Louisiana Institute of Higher Education
Bernard Marigny was commissioned by the Louisiana State Legislature in 1844 to compose a monograph about the role Louisianans played in the American victory in the Battle of New Orleans. By this period, many scandalous accusations were consistently leveled by Anglo-Americans against the descendants of western European French-speaking colonists. These English-speaking Americans contended that there many spies and traitors working to destroy the American presence in Louisiana. By 1844, Marigny was one of the few surviving Louisianans who exercised an important role in the Battle of New Orleans. As chairman of the House of Representatives Committee of Defense, Marigny introduced legislation which suspended Lafitte and the Baratarians from criminal prosecution. He interacted with Governor Claiborne, General Jackson, Judge Hall and every one in a position of authority during this fascinating interlude in our history. Marigny presented a summary of the monograph before the State Legislature as a speech which he delivered in French and English before the assembly in 1845. My late cousin, Mrs. Edwin X. de Verges nee Marie Josephine Cruzat, shared a copy of the speech with me almost 40 years ago. Her father, William Cruzat, was a great-grandson of Ignace Martin Delino de Chalmet, a cousin of Bernard's and a collector of original documents relative to the history of Louisiana and his family. While the original copy of the speech was destroyed in Katrina, original copies of the monograph have survived and Grace King published a translation of Reflections in the Louisiana Historical Quarterly. Remarkably, in 1979, the Chalmette Chapter of the Daughters of 1812 invited me to present the Marigny address to their membership as part of their annual Battle of New Orleans Commemoration. In those days, the vast majority of the membership traced its background entirely to the Ancien Population and they were thrilled to hear Marigny's prose. Those of Anglo-American descent could barely disguise their displeasure.
William Hyland has served as St. Bernard Parish Historian, director of Los Islenos Museum Complex, the chair of the 175th Anniversary Committee of the Battle of New Orleans, and president of The St. Bernard Historical Society. His primary focus has been toward the preservation of the heritage and cultural identity of the Canary Islander colonists and their descendants.