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Founded by Iberville and Bienville, Louisiana remained under the French domination until the year 1762, when it was ceded to Spain by the selfish King Louis XV who, in 1764, informed his subjeets on the banks of the Mississippi that they were no longer French. In 1766, Ulloa, the Spanish governor, arrived, and in 1768 the colonists expelled him. The Louisianians had always had an independent spirit, and when they were abandoned by the French government, they thought of establishing a republie in New Orleans, the capital of the province. This idea was but a dream of heroism, and several of the brave men who had conceived it were put to death in 1769 by General O'Reilly, who established firmly the Spanish Domination. Nevertheless, the colonists did not lose their love for freedom, and, as they could not have a government for themselves and by themselves, they helped the Americans in their great war for independence. Under Bernardo de Galvez, the Louisianians made war against the British, who lost Baton Rouge and Natchez in 1779, Mobile in 1780, and Pensacola in 1781. The services of the soldiers of Galvez were gratefully acknowledged by Washington himself, and their descendants, of whom I am proud to be one, are now entitled to membership in the patriotic Society of the Sons of the American Revobution.
At the end of the eighteenth century Bonaparte, the glorious First Consul of France, the victor of Arcola and of Rivoli, of the Pyramids and of Marengo, took back Louisiana from Spain, and on April 30, 1803, on the eve of the war with England, ceded to the United States the immense province, from which have been formed thirteen States of our great American Union.
The conqueror was also a statesman, and wrote himself Article 3 of the Treaty of Cession, as follows:
“The inhabitants of the ceded territory shall be incorporated in the l'nion of the United States, and admitted as soon as possible, according to the principles of the Federal Constitution, to the enjoyment of all the rights, advantages and immunities of citizens of the United States, and in the meantime they shall be maintained and protected in the free enjoyment of their liberty, property and the religion which they profess.")
Laussat, the Colonial Prefect appointed by Bonaparte, governed Louisiana admirably for twenty days, from November 30 to December 20, 1803. The colonists had been glad to become French again, although they had done justice to the mild rule of the Spanish governors, after the departure of O'Reilly in 1769. The Louisianians regretted to see the tri-colored banner of France lowered from the staff in the Place d'Armes, now Jackson Square, but they understood, when the American starspangled banner took the place of the French flag that they were becoming citizens of a country which was governed by the people itself.
However attached they were to France, they knew that Laussat was right when, after quoting Article 3 of the treaty, he said to them on November 30, 1803:
"The time will come when you will establish for yourselves a form of government which, although respecting the sacred principles consecrated in the social pact of the Federal Union, will be adapted to your manners, your usages, your climate, your soil and your peculiar localities.
"You will be convinced ere long that, by the treaty of cession, France has conferred upon you the most eminent and memorable of blessings."
The Lonigianians of 1803 understood how true were Laussat's words, and their descendants today are grateful to the men who brought about the cession of Louisiana to the United States, Bonaparte and his min. ister Barbé Marbois, Robert R. Livingston, James Monroe, and Thomas Jefferson. The latter acted as a great statesman when he added Louisia. ana to the territory of the United States, and he displayed excellent judgment when he appointed William C. C. Claiborne to govern the new American province. Governor Claiborne had a difficult task to perform, but he fulfilled it with admirable tact, industry, ability, and patriotism.
By an act approved March 26, 1804, which was to be in force October 1, 1804, and to continue one year and to the end of the next session of Congress that might be held thereafter, the Territory of Orleans was established. It comprised all that portion of Louisiana south of the Mississippi Territory and of an east-and-west line, to commence on the Mississippi River, at the thirty-third degree of north latitude, and to extend west to the western boundary of the said cession.
Congress had not been generous in its act of March 26, 1804, and the people of the Territory of Orleans were greatly displeased with the little freedom granted them. Indeed, Etienne de Boré, the first mayor of New Orleans, resigned his office on May 16, 1804, through his patriotic pride as a native Louisianian. Claiborne, however, did not agree with Mayor Boré, and in his first message to the Legislative Council, the first message of an American Governor in Louisiana, on December 4, 1804, he was most optimistic in regard to the future of the Territory.
By an act approved March 2, 1805, Congress granted to the people of the Territory of Orleans a more liberal form of government and allowed them to elect the members of their House of Representatives. The inhabitants, besides, were authorized to form a State government and were to be admitted into the Union, upon the footing of the original States, as soon as the Territory should have sixty thousand inhabitants. Although the freedom, enjoyed by the people of the Territory was not very great, it was far greater than during the colonial days, and there was some form of self-government, from 1805 to 1812. During that period the most important events were Aaron Burr's conspiracy in 1806, and the revolution in West Florida in 1810, by which the people of that section freed themselves from the rule of Spain.
The Territory of Orleans had been preparing itself for several years for statehood, and, as its population, by a census of 1810, was 76,556, it claimed that it had a right to become a State, and its delegate in Congress, Julien Poydras, asked that the territory be admitted into the Union. The debates on that subject in the House of Representatives, in January, 1811, are very interesting, and the speech of Josiah Quincy, of Massachusetts, excited the greatest surprise and interest all over the country. After stating what he considered should be the great rule of human conduct, he said: “Under the sanction of this rule of conduct, I am compelled to declare it as my deliberate opinion that, if this bill passes, the bonds of this Union are virtually dissolved; that the States which compose it are free from their moral obligations; and that, as it will be the right of all, so it will be the duty of some, to prepare definitely for a separation-amicably if they can, violently if they must.''
George Poindexter, from Mississippi Territory, advocated the ad. mission of the Territory of Orleans into the Union, in accordance with article third of the treaty of cession, and condemned violently Mr. Quincy's words in regard to separation from the Union. He added that the latter's language, “if accomplished by an overt act to carry the threat which it contains into execution, would amount to treason, according to its literal and technical definition in the Constitution and laws of the United States." In conclusion, Mr. Poindexter said: "The fate of Aaron Burr ought to be a salutary warning against treasonable. machinations—and if others, having the same views, do not share a similar fate, it will not be because they do not deserve it.'!
The debate between Josiah Quincy of Massachusetts, and George Poindexter, of Mississippi, of which Jefferson Davis was later a citizen, is one of the most curious incidents in history, and illustrates admirably the irony of fate. In 1861, fifty years after the interesting speeches of Quincy and Poindexter, Massachusetts and Mississippi had very different views in regard to secession from those of their representatives in Congress in 1811.
The bill authorizing the Territory of Orleans to form a constitution and State government was passed, on January 14, 1811, by a vote of 77 yeas to 36 nays, and was approved by President Madison on February 20, 1811. Let us now see what was the condition of the Territory at that time.. The population, as already stated, by a census taken in 1810. by the marshal of the United States, exclusive of West Florida, was 76,556. In 1803, the population of the immense province of Louisiana was about 50,000. In 1810, the city and surburbs of New Orleans had a population of 17,242, and the so-called precincts of New Orleans 7,310. In 1803 there were only about 8,000 inhabitants in the city. We see the large gain in population in the Territory of Orleans during the seven years since the cession to the United States. The Territory was divided into twelve counties: Orleans, German Coast, Acadia,' La Fourche, Iberville, Pointe Coupée, Attakapas, Opelousas, Natchitoches, Rapides, Quachita, and Concordia. The counties were divided into parishes, for instance, the county of Orleans comprised “all that portion of country lying on both sides of the river Mississippi from the Balize to the beginning of the parish of St. Charles, including the parishes of St. Bernard and St. Louis.” The county of German Coast comprised “the parishes of St. Charles and St. John the Baptist, commonly called the first and second German Coasts." The county of Acadia comprised "the parishes of St. James and the Ascension, commonly called the first and second Acadian Coasts."
The University of Orleans had been established by legislative act in 1805, but the College of Orleans opened its doors to the young men of the Territory only in 1811. At that time the only important school for girls in the city was that of the Ursuline nuns, who had been here since 1727, and were occupying in 1811 their building on Condé street, now Chartres, which dates from 1732, and is at present the oldest building in the Mississippi Valley. The Government House of the French and Spanish Governors, which was situated on the Levee, and which became the first capitol of the State of Louisiana, was then in existence, but the members of the Constitutional Convention, thirty in number, met on November 4, 1811, in a large room fitted for their accommodation at the Trémoulet House, at the corner of St. Peter and Levee. On November 4, says “Le Moniteur de la Louisiane,'' the oldest newspaper then in Louisiana, founded in 1794, took place many important events; the opening of Congress, of the Convention, of the College, of the session of the Superior Court, of the Bank of Orleans, and of the Ball Room. “Nothing is lacking now,” it adds, “but an opening of peace,” referring, of course, to the great Napoleonic Wars in Europe.
The temporary president of the Convention, on November 4, was F. J. LeBreton d'Orgenois, a Louisianian by birth. After some discussion, the Convention adjourned to November 18, without electing a permanent president. The newspapers of that time were not more respectful to statesmen than they are today, and said that a certain member of the Convention had prepared a speech of ten pages of