Esteban Rodríguez Miró

(Redirected from Esteban Rodriguez Miró)

Esteban Rodríguez Miró y Sabater, KOS (1744 – June 4, 1795), also known as Esteban Miro and Estevan Miro, was a Spanish army officer and governor of the Spanish American provinces of Louisiana and Florida.

Esteban Rodríguez Miró
Portrait of Esteban Rodríguez Miró, Unknown Painter
Portrait by unknown artist
6th Spanish governor of Louisiana
In office
MonarchsCharles III
Charles IV
Preceded byBernardo de Gálvez y Madrid, Count of Gálvez
Succeeded byFrancisco Luis Héctor de Carondelet
Personal details
Reus, Catalonia, Spain
DiedJune 4, 1795(1795-06-04) (aged 50–51)
SpouseMarie Céleste Eléonore de Macarty
Military service
Allegiance Viceroyalty of New Spain
 Kingdom of Spain
Branch/serviceSpanish Army
Years of service1760–1795
RankField Marshal
Battles/warsSeven Years' War
American Revolutionary War
War of the Pyrenees

Miró was one of the most popular of the Spanish governors, largely because of his prompt response to the Great New Orleans Fire (1788), which destroyed almost all of the city.[1]

Early life edit

Esteban Miró was born in Reus (currently in the province of Tarragona, Catalonia), Spain,[2] to Francisco Miró and Marian de Miró y Sabater.[3] He joined the military in 1760[4] during the Seven Years' War. Around 1765, he was transferred to Mexico and rose to the rank of lieutenant. He returned to Spain in the 1770s and received military training before being sent to Louisiana in 1778.

Governor of Louisiana edit

In 1779 during the American Revolutionary War and Anglo-Spanish War (1779–83), Miró was a part of the forces commanded by Bernardo de Gálvez[5] in campaigns against the British in West Florida. Gálvez appointed Miró as acting Governor of Louisiana (New Spain) on January 20, 1782.[6] He became proprietary governor on December 16, 1785.[7][8] Spain had taken over this territory from France after the latter's defeat in 1763 by Great Britain in the Seven Years' War.

After the Revolutionary War, Miró was a key figure in Spain's boundary dispute with the U.S. over the northern boundary of West Florida. Under Spanish rule, the boundary had been 31° north latitude. In 1763, it came under British control at the end of the Seven Years' War. In 1767, the northern boundary was moved to 32°28' north latitude (from the current location of Vicksburg, Mississippi, east to the Chattahoochee River).

In 1783, Britain recognized the Spanish conquest of West Florida in the war, but it did not specify the northern border. In the separate treaty with the U.S., Britain specified the southern boundary as 31 degrees north latitude. Spain claimed the British expansion of West Florida, while the U.S. held to the older boundary. Britain had also granted free navigation on the Pearl River to the United States, even in areas where Spain claimed both sides of the river.

In 1784, the Spanish government closed the lower Mississippi River to the Americans, causing significant fear and resentment among settlers in the western frontiers of Kentucky and Tennessee, who depended on river trade and the major port of New Orleans.[9] In 1790, Miró fortified Nogales (present-day Vicksburg)[1] and the mouth of the Mississippi against the possibility of war with the U.S.

The settlers' anger was directed as much toward the U.S. government for not acting aggressively enough to protect their interests as it was against Spain. A significant faction within Kentucky considered becoming an independent republic rather than joining the U.S. One of the leaders of this faction was James Wilkinson, who met with Miró in 1787, declared his allegiance to Spain, and secretly acted as an agent for Spain. Wilkinson's schemes to set up an independent nation friendly to Spain in the west did little except cause controversy. This resurfaced later in another form through Wilkinson's dealings with Aaron Burr.[10]

After the Good Friday fire in March of 1788 destroyed almost all of the city of New Orleans,[11] Miró arranged for tents for residents, brought in food from warehouses, sent ships to Philadelphia for aid, and lifted Spanish regulations restricting trade to the city.[12][13][14] The city of New Orleans (today's French Quarter), was rebuilt with more fire-resistant buildings of brick, plaster, heavy masonry, ceramic tiled roofs, and courtyards.[15] Among the new buildings built under his watch was the Saint Louis Cathedral.

In 1786, Miró enacted the Tignon law, which required Creole of color, Black, and indigenous women to had to wear a scarf or other head covering. Although intended to limit these women and to restrict their fashion choices, the policy lead to a tradition of wearing elaborate tignons.[16][17]

Return to Spain edit

Miró surrendered governorship at the end of 1791 to return to Spain and serve in the Ministry of War. He served as Field Marshal from 1793-1795 in the war with the French Republic. He died from natural causes during the War of the Pyrenees at the battlefront in June 1795.[18]

Legacy edit

In 1788, North Carolina formed a judicial district called the Mero District in its westernmost territory (the area presently around Nashville, Tennessee); it was named after Miró but misspelled by the legislature.[19]

Among Louisianians, Miró is chiefly remembered for having prevented the establishment of the Inquisition in the territory. Charles Gayarré wrote the following account:

"The reverend Capuchin, Antonio de Sedella, who had lately arrived in the province, wrote to the Governor to inform him that he, the holy father, had been appointed Commissary of the Inquisition; that in a letter of the 5th of December last, from the proper authority, this intelligence had been communicated to him, and that he had been requested to discharge his functions with the most exact fidelity and zeal, and in conformity with the royal will. Wherefore, after having made his investigations with the utmost secrecy and precaution, he notified Mirò that, in order to carry, as he was commanded, his instructions into perfect execution in all their parts, he might soon, at some late hour of the night, deem it necessary to require some guards to assist him in his operations.

Not many hours had elapsed since the reception of this communication by the Governor, when night came, and the representative of the Holy Inquisition was quietly reposing in bed, when he was roused from his sleep by a heavy knocking. He started up, and, opening his door, saw standing before him an officer and a file of grenadiers. Thinking that they had come to obey his commands, in consequence of his letter to the Governor, he said: 'My friends, I thank you and his Excellency for the readiness of this compliance with my request. But I have now no use for your services, and you shall be warned in time when you are wanted. Retire then, with the blessing of God.' Great was the stupefaction of the Friar when he was told that he was under arrest. 'What!' exclaimed he, 'will you dare lay your hands on a Commissary of the Holy Inquisition?' — 'I dare obey orders,' replied the undaunted officer, and the Reverend Father Antonio de Sedella was instantly carried on board of a vessel, which sailed the next day for Cádiz."[20]

This was an instance of the conflict within the central government at Madrid and also between it and the colonial governors: Miró's policy, approved by the Crown, had been to strengthen Louisiana against the United States and other powers by encouraging settlement;[21] this included requiring public practice of Catholicism, but ignoring private worship. The royal ministers had ordered an expansion of the Inquisition in response to the French Revolution.

Personal life edit

Miro married Marie Céleste Eléonore de Macarty, cousin to his contemporary, New Orleans Mayor Augustin de Macarty.[22] A niece by marriage was Delphine LaLaurie, aged 8 at his death and later believed to be a serial killer.

Legacy and honors edit

Notes edit

  1. ^ a b Joseph G. Dawson (1 January 1990). The Louisiana Governors: From Iberville to Edwards. Louisiana State University Press. pp. 63–64. ISBN 978-0-8071-1527-5.
  2. ^ Walter Greaves Cowan; Jack B. McGuire (1 December 2008). Louisiana Governors: Rulers, Rascals, and Reformers. Univ. Press of Mississippi. p. 46. ISBN 978-1-60473-320-4.
  3. ^ "David Johnson, Editor (4 August 2011). Know Louisiana Encyclopedia of Louisiana; Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities."". Archived from the original on 12 August 2018. Retrieved 7 June 2017.
  4. ^ Jorge Eduardo Bonsor; Jorge Maier (1999). Epistolario de Jorge Bonsor (1886-1930). Real Academia de la Historia. p. 57. ISBN 978-84-89512-57-3.
  5. ^ William Charles Cole Claiborne (2002). Interim Appointment: W.C.C. Claiborne Letter Book, 1804-1805. Louisiana State University Press. p. 502. ISBN 978-0-8071-2684-4.
  6. ^ Caroline Maude Burson (1940). The stewardship of Don Esteban Miró, 1782-1792: a study of Louisiana based largely on the documents in New Orleans. American printing company, ltd. p. xvii.
  7. ^ Gilbert C. Din (1996). The New Orleans Cabildo: Colonial Louisiana's First City Government, 1769-1803. Louisiana State University Press. p. 86. ISBN 978-0-8071-2042-2.
  8. ^ Bennett H Wall; John C. Rodrigue (19 November 2013). Louisiana: A History. Wiley. p. 82. ISBN 978-1-118-61953-7.
  9. ^ David J. Weber (1992). The Spanish Frontier in North America. Yale University Press. pp. 279–. ISBN 978-0-300-05917-5.
  10. ^ James Wilkinson (1811). Burr's conspiracy exposed; and General Wilkinson vindicated against the slanders of his enemies on that important occasion. Printed for the author. p. 35.
  11. ^ Leonard Victor Huber (1991). New Orleans: A Pictorial History. Pelican Publishing. p. 4. ISBN 978-0-88289-868-1.
  12. ^ Louisiana Historical Society (1916). Publications. Louisiana Historical Society. pp. 59–62.
  13. ^ Jane Lucas De Grummond (1 March 1999). Renato Beluche: Smuggler, Privateer and Patriot 1780-1860. LSU Press. p. 24. ISBN 978-0-8071-2459-8.
  14. ^ John Garretson Clark (1970). New Orleans, 1718-1812: An Economic History. Pelican Publishing. p. 266. ISBN 978-1-4556-0929-1.
  15. ^ Lyle Saxon (1 January 1989). Fabulous New Orleans. Pelican Publishing. p. 149. ISBN 978-0-88289-706-6.
  16. ^ Johnson, Jessica Marie (2020). Wicked Flesh: Black Women, Intimacy, and Freedom in the Atlantic World. University of Pennsylvania Press. p. 198. ISBN 978-0-8122-5238-5.
  17. ^ Stewart, Whitney Nell (2018-06-23). "Fashioning Frenchness: Gens de Couleur Libres and the Cultural Struggle for Power in Antebellum New Orleans". Journal of Social History. 51 (3): 526–556. ISSN 1527-1897.
  18. ^ Joseph G. Dawson (1 January 1990). The Louisiana Governors: From Iberville to Edwards. Louisiana State University Press. p. 62. ISBN 978-0-8071-1527-5.
  19. ^ a b BILL CAREY (June 2021). "Remembering the Mero District". The Tennessee Magazine. Archived from the original on 30 June 2021. Retrieved 15 November 2021. When it was first formed, half of Tennessee was named for a Spaniard almost no one remembers today
  20. ^ Charles Gayarré (1885). History of Louisiana. A. Hawkins. pp. 269–270.
  21. ^ Din, Gilbert C. (October 1969). "The Immigration Policy of Governor Esteban Miró in Spanish Louisiana". The Southwestern Historical Quarterly. 73 (2): 155–175. JSTOR 30236568.
  22. ^ Archdiocese of New Orleans Sacramental Records, Volume 03 (1772-1783); Dec 21, 1779.
  23. ^ Willard Rouse Jillson (1936). Early Frankfort and Franklin County, Kentucky: A Chronology of Historical Sketches Covering the Century 1750-1850, Address Delivered at Frankfort's Sesquicentennial Celebration, October 6, 1936. Standard Printing Company. p. 62.

External links edit

Preceded by Spanish Governor of Louisiana
Succeeded by