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[195] dare to profane with his hand the sacred emblem of our aspirations. . . . Peace and order may be preserved without resort to measures which I could not at this moment prevent. Your occupying the city does not transfer allegiance from the government of their choice to one which they have deliberately repudiated, and they yield the obedience which the conqueror is entitled to extort from the conquered.


On April 29th Admiral Farragut adopted the alternative presented by the answer of the mayor, and sent a detachment of marines to hoist the United States flag over the customhouse, and to pull down the Confederate flag from the staff on the City Hall. An officer and some marines remained at the customhouse to guard the United States flag hoisted over it until the land forces under General Butler arrived. On May 1st General Butler took possession of the defenseless city; then followed the reign of terror, pillage, and a long train of infamies too disgraceful to be remembered without a sense of shame by anyone who is proud of the name American.

Had the population of New Orleans been vagrant and riotous, the harsh measures adopted might have been excused, though nothing could have justified the barbarities which were practiced; notable as the city had always been for freedom from tumult, and occupied as it then was mainly by women and children, nothing can extenuate the wanton insults and outrages heaped upon them. That those not informed of the character of the citizens may the better comprehend it, a brief reference is made to its history.

When Canada, then a French colony, was conquered by Great Britain, many of the inhabitants of greatest influence and highest cultivation, in a spirit of loyalty to their flag, migrated to the wilds of Louisiana. Some of them established themselves in and about New Orleans, and their numerous descendants formed, down to a late period, the controlling element in the body politic. Even after they had ceased, because of large immigration, to control in the commercial and political affairs of the city, their social standard was still the rule. No people were more characterized by refinement, courtesy, and chivalry. Of their keen susceptibility the mayor informed Commodore Farragut in his correspondence with that officer.

When the needy barbarians of the upper plains of Asia descended upon the classic fields of Italy, their atrocities were such as shocked the common sense of humanity; if any one shall inquire minutely into the conduct of Butler and his followers at New Orleans, he will find there a history yet more revolting.

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