Bruce E. Baker

History of New Orleans

an online course by Dr Bruce Baker
bruce.baker@newcastle.ac.uk

THIS IS A WORK IN PROGRESS. IT IS EXPECTED TO BE COMPLETED BY MID-OCTOBER 2020.

Week 1 (19 October 2020)

Essential Readings

Additional Learning Materials

  1. The Imperial Origins of New Orleans
  2. A Quick Introduction to New Orleans Geography
  3. Discussion with Ari Kelman about A River and Its City
  4. The Purpose and Early History of New Orleans
  5. Tom Richey, "Mercantilism: The Economics of Absolutism"
  6. New Orleans in the French Empire
  7. A Different Sort of Territory and State
  8. Document and Questions
    • DOCUMENT: "William C. C. Claiborne to Thomas Jefferson, November 25, 1804"
    • QUESTIONS
    • Why is Claiborne appealing to Jefferson? What is he trying to accomplish?
    • What changes that Laussat made were too radical and sudden?
    • To what extent does Claiborne see the new American administration as mediating between contending French and Spanish factions?
    • Why might the court Claiborne set up have been controversial?
    • What was the view of American settlers in Louisiana to allowing more slaves to be imported?
    • Why might prohibiting only slaves from St. Domingue have been controversial?
  9. The Influence of Haiti on New Orleans

 

 

Week 2 (26 October 2020)

Essential Readings

Additional Learning Materials

  1. Why Did the United States Want New Orleans?
  2. Document and Questions
    • DOCUMENT: "Letter About Batture," Louisiana State Gazette, 17 Apr. 1821, p.2
    • QUESTIONS
    • Who does the writer mean when he (or she) uses the term "public"? Who is included in that term, and who is excluded?
    • What sorts of activities on the batture is the letter writer objecting to? What activities are being prevented?
    • Are there class interests involved in the conflict over the use of the batture described in this letter?
    • What is the appropriate procedure, according to the letter writer, for enclosing land on the batture? How does this preserve the rights of the public if it is followed? What might be reasons why businessmen would not want to follow this procedure?
  3. This is a very thorough account of the background and significance of Roman law on Louisiana law up to the Civil War: Shael Herman, "The Contribution of Roman Law to the Jurisprudence of Antebellum Louis Louisiana," Louisiana Law Review 56 (1995-1996): 257-315.
  4. Walter Johnson interview on "New Orleans and the Slave Trade"
  5. Slavery and the Informal Economy in New Orleans (BB lecture)
  6. Document and Questions
    • DOCUMENT: "A slave-pen at New Orleans
    • QUESTIONS:
    • Are the enslaved people in this image likely to dress like this when they are working?
    • What is the purpose of the slave dealer in dressing the enslaved people in fancy clothing?
    • What sort of conversation might be happening between the men at the far right of the image?
    • What is the child in the foreground of the image doing?
    • What differences can you observe in the expression and body language of the enslaved people? How might this affect the potential transactions?
    • Why is a place where enslaved people were sold called a "pen"? What does the choice of language tell us about ideas about slavery and enslaved people?
  7. Document and Questions
    • DOCUMENT: "letter from William C. C. Claiborne to James Madison, 10 January 1804
    • QUESTIONS:
    • Why might Claiborne think the residents of Louisiana are unfit for a representative government?
    • What does Claiborne think needs to happen in the medium term?
    • What kinds of conflicts seem to be arising between American and French residents of New Orleans?
    • What sorts of problems might the merchants of New Orleans be encountering after the transition to American rule?
  8. Document and Questions
    • DOCUMENT: "Wade Hampton to Governor Claiborne, 12 January 1811, and Wade Hampton to the Secretary of War, 16 January 1811, in Clarence Edwin Carter, comp. and ed., The Territorial Papers of the United States, Volume IX, The Territory of Orleans, 1803-1812 (Washington, D.C.: GPO, 1940), 916-917, 917-919.
    • QUESTIONS:
    • What is the relationship between the U.S. regular troops commanded by Gen. Wade Hampton and the "Various Companies of the Citizens that are Scouring the Country"?
    • Why does Hampton believe "the plan is unquestionably of Spanish Origin"?
    • Which side seemed better prepared, the slave rebels or the local military?
    • What does Hampton mean by the phrase "the greatest of all human calamities"?
    • What effects might Hampton’s military response have had on white residents’ attitudes towards the U.S. government?
  9. Daniel Rasmussen discussion about American Uprising: The Untold Story of America’s Largest Slave Revolt

 

 

Week 3 (2 November 2020)

Essential Readings

  • Ari Kelman, A River and Its City, Ch. 2
  • Scott P. Marler, The Merchants' Capital: New Orleans and the Political Economy of the Nineteenth-Century South (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2013), 15-52.
  • Rashauna Johnson, Slavery's Metropolis: Unfree Labor in New Orleans during the Age of Revolutions (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2016), Ch. 3.

Additional Learning Materials

  1. Discussion with Ari Kelman about the riverfront during the steamboat era
  2. The Built Environment of the Antebellum New Orleans Waterfront
  3. Interview with Justin Nystrom about Sicilian immigration
  4. Interview with Scott Marler about merchant capital
  5. Document and Questions
    • DOCUMENT: Frederick Law Olmsted, The Cotton Kingdom (New York: Mason brothers, 1861), 289-302.
    • QUESTIONS:
    • What things about New Orleans seem distinctively French to Olmsted?
    • What point does Olmsted seem to be conveying about ethnic diversity on pp.294-295?
    • What effects does slavery have on white labourers in New Orleans?
    • How does urban life make it difficult to control enslaved people?
  6. Document and Questions
    • DOCUMENT: "Cotton At New Orleans," Hunt's Merchants' Magazine and Commercial Review, vol. 42, no. 1 (Jan. 1860): 105-106.
    • QUESTIONS:
    • Why might cotton factors have been selling "dusty and sandy parcels of cotton"?
    • Why were sellers being held responsible for falsely packed cotton? What does this suggest about earlier practices?
    • Why were "presses . . . replacing lost bales of cotton without the consent of the owner" and why might this be considered "tantamount to a fraudulent substitution"?
    • What do these recommendations, taken together, suggest about existing business practices in New Orleans and what effect might this have had on the city's reputation?
    • What might have motivated the formation of this committee?
    • How do they propose to enforce these rules? What obstacles might they have encountered?
  7. Interview with John Bardes about Bras Coupé
    Background reading for this interview: John K. Bardes, "The Notorious Bras Coupé: A Slave Rebellion Replayed in Memory, History, and Anxiety," American Quarterly 72:1 (Mar. 2020): 1-23.
  8. Document and Questions
    • DOCUMENT: "The Congo Dance, New Orleans Daily Picayune, Oct. 12, 1879, p.2
    • QUESTIONS:
    • Why might the author have written this description in the late 1870s, decades after what it describes, and why would the newspaper have published it?
    • How much awareness was there in New Orleans of the varied ethnic backgrounds of enslaved Africans? How does this compare with other locations? Why might it be the case?
    • How might the author know that the illegal slave trade continued until 1845?
    • To what extent was musical knowledge, including knowledge of musical instruments and their construction, something that could be preserved on the Middle Passage?
    • What would have been the same and what would be different about the dances described here between Africa and New Orleans? Did they serve similar or different functions?
    • What role did the Sunday dances at Congo Square play in the economic lives of enslaved people in New Orleans?
  9. Freddi Williams Evans, "Congo Square: African Culture in New Orleans" (2018)

 

 

Week 4 (9 November 2020)

Essential Readings

Additional Learning Materials

  1. Document and Questions
  2. Discussion with Frank Towers about politics in the 1850s in New Orleans
  3. Interview with Anthony Stanonis about Mardi Gras
  4. We Won’t Bow Down (https://youtu.be/wZSNWvGj9Wg?t=581), 9:41-16:44 & 28:24-33:53

 

 

Week 5 (23 November 2020)

Essential Readings

  • Ari Kelman, A River and Its City, Ch. 4
  • Michael A. Ross, "Resisting the New South: Commercial Crisis and Decline in New Orleans, 1865–85," American Nineteenth-Century History 4, no. 1 (2003): 59-76.
  • Bruce E. Baker, "Fires on Shipboard: Sandbars, Salvage Fraud, and the Cotton Trade in New Orleans in the 1870s," Journal of Southern History 86, no. 3 (Aug. 2020), ???
  • Bruce E. Baker, "The Loose Cotton Economy of the New Orleans Waterfront in the Late Nineteenth Century," in Capitalism's Hidden Worlds, edited by Kenneth Lipartito and Lisa Jacobson (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2019), 67-80.
  • Justin A. Nystrom, New Orleans After the Civil War: Race, Politics, and a New Birth of Freedom (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2010), 1-5, 239-247
  • John K. Bardes, "Redefining Vagrancy: Policing Freedom and Disorder in Reconstruction New Orleans, 1862-1868," Journal of Southern History 84:1 (February 2018): 69-112.

Additional Learning Materials

  1. Document and Questions
    • DOCUMENT: "Under the Wharves: The Summer Burrows of Wharf Rats, Tramps and Thieves," New Orleans Daily Picayune, 29 July 1881, p.2
    • QUESTIONS:
    • Considering the commercial seasonality of the New Orleans waterfront, why might this article have been published at the end of July?
    • Why have the wharf rats made their hideouts under the wharves rather than in some other space in the city?
    • What is the relationship between the police and the wharf rats?
    • To what extent and for what reasons are the wharf rats a matter of concern for the businessmen of New Orleans?
  2. Interview with John Bardes about vagrancy in the 1860s
  3. Document and Questions
    • DOCUMENT: Mark Twain, Life on the Mississippi, Ch. XLI and Ch. XLIV
    • QUESTIONS:
    • How has the city changed since Twain’s visits there in the years before the Civil War?
    • How does the architecture of the new Cotton Exchange building symbolize the city’s changing economy?
    • What are some of the features of New Orleans that mark it as modern?
    • What is Twain’s attitude towards the Confederacy?
  4. Interview with Justin Nystrom about Reconstruction

 

 

Week 6 (30 November 2020)

Essential Readings

Additional Learning Materials

  1. Interview with Anthony Stanonis about tourism in the 1920s-1930s
  2. Interview with Steve Prince about Robert Charles

 

 

Week 7 (7 December 2020)

Essential Readings

Additional Learning Materials

 

 

Week 8 (14 December 2020)

Essential Readings

Additional Learning Materials

  1. Walter Williams, New Orleans: The Natural History (2002)
  2. When the Levees Broke clip
  3. Interview with Ari Kelman about New Orleans and hurricanes
  4. When the Levees Broke clip
  5. J. Mark Southern, "The Disneyfication of New Orleans: The French Quarter as Facade in a Divided City," Journal of American History 94:3 (Dec. 2007): 804-811.
  6. Interview with Anthony Stanonis about New Orleans since Hurricane Katrina
  7. CBS News, "New Orleans sees deadly racial disparities of COVID-19"
  8. Pandemic Insights: Mariola Espinosa, medical historian reflects on lessons of yellow fever

 

 

Week 9 (11 January 2021)

Essential Readings

Additional Learning Materials

  1. Q&A: Author Andy Horowitz On His New Book, 'Katrina: A History, 1915–2015'
  2. Discussion with Ari Kelman about hurricanes and New Orleans
  3. Interview with Anthony Stanonis about the history of pralines

 

Page revision date: 18-September-2020

Made with Notepad