Monday, March 30, 2009

Folks: Bernard de Marigny

Bernard Xavier Philippe de Marigny de Mandeville, (1785 - 1868) (also known as Bernard de Marigny) was a French-Creole American nobleman, playboy[1], politician, and President of the Louisiana Senate between 1822-23.

The son of Count Pierre Enguerrand Philippe de Mandeville Ecuyer, Sieur de Marigny and Chevalier de St. Louis, Bernard was born in New Orleans in 1785. In 1798, Louis-Philippe, Duc d'Orleans (who became King Louis Philippe in 1830) and his two brothers, the Duc de Montpensier and the Comte de Beaujolais, visited the Marigny plantation. By all accounts, they were lavishly entertained by the Marignys. One story recounts that special gold dinner ware was made for the occasion of the Duc d'Orleans visit and was thrown into the river afterward because no one would be worthy of using it again.

The visit of the French royals apparently had a big impact on Marigny as it is reported as one example of the spoiled life in which he was reared. When he was 15, his father died and Marigny inherited his father's plantation just below the city gates, east of New Orleans' Vieux Carré. According to historians, "His every whim [was] indulged while his father was alive, he became as wild and headstrong after his death as an unbacked mustang, and his guardian, abandoning all idea of control, finally shipped him to England, hoping that life abroad might mend his manners; but in London Bernard's dissipations became only more pyrotechnic, and he spent most of his time at Almack's and other famous gambling places."

On reaching his majority in 1806, Marigny at once had his plantation subdivided and began to develop the Faubourg Marigny. Marigny had many gambling debts and the smaller the land parcels the more there was to sell. The area grew rapidly and lots were sold all the way into the 1820s.[6] Marigny's development was immediately popular. He spent most of 1806 and 1807 at the office of notary Narcisse Broutin selling sixty-foot lots or emplacements to prospective homebuilders.[7] Marigny has famously named the streets of his neighborhood whimsically (Peace, History, Poets, Frenchman, Greatmen, Music, Love and Craps (after the game of chance he introduced to America). "Though said to be poorly educated in the classics, he christened the main thoroughfare to his house Elysian Fields after Virgil's "Deathless Residence of the Spirits of the Blessed."[8]

As more English-speaking Americans arrived in New Orleans, tensions between them and the settled Creoles began to grow. When two American developers approached Marigny about future commercial development of the city in the area of the Faubourg Marigny, the Creole first agreed, and then reneged by instructing Madame Marigny to stay away from the notary office, thus effectively killing the deal; this was reportedly due to his notorious dislike of the American settlers who were considered uncouth parvenus. This act was seen as extremly bad faith on the part of Marigny, and not only ensured that housing development grew uptown instead of east of the city, but also affected both his finances and his political career: "Marigny was severely blamed by the rest of the Creole population for thus yielding to his anti-American prejudices. This feeling ultimately worked his political destruction. Thereafter he was not looked on as a safe leader, and when he became a candidate for the governorship, they refused to support him."[9]

Strapped for cash, Marigny later sold his lots not only to his fellow Creoles, but to French-speaking gens de couleur to whom he was also related through a half-sister, the businesswoman Eulalie de Mandeville Macarty, thus helping to create a traditional enclave of the New Orleans Creoles of color.

via Wikipedia

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