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In order to carry out the scheme of Law, three companies of infantry and about seventy colonists were embarked, on March 9th, 1718, with much éclat and enthusiasm, for Louisiana; and upon the return of the vessels to France, wild rumors were circulated about the wealth and resources of the new country, with assurances given that large dividends would be declared. The scheme was properly boomed, and the bubble went up, with people of all classes investing in the shares of the company, which were then made easy of purchase on the Bourse of Paris; immense fortunes, on paper, were made, soon to vanish away, after the bubble had burst.
In May, 1719, the companies of “East Indies," and of “China” were consolidated with the “Western Company;" and one large and powerful corporation was created under the style and name of “Compagnie des Indes” or “India Company."
By virtue of the powers granted to the “India Company," under its charter, to cede lands, in allodium, Bienville, in his capacity of Commandant-General of the Province, and Hubert, as Chief Commissary, ceded to Bienville for his own use and benefit the following vast tracts of land, on March 27th, 1719, fully described at pages 18 and 19 of the Book of Louisiana Concessions, in the possession of the Louisiana Historical Society, to wit:
RIGHT BANK OF THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER. I. A tract of land situated on the other side of New Orleans, facing the city, on the West side, and on the East side at St. Antoine's Point, ceded to Mr. Hubert, running in depth to the lake, on the South side, at about a distance of one league.
LEFT BANK OF THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER. II. Another tract of land situated above and adjoining the boundary line of New Orleans, fronting the Mississippi River, in depth running W.1/4 of N. W. to the Mississippi, in the bend of the river below the Tchoupitoulas.
The two concessions above described were approved and confirmed at Paris, on February 6th, 1720, by the Directors of said India Company; and as such, registered in the Clerk's office of the Superior Council of Louisiana, in Deed Book folio 15, at New Orleans, on April 21st, 1723.
As it may be of interest to some of you, I herewith transcribe the following translated copy, from the French, of Mr. Bienville's concession situated on the left bank of the Mississippi River, at page 20 of the aforesaid Book of Louisiana Concessions :
“We, Commandant-General and General Directors, on the demand of Monsieur de Bienville, do grant him, in franc aleu (allodial tenure) the concession of a tract of land situated above, and at the limits of New Orleans, fronting on the Mississippi River, and running in depth to the West, quarter North-West, up to the Mississippi in the bend of the river below the Chipitoulas; which land cannot be better defined nor surveyed on account of the country being overflowed. By virtue of our powers, the land is granted to our said Sieur de Bienville, upon which he can, from this date, proceed to work and clear up, at convenient places, pending the issuance of the concession in form, to be sent to him from France." Done at New Orleans the 27th March, 1719.
(Signed) DE BIENVILLE & HUBERT. Bienville sent the above to Paris for confirmation. D'Artaguette, one of the Directors of the Company at Paris, wrote to Bienville, in New Orleans, on February 6th, 1720, that the Company could not send him letters of concession, in form, for the property selected by him, until he should send a procesverbal of the situation and extent of said lands, but that in the meanwhile he would enclose him a ratification of his acts of concession by the Directors at Paris, which would place him in a position to put up such improvements as he might deem necessary.
In December, 1720, Law fled from France, after the explosion of his Bank and financial schemes.
On the 1st day of December, 1722, Bienville, at New Orleans, wrote to the Council of Administration of the affairs of the Province of Louisiana, at Paris, representing that the Company had granted to him a concession of nearly three leagues, or nine miles, situated above New Orleans, which he could not make profitable for want of laborers; and accordingly he prayed that permission be granted to him to enter into a contract or treaty with twelve or fifteen German families who had lost everything by the last storm, to occupy said lands, and with the privilege of granting each a part of his concession. On December 11th, 1722, the Directors of the Company, at Paris, acceded to the request of Bienville.
As soon as Bienville became the owner of these two valuable tracts of land, his great desire, naturally, was to obtain the transfer of the seat of government from Mobile to New Orleans. It was only in August, 1722, that he finally succeeded in his efforts to transfer the headquarters of the Colony from Fort Louis, Mobile, to New Orleans, where he permanently established his domicile; he then began immediately to dispose of parts of his valuable concessions; by the execution of concessions of about six arpents front on the river by forty in depth, upon payment to Bienville of an annual rent of six livres per arpent front, together with two capons and two days labor for each arpent per annum.
As the lands were becoming daily more valuable, and as Bienville was turning out to be a rich landlord, the people began to be envious of his wealth, and started to circulate bad reports concerning his administration, and specially that he had misrepresented the facts whilst appropriating these two concessions, by stating that they were, in great part, overflowed lands, when in truth they were the most valuable lands that could be conceded. For these and other reasons Bienville was recalled to France in 1724 to render an account of his doings and of his administration of the affairs of the Company in Louisiana.
In the aforesaid Book of Concessions is to be found, at pages 417 to 436, a very interesting memoir of Mr. Bauet, dated December 20th, 1724, giving a statement of the companies of infantry in the service of the India Company in Louisiana, and the condition of the lands and inhabitants in the posts of Missouri, Illinois, Natchez, Natchitoches, Bayougoulas, Tensas, Cannes Brulées, Chapitoulas and New Orleans. At that time there were about 380 inhabitants in New Orleans. On September 10th, 1724, the famous Black Code, relating to negro slaves, was published in New Orleans.
Perrier arrived in New Orleans in October, 1726, to replace Bienville. Lassus, Surveyor of the Province, by order of Perrier, made a plan of New Orleans and its environs in 1726; in October, 1727, he surveyed the lands of the Company, and in February, 1728, he surveyed those of Bienville.
In an edict relative to lands situated in Louisiana, rendered at Versailles, August 10th, 1728, to be found at pages 214 to 242 in the aforesaid Book of Louisiana Concessions, in possession of this Society, the following appears:
“Upon representation made to the King by the Directors of the India Company, that since it pleased his majesty to concede to said Company the Province of Louisiana, said Company has given, with increasing success, all the care necessary to establish, in said Province, the industries most important for commerce; and to increase the number of inhabitants it has made advances in supplies, implements, negroes, and all other necessaries depending upon it; that with a view of engaging a greater number of families of French and foreign origin to settle in the Colony, said Company did grant, in allodium, to divers individuals, vast tracts of land, in proportion to the number they proposed to establish for their account. Said Company had ordered Sieur Hubert, in charge of the administration of its affairs in said Province, by letters of September 25th, 1717, not to place or grant concessions, in allodium, from Manchac, in descending the St. Louis River to the sea, but to distribute the lands which are within the limits of the Province by concessions of two and three arpents front by sixty in depth, to different families of laborers and soldiers who may desire to establish themselves therein; that arrangement having for its principal object to multiply the settlements on both sides of the River, above and below New Orleans, and in order to assemble on any occasion a number of men sufficient to defend the entrance of the Colony toward the sea. And in consequence there were sent by the Directors of the Company, in said Province, several provisional orders of concession, according to which the grantees were, among other things, bound to place in value their said lands or part of them, within six months, to pay such taxes and dues as might be imposed, to prepare official reports of taking possession, containing the extent and limits of their lands, and to send said proces-verbal with the said provisional order to said Company in France, and in return to receive new letters of concession in form. That not only have none of the grantees complied with said conditions, but that the individuals to whom the Company confided the administration of its affairs, in said Province, paid so little attention to the distribution of said lands that they suffered most of the individuals who had the permission to take lands, in allodium, to place themselves on the grounds above mentioned, which were expressly reserved for small farms, and for the domain of the Company; and that they granted and took for themselves an immense extent of lands, adjoining and opposite New Orleans, of which they had obtained approval by the Company, under false pretenses, that said lands were continually inundated, although said undertaking was formally contrary to the conditions stipulated in the provisional orders, thereby putting the Company in a position to refuse to those individuals letters of concession necessary to assure them of the right of ownership to said lands, of which they became usurpers. They did not dare to prepare official reports, which they were bound to make of the situation, extert and limits of the lands possessed by them, in order to obtain letters of concession, so that, the said possessors not having complied with any regulation and having set at naught the essential formalities which could assure their possessions and those of their neighbors, they would find themselves in a confusion which would become an endless source