Exactly, when ?

So, the tourist asks, “Exactly when was New Orleans founded?” Ah!, like everything else in New Orleans the date can be very easy going. We are the Big Easy, after all – and have been since the early 18th century! Most folks, including the city fathers/mothers (parents?), will come down on the exact date of >>wait for it<<- Spring, 1718 – most satisfying don’t you think?

So let’s look in the history books and see what we can find. . .

The following information and quotes are taken from:

de Villiers, Baron Marc. (Tr. Warrington Dawson) A History of the Foundation of New Orleans (1717 – 1722). The Louisiana Historical Quarterly, Vol. 3, No. 2, April 1920.

http://www2.latech.edu/~bmagee/louisiana_anthology/texts/de_villiers/de_villiers–new_orleans_founding.html Accessed 7/24/2018, and many other times earlier.

I have never yet been able to see any further research that goes beyond this thorough examination of the original sources to ascertain dates relevant to the founding of our hometown.

Exactly when . . .

“So the date for the foundation of New Orleans may be fixed at pleasure anywhere between the spring of 1717 and the month of June, 1722, when Le Blond de La Tour, the Engineer-in-Chief, compelled to go and visit the site of the capital, had no choice but to ratify purely and simply the plan drawn up a year before by Adrien de Pauger.”

“It is an incontestable fact that on the first of October, 1717, The Marine Board appointed Bonnard store-keeper and cashier . . . at the counter which is to be established at New Orleans, on the St. Louis River.” (Colonies, B42bis.fol.180)

“On the 31st of December following, M. d’Ayril, . . . was named Major at the new post.” (Ibid.)

further entries in the records show

“Resolved to establish, thirty leagues up the river, a burg which should be called New Orleans, where landing would be possible from either the river or Lake Pontchartrain.”

The decrees which follow prescribe the establishing of a burg at Natchez, and of forts in Illinois and among the Natchitoches.

Bienville writes, 10th of June, 1718: “We are working on New Orleans with such diligence as the dearth of workmen will allow. I myself went to the spot, to choose the best site. I remained for ten days, to hurry on the work, and was grieved to see so few people engaged on a task which required at least a hundred times the number. . . . All the ground of the site, except the borders which are drowned by floods, is very good, and everything will grow there.”

The date for the first work done on New Orleans lies, then, between the 15th of March and the 15th of April, 1718. But in spite of Bienville’s efforts, and owing to hostility from “the Maubilians,” the buildings made but slow progress. Le Gac was justified in writing in his Mémoire sur la situation de la Louisiane le 25 août 1718: “New Orleans is being scarcely more than shaped.” (Bibl. de l’Institut, Mss. 487, fol. 509.)

Last and probably least, the 2018 edition of The Old Farmer’s Almanac (out of New England , of all places) gives “New Orleans, La. founded, 1718” on August 25 in their Calendar pages, p. 159. Maybe the Yankees in New Hampshire didn’t hear about it till then🤪.

A coincidence maybe, wasn’t Katrina in the gulf in late August, 2005? The 29th as I remember. While we are remembering hurricanes don’t forget Sept.11, 1722. Three months after the last possible “founding” date, June, 1722, New Orleans was completely destroyed by it’s first hurricane.

Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose !

One More Time>>>>>

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About Jerry Laiche

Jon (Jerry) Laiche, B.A., M.A. is a  working historian, writer, and co-author of “1718: The Petticoat Rebellion Cookbook.”  He is a twenty-year veteran teacher and scholar, having taught courses in Louisiana, American, and World History, and is a member of the Historic New Orleans Collection. In addition to his background as an historian, he has taught Religion in the High Schools of the Archdiocese of New Orleans and was adjunct professor of Computer Ethics and Internet Technology at Tulane University.  In addition to his academic duties, Jerry has served his schools as a technology coordinator, network administrator, librarian, and Internet guru.  During his teaching tenure, Jerry also was the recipient of two grants from the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities.  The grants enabled his school to establish the first High School Women’s Studies program in New Orleans.  He was the founding Director of the Archdiocesan Teacher Learning Center (Computers in the Classroom).  For three years, he owned and operated “The Philosopher’s Stone” a bookstore on the Northshore specializing in rare and antiquarian volumes.  With his smart and beautiful wife, Beth, he currently coordinates the “1718 Project” to commemorate the 2018 New Orleans Tri-Centennial.  He and his life partner currently live at Beltane Grove, one acre and a cottage, 30 miles north of New Orleans’ Lake Pontchartrain. (Rev. Samhain: Oct. 31, 2018) jlaiche@earthlink.net http://1718neworleans.com https://1718neworleans2018.wordpress.com/ Home Office: (985) 795-2372 Primum est Edare, diendi Philosophari