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Chapter 9

This webpage reproduces a chapter of
History of New Orleans

John Kendall

published by The Lewis Publishing Company,
Chicago and New York, 1922

The text is in the public domain.

This page has been carefully proofread
and I believe it to be free of errors.
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Chapter 11
This site is not affiliated with the US Military Academy.

 p161  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  p162 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.1

[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.]

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 Montégut 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  p163 established formalities of locofocoism," according to the Bee,​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. Montégut, 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."​3 Crossman received 2,989 votes, Guirot 2,743, and Montégut 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."​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  p164 commended 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  p165 was, 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.

[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.]

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.​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 Sauvé 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 home-coming 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  p166 whereby 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  p167 of Louisiana. It was in this brief contest, also, that Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Beauregard won his spurs.

In connection with the war several notable events 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. Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.H. M. Clay and Colonel Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.McKee, who were stabbed to death while lying wounded on the field of Buena Vista, 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 Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.De Russyº responded appropriately. Later the men were the guests of the city at a supper in the Place d'Armes.

The Sauvé 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 Lakes 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 155 miles; and on the other, from the lower Plaquemines settlement to Pointe Coupée, a distance of 185 miles, at an outlay of about $6,500,000.


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

Diagram showing the inundated District
Sauvé's Crevasse
May 3rd, 1849

A larger, fully readable scan (2.1 MB) 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 five feet. The suburbs of Montague, LaCourse, St. Mary, and Marigny, and the whole of the lesser settlements behind them — Gravier, Trémé 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.6

 p169  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 Sauvé 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 seventeen miles above the city lay a plantation belonging to Pierre Sauvé. 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."7

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  p170 cited 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 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 per cent 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.  p171 She 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 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 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  p172 asked 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.8

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."​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 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, 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  p173 April 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 per cent 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  p174 power 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.10

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.

 p175  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 per cent 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.​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  p176 to 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 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  p177 August 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 per cent of the population; a proportion which has rarely been exceeded, except in the Great Plague in London, where one out of every 13½ persons perished, or in Philadelphia, in 1798, where yellow fever destroyed one out of every six persons. It is believed that there were about 30,000 cases of fever in New Orleans in the course of the summer of 1853.11

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 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.' "​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  p178 be 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. [. . .]"​13 The details of the city reeking with filth — the bodies of vagrant dogs poisoned after the summer custom of the city authorities, 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."14

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.​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 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,  p179 however, 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. Pilié. 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  p180 day. "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.​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."​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.​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.​18 It illustrates how far the 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  p181 benefit 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. Pilié'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."19

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:

1 City Directory, 1852.

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2 Bee, April 6, 1846.

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3 Bee, April 8, 1846.

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4 Bee, March 30, 1848.

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5 Bee, April 22, 1850.

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

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7 Ibid., 54.

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

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9 Report of the Commissioners of the Consolidated Debt, 1855.

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10 Act 71 of 1852.

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11 "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.

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12 Cable, "The Creoles of Louisiana," 300.

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13 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.

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14 Harper's Magazine, 800.

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15 Bee, March 8, 1852.

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16 Picayune, March 6, 1852.

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17 Bee, March 13, 1852.

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18 Bee, March 13, 1852.

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19 Bee, March 24, 1852.

Thayer's Notes:

a This view is taken for granted, for example, by the native Louisiana historian Charles Gayarré (History of Louisiana, I.93).

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b The saga of the Tehuantepec Railroad is interestingly told in Diplomacy of the United States and Mexico regarding the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, 1848‑1860.

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Page updated: 12 Apr 16