Francisco Bouligny

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Francisco Bouligny
Portrait of Francisco Bouligny, Unknown Painter (circa 1770s)
Portrait by unknown artist
9th Spanish Governor of Louisiana
In office
MonarchCharles IV
Preceded byManuel Gayoso de Lemos
Succeeded bySebastián Calvo de la Puerta
Personal details
Francisco Domingo Joseph Bouligny y Paret

(1736-09-04)September 4, 1736
Alicante, Spain
DiedNovember 25, 1800(1800-11-25) (aged 64)
New Orleans, Louisiana
Resting placeSt. Louis Cathedral
Marie-Louise Le Sénéchal d'Auberville
(m. 1770)
Known forFounder of New Iberia, Louisiana
SignatureFran. co Bouligny
Military service
AllegianceFlag of New Spain.svg Viceroyalty of New Spain
 Kingdom of Spain
Branch/serviceSpanish Army
Years of service1758–1800
RankBrigadier general

Francisco Domingo Joseph Bouligny y Paret (/frənˈsɪs.k bl.əɡˈn/;[1] 4 September 1736 – 25 November 1800) was a high-ranking Spanish military and political figure in Spanish Louisiana. As a francophone in Spanish service, he was a bridge between Creole and French Louisiana and Spain following the transfer of the territory from France to Spain.[2] Bouligny served as lieutenant governor under Bernardo de Gálvez, founded the city of New Iberia in 1779,[3][4] and served as acting military governor in 1799.

Early life[edit]

Bouligny, called "Frasquito" by his family,[2][5] was born in 1736 in Alicante, Spain, to Jean (Juan) Bouligny, a successful French merchant, and Marie Paret, who was from Alicante. At the age of 10, he was sent to a boys' school founded by the Bishop of Orihuela, from which he graduated in 1750 and joined the family import-export business,[6] which traded textiles, spices, wines, and more from both around the Mediterranean and across the Atlantic.[7]

Early military career[edit]

In 1758, Bouligny enlisted in the Spanish army, joining the Regiment of Zamora.[8] A year later, he transferred to the Royal Regiment of Spanish Guards and was commissioned as a lieutenant in the infantry and sent to Havana, Cuba, in 1762. At that time, Spain had entered the Seven Years' War and, while Bouligny was en route from Cádiz, the British captured Havana. New orders had Bouligny wait out the remainder of the war in Santa Cruz de Renerife in the Canary Islands.[9] In August 1763, Bouligny arrived in Havana where he was stationed until 1769 when he joined Alejandro O'Reilly as an aide-de-camp for his expedition to put down the Louisiana Rebellion.[2] As Bouligny was fluent in French, he was charged with delivering the Spanish government's messages to the Francophone inhabitants of Louisiana[10][11][12][13] and he acted as an interpreter during the military trial of the rebellion's leaders.[14]

Bouligny was promoted to the rank of brevet captain in the newly formed Fixed Louisiana Infantry Battalion.[15] In 1772, he was appointed by Gov. Luis de Unzaga as a full captain.[16] However, a year later Bouligny was relieved from command by Unzaga and placed under house arrest for ordering a group of deserters six-year prison terms instead of the four-month sentence proscribed by the king's code. Ultimately, O'Reilly interceded on Bouligny's behalf and he was restored to his command with a warning.[10]

In 1775, Bouligny was granted leave to return to Europe to settle family affairs. While in Spain, Bouligny wrote a discourse on the population of New Orleans and Spanish Louisiana (Memoria histórica y política sobre la Luisiana).[17] Memoria brought the Spanish court's attention to its Louisiana holdings and their potential for agricultural development and trade. It also highlighted the importance of good relations with the region's Native American peoples, and the need to improve the territory's defenses as a strategic buffer against British North America.[11][18][19] To this end, Bouligny included in Memoria detailed suggestions for new and strengthened fortifications along the territory's many waterways.[20] Memoria was well received in Madrid and was influential in guiding the future development of Spanish Louisiana.[21]

Return to Louisiana[edit]

In 1777, Bouligny returned to Louisiana, where he was named lieutenant governor by Gov. Bernardo de Gálvez. Among his responsibilities was managing trade and relations with Native American tribes and founding new settlements. In Memoria, Bouligny advocated settling Spanish and other Catholic immigrants throughout Louisiana to bolster Spain's hold on the territory, including Anglo-Americans who were willing to switch their loyalties to Spain.[22] Following on this settlement plan, in April 1779, Bouligny brought a group of 500 Malagueño and Isleño colonists up Bayou Teche to establish the city of New Iberia.[4][23][24]

However, the relationship between Bouligny and Gálvez was a tense one. The two clashed over issues around trade and settlement, in particular the location of the New Iberia settlement and Gálvez's approach towards British settlement near the Mississippi River.[9][25] Bouligny also mixed personal and official business, including at least one occasion paying himself for the use of his enslaved workers.[26] Gálvez steadily worked to isolate Bouligny, calling into question his actions, auditing heavily the expenses of the New Iberia settlement and Bouligny's personal finances, and not recommending him for advancement.[9][26][27]

In late 1779, during the American Revolutionary War, Spain attacked British holdings in West Florida, and Bouligny participated in the capture of Fort Bute and the Battle of Baton Rouge. In 1780, Bouligny led an expedition against the British at Mobile,[23][28] and he later participated in the Siege of Pensacola.[2][9]

In 1783, Bouligny was ordered to eliminate a colony of fugitives from slavery (cimarrones) downriver from New Orleans. By June 1784, the expedition captured 60 people, including the colony's leader, Jean Saint Malo;[29] in the following investigation, officials identified a dozen slaves as helping to plan escapes from plantations.[30][31]

In 1784, while Gov. Esteban Rodríguez Miró travelled to West Florida to treat with the Muscogee, Chickasaw, and Choctaw nations, Bouligny served as acting governor of Louisiana.[32] The next year, Miró sent Bouligny to Natchez to enforce Spanish rule in the area and to resist American encroachment related to the West Florida Controversy.[33] In March 1791, Bouligny was appointed colonel and placed in command of the Fixed Louisiana Infantry Regiment, a post he held until his death in 1800.[9][34]

Following the death of Gov. Manuel Gayoso de Lemos on 18 July 1799, Francisco Bouligny was appointed as military governor of Louisiana, with Nicolás María Vidal as civil governor, until the new governor general, Sebastián Calvo de la Puerta y O'Farrill, Marquess de Casa Calvo, reached the colony on 18 December 1799.[2]

Death and honors[edit]

Bouligny died in New Orleans on 25 November 1800 following a long illness. He was honored by being buried in St. Louis Cathedral. In September 1800, the Spanish Crown appointed Bouligny brigadier general, but the written copy of the commission did not reach Louisiana until after his death.[2]

Bouligny left behind what was considered an extensive library of 148 books, a wine cellar holding some 500 bottles of wine, and 31 enslaved people.[35][36]

In 1977, descendants of Bouligny founded the Bouligny Foundation to promote the study of Spanish Louisiana by supporting research and an annual lecture series. After the foundation dissolved in the early 2000s, the annual Bouligny Lecture program was continued by The Historic New Orleans Collection.[37]

Personal life[edit]

Bouligny was described as being "rather tall and slight, with a noble military bearing, easy and dignified in his manners, and warm in his friendship."[38] Throughout his life, Bouligny kept up active correspondence in both French and Spanish with his family and officials around the world.[5] Depending upon the language used, his first name is given as "Francisco" or "François."

On 29 December 1770, Bouligny married Marie-Louise Le Sénéchal d'Auberville (1750–1834) who belonged to a prominent French Louisiana family.[39][40][41] It was an advantageous marriage for both families, with Bouligny's political connections helping to settle an outstanding debt owed to Le Sénéchal d'Auberville's mother and enabling him to begin amassing property holdings in the city.[26] The couple had four children, including Charles Dominique Joseph Bouligny who was elected by the state legislature to the U.S. Senate in the 1820s,[2] and Louis Bouligny, after whom the Faubourg Bouligny neighborhood of New Orleans was named.[42] His grandson John Edward Bouligny was elected to Congress in 1859.

Bouligny's older brother, Juan de Bouligny, served as the first Spanish ambassador to the Ottoman Empire from 1779 to 1793.[43]


  • Din, Gilbert C. (1993). Francisco Bouligny: A Bourbon Soldier in Spanish Louisiana. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press. ISBN 978-0-8071-1795-8.
  • Martin, Fontaine (1990). A History of the Bouligny Family and Allied Families. Lafayette: The Center for Louisiana Studies, University of Southwestern Louisiana. ISBN 978-0-940984-51-6.
  • Palencia Pérez, Remedios (2007). Francisco Bouligny: Un Alicantino en la Colonización de Luisiana (in Spanish). Alicante, Spain: Instituto Alicantino de Cultura Juan Gil-Albert. ISBN 978-84-7784-516-4. Retrieved 2018-10-19.
  • Ribes Iborra, Vicent (2002). "II. Luisiana: Bouligny, la vigillia de la razón". Presencia valenciana en los Estados Unidos: ss. XVI–XIX (in Spanish). Valencia, Spain: Biblioteca Valenciana. pp. 33–55. ISBN 978-84-482-3023-4. Retrieved 2013-03-25.


  1. ^ Eakin, Sue; Culbertson, Manie (1998). Louisiana: The Land and Its People (4 ed.). Gretna, Louisiana: Pelican Publishing Co. p. 532. ISBN 978-1-56554-289-1.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Martin, Fontaine (1990). A History of the Bouligny Family and Allied Families. Lafayette, Louisiana: The Center for Louisiana Studies, University of Southwestern Louisiana. ISBN 978-0-940984-51-6.
  3. ^ Bergerie, Maurine (2000). They Tasted Bayou Water. Gretna, Louisiana: Pelican Publishing Co. ISBN 978-1-4556-1299-4.
  4. ^ a b Din, Gilbert C. (Spring 1976). "Lieutenant Colonel Francisco Bouligny and the Malagueño Settlement at New Iberia, 1779". Louisiana History: The Journal of the Louisiana Historical Association. 17 (2): 187–202. JSTOR 4231587.
  5. ^ a b Thomas, Jenelle Katherine (2017). 'Vous êtes hombre de bien': A study of bilingual family letters to and from colonial Louisiana, 1748–1867 (PhD). Berkeley, California: University of California, Berkeley. Retrieved 2019-04-12.
  6. ^ Ribes Iborra, Vicent (2002). "II. Luisiana: Bouligny, la vigillia de la razón". Presencia valenciana en los Estados Unidos: ss. XVI–XIX. Valencia, Spain: Biblioteca Valenciana. pp. 33–55. ISBN 978-84-482-3023-4. Retrieved 2013-03-25.
  7. ^ Hernández Sau, Pablo (2017). "Merchants between the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean: The Bouligny family case (1700–1762)". In Herrero Sánchez, Manuel; Kaps, Klemens (eds.). Merchants and Trade Networks in the Atlantic and the Mediterranean, 1550–1800: Connectors of commercial maritime systems. New York, New York: Routledge. pp. 196–217. ISBN 978-1-138-18873-0. Retrieved May 9, 2021.
  8. ^ "Certificate of service of Colonel Francisco Bouligny, after 1800 November 25". Rosemonde E. and Emile Kuntz collection, Manuscripts Collection 600, Louisiana Research Collection, Series: Spanish colonial period, 1769–1803, Box: 6, File: 10. New Orleans, Louisiana: Howard-Tilton Memorial Library, Tulane University. 1954. Retrieved 2018-10-22.
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  10. ^ a b Texada, David Ker (1968). The Administration of Alejandro O'Reilly as Governor of Louisiana, 1769-1770 (PhD). Baton Rouge, Louisiana: Louisiana State University. Retrieved May 9, 2021.
  11. ^ a b Weddle, Robert S. (1995). Changing Tides: Twilight and Dawn in the Spanish Sea, 1763–1803. College Station: Texas A&M University Press. ISBN 978-0-89096-661-7.
  12. ^ Cormier, Steven A. (in progress). "Book Eight: A New Acadia". The Acadians of Louisiana: A Synthesis. Jennings, Louisiana: self published. Retrieved 2018-08-29. Check date values in: |date= (help)
  13. ^ Coutts, Brian E. (1981). Martín Navarro: Treasurer, Contador, Intendent, 1766–1788: Politics and Trade in Spanish Louisiana, Volume 1 (PhD). Baton Rouge, Louisiana: Louisiana State University. Retrieved 2019-04-27.
  14. ^ de Pedro, Marqués de Casa Mena, José Montero (2000) [1979]. The Spanish in New Orleans and Louisiana [Españoles en Nueva Orleans y Luisiana]. Gretna, Louisiana: Pelican Publishing. ISBN 978-1-4556-1227-7. Retrieved 2013-11-18.
  15. ^ Din, Gilbert C.; Harkins, John E. (1996). New Orleans Cabildo: Colonial Louisiana's First City Government, 1769–1803. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press. pp. 13–14. ISBN 978-0-8071-2042-2. Retrieved 2019-04-13.
  16. ^ Cazorla Granados, Francisco José; García Baena, Rosa María; Polo Rubio, José David (2020). Cazorla, Frank (ed.). El gobernador Luis de Unzaga (1717–1793) : precursor en el nacimiento de los EE.UU. y en el liberalismo [Gov. Luis de Unzaga (1717–1793): Pioneer at the Birth of the United States and Liberalism] (in Spanish). Málaga, Spain: Fundación Málaga. pp. 50–89. ISBN 978-84-09-12410-7.
  17. ^ Bouligny, Francisco (16 Aug 1776). Memoria histórica y política sobre la Luisiana. Retrieved 2013-03-25.
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  19. ^ Hoffman, Louise C. (2000). "'Luisiana': The Spanish" (PDF). The Historic New Orleans Collection Quarterly. 18 (4): 2–5. Retrieved 2018-10-05.
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  24. ^ Villeré, Sidney Louis (1972). The Canary Islands Migration to Louisiana, 1778–1783: The History and Passenger Lists of the Isleños Volunteer Recruits and Their Families. New Orleans, Louisiana: Genealogical Publishing Company. p. vii. ISBN 978-0-8063-0522-6. Retrieved 2019-01-11.
  25. ^ Seguí Romá, Vicente (2012). Comerciantes extranjeros en Alicante (1700–1750): Hombres de negocios franceses y genoveses en una ciudad mediterraneá [Foreign traders in Alicante (1700–1750): French and Genoese businessmen in a Mediterranean city] (PhD) (in Spanish). Sant Vicent del Raspeig, Spain: Universitat d'Alacant. hdl:10045/27146.
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  43. ^ Çiçek Ünal, Ayşe (2015). The First Spanish Ambassador to the Sublime Porte: Juan de Bouligny and His Early Activities in İstanbul Based on His Diary (PDF) (MA). İstanbul, Turkey: İstanbul Şehir University. Retrieved 2018-10-17.

External links[edit]

Preceded by Spanish Governor of Louisiana
July—December 1799
With: Nicolás María Vidal
Succeeded by