The French introduced sugarcane to Louisiana around 1700. However, the crop did not become popular until Jean Étienne Boré invented a new system for processing sugar in 1795. Using Caribbean techniques, Boré perfected a way of processing Louisiana sugarcane into granulated sugar.The father of Louisiana’s sugar industry was born in Kaskaskia, Illinois on December 27, 1742, the son of Louis de Bore and Celestene Therese Carriere.
When he was four years old his family returned to France, where young Etienne was educated in French schools. After he reached maturity he became a musketeer in the King’s Household Guards in 1768, and in 1770 he was promoted to captain of the Second Company of Cavalry of the Mousquetoires Noires.
On November 5, 1771, he was married to Jeanne Marguerite Marie Destrehan des Tours, a member of a prominent and wealthy Louisiana family. With new responsibilities he and his bride returned to Louisiana in 1776 and settled in St. Charles Parish to live the life of a country gentleman and his lady.
In 1781 he was granted extensive property above New Orleans which included the present-day Audubon Park. He embarked upon an agricultural career with the planting of indigo, which the Council of the Indies had introduced in 1723. At first all went well and indigo became one of Louisiana’s agricultural staples along with tobacco. By the 1790s the colony’s indigo was bringing in $180,000 annually.
Then several years of drought damaged crops, and in 1793 and 1794 insects attacked the plants and the indigo fields were left with bare stalks. Bore and other planters were on the verge of bankruptcy.
Jean decided to gamble on sugar cane, against the counsel of his in-laws and friends. The Jesuits had first introduced sugar cane into Louisiana to make molasses, but it never developed into a commercial crop, and all efforts to crystallize the syrup into granules failed. Bore, nevertheless, was determined to try his hand. Obtaining cane from two Spanish growers named Mendez and Soliz, he planted a crop.
He raised a good stand of cane, and by combining a vacuum pan process with the Spanish method of making molasses he was able to crystallize the syrup into sugar granules. He sold his 1796 crop for $12,000 and a new industry was born in Louisiana.
Bore continued his agricultural career, but also became a community leader. His fame spread and his plantation often hosted important guests. In 1796 the celebrated French General, Victor Collot, who was traveling through the Mississippi Valley, supposedly gathering material for a book on the fauna and flora of the region, stopped off to visit Bore. While he was there, the Governor, Baron de Carandolet, sent troops to arrest the general, who was charged with spying upon Spanish fortifications during his travels. The governor was also tempted to arrest Bore,but only gave him a scolding.
In 1798 more illustrious visitors came: three French princes of the blood arrived in Louisiana and of course they visited de Bore. They were the Duke of Orleans, who was to ascend the throne of France when Napoleon was deposed, and his brothers, the Duke of Montpensier and the Count of Beaujolias. De Bore had become one of the social lions of the colony.
When Napoleon snatched Louisiana back from Spain and sent Pierre Clement Laussat as Colonial Prefect to receive control of the colony from Spain, Laussat immediately set up a municipal government for New Orleans in place of the Spanish cabildo, and he named de Bore as the city’s first mayor. His term lasted only three weeks, however, before the United States took possession.
Bore died on February 2, 1820. He was given a funeral befitting a dignitary and was buried in St. Louis Cemetery.
Louisiana became the center of the sugar industry in the United States. So important was sugar to the state's economy that many planters described Boré as the "savior of Louisiana."
His children continued to play leading roles in the life of New Orleans. Jeanne Marguerite Marie Isabelle, born in 1773, married Barthemmy Francois Le Breton; and Francoise Elizabeth, born in 1777, married Charles Gayarre, a relative of the Louisiana historian.