Слике страница
PDF
ePub

cion que ha tenido invitando á España á concurrir por medio de su representante á estas solemnidades, agradecimiento que tengo que hacer extensivo al Señor que dedicó su brindis á España por frases laudatorias que dedico á mi querida Patria y que aprecio en todos su valor.

“Todos sabeis el importantisimo papel que desempeñó España en el descubrimiento de este Continente al que aportó su civilizacion sin reparar en sacrificios de ninguna clase.

"Nadie de los presentos ignora que los primeros trabajos de exploracion de este territorio lo realizaron los Españoles de los cuales merecen especial mención, Ponce de Leon, y Hernando de Soto que descubrió el Misisipi y que no era ningun aventurero como erroneamente lo califican, algunos sino el Gobernador de Cuba enviado por el Rey de España para tomar posesion efectiva de estos territorios que de derecho la pertenecian.

“En tiempos posteriores, cuando la Lusiana pasó a la Corona de Castilla España se interese vivamente por el engrandecimiento y explandor de su nueva colonia secundandole en su empeño todos los gobernadores pues, aunque alguno hay empleado procedimientos equivocados, no puede imputarsele el error á España, coadyuvando á la acción oficial ciudadanos tan ilustres como Don Andrés de Almonester y Rojas que reedificó á sus expensas la Catedral de San Luis destruida por un incendio, fundó el Hospital de Caridad de San Carlos al que dotó de rentas, el Hospital de leprosos, el convento y escuela de las Ursulinas, el edificio del Tribunal. Y prueba de que la administración española fué apreciada en mucho por los naturales del pais que varias calles de Nueva Orleans ostentan los nombres de sus Gobernadores haciendo memorables los de Ulloa, O'Reilly, Unzaga, Galvez, Miró, Carondelet, Gayoso y Salcedo. Y si aun esto no fuese bastante prueba, ahi está la contestación dada por los criollos franceses al mensaje que les dirigió el ultimo Gobernador Francés Mr. Laussat, ‘aunque nos alegramos de hacernos ciudadanos franceses no tenemos salvo rara excepción que ya alguna del trato recibido de los Gobernadores españoles añadiendo’ dejad á los españoles gozar tranquilamente de las propiedades que adquirieron en este suelo y dejadnos compartir con ellos como hermanos las bendiciones de nuestra situación.'

“Aunque á España ya no le ligan con America otros vinculos que los de caracter etnico y moral no por eso mira con indiferencia á las que fueron sus provincias ó colonias; pues así como una madre siempre está atenta al porvenir de sus hijos aunque estos se hallen emancipadosla España se interesa siempre por la suerte de los territorios en que dominó, participando de sus alegrias y de sus aflicciones.

“Hoy que la Luisiana conmemora una fecha que ella considera gloriosa para su historia, España se asocia á su elegria y satisfacción haciendo fervientes votos por su prosperidad y engrandecimiento como los hace tambien por la felicidad de la gran República á la que se halla unida.

“He dicho.”

Mr. C. F. Claiborne, bearing a name of historic significance, fittingly responded to the toast, “Louisiana of the Past," as follows:

Mr. Chairman, Ladies and Gentlemen :-It is not through any fitness of mine that I have had the honor of being asked to answer this toast, but as a compliment to the name I have inherited, which forms a connecting link between “Louisiana in the Past” and "Louisiana in the Present."

It is not my purpose in bidding you turn your thoughts back to the latter part of the seventeenth century to take you down the Mississippi River with Marquette and La Salle in 1682, nor to make you follow the intrepid Iberville and Bienville, and Sauvolle in 1699 through the tangled forests and trackless swamps of Louisiana or over the Indian trail, until they settled in New Orleans in 1718. I fear the Odyssey of their adventures and trials, their privations and perils would recall too vividly their sufferings, and mar your enjoyment of the good things before you ; but I mention their names only in order that you may recall their bravery and their fortitude. These gallant sons of a most chivalrous country carried at their head the Cross, as the emblem of Divine sanction, and held forth the white banner of Louis XIV as the representative of civilization and of temporal power. They forged their way ahead, and neither floods, nor storms, nor famine, nor pestilence, nor the poisoned arrows of hostile savages, nor the seductive charms of Indian maidens, could arrest them, until they had conquered and claimed the territory for their beloved France and named it after their “Great King." But their exploits were to be another’s gains. It was ever thus. Sic vos, non vobis, it is not for you, birds, that you build nests, nor for you, lambs, that you grow your fleece, nor for you, bees, that you distil your honey; Sic vos, non vobis, it was not for your country, gallant children of France, that you suffered and died, that you discovered and explored, and conquered the vast territory of Louisiana bounded on the East by the Mississippi River, on the North by the British possessions, on the West by the Rocky Mountains, and on the South by the Mexican possessions and the Gulf of Mexico. In 1762 your King made a simulated sale of it to Spain, and the French chevalier yielded to the Spanish hidalgo. In 1803 the United States extended its hand and received the transfer of it for a mess of porridge. The tri-color of France was dropped, and, as it descended, abundant tears trickled down the cheeks of strong men who had never wept before. But though the authority of France existed no more, it left behind as a legacy to the colonists, its liberal religion, its euphonic language, the sweet fragrance of its polite manners, its wise laws regulating the civil relations of the citizen, and a deep-seated love for the mother country. You might as well have tried to pluck the Rocky Mountains from their roots, or to drain the Mississippi River to its bed, as to have robbed the Louisianians of this heritage. They did not take kindly to the flaxen-haired and blue-eyed Saxon neighbors. But as each ox-eyed daughter of Spain or France pledged her troth to “love, honor and obey” some blue-eyed hero, the black and blue mingled in cordial harmony. From this union of hearts sprang a communion of thoughts and of interests that brought prosperity and progress to the infant colony. It grew with rapid strides, until in April, 1812, just one hundred years ago, it was fully emancipated, relieved from the tutorship and disabilities that attend a Territory and invested with all the authority and privileges of a State, with power not only to administer her own affairs and select her own officers, but to participate in making the laws that were to govern her elder sister States of the Union.

But the State of 1812 was to the State of 1912 even as the onestory, tile-roofed tenement at the corner of Chartres and Ursulines is to the Whitney Bank Building, eleven stories high. Its population was in the thousands, its agricultural products consisted of a few bags of corn, indigo and some sugar cane; its commerce was carried over the Mississippi River in boats propelled by human energy or the unreliable winds; the means of travel by land were by ox teams into which the women and children were huddled and around which the men walked; a message was communicated by a man on horseback; the blackness of night was tempered by a candle or a smoking lamp; everything was frugal, primitive, slow and simple. But now began to shine upon the youthful State the genial sun of American Institutions; those institutions which guarantee free scope to the intellectual and physical efforts of the citizen and give every man a chance. Like an acorn planted in fertile soil, it sprouted and grew, and spread its wide and heavy limbs until it became the great State of 1860. Its prosperity and wealth attracted admiration; it became a leader in education, refinement, and manners. Its public men were noted for their wisdom and learning.

I remember well the massive oratory of William Hunt, the Ciceronian eloquence of Randell Hunt, the graceful manner and melodious voice of Spofford and of Randolph, the logic of John A. Campbell and Thomas J. Semmes, the force of Soulé, Dufour, and Roselius, and many other distinguished citizens. All that is left of them to-day is their name upon their tombstone.

But in 1860, the sun of our prosperity was obscured by the clouds of war. The tempest of a great conflict broke out and raged for four long years. The flash of the rifle, the roar of the cannon, the yells of the victors, the groans of the conquered, spread terror over the land. Those discordant sounds meant blood and death upon the battlefield, and want and despair at home. If our soldiers had fought the enemy alone, they might have conquered; but the question of slavery and humanity was involved in the titantic struggle which seemed to array civilization and even Providence itself against them. Humanity and the Union won; Louisiana lost. But when the smoke of battle had floated afar, and the rumbling sounds of war had died away, we came to the conclusion that though victory was theirs, the advantage was ours.

Louisiana did not recover at once from the long conflict. But even as unhealthy humors remain in the human system after a morbid fever of long duration and afterwards break out so the poison of Reconstruction afflicted our land for a full decade after peace.

But then arose DeBlanc, Nicholls, Ogden, Michel, Fortier and the heroes of September 14th, 1874, who swept away the enemies of our body politic.

: Louisiana then shook off the sad memories of the war and of Reconstruction, and bent her energies in gathering from the earth those crops of sugar, cotton and rice, which were to make her again prosperous and wealthy. Today she is happy that the country is chrystalized into one, powerful, indivisible and imperishable. Among the stars that are set in the banner of the Republic none shines more proudly, more 'brilliantly nor' more faithfully than that one which' represents Louisiana. Non sibi, sed suis.

Rev. Antonio Huot, of Quebec, Canada, professor in Laval University, responded to the toast, “The Historical Relation of Quebec to New Orleans.” - M. le président, Monseigneur, Messieurs :—Sir Francis Langebin, lieutenant-gouverneur de la Province de Québec, et M. N. Drouin, maire de Québec, devaient être ici ce soir et prendre la parole.

Malheureusement empêchés, c'est à votre humble serviteur que M. Fortier a bien voulu confier ce redoutable honneur de représenter le Canada.

Le Canada ne peut pas rester indifférent au souvenir des grands événements historiques de la Louisiane. Il n'y a pas un Etat de cette république dont l'histoire ait été aussi intimement liée à celle de notre pays que cette belle, riche et féconde Louisiane. Au XVII et au XVIII siècle, 'en effet, la Louisiane était la soeur du Canada. Tous les deux sont nés à l'ombre du glorieux drapeau de la vieille France. Tous les deux ont reçu les suprêmes bienfaits de la civilisation chrétienne de ces missionnaires français, dont l'un des plus grands historiens de votre pays, Parkman, a loué si souvent, dans ses oeuvres, l'admirable héroisme.. . '' Le Canada a donné à la Louisiane deux de ses plus illustres enfants, D’Iberville et Bienville; D’Iberville, qui en 1699, 'jetait les 'bases du premier établissement fondé sur le sol louisianais par des 'hommes de race blanche; Bienville, qui en 1718, marquait, ici même, l'emplacement de cette Nouvelle-Orléans, si renommee aujourd'hui pour sa générosité, sa culture et le charme de sa société, en même temps que pour les progrès remarquables qu'elle ne cesse de faire dans le commerce et l'industrie, grace à l'intelligence et à l'énergie de ses citoyens..

Rien, il me semble, ne peut nous faire mieux comprendre

« ПретходнаНастави »