The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 56, July 1952 - April, 1953 Page: 340
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
the construction business was beginning to be successful. His pro-
fessional abilities and vigorous personality had brought him
opposition and frustration, it is true, but these same qualities
had carried him into friendship with many prominent individ-
uals. Best of all for the purposes of this book, he was thoughtful,
and he wrote lucid, unpretentious English.
Near the beginning of these journals, Latrobe asked himself,
"What is the state of society in New Orleans?" His understanding
of the difficulties of answering this question might well be com-
mended to modern sociologists and writers of hit-and-run
To determine upon the relative moral or political character of a
community requires more time, more talent, & a more philosophical
investigation of the history of its habits, & of those causes of them
over which no control can be exercised, than travelling bookmakers
possess or can command.
He would have been the last to claim that his notes constituted
a complete study of the New Orleans of 1818-18so.
But Latrobe's searching observations are all the more reliable
because of his intellectual humility and because his subject
matter was limited in scope. Again and again he returned in a
more than satisfactory manner to certain topics: architectural
styles; soil conditions and cemeteries; Sabbath customs; organized
religion; the bustling and ever-increasing American merchant
class; the markets; funeral customs; the blending of French and
American jurisprudence; yellow fever and the "muskitoes" which
"regulate many family arrangements ... prescribe the employ-
ment & distribution of time, 8c most essentially affect the comfort
& enjoyments of every individual"; the site of the battle of New
Orleans; and urban slaves in both work and relaxation. His
delight in the loveliness of the Creole women was tempered by
his horror that some of them had cowhided slaves into bloody
insensibility. "Whatever therefore this community may lose in
taste & elegance, & exterior suavity, & acquire of serious & awk-
ward bluntness, & commercial stiffness-may the change be as
rapid as possible if at the same time active humanity is introduced
into this deplorable system of slavery."
The footnotes of the editor, who is an authority on New
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 56, July 1952 - April, 1953, periodical, 1953; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101145/m1/386/: accessed June 22, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.