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Carondelet, François-Louis Hector (1747–1807)

Carondelet, François-Louis Hector (1747–1807)

François-Louis Hector Carondelet, Baron de (b. 27 July 1747; d. 10 December 1807), governor of San Salvador and Louisiana; president of the Audiencia of Quito. A prototype of the bureaucratic ilustrados who staffed the late eighteenth-century Spanish colonies, Carondelet trod an ambiguous path between progress and reaction. Born at Cambray or Flanders, in what is the present-day French department of Nord, he entered the military service of Charles III of Spain at fifteen and saw brief action at the conclusion of the Seven Years' War. After serving at Algiers in 1775 and writing a book on infantry training and strategy, he was assigned to the Caribbean, where he fought with Bernardo de Gálvez against the British at Pensacola (1781).

In 1789 Carondelet became governor-intendant of San Salvador, an indigo-producing region on the Pacific coast of the Audiencia of Guatemala. He strove to rationalize dye production and marketing, and to establish settlements for those displaced by expanding commercial agriculture. Two years later, he was promoted to the governorship of Louisiana and West Florida.

The succeeding five years severely tested Carondelet's determination to keep the lower Mississippi watershed under permanent Spanish sovereignty. With paltry resources, he bluffed and badgered the local French Jacobins, the region's mercurial Indian groups, land-hungry American frontiersmen, free colored, a slave population equaling that of the free (including Europeans), and intriguers of many stripes. He deftly out-maneuvered a range of antimonarchical forces and challenged American use of the Mississippi and the right of deposit at New Orleans.

Carondelet was reassigned to the presidency of the remote Audiencia of Quito (where he was also governor-general) late in 1798. There he found a declining textile trade, widespread native unrest, and bickering among the clerical orders. Although at a loss to cope with internal issues of an unfamiliar society, Carondelet managed to complete a road to the north coast and to facilitate the expedition of Alexander von Humboldt. He died in Quito.

See alsoLouisiana; San Salvador.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Arthur Preston Whitaker, The Spanish-American Frontier, 1763–1795 (1927).

Thomas M. Fiehrer, "The Baron de Carondelet as Agent of Bourbon Reform" (Ph.D. diss., Tulane University, 1977).

Carlos Manuel Larrea, El barón de Carondelet (1978).

Eric Beerman, "Baron de Carondelet," in The Louisiana Genealogical Register 29, no. 1 (March 1982): 5-19.

                                   Thomas Fiehrer

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