In Creole City, Nathalie Dessens opens a window onto antebellum New Orleans during a time of rapid expansion and dizzying change. The story-rooted in the Sainte-Geme Family Papers harbored at The Historic New Orleans Collection-follows the twenty-year correspondence of Jean Boze to Henri de Ste-Geme, both refugees from Saint-Domingue.
Exploring parts of the city's history that have previously been neglected, Dessens examines how New Orleans came to symbolize progress, adventure, and culture to so many. Through Boze's letters, readers witness the convergence of new Americans and old colonial populations that sparked transformations in the economic, social, and political structures, as well as the Creolization of the city. Additionally, the letters depict transatlantic experiences at a time when New Orleans was a key hub of the Atlantic trade and so very distinct from other nineteenth-century American metropolises, such as New York and Philadelphia.
Dessens's portrayal of this seminal period is innovative and crucial to understanding of the city's rich record and its larger role in American history.
Nathalie Dessens, professor of American history at the University of Toulouse-Le Mirail, France, is the author of Myths of the Plantation Society: Slavery in the American South and the West Indies and From Saint-Domingue to New Orleans: Migration and Influences.