $3,000 worth of property. The qualifications for aldermen were merely that they must be over twenty-one years of age and own property valued at not less than $1,000. The aldermen were not required to be "heads of families," a discrimination over which the local newspapers for years thereafter made merry.

    The First Municipality was divided into five wards, the Second into three wards, and the Third into four wards. Each recorder was, in effect, the mayor of a separate city. He possessed all the functions that usually attach to that office except those which, by their nature, applied jointly to all three of the new divisions of the city. In fact, the new municipalities were expressly declared to be "separate corporations, with the usual rights and responsibilities of corporations, as possessed and exercised previously by the corporation of New Orleans."18 The Council of the first municipality consisted of twenty-four aldermen; of the second of ten aldermen; of the third of seven aldermen. The only restrictions on the ballot were that a voter must be a free white male not less than twenty-one years of age, residing in the State for not less than one year and in the ward not less than six months, and that he must have paid all the State taxes for which he was responsible.19

    The adoption of the charter was hailed with satisfaction, especially by the American element in the population. But it will be seen that it contained ample provision for controversy between the municipalities. In fact, the discords which resulted were so pronounced that it is remarkable that an instrument so obviously impossible could have lasted, as it did, for sixteen years. Undoubtedly among the causes which, operated at this period, began to retard the growth of the city, may be reckoned this singular and cumbersome charter.

    A period of great prosperity began in New Orleans towards the close of Roffignac's administration.20 In his message of 1820 Governor Viller referred to the sudden increase in wealth and population which had taken place within the previous ten years. This was now to reach its zenith and progress to the disastrous result to which all highly speculative movements are doomed. Between 1820 and 1840 the commerce of New Orleans expanded marvelously. A great trade sprang up with Mexico, conducted largely through foreign resident merchants. Wares were made in Europe especially for Mexico. Shipped to New Orleans, p140they were forwarded through Matamoros, Vera Cruz and Tampico. In New Orleans the leading spirits in this lucrative trade were J. W. Zacharie, the two Hales, and F. de Lizardi. The returns were in gold, silver, precious woods, hides and tropical fruits. There grew up also a large business with the merchants of Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama and Tennessee, both wholesale and retail. An immense demand existed, for example, for stationery; entire shiploads of the Blue Back Speller were distributed from New Orleans over the whole Mississippi Valley. To these merchants long-term credits were extended, payable when the crops were harvested.

    Chartres Street was the commercial center of New Orleans. There were located the dry goods stores, the shoe emporiums, the great establishments dealing in clothing, jewelry, notions, and English fabrics. Most of these places were found between St. Louis and Canal. The principal stores were owned by Parish, Gasquet & Co.; Hart, Labatt & Co.; S. W. Oakey; Bierne & Burnside; Paul Tulane; Hyde & Goodrich; Slocomb, Richardson & Co.; Opdyke, Whiting & Stark; Mayee, Kneass & Co.; Armstead & Otto; Barriere, Woodlief, and many others.21 The rents on Chartres Street were high, and the land, which was not for sale, was owned by absentees usually residing abroad, and not purchasable except on very rare occasions. One sale, which occurred in 1835, involved the payment of $50,000 for a frontage of 50 feet on Chartres between Customhouse and Canal. About 1838-39 the agents of the foreign owners began to raise the rentals of the buildings. The advances were from 10 to 15 percent . This was more than the merchants could pay. They determined to leave Chartres Street and locate on or above Canal Street. The first to go were Hart, Labatt & Co., who occupied "No. 8" Magazine Street on a three-year lease at $1,200 per annum. Soon the other leading business men followed, and thereafter property in Chartres Street declined in value and never afterwards commanded the fancy prices of the heyday of its commercial importance.

    About this time the eastern side of Canal Street was built up with handsome residences, including that of Dr. W. N. Mercer, now the Boston Club. Camp Street, too, began to be of importance as a business center. The principal business men whose offices were to be found now on the upper side of Canal Street were S. J. Peters, John Minturn, A. D. Crossman, Joshua Baldwin, E. A. Yorke, Timothy Toby, James Robb, Peter Conery, James and William Freret, J. W. Breedlove and Henry Lockett.

    The products of the whole State, which, like its capital, was prospering extraordinarily, converged upon New Orleans. In 1831 the total value of the imports and exports at New Orleans was $26,000,000. In 1832 the total was somewhat less, but in 1834 it rose to more than $40,000,000, and in 1835 to $53,750,000. Governor Derbigny, in his message to the Legislature, in 1833, estimated that in that year $20,000,000 of Louisiana products were exported from New Orleans, and the proportion probably remained about the same during the following four years. An immense expansion of the banking system of the city took place between 1820 and 1840. The credit system became universal among the state's cotton planters. Not they only, but also the planters of Arkansas and Mississippi, came to depend upon the New Orleans p141banks. The increasing demand for cotton in the world's markets made both the opportunity and the necessity for extensive credit operations, and New Orleans lent millions at high rates of interest. The whole agricultural community in these three Southern States became, as it were, the commercial creatures of the New Orleans brokers and bankers, and found themselves unable to buy or sell their plantations except with the consent and through the hands of the factors who held mortgages on the property.22 But this process was not an unadulterated advantage to the city; it stripped it of capital which might otherwise have gone into investments of permanent value. The wealth which did result was, as the event proved, largely fictitious. There was an immense amount of business but no corresponding accumulation of real values.

    Canal Street, Looking Toward Baronne, 1840

    The expansion of the banks to meet the situation began in 1828, when the Planters' Consolidated Association was permitted by the State Legislature to increase its capital stock to $2,500,000. It was then that the State adopted the dangerous precedent of pledging its faith to secure the payment of borrowed capital as well as the interest thereon. In return for this assistance, the Planters' Association turned over of the State $1,000,000 in stock, and allowed it a credit not to exceed $250,000 at any one time. The significant feature of the transaction was that it pointed to other institutions the way which they now proceeded to follow in hot haste. The Union Bank was established in 1832 with a capital of $8,000,000 guaranteed by the State. Then came the Citizens Bank, in 1833, with a capital of $12,000,000; the Commercial Bank, with a capital of $3,000,000; the Merchants & Traders Bank, in 1836, with a capital of $2,000,000, and many others, the majority linked up in some way with the State. The p142financial policy adopted by the United States in 1833 helped to make money more plentiful,23 and thus stimulated the frenzy of speculation which now involved every kind of business. New Orleans had already a fair quota of banks. The Louisiana Bank, with a capital of $2,000,000, had been established in 1804, and the Bank of Orleans, the capital of which was $5,000,000, dated from 1811, and there were other old and reliable institutions also with large capital. But the mushroom growth of new banks continued from year to year. The Legislature chartered insurance companies, building associations, drainage schemes, hotel enterprises, and railroads with the utmost prodigality. The total capital of the companies incorporated by the Legislature in 1833 was $18,984,000; in 1836, $39,345,000 — respectable figures even for the present age, but in that day of small things these figures were astounding. Most of the banks were authorized to issue bills in various denominations. They were expected to retain $1 in specie on hand for every $3 in currency issued. This was deemed ample protection in ordinary times, and probably was. All told, then, New Orleans at this time had a total paid-up banking capital of $40,000,000.

    Much of the capital employed in the various enterprises launched at this time was raised in Europe by the sale of mortgages. The Citizens Bank, for instance, in 1837, obtained large sums this way. Probably nearly $21,000,000 of European money was thus attracted to New Orleans prior to 1837. The banks usually assumed an obligation in their charters to carry out some important enterprise, or create some public utility, or perform some function ministering to the public comfort or the betterment of commercial facilities. Thus, the Improvement Bank, organized in 1834, erected the St. Louis Hotel, at a cost of $900,000; the Exchange Bank in 1834 built the St. Charles Hotel, first of the great buildings constructed in the American Quarter; and the Commercial Bank in 1833 undertook to install the water works and lay a system of drains made of perforated cypress logs. This works involved an outlay of $708,000 by the Commercial Bank, which also undertook to spend annually $100,000 in maintenance. Unfortunately, not all of the banks carried out their agreements as faithfully as these, and in this respect the corporation other than banks which accepted charters imposing similar obligations, proved still more remiss.24

    One consequence of the immense speculative movement was the inflation of land values. Real estate in the city was sold at extraordinary prices. One bank paid $500,000 for a piece of ground which but a short time before might have been bought for $50,000 or $60,000.25 Towns were laid out in the vicinity of New Orleans, and the purchasers of lots there did a lively business in reselling their holdings, often realizing twice, ten times, or even a hundred times their actual investment; yet nothing was ever built on them. There was a boom in railroads. In 1836 the New Orleans & Plaquemine was chartered to construct a railroad from the city to English Turn. The Pontchartrain Railroad, which was incorporated in 1830, was actually built. It does not seem to have been touched by the prevailing mania till 1836, when it obtained banking privileges, and added $1,000,000 to its capital. Of the other type was the scheme to dig p143a waterway from New Orleans to Lake Borgne by way of Bayou Mazant; a majestic enterprise which was never carried out.

    The financial situation of New Orleans in 1837 was, therefore, not sound. Matters were shaping themselves towards a great commercial and mercantile disaster. One symptom of the deeply-rooted financial disorder was the flood of paper money with which the city was deluged at this time. There was, first of all, an immense currency issued by the banks. In addition, there were three kinds of municipal currency, collectively denomination "shin-plasters." These bills were issued in vast quantities by each of the three municipalities, to pay their employes, to settle their routine debts, and to satisfy their contractual obligations. In 1836 they were accepted by everybody except the banks as legal tender. The banks, better informed, perhaps, regarding the resources of the respective municipalities, handled them reluctantly, if at all. But as their volume mounted, their value decreased. Brokers were active in manipulating the depreciated notes. Counterfeiters found it easy to imitate them. These conditions did not add to the financial security of the city.

    The inevitable disaster occurred May 13, 1837. On that day fourteen New Orleans banks suspended specie payment. The immediate result was a wave of bankruptcy which swept over the city, leaving chaos in its wake. House after house went into liquidation. In the emergency the three municipalities into which the city government had just been divided, issued bills varying in amount from 25 cents to $4. At once private institutions claimed a similar right. These measures were designed merely as temporary relief. The situation, however, was prolonged by the fact that a new tariff had been adopted by the national government which affected disadvantageously the sugar market; planters were beginning to abandon the cultivation of that staple, and turn their attention to cotton, and the financial crisis in New Orleans struck them in this interval of transition. The immediate cause of the collapse was the action of the Second Bank of the United States, which withdrew its deposits from its fiscal agencies; and this came at a time when the directors of the Bank of England, hoping to force the exportation of gold from the United States to Europe, suddenly contracted their business. Business was paralyzed for some months; credit fell to nothing; real estate lost its value; agriculture languished for want of stimulation.26 Out of the general ruin emerged a feeling of intense resentment against the banks. At the constitutional convention which met shortly thereafter, this feeling was expressed in a proposition to prohibit the formation of any new institutions of the sort. Fortunately, this legislation was not adopted, but stringent provisions were enacted for the government of the banks, and many of their most valuable privileges were suspended until the resumption of specie payment. This, however, did not take place till the end of the year 1838. The effects of the great crash in New Orleans was felt not in the city only, but throughout the State, for many years. In fact, Louisiana did not fully recover till 1845.

    Nevertheless, the era of inflation left behind it some positive results. The parish prison, which stood for more than fifty years on Orleans, near Congo Square, was built in 1830, at a cost of $200,000. Several markets were erected about this time — the French Market, in 1830; St. Mary's and the Washington, in 1836; and the Poydras, in 1837. p144The United States Government, having sold its property in the center of the Vieux Carré in 1828, built the Jackson barracks in 1832-1834. At that time the buildings stood three miles below the city; now they are well within the lower boundary of the settled area. The Charity Hospital, built at a cost of $150,000, dates from 1832-1834. Between 1832 and 1835 two large cotton presses were added to the city's commercial facilities, one at a cost of $500,000, and the other at $758,000. The water works in 1835, and the gas works in 1837, were enterprises carried through by two of the big banks. The New Canal was begun in 1832 to give an outlet to Lake Pontchartrain from the American quarter; it was finished three years later.a It afforded access to an artificial basin excavated immediately beyond Hercules (Rampart) Street, between Julia and Delord. Deep enough for coasting schooners, this spot soon became a busy one. Work was begun on the United States branch mint in 1836, and it was opened in 1838, in the square bounded by Esplanade, Barracks, Decatur and North Peters streets which had been the site of Fort St. Charles, and which, after the removal of that tiny fortress, had for a time rejoiced in the name of Jackson Square, until that name was transferred to the Place d'Armes.

    In 1833 Thomas Banks built on Magazine Street, between Gravier and Natchez, the three-story edifice known as Banks' Arcade, with a glass-roofed court, which combined an auction-mart, a bar-room, and some of the features of a modern office building. Here were held the public meetings in favor of the independence of Texas, in which figure T. Toby, James Reed, H. G. Hart, A. C. Labatt and other prominent men, who not only lent their sympathy to the cause, but sent the insurgents supplies, arms, and ammunition. The Merchants Exchange, completed in 1833, stood on Royal, just below Canal; in it was located the postoffice. The first St. Charles Hotel was completed in 1838 at a cost of $600,000. Diagonally opposite, on Common Street, stood the celebrated Verandah Hotel, erected in the same year, at an expenditure of $300,000. In 1834 the First Presbyterian Church was built on Lafayette Square. Three years later the Carondelet Street Methodist Church on the corner of that street and Carondelet Street, opened its doors. In the same year the old Christ Church replaced the ancient octagonal structure, with its cupola, irreverently known as the "cockpit," which had been the worshipping place of the Episcopalians of the city since 1809. In 1835 the St. Charles Theater was built at an outlay of $350,000. Many important bank buildings, and some handsome charitable institutions — notably the Poydras Orphan Asylum, the Female Orphan Asylum, the Asylum for Destitute Orphan Boys, and the Circus Street Infirmary — came into existence between 1830 and 1840. It may be that this list, though confessedly not exhaustive, shows an activity by no means as great as one might anticipate in a growing and wealthy American city; but it at least gives evidence of substantial development along certain highly desirable lines.

    The Author’s Notes

    1 "New Orleans as It Was," 132.

    2 Castellanos, "New Orleans as It Was," 137-138.

    3 Martin, "History of Louisiana," 431.

    4 See Cable, "Strange True Stories of Louisiana" and "The Grandissimes," Chaps. XXVII-XXIX. A very satisfactory account of Mme. Lalaurie will be found in Castellanos' "New Orleans as It Was," 53-62. Castellanos was an eye-witness of the flight of Mme. Lalaurie. He also gives a full account of Bras Coup, pp210-216.

    5 Bee, April 11, 1834; Castellanos, 52-62.

    6 J. S. McFarlane, M.D., "A Brief Description of the Cholera," in Louisiana Recorder, c. 1840.

    7 King, "New Orleans, the Place and the People," 282-287.

    8 Waring and Cable, Social Statistics of Cities (Washington, 1887), 46.

    9 Castellanos, "New Orleans as It Was," 141-142.

    10 De Bow's Review, VII, 413.

    11 Waring and Cable, Social Statistics of Cities, History and Present Condition of New Orleans, 50.

    12 Ibid.

    13 Castellanos, "New Orleans as It Was," 260-264.

    14 G. C. H. Kernion, "Samuel Jarvis Peters," in Publications of the Louisiana Historical Society, Vol. VII, 1913-1914, pp62-96.

    15 Ibid., 75-77.

    16 Howe, "Municipal History of New Orleans", 15.

    17 Leovy, "City Laws and Ordinances," Introduction, 22.

    18 Summary of the Charter in the City Directory of 1838.

    19 A curious feature of the division of the city under this act was, that it appeared that there was no common insignia which might be used by the police. It was therefore decided that each member of the force wear a silver-plated badge in the form of a star and crescent. This was the seal used by the mayor, and therefore seemed appropriate for an organization the functions of which ran in all municipalities. The insignia are still used by the New Orleans police. — Statement of Gaspar Cusachs to author.

    20 Gayarr, "History of Louisiana," IV, 636.

    21 Memoirs of Louisiana, I, 184.

    22 Waring and Cable, Social Statistics of Cities, 46.

    23 S. A. Trufant, "Review of Banking in New Orleans," 4.

    24 Trufant, "Review of Banking in New Orleans," 8-15.

    25 Martin, "History of Louisiana"; Condon's Annals, 436.

    26 Governor White's Message, 1837; Gayarr, "History of Louisiana," IV, 658.


    1. sequester isolate or hide.
    2. Lake Pontchartrin located in southeastern Louisiana.
    3. yellow fever disease caused by a virus that is spread through mosquito bites

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    p145 Chapter IX

    The Genois, Freret and Montegut Administrations

    Three subsequent administrations inherited the difficulties created by the financial disaster of 1837. These were the administrations of Charles Genois, extending from 1838 to 1840; of William Freret, which began in 1840 and ended in 1844; and of Edgar Montegut, who served one term as mayor, from 1844 to 1846. Genois was elected on April 2, 1838, by a majority of 102 votes, over L. U. Gaiennie, the democratic candidate. At that time Prieur was a candidate for the gubernatorial nomination. He was opposed by Alexandre Mouton. The canvass was exceedingly spirited. In New Orleans it was understood that Gaiennie represented the Prieur faction. Nevertheless, the great personal popularity enjoyed by Prieur failed to carry Gaiennie to triumph. There was still a strong prejudice against the democratic party organization. The idea that Gaiennie's name had been put before the voters by a caucus of party leaders, and that the nomination had been practically forced in the party convention repelled many otherwise staunch democrats. The result was that Genois received 1,150 votes, many cast by voters professing to be democrats, as against 1,408 for Gaiennie. At the same time Paul Bertus was elected Recorder of the First Municipality, a post which he was to retain with great approval thereafter till his death. The recordership of the Second Municipality was obtained by Joshua Baker, who likewise retained office for a long series of years; while in the Third Municipality Charles Cuvellier was elected recorder.

    "If goodwill and zeal suffice to fill worthily the important task which has devolved upon me, I would assume the charge with confidence," said the new mayor, in taking up his duties, "for I am sure these qualities will not be lacking in me." "The theory of your organization," he continued, making an admission which seems somewhat out of place in the mouth of the chief magistrate of the city, "is strange to me [. . .] I do not conceal the difficulty I shall have in its practice."1 His assumption of control of city affairs led the local newspapers to point out, as the two most pressing matters requiring his attention, the reform of the police force and the curtailment of municipal expenses. With regard to the latter, the stoppage of all municipal works of improvement was recommended as immediately necessary. The financial condition of the city was precarious. In August, Mayor Genois informed the Council of the First Municipality that the city owed the banks $1,100,000 and had no means to pay it. An attempt to negotiate a loan of $1,500,000 to liquidate this debt and to tide the city over its immediate embarrassments proved unavailing. The banks declined to make any further advances. It appeared that the revenues did not suffice to meet the ordinary expenses of the administration. Genois found that $50,000 was due to city employes for arrears in salaries and that there were outstanding unpaid warrants for $18,000.


    Map of New Orleans, 1841 (with 1880 for reference)

    A larger, fully readable scan (1.5 MB) is also available.

    Work was at that time in progress on the Carondelet Canal . Paving had been started on Royal Street. Customhouse, Canal, Bienville and p147St. Louis streets were being opened out towards the lake. All of these important improvements were perforce suspended. To meet the routine expenses of the city $150,000 was raised by mortgaging to the banks four squares of ground belonging to the corporation on conditions which practically transferred title to this valuable real estate to these institutions. Prieur was at the same time sent to New York to see if he could raise funds there. He was not immediately successful, but the issue of $100,000 in 6 percent bonds in December of that year, which was successfully floated, was doubtless his work. In the next year some relief was obtained by revising upward the already onerous port charges. Genois, in a long message to the General Council, at its meeting in 1839, pointed out that the expenses for the maintenance of the port exceeded the revenue, although the popular impression ran entirely to the contrary. During the previous year the receipts had amounted to $282,000, the expenditures to $410,268; and while this great discrepancy was in part explainable by the fact that extensive improvements had been made to the wharves in front of the First and Second Municipalities, there remained a deficit even after the value thereof had been deducted. Certain vessels had previously been exempted from the payment of the port charges; these were now brought under tax.2

    The financial situation was perhaps worst in the Third Municipality. There the rapid growth of the city, the expansion of commerce, and the expenses entailed by the division of the city under the charter of 1836 had run the expenses of the administration up to an alarming figure. Between May 1, 1836 and October 1, 1839, some $4,820,610 had been expended, as against receipts amounting to only $1,754,773, leaving a deficit of $3,065,837, which there seemed no means to pay. In addition to this debt, there was a proportion of the general city debts, which involved the payment of interest which, in the previous ten years, had aggregated $103,594.

    In the face of this hopeless situation it is surprising to find that the municipality ventured to extend its endorsement to the extent of $100,000 in favor of the Orleans Navigation Company, organized to build a railroad and dig a canal, projects which do not seem ever to have been carried out. The general financial conditions were, undeniably, improving. The banks resumed the payment of specie in the early part of the year. Perhaps this made money easier and encouraged the city fathers to indulge occasional extravagances. The payment of $40,000 to the Orleans Theater Company in 1840, however, was forced by a judgment in a protracted suit against the municipality.

    On the whole, then, Genois' administration was a feeble one, a period of stagnation following the outbreak of enterprise that had characterized Prieur's day. One picturesque and interesting episode, however, remains to be related. That is, the second visit of Gen. Andrew Jackson. Jackson had now completed his term as president of the United States but still remained the chief figure in his party. The formal invitation to him to come to the city in order to participate in the celebration of the twenty-fifth anniversary of the battle of New Orleans, was extended at a meeting held in the St. Louis Exchange, on November 12, 1839. The specific reason why his presence was desired was that a monument p148was to be dedicated in the Place d'Armes, and the cornerstone laid at Chalmette of what was intended to be a stately marble shaft marking the spot where the American standard was unfurled during the battle a quarter of a century before.

    The old animosities of whig and democrat flamed out afresh upon the announcement that Jackson would come. Although it was explained by General Plauchthat there was nothing of a political nature in the desire of the citizens to have General Jackson with them at the celebration, yet the whigs objected, and their objections found expression in an editorial in the True American. "We have published, as advertisements, the proceedings and call for the second meeting of the friends of General Jackson," said the editor, "not that we approve of the objects of the meeting. We can have no possible objection to the Jackson party inviting their idol to the city under the pretext of celebrating the anniversary of his great battle. If this alone was the object, we would even excuse those opposed to him in politics from joining in doing him honor on such an occasion. But we are fully convinced, notwithstanding the loud protestations to the contrary, that the whole affair, visit and all, is intended to produce political effect; and we cannot conceive that any man calling himself a whig and opposed to the many vicious measures of the administration of President Jackson, can take any share in the intended festival. It is the duty of the whigs, on all such occasions, to keep away, and when Jackson arrives so far show their magnanimity as to keep silent. Although we can not honor, of course, we should not insult, the old veteran."

    On January 8, 1840, at 10:00 A.M., General Jackson arrived on board the steamer Vicksburg, to which boat he and his party had been transferred at Donaldsonville from the steamer Clarksville, the previous evening. An immense throng had assembled at the wharf in Carrollton to welcome "the most distinguished citizen of the country," and the steamboats and other vessels in the river, and the housetops were alive with people waving their hats and handkerchiefs. The Louisianian, speaking of Jackson's personal appearance, said: "The general, although showing the effects of his age, is still remarkably healthy and active for one of his years." While the reception was in all respects one of which the veteran could be proud, there was, nevertheless, "a lukewarmness" on the part of his "political opponents" which was characterized "as anything but creditable or praiseworthy."

    On leaving the Vicksburg General Jackson and his escort entered barouches (the one containing the guest of the occasion being drawn by four horses), and were driven to the State House, the Legion and the Washington Battalion accompanying as an escort. As the procession passed along Canal Street a dense mass of people thronged that thoroughfare and "the numerous balconies were groaning with their fair burdens — ladies waving their handkerchiefs, while the silverheaded warrior bowed in acknowledgment of their salutations." From the State House he was escorted to the public square in front of St. Louis Cathedral by the veterans of 1814 and 1815, the members of the Legislature, the City Councils of the First and Second Municipalities, members of the bar and other professions and a large concourse of citizens. At the Cathedral an oration was delivered, after which General Jackson reviewed the troops in the square, the cannoneers meanwhile firing a salute. This part of the ceremonies having been concluded, General Jackson was p149escorted to his rooms at the St. Louis Hotel by the military, after which they were dismissed. The display made by the soldiers was said to have "far exceeded anything of the kind the city had ever before achieved," although New Orleans had the reputation of being "a military town." In the evening, agreeable to the invitation of the management, the old soldier and his suite attended the St. Charles Theater. At the close of the act of the comedy then performing, the curtain was dropped and an anthem played according to announcement. The curtain rose and J. M. Field delivered a poetical address from his "own pen" to "The Defender of New Orleans," the veteran who came "to bless the children of the sires he saved."

    The house was crowded and General Jackson twice arose to acknowledge the enthusiastic cheering. "Hail Columbia" was sung by the full company of the St. Charles, and the hero of the occasion left the theater amid the prolonged cheers of an "admiring audience of more than a thousand persons."

    On the following day General Jackson was visited by a continuous stream of people at his rooms in the St. Louis Hotel, all eager for an opportunity to shake the veteran's hand. A guard of military was in attendance until 2:00 P.M., "when the general respectfully intimated that he would dispense with its service." The mayor and all the other officials of the city visited him in a body and deputations from some of the parishes presented General Jackson with addresses.

    The ceremonies connected with the laying of the cornerstone of the monument in the Place d'Armes took place on January 13th. On that day a procession formed at the State House, in Canal Street, between Baronne and Dryades streets, composed of the military, State and city officials, the police, representative citizens and General Jackson and his suite in barouches. Proceeding down Canal Street and through Royal Street to Esplanade Street, the procession moved up Cond(Chartres) Street to the Place d'Armes, a fine band of music playing appropriate national airs. At the square a temporary platform had been erected, and upon this General Jackson was seated, while the ceremony of laying the corner stone was being performed. The Catholic bishop, in his pontificals, and the clergy of the cathedral, in their robes, assisted and chanted hymns during the dedication. Before laying the cornerstone the Rev. AbbAnduzread a brief address first in French and then in English, and an oration was delivered by Counsellor Barton. When the ceremony was concluded General Jackson and his party went to the steamboat Vicksburg, by which they took passage for Vicksburg, Mississippi, where the veteran spent several days at the invitation of the citizens of that town.

    The dedication of the cornerstone of the projected monument at Chalmette, which, according to the program, should have taken place on the 13th also, was carried through without the presence of the hero. For some reason he was unable to keep his engagement with the committee which had charge of this part of the day's ceremonies so that the elaborate ceremonies arranged for that occasion had to be dispensed with. One of the papers, referring the following day to the disappointment of the people by reason of the failure of the committee to carry out the program at Chalmette, said: "Some thousands of our citizens, a goodly host, made a pilgrimage to the battle ground yesterday to see General Jackson and witness the ceremony of the laying of the cornerstone. They came away as wise as they went, the old hero not being p150able to attend. There were steamboats, towboats, railroad cars, coaches, cabs, cabriolets, hacks, horses, wagons, sand carts, go carts, hand carts, drays, dugouts, in short every description of land carriage and water craft, in requisition to transport the immense throng. Big bugs in buggies and little niggers on foot, high people and low people, fat folks and lean folks, in short all orders were there, marching in most admired order to the battlefield, and 'like him of France,' when they got there, they right-faced home again, consoling themselves with the reflection that if the cornerstone of the monument was not laid, it should have been."

    A day or two after the departure of General Jackson it was ascertained that the battleground committee had chartered a steamboat and that a "piece of granite with the inscription 'Eighth of January, 1815," cut upon it, was put on board and taken to the scene of General Jackson's victory." The ceremony which was supposed to have occurred after the arrival of the granite is thus described by the Louisianian:

    "It was then placed, fixed, or laid in some spot, position or situation, we don't know which, or what, by three or four gentlemen — all there were on board. What their object was, whether they were hoaxed themselves, or tried to hoax others, is more than we can say. Time will tell the story." It appears there was no ceremony whatever in connection with the laying of the cornerstone of a monument intended to commemorate one of the greatest battles in history; and the ill luck with which it was begun then followed it for more than seventy years, during which time it remained a rudely truncated shaft, and was then tardily completed only through the action of the United States Government.a

    The whigs renominated Genois at the close of his term, in 1840. A new party, however, was forming in New Orleans. Under the name of Native Americans those who opposed the Creole and foreign elements in the population, were coalescing. William Freret, proprietor of one of the largest cotton presses in the American quarter of the city, a prosperous and prominent business man, was their candidate for mayor. The names of Kennedy, Buisson, and Mont gut also figure in the campaign, but they were supported only by small groups of voters, and did not materially affect the result. The election took place on April 6, and resulted in victory for Freret by a narrow margin. He received a total of 1,051 votes. Genois received 942. None of the other candidates polled more than 200 votes. On the whole, election day passed off quietly. "There was little of that fighting which characterizes and throws a disgrace upon elections in many of our large cities," remarked the Picayune, on the following morning.

    Mayor William Freret

    The new mayor was of mixed English and French descent. His father was an English merchant who settled in New Orleans early in the century and married a Creole lady. He was the second of a large family, all of whom rose to prominence. A younger brother, James, served for several years as sheriff of Orleans parish, and was an efficient as well as popular official. William Freret displayed in his youth a talent for mechanics, which was fostered intelligently by his father, who sent the boy to England, where he was carefully trained by distinguished teachers of engineering and the mechanical arts. He returned to New Orleans with a stock of knowledge possessed by few persons at that time, when skill of the sort was more often frowned upon than respected; and this technical equipment stood him in good stead when he succeeded to his father's business of compressing cotton for shipment abroad.

    p151 The Freret Cotton Press was one of the first enterprises of the kind started in the city. The plant occupied two squares of ground on St. Charles Street, between Perdido and Poydras, and stretching back to Baronne Street. Fragments of the boundary walls remained in existence down to 1919 and were then only cleared away to make room for a new office building. The price paid for this property was small when, owing to the expansion of the city, Freret Brothers sold it; they received $11,000, which was regarded as a very satisfactory equivalent. The press was then removed to a location on the outskirts of the rapidly-growing city. In both neighborhoods the Freret press was a landmark, and the proprietors are justly considered to have been the industrial pioneers of the American quarter of New Orleans. The business was largely in the hands of William Freret. His brother, James, was absorbed in his duties as sheriff; another brother, John, died in 1852.

    William Freret was one of the most efficient mayors that New Orleans had had so far. "Mr. Freret has had few equals and no superiors in the incumbents other public office in this city and State for many years past," comments his biographer in the city directory of 1852. "Though not the most popular, he was one of the most useful mayors New Orleans ever had. He was never much favored with those manners, that pliant complacency, and studied hypocrisy which make up p152what is vulgarly known as popularity, but in the more sterling qualities of a manly discharge of his duty, a fearless indifference to censure when undeserved, and a close, busy, careful scrutiny of all those placed under him [. . .]" left, in the judgment of this enthusiastic writer, nothing to be desired. It was Freret's habit to supervise publicly all the public works in progress in his time. He made a point to visit the public institutions at unexpected moments and make sure that they were properly looked after. It is related of him that, in the winter of 1840, when the weather unexpectedly turned very cold, he went at dead of night to inspect the prison, to make sure that the inmates were provided with sufficient bedclothing. A few years before, during similarly severe weather, several prisoners had frozen to death as a result of inadequate protection from the cold, due to the dishonest jailers in charge at that time. Freret was resolved that nothing of the sort should disgrace his administration. His practical knowledge stood him in good stead. It enabled him to keep track of the work of the contractors on all city work and inured considerably to the benefit of the city finances. "Even now," adds his biographer above quoted — this was written in 1854 — "may be seen in various parts of the city the evidences of Mr. Freret's zeal and industry while mayor of our city."

    A contemporary tribute bears out these eulogistic remarks. "The new mayor has been garnering golden opinions from all sorts of people," remarked the Picayune, a month after the election. "Those who offered him the most strenuous opposition are first to acknowledge that he will make a most efficient and valuable official. Without claiming any credit for prescience, we predict that, at the close of his official term, he will be found one of the most popular mayors who has ever filled the civic chair in New Orleans. His unassuming and republican manners, his energy, and his business habits, must necessarily lead to such a result. The more Mr. Freret is known by his fellow citizens, the more they will be able to appreciate his sterling qualities."3 With the exception of the popularity, which Freret was not of the type to earn, this prediction seems to have been verified. Two years later the Bee, a typical whig organ, added its endorsement to the Picayune's in honor of the conscientious and competent magistrate.

    Freret's administration, like his predecessors', was handicapped by the financial conditions which still prevailed in the city. The banks were slowly regaining their financial footing, but their condition was still uncertain. In 1840, for example, as a result of the widespread damage done in the agricultural sections of the State, in consequence of the floods of that year, they suspended specie payments again. The Mississippi that year rose higher than it had been known to do since 1782. It reached a level New Orleans a few inches lower than the highest levees. Several extensive "crevasses" occurred. These disasters reacted upon the banks in New Orleans, affecting the value of the mortgages which they held on plantations inundated by the flood. "But," as Bunner remarks, in his fragmentary history of Louisiana, "the flood [. . .] compensated by the rich deposit which it left for the mischief it had done. New fertility was given to the soil and never was the crop more abundant" than it was in the following year.4

    p153 The financial recovery of the city was still not complete in 1842. The State Legislature in the interval occupied itself with legislation designed to remedy the situation. One law which, it was hoped, would help to hasten the desired result, prohibited the New Orleans banks from violating their charters. Means were also found to expedite the liquidation of such institutions as were insolvent. A board of commerce was created to see that the laws restricting the emission of currency were strictly observed. By 1842 two of the banks resumed specie payments, but in that year seven failed, leaving nine in what was described as "sound financial condition." The improving financial health of the community was, however, shown by the fact that these institutions now carried in reserve $4,565,925 in specie, as against $1,261,514 of outstanding currency. But so harsh had been the experiences of the last five years that, even under the bettered circumstances of the latter period of Freret's administration, there was great reluctance to co-operate in promoting even the most deserving besides undertakings. The consequence was that the city, generally, made little progress and the improvements which the municipality was able to undertake were few and, except in regard to public education, of little importance.

    Freret's difficulties were complicated by the reluctance of the First Municipality to assume what was deemed its proper proportion of the public burdens. In November, 1840, the mayor, in his message to the General Council, alluded with pardonable asperity to this fact, which had resulted in an "embarrassing situation of the general sinking fund." A little later this municipality is found prosecuting a suit, the object of which was to save it from paying its share of the interest due on the debts of the old city corporation. The animosities of the municipalities one against the other also emerged in endless wrangles over the wharves. In 1840, for example, the First Municipality set up a claim to the right to build wharves into the river on a line with Canal Street, instead of parallel with the current, as was generally understood to be the proper mode of construction elsewhere. The result of the building of a wharf along the new lines was to infringe upon the batture rights of the Second Municipality. A bitterly-contested lawsuit followed, which the Second Municipality won; and the First Municipality had the mortification of pulling down the wharf which it had built at this point at a cost of $10,000.5

    The free public schools of New Orleans had their origin in 1841. It must not be supposed from the fact that the present system dates no further back and that year, that education had previously been neglected in New Orleans. As far back as 1724 there is record of a school established by Father Cecil, a Capuchin, whose establishment was situated near the parish church. The fate of this school is unknown.6 From 1726 to the present day the Ursuline nuns have maintained a school for girls. Under the Spanish regime a school for boys was opened under Don Andr s L pez de Armesto, a distinguished scholar. With the advent of the Americans at the beginning of the nineteenth century, the demand for schools increased steadily. A number of private institutions appeared in the Faubourg Ste. Marie as a result. The advertisements of these establishments p154make curious reading today. In addition to the usual curriculum they furnished for girls instruction in "embroidery, print- and cr pe-work, French darning, and every kind of fancy work, as well as plain sewing and marking." Dancing and deportment were also subjects of regular instruction. The College of Orleans established in 1805 furnished, as we have seen, instruction down to 1826. Thereafter one central and two primary schools flourished under the direction of a board of regents. As already pointed out, however, these institutions were free only in respect to a limited number of indigent students. The system, moreover, was top-heavy. Too much attention was given, proportionately, to the higher education. There were, for instance, over a hundred students in the college courses, and only 440 in the grade schools. The census of 1840 shows that there were then in the city two so-called colleges, ten academies, and twenty-five "common" schools, in which only 140 students were receiving gratuitous instruction. Some of these institutions were, obviously, private enterprises, and none of them were "public" schools in the sense in which we use the term today.

    It is the great merit of Mayor Freret that he lent all of his influence to the support of the legislation which was enacted by the State in 1841 establishing a system of really public schools in New Orleans. In this he had the earnest support of S. J. Peters, Joshua Baldwin, Doctor Picton, J. A. Maybin, Robert McNair and Thomas Sloo, all prominent residents of the American quarter. The act provided that each municipality should, within its respective boundaries, establish one or more public schools "for the use of the children residing therein," and directing the councils to make "such regulations as they shall judge proper for the organization, administration, and discipline of said schools, and to levy a tax for the maintenance of the same. Every white child residing in the municipality shall be admitted to and receive instruction therein." The State Treasurer was likewise obligated to pay annually a certain sum to each municipality to help in the support of the schools. Subsequently, the Second Municipality passed an ordinance assigning to the support of its schools all the fees received by the harbor-master in excess of the salary allowed him by law. Three years later the same section of the city raised by taxation $11,000 for the same purpose.

    Under this law each municipality first organized a single school. There was at first considerable opposition to them, but this feeling rapidly diminished. In the Second Municipality, for instance, the school opened with thirteen pupils out of a possible attendance of 3,000. But within a year the number had increased to 950 and in 1843 to 2,443, and by 1850 to 6,385. In 1844 this part of the city boasted three schools, with eleven teachers. The proportion of schools and enrollment to the population was very praiseworthy, inasmuch as by the last-named year the number of inhabitants in the Second Municipality was only 31,000. In setting up a curriculum also, great care was shown. The best systems in Europe and in the United States were studied, and a Mr. Shaw was brought down from Massachusetts to become superintendent. It is said that the famous educator, Horace Mann, was also engaged in an advisory capacity, though there is no record of his ever having visited the city. Shaw's tenure of office was short. He resigned after seeing the schools firmly established, declaring that he preferred to work in another community, where he would not find it necessary to expend so much energy in overcoming unnecessary opposition in carrying out his plans.

    p155 Each municipality had its own school board and employed its own executive officer. These boards were composed of one member from each ward and one member at large. This gave the Second Municipality, for instance, a board of twelve. These boards held a very close relationship to the common council of the municipality, and to the General Council of the city. To the former was rendered an annual report, on the basis of which appropriations were made. In 1848 the total school appropriation had risen to $105,000. In the Second Municipality there were soon open a high school, grammar schools, and primary schools. In 1848 these schools were so well equipped as to challenge the admiring comment of professional critics. It is said that in this respect they would compare favorably with any in the country. In the First Municipality a peculiar difficulty was encountered from the fact that it was deemed necessary to maintain both French and English courses, necessitating duplicate textbooks and a double set of teachers. The Third Municipality was somewhat slow in setting up a high school. It was for some years content to maintain a good system of primary education.

    The Arcadian simplicity of life in New Orleans in this period is interestingly shown by some of the entries in the archives of the city. In May, 1840, for example, Mayor Freret wrote to the council of the First Municipality that he had not communicated with it for some time "for want of any interesting and important intelligence to lay before it," and he then disturbed the members merely to call attention to the fact that repairs were needed for a levee in the upper part of town. In March, 1842, he had leisure to send in a special communication deploring the destruction by fire of the St. Charles Theater. In January of that year Mayor Freret addressed to one of the councils a message which sheds an amusing light on the police of his day. He returned with his veto an ordinance authorizing the patrolmen to enter at their discretion any public place of amusement. The mayor held that "this tended to make them keep late hours and lead them into habits of dissipation, and so unfit them for their daily avocations." As a matter of fact the management of all such resorts were required to maintain at their own expense a sort of police, which enforced order. Nevertheless the mayor's paternal attitude towards the guardians of the peace is delightfully indicative of the status of the city. We may also smile over the discussion which raged in the council of the Second Municipality in May, 1840, as to whether the circus which was then exhibiting in that part of the city should be allowed to remain open on Sunday night. S. J. Peters led a majority of the members in opposition on the ground that to permit such a course was incompatible with the proper respect for the Sabbath Day. And finally one reads in the Picayune an editorial commending Mayor Freret for his action in suppressing the circulation in New Orleans of Northern newspapers containing notices of abolitionist meetings. It was yet a little town, indeed!

    Freret's last official act was to send in to the council of the First Municipality a message vetoing an ordinance ceding to the United States Government all right and title in the piece of land on Esplanade Avenue on which the mint had been erected.

    The municipal election of 1842 was hotly contested. The gubernatorial campaign was to open a short time later, and the results in the city would, it was expected, have an important bearing into those in the State. The democrats made strenuous preparations for the fray. p156"They are fully aware of the importance of the mayoral elections as connected with the July elections," remarked the Bee, early in April, "and have made preparations accordingly. Not only do they intend to carry their mayor, but, we are told, have agreed upon a ticket in caucus for general councilmen for the three municipalities and aldermen for every ward in the city."7 The whigs, on the contrary, made no preparations. "To the efforts of our enemies," said the Bee, in another editorial, the whigs have opposed nothing but, we trust, the quiet determination to win the day." Prieur was put forward as the democratic candidate. Freret was nominated by the Native Americans and, after some delay, was accepted as the whig candidate. The Native Americans made an aggressive fight. They propounded a series of questions to the candidates relative to their position on the neutrality laws. Did they favor the exclusion of foreigners from office whenever a native-born candidate properly qualified could be found? Prieur answered that the interrogatory had nothing to do with the mayoralty contest. He was not sufficiently well informed to speak positively with reference to the question. His impression was that "there was no necessity for constant agitation and violation of the feelings of those of our fellow citizens who have found in this, our happy land, a home." He did not favor a repeal of the naturalization laws.8 Freret answered that he believed that the naturalization laws were defective and should be repealed. An "outcry" was immediately raised against him, according to the Bee. It was charged that he aimed at depriving the naturalized voter of his right to the ballot and that if his views were adopted a large and influential group of citizens would be reduced to a position not different from that of the free negroes.9

    Prieur was the strongest man that "locofocoism" possessed in Louisiana. In New Orleans he "was in the stronghold of his popularity and power, surrounded by a large body of individuals who" were "attracted to him by ties of personal friendship and affection." The Second Municipality was conceded to him even by the most rabid Freret partisans, but they expected to carry the First and Third Municipalities. The Prieur faction concentrated their forces in the Second Municipality. The election took place on April 4 and resulted in the overwhelming defeat of the whig and Native American candidates. Prieur received 1,334 votes and Freret 1,069. Not only was the former successful in the Second Municipality, as anticipated, but he carried both of the other two sections of the city by good majorities. The Picayune noted that the election "was conducted in a spirit of peace and order worthy of intelligent freemen."10 Paul Bertus was re-elected recorder of the First Municipality, Joshua Baldwin in the Second; and Alfred Lewis was chosen to that office in the Third Municipality. "Apart from Prieur's political principles," commented the Bee, on the following day, "we have no occasion to mourn his success. He has long been a favorite with a large portion of our citizens, who sustained him despite his politics, and is generally esteemed an honest and capable man."

    The causes of Freret's defeat were not far to seek. He was opposed almost solidly by the naturalized citizens, who had supported the whigs p157in 1840, and were to support them in the impending gubernatorial contest, but who were induced by democratic propaganda to repudiate the whig candidate for mayor. As a party the whigs had made no nominations and had supported Freret passively on the ground that he had been a good official. The real issue was the Native American program. What had most to do with Freret's defeat was an unfortunate editorial in the Louisiana American. This paper was supporting his candidacy. It created the impression that Freret did not wish the support of the whigs. Just before the election, moreover, it printed an article urging that "the approaches to the polls be kept clear," as the "Crayowls" were noted for their proclivity "to keep up a row on such occasions."11 The opposition promptly placarded the city with reproductions of the offensive paragraph. There could be no question that "Crayowls" meant Creoles. Nothing that Freret's friends could do served to mitigate the offense. The Creole population to a large degree voted for Prieur.

    This second administration of Prieur's was brief. Within eight months after taking office, he was tendered the lucrative state position of recorder of mortgages in New Orleans. This he decided to accept. Under the law prohibiting dual office holding, his he saw appointment cancelled his commission as mayor. "We presume that the position will have to be filled by an election," remarked the Bee, early in February, 1843; and went on to enumerate the candidates who were already in the field, including C. C. Claiborne, "than whom," in the editor's opinion, "we know of none more deserving of being selected."12 The campaign seems to be the first in which the whigs definitely organized after the example of the democrats, and went in determined to win. Delegates were regularly elected from each of the subdivisions of the city, and met in the ball room at the St. Louis Hotel on February 14 to select a candidate. The Bee dwelt upon the importance of the coming election. "With the election of Prieur last April," it remarked, "may be dated the revival of 'locofocoism' in this State, which had scarcely recovered from the overwhelming defeat of 1840 when the whigs suffered them to carry the city by default."13 The arrangements for this meeting were perfected by the Clay Club, as the whig organization was called. The Bee insisted that this club was not working with "the object of selecting a candidate and forcing him on the party," but merely to devise a method by which a suitable standard-bearer might be most conveniently named. In this it professed to see a great distinction between the Clay Club and the democratic caucus which met a few days later and nominated Joseph Genois for mayor. The difference, however, was one of names only. Joseph Genois had served for some years as recorder of the First Municipality and enjoyed an enviable reputation, which made an unimpeachable candidate.

    The whig convention selected William Freret as its candidate. The election took place on February 20. It was a complete whig victory. Freret was elected by "the largest majority ever given to a whig for that office." He received 1,289 votes to Genois' 974. The victory was notable because both State and National patronage was used by the democrats in favor of their candidate. Mouton, a democrat, had been inaugurated p158governor of the State only a few months before; this was the first trial of strength between the parties since that event; and it was strategically desirable that the administration should win it. The local organ of the National Democratic administration also urged the election of Genois; and the Bee did not scruple to charge that the local Federal officeholders were put under more or less compulsion to make them vote for him.14 The result was "a rebuke to the traitor, Tyler, who has brought the patronage of the Government into conflict with the freedom of elections" — so ran the resolutions of one of the whig clubs — "and whose officials in this quarter have openly taken the field and resolved to support the Locofoco candidate for mayor."15

    The election was complicated by the fact that that morning the Commercial Bank closed its doors and alarmed depositors started a result on the other banks. This undoubtedly kept a number of citizens from voting. Perhaps this diversion of interest was responsible for "the order and decorum," which prevailed throughout the day and which the Picayune found "remarkable," though not exceptional.16

    A month later an election for councilmen threw the councils also into the hands of the whigs. Among the whig candidates for the Council were A. D. Crossman, subsequently mayor of the city, and Christian Roselius, the celebrated lawyer. The election took place on April 3, and resulted in whig successes in each of the three municipalities, so that the councils stood as follows: First Municipality, ten whig members to two democrats; Second Municipality, eight whig members to four democrats; Third Municipality, five whig members to one democrat.

    Freret's second administration was uneventful. Having been elected to fill our Prieur's term, it drew to a close early the following year. The whigs profited by the sharp lesson which they had received in 1842. As the municipal election of 1844 approached they were early in the field. This time it was the democrats who were tardy in getting into the fight.17 Freret was put forward by the Bee as a suitable whig candidate. "A fearful spirit is abroad in the land," added the editor, apprehensively, "that seeks the destruction of the guarantees of law and order. Appeals have been made to the passions of men, as if to make the election an arbitrament of force. The public ear is stunned with rumors of misfeasance in office and attempts are made to persuade the inhabitants of the city that they are a badly-used and tyranny-ridden people."18 What especially recommended Freret was his services on behalf of public education.

    The Louisiana American selected Edgar Mont gut as its standard bearer. This paper opposed Freret on the ground that he had been a member of the Native American party. The editor was unaware, or was intentionally blind to the fact that his own nominee had likewise figured in the innermost councils of that now moribund organization. In 1840 Mont gut had sought the nomination for mayor at its hands. p159His name was mentioned along with Freret's as a suitable person for that post.19

    The democrats made no party nomination but appear to have supported Mont gut. The party energies were concentrated especially in the Second Municipality, where the council was whig. Under this whig administration that quarter of the city had prospered notably during the previous two years. There had been marked growth in population; extensive improvements had been made, a splendid commerce had been built up, streets had been opened and repaired and "taxes expended in a way to add to the revenue of those who paid them."20 Similarly good results had been achieved in the Third Municipality, where the whigs likewise controlled. The bonds of this municipality had risen nearly 100 percent . Under an economical administration that part of the city was beginning to emerge from the financial difficulties of recent years. In fact the city everywhere "was improving as fast as the interference of the legislature with affairs would permit," as the Bee remarked.

    The election took place on April 1, 1844, and resulted in victory for Mont gut. Only a small vote was cast. Freret received 465 votes and his rival 557. The usual cry of fraud went up at once from the defeated party. For this claim there was, this time, considerable justification. The evil practices initiated at the recent State election had borne their proper fruit. "Let them rejoice over the results of yesterday's election," scornfully wrote the Bee, "who can contemplate with satisfaction the prostitution of the ballot box and the triumph of foreigners over the citizens of the State."21 The result was, in fact, determined largely by the vote of the naturalized citizens. In the Second Municipality a judge, Eliott, was accused of having issued quantities of spurious naturalization certificates. These were rejected by the whig commissioners when presented at the polls. Serious disturbances followed. The whigs, however, were successful in carrying this municipality by a vote of 417 to 37. In the other municipalities, however, this device was successfully worked. "It required but a short walk to exercise a franchise which used to be considered sacred, but has now become a marketable privilege," was the way in which the Bee referred to the activities of the "repeaters" who determined the result in the First and Third Municipalities.

    In spite of the manner in which he had been elected, the whig organs had nothing to say against Mont gut's character. Even the Bee hesitated to impugn his motives. "The only objection to Mr. Mont gut is that Mr. Freret had obtained the majority of the bona fide votes," was its salutatory editorial on the new administration.22 And referring to the retiring mayor, the same paper remarked: "No chief magistrate has displayed greater zeal and capacity than he." Mont gut took the oath on May 13. The events of his administration may be quickly recapitulated. A fire on May 18, 1844, destroyed ten squares bounded by Franklin, Canal, Common and Claiborne streets, rendering several score persons homeless. The mayor sent in a message to the councils asking that aid be extended to the victims of the disaster. This was generously accorded. The first year of the administration ended with some anticipation of a deficit, due to another payment which the city had to make p160to the Orleans Theater Company in the suit which it still prosecuted against the city on the basis of an agreement made some years before by which the corporation subscribed to $200,000 worth of stock. The city had consented to take this large block of stock in the expectation of seeing a theater erected, which does not appear ever to have been built. The corporation was fortunately able to compromise the judgment in consideration of a payment of $128,000, in bonds bearing 6 percent interest.23 The transaction, however, did not actually figure on the books of the city as a deficit. The increasing prosperity of the community brought in an enlarged revenue which offset this charge. The only other incident which has interest for us today is the fact that, on January 20, 1845, Mme. Pontalba obtained a permit to erect the arcades on St. Peter and St. Ann streets, opposite Jackson Square, which still embellish the buildings that bear her name.b

    But if the external events of Mont gut's administration were trivial, the unseen forces which were operative at this time make this epoch one of the most interesting in the history of the city. As we shall have occasion to point out in a later chapter, this was a period of great actual advance, but of relative retrogression. Never had New Orleans been more prosperous. It had now recovered from the financial disaster of 1837; its trade was growing by leaps and bounds, the population was mounting in numbers, many buildings were erected, the costs of living increased. In the American quarter, for example, in the single year 1845, 295 buildings were erected. These structures were mainly of brick, granite, or other durable material. Some of them were outbuildings of small value; but the average value reached the then respectable figure of $3,500.

    In politics, too, this was a time of transition. The lofty ideals of an earlier day began to give way to a hard materialism. From this time onward organization in the parties became increasingly efficient and superseded the personal leadership of the first part of the century. Hence, in city elections State and national issues figure more and more; and the disorders which were occasional at an earlier date become the regular feature of the municipal election day as of the State election day. But these, also, are matters which must be taken up in detail in a future chapter.

    The Author’s Notes

    1 Messages of the Mayors, May 1, 1838, in the New Orleans City Archives.

    2 Messages to the General Council, October 16, 1839, in New Orleans City Archives.

    3 Picayune, May 27, 1840.

    4 Quoted in Martin, "History of Louisiana"; Condon's Annals, 442.

    5 Picayune, May 19, 1840. See also Proceedings of the Council of the Second Municipality for May 19, 1840.

    6 Ficklen, "History of Education in New Orleans," in Rightor's "Standard History of New Orleans," 226.

    7 Bee, April 2, 1842.

    8 Picayune, March 15, 1842.

    9 Bee, April 4, 1842.

    10 Picayune, April 5, 1842.

    11 Louisiana American, April 4, 1842.

    12 Bee, February 7, 1843.

    13 Bee, February 9, 1843.

    14 Bee, February 21, 1843.

    15 Resolutions of the Whig Mass Meeting at Banks' Arcade, February 19, 1843. See the Bee of February 20.

    16 Picayune, February 21, 1843. The whole episode of Freret's second election has been heretofore very obscure. I am indebted to Mrs. M. Pohlman, city archivist, for her courteous assistance in locating the foregoing references.

    17 Courier de la Louisiane, January 5, 1844.

    18 Bee, March 30, 1844.

    19 Native American, March 4, 1840.

    20 Bee, March 30, 1844.

    21 Bee, April 2, 1844.

    22 Ibid.

    23 Journal of the Second Municipality, 1844, pp164, 169, 343 (August 29).


    1. Carondelet Canal 'also known as the Old Basin Canal, was a canal in New Orleans, Louisiana, operating from 1794 into the 1920s. It ceased to be navigable in 1927 was filled in 1938.'
    2. mortgaging A loan for the purchase of real property.
    3. extravagances excessive or unnecessary spending of money.
    4. magnanimity generosity.

    Text prepared by:

    Chapter X

    Mayor Crossman

    The years from 1846 to 1854 were busy, prosperous and eventful in New Orleans. During that time A. D. Crossman was mayor. He was a strong, aggressive individual, under whose guidance the city continued to advance. In politics a whig, he was supported consistently by that party. His promotion to the chief magistracy of the city was earned in several years' service in the council of the First Municipality. He represented the First Ward of the "Vieux Carré." In that body he advocated two measures — one to have Front Street paved with square granite blocks; and the other to open the cross-streets back from the boundary of the old city to the "canal," or Metairie Ridge. He was successful in both plans, though only after a long time and much effort. Bienville Avenue, as it was then called — the prolongation of Bienville Street beyond the original boundaries — remains a monument to his memory. He also endeavored to convince his fellow councilmen of the necessity of clearing and draining the swamps in the rear of the city. He believed that the best interests of that part of New Orleans which he represented would be served if the tendency of population to spread uptown was checked in favor of a movement backward towards Lake Pontchartrain. This idea, though sound, did not meet with much response at the time. Crossman was successful in having the swamp partially drained, but only when the work could be no longer of material benefit to his constituency.

    Abdiel Daily Crossman was born in 1804 in a little village called Green, in Maine, on the banks of the Androscoggin River. His family came from Massachusetts and was of old Puritan stock. The father was a soldier in the American Army during the War of 1812 and saw several campaigns on the Canadian frontier. The son enjoyed few educational advantages. What instruction he had was obtained from his parents, who, at night, taught him a little reading, writing and arithmetic. By his own efforts, however, he later acquired a good education. The father was a hatter by trade and brought his son up to follow the same business. With this equipment young Crossman left home at an early age to seek fortune in the cities. He went first to Philadelphia but in 1829 moved to New Orleans, where he arrived with only five dollars in his pocket.

    In New Orleans Crossman was soon able to open a small shop in Canal Street. That street was then so far "uptown" that, when he mentioned the proposed location to a friend, the latter exclaimed in astonishment, "Why, you might as well leave town at once; nobody will ever find your place so far away as that!" Crossman's success, however, was great from the very start. It was not long before he became a personage of importance in influential circles. He became a director in several banks, an officer in some of the more prominent benevolent societies, and was in other ways ranked among the substantial citizens of the city.

    In 1844 Crossman was elected to the State Legislature. This was the session immediately preceding the Constitutional Convention of


    onMouseOver="return Ebox(SourceErr+'1848')"

    onMouseOut="nd();">1845; consequently, no measures of importance were brought up at this time. He remained a member of the First Municipal Council and about this time was made chairman of the finance committee, a position which had been abandoned by several able men, on account of the difficulties which the management of the local finances were beginning to develop. The First Municipality was heavily in debt. Its resources were rapidly declining. There were $400,000 in judgments pending against the corporation, and other debts aggregating no less than $900,000 were outstanding which had to be paid. Crossman set to work to reduce expenses and increase revenues, with such success that he was soon able to put the credit of the municipality upon a secure basis. It was this proof of administrative talent that led to his nomination for mayor.



<p>[image ALT: A woodcut of what appears to be a river in the foreground, and fronting on it, seven low two- and three-story houses on the right, and the pedimented six-columned façade of a temple-like building on the left. It is a view of the Touro Block, Canal Street, New Orleans, in 1846.]</p>


    The Touro Block, Canal Street, in 1846

    Although deploring the efforts of the democrats to inject national issues into municipal politics, the whigs, as we have seen, were, by the logic of events, forced to assume a somewhat similar attitude. That is to say, Prieur's election as a democrat in 1842 entailed the nomination of a distinctly whig candidate in 1844 and again in 1846. The whigs, however, disdained to organize after the fashion of the despised "locofocos," and their candidates were put forward as the choice of the people, directly expressed at a primary held for the purpose. Crossman's candidacy was announced by the Bee and the nomination was endorsed in a primary a few days later. The Bee declared that the people "were indifferent to national issues," and asked only that "good men be named for office." On the other hand the democrats had some trouble in settling upon a candidate. Both Edgar Montgut and A. J. Guirot aspired to the position. Guirot, who was finally selected, was a strong party man. For some years he had held a lucrative office in the First Municipality. He was nominated on March 5th "with all the

    p163established formalities of locofocoism," according to the Bee,

    onMouseOut="nd();">2 meaning that he was chosen by a caucus of the party leaders and recommended to the suffrages of the people on purely party grounds. Montgut, who, according to the same paper, "had creditably filled his onerous functions," sought the nomination as an endorsement of his administration. He was nominated by a group of his friends, and split the democratic vote in a way which insured Crossman's success.

    The election took place on April 5, 1846. It was exciting, but "conducted with the utmost order and tranquility." It called forth the heaviest vote till then cast in the city, in spite of the unfavorable weather which prevailed. The result was hailed by the whig organ "not as a political triumph for Crossman," though the party had stood loyally by him, but as "a rebuke to caucus intrigues," calculated to "teach the wire-pullers the inefficiency of such means against the sovereign will of the people themselves."

    onMouseOut="nd();">3 Crossman received 2,989 votes, Guirot 2,743, and Montgut 1,614. The whigs carried the First and Second Municipalities by substantial pluralities but lost the Third Municipality, where Guirot was successful by a plurality of about 100 votes. The whigs succeeded in electing a majority of the aldermen in the First and Second municipalities but failed to carry the General Council.

    The contest over the recorderships was second in interest only to the struggle over the mayoralty. In the First and Second municipalities Joseph Genois and Joshua Baldwin were elected by substantial majorities. Genois ran as an independent democrat. He was the object of a determined attack by the regular democratic organization. He had supported General DeBuys in the recent gubernatorial campaign and thereby antagonized the "locofocos" of the city. Ramos, who was the regular democratic candidate, received only an insignificant vote. Genois had the whig support and was successful by nearly 1,000 majority. In the Second Municipality the democrats nominated T. B. Eastland, "a man of standing," according to the Bee. Baldwin was the whig candidate. The canvas was carried on with an acrimony seldom witnessed in the case of the subordinate municipal candidates. The democrats also made a savage but unsuccessful onslaught upon S. J. Peters, who was running for the Second Municipal Council. In the Third Municipality, however, the democratic candidate, Seuzeneau, was elected by a large majority.

    Two years later, when Crossman was re-elected mayor, the whigs scored a still more sensational success. Crossman had given so much satisfaction by the impartial way in which he handled the often conflicting interests of the three municipalities under his jurisdiction that his renomination by the whigs was a foregone conclusion. The democrats nominated a young man named Reynolds, well known for his party zeal, about whom the Bee could find nothing more scathing to say than that he was "a gentleman of fair attainments and in the relations of private life high-minded and honorable."

    onMouseOut="nd();">4 Again the contest over the recorderships proved extremely important. In the First Municipality the whig candidate, Bureau, was withdrawn, and the field abandoned to the two democratic candidates, Genois and Ramos. Genois ran again as an independent democrat and was supported silently by the whigs. Genois

    p164commended himself to them as "liberal in his views, an excellent man, and an experienced magistrate." Ramos was again the standard bearer of the regular organization. In the Second Municipality Joshua Baldwin was a candidate for re-election on the whig ticket. The nominee of the regular democrats was T. H. Howard, a popular young man whose claim to distinction was based upon service in a ward club. Seuzeneau, the "Locofoco" incumbent, who was a candidate in the Third Ward, was unopposed.

    The election took place on April 3. Both parties made every effort to bring out a full vote in view of the effect which success in the city was expected to have upon the State contest, due in November. Crossman was elected by a vote of 5,090 against Reynolds, 2,986. Genois and Baldwin were elected. Seuzeneau, of course, carried his municipality unanimously. The Bee, commenting upon the result, announced that the whig victory was the greatest ever won by the party in the history of the city. The General Council was predominantly whig. The Second Municipality Council was unanimously whig; the First Municipality Council was whig by a good majority. The third Municipality Council, however, was democratic. A great deal of satisfaction was felt because the Seventh Ward of the Second Municipality, long regarded as the chief fortress of democratic power, had fallen under the whig attack. There

    p165was, however, less reason for whig rejoicing than the party leaders were prepared to admit. The party did not actually command a majority in the city as large as that by which Crossman was elected. He had earned by his conduct as mayor the support of a substantial fraction of the democrats. The issue of the campaign had been the question of taxes; the desire to see in office competent, zealous, and experienced public servants who announced a policy of economy and reductions in the tax rate, had been a factor more effective than were considerations of party loyalty.

    During Crossman's second administration the desirability of a change in the city charter became evident. The city campaign of 1850 turned on that question. Crossman advocated the abolishment of the three-municipality system and the re-establishment of the previous, centralized city government. His nomination brought the problem directly before the people and resulted in his election by a respectable majority. There were two other candidates — J. M. Bell, nominated by the democrats; and T. T. Spear, an independent, who ran on an anti-bank platform, and did not receive more than 100 votes in the entire city. Alexander Grailhe, a distinguished attorney, was also put forward as an independent candidate, but withdrew early in the race.


<p>[image ALT: A bronze sculpture of the head of a man with an angular physique and a dour expression, not helped by his eyes being closed as if taken from a death mask. It depicts James H. Caldwell, a 19c municipal recorder of New Orleans.]</p>


    James H. Caldwell

    The election took place on April 22, having been postponed from the usual date early in the month through the action of the State Legislature. Although the matter of a new city charter was pending, the legislature saw fit to increase the number of officials in each of the municipalities. The voters were therefore called on to ballot for 12 or 14 officers in each of the three divisions of the city. The democrats were well organized; the whigs, as their organ, the Bee, explained, were over-confident.

    onMouseOut="nd();">5 The result was that, while Crossman carried the First and Second municipalities, he lost the Third. His total vote was 4,984, as against 4,452 for Bell. The democrats concentrated their efforts upon the aldermanic candidates, but were defeated in the First Municipality, which was "whig to the core," to quote the Bee again, and elected that party's nominees for the General Council, and ten whig aldermanic nominees out of a total delegation of 16. In the Second Municipality, however, the whig majority in the Council, while retained, was greatly reduced. Joshua Baldwin was defeated for recorder by J. H. Caldwell. In the Third Municipality Seuzeneau defeated his rival, Collins, by a majority of 150 votes. There were loud cries of fraud in this part of the city, but the charges were not pressed, and were probably unfounded.

    The salient events of Crossman's long administration were the patriotic and military enterprises undertaken in the city in connection with the war in Mexico; the Sauv crevasse; the Spanish riot of 1851; the epidemics of yellow fever in 1852 and 1853; and the new city charter, which substituted for the discredited three-municipality system a single, efficient government. During the war New Orleans was the chief military depot of operations against Mexico. The streets were constantly filled with recruits on their way to join their commands at various stations in the West. With them came many undesirable characters, the control of whom imposed serious burdens on the city's small police force. Sick and destitute, also, collected in the wake of the army. Not only was the mayor called on to preserve order, but to devise methods

    p166whereby charity might effectively provide for the unfortunate. Benevolence was a conspicuous trait of Mayor Crossman's character; he threw himself into the latter work with great zeal and noteworthy success. It is recorded that his hospitality to the soldiers returning from the war was extended "in a highly creditable and satisfactory manner."

    Although the annexation of Texas as a feature of national policy did not meet with unanimous approval in New Orleans, the community rallied to a man to the support of the government, as soon as it became evident that hostilities were inevitable with Mexico. When "Sam" Houston, president of the little republic, visited New Orleans, on May 24, 1845, to speak in behalf of the Texan cause, he received a prompt and enthusiastic reception. Just a month before, at a great meeting in Banks' Arcade, at which Dr. D. Bullard presided, and where Alexander Walker, the historian, acted as secretary, resolutions had been adopted endorsing the annexation of Texas as "a great American measure" and declaring that "the doctrine which would exclude a new territory because slavery exists in it" constituted "an injurious imputation upon the slave-holding states of the Union." At the same time General E. P. Gaines, then stationed in the vicinity of the city, undertook, somewhat prematurely, as was afterwards decided, to raise two regiments of infantry and two companies of artillery for service in the impending struggle. Then came news of General Taylor's critical situation on the Rio Grande. Excitement in New Orleans rose to fever heat. The Legislature voted $100,000 to raise and equip four regiments for immediate service. These, organized, as the governor said, in a subsequent message to the Legislature, "in an incredibly short space of time," were hurried in the middle of May to the scene of danger, and aided materially in winning the victory at Matamoras, a few weeks later.

    In August the recruiting of volunteers went on actively. Then followed public meetings, at which various wealthy citizens put their purses at the service of the government, among them Benjamin Story, who offered the state $500,000 to be used in war work. It is impossible here to enumerate all the organizations which were raised and went to Mexico, but among them were Major Galley's Artillery; the Clinton Guard, Captain Chase; the Native American Artillery, Captain Forno; Orleans Boys, Capt. C. F. Hunt; Company A, Orleans Riflemen, Captain Head; Louisiana Grays, Captain Breedlove; German Yagers, Captain Soniat; First Company Louisiana Volunteers, Captain Glenn; Second Company, Louisiana Volunteers, Captain Stockton; Company B, Louisiana Invincibles, Captain White; First Company Eclaireurs, Captain Crevon; Louisiana Tigers, Captain Emerson; the Taylor Guards; Orleans Blues; California Guards; Orleans Guards, Capt. F. Gardere; Musqueteers, Captain Mondelle; Catalan Guards, Captain Viosca; Cazadores de Orleans, Captain Trigo; and scores of others. Many of these commands were included in the four regiments sent to the front in May, 1845, under the command, respectively, of Cols. J. R. Walton, J. F. Marks, James H. Dakin, and Colonel Davis. There was some complaint during the war that Louisiana troops were not given proper opportunities to distinguish themselves, but the Washington Artillery signalized itself on more than one occasion; and General Persifer F. Smith, with a brigade of Louisiana volunteers, won a brilliant reputation at Monterey, Contreras, Churubusco, Chapultepec, and the taking of the City of Mexico. Zachary Taylor, who was the principal hero of the war, had been for years a resident

    p167of Louisiana. It was in this brief contest, also, that

    onMouseOver="return Ebox(Cullum1+'1838'+Cullum2,WIDTH,300)"

    onMouseOut="nd();">Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Beauregard won his spurs.

    In connection with the war several notable events

    onMouseOver="return Ebox(SourceErr+'occured')"

    onMouseOut="nd();">occurred in New Orleans. There was, for example, the great illumination of the city on May 15, 1847, in honor of the recent victories in Mexico. The funerals of Col. H. M. Clay and Colonel McKee, who were stabbed to death while lying wounded on the field of Buena Vista,

    onMouseOver="return Ebox(SourceErr+'was')"

    onMouseOut="nd();">were made the occasion of an impressive demonstration on the part of the population on June 11th. The body of Captain Lincoln, who fell in battle, was laid in state at the arsenal on St. Peter Street and given the honors of a public interment. In November Generals Quitman and Shields and Colonel Harney were entertained at a great banquet at the St. Charles Hotel. On the return of General Taylor from the war, in December, a magnificent procession filed through the streets of the city. The home-coming of the Louisiana troops, on July 8, 1848, was welcomed by the entire population. It is estimated that 10,000 persons witnessed the parade of the veterans as they marched up St. Charles Street to Tivoli (Lee) Circle. That night there was a great meeting at the corner of Canal and Carondelet streets, at which the Governor made an address of welcome and Colonel

    onMouseOver="return Ebox(SourceErr+'De Rusey')"

    onMouseOut="nd();">De Russey responded appropriately. Later the men were the guests of the city at a supper in the Place d'Armes.

    The Sauv crevasse, in May, 1849, put heavy burdens upon the city administration, but they were borne with credit. From its foundation New Orleans had been menaced with flood both from the Mississippi and from Lake Pontchartrain and Borgne. The former, at certain times of the year, swollen by the melting snows of the North, rolls south an enormous body of water. Against the danger of overflow a great system of levees has been built on both sides of the river. The city was inundated in 1780, 1785, 1791, and 1799 as a result of "crevasse" in the flimsy embankments on which reliance had till then been placed. These unfortunate experiences convinced the inhabitants of the desirability of enlarging and extending the system; and largely with state aid, levees were built on one bank of the river from Point-à-la-Hache to Pass Manchac, a distance of

    onMouseOver="return Ebox('249 km',WIDTH,72)"

    onMouseOut="nd();"> 155 miles; and on the other, from the lower Plaquemines settlement to Pointe Coupe, a distance of

    onMouseOver="return Ebox('298 km',WIDTH,72)"

    onMouseOut="nd();"> 185 miles, at an outlay of about $6,500,000.


    onMouseOver="return Ebox(INARRAY,ThisPhoto,WIDTH,280)"



<p>[image ALT: A map of New Orleans showing the area flooded in 1849 due to the levee break known as Sauv's Crevasse.]</p>


    Diagram showing the inundated District

    Sauv's Crevasse

    May 3rd, 1849

    A larger, fully readable scan (2.1 MB)

    onMouseOver="return Ebox(INARRAY,Photo,WIDTH,115)"



    is also available.

    The inundation in New Orleans in 1813 was due to the breaking of the Macarty Levee, near the site of the later town of Carrollton, now the Seventh District. A still more disastrous experience of the same kind followed on May 6, 1816, through the collapse of the Kenner Levee, only a short distance farther up the river. The rear of the city was then flooded in some places to a depth of

    onMouseOver="return Ebox('1.50 meters',WIDTH,132)"

    onMouseOut="nd();"> five feet. The suburbs of Montague, LaCourse, St. Mary, and Marigny, and the whole of the lesser settlements behind them — Gravier, Trm and St. John — were under water for 25 days. It was possible to row in a small boat from the corner of Chartres and Canal streets to Dauphine, down Dauphine to Bienville, and down Bienville to Burgundy, thence to St. Louis Street and Rampart, and out to the settlements mentioned. A curious fact may be mentioned in this connection on the highest medical authority — the following summer was exceptionally healthy.



    The city also had reason to fear unusual tides in Lake Borgne and Lake Pontchartrain. These might be caused by long-continued south-east winds, or by some sudden, violent storm, which operated to retard the outflow from the lakes of the water which usually found its way through the narrow passages leading out into the Gulf of Mexico. When this occurred, the water level rose, and the swamp behind the city might be overflowed, or even the rear of the city itself. The latter happened in 1831, when as a result of a heavy storm, the lake water flowed in as far as Dauphine Street; and again in 1837. In 1844 and 1846 a similar cause sent the lake water in as far as Burgundy Street.

    The Sauv crevasse, however, was the most serious event of the kind in the history of the city. The river in 1849 reached the highest stage known in twenty-one years. Some

    onMouseOver="return Ebox('27 km',WIDTH,60)"

    onMouseOut="nd();"> seventeen miles above the city lay a plantation belonging to Pierre Sauv. There, on the afternoon of May 3d, the levee gave way. At once it was seen impossible to stem the raging waters. The people of the city deluded themselves with the hope that the flood would find its way into Lake Pontchartrain by some channel or the other, before reaching the city. But the swamp rapidly filled; the water approached the outskirts of the town; and it was then too late to throw up any adequate defenses. By May 15th the water was at Rampart Street. The First Municipality went to work on a small levee which lay along the lower bank of the Carondelet Canal, and raised it sufficiently to shut out the flood from that part of the city; but the rear of Lafayette and of the Second Municipality was badly flooded. The water attained its highest point on May 30th when it reached Bacchus (Baronne) Street from the upper limits of Lafayette to Canal; and sometimes, where the ground was low, it ran over into Carondelet. "About 220 inhabited squares were flooded, more than 2,000 tenements were surrounded by water, and a population of near 12,000 souls either driven from their homes or living an aquatic life of much privation and suffering."


    Meanwhile efforts to close the crevasse had proven unavailing. Then two engineers named Dunbar and Surgi, undertook the task, and with carte blanche as to methods and materials, succeeded after seventeen days of heroic exertion, in staunching the flood on the 20th of June. The waters, however, did not disappear till nearly a month later. By June 22d the principal streets were clear again. Then heavy rains fell, washing away the flood deposits, and the city began to resume its normal aspect. Public property had suffered extensive damage, particularly in the Second Municipality. Pavements and gutters and gutter-bridges had to be generally replaced. In 1850 the Second Municipality found it necessary to levy a special tax of $400,000 to offset "actual expenditures on streets, wharves and crevasses." Somewhat tardily, the council of that municipality erected a levee on Felicity Street, from the point where the Claiborne Canal now intersects the New Basin Canal, to the corner of Apollo (Carondelet) Street.

    In August, 1851, a riot took place in New Orleans which, aside from its purely local importance, is of great interest because of its significance in international law. The occurrence, together with


    the Mafia disturbances of 1891, set precedents regarding the responsibilities of national governments for acts committed by mobs, which have since been frequently

    p170cited in diplomatic correspondence. The riot of 1851 arose indirectly out of the prejudices of the American people relative to the ownership of the Island of Cuba — prejudices which, carried to their natural conclusion, resulted in the Spanish-American War of 1898, and the establishment of a virtual protection over that region. The immediate occasion was, however, the execution by the Spanish authorities at Havana of some fifty American citizens, members of the ill-fated López filibustering expedition. In the South there was keen sympathy with those Cuban patriots who aimed at the independence of their native country. It was foreseen that, in all probability, independence would soon be followed by annexation, and annexation had important implications in connection with the expansion of the slave-holding territory in the United States.

    Among those Cuban leaders who planned and fought to separate the island from the mother country was General

    onMouseOver="return Ebox(SourceErr+'Narcico')"

    onMouseOut="nd();">Narciso López. López was born in Venezuela in 1799. In his early manhood he served in the Spanish army, but when these forces were withdrawn from Venezuela he went to Cuba, where he soon became involved in the movement for independence. He visited the United States in 1849 and spent the whole of a large private fortune in fitting out filibustering expeditions there which operated unsuccessfully along the Cuban coast. The first, in 1849, was frustrated almost in its incipiency by a proclamation of President Taylor; the second, in 1850, ended in failure; and the third, in 1851, led to the terrible tragedy, in which López lost his life.

    In order to raise funds for this third expedition, López issued bonds, which bore interest at 6 percent per annum, and were to be redeemed after the establishment of an independent government in the island. As further security López pledged the public lands and public property of Cuba, and the good faith of the Cuban people in perpetuity. Many of these bonds were taken in New Orleans. It is not improbable that the interest which was felt in the expedition was financial as well as patriotic. López now proceeded to recruit officers and men — a task in which he met little difficulty. He assured his soldiers that their work would be easy, inasmuch as the Cuban people were already in revolt, and the Spanish troops had been tampered with, and would promptly desert to the popular side — both statements without foundation. To his officers López promised the confiscated sugar plantations, and each common soldier was to receive $5,000. Hoping to enlist the support of a distinguished name as a further guarantee of the enterprise, López offered the command first to Jefferson Davis of Mississippi, then a member of the United States Senate and a soldier whose ability had been proven in the Mexican War; and when he refused, to Robert E. Lee, then a major in the United States Army.


    Lee also declined the offer, although López offered magnificent inducements in the way of cash bonuses and sugar plantations worth, altogether, $100,000.

    The authorities in Washington made an effort to prevent the expedition from sailing, but without avail. The steamer "Pámpero" left New Orleans with the expedition on board early on the morning of August 3, 1851. A large crowd was present on the levee in the suburb of Lafayette and cheered loudly as the vessel cast off. Arriving at the Balize at 7 P.M., the ship anchored, the men went ashore for a brief drill and about fifty men were mustered out and sent back to New Orleans on the tender "Ben Adams," ostensibly because there was not room on the "Pámpero" for them. The "Pámpero" had 450 men on board when she entered the Gulf.

    p171She touched at Key West and then steered directly for Cuba. Her pilot, a man named Bodley, however, did not know the Cuban coast very well. On the night of August 11-12 he succeeded in running the boat ashore at about

    onMouseOver="return Ebox('about 45 km or 28 miles',WIDTH,150)"

    onMouseOut="nd();"> twenty leagues from Havana. The men were landed at that place. No more unfortunate landing-place could have been selected. Lieutenant Crittenden was attacked by a large Spanish force, and after a sharp battle completely defeated. The survivors, about fifty in number, found refuge in small boats, but were quickly intercepted by a Spanish man-of-war, which took them to Havana. Here they were tried by a military court and shot on August 16.

    López's force was attacked and dispersed on August 24. The men were hunted down and captured one by one. López was executed September 1 in Havana. A few of the men were liberated, but about 160 were sent to Spain, where, it is said, they were sentenced to hard labor in the mines.

    On the morning of August 21 the steamer "Crescent City" arrived in New Orleans from Havana with the news of the disaster to Crittenden's command. Great excitement followed in the city. This was increased by the act of a Spanish official, the secretary of the Spanish consul in New Orleans, who was returning to the city from Havana on the ship. Upon leaving the latter place he had been entrusted with letters written by the men who were afterwards executed to their friends and relatives in the United States. Instead of delivering these to the postoffice upon arriving in New Orleans, it is said he retained them. It is not clear what was his motive. A report soon spread, however, that he had refused to give up the letters. In this anxious moment there appeared an extra edition of a local Spanish newspaper, "La Unión," with a full account of the executions in Havana, supplemented by some harsh remarks on American filibusters in general. A mob immediately formed, and before the city authorities could restrain it made its way to certain stores owned or operated by Spaniards and began to wreck them. The offices of "La Unión," six coffee houses and two tobacco stores were badly damaged. The mob also penetrated the Spanish consulate. The sign of the consulate and the Spanish flag were torn down. The flag was carried in triumph to Lafayette Square, where it was cut up and burned. The consul, protected by the famous duellist, Pepe Leulla, fled from the city to the home of a friend

    onMouseOver="return Ebox('50 km',WIDTH,60)"

    onMouseOut="nd();"> thirty miles away. There was, fortunately, no bloodshed.

    The Spanish Government immediately protested to the American Government, and negotiations ensued, which resulted in the establishment of the principle that a nation is not responsible for the acts of a mob. Webster, then Secretary of State, expressed a proper condemnation of the actions of the New Orleans mob. They were, he said, "unjustifiable and disgraceful [. . .] flagrant breaches of duty and hospitality [. . .] the outrage, nevertheless, was one perpetrated by a mob, composed of irresponsible persons, the names of none of whom are known to this government, nor, so far as the government is informed, to its officers or agents in New Orleans." But both Webster and the President agreed that the consul ought to receive some indemnification for the danger and annoyance to which he had been subjected, and as a recognition of the offense which had put upon his dignity, and Congress was subsequently

    p172asked to provide this compensation. This Congress did in 1853, but with the understanding that the reparation was made voluntarily, and not from any sense of obligation under the laws of nations.


    The consolidation of the three municipalities, the adoption of the new city charter, and the annexation of the suburb of Lafayette, all events which took place April 12, 1852, may be reckoned the most important achievements of Crossman's administration. The sixteen years over which the life of the old charter had extended, had abundantly demonstrated the impracticability of the separation of the two dominant races in the community. Moreover, it had proved by actual experiment that the American idea was better suited to the needs of the growing community than the Creole. Consolidation was not, however, effected until stern necessity made it imperative. The city's finances were in deplorable condition. It was "without credit, confusion in most of its branches, and the people disheartened."

    onMouseOut="nd();">9 The debts of Lafayette and of the three municipalities aggregated the then enormous sum of $7,700,000, of which $2,000,000 was due to be paid, without any means of doing so. The episode of the Spanish riot, also, had shown the impossibility of handling the police force in emergency, when divided and scattered over three separate and independent corporations.

    In view of these conditions a bill was introduced into the legislature as early as 1850 looking to the revocation of the city charter, and the substitution of one which would embody the changes recommended by Mayor Crossman and the most progressive citizens of New Orleans as imperatively necessary. Before taking action, however, the legislature required that the people of the city should pass on the matter; and not until after the project had been approved in a primary, was the bill put on final passage. It was approved by the governor February 23, 1852.

    By this act all parts of New Orleans on the left bank of the Mississippi

    onMouseOver="return Ebox(SourceErr+'was')"

    onMouseOut="nd();">were declared to constitute a single corporation, and the powers hitherto pertaining to any other government in that area were transferred to the new organization. The new municipality was divided into nine wards. The city government was grouped as to its function into the legislative and executive branches. The former consisted of a board of aldermen composed of eleven members, and a board of assistant aldermen composed of 24 members. The aldermen were to hold office for two years, and were elected from three electoral districts, as follows: The first, second and third wards, constituting the First District, elected five aldermen; the fourth, fifth and sixth wards, forming the Second District, elected four aldermen; and the seventh,

    onMouseOver="return Ebox(SourceErr+'eight')"

    onMouseOut="nd();">eighth and ninth wards, composing the Third District, elected two aldermen. The members were ranged in classes, one of which retired annually, and provision was made for an election each year for their successors. The same thing was true with regard to the assistant aldermen. The members of this board were chosen in an equally cumbersome way, in each ward. They held office one year. They were apportioned to the wards according to population, the third, for instance, having six, and the ninth having but one.

    The election day was fixed for the fourth Monday of March, annually in the case of the assistant aldermen, biennially in the case of the aldermen and mayor; and each class went into office on the second Monday in

    p173April following their election. The powers of the two boards were equal, each having a negative on the other's action. The charter contained very precise provisions intended to keep the two bodies separate; they might not, for instance, appoint any joint committees except a finance committee, or those which, in the nature of conference committees, were charged with special investigations requiring concerted action.

    Each board was to meet weekly, but in separate chambers. No ordinance became effective until passed by both boards of the council. There was also provision for the increase of the membership in both boards as the city grew in size, by means of a quinquennial census and reapportionment of representation, the aldermen, however, never to exceed 13 in number, nor the assistant aldermen 25, and no ward to have less than one delegate. These two boards made up what was known as the common council of the City of New Orleans.

    The executive branch of the government was composed of the mayor, three recorders, a treasurer, a comptroller, a city surveyor, a street commissioner, and "such other subordinate officers for preserving the peace and order of the city as the common council might deem necessary." The mayor's qualifications for office were described as "the same as for membership in the House of Representatives in the State Legislature." That is, he was required to be at least 30 years of age, a citizen of the United States, and a resident of New Orleans. His duties were substantially those enumerated in the Charter of 1809. He was ex-officio a justice of the peace; he was to sign and publish the ordinances of the council; he possessed the veto power within the usual limitations; and he was obliged to lay before the common council from time to time statements of the city's condition, financial and otherwise. The two most important provisions added by the new charter, was one making the mayor ineligible for immediate re-election, and one investing him with complete control over the police force, including the right to appoint and remove all its members, with the advice and consent of the board of aldermen.

    The recorders were to be four in number. They were ex-officio justices of the peace, and their principal duties were such as officials of that nature would usually discharge. Insofar as not inconsistent with the other provisions of the act, they were entrusted with all the powers and privileges hitherto enjoyed by the recorders of the separate municipalities.

    There was no special provision for salaries for either aldermen or assistant aldermen. The mayor was to receive not less than $4,000, but it was within the power of the common council to fix his emoluments. As for the recorders their compensation was to be fixed by the council. The comptroller, the city surveyor, and the treasurer were to receive $3,000 each; the street commissioner, $2,000. A city attorney was to be paid at the rate of $3,000 per annum.

    A very important feature of the new charter related to the liquidation of the debts of the three municipalities, which, as we have seen, were proportionately large. The financial embarrassments of the city had led, in 1847, to the passage by the State Legislature of an act creating a commission of six, two from each of the municipalities, charged with the task of refunding the whole debt into an issue of bonds to run 30 years and bear seven percent interest. Provision was now made for a commission to be composed of the mayor, the comptroller, the city treasurer, and the chairman of the finance committee of the Common Council, with

    p174power to refund all the outstanding debts of the three municipalities into bonds to run 40 years. The bonds so issued were to constitute "a stock to be known as the Consolidated Debt of the City of New Orleans." Provisions were made for the division of the debt into classes corresponding to the three former municipalities, and there were arrangements by which the interest charges were to be equalized among them. This interest was to be met by an annual tax of $600,000; out of which the promoters of the charter fondly hoped that there would remain some surplus to be applied to the retirement of the principal — a hope which no one familiar with the history of the finances so far, had any good reason to entertain. Finally a provision was inserted in the charter that no ordinance should thereafter be adopted which did not specify the manner in which the obligations set up therein were to be discharged.

    With regard to public education, the charter made some very sensible provisions. The existing school system was not disturbed. The three separate school boards which had developed under the old charter, were continued, but they were brought into close relation and responsibility to the Common Council, and no member of any other department of the city government was permitted to have a seat on any of these bodies.


    The adoption of this charter was one of the most important steps that had so far been taken towards the Americanization of the city. By it the second municipality, the American quarter, became admittedly the commercial, intellectual and political center of the city. Its glittering white marble hall on Lafayette Square, built in 1850 from designs by the distinguished architect, Gallier, was accepted as the seat of the city government. Business gradually removed its offices to Camp and Carondelet streets. The rotunda of the St. Charles Hotel, rebuilt in even grander style after its destruction by fire in 1850, became the place of meeting of numberless popular assemblages; and the banks whose charters stipulated that they should not locate their domiciles above the "neutral ground" of Canal Street, established branches within the favored precincts, or moved as near to the boundary as they might.

    The yellow fever epidemic of 1853 and 1854 was the most terrible catastrophe of the kind that the city has been called on to endure. This was by no means the first time that the fever had visited the city. As early as 1766, for instance, an epidemic disease prevailed which is believed to have been yellow fever. At that time, however, the name by which it afterwards became known was not applied to it. This was not done till 1796, when an epidemic occurred which is the first of which we have official record. Between that date and the final extirpation of the disease, in 1906, there were 13 severe and 26 mild epidemics. It occurred in 1799, 1800, 1801, 1804, 1809, 1811, 1812, 1817, and 1822, being especially violent in the two last-mentioned years. Between 1822 and 1861 it was an annual and dreaded visitor. In 1832 the epidemic was in full swing when the appalling outbreak of cholera of that year occurred. In 1839 upwards of 1,300 persons died of yellow fever in the city; in 1841, about 1,800. In 1843 it was estimated that during the preceding seven years there had been a total of 5,500 deaths attributable to this disease alone. In 1847 the deaths were 2,800, and in the latter part of the following year, 872 persons perished. In August, 1849, the yellow fever reappeared, and by the end of November, had carried off 744 persons.


    The reputation of New Orleans as a plague-spot was thus supported in all parts of the world by statistics difficult to controvert. De Bow, the editor of De Bow's Review, admitted the fact, writing in 1846. Nevertheless, the sanitary measures adopted at this time were of the most primitive and ineffective type. The ablest among these early sanitarians, Doctors Barton, Symonds, Fenner and Axson, devised schemes which might have mitigated the evil, but their recommendations fell upon deaf ears. Doctor Barton urged the construction of underground sewers in place of the open gutters on which reliance was then placed, but in 1850 no attention was paid to him. A plan for the daily flushing of such drains as there were, was rejected by the city council, in spite of the fact that the gutters presented "a most disgusting aspect." The most useful work which these medical pioneers did, however, was to resurrect the old mortality reports and demonstrate the long-standing unhealthfulness of the city, as compared with other places of equal population. For example, they showed that, in 1849, the mortality, even after deducting deaths due to cholera, exceeded by nearly 100 percent the average death-rate in Boston, New York, Philadelphia, and Charleston.

    In 1852 the editor of the City Directory, in a sketch of the life of Mayor Crossman, congratulated the public on the fact that the city had for five years been free from yellow fever. This happy circumstance, he held, was attributable to the fact that the mayor had at last succeeded in bringing about the drainage of the swamp immediately behind the city. He omitted to state that the death-rate for the previous year had been 62 per 1,000 persons, and that in the previous three years it had averaged 77, 66, and 84 per thousand. In fact, the general attitude was, that persistent denials sufficed to cure the evil; that yellow fever was emphatically the strangers' disease, and that once acclimated, the residents of the city had nothing to fear.

    onMouseOut="nd();">a There was some foundation for the latter opinion. In 1853, for instance, only 87 deaths were reported among the native-born population, whereas, as we shall see, thousands of others perished miserably. The city, moreover, made extraordinary provision for the care of the sick. Its Charity Hospital was even then famous throughout the world for the broad liberality of its philanthropy.

    In 1853 the sanitary conditions in the city were very bad. The streets were very unclean. Scavengering was done by contract, and was very indifferently attended to. In the interests of commerce the Carondelet Basin and Canal were being cleaned and enlarged. The New Basin was being similarly extended. Gas and water mains were being laid in various parts of the city. In the Fourth District, Jackson and St. Charles avenues were being torn up in order to lay street-car tracks thereon. In the Third District many small ditches were being excavated. These conditions, as we know now, favored the formation of pools of stagnant water, and the breeding of mosquitoes. All that was needed was the infection; and that came in May.

    The disease was probably introduced into the city either by the bark "Siri," or the British emigrant ship "Camboden Castle." The former, on her way to New Orleans, touched at Rio de Janeiro, where her captain and several members of the crew had contracted yellow fever. The "Camboden Castle" had called at Kingston, Jamaica, where the fever was prevailing, and had suffered a somewhat similar experience. The first cases in New Orleans, of which there is any knowledge, occurred on the shipping in the port, and while none of them can be traced directly

    p176to these two vessels, our present knowledge of the origin of yellow fever enables us to guess with tolerable certainty the process by which the infection was disseminated. Rumors that the fever existed in the port began to circulate through the city, in June, but they were hushed up as liable to injure the reputation of the town, or disregarded as idle gossip. There had been no serious outbreak of fever since 1847; the city had just closed an exceptionally prosperous year; the weather was unusually mild. The disease, when it had appeared in recent years, had not spread. There seemed no reason for apprehension. The books of the Charity Hospital record the first death there on May 27; it was that of an Irish laborer, James McGuigan, who had recently landed from Liverpool, and who was taken ill on May 30. Another death — of a German sailor — followed on May 30; two on June 7, another on June 10; and the first woman died on June 11. So far there had been but one death outside of the hospital.

    There was a good deal of other sickness. In the month of June there had been 625 deaths from all causes. But the sudden increase in the mortality in July was inexplicable on the assumption that only the usual causes of death were operative. At the end of the first week, the statistics caused alarm; people began to leave the city. At the end of the second week there had been 56 deaths from the fever. By July 16 there had been 204 deaths. The newspapers refrained from direct comment, but abounded in suggestions for the betterment of the general sanitary conditions; the streets should be cleansed, a board of health should be established; something should be done to prevent an epidemic — but there was no admission that the epidemic had actually begun. When, in June, the Howard Association made public its program of work, there was considerable censure of its course; for this organization existed for the relief of "poor people in time of epidemic." Its ill-considered action might lead to the belief outside of New Orleans that the health of the community was imperilled. The doctors generally denied that this was so. Doctor McFarlane, "supported by many others," advanced the remarkable theory that the filthy condition of the streets and premises of the city was on the whole desirable, as calculated to prevent the formation of a "yellow fever atmosphere." So far the cases had been confined to remote quarters of the town — Rousseau Street, Tchoupitoulas Street, St. Thomas Street, the vicinity of the French Market, the upper and rear parts of the Fourth District. The situation was taken up in the City Council on July 27, and a resolution, written by a physician, was adopted deprecating all acts calculated to create alarm over the disease, "which is by many believed to be sporadic and confined almost exclusively to crowded localities."

    At that moment the number of deaths in the city averaged 100 per day; 1,500 persons had already perished of the disease. Already the total number of deaths had mounted to half those that had occurred in the epidemic of 1848 — till now the severest in the history of the city. The Council next created a temporary board of health, which set to work about August 1. It opened infirmaries at appropriate points; it published the vital statistics; but it was too late for preventive measures. A quarantine was established at Slaughterhouse (Algiers) Point. The weekly record of deaths has a painful

    onMouseOver="return Ebox(SourceErr+'intrest')"

    onMouseOut="nd();">interest: Beginning on August 1 with 142 deaths, of which 106 were due to yellow fever, the totals grew steadily till August 22, when the epidemic was at its height. In the week ending

    p177August 7 there were 1,186 deaths of which 909 were caused by yellow fever. In the following week there were 1,526 deaths, of which 1,288 were attributed to the "prevailing fever." The epidemic was now recognized as the worst that had ever occurred in New Orleans; but worse was in store. On August 22 the dead numbered 282 from all causes, — 239 from yellow fever; that is, one death every five minutes. After that, the mortality diminished daily, until on September 1 there were but 95 deaths of which only 65 were occasioned by the fever. On September 10 there were but 80 deaths; on the 20th, 49; on the 30th, 16. The disease lingered till December, and then disappeared.

    It is estimated that the total number of deaths between June 1 and October 1 were over 11,000. Between May 28 and September 1, there were 9,941 deaths from all causes, of which 7,189 were known to have resulted from yellow fever. There were, in addition, 344 deaths, the causes of which were not stated; a large proportion were probably due to the fever. The total number of deaths due to yellow fever in this year, is estimated at 7,434. These figures are confessedly incomplete. Hundreds were swept off without any record being made of them. Nor do these statistics include the ravages of the disease in the suburban towns of Carrollton, Algiers, Jefferson City, and Lafayette. It was especially virulent in Lafayette. In Algiers, in the week ending August 22, one-thirty-sixth of the total population died. Deducting the inhabitants who left at the first tidings of the outbreak of the fever, the mortality probably reached 10 percent of the population; a proportion which has rarely been exceeded, except in the Great Plague in London, where one out of every 13 persons perished, or in Philadelphia, in 1798, where yellow fever destroyed one out of every six persons. It is believed that there

    onMouseOver="return Ebox(SourceErr+'was')"

    onMouseOut="nd();">were about 30,000 cases of fever in New Orleans in the course of the summer of 1853.


    It is not necessary here to enlarge upon the appalling incidents which illustrated the progress of the epidemic. The weather, after a period of unseasonable coolness, became very hot; rains fell daily till the latter part of August. The streets became impassable, and vehicles freighted with the dead were unable to reach some of the cemeteries. Even the negroes, who usually were immune to the infection, succumbed in large numbers. The grave-diggers fled. "Alas," said one of the newspapers, commenting upon this lamentable fact, "we have not even grave diggers! Some of the dead went to the tomb with pomp and martial honors, but the city scavengers, too, with their carts, went knocking from house to house, asking if they were any to be buried. Long rows of coffins were laid in furrows scarce

    onMouseOver="return Ebox('60 cm',WIDTH,60)"

    onMouseOut="nd();"> two feet deep and hurriedly covered with a few shovelsful of earth, which the daily rains washed away, and which then were left "filling the air with the most pestilential odors.' "

    onMouseOut="nd();">12 Many "fell to work and buried their own dead." There were cases of sick who died in carriages on their way to the hospital; of others who were found dead in their beds, in stores, in the streets, and in other places. "It is vain to enumerate the numbers of cases families which were swept off. [. . .] Frequently, in families of means, three and four corpses were exposed in one room. [. . .] In one room the undertaker might

    p178be seen screwing down the coffin, while the heavy breathing of another member of the family in his or her dying agonies, could be heard from an adjoining room. [. . .]"

    onMouseOut="nd();">13 The details of the city reeking with filth — the bodies of vagrant dogs poisoned after the summer custom of the city authorities,

    onMouseOver="return Ebox(SourceErr+'putrifying')"

    onMouseOut="nd();">putrefying in the streets; the corpses of human beings abandoned unburied in the cemeteries; the futile firing of cannon and burning tar-barrels in the hope of "purifying the air," add horror to the picture of the desolate city. On the other hand, "Where in history can you find a more noble display of courage, fortitude, humanity, and true nobility of soul?" asked a writer in one of the northern magazines. "View the people at the very height of the epidemic, when death loomed out, overshadowing the whole city, and absorbing all other objects. Grief, sorrow, distress, for some departed or departing friend may be discerned upon the faces of that brave population. But there is no fear, no weak cowardice, no nervous timidity, no sneaking, no skulking in the expression or in the actions. All stood to their duties, to the call of affection, of friendship, of humanity. Business and family were forgotten; stores and dwellings were closed. The rich spent their nights by the humble cot of the sick poor; the poor watch at the downy couch of the rich. Masters tended unceasingly their sick servants, and employers performed the most menial services for their employees. The delicate forms of females, spirit-like, flitted in every direction. [. . .] Not a few of the ladies who had left to spend the summer at some of the fashionable resorts, returned as soon as they heard of the violence of the pestilence."


    A few other features of Crossman's administration require mention. Great interest was taken in 1850 in a project to construct a railroad across the Isthmus of Tehuantepec.

    onMouseOut="nd();">b The plan was backed by J. P. Benjamin, J. M. Lapeyre, and S. J. Peters. The hostility of the Mexican Government put an end to a project which, if realized, would have meant much to the city. It was revived in 1853 by Thomas Sloo, and two years after a stage-road was actually constructed from El Suchil to the city of Tehuantepec with New Orleans capital, and operated under New Orleans management; but the approach of the Civil war led eventually to the abandonment of the enterprise.

    Mayor Crossman took a prominent part in all efforts toward the building of railroads out of the city itself. His message to the General Council in 1850 contains a lucid statement of the advantages to be expected from the successful completion of such undertakings. In 1851 the first steps were taken towards the construction of the New Orleans, Opelousas & Great Western and the New Orleans, Jackson & Great Northern railroads. The actual work of construction was begun in 1852.

    The United States Customhouse was begun in 1848. The mayor was also an advocate of establishment of a United States naval depot at New Orleans. He originated the idea, and worked steadfastly

    onMouseOver="return Ebox(SourceErr+'through')"

    onMouseOut="nd();">though with small success for its realization. In 1854 for the first time a drainage-tax was imposed, with the idea of reclaiming all the swamp lands within the city limits. In 1846 the State Legislature passed an act removing the state capitol from New Orleans to Baton Rouge; the transfer,

    p179however, did not become effective till 1849. In 1847 houses of refuge were established for vagrants and juvenile delinquents, who had hitherto been herded in the common jails with ordinary criminals. In 1854 a further reform put an end to the public executions which had so long been a disgrace to the city; hereafter, it was ordered, they should take place within the Parish Prison, in the presence only of a small group of witnesses.

    Nor was there any lack of enterprises along the usual cultural lines, as shown by the incorporation of the Medico-Chirurgical Society, the French Society, and the establishment of the Medical College of New Orleans, in 1843. Four years later, a state university, with the title of University of Louisiana, was established in the city, the Medical College being merged in it, and an academic department added. For the erection of buildings $25,000 was appropriated in 1847 and $15,000 additional in 1855, and a site on Common Street, at the corner of Baronne, was donated. In 1850 the Mechanics Society began the erection of the celebrated Mechanics Institute, on a site on Dryades Street, near Canal which the state provided for its use. In 1857 St. Mary's Orphan Asylum was incorporated.

    Commercially, too, the city's annals were eventful. In 1845 the question of the relationship of the State to the city banks was settled, by an agreement under which the State relinquished all of its rights to interfere with the management of these institutions, based upon its possession of their stock; and in consideration of this concession, was relieved of $3,000,000 of indebtedness. The city at the same time retired its outstanding "promises to pay," issued under the stress of the panic of 1837. The liquidation of bankrupt companies of one sort or another continued, however, through the years 1847-1850. The renewed prosperity of the city led it after 1851 to forget to some degree the rude lessons it had previously received; for we find symptoms of a revival of the old reckless habits of franchise-mongering in the ordinance granting to the Lafayette & Lake Pontchartrain Railroad the right to run its tracks virtually without restriction through the city streets and public squares; and of the incorporation of a project to connect the Mississippi River with Lake Borgne with a water-way running into Bayou Bienvenu — a commercial project, which, happily, was never carried out.

    It was Crossman's wish to retire from office at the end of his third term, but inasmuch as the new charter had by that date been put in operation and it was desirable that there should be at the head of the administration during the period of transition from one form of government to another, a man possessing his long and varied experience, he consented at the solicitation of his friends, to permit his name again to go before the people. The election involved one of the most vigorous campaigns that the city had seen. The whig convention met on March 6, 1852, in a building at the corner of Exchange Alley and Customhouse, with M. C. Edwards presiding. There was no opposition to Crossman for mayor. Under the new charter the convention was called on to make nominations for city treasurer, comptroller, street commissioner and city surveyor. For these offices they chose, respectively, W. H. Garland, O. DeBuys, J. Jolles and L. H. Pili. Four recorders also were to be named and the convention settled upon the Messrs. Shields, J. L. Fabre, Joseph Solomon and W. W. Vaught. The importance of the election was recognized at the meeting, as well as in the press of the following

    p180day. "The party that carries the city will probably carry the State," remarked the Bee, in an attempt to forecast the results of the impending gubernatorial contest.

    onMouseOut="nd();">15 The Picayune had another reason. "This charter," it said, in a long editorial, "is to New Orleans what a newly-discovered remedy is to the patient suffering from a long protracted and wearing malady. Whatever the curative quality of the remedy, it might as well have not been concocted, if confided to quacks or ignoramuses."

    onMouseOut="nd();">16 Both sides, whigs and democrats, on each of these reasons, determined to make the election a test of strength.

    The democrats named their ticket on March 12. The convention met at Holt's House, on Gravier Street, and organized, with Colonel Oakey as its president. Its sessions were executive, even the reporters of the daily newspapers, much to their disgust, being excluded from the meeting. The delegates nominated Gen. J. L. Lewis for mayor, and the other four leading places on the ticket were filled by the selection of Messrs. Duncan, Calhoun, Stehle and Grant. For the recorderships they named Messrs. Winter, Genois, Seuzeneau and Bouligny. A full list of aldermanic nominations was, of course, appended.

    The nomination did not give entire satisfaction. The whigs were greatly incensed to find on the democratic ticket the name of Calhoun, who, till then, had been known as an active worker in their own ranks. The Creoles were offended at the democratic ticket because, with the exception of the mayor, all the nominees were residents of the upper part of the city. "The ancient population was passed by with contempt," exclaimed their slogan, in a burst of bitter rage.

    onMouseOut="nd();">17 Finally, there was among the independent voters considerable objection to the candidacy of Garland.

    These sentiments led to the organization of an independent movement, under the leadership of James Robb, a prominent banker. The first meeting of the new faction was held on March 14th but ended in a disorderly manner, when the lights were turned off and the gathering dispersed in darkness. The addresses, so far as completed, on this occasion, expressed strong disapproval of the whole theory of party nominations in municipal affairs. Both whig and democratic tickets, it was said, represented the triumph of this idea. On March 16 the independents published their list of candidates. They included no names for mayor, street commissioner, nor city surveyor. For city treasurer G. Y. Bright was nominated. For city comptroller John Calhoun, the democratic nominee, was endorsed. For the Council the nominees were selected in part from the whig, in part from the democratic tickets, and included a few new names, like Montgomery and Duncan, who were not on either of the tickets of the old parties.

    The city press was divided as to the merit of this movement. The Bee, the Crescent, and the Bulletin attacked it. The first named held that it violated political etiquette; it should have preceded the nominating convention.

    onMouseOut="nd();">18 It illustrates how far the

    onMouseOver="return Ebox(SourceErr+'principal')"

    onMouseOut="nd();">principle of party organization had been accepted, that this staid old journal, which had so long and so stubbornly fought the democrats over that very issue, was now attempting to vindicate it. The editor saw in the new movement nothing to

    p181benefit the whigs, but much to injure them. It would draw away votes from the party candidate, and in that way make likely the election of Lewis. The Picayune affected an attitude of impartiality, but leaned to the side of the organized parties. Only the True Delta rallied enthusiastically to the support of the independents; while as for the Courier, which was an out-and-out democratic paper, it rejoiced at what it considered a split in the whig ranks.

    What lent bitterness to the struggle was the fact that under the new charter the mayor became head of the police force, with power to appoint 300 or more patrolmen. It was recognized that whichever party landed its candidate for mayor would control this desirable patronage. With it a strong machine could be built up for use in the gubernatorial election in the autumn. Both sides, therefore, made strenuous efforts to bring out its full vote. The election took place on March 22 and resulted, on the whole, in a great whig victory. For mayor Crossman received 4,993 votes and Lewis 4,877. For city treasurer Garland received 4,580; Duncan 4,131; and Bright 1,106. DeBuys was elected comptroller by 4,949 votes over Calhoun with 4,849. Jolles succeeded in being chosen street commissioner over Stehle by a vote of 4,302 to 4,252. Pili's vote for city surveyor was 5,673 as against Grant's 4,105. For recorders the results were: Winter, 2,276; Genois, 1,672; Seuzeneau, 559; Vaught, 453. The defeated candidates for the recorderships were Shields, who received 1,983 votes; Fabre, 1,148; Solomon, 464; Bouligny, 434; Collins, 471. The successful candidates for aldermen were: First District, James Robb, W. P. Converse, James Stockton, E. W. Sewell, Arnold Harris; Second District, G. Clark, E. X. Giquel, W. A. Gasquet, Doctor Labatut; Third District, W. C. C. Claiborne, J. J. Lugenbuhl; and Fourth District, J. M. Burke. Among these Sewell, Harris, Gasquet, Labatut and Lugenbuhl were democrats. The Board of Assistant Aldermen was whig by a large majority, that party having won twenty-one members out of twenty-seven. In tabulating the result the following days, the newspapers gave the results as: whig, one recorder, seven aldermen and twenty-one assistant aldermen; democrat, three recorders, five aldermen and six assistant aldermen.

    The only effect which the independent movement had, apparently, was to bring about the defeat of two whig candidates for the council, one of whom, I. N. Marks, was prominent in the city from the fact that as president of the Firemen's Charitable Association he was practically head of the city fire department. The Bee loudly declared that the insurgent faction was whig almost to a man, and that its activities had resulted in the loss to Crossman of hundreds of votes. "But for the independent vote, Lewis would have been literally nowheres," observed the scrutinizing editor; and rejoiced that the effort to defeat Garland had failed to affect "an able and faithful public servant."


    After retiring from office under the provisions of the new charter forbidding the immediate re-election of a mayor, Crossman continued to serve the municipality down to the outbreak of the Civil war in one capacity or the other, principally as a member of the City Council.

    The Author’s Notes


    City Directory, 1852.

    [decorative delimiter]


    Bee, April 6, 1846.

    [decorative delimiter]


    Bee, April 8, 1846.

    [decorative delimiter]


    Bee, March 30, 1848.

    [decorative delimiter]


    Bee, April 22, 1850.

    [decorative delimiter]


    Waring and Cable, Social Statistics of Cities, Reports on New Orleans, 53.

    [decorative delimiter]


    Ibid., 54.

    [decorative delimiter]


    M. J. White, "The New Orleans Riot of 1851 — Its Causes and Its International Significance," in the Tulane Graduates Magazine, April, 1914.

    [decorative delimiter]


    Report of the Commissioners of the Consolidated Debt, 1855.

    [decorative delimiter]


    Act 71 of 1852.

    [decorative delimiter]


    "History and Incidents of the Plague in New Orleans," Harper's Magazine, Vol. VII, June-November, 1853, pp797-806. See also Cable, "The Creoles of Louisiana," p300 ff.

    [decorative delimiter]


    Cable, "The Creoles of Louisiana," 300.

    [decorative delimiter]


    Harper's Magazine, 805. See also Picayune, August 23, 1853; Delta, September 4, 1853. The former chronicles the death of an entire family named Wolff, father, mother, two children, and a grandchild; the latter, of the entire Groves family.

    [decorative delimiter]


    Harper's Magazine, 800.

    [decorative delimiter]


    Bee, March 8, 1852.

    [decorative delimiter]


    Picayune, March 6, 1852.

    [decorative delimiter]


    Bee, March 13, 1852.

    [decorative delimiter]


    Bee, March 13, 1852.

    [decorative delimiter]


    Bee, March 24, 1852.


    1. Androscoggin River a river in Maine and New Hampshire, in northern New England.
    2. Lake Pontchartrain located in southeastern Louisiana.
    3. emoluments A salary or fee.

    Chapter XI The Lewis and Waterman Administrations

    "The mayor is only nominally head of the city government," observed the Picayune, in an editorial on the local political situation, published early in 1854.

    onMouseOut="nd();">1 The occasion of this pronouncement was a proviso inserted in the State constitution in 1853, by which the control of the city police had been removed from the mayor's hands and confided to a board. The mayor, it is true, was a member of this board; but he sat with the four recorders, and it was thus always possible for a combination of three subordinate officers of the government to eliminate him as a factor in the control of the force and dominate the entire administration of justice in the primary courts of the city. As the Picayune went on to point out, hitherto, under the act of consolidation of the three municipalities, the mayor had made the appointments of all policemen, by and with the consent of the Council. This system was, in effect, less arbitrary than the new board management, inasmuch as, while it concentrated authority, it also concentrated responsibility. A prime objection to the existing system was, that the recorders were judicial officers; by adding police functions to their other powers they were in the position of first arresting offenders against the law and then sitting in judgment upon those arrested — ? a situation which obviously invited criticism.

    This question of the control of the police force recurred at intervals in the political history of the city for nearly forty years thereafter. It was one of the principal motives of the city charters which substituted for one another in fairly rapid succession. The consolidating charter of 1852 endured only till 1856 and was then modified in this essential matter, as well as in certain others, in an effort to undo the mischief wrought by the Legislature in the interim. Lack of positive control over the police force may probably be blamed for the riotous scenes which disgraced the municipal election of 1854. The relation between these disturbances and the relaxed discipline of the force under board management seems to have been noticed at once; for the question of the reform of the police force was the first matter brought to the attention of the new mayor, General Lewis, when he went into office on April 10, 1854.


<p>[image ALT: A photograph of a balding man in a U. S. Federal Army uniform. It is J. L. Lewis, a 19c mayor of New Orleans.]</p>


    Mayor J. L. Lewis

    Lewis who, on this occasion, succeeded Crossman as mayor, had been identified with the history of the city since the cession of the Province of Louisiana by France to the United States. Born in Lexington, Kentucky, in March, 1800, he was brought to New Orleans when only three years of age. His parents were among the earliest settlers in Kentucky. His father obtained large grants of land there in consideration of his services as a soldier in the Revolutionary war. When the United States acquired the vast new province of Louisiana, the elder Lewis was appointed judge of the Supreme Court of the Territory of Orleans. The family made an eventful journey down the Mississippi River in a "keel" boat, from Louisville to New Orleans. In this city

    p183they made their home thereafter. The boy was educated here under the famous teacher, François d'Hemecourt, and at the academy of Rev. James F. Hull, the distinguished rector of the Episcopalian Church, which then stood on Canal Street.

    At the age of 18 young Lewis left school to begin the study of law in his father's office. During the remainder of his life he was intimately connected with the legal profession in the city. His first political employment was as assistant clerk under Martin Gordon, then clerk of the First Judicial District Court of Louisiana. In 1826 Gordon resigned his post in favor of Lewis. A year later the young man married. He was exceedingly happy in his home life. Three children were born to him. But in 1833 the scarlet fever attacked wife and children and within a few days of one another all of them died. This terrible loss profoundly affected Lewis' life. He sought relief from his sorrow in business and public activities. Thenceforth he mingled more and more aggressively in local politics. His pleasant manners and winning personality made him extremely popular. He showed great aptitude for military matters. But for his father's opposition he would have chosen the army as a career rather than the law. He now became a member of the local volunteers, rose rapidly from rank to rank, and finally was appointed inspector-general of the First Division of Louisiana Militia — ? in which

    p184capacity he was charged with the oversight of all the numerous volunteer organizations in the city. In 1842 he was elected to command this division and thereafter repeatedly re-elected.

    The State constitution of 1854 was influenced by the popular enthusiasm for "government by the people" and went far in that direction. Virtually all officers were made elective. Among them was that of sheriff of the Parish of Orleans. General Lewis became a candidate for this office on an independent ticket. His knowledge of local law and his large practical experience fitted him for the post in a special manner. His election followed as a matter of course, and he served with distinction for two successive terms. His re-election was attended by an exciting contest. In 1852 he went to the State Senate for one term. He was a candidate for mayor in 1852, but was defeated. His nomination two years later for the same position was a recognition of his exceptional abilities and long public service.

    onMouseOut="nd();">2 His name was presented to the democratic convention on March 7, when it convened for the purpose, and was accepted without opposition.

    The latter part of Crossman's administration seems to have been characterized by a notable decline in efficiency. As the elections approached we find the Bee and the Bulletin filled with uncontradicted indictments of the city government. "We know that we are badly governed," said the former paper, in March; "that our city has been ruled by the despotism of faction; that fair and equitable principles, sound policy, equal justice, and the rights of the minority have been ruthlessly sacrificed to the domination of a clique, which has seized upon and maintained power through the hateful employment of means so flagitious and corrupting as to have rendered us a hissing and a scorn in the eyes of the upright, well-organized communities."

    onMouseOut="nd();">3 "Two years ago," added the Bulletin, "the bonds of the city were above par; now they are from 6 to 8 percent below. Why? The interest has been punctually paid; the city has grown steadily richer. But a city which is governed as events have shown ours can be governed, is bound to sink into insolvency, and degrade itself to the level of tacit repudiation."

    onMouseOut="nd();">4 "The city is miserably governed," resumed the Bee, a few weeks later. "Party legislation has alone prevailed. The contract system is a source of vile depravity and corruption; efforts to banish elections from groggeries and bar rooms are systematically flouted and derided [. . .] the improvidence, recklessness, prodigality, inexperience and ignorance of the Council have [. . .] injured the city. [. . .] Its credit is tottering"; and much more, to the same effect.


    The most serious accusations, because, as the event demonstrated, the best founded, related to the police. In recommending certain persons for election as recorders, the Bee guaranteed that, if they were put into office, "the police of our city would be essentially remodeled. We have not met a reform democrat who does not participate" in the movement "in the hope that this result will be attained. The police, as at present organized, is a source of universal and well-founded complaint [. . .] a powerful, well-disciplined, and unscrupulous electioneering machine, employed by a skillful and reckless management to influence

    p185doubtful contests and compel the ballot box to render a democratic verdict. [. . .] A mighty and odious despotism, which has been foisted upon the community."

    onMouseOut="nd();">6 It appears that the policemen were used by the political leaders to spy upon their enemies. Members of the force stationed at the door of the meeting place of any opposing faction kept tab on those attending; and pressure was then applied to induce these persons to alter their party allegiance. "It only remains for the police to be armed with discretionary powers to arrest any individual at their supreme wills and pleasure, without the necessity of legal process."

    onMouseOut="nd();">7 At the same time all the newspapers carried eulogistic notices of the retiring mayor. The Picayune, for instance, commended his modesty and ability and praised the work for the city. It is, at first blush, difficult to reconcile these commendations of the individual with the prevailing outspoken censures of the administration. But we must recognize that the objection really was to the "machine" which controlled the city, in which the mayor appears to have had no place. The object of this organization had been, so far, principally to control the city vote for use in State elections; in fact, up to this time the municipal elections had been tolerably orderly, whereas, as we shall have occasion to point out in a subsequent chapter, the State elections were frequently of a nature amounting almost to revolution. Moreover, the same faction, working through the State Legislature, had recently stripped the mayor of real power; the facts complained of, therefore, were not imputable to him, although features of his administration. This conclusion is supported by the recurrence in the opposition newspapers of complaints about the introduction of State and National issues in municipal elections, and the use of State and National patronage to make sure of the city vote for the benefit of the "machine."

    A call signed by 700 representative citizens for a mass meeting to name an anti-machine municipal ticket, to be held on March 16th, appeared in the Bulletin on the 14th inst. Among the signers were H. M. Summers, G. W. Lawrason, J. B. Leefe, J. E. Caldwell, J. O. Nixon, F. E. Southmayd, Julien Neville, J. B. Walton, and others whose names were long prominent in New Orleans affairs. The Courier, commenting upon the signers, declared that there were "precious few" democrats in the list, and that majority were "whig wirepullers."

    onMouseOut="nd();">8 The meeting, however, took place and was attended pretty largely, as even the Courier reluctantly confessed. F. A. Lumsden, one of the editors of the Picayune, presided; and among those who made addresses or figured on the committee on resolutions were Colonel Christy, a veteran of the War of 1812; Doctor Harman, J. O. Woodruff and G. A. Fosdick. A complete city ticket was presented and ratified enthusiastically. For mayor, J. W. Breedlove was nominated; for city treasurer, W. H. Garland; for comptroller, O. DeBuys; for street commissioner, A. S. Phelps; for city surveyor, L. H. Pilié. All of these, except Phelps, were whigs, and many had held office with credit to themselves under Crossman. For recorders, H. M. Summers, J. L. Fabre and H. D. Keene were endorsed; and the following names were put up for the council: Board of Aldermen — ? Charles Pride, N. E. Bailey, James

    p186Prague, John Pemberton, George Clark, P. H. Gordon, and Jesse E. Gilmore; Board of Assistant Aldermen — ? J. L. Levy, Colonel Campbell, F. W. Delesdernier, Wm. Bloomfield, Sr., A. W. Cooper, C. G. Barkley, Henry Lathrop, B. T. K. Bennett, L. H. Place, W. E. Seymour, F. A. Conant, John Fox, Gerard Stith, Newton Richards, W. S. Howell, A. Boudousquie, Henry Peychaud, J. Tuyès, P. E. Laresche, C. W. Whitehall, P. C. Wright, John McLean, Miles Taylor, William Reed, Isaac Taylor, W. H. Reese.

    In this way was launched the first definite reform movement in the history of New Orleans. The "independent" movement of two years before was initiated as a protest chiefly against the candidacy of one man; it did not nominate a full city ticket, and its failure was due principally to the fact that it was launched after the nominations of the regular parties had been made. Now, however, for the first time, an independent reform movement was set up in strict conformity to the etiquette in such matters; it was staged at a proper moment, and was accepted by the opposition, as complying fully with all the conditions requisite to the full-fledged political organization. In fact, now for the first time reform became a definite issue in a city campaign, with organizations both for and against; and this issue, in one form or another — ? with the exception of the epoch of the Civil war and reconstruction, when the issue was in reality one of race — ? was destined to be a vital one in local politics thenceforward to the present day.


<p>[image ALT: A photograph of a rather attractive man of about 35, with a full mop of hair and sideburns just below the ear, stylishly dressed in a jacket with a high cravat. It is James W. Breedlove, an unsuccessful candidate for mayor of New Orleans in the mid-19c.]</p>


    James Breedlove

    James W. Breedlove, who headed the reform ticket, was a "time-honored veteran," as the Bee called him. He was an intimate friend and correspondent of Andrew Jackson. He was president of the Atchafalaya Bank. He was a man of great wealth and influence. He had been for many years one of the leaders of the democratic party in the state. He was, however, not a "ring" man, as the phrase went in those days. His acceptance of the nomination for mayor was acclaimed by the Bee as an evidence that "the people of New Orleans were resolved to break down party lines [. . .] and support men of standing, intelligence, and character."

    onMouseOut="nd();">9 The Bee flattered itself with having engineered the movement, but other papers of influence, like the Bulletin, the Crescent, and the Picayune, which promptly rallied to its support, were entitled to some share of the credit. The opposition press ridiculed the movement and said that it was directed against the naturalized citizen and the Catholic Church. It was a revival of the know-nothing party. It was pointed out as proof of this allegation that on the ticket then was not a single person born outside of the United States.

    onMouseOut="nd();">10 It was an attempt to reanimate the "defunct" whig party. Finally it was said that the ticket had been made up secretly by a group of four or five whig leaders. The Bee insisted that it had been really prepared after long consultation with men prominent in both the whig and the democratic parties.

    onMouseOut="nd();">11 It insisted that this did not parallel the democratic caucus method of making nominations, but inasmuch as the entire slate was printed on the day before the ratification meeting was held at which it was

    onMouseOver="return Ebox(SourceErr+'formerly')"

    onMouseOut="nd();">formally put in nomination, the difficult of method is not apparent.


    The election took place on March 27th. It was complicated by the arrival on that day of ex-President Fillmore, who paid a short visit to New Orleans in the course of a tour of the South. An elaborate parade was given in his honor, but the reception with which the day was to close was, on account of the election, postponed till the 29th. No doubt the entertainment kept away from the polls many persons who would otherwise have voted. There was, however, no lack of incident. Below Canal Street, in the French part of the city, the election was orderly, but great excitement prevailed above that thoroughfare. In the First District two men, one a policeman, were killed in rows at the polls. In several Precincts rowdies took possession of the polls and held them during most of the day. At various other points there was a good deal of fighting and some bloodshed. The papers on the following day complained that the police put no restraint on "the brutality of the crowds." Citizens who challenged the right of certain persons to vote, were set upon, beaten, and driven away from the booths.

    At dusk the reform watchers at the Seventh Precinct poll left, having ascertained that the total vote cast was 932. A little later they were informed that the commissioners who were counting had already tabulated 1,400 votes for the democratic ticket. They returned in order to make an examination. Night had fallen. The door of the booth was

    p188closed. Admission was refused. They then forced their way in and were greeted by a volley of pistol shots. Several men fell wounded, among them Chief of Police O'Leary. A hot fight followed, in the course of which the ballot box was broken, and its contents scattered to the four winds. The police were accused of participating in the attack on the reform watchers here.

    The killing of the policeman, Mochlin, resulted from a somewhat similar incident. Early in the afternoon the rough way in which voters were being treated in the First District, became generally known and a number of the reform leaders hurried to the spot. An attempt was made to expel them and the reform watchers from the vicinity of the poll, but it failed. Mochlin then organized a gang of rowdies, burst into the booth, and a free fight followed, in which he was tabbed and fell dying to the floor, while the remainder of his party was driven off, carrying several injured men with them.


    The personal popularity of Lewis once more secured his election. He received 6,899 votes, against 4,382 for Breedlove. The democrats elected Seuzeneau, Ramos and Jackson recorders. These successes assured them control of the police Board, and thus perpetuated some of

    onMouseOver="return Ebox(SourceOm0)"

    onMouseOut="nd();">the worst abuses against which the reform movement was directed. But otherwise the entire reform ticket was elected. DeBuys, Garland and Pilié defeated P. G. Collins, D. J. Ker, and Hugh Grant, the democratic candidates. Summers was chosen recorder in the First District in preference to Winter. Phelps defeated Patrick Cummings for street commissioner. All the reform candidates for the council were elected. On the whole, the first serious reform campaign in the city's history may be said to have been successful.

    As mayor, Lewis signalized himself by taking an active and very creditable part in promoting the building of railroads out of the city. In this respect New Orleans had, till now, been sadly deficient. As we shall see in a subsequent chapter, the construction of new routes of overland transport in the Middle West was affecting injuriously her commerce. Some appreciation of this fact led two enterprising Louisianians, M. W. Hoffman and Clark Woodruff, in 1835, to obtain a charter for the construction of a railroad to Nashville; but the company suffered shipwreck after constructing only

    onMouseOver="return Ebox('32 km',WIDTH,60)"

    onMouseOut="nd();">? twenty miles of road, and this track, which, if preserved, might have been very useful to the city, even in its fragmentary state, was suffered to fall into disrepair, and in a few years disappeared utterly. Mayor Crossman, as we have seen, addressed himself earnestly to the task of reviving interest in railroad building. To him is due largely the impulse which led, in 1850, to a meeting in New Orleans with this object in view. In April, 1851, another meeting strengthened the interest in the matter. James Robb, the well known capitalist, took an active part in the deliberations. A bonus of $100,000 was offered to any company which would undertake to build a road to Pointe Coupée. About the same time, a similar agitation in the Attakapas country resulted in a determination to build a railroad down to New Orleans; and Maunsell White, a prominent New Orleans business man, engineered a meeting in favor of this project. Further support for the railroad idea was supplied by Glendy Burke, then a member of the city government, who, in 1851, fathered a resolution adopted by the

    p189council proposing a convention of representatives from the Southern and Western States at which the idea might be fully ventilated. A committee was appointed which visited various parts of the South and stirred up interest in railroads.

    On this committee was C. S. Tapley, who used the data then accumulated to prepared a series of articles published in the local press in 1852 urging the building of a railroad from New Orleans to Jackson, Mississippi. A meeting of delegates from Louisiana and Mississippi at Monticello, Louisiana, resulted in the appointment of committees, which seem to have done useful work in keeping the project before the public.

    At this time Louisiana had

    onMouseOver="return Ebox('101 km',WIDTH,72)"

    onMouseOut="nd();">? sixty-three miles of railroad actually in operation, including the Carrollton and the Pontchartrain railroads, each

    onMouseOver="return Ebox('about 10 km',WIDTH,132)"

    onMouseOut="nd();">? six miles long, both merely local to New Orleans. It was now proposed to build two roads, one north to Holly Springs, Tennessee, Kentucky, and the Ohio River; the other west, to Texas and, it was hoped, ultimately to Mexico. The former enterprise was incorporated in 1851 by the Legislature of the State of Mississippi, under the name of the New Orleans & Jackson Railroad, and by July of that year, had $500,000 available for construction work. The latter scheme took form in the following year, under the title of the New Orleans, Opelousas & Great Western Railroad, with a capital stock of $3,000,000, divided into shares of $25 each. The former road was subsequently incorporated by the Louisiana Legislature under the name of the New Orleans, Jackson & Great Northern Railroad Company, with a capital of $3,000,000.

    Work on the New Orleans, Opelousas & Great Northern Railroad began in August, 1852. The first section, from Algiers to Lafourche Crossing, a distance of

    onMouseOver="return Ebox('84 km',WIDTH,60)"

    onMouseOut="nd();">? fifty-two miles, was finished on November 6, 1854; the second, to Tigersville, on October 15, 1855; and the third, to Berwick's Bay, on April 12, 1857. There the work stopped till after the Civil war. The building of these

    onMouseOver="return Ebox('129 km',WIDTH,72)"

    onMouseOut="nd();">? eighty miles of railroad involved a financial exploit of considerable magnitude. The state gave the enterprise some assistance by subscribing to a block of stock; but certain lands donated by Congress never came into the company's possession, and the aid extended by the City of New Orleans, although generous, came late. At the suggestion of Mayor Crossman the city agreed to tax itself a large amount for the benefit of this road, to be paid in six annual installments. A similar course was adopted in order that the city might give necessary assistance to the New Orleans, Jackson & Great Northern. These taxes were put on real estate, and were expected to yield a total of $3,500,000. It proved difficult to calculate in advance the amount to be derived from this source, and banking capital, which was essential to the prosecution of the work, was timid about embarking in the enterprise under such circumstances. Mayor Lewis, therefore, was compelled, as one of the first problems of his administration, to consider some new expedient by which the roads might be helped without putting too large a burden upon the citizens. His solution was for the city to take at once $3,500,000 in the stock of these two roads, paying for it with the proceeds of a bond issue of like amount. This scheme was approved on April 21, 1854. The city subscribed to $1,500,000 stock in the New Orleans, Opelousas & Great Western, and to $2,000,000 stock in the New Orleans, Jackson & Great Northern Railroad.

    onMouseOut="nd();">13 These bonds were paid many

    p190years later by the city; its stock was ultimately sold, and what might, under happier auspices, have proven a wonderfully valuable investment, never advantaged New Orleans at all, except insofar as these roads have contributed to the upbuilding of its commerce.

    Under Lewis two important enterprises for the beautification of the city require mention. They were the completion of the Jackson statue, and the inauguration of the movement which resulted in the erection of the Clay statue, unveiled in 1860. The former was unveiled February 9, 1856. What was known as the Jackson Monument Association was organized January 11, 1851, with A. D. Crossman as president. In 1852 the association obtained a charter from the State Legislature. That body at the same time appropriated $10,000 to pay the expenses of the proposed statue. The site in the Place d'Armes had been chosen because in 1840 Jackson had placed there the corner stone of what was intended to be a monument in memory of the battle of New Orleans. At the time of making the appropriation for the Jackson monument, the Legislature set aside $5,000 for the Chalmette monument, and declared that the motive of its action in both cases was "the gratitude of Louisiana" and the wish "to commemorate the achievements of the hero to whose military genius and patriotic devotion in the hour of her darkest peril she owes the triumph which preserved her chief city from capture by an invading enemy and which illustrates the brightest page in her history."

    The cornerstone laid by Jackson was now transferred to a position in the new pedestal which was being erected by Newton Richards, of New Orleans. In the corner stone, which was opened for the purpose, were placed a volume of the Code of Louisiana, one of the city laws, a cannon ball from the battlefield of 1815, and some historical memoranda. Similar articles were at the same time placed in the corner stone of the Chalmette monument, the erection of which it was now proposed to carry to completion. The commission for making the Jackson statue was entrusted to Clark Mills, the well known sculptor, on June 15, 1853. Mills had recently completed a statue of Jackson for Washington. His work was greatly admired. What was wanted for New Orleans was a replica of this work. The statue was finished by December, 1855. It was planned to unveil it in the following month, on the anniversary of the battle. The completed bronze was shipped by a sailing vessel, but delayed by contrary winds, it did not reach the city till January 6th, and the program was perforce postponed till February 9th.


    The ceremony of February 9th was made an occasion of great festivity. "Business was in a great measure suspended and the streets literally swarmed with the population in holiday attire. The military, firemen, the local societies, and other civic bodies turned out in full uniform and regalia, with banners and music, under the leadership of General Tracy, and formed into a procession which actually seemed interminable. This procession once under way, the widely-scattered multitude began to concentrate in the direction of Jackson Square and, when at noonday the concentration came to a focus, the square and its vicinity formed a spectacle such as never before was seen in New Orleans and probably will not again be seen for many a year. [. . .] It is estimated that the falling of the canvas was witnessed by at least 25,000 people. Those of the spectators who must have enjoyed the spectacle most, and who

    p191were themselves not the least interesting part of the spectacle, were the veterans of 1815, those who shared the glory of him to whom they were now paying posthumous honor. They had the places of honor in the procession and were assigned an honorable position in the square. The colored veterans of the same famous occasion were also out, headed by their fellow veteran, the incomparable drummer, Jordan Little. Upon a platform appropriately decorated in front of the statue, the ceremony of inauguration took place. Ex-Mayor Crossman, president of the Monument Association, introduced L. J. Sigur, Esq., to the multitude as the orator of the day. Mr. Sigur made an appropriate address, reviewing the life of his hero as warrior and as the chief of a great people, and was interrupted by the frequent applause of those who were able to hear him. When he concluded a man by the pedestal pulled the string, the canvas fell, and the bronze figure of the warrior, upon his rampant war steed, glittered in the light of the sun. Instantaneously a deafening cheer arose, and the hats of the multitude were raised aloft, the various bands of music joined in a chorus of the most inspiring music, and a salute of 100 guns given with cannon on the levee awoke the echoes far and near. Subsequently ex-Mayor Crossman introduced Clark Mills, Esq., the designer and builder of the statue, to the assemblage, which he then addressed. [. . .] Mr. Mills was loudly cheered. After that General Plauché stepped forward and announced that the ceremonies were at an end. Subsequently, the venerable Bernard Marigny addressed the multitude in French, in a very spirited and appropriate manner, and came off with vociferous applause. A large portion of the crowd remained in the square for hours, admiring and criticizing the statue.

    onMouseOut="nd();">15 That night a banquet was given at the St. Charles Hotel, at which Mills and various local celebrities were present, and addresses were made which the ingenuous chronicler quoted above regretted that he had not space to report in full.

    Work on the Clay statue was begun on April 13, 1856. A site in Canal Street was chosen in order that the effect of a somewhat similar monument in Montreal, which the committee admired, might be attained. The inaugural ceremony included an oration by Judge McCaleb, an ode by Mark Bigney, an address written by Mme. O. W. LeVert and a dinner given by the Continental Guards to the military organization from Mobile, which took part in the celebration.

    The problem of the police was pressed upon Lewis' attention immediately after he took office. But under the circumstances it was impossible for him to do anything to correct the evils which admittedly existed in the force. Two years later, the Legislature furnished the city with a new charter the motive of which was, specifically, to cure this trouble. The act conformed closely to the project submitted to the Board of Aldermen, in 1855, by one of its members, Mr. Durell. It did not change the existing municipal divisions, nor the number of recorders. The council, as before, consisted of aldermen and assistant aldermen — ? the former limited to nine, three from the First District, and two from each of the others; the latter to fifteen, to be chosen by wards. The members of the council were to hold office for two years, half of the aldermen to hold over each year, and eight of the assistants one year, and seven the next year, and so on alternately. The assistant aldermen

    p192were to be chosen at the first election, as follows: Two from each ward in the First District, two from the Fourth Ward in the Second District, and one from each of the remaining wards in that district; and one from each ward in the Third and Fourth districts.

    The executive power remained vested in the mayor, the four recorders, a treasurer, a comptroller, a city surveyor, a street commissioner, a board of assessors, and a board of supervisors of assessors. The mayor, comptroller, street commissioner, and one class of aldermen and assistant aldermen were to be elected biennially on the first Monday in June. The common council was empowered to elect the treasurer, surveyor, city attorney, and assistant city attorney, all to serve for two years. The council likewise selected the board of assessors — ? twelve in number — ? while the board of supervisors of assessors was to be composed of the mayor, and the chairmen of the finance committees of the city council. The assessors were to be chosen within one month after the organization of the council and were to hold office till the second Monday in January, 1859. Thereafter they were to be elected in the month of December, 1858, and every two years subsequently.

    With regard to the police, the charter provided: "The mayor [. . .] shall be ex-officio justice and conservator of the peace; he shall appoint police officers, policemen and watchmen, under the ordinances of the common council organizing the same, and discharge the same at pleasure; and in case of the discharge of any officer of police, he shall communicate the fact of such discharge to the common council at their first meeting after such discharge; and he shall alone control and make regulations for the police officers, policemen, and watchmen." This had the effect of concentrating in the mayor's hands anew the complete control over this important branch of the city government.

    The other important provisions in the charter may be described. All real and personal property in New Orleans was made subject to taxation, excepting State and United States property, colleges, academies, poor houses, hospitals, and incorporated benevolent institutions. Incomes were to be taxed on all amounts in excess of $1,000, and household furniture when its value exceeded $500. But the entire tax, for any purpose whatsoever, could not exceed 1 percent except in case of insurrection or invasion. There were also detailed provisions as to the payment of salaries of city officers. The mayor was to receive not less than $4,000 or more than $5,000. The precise amount of his compensation was to be fixed by the council. The salaries of the recorders were settled at $2,500 per annum. The surveyor, city attorney, and street commissioner, each were to receive an annual salary of $3,000. The chairmen of the finance committees of the common council were to receive $200 per month.

    The common council had power to issue licenses, payable from the 1st to the 31st of January. If unpaid, the city was to have a lien on the property, and to be empowered to obtain a writ of provisional seizure. All other taxes were payable between the months of March and May. Tax bills remaining unpaid were to pay 1 percent per month interest, should be put in suit and advertised, the advertisement serving as a citation. The fees of the assistant city attorney were to consist of a percentage on the accounts of delinquent tax payers.

    The remaining provisions referred to the paving and banqueting of streets, the opening of new streets, the consolidated and railroad taxes,

    p193which were unaltered; the fiscal agent, the public school system, etc. There were few or no changes in these provisions. An important section provided for an annual budget of expenditures. Finally, it was provided that, this budget once adopted, no further appropriations should be made.


    The reform council did a great deal to clear up a bad situation in the city finances. In 1853 a democratic council had come into power. It started on a program of improvement which, while highly commendable in itself, was beyond the resources of the community at the moment. It projected in that year public improvements to cost $452,000, with extensions and repairs to the wharfs to the amount of $222,000. A failure to collect the full amount of the anticipated revenues from taxation crippled these enterprises and left a considerable debt. The reform council of 1854 found itself hampered by these obligations, with regard to which it could do little except wait for their expiration, in the meantime reducing expenses wherever possible. To meet the costs involved, the tax rate was raised, a fact which, although it occasioned some complaint, did not discredit the reform movement, inasmuch as at the council election of 1855 virtually both the aldermanic boards were re-elected on that issue.

    The report of the finance committee published in July, 1855, showed that in the previous January the floating debt of the city in treasury warrants and matured liabilities amounted, all told, to $556,546.41. Every dollar of this large sum had been paid in the interval, except about $10,000 in securities which had not yet been presented for redemption at the treasury, and there was on hand a balance of $80,267.48. This had been effected with the city's ordinary income, used economically, and a rigid avoidance of all contracts of doubtful expediency.

    The council adopted a plan of leasing out the city wharves. This idea, which at the present day would probably invite criticism, seemed in that epoch a wise and proper one, inasmuch as the operation of these public utilities by the city had netted it a deficit. In 1853 this deficit amounted to $35,000. The new arrangement yielded the city a revenue of $155,615.21 between 1855 and 1857. Furthermore, the expenditures in the city surveyor's department, which had amounted to $1,358,700 in 1855, were in the following year reduced to $145,029.28. In the street commissioner's department many unperformed contracts were annulled, and the work completed by the city, involving a small apparent increase. The tax rate for 1856 was lower than that of the preceding year; in the regular city tax, by 70 percent ; in the railroad tax, 32 percent . As for the consolidated loan tax, this remained unchanged save in the Third District, where there was an increase of about 8 percent .

    Efforts were also made to improve the methods of making up the assessment rolls. Hitherto the assessment of real estate by the city was effected on the basis of a roll transcribed from that prepared by the State assessors, with the result that it abounded in errors. Property in many cases went assessed in the names of the wrong people for years at a time. Whole squares were assessed in the names of deceased persons. The valuations were frequently unchanged over long periods, irrespective of the improvements which might or might not have been made. The city council had no control over the assessors, and no authority to correct these errors, even when they were known. In consequence, the collection

    p194of the city alimony were somewhat of a lottery — ? the totals usually were below those which had been confidently anticipated. The abuses were so great that in 1855 public opinion compelled the State Legislature to insert in the new city charter an article rectifying the methods of making assessments and giving the council the powers it required in this connection.

    A further abuse was in the collection of licenses. The licenses on "coffee houses" should, it was estimated, produce about $200,000 per annum, but discrimination in the collection was such that it often failed to produce more than one-quarter of that sum.


    In 1855 an effort was made to remove the fire department from the control of the Firemen's Charitable Association, where it had been lodged since 1829. It was asserted that this was done as part of the general program of retrenchment. The firemen claimed that it was engineered by the politicians with a view to increase the patronage at their disposal. At any rate, a so-called "revolt" of the firemen followed. It must be confessed that the policy of the city towards the firemen had not been liberal. The fortunes of the fire department were in the hands of public-spirited citizens who contributed liberally out of their own pockets to its maintenance. The Council relied a good deal on their generosity. There had long been friction over appropriations, and over payments on account of appropriations previously made. The niggardly policy of the Council, moreover, did not prevent it from interfering actively with the management of the department. The firemen opposed the introduction of steam engines, then just coming into vogue in the North. The Council insisted upon investing in one of these machines. Either on account of the defective construction of the engine, or because the firemen allowed their prejudices against it to influence them unduly, this innovation was a conspicuous failure. For some years the engine remained a cause of expense, with no corresponding advantage. Next, the Council created the office of Chief Engineer. James H. Wingfield was elected to the position on May 30, 1855. He was an experienced fireman and no objection was made to him personally, but the firemen as a body were opposed to this change in the organization of the department and resented the appointment.

    In the spring of 1855, moreover, a new fire ordinance was enacted against the wishes and contrary to the advice of the leading members of the department. The objectionable feature of the new law was that it provided that the firemen should be paid. Until this date the service was voluntary. It was regarded as insulting to propose that men should be paid for the performance of what they regarded as their social and civic duty. Finally, seven fire companies were ordered disbanded. This action was taken without consultation with the other companies, and in some cases against their protest. The wisdom of reducing the department in the interests of economy was not disputed; but the method and the degree to which the reform was carried exasperated the entire membership.

    On October 27, 1855, therefore, the firemen addressed a petition to the mayor, reciting their grievances and setting forth as a condition to the maintenance of the existing department the annual appropriation by

    p195the Council of $1,200 to each company; liberal appropriations for fire alarm towers and belfries; the payment by the city of all debts contracted for the building of new engines, as stipulated in the old fire ordinance; reimbursements for rent, and various arrangements for supplying the companies with apparatus and hose. Moreover, they insisted that no fire companies be disbanded thereafter except for positive violation of the law governing the department; and upon a new fire ordinance, embodying the foregoing points, to remain in force for not less than five years from the date of its promulgation. The department also was to have the privilege of electing its own chief and his assistants.

    The city government, encouraged, it was believed, by the insurance companies, was not averse to seeing the volunteer department disband, and a paid department put in its place; consequently, although the Council now went through the motions of offering certain concessions to the firemen, in reality the memorial was rejected. A meeting of the delegates of the various fire companies was held on November 20th, and it was decided to turn in to the city all the municipal apparatus on hand and to sever all connection with the local government. The surrender of the apparatus took place on December 1st in Lafayette Square. "During the forenoon the firemen assembled with their machines in Canal Street and prepared for a formal march to Lafayette Square, where the apparatus was to be surrendered to the mayor. At 1 o'clock the march commenced. Twenty-four engines and hose companies and four hook-and-ladder companies filed slowly up Camp Street to no other music than the solemn tolling of Louisiana Hose Company's bell — ? without banners, every man with his hat reversed and belt inverted and a bit of crêpe fluttering from an engine or hose carriage here and there. [. . .] On the front panel of Engine No. 13 we noticed this: 'Organized 1837 — ? busted 1855,' and over the splendid truck of Louisiana Hose Company the sign, 'Justice is Our Wish.' Arrived at Lafayette Square, the companies entered and rested their apparatus around the walks. The foremen then repaired to the reception room in the City Hall and, through Mr. Salomon (President of the Firemen's Charitable Association), formally tendered the property in their procession belonging to the city, [. . .] then for the first time in its existence New Orleans stood without an organized fire department."


    The enrollment of paid firemen began on the following morning. The new service was organized by Wingfield with the aid of two assistants, "Jack" Adams and John Youenes, who had been selected by the underwriters of the city for that purpose. The new force, however, worked badly. The men were inexpert. It was now proposed by the Council to transfer the department entirely to the control of the underwriters. Councilman Durell presented an ordinance providing that bids be received for the contract for the extinguishment of fires for the succeeding five years. On December 4, 1855, this contract was adjudicated to "Jack" Adams and John Youenes, representing the underwriters, for a consideration of $100,000 per annum. The sureties offered by the successful bidders proved unsatisfactory, and the contract was ordered readvertised. "It was bluntly charged at the council meeting that the whole transaction was a prearranged affair, by which the city would be

    p196a loser, and that the same service for which the contractors would charge $100,000 could be secured for $85,000."


    In the interval a new president had been elected by the Firemen's Charitable Association. I. N. Marks, who was now recalled to that responsible post, after a retirement of several years, saw an opportunity to turn the tables upon the opponents of the volunteer department. When the contract was put up the second time and the bids were opened, it was discovered, to the stupefaction of the underwriters and their friends, that the association had bid it in for $70,000 per annum. The comptroller adjudicated the contract to the association on December 15th; the organization bought the fire apparatus turned in to the city only a few weeks before, paying $70,000 for it, and the project of a paid department was laid to sleep for thirty-five years to come, during which time the business of fighting fire was managed in New Orleans wholly by volunteers, members of the association.


    Space suffices here merely to mention the impeachment proceedings brought against two of the recorders in the closing year of Lewis' administration. The action against these officials was, it was said, due to pressure from the Know-Nothing, or American, party, which still existed in the city. The trials resulted in acquittal.

    onMouseOut="nd();">21 Know-Nothingism was supposed to have come to an end in 1855, but the peculiar antagonism in New Orleans really protracted its existence down almost to the Civil war. The State Legislature, for instance, in 1855 re-enacted the law prohibiting aliens from holding offices of honor or profit. The enemies of the reform party, in fact, denounced the Council of 1854-1856 as "Know-Nothing," or "American."

    onMouseOut="nd();">22 In fact, Know-Nothingism, so-called, was ostensibly the issue on which the municipal campaign of 1856 turned; though in reality the question at stake was that of reform — ? whether the government should be administered in the interests of the people or exploited for political purposes. As the election approached the Bee drew attention to the real issue involved. "The new charter," it added, "converts the mayor from a passive and powerless chief into an active and responsible one, by clothing him with ample authority. [. . .] We want a vigorous executive, who will neither be the puppet of a clique nor a soulless automaton."


    But three offices were to be chosen by the city at large — ? mayor, comptroller and street commissioner. The democratic nominating convention met on May 10th and nominated W. A. Elmore for mayor. The Whigs, if any of that party yet remained, made no nomination. The best elements in the population now were contained in the reform movement. A meeting called at Banks' Arcade on March 18th was intended to select candidates on a "citizens' ticket" — ? by which was understood the Reform ticket. The meeting, however, was snatched out of the hands of its promoters by the American partisans, and thereafter the Reformers refrained from acting. The call for this meeting was signed by Alfred Penn, R. B. Summers, S. H. Kennedy, W. A. Gasquet, H. D. Ogden, E. J. Hart, James Robb, W. E. Leverich, Ed Pillsbury, H. S. Buckman, J. U. Payne, P. Labatut, W. C. C. Claiborne, Henry Renshaw,

    p197Richard Milliken, Moses Greenwood, C. T. Buddecke, J. P. Freret, J. C. Ricks, P. Maspero and other prominent persons. The meeting was attended by a large but disorderly crowd. An address by a man named Fuller was well received, but when Major Beard offered a list of vice-presidents, "symptoms of disapprobation" developed, and "No" was shouted to almost all the names. The meeting then appointed its own vice-presidents and selected a committee of five to make nominations for the city offices. This committee reported C. T. Waterman for mayor, A. Giffen for treasurer, T. Theard for comptroller and J. R. Rust for street commissioner. Waterman was not present, but Giffen was, and made a speech which was cheered by the tumultuous crowd.

    onMouseOut="nd();">24 The callers of the meeting registered a futile protest in the newspapers against the action of "outsiders," who had "usurped their functions." In fact, Waterman's friends seem to have gone thither organized with the intention of forcing his nomination.

    Waterman, who thus became the candidate for mayor of the American, or Know-Nothing, party, as its opponents liked to style it, was a "young merchant," who had already become widely known in the city as an "ardent and zealous politician." "He has a love of everything noble and exalted," said the Bee, a few days after the election, when Waterman's success was acknowledged, "and a scorn for everything vicious and debased; [. . .] he is firm, resolute and inflexible."

    onMouseOut="nd();">25 The election took place on June 2nd and was "disgraced by violence and bloodshed."

    onMouseOut="nd();">26 In the First District the polls were occupied early in the day by armed men, who dictated who should vote and what votes should be cast. In the First District two polls in precincts regarded as Democratic strongholds were similarly seized. The newspapers refrained from saying precisely what faction was responsible for these high-handed proceedings, but it seems clear that it was the American party. In Orleans Street an attempt to control the voting led to a fight, in which several persons were wounded, some severely. In the Eleventh Precinct occurred the most serious trouble of the whole eventful day. There Norbert Trepagnier, clerk of the First District Court, was shot and mortally wounded. He was standing near the poll when a group of naturalized citizens — ? or, rather, of Sicilians who claimed to be such — ? approached and demanded to vote. Their right was challenged. A disturbance immediately arose, which Trepagnier, it is said, strove to abate, whereupon he was attacked, wounded, and while prostrate on the ground cruelly beaten with a slung shot. It looked as though a riot would follow. The poll was hurriedly closed and the crowd dispersed, but not until a detachment of the mob had located the Sicilians, who had fled, one of whom was intercepted and killed.

    The danger at this point was sufficiently great for Mayor Lewis to issue a proclamation calling on all good citizens to repair to the City Hall and be sworn in as a special police. The regular police were useless. Two days before the election an order requiring them to go unarmed on election day, issued in the hope of reducing the possibilities of disorder, had led to many resignations from the force. The remainder seems to have been busy coercing voters, rather than preventing violations of the law, or arresting those who violated it. Only twenty citizens

    p198responded to the mayor's appeal, but these were armed and sent to the polls. There can be no doubt that this action averted what might have been serious trouble at those points. As it was, six men were that day carried to the Charity Hospital wounded, two of them dangerously. One policeman in attempting to do his duty was assaulted and beaten by a gang of thirty men. It is not remarkable that, under the circumstances, only a small vote was cast. Large numbers of naturalized citizens, intimidated by the tactics of the American partisans, refrained from voting; those who made the attempt were, except in the instances noted, not molested.


    The result was the election of Waterman as mayor by 4,726 votes over Elmore, who received only 2,762 votes. Theard defeated J. R. McMurdo for comptroller, and P. A. Guyol won over J. A. D'Hemecourt for street commissioner. The recorders elected were Gerard Stith, J. L. Fabre, Jos. Salomon and L. Adams. R. M. Summers became president of the Council.

    The Author’s Notes


    Picayune, February 7, 1854.

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    Picayune, May 20, 1886; Jewell, Crescent City Illustrated.

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    Bee, March 15, 1854.

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    Bulletin, March 14, 1854.

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    Bee, March 25,

    onMouseOver="return Ebox(SourceErr+'1754')"


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    Bee, March 22, 1854.

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    Courier de la Louisiane, March 15, 1854.

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    Bee, March 18, 1854.

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    Courier, March 31, 1854.

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    Bee, March 20, 1854.

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    Picayune, March 26, 1854.

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    Picayune, April 18, 1854. See also references to the history of these railroads, in Rightor's "Standard History of New Orleans," 298-306.

    [decorative delimiter]


    See an interesting article on the subject, in the Times-Democrat, for July 4, 1904.

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    Crescent, February 9, 1856.

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    Act 164 of 1856, approved March 20, 1856.

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    Bee, April 24, 1856. See the anonymous pamphlet, "What Has the Present Council Done for New Orleans?" published in 1856.

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    Delta, December 2, 1855.

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    O'Connor, "History of the Fire Department of New Orleans," 113.

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    See O'Connor, "History of the Fire Department of New Orleans," Chapter IV.

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    Louisiana Courier, June 10, 1856.

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    Bee, June 2, 1856.

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    Bee, May 10, 1856.

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    Bee, March 19, 1856.

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    Bee, March 9, 1856.

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    True Delta, June 3, 1856.

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    onMouseOver="return Ebox(INARRAY,2,WIDTH,175)"


<p>[image ALT: Valid HTML 4.01.]</p>


    The period from 1820 to 1860 was that of New Orleans' greatest development. This was due exclusively to commerce. New Orleans was not a manufacturing city. Only a small portion of the products received there was consumed. It was a point of transshipment, which took what it got from the South and West, and exported it, often without even repacking. Hence, the exports were within a small margin of the receipts. The difference was represented by such breadstuffs and other provisions as were required for local use. The development of its business naturally followed two lines, represented respectively by the river traffic and the ocean-borne traffic. The former was the most picturesque; the latter the more durable. But they were closely related, and the volume of the latter depended, in this prosperous epoch, upon the growth of the former.

    During the French and the Spanish regimes, commerce on the river was carried on in canoes, pirogues and "bateaux." Later there appeared on the river "keel" boats, barges and flatboats. These craft floated down the river with the current and were either abandoned or broken up for their timbers at New Orleans; or if a return cargo made the venture profitable, the "keel" boats were taken upstream by the slow processes of "cordeleing" or "bushwhacking." In 1810 the arrivals by river were 679 flatboats and 392 "keel" boats. These brought to New Orleans a miscellaneous character of cargo — ? sugar, molasses, rice, cotton, flour, bacon, pork, beans, cheese, lumber, lard, butter, onions, potatoes, hemp, cordage, linen, tobacco, hogs, etc. Three-fifths of these products originated above the "falls of the Ohio" — ? that is, the vicinity of the present City of Louisville; the remainder, below that point.

    Early in the century the success of steam navigation on the Hudson River induced some enterprising persons to build a steamboat at Pittsburgh to trade with Natchez and New Orleans. This boat was named "New Orleans." She was designed by Robert Fulton. Her construction was supervised by Nicholas J. Roosevelt, grand-uncle of the late President Roosevelt. Fulton and Robert R. Livingston furnished the capital for the venture. This craft arrived at New Orleans on January 12, 1812, and shortly thereafter began the ascent of the river, as it was found that she could go upstream at the rate of

    onMouseOver="return Ebox('five kilometers',WIDTH,180)"

    onMouseOut="nd();">? three miles an hour. She made thirteen trips to Natchez in the little more than one year of her existence, and averaged a gross revenue of $2,400 per trip. Her example was followed by other steam craft, and soon the steamboat was a familiar sight on the river, sixty boats being built before the year 1820.

    Fulton and Livingston discontinued the trade in consequence of a decision of the courts denying their claim to a monopoly of river navigation for a period of twenty-five years. The second steamboat built for western waters was the "Comet," of twenty-five tons. Her career was brief, but she ran from New Orleans to Natchez, a distance of

    onMouseOver="return Ebox('459 km',WIDTH,72)"

    onMouseOut="nd();">? 285 miles, in five days and ten hours. The third boat was much larger. She was the "Vesuvius," of 340 tons. She was the first boat to attempt the

    p201ascent of the river above Natchez. She left New Orleans for Louisville June 1, 1814, but grounded on a sandbar

    onMouseOver="return Ebox('1126 km',WIDTH,84)"

    onMouseOut="nd();">? 700 miles upstream and was compelled to remain there inactive until a rising river floated her off. She then returned to New Orleans, and was commandeered by Jackson for use in the defense of the city against Pakenham's attack. Later she resumed the trade between New Orleans and Louisville, and continued therein until sold in 1819 at auction to settle a claim against her. The fourth steamboat, the "Enterprise," after being used as a transport by Jackson, entered commerce and shortened the time to Natchez by a full day. She made the trip to Pittsburgh in twenty-five days, reducing the time between New Orleans and that city by something like two months.

    Before 1818 steamboats were built crudely after the lines of deep-water craft. They were designed to carry freight, not passengers, though rude accommodations for half a dozen persons could be provided. After that year it was found that boats of light draft were better adapted to the river trade. Hence the evolution of the large boats of the middle and latter half of the nineteenth century. By 1830 the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers were lined with steamboats, and the larger tributaries of both streams were quite well served. In 1834 the number of steamboats was 230, in 1844, 450.


    onMouseOver="return Ebox(INARRAY,ThisPhoto,WIDTH,280)"



<p>[image ALT: A map of the downtown area of New Orleans in 1849.]</p>


    Norman's Plan

    of New Orleans & environs, 1849

    A larger, somewhat more readable scan (1.5 MB)

    onMouseOver="return Ebox(INARRAY,Photo,WIDTH,115)"



    is also available.

    Between 1840 and 1850 was the golden age of steamboat navigation. Boats of heavy tonnage with ample accommodation for many passengers were common. "Floating palaces," they were called. As a matter of fact, there was nothing palatial about them. They furnished, however, perhaps the most comfortable means of travel ever devised. The progress of steamboating is shown by the fact that whereas the "Comet" made the run from New Orleans to Natchez in 1814 in five days and ten hours, the "Sultana," thirty years later, traversed the distance in nineteen hours and forty-five minutes. In 1870, the most celebrated of all the river fleet, the "Lee" and the "Natchez," reduced this time to sixteen hours and thirty-six minutes.

    During the heyday of steamboating racing was frequent and dangerous between rival vessels. There was a number of terrible disasters due to this practice. Protests against it followed in each case, but the horrors were soon forgotten, and the deprecated habit was resumed.


    The introduction of the steamboat brought about radical changes in trade routes, but gave a great though temporary impetus to business in New Orleans. In 1814 the number of steamboats arriving at New Orleans was only three, as against 508 flatboats and 325 barges. These three steamboats, the "New Orleans," "Vesuvius" and "Enterprise," made a total of twenty-one trips in that year. But in 1816, thanks chiefly to the rapid increase in the number of steamboats, the total value of the river traffic rose to $8,062,540; and within four years it doubled — ? that is, in 1820 it was $16,771,711. From 1815 to 1840 the chief interest of the river business was the brisk competition between the steamboat and the flatboat. Flatboats continued to be used to a large extent up to the beginning of the Civil war, and some reach New Orleans — ? chiefly with coal — ? at the present time; but the victory of the steamboat was foreordained and inevitable. In the twenty years ending in 1840, during which this process of elimination was at work, the receipts at New p202Orleans from the interior increased four-fold, and the ocean traffic showed a corresponding expansion.

    At the beginning of the American regime New Orleans' ocean-borne commerce was largely with the American colonies and consisted in the shipment to the Atlantic seaboard of the products of the vast Mississippi and Ohio basins. The merchants of Baltimore and Philadelphia were among the first to establish agencies in New Orleans. This they did while the city was yet under the control of the Spanish. Boston ranked next in importance as a customer; New York, Charleston and Newport standing lower down on the list of ports doing business with the little Southern metropolis. This coastwise trade was far larger than the foreign business. Over three-quarters of the vessels engaged in it were American bottoms. Cotton was at that time only an insignificant feature of the exports, which were mainly farm produce. It was not till 1830 that the foreign commerce exceeded the coastwise business. In that year the value of the former was $9,868,328, of the latter $8,357,788. Since then the coastwise traffic has never been important in the business history of the city.

    In 1840 New Orleans had begun to recover from the depression of the preceding three years. It was now the fourth city in the United States in point of population. It was exceeded in size only by New York, Baltimore and Philadelphia. Boston was only a little smaller; but no other American city was half so large. This growth was due to its geographical position. It was largely a matter of passive accretion; the resident population did little to induce settlers to seek their city. In that year there seemed every reason to expect that New Orleans would soon be the greatest, as it probably was proportionately already the wealthiest, city in America. In 1842 the receipts from the interior were valued at more than $42,000,000; in 1843, at over $53,000,000; in 1844, at $60,000,000; in 1846, upwards of $77,000,000, and by the end of the decade they had risen to nearly $97,000,000. About the year 1842 sugar, which for years had been the backbone of the city's exports, began to take a second place as compared with cotton. The imports which in 1842, as a consequence of the general financial depression of the recently preceding years, sank to $8,000,000, but three years later had risen to nearly $10,000,000. The receipts of corn, which in 1840 were 268,000 sacks and 168,000 barrels, rose steadily year after year, till about 1850 they amounted to over 1,000,000 sacks and 42,000 barrels.

    onMouseOver="return Ebox('sic:
    '+BadF+'268,000 sacks and 168,000 barrels'+CloseF+'
    '+BadF+'1,000,000 sacks and 42,000 barrels'+CloseF+'
    The \'barrels\' figures must be wrong.',WIDTH,210)"

    onMouseOut="nd();"> Tobacco showed increases proportioned to the national production, in spite of the fact that in the South, during this period, the amount of the weed grown was reduced.

    But while actually the prosperity of New Orleans in this period grew by leaps and bounds, there were, beneath the brilliant surface, forces operating which were very imperfectly understood at the time, but which menaced seriously the continued importance of the city. Relatively it was losing ground. The vast increase of production which was taking place in the upper and central part of the Mississippi Valley — ? which ought, according to the reasoning of the New Orleans merchants, logically to seek New Orleans — ? was pouring into other cities. This was due to a variety of causes. First, New Orleans was concentrating more and more upon the handling of a single article. Cotton, she unfortunately was coming to believe, "was king." For the sake of cotton she was neglecting the sugar of Louisiana, the tobacco of Kentucky, the flour

    p203of Ohio — ? in fact, all the products of the growing states of the Ohio, Mississippi and Missouri valleys. Secondly, her position was menaced by the diversion of the trade routes resulting from the construction of the Erie, Ohio, and other canals. These canals, built about 1831 and 1832, brought, for example, the waters of the upper Ohio into relation with Lake Erie, in one direction, and with the Hudson River in another. Thus, New York obtained a direct, if somewhat long, route to the Ohio Valley. It was

    onMouseOver="return Ebox('965 km',WIDTH,72)"

    onMouseOut="nd();">? 600 miles in length, it is true, but that fact was offset by the dangers and difficulties of navigation in the Mississippi, the extent and seriousness of which we of the present time can hardly imagine. In 1835 Ohio shipped to New York 86,000 barrels of flour, 98,000 bushels of wheat and 2,500,000 staves, all of which had previously gone down the river to New Orleans, there to be transshipped to New York. Pennsylvania also became interested in the construction of canals. Maryland dug the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal westward with the intention of ultimately tapping the great western valley. The effect was seen in the cost of transportation of commodities; as, for instance, of flour. The duration and danger of the trip by New Orleans and the high cost of insurance resulted in an expense to the shipper considerably larger than if he patronized the new interior waterways.

    The inroads on the commerce of New Orleans were not perceptible at the epoch which we are considering. The city had momentarily all the business it could handle. In fact, though from 1825 to 1850 the canals showed a steady increase in business, the proportionate gain in the river business was so great as to seem to justify the easy contempt with which the competition was viewed. At Cincinnati, for instance, this competition was not felt till 1850.


    More serious ultimately was the effect of the building of the railroads. At the time this also was ignored in New Orleans. The early railroads were almost wholly local and of very short mileage. During the first fifteen or twenty years of their existence there was no idea of their competition with the water routes. They were expected to supply transportation only to markets where no other avenues were open. For many years there was no line connecting the seaboard with the teeming West. Breaks and gaps interrupted all the existing systems. A few far-seeing persons in New Orleans were alive to the danger of the slowly altering trade routes. To them may be attributed the agitation which about this time arose in the city in favor of improving the river. There were memorials to Congress asking that the "rapids" and "falls" be corrected — ? that canals be cut around such obstructions — ? that the shallow places be dredged. But such devices were temporary. The railroads spelt the ultimate division into halves of the commercial domain claimed by New Orleans, and the apportionment of the more desirable section to her rival cities above the mouth of the Ohio. The destruction of the river traffic, which was not accomplished till a generation later, was another of its consequences. In 1845, when Henry Clay presided at the great convention which met that year at Memphis to demand government assistance in the improvement of the Mississippi and its tributaries, two-thirds of the river tonnage was owned or controlled in New Orleans, and regular lines ran as far up as Pittsburgh on the Ohio, and St. Paul on the Mississippi. By 1880 practically all of this lucrative business had

    p204disappeared; the vessels which had made it famous had vanished, burned or sunk by striking on the snags which were the chief peril of navigation in the Mississippi.

    Another cause of the relative decline in the commercial importance of New Orleans was the increase in the size of ocean-going vessels. At the beginning of the century the size of ships visiting New Orleans was 150 tons; in 1840 it was 236 tons; in 1857, 376 tons, and in 1860, 521 tons. Larger ships could not easily enter the Mississippi on account of the bars at the mouth of the river. As early as 1829 attention had been called to this fact. In 1837 Northeast Pass, which was the usual channel, became impassable through shoaling. Then Southwest Pass came into use, and being

    onMouseOver="return Ebox('from 4.55 to 4.90 meters',WIDTH,150)"

    onMouseOut="nd();">? from fifteen to sixteen feet deep, was satisfactory to 1850. But as ships grew to have a draft of

    onMouseOver="return Ebox('4.90 meters',WIDTH,132)"

    onMouseOut="nd();">? sixteen feet or over and a displacement of 1,000 tons or more, the utility of this entrance also began to diminish. In 1852 in one week forty vessels went aground at the mouth of Southwest Pass. Often vessels were unable to get over the bar and were compelled to discharge their cargoes into lighters and reload after entering the river proper. These difficulties naturally tended to raise the freight rates, and resulted detrimentally to the commerce of New Orleans. Still another impediment to commerce which was not cleared away till the beginning of the twentieth century was the high port charges. Recognition of all of these

    onMouseOver="return Ebox(SourceErr+'factions')"

    onMouseOut="nd();">factors, and the relative retrogression of the city, and all that they implied for the future, was, however, not general, or if recognized, the remedies were not proposed until too late to do any material good.


    A somewhat similar situation existed in regard to politics. The period from 1840 to 1860 was an epoch of steady but unadmitted degeneration. Forces were at work here also which were inimical to the future welfare of the city, training the people in the habit of disregarding the law, and in depending upon force to carry out their will, whether licit or illicit. In the early decades of the century this was not so. Although there were cases where the public confidence was abused, it must be said that, on the whole, the influence of the Creole leaders, which was very great, was used to promote high ideals of political behavior. For the most part they were men of a very keen sense of personal honor and public responsibility, and jealous of their reputations for political rectitude. They kept both state and city politics on a very high plane. When Mouton, for instance, was nominated for governor, in 1842, he at once resigned his seat in the United States Senate through a feeling of delicacy about retaining that post of power and influence in a campaign in which his adversary had no such advantage. Moreover, when the demand arose a little later for a new state constitution, Mouton at once signed the bill calling the convention, although perfectly well aware that by doing so he shortened his own tenure of office. Such cases were frequent. On the other hand, some instances of the other sort can be cited. In 1830, when Samuel J. Peters was serving his second term in the City Council, and was made chairman of the finance committee, he began an investigation of the way in which the city finances had been handled by his predecessors. There had been considerable complaint on this subject, as the revenues were known to be equal in amount to the expenditures, yet the city was compelled to issue warrants

    p205to meet its ordinary expenses, and these warrants were sold on the streets at ruinous discounts. Each finance committee up to this time had contented itself with a merely nominal audit of the books of the city treasury; but Peters, in spite of endless obstacles thrown in his way, made a complete study of the records, and discovered defalcations to an enormous amount. The investigation could be carried back only seven years; beyond that time the books were not to be found. One official absconded; another committed suicide; others who apprehended the results of Peters' further inquiries threatened him with challenges to duels, and two attempts were made to assassinate him.

    onMouseOut="nd();">4 But in spite of such instances, which merely prove that human nature in those times was as fallible as in our day, the general average of political conduct was down to the '40s very high.

    In these early days an almost Acadian simplicity distinguished management of a political campaign, state or city. In general there was only a very small floating vote which could be swayed from one side to the other. People were Democrats or Whigs, and there was no possibility of inducing a man to change. Adherence to party was a matter of family and tradition as much as possible. Hence in the city and the state the simplicity of the processes of nomination and election to which allusion has been made once or twice already. Candidates for the mayoralty did not, prior to 1830, announce any principles. The interrogation of Freret and Prieur by the Native Americans in 1842, which amounted to something of the kind, was looked on and resented as an innovation. Even after that date for some years candidates were put up by their friends; a primary of the party elected delegates and the nominations were made at a party convention in due course — ? the convention having no committees on resolutions, nor much of one on credentials, since it was looked on as an offensive insinuation to examine the right of a delegate to sit when he presented himself, and such insults could be wiped out, according to the code of the day, only in blood. After nomination there was little electioneering, as we understand the word. To canvass for votes was looked on as betokening a lack of modesty. Consequently, there was, down to Crossman's time, little excitement in the city elections.

    A change, however, began about the time that Texas revolted against the tyranny of Mexico, and succeeded, after a gallant struggle, in making herself independent. As early as 1835 the steady stream of American immigration into Texas began to raise grave problems in Louisiana. After the establishment of the independence of Texas, the augmentation of the flow of Americans into the new state made these problems acute. Presidents Jackson and Van Buren were reluctant to annex the territory, although pressed to do so by the new settlers. The little republic became a theater of intrigue on the part of the representatives of the European powers, who offered their help and protection in return for concessions and privileges. Thus, the United States remained exposed to the danger of political disturbance on her western border down to the time when Tyler opened negotiations for the annexation of Texas. Annexation was the inevitable consequence of the steady expansion of the United States westward. It was not a thing that could properly be made a party issue. The Whigs, who did not adopt it as a part of their platform,

    p206endorsed it tacitly by nominating for the presidency two men who had made their reputations as military leaders in the conflict which resulted from that annexation. The situation was therefore sufficiently complex to admit of considerable variation of opinion within the ranks of party.

    Louisiana was normally a Whig state at this epoch. That party was strongly entrenched in New Orleans. Party loyalty led some of the leading Whigs to oppose the program of annexation. They were supported by those who thought that annexation would react unfavorably upon the Louisiana sugar industry, as a result of Texan competition in the world's marts. The question of banks and banking was almost mixed up in the situation; the commercial interests of New Orleans exercised a preponderant influence upon the political opinion of the state, and they supported the Whig policy as to a national bank.

    onMouseOut="nd();">5 There was also a Whig influence due to the general feeling that the government should co-operate liberally in matters of internal improvement, especially in regard to the waterways. Self-interest therefore helped to breed antagonism to the national administration. The Democrats, on the other hand, had the support of the large number of Louisianians whose friends and relatives dwelt on the other side of the Texas border. Texas maintained agents in New Orleans, who carried on a vigorous propaganda, as well as a valuable trade in arms and ammunition. Moreover, there was the natural gratification which the prospect of the extension of American territory and influence produced on the minds of those in the local population who had no other interest in the matter.

    In the political contest which arose over this question in connection with the presidential candidacy of Polk, John Slidell, a New Orleans lawyer, attained to national importance. To Slidell, perhaps more than to any one other individual, New Orleans owes the doubtful blessing of organized politics. A feeling of unrest not in the city only but throughout the state had for some time prevailed with the existing order of things; it helped Slidell in building up a "machine" which came speedily to dominate first state and then city politics. The state constitution of 1812, which continued in force down to 1845, was decidedly aristocratic in tendency. The parish judges, for example, were clothed with extraordinary powers, which were not always exercised with an eye single to the public interest. The governor possessed an immense patronage. He appointed even the judges of the Supreme Court, not to mention police jurors, the attorney general and the district attorneys. If so disposed, he could influence the administration of justice in its most remote ramifications. That this power was not systematically abused is one of the clearest evidences of the generally high standard of official conduct which the public opinion of the day long imposed. The governor also was vested with a veto power which applied to every ordinance passed by the legislature except a motion to adjourn. His disapproval could only be set aside by a two-thirds vote, which it was very difficult to obtain. This was too much power to be placed in the hands of any one man. There was a strong feeling that it ought to be diminished. The Whigs, who were in power, saw no reason for a change. Consequently, the discontented element flocked into the Democratic party and found an efficient leader in Slidell.


    His ability as a leader and especially as a political organizer was demonstrated first in the presidential election of 1844. It was then that he engineered the "Plaquemine Frauds," so-called, by which the electoral vote of the state was secured for Polk. The Whig presidential candidate, Henry Clay, was supported in Louisiana by Ex-Governors White, Roman and Johnson, Judah P. Benjamin and other influential citizens. They rallied to Clay on the basis of a promise which he made to restore the duty on sugar. Polk, on the other hand, had voted for the reduction of that duty. With Slidell lined up the Democratic leaders, like Ex-Governors Mouton, Pierre Soulé, Charles Gayarré and John R. Grymes.

    onMouseOut="nd();">6 The Whigs contemplated as an election maneuver the disenfranchisement of large numbers of the naturalized voters, whose right to the ballot would now be deemed incontestable, but which the chaotic state of the laws at that time made at least debatable. Such schemes were the regular feature of election times in the state. The Whigs were in possession of the electoral machinery of New Orleans. There was no registration of voters; each individual had the right to deposit his vote in any precinct in the county in which he had his residence. The "County of Orleans" was equal in population and representative power to four of the other parishes — ? that is, it possessed four representatives in the State Senate.

    onMouseOut="nd();">7 Its frontiers extended from the "County of Acadia" to the Gulf, and embraced whole of what is today called the Parish of Plaquemine. In the city the Whigs were certain of a majority, but if enough precincts in other parts of the "county" could be rolled up for the Democratic cause, that city majority might be overcome; since the vote was totaled, not by popular majorities, but by precincts. This Slidell saw. He was governed accordingly. His scheme was not, properly speaking, a fraud. It was merely an exhibition of what we would now term "machine politics" in operation.

    The Whigs did not think of sending men down from the city to the lower reaches of the Mississippi to vote. But Democrats could be transported thither. Slidell and his lieutenants chartered steamboats, loaded their partisans thereon and delivered the cargoes at the polling places where their ballots were needed. Enough precincts were thus gained in Plaquemine to offset the Whigs' precincts in New Orleans; and the election was carried. A storm of vituperation which extended from one end of the United States to the other greeted this performance. But by delivering the electoral vote of the state to Polk and Dallas, Slidell acquired an ascendancy in the Democratic party in the nation almost as great as that which was his award in Louisiana.

    On the other hand, the Whigs had not hesitated to commit what we would today characterize as frauds, when that suited their purpose. For example in the state election of 1842, under the leadership of Benjamin, the city had been carried for their candidate mainly by the "cab" votes, which Benjamin was credited with inventing. He himself was a candidate merely for the lower house of the lower house of the State Legislature, but his office in Exchange Alley was the principal meeting place of the Whig committee and on election day was its headquarters. Under the property clause of the state constitution, it was asserted that the ownership of a

    p208carriage or cab, proved by the payment of a license tax, was sufficient to qualify a voter. The Democratic newspapers charged that licenses were issued on cabs that had no existence outside of Benjamin's imagination, and that hundreds of "repeaters" had voted through this trick. The inspectors at the polls had no time to investigate the existence of the cabs, but accepted the license receipt as evidence of ownership within the meaning of the law.

    onMouseOut="nd();">8 The responsibility of Benjamin in the matter has, however, never been positively established; and the difference between this case and that of Slidell was that the latter's example was followed with pernicious effects which did not attend the "cab vote" trick, nor any of the other petty vote-stealing schemes put into effect in New Orleans prior to Slidell's time.

    Slidell had shown that a well-organized minority might under the leadership of a bold and resourceful chieftain snatch power from a majority which lacked a leader, or whose leader was inferior in resource or daring. There is probably in all democracy an irresistable tendency towards organization in politics. Slidell may simply have had perspicacity enough to perceive this tendency, and capitalize it for party benefit. If so, he did it at the psychological moment. The rise of the slavery question made the dominance of the Democratic party in Louisiana certain. The state, as we have said, had always been distinguished for its party loyalties, even though in the election of 1844 the anomaly was seen of many Democrats voting for Clay under the impression that this course was more advantageous than any other for the sugar planters of the state.

    The first state campaign which was vital in its effect upon party history in Louisiana was that over the issue of the revision of the constitution, in 1845. Revision was advocated by the Democrats, opposed by the Whigs. Religious prejudices which were involved in the controversy gave the contest a special bitterness. Twice the House of Representatives passed the bill; twice Governor Roman vetoed it, and it was finally carried through only because the financial difficulties of 1837, the effects of which were still felt, made imperative some constitutional provision regarding the state banks, and the regulation of the part which the state had in their affairs. It was felt that there should be in the state constitutional guarantees which could be relied on as the basis of future financial development. True, these aims were not carried out expertly, many years were to elapse before the present admirable banking laws were worked out to completion. The convention met in 1845 at Jackson, Louisiana, and immediately adjoined to more commodious quarters in New Orleans, where its work was finally performed.

    The effect of this constitution was largely to break the power of the Whigs in both the state and the city. The Mexican war followed. Then came the election of General Taylor, who was a citizen of Louisiana, and who carried the state on a wave of popular enthusiasm and local pride. But otherwise the democrats retained control of state affairs. Their ascendancy remained unbroken to the Civil war. The northern part of the state was rapidly filling up with settlers from the English-speaking states along the Atlantic littoral. They brought with them the ideas of Jefferson and Jackson. Emigrants from Europe settling in New Orleans — ? as they did in large numbers down to the Civil

    p209war — ? were drawn to the Democratic party because to them it seemed identified with popular principles, and represented the reaction against that monarchy which they were desirous to escape. The Louisiana state constitution of 1852 was shaped under Democratic ideals, and still further strengthened that party in state and city; whereas, after the defeat of Scott in 1852 the prestige of the Whigs was lost and their influence practically ended.

    This long-continued dominance of one party produced its customary results. "Cliques" and "rings," as they were called, formed to control patronage and exploit finances. The abuses which flowed in abundance from this frankly established spoils system awakened bitter resentment among the better class of citizens. The situation was not peculiar to Louisiana, but was a phenomenon observable in many parts of the United States at about this time, wherever one party had exclusively control of any one locality. The result was the rise of the Know-Nothing party. This party had its origins in principles of progress and patriotism, but contained within its organization elements which in the end proved unpalatable to right-thinking Americans and led to its overthrow. It held, for example, that the corruption of American politics, national as well as municipal, was due principally to the presence in the electorate of the foreign-born. To some extent the inference was justified in New Orleans. The emigrants, especially the Irish laborers imported into New Orleans from about 1848 onwards to the Civil war, had been used systematically by corrupt election managers to adulterate the vote. Five thousand immigrants landed at New Orleans in 1853; more came in a succeeding year, and a very large fraction remained congregated in certain parts of the city, near the river front, around the Soraparu Market, in Rousseau Street, and what is still popularly known as the "Irish Channel," and there they fell easily under the control of the ward club presidents who were the leaders and organizers of "machine" politics from this time down

    onMouseOver="return Ebox(SourceOm0)"

    onMouseOut="nd();">to the closing part of the century. But the Know-Nothing party was a secret society, with oaths and a ritual; its name was given in connection with this feature of its organization; since the members were in the habit of answering all inquiries with the set formula, "We know nothing in our principles contrary to the constitution." It was opposed to the Catholic Church, on the ground that it was a foreign society, and, under foreign control, likely to be dangerous to free thought and free speech. This last feature brought great bitterness into its campaigns.

    The Know-Nothing party was formed in Louisiana by a group of discontented Whigs in 1853. Being neutral with regard to slavery, it soon became popular. Moreover, its ritual seems to have exerted a special fascination over the imaginations of the state electorate. Before its leaders fully realized what they were doing, the voters had been swept into a movement which none of them really desired to see succeed.

    onMouseOut="nd();">9 It was halted as soon as men had time to reflect. In the first election in which Know-Nothingism figured it elected Merrick chief justice over J. K. Elgee, the Democratic nominee. But at the first convention at which its platform had to be clearly defined, the fact of its opposition to the Catholic Church emerged, to the consternation of its promoters.

    p210Half of the population of the state, like that of the city, was Catholic. The dilemma had to be avoided. The only way that they could think of was to "pretermit" this embarrassing section of the platform. But the subterfuge deceived nobody. The leaders soon fell out among themselves. Governor Wickliffe opposed the movement and was instrumental in its early end in the parts of the state outside of New Orleans.

    But in New Orleans its life was longer. We have seen that it elected Freret to the mayoralty. Even after it ceased to exist by its distinctive party name, it continued, as the Native American, or American, party, to be a source of agitation and disorder. Inspired by Slidell's example, the democracy was employing to insure the continuance in power of its "ring," means which made many right-thinking men turn to the American party as a means of expressing disapproval of what was deemed a terrible evil. The methods now so common in the politics of American cities were new then; their persistent use inflamed public opinion, and its seemed justifiable to employ any means, even violence, to circumvent the dextrous and unscrupulous professional political leader. The state election of 1855 illustrates the degree to which this feeling went. At that election candidates were presented for governor, lieutenant governor, congressmen, members of the state legislature, justices of the peace, sheriff, constable — ? in fact, a full party slate, minus the municipal officers. The chief interest in New Orleans was over the contest for sheriff. Joseph Hufty was the Native American candidate; John M. Bell was nominated by the Democrats. A somewhat less intense interest was felt also in the contest for clerk of the Fourth District Court, for which the Democrats placed in nomination W. C. Auld, and the Native Americans, J. B. Walton. The election was preceded by a turbulent, truculent campaign. Election day was November 5, 1855 — ? a date memorable for the many outrages perpetuated at the polls. Men were beaten, stabbed, shot, murdered. The Native Americans initiated these disturbances, but their rivals were not slow in responding to the challenge, and both factions were represented in the toll of dead and wounded.

    Under the law New Orleans was divided into twenty-six election precincts.

    onMouseOut="nd();">10 A description of the way in which the election was conducted may be interesting as illustrating how this sort of thing was done before the Civil war. At each polling place were two boxes, in one of which were deposited the votes for justice of the peace and constable. In the others were put all other votes. There were three commissioners of election at each poll, assisted by two clerks. The votes were received up to the hour of closing the poll — ? about 5 P.M. — ? when the boxes were opened by the commissioners, who then began to count the votes. The results were tallied by the clerks. Then the votes were placed in their proper boxes, which were locked and taken to the city hall, or to the courthouse, as the case might be. The sheriff was, under the law, the returning officer. Only in cases of contest does there appear to have been any attempt to verify the returns by a recount of the votes. The returning officer was content merely to tabulate the certificates received from the commissioners. It is easy to see how corrupt men might deal with these reports. Fraud was rendered all the more easy because there were no official ballots. Each party published its own ticket, which was exposed on tables in front of the polling booth, in charge of its own

    p211representatives. A voter picked up one of the tickets, entered the poll and delivered it to one of the commissioners, whom he watched deposit it in the proper box. It was known instantly what party the vote was for. The commissioner was not supposed to examine the ballot, but the way in which the citizen obtained his ticket gave all the information necessary. Thus the party watchers kept tab from hour to hour on the voting; and intimidation, violence, etc., might be employed by the unscrupulous to control the balloting; as was, in fact, frequently done in the decade preceding the Civil war.

    There was no question that at this election the full Democratic ticket was elected in the state. R. C. Wickliffe thus became governor. But the Parish of Orleans, at least on the face of the returns, gave the Native American party a majority for most of the parochial offices. The counting of the ballots seems to have been completed in most of the city precincts without trouble, but in the Seventh and Ninth Precincts the compilation of the returns was interrupted by a Native American mob, which invaded the polls, took possession of the boxes and burned them in the streets.

    onMouseOut="nd();">11 As a result about 900 votes were destroyed. Hufty was on the face of the returns declared elected sheriff and Auld clerk of court. Contests were immediately instituted by the unsuccessful candidates. Bell brought suit before Judge Cotton for a mandamus to compel the election commissioners of the Seventh Precinct of the First District (now the Third Ward) to make a return of the vote cast at that poll, although the ballot box had been, as we have seen, destroyed. He was represented by J. P. Benjamin; Randall Hunt appeared for the defendant. The case was a cause celebre. The trial proceeded in a courtroom filled with the armed adherents of both factions. It was known that judge and the sheriff also were prepared for all contingencies. Counsel were cautious, however; nothing occurred to disturb the decorum of the proceedings, and the mandamus was issued to Bell, as prayed for. The validity of Bell's claim was, however, passed upon unfavorably in the First District Court. In December, therefore, the governor issued a commission to Hufty, but the whole matter was so obviously unjust that the Legislature, in the following February, availed itself of a procedure rare in the history of Louisiana, to "address" Hufty out of office.

    onMouseOut="nd();">12 Hufty refused to surrender his office, whereupon Bell filed ouster proceedings in the Sixth District Court, and carried the case up to the Supreme Court, where it was at last decided in his favor.


    In the case of Auld, the District Court sustained Walton's claim to election, but when the matter was taken up to the Supreme Court, Auld was declared to be entitled to the post.

    onMouseOut="nd();">14 A regrettable incident of the election riots was that Chief Justice Thomas Slidell, a relative of the more famous John, received injuries to which he succumbed a few years later. He was attacked by a ruffian at the polls, struck on the head with brass knuckles, and knocked senseless. His wounds were such that he was permanently affected in health, and was at last obliged to resign his position at the head of the highest tribunal of the State, where he had presided with distinguished ability, and died in 1860 in a sanitarium.


    The situation in New Orleans was so bad that in 1857, in his annual message to the State Legislature, Governor Wickliffe felt constrained to say: "It is a well known fact that at the two last general elections many of the streets and approaches to the polls were completely in the hands of organized ruffians, who committed acts of violence upon multitudes of our naturalized fellow citizens who dared to venture to exercise the rights of suffrage. Thus nearly one-third of the voters of New Orleans have been deterred from exercising their highest and most sacred prerogatives."

    onMouseOut="nd();">15 Accordingly, in March, 1857, the Legislature passed a general election law, under which was created the office of superintendent of elections for the Parish of Orleans, with the special duty of supervising the elections in the City of New Orleans.

    onMouseOut="nd();">16 It was laid upon him to "prescribe and arrange the ingress and egress from the polls; to preserve tranquility and order during elections; to prevent and suppress riots, tumults, violence, disorder and other practices tending to the intimidation of voters or disturbances in the elections; and, in general, to take care that all elections are so conducted that the privilege of free suffrage may be supported and the constitutional rights of the citizens shall not be impaired or defeated by violence, tumult, intimidation, or other improper practices." To these ends the superintendent was authorized to appoint deputies, and was, in fact, invested with a range of powers up till that time not known in Louisiana political history.

    Judge John B. Cotton, who had tried the mandamus case of Bell vs. Hufty, was appointed to this responsible position. Cotton later became involved in the politics of the Reconstruction epoch, and sided with the "carpet bag" party, with the result that his memory is less honored in his own land than his services to the State and to the law deserve. In the present emergency he addressed himself to his task with courage and ability. This was not done without grave personal risk. On one occasion he was notified that a mob was on its way to attack his house and murder him, by way of protest against some of the measures which he had seen fit to adopt. His reply was, that the mob would get a warm welcome. He put his home at the corner of Seventh and Camp in a state to withstand a siege, removed his family, and sent for some trusted friends to help in the defense. The mob assaulted several citizens known to be opposed to the American party, but when they were apprised of Cotton's preparations, they wisely concluded to desist from their enterprise, and the real object of that tumultuous night's outbreak was not accomplished.

    When Cotton laid down the perilous commission with which he had been entrusted, he had to all intents and purposes restored the good name of New Orleans and stopped the objectionable practices at the polls.

    onMouseOut="nd();">17 But this was not done until there had occurred in New Orleans one of the most singular uprisings in all its long, tumultuous history — ? a disturbance amounting to insurrection, in which the constituted authorities of the city were overturned, and for two days, at least, New Orleans was in the hands of armed mobs.


    1. cause celebre.a controversial issue that attracts a great deal of public attention.

    Text prepared by:

    The "American" "Know-Nothing" uprising in 1858 is one of the most singular events in the history of New Orleans; it occurred just before the municipal election of that year. Professedly, it was a movement to rid the city of the disreputable characters which had infested it for more than a year. In this it was largely successful. It must be confessed that there was need of some such drastic remedy as the "Americans" proposed. "That our city has been infested by a band of desperadoes who have shed innocent blood and spread terror and consternation among certain classes, is most true," said one of the local newspapers.1 As election day approached these miscreants became more active. On June 1st, for example, a man named Reynolds was admitted to the Charity Hospital suffering from two bullet wounds in the head, inflicted in a lonely neighborhood, to which he had been lured by a stranger. The next day an Irish steamboat man was attacked in his lodgings in Delord Street, near Magazine, dragged from his bed to the street, and there brutally butchered. On the 3d the Bee announced that "several persons had been stabbed or slung-shotted." Notices of a similar tenor may be found in the columns of the newspapers almost every day from months previously; and in fact, nearly a year before, the True Delta, in a sarcastic editorial, had apologized to the mayor for drawing his attention to the danger which ordinary, peaceable citizens ran whenever they ventured abroad, as a result of what was in many ways a reign of terror.

    These outrages were, in the main, directed against persons of foreign birth. Whether this was accidental or premeditated is not clear. In the squalid slums of the city were collected large numbers of ignorant Irish and Germans; in that class crimes of the sort were to be expected, but how far local politics and race prejudices motived them, it is impossible to say. Some lingering anti-American sentiment drew the Creoles together. Both groups were re-enforced by these in the population who were outraged and indignant at the prevalence of crime, and felt that the time had come for action. In this way, about March, 1858, an organization was effected which afterwards was known as the Vigilance Committee. There is no doubt that this society was formed under the inspiration of the similar organization in San Francisco, which a few years before had done such effective work when a situation prevailed in that city like that in New Orleans. Although not less than 1,000 persons were interested in the organization, it appears to have been kept entirely secret, and not until it struck, on the night of June 2d, five days before the municipal election, does its existence appear to have been known.

    The Vigilance Committee was interested in seeing that the elections passed off without any of the riotous scenes which had recently marked all such days in New Orleans. But it specifically disclaimed any political bias. Therefore the selection of candidates for the various municipal offices was made without interference from it. The American party's city nominating convention was held on May 25th. The friends of Mayor Waterman were anxious to see him renominated, but a letter was presented to the convention as soon as it organized, in which he stated his intention not to be a candidate for the nomination. The name of Gerard Smith was then put up for mayor, and without opposition accepted. The ticket was quickly rounded-off with the nomination of C. O. Fleschier, for street commissioner: A. G. Brice, J. L. Fabre, and Webster Long, for recorders; A. Dupre and P. S. Wiltz, for aldermen; and J. E. Holland, L. Lombard, and J. B. Leefe for assistant aldermen. Under the provisions of the city charter, the remaining city officials held over to a later date.

    The attitude of the public with regard to the election was one of indifference. Three weeks before election day the Bee, commenting upon the subject, alluded to "the utter absence of interest."2 But there was sufficient dissatisfaction with the existing regime to cause a movement of protest to set in, as soon as the American ticket was announced. Rumors that an independent party was forming had been current earlier in the year.3 The opportunity was favorable, for not only were there dissentions in the administration itself, but the defeated candidates for the American nominations "harbored much ill feeling,"4 and could be counted on to fight their late associates. The sentiment crystallized in an address signed by nearly 700 prominent citizens, which appeared in the Bee on May 26th, and tendered to Major P. G. T. Beauregard the nomination for mayor.

    Beauregard's reply was dated June 5th. It was a cautious acceptance of the proffered honor. He made it very clear that he would, if elected, regard himself as in no wise hampered by promises or agreements, except the understanding that he would devote his best efforts to the public service. He had, he continued, his own opinions, which, "while not ultra," were decided. He was a "States Rights Democrat, of the progressive school," who, while attached to the Union, felt that his duty to his native state might, under certain circumstances, outweigh his allegiance to the nation. But national issues had no place in a city election. The most important matter before the people of New Orleans was, in his judgment, connected with the police. If elected, he would feel it his most important duty to "organize a strong and efficient police. Unless a mayor be clothed with sufficient power and authority to place it on a footing which will insure unity of purpose, and impart to its operations a character which will command respect, it were vain to expect from him that he should carry out successfully the great object and measures which you have in view." He did not propose to destroy the force as at present constituted, but would "get rid of those who by their bad habits or dishonest character" would disgrace it if they remained members.5

    A few days later the independent ticket was completed by the nomination of the following: Dr. D. J. Rogers, street commissioner; G. Y. Bright, Emile Wiltz, and Joseph Solomon, recorders; W. M. Mercer, Elijah Peale, L. E. Forstall, J. V. Gourdain, George Jonas, aldermen, and James White, Samuel Jamison, John Stroud, Jr., Jules Benit, F. Moreno, Jr., J. E. Massicot, John Newman, and Robert Huyghe, assistant aldermen.6

    Beauregard was a formidable candidate. He had an excellent reputation as citizen and soldier. He was, and long remained, the type par excellence of the cultured, distinguished, efficient Creole. His letter took issue with the existing administration over the matter which it was least able to defend. How far these considerations determined the action of a crowd of rowdies who, on June 1st, seized the office of Registrar of Voters, it is impossible to say. The situation at least suggests that they were acting in the interest of the American party. They set to work to revise the lists of voters in a way such as to eliminate as many whigs and independents as possible. The democrats, for some reason, were taking no part in the campaign. They made no nomination, and it is not clear which party their vote went to. Some of the independent leaders applied to the courts for the proper legal remedies, but either were convinced that they could expect no co-operation there, or realized that by the time law interposed to expel the interlopers from the register's office, their nefarious work would have been accomplished. It was at this juncture that the Vigilance Committee took action.

    Gen. Johnson K. Duncan

    It is to be regretted that, coming precisely at the moment when it did, the uprising should have worn the aspect of a revolution designed to put Beauregard in power. True, many of the persons suspected of complicity in the outbreak, were his supporters; but it is also true that when Recorder Stith subsequently visited the headquarters of the committee, he was assured that in its ranks were many of his partisans. At any rate, on the morning of June 3d, when New Orleans awoke, it was to find that a large part of the city had passed into the control of the Vigilance Committee; that the city government had virtually ceased to function; that civil war was threatened. Late the preceding night armed men under the command of Capt. J. K. Duncan, of the United States army,a marched to Jackson Square, occupied the court rooms in the Cabildo, and posted sentinels at all the approaches to that part of the city. They then seized the arsenal in the rear of the Cabildo and distributed among themselves the arms which they found therein. Several pieces of cannon, which were stored in this place, were hauled out and posted around the square. When Judge Hunt went down to the Criminal Court, he found it impossible to proceed with his docket on account of the presence of the Vigilance Committeemen in the building, and after an ineffectual effort to hold court, desisted and departed. Judge Howell, of the Sixth District Court, and Recorder Fabre, on finding their courtrooms filled with armed men, made no attempt to perform their usual functions.

    In the columns of the Courier and of the True Delta that morning appeared notices intended to inform the people of the purpose of these strange proceedings, and to reassure them as to the intentions of those at the head of the Vigilance Committee. "Having resolved to free our city from the murderers who infest it, we have assumed its temporary government," read one of these documents; '[. . .] we have no political object in view, and we call on all good men and true to join in the work we have undertaken. [. . .] We shall inflict prompt and exemplary punishment upon well-known and notorious offenders and violators of the rights and privileges of citizens, and shall not lay down our arms till this is effected."

    At the same time an address to the citizens of New Orleans was posted about the streets which explained the objects of the rising in more detail:

    "After years of disorder, outrage, and unchecked assassination, the people, unable and unwilling either to bow down in unresisting submission to a set of ruffians, or to abandon the city in which their business, their social sympathies, and their affections cluster, have at length risen in their might — ? have quickly taken possession of the arsenal and buildings at Jackson Square, and have established here the headquarters of a Vigilance Committee; pledging each to the other to maintain the rights unviolable of every peaceful and law-abiding citizen, restore public order, abate crime, and expel or punish, as they may determine, such notorious robbers and assassins as the arm of law has, either from the infidelity of its public servants, or the inefficiency of the laws themselves, left unwhipped of justice.

    "For the present the ordinary machinery of police justice is suspended — ? the mayor and the recorders, we understand, yielding up the power they confess to inability to exercise for the preservation of public peace, and the preservation of property; and the Vigilance Committee will therefore provisionally act in their stead, administering to each and every malefactor the punishment due to his crimes, without heat, prejudice, or political bias. All citizens who have sympathies with this movement, and who think that the time has come when New Orleans shall be preserved like all other well ordered and civilized communities, will report themselves without delay at the principal, where the character of the movement will be explained, and the determination of the people more fully made known. All has been done noiselessly thus far; all will continue noiselessly, dispassionately, and justly, but the ruffians who have dyed our streets in the gore of inoffending citizens, and spread terror among the peaceable, orderly, and well-disposed, must leave or perish. So the people have determined — ? Vox Populi, vox Dei."

    It appears that the response to this call was small.7

    The five days over which the Vigilance Committee's activities extended, were agitated ones. The authorities made futile, and on the whole absurd, efforts to argue Duncan into submission. The police seem to have proven absolutely incapable of handling the situation. The wildest ideas were ventilated. A special meeting of the council was convened at 10 A.M., June 3d, and lasted till late in the afternoon. It was proposed to arm the people and disperse the Vigilance Committee by force. This meant hard fighting. Duncan was an experienced officer, and with him were several men who had just returned from Nicaragua, where they had seen service under the filibuster, Walker, then on trial in the city on a charge of violating the neutrality laws. They had fortified their position with granite blocks torn up from the pavement in Chartres Street. Waterman seems to have perceived the impossibility of a successful attack. Moreover, he wished to avoid extreme measures. He refused to issue a proclamation along the lines advocated by the council. Thereupon the council passed a resolution demanding his resignation, in order that Recorder Summers, who, under the charter, was next in succession, might assume the mayoralty, with the understanding that he would immediately take steps to carry out the program suggested by the aldermen. Waterman refused to resign. Eventually it was agreed to invest the mayor with discretionary powers. Then the meeting adjourned.

    Waterman paid a visit to the headquarters of the Vigilance Committee. He was accompanied by Benjamin S. Harrison, a gentleman prominent in the councils of the independents, who had been a candidate for the nomination before it was tendered to Beauregard. Apparently, he was expected now to influence the Vigilance Committee, under the idea that he and it belonged to the same political persuasion, and it would therefore be amenable to his blandishments. This notion proved erroneous. Duncan refused to retire unless the mayor would agree to swear in his forces, who now numbered nearly one thousand well-armed and well-equipped men, as a special police, to serve at least till after the election. This the mayor said he had no authority from the council to do.8 On Waterman's return to the city hall, an announcement to this effect received the uproarious approval of an immense throng collected in Lafayette Square.

    It was now determined to call out the militia. Orders to that effect were issued to General Lewis, but not a man responded to the notifications which that official tardily and reluctantly sent out.9 In the meantime, as a concession to the crowd, which clamored to be led against the Vigilance Committee stronghold, the mayor signed a requisition on one of the largest local hardware stores, for weapons; and the mob streamed off in the direction of that establishment, which it speedily stripped of firearms. On their return to Lafayette Square, they found some pieces of artillery which had been removed from the quarters of one of the militia companies, and parked there. Waterman now issued warrants for the arrest of Duncan and his associates on charges of being in arms without lawful authority, and the chief of police served the papers at Jackson Square, but lacking the means to reenforce them, retired, feeling somewhat ridiculous. Next, placards were posted offering awards for Duncan's arrest or destruction; these bore no signature, and were probably issued without official approval. The city government, however, through whatever officials it could rely on, was rounding up suspects. A Doctor Lockwood and two others were taken into custody, examined at the city hall, and held in duress.10

    The inefficiency of the city government was becoming glaringly apparent. A meeting of fifteen gentlemen, "of no special bias in political matters," was called at the St. Charles Hotel. They agreed on a plan for settling the differences between the hostile parties. Two committees were appointed, of seven each, one to treat with the Vigilance Committee, the other to confer with the mayor. They took up their duties with a good heart, but do not seem to have had any effect upon a situation which was hourly growing more critical. In the meantime all drinking places were ordered closed, and business hours generally, apprehensive of what might follow the fall of night, followed the good example.11

    That afternoon posters attacking the mayor for treating with "traitors" began to appear on the walls of the city. Just who issued them was never known.12 It was beginning to be believed that Waterman's sympathies really lay with the Vigilance Committee. The crowd which swirled excitedly around the city hall all day long and far into the night, were losing faith in him. That night addresses made from the steps of the building denounced him for his efforts at compromise. The speakers were Colonel Henry, a veteran of Nicaragua; and Colonel Christy, an old gentleman who had earned his military title in the War of 1812. The latter followed up his address by publishing a handbill in which he offered to captain any force organized to attack the Vigilance Committee. This handbill, circulated the following morning, occasioned some excitement, but happily, there was no organized response to his offer. All that night a force of 100 men, under Justice Bradford, remained on duty at the city hall, to guard it against the anticipated attack of Duncan's men; though no such attack was ever attempted. Duncan's sentinels never came above Canal Street. That night they occupied the lower edge of that thoroughfare as far out as the river. On the upper side a similar line of men marked the boundary over which the city government still claimed to exercise jurisdiction. In between lay the "neutral ground"b — ? neutral that night, in an unexpectedly significant way.

    At 11 o'clock the following morning the mayor and General Lewis went to the headquarters of the Vigilance Committee, at Jackson Square, with the intention of working out a compromise. No other course was open, if bloodshed was to be avoided. Here they were joined by Messrs. Fellows and Norton, representing the merchants' committee, at the St. Charles Hotel. The conference lasted till 1 o'clock. In effect, Waterman accepted Duncan's terms. It was agreed that the committee's forces should be sworn as a special police to do duty at least till after the election, and meanwhile to retain their military organization.13 With this news the mayor returned to the city hall.

    The announcement of the agreement was very ill received by the mob, composed, as it appears to have been, in large majority of "American" partisans. In the face of a positive prohibition by the mayor, a large detachment took possession of two cannon, and, armed with muskets and side-arms, set off to attack what was beginning to be called "Fort Vigilance." On reaching Canal Street somebody fired on the column from the sidewalk, and one man was wounded in the cheek. This halted the advance. Recorder Adams, who happened to be on the spot, took advantage of the opportunity to counsel the men to abandon their mad attempt. About one-half of the party did desist. They returned to Lafayette Square. The remainder marched down Royal Street, but remarking that they were likely to receive a warm reception at the barricades visible in that thoroughfare, crossed over to Chartres; but there perceiving the same degree of preparedness on the part of the enemy, retreated to Canal. The sentinels on duty there thought them the advance guard of the Vigilance Committee moving up to attack the city hall, and were about to open fire. Fortunately, at this moment they were recognized, but a regrettable loss of life was averted by the narrowest of margins. At last the entire party reassembled in Lafayette Square, where Adams disarmed them and stored their weapons in the hall. At "Fort Vigilance," however, there were two casualties that day, due to the premature discharge of a cannon. One man was killed and one wounded.14

    On the 5th the agitation against Mayor Waterman over the compromise which he had effected, and which left the Vigilance Committee untroubled in its entrenchments, came to a head. Fortunately, a heavy shower of rain dispersed the crowds at the city hall. Threats of violence were thus rendered ineffective, but Waterman thought it safest to throw himself into the arms of the Vigilance Committee, and that morning left the city hall privately, and took up his quarters at Jackson Square. There he was later visited by A. G. Brice and Judge A. G. Semmes, who endeavored to induce him to return to the hall, in order to swear in a special police which, in view of the disturbed condition of the city, and the collapse or disappearance of the regular force, and the general unwillingness of the council to resign the city completely to the Vigilance Committee, seemed necessary. These gentlemen urged him either to do this or to resign, and make way for the president of the Council, who, it was expected, would deal resolutely with the situation. Rather than accept the alternative, Waterman made out a paper in which he invested Recorder Stith with authority to swear in the special police in his place. Armed with this document, Brice and Semmes returned to the city hall. Stith began to swear in the new police.15 By nightfall he had 1,600 men in service. During the afternoon, however, Mayor Waterman was informed by his legal advisors that he could not delegate to another his powers as chief of police; that Stith's authorization was void. He accordingly sent to the True Delta a notice to that effect; but for some reason a copy was not served on Stith till the following day, and in the interim he declined to consider as valid the mayor's revocation of his commission.

    The council met at 6 P.M. Waterman, it was understood, would appear and explain his recent actions. He was not present when the meeting convened. Instead, a message came from him asking what protection he could expect if he concluded to attend. Recorder Stith was empowered to go to Jackson Square, assure the mayor that his safety would be provided for, and escort him to the hall. Stith departed on his mission, but remained away several hours. The unruly demeanor of the crowd which by now had reassembled in Lafayette Square certainly gave ground for Waterman's apprehensions; it was necessary for Colonel Lumsden, one of the editors of the Picayune, to entertain the tumultuous gathering with an account of his visit to Fort Vigilance, in order to keep it from committing some indiscretion or other. Waterman, who agreed to accompany Stith, came as far as the St. Charles Hotel; but learning of the demeanor of the mob, refused to proceed any farther. Informed of this decision, the board of assistant aldermen now proceeded to prefer articles of impeachment against the absent mayor. The mayor, ran this document, "has deserted his post [. . .] and since June 2d has been in the hands of an unlawful and armed organization, and the lives and property of the citizens of New Orleans are jeopardized; [. . .] and said Waterman has by his acts attempted to legalize the existance of said unlawful organization, and is now and has been within the last thirty-six hours within the limits of said unlawful armed organization [. . .] and has failed, neglected, and refused to enforce the laws of the United States and the ordinances of this city, and disperse the said unlawful organization, and has been recreant to his duties," and therefore his impeachment was ordered.

    The board of aldermen, which, under the charter, became the tribunal to try the impeachment proceedings, also adopted resolutions. Waterman, these declared, had "abandoned the seat of the municipal government without just cause, and cannot be found nor induced to attend to his duties, and [. . .] there is no longer a mayor of the City of New Orleans. [. . .] In the present state of excitement it is the duty of the common council to provide means for the protection of the inhabitants of the city [. . .] said city having been left for two days without a single officer to protect the lives of our citizens or their property."

    The effect of the impeachment was to remove Waterman summarily from office. A resolution passed both boards of aldermen asking Summers to act as mayor. He immediately took charge of the mayor's office, with the understanding that he should be provided by the council with "all the sinews of war" if needed against the Vigilance Committee. He issued a proclamation at once denouncing the Vigilance Committee as a lawless band, and called on them to disperse or suffer the consequences. He also revoked the appointment of Duncan's men as special police. No other action was attempted, fortunately. Armed patrols continued to circulate through the First District, and pickets were maintained on Canal Street. The Vigilance Committee's operations appear to have been at all times limited to the Second District. Their forces never attempted to enter the First or Third districts.16

    This was Friday. That night occurred the most serious incident in the Vigilance Committee's history. This was the accidental firing upon one of its own patrols, the killing of four men and the wounding of nine others. The patrol was returning to camp through Orleans and St. Peter streets. It was mistaken for an attacking party from Lafayette Square, and before the error could be rectified a volley was poured into its ranks. The men killed were Thomas Mooney, Patrick Craddock, Laurance Monahan, and Thomas Eastport, the first three Irishmen, and the latter a German. Subsequently Coroner Osborne held an inquest upon their bodies and brought in a verdict of death due to a discharge of firearms by parties unknown. Five of the wounded were admitted to the Charity Hospital. No attempt seems ever to have been made by the authorities to investigate the affair further. Even the men in the hospital were not interrogated after the subsidence of the disturbances.

    On Saturday morning the attorney general, Mr. Moise, visited Fort Vigilance and explained to Duncan that his men were acting illegally. Duncan seems to have accepted this intelligence with great calm. It was probably not precisely news to him. At one time or another most of the city officials had called on him with similar information. Various influential citizens put in an appearance on Sunday and argued with Duncan in favor of his laying down his arms. Except for an effort to reorganize the regular police, Summers seems to have made no move that day against the Vigilance Committee. He removed Col. Henry Forno from the post of chief of police and replaced him with Col. John A. Jacques. Jacques issued an order for the regular patrolmen to report for duty, which they seem to have done during the day. Barring an alarm due to the firing of three cannons in Fort Vigilance by some irresponsible young men — ? this was the signal set by the committee to summon all its supporters to its assistance — ? the night passed without alarm. Fortunately, the cannon shots failed to elicit any response. It must be admitted that there was never any general response to the committee's appeal. The attitude of the public generally was either one of indifference or active opposition. In view of this lukewarmness of the people, the failure of the movement was inevitable. It persisted, however, till the result of the election was announced; and it is quite possible that the quiet which marked the election day was, as the Picayune suggested, due to the fact that the committee retained its organization, and was in a position to act should there have ever been occasion for their interference. General Lewis notified Duncan that he would ask his aid only in case of extreme need; Summers swore in enough special policemen and appointed enough commissioners to keep order at the polls; and the result was one of the most orderly elections in the history of the city.17

    The election took place on June 7. In view of the proceeding events it is not astonishing that a relatively small vote was cast. The result was, on the whole, a complete vindication of the American party. Stith received 3,581 votes, and Beauregard 3,450. In the Fourth District, it is curious to note, the vote for mayor was a tie. Here the recent disturbances had scarcely so much as had an echo. Throughout all that troubled week, the courts had functioned there as usual; the police had continued to perform their duties; and the ordinary citizen went about his concerns with almost complete indifference to the tragedy which was in progress only a short distance away.18 The failure of Stith to carry his district under such circumstances is, to say the least, suggestive. For street commissioner Fleschier was elected over Rodgers by 3,650 to 3,326. Fleschier ran ahead of the entire American ticket. Summers, E. Wiltz, and Long were elected to the recorderships by majorities which varied from 200 in the case of the first-named, to 55 in the case of Wiltz. Wiltz was the only independent elected to a recordership. Forstall, independent, was elected to the Board of Aldermen from the Second District. White, Benit, Moreno, and Massicot, all independents, were elected to the Board of Assistant Aldermen. Huyghe was elected unanimously, his name being on both tickets. Otherwise, the American ticket was everywhere successful.

    The result of the election was, at least on the face of the returns, conclusive. The majority of the voters were opposed to the Vigilance Committee. A card in one of that afternoon's papers announced that the committee had disbanded. "The object of the Vigilance Committee is today what it was when it was first formed, viz., to deliver the city from the notorious thugs and assassins who infest it, and are abhorred by all good citizens. The result of the late election has, therefore, not in any way changed the honest views entertained by the committee, and to prove that we have never had any political views in our organization, but only the security of all good citizens in their lives and property, we now put ourselves at the disposal of the mayor, and at his call will assemble under arms as a special police in order to put down the rule of murderers and thugs. Yielding to public opinion relative to our possessing the State Arsenal and the Sixth District Court — ? but doing this only — ? we now hereby abandon and give up our position, and we agree thus to answer a call from the mayor, our engagements as such lasting for at least three months, or longer, if found expedient." Thus ran this curious document, which was signed Duncan "for self and others."19

    The Vigilantes actually abandoned the Arsenal at 4 A.M. on the morning of the 8th. Many had already quickly withdrawn to their homes, but about 200 were still on duty. These men left their arms scattered about the vicinity, where they were afterwards looted by negroes, boys, and the populace generally. The detachment marched under Duncan's leadership down to the United States barracks, where their commander was quartered. There he made them a speech, deprived them of their arms, and advised them to disperse to their homes. But they were fearful of violence at the hands of the people. The majority found means of crossing the river to the swamps below Algiers, where they hid for 24 hours, until driven out by hunger. On the afternoon of the 9th a detachment of 50, mostly foreigners, surrendered to the police in order to get food. A police lieutenant took them in charge, but upon being notified that authorities had issued no warrants for their arrest, the miserable party was turned loose and told to go home. Another policeman rounded up a party of twelve, and locked them in the Third Precinct Station, but they, too, were soon set at liberty.

    The apprehension which these poor fellows entertained regarding the danger of going unprotected about the city seems to have been well-founded; for in the papers of the next few days are found several notices of men suspected of having been implicated in the recent disturbances set upon and badly beaten.20 In spite of indignant denials from the American organs, there can hardly be any question that these assaults were committed by persons affiliated with that party.

    As for the leaders of the late revolt, 30 of them fled the city on a steamboat early on the 8th. Affidavits were sworn out against some of them, but nothing more was done.21 Among them were several persons of wealth and prominence, whom it was not deemed good policy to prosecute; and the whole matter was suffered gradually to be forgotten. It was estimated that the men, who supplied the cash for the movement, spent $30,000 for the five days' campaign, besides contributing their own services, which, as the Crescent pointed out sarcastically, must have been exceedingly arduous for persons so unaccustomed to anything but luxurious surroundings and dainty food.

    Thousands, moved by curiosity, visited the abandoned camp on June 9, and were shocked at what met their gaze and offended the sense of smell. The pavement was bloodstained; the carpet of the Sixth District was saturated with the same dismal fluid; the jail, the courthouse and the small private apartments connected with the court were filled with filth. A large force of negroes were promptly set to work with brooms and scrubbing brushes to cleanse them for the opening of court. When Judge Howell returned to his courtroom, he found that the papers there had been scattered, and that part of the records in twelve suits had been destroyed. Some of the abandoned arms were collected during the day and returned to the arsenal. The street commissioner discovered 60 bales of cotton which had been built into the barricades. These were removed to the public pound. Subsequently, the clerk of the Sixth District Court, for some inexplicable reason, issued writs of attachment to hold these bales as satisfaction for damages to property, both public and private. They turned out to be privately owned, and had been commandeered by the Vigilantes without the consent of the owners.

    There is much about this whole affair that invites comment. For example, it is difficult to understand how Duncan, an officer of the United States army, became involved in the uprising. The conduct of Mayor Waterman is hard to explain. It is known that there were factions in the American party, of which he had been a leader; and his refusal to be a candidate for renomination suggests that the breach between him and "his quandom friends," was wide. How far was his attitude towards the Vigilance Committee dictated by sincere desire to avoid bloodshed, — ? how far by partiality for the independent cause? Nor is it not easy to determine, whether the frequently insisted on non-partisan character of the movement was mere camouflage, or not. The fact that the American party was almost unanimous in opposition indicates that by it the movement was regarded as, after all, an election manoeuver on behalf of Beauregard. The conduct of General Lewis offers another problem. Why did he hesitate to call out the militia, as we know he did actually hesitate? He is charged in one of the newspapers with being reluctant to commit himself to either side; vacillation under the circumstances, was equivalent to favoring the committee. Finally, there is the obscure point of justice meted out by the committee itself. At the close of the disturbance, the coroner held inquests upon eleven persons "slain within the entrenchments." The newspapers describe the deaths of six of these men; who were the other five, and how did they meet their end? The reticence of the public prints is among the most singular parts of the whole matter.

    "We have passed through one of the most critical trials which the people of New Orleans have ever been called on to meet," observed the Picayune, in an editorial dismissing the entire incident. "On the eve of the election the city was filled with armed men. At night armed patrols hostile to each other perambulated the streets, and more than once came to look directly in the faces of each other, with arms at present, hands on triggers, and momentarily expecting word to fire. The overthrow or disintegration of the city government left us for days in the hands of men who were volunteers."22 Due probably to the inclination to ignore the episode, now that it was over, no effort was made to press the impeachment charges against Mayor Waterman. Summers continued to act as mayor until June 21, when the new administration came in. He was bitterly attacked by the Courier on more than one occasion. He had been a member of the council under Mayor Crossman. At that time he was considered a staunch whig. The Courier charged him with having been an advocate of the expulsion of all democrats from that chamber.23 Now, he was a good American — ? or Know-Nothing, as many called the party. By his political adversaries he seems to have been very cordially hated, and this hatred lasted for many years, down into Civil war days, when for a few moments Summers again occupied a conspicuous place on the political stage.

    Mayor Gerard Stith

    Stith was a native of Virginia. He was born in 1821, and was the son of Griffin Stith and was wife, Mary Dent Alexander. The family was connected with the Bollings, Meads, Fitzhughs, Randolphs, and others who had long been prominent in the affairs of that State. Young Stith was brought to New Orleans at a tender age. In this city he received his education. He became a printer, entered the employ of the Picayune, and rose to be foreman of the composing room in the offices of that influential publication. He was thus employed when nominated. To this employment he returned after his term as mayor was over, and there he continued down to the time of his death. Although nominally only foreman of the composing room, he really was for years the editor of the paper; having the entire confidence of his employers, and using his own discretion as to what should be printed in the paper, whenever these employers were absent. In this way, he overrode the policies of those who were nominally editors of the paper. He became head of the Printers' Association and thus was accounted a leader of organized labor in the city. He entered politics in 1857 when he was elected a member of the State Legislature. He was returned by a large majority, and made a good record in the House. In 1854 he was elected a member of the City Council, and in 1856 was chosen recorder of the First District, which office he was holding when named for mayor.

    Stith's administration presents several features of importance. He had — ? what no executive had ever had previously — ? a definite policy with regard to public improvements. This policy was consistently and continually expounded in his messages to the City Council. For the first time in the history of the city the doctrine was laid down that the public authorities were responsible for the public health, and that they should see to the enforcement of proper sanitary measures. The need of such was brought home forcibly by the reappearance of yellow fever in a virulent form in the summer of 1858. As elements in a general plan for the sanitation of the city he advocated the extension of square granite block paving, improved street drainage through the reduction of the grades to one uniform standard, and the reclamation of the swamps between the city and the lake. In all of these projects he did not have at first the co-operation of all of his associates, nor of the public at large. There was, for example, early in his administration, a controversy between the street commissioner and the Board of Health as to their respective jurisdictions, which had to be settled before anything could be done to improve the condition of the streets. While this dispute was pending, the streets were suffered to fall into a disgusting state of filth and disrepair.24 The mayor's persistance, with the co-operation of the press, and the support of the council, led eventually to a complete change of public opinion, and as a result, by the end of his administration, improvements were registered in regard to the streets which were at that time unparalleled in the city, and possibly in every other American city of the time. Granite blocks covered nearly half of the most frequented streets, the cost of the paving of the intersections of the streets and of the improvements on Canal and Esplanade streets, alone, was estimated to have cost $900,000 — ? an enormous sum for those days.

    Stith advocated the construction of a real protection levee around the city, but in this plan he failed to secure the support of the Council, and it was not carried out. He did, however, succeed in having the levees considerably extended. He introduced a method of flushing the gutters with water from the river, pumped for the purpose at a plant established on the levee in front of the city. This system was also utilized successfully as a source of water-supply during fires. The wharves were also extended, especially in the First District, where considerable new constructions were rendered necessary by the shallowing of the water by river deposits.25 In regard to education and to benevolence, the administration also achieved some definite results. A new normal school was opened in 1858.26 The Boy's House of Refuge, which had fallen into sad disrepair, was restored, and an effort was successfully made to make the institution self-sustaining by the introduction of various small manufacturing processes, the good effect of which was further seen in the moral betterment of the inmates. Moreover, they were thus taught valuable trades, which, on being released from the institution, enabled them to take a respectable place in society.27

    With regard to the police, Stith made extensive and drastic changes and suggested others. In his inaugural message he pointed out the necessity of increasing the pay of the force, the duties of which, he said, were exceedingly onerous. He thought that there should be some law curtailing the mayor's appointing power so that the members of the department might not be entirely dependent upon the results of each municipal election. He seems, in fact, to have been feeling after a civil service, but the time had not come when this idea could emerge, and most of his suggestions on this subject were too vague to crystallize in definite legislation. Soon after he took office the Grand Jury made an investigation of the department, and condemned its general inefficiency and negligence, especially with reference to the Vigilance Committee uprising, and to the carnival of crime which had preceded that extraordinary episode. Stith's first official act was to appoint Thomas E. Adams to be chief of police. Adams proved to be a good officer. The "rogues' gallery," which now forms an important adjunct of every well-organized police department throughout the world, was established in New Orleans at this time. The fire and police alarm telegraph, which was another great advance, was also introduced during Stith's administration. Most important, however, was the purging of the force itself, over 400 men being dismissed or resigning during the time that Stith held office.28

    Stith was a man of strong personality, and great independence of mind. His popularity unquestionably suffered from these traits, but they helped him to correct a multitude of abuses which had grown up in the administration, so that, in bidding him farewell, in an editorial published the day he left office, the Picayune was able to say that his period of service was "as the beginning of a new epoch in city affairs. No man has ever left public office with so broad a foundation for future popularity. No succeeding one can find occasion to do more for the public weal."

    During this period the Native American party securely established itself in control of the city government. Its candidate was destined to become the next mayor of the city by a large majority. But civic politics were being relegated to a minor place in the public attention; the community was absorbed in the great issue of secession, which was now beginning to loom large on the horizon of the future. In the controversy on this subject which shook the city to its depths the leading spirits were John Slidell and Pierre Soulé. Space is lacking to deal adequately with the struggle between these two gifted men, and between their partisans, for control of the State on this vital question. Slidell was not a match for Soulé in brilliancy of wit, in eloquence, in charm of manner. He was, however, one of the most consummate political organizers that have ever flourished in Louisiana, and had behind him a competent State machine, which was destined to sweep Louisiana headlong into the secession movement. Soulé was a Frenchman by birth, the idol of the Creole element in New Orleans. Slidell was supposed to be high in favor with President Buchanan. He was a native of New York. These two facts were urged against him as separating him from the mass of Southerners, and coloring his views on slavery. Whatever his position was on this subject, Slidell was an ardent democrat. He strove to prevent a split in the party. When the Charleston Convention, however, made its momentous decision, he felt, along with Tombs, Davis, and other influential Southern leaders, that he must support Breckenridge. On the other hand, Soulé and his partisans declared for Douglas as the true exponent of democratic tradition. They criticized with the bitterness which then characterized all political discussion, the sectionalism of those who, as they conceived, were hurrying the country to a terrible catastrophe. We cannot follow the various phases of this great political struggle; it belongs properly to the history of the State of Louisiana, although the City of New Orleans was the scene upon which it was chiefly enacted. It may be questioned whether Louisiana as a whole favored secession; New Orleans came into the movement reluctantly, as though with a premonition that it meant for her disaster.

    Text prepared by:

    The municipal campaign of 1860 attracted little attention. Interest in New Orleans was focussed upon the national campaign, which was understood to involve the question of peace or war. Three candidates appeared for the mayoralty — ? John T. Monroe, Alexander Grailhe, and Lucius W. Place. "The issues are of small importance," was the comment of the Picayune, a few days before the election took place. In fact, the only serious criticism which was offered to Mr. Monroe's candidacy was, that he was the nominee of the Native American party, and thus in a sense represented the administration. Mr. Grailhe, who was running on an independent ticket, criticized the Stith administration severely, particularly with regard to the cleaning of the city; and intimated that the election of Monroe would perpetuate the methods of which he complained. Grailhe was in Europe at the time his name was selected to head the independent ticket. On his return, he announced that, if elected, he would accept no salary, but divide his official income among the city charities. The contest among the candidates for the mayoralty was overshadowed interest by that between J. Milton Relf, and C. C. Fleschier, for the post of street commissioner. Fleschier was the incumbent under Stith, and the blame for the bad condition into which the public thoroughfares had fallen, as a result of his inability to compel the contractors properly to perform their work of cleaning them, was, perhaps unjustly, laid upon him. The papers of the time are filled with complaints about the foul condition of the stagnant gutters, the luxuriance of the weeds that grew along the margins of the streets, and the general neglect of the city scavengering.

    Mayor Stith took measures to insure a safe and orderly election, and on June 5, 1860, Monroe was chosen mayor by a vote of 37,027. Grailhe received a much smaller vote, and Place, who was running on a citizen's ticket, hardly figured in the contest. Monroe, who thus became seventeenth mayor of the city, was a blood-relative of President Monroe. He was a native of Dinwiddie County, Virginia, but was taken by his parents to the State of Missouri, when very young. With Missouri the family was prominently identified for many years. Daniel Monroe, father of the mayor, at one time represented the State at the National Congress. Young John Monroe came to New Orleans before attaining his twenty-first year. He learned the business of stevedore. Working on the levee, he was brought into contact with the men who then controlled what were called "the masses"; he drifted into politics under their auspices, and speedily became a leader of the labor element. Over the working classes his control was never broken. They first elected him Assistant Alderman, and he signalized himself so greatly as their representative and champion in the lower branch of the municipal legislature, that he was subsequently chosen assistant recorder. In the lower board of the council he served as president. His experiences there fitted him admirably to discharge the duties which now devolved upon his shoulders.1


    Mayor John Monroe

    Mayor Monroe was inaugurated on June 18. On that day he announced one appointment, that of Marion Baker, to be his secretary. Baker was a young newspaperman, connected with the "Delta," a journal with which Monroe himself had at one time been associated.

    The election made little change in the City Council, but sufficient to justify the hope that there would be improvement in the management of the streets. Relf, although a candidate with Place, on the citizens' ticket, had been elected street commissioner, over Fleschier. He immediately addressed himself to that task, and seems to have enjoyed the support of the new mayor. The new alignment of the City Council also opened the way to betterments in the police force. There had been many complaints as to the material from which the force was made up. These, and other pressing problems, were touched upon in the mayor's inaugural message, which was sent in to the Council on June 26. In this document Mayor Monroe outlined the policy which he experienced the administration to follow. He said that some of the provisions of the City Charter were probably obnoxious, and ought to be changed, but as long as they remained in force, it was his intention to see that the laws were carried out "without fear or favor." He called attention to the supreme importance of the police department for the protection of life and property, and for the good reputation of the city at home and abroad; and, having as head of that department, full power of appointment and removal, he declared that he accepted the responsibility, and would not shrink from the performance of all the duties involved. He admitted that in the selection of several hundred men, mistakes might be made, but reminded the Council that he had the authority to remove, and would exercise that power whenever necessary. He urged the uniforming of the police, and stated that as its recognized head, he would himself adopt the new uniform. He called attention to the growth of the city and the importance p230of its commerce, and warned the citizens not to rely upon past efforts, but to prepare the way for greater prosperity. "Much," he said, "will depend upon the enforcement of the laws; much upon light taxation, and more than all upon the absence of epidemics." He promised to enforce all ordinances for keeping the streets clear, and to co-operate with the Council in all measures for settling up the rear portion of the city, the draining of the swamps, and the extension of streets in those districts. He laid stress upon the advantages to be derived from the building of street railways, and the ills ensuing from an insufficient supply of water. He closed with the assurance that he would support any measure which the Council might adopt which might redound to the prosperity and good name of the city.

    The message was not a remarkable literary performance, but it gave great satisfaction, as indicating that the mayor meant to deal effectively with the most crying evils of the moment. A few lines only can be given here as to the manner in which these promises were fulfilled. Monroe's interest in the extension of the street railroads, led to a considerable activity in that direction. The car tracks which were being laid in Canal Street on the side thoroughfares were, at his urging, removed to the "neutral ground," where they have ever since been located. The "neutral ground" was, at the same time, embellished with rows of trees: which, however, were removed some years later. Considerable changes were made in the routing of the five existing street-car lines. In April, 1861, the Picayune described the routes of several new horse-car lines, — ? the Magazine Street line, the Camp and Prytania streets line, the Canal and Metairie Ridge line, the Rampart and Poland Street line, the Rampart, Esplanade and Barracks Street line — ? on all of which cars were in operation about the first day of June. The mayor also advocated the replacement of horse-power by steam engines, called "dummies," on the Carrollton Railroad. This change brought the suburb of Carrollton within a relatively short distance of the center of the city, raised the price of real estate along the route, and would, but for the beginning of the Civil war shortly after it was made, have caused the building-up of the city in the direction of Carrollton which, as a matter of fact, took place nearly twenty-five years later. This activity with regard to local transportation facilities persisted through the beginning of the new year. On January 31, 1862, for example, the City Council authorized the sale of the right of way of three new railroads, on which horse-cars were to be run. One of these was on Dumaine, from Rampart to Bayou St. John, thence to St. John Street, and back through Rampart to Dumaine. Another began at St. Charles Street, and ran through Lafayette, Claiborne, Elysian Fields, Moreau, Ferdinand and Victory, and then back by way of Elysian Fields, Claiborne, Perdido and St. Charles to the starting-point. The third was a double track road, leading from the river through Julia Street to the New Basin. The construction of these roads was, however, postponed by the events which followed rapidly upon the date of the advertisement, and which interrupted all public enterprises in the city for many years.

    That the mayor's announced policy with regard to the police was productive of improvement in the organization may be inferred from the increased number of arrests which are reported to have been made at this time. The ability and energy of the department were severely taxed, for in 1861 the city was afflicted by an epidemic of incendiarism. p231At one period fires were of nightly occurrence. William Howard Russell, who visited New Orleans in 1861, comments frequently upon the number and extent of these conflagrations. "Every night since I have been in New Orleans, there have been one or two fires; tonight [May 26] there were three — ? one a tremendous conflagration. When I inquired to what they were attributable, a gentleman who sat near me, bent over, and looking me straight in the face, said, in a low voice, 'The slaves.' " Russell, however, with more than average British perspicacity, discounted this remark; for he adds: "the flues, perhaps, and the system of stoves, may also bear some of the blame." The police made every effort to deal with the offenders, but appear not to have been able to check the incendiarists until the outbreak of the war supplied, through the military organizations, ampler means to deal with such miscreants; when the frequency of such fires diminished. The police were also kept busy in other ways. Russell reports a statement made to him by the criminal sheriff — ? "a great, big, burly, six-foot man, with revolvers stuck in his belt, and strength and arms quite sufficient to enable him to execute his office in its highest degree" — ? which shows that the lawless element in the community was still large and active. "Speaking of the numerous crimes committed in New Orleans, he declared it a perfect hell on earth, and that nothing could ever put an end to the murders, manslaughters, and deadly assaults till it was made penal to carry arms. [. . .] Bar-rooms, cocktails, mint juleps, gambling-houses, political discussions and imperfect civilization do the rest."2

    Something was done to improve the drainage of the city, although the time had not yet come when this important enterprise could be systematically and efficiently undertaken. In July, 1860, the Board of Commissioners of the Third Drainage District erected a drainage machine near Linden Avenue, at a cost of $40,000, half of which was defrayed from their own funds, and the remainder appropriated by the city. Pumps were established at the Levee water-works, each with a lifting capacity of — 400,000 gallons per hour, which were used to flush the gutters. The Toledano Canal was extended to connect with the New Canal, and the Melpomene Canal was dug and connected with the Toledano Canal, thus affording a channel through which the waters of the Claiborne Canal also found their way into the lake. These improvements consumed the greater part of a fund of $18,000 which had been placed in the hands of the Drainage Commissioners for the purpose.

    On the whole, the city showed progress during the first months of the administration, and in his message addressed to the Council on October 10, 1860, Mayor Monroe was able to congratulate the community upon its health and prosperity. He gave in this document a statistical account of its growth in business, wealth, improvements, and population. The increase and extension of the wharves necessitated by the development of commerce was mentioned. The debts for 1860 had all so far been met, and no legal obligation was due till 1863, when outstanding obligations amounting to $228,000 would mature. The police force had been increased to 338 men, but there was no need to recruit its ranks still further. The public schools were in good condition. The mayor also added a paragraph recommending that steps be taken looking to the enactment of legislation to secure greater security or stability in the buildings erected p232in the city: a curious comment upon the character of work done at that time.

    The activities of a progressive administration were, however, destined now to be checked by the outbreak of war between the states.

    The slavery question, which had been a subject of debate between the two great political parties for many years, reached a crisis in 1860, when a split in the ranks of the democracy made certain the election of Lincoln to the presidency of the United States. The presidential campaign was accompanied by great excitement in New Orleans. The convention in Charleston, found an echo in New Orleans on May 30, when a great meeting was called to ratify the nomination of Bell and Everett. The call for this meeting bore the signatures of such representative citizens as Randall Hunt, Christian Roselius, Moses Greenwood, J. R. Conway, W. H. C. King, W. O. Denegre, E. T. Parker, and F. A. Lumsden. At this meeting was first seen the Young Bell Ringers, one of the picturesque organizations which became a feature of the campaign in the city. The Young Bell Ringers wore a costume of which the principal features were red collars and cuffs, and carried bells, which they rang incessantly while on the march. On the opposite side appeared the Young Men's Breckenridge and Lane Club. The members of the latter organization were recruited from a class probably a little inferior socially and financially to the Young Bell Ringers, but they represented the popular cause, and affiliated organizations promptly sprang up in every part of the city. These clubs, variously known as Young Guards, the Breckenridge Guards, the Chalmette Guards, the Southern Guards, etc., played not merely a prominent role in the campaign, but, after the election of Lincoln, became the nuclei of military organizations which set to work to drill and otherwise prepare for the war which was seen to be inevitable.3

    The first president of the Breckenridge and Lane Club was Ernest Lagarde; the second was Frederick N. Ogden. On its initial appearance the organization could boast of but twelve members; at its second, it was 2,000 strong. In September it was re-enforced by the Breckenridge Dragoons, a marching club which paraded on horseback, wearing black coats, white belts, and caps adorned with gold bands. Mass meetings were held under the auspices of the rival parties, the Breckenridge and Lane supporters rallying at the Armory Hall, the Bell and Everett men meeting alternately in Lafayette Square, Washington Square, and Annunciation Square. On October 29, Wm. L. Yancey arrived in the city to deliver an address. A vast crowd assembled in Camp Street to listen to his fiery periods. The wildest enthusiasm attended his visit. A week later came the news of the election of Lincoln. Throughout the South the tidings were accepted as foreshadowing the dissolution of the Union, if not war. In New Orleans they produced the disconcerting effect of a sudden dash of cold water. All factions were equally startled and disappointed. Quickly all the various democratic factions amalgamated into one, and that one rapidly transferred itself into the party of Secession — ? into the party of the Confederacy.4

    Although the majority of the population of New Orleans unquestionably favored the withdrawal of the State from the Union, there was a respectable minority opposed to this course. The leaders of this faction p233included Randall Hunt5 and Christian Roselius, both men of very exceptional ability. The secessionists did not lack spokesmen. The most eloquent and possibly the most influential was Rev. B. M. Palmer, pastor of the First Presbyterian Church. In a memorable sermon delivered on Thanksgiving Day he set forth the Southern theory of slavery with convincing power. The argument in support of it, he said, "sweeps over the entire circle of our relations, touches the four cardinal points of duty to ourselves, to our slaves, to the world, to almighty God. It establishes the nature and solemnity of our present trust, to preserve and transmit our existing system of domestic servitude, with the right, unchallenged by man, to go and root itself wherever providence and nature may carry it. This trust we will discharge in the face of the worst possible peril. Though war be the aggregation of all evils, yet should the madness of the hour appeal to the arbitration of the world, we will not shrink even from the baptism of fire. If modern crusaders stand in serried ranks upon some plain of Esdraelon, there shall we be in defense of our trust. Not till the last man has fallen behind the last rampart, shall it drop from our hands, and then only in surrender to the God who gave it."6 Such words, uttered in such a place, by so eminent a man, could not fail to produce a great effect in steeling the heart of the community to meet the crisis which was now approaching.

    The winter of 1860-1861 was a period of incessant excitement in New Orleans. Organizations favorable and unfavorable to secession were formed. We hear of the "Southern Rights Association" and of the "Young Men's Southern Rights Association." Meetings were held almost every night in one part of the city or other, and orators of distinction urged, or discouraged, the separatist movement. On December 10 the Legislature convened in Baton Rouge, in extra session, to determine "at once" — ? in Governor Wickliffe's energetic language — ? what course the State should follow. A bill suggested by the governor, calling a convention to make the fateful decision, was passed. The members of this body were elected on January 7, 1861, resulting in the selection of a delegation from New Orleans almost solidly in favor of secession.7 The vote in the State gave the "Southern Rights" candidate as a majority of a little less than 3,000 over their "Co-operation" opponents.

    The action of the convention was a foregone conclusion. Without waiting for the formal enactment of an ordinance of secession, The State Government took action to possess itself of the military posts in Louisiana. On January 9, Brig. Gen. E. L. Tracy, commanding the newly created First Brigade, called his captains together in New Orleans, and informed them that the United States Arsenal in Baton Rouge, Fort Pike, at the Rigolets, and Forts Jackson and St. Philip, on the lower reaches of the Mississippi, were to be seized. In accordance with his orders, Captains Dreux, Walton and Meilleur assembled their men, fully equipped, at their armories that night. The following day at noon, Colonel Walton, of the Washington Artillery, marched his command on board the river steamer "Natchez," and started for Baton Rouge. With him also went detachments from the Crescent Rifles, Chasseurs à Pied, Orleans Cadets, etc., — ? altogether 250 men. On January 10, Maj. Paul E. p234Theard, of the Bataillon d'Artillerie, left on the steamer "Yantic" with 166 men to seize the river forts. A third expedition, under Lieutenant Merriam, set out for Fort Pike, and still another, seized Fort McComb, on Bayou Chef Menteur. All these places surrendered without resistance. The men required for these purposes, and later for the garrisons at these points, drew from the city so many of its young soldiers, that a movement to organize new companies as a "home guard," was initiated amidst great enthusiasm. Several commands were formed among the foreign residents. This movement had considerable popularity. Within the year three brigades were formed, one of which was made up exclusively of French regiments. The others were composed of Spaniards, Italians, Germans, Dutch, Scandinavians, Belgians, and Englishmen. Three brigadier generals were selected from among the French population to command these organizations.8

    The State was thus committed to secession before the convention met. When it assembled at Baton Rouge on January 23 it had merely to give legal form to a situation which, as a matter of fact, already existed. Three days later the Ordinance of Secession was adopted by a vote of 113 to 17. Of those voting in the negative all but ten subsequently signed the act. Among those who steadfastly refused to do was the celebrated lawyer, Christian Roselius. Many of the co-operationist delegates united with the secessionists when the bill was put on final passage. Their attitude was well stated by Ex-Governor A. B. Roman, who, in an impassioned speech against the ordinance, declared that he would, nevertheless, "cheerfully support the bill when adopted, and share the fortunes and follow the lead of his native State." "The State has seceded," exulted the New Orleans Bee, when the news reached the city; "Louisiana has recovered her sovereignty. The allegiance of her citizens is now due to her alone."

    Louisiana was thus erected into a separate, independent republic. Immediately after the adoption of the ordinance, the convention transferred the seat of government to New Orleans. Proclamation of the convention's action, resulted in the resignation of the Louisiana members from both branches of the United States Congress. The members of the House who withdrew were Miles Taylor, a native of New York, who represented a part of the City of New Orleans and the great sugar parishes of the lower coast; J. G. Laudman, a South Carolinian, who represented the Red River parishes; T. G. Davidson, a Tennessean, and John Perkins, a Mississippian, who represented the cotton-growing northern parishes of the State. One representative remained. He was Edouard Bouligny, who represented the district which included the Vieux Carré of New Orleans, and certain of the parishes below the city. He was a member of a prominent Creole family, and had been elected to Congress on the Know-Nothing ticket. He had been a consistent opponent of the democracy and of secession. He had married in Washington, and now identified himself with Federal Government and the Union cause. He was not, however, typical of the Creoles. They were, almost to a man, enthusiastic advocates of the new order of things.


    Ordinance of Secession of Louisiana

    A larger, almost fully readable scan (2.4 MB) is also available.

    On the whole, New Orleans maintained good order at this tremendous moment. The numerous citizens who expressed Union sentiments were not molested unless they made overt and objectionable display of their p236heterodoxy. On the night when the Ordinance of Secession with adopted, the city was illuminated. A few of the Union sympathizers displayed the United States flag over their doors and from the galleries of their homes, or set up transparencies lettered with anti-secession sentiments. Angry crowds collected and made noisy demonstrations of disapproval in these instances, but no damage was done either to the persons or the property of the offenders. The mood of strained loyalty which produced such demonstrations found a legitimate vent on February 13, when the State flag was hoisted over the City Hall. On that day the militia, under command of Gen. J. L. Lewis, assembled in Lafayette Square; the convention suspended its sessions in order that the members might attend; and a salute of 20 guns was fired as the flag rose on the staff. The president of the convention, Alexandre Mouton, made his appearance, walking with the lieutenant-governor, Hyams. The flag was hoisted by Colonels Laubuzun and de Choiseul. As its silken folds unrolled themselves in the bright morning sunshine, the young soldiers in the square below presented arms, the seething multitude cheered, and the bells in the steeple of Doctor Palmer's church rang joyously.9

    The convention, which was now the congress of the free and independent republic of Louisiana, met in New Orleans, on January 29, in the Lyceum Room on the third floor of the City Hall. The election of delegates to the convention of Southern States about to be held in Montgomery, Ala., was one of the immediate questions taken up. This precipitated a discussion about the course to be followed by the State. Should Louisiana cast her lot in with the other Southern States which had already seceded? Should she wait, and see what action would be taken by her immediate neighbors, which, including some of the largest of the Southern Commonwealths, had not yet committed themselves either way? A majority of the convention was in favor of joining the Confederacy forthwith, but a minority urged delay. They pointed out that Louisiana would be the State on which the heaviest burdens would press, in case war eventually developed. The leaders paid little heed to these counsels of moderation, except insofar as they were induced to allow the delegates to go uninstructed to Montgomery. The delegates were chosen. They were seven in number — ? two at large, and one each from the five congressional districts. The two delegates at large were Alexander de Clouet and John Perkins, both ex-members of the United States Congress. De Clouet was a wealthy lawyer and planter. Among the other delegates two were from New Orleans — ? Charles M. Conrad, distinguished as having been Secretary of War in the cabinet of President Fillmore, and Duncan Kenner, one of the best-known men connected with the history of the turf, whose memorable contest with John Slidell over the United States senatorship had resulted in the election of Pierre Soulé to that body.

    The convention named George Williamson ambassador from Louisiana to Texas. It also authorized the seizure of the United States Mint and the Customhouse in New Orleans, and appointed a committee to take charge of the former, and see that it continued in operation, for the benefit of Louisiana. One of its last official acts was to pass an ordinance creating a State army. This was done chiefly at the instance of "Dick" Taylor, son of President Zachary Taylor, who was a native of New Orleans, and a p237resident of the city. General Braxton Bragg was to command this force, which was to be composed of 500 men, enlisted for a period of four months. He was to have the title of brigadier-general. A. H. Gladden was appointed colonel of the infantry regiment, and J. K. Duncan, colonel of the artillery. The former was a veteran of the Mexican war; the latter was a graduate of West Point, who had resigned from the army in 1855, with the expectation of serving with high rank in the filibustering expedition organized by General Quitman, which was frustrated by a presidential proclamation in that year. Bragg's force was quietly organized, but before it was completed, Louisiana had ceased to be an independent political entity, and had incorporated herself into the Confederacy. It therefore became a part of the military organization of the Confederate States.

    Events now followed fast one upon another. Beauregard, dismissed from the superintendency of West Point, to which he had just been appointed, arrived to tender his services to the Government, and was promptly ordered away to Charleston. News of the preparations there against Fort Sumter operated to stimulate recruiting in New Orleans. At the first muster of the local military organizations, which took place on Washington's birthday, at the Fair Grounds, Major General Lewis was able to turn out 4,000 men, divided into two brigades, commanded, respectively, by Brigadier-Generals Palfrey and Tracy. The occasion was made memorable by the presentation of a flag to the Washington Artillery by the ladies of New Orleans, and Judah P. Benjamin delivered a thrilling address, to which Lieut. J. T. Wheat, who had been secretary to the secession convention, made a fitting reply. More than 20,000 people flocked to the Fair Grounds to witness the ceremony.

    In the midst of these exciting scenes, New Orleans preserved its accustomed blithe spirit. Adelina Patti sang to large audiences in her favorite parts at the French Opera House; Maggie Mitchell played the famous part of "Fanchon," at the St. Charles Theater; Blind Tom, the negro pianist, amazed and delighted hundreds of spectators at Armory Hall; Dan Rice gave exhibitions at Carrollton; the Christy Minstrels entertained a laughing public at the Academy of Music; while at the Metairie Jockey Club the races were going on as usual. In the columns of the newspapers the serious aspect of affairs might find room, but nowhere else was the approaching storm allowed to dampen the good humor of the moment. The Carnival of 1861 was celebrated with all its usual brilliancy. There were splendid balls; the masquerading on Mardi Gras was as general as ever; the procession of the "Mystic Krewe of Comus" lacked nothing of its customary magnificence.

    On the day that Lincoln was inaugurated — ? March 4, 1861 — ? the convention again met in the Lyceum Hall. Its first act was to arrange for a public reception to General Twiggs, who was returning from Texas to his home in New Orleans, after having been ignominiously dismissed from the United States army, of which he had been long one of the most illustrious ornaments.a He was a veteran of the War of 1812, and had served conspicuously in the field longer than any other officer then connected with the military establishment of the nation. Now old and enfeebled, he had surrendered to the people in San Antonio when they rose and menaced his tiny garrison with attack. For this his resignation had been demanded at Washington. He therefore returned to New Orleans invested with something like the halo of martyrdom. An immense throng gathered on the levee at Canal Street to welcome him; E. W. p238Moise pronounced an address of welcome, and the old soldier was escorted to a carriage and accompanied by the local military organization, was borne in triumph to his home on Prytania Street, near Erato. Twiggs subsequently entered the Confederate service, with the rank of brigadier general, and was put in command of the land defenses at New Orleans, serving in that capacity till replaced by Lovell.

    The convention also transacted other business, but soon became involved in disputes over the amount of authority to be relegated to the Confederate Government, and the amount which should be reserved to the State. Ultimately the general constitution already accepted at Montgomery was approved, and then this body, which had performed so many epoch-making acts, adjourned sine die on March 26.

    The fall of Fort Sumter on April 14 supplied the next sensation. A banner displayed at the "Delta" office, on which were painted the words, "Sumter had fallen," flashed the news to an immense crowd assembled in front of that office. A fiery orator declaimed the particulars from a window on the second-floor. The intelligence produced varying effects upon the populace. Some were made sorrowful at the thought of the completed rupture with the old government; others were frankly appalled at the prospect of a fratricidal war; but the majority, especially the younger element, was boisterously pleased with the prospect of adventure, and vociferous in their enthusiastic admiration for General Beauregard. Followed a few days later President Davis' proclamation calling the South to arms. Louisiana's quota of troops was fixed at 5,000 men. Twice that number promptly offered themselves, — ? more than could be armed; and the majority of this total was recruited in New Orleans. Gladden had taken advantage of the prevailing excitement to recruit his regiment to its full strength; Colonel Coppens had organized a regiment of Zouaves; and both of these commands, together with the Crescent Rifles, the Louisiana Rifles, and other commands, were now hurried off, on a requisition from General Bragg, to re-enforce his army in Pensacola, where he was planning an attack on Fort Pickens. On April 29 a review was held at which 8,000 were in line.

    The report that United States warships had instituted a blockade at the mouth of the river was the first hint of the disadvantages of war which the city received, but even this serious news did not produce any panic. This fact, joined to the news of General Grant's operations around Cairo, made the citizens realize the need to fortify the city against a possible attack. The valorous spirit of inexperience, however, made them take this subject lightly. It was recalled that Jedediah Leeds, one of the oldest foundrymen in the city, had, in 1812, driven off a British ship with a single 6-pounder gun and a few hot shot, and there seemed no good reason to suppose that a similar exploit might not have been attended now with a similarly satisfactory result. Col. P. O. Hebert, Hebert',WIDTH,120)" onMouseOut="nd();"> a West Pointer, was, however, sent to make an inspection of Forts Jackson and St. Philip, and reported that much work would be needed to put them in a condition where they might offer a serious resistance to an enemy's attack.b The guns in these forts were all comparatively small — ? 42-pounders and 24-pounders, as they were termed in that day. Seven Columbiads found in the arsenal at Baton Rouge, when it was captured from the United States garrison, were now sent down to the forts, after having first been mounted in the gunshops recently opened in the Customhouse. The City Council later (Aug. 9) appropriated $100,000 p239to be expended by Twiggs on the defenses of the city. In February, 1862, the Council floated bonds to the value of $1,000,000, the proceeds of which were handed to Lovell, and used by him for similar purposes.

    In April, the steamer "Havana," a little steamer which formerly had made a semi-monthly trip to Cuba, was purchased by the Confederate Government, and in a shipyard in Algiers was converted into the cruiser "Sumter." Marines for service on board of her were recruited in New Orleans by Captain VanBenthuysen.10 This was the privateer which, under Admiral Semmes, wrought so much havoc among Federal shipping. A month later the Phoenix Iron Works, in Gretna, opposite the City of Lafayette, cast the first gun made in New Orleans for the Confederate Government. This was an — 8-inch Dahlgren gun, intended to fire shell, and had a length of — eight and one-half feet.11 About the same time the steamer, "Star of the West," was put in commission as the navy's receiving ship in the port of New Orleans. She was stationed at the navy yard in Algiers, under the temporary command of Midshipman Comstock.12 This active interest in the Confederate navy culminated in a meeting of the New Orleans steamboatmen, held at the Captains' Association Room, on August 29, at which resolutions were adopted expressing "fealty" to the Confederacy, and promising to the government the support of the Southern boatmen.

    During the remainder of the year the history of the city is mainly a catalogue of military organizations, formed, mustered, and dispatched to the seat of war. After May 1 one of these left the city almost every day. Among them one of the first to go was the celebrated Battalion of the Washington Artillery, which, having won renown on the battlefields in Mexico, twelve or fourteen years before, was now to earn a still more enviable reputation in far greater and bloodier contests. The citizens raised $7,000 with which to outfit the command, of which some $500 was contributed by the women of the city. On March 26, the day when the command entrained, remarkable scenes were witnessed. The soldiers first marched to the First Presbyterian Church, where Doctor Palmer addressed them in words which eloquently embodied the crusading spirit of the community at this moment of exaltation. "Soldiers," he exclaimed, "history reads to us of wars which have been baptized as holy; but she enters upon her records none which is holier than this in which you have embarked. It is a war of defense against wicked and cruel aggression — ? a war of civilization against a ruthless barbarism which would dishonor the dark ages — ? a war of religion against a blind and bloody fanaticism. It is a war for your homes and your firesides — ? for your wives and children — ? for the land which the Lord has given us as a heritage. It is a war for the maintenance of the broadest principles for which a free people can contend — ? the right of self-government. Eighty-five years ago our fathers fought in defense of the chartered right of Englishmen, that taxation and representation are correlative. We, their sons, contend today for the great American principle that all just government derives its powers from the will of the governed. It is the corner-stone of the great temple which on this continent has been reared to freedom; and its denial leads, as the events of the past two months clearly show, to despotism p240the most absolute and intolerable — ? a despotism more grinding than that of the Turk or Russian, because it is the despotism of the mob, unregulated by principle or precedent, drifting at the will of an unscrupulous and irresponsible majority. [. . .] Soldiers, farewell! And may the Lord of Hosts be around about you as a wall of fire, and shield your head in the day of battle!"13

    From the church the command marched to the train. They were followed by a great multitude, which, when the soldiers halted, filled their pockets with spending money, and showered them with flowers. Similar demonstrations attended the departure of the other commands. Within two months Louisiana sent to the army 10,000 men, without exhausting her man-power; so that when Grant's advance into Mississippi involved a fresh draft, several fine commands, including Fenner's battery, were still available in New Orleans to go to Columbus, to strengthen the Confederate line there. At least one colored regiment was organized in the city at this time. It was 1,000 strong. It tendered its services to the Confederate Government, but as a matter of general policy, which did not countenance the organization of colored commands, they were declined. Otherwise, it is quite probable that many other units equally powerful might have been recruited in New Orleans alone. This solitary negro regiment retained its organization for a long time. It had white officers, and participated under their command in many reviews. There was also a battalion of colored men, under a negro man named Jordan, who had beat the drum which called Jackson's forces into line at the beginning of the battle of New Orleans, in 1815. So earnest were these troops in their loyalty to the Confederacy that when a large detachment of prisoners was sent to the city after the battle of Manassas, they begged the privilege of escorting the Federal soldiers through the streets to their place of confinement. Though this request was denied, the battalion turned out and followed the prisoners through the streets in a sort of mock triumphal procession.14

    Towards the close of April a camp was established at Metairie Ridge. It was first known as Camp Metairie, but subsequently this name was changed to Camp Walker. It accommodated about 4,000 men. Later, it proved unhealthful, and was ultimately abandoned. Another camp was opened in what is now called Audubon Park. This was named Camp Lewis, in honor of the gallant old soldier, John L. Lewis. In May it was estimated that between 10,000 and 15,000 troops were collected in and around the city.15 Four months later, when a great review was held, not less than 25,000 men took part. Successive drafts, however, rapidly depleted these totals. In February, 1862, the city was virtually stripped of troops to re-enforce Beauregard's army in Western Tennessee. What then remained in New Orleans was organized into a state militia, which included a European brigade recruited among the French, English, and other foreign residents of the city, and was commanded by Maj. C. T. Buddecke.

    The condition of New Orleans at the outbreak of the war was never so prosperous. The crops of that year were gathered and marketed after the passage of the Ordinance of Secession; they were the largest and p241most valuable in the history of the State. The sugar crop amounted to 458,000 hogsheads, and there were twice that number of barrels of molasses; the sale of which brought into the State $25,000,000 to be divided among 1,300 planters. The cotton crop aggregated 600,000 bales, valued at $30,000,000. These, with rice, represented the exportable products of the State; most of them were handled through New Orleans. The fraction of its business represented by the imports, exports, and domestic receipts were valued at a total of $324,000,000.16 The price of real estate rose to unprecedented figures as a result of the great prosperity of the city. In 1861 there were eleven banks, with an aggregate capital of $20,251,000; only four of them survived the next ten years. In 1865 the joint capital of these banks did not exceed $8,578,000, represented by assets conservatively estimated to have a cash value of not more than $4,000,000. For the moment, however, the sale of the vast stores of cotton and sugar accumulated in the city enabled the banks to carry on their business, and up to the middle of the year 1861, apparently "flush" times prevailed.

    But as the year advanced conditions changed. As early as July 29 it was necessary to call meetings to take action for the relief of Confederate soldiers and their families. At a meeting held on that date in the Merchants' Exchange, at which Doctor Palmer and Judge Ogden made brilliant addresses, a standing committee of twenty-four prominent citizens was appointed which labored ceaselessly thereafter at this laudable task. The gradual cessation of business caused a corresponding extension of the distress. Receipts and orders from the country declined. There was for a time some speculation connected with the blockade runners which, under letters of marque from the Confederate Government, braved the Federal warships on guard at the Passes, and carried cotton out to foreign ports, or brought home from them the articles of which the Confederacy was already beginning to feel the need. Gradually, however, as the blockade became stricter, that business, too, vanished. The towboats once busy in the harbor, collected under their tarpaulins in the shelter of Slaughterhouse Point, or at Morgan's Texas Steamship wharf. Some of these were converted into war vessels by the simple process of plating them with railroad iron, bulkheading their prows, and erecting fenders of cotton bales around their boiler rooms. Then, armed with whatever artillery could be found for the purpose, they had stolen away — ? some up the river and some down. The merchants in the city found occupation in speculating on the daily diminishing supply of food and goods. A few, more honorable and more patriotic, refused to share in this manipulation of the necessaries of life, and dealt with consumers directly. In September the banks suspended specie payments under an order from the Confederate authorities. The local markets were greatly disturbed by the scarcity of small change which naturally followed.17 The City Council authorized the issuance of checks with a view to relieve the need. These checks, made in various small denominations, passed into general circulation, at first at their par value, and then at progressive rates of discount. Business houses, too, began to emit notes and certificates to meet the famine of small change; these evidences of indebtedness were called "shinplasters," and became the principal medium with which p242minor commercial transactions were carried on. George W. Cable, the celebrated novelist, who was an eye-witness of the distress of the city at that time, has given us a vivid account of the expedients which were adopted to supply the city's need of small coin. Boss butchers and the keepers of drinking-houses were among the most prolific publishers of this kind of money; and in lieu of the five-cent pieces, the tickets of the street car companies were much in vogue.18 As the value of the circulating medium declined, the cost of food and clothing rose. Finally the market men and women, who were largely Germans, Gascons, and French, refused to accept the "shinplasters" and the city authorities had to intervene, and compel them to receive it.

    Steps were ultimately taken to distribute food among those who were by now no longer able to pay for it. In July the new iron water works building at the foot of Canal Street was opened by order of the City Council as a depot of supplies. This was the so-called "free-market." It began its work in the nick of time; for at the beginning of the following month, the financial condition of the city compelled it to suspend payment of the allowance of $10 per month which it was making to the families of volunteer soldiers. This was a severe blow to a large class of worthy poor. To them the "free market" was of incalculable benefit. The planters along the river above the city furnished supplies generously. Bread in loaves, meal, rice, beans, molasses, sweet potatoes, and other vegetables were regularly available. The distribution of these supplies was under the supervision of Thomas Murray. Twice a week poor families might apply to the "free market" and have their necessities at least in part relieved. On the first day on which the "free market" was in operation — ? August 16 — ? 723 such families applied; this number rose rapidly to 2,000; and on the day that this useful institution was finally closed, April 29, 1862, its relief was accepted by 1,940 families. No one was ever turned away. "Some scenes in the free market are quite ludicrous," comments Julia LeGrand, in her diary, written at this time; "Some of the women, if told that they cannot gratify some particular taste, refuse all that is offered; for instance, one became angry a few days ago, because presented with black tea instead of green, and another, finding no coffee, turned up her nose at all the other comfortable items which the market contains. Some women, they say, curse their benefactors heartily when disappointed. Coffee they had at first, but blockade times have changed this once familiar berry into something resembling gold beads. Cleopatra, with her pearls, was scarcely more 'wastefully given' than a coffee drinker in these days."19 But the cases of ingratitude were infrequent, and the real good done by the "free market" can never be estimated. There was some distress which its ministrations could not reach. Those who were too proud to accept public charity were reached by private enterprise, or by associations formed for this purpose, of which there were many. The Confederate Guards, an aristocratic command formed from among the older and richer members of the community, and included in the so-called "home guard," not only raised and equipped several companies of soldiers for the active service from which age debarred themselves, but now exerted themselves to take care of the families of the men who enlisted. One company of this command taxed its members $250 each for this p243purpose. The women of the city were indefatigable in their exertions; not only did they relieve cases of distress brought to their attention locally, but they worked ceaselessly to supply food and delicacies for the wounded Confederate soldiers at the front. They were fiercely loyal, these ladies; and they sent old hoop-skirts to the men who for one reason or another, remained at home instead of joining the army and going away to fight.

    An editorial published in the Picayune on September 27, 1861, commended Mayor Monroe for his activity in arresting alien enemies. There are frequent mentions in the newspapers of the time of the arrest and trial of spies. It was believed that Butler dispatched these wretched persons into the city from the camp at Ship Island, where a Federal army was slowly being collected under the protection of the Federal fleet, for a descent upon New Orleans. Cable also speaks of an elaborate system of espionage instituted in New Orleans by the "Thugs," a name which was applied indiscriminately to the Know-Nothing party and to the rowdies and gangsters with which the city had been infested for several years.

    Finally, inTwiggs was relieved of his post on October 7; Lovell replaced him on October 18.',WIDTH,150)" onMouseOut="nd();"> October, 1861, Maj. Gen. Mansfield Lovell relieved General Twiggs of his command of the department in which the City of New Orleans had been placed. On February 21, 1862, a committee of public safety, many of whose names are still familiar in the city, was appointed by the Council to act in concert with the general, in reference to the city and its approaches. And then, on March 16, General Lovell put the city under martial law. Information had been received that the long-rumored attack on the city by the Federal fleet was about to be made.


    1. Capuchin A Catholic friar.

    Text prepared by:

    At a dinner given in his honor shortly before the departure of the "Sumter," Admiral Semmes, discussing the possibility of an attack by the Federal fleet on New Orleans, said, frankly, that in his opinion Forts Jackson and St. Philip could not be depended on to check the advance of the enemy's ships up the Mississippi. This was the verdict of a sailor thoroughly acquainted with the situation. It was not the view held by the Confederate authorities in Richmond, nor that of the people of New Orleans. Although New Orleans was the largest city in the Confederacy, and in spite of the fact that its capture would admittedly have grave commercial and strategic consequences, the town was stripped of its resources to supply the needs of the forces fighting in Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee and Mississippi.1 Between the date of the passage of the Ordinance of Secession and the beginning of 1862, New Orleans sent to the front 20,000 men — ? virtually all her military population. When the news of the impending attack on the city became certain — ? about the beginning of January, 1862 — ? Lovell set energetically to work to organize the land defenses of the city. Brig.-Gen. J. K. Duncan was assigned to command of the coast defenses. This brought under his control not only the river forts, but Forts Pike, McComb, and Bienvenu, on the lakes; and Forts Livingston, Caillou, Quitman, Berwick, and Ch — ne, on the gulf coast. Lieutenant Colonel Higgins was put in charge of Forts Jackson and St. Philip. The latter point was under the immediate control of Captain Squires. Higgins established his headquarters at Fort Jackson, and remained there until, a few days before the beginning of the attack, when Duncan took charge at that point.

    All that could be done in an emergency was done. Forts Jackson and St. Philip were strengthened, and some small addition made to their armament, by bringing guns from elsewhere in the Confederacy, and mounting them in the works. Elaborate and scientific earthworks were erected below the city, at Chalmette; others somewhat less elaborate were constructed above. For these the City Council appropriated the funds set aside for charitable and educational purposes. These fortifications served no good end except to convince the citizens that the administration was making every effort to protect the city. As a matter of fact, when they were finished, there was no artillery with which to equip the lines, practically everything of that sort having been turned over to the outlying fortifications, the river-fleet, and the forts. Lovell also opened powder mills in the city, which turned out considerable supplies of material of rather dubious quality. He understood very clearly that the main attack of the Federals would be delivered along the line of the Mississippi, and shared Semmes' view, that the forts, with their 100 or 110 guns, could not prevent the fleet from passing. He therefore supplemented the defenses there with a raft or boom, which, stretched across the river and securely moored with chains, would, it was hoped, be effective in holding the enemy's vessels under the fire of the batteries. The p245building of the raft was very difficult at this season, when the Mississippi was at flood stage; in February it was swept away, and was with difficulty replaced under the supervision of Colonel Higgins. The expenses connected with the work were met by a subscription among the wealthier citizens of the city. Higgins had been formerly an officer in the United States navy, but now held the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. He appreciated the danger of having the raft again swept away, and suggested that in its place a cable be laid across the river, to be carried on a line of hulks anchored with bows upstream. This plan was adopted and executed.

    The French Market and Shipping

    A river defense-fleet was organized under Captains Montgomery and Stevenson, both old and able steamboat captains, on whom the Confederacy now conferred authority to purchase all the vessels they could get, and convert them into war-ships. They had likewise authority to raise and equip crews for these boats. The plan was to make each vessel as impervious to the enemy's shot as possible with rows of cotton-bales enclosed with heavy timber and railroad iron. They were to be fitted with powerful engines and armed with a few heavy guns. To each was assigned as commander an experienced river pilot. Fourteen vessels were thus fitted out, mainly towboats and river steamboats. Lovell, however, was able to retain only six of them, the remainder being requisitioned to re-enforce the fleet in the upper Mississippi resisting the advance of the Federals from that direction. Several of the little fleet were supplied with an iron ram at the prow. These were the "Warrior," Captain Stevenson; "Stonewall Jackson," Captain George Phillips; "Defiance," Captain McCoy; "Resolute," Captain Hooper; "General Lovell," Captain Byrd Paris, and "John C. Breckenridge," Captain James Smith. They were supplemented by what was called the "State" fleet, comprising the "McRae," formerly the "Star of the West," a merchant ship captured by the Confederates in a Texas port, altered and strengthened, and armed with five 42-pounders, and commanded by Lieutenant Huger, a gallant Carolinian, who had formerly held a commission in the United States p246navy; the "Jackson," a similar vessel, commanded by Lieutenant Renshaw, also an ex-United States naval officer; the "Governor Moore," commanded by Capt. Beverly Kennon, another ex-naval officer; and the "General Quitman," commanded by Capt. Alex Grant, a planter and river-boat master of long experience. These vessels had been refitted at the expense of the State of Louisiana.

    The entire fleet was not regarded with much confidence either by the authorities or the people. They put much more faith in the iron-clad floating battery "Louisiana," and the huge armor-clad "Mississippi," the latter of which lay on the stocks on the river front in Jefferson City, with hundreds of men at work on her day and night, in a frantic effort to finish her in time to be of service against the enemy's fleet. The "Louisiana" was in a dry-dock protected with a plating of iron in which a powerful marine engine was being installed. She was to have a battery of 16 guns of large caliber. Her commander was Captain Mitchell, an officer of the old navy, a well-known and competent officer. He had been promoted to the command of the "Louisiana" when Hollins, her first officer, was put in charge of the Confederate naval defenses. Mitchell devoted himself energetically to the task of completing his vessel. As yet her guns had not been mounted, her machinery was imperfect, and she could not maneuver in any way under her own power. The demand of the public, however, compelled the military authorities to order her to be launched and taken down to the forts in this incomplete state. Mitchell did not expect much of this clumsy contrivance.

    There was also the little ram "Manassas." She was originally the little ocean-going steamer "Enoch Train," of Boston. This vessel was built as an ice-breaker and had been used as such in the northern Atlantic ports. The idea of the "Manassas" originated with Captain Stevenson, then a member of a prosperous commission house in New Orleans. At the beginning of the war this gentleman turned his attention to plans for the defense of the city, and recommended to the authorities the construction of a new kind of war-vessel, the novel feature of which was a powerful ram at the prow. He took his project to Montgomery, and obtained from the Confederate authorities there permission to experiment, with the promise of further recognition if he succeeded in constructing a serviceable craft. Stevenson bought the "Enoch Train" in 1861, for $100,000, subscribed by a group of patriotic men in New Orleans, and refitted her in one of the yards in Algiers, opposite New Orleans. Stevenson's plan included no armament. A single gun, was however, installed in the bow of the ship, despite his objections. When Hollins was put in command of the naval defenses, he ordered this little vessel out for trial. He himself accompanied her to the forts, Stevenson being retained as pilot. There were then lying in the passes several large Federal warships, part of the blockading squadron, including the "Preble," the "Vincennes," and the "Richmond," all powerful ships, any one more than a match, in the view of naval experts, for the small Confederate vessel. Hollins made a reconnaissance in a smaller vessel, and convinced himself that there was, nevertheless, some chance of a successful attack upon the Federal squadron. On his return to the "Manassas" he found that Stevenson had been superseded as master by Lieutenant Warley, of the Confederate States navy. Stevenson was very much offended at the action of the Confederate Government in thus displacing him, and his anger had important consequences, later, when the p247Federal attack developed, and the necessity for united and harmonious action on all sides became urgent.2

    It decided that the "Manassas" should be permitted to try herself out, and on October 11, 1861, accompanied by the "Ivy," a converted towboat armed with two 42-pounders and commanded by Lieutenant Fry, later shot in a filibustering expedition in Cuba, and the "McRae," to which Commodore Hollins now transferred his flag, she weighed anchor under cover of the night. The "Manassas" first attacked the "Richmond." Fortunately for that ship, however, a coal barge which lay alongside received the impact of the ram, and the only serious damage inflicted upon the Federal cruiser was done by a shot from the "Manassas's" bow gun, which passed through the captain's cabin. The jar of the blow disarranged the "Manassas's" machinery, and she was therefore unable to maneuver so as to bring her gun to bear, and consequently could not fire again. At this juncture the other vessels of the Federal squadron concentrated their fire upon her. The Confederate ships now came up, and the Federals drew off. In executing the operation the "Richmond" ran on a mud lump and stuck fast. The "Ivy" was able to approach quite close, and opened fire with both of the guns which composed her armament. Before Fry could sink his opponent, however, the "Preble" and the "Vincennes" came to the rescue and he was forced to abandon the unequal struggle. The "Manassas" was towed away from the scene. The exploit gave great satisfaction in New Orleans. Stevenson's idea was vindicated; the little ship was accepted by the Confederate authorities, and after having been repaired was added to the regular navy.

    The contractors who were building the "Mississippi," the Messrs. Tifts, of Georgia, planned to make her the mightiest war-engine known up to that time. She was larger and more powerful than the famous iron-clad "Virginia," the services of which in Hampton Roads are well-known. Unfortunately, here, as in all the works undertaken for the protection of the city, the lack of skilled mechanics and ship-wrights was severely felt. Practically all this kind of labor had been drafted by the Confederate Government, and withdrawn from the city long before. For this reason the heavier parts of the "Mississippi's" machinery had to be cast in Richmond. The building of the ship took much longer than anticipated. In February, 1862 her sixteen engines yet remained to be put in place, her iron armor to be finished, her prow to be re-enforced, and her guns to be put on board. The delay in completing the ship caused some anxiety in New Orleans. A committee was formed to see that all the material required by the contractors was promptly furnished. Its members visited the yard and made periodical reports on the work. The grounds were lighted by gas in order to facilitate the work at night. A large guard was established around the spot where the great hulk lay, to insure order and protect the vessel from treachery. But the insistence of the public finally compelled the contractors to launch the "Mississippi" prematurely. The launching was successfully effected, and caused much rejoicing in the city; but the difficulties of getting the machinery to work, and the incompleteness of many other parts of the ship, made thoughtful observers tremble. It was known that the enemy was informed of the p248progress which was being made on the "Mississippi," and that his attack would be delivered, if possible, before she was ready to meet him.

    The situation, then, as far as the naval defenses of the city, was not encouraging. Lovell was still worse off for land forces. At the beginning of 1862 he had succeeded in creating a fairly respectable body of troops, but it had been drained away to supply men to the army at Corinth, just as the major part of Duncan's river-fleet had been requisitioned to defend Island No. 10. By March he could count only 3,000 men in and around the city. The Confederate Government persisted in the idea — ? in which General Beauregard concurred — ? that the rumored attack from the gulf was merely a demonstration; that the serious danger was to be apprehended from above;3 and that at any rate, even if the Federal fleet did intend actually to attack the city, that attack could not be delivered before the latter part of the spring, by which time the borrowed fleet and some of the borrowed regiments would be returned, the "Louisiana" and the "Mississippi" would be finished, and an efficient resistance could be offered. Although the people of the city pinned their faith to the invulnerability of the forts and the effectiveness of the great iron-clads which they were building, they did not altogether succeed in blinding themselves to the peril of their position, and a feeling began to prevail that the Confederate authorities in Richmond were either indifferent, or at any rate did not realize the fate which menaced New Orleans.

    By the end of February the United States army collecting at Ship Island received its last quota. It now numbered between 12,000 and 15,000 men. Gen. Benjamin F. Butler, who had, some time before, made himself conspicuous as an advocate of the attack on New Orleans, was appointed to the command. The magnitude of the naval preparations were not very clearly understood, even in the North. Both Farragut and Porter, two of the ablest officers in the navy, had given their opinion that it was feasible to attack, with ships, the forts on the Mississippi River. They differed, however, as of method. Porter favored an elaborate bombardment of the forts, which he calculated could be silenced within 24 hours. Farragut relied on his ships alone. He was intimately acquainted with the topography of the entire vicinity of New Orleans. His father, a native of Minorca, who had emigrated to the United States early in the century, had spent a short time in New Orleans, and a much longer time in trading along the river into the city, rafting lumber down the stream to sell at the United States navy yard below the suburban town of Algiers. Farragut's own sister was even then living near the mouth of the Pascagoula River. As a boy this able officer had repeatedly visited New Orleans, and still included among his friends in the city prominent persons, such as Marion Baker, Mayor Monroe's secretary.

    Preparations for the attack began in 1861. An advance force of 2,000 men was sent to Ship Island under Phelps. The building of Porter's mortar fleet went on systematically in New York and elsewhere. Twenty-one strong schooners, each of 75 to 100 tons, were altered and strengthened to withstand the shock of firing 13-inch mortars, carrying a shell which weighed 200 pounds. The British war-correspondent, Russell, who furnished the London "Times" with an account of these vessels while p249they were under construction, said that they were the most formidable instruments of warfare yet devised in the United States. Farragut on his part was provided with the best ships in the United States navy, including the "Hartford," the "Pensacola," the "Richmond," and the "Brooklyn," vessels of about equal size and armament, averaging 2,000 tons burden, and equipped with 24 guns, most of them of 9 or 11 inch bore — ? formidable weapons indeed, judged by the standard of those times. To these were added the gunboats "Iroquois", "Oneida", "Wissachickon", "Cayuga", "Sciota", "Pinola", "Itasca", "Varuna", "Kennebec", "Kineo", "Katahdin", and "Winona," all newly-built, of great strength and heavily engined, and each armed with a large "pivot" gun and five or six smaller pieces. The smaller steamers "Harriet Lane," "Westfield," "Owasco," "Miami," and "Jackson," each carrying from six to eight heavy guns, and two sailing sloops, the "Vincennes" and "Portsmouth," each armed with 20 guns, made up a formidable fleet. Including the mortar schooners there were 47 vessels, mounting 310 guns — ? by far the largest and most powerful fleet that had up to that moment ever operated under the flag of the United States. Farragut chose his subordinates with the same meticulous care that he selected his ships. They included David Porter, Jr., Bailey, Bell, Smith, Alden, Morris, Craven, Smith, Wainwright, Boggs, Lee, and others of the ablest officers in the navy.

    Butler, on arriving at Ship Island, and taking over the command from Phelps, set to work to organize his army. For practice he sent out several small expeditions to operate along the Mississippi coast. These succeeded in shelling a few Italian settlements and capturing some fishing boats; but most important of all, they were designed and to some extent succeeded in convincing the Confederate Government that his attack, if made at all, would be in the nature of a flank movement against New Orleans. Farragut, meanwhile, was busy getting his vessels over the bar at the mouth of the river — ? a difficult and dangerous affair in those days — ? which occupied two or three weeks. The plan which he now communicated to Butler, was, that the bomb-vessels should fire upon Forts Jackson and St. Philip until they were completely reduced; whereupon Butler's forces would ascend the river on transports and occupy the fortifications. If, however, the bombardment failed to produce the anticipated result, the navy, which in the interim would remain quietly further down the river, would make an attempt to run by the forts, try to clear the river of the enemy's obstructions, and cut off the forts from all supplies. Thereupon Butler was to land below Fort St. Philip, approach from the rear, and try to take it by assault. It was known that no preparations had been made to resist a land attack from that direction. The development of the latter plan was credited to Lieutenant, afterwards General, Godfrey Weitzel, who had been associated with Beauregard in the construction of the forts, and who, on that account, was considered to know the locality intimately. It was, however, a dangerous plan, and if carried out, would probably have brought disaster upon Butler and his troops.

    The news that Farragut had crossed the bar and that his ships were at anchor in the Mississippi a few miles below the forts was received with much alarm in New Orleans. This mood of discouragement was helped by other circumstances. Rumors were afloat that the delay in completing the "Mississippi" was due to treachery. A detachment of sharpshooters, under Captains Mullins and Lertigue, who had been dispatched p250to the lower reaches of the Mississippi in the hope that they could delay the fleet, had failed to accomplish anything; and a regiment, commanded by the veteran Polish revolutionary, Szymanski, sent to co-operate with them had accomplished nothing as the high water in the river made it impossible to get within rifle range of the enemy, who, moreover, had easily repelled the attack with the fire of the howitzers mounted in the fighting tops of his ships. Moreover, the news of the heavy Southern casualties at Shiloh had just come, still further to dampen the spirit of the city. New Orleans was largely represented on that battlefield. Nearly one-half of its soldiers had fallen, killed or wounded. Many of the injured were now finding their way back to be cared for by the friends who had witnessed their departure, so short a time before, full of youth and confidence.

    By April 15 Farragut's advanced vessels arrived at the point of woods below Fort Jackson. The other vessels stretched out in a long line thence downstream, with the transports with Butler's men on board at the end, towards the passes. Above that point the wood had been cleared away to allow the guns in the forts full command of the river. Why this had not been done more extensively was never known. Behind this shelter the enemy now disposed his mortar-vessels in almost complete security. The vessels were stationed inshore; with rigging dressed with foliage, and hulls painted dark gray, they were invisible at a distance of — two miles. Six boats were anchored on the east bank of the river, in full view of the batteries at Fort Jackson, with a view to draw their fire. The idea of bombarding a fortress under such circumstances was a novelty in warfare; the result of the experiment was awaited with the liveliest expectation throughout the fleet. Success depended upon the accuracy with which the shells were aimed. Captain Gerdes, of the U. S. Coast Survey, who had spent much time in the vicinity, undertook to supply charts by which to locate the bomb-vessels. While these preparations were being made, the Federal gunboats made frequent dashes into the zone of fire of the forts, in order to divert attention and to reconnoiter. Duncan repeatedly fired on them, but learned to his dismay that nothing of less size than his seven-inch gun could reach these daring adventurers. It is probable that the quality of powder turned out from Lovell's mills in New Orleans was principally to blame for the failure of his artillery to prove effective at these short ranges.

    Not long after taking up these positions Farragut discovered the damage done to the raft, or boom, by the river's current. On the 17th he observed the Confederates at work repairing it. On the 17th Duncan and Higgins sent down a fire raft, one of the many barges assembled for this purpose above the forts, under charge of the river fleet. It was expected that these vessels, loaded with combustibles, should be released at frequent intervals. This duty was confided to Captain Stevenson, but much dissatisfaction was expressed over the way in which he managed it. This initial raft collided with the hulks supporting the cable and threatened to carry it away. Lieutenant Renshaw was then put in charge of the work, but met with no better success. Finally, when by the united exertions of all parties, a raft was got flaming past the obstructions and sent down into the enemy's midst, it produced great excitement, chiefly because it was thought that the burning craft carried explosives as well as combustibles; but as soon as this error was ascertained, the "Iroquois" attached a line and towed it ashore, when it burned itself out p251harmlessly. Warned by this experience, however, Farragut formed a patrol of small boats, which diverted all subsequent visitors away from the vessels of the fleet. The fire rafts, if properly managed, would, at least, have performed a useful function by illuminating the river. Duncan, who had established his headquarters at Fort Jackson, was constantly urging that they be sent down, but little attention was given to his requests.

    The bombardment opened on the afternoon of April 17. About 4 P.M., a gunboat ran out into the stream and engaged in a long range duel with the fort, under cover of which two mortar-schooners were towed out and opened fire. The fire, slow and irregular, at first, showed that the crews were unaccustomed to their work. The shells fell near the fort; some even struck; but nothing serious resulted, except some damage to the levee, which increased the flow of water, a nuisance with which the garrison had constantly to contend, owing to the high level of the river. Early on the 17th each of the Federal gunboats towed four mortar-schooners into position at the edge of the cleared space in the woods on the west bank of the river. Here fifteen of these vessels were soon moored in a line, — about one and one-half miles below Fort Jackson, which was to be the principal object of attack. Six other mortar-boats took up position on the opposite side of the river. Both forts opened fire, but without doing much harm. Only a single rifled piece in Fort Jackson could reach the enemy. Little attention was paid to the fire of the forts, except as the "Owasco" replied with an occasional shot. After a few rounds the great 13-inch mortar, in Fort St. Philip, which, was expected to do much, collapsed and became useless. At 9 o'clock the bombardment opened in earnest and lasted ten hours. Some 2,000 shells struck Fort Jackson. Only an occasional shell was directed at Fort St. Philip, as it was known that, when Fort Jackson fell, the other fortress would necessarily capitulate also, not being able alone to offer any protracted resistance. The garrison in Fort Jackson early had to seek refuge in the casements and leave the works to suffer as they might from the enemy's fire. The quarters in the bastions, which contained all the property of the soldiery, was ultimately set on fire. There was no way to extinguish the flames. The citadel, near which the ammunition was stored, was next to catch. All hands turned out in a valiant effort to suppress the fire before it communicated to the ammunition. The flames were extinguished and rekindled several times. Higgins exerted himself to the uttermost, but the citadel was finally completely consumed. Meanwhile, the river-fleet was sending down frequent fire-rafts, some of which grounded near the fort, others of which got no further than the cable, and the remainder were intercepted and towed away by Farragut's patrols. At the end of the day the men in the forts were greatly exhausted by their exertions. In many cases this was their first taste of actual warfare. The casualties were not serious — ? one killed and six wounded. A few of the guns had been damaged. The fort itself was practically unharmed. The enemy also had practically escaped damage. A few of the mortar boats had been hit, but not much injured; their wounds served merely to show the need of removing those hitherto stationed along the east bank, to a less exposed position with the remainder of the flotilla, along the west bank.

    p252 During that night the Confederates neglected to maintain a strict guard over the cable. The Federals were able to inspect it, and ascertained that it could easily be removed.

    The bombardment was resumed the next day. Many shells struck the fort, but the majority buried themselves in the soft earth near and exploded harmlessly. Several guns were dismounted including one 10-inch and one 7-inch Columbiad. The fire from the forts was more brisk than on the previous day, as the garrison was become habited to the shells, which no longer kept them from the guns. The "Oneida" was hit and suffered a loss of nine men wounded; a mortar schooner was sunk. Two men were wounded in the fort during the day. The bombardment did not cease at nightfall, but continued through the night, to the great annoyance of the wearied men. Duncan telegraphed a report to the city written in a more hopeful vein than his messages of the preceding day. Bad weather set in on the 19th; the bombardment continued all through the day, and that night, under the shelter of darkness and rain, the enemy made a daring and successful effort to cut the cable. For some unascertainable reason, the river-fleet omitted to send down fire-rafts. Under cover of a tremendous fire two Federal gunboats approached the cable. One of them, the "Pinola," laid herself alongside of a hulk, while a Prussian engineer, Krull, who was on board, attached a petard and connected the wires of an electric battery which was to explode a heavy charge of gunpowder and wreck the barrier. But as the "Pinola" cast off, the wind caught her and drove her down stream and the wires parted. Farragut had, however, another less scientific but more effective method of solving the problem. The "Itasca" landed a party of men on one of the hulks who attacked the cable with chisels, and after half an hour of strenuous labor they cut it. Duncan, finally apprized by a rocket from a scout boat of what was going on, opened a heavy fire, but the Federals calmly completed their work. The "Itasca" swung down stream entangled in the severed cable, and had a narrow escape from being driven ashore in a very exposed situation, from which she was only extricated by the courage and skill of her commander, Captain Caldwell.

    Farragut had by now made up his mind to a more energetic mode of procedure. The process of reducing the forts by bombardment was proving unexpectedly slow. Most of the mortar boats were beginning to be short of ammunition. On the 20th he issued orders stating his opinion that the fleet should run past the forts and that the troops should then effect a landing from the Gulf side in the vicinity of the Quarantine, both forces thereafter to move together up the river, aiding each other as the necessity arose. On the 21st, before daybreak, the fire rafts which Stevenson had failed previously to dispatch drifted down the river in the midst of the Federal fleet; this time they came near to causing a great disaster; one narrowly missed setting fire to the "Hartford," and another to the "Sciota." The fourth day of the bombardment resulted in dismounting more guns in Fort Jackson, and one man was wounded; but the garrison was learning how to take care of itself, and Duncan began to feel confident of his ability to hold out, although anxious for an intermission in the bombardment, in which he might remount his damaged artillery and make other repairs. Efforts to replace the cable had been in vain. Duncan therefore now asked for help from New Orleans, suggesting that the "Louisiana" be sent to his support. Lovell accordingly p253instructed Mitchell to have her towed down the river, although he probably knew as well as anybody else that in her imperfect state she was useless both as a vessel and as a stationary battery. Mitchell had orders to take command of the whole motley Confederate navy. It would have been a great relief to Duncan to have an experienced officer in this position. Unquestionably Mitchell should have been sent earlier to undertake this important duty, but he had been detained in the city in order to hurry the work on the "Louisiana." With him now came Captain McIntosh, who was assigned to command that vessel. Mitchell frankly told Duncan that the "Louisiana" was useless; her own machinery refused to function, and there were no towboats in the fleet capable of managing her; and if pushed into action it would be entirely possible for the enemy to take positions where his ships could batter her to pieces. In these views Mitchell was supported by all the other naval officers present at this interview with the commander of the forts. Duncan, however, persisted in his demand that she should take a position before the fort and go into action. He hoped in this way to converge three fires upon the enemy. Mitchell insisted that if the fifty mechanics whom he had brought with him and who were still actively at work on the vessel had a few days more of undisturbed labor, the vessel might be put in shape to be really useful. As a matter of fact, by superhuman effort she was actually completed before the forts were finally compelled to surrender, and it is quite possible that had his advice been accepted at this critical moment this result might have been attained in time to render the "Louisiana" a deciding factor in the battle with the fleet. Duncan, however, was disgusted with what he regarded as Mitchell's obstinacy; his reports show his irritation. Later on he went so far as to blame the disastrous result of the siege upon Mitchell, but a court-martial, after a full investigation, vindicated that gallant officer entirely.

    Mitchell, deferring to Duncan's insistence, agreed to do all in his power to see that the fire rafts were dispatched at proper intervals. He found, however, that this was not easy to do in the disorganized condition in which he found the river fleet. Two boats which had been detailed to handle the fire rafts had failed to do their work properly on account of defective machinery. Moreover, the larger part of the fleet under Stevenson declined to recognize Mitchell's authority, on the ground that officers and men had joined on the understanding that they should not be subject to the orders of the regular navy, nor be placed under the command of the regular naval officers. Stevenson, whose anger over the "Manassas" episode is easily perceived in these acts of insubordination, consented, however, to co-operate in every possible way with Mitchell, reserving the right to use his own judgment as to details, and on the distinct understanding that the vessels in his charge should constitute a separate command.

    It was unfortunate that disagreements should have arisen among the commanding officers at this moment, when more than ever it was imperative that all of the Confederate forces should combine to offer a definite and coherent resistance to the enemy. In fact, the ultimate failure of the defense was in no small part traceable to the failure of the river fleet to align itself harmoniously with the general scheme of operations mapped out by Mitchell. Stevenson contended that he was only demanding what General Lovell desired to have done. In this statement the old river captain was probably sincere. As a matter of fact, he misunderstood p254Lovell's ideas. Referring to the river fleet, at a later time, Lovell expressed an opinion anything but complimentary to its organization. "Unable to govern themselves, unwilling to be governed by others, their almost total want of system, vigilance and discipline rendered them useless and helpless when the enemy dashed upon them suddenly on a dark night." In fact, the whole organization of this little fleet was a blunder. It was due, doubtless, to the pressure which popular opinion exerted upon the government. Mitchell's whole command, therefore, resolved itself into the unmanageable "Louisiana," the guns of which were not yet in position on the very eve of the battle; the ram "Manassas," the "McRae" and the "jackson," two steamers loaned by Governor Moore, the "Quitman" and his namesake, "Governor Moore."

    On the 22nd and 23rd of April Duncan shelled vigorously the woods behind which the Federal squadron lay concealed. He also repaired the fort, where some damage had been done that required attention. The heavy fire from the enemy's mortars continued all through the 23rd. But at noon on that day it slackened perceptibly. This Duncan interpreted as presaging some new development in the attack. He communicated this view to Mitchell and entreated him to tow the "Louisiana" into a position below the fort, where her guns would command the lower sweep of the river. He was so determined to have this done that he took up the matter with Lovell by telegraph. Lovell, in his turn, communicated with Whipple,a senior officer of the Confederate Navy in Louisiana, and asked him to strain a point, if possible, in order to gratify Duncan. Lovell himself decided to go to the forts and try in person to arrange the differences that had arisen between two capable and loyal officers. The people of the city, however, were not allowed to know that any dispute existed. Everything was represented to them as progressing satisfactorily, and the feeling of confidence which had been stimulated by Duncan's optimistic telegrams was permitted to remain undisturbed.

    So far Fort Jackson had suffered a loss of six men killed and thirteen wounded. Fort St. Philip was still intact, although about a thousand shells had fallen within the works. The men of the garrisons were in good spirits. On the morning of the 23rd no attempt was made in the forts to reply to the bombardment. Mitchell was now able to send a message to Duncan, through his lieutenant, Shryock, that he expected to have the "Louisiana" in condition by the following day. He had succeeded in getting at least part of his guns into position. Duncan was convinced that the enemy's final attack was to be expected momentarily. He therefore sent back by Shryock urgent messages relative to the fire rafts. Shryock himself undertook to see that they were dispatched at frequent intervals during the night; but they failed to come at intervals of two hours, as Duncan had been led to hope. There does not seem to be any real foundation for the belief which Duncan afterwards expressed, that this neglect was a principal cause of the Federal success; all that can be said is, that it helped towards a result which was determined by many agencies. Mitchell, sharing Duncan's apprehensions, made the best disposition possible of his fleet. The "Manassas" lay with her tender just above Fort Jackson. The "Louisiana," with her tenders, on board of which were most of her cannoneers — ? the mechanics still being in possession of the vessel herself — ? retained her old position above Fort St. Philip. Near her was the "McRae," and still further upstream were anchored the "Quitman," "Moore" and the six boats under Stevenson. p255The "Jackson" had been dispatched to the Quarantine Station to prevent the Federals from landing troops by way of the bayou and canals, and also to cover the infantry force which Lovell had dispatched to repel Butler, if he should, as expected, attempt to make his way in from the Gulf by these water courses to the river.

    It is not necessary here to give a detailed account of the passage of the forts by the Federal fleet. A brief outline of the fighting will suffice to enable the reader to understand why the forts were ineffective in stopping the enemy's ships. Farragut's squadrons began to move between 2 and 3 A.M. on the morning of April 24th. They formed three divisions, the first under Farragut himself, the second under Bailey and the third under Bell. Previous to and during the advance the mortar fleet redoubled its fire. The night was still but hazy, and the moon did not rise till 3 o'clock. In the midst of the obscurity the steamers moved against the current at the rate of — four miles per hour. The formation adopted was expected to divide the enemy's fire as much as possible. It was anticipated that the action would last about an hour and a half. Under such conditions the Confederates had need to be very expert artillerists to do much damage with a battery of 104 guns. Higgins' men opened fire as soon as they distinguished the approaching vessels. Bailey sustained the first broadside from Fort St. Philip. Pushing the "Cayuga" close in, he returned the fire energetically as he pressed on. The other vessels followed his example, and all the ships of his division got by without much damage, except the sailing vessel, "Portsmouth," which was in tow; the tow rope was cut by a shell and the boat drifted down the river helpless.

    In the meantime, Bailey was actively engaged both with the forts and with the Confederate vessels. One of his largest boats, the "Mississippi," steamed down upon the "Louisiana," from which a rapid fire had been maintained upon the enemy as they passed. Mitchell stood in a most exposed position upon the upper works of the vessel. The great enemy vessel swept up so close that he felt it necessary to order a group of sharpshooters to prepare to repel boarders. The "Mississippi" reached a position — not thirty feet away, athwart the hawse of the "Louisiana," before she delivered her tremendous broadside. The concussion was terrific, but the iron plating with which the "Louisiana" was sheathed was impervious and the cannon balls fell harmlessly from her armored sides. Her own guns returned the fire, but did no material damage, as they could not be sufficiently depressed to hull the enemy at that short distance.

    Bell, in the third division, had a harder time in getting past the forts. He was more exposed to the fire of the forts than Bailey. Half of his division, however, had passed, when the "Itasca" received a ball through her boiler, became helpless and drifted down stream. The "Winona" and "Kennebec" also were so badly injured that they had to drop out of the fight.

    The heavy ships under Farragut also experienced the full effect of the fire of the forts. They opened when the "Hartford" was — one and one-half miles distant. The ship was struck several times. Farragut replied with two guns, but reserved his fire till he arrived within — half a mile of Fort Jackson. Then he fired a heavy broadside, killing and wounding several men in the fort. The same thing was done by the "Richmond." The "Brooklyn," suddenly confronted by the "Manassas," p256which now steamed into the fight, exchanged several rounds with her without either vessel incurring serious injury. Then the gallant little Confederate vessel undertook to steer a fire raft against the "Hartford." In trying to avoid contact with this formidable foe the flagship ran aground and was unable to escape, as the "Manassas" pushed the blazing mass against her sides. Instantly the ship was in a blaze. Only the prompt and devoted efforts of her crew saved her from destruction. She was finally extricated from her position and continued on her way up the stream. The "Manassas" in the meantime had turned her attention to the "Mississippi," but her engines became unmanageable and sustained a severe fire, under which she was disabled so completely that Warley had no alternative but to run her ashore and abandon her. She ultimately drifted away from the bank and floated down the river on fire. As she approached the Federal vessels below the bend her appearance created general dismay; they fired on her, until her harmless condition was discovered, when an effort was made to salvage her as a curiosity, but scarcely had a rope been passed around her when she exploded faintly, her bow gun went off and she sank.

    Above the forts Bailey met the remainder of the Confederate fleet. First alone, and then with the support of the remaining vessels of his squadron, he sustained a smart engagement with them. Here the "Stonewall Jackson" rammed and so seriously injured the "Varuna" that she was run ashore and her crew abandoned her. The "Jackson" came out of the encounter in scarcely better shape and likewise had to be run ashore and abandoned. The other vessels of the river fleet fought valiantly, but the issue of the contest was never in doubt. Stevenson, in the "Warrior," made a gallant effort to imitate the "Jackson's" exploit. He rammed one of Bailey's boats heavily, but the blow proved insufficient to dispose of his antagonist, while his own vessel suffered severely from the almost vertical fire poured into it from the howitzers in the enemy's tops. All of the river fleet was quickly put out of action, driven ashore or sent down stream in a disabled condition. They lost heavily, especially in officers, among whom the gallant Captain Cooper, widely known along the river as a steamboatman, was killed. The "Governor Moore" lost seventy-four out of a crew of ninety-four. The only vessel to emerge from this phase of the contest was the "McRae," which was cleverly handled. She engaged several of the enemy's vessels in succession and then rescued the "Resolute" when that vessel had been driven ashore and was on the point of hoisting the white flag. The "Resolute," however, was unfit for further service and was subsequently run ashore and burned. The "Warrior" was finally disposed of in the same way. The "McRae" was much cut up and her brave commander, Huger, was mortally wounded. She took refuge under cover of the forts. The "Louisiana," after her encounter with the "Mississippi," was seen to be invulnerable, and the Federals made no further effort to molest her.

    Fort Jackson suffered no real harm from the cannonading of the fleet. The casualties there in the action were nine killed and twenty-one wounded. Fort St. Philip received the fire of every division of the fleet in turn, but the loss there was but two killed and four wounded. Several of Squires' guns were dismounted. Farragut's escape from destruction while under the fire of the fort had been little less than miraculous. When the "Hartford" went aground in trying to escape from the attack of the "Manassas" and the fire raft, she lay for some time within point-blank p257range of the water battery at Fort St. Philip. Squires ordered all guns concentrated upon the ship, but the two Columbiads on which he mainly relied had become unmanageable, and another gun which bore directly had just been broken near the trunnions and consequently the "Hartford" was able to pull off the mud before she had sustained anything like the damage that would otherwise have been her portion. The fire of Fort St. Philip was on the whole more effective than that of Fort Jackson. The guns there had greater depression, and the enemy's ships passed closer, but owing to the number of ships among which the fire was necessarily distributed and the speed at which the ships passed, it was found impossible to concentrate long enough on any one vessel to sink her. The loss in the fleet was thirty killed and 119 wounded.

    The Federals on the vessels remaining below the forts had no difficulty in guessing how the combat had gone. By 8 A.M. a cloudless sun revealed the United States flag fluttering from the mastheads of shipping far beyond the Confederate fortifications. Duncan, however, was still in a sanguine mood. The "Louisiana" echoed with the clatter of the tools of the machinists at work within her stout hull. She might still fight. He himself set to work to reorganize his troops. When Porter sent up a flag of truce, to demand the surrender of the forts, Duncan's answer was a negative. As the boat approached, her mission not being perceived, she had been fired on; this error elicited ample apologies, which were conveyed to Porter by the officer in charge. Later in the day the "McRae" and the "Resolute" moved out into the river and opened fire on the enemy's vessels in the distance. Porter, alarmed at the preparations which he perceived were being made on board the "Louisiana," withdrew the mortar flotilla to a point just above the head of the passes.

    This ended the fighting at the forts. Nearly 17,000 shells are estimated to have been fired, of which probably one-third found their mark. The bombardment lasted in all seven days. At its end the forts remained practically unhurt. Some weeks later, when Lieutenant Weitzel was sent thither to make an inspection and report upon their status, he was able to say that, barring a few superficial repairs, they were in as good a condition to meet an enemy's attack as they had ever been. But this was small comfort. The enemy's fleet had passed and the fate of New Orleans was practically settled. Farragut's ships steamed slowly up to the Quarantine, — six miles above the forts, where they anchored. On the way up they sighted a tugboat hastily putting out from the station; it was the "Doubloon," with General Lovell on board. He had reached the forts on his mission of reconciliation only in time to be forced to beat a hasty retreat, and now was on his way to New Orleans to confirm the mournful news which would precede him. The gunboat "General Lovell" made a generous effort to divert the attention of the fleet from the fleeing "Doubloon;" her commander, Lieutenant Renshaw, exchanged shots with the "Cayuga," but a ball passed through his vessel, and he deemed it wise to make all the speed he could after the "Doubloon," pausing only to send a telegram — ? the last to go over the wires from the forts — ? announcing the injury which his vessel had received and his own intention of proceeding immediately to the city.

    As Bailey approached the Quarantine Station he saw in the narrow plain beyond, known as the Chalmettes, a body of Confederate soldiers. Believing that they were preparing to attack, he opened fire on them and p258killed one man. It was Szymanski's regiment and the Chalmette Guards. This little force had no option but to surrender — ? the first prisoners taken by the expedition.4


    1. Capuchin A Catholic friar.

    Text prepared by:

    While the fate of the city was thus being settled at the forts, New Orleans preserved its mood of calm confidence. There was nothing in the bulletins sent up by Duncan to give cause for alarm. The prevailing impression was, that the enemy would not attempt to run past the forts until they had been demolished by the bombardment. After six days of tremendous firing they were virtually intact. Therefore, all that was necessary was to hasten work on the great "Mississippi," and she would soon drop down the river and disperse or destroy the Federal flotilla. The "Louisiana" could also be relied on to detain the enemy. So highly was the "Louisiana" valued that a few days before orders had been sent to Duncan to dismount one of his largest guns — ? mate of that one which did such effective work during the battle — ? and send it to her. New Orleans, moreover, underrated the size of the Federal fleet. It was believed to be composed for the most part of transports; the fighting ships were probably few. On the night of April 23rd the city fell asleep, serene, and expecting tidings of victory. In the public squares, and at Chalmette below and at Greenville and in Carrollton, above, the soldiers remained under arms; but that was in deference to the military situation, not that their services were likely to be required. They included the Confederate Guards, a command recruited from among the leading citizens of the city, elderly men who might be useful to co-operate with the police, but of whom little could be expected in the field. There was also the Foreign Brigade, which, it was understood, should be called on only to protect the peace and maintain public order. Both commands were poorly armed, having been stripped of their weapons to furnish the soldiers going to the front. The remainder of the garrison comprised ninety-day men, citizen soldiers, fragmentary regiments which had not been sufficiently organized or equipped to justify sending them to Corinth in answer to Beauregard's call for re-enforcements. Altogether, they did not constitute a full brigade.

    It had been arranged that, in the remote chance of the Federal fleet passing the forts, the fire alarm bells should strike twelve, four times repeated. Early on the morning of the 24th the fateful news was received by telegraph. The bells sounded the dread signal. The stupefaction which prevailed in the city was extreme. By common consent business and virtually all other occupations were suspended. There was much excitement. Here and there feelings of anger and revenge led to demonstrations against persons known or suspected to be Federal sympathizers, but on the whole the community was concerned only for the fate of the forts, overwhelmed with grief over defeat and apprehension regarding the future. The members of the various military organizations assembled at their headquarters. Preparations were immediately begun to remove from the city the government archives and other property. The governor, his staff and the state officials in general "showed," in the bitter words of an eye-witness, "equal activity in providing for their own safety and for that of the property in their charge." The streets leading to the depot of the New Orleans, Jackson & Great Northern p260Railroad were soon crowded with vehicles loaded with the baggage of the war offices. Colonel Lovell was instructed to seize all the river steamers necessary to remove the ordnance and commissary stores.

    Hope revived for a moment when one of the local newspapers published a bulletin that only two of the enemy's ships had passed the forts. But the arrival of Lovell in the "Doubloon" brought tidings which left no room for doubt as to the extent of the disaster. The general had been slightly injured by a fall during the trip up from the forts, but was able to mount his horse at the levee and rode at once to his headquarters in Lafayette Square, where he issued the few orders that the situation required. One of these was to Brigadier General Smith and directed him to move the troops under his command in the camp at Carrollton to Chalmette and make whatever resistance might be possible to the advancing enemy. The confusion which the execution of these orders occasioned added to the excitement in the city. Orders were issued to burn all the cotton in the city and all shipyards and all ships without regard to ownership. Officers hurried to and fro with details of troops seizing drays and carts for the performance of this duty. The destruction of the cotton was accomplished with considerable deliberation. Fifteen thousand bales were taken from the cotton yards, piled up in the streets or on the levee and set on fire.

    Other property was generally spared, although at one point the misguided zeal of an over-patriotic citizen caused an attempt to fire the warehouses containing tobacco and sugar. Then the ships at the wharves laden with cotton were fired, cut adrift and allowed to float down stream to warn the enemy of the desperate spirit of the people. All the river steamers except those requisitioned by Colonel Lovell to remove military property, were destroyed. Soon the whole extent of the harbor front on both sides of the river was belted with flames and a vast column of smoke rose over the city, in the shadow of which thousands of people engaged in a struggle for plunder stimulated by the general penury and want. Hogsheads of sugar, boxes of meat, barrels of molasses, all were broken open and the contents rifled. Women bore away what they could in their aprons. The gutters ran with molasses. Scraps of iron, bits of half-burned cotton — ? anything was regarded as fair prize. The better element in the population was at first so stunned by the disaster that they were unable to take measures to check these disturbances. At last the Foreign Brigade intervened, but succeeded in restoring order only at the point of the bayonet. In some instances the troops were defied as "Yankees in disguise," and nowhere did they dare break ranks for fear of assassination. The ringleaders were arrested and the trouble finally ceased — ? probably as much because the plunder was exhausted as for any other reason. By the end of the day the levees were swept bare of everything except a little debris, a few dismounted cannon and some broken machinery.

    Meanwhile, at the Custom House — ? where in the basement a shop had been established for the repair of artillery — ? the material which might prove of value to the enemy was brought out into Canal Street, heaped up and burned. Timber and wood yards were next consigned to the flames. The workshops on the Algiers side of the river were stripped of their machinery, which was dumped into the water. This work was performed by the owners themselves. The large dock in Algiers, which cost several millions of dollars and which gave employment to several p261hundred persons, was sunk by the proprietors where she could not be raised.

    On the evening of the 24th Governor Moore, the state and Confederate officials and their families, the families of Lovell and his staff, some furloughed Confederate officers and a few others departed on board the steamers "Magenta" and "Pargoud." Guards were stationed at the gangplanks to keep the citizens from thronging aboard. The Jackson railroad was likewise closed to passengers. The road was only available for the transport of government stores. The effect was to embitter the population. One of those thus condemned to remain in the city and share its fate has left us a description of what he terms "the deplorable lack of dignity, self-possession, manhood and fortitude and the gross manifestations of egotism and selfishness which appeared in the conduct and movements of the general-in-chief and several of his staff and of others in high command. When a devoted, self-sacrificing people found themselves by no delinquency of their own in the presence of a great calamity, which they had so long been assured by those to whom in the most generous confidence they had entrusted their protection and defense, would be kept from them — ? they naturally and justly looked to their chiefs for an exhibition of the spirit, the fortitude, the firmness, the calm and dignified devotion to duty and country which the great crisis demanded. [. . .] The time [. . .] was consumed by General Lovell and his staff in idle disputes and profitless gossip, in frequent visits to the clubs, [. . .] in earnest demands at the bank counters for specie to pay their expenses out of the city, and in careful arrangements for the safety and comfortable transportation of their families beyond the dangers to which the people would be left exposed."1 But in the midst of these depressing scenes an example of heroism was given by General Buisson and his men, marching to Chalmette to take part with Smith in the expected fighting with the fleet. Theirs was a forlorn hope; as they passed the spectators, knowing the desperate character of their mission, applauded wildly.

    On the morning of the 25th the fires had not yet burned themselves out and smoke and ashes filled the air. A calmer mood possessed the city. Many young men were preparing to leave to join the Confederate army. Foreigners flocked to the offices of their consuls and deposited their valuables for safekeeping; so many, in fact, that in more than one instance it was necessary for the officials to rent large buildings to shelter these deposits. Several days before the banks had made arrangements to send away whatever specie was on hand, and now some $6,000,000 was dispatched by the Jackson railroad under the protection of the Confederate Guards, many of whom were stockholders in the very institutions of which they were thus helping to deplete. Some of the banks converted their specie into foreign bills, and thus the cash became the property of foreigners and was legitimately turned over to the consuls for safekeeping. Foreign flags were displayed wherever there was any possible excuse for them. Pillaging on a diminished scale began again on the levee. Excited crowds in other parts of the city made demonstrations against persons suspected of sympathizing with the enemy. Lovell, wounded at the manifestations of disapproval which had been made the previous day by persons denied the use of railroads or p262steamboats, made an attempt to vindicate himself by advertising, through a member of his staff, Col. S. L. James, for one hundred desperate men to board the enemy's ships when they arrived and capture them. The scheme was impracticable; even had it been feasible there were no boats left in which to convey the men to the points of attack.

    Early in the day the "Mississippi," of which so much had been anticipated, was fired and set adrift. As she passed flaming in front of the city a wail of despair rose from the watching crowd. The great vessel lacked but a few days of completion. Vain attempts had been made to tow her up the river and her commander had only consented to her destruction when it was evident that she could not possibly be otherwise prevented from falling into the enemy's hands.

    By now the mayor and the city authorities had recovered from the torpor into which the receipt of the news of the passage of the forts by the fleet had thrown them. Measures were taken to assure order. Gen. Paul Juge, a French veteran, was put in charge of the policing of the city. He discharged his duty with zeal and success. The mayor issued a series of proclamations urging merchants to open their shops, promising to continue the free market and denouncing those who refused to receive Confederate paper money in payment of accounts. These had a great effect in calming the populace.

    In the meantime Farragut had sailed from the Quarantine, leaving two vessels there on guard. He came to anchor — eighteen miles below the city and there spent the night of the 24th. On the 25th he moved cautiously on, appalled at the burning wrecks which went floating by. At 9 A.M. the batteries at Chalmette were in sight and he made signals for the ships to engage them. These were open works on either side of the river, extending at right angles with the stream and forming part of a system of defenses intended to impeded an enemy's advance overland between the river and the swamp. At the present stage of the river the guns of the fleet dominated their entire length. They were really untenable. The 42-pounders with which these lines were supposed to be equipped had been removed and sent to the forts. The ammunition supply had been diminished for the same purpose. Smith, on arriving at Chalmette, had been obliged to set his men to work making cartridges. Several battalions of infantry, including the whole of Lovell's disposable force, was stationed on the plain at Chalmette to support the batteries. On the east bank the battery was armed with five 32-pounders manned by one company from the Twenty-second Louisiana Volunteers, under Capt. I. W. Patton; a squad of artillerists from Fort Pike, under Lieutenant Butler, and one company from the Beauregard Battery. Among the men was Toby Hart, a sign painter from New Orleans, whose name was afterwards widely known. Smith stationed himself on the opposite bank where a battery of 32-pounders, nine in number, were supported by three companies of Pinckney's battalion. When the first enemy's ship was within — half a mile the batteries opened fire. The fleet answered with a heavy broadside. The sound of the cannonading was audible in the city. The effect on the ships was small. One man was knocked overboard by the wind of a passing shell, but no other casualties were reported. On the other hand, the Confederates suffered the loss of only one man killed and one wounded. They continued to fire until the ammunition was exhausted. Then the men on the west bank retreated to the Opelousas Railroad and used it to make their way into Lafourche, p263while those on the east bank fell back into New Orleans. The encounter was a mere waste of powder and shot; the fleet was not even delayed.

    Farragut was now before the city. It had, as we have seen, been stripped of everything of any possible value to the foe. On the levee a vast multitude watched the great vessels as they slowly glided by, not over — 100 yards from the shore. For some time perfect silence reigned on both sides. Then a tumult rose, for which no reason has ever been assigned. A discharge of firearms rang out; the multitude swayed back and forth; a roar of voices was heard. Some said that the firing was directed at the ships; some that it was intended to silence some person of Union proclivities who had attempted to communicate with the fleet. Neither explanation is satisfactory; the latter, however, was later accepted by Farragut and made the subject of representations to Monroe, but at the moment he paid no attention to the incident and steamed silently on until the foremost vessel was opposite the upper limits of the city. Then the signal was given to anchor, and thirteen ships, carrying 200 guns, came to a stop in front of New Orleans, their batteries on a level with the lower floors of the houses, in positions where they commanded the principal streets. Just then a sudden rainstorm descended. This caused the crowd in a great part to disperse. In the midst of the rain a boat was seen to put off from the flagship with several Federal officers in it, but without displaying a flag of truce. These officers included Captain Bailey and Lieutenant Perkins, charged to proceed to the city hall and demand the surrender of the city. They landed at the foot of Canal Street and asked the bystanders to direct them. The answer was a curt intimation that they might find their own way. The two officers started up the street, followed by a constantly increasing crowd. Several citizens, realizing the danger which menaced, interfered to protect them, but were thrust aside, harshly treated and some even slightly injured in the scuffling. Finally two individuals whom everyone knew and respected, William Freret, ex-mayor of New Orleans, and L. E. Forstall, a member of the council, pushed their way through the unruly throng and took the arms of the unwelcome visitors, placing themselves between them and the mob, and thus escorted Bailey and Perkins in safety to their destination.

    On the city hall was flying the state flag, a red, white and blue striped ensign with a large pale yellow star in the middle of a red field.a This had been run up by the mayor's secretary, Marion Baker, at the mayor's own order, as soon as it was known that the fleet had passed the Chalmette batteries. The mayor was in his office with Pierre Soulé, several members of the city council, and some of the committee on public safety. To these gentlemen Bailey explained that he was not merely bearer of a demand for the surrender of the city, but for the removal of the flag then floating over the hall, for which the United States flag would be substituted. He also required that the national emblem be placed above the Mint and the Custom House. The interview took on the character of an informal conference between the mayor, Soulé and the Federal officers. The mayor insisted that he as a civil magistrate could not perform a military action like the surrender of the city. That function properly belonged to General Lovell. The city was still under martial law. As for the flag on the hall, this the mayor refused to remove. The Mint and the Custom House were Confederate property; his jurisdiction did not extend to them. In these conclusions Mayor Monroe's advisers p264concurred. Lovell was sent for, and pending his arrival the conversation turned on general subjects. Bailey expressed regret for the destruction of property which had taken place. The mayor answered, somewhat brusquely, that the material destroyed was owned by private parties, who had the right to make any disposition of it that they pleased, and they had burned it as a solemn, patriotic duty, to prevent it from passing into an enemy's hands. Several Unionists intruded into the apartment during this discussion. They introduced themselves to Bailey and drew him apart, forming a little group separate from the Confederates, who lingered around the mayor's desk.

    Lovell promptly appeared. Bailey repeated his demands, prefacing them with the statement that he had givenI\'ve supplied '+BadF+'he had given'+CloseF+'',WIDTH,220)" onMouseOut="nd();"> his message to the mayor and the council, but that they had refused to receive it. Lovell's answer was to refuse to surrender the city. He said, however, that he would withdraw the troops, thus leaving the civil authorities in a position to take whatever action was most satisfactory to them. Monroe decided to refer the question to the Common Council, and announced that he would forward a formal reply as soon as that body could act. Bailey and Perkins were then escorted to their boat by Colonel Lovell and Major James. The presence of these officers had caused a large crowd to assemble around the hall. In order to occupy their attention and prevent trouble, Soulé and Lovell now undertook to address them. Both urged the people to disperse and to maintain peace and quiet. These counsels of moderation were well received. Lovell was especially gratified at the manifestations of approbation which his remarks elicited. His administration had not been popular in the city. He seized upon the present opportunity to vindicate himself for the failure of the campaign. It was due, he said, to the lack of time and of means to offer a more determined defense.

    The council met at 6.30 P.M. The mayor sent in a message describing the situation. "I am now in momentary expectation," he said in conclusion, "of a second peremptory demand for the surrender of the city. I solicit your advice in this emergency. My own opinion is that [. . .] it would be proper to say, in reply to a demand of that character, that we are without military protection; that the troops have withdrawn from the city; that we are, consequently, incapable of making any resistance, and that, therefore, we can offer no obstruction to the occupation of the place by the enemy; that the Custom House, the Postoffice and the Mint are the property of the Confederate government, and that we have no control over them; and that all acts involving a transfer of authority be performed by the invading forces themselves; that we yield to physical force alone; and that we maintain our allegiance to the government of the Confederate States. Beyond this, a due respect for our dignity, our rights and the flag of our country does not, I think, permit us to go." Both boards of the council determined that an adjournment be taken till the following morning, in order to enable the members to reflect fully upon the proposed action. Mayor Monroe, fearing that, possibly, the delay might be misunderstood, on his own initiative that night sent Baker out to the "Hartford" to explain the situation, which he did to Farragut's satisfaction.

    The council was due to meet at 10 A.M. Before that hour, however, the mayor received from Farragut the peremptory demand which he was anticipating. Farragut declined to occupy the city. "It must occur to your honor," he wrote, "that it is not within the province of a naval p265officer to assume the duties of a military commandant. I came here to reduce New Orleans to obedience to the laws of and to vindicate the offended majesty of the Government of the United States. The rights of persons and property shall be secure," and he thereupon repeated the demands already formulated through Captain Bailey. "I particularly request, he added, "that you shall exercise your authority to quell disturbances, restore order and to call upon all the good people of New Orleans to return at once to their vocations; and I particularly demand that no person shall be molested in person or property, for the profession of loyalty to their government." The letter closed with a reference to the firing of the previous afternoon on the levee while the fleet was passing. "I shall speedily and severely punish any person or persons who shall commit such outrages as were witnessed yesterday — ? armed men firing upon helpless men, women and children, for giving expression to their pleasure at witnessing the old flag."

    The letter was delivered to Mayor Monroe by Lieut. Albert Kautz and Midshipman J. H. Read. They had had a thrilling experience between their landing place on the levee and the city hall. Kautz came ashore with a marine guard, which he expected to take with him to his destination. He was met by a howling mob. The marines drew up in line. Kautz first attempted to reason with the crowd, but this proving unavailing, he brought his men to the "aim." Before they could fire, however, women and children were pushed to the front. Rather than shoot these innocent persons, Kautz desisted. The situation was serious, as Farragut had promised that if a shot were fired at his emissaries he would instantly open on the city and level it with the ground. Fortunately, an officer of the Confederate Guards approached at this juncture. To him Kautz appealed. He undertook to escort the Federal officer to the hall, but urged that the guard be left behind, for fear of provoking a riot. Kautz took with him only a single soldier, to whose bayonet he fastened a handkerchief, as a symbol of truce. At the hall he was courteously received.

    While these incidents were taking place, another, which was later to assume the gravest significance, occurred at the mint. Captain Morris of the U. S. "Pensacola," which was lying off the foot of Elysian Fields Street, ordered the United States flag displayed on that building. He came ashore with a landing party. After seeing the flag placed in position he returned to his vessel, warning the bystanders that the guns of the "Pensacola" commanded the vicinity and would fire if the national standard were molested. The men in the maintop of the ship had orders to open in that event with a howitzer loaded with grapeshot. The "Pensacola" lay in midstream. Morris left no guard on shore. There was nothing to indicate to late comers that the flag had been run up by proper authority. It was known throughout the city that the mayor had declined to surrender; that the town was still under the control of the Confederate authorities; that Farragut was not prepared to occupy the town, and that Lovell was talking of a scheme to resist the landing of the enemy. Viewed in any light, Morris' action was indiscreet, even if it were not, as believed at that time, deliberately designed to provoke an act which might justify the destruction of the city.

    As soon as the flag was seen waving in the air there was a natural convergence of many hundreds of people towards the Mint. Several men climbed to the roof of the building and tore down the offensive p266bunting. Instantly the howitzer on the "Pensacola" was discharged. The charge passed high over the heads of the guilty parties and rattled harmlessly against the walls of an adjacent residence. The report startled the whole fleet. The ships cleared for action, there was great excitement among the crews, but fortunately no further firing occurred. The flag was brought down to the street in the hands of W. B. Mumford, Lieutenant Holmes, Sergeant Burns and James Peccel, all connected with the Confederate army. Followed by the mob, it was carried to Lafayette Square, where it was torn to pieces, which were distributed as souvenirs. Mumford and his companions arrived while Lieutenant Kautz and Midshipman Read were still closeted with the mayor. The demeanor of the gathering was so boisterous that Soulé suggested that the two officers lose no time in returning to their ships by a back way while he detained the mob by making a speech. This was done. The two men were hurried down the rear stair of the hall into a carriage and, accompanied by Baker, driven to the landing place at high speed. They were followed part of the way, but managed to outwit their pursuers.2

    Farragut, to whom the episode was fully reported, did not take any action, except to describe it to Butler, who had that morning arrived by a schooner from the Quarantine. Butler was greatly irritated. He declared he would hang the person who had removed the flag. "You will have to catch him before you can hang him, general!" responded Farragut, smilingly. The responsibility of the affair will probably never be definitely fixed. Whether Morris acted on his own volition, or under Farragut's orders, is not clear. Baker, in his reminiscences, says that Farragut definitely informed him that he had no previous knowledge of Morris' intention. On the other hand, in a communication sent to Mayor Monroe on April 28th, Farragut referred to "the flag which had been hoisted on the Mint by my order." It seems likely that the flag was hoisted without Farragut's knowledge, but considering the excited temper of officers and men throughout the fleet he could not afford to disclaim the act. Mayor Monroe, in reply to Farragut's letter, protested against the violation of diplomatic usage in the premises. "Your communication is the first intimation I ever had that it was by 'your strict orders' that the United States flag was attempted to be hoisted on a certain of our public edifices, by officers sent on shore to communicate with the authorities. The officers who approached me in your name disclosed no such order, and intimated no such design on your part; nor could I have for a moment entertained the remotest suspicion that they could have been invested with such powers to enter on such an errand, while the negotiations for a surrender between you and the city authorities were still pending. The indifference of anyone under your command, as long as these negotiations were not brought to a close, could not be viewed by me otherwise than as a flagrant violation of those courtesies, if not the absolute rights, which prevail between belligerents under such circumstances." In fact, Farragut, when on the following day he determined to raise the flag on the Custom House, took pains to acquaint Monroe with his intention in advance, thus implicitly admitting the justice of the mayor's contentions.

    In the meantime the council had adopted a resolution to the effect that "the sentiments expressed in the message of his honor the mayor p267[. . .] are in perfect accord with the sentiments entertained by those councils, and by the entire population of this metropolis; and that the mayor be respectfully asked to act in the spirit manifested by the message." This was signed by S. P. DeLabarre, president of the Board of Aldermen, and by J. Magioni, president of the Board of Assistant Aldermen. The mayor accordingly addressed a letter to Farragut in which he said: "To surrender such a place were an idle and unmeaning ceremony. The city is yours by power of brutal force, and not by any choice or consent of its inhabitants. It is for you to determine what shall be the fate that waits her. As to the hoisting of any flag than the flag of our own adoption and allegiance, let me say, sir, that man does not live in our midst whose hand and heart would not be palsied at the mere thought of such an act; nor could I find in my entire constituency so wretched and desperate a renegade as would dare to profane with his hand the sacred emblem of our aspirations. Sir, you have manifested sentiments which would become one engaged in a better cause than that to which you have devoted your sword. I doubt not that they spring from a noble though deluded nature, and I know how to appreciate the emotions which inspired them." (This was possibly an allusion to Farragut's former connection with New Orleans.) "You have a gallant people to administer during your occupation of this city — ? a people sensitive to all that can in the least affect its dignity and self-respect. Pray, sir, do not allow them to be insulted by the interference of such as have rendered themselves odious and contemptible by their cowardly desertion of the mighty struggle in which we are engaged, nor of such as might remind them too painfully that they are the conquered and you the conquerors."

    This letter was sent to the "Hartford" by the hand of Baker. It was, except for the closing paragraph acknowledging the receipt of Farragut's communication of that morning, the work of Pierre Soulé. Soulé was the only prominent professional man in the city who at this critical juncture offered his services to the mayor. This was all the more creditable to him in view of the fact that he had opposed secession at the incipiency of the movement, and been an unsuccessful candidate for the convention of 1861 on a platform of opposition to the ordinance which that body ultimately adopted, withdrawing Louisiana from the Union. The mayor and his young secretary, Baker, had no experience in diplomacy, and were ignorant of international law. Soulé was both diplomat and lawyer. It is easy to see that he thoroughly enjoyed the management of the negotiations with Farragut, which were protracted over four anxious days. In spite of a good deal of rhetoric which served no purpose except to irritate the Federal commander, the papers which he prepared for the mayor's signature were statesmanlike compositions. Farragut appears to have been a good deal puzzled by the attitude of passive resistance adopted by the mayor and the council. Moreover, his decisions were warped by the reports of Union sympathizers who sought refuge on the fleet, alleging that they were in danger from the mob in the city. Their description of the situation on shore was exaggerated and misleading. It is clear from the tenor of the various communications which Farragut sent to the mayor between the 25th and 30th, that he had no desire to occupy the city; that all he hoped to do was to have the city government continue to function, acknowledging his authority and that of the United States; and to maintain some sort of order until Butler p268could arrive with the land forces to take possession. The fleet was probably short of ammunition; it would have been extremely unwise to send any part of its personnel ashore while the forts still continued to hold out; and it may be that Farragut was glad to have the negotiations drag their tedious length along until, on the 30th, he was able to announce the surrender of Duncan and Hollins. On the other hand, Monroe's dilatory tactics were supported by the mass of the population. Had the mayor consented to lower the flag at the city hall, it was freely asserted, the mob would interfere to prevent him from doing so.

    Sunday passed without incident. On Monday came another letter from the "Hartford." It was brought by Capt. H. H. Bell and Acting Master H. B. Tyson. Farragut wrote that he was compelled to conclude from the tenor of the correspondence that the mayor and the council were determined not to comply with his demands, "all of which goes to show that the fire of this fleet may be drawn upon the city at any moment and in such an event the levee could in all probability be cut by the shells, and an amount of distress ensue to the innocent population which I [. . .] assure you I desire by all means to avoid. The election is with you. But it becomes my duty to notify you to remove the women and children from the city within forty-eight hours, if I have correctly understood your intention." Mayor Monroe was reluctant to believe that this threat was serious. In a communication which he sent to the council April 28th he wrote: "I am deeply sensible of the distress which would be brought upon our community by a consummation of the inhuman threat of the United States commander, but I cannot conceive that those who so recently declared themselves to be animated by a Christian spirit and by a regard for the rights of private property, would venture to incur for themselves and for the government which they represent the universal execration of the civilized world by attempting to achieve, through a wanton destruction of life and property, that which they can accomplish without bloodshed, and without a resort to those hostile measures which the law of nations condemns and execrates when employed upon the defenseless women and children of an unresisting city."

    The council adopted resolutions approving the views of the mayor. They had "the unreserved approbation of this council," and embodied their "views and sentiments," and the mayor was "respectfully requested to act accordingly."

    The mayor's letter to Farragut put the case very well. "Sir," he wrote, "you cannot but know that there is no possible exit from this city for a population which still exceeds, in numbers, one hundred and forty thousand, and you must, therefore, be aware of the utter inanity of such a notification. Our women and children cannot escape from your shells, if it be your pleasure to murder them on a mere question of etiquette. But if there could there are few among them who would consent to desert their families and their homes and the graves of their relatives in so awful a moment; they would bravely stand the sight of your shells rolling over the bones of those once dear to them and would deem that they died gloriously by the side of the tombs erected by their piety to departed relatives. You are not satisfied with the peaceable possession of an undefended city, opposing no resistance to your guns, because of its bearing its doom with some manliness and dignity; and you wish to humble and disgrace us by the performance of an act against which our p269nature rebels. This satisfaction you cannot expect to obtain at our hands. We will stand your bombardment, unarmed and undefended as we are. The civilized world will consign to indelible infamy the heart that will conceive the deed and the hand that will dare to consummate it."3

    The population of the city in general, informed of the enemy's intentions, regarded the bombardment as inevitable. But there was no weakening on that account. A remarkable petition signed by hundreds of women, which was sent in to the mayor, urging him to stand firm, was symptomatic of the popular mood. There was some apprehension lest the timid or the Unionists might influence Monroe to submit, and a mob collected which proclaimed its intention to prevent any interference by those elements. Other influences were also at work to induce Farragut to reconsider his determination, if he had really arrived at a determination: a French man-of-war, the "Milan," which had recently arrived in port, had been sent to protect interests in New Orleans. Her captain, De Clouet, sent a note to Farragut protesting against the short term allotment for the evacuation of the city, on the ground that there were many French residents who would not leave within the period assigned, and demanding that if the "barbarous act" were to be consummated sixty days be allowed in which his compatriots might remove their effects. How far this protest influenced Farragut is not known; but, at any rate, on May 30, he addressed a final letter to Mayor Monroe deprecating the construction put upon his words, and stating that in view of the "offensive nature" of the mayor's reply, he would have no further intercourse with him nor with the City Government, but on the arrival of Butler, would turn the city over to that officer. "I venture to say," commented the mayor in a message to the council transmitting Farragut's letter, "that no reasoning mind can fail to place upon the note of the 28th inst., the interpretation attached to it by the people of this city. The notification to remove our women and children within forty-eight hours in case we adhere to our resolution not to haul down our flag, can be construed in no other way than as a threat to bombard the city. The meaning was plain, not only to us, but to the consuls of the foreign nations residing here. But in so clear a case argument is superfluous."

    In the meanwhile several other important incidents had transpired. The "McRae" had come up in tow of one of the enemy's boats under a flag of truce, to bring the Confederate wounded who could not be properly cared for at the forts. From her passengers the people learned that the forts still held out and this information was at once forwarded to Lovell, who had retired to Camp Moore, seventy miles distant from the city. He promptly issued orders to stop the evacuation of the forts, which had already begun, under his previous instructions. This, however, came too late. Forts Pike, McComb, and Bienvenu had been abandoned on the 25th and 26th, and the garrisons were on their way to Madisonville. The gunboats under Captain Poindexter, which had been recently launched on Lake Pontchartrain, and were believed to be well armed and efficient, had been run ashore and burnt. The fortifications p270on the west coast of Louisiana — ? Forts Livingston, Caillou, Quitman, Berwick and Chêne, had been evacuated and the garrisons disbanded, a few members thereof making their way overland to Camp Moore. These steps had been taken by Lovell under the impression that Forts Jackson and St. Philip had surrendered. His order countermanding them were construed in New Orleans as evidences of panic, great dissatisfaction arose over the abandonment of these strong and well-provisioned places, which, it was believed, could have offered serious resistance to the Federals. In withdrawing from New Orleans, Lovell had unquestionably done the wise and prudent thing, but it is not so easy to justify his haste in evacuating these other points. Now he proposed to remedy as far as possible this mistake, and came hurrying back to New Orleans, to concert some sort of resistance to the Federals.

    Down at Forts Jackson and St. Philip, Duncan, after the passage of Farragut's ships, was sanguine enough to prepare for further resistance. He managed to redistribute his artillery, originally mounted to bear downstream, in such a way as to command the up-stream approaches also. But on April 26 Captain Mitchell informed him that New Orleans had surrendered. Duncan thought the news was confirmed by the sight of the wrecks drifting by, the melancholy debris of the great fire in the city. Moreover, the enemy was closing in upon him. Enemy vessels were seen in the little bay in the rear of Fort St. Philip; a steamer was reported working her way up Fort Bayou, and a number of launches filled with Federal troops was moving through a network of little streams towards the Quarantine. The latter were troops from Williams' brigade of Butler's army. They succeeded in getting to the Quarantine, though only after heroic efforts, often dragging their boats by main strength through the shallow channels; but further progress was impossible without light steamers, and Butler hurried up to the city to ask Farragut to provide these. As a matter of fact, Farragut had no such boats, and the movements of this detachment were held up for several days.

    Phelps, with another brigade, remained on the transports below the forts. This officer now divided his force, and put troops on each side of the river. This maneuver being visible to the garrison in Fort Jackson, they concluded that they were surrounded. At midday Porter sent a flag of truce with a demand for the surrender of the post. He offered favorable terms. Duncan and Higgins declined on the ground that there was as yet no official confirmation of the report that New Orleans had yielded to Farragut, and that it was their duty to hold out until such news were received. But the men in the forts were in no mood to prolong the resistance. There were many foreigners in their ranks. Duncan, who distrusted volunteers, had favored these troops, but he was now to have a demonstration of their defects which inhere in all mercenary military organizations. The 27th closed quietly, but at midnight the officers in Fort Jackson were aroused by a tumult outside of their quarters, and rushed forth to find a number of men reversing the guns, spiking others, and preparing to leave the fort with their arms. One company, the St. Mary's Cannoneers, composed of native Louisianans, refused to take any part in these proceedings. A part of the other troops was drawn up under arms. Duncan found the mutineers threatening the faithful remnant of his force. He saw at once that there was no course open but to permit the mutinous faction to leave the fort. Some 250 men accordingly put out in small boats. After their departure, he was mortified to p271discover that the remainder wanted immediate surrender. He was not able that night to get into communication with Fort St. Philip, but as the mutineers had been telegraphing thither at an earlier hour, this silence gave ground to apprehend that mutiny had also broken out there. The situation was very grave, for if Fort Jackson surrendered, Fort St. Philip would have no option but to do so too. Its shallow ditches, exposed situation and imperfect casements made it impossible to hold out when once the stronger fortification had passed into the enemy's hands.

    At the approach of daylight Duncan sent messengers to the mortar fleet, which still lay in position below the forts, and proposed to resume the negotiations begun on the previous day by Porter. He also notified Mitchell, who still was on board the "Louisiana," but that officer took the ground that the surrender, if effected, need not necessarily apply to him, and he would fight. Duncan seems to have attached little importance to this announcement. In fact, he ignored Mitchell almost completely. The negotiations with the federals were opened without consulting the latter. Mitchell called a meeting of his officers, and found that they, like himself, were opposed to surrender. They favored destroying the vessel rather than let her fall into the hands of the enemy. Only one of them, however, wished to fight, and that was Lieutenant Bowen. Mitchell accepted the views of the majority. He ordered the tender "Burton" made ready to remove the crew. Just then the chief engineer, Lieutenant Youngblood, reported that the propeller engines were completed and could be used. Mitchell was nonplussed. He hesitated to order the destruction of this formidable fighting machine, at the very moment when her usefulness at last seemed possible. But Lieutenant Wilkinson had already begun the work of destruction, and after a few moments of indecision, Mitchell reluctantly directed him to proceed. The vessel was set on fire and in a short time was enveloped in flames. Mitchell then cut the ropes which moored her to the shore. She drifted down the river, abandoned by officers and crew, and blew up in less than a quarter of an hour. The explosion took place in front of Fort Jackson, and the flying fragments killed one man and wounded several in the garrison there. Another fragment struck Captain McIntosh as he lay wounded in a cot on board one of the towboats moored just above the fort. Such was the end of the "Louisiana." Many of her officers, subsequently expressed the belief that, handled with proper energy and boldness, she might have rendered important services to the Confederacy, or at least need not have been destroyed, but might have been taken down the river and around to Mobile. Even in her last moments the ill-fortune which had attended her from the beginning, pursued her. The Federals complained that her destruction was a breach of faith, but there was no ground for the charge.

    With the exception of Captain Baker and one other officer, all of the crew of the "Louisiana" surrendered. Those two made their way to New Orleans. The negotiations for their surrender were made independently of the garrison in the forts. The Federals steamed up to Fort Jackson on board the "Harriet Lane" and three other gunboats, all flying flags of truce. At the fort a white flag was displayed on the flagstaff, below the Confederate colors. The terms were quickly drawn up and signed. Much good feeling was manifested on both sides. Several of the Confederate officers were old acquaintances of the conquerors. Hollins, for example, had been a messmate of Porter's in the old p272navy. It was agreed that the United States flag should not be raised over the forts until after the Confederate officers had departed for New Orleans. They accordingly went on board the U. S. S. "Kennebec," which promptly departed up the river. Colonel Jones, of the 26th Massachusetts, was put in command of the garrison at the forts. Lieutenant Weitzel, Butler's chief of engineers, now found himself commissioned to superintend their repair.

    The mutineers from Fort Jackson were picked up in the course of the morning by a picket which had been posted by the Federals on the West bank of the river.4

    Immediately upon the receipt of Farragut's final communication, on April 30, Mayor Monroe addressed to the Council a communication, in which he stated that his secretary, Baker, had had an interview with the Federal commander, with the result that "the latter had abandoned his purpose of bombarding the city, and signified his intention of removing the flag from this building (the City Hall) by means of his own forces." At the same time he issued a proclamation requesting "All citizens to retire to their homes during those acts of authority which it would be folly to resist." This advice was urged through fear that some disturbance during the removal of the flag might yet precipitate upon the city the fate which it had just avoided. It must be confessed that little heed was paid to the mayor's proclamation. An immense throng was present before the hall to witness the act which signalized the capture of the city. Farragut selected Captain Bell to remove the flag. Baker tells us that when he saw this officer on the "Hartford" just before starting for the City Hall, he was very nervous as to the kind of reception which he might expect ashore. Baker assured him that the crowd would offer no opposition to anything which Farragut might decide to do. Nevertheless the Federal command deemed it prudent to send a strong force with Bell. "Soon officers, marines, and sailors appeared in Lafayette Square," writes Baker, "with bayonets and two brass howitzers glittering in the sunlight. The marines formed in line on the St. Charles side of the square, near the iron railing which at that time enclosed it, and placed so as to command the thoroughfare either way. The crowd flowed in and filled the street in a compact mass above and below the square. They were silent but angry and threatening. Many openly displayed their arms. An open way was left in front of the City Hall, and their force being stationed, Captain Bell and Lieutenant Kautz passed across the street and entered the mayor's parlor. Approaching the mayor, Captain Bell said: 'I have come in obedience to orders to haul down the State flag from this building.' Mr. Monroe replied, his voice trembling with restrained emotion, 'Very well, sir; you can do it, but I wish to say that there is not in my entire constituency so wretched a renegade as would be willing to exchange places with you.' He emphasized this speech in a way which must have been very offensive to the officers. Captain Bell visibly restrained himself from reply, and asked at once that he might be shown the way to the roof. The mayor replied by referring him to the janitor, whom he would find outside. As soon as the two officers left the room, the mayor went out. Descending the front steps he walked out into the street and placed himself immediately p273in front of the howitzer pointing down St. Charles Street. Then, folding his arms, he fixed his eyes upon the gunner, who stood, lanyard in hand, ready for action. Here he remained without once looking up or moving, until the flag had been hauled down by Lieutenant Kautz, and he and Captain Bell reappeared."5 The mayor was apprehensive that some reckless person in the crowd might open fire on the officers engaged in the performance of their duty, and knowing that this would be followed by the discharge of the howitzer, was resolved that its bullets should find lodgment in his body, rather than in those of his people. Fortunately, the sad little ceremony passed off without interruption. When Bell and Kautz returned from the roof, the troops fell into column at a word of command, and as they marched off through the Camp Street gate of the square, Mayor Monroe remounted the marble steps of the hall, went to his office, and the people who had up till now maintained a gloomy silence, broke into cheers for the man whose heroic attitude they warmly appreciated.


    1. Capuchin A Catholic friar.

    Text prepared by:

    Gen. Benjamin F. Butler, as commander of the Army of the Gulf, was in command at New Orleans from May 1 to December 15, 1862. In that period of less than eight months he contrived to make himself the best-hated man in all the annals of the community. Butler's announced theory was that New Orleans was a conquered city, inhabited by rebels, who must be made to pay the full penalty of their crimes. The rigor of his administration was much applauded by certain elements in the North, but with the passage of years a less favorable verdict has been pronounced upon his work. "The selection of such a man for such a command," says John Fiske, "was a needless, though unintentional, insult to the conquered city," and he characterizes Butler as "an unscrupulous politician, bent upon money-making and intrigue."1

    Butler landed in the city on the afternoon of May 1. Anticipating the action, the Federal fleet was stationed before the city in such positions that the heavy guns commanded all the principal thoroughfares, and could, with their fire, sweep them from end to end in case of any hostile demonstration of the part of the population. The transports then moved up the river to the foot of Julia Street, where the men disembarked. They fell into line on the levee in the presence of a crowd, mainly composed of negroes. After some delay, the command was given to march. They advanced along Julia Street to St. Charles and thence to Canal. It was almost dark when they reached their destination — ? the great, grim, roofless, granite Customhouse — ? where they were to bivouac for the night. Butler accompanied the troops on foot. He had six regiments of infantry and one section of howitzers. The artillery was posted in positions to command the approaches to the building. A great concourse of people lined the route to see the invaders pass. They maintained a stolid silence. Butler, after seeing his men established in their quarters, returned to the fleet and passed the night on board the "Mississippi."

    Early the following morning, he came ashore, and entering a carriage which awaited at the landing, was driven rapidly to the St. Charles Hotel, where he proposed to establish his quarters. He was accompanied by an escort of mounted soldiers. The vehicle came to a halt outside of the ladies' entrance on Common Street. A staff officer hurried into the building in search of the proprietor, Mr. Hildreth. Hildreth was absent, but his son was found on the premises, and to him was communicated Butler's demand that rooms be prepared for himself and his staff. Young Hildreth replied that the hotel was closed, and all of its employees dismissed; he could not therefore receive guests. Butler's response was, that he would take possession and run the building with his own men. Leaving the carriage, he ascended to the second floor, where he picked out the apartments that he needed.

    The news of his presence was quickly known throughout the city. A large crowd collected outside of the hotel and began to shout derisively. Butler appeared at one of the windows and looked down on the vociferating p275mob. He was accompanied by Ex-Recorder Summers, who had returned to the city that morning under escort of the troops, and now proposed to stay at the hotel. At the sight of this unpopular personage the behavior of the crowd grew threatening. A strong body of Federal troops was accordingly ordered up from the Customhouse, with instructions to disperse the crowd. In doing this several arrests were made. Among those taken into custody was Col. Daniel Edwards, owner of a large brass foundry, and a prominent citizen; and a young man named Outlaw. They were locked up in jail all night. The following morning they were arraigned before Butler. Edwards was accused of using the word "traitor," presumably with reference to the General; but when he explained that it was really directed towards Summers, he was suffered to depart. But young Outlaw was sent to Fort Jackson, under a sentence of hard labor. He was the first of a procession of citizens whom Butler was to send thither.

    Mayor Monroe was summoned to the hotel on the afternoon of May 2, but was unable to obey the order immediately. A request to General Juge, to continue the work of preserving the peace with his Foreign Legion, elicited the curt reply, that the city was in General Butler's hands, and he might see to the maintenance of order himself. Butler promptly took this matter in hand. He appointed Capt. Jonas H. French to be provost marshal, and Major Joseph M. Bell to be provost judge. These officers at once waited upon Mayor Monroe and requested to have the keys of the prisons turned over to them. Their demeanor was courteous and considerate, as, indeed, was that of most of the officers of the Federal army at all times, with the exception of Butler and a class which had been commissioned from civil life. The regular army officers generally showed a desire to conciliate the people, and especially the officials of the city.

    In the evening Monroe, accompanied by Pierre Soulé and the members of the City Council, repaired to the St. Charles, to confer with Butler as to his intentions with regard to the city. The General received them in full uniform, wearing his sword and pistols, and surrounded by members of his staff. He opened the proceedings with an address in which he characterized the people of New Orleans as "rebels." This word was not well received. Soulé, on behalf of the city officials, registered an eloquent protest against its use. A sharp controversy developed between him and Butler. At the end of the discussion, Butler produced copies of a proclamation which he had prepared, putting the city under martial law. The provisions of this document were stringent. All persons in arms against the United States, except the Foreign Legion, were to surrender forthwith; all flags except that of the United States, were to be removed; all arms must be given up, and all well-disposed persons must take the oath of allegiance to the United States. All persons in the Confederate service who surrendered were assured of good treatment, insofar as the exigencies of the public service permitted; and the people in general were urged to resume their usual vocations. All rights of property were declared inviolate, subject only to the laws of the United States. All shops and places of amusement were to continue open as usual, nor were services in the churches to be disturbed. But keepers of public houses and drinking-places could not do business without first reporting themselves to the provost-marshal and obtaining his license; and, moreover, they would be held responsible for any disorders p276that might occur on their premises. The killing of a United States soldier would be deemed murder. Disorders of the peace and crimes of an aggravated sort would be dealt with by the military authorities, but other offenses would be referred to the municipal authorities, if they cared to act; and civil cases between party and party would be handled in the courts.

    The original draft of the proclamation contained a clause prohibiting the use of Confederate money, but Soulé pointed out that this was the only currency in circulation, and that the order would therefore be impossible of execution. Butler thereupon modified it, with the understanding that the arrangement stood merely "till further orders."

    By this proclamation the municipal authority, insofar as concerned the police power, was suspended. The mayor was informed that the control of the police would be restored to him when peace and order were fully assured. Butler justified this measure by stating that he knew that a secret society, with headquarters within a few hundred feet of the St. Charles, existed with the purpose of assassinating Federal soldiers, and that it was incumbent upon him to take the most elaborate precautions to protect his men from this, or similar, organizations. Needless to say, Monroe knew of no such organization. In all probability it existed only in the heated imagination of the refugees, who, like Summers, had spread through the fleet fantastic stories of the perils of life in New Orleans. At the close of the interview, Soulé, consulted with reference to the awkward position in which the civil power found itself under the proclamation, advised the mayor and the councilmen to resign. Monroe decided not to do so, believing that by retaining his office he might be useful in mitigating the harshness of military rule. The members of the Council came to a like determination.

    Butler established his headquarters at the Customhouse, but made his home at the St. Charles. Thither he brought his wife. Artillery posted in the streets protected all the entrances. Another hotel, the Evans House, on Poydras Street, was seized and converted into a hospital for the Federal sick. The landing of troops went on briskly in New Orleans and in Algiers, under the direction of Gen. G. F. Shepley, who was appointed commandant in the city. Detachments were quartered in the squares in various parts of the city. The principal roads leading into New Orleans were picketed as far out as the crossing of the Jackson & Great Northern Railroad. The city was remarkably quiet. "Most of the stores have been closed since last Friday," remarked the Delta, on May 1, "and remain closed with few exceptions. The principal hotels are closed. [. . .] The barrooms have all been closed since last Friday. For some days there was great difficulty in passing the miserable currency we are cursed with, but thanks to the judicious measures taken by the authorities, confidence in it has been partially restored. The markets are still very meagerly furnished. [. . .] The movements in financial circles during the past week have been of the most restricted character ever witnessed in the Crescent City. The banks kept their doors open for a few hours daily to pay checks and to renew obligations, but they peremptorily refused to receive deposits or transact any other kind of business."

    As all the machinery of benevolence worked out during the previous year for the relief of distress in the city, was thrown out of gear by General Butler's assumption of control, it was necessary to take measures p277at once to relieve the wants of a part of the population, which, as we have seen, was dependent upon charity for subsistence. This matter was brought to Butler's attention by Mayor Monroe. The latter recommended that arrangements be made to admit food to the city from Mobile and from points along the Mississippi immediately above New Orleans. Accordingly, on May 3 and 4, orders were issued to permit one steamer to bring in flour from Mobile, two steamers to go to the mouth of Red River and return with the supplies of food collected there by the governmental agents representing the city authorities; and the Opelousas Railroad was opened, under military control, with a view especially to the importation of live stock. These measures were, however, inadequate. Butler claimed that advantage was taken of these concessions to communicate with the Confederate army, and to send it food, medicines, and information. On this ground he refused to renew or extend the safeguards under which the vessels were operated. However, on May 9, he directed that a large quantity of provisions, including a thousand barrels of meat and sugar, which he found in Lafayette Square, on arriving in the city, be distributed to the destitute. This material had been accumulated by the Confederate officials and was intended for the use of the Southern army. At the same time he took occasion to criticize the City Council for its failure to provide for the needs of the population. This body, however, stripped of authority and without resources of any description, was in no position to do more than it had done — ? to bring the existing necessity to the attention of the commanding general. Butler, moreover, in General Order No. 25, attacked the wealthier classes for having, as he said, plundered the poorer and deprived them of the food which they themselves were enjoying in the greatest plenty, and appealed to the "men of New Orleans" not any longer to "uphold these flagrant wrongs, and by inaction suffer" themselves to be made "the serfs of these loafers." The violence of his language astonished the city, and accomplished no good effect. It was, however, a foretaste of much that was to come.

    Butler was greatly annoyed by the behavior of the women of New Orleans, who made a point of wearing Confederate colors on their hats and dresses, of playing or singing Southern songs when Federal troops were within hearing, and of manifesting their dislike by withdrawing from omnibus, street car, or church pew whenever Federal officers entered these places. Butler's official spokesman, Parton, says that they pretended nausea whenever Federal soldiers were near, ostentatiously drew aside their skirts when passing them, as though the slightest contact were contamination, and even took to the roadway in order to avoid too near approach to the unwelcome passer-by.2 This description is no doubt exaggerated, but even so, these actions did not call for very severe chastisement. On May 15, however, Butler issued the infamous Order No. 28: "As officers and soldiers of the United States have been subject to repeated insult from women calling themselves the ladies of New Orleans, in return for the most scrupulous non-interference and courtesy on our part, it is ordered that hereafter, when any female shall by mere gesture or movement insult, or show contempt for any officers or soldiers of the United States, she shall be regarded and held liable to be treated as a woman about town plying her vocation." Butler's apologist claims p278that the immediate occasion of the publication of this order was the act of "a beast of a woman" who spat in the faces of two officers "who were walking peacefully along the street."3

    The consequences of the sort were unexpected and various. President Davis outlawed Butler and put a price upon his head. In the British Parliament Lord Palmerston denounced it as "infamous." Secretary Seward felt called upon to apologize to the British chargé in Washington for a phraseology which could be mistaken or perverted." Unquestionably, it put the women of New Orleans completely at the mercy of the military. It made any common soldier the judge of any woman; on his complaint she was liable under the city ordinances to arrest, detention overnight in jail, and a fine of $5, to be inflicted the following day. Mayor Monroe felt it his duty to record a vigorous protest. He wrote at once to Butler. The order, he said, "is of a character so astonishing that I cannot, holding the office of chief magistrate of this city, chargeable with its peace and dignity, suffer it to be promulgated in our presence without protesting against the threat it contains, which has already aroused the passions of our people, and must exasperate them to a degree beyond control. [. . .] Your officers and soldiers are permitted by the terms of this order to place any construction they may please upon the conduct of our wives and daughters, and upon such construction, to offer them atrocious insults. The peace of the city and the safety of your officers and soldiers from harm or insult have, I affirm, and successfully secured to an extent enabling them to move through our streets almost unnoticed, according to the understanding and agreement entered into between yourself and the city authorities. I did not, however, anticipate a war upon women and children, who, so far as I am aware, have only manifested their displeasure at the occupation of the city by those whom they believe to be their enemies, and I will never undertake to be responsible for the peace of New Orleans while such an edict, which infuriates our citizens, remains in force. To give a license to the officers and soldiers of your command to commit outrages, such as are indicated in your order, upon defenseless women, is, in my judgment, a reproach to the civilization, not to say the Christianity, of the age, in whose name I make this protest."

    Courtyard of the Spanish Calaboza,

    in New Orleans, Showing the Stocks

    Butler's only reply was to issue an order relieving "John T. Monroe, late mayor of New Orleans" from "all responsibility for the peace of the city," and committing him to Fort Jackson until further orders. This order was delivered by the provost-marshal, who took Monroe into custody. The prisoner, when arraigned before the General, remonstrated against the order of imprisonment. Butler replied that if Monroe could no longer control "the passions of the people of New Orleans," it was necessary to put someone in charge who could. Parton says that Butler explained the order with great care, and to Monroe's entire satisfaction, whereupon the latter wrote a note retracting his previous communication. "This communication," he wrote, "having been sent under a mistake of fact, and being improper in language, I desire to apologize for same and to withdraw it." Monroe was then relieved from arrest.

    As soon as Monroe had an opportunity to reflect upon the situation, however, he seems to have felt that he had acted hastily in accepting Butler's interpretation of the order. He therefore that evening dispatched p279his secretary, Marion Baker, to the Customhouse with another note, expressing his desire to retract the endorsement which he had made on his previous letter, and requesting the return thereof. Butler replied that " no lady will take any notice of a strange gentleman, and a fortiori of a stranger, in such form as to attract attention. Common women do," repeated the essential part of his order. "I shall not, as I have not," he concluded, "abate a single word of that order; it was well considered. If obeyed, it will protect the true and modest woman from all possible insult. The others will take care of themselves."

    Monroe's answer was to send Butler a copy of his first letter.

    Again the mayor was put under arrest; further explanations at the Customhouse culminated in his release. The following day was Sunday, and the General's office was closed. Nevertheless, Mayor Monroe and a large number of his friends felt that it was necessary to have a clearer understanding of the situation, and presented themselves at the St. Charles. They were refused admission, but with the intimation that p280they could call the following morning, at headquarters. In the meantime Butler had unearthed what he regarded as a conspiracy involving Monroe. Several paroled Confederate soldiers had formed what they termed the "Monroe Guards," and were planning to make their escape from New Orleans, and rejoin the forces under Lovell. Alarmed at the possibility of a widespread agitation of the sort, Butler now resolved to suppress the city administration, and substitute for the civil authorities some of his own officers. Accordingly, when on Monday morning Monroe, accompanied by the chief of police, Kennedy, judge of one of the city courts, Secretary Baker, and several other prominent citizens, presented themselves at the Customhouse, he received them with charges of neglect of duty, insubordination, and obstruction. He said that the whole power and means of the city administration were being used to send provisions to Lovell's troops, to raise money for the support of Confederate agents in the city, and to place impediments in the way of the sanitation of the city. The alleged conspiracy for which six men had been examined, found guilty, and now lay under sentence of death, was significant from the fact that the organization bore the mayor's name. He then ordered that the mayor, the chief of police, Judge Kennedy, and Secretary Baker be immediately transported to Fort Jackson. Monroe was subsequently removed to Fort Pickens, where he remained till the end of the war. Baker's offense was that he has "assisted in the composition of the letter" of the mayor. The chief of police was condemned because, when asked if he sustained the mayor, he answered in the affirmative. Kennedy refused to answer a similar question, because, as he said, a simple affirmative or a simple negative would not cover the position which he took. The other persons in the party were dismissed without punishment.

    The executive part of the city government thus being abolished, Gen. George F. Shepley was appointed acting mayor, and the functions of chief of police were taken over by Captain French, the provost marshal. Shepley was from Maine, and had figured there conspicuously as a member of the National democracy, the same party with which Butler was affiliated. He had been a warm personal friend of President Jefferson Davis, and when the latter was travelling through New England, some years before, had entertained him hospitably. Shepley and Butler were reported not to be on good terms. It was said that they had quarrelled on several occasions, chiefly as a result of jealousies dating back to the very inception of the expedition against New Orleans. Rumors were rife of a personal encounter between the two at Ship Island, in which Butler appears to have come off second best. Shepley's appointment first to be commandant in the city, and then to be acting mayor, was, rightly or wrongly, attributed to Butler's desire to conciliate a man of whom he stood in some fear. On the whole, his administration as mayor, which lasted only one month, was characterized by mildness and dignity. Occasional manifestations of a different spirit were considered by the people as intended for political effect.4

    The character of the business transacted under Shepley's administration, and in general, under the other military appointees who followed him at intervals of a month or two during the remainder of the year 1862, may be gathered from a description written by the correspondent p281of the New York Times, who spent a day with the new mayor, and watched him at work. "The first thing brought to the general's notice by the attendant clerks was a petition from the sheriff of New Orleans for the relief of certain prisoners. A tall, shrewish woman now entered and asked for an order to make a tenant pay rent. Next came a woman, child in arms, detailing her sufferings, her husband having been impressed into the Confederate service. An old and very respectable gentleman desired a pass for the family of a mother, six children and four servants to Baton Rouge. A committee appeared desiring work on the streets for the poor men who had been in rebel service; petition instantly granted if the parties named would take the oath of allegiance. A gentleman appears who wishes to get an order to repair a building occupied by United States troops as a hospital; he was waved out with impatience. Merchants now crowd in with all kinds of questions regarding business matters. An officer of the navy obtrudes his gold-laced cuff and places a letter on the table from Commodore Porter; it is opened, read, and answer dictated in a moment. A man now presents himself who says his negro, who has been absent several days, said he was forcibly retained in the National lines; General Shepley rises from his seat, his eyes flash; he replies, mildly, but firmly that he don't [sic] believe the negro's story, and demands a responsible white man for a witness, the complainant leaving precipitately. Old gentleman in an undertone asks a favor; it is granted, and old gentleman goes off delighted. An old lady in black now comes in with a little negro girl, following in the rear, carrying her work-bag. Old lady seats herself on the lounge and the little negro girl crouches on the carpet at her feet. General Shepley gets up and speaks to the old lady; she says something, points at the contraband, gets some answer that is satisfactory — ? for exit old lady, little negro, and work-bag. A delegation of merchants now appears, who have some conversation about the currency. A city official makes a report about cleaning the streets. [. . .] A committee is now announced. It is headed by the president of the Union Association, and is composed of its prominent members. They present a petition to the General, requesting certain municipal reforms. [. . .] Five long hours the audiences continue, and only end to enable the General to resume new duties at his military headquarters at the Customhouse."5

    The question of the currency to which the writer above quoted refers as the subject of conference between Shepley and the merchants of the city, was a serious one. About the middle of May the large amount of paper money in circulation was beginning to occasion embarrassment. The newspapers report plenty of food and other necessaries available, but only at very high prices. The people had been compelled to receive the paper, but tradesmen were now again beginning to refuse it. The Ccili therefore adopted resolutions requiring every person who had issued "shinplasters," notes, etc., to submit a sworn statement of such issues up to May 6; such persons to make with the city treasurer deposits of securities ample to offset those outstanding amounts; and also to surrender the plates from which all such "money" had been printed. The plates were thereupon publicly destroyed by the chairman of the Finance Committee. The names of all parties who complied with these regulations were printed in the newspapers, with a statement of the p282amount of "money" which each had issued, and of the deposit made with the city to cover it. The city attorney, under direction of the Council, took steps to prosecute those who thereafter issued notes or checks of any kind. Steps were also taken by the Council to authorize the city to issue city notes, signed by the treasurer and comptroller, to a total equal in amount and of denominations similar to those issued by individuals. With these the individual issues were to be gradually taken up.6 By October 28, 1862, $1,435,104 in such city notes had been issued; but the benefit to the business community seems not to have been very great from any of these measures. The effect of the Council's measures to guarantee the private issues was naturally reflected in a partial restoration of their value, but this advance did not last long. Butler on May 21 issued an order prohibiting the further circulation of Confederate notes. This order was intended to compel the banks to resume payment of their own bills in kind or in specie, or in United States notes. This order had been anticipated, but its immediate effect was merely to introduce a new element of confusion into a situation which was already sufficiently complex.

    Shepley was, under the terms of the order appointing him, to hold office "until such time as the people should elect a loyal citizen of New Orleans to the mayoralty." The council had already anticipated the necessity of holding an election, in view of the fact that Mayor Monroe, at the moment of his deposition, had but a few weeks more of his regular term to serve. The first Monday in June was accordingly selected as the date for holding the election. Shepley's order had the effect of determining the qualifications of the candidate who would be permitted, if elected, to assume control of the city government. Moreover, he issued an order continuing in effect all of the city laws and ordinances which might not be found inconsistent with the laws of the United States and the orders of the commanding general.

    On May 28th, however, all the machinery of the civil government, which had apparently been working smoothly and satisfactorily, was upset by an order signed by Shepley, but approved by Butler, removing the entire membership of the council from office. Part of the council had completed serving the term for which it had been elected; the remainder was ejected on the ground that the members had failed to take the prescribed oath of allegiance, and therefore could not, under Butler's proclamation, continue to hold office under the United States Government. Shepley's order contained the following provisions: "Believing that the inconvenience incident to a temporary suspension of legislative power will be slight as compared with the evils which have hitherto been consequent upon excessive and frequently corrupt legislation, these vacancies will not be filled till such a time as there will be a sufficient number of the citizens of New Orleans loyal to their country and their constitution to entitle them to the rights of self-government."

    In place of the governmental machinery thus removed, two bureaux were instituted. One of these, the Bureau of Finance, consisted of three persons, one serving as chairman, who were named by the military authority. The duties assumed by this bureau were those which, under the charter of 1856 and the other laws of the city, had been performed by the various committees of the City Council on Finance, Police, Fire, p283Judiciary, Claims, Education and Health. The other was the Bureau of Street and Landings. It also consisted of three members, one of whom, named by the commandant, was to serve as chairman. Its functions included those of the Council Committees on Workhouse, Streets and Landings, Prisons, House of Refuge, etc. The chairmen, in addition to their duties as presiding officer, were empowered to appoint the necessary clerks, etc., to carry on the city business, but their compensation was to be determined by the members sitting together. The offices of these bureaus were opened in the City Hall. E. H. Durell was appointed chairman of the Bureau of Finance, and Julian Neville of the Bureau of Streets and Landings. This form of government remained in existence down to March, 1865. It was, in fact, a mere shadow of the military power, and during the early stages of its existence had no authority other than that possessed by the committees of the council which it displaced; that is, its functions were limited to the collection of data, the formulations of recommendations, and the execution of such of its plans as acquired legal force through the approbation of the military officials. This limited power gradually extended itself. In time the bureaux acquired by common consent practically all the functions of a normal city government, but to the very end these were always exercised with the understanding that all ordinances were subject without notice to cancellation or modification by the commanding general in charge of the city.

    The remaining events of Butler's administration can here be given only in outline. Most important were in connection with offenses against the military law. No distinction was made in handling men and women arrested under charges of this sort. Women were taken into custody on charges of concealing arms, singing "rebel" songs, wearing the "rebel" colors, attending or aiding the "rebel" sick, corresponding with the enemy, sending comforts to Confederate soldiers, receiving and concealing property, such as blankets, clothing, etc., intended for their use; circulating the news of "rebel" victories; receiving letters from "rebels" in arms; abusing slaves; speaking disparagingly of the commanding general or other Federal officers, etc. All of these prisoners, gentle and simple, were handled in the same way. They were marched to the Custom House under military guard, exposed to the comment of the crowd. They were there interrogated, usually by the commanding general, and the matter summarily disposed of. A few of the most notorious of these cases may be instanced. Miss Rowena Florance was arrested on a charge of concealing arms; the arms were three swords of honor which had been placed in her care by General Twiggs when he left the city prior to the advent of the Federal army. Mrs. Cohen, taken into custody for wearing red and white ribbons — ? red and white were the colors of the Confederacy — ? was remanded to a woman's prison opened by Butler on Canal Street, under the command of Captain Stafford, where she saw no white person except her jailer. Mrs. Phillip Phillips, accused of having laughed while the funeral of a Federal officer was passing her residence, was sentenced to two years' detention at Ship Island. She was released after serving a part of her sentence, but not until the state of her health became alarming.

    Many prominent men were arrested on equally flimsy pretexts. Dr. Warren Stone, a distinguished philanthropist and scientist, was sent to Fort St. Philip. President Mazureau of the Southern Rights Association was imprisoned on a charge that this organization — ? which included many p284of the most respected citizens of New Orleans, and which, moreover, passed out of existence when the Federal occupied the city — ? aimed to promote its objects by intimidation and assassination. Mazureau was judge of one of the most important courts in the city; his arrest threw into confusion the whole machinery of justice. Pierre Soulé scorned to ask the nature of the offense for which he was arrested. He was imprisoned at Fort Lafayette. Many arrests were made of persons who refused to take the oath of allegiance prescribed by Butler. Many who escaped imprisonment were heavily fined. Dr. W. N. Mercer, a distinguished physician and banker, was stripped of virtually the whole of a large fortune in this way.

    These cases, where not handled by Butler in person, were turned over to a military commission of five Federal officers appointed "for the trial of all high crimes and misdemeanors which by the laws of any state in the Union, or by the laws of the United States, or the law martial, are punishable with death or imprisonment for a long term of years." It was complained at the time that the members of this court were militia officers unfamiliar with the laws, military or civil, which they undertook to execute. Encouragement was given to the negroes to inform against their masters. Negroes so informing were promised their freedom. Butler was soon able to boast that by this device he had a "spy in every household." Their testimony was accepted without question in the trial of all cases. In addition, a corps of spies and detectives was maintained. Repeated instances of domiciliary visits in search of arms, doors broken down, wardrobes rifled and peaceable citizens arrested on charges of interfering with the military in the discharge of their duty, are recorded in the newspapers of the day. Several tradesmen were punished for refusing to sell to Federal soldiers. Vendors of music were arrested for having in their possession works dedicated to Southern heroes, or supposed to be of a disloyal tendency. All stores where arms were offered for sale were seized. The houses of men absent in the Confederate service were confiscated and turned over to Federal officers for their use. Butler himself took possession of the splendid home of General Twiggs. Persons who had once been in the Confederate service, though long since discharged, and persons who had sold goods to the Confederate government were liable to arrest, and in some cases suffered confiscation of property as well as terms of imprisonment. Newspapers which offended in any way were suppressed for periods more or less long.

    The most sensational episode of Butler's administration was the execution of Mumford for having torn down the Federal flag at the Mint on April 27th. He was hanged on June 7, 1862, from a scaffold erected in front of the building which had been the scene of his offense. Butler's justification of the deed was that Mumford was a gambler and undesirable citizen; that it was freely said in the city that the execution would be prevented by force, if necessary; that he himself was menaced with assassination if the sentence were carried out; that mercy in the premises would have been construed only as an element of weakness, and finally, that had Mumford not been put to death, the mob would have got the upper hand in the city, temporarily at least.7 As a matter of fact, he seems to have made up his mind to hang Mumford from the moment when he first heard of his act. His remark to Farragut on p285the "Hartford" seems conclusive on this point.8 The city could not believe that Butler could inflict so dire a penalty for an offense of apparently so little importance, especially in view of the fact that it had been committed in advance of the Federal occupation of the city. A large crowd assembled in front of the Mint on the day appointed for the execution, expecting that at the last moment a reprieve would be granted. A strong detachment of infantry, with fixed bayonets, formed in a hollow square around the scaffold. The prisoner, whose calm, undaunted demeanor extorted the admiration even of his enemies, arrived handcuffed in an ambulance. Mumford was a handsome man of about 42 years of age. On this occasion he wore a suit of white clothes. He ascended the scaffold with a firm, unfaltering step. There he engaged in conversation for a few moments with a clergyman who had been permitted to attend. Stafford, who held a commission as captain in a negro regiment, then read the sentence in a loud voice. Mumford made a brief address, acknowledging and justifying his offense. A deep groan ascended from the multitude as the drop fell. Stafford ordered the drums to beat. The crowd then dispersed in silence.

    Butler's relations with the business men of New Orleans would supply material for a long and curious chapter. It will be remembered that the banks suspended specie payments some time before the Federals attacked the city and thereafter issued only Confederate notes. On May 27th Butler outlawed these notes. This action, though intended to hurt the banks, did not really accomplish this end, but recoiled upon the population in general. The banks had means to dispose of the notes without serious loss. They were permitted to send agents into the Confederacy under safeguards from Butler, sometimes to settle their balances with the banks there, and at other times to solicit the return of specie, etc.; in this way it was easily possible for them to dispose of their Confederate money. No such recourse, however, was open to the ordinary citizen, who was left with whatever sums he had been unable to exchange for articles of permanent value.

    In May Butler called before him the presidents of all the New Orleans banks and accused them of having connived at the destruction of the 15,000 bales of cotton, burned just previous to the arrival of the Federal fleet. This cotton, he said, was a security of their creditors and should have been saved for their benefit. He also taxed them with having shipped their specie into the Confederacy. For these offenses he threatened them with death. The Citizens' Bank and the New Orleans banks had retained their specie; the former was in a position to recover it within twenty-four hours. The action of which Butler complained had been taken in September, 1861, under compulsion from the Confederate officers, who did not wish that the money should remain in New Orleans to fall into the enemy's hands. The banks therefore could only agree to send their agents into the Confederate lines and demand the return of the cash. They undertook to do this with the understanding that, if returned, the money should be placed in their vaults for the benefit of their creditors and stockholders. The Confederate authorities, however, would not consent to the proposed arrangement, except insofar as to promise that the money should be faithfully guarded and returned p286to the banks at the end of the war, or when they regained control of New Orleans. The Bank of America, however, actually recovered its specie by shipping it in barrels labeled "mess pork" from a point in Northern Louisiana, where it had been deposited.

    Butler made several efforts to depreciate the notes of the banks which were not able to recover their specie. But in these he was not successful. Their currency continued to circulate on a par with that of the other banks.

    Butler has been much criticized on account of the activities of his brother, A. J. Butler, who followed his distinguished relative to New Orleans. The latter, called Colonel, though he had no official connection with the army, is said to have made between one and two million dollars in less than seven months, apparently mainly in trafficking with the enemy. A series of confidential letters addressed to Secretary Chase by one of his agents in New Orleans gives details as to the manner in which these operations were carried on. Government vessels were used both on the Mississippi and on Lake Pontchartrain to deliver articles, especially salt, of which the Confederacy stood in great need, and for which large prices had been obtained. This money was then invested in cotton, which could be bought cheap in the Confederacy, but commanded large prices in New Orleans. It was believed in the army that several of the leading officers on duty in New Orleans were engaged in this business. How far Butler was involved is not exactly known, but it seems unlikely that these operations could be carried on without his knowledge and approval.9

    Butler in later years took great credit for his work in New Orleans in cleaning up the streets and in feeding the poor. There seems to have been some foundation for the former boast.10 One of the reasons which were given for the suppression of the City Council was its failure to co-operate efficiently in Butler's attempt to cleanse the city. Early in June Butler appointed Colonel Thorp acting city supervisor and set 2,000 men to work, in gangs of twenty-five, all over the city. To pay these men and also to defray the expense of feeding the dependent poor, he levied two assessments upon the richer classes of the city, the first in August, the second in December. His victims were particularly the cotton factors who six months before the advent of the Federals had signed a circular letter addressed to the cotton planters of the state, advising them not to ship the staple into New Orleans. Butler tried to have these men issue another circular, urging upon the planters a precisely contrary course; but only one man would consent to sign it. The remainder were now assessed in varying sums. The other class which Butler taxed was the subscribers to the city bond issue of February, 1862. They were assessed 25 percent of the amount of that load which they had underwritten. From these two sources an amount in excess of $300,000 was collected. The assessments were promptly paid, as the alternative was arrest and imprisonment at hard labor. In December the assessment was repeated, so that these unfortunate individuals were required to pay, in all, 50 percent of their subscriptions. One man had to pay $100,000, another $75,000, and several from $20,000 to $25,000.'+BadF+'from $25,000 to $20,000'+CloseF+'',WIDTH,150)" onMouseOut="nd();"> p287This, in addition to the loss of the original investment, for the city was never in a position to take up its bonds.

    Another assessment was levied upon those merchants who had profited by blockade-running previous to Butler's arrival. The opportune capture of the "Fox," on May 10, 1862, put in Butler's hand letters and business papers which enabled him to identify several of the firms engaged in this business. He compelled them to choose between imprisonment and the payment of such sums as in his judgment the profits from their business justified. The houses thus attacked employed attorneys; an effort was made to convince Butler that his action was extra-legal, the property involved having been placed outside of the jurisdiction of the United States, and the business of blockade running having a recognize status in international law; but without avail. Among the citizens who were compelled to contribute to Butler's war chest were P. H. Kennedy & Co., who paid over $7,000; Avendano Brothers, $25,000; Mr. Wogan, $19,000; Mr. Plaisan, $11,000, and a number of other smaller sums.

    These operations ultimately brought Butler into collision with the foreign consuls. Soon after his arrival he learned that $800,000 had been deposited with the Dutch consul, Couturié, by the Citizens' Bank. The sum was in specie and intended to cover the interest on certain bonds of the State of Louisiana owned by Hope & Co., brokers, of Amsterdam. Butler refused to credit the statement of the bankers as to the destination of this money. He sent an officer and a file of soldiers to the consulate, where they seized and searched the person of the consul, took his keys from his pocket and removed the money from his vault to the Custom House. Couturié thereupon struck his consular ensign and forwarded a statement of the incident to his ambassador in Washington. Seward, of course, disavowed the act, and the money was ultimately restored.

    Another somewhat similar seizure was contemplated in the French consulate, but the soldiers sent to effect it were greeted at the door by De Clouet, commander of the French frigate "Milan," then in port, who forbade them to enter. Butler was thus unable to put hands on the cash stored at the consulate, but required the consul to agree to retain the money on deposit until its ownership could be settled in Washington by conversations between the French minister and the American Department of State.

    Still another case was an attempted seizure of sugar purchased by certain foreign residents of New Orleans on their own account in the regular course of trade previous to the capture of the city. Butler believed that the transaction was intended to furnish to the Confederate authorities in Europe money with which to buy arms, etc. The consuls made an energetic protest against the projected seizure. These cases were taken up, with many others, by Reverdy Johnson, a commissioner sent from Washington to New Orleans for the purpose, and were decided adversely to Butler.

    The complaints which reached Washington regarding Butler's conduct in these instances, and especially with reference to Order No. 28, finally determined the administration to remove him from the command of the Department of the Gulf.11 Gen. N. P. Banks, who was selected p288as his successor, arrived in New Orleans on December 14, 1862. On December 15th Butler issued a farewell order to his troops, and on the 16th he formally surrendered the command to Banks. He did not depart at once, but lingered in the city till the 24th, and then sailed for New York. He left behind an address to the people of New Orleans, which was thoroughly in accord with his previous official utterances. In it he dwelt on the evils of slavery and its disastrous effects upon the slave-owning population of the South and reiterated a favorite theory that the war was "a war of the aristocrats against the middling man, — ? of the rich against the poor — ? a war of the landowner against the laborer." This was Butler's idea of adding insult to injury.12


    1. Capuchin A Catholic friar.

    Text prepared by:

    It was part of President Lincoln's general policy to restore the civil government as soon as possible in Louisiana. A beginning was made early in the Butler regime, when elections were held for congressmen and B. F. Flanders and Michael Hahn were elected and took their seats in the House of Representatives. Union sentiment, which soon found expression in the guise of associations, was very weak and entirely dependent on the army. It came at first largely, though not exclusively, from the lower class of the white population. Two distinct and in some respects antagonistic parties speedily developed in its ranks. The first cherished the theory that the constitution of 1852 had been abrogated by the constitution of 1864 and that the latter instrument was illegal and without force. The State of Louisiana was, therefore, at this moment without a basic law. In order to proceed to the organization of a civil government and the election of officers thereunder the first necessary thing was to call a constitutional convention and create a new state constitution.

    The other party held the view that the secession of Louisiana had merely suspended the constitution of 1852, which automatically came back into force when the Federal troops occupied New Orleans. There was consequently no need of a convention or of a new constitution; all that was requisite the reinstitute a civil government was permission from the military officials to proceed to an election of state officers.

    The vital difference between the two factions, however, was the matter of slavery. The former, in advocating a constitutional convention, aimed to secure the abolition of slavery in the whole state, and looked to the proposed new constitution as the least embarrassing and most certain way of accomplishing their purpose. The idea was set forth by one of its leaders in the following words: "We cannot reorganize the civil government of our city and still less of our state and get rid of the fearful incubus of martial law now pressing down our energies by its arbitrary influence unless we believe, give utterance to and establish the fundamental principle of our national government: 'all men are created free and equal.' We know of no better way to effect this than by calling a convention as soon as possible, to declare the simple fact that Louisiana is now and will forever be a free state." These principles secured the name of Free State for the party.

    The other, or Conservative, party, was headed by such men as Bradish Johnson, Thomas Cottman and E. E. Methiot, and was composed largely of planters. They professed to be as loyal to the Union as the Free State party, but did not wish to jeopardize slavery as an institution and believed that the constitution of 1852 should be revived with all of its slavery provisions. They contended that Lincoln's emancipation proclamation was merely a war measure, and that inasmuch as within the Federal lines slavery, as such, had not been abolished, there was ground to expect that it would be restored at the close of hostilities. If not so reinstated, they thought that loyal citizens would be compensated for their slaves through due process of law.

    p290 Both parties tried to carry out their plans simultaneously, and both failed. The Conservative party was not large, received no encouragement from President Lincoln and was officially opposed by General Shepley, who, having been in June, 1862 relieved as acting mayor of New Orleans, was now military governor of the state. The Free State party plan was approved by President Lincoln, but failed to achieve the results which he hoped from it. In May, 1863, a committee representing this party was formed under the presidency of Thomas J. Durant and proceeded to publish elaborate rules for the registration of voters as a preliminary to the election of delegates to the constitutional convention which it was proposed to hold. It was expected that matters would be in readiness for an election on January 25, 1864. The convention would meet later and in a more or less future time elections for state officers might be expected to take place.

    President Lincoln was not satisfied with the prospect of so considerable a delay and directed General Banks to take steps to hasten the installation of the civil government. The latter therefore issued a proclamation on January 11, 1864, in which he directed that elections for state officials be held on the 22nd of the following month. He took occasion incidentally to settle two vexed questions, first, by ordering that a convention be held to revise the state constitution and that delegates thereto elected on the first Monday in April, 1864; and, secondly, by putting in force in the interim the constitution of 1852, except "so much of said constitution" as concerned slavery, "which, as being inconsistent with the present condition of public affairs and plainly inapplicable to any class of persons now existing" within the limits of the state, "must be suspended."1 The Free State party promptly protested at these adverse decisions, but they determined to take part in the election, in view of the great influence which the new governor might be expected to exert over the constitutional convention when it should meet.

    The campaign which followed was made interesting mainly by the contentions which developed between various factions in the Free State party. The party convention split on purely personal grounds. Two candidates for governor were nominated. Hahn was the candidate of those who found themselves in accord with Banks' announced policies. Those who did not agree with Banks favored B. F. Flanders, whom they proceeded to nominate. The Conservatives named J. Q. A. Fellows on a platform supporting "the constitution and the Union with the preservation of the rights of all inviolate." General Banks, in an order issued on February 13th, stated: "Every free white male twenty-one years of age who has been a resident of the state twelve months, and six months in the parish in which he offers to vote, who is a citizen of the United States, and who shall have taken the oath prescribed by the President in his proclamation of the 8th December, 1863, shall have the right to vote." The election took place on February 22nd and resulted in the election of Hahn. Only a relatively small part of the state figured in the election. The population of the state was approximately 700,000, of which total over 575,000 still remained outside of the Federal lines. In New Orleans the vote for governor was: Hahn, 3,625; Flanders, 1,007; Fellows, 1,139.

    The state officials were inducted into office on April 3, 1864. The new government was only nominally a civil one. In reality it depended p291absolutely upon the military power and its officials held their posts subject to the will of the commanding general.2

    The election of delegates to the constitutional convention took place on March 28th. It was influenced by local and personal issues rather than by the greater issues which clamored for settlement. In fact, the abolition of slavery was a foregone conclusion, except insofar as the matter of compensation for "loyal owners" was concerned. The convention met in New Orleans on April 6th in a "Liberty Hall" specially fitted up in the City Hall for its use at an expense of $10,000. E. H. Durell was elected president. One hundred and fifty delegates representing forty-eight parishes would have constituted a convention; as a matter of fact, only ninety-eight delegates representing nineteen parishes took part. The convention was in session seventy-eight days, adjourning on July 25th. The session was more picturesque than orderly. A free bar was maintained at an outlay of $120 per day, which the members patronized extensively. At a time when the taxpayers were supposed to be "groaning under the burden of taxation" — ? to quote one of the eloquent speakers who addressed the convention — ? $1,000 was distributed among the chaplains who officiated at various times before the convention, $4,304.25 was spent for carriage hire, $8,111 for stationery and $150 for a pen case to be presented to General Banks. The constitution as finally adopted was a short document, different in comparatively few respects from the state constitution of 1852. Slavery in name and in fact was abolished throughout the state. It was made the duty of the State Legislature to create a free school system for blacks as well as whites. The franchise was given to white males twenty-one years and over. But the State Legislature was empowered to extend the suffrage whenever it deemed advisable to "such other persons as by military service, taxation to support the government or intellectual fitness" might seem to deserve it. This last provision was intended to open the way to extend the franchise to the negroes.

    The influence of New Orleans in the convention was paramount. Some of the ablest and most respected men of the city were members, and in a body largely composed of men now for the first time called to public life, it was natural that these older, more experienced individuals should exercise a predominant influence. New Orleans was made the capital of the state, and in apportioning the membership of the State Legislature, care was taken to base representation, not upon the total population, as hitherto, but upon the number of voters. This insured to the city a controlling influence in south affairs. Those who had taken part in the secession movement were not entirely disenfranchised; they might come into the fold whenever they were prepared to take the oath of allegiance to the government of the United States.3

    Before adjourning the convention adopted a resolution which was destined to have the most serious and sinister consequences for the state and for the City of New Orleans. This resolution stipulated that "when this convention adjourns it shall be at the call of the President, whose duty it shall be to reconvoke the convention for any cause, or in p292case the constitution should not be ratified, for the purpose of taking such measures as may be necessary for the formation of a civil government for the State of Louisiana." But if, on the other hand, the constitution was really ratified by the people, then the Legislature might, at its option, reconvoke the convention "for the purpose of making amendments or additions to the constitution that may, in the opinion of the Legislature, require a reassembling of the convention."4 This resolution was not passed without opposition. One member at least, Judge Abell, was clear-sighted enough to foresee the dangers which its adoption implied. He argued that the convention had accomplished its mission and should adjourn sine die. If the constitution failed of ratification, then the convention could no longer claim to represent the people of the state, and should properly give place to a new body, more in accord with their ideas. He was, however, voted down almost unanimously,

    The constitution was adopted at an election held September 5th. In New Orleans the vote for it was 4,664 and against it 789. At the same time a State Legislature was chosen, and five members of Congress were elected. Theoretically a civil government had now been established. Only about one-quarter of Louisiana was actually under control of this government. However, the Civil war was rapidly drawing to an end. Early in 1865 the collapse of the Confederacy brought the remainder of the state under the jurisdiction of the reorganized state government. The effect upon the city was more immediate, as leading within the next few months to the appointment to the mayoralty of a man whose credentials emanated, not from the military authority, but from the new civil government of the state.

    Steps had already been taken to reconstitute one important part of the city government. Early in the Butler regime a kind of judiciary had been established. It will be recalled that when the Federal troops occupied New Orleans the existing judicial system was swept away and matters which, under ordinary circumstances would have been the basis of litigation, were dealt with directly by the commanding general. A little later these questions were handed over to officers, and in some instances civilians specially designated to inquire into each individual case, and the decisions reached by these persons were enforced by the military authority. This justice, however, though better than none, was arbitrary and uncertain; there was need for something in the nature of courts properly so styled; a want which was met by detailing certain officers to have cognizance of certain subjects, and to handle all matters connected therewith. Of this character was the Provost Court created in June, 1862. Though intended originally to have jurisdiction only in matters relative to the army, its power was gradually extended to cover causes in no way connected with the officers and men of the army of occupation. Before the end of the summer this court had acquired jurisdiction in all criminal matters throughout the city.

    In August, General Shepley, on taking charge of the governorship of the state, took up the problem of the judiciary. He soon found that it would be necessary to create what were, in effect, new courts. They bore the names of earlier institutions, but as they derived their authority, not from the civil arm, but from the military, they rested upon a foundation p293totally different from that of the court of pre-war time. Among these the first to be called into existence was the Second District Court of the Parish of New Orleans, of which John S. Whittaker was appointed judge. The Sixth District Court was also reconstituted, with Rufus K. Howell as judge. Howell, who was a consistent Unionist, had filled this post before the war under a commission from the State of Louisiana, and had kept his seat on the bench under the Confederacy. It was now held that his commission was still valid. The Fourth District Court was also established within a few weeks of the occupation of the city, and Judge Heinstand was put in charge of it. These courts all entered upon the exercise of their functions about November 1, 1862. Their business was limited to civil suits; criminal cases continued to be handled by Judge Bell in the Provost Court.

    In December President Lincoln created a Provisional Court for Louisiana, with powers which were probably more extensive than ever before enjoyed by a court appointed by a civil power. It had the right "to try and determine all causes, civil and criminal, including causes in law, equity, revenue and admiralty." Moreover, as all the laws hitherto existing in Louisiana had been swept away by the process of the war, the court was left, to a very large extent, to fix the code by which its procedure should be regulated. Charles A. Peabody was appointed judge of this remarkable tribunal. With the other officials of the court he arrived in New Orleans on December 15th. In April, 1863, the necessity of a court of appeal was recognized by the separation of such functions from the Provisional Court, and the formation of a Supreme Court, with Judge Peabody as chief justice. Two associate justices were appointed to work with him. Seven months later the First District Court of the Parish of Orleans, with general criminal jurisdiction, was opened, and two recorders' courts were organized. These courts relieved the Provost Court of all of its business save such as fell strictly within its province as a military tribunal. Finally, towards the close of the year, the Second District Court was instituted as a court of probate. All of these courts, with the exception of the Provisional Court, as creations of the military power, had no written constitutions or orders defining their powers, other than that of the commanding general designating certain persons to be judges therein. The Provisional Court, however, possessed a written constitution in the form of the order signed by President Lincoln.5

    Gen. Godfrey Weitzel

    The municipal government was carried on by officers of the army detailed as acting mayors under orders from the commanding general. It must be said that the men chosen for the post were, at first, those whom previous training or experience seemed to qualify for the place. Shepley, for example, the first incumbent, had been a practicing attorney at Portland, Maine, and had served a term as attorney general of his state. During the war he became colonel of the Twelfth Maine Volunteers and commanded one of the first brigades that entered New Orleans with Butler. After retiring from the mayoralty he served as acting governor of the state, until Governor Hahn's inauguration, when he returned to his regiment. Subsequently he was appointed military governor of Richmond, Va. Shepley was succeeded as acting mayor of New Orleans by Lieutenant Godfrey Weitzel, a graduate of the United p294States Military Academy,a who accompanied Butler as chief of engineers. He remained at the head of the municipality a little more than a month and was then relieved to take command of the Federal troops operating in Lafourche, with the rank of brigadier-general. Capt. J. H. French, Butler's provost marshal, who followed Weitzel as acting mayor, served an equally short space of time. H. C. Deming, colonel of the Twelfth Connecticut Volunteer Infantry, served as mayor from September to November, 1862. Deming was also a lawyer. He was a graduate of Yale University, had been mayor of Hartford and served several terms in the Massachusetts Legislature. He subsequently resigned from the army, returned to Connecticut, was elected to Congress and spent a large part of his time in literary and journalistic employments. Deming is remembered in New Orleans in connection with Butler's notorious "woman order." He was walking with Farragut in full uniform through the streets of the city, when some unknown person, presumably a woman, emptied a can of dirty water over the two officers. It was this offense which, among others, led Butler to issue that order. It is not necessary to dwell upon the administrations of these various officers. Their functions were purely clerical and advisory. Their terms were too brief to permit of the development of any definite policy for the same reason they were able to undertake no works of permanent improvement.

    Capt. J. F. Miller was appointed acting mayor in November, 1862, and served as such until July, 1864. His successor was Capt. Stephen Hoyt, an officer of volunteers, whose home was in the western part of the United States. He returned thither at the end of his term. Hoyt did not understand or like New Orleans. He seems to have identified himself completely with the movement for the equalization of the white and colored races. One of his most important public acts was to assist p295at the great negro mass meeting held in Congo Square on May 11, 1864, in honor of the adoption by the constitutional convention of the article abolishing slavery. Under Hoyt the city finances were reduced to the lowest possible ebb. Public buildings fell into disrepair. Widespread and alarming pauperism developed among the people. There was no trade of any importance. The mayor's prominence in the negro movement gave rise to an impression among the laboring classes that they were "to be relieved of all their burdens and that indolence and sloth would be maintained at the public cost." Hoyt, himself, in relinquishing the mayoralty, said that there had not been a time during his entire administration when he would not have gladly retired, so impossible had he found the task of controlling the incompetence and dishonesty which existed in the city government.6

    Governor Hahn resigned in March, 1865, and was succeeded by the lieutenant governor, J. Madison Wells. Wells took an interest in the city and seems to have been sincerely anxious to see the municipal government improved. Accordingly, shortly after his inauguration he called on Dr. Hu. Kennedy and asked him to accept the mayoralty. Kennedy, according to the Picayune, had been "long and deeply identified with the city, and had always sustained a high character for moral firmness, courage and energy."7 He had formerly been editor of the True Delta, a newspaper which, before the war, had enjoyed a large circulation and considerable influence in the city. He and Wells were strangers at the time of the latter's visit. The situation in the city was perplexing and alarming, and there was need of a resolute and capable man at the head of the municipality. Kennedy expressed his willingness to accept the appointment, and the matter was then taken up by Wells with the military authority. General Hurlburt, who was at this time in command of the city, declared that he "had but one object in view, to bring order out of chaos, by restoring the finances to a more creditable condition, to reform politics, retrenchment and the removal of incompetent servants." He assured Kennedy that if respectable citizens could not be found to the according to charge of the local government, the national authorities would be compelled to do so.

    Wells at first contemplated calling a committee of prominent men together to endorse Kennedy's candidacy, but subsequently abandoned this plan. On March 21st Kennedy was appointed mayor of the city. The order making the appointment was issued by Wells, but was approved by Hurlburt. It was nevertheless hailed as a long step towards the restoration of self-government in New Orleans. The fact that the new mayor held his place by virtue of the action of the civil arm, as distinguished from the military, was, as one of the local papers said, "a bloodless revolution."8

    Kennedy seems to have taken seriously Hurlburt's assurance regarding the need for reform and set himself at once to check the wasteful administration which made of the city government at that time a scandal and a nuisance. His first act was to reduce the salary attaching to his own office. Hoyt had drawn $5,000, with allowances for "carriage hire" and "secret police," which brought his stipend up to $9,820 per annum. p296These extra appropriations were shorn from the mayor's account. On entering the mayor's office, Kennedy found it filled with useless employees. Some of them were dismissed, with a resulting economy of $2,160 per annum. Others had their salaries reduced. The mayor's secretary, for instance, was drawing $4,800 per annum, of which $1,800 was paid him for acting as secretary of the School Board, and $600 as secretary of the Police Board. The former met but once a month; the latter had never held a meeting. These additional fees were accordingly suppressed. Kennedy contemplated further reductions in the mayor's office; all that were needed efficiently to carry on the clerical work of the department were the secretary and two clerks. Had he been permitted to carry out his plans, the savings to the city from his reforms would have aggregated $4,000 per annum here alone.9

    But it soon became apparent that the proper administration of the city could not be secured with the existing organization of the two Bureaus of Finance and Streets and Landings. Kennedy did not hesitate to undertake to reform them also. At that time the Bureau of Finance was composed of Messrs. Abbatt and Estlin. They were removed, and Messrs. Burke and Davis were put in their places. Glendy Burke, who was a distinguished merchant and philanthropist, was on March 28th designated to be chairman of this important department of the city government, with the understanding that he should take up his duties on May 1st. The three members of the Bureau of Streets and Landings were Dewees, Campbell and Ross. The two latter were dismissed from office. In their place was put Dr. E. Ames, who had been a member of the bureau in Butler's time and had resigned from it after serving with credit. Subsequently he had figured as vice president of the state executive committee of the Conservative party.

    The next step was to reduce the salaries of the register of voters and the coroner. The former was drawing $6,000; he was reduced to $3,000. The coroner's salary was $9,000; it was cut to $6,000, which figure was also to include the charges and costs connected with his office. Kennedy found in the office of the city assessor twelve clerks, one of whom frankly confessed never having made an assessment or performed any other official act than to sign the payroll once a month. This hard-working official was receiving $2,100 per annum. He and five others were discharged. Kennedy was only restrained from making still further reductions in this department by the fear that the too drastic curtailment of the clerical force at this time might cause confusion in the city business, but he announced his intention of still further revising the list of employees here within a short time.

    A reformation of the police department followed. Mayor Kennedy reduced the number of policemen from 450 to 400, apparently without affecting their efficiency, if an increase in the number of arrests is any criterion. Several officers were stripped of their commissions. Kennedy did not believe that they could properly attend to their duties and at the same time serve as members of the State Legislature, which was the situation when he became mayor. Three lieutenants were removed summarily, one because he was under indictment for robbery. In selecting the successors of these officers, Kennedy was careful to fortify himself with the approval of the commanding general, or that of leading citizens p297of the city. One of his new appointees, John Burke, who was later on promoted to the headship of the department, had previously served as captain of the city police force of the provost marshal general. A man named Kavanagh was named chief of police. Kavanagh was recommended by Governor Wells, but does not seem to have been a very fortunate choice. Kennedy claimed that his retrenchments in the police department alone amounted to $40,000 per annum.

    There was, naturally, much complaint from the dismissed officials. One of the deposed assessors, Dr. Ready, carried his grievance to General Hurlburt. To him, as to the other critics, the general at first paid no heed; but as it began to be said that Kennedy was displacing Union men and putting in their places persons unfriendly to the United States, Hurlburt became alarmed, lost faith in the good intentions of the mayor and finally on May 5th issued an order removing him from office. There does not seem to have been any ground for any of these allegations. As a matter of fact, Kennedy seems to have been scrupulously careful to appoint to office only men whose loyalty to the national government could not be questioned. Burke and Davis, who had been put on the Bureau of Finance, had never had any connection with the Confederacy and had taken the oath of allegiance under Butler. On the other hand, Abbatt and Estlin, whom Kennedy cashiered, were former Confederate officers. The former had served as a member of a Confederate militia organization, while Estlin had been an aide to General Lovell and was on duty in New Orleans on the day when the Federal fleet arrived before the city. Campbell and Ross, dropped from the Bureau of Streets and Landings, were known to be Confederate sympathizers. Hurlburt, however, was not interested in the facts of the case; it was necessary for him to keep his official skirts clear, and the easiest way was to dispense with Kennedy and put at the head of the municipality some one regarding whom there could be no possibility of suspicion.

    Col. S. M. Quincey was chosen to succeed Kennedy as mayor. He was colonel of the Seventy-third United States Colored Infantry and had previously served as president of the Board of Examiners for applicants for commissions in the colored regiments which Butler undertook to recruit for service in the United States army. His antecedents, therefore, did not recommend him to that element in the population which the commanding general regarded as untrustworthy. In the few short weeks over which his administration lasted Quincey showed himself the pliant tool of those who were working to perpetuate the conditions in the city which made its government a by-word throughout the nation. He promptly restored to office the street commissioner, Purcell, whom Kennedy had removed. Abbatt was restored to the chairmanship of the Bureau of Finance. Stoddart Howell was appointed comptroller of the city. Fortunately his efforts to revive the old regime were interrupted by the arrival of General Canby, appointed to the command of the Department of the Gulf. Canby reached the city on June 3rd, and among his first acts was to order Quincey to suspend his activities. On June 9th Quincey was retired and Kennedy restored to the mayoralty. Canby explained his action on the ground that Wells, as civil governor, had appointed Kennedy and that the military had no authority to cancel an appointment of that nature; the removal of Kennedy was, therefore, illegal, and he was entitled to resume his office. The satisfaction which this course occasioned in the city was due as much to p298gratification over the recognition of the civil power as pleasure at the prospect of a continuation of the economical administration which Kennedy had inaugurated. "The hypocrites and demagogues who have lately been attempting to procure for themselves and their pensioned supporters the drippings of the treasury, in order to keep alive their spoil-born and nurtured parties and factions," said the Picayune in an editorial congratulating the city upon the restoration of the mayor, "may now rest assured that venality will no longer be permitted to take the place of true loyalty and patriotism."10

    Mayor Kennedy was absent in Washington, D. C., when the order was issued replacing him at the head of the administration. Glendy Burke, who was likewise reinstated as chairman of the Bureau of Finance, took charge as acting mayor. He immediately removed Kavanagh as chief of police and reinstated a number of police officials whom Quincey had removed. Lieutenant John Burke was designated as acting chief of the department. He was ordered to clear his office of the parasitic lawyers, bond hawkers and hangers-on who notoriously had infested it under his predecessor. A commission was also appointed to investigate the traffic in "immunities" which had grown up between the police and the gamblers and blacklegs who flourished in numbers in the city. This commission eventually made a report which led to some reform. In the latter part of August the mayor collected a large number of affidavits of persons who had been blackmailed by the police. A favorite practice was to release persons arrested on minor charges in consideration of the payment of a fee for doing so. As a result of these exposures there were extensive changes in the force, but on the whole the morale of the police continued low.

    The remaining events of Kennedy's administration may be briefly indicated.

    The mayor favored the construction of new street railroads, and steps were taken to sell the franchises for the construction of such on Levee Street, up to Toledano, and on Rampart Street, from Canal to Eighth Street. Steps were also taken to lease the city wharves. It was ascertained that to repair the wharves would require at least $250,000. The city was without funds to undertake so extensive a work. It was therefore deemed wiser to leave them to private parties, who not only obliged themselves to fit the wharves for the use of the river steamers, but undertook to pay the city $50,000 per annum during the period of ten years over which the contract ran. This transaction was regarded as very advantageous for the city. Another important step was the establishment of a school board of twenty-four members. This was done under an ordinance passed August 26, 1865. The sum of $250,000 was appropriated for the support of the schools. In establishing the system of public education which this board was expected to bring into existence, the council required that the "teachers should be by preference graduates of our public schools."

    Mayor Kennedy likewise interested himself in having the New Orleans & Opelousas and the New Orleans, Jackson & Great Northern railroads turned back by the military authorities to their stockholders. These roads had been seized by Butler in 1862 and operated every since under military control. Prior to this seizure they had been profitable p299businesses, the Jackson road having paid as high as $5,000,000 per annum. Under military management these earnings had disappeared, and the properties were heavily in debt. The city had an interest in both corporations. It owned one-half of the capital stock of the Opelousas road, and somewhat more than that in the Jackson road. It was therefore to the advantage of the municipality to see that the properties were released from its present control. Kennedy dispatched a commissioner to Washington to confer with President Johnson. Thomas Cottman, who was entrusted with the negotiations, was entirely successful as far as Johnson was concerned. The President not only approved, but took occasion to say some very warmly sympathetic words with regard to the situation in Louisiana. He made but one condition relative to the roads — ? that the ante-bellum boards of directors should not be entrusted with the management, but should be replaced by new boards, composed of men of standing who were known to be well affected towards the government of the United States.

    Kennedy thereupon proceeded to appoint new boards. The old officials of the Opelousas Railroad loyally accepted the situation, but certain parties in New Orleans, and certain others in Mississippi, combined to obtain control of the Jackson road, and it was not till after a long and costly struggle, extending over more than a year, that the city was finally able to have recognized its right to vote in the elections. In that year, however, an election was called at which the city used its obvious right to dictate the composition of the board of directors. Nor were the railroads surrendered by the military officials without a struggle. They required the new board of the Opelousas road to agree to release them from all financial responsibility for any act committed during the time during which the property had been in their hands. In the case of the Jackson road, the litigation between the city and the parties who laid claim to it made such conditions unnecessary at the moment. This road had for some time been operated only for a few miles out of the city. By the middle of the summer of 1865, however, its service was extended to Summit, Miss., and a few months later trains were run regularly to Jackson, Miss., where connections were made for the north and east. The benefit to the city of this revival of rail traffic with those rich and populous centers is obvious.

    The time now seemed at hand when an election for city officials might be safely held. Four years had elapsed since the people of New Orleans had had an opportunity to express at the polls their will with regard to their governors. Butler's order establishing the bureau system had been intended as a mere temporary expedient, not to outlast the state of war. The local newspapers in November reminded everybody that the city charter was still in existence. Butler had recognized it. He had not abrogated this fundamental law, but merely changed the character of the administration. In the military order creating the existing system the bureaux had been expressly directed to conform their acts to that charter. Hence, all that was necessary was permission from the military authorities to proceed to an election. That this permission was now about to be given seemed clear when in February, 1866, General Canby issued instructions to the city bureaux not to alienate the city p300property beyond a time when the municipal government could be reconstructed.

    The Legislature which met in New Orleans in November, 1865, failed to take any action with regard to an election in the city; but that which assembled in January, 1866, took up this important matter almost immediately. The project, however, became involved in the general question of state politics, and particularly with a growing opposition to Governor Wells. A bill was passed directing that an election should be held in New Orleans for the full list of officials authorized by the city charter, but fixing March 12th as the date therefor; which was somewhat earlier than the day provided for in that instrument. On February 9th Governor Wells vetoed this bill, on the ground that the necessity for anticipating the time for the election was not apparent. He also favored postponing the election until he could be invested with power to see the laws on the subject were faithfully executed. To this end he recommended that the city charter be amended and the registry of voters and the election laws in general in the Parish of Orleans be revised. The bill was, however, passed over the veto. In the preamble to this act occurred the following language: "The present incumbents hold commissions of a temporary nature, granted only for the purposes of the time being, [. . .] it is eminently proper that the municipal government of said city should be again committed to the people, under and in accordance with the charter of said city." The city charter, however, was amended in the direction desired by the governor. The qualifications for voting were made contingent upon the production of the amnesty oaths required in the Presidential proclamations either of December 8, 1863, or of May 29, 1865. It was understood that all those who were excluded for any reason from the benefit of the amnesty oaths would not be permitted to vote unless specially pardoned by the President.

    Under these circumstances, Wells consented to issue his proclamation fixing March 12th as the day for the election in New Orleans for mayor, comptroller, street commissioner, recorder, nine aldermen and fifteen assistant aldermen.

    The campaign was interesting especially because it witnessed the appearance of the National Democratic and of the Democratic Conservative parties. They were organized in the autumn of the previous year. The former was a reincarnation of the Conservative party, and, like it, held as a cardinal principle the validity of the state constitution of 1852 and consequently the illegality of the constitution of 1864. The latter was also opposed to the existing constitution, but favored calling a convention with a view to making a new constitution. There were also in the city three other parties, one of which, the Radical Republicans, advocated a new constitution also, but one which would extend the suffrage to the negroes. The National Conservative Union party recognized the constitution of 1864 as valid, and was therefore opposed to calling another constitutional convention, but it was opposed to the extension of the franchise to the colored population. This latter party supported Wells for re-election. Finally, there was the Democratic party, which was led by ex-Governor R. C. Wickliffe and was affiliated with the national p301party of that name. It held, among other essential doctrines, that "this is a government of white people, made by and to be perpetuated for the exclusive benefit of the white race; [. . .] that people of African descent cannot be considered as citizens of the United States, and that there can, in no event, nor under any circumstances, be any equality between the white and other races." It also held that the constitution of 1864, although "the creation of fraud, violence and corruption," was the de facto law of the state. The party recognized it as "the existing government," but recommended "the calling of a convention of the people of the state at the earliest practicable period, for the purpose of adopting a constitution expressing the will of the entire people of the state." There was thus no essential difference between the National Conservative Union party and the Democrats, and it was not surprising, therefore, that they had the same candidate for governor.

    In the city campaign these different political groups rallied around one or the other of two tickets. The National Union convention, which met on March 7 at the Lyceum Hall, named James H. Moore for mayor, Stoddart Howell for comptroller and W. H. Bell for street commissioner. Mr. Monroe, after having been released from confinement in Fort Pickens, had returned to the state and resumed business in New Orleans. Both tickets were nominated by the old system of party caucus and district elections. It was complained that peaceful citizens and tax-payers were thus given little opportunity to influence the result. In addition to these two tickets, there were several independent candidates for mayor, among them W. L. Robinson, an auctioneer and sugar broker who for many years had been in business in New Orleans; George Purves, an architect and builder, and Cuthbert Slocumb. These men were nominated by little groups of citizens, and none of them figured seriously in the election. Robinson, who ran without party, platform or formal nomination of any sort, published a card after the result of the election became known, in which he indignantly complained that 5,000 persons had pledged themselves to support him and that only thirty-three had kept their word.

    The election "was quietly conducted, there being no disturbance to speak of in any portion of the city."11 The National Union candidates for recorder in both the third and fourth districts were elected. This party was also successful in electing two aldermen and four assistant aldermen in the second and third districts. But with these exceptions the entire Democratic ticket was elected. Monroe received 3,469 votes; Moore, 3,158; Purves, 3, and Robinson, 33. The Picayune congratulated the newly elected officials in a jubilant editorial on March 14. "Mayor Monroe," it said, "had the reputation of an honest man, and the council is composed of respectable and honest citizens." It went on to urge that in taking up his labors at the City Hall, Mayor Monroe give special attention to the police and particularly enforce the laws prohibiting policemen from interfering with the conduct of elections.

    Measures were immediately taken by the unsuccessful party to contest the election. They alleged that a portion of the vote cast was illegal. This contention was raised especially on behalf of the recorder who had failed of election. "It was asserted that the voters were not residents p302of the state for twelve months next preceding the election; that the new registry law was made because the former voters were not, on their return from the war, citizens of the United States; and that no one who is not a citizen of the United States can either vote or hold office. On the contrary, it was asserted that this point was not at all considered in the gubernatorial and state elections held a few months previous; that three-fourths of the 28,000 who voted in the election had been in the state only a few months preceding the election; and that should all these votes be declared illegal and their amount be subtracted from the sum total of the returns, a miserable minority would remain to manage the affairs, control the interests and manipulate the public funds of Louisiana."12 These contestants were unsuccessful.


    1. Capuchin A Catholic friar.

    Text prepared by:

    Although confident that he had been legally elected to the post of mayor of New Orleans, Monroe deemed it wise, in the existing circumstances, to obtain from Washington, if possible, assurances that he would be suffered to take his seat without opposition from the United States authorities in the city. He therefore wired to President Johnson, on March 16, a statement of the facts connected with the recent election. On the following day he received an answer in which the President quoted a telegram previously sent to the retiring mayor, Doctor Kennedy. This telegram said that no instructions would be given with regard to the surrender of the mayoralty; that Washington was in possession of no information which indicated that the election had not been regular, or that the individual who had been elected, might not qualify. "In the absence of such information, the presumption is, that the election has been according to law, and that the person elected can take the oath of allegiance and loyalty, if required."1

    It would seem that this authorization would suffice to guarantee to Monroe undisturbed occupation of the position, but on the 18th it was intimated to him that the local military commandant, General Canby, did not propose to be governed by the presidential interpretation of the facts. Accordingly, when, on the 19th, Monroe and the other newly-elected city officials, presented themselves at the City Hall, to take possession of the administration, it was with some idea of what impended. Mayor Kennedy was not on hand, but they were received by the mayor's secretary, Mr. Bonnibel, and by the chief of police, Mr. Burke. Monroe brought with him a certificate of election issued by the Secretary of State of Louisiana, and the oath of office properly filled out and certified to. After exhibiting these credentials, he swore in the other members of the administration, and directed the aldermen to proceed immediately to organization. The aldermen withdrew to the council room. They were eight in number. Col. J. O. Nixon was promptly elected president, George Clark, president pro tem., and Alexander Walker, secretary. Committees were appointed, and then the council adjourned.

    The reason for this prompt organization of the municipal legislative chamber became apparent when, an hour or two later, J. Ad Rozier, accompanied by General Canby's judge-advocate-general, appeared at the hall. They first inquired for Kennedy, but finding that he was absent, delivered their message to Monroe, whom they found at the mayor's desk. They presented a letter from Canby, enclosing an extract from Special Order No. 62, stating that, as both Monroe and Nixon came within the classes of exception mentioned in the presidential proclamation of amnesty, and neither had received a special pardon, they were "suspended from the exercise of any of the functions" of the offices to which they had been elected, "until their cases can be investigated and the pleasure of the President be made known." Canby charged that Mayor Monroe "had uttered rebellious language after the city had been p304captured by the Federal troops, and that he had refused to take the oath of allegiance." A further order was presented by which Rozier was appointed acting mayor, to serve "until the municipal government of the city is organized, as provided for in the 15th section of the city charter, in the case of the sickness or temporary absence of the mayor." This section of the charter required the boards of aldermen and assistant aldermen, acting jointly, to elect viva voce a person qualified to serve as mayor, to fill the office until a successor should be duly elected by the people. No attempt was made to interfere with the remainder of the city government. Rozier was under instruction to supervise its organization, and it was understood that as soon as this had been effected, he would hand over the reins to Alderman Clark, who, by virtue of his position as President pro tem. of the council, was entitled to succeed. This course was actually followed by Rozier, and on March 20 Clark was installed as acting mayor.

    While public opinion in New Orleans cannot be said to have endorsed Canby's course, there does not seem to have been any disposition to censure him for what he did. The difficulties of his position were generally recognized. The effect of his interference with the administration, however, was unfortunate. It suspended all city business at a time when it was very desirable that no suspension should occur. The city was overrun with undesirable characters, and the delay in the appointment of a chief of police made it difficult for the city government to deal with them. The citizens were driven to take measures for their own protection. On April 28th Acting Mayor Clark instructed the police not to arrest respectable persons who might be found to be carrying concealed weapons. It was recognized that only by having arms could the people secure themselves from molestation at the hands of the reckless element which was taking advantage of the interregnum to make the thoroughfares generally unsafe. Clark later explained that he had issued this order because he distrusted the incapable and inactive police. It was, however, a situation which occasioned several awkward problems for Mayor Monroe to solve when he returned to power.

    On May 15 Monroe was able to address to the Assistant Board of Aldermen a letter in which he announced that the President of the United States had revoked the military order suspending him from office. He actually took his seat on May 11. He was destined to continue in office somewhat less than a year. In this time he had opportunity to initiate little legislation of any importance. In June, 1866, the city effected a large sale of real estate. Fourteen squares of ground on the levee between St. Joseph Street and St. Louis Street, were sold for $610,000. In the month of July, the first street cars were put into operation on the St. Charles and Carondelet Street Railway, and a few weeks later the Tchoupitoulas line was also opened to traffic. The state of the city finances was deplorable. The bonded debt amounted to $9,797,000. The assessment was put at $126,574,765, on which a tax of 1.50 percent was levied. Much property had been confiscated during the Federal occupation; the city alimony had been imperfectly collected; and consequently, in order to provide for the immediate needs of the municipality, it was necessary to continue the issue of paper money in various denominations. Including the interest on the bonded debt, the expenditures of the city for the year 1866 were $4,301,060.2

    p305 Mayor Monroe gave special attention to the question of policing the city. He was strongly in favor of uniforming the force. But whatever measure of reform he hoped to institute was negatived by the opposition of the police board. One of the first acts of the mayor, on resuming office, was to appoint a chief of police. T. E. Adams was selected for this difficult post. He set to work energetically, and apparently with some degree of success. But the police board was determined to get rid of him. As the streets of the city were not safe, the authorities winked at the practice of carrying arms, which persisted among the citizens, even after the emergency referred to in Clark's order on the subject had, at least partially, passed. Right-thinking persons approved of the course of the administration in the premises. But the board accused the chief of exceeding his authority by permitting the custom, and suspended him. A violent controversy followed between the board, the mayor and Adams, which was reproduced among various factions in the community. Although the mayor was finally successful in having his appointee reinstated, the incident did not help to make the police a more efficient instrument for the preservation of public order, at a moment when an event was approaching which would have tested the quality of the best-disciplined and most competent force.

    It will be remembered that the Constitutional Convention of 1864, upon adjourning, left in the hands of its president, Judge Durell, power to reconvoke it whenever and for whatever cause he might deem necessary. Moreover, it passed a resolution investing its president with the right "to call upon the proper officers of the State to cause elections to be held to fill the vacancies that may exist in the convention, in the parishes where the same may be practicable." Ostensibly these extraordinary resolutions were passed in order to keep open the way to perfect a basic law for the reorganization of the civil government, in case the constitution formulated by the convention were rejected by the people. Towards the end of the spring of 1866, the radicals in Louisiana, encouraged by the attitude of the National Congress on the question of negro suffrage, determined to take advantage of these two provisions, to make an attempt to seize the State Government. They did not disguise their intention to remodel the State Constitution to suit their own purposes. Their program was at first received with derision, but as their entire seriousness became more and more clear, ridicule gave way to anger and apprehension. The popular excitement was increased by rumors that Governor Wells was championing the movement. Wells' reason for supporting the radical side has always been much of a mystery. As a matter of fact, the democratic leaders made overtures to him, and had all but gained his support, when they injudiciously suggested that this could be made financially to his advantage; and Wells, highly indignant at what he considered a reflection upon his personal probity and an attempt at bribery, cast in his lot with the opposition. The negotiations were conducted through William A. Freret, son of a former mayor of New Orleans; but the offer of the money was made through other parties. Freret, who was an old friend of the family, approached the governor as an agent of Wells' brother. Years before, the brothers had quarrelled over a business matter, and had ceased to have any intercourse with one another. Now a conciliatory message looking to a political understanding which would put the governor on the same side as his brother, in opposition to the radical element, was well received. But when Freret saw p306Wells the next time, he was amazed to hear that the governor had changed his mind. Then the story of the attempted bribe was repeated to him, and Freret felt constrained to abandon all further attempts to bring about an agreement.3

    The radical plot rapidly unfolded itself. First, an attempt was made to induce Judge Durell to exercise the authority committed to him by the Convention of 1864. He declined to issue a call for the reassembly of that body. Then, on July 26, in New Orleans, 29 members of the convention elected Judge R. K. Howell, of the State Supreme Court, chairman pro tem., with a view to have him take the action that Judge Durell declined to take. Howell issued a proclamation on July 8, fixing July 30 as the date for the meeting, and Mechanics' Institute, in New Orleans, then used as the State House, as the place. Judge Edmond Abell, of the Criminal Court, himself a member of the convention, deemed it his duty to lay the matter before the Grand Jury. "Any attempt to alter the constitution in defiance of its provisions, by any body of men, unauthorized by the provisions of the constitution, or emanating directly from the people through the ballot-box, is illegal," he said, "and punishable by law." He was promptly arrested by the United States commissioner, Shannon, and held to bail on charges of sedition and treason.4

    Howell then called on the governor to hold the elections described in the resolutions of the Convention of 1864 to fill vacancies in its membership, and on July 27 Wells issued a proclamation accordingly.

    These proceedings were clearly illegal. In the first place, Howell could show no proper mandate. He had resigned from the Convention of 1864 before its adjournment, and could not be considered a member at this time in a sense which would entitle him to election as one of its officers. It was inconceivable that a small minority of the convention could under any circumstance choose those officers. Moreover, the convention ceased to exist when it completed its work on the constitution and adjourned; or if not then, certainly its life terminated when that the constitution had been accepted by the people. The attempt to prolong its existence by providing that it might be reconvened by its presiding officer, was a usurpation of power; but that usurped prerogative was expressly committed to one person, and that one person had refused to exercise it. Finally the contingency contemplated by the convention as justifying its re-assembly had not arisen. The constitution had not been rejected. "Then, and then only," ran the resolution, might the president of the convention call it to meet again. By its own terms the authority delegated to Durell had expired. Wells, therefore, in obeying Howell's request, was transgressing the law. It is probable that the radicals could not count upon the support of 500 white persons in the whole State. The act which they were meditating was a flagrant, overt breach of the law. In the jurisprudence of most countries it would be designated as treason, punished with death. Under the law of Louisiana, however, they risked nothing more serious than indictment and imprisonment for assisting at an unlawful assembly. As a matter of fact, about the middle of the following August, they were indicted by a Grand Jury on that charge, but they were never brought to trial.5


    The Mechanics' Institute

    In the meantime the radicals were doing everything in their power to stir up the negro population of New Orleans against the whites. Many of them were working to strengthen their hold upon this element, hoping through it, to insure their own control of the State Government which was to be formed. Not all of them had this sinister purpose. A few were, unquestionably, sincere in their misguided enthusiasm for the emancipation of what they regarded as an oppressed and downtrodden race. But the net result of the agitation was to create a situation in which an explosion was bound to occur with the most terrible results. Early in July a negro attacked two white women in Lafayette Square, in broad daylight, drove off the elder with curses, and seizing the younger by the hand, started to drag her away, declaring that she must become his wife; that whites and negroes were now equal, and that he had money enough to afford the luxury of marriage with a white woman. Screams brought assistance; the brute was arrested, taken to jail, and held in $1,000 bail for trial on a charge of attempted rape. Similar scenes were reported from time to time. It became impossible for even the most respected citizens to pass through certain parts of the city without being hooted at, cursed, and denounced in the most offensive terms as " rebels."6 Finally, a great meeting of negroes held in front of the Mechanics' Institute, on the night of July 27, was addressed by fiery orators, white and black, forecasting to the excited audience the golden age which was about to dawn through the medium of the p308approaching meeting of the convention, and of the new constitution to be made for the State. Hawkins, Henderson, Hahn, and Dostie were the principal speakers. The latter was especially violent in his denunciation of the whites who had fought against the Union. He declared that, unless the rights of "his colored brothers" were conceded, the streets of New Orleans "would run with rebel blood." He urged his dusky hearers to be present on Monday, the meeting-day of the convention, "in their might," and resist with arms any attempt to interfere with that body.7 It can easily be imagined with what demonstrations of approval these inflammatory words were received. Trouble might have followed, but fortunately a large detail of police was on hand, which was successful in maintaining peace.

    After the meeting a procession of negroes was formed with torches and flags, which moved through the principal streets. Arriving at the City Hall, further harangues were made by Dostie and another speaker, whose name was not learned. Many of the negroes carried loaded canes and bludgeons. Dostie advised them to kill any white man who might molest them. While the procession was passing through Canal Street, several negroes entered Lopez's confectionery shop, and attacked and slightly wounded two young white men employed there; but this was the only incident of the kind connected with the parade. Later that night, however, a serious affray occurred at the Poydras market between the police and some negroes, in which one policeman and two negroes were shot.

    On the night of the 27th, also, in the hall in the Mechanics' Institute which was being prepared for the use of the convention on the 30th, a meeting of the more intelligent section of the radical party in New Orleans took place. Ex-Governor Hahn presided. Speeches were made by Hahn, Field, Waples, and other prominent members of the party. The resolutions which were adopted recited that the seventy-five thousand colored citizens of Louisiana qualified to vote but disenfranchised on account of color, might justly claim from the State the right to participate in the government; that they approved of the proposed reassembling of the Constitutional Convention; and that thanks were due to Congress for the firm stand taken by it in the matter of reconstruction, and for the "encouragement given to the friends of the National Government in the recently rebel states, to remodel their fundamental laws in accordance with the principles enumerated in the Declaration of Independence;" gratitude was likewise expressed to the military authorities "for the security afforded by their protection and for the additional guaranty of impartial justice contained in their recent orders; a guaranty unfortunately made necessary until the full reestablishment of the civil law, by the malice of our defeated and disappointed fellow-citizens." Finally, it was resolved that "until the doctrine of the political equality of all citizens, irrespective of color, is recognized in this State by the establishment therein of universal suffrage, there will and can be no permanent peace."

    The municipal authorities watched these developments with growing uneasiness. They were, however, reluctant to take any action unless with the full assurance that it had the approval of the military in New Orleans. To that end negotiations were begun on July 25th with General p309Baird, who was temporarily in command, in the absence of General Sheridan in Texas on duty. The conversations were protracted through three long, anxious days. Mayor Monroe's first idea was to call on the police to disperse the convention as an unlawful assembly. Baird replied that "the convention, meeting peaceably, could not be interfered with by the officers of the law." Monroe then proposed to have the members indicted by the criminal Grand Jury, and furnish the sheriff with warrants to make the arrest. Baird replied that, in this event, he would be obliged to release the prisoners and might possibly arrest the sheriff. The mayor then abandoned all idea of preventing the meeting. It was agreed, however, that, in case warrants did issue, the sheriff would not serve them, but would bring them direct to military headquarters, where Baird would endorse on them his objections, and the whole matter would be referred to Washington, for the President's decision. In order to ascertain what form this decision would probably take, a telegram was addressed to President Johnson by the lieutenant-governor and the attorney-general of the State; and on July 28 Johnson replied that the military would "be expected to sustain, and not obstruct or interfere with the proceedings of the courts."8 Monroe had another interview with Baird on the 28th inst. He pointed out that Baird had virtually assumed the protection of the convention, and with it, had incurred the responsibility for whatever breach of the peace might result from its convocation; for which reason he was bound to use his troops to prevent trouble. Baird accepted this view of the case, and promised to see that soldiers were on hand for the purpose.

    It is sometimes charged that Monroe attempted to "break up" the convention, and that the terrible scenes which were now about to occur, resulted from his action. The facts all point the other way. He accepted Baird's promise as final. We have his own testimony under oath before the Grand Jury which subsequently investigated the riot, and that of Chief of Police Adams, both to the effect that there was no intention to interfere with the meeting of the convention, and that only the ordinary police detail was on duty in the vicinity of the Institute on the day of the disturbance. At the time the riot began "there was but one policeman present, and he a supernumerary, with only a badge on. All other officers were still at the station."9 That there was trouble at all was probably due to the fact that, relying on Baird's promise, the task of preserving the peace was left to the soldiers; who did not arrive till 2.40 P.M., when the disturbance was all over. Baird subsequently explained the delay by saying that he understood the convention was to meet at 6:00 P.M., when as a matter of fact it assembled at noon, and he had made his arrangements accordingly. If this was true, all that can be said is that he was probably the only person in the city who was ignorant on this point.10

    Sunday passed without incident. But on Monday, the day of the meeting of the convention, the city was in a state of great uneasiness. The stores on Canal Street remained closed. The mayor issued a proclamation urging all good citizens "to refrain from gathering in or p310around the place of meeting of said extinct convention." In spite of the mayor's request, the streets in the center of the city were early filled with idlers, white and black. The former congregated mainly in Canal Street; the latter assembled in and around the Institute. The convention met at noon, with Howell in the chair, but found that there was no quorum present, and took a recess till 1:30 P.M., while the sergeant-at-arms and his assistants went in search of the missing members. About 1 o'clock a procession of negroes headed by a brass band advanced through Burgundy Street on its way to the Institute. As it wheeled into Canal Street a disturbance broke out. It appears that a small white boy kicked one of the passing negroes. A general mêlée followed, in which a white man, named Kelly Walton, who was standing quietly on the sidewalk, was struck by a negro with a stick. The assailant was thereupon put under arrest by Aid to the Chief of Police Crevon, and a citizen named Fellows; not, however, until a pistol had been fired by a white man, which frightened the negroes, and caused them to fall back and allow the prisoner to be removed. The procession then went on its way to the Institute. It was received with frantic cheers, and the band marched playing into the convention hall, what a few members still lingered.

    Chief of Police Adams, informed of the disturbance on Canal Street, dispatched thither a detachment of police under Lieutenant Ramel, and sent orders to the outlying stations to hurry re-enforcements to the scene. It is difficult to state what followed in an exact chronological order. As near as can be inferred from the testimony of eye-witnesses, a throng of curious whites collected at the corner of Dryades and Canal streets, watching the negroes grouped in front of the Institute. Suddenly a shot was fired, probably by a negro. The police immediately attempted to arrest the offender, and it is said, succeeded. But while so engaged, other shots were fired a block away, at the corner of Common and Dryades streets, where some white persons had also congregated. The negroes became panic-stricken; some fled (as well as they could) through the grounds of the adjacent residences; but the majority sought refuge in the entrance of the Institute and opened a frantic, indiscriminate fusilade upon the mob and the police. Chief Adams, arriving at this juncture, was made the target of a special volley of revolver shots from the windows of the building. Ramel, who now hurried up at the head of his patrolmen, returned the fire. A number of citizens joined the police and prepared with them to rush the building. A white flag was suddenly displayed from an upper window. Under the impression that this was a token of surrender, the police attempted to enter, but encountered a hot resistance, and a struggle ensued, in which several were killed on both sides. The fighting spread around both sides of the Institute, where negroes were discovered trying to escape by dropping from the windows into the alleys. Several fell victims to the shots and stones showered upon them by the mob. Others managed to make their way out at the rear of the building, and fled unnoticed to places of safety.

    The firing gradually ceased, but the police were reluctant to enter the building, fearing a repetition of the previous act of treachery. They at first were satisfied to arrest individuals who how straggled forth. Once under arrest, these persons were started for the police station; but although the police did their full duty in trying to protect them from the crowd, some terrible scenes ensued, as the infuriated populace set p311upon the blacks and shot or clubbed them mercilessly. These outrages, however, were finally suppressed. Ultimately, the building was searched, and its last occupants were arrested. Among them was Dostie, who had been mortally wounded.

    The killed and wounded in this affair have been variously enumerated. Mayor Monroe reported to President Johnson that 42 policemen and several citizens had been either killed or wounded. An officer of the United States army, who investigated the matter immediately after the riot, reported 38 persons killed and 146 wounded on both sides. Ficklen, in his "History of Reconstruction in Louisiana," says that on the side of the democrats only one man was killed, and ten policemen were slightly wounded.11 One member of the convention, Henderson, was killed. Thirty-four negroes were known to have been killed, and two white persons who were in the Institute with them also fell victims to the marksmanship of the attacking party. At the very beginning of the disturbance, Mayor Monroe hastened to Baird's office, and warned him of the seriousness of the situation. He said that the general would be responsible for any loss of life that might occur. Baird seems somewhat tardily to have risen to the occasion. He urged Monroe to take all possible steps to check the trouble, while he himself sent messages to Jackson Barracks, below the city, urging the prompt dispatch of the troops who should have been in the city many hours before. He went still farther. On his own authority he declared martial law, appointed Gen. A. V. Kautz to the command of the city, and displaced the civil authorities. At sunset the trouble was over; the delayed Federal troops were on the scene; artillery was posted in Dryades Street, and sentries stationed at all approaches. Monroe, on his side, issued a proclamation calling on all citizens who were willing to be sworn in as special policemen. But there was no need for them. Except for a few isolated collisions between police and negroes on the two following days, the outbreak was over. These additional affrays did not involve more than one or two persons at a time. On August 2nd, for example, a street car was fired into by negroes near the Marine Hospital, and one passenger was killed. In the other cases no fatalities occurred.

    On July 31st Baird appointed a commission composed of Generals Mower, Quincey, Gregg and Baldey, to investigate the facts connected with the disturbance. This commission reported that the cause of the riot was a violent feeling of hostility towards the so-called Convention of 1864. It also declared that there was "a preconceived plan" to attack the convention, if any plausible pretext could be found therefor. For this conclusion the commission could have no satisfactory reasons. There does not appear to be any contemporary evidence which substantiates this view. Finally, it was held that only the declaration of martial law had prevented the continuance of attacks on the negroes all through the night of the 30th — ? which was another statement which it would be hard to justify. General Sheridan, who returned to the city, on August 1, also made an investigation and embodied the results in a series of telegrams to General Grant. He characterized the promoters of the convention as "political agitators and revolutionary men," and said that "the action of the convention was liable to produce breaches of the public peace." He had himself determined to arrest the leaders if the proceedings p312of the convention "were calculated to disturb the tranquility of the department." He charged the mayor with having "suppressed the convention by the use of the police force," in a manner so brutal "as to compel me to say that it was murder." Later on, repeating these charges, he added: "It was an absolute massacre by the police. [. . .] A murder which the mayor and the chief of police perpetrated without the shadow of a necessity." Sheridan denounced Mayor Monroe in bitter terms again and again. "I recommend the removing of this bad man," he wrote on August 2nd, and on August 6th he said: "The immediate cause of this terrible affair was the assembling of the convention. The remote cause was the bitter and antagonistic feeling that has been growing in this community since the advent of the present mayor, who, in the organization of his police force selected many desperate men, and some of them known murderers. People of clear view were overawed by want of confidence in the mayor and fear of the thugs, many of whom he had selected for his police force. I have been frequently spoken to by prominent citizens on this subject, and have heard them express fear and want of confidence in Mayor Monroe."

    Mayor Monroe remained at the City Hall, and continued to perform his official duties side by side with General Kautz and the military officials. He refused to submit his acts to their supervision, declining to recognize their right to require this of him. Kautz offered no opposition. On his return to the city, Sheridan approved of the appointment of Kautz as military governor. "It gives confidence, and enables the military to know what is occurring in the city," he wrote to Grant; Kautz did not "interfere in civil matters." The state of martial law was declared at an end on August 2nd, but Kautz was not withdrawn till some days later. There were other consequences of this affair; various documents explaining the occurrence were drawn up by the State officials, by Mayor Monroe, by the radicals; and finally, in December, a committee was sent by the United States Congress to make an investigation of the whole matter, and to determine what legislative action might be necessary in view of the condition of affairs in Louisiana. But these events belong rather to the history of the State than to that of the City of New Orleans, and they need not be given in detail here. It is only necessary to remark that the Congressional Committee formulated a majority report putting all the blame for the riot on the "rebels," and upon President Johnson's encouragement of them. A minority report, however, set forth the facts, and showed that the real cause of the regrettable incident was "the incendiary speeches, revolutionary acts and threatened violence of the conventionists."12 It was becoming clear that only force could compel the Southern States, and particularly Louisiana, to endorse the idea for unqualified suffrage for the black population. Congress was prepared to use force for that purpose. A Reconstruction Bill was accordingly passed over the President's veto, early in 1867. Under this drastic and really unconstitutional act, Louisiana was grouped with Texas in what was known as the Fifth Military District, over which an officer of the Federal army was to be placed, with authority to govern his district much as he willed, save for some reservations as to the infliction of cruel or unusual punishments and the penalty of death. This was a state of martial law. Congress reserved to itself the right to determine p313when any State should be in a condition to justify any relaxation of the severe regime. The effect in Louisiana was to debar practically the whole white population from citizenship, put it under the domination of the negroes, to deprive it of such ordinary rights as representation by a Grand Jury, and trial by jury in the regular civil courts.13 This bill was supplemented in March, 1867, by another act which directed the commanders of the military districts to register as voters all males twenty-one years of age and over, without regard to race, color, or previous condition of servitude, provided that they had been residents of the State for one year, and excluding all who could not take oath that they had not been disenfranchised for participation in the "rebellion."

    Certain municipal officers were due to be elected in the city of New Orleans in March, 1867. The question rose as to how the qualifications of the voters for participation in this election should be determined. It was not clear that the provisions of the Reconstruction Act relative to the qualification of electors generally in the State, should be considered operative in municipalities. The matter was complicated by the fact that no officer had yet been designated to take command of the newly-constituted Fifth Military District. Sheridan was unwilling to take any action in the premises. The State Legislature took up the question, but failed to agree upon a satisfactory arrangement. At this juncture Governor Wells issued a proclamation in which he declared the Reconstruction Act in full force and effect, and applicable in all elections held in the State, whether municipal or otherwise. In the face of this proclamation preparations began in New Orleans to hold the election on the basis of the suffrage qualifications of the (anterior) laws. It was obvious that trouble would result. To prevent the repetition of the riot of the previous year, Sheridan, at the suggestion of several prominent men, determined to assume as much authority as might be requisite in the premises, and a special order, dated March 9, 1866, was issued forbidding the election. The legislature, in order to prevent any interruption which might arise as a result of vacancies among the city officials, passed an act on March 15th enabling them to retain their positions until their successors might be elected.

    On March 19th Sheridan was assigned to the command of the new Fifth Military District. In his first order he announced that the existing State and municipal governments throughout the entire territory under his jurisdiction were merely provisional, and subject to abolishment, modification, control, and supercession, as he might see fit. There would be, however, "no general removals from office," unless the incumbents failed to carry out the provisions of the law with all diligence. It was clear that with the authority in his hands, and entertaining with regard to Mayor Monroe the opinion which he had expressed only a few months before in his correspondence with General Grant, the head of the municipal government of the City of New Orleans could not anticipate a long tenure of office under the new arrangement. In fact, a week later, Sheridan summarily removed him from office. The order deposing Mayor Monroe also removed from office the attorney general of the State, Herron, and the judge of the First District Court of New Orleans, Abell. To the mayoralty, Edward Heath was appointed; to the attorney-generalship, B. L. Lynch; and to the judgeship, W. W. Howe.

    p314 At the time Sheridan disdained to furnish any explanation of his action in sweeping out of office the distinguished and able men whom he thus displaced. But subsequently, replying to a demand of General Grant for an explanation, he said: "Mayor Monroe controlled the element engaged in the riot [of the previous year], and when backed by the attorney-general, who could not prosecute the guilty, and the judge, who advised the Grand Jury to find the innocent guilty and let the murderers go free, felt secure in engaging his police force in the riot and massacre. With the three men exercising a large influence on the worst elements in the city, giving to these elements immunity for riot and bloodshed, the general-in-chief will see how insecure I felt in letting them occupy their present positions in the troubles which might occur in registration and voting in reorganization."14

    Judge Abell protested against his removal, but the mayor felt that it was useless and unnecessary to take any such step. One of the local newspapers interviewed the retiring mayor on the last day he was present in the City Hall, and reported him as cheerful and composed.15 This was the fifth time he had been superseded — ? first verbally, by Butler, who subsequently asked him to retain the office until a substitute could be found; then removed and sent to Fort Pickens; three years later, having been elected to the office, deposed by General Baird, after serving a few hours; and for the fourth time, when replaced by General Kautz, in connection with the riot of 1866. The present removal, however, was final.

    After leaving the City Hall, Mayor Monroe did not long continue to reside in New Orleans. His health had suffered as a result of his imprisonment at Fort Pickens. Although relatively still a young man, he looked old. He soon removed to Savannah, Ga., where he made his home till his death, in February, 1871. He was a man of very exceptional character. He had a strong, practical mind; his integrity was unquestionable, and his dauntless courage was well known. He had remarkable knowledge of human nature. It was said of him that few were ever able to impose upon him. He discharged his official duties with a conscientiousness which made him invulnerable to criticism or popular clamor. He held high office in the Masonic fraternity, and was laid to rest with all the ceremonies of the order (usual in such cases). Some years after his death his remains were brought to New Orleans and laid in a tomb in Metairie Ridge Cemetery, beside the body of his favorite son, whose death, while the father was detained a prisoner in Fort Pickens, was one of the most pathetic episodes in his much-troubled life. While the son lay on his deathbed, Butler sent word that if the prisoner would take the oath of allegiance, he would be allowed to return to New Orleans and see his dying child. Monroe rejected the offer promptly and firmly. Father and son never met in life again.16


    1. Capuchin A Catholic friar.

    Text prepared by:

    Edward Heath, who, without any special ceremony, took possession of the mayoralty on March 27, 1867, was, in the cautious phrase of one of the local newspapers, "somewhat known as a merchant."1 "Heath means well," observed the Picayune, a few months later, attempting to sum up the work of the administration to that date.2 As a matter of fact Heath's abilities were wholly inadequate to deal with the complicated situation confronting him. From the first he relied upon the support of the commanding general. He had hardly taken his seat when he became involved in a furious controversy with the City Council over the question of the city finances. Heath found, or thought he found, that the comptroller and the city treasurer had issued about $1,250,000 of city money without due warrant for doing so. The honesty of these officials does not seem to have been called in question. They claimed that under the existing city ordinances they had authority to issue city money as needed for the payment of city accounts. The trouble seems to have been that there was no proper system of bookkeeping; the treasurer and the comptroller each paid out city currency, and there was no check on the activities of either; hence, there was always more or less difficulty in determining the precise amount of such obligations outstanding. Heath asked the council to order an investigation. This the council refused to do. The matter was then referred to the city attorney, who declined to sue out an injunction to stop the issue of city money. The controversy was carried on in very acrimonious terms, the mayor and the council exchanging mutual accusations of fraud. Nothing was accomplished, however, except to demonstrate that the two branches of the administration, the executive and the legislative, could not work in harmony. Thus the way was paved for the radical reconstruction of the latter department effected a few weeks later.

    Heath, who identified himself with the extreme wing of the radical party, undertook to force the admission of negro children into the white schools of the city. This was a favorite scheme of the extremists among the advisors of General Sheridan and, later, among those of his successor, General Mower. It caused intense excitement in the city. The issue rose in the latter part of July, when the City Council passed an ordinance appropriating a large sum for the establishment of separate schools for colored children. This, it was said, complied with the requirements of the State Constitution relative to the education of negroes. Heath, however, was not satisfied and vetoed the bill. The appropriation was then voted over the mayor's veto. Heath promptly reported the matter to Sheridan, with the suggestion that the council be removed; and on August 1 Sheridan issued an order "readjusting" that body, by removing twenty-two members of the Boards of Aldermen and Assistant Aldermen, and appointing a like number of persons to succeed them. The action was not unexpected. Ever since the removal of Mayor Monroe, p316it had been felt in the city that the military authorities would not rest content to allow the remainder of the administration to continue in power. At the moment of purging the council, Sheridan gave, as a reason for his action, "the disordered condition to which they have reduced the city credit, and the efforts which they made, and are making, to impede the lawful execution of the law of Congress dated March 2nd, and the acts supplementary thereto." But as one of the city journals indignantly remarked, on the following morning, in commenting upon the order, this explanation "will not bear examination. [. . .] If disorders in our currency are the ground, it is difficult to understand why the mayor, whose agency, at least, is as direct in our present troubles as that of the boards, is not included in the punishment." Moreover, went on the exasperated writer, the "manner and degree" in which "these gentlemen" had impeded "the lawful execution of the military bill" was a matter which remained "unexpounded in the bosom of the commander-in-chief."3

    A few white men were included in the list of the new councilmen, but the majority of the appointees were negroes. This was the first time that members of that race had ever sat in either branch of the local legislature. The Picayune referred to them as "blacks, and others so tinged with white blood that they might be pronounced to be for that reason inferior to their colleges of the pure blood;" from which we may infer that some of the new members were mulattos. "None of the lately enfranchised" figured, however. Sheridan apparently made his choice from among that class of free men of color which had been a distinct element in the population even before the Civil war. The consequences of the introduction of negroes into the city government were on the whole not less disastrous than a similar experiment had proven in the legislature of the State. The city debt, which in 1867 amounted, in round numbers, to $9,900,000, was increased the following year to $10,000,000, and, in 1869, to $15,250,000.

    The new council elected John Gauche, a respected white citizen, president and made F. W. Perkins, chairman of the finance committee. In order to lend color to the allegations in Sheridan's order, that an interest in the city finances had dictated the recent "adjustment," Joseph Hernandez was now removed from the office of city treasurer, and Stoddart Howell appointed in his place. At the same time the council proceeded to legislate on the subject. On August 8th an ordinance was passed legalizing all previous issues of city money, and putting them on an equal footing. An official promise was also made that no further issues of city money should be made, and that in the next budget something would be done to relieve the circulation. These actions seem not to have had much effect in restoring public confidence. In order to demonstrate the good faith of the administration, Mayor Heath caused large amounts of the currency, as it was paid into the city offices, to be burned at the city gasworks. At one time these singular cremations took place weekly.

    In April, 1868, the Picayune, referring to these measures, remarked that in spite of the fact that hundreds of thousands of dollars of paper money had been destroyed, the amount outstanding had actually decreased only $67,958. In other words, the city's financial officers, p317having no other means to meet the city's debts, had continued, as hitherto, to pay bills in city money when presented; and thus what was burned at the gas-works was almost exactly balanced by what was issued day by day at the city hall. Finally, the legislature passed an act compelling the city officials to destroy the plates from which the city money was printed, and to cease issuing it altogether. The plates, some sixteen in all, were defaced with a chisel by an agent of the New York firm which executed the notes. Mayor Heath and several other city officials were present at the ceremony, which took place at the company's New Orleans office, No. 36, Natchez Alley, on April 16, 1868. There appears to have been a large reserve of city money on hand, however; for, although no more was printed, we hear that the City Council, ten days later, ordered the payment of the city rolls for the month in that currency, as usual.

    The state of the city finances could hardly have been worse. In April, 1868, the city was without funds to pay its current expenses.4 Heath took the ground that the situation justified the collection of all past due taxes; this meant particularly the taxes of 1861-1865. It was estimated that these taxes amounted to $4,000,000. No doubt that sum, if collected and honestly applied to meet the city's obligations, would have helped greatly to extricate the municipality from its financial difficulties; but although the city obtained judgments in 3,000 suits instituted against delinquent tax-payers, the only effect was to have them tender payment in the city's own depreciated notes. Thus the difficulty was, if anything, merely intensified. The only other alternative was to sell some of the city's property; and accordingly, in April, 1868, the markets were leased out to Patrick Irwin and his associates for a period of ten years, at an annual rental. The same course was proposed with regard to the wharves. The assessment of 1868 was $130,873,446, which, at the rate of 1.50 percent authorized by law, ought to have produced a revenue ample to meet all expenses of the city; but such was the incompetence of the administration, and the venality which existed in practically every branch, that not only was the alimony insufficient, but the city was steadily getting deeper and deeper into debt.

    Before the end of August, 1867, the "readjustment" of the city government was completed by the removal of the city attorney, the assistant city attorney, the street commissioner, and the assistant comptroller, for reasons "similar to those given in the order readjusting the Common Council of the City of New Orleans." On August 8, the chief of police was removed at the request of Mayor Heath. Heath undertook to make extensive changes in the personnel of the force. In May, 1867, Sheridan had taken occasion to promulgate an order requiring that one-half of the men on the rolls should be ex-Union soldiers. This was done, avowedly, because Mayor Monroe had established a rule requiring all persons applying for appointment to the force to have resided in the city for five years. This regulation was probably made with a view to keep off the force men antagonistic to the old population of the city, but it was naturally resented by the new-comers, who besieged the commanding general with demands to be allowed at least a share of the municipal offices. In yielding to their demands, Sheridan let it be known that he wished to see included among the new police a proportion of negroes; p318and Heath loyally strove to carry out his superior's wishes. The police chief failed to co-operate with equal zeal, and thereupon the mayor had the general determined to depose him, and substitute an officer more in accord with their policies; which was done. In effecting these removals of city officers no opportunity was given to the dismissed to justify themselves. Notice of removal was usually served by the hand of a member of the commanding-general's staff, who in most instances appeared accompanied by the new incumbent. Sheridan was not content to interfere with the administrative and legislative departments of the local government; he took under his control the judiciary also. Orders were issued from time to time suspending judgments handed down in the courts, and finally all process in ordinary private and civil suits were made contingent upon the permission of the military officials, or suppressed altogether.5

    Sheridan was, at the same time, completing the registration of voters required under the Registration Acts. The importance of this work is only partly suggested by this phrase. Inasmuch as jurymen could be drawn only'+BadF+'could be drawn except'+CloseF+';

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    I\'ve simplified the awkward construction.',WIDTH,170)" onMouseOut="nd();"> from among persons whose names figured upon the list of qualified voters, it will be seen that the matter of representation there was one of life and death to the old population of the city. Before addressing himself to the work, Sheridan wrote to Grant, in April, 1867, asking for definite instructions regarding the persons who, under the law, were to be excluded from the electorate. Grant was unable to furnish precise instructions, as the matter was then in the hands of the attorney general of the United States, and he did not feel at liberty to proceed until that official had rendered his opinion; but he did notify Sheridan to proceed as well as he could under his own interpretation of the law. This interpretation was, as might have been expected, harsh and narrow.6 The work of registration was done in a way to include practically the whole adult male negro population, without exception, and to exclude a large part of the whites. By the end of July, when the lists were closed, 14,845 whites and 14,805 negroes had been registered — ? and this, in a city where the white population normally outnumbered the black five to one. The disqualifications to which the whites were subject involved many what had never had any connection with the Confederacy, or with the Civil war; and many others who had been restored to all the rights of citizenship by Congressional and residential amnesties. Appeals were vain. Petitions addressed to the commanding general by persons feeling themselves unjustly debarred from registration, were "respectfully referred to Lieutenant for examination and decision;" but the examinations were never made, the decisions never rendered.7

    President Johnson did not regard with approval these and other acts of Sheridan, and on August 17, an order was issued relieving him of the command of the Fifth Military District, and transferring him to the Department of the Missouri. General Thomas, who was then at the head of the Department of the Cumberland, was first offered the vacant post, but declined it on the ground of feeble health. Gen. W. S. Hancock was then ordered from the Department of the Missouri to New Orleans. General Grant, as commander of the army, opposed the President's p319action. He said that Sheridan had shown himself an efficient and loyal officer, and his removal would be misinterpreted in the South. It is hardly surprising, therefore, that Hancock's administration was brief and not very energetically supported by his chief. As it required some time to make the journey from Missouri to New Orleans, Brigadier-General Griffin was ordered from Galveston to New Orleans as the ad-interim commander, but fell ill and died of yellow fever before he could leave his post. The command in New Orleans therefore temporarily fell to Maj.-Gen. Joseph A. Mower, commander of a negro regiment, who had been brevetted for high military qualities. Mower, although a good soldier, was unfitted for his new post. He was absolutely under the control of the most violent element among the radicals. Orders were issued by him which not even the dictatorial Sheridan had ventured to sign. All of the city officials remaining over from Monroe's time were discharged from office by one comprehensive decision; and similarly drastic action was meditated with regard to the State administration. Governor Flanders, whom Sheridan had placed at the head of the State administration, registered an energetic protest against these acts. Mower's reply was, that "reconstruction" could not proceed with the old office-holders in power. Among the city officers expelled by him none was the object of more sympathy than the clerk of the probate court, O'Rourke, a one-armed Confederate veteran, who had been elected to that post by the people. It was not merely his personality and his affliction which interested the city in his case, but the fact that in his custody reposed wills, inventories, family records and other legal papers of transcendent importance, which it was now proposed to entrust to an irresponsible appointee of the military power. Fortunately, Governor Flanders carried the whole matter to the President, not merely in the case of O'Rourke, but of all officials, state and city, involved in Mower's orders; and they were promptly cancelled. Aside from considerations of expedience, there was great reason to question the legality of Mower's actions, inasmuch as Hancock was already under appointment as head of the Military District, and actually on his way down the river to take up his duties in New Orleans. Under those circumstances, Mower did not actually possess the rights which, on the advice of his reckless and greedy entourage, he arrogated to himself.8

    Hancock reached the city on November 29, 1867. He was received with manifestations of regard. His first official act was to issue General Order No. 40, in which he outlined a policy of reconciliation strikingly at variance with that pursued by his predecessor. He said he desired to maintain peace and order, and as a means to this end, regarded "the maintenance of the civil authorities in the faithful execution of the laws as the most efficient under the circumstances." The right of trial by jury, the writ of habeas corpus, liberty of the press, must be referred to the proper civil authorities, and to them the proper support was promised in seeing that their decisions were carried out. On the other hand, armed insurrection or forcible resistance to the laws would be promptly punished.9

    p320 To this program Hancock adhered as consistently as the local political situation permitted. One of his first acts was to rescind Sheridan's order, that none but registered voters could serve on juries. Some of Mower's most objectionable measures were likewise recalled. Mower himself was sent to join his regiment in the camp in Greenville, near Carrollton. In State politics Hancock pursued a conciliatory course. When Flanders, irritated at the general's refusal to remove certain officials whose dismissal he demanded, resigned the governorship, Hancock selected for that office Judge Joshua Baker, of Attakapas, who, although an opponent of secession, was a democrat. This appointment was naturally well received. Hancock's own attractive personality and simple, unostentatious manners helped him also to popularity in New Orleans. He went freely about the city, usually attended only by a single friend; was present in civilian dress at the Opera; and professed to be greatly honored when tendered a pew at the St. Louis Cathedral.

    With regard to the city government, his course was also calculated to give satisfaction to the old population. He found the City Council still involved in fierce debates over the educational question. The "readjusted" council had not been able to get along peacefully in itself. There seemed no possibility of agreement over the matter of the mixed schools. Committees representing both sides called upon General Hancock and explained their views. He heard them patiently, and then suggested that a per capita appropriation be made for the education of each race separately. To this the answer was, that a certain class among the colored citizens was violently opposed to separate schools, and insisted that the white schools be thrown open for the accommodation of their children. Hancock thought this demand unreasonable. He pointed out that the essential object was, not to force the colored people upon the whites, but to provide for them a sound education. To this end all partisan feeling should be subordinated. The Council did not see its way clear to adopt the general's suggestions regarding appropriations. The easiest way out of an awkward situation was to drop the whole matter. This was accordingly done. So far as the city government was concerned, it was heard of no more. But the matter was subsequently brought up in the State Legislature, and, as we shall see, also made the basis of some interesting litigation in the courts.

    Hancock's policy, so much at variance with his predecessors', naturally gave offense to those who had supported Sheridan and Mower, and profited thereby. A stream of complaint was poured into Washington. Circumstances arose which seemed to substantiate the allegation that he was lukewarm in his support of the Congressional program of reconstruction. Several of his more important orders were rescinded on purely ex-parte testimony. The case of Street Commissioner Baker was especially irritating. As a rule Hancock refused to take any action on political or party lines against the city officials appointed by his predecessors. He insisted that, if such men were objectionable, the proper way to obtain their removal was on appeal to the courts. But in the case of Baker he was obliged to adopt a different course. Baker was appointed street commissioner in June, 1867, in succession to Belanger, removed. The post was an important one. Baker was, on the whole, an incompetent official. His political enemies greatly desired to have him dismissed. They submitted to Hancock a long list of charges. Finding that the city p321charter contained ample provisions for the removal of delinquent officials, the general referred the case to Mayor Heath, with the recommendation that the City Council prefer articles of impeachment and proceed duly to trial. The Council complied, but in the process of organizing itself into a court of impeachment, became involved in such bitter disputes, grew so disorderly, and generally comported itself with so little appreciation of the ordinary etiquette of judicial procedure, that Hancock felt obliged to take the matter into his own hands. An examination of the charges convinced him that Baker was unfit to hold the post to which he had been appointed. An order was thereupon issued removing the undesirable official, and appointing to the vacancy, G. D. Field, a man whose unwavering devotion to the Union cause was well-known. This nomination was hailed with approval throughout the city.10

    But, unfortunately, Baker happened to be treasurer of the State Central Committee of the republican party in Louisiana. He hurried to Washington, and in that capacity was welcomed by General Grant. At this moment a movement was under way in Congress against Hancock and, incidentally, against President Johnson. He had recommended that Congress take some appropriate action to recognize his distinguished services. That, Congress was in no humor to do. Garfield, then a member of the House, even brought a bill to limit the number of major-generals in the army, with a view to reduce Hancock in rank and thus render him ineligible to hold the command of the Fifth Military District. Under the circumstances, Baker's story excited sympathy among all of Johnson's enemies, and there was little trouble in procuring an order reinstating him as street commissioner.

    Hancock's feelings were naturally hurt by this failure to sustain his action. "I hope to be relieved here soon," he wrote about this time to a friend. "The President is no longer able to protect me. So I may expect one humiliation after another, until I am forced to resign. I am prepared for any event. Nothing can prevent me from doing what I consider to be my duty." The circumstances which precipitated the crisis, however, were due, singularly enough, not to any innovation of his own, but to an attempt to support a policy laid down by General Sheridan. It seems that, nearly a year before, Sheridan had notified the City Council that it must not fill certain public positions; that an attempt on its part to elect its own candidates would be construed to be an infraction of the Reconstruction Acts, and be punished by the removal of the offending members. In December, 1867, the State Supreme Court pronounced ineligible to office Arthur Gastinel, recorder of the Second District. A day or two later the Council proceeded to elect a new recorder. Hancock, as soon as he was aware of this act of contumacy, removed the nine members who had voted for Gastinel's successor. Seven of these were negroes, two were whites. In their places he appointed white citizens of high standing in the community. Among them were J. N. Lee, an ex-judge of the Supreme Court; J. H. Oglesby, president of one of the largest and most prominent banks in the city; P. H. Morgan, afterwards United States minister to Mexico; Robert Watson, the largest coal-merchant in the city; Guy Duplantier, a distinguished lawyer, and p322J. S. Whitaker, formerly on the United States District bench.11 These men were all loyal supporters of the National Government, most of them had previously filled positions of trust and honor, and all had shown exceptional administrative talent. No one, apparently, could object to them. Yet, when a statement of the facts was laid before Grant, he at once directed Hancock to suspend his order of removal, and report the case more fully. "I do not know what fuller report can be furnished," wrote Hancock, in reply, "for all the papers explaining my action have been sent you. To suspend my order would be to destroy my usefulness here — ? and, in such want of a sense of what I consider due to me and my position in the matter, would necessitate a respectful request to be relieved of my present command."12 Nevertheless, a few days later, Grant issued peremptory instructions to the department commander to reinstate the deposed members of the council. Thereupon Hancock asked to be relieved, and Grant lost no time in complying with the request.

    In the meantime the Constitutional Convention to which delegates had been chosen under the auspices of Sheridan and Mower, had been in session in New Orleans. On the whole, this convention averaged in intellect and character higher than its immediate predecessors.13 That, however, is not saying much. It included a large number of colored members. The white members were largely recruited from the class of impecunious adventurers who flocked into Louisiana under the radical regime. Most of them had no income save what they could extract from the State treasury. Soon after the convention met, in November, 1867, it was discovered that the State treasury was empty. It seemed quite probable that not even the per diem to which the members were entitled by law could be collected. In this dilemma they seized upon the suggestion that the convention invest itself with the functions of the State Legislature. It was argued that, having the power to create a Legislature, it could legally exercise all the prerogatives of that body. Hancock perceived the dangers implicit in this assumption. He took steps to prevent the abuses which he foresaw. The convention passed an ordinance levying general taxes and providing a mode of assessment, as a means of replenishing the exhausted State treasury. The general notified that body that it was exceeding its privilege. Under the terms of the Reconstruction Acts, its powers as to taxation were limited to the imposition of a tax to pay its own expenses, but it was not clothed with general legislative functions, and must abstain from using them. Even the tax which it was entitled to impose, must be collected in conformity with the existing legal methods, and only for the one authorized purpose. This was a wise and conservative interpretation of the law, and arrested an attempt to usurp power which, otherwise, would have led to extensive spoliation of the State.

    On March 9, 1868, the convention, having completed its work, adjourned. The constitution which it had compiled was a brief document, only a little longer than that of 1864. But it went further than that instrument towards establishing the equality of the white and black races. The suffrage provisions were intended to exclude from the franchise the largest possible number of whites. Those who had held for one p323year or more office under the Confederate government; those who had registered as enemies of the United States; those who had served as leaders of guerilla bands during the recent war; those who had sustained the Confederate doctrines by word of mouth, or published writings, or what-not; and those who had signed the ordinance of secession — ? these were declared ineligible to vote until they had taken an oath that they now "held the Confederate cause to have been morally as well as politically wrong, and regretted having in any way helped to sustain it." Moreover, all public conveyances, places of amusements, hotels and, generally, whatsoever other establishments required a license to carry on business, were required to extend to black patrons the same treatment that they offered whites. Two other important provisions which looked also to the equalization of the whites and their ebon-hued ex-chattels, provided, first, that all citizens of the United States who had resided one year in Louisiana were to be regarded as citizens of the state; and, second, that in apportioning representation in the State Legislature, the total population, not the total number of voters, should be taken as a basis. Another article required that "all children between the ages of six and twenty-one shall be admitted to the public schools or other institutions of learning sustained or established by the state, in common, without distinction of race, color, or previous condition." Separate schools, as such, were forbidden. Finally, a section was inserted in the constitution authorizing the convention to reassemble, in the event its constitution did not receive the ratification of the people, upon call signed by a majority of its members.14

    The convention provided that the constitution which it had framed should be submitted to the people at an election to be held on April 16th and 17th. At the same time an ordinance was passed relative to the municipal elections in New Orleans. Unfortunately, this was so loosely drawn that doubt arose as to its intent. The mayor questioned the legality of the law, on the ground that the new constitution made no provisions for officials of the city, hence he did not see how an election could be ordered. The question was taken up with Gen. R. C. Buchanan, who had succeeded Hancock in command of the Fifth Military District. He referred it back to the city authorities, who, in turn, referred it to Judges Whittaker and Buchanan; and these learned gentlemen rendered opinions directly contradicting one another. They differed as to how far the convention had authority to order municipal elections to be held in New Orleans. The Picayune, in an editorial discussing the matter, took the very sensible view that the whole matter was one of force; if the commanding general's will was that an election should be held, then, under the existing circumstances, the election would be legal.15 On this assumption preparations for the election were pushed forward, although it was generally understood that Mayor Heath would challenge the result.

    The campaign opened on March 27th, when the Democratic State Central Committee published a list of nominees which it had prepared for both the state and city offices. Thomas Murray was named for mayor, p324Julian Neville for recorder of the First District, and other well-known names on the ticket were Gerard Stith, Jules Magioni and Edgar Montegut. In an address to the voters which was issued at the same time the president of the committee, T. L. Macon, stressed the importance of the fight against the constitution, and urged, in view of the necessity of controlling at least one branch of the State Legislature in the event that the constitution were ratified, that the conservative strength be directed mainly to that end.

    This ticket was not well received. Objection was made to the manner in which it was named. It was pointed out that the voters should have an opportunity to express their wishes in the matter. Accordingly, on April 1st the committee withdrew its slate and asked the wards throughout the city to send delegates to a meeting on April 2nd, at which a new ticket would be made up. When the convention met it was decided not to go into the state fight, except insofar as the members of the Legislature were concerned, but to put up a full ticket for the municipal offices. This action left in the field two candidates for governor, both of whom represented the Republican party — ? Warmoth, who was supported by the extreme, or Radical wing, and Taliaferro, who represented the moderate section of the party. The Picayune, which was the leading Democratic paper in New Orleans, promptly threw its influence to Taliaferro, on the ground that he was "an old citizen, who had embraced the Union cause when secession was rampant in our state, stood his ground throughout the war and never took a dollar which did not belong to him."16

    The new ticket framed by the convention was headed by John R. Conway — ? "that modest gentleman," as one of the local newspapers called him in an eulogistic editorial.17 Other names on the ticket were Joseph Murphy, for street commissioner; J. O. Landry, for comptroller; W. H. Manning, A. Gastinel L. A. Letten and Henry Jackson, for recorders; T. H. Shields, T. R. Brady, Thomas Mackey, Norman Whitney, V. Prados, N. A. Llambias, F. L. Losburg, J. A. O'Brien and Peter Kaiser, for aldermen, and Alfred Kearney, J. C. Rose, J. A. Aitkens, W. W. Walter, Sam Moore, John McCaffery, Hugh Montgomery, H. F. Sturcken, Ed Lehman, T. F. Fisher, M. Lawrence, George Pandelly, Robert Wynne, Gerald Farrell and John Brown, for assistant aldermen. There was much apprehension regarding the possibility of the nomination of independent tickets, which would divide the conservative strength and thus make certain a Republican victory. The Republicans nominated a ticket headed by Seth W. Lewis, but he was comparatively an unknown person, and there was little fear that he would win, provided that the Democracy preserved its strength intact. In fact, only two days before the election a so-called Workingmen's ticket, headed by George Fosdick and composed of names selected principally from the two other municipal tickets, was actually presented to the public. It was, however, "got up with suddenness and secrecy on the eve of the election," and "not backed by any organization," and was a mere "electioneering trick."18 It does not seem to have had any effect upon the election.

    p325 The public mind was in a highly excitable state. General Buchanan deemed it wise to issue an order pointing out that the "right to vote peaceably is an inheritance belonging to the people, and not to be interfered with," and "all men entitled to vote must be allowed to exercise this privilege and will be protected in so doing." The Democratic party refrained from having any parades or outdoor demonstrations "calculated to cause breaches of the peace." The Radicals, however, for a week preceding the election "traversed the streets nightly with their half-crazed black servitors, going [. . .] where they have neither occupation nor adherents, that they may deafen the ears of our people with their impudent cries."19 The same newspaper which thus picturesquely describes the behavior of those whom it was opposing, adds that the negroes were generally sent out to parade the streets alone, while the whites collected in Lafayette Square, under police protection, and kept out of possible danger. However, collisions were avoided, though there were several instances of violence committed upon white people by negroes.

    The election took place on April 17th and 18th. The colored voters turned out in large numbers. At most of the polls dividing lines were established, whites on one side, negroes on the other, each voting alternately. Warmoth early complained that white Democrats were interfering with the colored voters, but the police reported that they were unable to find any justification for his statement. On the second day negroes were brought into the city from the country districts and were furnished fraudulent registration papers by one of the justices of the peace. Hundreds of such were voted in each ward. In some cases this "colonized vote," as it was termed, was moved from precinct to precinct, voting in each. Several of the negroes, when challenged at the polls, frankly admitted never having resided in New Orleans. Finally, a number of Democratic election commissioners were arrested and put in jail on complaint from Republican watchers that they had violated the United States laws relative to Congressional elections. As soon as Buchanan heard of this, he ordered the commissioners set at liberty and took steps to prevent any further arrests. The measure of corruption which prevailed may be estimated from the fact that, when the vote cast for candidates for clerk of the Seventh District Court came to be counted, it was discovered that each of the Radical candidates had received more votes than the entire number polled. The ballot box was found so made that, even after it had been officially sealed, it might be pried open from the bottom and additional ballots stuffed into it. In spite of all this, the Democratic candidates for city offices were, generally, elected. Conway received 13,895 votes, as against Lewis' 13,244. To the Council the Democrats elected eleven aldermen, as against four Republicans. On the other hand, the new state constitution was ratified and Warmoth was elected governor.

    The obvious unfairness of the election caused General Buchanan to appoint a board of army officers to canvass the results. The delay which necessarily ensued caused the date of the inauguration of the new mayor to be put off till June 10. The new constitution provided that the administration should take its seat on the second Monday following the promulgation of the returns. It was contended with some show of plausibility p326that, considering that the actual incumbents were merely military appointees, they could be removed at any time by the arm to which they owed their commission. Buchanan, however, preferred to conform to the law. The returns were published on June 2nd, and on June 3rd an order was issued permitting Conway to take possession of the city government one week later. At noon on June 10th, therefore, the new mayor, accompanied by his secretary, John W. Overall,20 presented himself at City Hall. Heath declined to surrender the office, asserting that he knew of no law which authorized the election, and did not recognize Buchanan's right to issue the order now exhibited to him by Conway. There was nothing to do but refer the matter to the local commander. Buchanan, on being advised of Heath's contumacy, sent an orderly to the hall with a note requesting him to call at military headquarters. Heath replied that he was occupied with official business, could not come immediately, but would as soon as he could find the leisure. In this response he was following the advice of the attorneys, who were guiding his course.

    Somewhat later in the afternoon Captain DeRussey of Buchanan's staff was seen approaching the hall, in company with Conway and Overall. A large crowd had assembled around the building, attracted by rumors of the mayor's stand, and by the possibility that trouble might ensue. In order to avoid this concourse, DeRussey and his companions made their way to the side entrance of the building, and by that route approached the mayor's office. A dramatic scene followed. Approaching Mayor Heath, DeRussey presented an order signed by the commanding general directing him to induct into office the newly elected mayor and other city officials. Heath made a carefully formulated reply, to the effect that he had been appointed by military authority, but the appointment had subsequently been confirmed by an Act of Congress, and he therefore did not admit the right of Buchanan to interfere in the matter.

    DeRussey then drew the mayor apart, explained in a low tone that he must execute his orders, and suggested that Heath consent quietly to leave the hall in his custody. Heath refused to go voluntarily. DeRussey responded that he was empowered to use force to remove him if necessary.

    "You may take any course you like," replied the mayor, aggressively.

    "I must arrest you, sir," said DeRussey, laying a hand upon Heath's shoulder.

    The young officer immediately went in search of the police. Conway and Overall remained standing in the crowd which thronged the mayor's rooms. Heath obstinately seated himself at his desk, supported by a group of his partisans. Soon DeRussey returned accompanied by Smith Izard, aide to the chief of police, and half a dozen policemen. A formal demand was then made on Heath for the keys of the hall, and when he insisted upon having a written order for them, DeRussey promptly executed one. The police then escorted Heath to the great front door of the building and saw him safely down the broad granite steps. The waiting crowd burst into the shrill, exultant rebel yell. At the same moment Conway seated himself at the vacant mayoral desk.21

    p327 Even then Heath was not convinced that power had been taken from his hands. For several days he continued to claim to be the lawful mayor of the city. He sued out a writ of quo warranto before Judge Duplantier of the Sixth District Court, which was made returnable on June 15th. Subsequently, the proceedings were by consent removed to the Supreme Court, but before the matter came to trial Buchanan, by authority of General Grant, informed the court that "the result of such a writ, if favorable to the relator, would practically amount to nothing; for, as he was a military appointee and not a candidate, he had no ground upon which to base his claim." The case was, therefore, discontinued.22

    Lewis, the defeated Republican candidate, also protested Conway's assumption of authority. His action was based upon the allegation that he, not Conway, had been duly elected mayor of New Orleans. Conway was not eligible, Lewis asserted, because he had once taken an oath of allegiance to the Confederate government, and therefore could not truthfully take the oath required of the candidates in the recent election, but that they had "never yielded voluntary support to any pretended government" in the South. In the Radical press there was much angry talk of a prosecution for perjury, but the matter went no further; and after Buchanan's intervention in the quo warranto proceedings above described Conway was left untroubled in possession of the mayoralty.


    1. Capuchin A Catholic friar.

    Text prepared by:

    p328 Chapter XXI

    Conway and Flanders

    Mayor John R. Conway

    John R. Conway, thirtieth mayor of New Orleans, was a native of Virginia. He was descended from a family which had emigrated from Wales to America in the time of third George. He was born in Alexandria, Va., August 25, 1825. He settled in New Orleans in 1843, and down to 1862 was employed in a position of great trust and responsibility in one of the largest cotton and commission houses in the city. In the general suspension of business which followed the occupation of New Orleans by the Federal forces, under Butler, he was thrown out of employment. In 1865, however, he re-entered business as a wholesale grocer and commission merchant. He seems to have been successful as such down to the time when he became mayor. This honor came to him as an award for long and faithful party service. He had always been interested in politics and regarded an active participation therein as a patriotic duty. When the Orleans Parish Democratic Committee was reorganized, after the Civil war, he was made its first chairman. As such, in co-operation with the Democratic State Central Committee, he had been active in preparing the way for the return of the city government to the people. He was a man of small stature and lacked the vigor, both physical and mental, to deal energetically and resolutely with the difficult problems that demanded his attention as mayor.

    Conway's administration is memorable principally because during it the period of military control over the municipal government came to an end. Although troops continued to be stationed near the city, and although the commanding general was, from time to time, compelled to intervene in local affairs, still, on the whole, from now on the civil power was permitted to function unhampered by interference from that source. This result was due to the Act of Congress readmitting Louisiana to the Union. The law became effective on June 25, 1868. Under orders from General Grant, Buchanan now removed from office Governor Baker and Lieutenant Governor Voorhies and put in their places H. C. Warmoth and O. J. Dunn, who had been elected to these respective offices at the recent election. This action was taken to forestall any dispute which might have arisen upon the convening of the Legislature a day or two later as to who was entitled to those offices. The Legislature met in New Orleans on June 27th, and immediately proceeded to ratify the Fourteenth Amendment to the National Constitution, as required in the act of reconstruction. This, however, was not done without a preliminary scene of disorder which, at one moment, threatened to precipitate another riot like that of 1866. The new lieutenant governor, Dunn, who was a negro, backed by the other negro members, made an effort to unseat some of the Democratic minority by requiring them to take the oath of 1862 that they had never borne arms against the United States, aided its enemies or supported the Confederacy. This oath they proposed to compel them to subscribe in addition to the oath to be taken by members of the Legislature as laid down in the new state constitution. Dunn explained this action by saying that the state was still under military law p329and members ought for that reason to take the test oath. On the other hand, General Grant, who had been consulted by telegraph on the subject prior to the convocation of the assembly, had expressly stated that the test oath should not be insisted upon. Buchanan communicated Grant's dispatch to Dunn and furnished him an order formally supporting it. To neither did the sable lieutenant governor pay any attention.

    On July 1st a large crowd of white people gathered around the Mechanics' Institute, where the Legislature was sitting, to insist upon the seating of the Democratic members. The whole city police force and a regiment of troops were on duty to prevent trouble. The situation was threatening. Fortunately, the committee to which the matter had been referred reported that, while the officers of the Legislature ought to be sustained, still, in deference to General Grant's wishes, it was advisable not to insist upon the test oath. This report was adopted, the Democratic members took their seats and the mob quietly dispersed.1

    Warmoth was inaugurated governor on July 13th and immediately apprised General Buchanan officially of the ratification by the Legislature of the Fourteenth Amendment. That officer immediately issued an order declaring that military law no longer ran in the state. "The provisions of the Reconstruction Acts of Congress cease to operate in Louisiana from this date," ran this document; "military authority will no longer be exercised under the Reconstruction Acts in said state, and all officers commanding posts or detachments are forbidden to interfere in civil affairs, unless upon a proper application by the civil authorities to preserve the peace, or under instructions duly received from the commanding p330general of the district. Military law no longer exists, the civil law is supreme."2

    The establishment of the civil authority was a blow to that element in the population which had profited by military protection to exploit the resources of the city. The Radicals were, however, entrenched in the state government, and it was to the state government, accordingly, that they turned for help in preserving their hold upon the municipality. For some years hereafter the city government was constantly to be made the subject of legislation by the state authorities, with the result that all public enterprise was impeded and the city finances reduced to the lowest possible ebb. Warmoth tried to exploit the disorders in various parts of the state to induce the Federal Government to place troops at his disposition ostensibly to keep the peace. In New Orleans the exciting presidential campaign of that year brought out a considerable number of negro voters who supported the Democratic candidates. One of them, Willis Rollins, made violent speeches against the Radicals. There was a small riot in Canal Street, when some 300 black and white Republicans assaulted Rollins, beat him and might have killed him save for the interposition of some watchful Democrats. Another outbreak took place on September 22d, in front of Dumonteil's confectionery. There were apprehensions that a Republican torchlight procession scheduled for the night of September 12th would precipitate further trouble. General Buchanan refused to seriously take the prediction of danger and his calm good judgment was vindicated, for the event passed off without disorder. Moreover, the action of the Democratic State Central Committee, which issued a circular calling upon the members of the party to avoid all participation in any demonstration against the Radicals, helped to reassure the government and to prevent the success of the plan to exploit the army for the benefit of the local Republican politicians.

    A scheme was ultimately worked out, however, which, in effect, created a small army entirely at the disposal of the governor, available by him anywhere throughout the state, but supported exclusively by the City of New Orleans. This was the Metropolitan Police Force. Before its adjournment on October 20th the Legislature passed a bill authorizing the governor to appoint a board of five police commissioners for New Orleans, Jefferson City and the Parish of St. Bernard, with full powers to reorganize the police force in New Orleans. This Board of Commissioners might, whenever it deemed necessary, require aid from citizens and the militia, and appoint special patrolmen at its option. For its support it was empowered to apportion an assessment upon the various municipal governments within its jurisdiction. Warmoth appointed two white men and three negroes to this board. In one year it cost the city $809,932.51. Its headquarters were first established in a building on the corner of Delord and Carondelet streets, but later were removed to Davidson Court, an edifice erected on the site of the large stables which previously had stood in the rear of the City Hall. In the latter part of October a riot in St. Bernard Parish — ? in what was virtually a suburb of New Orleans, though without the municipal boundaries — ? led to the appointment of Gen. J. B. Steedman as chief of police, pro tem, in command of the Metropolitan force.

    p331 The effect of the act creating the Metropolitan Police Board was to take out of the hands of the mayor of New Orleans the most important part of his authority. On October 28th the Council met and unanimously passed resolutions asking the mayor "in view of the illegality of the metropolitan police bill and the utter incapacity of the police under it to maintain order," to proceed to organize another force "in conformity to the laws existing prior to the passage of the bill." This the mayor did. He directed Thomas E. Adams, who was chief of police under the old law, to resume his duties. Steedman, however, sued out a writ of injunction in the Fifth District Court to prohibit the mayor from commissioning anyone as a policeman. This writ was subsequently made perpetual, and General Rousseau, who had just been put in command of the troops in New Orleans, agreed to support the force under Steedman.3

    New Orleans was next stripped of control over its school system. This was now subordinate to that of the state, by means of an Education Act, passed by the Legislature of 1869. Under this law the state was divided into six districts, of which New Orleans was one. In each district a superintendent with very large powers was named by the governor upon the nomination of the state superintendent of education. In New Orleans there was also to be a Board of Education appointed by the State Board of Education. Any attempt to deprive this body of control over any public school was punishable by fine and imprisonment. The intent of the law was expressly declared to be "to repeal all laws or parts of laws granting the control of public education in the City of New Orleans to the municipal authorities" and "to connect the system of public schools in the City of New Orleans with the state system of education." Moreover, any officer or teacher of any public school who should "refuse to receive into any school any child between the ages of six and twenty-one years of age, who shall be lawfully entitled to admission into the same; and shall comply with such rules and regulations as may be presented by the Board of School Directors and the State Board of Education, shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor," and subject to heavy fines and imprisonment.

    The effect of this tyrannical law was, of course, to throw the appointment of all school teachers in the city into the hands of the Radical administration and to reopen the whole question of mixed schools. It was understood that this bill was the work of the fanatical Rev. T. W. Conway, who was at this time state superintendent of education and whose heart was set on introducing negro children into the white schools. The attempt to enforce this bill in New Orleans led to a prolonged controversy between the old board and that which aimed to displace it. Incidentally, the state funds for the payment of the teachers were tied up by injunctions, and the teaching corps went without pay until reduced to great need, when a court order instituting a receivership permitted the utilization of these funds for the relief of the deserving class which had earned them. Not till the following year did the city recover control of its school system.

    In December a successful effort was made to wrest the control of the City Council from the hands of the Democracy. Warmoth took advantage of an act passed by the Legislature of 1868 which empowered p332the governor to fill offices as they fell vacant through death, resignation or any other cause before the incumbent had served out his full term. This right Warmoth extended to include all offices howsoever vacated. After experimenting with the appointment of the municipal official of Jefferson City, he applied his theory to New Orleans. Part of the City Council elected in 1868 were chosen for what was termed the "short term" and was now due to retire. An election was accordingly held on May 19, 1869 for their successors. The governor declined to recognize the members elected on this occasion and appointed a number of new councilmen. On the other hand, the old members denied that they could be required to give up their posts until the next regular city election. A three-sided legal fight ensued. Judge Collens granted an injunction seating the newly elected members; Judge Leaumont enjoined them from taking their seats, and authorized the governor's appointees to take their places; and Judge Cooley handed down a decision against the latter and favorable to the old members of the Council.

    Remarkable scenes followed. On December 22nd the chief of police, acting as constable for Judge Sadlier's court, armed with a warrant sued out for J. A. Walsh, one of the governor's appointees, intruded into the council room at the City Hall and tried to arrest the members whose seats were contested by Walsh and the other Warmoth appointees. Only the prompt action of the presiding officer in adjourning the meeting prevented him from carrying out his purpose. Only a week later the sheriff presented himself before the Council while in session with an injunction from Judge Leaumont ordering him to remove from the Board the following members: Rose, Reid, Walters, Pasley, Atkins, Lagan, Davis, Montgomery, Stringer, Fisher, Barnes, Morphy and Breen; and from the Board of Aldermen the following: Kaiser, Markey, McCaffrey, Boguille, Harrison and Wiltz. In their places he was commanded to place W. R. Fish, J. A. Walsh, W. H. Pemberton, J. P. Sullivan, Eugene Staes, E. Reggio and W. H. Bell, assistant aldermen, and Charles Potthoff, J. R. Clay, L. Pessou and Jacob Hassinger aldermen. Mr. Barnes, who was presiding in the lower board room, denied the legality of the order, but the sheriff refused to allow him to discuss the matter, and compelled him to retire under protest.4 In the upper board, where Mr. Wiltz presided, a prompt adjournment prevented the sheriff from officially removing the extruded members, but he nevertheless installed Potthoff and Hassinger. On the following day the new members met the few members whom the governor had not dismissed and proceeded to organize. A few days later Potthoff was elected president of the upper board and Fish of the lower board. There was much talk of opposition, legal and otherwise; excited crowd swarmed in the City Hall corridors while these untoward acts were in progress; but the attorneys whom the expelled councilmen consulted advised submission to the governor's will and Warmoth in the end was completely victorious.5

    Thus in possession of the police and school systems and with virtual control over the legislative machinery of the city, there remained one more step to take in order to perfect the Radical domination in New Orleans. That was to subvert the city charter. The "Republican" in an p333editorial on January 5, 1869, urged what it termed "the remodeling of the city government," and said that the members of the State Legislature "in this cannot run counter to the wishes of any class except, of course, the city officers, for it is universally admitted that a more imbecile and corrupt administration than that which now governs New Orleans never cursed any community." The governor took up the subject in his message to the Legislature, which met a few days later in New Orleans. "The charter of this corporation," he said, "should be revised. The government is cumbersome, expensive and irresponsible. Evils have grown up in it of a most dangerous character, which should be eradicated by law. It has issued a currency without authority of law, and has forced it upon the people in such amounts as to break down its value and destroy it as a circulating medium. It has failed to pay the interest upon its obligations and is at double, if not triple, the necessary expense owing to its inability to meet the current obligations. The charter should contain definite powers, less offices and attach more responsibility to the officers."6 Other argument in favor of the proposed change was based upon the allegation that the existing law was obsolete; that it had come down from the slavery epoch, and that under it the city councils had been able to evade complying with the acts of the State Legislature relative to the Metropolitan Police Force. "Not a dollar has yet been drawn from the treasury to defray the expenses of the police force. Policemen are compelled to work for no pay and live the best way they may."7 On the other hand, the citizens of the city seem to have felt that any change would be for the better and tried only to see that in drafting the new charter some provisions were incorporated in it which would tend to reduce the almost unbearable burden of taxation under which they were groaning.

    Early in January, therefore, a citizens' or Property Holders' Association sprang into existence, which prepared a draft of a charter. It was proposed to abolish the councilmanic system and substitute a government composed of a mayor and six administrators. An act of this tenor was introduced into the Legislature at the beginning of the session by Mr. Bacon. At the same time a joint committee of the Legislature was appointed to prepare a bill also. Mr. Ray, a country member, introduced in committee a series of amendments which had the effect of rendering the projected charter exceedingly objectionable to New Orleans. He proposed to empower the governor to appoint the first set of officials, the mayor and three of the administrators to serve till May, 1872. He also proposed to reduce the bonds of the various administrators from $100,000, as originally recommended, to $25,000, a sum which was "far too low."8 The debate over the charter dragged through the whole of the session, and the day of adjournment still found the members unable to come to any agreement. The matter was ultimately left over to the session of 1870.

    When the Legislature convened early in 1870 the matter of the new charter was promptly taken up. The bill was passed and received the governor's signature on March 16. It was, substantially, the Property p334Holders' Association bill, incorporating most of the Ray amendments. The government was declared invested in a mayor and seven administrators, to be known, respectively, as the Administrators of Finance, Commerce, Improvement, Police, Assessments, Public Accounts and Public Building and Waterworks.9 The Administrator of Police was made ex-officio a member of the Metropolitan Police Board. To these officers were committed administrative and executive functions.

    The administrators, like the mayor, were to be elected by the city at large, but it was the mayor's duty to assign each administrator to his department after election. In other words, the administrators were not elected to head any particular department. The first mayor and the first administrators were to be named by the governor of the state. These appointees would hold office till the first Monday in November, 1870, or until their successors were appointed. On that day an election for a new group of officials should be held, in which all voters qualified under the state and national laws might participate.

    The mayor and the administrators were required to have been residents of the city but for one year. They were required to take the oath set forth in section 100 of the state constitution, that they would not attempt to deprive any person of his political or civil rights on account of "race, color or previous condition," and would support the constitution of state and nation. All but the mayor were required to furnish a bond. The mayor was to perform the usual duties connected with that office. He and the seven administrators, acting together, were to constitute the City Council. The mayor's functions in the Council were merely to preside; he had no vote, except in case of a tie. His term was fixed at two years, and his salary was to be $7,500 per annum. The seven departments were quite independent of the mayor and of one another. Each commissioner was required to submit a monthly report to the mayor, but that seems to be all the supervision he was expected to exert. The Department of Finance was entrusted with general control of all matters relative to the city finances, the handling of city moneys, and the collection of taxes. The Department of Commerce was to look after the markets, railroads and canals, regulate the weights and measures and manage the fire department. The Department of Assessments had to do with preparing the assessment rolls for purposes of taxation, the licensing of the professions, trades and other gainful occupations on which the city was, under a recent act of the Legislature, permitted to impose a license; and generally to assume the functions hitherto performed by the Board of Assessors. The Department of Police was, as its name indicates, to administer the police, see to the protection of property, the enforcement of the city ordinances and the management of the House of Refuge and the arrangements for lighting the city. It was stipulated, however, that this department should possess no functions in conflict with those of the Metropolitan Police Board. Its powers were thus very limited. The Department of Public Accounts handled all claims and demands against the city, and kept records of the appropriations p335made by the council. It was also charged with preparing a semi-annual statement of claims and amounts against the city, and an estimate of the amounts necessary to meet the city's expenses during the ensuing six months. These reports seem to have been in the nature of a budget of expenditures. Under the Department of Public Buildings and Waterworks was placed the management of the city waterworks, the school buildings, the city hospitals and the asylums. For their labors each administrator was entitled to receive a salary of $6,000 per annum.

    The Council, composed, as has been said, of the mayor and the seven administrators sitting together, was authorized to organize the various departments, appoint the clerical force and indicate its compensation, make laws for the preservation of the peace, deal with such public improvements as connected with the wharves, the city lighting, etc. It had also large rights relative to the expropriation of such private property as might be necessary for public improvements, the regulation and repair of the sewers and drains, paving and the opening of new streets, the regulation of the port charges and the imposition of taxes. Taxes might be laid once annually, in December, and might not exceed $1.75 per $100 of assessed value on all property, provided the amount realized sufficed to pay the interests on the consolidated debt and the railroad bonds issued by the city. Taxable property, besides including the objects usually so reckoned, included bonds, mortgages, notes and income derived from salaries, wages, commissions, fees and stock held in certain kinds of corporations. Incomes under $1,000 per annum, however, were exempted from taxation, as also were household articles up to a value of $100, and the city bond issues.

    Some of the powers ascribed to the council were curious, as, for instance, the right to determine what animals might rove at large in the city; the manner of storing explosives within the corporate limits; the right to determine the dimensions of carts used to carry firewood, and to locate the places where firewood might be stored; the regulation of the height of fences, and the duty of imposing fines upon persons who maliciously broke off doorknobs, bells, gate handles or removed or destroyed other fixtures of houses. It was made the duty of the city to keep the streets in repair, but with regard to sidewalks, that was a duty to which the owners of the abutting property were expected to perform.

    The council was to meet weekly in public session. Four members would constitute a quorum. No ordinance making an appropriation of any sum in excess of $500 might be passed except by a majority vote of the council. All ordinances must lie over at least one meeting. The council was to elect its secretary, whose salary was fixed at $3,000; a city attorney "learned in the law," at a salary to be fixed by the council; a city surveyor, with a salary of $5,000, and six recorders, one for each district in the city, to serve for two years and to perform the same duties as the similar officials under the old charter, at a salary of $2,500 each. Various subordinate officials and alternates were also provided for. The right of the mayor or any administrator to retain his office might be at any time tested by quo warranto proceedings instituted by any citizen.

    A very important feature of the new charter was, that it extended the boundaries of the city to include the suburb of Jefferson City, which till this time had enjoyed a separate municipal organization of its own. Consequently, the charter provided that the council, as soon as it had organized, should ascertain the debt of Jefferson City and pass ordinances p336to provide for the payment of interest thereon. There were other important provisions regarding the city finances. Several sections were dedicated to regulations for the refunding of the bonds issued under the act approved February 27, 1869, intended to "enable New Orleans to fund its floating debt and liquidate its indebtedness." The unissued bonds of this series were to be destroyed, and those which had been issued were to be taken up by the city's fiscal agent, which would supply in exchange a new series of securities to bear interest at seven percent per annum. These new securities the city was authorized to issue to the amount of $3,000,000. They were payable in twenty-five years from the date of issue. The council was required to make appropriations annually to pay the interest upon these new bonds, and also upon the consolidated bonds, with which the new legislation made no attempt to deal. Finally, there were a series of prohibitions designed to check the extravagances of the administration, as, for instance, a section requiring the city to have available in its treasury sufficient funds to meet any bonds, warrants, certificates, etc., which it might thereafter issue; making illegal any bond issued in contravention of this section; and forbidding the council to incur a debt in excess of $100,000 until such time as the city debt should be reduced to a total of $7,000,000 or less, unless at the moment of making such appropriations steps were taken to provide for the payment of the principal and interest within a period of ten years.

    Anticipating the enactment of the new city charter with provisions authorizing the governor to appoint the first board of city officials under it, a committee of citizens was formed in March, 1869, with the idea of recommending to Warmoth candidates who would be satisfactory to the population of the city. This committee consisted of fifty prominent citizens. It called itself the Electoral Jury. At its head was the distinguished Dr. W. N. Mercer. Among the members were T. L. Clarke, George Jonas, Alfred Mouton, G. W. West, J. Lavillebeuvre, Carl Kohn, C. E. Slayback, F. Wing, Marshall J. Smith, Joseph Santini, Charles Cavaroc, James Jackson, S. H. Kennedy, Dr. H. B. Moss and Cuthbert H. Slocumb. The latter was credited with initiating the movement. It issued an address to the public, in which the condition of the city was described in the following melancholy phrases: "Through gross mismanagement and incapacity and utter disregard of the interest and welfare of our people on the part of those entrusted with the administration of the affairs of our city, it is now in the most deplorable and disgraceful condition. Streets and wharves are shamefully neglected, the treasury is empty, its just debts unpaid and swelling from month to month; her credit, once so deservedly high, has sunk to the lowest ebb. At the present rate of taxation an honest and faithful collection and disbursement of her revenues would enable her to meet her current expenses as well as the interest on her outstanding bonds, and pay for all necessary improvements, and leave a large surplus to be applied towards the liquidation of her indebtedness."10 On March 23rd this jury called on Governor Warmoth and presented a list of candidates, four for each office, and suggested that the mayor and administrators be chosen from among the number.

    Three days later the governor announced his appointments. J. H. Oglesby, president of the Louisiana National Bank, was named for p337mayor. The governor's selections for administrators were: J. S. Walton, Alfred Shaw, S. C. Emley, Bernard Soulie, L. T. Delassize, E. W. Pierce and J. R. West. Only four of these were taken from the list presented by the Electoral Jury. These were Walton, Emley, Delassize and Soulie. On the other hand, Oglesby was himself a member of the Electoral Jury. Soulie and Delassize were negroes, the former a wealthy real estate owner and the latter had formerly been state auditor and was at the present time recorder of mortgages in New Orleans. After considering the matter four days, Oglesby determined to refuse the appointment, as he found his time too fully occupied with personal affairs to permit him to give any attention to public matters. Soulie followed his example. Delassize, who, it was understood, was to be made Administrator of Assessments, was likewise on the point of declining when he was offered a better position among the administrators and consented to accept. The post vacated to him was tendered to another colored man, named McCarty, who accepted.

    In place of Oglesby the governor's choice fell upon B. F. Flanders, who, in 1867, under Sheridan, had been for six months governor of the state. After leaving the gubernatorial chair he had resided for some time in Brooklyn. His status as a Republican could not be questioned.11

    Altogether, the new appointments were probably as good as could be expected under the circumstances. Walton had already some experience in municipal employ. He had been in the city treasurer's office. In 1867 he had served as Assistant United States Treasurer and was now president of the Louisiana Savings Institution. Shaw was another old citizen. He had held the appointment of recorder of mortgages under an appointment from Butler; had been clerk of the United States District Court under Judge Durell, and was a member of the Constitutional Convention of 1864. Emley had come to New Orleans in 1864 and was in the mercantile business. Pierce was a Magazine Street flour merchant and had been appointed a member of the State Board of Education, "which position he had virtually resigned," according to an ambiguous paragraph in one of the local newspapers.12

    West had served with the rank of general in the Union army in Texas; he had been chief deputy United States marshal under Herron, and at the present time was serving as auditor of customs.

    The new officials were ready to take their seats on April 4th. All of the retiring officials, "except Conway, were ready to yield their offices. Conway, with a desperation which only the fear of losing an office can lead, determined to cling to the mayoralty while there was a shadow to grasp at, and nervously flitted from one room to another" of the City Hall.13 Flanders, accompanied by the newly appointed administrators, arrived at the hall in the forenoon. Conway expressed surprise at seeing Flanders, whom, he said, had no right to attempt to act as mayor until the second Monday following the date of his appointment. Such was, at least, the interpretation which the retiring mayor placed upon the language of the new charter. He would therefore recognize him on April 11th. For similar reasons he refused to recognize Delassize and McCarty, claiming that the period which should elapse between their p338nomination and their induction into office had not yet expired. These arguments the Picayune on the following morning pronounced "mere quibbles." Flanders merely answered that he had come to the hall and proposed to stay. He thereafter ignored Conway, who made several futile attempts to interfere with the subsequent installation of the new government. Flanders called together the new administrators and proceeded to organize them as the City Council. He announced the appointment of John Tobin as mayor's secretary, and directed the various administrators to repair to their different departments, which they did, and there they were courteously received and duly installed.

    Mayor Benjamin Franklin Flanders

    Benjamin F. Flanders was an old resident of New Orleans. Although a native of New Hampshire, he had settled in the city as early as 1843. Here he had studied for the bar. He seems not to have practiced his profession, however, but turned his attention first to teaching and then to journalism and to politics. He was for many years employed in the city public schools. Before the Civil war he had attained the rank of principal of one of the public schools. He was offered the school superintendency of the Third Municipality, but declined this honorable and laborious position. His journalistic activities led him into the editorship of a local newspaper, the Tropic, which he was largely instrumental in establishing and of which he became part owner. In 1849 he was elected alderman in the council of the Third Municipality and was re-elected in 1852. In the latter year, also, he was appointed secretary and treasurer of the Opelousas & Great Western Railroad. In 1862 his political ideas recommended him to the Federals. When the city was occupied Butler made him city treasurer. A few months later, when elected to Congress, he resigned this position in order to go to Washington. In the following year Secretary Chase tendered him an appointment as supervising agent of the United States Treasury in Louisiana, which p339he accepted. He resigned this post in 1866 to become president of the First National Bank of New Orleans.14 Flanders was well spoken of, even in newspapers normally opposed to all things radical; and it must be said that he was by training in a position to give the city an efficient and business-like administration. As a matter of fact, the situation was beyond his control; and the period of eighteen months over which his two administrations extend was one of riotous extravagance and general incompetence in practically every branch of the city government. Radical control of the city was now complete; those who had engineered it naturally hastened to reap the benefit of their skill and industry.

    Flanders' first act, however, met with general approval. This was to order an investigation of the sale of the stock of the New Orleans, Jackson & Great Northern Railroad, owned by the city, to a syndicate of Northern capitalists headed by Henry McComb. The city, it will be recalled, issued a large block of bonds in 1852 for the benefit of this road. In return for this pecuniary assistance it had received 80,000 shares of the capital stock, valued at $25 per share. This stock had been hypothecated to protect the bonds, and these bonds were due in 1874 and 1875. It was claimed by some persons that under these circumstances the stock was valueless. Others, and among them W. Henderson, who had served for five or six years as a member of the board of directors of the road, claimed, with just as much apparent justification, that, on the contrary, the stock was immensely valuable. Henderson asserted that it was worth $3,000,000 and within a short time would pay an annual interest on that valuation. A bill was introduced in the Legislature early in the year to authorize the sale of the stock. Little was known of the proposed deal until within a day or two of the final passage of the law. It was fiercely denounced by some of the local newspapers.15 On March 30th the City Council adopted an ordinance directing the city treasurer to proceed to the sale of the stock at a price of not less than $150,000. There was some irregularity in the manner in which this ordinance was passed. It was signed, not by Mayor Conway, nor by the president pro tempore of the council, Charles Potthoff, but by one of the members, who claimed the right to do so because he had been called temporarily to preside during the time when the measure had been in debate.

    The litigation over the sale of this stock and over the slaughter house monopoly constituted the principal incidents of Flanders' first term as mayor. With regard to the Jackson road suit, its history may be briefly recapitulated here. On April 1st a citizen named Hoyle brought suit in a local court to enjoin the city from selling the stock, but this suit was withdrawn a day or two later. McComb, claiming to have bought the stock from the city for $300,000, then enjoined the city from disposing of it to any other person. The new city administration on April 6th refused to receive from the retiring city treasurer, Mount, McComb's check for $300,000, and the money was thereupon deposited in a bank to wait the result of the litigation. The city now intervened in the injunction suit and obtained an order restraining McComb from selling such certificates as might have been delivered to him. The next step was a suit brought by private citizens to throw the road into bankruptcy. p340On May 27th the situation was further complicated by the newly elected city attorney, George S. Lacey, to whom the matter was referred for an opinion. He held that there was no legal reason why the city should not proceed to consummate the sale of the stock in question. In June McComb and his associates received a verdict in several of the suits the effect of which was to put them in possession of the property. The city then took possession of the deposit of $300,000. Later on, the original bonds fell due and were paid by the city.16

    The slaughter house case, which resulted favorably to the city after prolonged litigation, arose from an act passed by the Legislature of 1869, giving to a group of business men a monopoly of the cattle business in New Orleans. Under this law no one might import into the city cattle for slaughter except this company, or persons whom it authorized and who paid it a fee. Judge Bradley, in the United States Circuit Court, in granting a perpetual injunction against the company, held that the proposed monopoly was an infraction of the Fourteenth Amendment to the Federal Constitution, inasmuch as it abridged the immunities of citizens of the United States. "It is one of the privileges of every American citizen," the court held, "to adopt and follow such lawful industrial pursuit — ? not injurious to the community — ? as he may see fit without unreasonable regulation or molestation and without being restricted by any of those unjust, oppressive and odious privileges which have been condemned by all free governments."

    During Flanders' first term wood as a paving material was tried on some of the city streets and pronounced a failure. The name of St. Charles Street was changed to St. Charles Avenue from Tivoli (Lee) Circle uptown. The census of 1870 gave the city a population of 191,418. In 1869 the assessment of the city was $139,848,204, on which a tax was levied of 2.375 percent . This included the assessment of .75 percent ordered by the Metropolitan Police Board.17

    Flanders served till November 7, 1870, when, in accordance with the new charter, an election took place for mayor and for administrators of assessments, commerce and police. Flanders was nominated for mayor by the Republicans, and L. A. Wiltz, who had formerly been president of the Board of Aldermen and had been expelled by Warmoth in the previous December, was named by the Democrats, principally as a protest against that action. Flanders' success was a foregone conclusion. The election hardly attracted the attention of the contemporary newspapers. Squads of the Metropolitan Police guarded the polls' charges that the voters were intimidated were freely made, and the ballots were counted by the returning board which the State Legislature had created for the purpose. Flanders was declared to have received 18,216 votes as against 11,826 for Wiltz.

    The second term of Flanders presented no change as compared with the first one. The extravagant management of city affairs went on unchecked. In 1872 the expenses of the city amounted to $6,961,381 and the bonded debt climbed to the colossal figure of $21,000,000. The assessment of the city was $131,426,211, and the tax rate nominally 2.75; but it has been conservatively computed that on a just valuation of property p341in New Orleans, the tax rate would have been nearer 5 percent than the figure given. The city engineer, W. H. Bell, in 1871 presented to the council a complete drainage system, with protection levees above and below the city, and revetted levees along the lake shore. The water within these limits was to be carried by wide and deep canals to Lake Pontchartrain and there pumped into the lake. The cost of the system was estimated at millions of dollars. To meet the expense it was proposed to issue gold bonds bearing 7 percent interest per annum. This, and the purchase of the upper City Park in 1871, were the two important events of Flanders' second term. The purchase of the park was effected under an act of the Legislature of 1871. The price was $800,000. The property comprised 373 "arpents," or about 280 acres. It is known today as Audubon Park and is one of the most beautiful pleasure places in the city.

    The Author’s Notes

    1 Ficklen, "History of Reconstruction in Louisiana," 203, 204; Appleton's Annual Encyclopaedia, 1868, p434; New Orleans Times, July 2, 1868.

    2 Special Orders No. 154. The Picayune for July 14 prints the order in full, without comment.

    3 Fortier, "A History of Louisiana," IV, 110 pp.

    4 Bee, December 25, 26, 29, 1869.

    5 Picayune, December 29, 1869; January 7, 1870.

    6 Republican, January 4, 1869.

    7 Republican, January 24, 1869.

    8 Picayune, February 12, 1869.

    9 On January 16, 1869, by Ordinance No. 1232, N. S., the city purchased the waterworks from the Commercial Bank for $2,000,000, payable $1,393,400 in 5 percent bonds, the remainder being represented by the amount due for her half-million dollars worth of stock and accrued interest thereon. Seven commissioners named by the city then took charge of the waterworks. These were under the new charter made subordinate to the Administrator of Public Buildings and Waterworks.

    10 Picayune, March 24, 1870.

    11 Republican, April 3, 1870.

    12 Republican, March 27, 1870.

    13 Picayune, April 5, 1870.

    14 "A Louisianaise," "Bibliographical Sketches of Louisiana's Governors," pp44-45.

    15 By the Picayune, for instance. See its editorial for March 22, 1870.

    16 Picayune, April-June, 1870, passim.

    17 Campbell, "Manual of the City of New Orleans," p28.

    The period of Flanders' administration witnessed a series of thrilling occurrences in New Orleans. Properly speaking, these events belong to the history of the State; but they must be described here, not only because they took place in the city, and kept it in a constant state of excitement and disorder, but because they deeply influenced the history of the municipality. In 1871 the republican national organization began to show signs of division along factional lines. This tendency resulted, in Louisiana, in the formation of several bitterly antagonistic groups. The most enlightened element in the party was included in the so-called "liberal" republican faction, of which Warmoth made himself leader. Its interests naturally coincided with those of the down-trodden democrats, and the logic of events ultimately made a combination of these two parties advisable.1 The extreme, or radical wing of the republican party — ? the "Custom House" party — ? got its name from the fact that it was led by the United States marshal, Packard, who had his office in that building. With Packard was aligned the speaker of the lower house of the State Legislature, G. W. Carter.

    A furious contest arose between these two factions over the control of the party machinery. The struggle at first centered upon the State Central Committee, and then upon the House of Representatives. The former phase culminated in August, 1871, when the Carterites secured control of the committee, assembled it in the Custom House under the protection of Federal soldiery, and refused admission to all delegates who could not exhibit a special ticket issued by Packard. By this device Warmoth, and the lieutenant governor, Pinchback, and their adherents were excluded from the meeting. They indignantly withdrew to Turners' Hall, and there effected an organization of their own, at which a series of resolutions was adopted bitterly denunciatory of the Custom House meeting.

    The legislature met in regular session on January 1, 1872. Warmoth determined to drive Carter from the speakership of the House, if possible; Carter, on his side, was resolved upon the political destruction of a man whom he described as "the greatest practical liar."2 At first, the Carterites seemed to have everything their own way. A vote of confidence in Carter was passed in the House in the midst of the wildest excitement. Moreover, he was authorized to call in the Metropolitan Police, and to appoint sergeants-at-arms in any number, and whenever in his judgment necessary, to protect the assembly from Warmoth and his adherents. Four of the Warmoth delegates were unseated, on the ground that they did not reside in the parishes which they claimed to represent, and Carterites contestants were admitted in their places. Finally, Warmoth himself and several of his lieutenants were arrested, haled before Marshal Packard, and put under $500 appearance bonds, on charges of interfering with the organization and conduct of the State Legislature.

    p343 But Warmoth was not beaten by any means. He declared these proceedings a conspiracy to overthrow the government, and called a special meeting of the legislature to deal with the situation. Naturally, the members who responded were his own adherents. They lost no time in unseating Carter, and electing as his successor a "reliable" person, named Brewster. They also authorized Warmoth to place soldiers around the Mechanics' Institute, and thus prevent Carter and his supporters from getting access to that building, then used as the State Capitol. Carter withdrew to a room above the "Gem" saloon, on Royal Street, near Canal, and proceeded to organize what he termed "the legal House of Representatives." He did not muster a quorum, and sergeants-at-arms were sent to gather in a sufficient number of members to constitute it. They seem to have arrested absentee legislators wherever they encountered such, without reference to their affiliations with the warring factions. Under these circumstances, it was obvious that a clash could not long be averted. In fact, on January 7, rioting took place in Royal Street, and a member of the Warmoth Legislature, Wheyland, was killed. An effort was made to fasten the crime upon Carter and certain of his associates, but Wheyland was really killed by the police, and the judge before whom the accused was arraigned promptly discharged them. After that, peace was only maintained by General Emory and the soldiers of the United States army.3 Emory was instrumental, two weeks later, in preventing bloodshed, when Carter, at the head of several thousand persons, mainly negroes, marched on the Mechanics' Institute, with the avowed intention of seizing the building by force. The General had instructions from Washington to prevent a conflict between armed men in New Orleans, and his announced intention to obey them to the letter, caused the movement to collapse suddenly.

    After that, desertions from the Carter camp, which had begun early p344in the month, proceeded at an accelerated rate, until Warmoth was in absolute control again. Brewster's election was confirmed, as well as all the other actions of the Warmoth faction during the interim; and the legislature remained in session, without further molestation, till February 29. But the scandal of the Warmoth-Carter affair ran through the entire nation. Congress was compelled to act. It sent a committee to New Orleans to investigate. This committee submitted two reports, which agreed in representing the disorders in Louisiana as due to factional quarrels among the republicans. The minority report characterized both factions equally as composed of "adventurers [. . .] from all sections, destitute alike of either political or personal integrity, and [. . .] fattening upon the plunder wrung from the property and toil of the people." As for the legislature, "the world has rarely known a [. . .] body so rank with ignorance and corruption."4 Strong language, this, but amply justified by the facts.

    In these dissentions in the dominant party, the conservative population of New Orleans saw an opportunity to regain control of the government. A movement which began in New Orleans, at a mass meeting held in December, 1871, and which at first contemplated nothing more than reform in the municipal organization, rapidly spread and assumed a more ambitious aspect. At that meeting a committee of 51 prominent citizens, with Isaac N. Marks as chairman, was appointed to investigate ways and means of bettering the city government. Its report, made in the following February, declared that "the troubles in the municipal government are in a large measure due to state interference, and the manipulation of city affairs by State authorities." Reform in the city, therefore, could be obtained only when it had been first brought about in the State. The report continued: "Disheartened by the unblushing deceit of the executive and legislative branches of your State Government, and convinced that no relief is possible while that government as now constituted remains in existence," the committee "determined [. . .] to recommend the rapid organization of the people of the city and all over the State, not into secret, oath-bound associations, but into one grand party of reform." The organization which resulted called itself the reform party. It appointed a provisional State executive committee, and on March 12 issued an address calling upon all friends of good government, white and colored, to join the movement. This condition of affairs in the State, ran this document, was "due to the frightful spoliation and robbery of which she was the victim, to a lack of sympathy and co-operation between the two great races inhabiting our territory." The committee believed that in Louisiana the two political parties were divided upon "issues of prejudice and feeling" rather than of "abstract reason." "The consequence is that the contests between these parties in reference to our local concerns, have more of bitterness than is ordinarily the case."5

    The same feeling that a crisis had arrived animated the addresses issued by the Democratic State Central Committee in April and in June. They called on the people to "put the brand of infamy upon the brows of those who have dishonored and plundered Louisiana, to expel them p345from their high places, and make them Giovanni way to honest and capable men." Both the democratic and the reform conventions met in June in New Orleans. Neither could ignore the necessity of fusion. Conference committees were named on both sides. These reported a compromise ticket headed by George Williams, of Caddo Parish. The reform convention accepted this ticket practically without a dissenting voice, but it was rejected by the democrats. Not only did the latter disapprove the conference report, but they nominated an opposition ticket of their own, with John McEnery's name at the head. Fortunately there were on both tickets many identical names. The way was thus open to further negotiations. Finally, the reformers were induced to withdraw their nominees and support the McEnery ticket.

    On the other hand, each of the republican factions held conventions and nominated State tickets. These factions were now three in number, the lieutenant-governor, Pinchback, having quarreled with Warmoth, ostensibly because the latter proposed to co-operate with the democrats with a view to procure the election in Louisiana of the Greeley-Brown presidential electors. The Custom House faction put out a State ticket headed by William Pitt Kellogg. The Pinchback faction nominated its leader for governor. Pinchback apparently never had any serious intention of contesting the governorship; his plan was to unite on favorable terms with the Packard faction. It proved difficult, however, to smooth away all the differences between the two groups. This was not effected till late in the summer. Then the State officers were apportioned among the two parties, Kellogg retaining the nomination for governor, and Pinchback taking that for state auditor.

    In the meantime Warmoth's "Liberals" had also held a convention in New Orleans. They met on August 5 and remained in session six days. On the first day a committee was named to confer with the democratic and reform parties, with a view to unite upon a fusion ticket. Combination was ultimately effected by the acceptance by the liberals of a ticket with John McEnery as nominee for the governorship, D. B. Penn for the lieutenant-governorship, H. N. Ogden for state auditor, and other equally well-known citizens as candidates for the remaining offices. Thus, as election day approached, there were in the field two state tickets — ? the democratic, supported by the reform party and by Warmoth's faction of the republicans; and the republican, endorsed by the Packard-Pinchback organization.

    The fusion movement in state politics was paralleled by a similar movement in the City of New Orleans. W. R. Fish, president of the "Republican" Publishing Company, was nominated by the radical republicans. The liberals withheld their support, prepared to throw it to the democratic nominee, if a satisfactory understanding could be effected. But democracy was divided. There were the regular democratic organization, and, in addition, the citizens' party and the parish fusionists. These elements were all favorable to the candidacy of L. A. Wiltz for mayor, but otherwise their tickets presented wide divergences. The principal obstacle to fusion was the administratorship of improvements. The liberals contended that in any allocation of offices, this post ought to go to them. The democrats were not ready to concede this point. The parish fusionists supported N. E. Bailey for the post. The citizens' party named Maj. E. A. Burke. Burke finally received the endorsement of the liberals. But Burke's candidacy gave widespread dissatisfaction. p346The Picayune proposed that the compromise be effected, all candidates to retire in favor of Gen. P. G. T. Beauregard.6 This suggestion was received with considerable favor. On October 25 the democratic clubs met in convention, and appointed a committee of seven to discuss the basis of fusion with all factions opposed to the radical republicans. It was frankly stated that, while the adoption of the regular democratic ticket would be the most acceptable arrangement, this was not vital, and reasonable concessions would be made. The committee's work resulted in the formulation of a new ticket, announced on October 29. The letter publishing the names of the fusion nominees was signed by Archie Mitchell, on behalf of the Democratic Parish Committee, and by B. R. Forman and D. Warren Brickell, on behalf of the executive committee of the reform party. This ticket was headed by Wiltz, and Beauregard was put on it for the post of administrator of improvements. The other administrators were John Calhoun, Louis Schneider, Robert Brewster, H. F. Sturcken, and B. M. Turnbull. Candidates were also named for the subordinate offices, but among them there were subsequently many changes, to fit the ideas of various other groups of voters, as they were successively induced to endorse the ticket.

    The election took place on November 4, the day before the presidential elections were held in the other states of the Union. On the whole "unusually good order prevailed."7 This was true, in spite of the fact that fraud was attempted at many places in the city. Any number of fictitious tickets bearing the names "Fusion," "Independent," etc., were circulated at the polls, each carrying the name of some radical candidate. "In this way almost all of the fusion candidates were, by some combination or other," unfavorably affected.8 Interest, however, was concentrated on the state ticket. McEnery undoubtedly received a majority of the votes cast in state and city, but a way was open by which the popular will could nevertheless be nullified. Under the law, the returns should be canvassed by a Returning Board, composed of the governor, the lieutenant-governor, the secretary of state, and two others to be chosen by these three. At this moment the board was composed of Warmoth, Pinchback, Herron, John Lynch, and T. C. Anderson. Pinchback, as president of the State Senate, was ex-officio lieutenant-governor. Herron was acting secretary of state, vice George Bovee, removed by Warmoth a short time before. It was the duty of this board to complete the tabulation of the returns and announce the result within 10 days. Warmoth proceeded high-handedly to make sure that the board would decide in favor of McEnery. By excluding Pinchback and Anderson on the ground that, being themselves candidates in the election, they were ineligible to sit, and by summarily removing Herron, he got rid of all objectionable persons. Their places were supplied by the appointment of Jack Wharton, F. W. Hatch and Durant Da Ponte. Lynch refused to act with the board as thus constituted. He and Herron now proceeded to organize another board by adding to themselves Gen. James Longstreet and Jacob Hawkins. Thus there were two bodies, each with a semblance of authority claiming the right to decide which candidate had received in the election a majority of the suffrages.

    p347 The election was fought out in the United States courts in a series of injunctions, too numerous to be described here in detail. Finally, Kellogg was successful in obtaining from Judge Durell an ex parte order restraining Warmoth's appointees from serving, authorizing the Lynch board to canvass the ballots, and prohibiting McEnery from taking office on the basis of any statement of election from the Wharton-Hatch-Da Ponte board. Warmoth thereupon resurrected a bill passed at the previous session of the legislature, vesting the senate with authority to name the members of the returning board. The governor had not signed it at that time because then it would have curtailed his power, but now it suited his purpose exactly, and he signed and promulgated it, and called a meeting of the senate for the following December, to take action thereunder. In the meantime, declaring that this law operated to abolish all Returning Boards, he availed himself of another law authorizing him as governor to fill vacancies while the State Legislature was not sitting, and appointed a temporary board, which is known in history by the name of one of its members, De Feriet. The De Feriet board promptly did what it was appointed to do — ? it declared the Greeley-Brown presidential electors successful by nearly 6,000 majority, and the McEnery ticket elected in its entirety, by a slightly larger majority.9

    Warmoth's proceedings gave offense to Judge Durell, who held that they constituted a "violation" of the restraining order which he had recently issued. He therefore issued an order which a committee of the United States Congress subsequently denounced as "without a parallel in judicial proceedings." This order was addressed to the United States marshal, and directed him to seize the Mechanics' Institute, and keep possession of it until further instructions, on the ground that this was necessary to protect the peace and prevent unlawful assemblages. Its object was to exclude McEnery and his associates from the State Capitol, and throw the control of the State Government into Kellogg's hands. The order was issued at night, out of court, in the absence of the clerk or other attesting officer, and did not bear the official seal. Legally, it was without value. Nevertheless, Packard, accompanied by a detachment of Federal troops, put it into execution at 2:00 A.M., December 6. These proceedings were endorsed by the attorney general of the United States, in a telegram addressed to Packard. Durell issued another order to the Lynch Returning Board which, in effect, legalized the claims of the Kellogg faction, and set up a State Legislature in opposition to that supported by Warmoth.10 The McEnery party, though excluded from power, kept its organization together, and during the two next troubled years continually asserted its rights, as the de jure government of Louisiana.

    The counting of the vote for the municipal officers in New Orleans was complicated by the situation in the State. The ballot boxes were removed to the Mechanics' Institute as soon as the polls closed, with the announced object of counting the vote at once. The count, however, was delayed by an order from General Longstreet, directing that no action be taken that night, ostensibly because the tellers were not provided with proper stationery on which to enter the record. It was surmised, however, that Longstreet was really apprehensive of the effect p348that the news of a conservative triumph in New Orleans might produce in other states in the presidential elections of the following day.11 The newspapers complained that when the count actually began discrimination was shown as to the persons permitted to be present at the ceremony, in spite of the fact that the law allowed any person who so desired to witness it. Some of the candidates were admitted, others were excluded. Two lines of Metropolitan police were stationed in front of the room where the count was in progress. Persons who wished to pass were required to exhibit their citizenship and other papers, and even then were in many cases arbitrarily refused.12 In the end the result was announced — ? Wiltz and his entire ticket, 23,896 votes, as against Fish and the Republican ticket, 12,984.13 Wiltz immediately took the oath of office before a notary public and armed himself with a certificate of election from the registrar of voters, Blanchard.14

    Flanders did not surrender the mayoralty without a struggle. When on November 26th Wiltz and four of the newly elected administrators presented themselves at the City Hall, he demanded that they exhibit commissions signed by the governor before he yielded. Such commissions they did not have. Flanders declined to recognize Blanchard's certificate. He insisted that he could not vacate the office until assured that he delivered it into proper hands. Otherwise, he said, he would incur liabilities of a very serious character. This was absurd, as Wiltz pointed out, since Flanders had never given any bond, and therefore could not profitably be sued, no matter what event transpired. It was, however, agreed that he should have until November 29th, at 11 A.M., to consult his attorneys and arrive at a decision.

    Flanders professed the most correct sentiments. "For my part," he wrote in a message to the City Council, rehearsing the incidents just related, "I am willing to part with our troubles and responsibilities. It is not to be supposed under a government of law that any resort will be had to violence and illegal interference. We should cheerfully give way at once if legal advice should concur that we should, and as cheerfully submit to the counsel, if otherwise; and we cannot suppose that any disposition exists on the other hand, except to accomplish lawful results by lawful and peaceful means."15 The council thereupon empowered him to employ legal advisors, and Christian Roselius, one of the most distinguished members of the local bar, was called in. But by November 29 Roselius seems still to have had the matter under consideration.

    Mayor L. A. Wiltz

    Early on that day large crowds assembled around the City Hall. At noon a detachment of ten policemen, under a sergeant, arrived at the building and took positions outside of the door of the mayor's office. Gen. A. S. Badger, then chief of police, arrived soon after and "pointedly" instructed the men that they were to take no part in the pending controversy and limit themselves to preserving order; their duty was to prevent the crowd from rushing into the mayor's office. The demeanor of the throng without does not seem to have warranted these apprehensions. According to the newspapers, it behaved "with less p349excitement than was to have been expected." Wiltz and his associates, apprehending that they would be opposed if they again attempted to take possession of the offices to which they had been elected, applied to the District Court for an injunction restraining Flanders and the other members of the retiring administration from interfering. Judge Elmore granted a rule nisi returnable December 6th. Anticipating the service of this rule, Wiltz and his friends did not present themselves at the hall till 2 P.M. They then arrived accompanied by several attorneys and eight or ten unofficial escorts. They went at once to the mayor's parlor, where Flanders met them with a request for further delay, alleging that he had not yet heard from his counsel. While he and Wiltz were discussing this matter, the sheriff arrived to serve the rule. Flanders was indignant. Considerable excitement followed. Flanders insisted that he could do nothing whatever until Roselius had had an opportunity to pass upon this new development of the case. Wiltz felt obliged to concede a short delay.

    Roselius' reply was sent in by a messenger within half an hour, and was to the effect that the injunction merely prohibited the mayor and his administrators from interference, but did not enjoin any act upon them. Flanders therefore announced that he could make no opposition if Wiltz seized the government, but would continue to regard himself as rightful mayor of the city. Wiltz thereupon took the official seat at the mayor's desk and installed the new administrators. After further conversation, which the newspapers assure us was "quite friendly," Flanders and his fellow officials withdrew.16

    The new mayor was a native of New Orleans and was in his twenty-ninth year. Among his ancestors were some of the first German settlers in Louisiana. His mother was a daughter of a Spanish soldier p350who came to the colony with O'Reilly. Wiltz attended the public schools in his native city till about fifteen years of age, and then obtained employment in a mercantile establishment. At the beginning of the Civil war he enlisted in the New Orleans Artillery. He was speedily elected captain of Company E, Chalmette Regiment, and with this command was stationed at Fort Jackson, where he and his men were captured by the Federals in 1862. Subsequently exchanged, he returned to the Confederate army, and was on active duty till the close of hostilities. He then returned to New Orleans and began a successful mercantile career. He entered politics as a member of the Orleans Democratic Parish Committee and was later elected a member of the State Central Committee. In 1868 he was elected to the State Legislature. In that body, notorious for its corruption and intrigue, he maintained an untarnished reputation and earned the unswerving confidence of his constituents. His service on the Board of Aldermen in New Orleans and his removal therefrom by governor Warmoth have already been mentioned. Wiltz was a man of energy, ability and dauntless courage.17

    In undertaking the duties of chief magistrate of New Orleans, Wiltz found himself confronted by conditions more embarrassing than any of his predecessors had ever faced. He himself appreciated the impossibility of the situation. In his inaugural message he said: "It is plain that the great majority anticipate from our hands far more than can be accomplished by any means."18 The financial condition of the municipality could hardly have been worse. Wiltz himself has left us a graphic picture of its perplexities. "Capital has fled from" the city, "and the process of withdrawal has not ceased. Building has almost ceased, while thousands of overtaxed houses are left without tenants. [. . .] Extravagant port charges have driven off ships and damaged our commerce. Northern and foreign capitalists, looking with keen-eyed scrutiny into the management of our public affairs, have recorded their verdict against the public abuses in Louisiana, and that verdict can be read in every stock list where the bonds of New Orleans and of the State are quoted, showing that our credit has been damaged to a ruinous extent. We cannot borrow more money from those who think that we already owe more than we can pay promptly or with certainty. [. . .] Where the public debt is more than one-quarter of all the available property and many times more than all of the available property owned by the corporation, strangers must draw and inference disparaging to the sagacity of our citizens and of our rulers and legislators."19 As a matter of fact, since 1867 the value of real estate had depreciated twenty percent ; business was burdened with a double schedule of State and city licenses on trades, professions and occupations, which produced annually about $500,000; and the city was liable for two debts, city and State, the former estimated at $42,000,000, the latter at $21,000,000.20 The city tax rate, nominally low, was actually exorbitant, due to the fictitious valuation put on taxable property. It actually stood in the neighborhood of five percent ; in addition to which there was a state tax of two p351percent .21 In return for these exactions the city received virtually nothing.

    Bird's-Eye View of New Orleans in 1873

    These deplorable results Wiltz attributed to the practice of making appropriations and issuing certificates therefor before money had been received to make payment. These certificates had become a kind of city script, bearing no interest, payable at no certain date and having no fixed value. Divided into small sums and issued for services or material to persons who were unable to wait till the city might be in a position to pay in cash, this paper was sold on the streets at enormous discounts. The situation reacted on the municipality in the form of enormously high prices on all purchases. Hitherto the only remedy attempted by municipal financiers had been to refund the debt. Bonds issued for this purpose during Flanders' administration had netted the city less than 70 percent of their face value, although bearing heavy interest and made redeemable in coin or its equivalent. In lieu of such expenditures, Wiltz proposed that appropriations be made only against cash actually in hand.

    This plan, admirable in theory, broke down in practice. In February, 1873, for example, in the hope of putting the city on a cash basis, he obtained from the City Council authority to borrow enough money to pay all the expenses of the preceding month, pledging the city's 10 percent bonds at 80 percent of their face value as collateral for the loan, and, as a further inducement to capital, guaranteeing that the money should be applied to the extinguishment of the city debt and to no other purpose whatsoever.22 This only gave momentary relief; it was impossible to carry on the business of the city without anticipating its revenues. Therefore, a month later we find the council appointing a commission p352composed of the mayor and certain of the administrators to ascertain what public improvements could be suspended without immediate public damage. At the same time an arrangement was effected with the gas company to reduce its service one-third. All repairs to the streets, except the maintenance of the gutter crossings, were abandoned. The city's cash receipts were sufficient barely to pay interest on the bonded debt, to retire that portion thereof which was required by law and to meet a few indispensable expenses. Moreover, as the limit of the bonded and certified debt as prescribed by the existing law was now nearly reached, it was impossible to issue further bonds, and Wiltz was opposed to that course anyhow. Various expedients were resorted to stimulate the payment of taxes. In April, 1873, an ordinance was passed allowing a cash discount to citizens who paid their taxes promptly in cash; and in December another ordinance empowered the administrator of finances to receive in payment of city taxes the evidences of the city's unpaid indebtedness, as, for example, drainage warrants in payment of drainage taxes.23 This matter was made still more complicated by the persistence of the tax-resisting associations, which, as we have seen, came into existence in Flanders' time and which still continued to refuse to pay certain impositions made by city and by state.24

    Wiltz's task was made difficult also by the fact that the city continued to be the object of important litigation, notably the great Gaines case. In this celebrated suit a decision rendered against the city in June, 1874, compelled Wiltz to borrow $148,000 — ? an immense sum in those days. There was, moreover, the tax for the support of the Metropolitan police. Wiltz strongly advocated the repeal of this iniquitous tax, which amounted to 44 cents on every $100 of the assessed va