[Jacques Tanesse Manuscript Map Of New Orleans and Document From the Governor of Louisiana]

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Fine, Early Plan of New Orleans, with Certifications by the Governor of Louisiana, Mayor of New Orleans and Secretary of State.

Cartographer(s): Jacques Tanesse
Date: 1817
Place: New Orleans
Dimensions:
Condition Rating: VG

Description

Finely-executed manuscript plan of New Orleans by Jacques Tanesse, signed by Tanesse and the Mayor of New Orleans in December 1817.

Based upon the details and color coding, the focal point of the map is apparently the newly created Faubourg Tremé (in red) and the “Commons of the City of New Orleans (in Yellow), the area around the “French Quarter” acquired by the City of New Orleans from the United States in 1807.  For the reasons set forth below, we believe the map is an official copy of a no longer extent map of New Orleans prepared in late 1810 or early 1811, shortly after the acquisition of Faubourg Tremé from Claude Tremé in 1810 and prepared at about the same time as the first planning survey of the portion of Faubourg Tremé which would used for the College d’Orleans in August 1811.

The present map is one of the earliest surviving maps to show the city after American Rule and may be the earliest surviving map in the hands of Tanesse. Jacques Tanesse, the New Orleans City Surveyor, conducted several surveys between 1807 and 1817. The present map, which is apparently unknown, bears similarities to the Tanesse manuscript plans of 1807 (which seems to only survive in photostatic form) and 1812 (which seems only to survive in a hand-drawn copy made in the late-nineteenth century), but includes for the first time several remarkable features not previously shown on other plans.

The present example of Tanesse’s plan includes a rich assortment of historically-compelling information, including a reference to the seasonal flooding of one of New Orleans historic neighborhoods and the earliest extant appearances of Faubourg Tremé, America’s first African American neighborhood, as well as a meticulous depiction of the location of the French fortifications torn down by 1812 under American rule.

The legend identifies the location of a number of important places. Faubourg Tremé is one of these and the map locates the residence of Samuel C. Young there. Young was a lawyer known to be in practice in New Orleans as early as 1809. Additionally, the map notes:

  • Plantation former owned by Claude Treme
  • Commons owned by the city (and location of the low lands which are underwater part of the year)
  • The portion of the Commons claimed by Barthelemy Lafon
  • The part of the Carondolet Canal Basin owned by the Navigation Company
  • Customs House
  • Market House
  • Demolished French Forts (demolished in 1803 and 1812)
  • Burial Ground

Comparing this map to Tanesse’s iconic printed map of 1817 (which in turn notes that it was based on a survey done in 1815), it is noteworthy that this map does not mention either the College d’Orleans (built in 1812) or the Hopital de Charite (built in 1815).

Bearing the signature of Jacques Tanesse, City Surveyor, and Augustin Macarty, Mayor of New Orleans, as attested by Michel de Armas, notary public, the present example is accompanied by a certification on the letterhead of Louisiana Governor James Villere and Secretary of State Ettiene Mazureau, confirming the qualifications and commissions of Macarty as mayor and de Armas as notary. The combination of these certifications suggests that the map was used for an important purpose.

Dated in December 1817, the present map appears in some way to be based upon Tanesse’s June 15, 1807 plan of New Orleans, which was titled:

  • Plan dressé en éxécution de l’arrête du Conseil de Ville de la Nlle. Orleans, approuvé par le Maire le 15 Juin 1807 relativement aux Six Cents Verges de terres communes, à partir des fortifications et sur toutes faces, sur lesquelles il à été reconnu à la dite ville un droit de propriété par les Etats Unis.
  • [Plan drawn in execution of the order of the Council of the City of New Orleans, approved by the Mayor June 15, 1807, relative to the six hundred rods of common lands, to start from the fortifications and on all sides by which a property right of the said city has been recognized by the United States.]

 

Comparison to the 1807 Tanesse Plan

The 1807 Tanesse Plan is the “first map of the Fauxbourg Marigny made by Tanesse for Bernard Marigny.” The surviving example is apparently an early copy, dated April 15, 1809.  The example illustrated above in the Louisiana State Museum is described as a positive photostatic copy.

The 1807 map does not include the subdivided blocks shown in yellow and red on the present 1817 map.  The present map also slightly truncates Faubourg Marigny at the right.

The 1807 map lacks the references to Faubourg Tremé, the flooding of the Commons, the lands claimed by Lafon and several of the other elements referenced in the key.

 

Comparison to the 1812 Tanesse Plan

The second early Tanesse map of note is the 1812 Plan de la Ville et du faubourgs incorpores de la Nouvelle Orleans y compris les 600 verges de Communes et la proprietee acquise par la Corporation de Mr. Claude Tremé . . . (Plan of the City and incorporated suburbs of New Orleans including the 600 yards of Commons and the property acquired by the Corporation of Mr. Claude Tremé. . .), signed by Tanesse and dated June 20, 1812, which apparently only survives in a copy of which was made in the late 19th Century.  https://louisianadigitallibrary.org/islandora/object/hnoc-p15140coll28%3A239

The 1812 map notes many of the same features (Bermudez Concession, Catholic and Protestant Cemeteries, Market House, Customs House, etc.), and seems to be focused on the later sub-divisions of the Commons and Faubourg Tremé, along with the addition of the “Nouvelle Faubourg Marigny”.

The present Tanesse manuscript map seems to have been created from an original which pre-dates this 1812 plan.

 

Comparison to the August 1811 Plan de division . . . au N.N.O. de la Nouvelle Orleans . . de Monsieur Treme and Plan of the College D’ Orleans

The present map would seem to be contemporary to Tanesse’s two hand drawn maps created in about 1811.

The broader Plan shows the same 4 subdivided blocks in the lower part of Faubourg Tremé, as well as a structure at the top right, which corresponds to Samuel Young’s residence on the present 1817 Tanesse map.  While the block to the farthest right is not subdivided, the contours of the block match.

The College d’Orleans plan (which is oriented with northeast at the top, unlike all the other Tanesse maps, which are oriented with Northwest at the top), so that Rue St. Claude shows the area above the Plan de division, at the far right and roughly corresponds with the street pattern sketched on the present 1817 map.

 

Annotations on the Map, Verso and Accompanying Certification by Governor Villere

The note at the left of the present map reads:

Nota: The red color designates the plantation formerly belonging to Trémé.

The yellow designates the Commons of the City of New Orleans.

Y. Designates the residence of Samul. C. Young Esq. Alderman & Special Commr of for the City in Washington – D.C.  and France A.D. 1817-19 . . . 

On the verso, the map is endorsed by Jacques Tanesse, Augstin Macarty (Mayor of New Orleans), and Michel de Armas (notary public). A separately sealed document on the letterhead of Louisiana Governor James Villere, and signed by Villere and Secretary of State Etienne Mazereau, explains:

I do certify that the plan on the other side is correct and true, agreeably to the Survey made by me, as City-Surveyor, for the City of New Orleans, by directions of the Mayor and City Council of New Orleans.

New Orleans, December 6, 1817

Tanesse; City Surveyor

Mayorality of New Orleans

I, Augustin Macarty, Mayor of the City of New Orleans.  Do hereby certify that Js. Tanesse whose signature is affixed at the foot of the above instrument of writing the Surveyor of the City of New Orleans, and that full faith and credit is due and ought to be given to his signature as such.

In testimony whereof I have hereunto subscribed my name and affixed the Seal of the Mayoralty of Orleans, as the City of New Orleans aforesaid this nineteenth day of December, 1817

Aug. Macarty mayor

At the other end of the sheet, the verso is endorsed by notary public Michel de Armas, certifying that the map is a copy of Tanesse’s plan of New Orleans on deposit in the city of New Orleans.

 

Faubourg Tremé

For much of the eighteenth century, the land just outside New Orleans’ city limits, just beyond the French Quarter, was the Morand Plantation and brickyard.  The area was later acquired by hat maker and real estate developer Claude Tremé. Shortly after Tremé acquired the property, in 1794, the Spanish government dug the Claiborne Canal from New Orleans to Bayou St. John, splitting Tremé’s land and opening it up for development. Tremé sold off most of his land by 1810, and by 1812 it had been subdivided for development of the neighborhood that today bears his name, Faubourg Tremé, along with the neighboring Commons of the City, which was acquired by the City in 1807.

Faubourg Tremé is one of the oldest neighborhoods in New Orleans and was initially the main neighborhood of its free people of color. It is typically regarded as the oldest Black neighborhood in the nation. Claude Tremé began selling lots on his property as early as 1798, and a total of 37 lots were sold between 1798 and 1810, including free people of color, French and Spanish colonial settlers and recent immigrants. The remaining land was sold to the Corporation of the City of New Orleans in 1810 for $40,000.  A numbered sketch prepared at the time shows the 37 lots on the northeast side of Bayou Road.

Faubourg Tremé became the first subdivision conducted by New Orleans from its own property, the earlier subdivision of Faubourg Marigny and Faubourg Ste. Marie having been private projects of Bernard de Marigny and Beltran Gravier respectively.

The first survey of Faubourg Tremé was completed by Jacques Tanesse, dated August 11, 1811, and inscribed by Mayor James Mather for the creation of the College d’Orleans, which was thereafter transferred to the Trustees of the College d’Orleans on May 20, 1812. In the same year, Tanesse laid out Faubourg Tremé with the survey entitled “Plan of the town and incorporated faubourgs of New Orleans comprising the Commons and the property acquired by the Corporation from M. Claude Tremé . . . June 20, 1812 . . .”   A later survey by Tanesse in 1816 illustrates the pre-1810 houses on Bayou Road and those built between 1812 and 1816.

 

Conclusions

While the exact purpose of this map remains undetermined, its chronological details place it between the above referenced 1807 and 1812 maps. given the color coding, reference to flooding in the Commons, but otherwise relatively simple subdivsion of Faubourg Tremé.

More specifically, the plan was likely prepared at or about the same time as Tanesse’s survey of a portion of Faubourg Tremé and Plan of the College d’Orleans identified above, given the broad similarities between those two plans and the present Tanesse manuscript plan.

The internal content, color and detail all strongly suggest that the present map is contemporary to the urban planning being undertaken between 1810 and 1811 in Faubourg Tremé, America’s first African American neighborhood.

As such, the present plan would seem to be an 1817 official copy of a lost original plan from about 1810-11, with this copy signed by Tanesse and the Mayor of New Orleans and endorsed by the Governor of Louisiana and the Secratary of State in December 1817.

Cartographer(s):

Jacques Tanesse

Little is known of Jacques Tanesse. He appears in records in New Orleans when it was again under French control (after being ceded to the Spanish for several decades) and stayed on when it became an American possession.

He is best known today through his surviving maps and plans, which date from ca. 1810-1820 and are some of the most important in the early history of New Orleans. These include the initial layout of the subdivision of Faubourg Tremé and plans of the entire city. Tanesse was also an architect; the Halle des Boucheries, which he designed, still stands. Tanesse was also interested in land development. He purchased a lot in the Faubourg Marigny and attempted to sell the house built there; it did not sell, so he instead offered it in a lottery.

Condition Description

Pen & Ink with Wash Color.

References

New Orleans Architecture: Faubourg Tremé and the Bayou Road, Friends of the Cabildo, Roulhac Toledano, Mary Louise Christovich, Samuel Wilson · 1971