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MAY 13 1915 CAZARATAE. MASS
FROM THE PRESS OF THE AMERICAN PRINTING COMPANY, LTD.
535-7 POYDRAS STREET
By Mr. George C. H. Kernion...............
The present volume constitutes the seventh in the series of the Louisiana Historical Society's publications. It contains the record of its proceedings for two years, 1913-1914, with the general report of the Assistant Secretary. Among the essays read before the Society are to be noted for the importance of their historical information and the breadth of their treatment. “The Early Financing in New Orleans,” by Mr. T. P. Thompson, a masterly review of the banks and their operations in New Orleans from 1831 to 1914, forming the history of that noted local institution, the Canal Bank; the “Biographical Notes on the Life of Samuel J. Peters," one of the greatest of the American citizens, who came to New Orleans after the cession of Louisiana to the United States to turn the old Spanish-Creole city into an enterprising money-making metropolis, guiding it through its early civic and financial struggles into the prosperity it enjoyed during the decade 1850-60. Both papers mark a high level of literary and historical interest. “Walt Whitman in New Orleans," by William Kernan Dart, gives new and original information about the poet and is, therefore, an especially valuable contribution to the Society's records and one that the Society is proud in her turn to print for the benefit of literature. “Fort Macomb," by Mr. P. M. Milner, records an original excursion into the geographical field of the State that the Society welcomes and heartily commends as example to other members belonging to the Historical Society and also to the Motor League. In fact the contents of this volume show a most gratifying and fruitful result of the growth of the Society, since the first publication (in this series) in 1895.
It was in 1893, as some of us may remember, that the Society was reorganized; resurrected, were the better word; for it was then and had been for several years to all intents and purposes a lifeless body and as such a humiliating spectacle and a reproach to the community that had permitted it twice in its lifetime to fall perishing from inanition by the wayside of intellectual progress. Colonel William Preston Johnston, president of Tulane University, as we are proud to recall it, was the good Samartarian in this case, who, instead of passing by on the other side, came forward, and out of the press of his multitudinous duties, yet found time and attention to bestow on the neglected responsibility of others. Calling to his help a small number of friends who were lovers of Louisiana history he charged them to do what was needful toward resurrecting the Society and restoring it to the good services of the State. And as he saw with the eyes that never were mistaken about a patriotic duty, never was a State more in need of a Historical Society than Louisiana at that time. After thirty years of the continuous political struggle imposed upon her by the consequences of her defeat in the Civil War, combatting with inadequate means the further disastrous afflictions of overflows, epidemics and agricultural failures; with her educational system demoralized, to paraphrase the rather senseless phrase; she had been too busy suffering history to care for the perpetuation of its records. In truth, she seemed under the cruel tyranny of her Present to be dispossessed of her Past as well as Future, with the exception of the years of the Civil War whose memories were being faithfully gathered and held together in their own sacred shrine.
The City and State archives were crumbling away in neglect to absolute destruction. The State Historical Library, with its glorious traditions of Gayarré, existed only in the fragments and ruins of its once peerless collections. The history of Louisiana was not even taught in her own public schools, whose children, weaned from their own proper historical nourishment, were given only the artificial substitutes imported from the more provident supplies of other States. They were indeed fostered in the belief that Louisiana had no history of her own, and that she was a waif and a stray in the history of the United States.