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San Francisco Bay 1800s.


° New Orleans ° The Mississippi Bubble

The Port of New Orleans has been at the epicenter of American history for centuries: Wars were fought over it, and Louisiana was purchased by the United States in order to obtain New Orleans.

Map depicting plantations on the Mississippi River

The state has been governed under ten different flags beginning in 1541 with Hernando de Soto's claim of the region for Spain. La Salle later claimed it for Bourbon France and over the years Louisiana was at one time or another subject to the Union Jack of Great Britain, the Tricolor of Napoleon, the Lone Star flag of the Republic of West Florida and the fifteen stars and stripes of the United States.

In 1803, Louisiana had become a part of the United States because of the region's importance to the trade and security of the American mid-west. New Orleans and the surrounding territory controlled the mouth of the Mississippi River down which much of the produce of the mid-west travelled to reach market. To get the vital region in American hands, President Thomas Jefferson negotiated the Louisiana Purchase with Napoleon.

The New Orleans, the first steamboat to navigate the Mississippi River, arrived at New Orleans from Pittsburgh on January 10, 1812, thereby opening the river to even more commerce. 

Through much of its early history Louisiana was a trading and financial center, and the fertility of its land made it one of the richest regions in America as first indigo then sugar and cotton rose to prominence in world markets. Many Louisiana planters were among the wealthiest men in America.

The plantation economy was shattered by the Civil War although the state continued to be a powerful agricultural region.

October 5, 1863, Sacramento Daily Union, Sacramento, California, U.S.A.

The Capture of the British Steamer Sir William Pitt

New York, October 4th.

Particulars of the capture of the British steamer Sir William Pitt show that she landed a cargo of arms, etc., in Mexican waters and took on board a cargo of cotton, when the French authorities ordered her to leave Mexican waters, which she did, coming over to the American side of the Rio Grande. Captain Orlando, of the gunboat Seminole, promptly seized her, and transferred her officers arid crew to the Seminole as prisoners of war. He sent the vessel to New Orleans. Captain Hood, of the British ship Pylades, demanded an explanation, which he received from Captain Orlando, to the effect that she had landed contraband of war in American waters and had contraband on board.

February 24, 1871, Daily Alta California, San Francisco

Andrew Jackson's Mother.

When Andrew Jackson left his home in North Carolina for Tennessee, his mother gave him this, advice, as related by himself to W. H. Sparks, of Georgia: "Andy." said she, (she always called me Andy), "you are going to a new country, and among rough people; you will have to depend on yourself, and cut your own way through the world; I have nothing to give you but a mother's advice. Never tell a lie, nor take what is not your own, nor sue anybody for slander or assault and battery; always settle them cases yourself." I promised, and I have tried to keep that promise."

March 30, 1884, Daily Alta California, San Francisco

The New York Star says: "New Orleans has now a deeper harbor than New York. The White Star and Guion Lines dare not load their vessels above twenty-six feet, while the French line stops at twenty-four feet. At New Orleans, vessels drawing twenty-six feet of water have no difficulty or delay in getting to sea."

April 10, 1875, Daily Alta California, San Francisco, California, U.S.A.

A law requiring every young Frenchman to serve in the army similar to that of Germany has now gone into operation, and all citizens in foreign countries, within the certain limits of age must return and perform the military duty, under penalty of forfeiting their citizenship. The new measure will have several effects one to make Franoe more military than it has been, another to stimulate the young men to emigrate more extensively than before, and a third to induce those who emigrate to the United States to be naturalized. Louisiana and California are preferred by the French emigrants, and we expect to see them soon commence to arrive in greater numbers than at any time within the last twenty years.

January 3, 1878, California Farmer and Journal of Useful Sciences

Battle of New Orleans

This memorable day, the Eighth of January, should always be kept in remembrance, as one of the land marks of our Nation's Freedom. General Andrew Jackson's great battle with the Cotton Bags for bulwarks was a great victory and aided grandly in closing the great conflict of our Nation. Let us then keep in mind these events, and never forget those who were so instrumental in securing for us the great blessings our Nation now enjoys.

The discovery of sulphur in 1869 and oil in 1901, coupled with the rise of forestry sent the state on a new wave of economic growth.

The era of the modern Port of New Orleans began in 1879 with the construction of jetties in South Pass, one of three passes that flow from the river into the gulf. Sandbars had formed at intervals in these passes and had hindered ships entering the river since the city's founding. The jetties narrowed South Pass, forcing the river to cut a deeper channel to a depth of 30 feet (9 metres).

December 21, 1891, San Francisco Call, San Francisco, California, U.S.A.

The papers of New Orleans believe that their city will become the greatest shipping port in the country within the next ten years, as the producers in the Northern States west of teh Ohio can ship merchandise to Europe cheaper by way of New Orleans than by any other port.

September 16, 1888, Daily Alta California, San Francisco, California, U.S.A.

California Refined Sugar Finds a Ready Sale In New Orleans.

Owing to the reduced railroad rate on sugar to New Orleans the Trust refineries and Claus Spreckels are competing for the market in the South. Some time ago the American Company sent a considerable quantity of sugar there. Spreckels resolved to cut into their market, and two weeks ago, when the first of the heavy shipments of California Refinery sugar began to arrive, he sent in 4000 tons of yellow sugar suitable to that trade. By sacking the sugar he obtained a rate of fifty cents a hundred pounds, and was able to sell to jobbers here at half a cent a pound less than the quotation of the New York refineries and three-eighths of a cent below the New Orleans refinery people. The Louisiana refiners raised a cry against the introduction of the California Refinery sugar, and called on the Southern Pacific Company to raise the rate on Spreckels so that his sugar would be driven out. They failed in this and tried to undersell him by the rebate system on purchases, but found that he could meet any figures they could mention.

The California Company is shipping large quantities of sugar |to the newmarket, where it finds a ready sale. Raw sugar is now quoted at 6-1/2 cents, granulated at 8 cents, confectioners' at 7-7/8 cents and all other white grades at 8-3/8 cents, and yellow sugar in proportion.

April 1, 1892, San Francisco Call, San Francisco, California, U.S.A.

Wine for New Orleans.

Yesterday morning the stern - wheeler Zinfandel was at the foot of Third-street wharf discharging a number of 50-gallon casks of California claret shipped from a Sonoma Valley vineyard. These were instantly transferred to trucks in wailing and delivered to the Southern Pacific depot for shipment to New Orleans. The consignment made up three car-loads.

December 6, 1901, The Atlanta Constitution, Atlanta, Georgia, U.S.A.

Welcome to the Crooks.
(From The New Orleans Picayune.)

Historical map of New Orleans.

New Orleans has for a century been famous for the speed and prowess of the horses that have gained their triumphs upon its turf.

Time was when the studs of the great Virginia and other noted stables were brought here by sea in sailing vessels around the capes of Florida, and the celebrated Kentucky coursers came down the great rivers in steamboats and even in the ancient arks or covered barges that floated down with the current. The ancient annals of racing are filled with the names and pedigrees of horses that won great victories and heavy purses on the old Carrollton and Metalrie courses.

Possibly the ancient glories have not in later times been so often repeated, but, nevertheless, winter racing in New Orleans is still a matter of much importance, and it is one of the winter attractions of the city.

It is true that the advent of the racing season brings not a few sharpers, thieves and other rascals; but good times and the climate are in large part responsible for that. Such scoundrels always follow prosperity, and never calamity. It is a good sign when they come, and the police force should be strengthened to look after them.

Mark Twain on the River.
Samuel Clemens - Mark Twain - at Work.
Paul Rainer

Louisiana.New Orleans French Quarter. The French Quarter: 
An Informal History of the New Orleans Underworld
The French Quarter, A History. 
Herbert Asbury
Home to the notorious "Blue Book," which listed the names and addresses of every prostitute living in the city, New Orleans's infamous red-light district gained a reputation as one of the most raucous in the world. But the New Orleans underworld consisted of much more than the local bordellos. It was also well known as the early gambling capital of the United States, and sported one of the most violent records of street crime in the country. In The French Quarter, Herbert Asbury, author of The Gangs of New York, chronicles this rather immense underbelly of "The Big Easy." From the murderous exploits of Mary Jane "Bricktop" Jackson and Bridget Fury, two prostitutes who became famous after murdering a number of their associates, to the faux-revolutionary "filibusters" who, backed by hundreds of thousands of dollars of public support though without official governmental approval undertook military missions to take over the bordering Spanish regions in Texas, the French Quarter had it all. Asbury takes the reader on an intriguing, photograph-filled journey through a unique version of the American underworld.

Louisiana.New Orleans Irish.
New Orleans Irish:  Arrivals, DeparturesNew Orleans Irish.
John Finn
Begins with Ireland of Ancient Times and continues on to 1845 - 1847, during the famine and then on to Louisiana. It gives the Famine Ship Lists from 7/22/1847 to 6/29/1848. Then goes on to list cemetery listings in St. Patrick's 1, 2 and 3, military, etc. There are quite a few pictures, some diagrams of the cemeteries and some family stories.

Louisiana.Slavery and Empire in the Cotton Kingdom. River of Dark Dreams: Slavery and Empire in the Cotton KingdomSlavery and Empire in the Cotton Kingdom.
Walter Johnson
Through mining journals, correspondence, public records and popular literature, Johnson reminds us that New Orleans, not Richmond, was the engine of Southern prosperity: its largest city, largest slave market and the center of a booming international trading system. Mixed with fascinating anecdotes, grim accounts of slave life and a convincing argument for plantation slavery of any people was "essential" to the role in the 19th century's burgeoning industrial capitalism. While this book refers to America's slavery, as soon as national started sailing around the globe, they enslaved villages and countries around the world to do their bidding and increase their countries coffers: China, India, Ireland, Africa, the Caribbean.

Louisiana.The Militant South 1800-1861. The Militant South, 1800-1861The Militant South. 
John Hope Franklin
The author identifies the factors of the South's festering propensity for aggression that contributed to the outbreak of the Civil War in 1861. Franklin asserts that the South was dominated by militant white men who resorted to violence in the face of social, personal, or political conflict. Fueled by their defense of slavery and a persistent desire to keep the North out of their affairs, Southerners adopted a vicious bellicosity that intensified as war drew nearer. Drawing from Southern newspapers, government archives, memoirs, letters, and firsthand accounts, Franklin masterfully details the sources and consequences of antebellum aggression in the South. First published in 1956, this classic volume is an enduring and impeccably researched contribution to Southern history. This paperback edition features a new preface in which the author discusses controversial responses to the book.

Louisiana.Patriot Pirates: War for Freedom and Fortune. Patriot Pirates: The Privateer War for Freedom and Fortune in the American RevolutionPatriot Pirates: War for Freedom and Fortune.
Robert H. Patton, grandson of the battlefield genius of World War II, writes that during America s Revolutionary War, what began in 1775 as a New England fad— converting civilian vessels to fast-sailing warships, and defying the Royal Navy s overwhelming firepower to snatch its merchant shipping— became a massive seaborne insurgency that ravaged the British economy and helped to win America s independence. More than two thousand privately owned warships were commissioned by Congress to prey on enemy transports, seize them, and sell the cargoes for prize money to be divided among the privateer s officers, crewmen, and owners.

Louisiana.Jews of the United States. The Jews of the United States: 1654-2000Jews of the United States.
Hasia R. Diner
Since Peter Stuyvesant greeted with enmity the first group of Jews to arrive on the docks of New Amsterdam in 1654, Jews have entwined their fate and fortunes with that of the United States — a decision marked by great struggle and great promise. What this interconnected destiny has meant for American Jews and how it has defined their experience among the world's Jews is fully in this work, a comprehensive and finely nuanced history of Jews in the United States from 1654 through 2000.

Pirates.The Pirates Laffite 
The Treacherous World of the Corsairs of the Gulf
William C. Davis
During a most colorful period in New Orleans' history, from just after the Louisiana Purchase through the War of 1812, privateers Jean and Pierre Laffite attacked Spanish merchants on the Gulf. They were pirates to the U.S. Navy officers who chased them and heroes to the private citizens who shopped for contraband at their well-publicized auctions. They were part of a filibustering syndicate that included lawyers, bankers, merchants, and corrupt U.S. officials. Allegiances did not stop the Laffites from becoming paid Spanish spies, disappearing into the fog of history after selling out their own associates.

George Catlin. George Caitlin's Paintings.George Catlin: 
400 Gallery Paintings: Includes Letters and Notes on the Manners, Customs, and Conditions of North American Indians
George Catlin.
Daniel Ankele
Daniel and Denise Ankele publish art history, primarily from the visual perspective. Our goal is to visually present as much of an artist's work in one book as possible. They digitally restore many of the images, while maintaining the integrity of the artwork. They can be read on any device.

The Project

Maritime Nations, Sea Captains, Ships, Merchants, Merchandise, Passengers and VIPs sailing into San Francisco during the 1800s.


Merchant Shipping

Merchant Shipping and Ancient Commerce.  
History of Merchant Shipping and Ancient CommerceMerchant Shipping and Ancient Commerce.
W. S. Lindsay

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Sources: As noted on entries and through research centers including National Archives, San Bruno, California; San Francisco Main Library History Collection; Maritime Library, San Francisco, California.

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