Painting of New Orleans

Jean-Pierre Lassus, "Veüe et Perspective de la Nouvelle Orleans," 1726, Centre des archives d'outre-mer, France via Wikimedia.

Jean-Pierre Lassus, “Veüe et Perspective de la Nouvelle Orleans,” 1726, Centre des archives d’outre-mer, France via Wikimedia.

During the contact period, the frontier was constantly shifting and places that are now considered old were once tenuous settlements. This watercolor painting depicts New Orleans in 1726 when it was an 8-year-old French frontier settlement, nearly forty years prior to the Spanish acquisition of the Louisiana territory. In the foreground, enslaved Africans fell trees on land belonging to the Company of the Indies, and another enslaved man spears a massive alligator. Land has been cleared only just beyond the town limits and a wooden palisade provides meager protection from competing European empires.