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L'union. [volume] : (Nouvelle-Orléans [La.]) 1862-1864
Place of publication:
Nouvelle-Orléans [La.]
Geographic coverage:
  • New Orleans, Orleans, Louisiana  |  View more titles from this: City County, State
Frank F. Barclay
Dates of publication:
  • 1re année, no 1 (27 sept. 1862)-v. 2, no. 159 (19 juil. 1864).
Triweekly Dec. 23, 1862-July 19, 1864
  • English
  • French
  • African American newspapers--Louisiana.
  • African American newspapers.--fast--(OCoLC)fst00799278
  • African Americans--Louisiana--New Orleans--Newspapers.
  • African Americans.--fast--(OCoLC)fst00799558
  • Louisiana--New Orleans.--fast--(OCoLC)fst01204311
  • Louisiana--Orleans Parish.--fast--(OCoLC)fst01223094
  • Louisiana.--fast--(OCoLC)fst01207035
  • New Orleans (La.)--Newspapers.
  • Orleans Parish (La.)--Newspapers.
  • "Mémorial politique, littéraire et progressiste."
  • English masthead carries its own volume and issue numbering.
  • In French, Sept. 1862-July 1863; in French and English, July 1863-July 1864.
  • Microfilmed by the Library of Congress for the Committee on Negro Studies of the American Council of Learned Societies.
  • Published with an additional masthead in English: The union, July 1863-1864.
sn 83026401
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L'union. [volume] September 27, 1862 , Image 1


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L’union / the Union

L'Union was one of the first documented French-language African American newspapers in the South. L'Union's first issue was published on September 27, 1862, in New Orleans. It provided a voice for Louisiana's middle-class African American creole community. These people were usually free, multiracial, educated native Louisianians, and primarily of French descent. Because of this status, they wanted to become full and enfranchised US citizens. It is believed that a group of African American and other creole men, including Louis Charles Roudanez and Paul Trévigne, started and edited the paper. Roudanez was a doctor with medical degrees from the University of Paris and Dartmouth College. Trévigne was an educator in the first free school in the US for African American children. However, Frank F. Barclay, a White editor, would assume the title of "Éditeur-Imprimeur" ("Publisher-Printer") of the paper for political reasons. Editors and papers who protested the Confederacy and slavery were often in danger or received threats to end their papers. Barclay had published other French newspapers in New Orleans, Le Compilateur and L'Estafette, prior to joining L'Union.

Under the motto, "Mémorial Politique, Littéraire et Progressiste" ("A Political, Literary, and Progressive Journal"), L'Union started as a semi-weekly, Republican, two-page newspaper. It promoted Republican principles. The paper also published the harmful impacts of slavery on American democracy and relevant information about the Civil War. The Declaration of Independence and its principles were at the foundation of the paper's purpose and platform.

Barclay experienced financial difficulty due to a lack of advertising. He sold the paper to Louis Dutuit, another White editor and printer, in the fall of 1862. He would appear as "Imprimeur" ("Printer") on several issues. Over time, the paper's size was reduced from five columns to three columns, and Dutuit improved the typeface. He also increased advertising. The paper became a tri-weekly published on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. Alongside editorials, the paper included war and government news, and news exchanges from the rest of the South, as well as the North. The paper also published international news, French history, democratic principles, and local news. Other content included military orders and general notices, literature and poetry, and advertisements for French hotels, theaters, and other businesses. The paper was well connected and praised by other American Francophone newspapers like New York's Le Messager Franco-Américain.

In 1863, L'Union attempted to serve the larger African American community. Beginning with its July 14, 1863 issue, the paper became bilingual. It began publishing a two-page paper in English titled the Union. Although published together and having some similarities, the two papers included different information and substance. The Union's editorials, content, and few advertisements focused on more practical, non-literary content about the moral, intellectual, and patriotic qualities of Africans and African Americans in the US. This content depicted the bravery of African American troops fighting for the Union and democracy. The Union also published national, regional, and local news about the war and crimes against free and enslaved African Americans.

This publication change could not hide that the two papers served different populations of African Americans. Both L'Union and the Union were Republican and supported universal emancipation. However, L'Union's French was a barrier along with the paper's creole sensibilities. For example, in its April 11, 1863 issue, the editors expressed frustration with the abolition movement. They felt their own access to voting and full citizenship were not addressed: "Mais une chose nous frappe avec étonnement, c'est que pas une voix du sein de ces assemblées, ne s'est encore élevée pour plaider en faveur de nos droits" ("But one thing strikes us with astonishment, it is that not a voice from within these assemblies has yet risen to plead in favor of our rights.")

Almost a year later, in its May 31, 1864 issue, L'Union/the Union announced that it would suspend publication. L'Union cited its subscribers' low wages, complaints from the wealthy, Pro-Confederate intimidation, and a lack of encouragement from authorities as reasons. The paper also encouraged the directors and shareholders of L'Union to meet on June 10, 1864. They needed to pay for the paper's printing equipment, or it would be sold to cover the paper's debts. Yet, the paper would continue on until it abruptly halted publication on July 19, 1864. Roudanez bought the papers and their printing equipment. Two days later, he transformed the papers into La Tribune de la Nouvelle-Orleans and the New Orleans Tribune.

Note: A portion of the issues digitized for this newspaper were microfilmed as part of the Miscellaneous Negro newspapers microfilm collection, a 12-reel collection containing issues of African American newspapers published in the U.S. throughout the 19th and 20th centuries. Creation of the microfilm project was sponsored by the Committee on Negro Studies of the American Council of Learned Societies in 1947. For more information on the microfilm collection, see: Negro Newspapers on Microfilm, a Selected List (Library of Congress), published in 1953. While this collection contains selections from more than 150 U.S. newspapers titles, for further coverage, view a complete list of all digitized African American titles available in the Chronicling America collection.

Provided by: Library of Congress, Washington, DC