Today in New Orleans History

October 24

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Gladys Moore's Funeral
October 24, 1983



 Triple Alliance Strikes

October 24, 1892

Early in 1892, streetcar conductors in New Orleans won a shorter workday and the preferential closed shop whereby employers agree to hire union members only. This victory drove many New Orleans workers to seek assistance from the American Federation of Labor (AFL). As many as 30 new labor unions had been organized in the city before the summer of 1892. By late summer, 49 unions belonged to the AFL. The unions established a central labor council known as the Workingmen's Amalgamated Council that represented more than 20,000 workers. Three racially integrated unions—the Teamsters, the Scalesmen, and the Packers—made up what came to be called the "Triple Alliance." Many of the workers belonging to the unions of the Triple Alliance were African American.

On October 24, 1892, between 2,000 and 3,000 members of the Triple Alliance struck to win a 10-hour work day, overtime pay, and the preferential union shop. The Amalgamated Council wholeheartedly supported them. The New Orleans Board of Trade, representing financial and commercial interests, appointed a committee to make decisions for the employers. The four main railways that served the city and the large cotton, sugar and rice commodity exchanges pledged their support for the Board of Trade. They helped raise a defense fund and asked the state governor to send in the militia to help break the strike. No negotiations took place during the first week.

Employers utilized race-based appeals to try to divide the workers and turn the public against the strikers. The board of trade announced it would sign contracts agreeing to the terms—but only with the white-dominated Scalesmen and Packers unions. The Board of Trade refused to sign any contract with the black-dominated Teamsters. The striking workers refused to break ranks along racial lines. Large majorities of the Scalesmen and Packers unions passed resolutions affirming their commitment to strike until the employers had signed a contract with the Teamsters on the same terms offered to other unions.

Members of other unions began to call for a general strike to support the Triple Alliance. A number of meetings were held, during which sentiment proved so strong that a majority of the unions belonging to the Amalgamated Council voted in favor of a resolution calling for a general strike. A Committee of Five was formed to lead the general strike. Its members included the Cotton Screwmen's Union, the Cotton Yardmen's Union, the Printers, the Boiler Makers, and the Car Driver's Union.

The Workingman's Council again called for a general strike, which began on November 8 after two postponements. Each of the 46 unions which joined the strike demanded the union shop and recognition of their union. Some also asked for shorter work-days or higher pay. Nearly 25,000 union members—half the city's workforce and virtually all its unionized workers struck. Strikers were joined by non-industrial laborers, such as musicians, clothing workers, clerks, utility workers, streetcar drivers, and printers. Streetcars stopped running. Recently organized utility workers joined the strike. The city's supply of natural gas failed on November 8, as did the electrical grid, and the city was plunged into darkness. The delivery of food and beverages immediately ceased, generating alarm among city residents. Construction, printing, street cleaning, manufacturing and even fire-fighting services ground to a halt.

The mayor issued a proclamation forbidding public gatherings, essentially declaring martial law. Although the city was quiet, the Board of Trade convinced Democratic Governor, Murphy J. Foster, to send in the state militia on November 10. Militia leaders found the city calm and orderly. Governor Foster withdrew the militia on November 11.

The Board of Trade agreed to binding arbitration to settle the strike. Employers agreed to sit down with both white and black union leaders. After 48 hours of negotiations, the employers agreed to the 10-hour day and overtime pay, but would not grant recognition to the unions of the Triple Alliance.  (Wiki) 

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Stone Temple Pilots played at Voodoo Fest on October 24, 2008.

William Jefferson was elected unopposed as a State Senator on October 24, 1987.

Mitch Landreu was elected as State Representative, 90th Representative District on October 24, 1987.

Doctor Edgar Hull, Jr. (February 20, 1904 October 24, 1984), was a founding faculty member of the Louisiana State University Medical Center in New Orleans in 1931. He was among those called upon to treat Huey P. Long after he was shot in 1935.  In 1983, after nearly a half-century, Hull published his memoirs, This I Remember: An Informal History of the Louisiana State University Medical Center in New Orleans. Unlike LSU historian T. Harry Williams, who suggested Long might have survived with better medical care, Hull said that Long could not have survived the shooting. He denied that Long had died from medical or surgical incompetence. Hull also criticized his own conduct; though he had called for an autopsy, Hull had not been persistent enough and allowed himself to be overruled in the swarm of events.  He also wrote Essentials Of Electrocardiography - For The Student And Practitioner Of Medicine and Descendants of Cornelius Hull and Thankful (Root) Hull his wife, of Great Barrington, Mass.

Photography by Jerry Bray -- Dreux Ave from Elysian Fields to Franklin "before" paving, October 24, 1958

Frank L. Brothers, born on October 24, 1946 in New Orleans,  won two of the three U.S. Triple Crown races as a thoroughbred racehorse trainer who in 1991 . He was also voted the Outstanding Thoroughbred Trainer by the United Thoroughbred Trainers of America in 1991 and was inducted into the Fair Grounds Racing Hall of Fame.

New Orleans born Don Costello (September 5, 1901 - October 24, 1945) entered films in 1935 and in 1939 was put under contract with MGM. Known for his wicked sense of humor, Costello oftentimes played the role of a menace or a tough guy. He is probably best known for his role as Lefty in the movie Here Comes Mr. Jordan (1941). He appeared in 37 movies (31 times credited), including Another Thin Man (1939), Johnny Eager (1941) and The Blue Dahlia (1946).

On October 24, 1944 the WWII Liberty Ship King Hathaway was launched at Delta Shipbuilding Company.

Weiss and Dreyfous submitted building plans for Miller Brothers Square Deal Jewelers at 930 Canal Street on October 24, 1924.

Jazz drummer Louis Barbarin, born in New Orleans on October 24, 1902 studied under the famed drummer, Louis Cottrell, Sr. and worked with the bands of Armand J. Piron, Papa Celestin, Papa French, Preservation Hall, and others until he retired in the mid-1980s due to hearing problems. He was the younger brother of Paul Barbarin. Louis died on May 12, 1997.

When Robert E. Lee's figure was raised in stone at Tivoli Place (now Lee Circle), Charles Erasmus Fenner had been instrumental in its erection and delivered the unveiling oration.  He was president of the R. E. Lee Monument Association. Educated in the public schools of New Orleans he then attended Western Military Institute of Kentucky where he was valedictorian, the University of Virginia, and the law department of University of Louisiana (now Tulane University.  He formed te Civil War military unit of Louisiana Guards and entered Confederate service day after Fort Sumter was fired upon. He was assigned to Pensacola and became a member of Dreux's Battalion. He then served in Virginia, formed Fenner's Battery of artillery, served at Port Hudson, in Georgia, and in Tennessee  before surrendering with Richard Taylor in Meridian, Mississippi. Returning to New Orleans, he formed a partnership with Gustave A. Breaux.  In 1880 he was named associate justice of the Louisiana Supreme Court in 1880, a position he resigned in 1894.  That year he became Vice-president (later president) of the board of administrators of the Tulane Fund which was instrumental in the organization of Tulane University). He was also a member of the Peabody Education Fund.  Born in Jackson, Tennessee on February 14, 1834, he died in New Orleans on October 24, 1911 and was interred at Washington Cemetery. (From  Hal I. Pod  added, "And your footnote to this day's history [related to the Quadroon Balls]: This is the same Charles Erasmus Fenner who delivered the opinion of the Louisiana Supreme Court in Ex Parte Plessy, upholding the constitutionality of Louisiana's Separate Car Act (1890 La. Acts 152 (July 10, 1890)), resulting thereafter in the infamous Plessy v. Ferguson U.S. Supreme Court decision in 1896.

Banjoist Lawrence (Laurence) Marrero (October 24, 1900 – June 5, 1959) was born in New Orleans and grew up in a musical family.  His brothers were Eddie (bass), John (banjo), Simon (bass), and their father Billy (bass) were musicians.  In 1919 he got his first regular job on banjo with Wooden Joe Nicholas's Camelia Brass Band and from 1920 he joined on bass drum the Young Tuxedo Brass Band. In 1942 he made the recordings with Bunk Johnson that started the New Orleans Jazz Revival and he soon became a legend among the Jazz fans. He was featured on many recordings and was a regular member of the George Lewis band until ill health caused him to quit music in late 1955.

The Quadroon Balls
October 24, 1800 

The term quadroon, in New Orleans, referred to a person with one white and one mulatto (half white, half black) parent -- someone whose lineage is one-fourth black. The quadroon balls were social events designed to encourage mixed-race women to form liaisons with wealthy white men through a system of concubinage known as plaçage.  The history of the quadroon balls begins in the late 18th century.

In April 1799, Joseph Antonio de Boniquet and Bernardo Coquet assumed the lease of the St. Peter Street Theater, which was struggling financially, and asked Governor Gayoso to allow them to underwrite the expense of running the theater by holding public dances for free people of color in Coquet's ballroom on St. Philip Street. Governor Gayoso agreed to allow them to hold their dances on Sunday nights until the carnival season on the condition that no slaves would be admitted.

In February of the next year, the Spanish attorney general, Pedro Barran, went before the Cabildo and asked that the permit granted to Coquet and Boniquet be revoked, charging that ballroom was admitting slaves. The Cabildo resolved that dances for free people of color would be permitted henceforth only in private homes and nullified the governor's permit. Immediately, the lessees took action to revoke the council's decree. In a petition dated February 13, 1800, Coquet and Boniquet ask the provisional governor, Nicholas Maria Vidal, to honor the permit previously issued by Governor Gayoso (who had since died) and to renew it for another year. Once again, they were successful, and the balls for free people of color continued on St. Philip Street (and slaves probably continued to gain unofficial admission).

This October 24, 1800 letter (pictured on the right) from four military officers, petitioning the Cabildo for permission to reinstate the events, is interesting because it includes descriptions of obnoxious behaviors observed at some earlier dances, and requests that guards be posted at Coquet's establishment in order to keep proper order. It also provides evidence of the role of African Americans in the military establishment of Spanish Louisiana, specifically in the campaign against Fort San Marcos de Apalache, an English outpost in Florida. [From Letters, Petitions and Decrees of the Conseil Municipal, #367 at the New Orleans Public Library].  The letter reads, in English:

October 24, 1800
Most illustrious Cabildo

Captain Juan Bautista Saraza and Ensign Pedro Galafate of the Battalion of Octoroons and Captain Pedro Tomas and Captain Juan Bautista Bacusa of the Battalion of Quadroons of the trained militia of the province of Louisiana, with the greatest reverence and due respect to Your lordship, come before you and expound: That through petition and pleas from various individuals who came in our company from the recent expedition executed in accepting Fort San Marcos de Apalache where the men experienced bad times such as irregularity of weather and nourishment, blistering heat due to the harsh season in which the expedition was undertaken, mosquitoes, night air, humidity, and other nuisances harmful to human nature, and, finally, shelling from the cannons which they expected to receive any moment.

The men give infinite thanks to the Most High for granting them their wish to come back to their homeland. To recompense them in some manner, to cheer up their spirit, so that they can forget the hardships of the expedition which they undertook---for which some people compared them to irrational animals which are only led and take shelter under the hot sun which bakes their brains---we jointly solicit the permission of the President of the Cabildo and Your Lordship to give weekly a public dance on Saturdays until the end of the next Carnival, beginning on the day of our most august sovereign Charles IV, which falls on the fourth of the coming month. The dance will not interfere with the one the white people regularly have, for they have their dance on Sundays.

Through the kindness of Don Bernardo Coquet, we have his permission to use his house for the dances. We ask that you be kind enough to the petitioners to provide them with the guards of the city who previously guarded the house when dances were given to prevent disorders. When we were on the expedition, we were informed that some people came to the dances that were given there, determined to disrupt the peaceful diversions---some by provoking fights, others by chewing vanilla and spitting it out for she purpose of producing an intolerable stench, others by putting chewed tobacco on the seats so that the women would stain their garments---in short, doing and causing as much havoc as they could. This example of maliciousness was never experienced in the innumerable dances that were given in the chosen house while the guards were present. The guards, once you give them orders to attend, will be anxious to come, owing to the special privileges we shall offer them on the nights the dance is given.

Therefore, we humbly plead that Your Lordship be kind enough to concede this solicitation which has nothing to do with violence and consequently will not cause any harm. This is the season for such diversion, both in America and in Europe. We shall always keep in our hearts your renowned benevolence and kindness.

New Orleans, October 24, 1800, Captain Juan Bautista Saraza, Pedro Tomas, Pedro Galafate, Juan Bautista Bacusa


Coquet and Boniquet's St. Peter Street Theater at 732 St. Peter, opened on October 4, 1792, and was the first theater in New Orleans as well as the location of the first documented opera performance (Andre Gretry's Sylvain) which took place in 1796. For the next eighteen years, through financial ups and downs, crises of management and personnel, and competition from other theaters, the St. Peter Street Theater presented opera, ballet, and dramatic performances.  Louis Tabary, who took over the directorship of the St. Peter Street Theater in 1806. The venture finally succumbed to a combination of pressures in 1810, and in 1816 the building burned, in the same fire that destroyed the first Orleans Theater. The structure on the site today was constructed in 1825 and is in the same block with Preservaton Hall and Pat O'Brien's. No drawings of the St. Peter Street Theater appear to have survived. and soon after built the Orleans Theater

Before it was a theater, the playhouse on St. Philip Street was a ballroom, and it would revert to its original ballroom status several times during its lifetime, alternatively known as the Salle Chinoise, the Winter Tivoli, and, in perhaps its most famous incarnation, the Washington Ballroom. Under the ownership of Bernardo Coquet, the St. Philip Street ballroom was the scene of the first balls for free people of color, and in 1805, when it was leased by Auguste Tessier, it became the first hall to host quadroon balls. Between 1808 and 1832, when it became the Washington Ballroom, the theater competed first with the St. Peter Street Theater and later with the Orleans Theater to be the premier site of French opera in New Orleans.
The first brick of the Orleans Theater was laid in 1806. This new theater begun by Louis Tabary, who came to New Orleans from Provence, via St. Dominque, in 1804 or 1805, and envisioned a grand new hall that would outshine the two theaters already competing for the loyalty of New Orleans audiences. But construction was interrupted, and Tabary's theater did not open until 1815, only to be destroyed by fire (possibly arson) the following year. Finally, in 1819, under the management of John Davis, a Parisian who also arrived via St. Domingue, the rebuilt theater opened once more. It was the Orleans Theater that introduced grand opera to New Orleans, and until the construction of the French Opera House eclipsed its splendor, it was the place for Creole New Orleans to see and be seen. The second Orleans Theater burned in 1866, but the ballroom attached to it survived and is shown here. It was the premier location for the Quadroon Balls.  The ballroom ended its days as the convent of the Sisters of the Holy Family and St. Mary's Academy. Today, the Bourbon Orleans Hotel stands on the site and incorporates a portion of the original ballroom in its design.
The building in the rear of this photo is, obviously St. Louis Cathedral.  The building on the left was at the time (1951) St. Mary's Academy; many years earlier it was the Orleans Ballroom, often cited as the scene of the most famous Quadroon Balls of New Orleans.  Photo from the Alexander Allison Photograph Collection, New Orleans Public Library

Reports of balls at the Washington, Conti, and Chartres ballrooms in 1843 may provide evidence of the famous quadroon balls that were held on a regular basis in New Orleans during the period. The Bee newspaper of April 18, 1843 carried a small advertisement for the Washington Ballroom  indicating that "Grand Dress and Masked" balls were held on every Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday evening. Interestingly, the French section of that same newspaper has an advertisement stating that the balls were held every day except Sunday. At least one historian claims that the quadroon balls were the ones held on Tuesday and Thursday. (From the New Orleans Public Library)

Concerning New Orleans history and the quadroon balls in particular, beloved newsman and writer Phil Johnson said:

"Thank God the French got here first.  Can you imagine what New Orleans might have been had the Pilgrims gotten off at Pilottown instead of Plymouth?  It's frightening . . . we might have been burning witches instead of cafe brulot; or preaching to the quadroon beauties, instead of dancing with them; or spending eons eating boiled beef and potatoes, instead of ecrevisse Cardinal, or pompano en papillote, or gumbo." [Phil Johnson, "Good Old Town." In  The Past as Prelude: New Orleans 1718-1968. Ed. Hodding Carter, p. 233.] 

From the Cabildo Digest of the New Orleans Public Library: October 24, 1794 -- At this time an official letter from the Governor and President is read, enclosing a bill for the street lamps and reflectors which were transported here from Philadelphia on the ship “La Victoria,” amounting to 626 Pesos, 5 reales, and 39 Maravedis. The Commissioners agreed to reimburse the Royal Treasury for this amount, obtaining the proper receipt. - Also Don Santiago Freret presents a bill for the cost and transportation from Philadelphia, of twenty-two barrels of grease, which was approved. Don Pedro Durel, Master Cooper, presents bill for work done in the warehouse to store the grease. Don Carlos de la Chaise was appointed to examine this work and have it appraised by the other coopers; he approved the work and the Commissioners agreed to pay the said Pedro Durel.

The opinions of the doctors and surgeons, and a report on a location for a new cemetery were submitted at a meeting of the Cabildo on October 24, 1788. The Commissioners agreed upon a location in the rear of Charity Hospital, about 40 yards from its garden, to measure 300 square feet. The Governor was asked to obtain the approval of His Majesty.  Later Antonio Guedry presented a bill for expenses and personal labor in fencing the cemetery.

The Cabildo (Spanish government) recieved a request from P. D. Morris for the privilege of placing the taverns of the City under certain stipulated orders on October 24, 1776,

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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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