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Bill Thayer

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[image ALT: A large, sturdy building with a porticoed ground story and a mansarded second story, crowned by a small lantern. It is the Cabildo in New Orleans.]
The Cabildo.

New Orleans:
The Place and the People
Grace King

The work presented here is a popular history of New Orleans published in 1895 and covering the entire history of the city down to that date. It is written in a vivid, discursive style.

Now King's taste for anecdote occasionally sends her off on some rather long digressions, while history less amenable to graphic description gets short shrift, making the book a bit patchy: how New Orleans ever came to be occupied in the War between the States is never so much as hinted at, for example. (By way of counterbalance, the curious student will find a drier and more nearly complete history onsite as well). Yet Grace King's book, though sacrificing scholar­ship to readability, is by no means devoid of interest, a mirror not only of New Orleans' past, but, tellingly, of the author's own time: especially vivid and informative are her accounts of the Atlantic passage in the eighteenth century (Chapter 4), the Battle of New Orleans and the involvement of the Lafittes (Chapters 10 and 11), the yellow fever epidemics (Chapter 12), and black society (Chapter 14).

This somewhat nitpicking scrutiny of details, however, whether to praise them or otherwise, does not do the author justice: her book is fascinating on its own very different ground. King's feminism, boldly stated right from the Introduction, is not of the 1970s variety, yet she has written a woman's history of the Crescent City, inevitably more balanced than the standard enumeration of explorers, forts and buildings, conquests, battles, and politics; she succeeds in giving us whole the fabric of New Orleans society, highlighting the individual contributions, often by women, that made the city what it was in her time.

More surprisingly, if less overtly and despite the prejudices of her age, she has given us a largely sympathetic view of the black history of the city, devoting a significant portion of her text to the subject; her warm admiration of Mother Juliette is only the best of such passages. (Where she falls into condescension and — much more rarely — stereotyping, the gentle reader is reminded that this is the voice of 1895, not mine.)

A page at KnowLouisiana.Org gives a biographical sketch of her and a list of her works; Donna Campbell's page collects online resources on Grace King and includes a photograph of her as well as a good bibliography.

Technical details on how this site is laid out are given below, following the Table of Contents.

[image ALT: A row of eight pots of various shapes, and behind them a banner with the word 'Contents'.]


History of Mississippi River.

Crescent City. — Pineda. — De Soto.— De la Salle. — Pierre Lemoyne d'Iberville.

Colonization of Louisiana.

Jean Baptiste Le Moyne de Bienville. — Pennicaut. — Story of St. Denis.

Founding of New Orleans.

Law. — Duke of Orleans. — Mississippi scheme. — Speculation emigration. — Manon Lescaut. — New Orleans laid out. — Le Page du Pratz. — Immigration. — Dubois incident.

The Ursuline Sisters.

Shipments of girls. — Contract with Ursulines of Rouen. — Madeleine Hachard. — Voyage across the ocean. — Arrival in New Orleans. — Installation in convent. — Our Lady of Prompt Succour. — New Ursuline Convent.

Indian Troubles.º — Marquis de Vaudreuil. — Charity Hospital founded. — Louisiana's first drama. — Jeannot. — De Kerlerec. — Swiss mutiny. — Jumonville de Villiers. — Treaty of Paris. — Little Manchac. — Jesuits and Capuchins, Father Génovaux.

Cession to Spain.

Louis XV. — Duc de Choiseul. — Cession to Spain made known in New Orleans. — Action of citizens. — Lafrénière. — Delegation in Paris. — Aubry. — Ulloa. — Madame Pradel. — Expulsion of Ulloa.

Spanish Domination.

O'Reilly. — Arrest of patriots. — Death of Villeré. — Trial and execution of patriots. — Unzaga. — Father Génovaux and Father Dagobert. — Father Cirilo's report. — Galvez. — Julian Poydras.

Spanish Administration.

Miro. — Conflagration. — Don Andres Almonaster. — Baronne de Pontalba. — Padre Antonio de Sedella. — Western trade. — Visit of Chickasaw and Choctaw chiefs. — Carondelet. — revolutionary ideas. — New Orleans fortified. — Treaty of Madrid. — First bishop of Louisiana. — First newspaper. — First Free Mason's lodge. — First theatre. — Gayoso de Lemos. — Royal visitors. — Casa Calvo. — Treaty of St. Ildefonso; France again possesses Louisiana. — Salcedo. — Free navigation of Mississippi demanded by Western people.

American Domination.

Jefferson's purchase of Louisiana. — Laussat. — Transfer of government from Spain to France. — Transfer from France to United States. — Governor Claiborne. — American reconstruction. — Robin's description of New Orleans. — Refugees from St. Domingo. — Père Antoine. — First Fourth of July celebration. — Law and practice. — College of Orleans. — Lakanal.

The Baratarians.

The black flag in the Gulf of Mexico. — The Lafittes. — Barataria. — Efforts of state and national government against contraband trade. — Criminal prosecution of the Lafittes. — English overtures to Jean Lafitte. — Lafitte's offer to Claiborne. — Lafitte episode. — Breaking up of pirate's retreat by United States authorities. — Baratarians at battle of New Orleans. — Lafitte at Galveston. — Dominique You.

The Glorious Eighth of January.

Downfall of Napoleon. — Fears of British Invasion. — Preparations. — Arrival of Jackson in New Orleans. — British fleet in Lake Borgne. — Engagement with United States boats. — British enter Bayou Bienvenu. — Villeré's capture and escape. — Jackson musters his men. — British forces. — Fight of 23d December. — Jackson's position. — Pakenham. — British attack of 27th December. — Eight of January.

Ante-bellum New Orleans.

Celebration of the victory. — First steamboat. — Faubourg Ste. Marie. — De Boré plantation. — Mademoiselle de Macarty. — Summer life under the ancien régime. — Duke of Saxe-Weimar. — La­fayette. — American development, business, theatres, first Protestant church. — Buckingham's description of New Orleans. — America Vespucci, Henry Clay, Lady Wortley. — Fredericka Bremere. — Epidemics. — Metairie race-track. — Under the Oaks — Duelling.


Capture of city by Federals. General Butler takes possession. — Hanging of Mumford. — Federal domination. — Military government. — Reconstruction. — Fourteenth of September.

The Convent of the Holy Family.

Death of Mother Juliette. — Gens de Couleur. — African slaves. — African Creole songs. — Zabet Philosophe. — Congo Square. — Voudou meetings. — Quadroons. — Founding of the convent. — Orleans ball-room. — Thomy Lafon.


Fourteenth of July. — Moreau Gottschalk. — Paul Morphy. — John McDonogh. — Judah Touro. — Margaret. — Paul Tulane. — Tulane University of Louisiana. — H. Sophie Newcomb College. — Howard Memorial Library. — The Carnival. — All Saints. — Cemeteries. — Charles Gayarré.

[decorative delimiter]

Technical Details

Edition Used

The edition transcribed here is a 1926 printing by the Macmillan Company. The book was copyrighted in 1895, and is thus in the public domain: details here on the copyright law involved.


As almost always, I retyped the text by hand rather than scanning it — not only to minimize errors prior to proofreading, but as an opportunity for me to become intimately familiar with the work, an exercise I heartily recommend: Qui scribit, bis legit. (Well-meaning attempts to get me to scan text, if success­ful, would merely turn me into some kind of machine: gambit declined.)

This transcription has been minutely proofread. In the table of contents above, the sections are shown on blue backgrounds, indicating that I believe the text of them to be completely errorfree. As elsewhere onsite, the header bar at the top of each chapter's webpage will remind you with the same color scheme.

Inevitably, the printed work sports a few typographical errors. Those I could fix, I did, marking the correction each time with one of these: º. If for some reason I could not fix the error, or where there may be some latitude, I marked it º: as elsewhere on my site, glide your cursor over the bullet to read what was actually printed. Similarly, bullets before measurements provide conversions to metric, e.g., 10 miles. Inconsistencies in punctuation have been corrected to the author's usual style, in a slightly different color — barely noticeable on the page, but it shows up in the sourcecode as <SPAN CLASS="emend">. Finally, a number of odd spellings, curious turns of phrase, etc. have been marked <!‑‑ sic  in the sourcecode, just to confirm that they were checked. Any over­looked mistakes, please drop me a line, of course: especially if you have a copy of the printed book in front of you.

French, Spanish, and Creole

The subject inevitably requires, or at least called forth, the use of quite a few words, passages, or quotations in foreign languages, especially French. Sometimes King italicizes them, sometimes not. After weighing the obtrusiveness of marking them against the confusions that might arise in not marking them (as for example the appearance of a typo when the correctly spelled French words partis, mariage are used in lieu of the English words "parties", "marriage"), I decided to indicate them in the color I use elsewhere throughout this site for modern languages, except for some few individual words that by now have passed into common English; when in doubt, though, they're marked.

I don't speak Creole, so made no attempt to verify spellings in that language; but in Spanish and French I've not been so bashful, correcting spelling mistakes to the usage of the appropriate period, and marking the corrections in each case with one of my little bullets; most of the French is in fact modern French after all, and there is some internal evidence that the printer rather than the author was responsible for the errors. Accents are haphazard in the printed edition, and I've corrected them tacit­ly; Orléans gets an accent when part of a French phrase, otherwise not.

Pagination and Local Links

For citation and indexing purposes, the pagination is indicated by local links in the sourcecode. In addition, I've inserted a number of other local anchors: whatever links might be required to accommodate the book's own cross-references, as well as a few others for my own purposes. If in turn you have a website and would like to target a link to some specific passage of the book, please let me know: I'll be glad to insert a local anchor there as well.

[image ALT: A large, sturdy building with a porticoed ground story. It is the Cabildo in New Orleans.]
[image ALT: A large, sturdy building with a porticoed ground story and a mansarded second story, crowned by a small lantern. It is the Cabildo in New Orleans.]
[image ALT: A large, sturdy building with a porticoed ground story and a mansarded second story, crowned by a small lantern. It is the Cabildo in New Orleans.]

The icon I use to indicate this subsite is a colorized version of the book's frontispiece reproduced on this page. The "previous page" and "next page" thumbnails, while based on it, show different stages in the building of that edifice: the "previous" version has the Cabildo without its mansards, since (p280) these were added later.

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Site updated: 28 Oct 17