Today in New Orleans History

May 1

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Martial Law Under Union General Benjamin Butler
May 1, 1862
With this May 1, 1862, proclamation, Union General Benjamin Butler officially announced the federal government's occupation of New Orleans and declared martial law in the city. It read:



New Orleans, May 1, 1862.

The City of New Orleans and its environs, with all its interior and exterior defenses, having been surrendered to the combined naval and land forces of the United States, and having been evacuated by the rebel forces in whose possession they lately were, and being now in occupation of the forces of the United States, who have come to restore order, maintain public tranquility, enforce peace and quiet under the Laws and Constitution of the United States, the Major-General commanding the forces of the United States in the Department of the Gulf, hereby makes known and proclaims the object and purposes of the Government of the United States in thus taking possession of the City of New Orleans and the State of Louisiana, and the rules and regulations by which the laws of the United States will be for the present and during a state of war enforced and maintained, for the plain guidance of all good citizens of the United States, as well as others who may heretofore have been in rebellion against their authority.

Thrice before has the City New Orleans been rescued from the hand of a foreign government, and still more calamitous domestic insurrection, by the money and arms of the United States. It has of late been under the military control of the rebel forces, claiming to be the peculiar friends of its citizens, and at each time, in the judgment of the commander of the military forces holding it, it has been found necessary to preserve order and maintain quiet by the administration of Law Martial. Even during the interim from its evacuation by the rebel soldiers and its actual possession by the soldiers of the United States, the civil authorities of the city have found it necessary to call for the intervention of an armed body known as the "European Legion," to preserve public tranquility. The Commanding General, therefore, will cause the City to be governed until the restoration of Municipal Authority, and his further orders, by the Law Martial, a measure for which it would seem the previous recital furnishes sufficient precedents.

All persons in arms against the United States are required to surrender themselves, with their arms, equipments and munitions of war. The body known as the "European Legion," not being understood to be in arms against the United States, but organized to protect the lives and property of the citizens, are invited still to co-operate with the forces of the United States to that end, and so acting, will not be included in the terms of this order, but will report to these Headquarters.

All flags, ensigns and devices, tending to uphold any authority whatever, save the flag of the United States and the flags of foreign Consulates, must not be exhibited, but suppressed. The American Ensign, the emblem of the United States, must be treated with the utmost deference and respect by all persons, under pain of severe punishment.

All persons well disposed towards the Government of the United States, who shall renew their oath or allegiance, will receive the safeguard and protection, in their persons and property, of the armies of the United States, the violation of which, by any person, is punishable with death.

All persons still holding allegiance to the Confederate States will be deemed rebels against the Government of the United States, and regarded and treated as enemies thereof.

All foreigners not naturalized and claiming allegiance to their respective Governments, and not having made oath of allegiance to the supposed Government of the Confederate States, will be protected in their persons and property as heretofore under the laws of the United States.

All persons who may heretofore have given their adherence to the supposed Government of the Confederate States, or have been in their service, who shall lay down and deliver up their arms and return to peaceful occupations and preserve quiet and order, holding no further corespondence [sic] nor giving aid and comfort to the enemies of the United States will not be disturbed either in person or property, except so far under the orders of the Commanding General as the exigencies of the public service may render necessary.

The keepers of all public property, whether State, National or Confederate, such as collections of art, libraries, museums, as well as all public buildings, all munitions of war, and armed vessels, will at once make full returns thereof to these Headquarters; all manufacturers of arms and munitions of war will report to these Headquarters their kind and place of business.

All rights of property, of whatever kind, will be held inviolate, subject only to the laws of the United States.

All inhabitants are enjoined to pursue their usual avocations; all shops and places of business are to be kept open in the accustomed manner, and services to be had in the churches and religious houses as in times of profound peace.

Keepers of all public houses, coffee houses and drinking saloons, are to report their names and numbers to the office of the Provost Marshal; will there receive license, and be held responsible for all disorders and disturbance of the peace arising in their respective places.

A sufficient force will be kept in the city to preserve order and maintain the laws.

The killing of an American soldier by any disorderly person or mob, is simply assassination and murder, and not war, and will be so regarded and punished.

The owner of any house or building in or from which such murder shall be committed, will be held responsible therefor [sic], and the house will be liable to be destroyed by the military authority.

All disorders and disturbances of the peace done by combinations and numbers, and crimes of an aggravated nature, interfering with forces or laws of the United States, will be referred to a military court for trial and punishment; other misdemeanors will be subject to the municipal authority, if it chooses to act. Civil causes between party and party will be referred to the ordinary tribunals. The levy and collection of all taxes, save those imposed by the laws of the United States, are suppressed, except those for keeping in repair and lighting the streets, and for sanitary purposes. Those are to be collected in the usual manner.

The circulation of Confederate bonds, evidences of debt, except notes in the similitude of bank notes issued by the Confederate States, or scrip, or any trade in the same, is strictly forbidden. It having been represented to the Commanding General by the city authorities that these Confederate notes, in the form of bank notes, are, in a great measure, the only substitute for money which the people have been allowed to have, and that great distress would ensue among the poorer classes if the circulation of such notes were suppressed, such circulation will be permitted so long as any one may be inconsiderate enough to receive them, till further orders.

No publication, either by newspaper, pamphlet or handbill, giving accounts of the movements of soldiers of the United States within this Department, reflecting in any way upon the United States or its officers, or tending in any way to influence the public mind against the Government of the United States, will be permitted; and all articles of war news, or editorial comments, or correspondence, making comments upon the movements of the armies of the United States, or the rebels, must be submitted to the examination of an officer who will be detailed for that purpose from these Headquarters.

The transmission of all communications by telegraph will be under the charge of an officer from these Headquarters.

The armies of the United States came here not to destroy but to make good, to restore order out of chaos, and the government of laws in place of the passions of men, to this end, therefore, the efforts of all well disposed persons are invited to have every species of disorder quelled, and if any soldier of the United States should so far forget his duty or his flag as to commit any outrage on any person or property the Commanding General requests that his name be instantly reported to the Provost Guard, so that he may be punished and his wrongful act redressed.

The municipal authority so far as the police of the city and crimes are concerned, to the extent before indicated, is hereby suspended.

All assemblages of persons in the streets, either by day or by night, tend to disorder, and are forbidden.

The various companies composing the Fire Department in New Orleans will be permitted to retain their organizations, and are to report to the office of the Provost Marshal so that they may be known and not interfered with in their duties.

And, finally, it may be sufficient to add, without further enumeration, that all the requirements of martial law will be imposed so long as, in the judgment of the United States authorities it may be necessary. And while it is the desire of these authorities to exercise this government mildly and after the usages of the past, it must not be supposed that it will not be vigorously and firmly administered as occasion calls.

By command of
GEO. C. STRONG, A. A. Gen., Chief of Staff.


Major-General Commanding, U. S. A.
Department of the Gulf

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In 1999, Dave Treen won a special election to Louisiana's 1st congressional district, succeeding Republican Congressman Bob Livingston, who resigned after an adultery scandal. In the initial vote on May 1, 1999, former Congressman and Governor David Treen finished first with 36,719 votes (25%). David Vitter was second, with 31,741 (22%), and white nationalist David Duke finished third with 28,055 votes (19%). Monica L. Monica, a Republican ophthalmologist, had 16%; State Representative Bill Strain, a conservative Democrat, finished fifth with 11%; and Rob Couhig, a Republican lawyer and the owner of New Orleans's minor league baseball team, had 6%. In the runoff, Vitter defeated Treen 51% to 49%.

On May 1, 1995, Harrah's New Orleans Casino celebrated its grand opening at the Municipal Auditorium. Harrah's spent $41 million to transform the auditorium (erected in 1930) into the 'temporary' casino comprised of 76,000 square feet, 3,096 slot machines, and 90 gambling tables. Harrah's predicted 10,000 daily gamblers, $395 million earnings for the first twelve months, $33 million a month gross gambling revenue, 3,100 employees.  On November 21, 1995 (one day before Thanksgiving holidays) Harrah's closed the 'temporary' casino at the Municipal Auditorium, and halted all construction of the permament casino at the Rivergate site; 3,000 jobs lost; Harrah's filed for bankruptcy. Source:

Ernest Nathan Morial (known as Dutch) (October 9, 1929–December 24, 1989) was a U.S. political figure and a leading civil rights advocate. He was the first black mayor of New Orleans, serving from May 1, 1978 to May 5, 1986. He was the father of Marc Morial, a subsequent New Orleans mayor. Morial, a New Orleans native, grew up in the Seventh Ward. His father was Walter Etienne Morial, a cigarmaker, and his mother was Leonie V. (Moore) Morial, a seamstress. He attended Holy Redeemer Elementary School and McDonogh #35 Senior High School. He graduated from Xavier University of Louisiana in New Orleans, Louisiana in 1951. In 1954, he became the first African American to receive a law degree from Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge. Morial attended summer school throughout his law school tenure in order to graduate as the first African American. Had he not done so, another classmate, Robert F. Collins, would have graduated at the same time, thus entering into the history books as, technically, the first African American graduate of LSU Law, by virtue of his last name: "C" comes before "M." Collins would later become the first black federal judge in the American South. In 1991, Collins was convicted of bribery, resigned, and imprisoned.

May 1, 1954 was the occasion for a combined of the new Home Rule Charter and of the new City Council elected according to its provisions. The cover of the event’s program notes that it took place on the “steps of City Hall.” In 1954 City Hall was still housed in what we know today as Gallier Hall. It was not until 1958 that the new City Hall on Perdido Street hosted the municipal swearing-in ceremony. The Municipal Auditorium Commission ceased to exist with the passage of the Home Rule Charter. Its functions were more or less continued by the Municpal Auditorium Advisory Board, which, after December 1955, became the Municipal Auditorium Advisory Committee. Over the next decade or so, the Advisory Committee's responsibilities and influence seems to have gradually diminished, and the Auditorium, for all practical purposes, came to be managed by the Department of Property Management through a Managing Director. It is not clear exactly when the Advisory Committee ceased to exist finally, but it may have been during the mid-late 1960's, when development of the Cultural Center began.
The Charter of 1954

The commission form of government lasted until 1954 when it was replaced by a mayor-council form provided for in a home rule charter authorized by constitutional amendment of 1950. This amendment declared that the city would have "the authority to adopt and enforce local police, sanitary and similar regulations and to do and perform all of the acts pertaining to its local affairs, property and government, which are necessary or proper in the legitimate exercise of its corporate powers and municipal functions." This grant of power did not apply, however, to constitutional agencies, the Board of Liquidation, City Debt, the civil service system and the pension systems of the Sewerage and Water Board and the fire and police departments. The city was also prohibited from exercising any power which is inconsistent or in conflict with general law, and, without legislative sanction, from decreasing the salaries or increasing the hours of employment in the fire and police departments. The state legislature, in turn, was forbidden to amend or repeal the home rule charter "other than by general law which uniformly applies, both in terms and in effect, to all cities of the state." The classification of cities for purposes of legislation was permitted only if the classification is based on total population and is made to apply to no fewer than the five largest cities of the state, including New Orleans. Such legislation is not to become effective in New Orleans, however, until approved by the voters of the city. The city can amend or replace its own charter either by ordinance or by petition signed by 10,000 voters, with approval by a majority of the electorate in both instances.

While the home rule amendment was before the legislature, Mayor Morrison issued a public statement in which he declared that, if the amendment was passed by the legislature and approved by the voters, the council would create a non-partisan commission of civic leaders to prepare the draft of a new charter. Shortly after the November election, in which the amendment was approved by a majority of more than two to one, the mayor asked a group of civic organizations and institutions to name three persons from whom the council could choose one. When several members of the council objected to this system, the mayor modified his proposed ordinance to authorize the organizations either to designate one representative on the committee or to nominate two or more persons from whom the council would select one. The ordinance also provided for two additional representatives to be named by the council itself. In this form it was passed, with April 1, 1952 as the deadline for submission of the proposed charter to the council for approval.'

The committee hired a small research staff, which was headed by the director of the Bureau of Governmental Research. The staff prepared a total of 111 brief reports on the boards and commissions located in the city, devoted principally to their historical and legal background." The committee considered the various forms of city government used in the United States and held public hearings to permit interested citizens and organizations to present their views. The proposed charter was submitted to the council by the deadline date and approved by it with some amendments. The voters of the city were given an opportunity the following November to vote either for the retention of the old form of government or in favor of the new. The new charter was adopted and went into effect on May 1, 1954.

The charter provides for a mayor-council form of government with a chief administrative officer who is appointed by, and is responsible to, the mayor. The council, which is the legislative body, is composed of seven members, five of whom are elected from districts and two at large. The term of office is four years and the salary is $7500 per year. It is the mandatory duty of the council to redistrict the city within six months after each decennial census, and if this is not done the members receive no further salaries. A redistricting ordinance may not be vetoed by the mayor.


From the New Orleans Union Passenger Terminal Dedication Program, Saturday, May 1, 1954: On Christmas Day, in 1830, a six-horsepower locomotive, "The Best Friend of Charleston", inaugurated the first regular steam railroad service in the United States, on a six-mile line belonging to the South Carolina Canal and Rail Road Company (now a part of the Southern Railway System). The New Orleans and Northeastern Railroad Company was chartered in 1870. Its rail line from Meridian, Mississippi to New Orleans, which was completed in 1883, became part of the Southern Railway System in 1916-connecting New Orleans via Birmingham, Chattanooga, and Atlanta, with the vast area South of the Ohio and East of the Mississippi River. The Southern Railway System Docks are at Chalmette, just below New Orleans. The Louisville & Nashville Railroad was chartered in 1850. By 1880, its service had been extended to New Orleans, thru Birmingham, Montgomery, and Mobile, by acquisition of the New Orleans, Mobile and Texas Railroad. At the same time, the L&N also acquired the oldest railroad west of the Alleghenies-the Pontchartrain Railroad, five miles long, which extended "straight as a string" on Elysian Fields Avenue, in New Orleans, from the Mississippi River to Lake Pontchartrain, at Milneburg. This line was abandoned in 1935, after some 104 years of uninterrupted service. For seventy-four years, the L&N linked New Orleans with the Central-South and the Mississippi Valley. The Missouri Pacific was the first railroad west of the Mississippi River, having started at St. Louis in 1851, and reached Kansas City in 1865. The St. Louis, Iron Mountain & Southern (the original line is today an important part of the Missouri Pacific System) co-operated in establishing rail-freight service between St. Louis and New Orleans in the early 1870's. And, in 1916, the Iron Mountain established through-passenger service between New Orleans and St. Louis and Kansas City, via Alexandria, La., and Little Rock, Ark.-using the T&P Tracks between New Orleans and Alexandria. In 1924, the Missouri Pacific acquired the Gulf Coast Lines, which link New Orleans with Houston and Brownsville, Texas.  When three yoke of oxen furnished the motive power to pull two small box cars and one flat car over 23 miles of track, into East Texas, from Swanson's Landing on Caddo Lake, in Louisiana, in 1858-that was the beginning of The Texas and Pacific Railway. (The steam locomotive had been ordered but was delayed enroute down the Mississippi by steamboat.) Then came the Civil War and the Panic of 1873. Construction of the line between Shreveport and El Paso was slowed. In 1876, the New Orleans Pacific Railway Company built a line between New Orleans and Shreveport. In 1881, The Texas and Pacific acquired the fanchise, and by the end of 1882 had established rail service between New Orleans and El Paso. The Kansas City Southern Lines, which connect New Orleans with Dallas, and with Kansas City, via Alexandria and Shreveport, were formed from the merger of three different railroads: the Kansas City Southern, the Louisiana Railway and Navigation Company, and the Louisiana & Arkansas. The LR&N between New Orleans and Shreveport was completed in 1907 by William Edenborn. And, in 1923, the LR&N acquired a line between Shreveport and Dallas. These two lines, which were merged by the late-Harvey Couch, were acquired by the Kansas City Southern in 1939-thus providing a thru route from New Orleans to Kansas City. In October 1852, construction began on the first Railroad serving New Orleans west of the Mississippi. This pioneer line-the New Orleans, Opelousas & Great Western-built only 80 miles of railroad, but it became a vital part of the 14,000-mile Southern Pacific System, which now extends from New Orleans to Portland, Oregon. During the past century, the Southern Pacific has made important contributions to the development of New Orleans, through providing transportation service to and from the Southwest and West. The SP served as a partner with the State of Louisiana and the New Orleans Public Belt Railroad, in the construction of the famous Huey Long Bridge-underwriting a goodly share of the $13,000,000 cost of bridging the Mississippi.


Photo -- Judge C. Howard McCaleb administers the oath of office to Commissioners Thomas Brahney, Jr., Victor H. Schiro, Walter Duffourc, Bernard McCloskey, Glenn Clasen, A. Brown Moore, and Lionel G. Ott, May 1, 1950.
Photo -- The new Commission Council meets with Mayor deLesseps S. Morrison, May 1, 1950. (left to right) Glenn P. Clasen (Public Sanitation), Thomas M. Brahney, Jr. (Health and Institutions), Victor H. Schiro (Public Buildings and Parks), Lionel G. Ott (Public Finance), Mayor Morrison, Bernard J. McCloskey (Public Safety), Walter M. Duffourc (Public Streets), and A. Brown Moore (Public Utilities).

City ordinances regulated public stall rental, the products that could or could not be sold at certain markets or times of the year (before refrigeration, for example, the sale of shrimp, fish, or crabs, was prohibited between May 1 and October 1) and enforced very specific health and sanitary regulations. The advent of supermarkets in the 1950s brought an end to the era of the public market, and today, only the French Market remains under municipal ownership, more a tourist attraction now than a viable market. (NOPL)

Jazz drummer  Dave ("Big Dave") Oxley was  born on May 1, 1910.  He died on July 22, 1974.  Photo of Oxley from the New Orleans Public Library.

On May 1, 1901, New Orleans was honored by the visit of the President of the United States, William McKinley, accompanied by Mrs. McKinley and Secretaries John Hay, Charles Emory Smith, and E. A. Hitchcock. He was received in the Cabildo by the Governor of Louisiana, attended by his staff in full uniform. The bells of the Cathedral of St. Louis announced the arrival of the President and his cabinet, escorted by Mayor Paul Capdevielle, and a committee of distinguished citizens. As the cortege entered the Supreme Court Hall, Chairman Zacharie announced in a loud voice “The President,” and the assembly arose and remained standing while the Chief Justice conducted the President to a seat of honor at his right on the Supreme Court Bench. The Governor of Louisiana took a seat on the left of the Chief Justice, and the Mayor of New Orleans the one on the right of the President, the Justices occupying seats immediately in the rear of the bench. Chairman Zacharie then conducted the members of the cabinet and their wives to places on the left of the dais, where a seat, filled with roses, had been reserved for Mrs. William McKinley, who, at the last moment, was too ill to attend. (NOPD)

During the late 1860s, the remains of John Mc Donogh the millionaire, were taken from a tomb in the swamp cemetery in back of Algiers and brought to the city to be forwarded for reinterment at Baltimore. It is not known through what arrangements this was done, but it is presumed that it was agreed upon by the Baltimore and New Orleans Commissioners of the Mc Donogh Estate. So those who may visit his tomb and read its inscription, must remember that the body of this illustrious philanthropist is not there, having been removed on May 1, 1860. (NOPL)

In 1852, a city ordinance provided that the gates of the Jackson Square be kept open until 10 o'clock P.M. from May 1 to Nov. 1, each year.

By ordinance of May 1, 1845, the Carrollton Council created the office of Commissary to be occupied by "a competent person elected annually...." The ordinance enumerated the duties of the office, which included the inspection of the town's streets & levees, the inspection of licenses, the arrest of runaways & vagrants, and the general police of the municipality.

James Henry Caldwell, actor, theater manager, businessman. Born, Manchester, England, ca. 1793. First appeared as child actor at Manchester or Sheffield, England. Brought to Charleston, S. C., in October 1816 by Joseph George Hollman and gave first performance in November as Belcour in The West Indian. In December 1817, he began managerial career at Alexandria, Va. In 1818, built a theater at Petersburg, Va., and also presented a play at Richmond. Married, apparently last week of November, 1819, Maria Carter Wormeley, who had two sons—Carter and John—by a previous marriage. This new marriage resulted in two additional children—William Shakespeare and Sophia (Sophy) Caldwell. Caldwell toured with theatrical company and in fall of 1819 went to New Orleans. Built Camp Street Theater in New Orleans at cost of $70,000 and although it was still not finished, opened it on May 14, 1823. It was the first important structure in the new Second (American) Municipality; theater formally opened on January 1, 1824. Meanwhile, Caldwell continued to tour eastern theaters during summer until 1825 at which time he began tours of towns in the South and Southwest—called "Pioneer of Drama in the South." Brought competent actors and good plays to the region and became the most important theatrical person there. Built theaters in Cincinnati, Nashville, Mobile, and converted a salt house in St. Louis into a theater. Introduced gas lighting into American Theater in New Orleans and organized a company to supply gas lighting for the city; received charter on March 1, 1833. Began operations in 1834 but Caldwell sold his interest in 1835. Established similar companies in Cincinnati and Mobile and these were his principal sources of wealth in later years. Opened St. Charles Theater in New Orleans on November 12, 1835; was the most magnificent theater in the South and one of the largest in the country; burned in March, 1842. Caldwell retired from theatrical activity on January 14, 1843, and thereafter devoted his time to several official positions in New Orleans. Two sons born during this time as result of liaison with Margaret Abrams—James Henry Caldwell, Jr. (b. 1837) and Edward Holland Caldwell (b. 1844). Caldwell commissioned as captain in Louisiana Militia, Forty-second Regiment of First Brigade, December 7, 1842. He was a member of the Second Municipality Council for last ten years of its existence and then served as recorder. When New Orleans reverted to one complete city government, he was elected to board of aldermen and served as president of that body, 1855-1856. Served a term in Louisiana house of representatives, 1858-1860; in 1857, became principal stockholder in Bank of James Robb; had extensive real estate holdings in New Orleans and elsewhere. Meanwhile, in private life, divorced first wife Maria sometime before 1850. Married Josephine Rowe, daughter of George and Louisa Rowe on May 22, 1850. Son, Harry Stroud Caldwell, born to this union but died at age five. Josephine died on September 16, 1857. Caldwell left New Orleans between February and October, 1862; was living in Cincinnati as of October 6, 1862; by August 29, 1863, was in New York City. In feeble health for some time. Died, New York City, September 11, 1863. Services held on September 14, at St. Patrick's Cathedral. Caldwell then taken back to New Orleans. Services again held on October 11, 1863, at Dead Church on Rampart St. with burial in Fireman's Cemetery.  From

At its first session in 1804, the Legislative Council of the Territory of Orleans divided the Territory into twelve counties (Orleans Territory, Act, 1804-1805, XXV, sec 1), with New Orleans within the County of Orleans. The same act also established a County Court in each of the twelve counties and authorized Governor William C.C. Claiborne to appoint judges to the County Court benches for terms of four years. On May 1, 1805 Claiborne selected James Workman to serve as judge in the County of Orleans (Territorial Papers of the United States, Volume IX: The Territory of Orleans 1803-1812, Clarence Edwin Carter, ed., Washington: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1940, p. 598). The statute also provided for a sheriff, a coroner, a clerk, and a treasurer to complete the staff of each County Court (Or. Terr. A.,1804-1805, XXV, sec 2). During its first session, the Territorial Legislature authorized the appointment of attorneys to act on behalf of the Territory, relieving the court clerks of this duty (Or. Terr. A., 1805, III, sec 1). (NOPL)

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Abreviations used on this site: NOPL (New Orleans Public Library), LOC (Library of Congress), LDL (Lousiana Digital Library), HNOC (Historic New Orleans Collection), WIKI (Wikipedia).

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