Bernard de Marigny

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Bernard de Marigny
BernardMarignyPortrait.jpg
Bernard de Marigny
Born Jean-Bernard Xavier Philippe de Marigny de Mandeville
October 28, 1785
New Orleans, New Spain
Died February 3, 1868
New Orleans, Louisiana, U.S.
Resting place Saint Louis Cemetery No. 1
Citizenship French, American
Occupation Planter, Land developer, Politician
Known for Faubourg Marigny, craps, developing Mandeville, Louisiana
Home town New Orleans
Spouse(s) Mary Ann Jones (1786-1808), Anna Mathilde Morales (1789-1859)
Children Prosper François Antoine Pierre Philippe,
Gustave Adolphe,
Antoine Jacques Philippe,
Rosa,
Marie Angela Josephine,
Armand,
& Mathilde

Jean-Bernard Xavier Philippe de Marigny de Mandeville (1785–1868), known as Bernard de Marigny, was a French-Creole American nobleman, playboy,[1] planter, politician, duelist, writer, horse breeder, land developer, and President of the Louisiana State Senate between 1822 and 1823.

Early life[edit]

The son of Pierre Enguerrand Philippe de Marigny de Mandeville (1751-1800) Ecuyer and Chevalier de St. Louis and his wife Jeanne Marie d'Estrehan de Beaupré, Bernard was born in New Orleans in 1785, the third generation of his family to be born in colonial Louisiana. His paternal grandfather, Antoine Philippe de Marigny, was a French nobleman, military officer, and geographer. His maternal grandfather, Jean Baptiste d'Estrehan, was the royal treasurer of the colony.

In 1798, Louis-Philippe, Duke of Orléans (who became King Louis Philippe in 1830) and his two brothers, the Duke de Montpensier and the Count of Beaujolais, visited the Marigny plantation. By all accounts, they were lavishly entertained by the family. One story recounts that special gold dinner ware was made for the occasion of the Duke of Orleans' visit and was thrown into the river afterward, because no one would be worthy of using it again.

The visit of the French royal family apparently had a big impact on Marigny, as it is reported as an example of the spoiled life in which he was reared. When he was 15 years old, his father died and Bernard inherited his father's plantation just outside 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 [wild] 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."[2]

Craps[edit]

One of the things Marigny brought back to New Orleans from England was the dice game Hazard[3] which became popular in a simplified form, known in local dialect as "Crapaud."

Fair Grounds Race Course[edit]

Marigny founded the "Louisiana Race Course," now the Fair Grounds Race Course, with Julius C Branch and Henry Augustine Tayloe (son of John Tayloe III of the Octagon House, a leading turfman, founder of the Washington Jockey Club (1798), who imported the great English thoroughbred Diomed who sired Sir Archy-whose progeny include Lexington, Secretariat and American Pharoah; grandson of John Tayloe II who imported Childers (by Flying Childers), Jenny Cameron and Jolly Rogers (three of the most important colonial imports) and who built the grand colonial estate and stud farm Mount Airy) and organized the first races for March 20, 1839, and lasted for five days. "The First Day was the "Creole Purse" for $500, one mile heats; the same day the "Proprietors Purse" for $250, one mile heats; and third race "Sweepstakes" (See Spirit of Times). Second Day-"Proprietors Purse" $1,200--two mile heat; if more than two start the second best to be entitled to $200-but if two, the winner to receive $1,000. Third Day-"Jockey Club Purse" $1,800--three mile heats; of which the second best will be entitled to $300, if more than two start-if but two, the winner to receive $1500. Fourth Day-"Jockey Club Plate" value $1,500 and $500, -four mile heats-to the winner, and $500 to the second best horse, provided more than two start. Fifth Day-"Proprietors Purse" $600--mile heat-best 3 in 5; Same Day-"The Louisiana Plate" value $1,000--two mile heats; five year olds and over will carry 100lbs.- four year olds and under their appropriate weight." [4]

Faubourg Marigny[edit]

On reaching his majority in 1806, Marigny at once had his plantation subdivided and began to develop the Faubourg Marigny. (The Louisiana Purchase had taken place in 1803.) Marigny had many gambling debts; and the smaller the land parcels were, the more there were to sell. The area grew rapidly and lots were sold all the way into the 1820s.[5] 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 home builders.[6] Marigny famously named the streets of his neighborhood whimsically: Abundance, Peace, History, Poets, Piety, Frenchmen, Greatmen, Goodchildren, Music, Desire, Hope, Love, Pleasure, Duels, 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."[7] Others say that Elysian Fields Avenue was named simply as the English translation for the Parisian Avenue des Champs-Élysées.

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 extremely 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."[8]

Strapped for cash, Marigny later sold his lots not only to white Creoles but also to free black Creoles, known as gens de couleur libre. Marigny was also related to one of the most prominent femme de couleur libre (free women of color), his half-sister Eulalie Mandeville Macarty, who was the illegitimate, but well loved daughter of Pierre Enguerrand Philippe De Marigny de Mandeville and Marie Jeanne, who was an enslaved woman from the Marigny household. Eulalie was given her freedom and brought up by her paternal grandparents, who left her well provided. The Bernard de Marigny, as well as other Mandeville de Marigny family members, even testified on Eulalie de Mandeville's behalf following her husband's death, when her in-laws sued Eulalie de Mandeville for her estate. They claimed that legally a femme de couleur libre, such as herself, could not inherit the amount of money she possessed from her late-husband (or life partner, as interracial marriage was illegal). Eulalie countered by arguing that all the money she possessed she and her husband earned as equals and that the majority of their wealth came from her business endeavour from before their marriage. Bernard de Marigny testified in favour of his half-sister and helped her hold on to her wealth, not once but twice, as her late husband's family sued Eulalie de Mandeville again after being dissatisfied with the results of the first trial.[9]


Battle of New Orleans[edit]

Marigny and Edward Livingston were unable to convince General Andrew Jackson to meet and seek the support of Jean Lafitte to aid in the Battle of New Orleans, whom the British forces had tried to recruit but who, according to Marigny, was more inclined to support the Americans. Lafitte did eventually meet and persuade Jackson of the Baratarian's support, which proved very useful during the campaign, meriting personal and public praise from Jackson.

Marigny served as aide-de-camp for Louisiana governor, William C. C. Claiborne, during the battle of New Orleans[10]

At the Battle of New Orleans, Marigny distinguished himself by his courage and activity. It is noteworthy that the glorious victory was reaped on the fields of the plantation of his Uncle [Martin] de Lino de Chalmette. In 1824 he supported General Jackson for President not only with his usual fiery eloquence, but also, perhaps more effectively, with force of arms. He was an ardent duelist and an expert with sword and pistol, and he has been credited with fifteen or more encounters. [Footnote:] Bernard Marigny's Réflexions sur la campagne du Général André Jackson en Louisiane en 1814 et 1815, New Orleans; 1848, is the best account we have of the preparations made to meet the enemy before the battle; and of the ensuing episode. — Library of Louisiana Historical Society.”

— Grace King, Old Families of New Orleans[11]

Political career[edit]

In 1811, and again in 1814, Marigny was elected to the New Orleans City Council to represent the Fifth Ward.[12] From 1822 to 1823, Marigny served as President of the Louisiana State Senate; and, as there was no Lieutenant Governor, he was next in line of succession to Governor Thomas B. Robertson.

Marigny was aide-de-camp of the prefect Pierre Clément de Laussat, then of Louisiana governor, William C. C. Claiborne, during the battle of New Orleans — whose daughter, Sophronie Louise, later wed Marigny's son, Antoine James de Marigny. He was chairman of the state Senate from Louisiana, 1822 to 1823.[13]

In 1824, Marigny ran for Governor of Louisiana, but was defeated by Anglo candidate Henry Johnson. He ran again in the gubernatorial election of 1828, but he was defeated by Pierre Derbigny, whom he had supported in the 1820 election. Marigny was at one point a candidate in the special gubernatorial election of 1830, but ultimately he was not on the ballot.

North shore activities[edit]

Marigny's land holdings included a sugarcane plantation on the north shore of Lake Pontchartrain. This region is Saint Tammany Parish, one of the Florida Parishes, lands acquired by the U.S. in 1810, prior to Louisiana's transition to statehood.

Today there are a few ruins of Marigny's 1829 sugar mill; the area comprises Fontainebleau State Park. Fontainebleau was the name Marigny chose for his property, after the Fontainebleau Forest near Paris. In 1834, Marigny de Mandeville laid out the town which bears his family name, Mandeville, Louisiana.

Later life and death[edit]

Marigny eventually lost his fortune gambling and died impoverished, in 1868. He was buried at Saint Louis Cemetery No. 1 in New Orleans.[14] (His mother, father, paternal grandfather, and paternal great-grandfather were interred in the St. Louis Cathedral. The engraved slab listing the men's names is one of only two prominent grave monuments located inside the cathedral.)

Two New Orleans streets are named for him or his family, Marigny and Mandeville.

Books authored[edit]

  • Refléxions sur la Campagne du Général André Jackson (1848: Reflections on General Andrew Jackson’s Campaign)

See also[edit]

Sources and notes[edit]

  1. ^ Crété, Liliane (translated by Patrick Gregory). Daily Life in Louisiana 1815-1830 (Baton Rouge and London: Louisiana State University Press), 1978 (translation 1981)
  2. ^ Tinker, Edward Larocque, The Palingenesis of Craps (1933), pp. 1-3
  3. ^ Bridges, Tyler, Bad Bet in the Bayou Farrar, Straus & Giroux (2001)
  4. ^ Times Picayune, March 14, 1839, Page 1
  5. ^ Greater New Orleans Community Data Center[permanent dead link]
  6. ^ French Quarter history
  7. ^ Scully, Helen, Mobile Press-Register August 27, 2006
  8. ^ Kendall, John, History of New Orleans, The Lewis Publishing Company,(1922) pp. 125-126
  9. ^ Wilson, Carol. “Plaçage and the Performance of Whiteness: The Trial of Eulalie Mandeville, Free Colored Woman, of Antebellum New Orleans.” American Nineteenth Century History 15, no. 2 (May 4, 2014): 187–209. https://doi.org/10.1080/14664658.2014.959818."
  10. ^ King, G. Creole Families of New Orleans, by Grace King; THE MACMILLAN COMPANY; New York; 1921, pp. 23 - 59.
  11. ^ King, G. (1921). "Creole Families of New Orleans". New York, THE MACMILLAN COMPANY. p. 33 – via Internet Archive. 
  12. ^ Kendall, p. 92-93
  13. ^ King, G. Creole Families of New Orleans, by Grace King; THE MACMILLAN COMPANY; New York; 1921, pp. 23 - 59.
  14. ^ Monograph of the University of Pennsylvania

External links[edit]