The next day being Monday and free from work, we headed to the French Quarter to do the tourist thing. We started, of course, at Cafe duMonde, where I introduced Dave to authentic beignet. Two years before, a local had scoffed at the line of tourists and showed me how to go through the front and grab a table so in no time we had the little squares of deliciousness in front of us. *pauses to remember* Sigh.
Then we walked over to Jackson Square and enjoyed the artists, ducking into the shops around the Square occasionally to soak in some air conditioning. While the weather during our time in NOLA had been unseasonably reasonable, it was heating up and I don’t deal with hot weather well. I carry a lot of internal heat so when it heats up outside it’s like double 🙂
Our target was the Cabildo, an Louisiana State Museum housed in the original building constructed in 1795 to house government offices. According to their website:
“The Cabildo served as the center of New Orleans government until 1853, when it became the headquarters of the Louisiana State Supreme Court,
where the landmark Plessy v. Ferguson decision originated in 1892. The building was transferred to the Louisiana State Museum in 1908 and has since served to educate the public about Louisiana history.”
And learn we did. This was certainly one of the more information-dense museums I’ve ever been to. Unlike the Texas history museum, which included a lot of adverably-intensive bravado, the tenor here was strictly information transformation. There’s a lot to learn. The Spanish ruled until just before the Louisiana Purchase (1803), so it was in French hands basically just long enough to sell it to Thomas Jefferson.
But the thing that we both took away is that NOLA is essentially a Caribbean city with lots of trade happening with Caribbean island nations throughout the 1700 and 1800s. There was an amazing map that showed the Gulf of Mexico and the arc of Spanish holdings. I never saw a map like that in school (I was a history major) and found it fascinating. Pirates (Jean Lafitte) and trade via shipping are woven into the fabric of NOLA. When the slave revolt happened in Haiti (1795 – 1804) and the slave revolts on Jamaica (there were a lot of them, according to Wikipedia), a lot of the former slaves made their homes in NOLA.
Note: I am so grateful that the BF is as interested in history as I am. It’s a real treat to be able to spend time in history museums and talk about what we each discovered. I read really fast and tend to go through museums at a faster pace than the BF, but we’ve found that it’s fun to compare notes after.
After the Cabaldo, we waked around the French Quarter some more and I made a new friend. 🙂
There was a section in the Cabaldo on the Battle of New Orleans, which is the only decisive battle of the War of 1812 (and fought after the treat was signed so the war was officially over, but word had not reached NOLA). The BF wants to see the National Park for the War of 1812 battlefield, which is on the outskirts of NOLA. We’ll hit that tomorrow on our way out of town.
Next up: War of 1812 Battlefield
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