» » Creole New Orleans: Race and Americanization

Download Creole New Orleans: Race and Americanization epub

by Joseph Logsdon,Arnold R. Hirsch

This collection of six original essays explores the peculiar ethnic composition and history of New Orleans, which the authors persuasively argue is unique among American cities. The focus of Creole New Orleans is on the development of a colonial Franco-African culture in the city, the ways that culture was influenced by the arrival of later immigrants, and the processes that led to the eventual dominance of the Anglo-American community.Essays in the book's first section focus not only on the formation of the curiously blended Franco-African culture but also on how that culture, once established, resisted change and allowed New Orleans to develop along French and African creole lines until the early nineteenth century. Jerah Johnson explores the motives and objectives of Louisiana's French founders, giving that issue the most searching analysis it has yet received. Gwendolyn Midlo Hall, in her account of the origins of New Orleans' free black population, offers a new approach to the early history of Africans in colonial Louisiana.The second part of the book focuses on the challenge of incorporating New Orleans into the United States. As Paul F. LaChance points out, the French immigrants who arrived after the Louisiana Purchase slowed the Americanization process by preserving the city's creole culture. Joseph Tregle then presents a clear, concise account of the clash that occurred between white creoles and the many white Americans who during the 1800s migrated to the city. His analysis demonstrates how race finally brought an accommodation between the white creole and American leaders.The third section centers on the evolution of the city's race relations during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Joseph Logsdon and Caryn Cosse Bell begin by tracing the ethno-cultural fault line that divided black Americans and creoles through Reconstruction and the emergence of Jim Crow. Arnold R. Hirsch pursues the themes discerned by Logsdon and Bell from the turn of the century to the 1980s, examining the transformation of the city's racial politics.Collectively, these essays fill a major void in Louisiana history while making a significant contribution to the history of urbanization, ethnicity, and race relations. The book will serve as a cornerstone for future study of the history of New Orleans.
Download Creole New Orleans: Race and Americanization epub
ISBN: 0807117080
ISBN13: 978-0807117088
Category: History
Subcategory: Americas
Author: Joseph Logsdon,Arnold R. Hirsch
Language: English
Publisher: Louisiana State Univ Pr; 1st Edition edition (July 1, 1992)
Pages: 456 pages
ePUB size: 1202 kb
FB2 size: 1398 kb
Rating: 4.6
Votes: 396
Other Formats: lrf docx azw txt

A great collection of essays by the leading scholars on how multi-ethnic, multi-cultural New Orleans became America's most fascinating city. A must have for all with an interest in the history of the Crescent City.
I started reading and then put it down after 100 pages or so.
Deep information! People need to know the truth and history. It we don't learn from it, we are doomed to repeat it.
Bought this book for my cousin, he enjoys it. Mainly it speaks to how the people became
mixed and arrive to this area of United States. Good book!
If you have any questions about Mardi Gras, New Orleans, Creole culture, or anything southern, you NEED this book. A great reference source for too many subjects to name.
Very good read.
This is an anthology of papers given by a variety of scholars (professors of history, urban affairs, etc.) and civil rights activists at an academic symposium in 1992. It is very nicely bound, indexed and packaged by LSU Press.

As an outsider who moved to New Orleans to work with rich and poor, black and white, the unique racial climate of New Orleans is baffling. One native New Orleanian summarized it best for me: New Orleans is the most integrated segregated city in America.

On one hand, outsiders are always struck by an amazing degree of racial interaction not seen elsewhere in the South nor in most of the North. Blacks and whites live next to each other in every neighborhood in the city, rich or poor. (The only exceptions being the all black Lower 9th and the all white Lakeview, both of which remain greatly disrupted since the Storm). Blacks and whites socialize and mix freely in all the music clubs, at the Mardi Gras parades, and in the restaurants. Interracial marriages are more common here. White people support and vote for black political candidates (Obama took 70% of the white vote in New Orleans). And yet, there is enormous economic and educational disparity between the races. Any black New Orleanian can share heart breaking stories of racial discrimination.

It is such a complicated and seemingly contradictory racial landscape in New Orleans. This book was tremendously helpful in enabling me to begin to sort this out. Like so many other strange things about New Orleans, to understand New Orleans we need to abandon our conceptions of it as a Southern city, and in some ways even an American city. Its culture was set on a distinctively French trajectory at the beginning, and the continual wave of immigrants have more often been changed by New Orleans than have changed it. This book helped me see how differences between French and English colonial policies and attitudes explain the uniqueness of the city's racial history.

A few random observations from the book:
* When New Orleans came into the Union it represented a challenge to 19th century America. In 1803 it was America's only Catholic city, French was the predominant language, its bawdy sensuality was unheard of, and it had the South's largest free black population. It was the infant republic's first attempt to impose its institutions and culture on a foreign city. The process of Americanization of New Orleans has never been completed.
* The authors try to place the racial history of New Orleans not so much in a counterpoint between North and South (in which case, New Orleans defies the categories and confuses the analysis), but rather in a counterpoint between the Franco-African protest tradition of New Orleans and the tragic racial mindset of Anglo-America (p. xii).
* When Alexis de Tocqueville made his famous sojourn to New Orleans he found a situation he regarded as utterly unique to America (including the North): "(I) found a mixture of all the nations..." His friend Etienne Mazureau reported, "you see here a mingling of all races. New Orleans is a patch-work of peoples." (p. 7)
NOLA had the largest concentration of free people of color anywhere in the South. And while Tocqueville found slavery in French Louisiana as ruthless as the Anglo-American South, he also was stunned by the status and achievement of free blacks in New Orleans.
* It was after returning from his trip to New Orleans that Tocqueville and Beaummont immediately began to promote the French emancipation movement that reached its fruition later in the Revolution of 1848.
* This shocked me: during the entire period of French rule only about 300 slaves were imported into New Orleans. The mass of slaves only came later in the 19th century with American rule.
* Jerah Johnson shows that Tocqueville was correct in styling French society in the Old Regime as "a sum of disunities." The old three estate divisions are wildly inadequate. The five-part division of new scholarship (old nobility, new nobility, clergy, bourgeoisie, and peasants) is also wildly misleading. Scholars have noted at least nine major divisions, not counting local and minor ones, just within the nobility alone. (p. 13).
* This sum of disunities is what constituted the French social ethos and set it off from that of England. (p. 14).
* The English solution to disunity was, broadly speaking, to impose norms and force conformity to them. Note, for example, the Elizabethan religious compromise.
* It was the high degree of conformity in English culture that left stubborn dissenters little choice but to emigrate to the colonies. Not so with the French, who lived with wild religious, philosophical, political and ethnic diversity.
* An example of this found in guilds. Despite periodic revivals, the trend was steady decay in England. Whereas in France they continued to flourish and multiply.
* JOhnson writes, "Most of Colonial Louisiana's history is better understood against its Canadian background." p. 19. NOLA looks much more like French Canada than like the rest of the U.S.!
* French colonial policy toward the native peoples (Indians) was to Franco-fy them and to blend with them; English policy was to anniliate them or failing that to segregate them.
* Cardinal Richelieu's 1627 charter of Canada stated that the Indians "will be deemed and respected to be natural-born Frenchmen, and as such may come to dwell in France when it shall seem good to them," and that they would "hold all rights of property and goods that subjects within France (held)."! (p. 21).
* In 1698 a famous French missionary wrote that "it is necessary that the Europeans should mix with (the Indians), and that they should live with them, and that they should dwell together."
* The French governor Colbert ordered that the French and Indians intermarry "that they may form one people and one blood." No such full-scale policy of intermarriage ever once existed between settlers and Indians in English territory, where segregation was the unwavering goal. Colbert wnet so far as to encourage marriage not only of French men to Indian women (the more common practice of mixing), but also of French women to Indian men. He went so far as to provide government sponsored dowries for women of one race who married men of the other! (p. 23).
* Gary Nash also notes, in contrast to the English colonies, the "greater flexibility and willingness" of the French "to accept native culture on its own terms..." (p. 24).
* The English decided to rid themselves of the Indian problem and launched a failed quarter-century long campaign to destroy the native peoples. When it failed, they drew up peace terms with the Indians that required them to remain in designated areas (reservations). This English segregationalist system remains the essence of the US govt's Indian policy to this day.
* This does NOT mean that the French were much more altruistic or less intolerant than the English. The French were just as self-serving and when the Indians did resist French policy the French were just as willing to destroy them as the English. But the circumstances were very different -- the English farming plans made resident Indians seem like an obstacle.
* When the English took Canada from the French in 1763 they immediately ended the French assimilationist programs and started a policy of separating the English group from the French and Indians. (p. 26).
* Yes, there are some counter examples -- one new French gov. (de Brisay) protested against the policy of integration in 1685. But the often quoted letter he sent back to France about this is misleading. It actually illustrates the radical nature of French policy in Canada and it is also a relatively isolated passage, according to Johnson. (p. 27).
* When the French settled NOLA in 1718 its first two leaders (Iberville and then de Bienville) both belonged to the very core of Canadian assimilationist tradition. (p. 31).
* There are striking parallels between early New Orleans and Canadian history and development.
* French and Indian blood intermingled freely, not only through concubinage but also through actual marriage. The New Orleans church actively promoted such interracial marriage. Louisiana's first cleric, Henri Rouleaux de La Vente, appointed vicar-general to the colony by the bishop of Quebec, not only defended but vociferously advocated French-Indian marriage. Iberville himself (New Orleans' founder) also advocated it. (p. 35).
* For the first decade of New Orleans, the black slave and Indian populations also increasingly intermarried.
* New Orleans allowed an all-Indian market to be held perpetually in the center of the city, which continued until 1867! In the 1880s, 15-20 Coctaw women continued this tradition at the Cotton Exchange, and the old Indian market went on irregularly at the French Market until the 1920s.
* In fact, the marked presence of Indians in New Orleans throughout the 19th century was so utterly unique to American cities in the East that almost all visitors who wrote accounts of their travels remarked on it. (p. 40).
* Almost all old black families in New Orleans have several not very remote Indian ancestors. (p. 40).
* The Code Noir of 1724 afforded slaves protections, some of which were unheard of at the time in North or South. They encouraged slave baptism, slave marriages, protected slave women from rape, respected slave holidays. Slave families were to be listed as units with value assigned to whole families, rather than breaking them up as was so common elsewhere. The codes prohibited forcing slave women to take mates (done elsewhere for 'breeding' purposes). Slaves were exempted from forced labor on Sundays and religious holidays. It also became cutsomary to give slaves Saturday afternoons off. Masters in New Orleans often stood as godparents at slave children's baptisms. pp. 40-42.
* Retriculated models of New Orleans in the 18th century show members of most every ethnic group distributed trhough teh full range of the general economic stratification of the culture. In other words, while blacks and Indians were much poorer than whites, and French, Germans, and Anglos differed, new immigrants differed on average from older settled groups, mixed race peoples were poorer than whites but richer on average than blacks, etc. every group was represented among the upper economic levels and the lower ones.
* The Spanish occupation of New Orleans left the city unchanged in its French cultural and linguistic orientation. For exmaple, architectural historian Samuel WIlson in fifty years of research was unable to find a single Spanish architect working in the city. p. 50.
* Gwenolyn Midlo Hall's essay, in my opinion, was slightly less helpful than all the others in the collection. She seems to generalize a little bot more and document a tiny bit less. She takes for granted disputed theories for the origins of the term "Creole."
* The cou d'etat of Napoleon sent a second wave of French immigrants to NOLA in the early 19th century. This second wave first consisted of enemies of Napoleon's regime and then after Waterloo, his partisans. (p. 114).
* Not until the second decade of the 20th century did a native-born American become Catholic archbishop of New Orleans!
* Up until 1840 most of NOLA population was French-speaking.
* Though only 300 slaves were brought to NOLA before 1803 (the French century of rule), more than 20,000 came into the state of Louisiana in just two years 1829-30 (p. 119).
* The number of FREE blacks in NOLA grew from about 12,000 in 1830 to 20,000 in 1840, as the relatively liberal manumission laws and rights for people of color in New Orleans made it a magnet for other blacks. (p.119).
* While free blacks and mixed race people on average had less wealth than whites, there was considerable diversity and some were relatively wealthy. For example, in a study of the wealth of bridegrooms 1804-19, it was found that 60% of free blacks in New Orleans were in the bottom 30% economically (poor), But about 25% of free blacks were middle class (31st to 60th percentile of wealth. And about 15% of free blacks were upper class (61st to 90%)! No free blacks were in the top 9% of wealth, but those blacks in, say, the 85th or 90th percentile of wealth in the city included people with very significant resources. See chart on p. 126. (Anecdotally, There is a magnificent mansion a few blocks from my home that was built for a very wealthy free person of color in the 1860s.)
* There is very thorough and helpful commentary on the confusing and contradictor uses of the term "Creole." For many it has meant one who was a native Louisianan descended from French or Spanish pioneers coming directly from Europe (not through Canada first), who may or may not also have African heritage. So phenotypically this could be one who looked completely black or completely white, but most often had mixed blood.
* By the late 1800s 'white" Creoles (either all white, or wanting believe they were all white!) resented that outsiders often thought the term meant 'mostly black' and postulated a newer use of the term to suit their self-understanding. (See Tregle's very helpful chapter).
* Interestingly, in the earlier conceptions of the term Creole color had played NO role in the debates. The polarity was completely between being American or foreign Frenchmen. So in that sense black Creoles and white Creoles, both of French descent and culture, saw themselves as having more of a bond than white Creoles felt towards white Anglos (AMericans), with whom they were in constant conflict. The term Creole also carried no social implications until very recently. It was used of whites and blacks, poor and rich. It meant you were NOT American, and had some loyalty and kinship with all others who shared that with you. (See esp. p. 172).
* Much is made of the free black population of Charleston, which was highly unusual for the South. Yet in 1840 when there were 20,000 free blacks in NOLA, there were only 1500 in Charleston. (p. 192).
* Part of the unique interactions and relative lack of segregation between whites and blacks in 18th-19th century NOLA stemmed from the sparsity of usable land for housing. Through the mid-1800s NOLA was the 4th or 5th largest city in America, but its population was packed into a small area due to swamps. Improved technology by the 1920s changed that and allowed people to spread out more.
* Baldwin Wood invented one of the world's largest pumps. So powerful and effective was it in draining swamp land that Dutch engineers came to NOLA to study it and used its design to drain the Zuyder Zee, radically changing the landscape of both New Orleans and the Netherlands. p. 198.
* White flight radically impacted NOLA. From 1960 to 1980 the city's white population declined by 156,000 while the nonwhite population grew by 86,000. New Orleans suburbs were 87 percent white in 1970. p. 199.
* More restrictive racial rules made by whites came to New Orleans from several outside sources: the much less racially progressive Louisiana state legislature, the partial Americanization of the city, and Southern immigrants.
* Blacks took a leading role in the new Republican party in Louisiana. THey took ever stronger roles in NOLA politics as well. But in addition to white racism and resentment, black political action was badly hurt by infighting within their ranks. Back to the books original thesis about the city's French origins being critical, it seems tghe infighting in the 1860s to 80s was between black Creoles and black Americans. (This mirrored white infighting between French and ANglo whites). p. 202.
* There were long standing armed black militias in NOLA until disbanded by whites around the time fo teh Civil War.
* In 1810 FREE blacks were 29% of the population of New Orleans! By 1860 their total numbers had almost tripled from that, but the rest of teh city's population grew even faster (mostly form immigration) and free blacks accounted for just 7% of the population. Still from about 1810 until emancipation the number fo free blacks in New Orleans were only slightly less than the number of slaves.
* A racially repressive mood swept through the SOuth in the 1830s following a more agressive Northern abolitionist movemenbt and the Nat Turner insurrection. Some of this swept into Louisiana as well. And yet the white Creole (as opposed to teh small but growing white American) representatives in the Louisiana legislature (from Southeast LA, esp. NOLA) fought against adding more restrictions to blacks, especially Creole blacks. White Creoles were able to get free black Creoles exemptions from new restrictions. These applied only to blacks with proven old Louisiana roots, but were not sought, sadly, for slaves, or recently immigrated blacks escaping from other places in hopes of enjoying the more liberal racial laws and culture of New Orleans. Fortunately, those blacks who were not exempt form teh newer tighter laws (the non-Creole blacks) found they could larger circumvent the laws by settling in areas of New Orleans were the enforcement of ALL laws were notoriously lax! p. 207.
* Joseph Logsdon, speaking of the 1830s and 1840s, contends that "relationships between black and white New Orleanians were more elaborate than those in any other city in the United States" (Including, presumably any Northern city). Again, the contention is that Northern cities were still in the more segregationist Anglo tradition, rather than the French assimilationist one. See p. 208.
* 1852 was the year when the relatively sheltered and privileged status of Creole blacks in New Orleans started to severely and tragically break down. Again, it was not, Logsdon shows, mostly the effort of white New Orleans, but of the white Louisiana state legislature which began an assault on the protections. The white legislature did this, it is noted, by transferring more and more authority in this area away from more liberal local NOLA authorities and under the jurisdiction of more restrictive state authorities. (see p. 208).
* Just before the start of the Civil War, every other state in the South, besides Louisiana was 'remarkably successful; at expelling free blacks. Despite growing "American' control of the state legislature, Louisiana did not do that. p. 209.
* Despite the state legislature, after 1852, taking more liberal local control away from NOLA on some of these policies and issues that impacted race relations, NOLA still remained a relative Mecca fro free black Americans. "The lure of jobs and the city's relatively open racial order made it an island of freedom and opportunity in the South" (Logsdon, p. 210).
* The Catholic Church in NOLA, once a leading voice in extending rights for blacks, became less open with time to black leadership. As a result around the time of the Civil War some blacks turned from the Catholic Church to traditional French anti-clerical outlets, particularly spiritualist societies and Masonic lodges. (There were, and still are, few Protestant alternatives in the city!) p. 234.
* After WWII the Jesuits and other clergy began to limit the use of their parochial schools to whites only.
* The public schools stopped teaching in French in 1862.
* Methodist bishop John Hurst in the 1880s said that there was no more scandalously behaving place on 'Earth' than his NOLA. And yet there was nowhere more 'bright, cheery, hopeful'. P. 244. Some things haven't changed!
* Some black Creoles were elected to statewide office but were not able to maintain thiese gains due partly to infighting between Creole blacks and American blacks. See p. 246.
* Black Louisianians, despite their divisions, held off the relentless force of white violence longer than black southerners did in other states. p. 251.
* See the discussion on radical civil rights attorney A.P. Tureaud. He was a black Creole man of mixed ancestry from New Orleans who fought relentless against white oppression. For example, in 1942 he successful won a suit to equalize salaries of black and white public school teachers. (He reported there were 1200 black teachers in New Orleans at the time!). pp. 270ff. (See also the excellent video produced by NOLA's local PBS station, WYES, on Tureaud).

This book is full of tragedy and full of hope. While an academic tome, it is accessible and should be read by everyone who cares about New Orleans in general and race relations in particular. The history of race in NOLA has been a series of almost-successful ventures in equality and justice, followed by disappointing setbacks. But I left it convinced that there is a strong, if tragically obscured, germ of equality, rooted in the French culture and the unique particulars of New Orleans life, that can be nurtured and could someday grow. Watered by the new realities of post-Katrina New Orleans, new urgencies for reform emerging from the desperations of our city, New Orleans can sprout into something truly beautiful. A place of not just great food, and great parades, and celebration, and music and parks and creativity, but of equality, true equality as well. With the right prayers and goals, this book will suggest ways we can start to see that happen.
The assorted articles contained in Creole New Orleans are generally well written and edited. With the recent dispersion of a large number of her citizens, this pre-Katrina study of the phenomena that made New Orleans unique in America is timely and fascinating.