At the corner of Hospital and St. Claude Streets, you will find the old St. Augustine's Church.  The site
was formerly a stretch of land, upon which stood the historic College d'Orleans.  One of the first acts after
the American acquisition in 1803, was to appropriate, by act of legislature, "an English college" for the
education of the Creole youth, and to obviate the necessity of sending young men to Paris for higher
study, as heretofore.  Latin, Greek and French were fundamental studies in the institution.
 A tradition of the Old Quarter is the memory of Monsieur D'Avezac, who was the first president of the
College.  He was a great classical scholar and was noted for his translation of Sir Walter Scott's "Marmion"
into French.  Scott wrote back a beautiful letter telling how pleased he was with the "perfect translation."  
This letter is religiously preserved by the descendants of Monsieur D'Avezac in New Orleans.  Monsieur
D'Avezac was so polished in Latin and Greek, and so famous for his ponderous quotations from these
languages, that  his young collegians used to call  him "Titus."
 Monsieur Rochefort, another professor, was noted for his graceful translation of "Horace" into French.  
It was the boast of the Faubourg that his "boys" used to walk the Quarter faithfully quoting the odes.  
Racine and Cornielle and the Greek tragedies (translated into beautiful French) were served with
breakfast in the French Quarter in the first decade and a half of the nineteenth century.
 The college had a day school for children who were unable to pay board and a free or charity
department, the pupils of which were chosen by the trustees.
 The Creole mothers of New Orleans broke up the College d' Orleans.
 In 1818, Joseph Lakanal, a member of the French Institute, whom Napoleon had appointed President of
the Bonaparte Lyceum, came as a refugee to New Orleans and was called to fill a vacancy in the college
directorate.  Lakanal was an ex-priest and an atheist.  The fact became known and the first public
women's meeting resulted.
 The pious Creole mothers of New Orleans declared that they "would have no anti-Christ teach their
boys; that the trustees of an institution who could appoint such a man were unfit to be entrusted with the
education of youth."  A mass meeting of citizens was held as a sequel to the meeting of women; and the
demand was made that the trustees rescind their action.  These gentlemen persisted and the next day the
great majority of the best-paying pupils were withdrawn; in fact, as the old Creoles were proud afterwards
of declaring, "There were not sufficient pupils left to pay the salary of even one director."  The day school
was, also, obliged to close its doors, and, as for the "charity contingent," the mothers of these boys, also,
met and sent word to the directors that "they might be poor, but they were too honest to allow their sons
to meet on the same ground as Monsieur Lakanal."
 So perished the old College d'Orleans, at which the historian Gayarre and all the most cultured
gentlemen of the early American domination were educated.  All that remains today is a remnant of the
long, old-fashioned dormitory, now used as a tenement row.
 "Joseph Lakanal, le Canaille Directeur" is a fragment of an old Creole
chanson composed in derision of
the College d'Orleans at the time it fell into disfavor.  Lakanal was given a famous
charavari and, finding
his presence so odious to New Orleans, he left the city.  A new verse commemorating his departure was
added to the old song.
 Upon the site of the College there arose a few years later St. Augustine's Church, the second oldest in the
Old Quarter.  It is very quaint and beautiful and remaining just as when erected.

                                                                                        ~   ~   ~

                                                                         The link to this page is:
                                          
http://old-new-orleans.com/NO_College_d_Orleans.html

                                                                         Back to   Old New Orleans

                                                                                Whispers - Home


The Story of the College d'Orleans
How the Mothers of New Orleans Shut Down a University
The College d'Orleans was founded in 1811; it was the first institution of higher
learning in Louisiana.  Its demise was brought about by the mothers of New Orleans
and the first public women's meeting of protest recorded in Louisiana history.  In this
excerpt from the book, "The Picayune's Guide to New Orleans," published in 1903, we
learn how the Creole mothers of the city shut down a college: