Antebellum New Orleans: King Cotton Diplomacy and the Slave Trade
Louisiana Purchase 1803 Courtesy of Washington.edu Napoleon Bonaparte Courtesy of history.org Thomas Jefferson Courtesy of history.org The Louisiana Purchase took place in 1803- As Napoleon was trying to fund the war in Europe he sold the Louisiana territory to the United States. Jefferson, was hesitant to make the purchase at first, as the constitution did not cover the purchase of new territory, he purchased the Louisiana Territory for 13 million dollars. Prior to the Louisiana Purchase, the United States, had the right of deposit and was using New Orleans as a port. At the end of the colonial era, the New Orleans population only reached 10,000 people.
New Orleans at the Purchase of the Louisiana Territory, 1803
The Map above depicts New Orleans in 1815, only 12 years after the Louisiana Purchase, showing significant growth on the Riverfront.
King Cotton Diplomacy Cotton was the number one raw material that new Orleans traded, it also helped to promote slavery as another economic ‘resource’. The Confederacy also relied heavily on the port of New Orleans and King Cotton Diplomacy as they felt assured that the importance of the New Orleans port and cotton trade would guarantee them a victory.
Slave Trade <ul><li>Slavery acted as a form of economic means for many New Orleans residents. </li></ul><ul><li>Slavery allowed plantation owners to export their cotton and other materials more quickly. </li></ul><ul><li>Slavery also brought many tourist and other businessmen in search of trading or buying slaves. </li></ul>Prior to the Louisiana Purchase the black and white population in New Orleans often intermingled, as there were not enough women for the white men, the man would often move a black mistress into his home.
New Orleans Culture Courtesy of state.la.us Mardi Gras which started in Louisiana in the late 17 th century continued to be one of New Orleans yearly cultural events bringing people from all walks of life together. Masquerade Balls also played a large role although, they were year round until outlawed in the mid 1800s. The balls allowed all walks of life together including ‘Negros’ and lower class whites. Voodoo played a large role in New Orleans culture, not only did many superstitious blacks take part but, there was a majority of the white population that also practiced Voodoo rituals. Nonetheless, it was the black population saw it as a way to have a control over their own lives.
New Orleans and the Civil War <ul><li>New Orleans was meant to be used strategically by the North and the South. </li></ul><ul><li>The South intended to use cotton as a means to induce European involvement in the war on the behalf of the Confederacy </li></ul><ul><li>Before the plan could be put into place a Union blockade was formed outside of New Orleans preventing ships from leaving or entering the port. </li></ul><ul><li>In preparation for the war, the Union had stocked up a back supply of cotton to prevent the south's primary trade good being used against them. </li></ul><ul><li>Europe having heard rumors of the war had also stocked up a years back supply of cotton. </li></ul><ul><li>In 1862, New Orleans was captured by Union Forces and put under extreme martial law. </li></ul>
New Orleans Population The chart above show significant increase in population from 1820 to 1920 however, the most significant increase falls between the years of 1820 and 1840- raising from 27,176 to an astounding 102,913 people.
Reasons for population boom between 1820 and 1840: <ul><li>Introduction of Natural Gas- 1830 </li></ul><ul><li>The Lake Ponchitrain Railroad finished in 1830. </li></ul><ul><li>The cotton steam press was invented in 1832. </li></ul><ul><li>New Basil Canal opened up a trading route between Uptown New Orleans and the lake side cities. </li></ul><ul><li>1840, a public schooling system was created within the city limits. </li></ul><ul><li>Most importantly, between the years of 1831-1833, foreign imports more than doubled offering new opportunities to workers. </li></ul>
Overall, New Orleans became one of the most important ports in the 19 th century- their culture unlike any other used King Cotton diplomacy and slavery as their primary method of economic gain, allowing the city to grow to one of the largest in the United States.