Saturday, July 28, 2007

This Explains EVERYTHING...

From Beautiful Crescent: A History of New Orleans (Garvey & Widmer, 2002, 11th ed.):


"Many paupers who strayed into Paris, or prisoners who would not volunteer were kidnapped and shipped, under guard, to fill the emptiness of Louisiana. Prostitutes, and the inmates of jails and hospitals, were all sent to populate the colony and to start the flow of wealth to the stockholders.

Franz, in his Kolonisation des Mississippitales (Leipzig, 106), writes [of the Company of the West, an entity charged with settling the new French colony]:

'The company even kept a whole regiment of archers which cleaned Paris of its rabble and adventurers, and received for this a fixed salary and 100 livres a head . . . . .Five thousand people are said to have disappeared from Paris in April, 1721, alone.'

'Prisoners were set free in Paris in September, 1721 . . . under the condition that they would marry prostitutes and go with them to Louisiana. The newly married couples were chained together and thus dragged to the port of embarkation.'"

9 comments:

ashley said...

Damn! I didn't know that we're France's Australia.

Nice research!

E.J. said...

LOL...i just picked up the damn book randomly. i don't know if that counts as "research," but of course i'll accept the compliment. :-)

Puddinhead said...

Sometimes I'm surprised at how many well-informed and passionate New Orleans bloggers often seem to react to snapshots of NOLA history as thought they're revelations. Of course it may be because I had the benefit(?) of a NOPS elementary school education that included the year leading up to the city's 250th birthday, but I thought most New Orleanians knew that the early colony was stocked with criminals and prostitutes (although I guess the second really is also the first, unless there's a Little Vitty involved somehow) to go along with the idle and foppish third sons (first son inherited title and lands, second son would get military commission) of wealthy French families who were sent abroad to the colonies (usually against their wishes) to seek their fortune. The mix proved to be so unproductive that stolid German farmers had to be recruited with promises of free land upriver from New Orleans (the "German Coast") in order to ensure that the colony had a chance at feeding itself.

Oh...and I read Garvey and Widmer's book years ago, and thought it was pretty informative without being overly romanticized. Widmer's series "New Orleans in the..." various decades was a series I was particularly happy to have been lucky enough to store above the waterline.

ashley said...

PH, I knew 'bout the fops and such, but didn't remember all da crooks and ho's.

Speaking of immigrants, let me plug this book on the impact of Czechs and Slovaks in Louisiana. Czechs. Go figure...

Pawpaw said...

Oh, yeah, we have a large Czech community hereabouts, to the extent that we even have a Czech festival once a year.

Of course, any reason is a good reason to party.

GentillyGirl said...

Well this just figures... supposedly my oldest ancestors came here in the very early years, but there has never been mention of business or titles from that time.

I always thought they were fisher/shrimper folk like a century later.

Ok, my line is basically swamp types... tres kewl. (It does answer questions about certain things. *grins*)

Puddinhead said...

Ashley, I played playground baseball with a Slavich whose family ran oyster boats out of Hopedale, and the playground supervisor was named Miestovich....but they were both Croatian. I wasn't so familiar with the Czech and Slovak influence.

Puddinhead said...

I, by the way, am pure-D Heinz 57 mongrel...my Great-great-great-grandfather on my Dad's side got off the boat in New Orleans from the Balearic Islands in 1852 and immediately set about to muddying any semblance of "ethnic purity" he may have had from an island existance.

Joseph said...

Makes you think twice about saying you're from one of the oldest New Orleans families. But there's kings and queens, whores,thieves and murderers in all of our family trees.