New Orleans Cabildo: Colonial Louisiana's First City Government, 1769-1803

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The Cabildo -- New Orleans' unique Spanish city government -- touched the life of every citizen of the city during its thirty-four years of existence, and its decisions often had an impact on the administration of Louisiana far beyond the confines of New Orleans itself. Moreover, its archival records, with lavish and detailed information about every aspect of life within Spanish New Orleans, are the richest of any city in the Spanish Borderlands. Yet curiously, until now there has been no thorough analysis of this influential institution.

In The New Orleans Cabildo, Gilbert C. Din and John E. Harkins have filled that scholarly gap and made a significant contribution to our understanding of the Spanish hegemony in Louisiana. New Orleans, which had been a small, isolated, and insignificant town under the French grew to be a thriving center of trade, communications, and economic activity under Spanish rule. Din and Harkins examine the offices and personnel of the Cabildo and explore its vast responsibilities in the areas of justice, medicine and health, public works, land grants and building regulations, ceremonial and liaison duties, regulation of markets and food prices, and treatment of slaves and free blacks, among others. They also review the difficulties encountered by the Cabildo and the ways it responded to the city's -- and the colony's -- economic, legal, social, and military problems.

Through careful and thoughtful utilization of documents from archives in Louisiana and Spain -- particularly minutes from the Cabildo meetings -- Din and Harkins have produced in The New Orleans Cabildo a model history of a complex and all-encompassing institution.

LSU Press

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Editorial Reviews

A study of the 34-year Spanish government in New Orleans, during the period when the city grew to be a thriving center of trade, communications, and economic activity. Describes the offices and personnel of the Cabildo and its activities in areas such as justice, medicine, land grants, regulation of markets, and treatment of slaves and free blacks, and analyzes the ways it responded to economic, legal, and military problems. Includes b&w illustrations. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780807120422
  • Publisher: Louisiana State University Press
  • Publication date: 7/28/1996
  • Series: Library of Southern Civilization
  • Edition description: Louisiana paperback ed
  • Pages: 376
  • Product dimensions: 6.33 (w) x 9.31 (h) x 1.23 (d)

Meet the Author

Gilbert C. Din is the author of The Canary Islanders of Louisiana, for which he received the General L. Kemper Williams Prize in Louisiana History; Francisco Bouligny: A Bourbon Soldier in Spanish Louisiana; and other books. He lives in Olney, Maryland.

John E. Harkins is the chair of the history department at Memphis University School. He is the author of Metropolis of the American Nile: An Illustrated History of Memphis and Shelby County and MUS Century Book.

LSU Press

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Table of Contents

1 Spanish New Orleans 1
2 Background to the New Orleans Cabildo 38
3 Cabildo Officials and Employees 56
4 Relations with the Governor, the Intendant, and the Church 83
5 The Cabildo and the Spanish Legal System 101
6 Municipal Finances 127
7 The Cabildo and Blacks 153
8 Food and Marketing 183
9 Medicine and Health Regulation 206
10 Public Works 235
11 Cabildo Land Grants and Building Regulations 259
12 Liaison and Ceremonial Functions 275
Conclusion 291
Bibliography 303
Index 321
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