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foolscap, chiefly extracted from the essays of Count de Mirabeau. “That invaluable speech may be lost unless the Convention is regularly organized." The doctrines of liberty and equality, and that all men are born equally free, were called "heresy" and "theoretical stuff" by one writer, and another said that property should be made the data for suffrage, at least $500 of taxable property, and $5,000 for eligibility to the Legislature. The writer added quaintly but judiciously: “Do not disqualify any man on account of his age-we see old fools in office as well as young ones, or why is the age of a man or the length of his beard a criterion !!!
On November 18, 1811, the Convention met for the second time, and Julien Poydras was elected president and Eligius Fromentin, secretary. Poydras had had a remarkable career. Born at Nantes, in France, in 1740, he had come to the colony of Louisiana penniless, and had acquired a large fortune. When Governor Galvez conquered Baton Rouge from the British in 1779, Poydras wrote on that event a short epic poem which is the first work of the French literature of Louisiana. It has not great literary merit, but it is interesting as an historical document. The author evidently imitated Boileau's celebrated epistle on the crossing of the Rhine by the cavalry of Louis XIV. In Poydras's poem the Mississippi is awakened by a thunderbolt. He asks what mortal or what god has come to disturb the sweet peace of his happy shores, where dwell his cherished planters. He sends the nymph Scaesaris to find out who is the rash being that is invading his realm. The nymph goes into the camp, disguised as a mortal, and sees the hero. She returns to the god Mississippi, and describes the army and relates the story of the siege and capture of Baton Rouge. Her narrative to the river-god ends by a phophecy of what his banks will be under the rule of the victors.
Poydras's prophecy has been verified: The Mississippi has been one of the principal causes of the prosperity of Louisiana and of New Orleans, her metropolis. We love our great river; we admire it, and we are proud of it, however terrible it may appear, when it rises in its might and beats its banks with its tumultuous waves. It has given us the soil upon which we stand; it brings to us the commerce of the world; and, by its long course and that of its tributaries, it binds us in close friendship with many millions of our American fellow-citizens. Let us enjoy its benefits, and let the government of our country protect us from its ravages.
The great importance of the event which we celebrate is that it made the Louisianians entirely free and self governing. A territorial form of government is more or less an autocracy, and we know that the people of Louisiana who, throngh all their history, had striven for freedom, were not satisfied with the form of government given them by Congress in 1805, however liberal it might have seemed. Julien Poy. dras, the president of the Convention, delivered a long address in French, on November 18, 1811, which was read in English by James Brown. Poy. dras expressed the opinion of the great majority of the people of the Territory when he said: “A territorial government is execrable; it is a monstrosity in the annals of a free people, which it should never have disfigured, and from which it should be forever erased." The style of Povdras's address was as florid as that of his poem on Galvez. He compared the feelings of the people of the Territory of Orleans, which was about to become a State, to those of a navigator who, on the point of perishing, arrives at the port, the object of his hopes and of his fortune.
Jean Noël Destréhan said that the Territory should not have been separated from Upper Louisiana, or, at least, a part of the latter should
have been annexed to it. He feared the clause of the requirements of Congress, which stated that the judicial and legislative proceedings should be written in English, a clause which seemed to exclude from the government the French speaking people of the new State. Alexander Porter thought that the great mass of the people was not instructed in the principles of freedom, a statement which was not favorably received by the members of the Convention and by the large crowd which had assembled in the hall.
The great question was: “State or no State?' Le Breton d'Orgenois, Col. Bellechasse, Jean Blanque, Magloire Guichard, James Brown, John Watkins, a former mayor of New Orleans, spoke in favor of a State, and Destréhan and Porter against it. Watkins was the mover of the resolution for a State, and the vote stood, for State 35, against it 7. It seems strange that any member of the Convention should have voted against a State, but the men who did so were just as patriotic as their colleagues who voted for a State. A committee, consisting of Allan B. Magruder, James Brown, Henry Johnson, Henry Bry, Jean Blanque, Jean Noël Destréhan, and Michel Cantrelle, was appointed to draw the draft of a constitution. A memorial to Congress was adopted praying for an extension of territory to embrace West Florida to the river Perdido. On November 29, Magruder read the form of a constitution, which was ordered translated into French and published.
On December 9, 1811, a name was chosen for the new State, OrJeans, Jefferson, and Lower Louisiana were suggested, but the Convention chose Louisiana, the harmonious and beautiful name which La Salle had given, in honor of Louis XIV, to the vast country discovered by him, a name which had been lost for several years, and which was to be as glorious as American Louisiana as it had been under the French and Spanish dominations. So well beloved was the name Louisiana in the Territory of Orleans that Bernard de Marigny, a member of the Convention, says that, when it was suggested to give to the new State the name of Jefferson, Louis De Blanc de St. Denis declared that, if such a proposition had any chance of success, he would arm himself with a barrel of powder and blow up the Convention. DeBlanc was right, the name Louisiana is as sacred to the people of our great State as the name New Orleans to the people of our great city.
The constitution was adopted unanimously, on January 28, 1812, and Fromentin and Magruder were appointed to lay it before Congress. They were to sail by the ship “Missouri,” on January 27 or 28, and expected to reach Congress in the first week of March. The Convention adjourned on January 28, having accomplished an excellent task, for the Constitution of 1812 suited admirably the Louisianians of that time and lasted until the year 1845. It was not quite as democratic as the men of our day should like, but it was a judicious piece of work, under which the State prospered greatly for one-third of a century. Congress passed an act for the admission of the new State of Louisiana into the Union, and the President approved the act on April 8, 1812. It was declared, however, that the act should not be in force before April 30, the ninth anniversary of the treaty of cession. By an act approved April 14, the greater part of the Territory of West Florida was added to the State of Louisiana.
Let us cast another glance at the city of New Orleans, the first capital of the State of Louisiana, and see how it was in 1812. The heart of the city was, as it is to-day, the Place d'Armes, from which there was an unobstructed view of our splendid Mississippi. Facing it on Chartres street were the Cathedral, and the two buildings on each side of it, the historic Cabildo and the Presbytery. There was one theatre, the St. Philip, built in 1810, where there were plays in French. On Thursday, April 30, 1812, exactly one hundred years ago, the “Théâtre St. Philippe" played “Joseph,' an opera in three acts, by Méhul and Duval, for the benefit of Mlle. Eugénie Fleury, and “L'Heureuse Erreur,'' comedy in one act by Patrat. “Le Moniteur de la Louisiane,” of April 30, gives news from Washington of the session of Congress, and we see an advertisement signed by N. J. Roosevelt in regard to the persons who should like to be interested in the patent concerning steamboats, of Livingston and Fulton. There are also advertisements about fugitive slaves, and news from Europe that Napoleon will soon make war against Russia. Indeed in the New Orleans newspapers of 1811 and 1812, the great name of Napoleon occurs very often, a name which attracted the passionate attention of the whole civilized world. In January, 1812, we see in the “Louisiana Gazette'' that the King of Rome had had his first tooth. The unfortunate “Aiglon' was still a French prince at the Tuileries, and not yet an Austrian archduke at Schönbrunn.
An interesting news in the “Louisiana Gazette'' was that the son of Carondelet, our enlightened Spanish governor, a brigadier general in the Spanish army, had acquired great glory at the siege of Ciudad Rodri. go during the war against the French, and that he had been appointed to carry the dispatch to the Cortes and to the Regency. There are notices of three private schools in New Orleans in 1812, and of the Banks of Louisiana and of Orleans. The mother tongue of the greater part of the inhabitants of the city was French; the manners were elegant and pleasing, and life was very agreeable. What a difference, however, between the New Orleans of 1812 and that of 1912, between the small town which had hardly spread beyond the Vieux Carré and our present large and beautiful city. The difference is also immense between the Louisiana of 1812, with its magnificent resources still undeveloped, and that of 1912, so prosperous and progressive that it is des. tined to be one of the greatest States in the American Union.
Louisiana having become a State, a governor was now to be elected. The Constitution provided that the citizens throughout the State should first vote for the various candidates, after which the returns were to be opened in the presence of both Houses of the General Assembly, the two candidates having the highest number of votes were to be balloted on, and the one receiving the highest number of votes was to be declared elected governor. He was made ineligible for re-election, must be thirty-five years of age and the owner of landed property worth at least $5,000. No member of Congress nor minister of a religious society was eligible to the office of governor.
The candidates for the governorship were William C. C. Claiborne, Jacques Villeré and Jean Noël Destréhan. The campaign was exciting, for Villeré and Destréhan were both distinguished Creoles who had rendered great service to their native State. Claiborne received the highest number of votes from the people and was elected governor by the General Assembly of Louisiana, which had met on July 27. The Governor was inaugurated on July 31, 1812. His administration was destined to be eventful, as war had been declared by Congress against Great Britain on June 18. In his inaugural address Governor Claiborne said: "War is not the greatest of evils-base submission to aggression would have been a greater curse. It would have entailed dishonor, cowardice, vassalage upon our posterity ..... In such a contest, the issue cannot be doubtful. In such a cause, every American should bare his bosom. Where justice is the standard, Heaven is the warrior's shield.”
The first American Governor of the State of Louisiana was worthy of the high esteem which the people had for him. His administration is memorable in our history for the heroic defense made on our soil against foreign invasion by Andrew Jackson and his brave troops, in December, 1814, and January, 1815. At the Battle of New Orleans the Americans won the most complete victory that history has ever recorded, and the star of the eighteenth State of the United States shone with a brilliancy which has never been dimmed from that time.
From 1815 to 1861 Louisiana prospered greatly under the guidanceof wise and able governors, and when the great war between the States broke out, the men of Louisiana did their full duty on the battlefield, while the women were just as heroic at home by their fortitude, their charity, and their patriotism. After the war, the Louisianians showed that, like the French, who established the colony which has become an American State, they knew how to bear reverses nobly and to recover from them. Ever courageous and energetic, devoted to their State, the Louisianians of to-day are happy and proud to celebrate the centenary of their complete independence. Louisiana was the first State of the immense province acquired by Jefferson in 1803, to become a State of the American Union. She proved to be so worthy of statehood that when the other territories, formed from the so-called Louisiana Purchase, and from the original province named by LaSalle, applied for admission into the Union, no speeches like that of Josiah Quincy in 1811 were heard in the national House of Representatives.
This Centennial anniversary deserves to be fittingly celebrated to commemorate an event which has been of great importance in the history of civilization. The world has gained by the fact that Louisiana became a State of our United States, one hundred years ago. Her Pelican will be forever sympathetic to all human beings who admire courage and self-sacrifice. Non sibi sed suis is one of the mottoes of Louisiana, and to these beautiful words are added others no less beautiful: Justice, Union, and Confidence. Let the citizens of our State be faithful to her mottoes, and in a hundred years from now, the second centenary of Louisiana's statehood will be celebrated with the same enthusiasm as the first centenary is celebrated today. There will be, as there are now, distinguished delegates from sister States of the Union and from foreign countries, and the world will say, as it is saying today: Louisiana, you have fulfilled your task well as a civilized State. May God grant that you be forever worthy of being a sovereign State of the United States of America!
Governor Earl Brewer, of Mississippi, was introduced by Govcrnor Sanders.
The chief executive of Mississippi had for his subject “Sister States."
He said that he did not propose, in view of the lateness of the hour, to make a long speech. The programme has been protracted, and the people must be fatigued after standing for three hours. Under such circumstances a visitor from another State could not say anything that would interest the assembly. It would take some topic of a local nature, such as for instance, politics, to hold the attention of the vast audience.
At this stage of Governor Brewer's address, the attention of the people was attracted by the ceremony of flag-raising in Jackson Square. The noise in the square interrupted the Governor's
speech, and when there occurred comparative quiet, he tried to keep on, stating that he admired the great progress made by the State.
But the bands of music began playing as the flag slowly went up the tall pole; the multitude cheered, the big bells of the St. Louis Cathedral pealed forth a musical chorus, and cannon boomed in national salute to the flag
The ceremony of flag-raising being over, Governor Brewer said that he had better quit speaking, but loud cries of, “Go on, go on, Governor," encouraged him to resume. He then stepped forward and said that at all times Louisianians have been ready to come forward for the Nation when her life was in jeopardy, and in times that called for great men, Louisiana has always responded to the command of the hour. If one should call the roll, and challenge the world, no list would be complete without the names of Louisiana's unconquered heroes.
Governor Brewer spoke in words of high praise and admiration of General Zachary Taylor, the hero of the Mexican War, a Louisianian, who was on his return to the United States elected President of the United States.
The eloquent visiting Governor next mentioned the part played by troops from Louisiana in the epochal battle of New Orleans in 1815 when the British invaders were totally routed. Louisiana furnished fifty per cent of the soldiers on that memorable occasion.
The Governor then passed on to lauding the patriotic men who took such active part, at the risk of their lives, in the dark days of reconstruction in Louisiana, and who so signally aided to free the State from obnoxious rule, and re-established the government which the people of the State desired.
In these days, when people are dissatisfied with present political plans of the man who promised a downward revision of the tariff, and gave an upward revision; when heresies and “ “isms,” are attempted to be put upon the people, who are falling out with the times, some man from the South, and perhaps from Louisiana, might walk into the Presidency, and pave the way for a higher, better, and more lasting civilization.
Governor Brewer thanked the people for their kind attention in spite of the noise and tumult, and when he retired, there were hearty cheers for the plucky Governor of Mississippi.