Jean Noel Destréhan

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Jean Noel Destréhan
Jean Noel Destrehan.jpg
United States Senator
from Louisiana
In office
September 3, 1812 – October 1, 1812
Preceded by (none)
Succeeded by Thomas Posey
Personal details
Born 1754
St. Charles Parish, Louisiana
Died 1823 (aged 68–69)
Destrehan, Louisiana
Political party Unknown

Jean Noel Destréhan (1754–1823) was a Creole politician in Louisiana and one-time owner of Destréhan Plantation, one of Louisiana's most famous antebellum historical landmarks. The community of Destrehan, Louisiana is named after him.

Destréhan was born in colonial New Orleans to Jean Baptiste d'Estrehan and Jeanne Catherine de Gauvrit (1729-1773) and was educated in France. His father was the colonial treasurer for France, and his brother-in-law was Etienne de Boré, who perfected the sugar granulation process and served as New Orleans' first mayor. Destréhan married Marie Claudine Elenore Robin de Logny in 1786 and bought Destréhan Plantation in 1792.

After the Louisiana Purchase, he served as Speaker of the territorial House of Representatives from 1804 to 1806 before receiving an appointment from President Thomas Jefferson to serve on the Orleans Territorial Council. Destréhan served in this position from 1806 to 1811. The Council crafted a legal system based on French and Spanish civil codes and established Louisiana's parish system of governance. Destréhan ran for Governor in the first gubernatorial election since statehood, but he placed a distant third behind William C. C. Claiborne and Jacques Villeré. Destréhan was selected to serve in the United States Senate in 1812 when Louisiana became a U.S. state, but he resigned immediately after taking office. He remained active in the state legislature until 1817. He again ran for Governor in the 1820 election but placed fourth in the election. He continued planting, dying at his plantation in 1823. Destréhan is buried at the St. Charles Borromeo Church in Destrehan, Louisiana.

Destréhan pioneered the Creole system of slave labor on his sugar plantations. A blend between the harsher gang system and the more lenient task system, the Creole approach was to use head slaves called drivers to allot tasks and inspect work, as opposed to relying on a hired overseer. During the planting and grinding seasons, plantation owners required slaves to work long hours; but during the off-season when the sugar cane fields needed little maintenance, slaves were allowed a considerable amount of time off to grow food, work for themselves, and trade.

Several of Destréhan's slaves participated in the 1811 German Coast Uprising, said to have been the largest slave revolt in American history. Destréhan himself served on the six-member tribunal at the conclusion of the revolt. Three of Destréhan's slaves were convicted as conspirators and executed. Slave trials were held both at Destrehan Plantation and in New Orleans.

References[edit]

Lawrence, John. 2009. Destrehan: the man, the house, the legacy. River Road Historical Society.

Taylor, Hazel. 2009. A Concise History of Destrehan Plantation. Destrehan Plantation.

External links[edit]

United States Senate
Preceded by
None
U.S. Senator (Class 2) from Louisiana
1812
Served alongside: Allan B. Magruder
Succeeded by
Thomas Posey