Comprehensive New Orleans Essay, Research Paper
Comprehensive New Orleans
In a country containing so much diversity and history, it is practically impossible to
locate one city which embodies American diversity. a colony started by the French was
the first area to fully integrate culture and religion. The city of New Orleans, now
prosperous form its diversity, epitomizes the American Melting Pot . It is complicated to
relate such different backgrounds, but with an overview of history, culture, religion, and
integration on a small scale, a reader is capable of applying the values to the American
culture as a whole.
In 1699 the first plans for New Orleans were born. French-Canadian, Pierre le
Moyen, Sieur d Iberville left France to found a colony on the Gulf of Mexico. Sieur
d Iberville set up a fur trading for originally on the north gulf coast, then moved the
establishment to Dauphin Island. Once again, he moved the fort and created an inland
colony near Louisiana. Sieur d Iberville was in charge of all of France s responsibilities in
the southern portion of the territory. Wen Iberville died in 1706 the land under his
jurisdiction was given to ho brother, Jean Baptiste de Moyen Sieur de Beinville.
Beinville had great plans for the development of the French colonies and in 1717
he submitted plans for a new settlement to the Company of the West. In 1718 France
agreed with Beinville s plans and authorized him to establish the settlement, according to
his plans, one hundred miles up the Mississippi. Four years later the capitol of the
Louisiana territory was transferred to the new settlement now know as New Orleans.
The new colony was called New Orleans in honor of the Duke d Orlean. Duke
d Orlean supposedly had something to do with the funding for the new colony. The Duke
favored John Law, the founder of the Company of the West, and supported many of the
company s ventures, the construction of New Orleans inclusive.
The new, growing colony needed a government, so a democratic council was
formed. New Orleans was under the rule of a law making body called the Superior
council which was first formed in 1712. The Superior Council was well liked by the
people because it was a small representative democracy. During the 1720 s and 30 s
Beinville was replaced as mayor by Sieur de Pierre. The colony did not experience much
growth between these years so Beinville was reappointed governor in 1733 and left the
colony permanently in 1742.
Spain took over the government of New Orleans in 1766. The Spanish sent the
new governor, Antonio de Ulloa, to reign over their newest asset. Although the colony
was completely populated by French, there was not an immediate opposition to the
Spanish government. The French had treated the colonists very poorly. The little
property that the colony maintained was dependent on France and French markets. The
only thing Governor Ulloa desired to do was replace France with Spain and the French
markets with Spanish markets. The colonists were originally indifferent to a distant
change such as this.
Finally, in 1768 there was a rebellion against Spanish rule. The leaders of the
rebellion all lived in or around the new Orleans settlement. The rebel leaders had power
and were prosperous because of their involvement with the Superior Council. The
Spanish disbanded the Superior council and replaced it with a town council, named for its
meeting place, the Cabillo. The Cabillo had ten members, four seats were elected and six
were purchased. The rebels, not agreeing with the new form of government, chased
governor Ulloa out of town. The leaders of the rebellion were a arrested, five were shot,
one died in jail and the remaining six were incarcerated.
New Orleans was granted trading rights by Spain in 1795. In 1800 the Treaty of
San Ildefenso gave Louisiana back to France. This treaty was a secret, unknown to the
colonists. Napoleon Bonaparte induced the Spanish King to return the land to France for
extremely appealing considerations. Only rumors had been heard in the colony as to the
reality of such a transaction, no new government or laws were added. Rumors were
partially confirmed in 1802 when the Spanish in new Orleans withdrew the trading rights
they had previously granted. In 1803 French ownership became common knowledge.
French proprietorship became known to the colonists because Napoleon, in
betrayal of a promise he made to Spain, sold the entire province to the United States for
fifteen million dollars. After the Louisiana Purchase, the first American became governor
of New Orleans. A lawyer named William CC Claibourne was appointed governor by the
new president. In 1812 Claibourne, despite a general dislike by the constituency, was
elected governor and then in 1816 was elected senator for the state. As an American
state, new Orleans and the surrounding area were divided up into three municipalities for
the elections of government, because of the clashing beliefs of its inhabitants. In 1852 the
city government was reunified causing the same American-Creole conflicts causing to
separate the groups originally.
Aside for the rapidly changing leaders and government of new Orleans, the
heritage of the population was constantly changing. In fact, the Spanish, African, French,
Irish, German, and Latin all played a part in creating today s exciting metroplex atop all
that swampy muck.
The first group to reach new Orleans were the French. The French in America
were called Creole, it comes from a Spanish word criollo meaning whites of French
decent. As far as most of new Orleans was concerned, Creole meant white, American
born people. The Creole were generally high in public status. The Creole were accredited
with keeping the France in New Orleans. They kept their traditions and beliefs in the
new world. Bastille Day was celebrated widely by the Creole, they rose the tricolor
French flag and celebrated as they would have in France. The Americans disliked the
Creole, they looked down upon them for several reasons, one of these being their devout
A group often confused with the Creole were the Cajun. In reality, the difference
between Creole and Cajun is not quite so simple. In the strict definition, a Creole would
have been white or black either a full blooded descendant of an early Spanish or French
settler or of an African slave (and the aforementioned). The word Creole means literally,
in Spanish, child born in the colonies as opposed to a baby born in Europe or Africa.
Cajuns on the other hand were descendants of French Canadians who had lived in Novia
Scotia since 1604… The Acadians were given the name Cajun by the New Orleanians.
These new settlers arrived, against their will, in 1760. the Acadians lived in Canada in a
place called l Acadia meaning literally the heaven on earth , because the land was so
extremely fertile and they were so extremely happy there. The Cajuns, when kicked off
their land, were put on boats and sent down the Mississippi to Louisiana. They settled on
farms outside of New Orleans. They slowly established themselves as excellent farmers
and were able to catch fine prices for their crops.
The Germans also immigrated to New Orleans. There were three major German
immigrations to Louisiana, the first of which was in the 1850 s as a result of many
European Revolutions. The Germans like the French area because there was supposed to
be farmland of the same quality they were accustomed and the same religion was practiced
among their people.
The German colonists settled of farm land extremely far north of New Orleans.
They found the land highly unpleasant and the farming almost impossible and they became
discouraged. Many Germans returned to new Orleans intending to board the next ship
returning to Europe and live as they had before. The New Orleanians convinced the
Germans to settle in the area again, this time just north of the city on the banks of the
Mississippi. Their new home was soon known as le Cote Allemand, or the German Coast.
The next European group to move to New Orleans were the Irish. Ireland at the
time, the 1790 s was under British control. The Irish were being oppressed because of
their religion in their home country and they needed a sage place to go to. New Orleans
was extremely popular amongst Irish colonials because it was a Catholic settlement and it
had absolutely no British ties.
The Irish in New Orleans were very poor, it was hard for them to find jobs and
they were struck hard by an outbreak of yellow fever. People in New Orleans were quick
to criticize that the Irish brought the disease with them. Although many Irish became sick
and died from the epidemic they became relied upon immensely in the work force, a big
change from their earlier poverty stricken lives. In 1808 it became illegal to import slaves,
so the value of a purchased worker sky rocketed. Farmers did not want their expensive
property to perform the extenuating jobs, so the Irish filled the recently vacant, taxing
Another group of Europeans that immigrated to America were the Italians. The
Italians fit extremely well into the economic system of New Orleans and were essentially
just another group of people joining the work force. The Italians arrived in the mid 1800 s
and caused no major problems in the community, until they attempted to maintain their
heritage just as the other ethnic groups were attempting. The Italians were Catholic, as
were the rest of the city, but their celebration of a different patron saint caused a few
problems. When the Italians first began the commemoration of their faith the festival
conflicted with other religious plans and a group of Italians were lynched for this reason in
1891. Italy was outraged so the United States, in attempt to avoid was paid a monetary
compensation to the country solving any international problems that may have resulted.
A group of non-Europeans in New Orleans were the Africans. Many were brought
against their will as slaves, but a few actually immigrated on their own, those who wanted
a life in New Orleans. In the beginning years of the city, the first hundred or so, New
Orleans was the safest, fairest place for Negroes to live with even the laxest of laws
imposed on slaves. Slavery was not revered by the entire population as quoted by du Lac
Perrin (Slavery) the greatest of all necessary evils, as well as to those who endure it, as
those that are obliged to employ its victims .
The slaves in New Orleans were given many freedoms. Most slaves were able to
eventually purchase their own freedom, some slaves were even bought and used under an
idea much like the concept of indentured servants. Slaves were given Sundays, holidays,
and other religious feasts off. On their commitment free days, slaves could work for
themselves, those that saved wisely could buy their freedom, not an uncommon
occurrence. Also, to assure the well being of slaves, only people who could afford to
properly feed, cloth, and house them were allowed to by them, those that were unable to
cover the costs of these duties could not legally secure a slave.
Africans became very populous in the New Orleans area. Many free blacks owned
property and prospered, especially in New Orleans. Out of fear in 1788 when slaves and
freed coloreds outnumbered the white population, Spain instituted the Code Noir. The
code was drafted and written by Beinville in 1724 because as slave was considered
dangerous because he was deprived of the privileges and ambitions that could be relied on
to restrain free men. The Code Noir stated that slaves were to be taught the Catholic
religion, they were to have Sundays and church feasts off, interracial marriages were
forbidden among slaves, no slave was to carry a weapon, and slaves of different masters
were not to socially congregate.
Although slavery was better in New Orleans than in other areas of the south,
slavery was not a humane option. In 1792 a slave by the name of Toussain L Overter lead
a revolt with his master s and a few other masters slaves. The revolt was profoundly
unsuccessful, but left a lasting impression on the citizens. Local beliefs on slaves changed
in many people s eyes, fear and suspicion grew and they wanted to decrease freedom for
the slaves so another revolt would not occur.
The local government increased restrictive slave laws. The slave trade in New
Orleans became increasingly vicious until, ultimately, in the early 1830 s and 40 s new
Orleans was the slave emporium of the country. Slave auctions and sales became daily
occurrences. Slave retail became an industry, windows show cased auctions and slaves
themselves lined the streets. Even the rights of immigrant Negroes and freed Negroes
regressed in the 1840 s and 50 s. Finally, in the 1900 s the implication of the Jim Crow
laws took away Negro rights to vote, have acceptable housing, beneficial education, and
In a city with so many ethnic groups and varying cultures, each to which religion is
extremely important he differences need to be addressed. The religion of the colonists
greatly effects the aura of New Orleans today, each one dutifully followed traditions and
celebrations that became part of the New Orleans culture. The religions, integrate,
conflict, yet still manage to compliment each other in unique and interesting ways.
The originally and most widely followed religion in New Orleans was Catholic.
When the fur traders arrived in America, they were not considered very religious, almost
regarded as faithless, but they had been raised in the Catholic faith. Once families began
to form in the colony, Catholicism prevailed.
The Germans quickly founded a church, upon their arrival, called Saint Mary s
Assumption. The language used for services for services caused problems for the French
and American members. Sermons were given in all three languages until 1871 when the
Germans built a church of their own entitled the Mater Solorose. Other language barriers
formed in he churches for the Irish and Italian settlers. In 1883 two more Catholic
churches were constructed. Both churches were run by the Redemptionist Brothers,
which was not a religious society, but members of the congregation were involved with its
Settlers from Ireland and Italy had grand celebrations for the patron saints they
worshipped, Saint Patrick and Saint Joseph respectively. Saint Patrick s Day is celebrated
on March 17. The holiday was first celebrated in 1809 with parades, festivals and picnics.
The Irish were proud of their holiday and boasted it throughout the community.
In the 1840 s, Italian settlers began to celebrate Saint Joseph s Day. The Italians
had magnificent vigils and built extravagant alters to Saint Joseph. They promised if they
reached their destination safely they would annually build an alter in praise to him. The
celebration of Saint Joseph occurs two days after the celebration of Saint Patrick. The
celebrations became a competition and the festivals became larger, until, finally, they
became a reason to lengthen the carnival, the celebratory period before lent.
The Catholic religion has many ceremonies and traditions that are practiced within
the churches. An extremely important religious festival in new Orleans was the Carnival.
The Carnival has been celebrated since the foundation of the city. Originally called by the
French, Carnelevament, literally putting up the meat the festival was shortened to
Carnival by the American settlers. Integrated into the theme of Carnival is the
celebration of Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday) which marks the end of Carnival season.
Carnival lasts from the Twelfth Night until Mardi Gras.
Carnival was celebrated loudly by the entire population of New Orleans. During
the 18the century, Mardi Gras in New Orleans was the occasion for masked balls and
parades. In the beginning the balls and parades were confined to Shrove Tuesday, as the
festival grew, parades, balls, and general parties lengthened to fill the weeks. Tarades
generally begin the week before lent. There are several parades around town throughout
the week, but there are more and more on the Saturday and Sunday before Lent. Today,
Carnival is celebrated by people all over the country who travel to New Orleans for the
Another religious group to be discussed in New Orleans are the pagan beliefs
followed by the Negroes. Throughout American history Europeans gave repetitive
attempts on the Africans to convert them to Christian religions, but a few maintained the
pagan beliefs from their homelands. The Africans also experienced many short lived
religions that were avidly followed, but fizzled after a few short months.
The Africans began attending Catholic churches in New Orleans. At the height of
their passion a group called the Free Negro Elite emerged in the Catholic setting. This
group believed themselves to be above many people because they worked for their
freedom and because they were religious people. The group was bolstered from Catholic
churches. In 1848 ten elitists founded the African Methodist Episcopal Church. The
church became extremely popular and well attended.
Aside from Christian religions a few Negroes followed the religion of Voodoo.
Voodoo is still extremely popular in some Southern areas of the country. The belief was
that possession by spirits is possible and if the spirit possesses you, you have reached the
height of religion. Followers of Voodoo do not believe in reincarnation, but they do
follow the belief of worship of ones ancestors. The experiences predecessors had and the
information they received could be possessed by anyone who worshipped them. The
religion was probably introduced by the immigrants from San Domingo.
There are many types of people in New Orleans, and many types of people
throughout America. It is complicated to see how the different groups interact with each
other. By analyzing a small area of the country which is extremely diverse, yet unified the
people of the United States can see how well we all can work and live together.