Statehood (1812)

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St. Charles Parish’s most prominent resident, Jean-Nöel Destrehan, a vigorous supporter of the Creole position on statehood and one of the drafters of Louisiana’s first constitution, was privileged to receive Louisiana’s statehood documents from President James Madison in Washington, D.C. Destrehan then ran unsuccessfully to become Louisiana’s first governor. He was, however, chosen by the voters to serve as Louisiana’s first elected United States Senator but did not qualify to serve. It is unknown whether Jean-Nöel spoke English. A language barrier could have been the reason he was unable to qualify for his seat. He was subsequently elected to the office of state senator, serving from 1812 until 1817.

Stephen Henderson decreed upon his death that his slaves would have freedom of choice. The estate remained in litigation for over twenty-five years. Most of his will was nullified. Henderson stated, “My greatest object is to do the greatest quality of good, and to the greatest number of persons and to the poorest people.” (A Dictionary of Louisiana Biography. Vol. I, A to M, Glenn R. Conrad, Editor. Published by Louisiana Historical Association, 1988)

State Constitution Delegates Gravesite
Gravesite of Jean-Nöel Destrehan deBeaupre and Stephen and Zelia Henderson. Stephen was Jean-Nöel’s son-in-law. Jean-Nöel Destrehan deBeaupre, b. 1759, d. 1823; son of Jean Baptist Honore Destrehan deBeaupre, royal treasurer of the French Colony, and Jeanne Catherine Gauvry; married Marie Celeste Robin deLongy in 1786; in 1802 purchased the deLongy family plantation; devoted husband and father of fourteen children; sugar planter and statesman. In 1803 was appointed first deputy mayor of the city of New Orleans; 1806 was named president of the legislative council, Territory of Orleans, and served as a state convention delegate; 1810 became president of the board of trustees of the Red Church; served as a delegate in the 1812 Constitutional Convention, chosen to accept statehood papers from President James Madison, and was elected to the U.S. Senate but failed to qualify; became a Louisiana State Senator from 1812 to 1817. Retired captain in the Spanish Army and in 1814 helped to direct defense of the city in Battle of New Orleans. Interred in St. Charles Borromeo Cemetery. Stephen Henderson, b. 1775, Scotland, d. 1838; immigrated to New Orleans ca. 1800; married Zelia Destrehan in 1825 after purchasing her parents’ home (Destrehan Plantation). Extensive landowner, merchant, planter, businessman, philanthropist, and humanitarian. Served as a delegate in the 1812 Constitutional Convention; chosen as delegate to accept statehood papers; willed funds to churches, asylums, orphanages, charity hospital, and the poor of New Orleans; left land to the firemen of New Orleans. Interred next to wife in St. Charles Borromeo Cemetery. (Photo courtesy of Marilyn Mayhall Richoux.)

This text is copyright © material by Marilyn Richoux, Joan Becnel and Suzanne Friloux, from St. Charles Parish, Louisiana: A Pictorial History, 2010.

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