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THE TITLE TO THE JESUITS' PLANTATION.

By CHARLES T. SONIAT.

An Address Delivered Before the Louisiana Historical Society.

The origin of the title to the Jesuits' Plantation, adjoining, in 1726, the upper limits of the City of New Orleans, dates back to 1682, when Robert Cavelier de la Salle, under instructions from Louis XIV, King of France, explored the Mississippi River to its mouth, and there by right of discovery took possession, in the name of his sovereign, of that vast territory through which the waters of that great river flowed, and gave it the name of “Louisiane.” Whilst endeavoring to colonize Louisiana, in 1687, he was murdered by some of his companions. The next attempt at colonization was made by Pierre Lemoyne, Sieur d'Iberville, in 1699; he established his headquarters at Biloxi, by the appointment of his brother, Francois-Marie Lemoyne, Sieur de Sauvole, as Commandant, and his brother Jean Baptiste Lemoyne, Sieur de Bienville, as second in command. Sauvole died July 22nd, 1701, and was buried at Biloxi, Bienville becoming his successor as Commandant. Iberville died of yellow fever on July 9th, 1706, at Havana, where he had landed to obtain reinforcements for his Louisiana Colony.

In 1707, Bienville was recalled to France, through ill reports made against him by one La Salle, Chief Commissary of the Province. De Muys was appointed in the place of Bienville, but died in Havana before reaching Louisiana.

Upon the favorable report of Diron D'Artaguette, sent to Louisiana to investigate the conduct of the officials of the colony, Bienville was reinstated. The Colony continued in a lingering state until September 14th, 1712, when Louis XIV gave to Anthony Crozat the exclusive commerce of all the Province of Louisiana, for a period of fifteen years. Lamothe Cadillac, founder of Detroit, was appointed Commandant, with Bien ville next in command, on May 17th, 1713. Louis XIV died at Versailles on September 1st, 1715, leaving as heir to the throne of France his great-grandson, Louis XV, then a minor about five years of age. Cadillac was recalled in 1716 and De L'Espinay was appointed in his place. Bienville remained in power until the arrival of De L'Espinay on March 9th, 1717, accompanied by Hubert as Chief Commissary. On August 13th, 1717, Crozat surrendered his charter to the Duke d'Orleans, Regent of France during the minority of Louis XV.

France at that time, through bad administration, became financially embarrassed; many schemes were proposed for her relief, and the one of John Law met with special favor from the Duke of Orleans. Law founded in 1716 the “Banque Générale," with power of issuing paper money, which soon commanded a premium over specie. In 1717, to his banking system of credit he added a scheme for the colonization of Louisiana; he then created an immense corporation, under the style and name of the “Western Company,” as per charter granted to him by the Parliament of Paris, registered on the 6th of September, 1717. This corporation was given exclusive control of commerce with Louisiana, for a term of twenty-five years, with right of ownership of all lands, coasts, ports, harbors and islands forming part of the Province of Louisiana, and also with power to grant lands in allodium or franc aleu. The capital stock was divided into shares of 500 livres each, the number being unlimited; the affairs of the Company to be managed by Directors appointed by the King for the first few years, and thereafter triennially by the stockholders. John Law was made Director General of the concern, which was also known to the public under the name of the “Mississippi Scheme.” In 1718 the “Banque Générale” became “Banque Royale,” with Law as Director General; and its notes were guaranteed by the King.

In the beginning of the year 1718 Bienville was the Commanding Officer in charge of the Colony, at Fort Louis, Mobile. One of his first acts, in February, 1718, was to select a suitable place, on the banks of the Mississippi River, for the location of the principal establishment of the Colony; and the spot chosen is where the present City of New Orleans now stands, flourishing as one of the great ports of America..

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