Wednesday, October 20, 2010

On the Eve of War

Today we are going to look at the turbulent 1850s in New Orleans. Politics of this decade definitely distinguish the city from the rest of the South of the same period. Some of the issues like Know-Nothingism (albeit a uniquely New Orleans brand of Know-Nothingism) were a lot more like one might find in a northern city.

Many other strings tied the Crescent City to the North, not the least of which was the issue of protectionism and the politics of sugar. We'll discuss that.

Nevertheless, New Orleans was the nerve center of slave trading in the West. It was also a major cotton port. These factors weighed heavily in loyalties in the city.

The election of November, 1860 delivered one portrait of Unionism in New Orleans. The secession convention of January 1861 portrayed something altogether different. We'll look at how that came to pass.

Mobilization for war began immediately, but had New Orleans Confederates had any idea what was at stake, they may have acted differently. Some topics for consideration: industry, banking, blockades, recruiting, black Confederates, and city defenses.

Some key locations: Fort Jackson & St Philip. Fort Macomb & Fort Pike. 

View Geographic Places of New Orleans in a larger map

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Petit Test 2

Questions for Petit Test 2 – A History of New Orleans: Nystrom

Since the last essay, the main focus of our course has been about the growth of antebellum New Orleans, particularly with regard to culture, ethnicity, and politics. Arguably, the debate over the meaning and cultural value of the term “Creole” can serve as a metaphor for the themes that we have covered. Your job will be to write an essay telling the history of antebellum New Orleans (broadly construed from the time of the Louisiana Purchase in 1803 to 1860) using “Creoles vs. Americans (and others)” as a window onto the key cultural, economic, demographic, and political developments in the city during this time period. Be sure to incorporate elements from your readings, lectures, class discussion, and film in your essay.


Some questions to consider in constructing your argument:

Does the notion of “Creole” reflect reality or is it a fabrication? Can it be both? If so, where do we draw the line? Does this line move over time?

To what extent has the “non-Creole,” or “other” defined “Creole?”

To what extent did the notion of “Creole” color all aspects of civic, political, and economic life in antebellum New Orleans?

If “Creole” is an overblown distinction in understanding antebellum New Orleans, how might we recast our narrative of the period’s most dominant themes?


Your first essays were an exercise in straightforward argument. Here you will need to take things to a new level by marshaling solid evidence in support of a nuanced thesis. You have much greater latitude in this assignment in that you will need to decide how much agency you afford to the notion of “Creole” in that it defines the antebellum city.

Word limit is set at 1800. This means that you will need to craft a tight essay with little to no fluff.

Essays are due at the beginning of class on Thursday, October 21, 2010

Tuesday, October 12, 2010


In addition to discussing our reading, I am laying a surprise on you today. We're going to watch Jezebel in class. Half today, half on Thursday. But we're going to be watching it less as a theatrical production and more as an analysis of a popular interpretation of some of the historical themes we've encountered. It's relatively short (104 minutes) so we'll be able to have 50 minutes of viewing today and roughly 50 on Thursday with about 20 extra minutes for discussion. But we'll be discussing even as the movie plays.

If the projector works.

Also, some have asked about my film on the Deutsches Haus. You can see it here:

The Last Oktoberfest from Justin Nystrom on Vimeo.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Waterways and Ethnicity

First, an 1845 map of New Orleans:

Then, let's take another look at our ongoing Google Map and consider the effects of artificial waterways on the growth and settlement of the city.

View Geographic Places of New Orleans in a larger map

We are also going to have a lot of material about ethnicity today, including the contentious term "creole," a look at the Irish, Germans, French, and others who made the city a polyglot metropolis in the antebellum period.

Lastly, we will look at the rise and importance to New Orleans of plantation agriculture, the business of slavery, and the business of supplying and transhipping the goods of the Mississippi Valley.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Revised Schedule for Course

REVISED REMAINDER OF THE SCHEDULE: Nystrom HIST 240 (issue date 10/5/10)

Week 6: The American Era Dawns
T 10/5: BD: 260-262. CNO: Part II Introduction, Chap. 3
R 10/7: BD: 131-135, 161-174, 200-203, 262-270


Week 7: Creolization and Ethnicity
T 10/12: CNO: Chap. 4
R 10/14: Due date for annotated bibliography for essay: Receive TEST 2 questions.


Week 8: The War Cometh
T 10/19 – Fall Break
R 10/20: TURN IN TEST 2: Lecture on CW in New Orleans / Watch Jezebel (streamed online)

Tentative: 10/22 Civil War and Reconstruction walking tour

Week 9: War and Reconstruction
T 10/26: CNO: Part III Introduction + Chap. 5
R 10/28: Reconstruction in New Orleans

Week 10: Unanswered Questions of the Late 19th Century
T 11/2: Wrapping up Reconstruction
R 11/4:  New Orleans after the Civil War: Chap. 8 & 9 (on Blackboard)/ Receive questions for Test 3

Week 11: Turn-of-the-century turmoil
T 11/9: Turn in primary research report for essay
R 11/11: ,

Week 12: Segregated New Orleans
T 11/16: BD: 174-185: TURN IN TEST 3
R 11/18: Carnival of Fury Chap. 1-6

Week 13
T 11/22: BD: 219-224 / Turn in draft outline of essay / Carnival of Fury Chap. 7-10
R 11/24 – Thanksgiving Break

Week 14
T 11/29: Turn in TEST 4 / BD: 185-193
R 12/2: All on Mardi Gras Day, Chap. 8 (on Blackboard)

Week 15
T 12/7: CNO: Chap. 6 / Turn in rough draft of essay
R 12/9: Lords of Misrule, Chap x (on Blackboard), Receive Test 5 questions

(Final Exam Day): Turn in Test 5 / submit final essay in electronic form.

Researching Property

We have a bunch on our agenda today. In addition to discussing our readings, going over our new schedule, getting back your first essays, and a few other things, I am going to show you how to stalk people.

Okay, not actually "stalk" per se. But you will learn how to research a property back to the original owners, finding all subsequent owners along the way.

Once again, we will be using aids from the New Orleans Public Library's Louisiana Division.

And also, the Orleans Parish Assessor / Conveyance Office.