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>>>>>