“Manuel Gayoso de Lemos” Spanish Governor-General of Louisiana (New Spain) at New Orleans Signed Document
MANUEL GAYOSO DE LEMOS, (1747-1799). Spanish Governor of Louisiana (New Spain) from 1797 until his Death in 1799 of yellow fever.
May 20, 1799-Dated Federal Period, Partly-Printed Document in Spanish Signed, “Manuel Gayoso de Lemos”, measuring a large 9.5” x 14.25”, 1 page, at New Orleans, Very Fine. Scattered tone, minor trivial edge chips and pinholes being boldly printed in deep black and having vivid rich brown manuscript portions and a huge 3.5” long signature, “Manuel Gayoso de Lemos” at center right. Gayoso de Lemos succeeded Carondelet as Governor-General of Louisiana and West Florida on August 5, 1797. His first act was to issue his own Bando de Buen Gobierno (Edit of Good Government) and to send a list of instructions to commandants of all posts concerning land grants. This rare original Document is possibly a passport to allow passage to New York. Docket on reverse. Wonderful impressed “Heraldic Spanish Eagle” from an engraved Copper-Plate boldly impressed, it being shown wearing a Crown and holding a Shield with the Spanish Coat of Arms surrounded by banners and flags, cannon and drum displayed at lower left. A very rarely encountered and very impressive appearing New Orleans, Louisiana Spanish Document.
On November 3, 1787, Don Manuel Gayoso de Lemos assumed military and civil command of the fort and the newly organized District of Natchez (West Florida), having been appointed district governor by Governor-general Esteban Rodríguez Miró, governor of Louisiana and West Florida. On his arrival, Gayoso de Lemos established an informal cabildo (council) of landed planters which was formalized in 1792. Most of the council were of non-Spanish origin having come down from the Ohio River Valley settlements (especially Kentucky).
Gayoso de Lemos continued to encourage American settlement on Spanish soil, especially by Catholics, notably the Irish and the Scots, and by those who brought significant property. He moved the administrative part of the town of Natchez from the waterfront up onto the bluff. One of the most troubling aspects during his civil administration was confusion in the land titles, with a number of inconsistent land grants. Unfortunately, Rodríguez Miró's successor, Governor-general Carondelet was not amenable to rectifying the problem.
While in Natchez, Gayoso de Lemos used the greed of a number of Americans, notably General James Wilkinson and Philip Nolan to help limit the growth of the United States. Also to this end, Gayoso de Lemos entered into alliances with the local Indian tribes and signed formal treaties with them in 1792, 1793, and 1795. Under his direction the Spanish fortified the Mississippi at Nogales (later Walnut Hills, then later changed to Vicksburg) and Chickasaw Bluffs (later Memphis). He was instrumental in acquiring the information from Wilkinson concerning the proposed U.S. attack on New Orleans in 1793 by General George Rogers Clark.
However, under the terms of Pinckney's Treaty promulgated in 1796, Spain agreed to relinquish the Natchez District to the United States. Thus Gayoso de Lemos oversaw the gradual Spanish withdrawal from the east side of the middle Mississippi River. In March 1797 the fort at Nogales was decommissioned, with the troops and stores being moved to St. Louis. Final evacuation of the district did not occur until 1798, at which time the U.S. established the Mississippi Territory.
Gayoso de Lemos succeeded Carondelet as Governor-General of Louisiana and West Florida on August 5, 1797. His first act was to issue his own Bando de Buen Gobierno (Edit of Good Government) and to send a list of instructions to commandants of all posts concerning land grants.
As governor, Gayoso de Lemos consolidated the military power of Spain in New Orleans, still fearing a possible thrust south by Britain and desiring to keep Spanish Louisiana a buffer between the U.S. (with its territory now extending to Natchez) and Spanish Texas. He was pragmatic and continued the unofficial policy of allowing Americans to bring their slaves with them from the north, although the importation of new slaves had been prohibited since 1792. However, he was dogmatic in other areas of government; in 1798, he issued a comprehensive edict concerning Catholicism as the state faith of the colony. In addition to increasing formal church membership, it attempted to coerce people to give up unnecessarily working on Sundays and holy days. In the edict Gayoso de Lemos condemned anyone who challenged the theology or social centrality of the Church. In 1798 he also instituted state-run garbage collection (a novel idea at the time), to prevent the spread of diseases and bad smells in the city.
Gayoso de Lemos died in New Orleans of yellow fever on July 18, 1799, and his remains were interred in the Saint Louis Cathedral. Colonel Francisco Bouligny became the acting military governor and Nicolas María Vidal the acting civil governor. Gayoso Bayou, a partially covered stream in Memphis, Tennessee, is named after Manuel Gayoso.