Gayarré, Charles, 1805-1895

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Charles-Étienne Arthur Gayarré (January 9, 1805 – February 11, 1895) was an American historian, attorney, slaveowner and politician born to a Spanish and French Creole planter family in New Orleans, Louisiana. A Confederate sympathizer and a writer of plays, essays, and novels, Gayarré is chiefly remembered for his histories of Louisiana and his exposé of US Army general James Wilkinson as a Spanish spy.

Born on his grandfather's plantation just outside the city limits of New Orleans (now Audobon Park), Gayarré inherited slaves from this grandfather and remained a slaveholder until emancipation; he believed in the inferiority of African Americans all his life. He was educated at the College d'Orléans and admitted to the Pennsylvania bar in 1828 and the Louisiana bar in 1829. Gayarré’s first publication, Discours adressé à Législature, en réfutation du rapport de M. Livingston sur l’abolition de la peine de mort (Address to the Legislature in Refutation of the Report of Mr. [Edward] Livingston on the Abolition of the Death Penalty), was issued in pamphlet form by New Orleans printer Benjamin Levy in 1826, and launched Gayarré’s literary career. Essai historique sur la Louisiane, published in 1830, was Gayarré’s first attempt to write Louisiana history; he followed this with Histoire de la Louisiane in 1846–47 and Romance of the History of Louisiana (1848). His publications established him as part of the literary fabric of Louisiana, yet there was a strong political undertone to his writings.

Gayarré’s personal life was dominated by his public service. Before the Civil War he held the following offices: representative of the City of New Orleans to the state legislature in 1830, assistant state attorney general in 1831, and presiding judge of the City Court of New Orleans in 1832. In 1835, he was elected to the U.S. Senate, but was forced to resign before assuming his seat because of chronic bronchial asthma. Governor Isaac Johnson appointed Gayarré secretary of state in 1846, and Governor Joseph Walker reappointed him in 1850. As secretary of state, Gayarré recognized the importance of collecting and preserving Louisiana colonial records, and was instrumental in developing the colonial records collection with the Louisiana Historical Society and the Louisiana State Library.

In 1853 he was an unsuccessful candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives. Like many Americans frustrated with the leading political parties, Gayarré joined the Know-Nothing Party, a nativist party whose anti-immigrant and racial beliefs appealed to him. But Gayarré was a loyal Catholic and, although elected as a delegate to the 1855 national Know-Nothing Party convention, he was refused admission because of his religious beliefs. Gayarré strongly supported slavery and Louisiana’s secession from the Union in 1861. In 1863, at an assembly held at Osyka, Mississippi, he proposed arming slaves for the defense of the Confederacy. Gayarré served as a delegate from Louisiana’s Union Democratic party to the national unity convention at Philadelphia in 1866, and ran unsuccessfully for the U. S. Senate in 1867. From 1873 to 1877, he was a reporter of decisions for the Supreme Court of Louisiana. During the latter legislative term, state voters ratified a new constitution that accelerated the Americanization of the state, destroying a way of life that Gayarré cherished.

In 1859, he and his wife acquired 533 acres in Tangipahoa Parish, ninety miles north of New Orleans. They named it Roncal after the Spanish region that was home to Gayarré’s ancestors. They resided there or in New Orleans until Roncal was sold in 1881, making them permanent residents of New Orleans for the rest of their lives. Gayarré died in New Orleans and is buried at St. Louis Cemetery in New Orleans.

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn Owen, Thomas McAdory, 1866-1920. Owen's obituary clipping scrapbook, 1894-1896. Alabama Department of Archives and History
referencedIn Sabourin, Ernest. Ernest Sabourin papers, 1813-1887. Tulane University, Howard-Tilton Memorial Library
creatorOf Gayarré, Charles, 1805-1895. Autograph letter signed : New Orleans, to W.J. Bruce, 1882 May 30. Pierpont Morgan Library.
creatorOf Gayarré, Charles, 1805-1895. Autograph letter signed : New Orleans, to Franklin Bacheller, 1860 June 12. Pierpont Morgan Library.
creatorOf Gayarré, Charles, 1805-1895. Charles Etienne Arthur Gayarré papers, 1848-1895. Tulane University, Howard-Tilton Memorial Library
creatorOf Gayarré, Charles, 1805-1895. Charles Gayarré papers, 1720-1895 (bulk 1845-1857). Louisiana State University, LSU Libraries
referencedIn King, Grace Elizabeth, 1852-1932. Grace Elizabeth King papers, 1781-1933 [microfilm manuscript]. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
referencedIn Dickson, Jeannie A. Papers, 1857-1905; (bulk 1865-1886). Duke University Libraries, Duke University Library; Perkins Library
creatorOf Gayarré, Charles, 1805-1895. Charles E.A. Gayarré letter, 1890. Louisiana State University, LSU Libraries
referencedIn Longfellow, Henry Wadsworth, 1807-1882. Letters to Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, 1761-1904 (bulk 1820-1888) Houghton Library
referencedIn Sumner, Charles, 1811-1874. Correspondence, 1829-1874 Houghton Library
creatorOf Gayarré, Charles, 1805-1895. Letter of Charles Gayarré, undated. Library of Congress
creatorOf Gayarré, Charles, 1805-1895. Papers, 1873-1888. Xavier University of Louisiana, XULA
creatorOf Gayarré, Charles, 1805-1895. Charles E.A. Gayarré manuscript, circa 1866-1895. Louisiana State University, LSU Libraries
referencedIn Houghton Mifflin Company contracts, 1831-1979 (inclusive) 1880-1940 (bulk). Houghton Library
creatorOf Gayarré, Charles, 1805-1895. Miscellaneous manuscripts, 1877. University of Pennsylvania Library
referencedIn De Bow, J. D. B. (James Dunwoody Brownson), 1820-1867. Papers, 1779-1915. Duke University Libraries, Duke University Library; Perkins Library
creatorOf Gayarré, Charles, 1805-1895. Charles Gayarré journals, 1835-1872 (bulk 1835-1868). Louisiana State University, LSU Libraries
creatorOf Gayarré, Charles, 1805-1895. Charles Gayarré correspondence, 1890 February 26 Detroit Public Library, Detroit Main Library
referencedIn Louisiana State University Libraries. Grace King Collection/Charles E. A. Gayarre Papers.
creatorOf Clark, Daniel. Maria Stuart Webb succession documents, 1846, 1848. Louisiana State University, LSU Libraries
referencedIn Hayne, Paul Hamilton, 1830-1886. Papers, 1815-1944. Duke University Libraries, Duke University Library; Perkins Library
creatorOf Gayarré, Charles, 1805-1895. Papers, 1882-1895. Duke University Libraries, Duke University Library; Perkins Library
referencedIn Browne, William Hand, 1828-1912. William Hand Browne collection, 1842-1973. Johns Hopkins University, Sheridan Libraries and the Milton S. Eisenhower Library
referencedIn King, Grace Elizabeth, 1852-1932. Grace King papers, 1851-1941 (bulk 1864-1932). Louisiana State University, LSU Libraries
referencedIn Jones, Charles Edgeworth. Papers, 1815-1929. Duke University Libraries, Duke University Library; Perkins Library
creatorOf Gayarré, Charles, 1805-1895. Charles Gayarré letter to Mahlon Dickerson, 1835. New-York Historical Society Library
referencedIn Cuvillier family. Cuvillier family papers, 1810-1877. Tulane University, Howard-Tilton Memorial Library
referencedIn Wharton, Edward Clifton, 1827-1891. Edward Clifton Wharton family papers, 1819-1947 (bulk 1819-1901). Louisiana State University, LSU Libraries
referencedIn Rouquette, Adrien, 1813-1887. Adrien Emmanuel Rouquette letter, 1860 May 6. Louisiana State University, LSU Libraries
referencedIn Kellogg, Miner K. (Miner Kilbourne), 1814-1889. Miner Kilbourne Kellogg papers, 1842-1882. Archives of American Art
creatorOf Gayarré, Charles, 1805-1895. Charles E.A. Gayarré papers, 1781, 1830-1907 (bulk 1830-1895). Louisiana State University, LSU Libraries
creatorOf Hubert, Louis A. Louis A. Hubert papers, 1832-1846. Louisiana State University, LSU Libraries
referencedIn Gilmore, James R. (James Roberts), 1822-1903. James Roberts Gilmore collection, 1820-1903. Johns Hopkins University, Sheridan Libraries and the Milton S. Eisenhower Library
creatorOf Cable, George Washington, 1844-1925. George Washington Cable miscellany, 1850-1914. Louisiana State University, LSU Libraries
creatorOf Jackson, John Peter, 1805-1861. John P. Jackson papers, 1821-1887 1830-1860. New Jersey Historical Society Library
referencedIn Charles E.A. Gayarré funeral notice, 1895. Louisiana State University, LSU Libraries
creatorOf Gayarré, Charles, 1805-1895. Charles E.A. Gayarré letters and miscellanea, 1853-1929 (bulk 1882-1894). Louisiana State University, LSU Libraries
referencedIn De Bow, J. D. B. (James Dunwoody Brownson), 1820-1867. J.D.B. De Bow letter, 1865 Dec. 30. Louisiana State University, LSU Libraries
referencedIn Century Company records, 1870-1924 New York Public Library. Manuscripts and Archives Division
referencedIn Longfellow, Henry Wadsworth, 1807-1882. Letters, 2 Jan. 1957 and 10 June 1872. Michigan State University Libraries, Main Library
creatorOf Davis, M. E. M. (Mollie Evelyn Moore), 1844-1909. Letter to Mr. Gayarré, Sunday, 84 Royal St. / Mollie Moore Davis. University of Wisconsin - Madison, General Library System
creatorOf Gayarré, Charles, 1805-1895. Charles E.A. Gayarré selected papers, 1883-1940. Louisiana State University, LSU Libraries
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith American Party. corporateBody
associatedWith Bacheller, Franklin, person
associatedWith Bancroft, George, 1800-1891. person
grandchildOf Boré, Jean Etienne, 1741-1820 person
associatedWith Boucher family. family
associatedWith Browne, William Hand, 1828-1912. person
associatedWith Bruce, William J., fl. 1882, person
associatedWith Buchannan, Carroll, and Company. corporateBody
spouseOf Buchannon, Anne Shadie Sullivan, 1820-1914. person
associatedWith Cable, George Washington, 1844-1925. person
correspondedWith Century Company corporateBody
associatedWith Christ Church (New Orleans, La.) corporateBody
associatedWith Clark, Daniel. person
alumnusOrAlumnaOf College d'Orleans (New Orleans, La.) corporateBody
associatedWith Cuvillier family. family
associatedWith Darling, W. M. person
associatedWith Davis, M. E. M. (Mollie Evelyn Moore), 1844-1909. person
memberOf DeBore family. family
associatedWith De Bow, J. D. B. (James Dunwoody Brownson), 1820-1867. person
correspondedWith Dellenbaugh, Frederick Samuel, 1853-1935 person
associatedWith Dickerson, Mahlon, 1770-1853. person
associatedWith Dickson, Jeannie A. person
associatedWith Episcopal Church corporateBody
associatedWith Gálvez, Bernardo de, 1746-1786. person
memberOf Gayarré family. family
associatedWith Gayarré, Juan. person
spouseOf Gayarré, Shadie Ann Sullivan Buchannan. person
associatedWith Gilmore, James R. (James Roberts), 1822-1903. person
associatedWith Grand-Pre family. family
associatedWith Grant, Ulysses S. (Ulysses Simpson), 1822-1885. person
associatedWith Gunther, Charles Frederick, 1837-1920. person
associatedWith Hawks, Francis L. (Francis Lister), 1798-1866. person
associatedWith Hayden, Horace Edwin, 1837-1917. person
associatedWith Hayne, Paul Hamilton, 1830-1886. person
associatedWith Hays, William D. person
correspondedWith Henry, Joseph, 1797-1878 person
associatedWith Houghton Mifflin Company. corporateBody
associatedWith Hubert, Louis A. person
associatedWith Jackson, Andrew, 1767-1845. person
associatedWith Jackson, John Peter, 1805-1861. person
associatedWith Jones, Charles Edgeworth. person
associatedWith Kellogg, Miner K. (Miner Kilbourne), 1814-1889. person
associatedWith King family. family
associatedWith King, Grace Elizabeth, 1852-1932. person
associatedWith Laffite, Jean. person
associatedWith Laffite, Pierre, d. 1826? person
associatedWith Longfellow, Henry Wadsworth, 1807-1882. person
associatedWith Louisiana Historical Society. corporateBody
memberOf Louisiana. Legislature. House of Representatives corporateBody
associatedWith Louisiana State Museum. corporateBody
associatedWith Louisiana. Supreme Court. corporateBody
associatedWith Owen, Thomas McAdory, 1866-1920. person
associatedWith Ricks, Carrol, and Company. corporateBody
associatedWith Rouquette, Adrien, 1813-1887. person
associatedWith Sabourin, Ernest. person
associatedWith State Library of Louisiana. corporateBody
correspondedWith Sumner, Charles, 1811-1874 person
associatedWith Taylor, Zachary, 1784-1850. person
associatedWith United States. Dept. of the Navy. corporateBody
associatedWith University of Louisiana corporateBody
associatedWith Wharton, Edward Clifton, 1827-1891. person
associatedWith Xavier University of Louisiana. corporateBody
Place Name Admin Code Country
Philadelphia PA US
Tangipahoa Parish LA US
New Orleans LA US
New Orleans LA US
Subject
American literature
Acquisition of manuscripts
African Americans
Authors, American
Authors and publishers
Creoles
Elections
Historians
Lawyers
Lectures and lecturing
Libraries
Manuscripts
New Orleans (La.)
Piracy
Politicians
Smuggling
Occupation
Authors
Historians
Historians
Judges
Legislators
Plantation owners
State Government Official
State Representative
Activity

Person

Birth 1805-01-09

Death 1895-02-11

Male

Americans

Spanish; Castilian,

French,

English,

German

Information

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