Mardi Gras, 50 Years Ago: “Bigger and Better than ever”
"MARDI GRAS USHERS IN LENTEN SEASON: The traditional New Orleans Mardi Gras is BIGGER and BETTER than ever as parades continue thru day and night. Pretty girls and grotesque floats all add up to fun for one and all…"
San Franciscans Give Their Heart to De Gaulle
While French President François Hollande arrives in San Francisco today, our colleagues at historyatstate take us back to April 1960 when Charles de Gaulle paid the city its first official visit by a President of France:
French President Charles de Gaulle made his first State Visit as head of the Fifth Republic in April 1960. De Gaulle’s trip aimed to improve relations between the two countries after diverging policy objectives in the 1950s strained the relationship. Moreover, it was hoped that better acquainting U.S. policymakers with the French president could facilitate the bilateral relationship in the future. Lastly, the trip provided an opportunity for de Gaulle and President Dwight Eisenhower to prepare for the May 1960 joint summit meeting in Paris with British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan and Soviet Premier Nikita S. Khrushchev.
De Gaulle and his wife, Yvonne, arrived in Washington, D.C., on April 22 for four days of meetings, a speech in front of a joint session of Congress, and a state dinner. Eisenhower first met de Gaulle 18 years earlier during the Second World War and the two men forged a firm friendship over the years. Thus, a visit to Eisenhower’s farmhouse in Gettysburg, PA, was part of de Gaulle’s itinerary.
The trip was also notable as the first time that a French head of state paid a formal visit to San Francisco and New Orleans. On April 26, the de Gaulles went to New York, then flew to San Francisco on April 27, where an estimated 250,000 San Franciscans lined the streets of de Gaulle’s motorcade route from the San Francisco International Airport to City Hall.1 The San Francisco police estimated the welcome to be “the biggest ever given here to the head of a foreign state.”2 Among his engagements that day, de Gaulle met with California Governor Edmund G. Brown and toured the bay before spending April 28-29 in New Orleans. The de Gaulles were accompanied around the United States by Department of State Under Secretary Douglas Dillon, who served as U.S. Ambassador to France from 1953 through 1957.
View the video retrospective of French presidential visits to the United States via France’s Institut National Audovisuel (INA).
Proclamation to the People of New Orleans, 12/20/1803
Following Senate ratification of the Louisiana Purchase in October, 1803, this three-language broadside was written to announce the United States’ purchase of the Louisiana Territory and to clarify for the people of New Orleans their citizenship status.
Louis Armstrong Registers for the Draft
Future jazz great Louis Armstrong of New Orleans was among nearly 24 million men aged 18–45 who registered for the draft during 1917–18, a requirement of the new Selective Service System. Notice that his first name is recorded incorrectly as Lewis. And while his date of birth was recorded as July 4, 1900, Armstrong was actually born on August 4, 1901.
World War I Draft Registration Card for Louis Armstrong, 09/12/1918; from the series: Draft Registration Cards 1917-1918
Nine days after Hurricane Katrina made landfall in Louisiana, flood waters still persist in New Orleans.
[Hurricane Katrina] New Orleans, LA, September 7, 2005 — Neighborhoods throughout the area remain flooded as a result of Hurricane Katrina. Jocelyn Augustino/FEMA, 09/07/2005
Jocelyn Augustino, photographer. From the series: Photographs Relating to Disasters and Emergency Management Programs, Activities, and Officials, 1998 - 09/30/2008
On December 20, 1803, William C.C. Claiborne, Governor of the Mississippi Territory and one of the commissioners appointed to take possession of Louisiana from France, participated in the ceremonial exchange of the territory to the United States. Gov. Claiborne wrote to Secretary of State James Madison to announce the official transfer and notify Sec. Madison that a U.S. flag was raised over the city.
Letter to James Madison, Secretary of State, Announcing the Surrender of Louisiana to the United States by France, 12/20/1803, Records of the U.S. House of Representatives (ARC 306704)
See also last year’s post, the Proclamation to the People of New Orleans, written in three languages.
Two weeks after the Treaty of Ghent had technically ended the hostilities of the War of 1812, American forces under Andrew Jackson defeated a British invasion force at the Battle of New Orleans on January 8, 1815.
- The Battle of New Orleans. January 1815. Copy of engraving by H. B. Hall after W. Momberger.
- [Hurricane Katrina] New Orleans, St. Bernard, LA, 01-07-06 — Community Relations Specialist Dawn Hubbard & Bonnie Frabasilio talk with the Hughes family at the 1814 Battle of New Orleans reenactment… MARVIN NAUMAN/FEMA photo, 01/07/2006
Yesterday’s “Proclamation: To the People of New Orleans" doesn’t look so bad for being over 200 years old — why?
Look at this beautiful document. It looks pretty good to be 208 years old, right? That’s because the paper is high quality, probably hand-made paper. It is most likely made out of rags rather than wood pulp. The papermaker would have pounded the rags rather than chopping them to bits as a machine would do. This creates long fibers of high quality cellulose (what we call “alpha cellulose”). These long, high quality paper fibers are less susceptible to deterioration over time. That is why a document from the 18th century might look better than one from the Civil War.
On December 20, 1803, William C.C. Claiborne, Governor of the Mississippi Territory and one of the commissioners appointed to take possession of Louisiana from France, participated in the ceremonial exchange of the territory from Spain to France to the United States. Claiborne issued this proclamation in three languages (English, French, and Spanish) to inform the residents of the territory that they would soon become citizens of the United States, and that in the mean time they could enjoy the freedoms and liberty under the protection of the U.S. Constitution.
Proclamation of William C.C. Claiborne, 12/20/1803, HR 8A-D1, Records of the U.S. House of Representatives (ARC 593571)
December 20, 1803 - Following Senate ratification of the Louisiana Purchase in October, 1803, this three-language broadside was written to announce the United States’ purchase of the Louisiana Territory and to clarify for the people of New Orleans their citizenship status.