New Orleans: a quote from Gary Krist’s book, Empire of Sin

A quote from Empire of Sin: A Story of Sex, Jazz, Murder and the Battle for Modern New Orleans by Gary Krist:

According to one early historian, “Disorderly soldiers, black sheep of distinguished families, paupers, prostitutes, political suspects, friendless strangers, unsophisticated peasants straying into Paris–all were kidnapped, herded, and shipped under guard to fill the emptiness of Louisiana.”

French jails and hospitals were ransacked for potential colonists, while men with an opportunistic bent were enticed with promises of free transportation, free land, and the fabulous riches derived from a  region of unimaginable abundance. To deal with a chronic shortage of women, prospective wives were also imported from the Old Country, among them eighty-eight inmates from a Parisian house of correction known as La Salpêtrière. As a result, the town was–already famous as a den of iniquity, a place “without religion, without justice, without discipline, without order, and without police.”

My kind of town….



Filed under Non Fiction

7 responses to “New Orleans: a quote from Gary Krist’s book, Empire of Sin

  1. As far as I know La Sapêtrière is now a renowned hospital in Paris.
    So the “cleaning” has been done on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean.

    PS: Is there any exaggeration in what he says due to Protestant vision of Catholic customs and ways…You know, a feeling of moral superiority?

    • No I wouldn’t say an exaggeration. There was really a great deal of anti-Italian sentiment which is manifested in the mass lynching, but I also think that the protestant vision was also becoming more dominant. More Protestants moved in and the city’s population shifted as a result.

  2. Speaking of shipping ’em off to the New World (without even mentioning the Iberian Inquisition), we need only read Manon Lescaut.

    BTW, on the topic of Italians and New Orleans, seems that either they, or their detractors, got their architectural revenge:

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