Esteban Rodríguez Miró

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Esteban Rodríguez Miró
Esteban Rodríguez Miró.jpg
Governor Esteban Rodríguez Miró
6ºColonial Spanish governors of Louisiana
In office
1785–1791
Preceded by Bernardo de Gálvez y Madrid, Count of Gálvez
Succeeded by Francisco Luis Héctor de Carondelet
Personal details
Born 1744
Reus (currently in the province of Tarragona, Catalonia), Spain
Died June 4, 1795
Spain
Profession army officer and governor

Esteban Rodríguez Miró y Sabater (1744 – June 4, 1795), also known as Esteban Miro and Estevan Miro, was a Spanish army officer and governor of the Spanish American provinces of Louisiana and Florida.

Miró was one of the most popular of the Spanish governors largely because of his prompt response to the Great New Orleans Fire (1788) which destroyed almost all of the city.[1]

Early life[edit]

Esteban Miró was born in Reus (currently in the province of Tarragona, Catalonia), Spain.[2] He joined the military in 1760[3] during the Seven Years' War. Around 1765, he was transferred to Mexico and rose to the rank of lieutenant. He returned to Spain in the 1770s and received military training before being sent to Louisiana in 1778.

Governor of Louisiana[edit]

In 1779 during the American Revolutionary War, Miró was a part of the forces commanded by Bernardo de Gálvez[4] in campaigns against the British in West Florida (which was at the time a British possession). Gálvez appointed Miró acting Governor of Louisiana on January 20, 1782.[5] He became proprietary governor on December 16, 1785.[6][7]

After the war, Miró was a key figure in the boundary dispute with the U.S. over the northern boundary of West Florida. Under Spanish rule, the boundary had been 31° north latitude. In 1763, it came under British control at the end of the Seven Years' War. In 1767, the northern boundary was moved to 32°28' north latitude (from the current location of Vicksburg, Mississippi, east to the Chattahoochee River).

In 1783, Britain recognized the Spanish conquest of West Florida in the war, but did not specify the norther border. In the separate treaty with the U.S., Britain specified the southern boundary as 31 degrees north latitude. Spain claimed the British expansion of West Florida, while the U.S. held to the old boundary. Britain had also granted free navigation on the Mississippi River, even in places where Spain owned both sides of the river.

In 1784, the Spanish government closed the lower Mississippi River to the Americans, causing significant fear and resentment among settlers in the western frontiers of Kentucky and Tennessee which depended on river trade.[8] The settlers' anger was directed as much toward the U.S. government for not acting aggressively enough to protect their interests as it was against Spain. A significant faction within Kentucky considered becoming an independent republic rather than joining the U.S. One of the leaders of this faction was James Wilkinson, who met with Miró in 1787, declared his allegiance to Spain, and secretly acted as an agent for Spain. Wilkinson's schemes to set up an independent nation friendly to Spain in the west did little except cause controversy. This resurfaced later in another form through Wilkinson's dealings with Aaron Burr.[9]

Miró fortified Nogales (present day Vicksburg)[1] and the mouth of the Mississippi against the possibility of war with the U.S. After the Good Friday fire on March 21, 1788 destroyed almost all of the city,[10] he arranged for tents for the residents, brought in food from warehouses, sent ships to Philadelphia for aid and lifted Spanish regulations restricting trade to the city.[11][12][13] The city, including the French Quarter, was rebuilt to be more fire-resistant with buildings constructed of brick and plaster, with heavy masonry, tiled roofs, and courtyards.[14] Among the new buildings built under his watch was the Saint Louis Cathedral.

Return to Spain[edit]

He surrendered governorship at the end of 1791 to return to Spain and serve in the Ministry of War. He served as Field Marshal from 1793-1795 in the war with the French Republic. He died on the battle front from natural causes in June, 1795.[1]

Recognition[edit]

In 1788, North Carolina formed a judicial district called the Mero District in its westernmost territory (the area presently around Nashville, Tennessee) named after Miró.

Among Louisianians, Miró is chiefly remembered for having prevented the establishment of the Inquisition in the territory. The story as written by Charles Gayarré:

"The reverend Capuchin, Antonio de Sedella, who had lately arrived in the province, wrote to the Governor to inform him that he, the holy father, had been appointed Commissary of the Inquisition; that in a letter of the 5th of December last, from the proper authority, this intelligence had been communicated to him, and that he had been requested to discharge his functions with the most exact fidelity and zeal, and in conformity with the royal will. Wherefore, after having made his investigations with the utmost secrecy and precaution, he notified Mirò that, in order to carry, as he was commanded, his instructions into perfect execution in all their parts, he might soon, at some late hour of the night, deem it necessary to require some guards to assist him in his operations.

Not many hours had elapsed since the reception of this communication by the Governor, when night came, and the representative of the Holy Inquisition was quietly reposing in bed, when he was roused from his sleep by a heavy knocking. He started up, and, opening his door, saw standing before him an officer and a file of grenadiers. Thinking that they had come to obey his commands, in consequence of his letter to the Governor, he said: 'My friends, I thank you and his Excellency for the readiness of this compliance with my request. But I have now no use for your services, and you shall be warned in time when you are wanted. Retire then, with the blessing of God.' Great was the stupefaction of the Friar when he was told that he was under arrest. 'What!' exclaimed he, 'will you dare lay your hands on a Commissary of the Holy Inquisition?' — 'I dare obey orders,' replied the undaunted officer, and the Reverend Father Antonio de Sedella was instantly carried on board of a vessel, which sailed the next day for Cádiz."[15]

This was an instance of the conflict within the central government at Madrid and also between it and the colonial governors: Miró's policy, approved by the Crown, had been to strengthen Louisiana against the United States and other powers by encouraging settlement; this included requiring public practice of Catholicism, but ignoring private worship. The royal ministers had ordered an expansion of the Inquisition in response to the French Revolution.

Today, a street in New Orleans is still named in his honor. Once running from the Lower 9th Ward at St. Bernard Parish ("Downtown"), to Claiborne Ave. in the Fontainebleau neighborhood ("Uptown"), the street has now been "broken" in several places by subsequent developments, such as the Industrial Canal.

General James Wilkinson named the present Mero (sic) Street in Frankfort, Kentucky, for Governor Miro.[16]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Joseph G. Dawson (1 January 1990). The Louisiana Governors: From Iberville to Edwards. Louisiana State University Press. pp. 63–64. ISBN 978-0-8071-1527-5. 
  2. ^ Walter Greaves Cowan; Jack B. McGuire (1 December 2008). Louisiana Governors: Rulers, Rascals, and Reformers. Univ. Press of Mississippi. p. 46. ISBN 978-1-60473-320-4. 
  3. ^ Jorge Eduardo Bonsor; Jorge Maier (1999). Epistolario de Jorge Bonsor (1886-1930). Real Academia de la Historia. p. 57. ISBN 978-84-89512-57-3. 
  4. ^ William Charles Cole Claiborne (2002). Interim Appointment: W.C.C. Claiborne Letter Book, 1804-1805. Louisiana State University Press. p. 502. ISBN 978-0-8071-2684-4. 
  5. ^ Caroline Maude Burson (1940). The stewardship of Don Esteban Miró, 1782-1792: a study of Louisiana based largely on the documents in New Orleans. American printing company, ltd. p. xvii. 
  6. ^ Gilbert C. Din (1996). The New Orleans Cabildo: Colonial Louisiana's First City Government, 1769-1803. Louisiana State University Press. p. 86. ISBN 978-0-8071-2042-2. 
  7. ^ Bennett H Wall; John C. Rodrigue (19 November 2013). Louisiana: A History. Wiley. p. 82. ISBN 978-1-118-61953-7. 
  8. ^ David J. Weber (1992). The Spanish Frontier in North America. Yale University Press. pp. 279–. ISBN 978-0-300-05917-5. 
  9. ^ James Wilkinson (1811). Burr's conspiracy exposed ; and General Wilkinson vindicated against the slanders of his enemies on that important occasion. Printed for the author. p. 35. 
  10. ^ Leonard Victor Huber (1991). New Orleans: A Pictorial History. Pelican Publishing. p. 4. ISBN 978-0-88289-868-1. 
  11. ^ Louisiana Historical Society (1916). Publications. Louisiana Historical Society. pp. 59–62. 
  12. ^ Jane Lucas De Grummond (1 March 1999). Renato Beluche: Smuggler, Privateer and Patriot 1780-1860. LSU Press. p. 24. ISBN 978-0-8071-2459-8. 
  13. ^ John Garretson Clark (1970). New Orleans, 1718-1812: An Economic History. Pelican Publishing. p. 266. ISBN 978-1-4556-0929-1. 
  14. ^ Lyle Saxon (1 January 1989). Fabulous New Orleans. Pelican Publishing. p. 149. ISBN 978-0-88289-706-6. 
  15. ^ Charles Gayarré (1885). History of Louisiana. A. Hawkins. pp. 269–270. 
  16. ^ Willard Rouse Jillson (1936). Early Frankfort and Franklin County, Kentucky: A Chronology of Historical Sketches Covering the Century 1750-1850, Address Delivered at Frankfort's Sesquicentennial Celebration, October 6, 1936. Standard Printing Company. p. 62. 

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Bernardo de Gálvez
Spanish Governor of Louisiana
1785-1791
Succeeded by
Francisco Luis Hector de Carondelet