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Jean Baptiste Le Moyne Bienville

BIENVILLE, Jean Baptiste le Moyne, Sieur de, French governor of Louisiana, born in Montreal, 23 February 1680; died in France in 1765. He was a son of Charles le Moyne, and the third of four brothers (Iberville, Serigny, Bienville, and Chateauguay) who played important parts in the early history of Louisiana. Bienville, while a lad on board the French ship "Pelican," was severely wounded in a naval action off the coast of New England. In 1698 Iberville set out from France to found a colony at the mouth of the Mississippi, taking with him his brother Bienville, and Sauvolle. The first settlement was made at Biloxi, where they arrived in May 1699, and erected a fort with twelve cannon. Sauvolle was left in command, while Bienville was engaged in exploring the surrounding country. Iberville, who had returned to France, came back with a commission appointing Sauvolle governor of Louisiana.

In 1700 Bienville constructed a fort fifty-four miles above the mouth of the river. Sauvolle died in 1701, and Bienville succeeded to the direction of the colony, the seat of which was transferred to Mobile. In 1704 he was joined by his brother Chateauguay, who brought from Canada seventeen settlers. A ship from France brought twenty women, who had been sent out by the king to be married to the settlers at Mobile. Iberville soon after died ; troubles arose in the colony, Bienville quarreled with La Salle, the royal commissioner, was charged by him with various acts of misconduct, and on 13 July 1707 was recalled; but his successor dying on the voyage from France, Bienville retained the command. Meanwhile, in 1708, the attempt to cultivate the land by Indian labor haying failed, Bienville proposed to the home govern-merit to send Negroes from the Antilles to be exchanged for Indians, at the rate of three Indians for two Negroes. In 1709 and 1710 the colony was reduced to famine. In 1712 the French king granted to Antoine Crozat for fifteen years the exclusive right to trade in Louisiana, and to introduce slaves from Africa. On 17 May 1713, Cadillac was sent out as governor, bringing with him a commission for Bienville as lieutenant governor. Quarrels arose between them, and the governor sent Bienville on a expedition to the Natchez tribe, hoping that he would lose his life. But Bienville succeeded in inducing the Natchez to build a fort for him, in which he left a garrison, and returned to Mobile, 4 October 1716. On 9 March 1717, Cadillac was superseded by Epinay, and Bienville received the decoration of the cross of St. Louis. Crozat surrendered his charter in 1717, and Law's Mississippi company was formed the same year, its first expedition arriving in 1718, with a commission for Bienville as governor. He now founded the city of New Orleans. War breaking out between France and Spain, Bienville took Pensacola, placing Chateauguay in command. In 1723 the seat of government was transferred to New Orleans. On 16 January 1724, Bienville was summoned to France, to answer charges that had been brought against him. He left behind him the "code noir," which remained in force till the annexation of Louisiana to the United States, and much of it was incorporated in the law of the state. This code regulated the condition of the slaves, banished the Jews, and prohibited every religion except the Roman Catholic. On 9 August 1726, he was removed from office, and Chateauguay was also displaced as lieutenant governor, and ordered back to France. Bienville remained in France till 1733, when he was sent back to the colony as governor, with the rank of lieutenant-general. In 1736, 1739, and 1740 he made unsuccessful expeditions against the Chickasaw Indians, in consequence of which he was superseded, and in 1743 returned to France.

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