“New Orleans” Birthplace of Jazz
Early History • New Orleans is a port city and 19th-century commercial center • slave trade, but also “more relaxed Caribbean culture • 1718: founded by France • 1763: sold to Spain • 1803: reclaimed by the French • 1803: almost immediately sold to the United States • 1804: Haitian revolution. Many white masters and their slaves fled to New Orleans. • French, Spanish, and English speakers • largest, most sophisticated city in the South • cultural life from the 18th century, encompassing opera, Mardi Gras, dances, parades, and fancy balls.
History (cont’d.) • essentially French in character • Race relations somewhat “unique” compared elsewhere in US • slaves allowed to retain culture, including music. • Congo Square • From 1817 to about 1840 slaves and free blacks were permitted to dance and play music in a field behind the French Quarter called Congo Square
Voluntary colonists: • Capuchin monks, Jesuits, and Ursuline nuns - late 1720s. • Germans (just above the city). • "Casket girls.” • Acadians. • settlers from Spain, Africa, the West Indies, British America, Ireland, and Italy. • Slaves. • at least a few "free blacks" lived in New Orleans by 1722.
Creoles of color • New Orleans society recognized a mixed race culture in addition to blacks/whites • New Orleans mulattos known as Creoles of Color • French language skills, Catholic religious practice • privileges and opportunities, including civic power, property ownership, decent education, and skilled trades • "By the beginning of the nineteenth century, the Creoles occupied a position very near the top of the social order and though excluded from certain areas of white interaction, they had created their own social units, equal to and often vastly superior all others in the community.” A few owned cotton and sugar plantations with numerous slaves.
Creole Musicians • musical performance for many was a "hobby.“ • participated in opera and symphonic performances as well as the numerous brass bands. • Uneducated “Uptown Negroes” played raucous, beat-based, orally learned, bluesy, improvised music based on rags, folk music, and marches. Creoles saw this as unprofessional, but they started teaching Uptown blacks as well as young Creoles. • At first Creoles got the better-paying jobs playing traditional European dances, but blacks offered a new way of playing.
Storyville • Alderman Sidney Story, in attempting to confine the trade of prostitution to a limited area, established a 38-block area that became known as Storyville. • primarily devoted prostitution and “related businesses.” • In August 1917, the Secretary of War and the Secretary of the Navy issued orders forbidding open prostitution within five miles of Army or Navy posts.
War Between the States (April 12, 1861) • followed by Reconstruction and post-Reconstruction eras. • events and changing economic and political circumstances gradually changed the social strata of New Orleans. • Public segregation by race re-imposed 1877. • "Act 111 of the Regular Session of the Louisiana Legislature" - the first of the so-called "Jim Crow" laws - was enacted in 1890; separate cars were required for black and white patrons traveling first class (led to Plessy v. Ferguson) • separate waiting rooms in railroad depot. • outlawing of interracial marriages.
Economic hardship • Both black and white workers experienced economic hardship in the 1880s and 1890s. • A huge influx of immigrants competed for available work. • industrial machinery replaced large numbers of workers. • unions organizing many trade/craftsman positions. • Many Creole artisans found themselves completely out of work or operating on a much smaller scale.
The Great Migration • In the late nineteenth century, former slaves started to move into cities like New Orleans. With the onset of World War I, they moved north to places like Chicago and New York. They were socially motivated by their powerlessness, the discriminatory practices of sharecropping, widespread racial segregation, and thousands of lynchings for which nobody was arrested. • The draft during World War I opened up the labor market in northern cities for blacks.