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INTRODUCTION. The work of the Louisiana Historical Society during the past year has maintained its good standard, and the session of 1917 shows no diminution in the strength nor the interest of its members, in spite of the fact that the terrible war raging with incredible fury in the Old World, finally involved our own country in its direful activities. Our young men, responding to the call of patriotism, have quit their homes and civil occupations to fill up the military quota assessed upon our State. Our young women have likewise enlisted with enthusiasm to carry on the war work demanded of them.
The Historical Society, facing an epoch of such enormous vital responsibility, has contributed liberally in books and money and in hearty encouragement in every way possible to the stimulation of public spirit and the fostering of devoted allegiance to a cause, preëminently one of humanity and civilization; and it has been able also to pursue the even tenor of its programme, marked out in time of peace, for the advancement of its scholarly historical ideals and the true purpose of its institution.
The first item on the programme was the important event of the celebration of the bi-centennial of the founding of New Orleans by Bienville; a celebration inaugurated in France.
Although not officially entrusted with the charge of the ceremonies for the occasion, which were appropriately assumed by the city government, the Society necessarily gave much of its time and study to furthering the fitting historical preparations for such a great event, centralizing its work on the era of Bienville and the early colonization of the State. Individual members heading the committees appointed by the Mayor, generously responded with books, maps and the carefully matured fruits
many of them) of a lifelong study of the subject, thus amassing much new material and data embodied in papers and addresses, delivered not only in the meetings of the Society, but in a precommemoration celebration held in the City Hall on October 24th in honor of the proceedings held in Paris on that date to commemorate the decree authorizing the founding of New Orleans by Bienville.
Circumstances, however, arising from the inevitable consequences of the war conditions, frustrated the accomplishment of the city's carefully elaborated programme for the celebration. With heart-burning regret the bi-centennial committee appointed by the Mayor saw themselves forced to defer it to some period, when it was hoped a more propitious season for popular festivities would have dawned.
In the meantime the proposition to preserve the Bienville documents was carried into effect, and the Historical Society has dedicated one number of its quarterly publication to those worthy of perpetuation in print; this number to be known as the Bienville Memorial Number.
In this connection it is proper to make mention of the very handsome contribution by the French Government to our New Orleans historical collections of the scholarly and elegant “Histoire de la Fondation de la Nouvelle Orléans,” by the Baron Marc de Villiers, carrying a preface by the distinguished Gabriel Hannotaux, member of the French Academy. The book is a most perfect example of the artistic perfection of the “Imprimerie Nationale”' of France.
The French Government, also in honor of the occasion, has caused a commemorative medal to be engraved; also a specimen of its most exquisite numismatic work.
Many of the city officials and members of the Society have been honored by the award of this valuable book and this handsome medal.
The reports of the Treasurer and Corresponding Secretary at the end of this volume carry the record of the further work of the Society. Some essays, as will be seen, are of prime interest and importance to historical lovers and students, although the table of contents shows the depletion caused by the drafting of many of its papers into the quarterly publication.
MEETING OF FEBRUARY, 1917, The regular monthly meeting of the Louisiana Historical So ciety took place February 21st, at the Cabildo, with President Cusachs in the chair and a good attendance of members present.
The minutes of the last meeting were read and approved.
Mr. Thompson, making a report for the Bi-Centennial Committee, said that the French Republic had taken up the matter of celebrating the event in Paris in February, 1918, and that a delegation was to be sent to New Orleans to coöperate with the celebration here.
The speaker of the evening was then introduced, Mr. James Renshaw, whose paper, “The City Beautiful,” gave an interesting account of reminiscences and events of former days in New Orleans. A vote of thanks was tendered Mr. Renshaw and the paper ordered to be printed in the Society's reports.
Mr. Dymond spoke of the old Carrollton steam trains and of the steamboat days on the Mississippi River.
Mrs. Stem stated that it was her father who owned the omnibusses which formerly operated in New Orleans, bringing them from Boston by boat.
The following were nominated for membership and unanimously elected: A. Aschaffenberg, Dr. Félix Gaudin, Mr. Etienne Reynes, Mrs. Edward Wisner, Mrs. J. Govan.
Mr. H. W. Robinson presented to the Society a copy of the New Orleans Democrat of September 14, 1874, and of the New Orleans Picayune of September 27, 1874.
The amendment to the by-laws, changing the date of meeting of the Society, was laid over to another meeting. The meeting then adjourned.
R. GLENK, Corresponding Secretary.
PAPER READ BY MR. T. P. THOMPSON. The original Province of Louisiana, as claimed by LaSalle in 1682 for France, by right of the discovery and exploration of the Mississippi River, also that territory acquired later by settlements on the Gulf coast and on Mobile Bay by Iberville, included that vast domain stretching all the way from Lake Chatauqua, in New York State, to Yellowstone Lake, in Wyoming, even extending northward into the Canadian province of Alberta, as shown on to-day's map.
Roughly defined, original Louisiana, under French rule, included the Mississippi Basin to the sources of all streams that flowed into the Father of Waters, also the valleys of the Alabama and Mobile rivers, as high as Fort Toulouse, near the present site of Montgomery, and up the Tombigbee to the Choctaw Indian Nation, near to-day's Alabama State boundary line.
All this country, including the farther Western reserve, from which Texas, also Oregon-great Commonwealths—were created, was understood by the early French Governors as being the territory of the Province of Louisiana. Several locations were successively tried as governing'seat for this vast domain.
Louis XIV, in 1698, took up the work of colonization in the lower Mississippi Valley section. Iberville, a native of Canada, was put in charge of the first expedition. He reached the Gulf of Mexico on his brigatin, Pelican, and selected a location on Biloxi Bay (near Mississippi City), and built on the site a post, which he named from the original Indian settlement,-Biloxi.
In March 1699, Iberville first entered the mouth of the Mississippi. Old Biloxi proving not healthy,-being surrounded by morass, and not on a waterway that led into the interior of the country,-in 1702 Iberville gave orders for a new settlement, which was located on the west side of Mobile River, eighteen leagues from the sea, and here was built Fort Louis de la Mobile.
This site, because of its halfway location between the Spanish of Pensacola and the Indians of the Alabama country, and for its waterway communications, with good harbor, was considered excellent for trade.
Inundations from the river led to the next change, in 1711, to the present site of Mobile, which later became the capital of the Province.
To stay English aggression, Fort Toulouse was built in 1714 on the upper waters of the Alabama River. Later, 1736, to the same end, Fort Tombeckbee was erected, not far from the Choctaw settlements. The friendliness of these Indians was cultivated by the French. These two posts indicated the frontiers of the French settlements, and served to prevent the English from encroaching on the lower Mississippi Valley country.