The Iron Mistress Author:Paul I. Wellman The Iron Mistress is the name Jim Bowie gave his knife. The final pages of the book recount the final minutes of Bowie's life in the Alamo. — The introduction to the book: "New Orleans was, yet was not, a city of the United States in the year 1817. Since Thomas Jefferson's great land purchase of 1803, it was recognized as a part of the young Amer... more »ican nation by all the world powers. New Orleans, however, had difficulty in so recognizing herself.
In all essentials the city remained a self-contained extension of Europe. Its languages were French and Spanish; manners, arts, cuisines, and customs were Continental; and New Orleans did not forget that it had been what it was for a full century before its vicissitudes threw it to the upstart young Republic of the north.
Americans? The people of New Orleans, and especially the women, regarded Americans as barbarians, who lived, presumably, on a diet of gunpowder and whiskey, and had too much natural violence to be permitted in polite company. Such Americans as came to the city for business reasons quickly discovered it was more convenient and pleasant to live in the new suburb...than to encounter continually the superciliousness of the haughty Creole families of the Vieus Carre.
Yet New Orleans was to discover that isolaton from the United States, however to be desired, could not long continue. Already in 1817 the process of change was becoming manifest. Its cause was the river: the Mississippi, which was the one great trafficway of the Central Continent.
That year its mile-wide flood carried countless craft of myriad kinds. Steamboats fought upcurrent with threshing side wheels. Ocean-going cargo ships with masts towering incredibly skyward tied up at the wharves. But chiefly the river brought down homemade craft of the frontier, drifting like chips on the current: scows and bateaux, arks, flatboats, broadhorns, barges, keelboats, and even rafts. They were laden with wheat and corn, pigs and poultry, furs, lead, hemp, tobacco-anything to fill the great stone warehouses on the water front, the lusty commerce of a lusty people seeking outlet.
Willy-nilly, fate was overtaking New Orleans in 1817.« less