JACKSON SQUARE CONUNDRUM SOLVED
On the last day of my two weeks of Civil War lecturing on the riverboat “America” on the Mississippi, I strolled over to Jackson Square in the French Quarter of New Orleans. While I’ve been there many times before, I took a closer look this time at the inscription on two sides of the pedestal of Andrew Jackson’s statue.
It is: “The Union Must and Shall be Preserved.”
Jackson was, of course, the hero of the Battle of New Orleans in 1815 and also a staunch defender of the Union against John C. Calhoun’s threats of secession in the 1830s. The statue was dedicated in 1856, but those words were not on the statue at that time — perhaps it would have been torn down by the secessionists in 1861 if it had been??
It turns out that those words were engraved on the facing of the statue in 1862 by the Union soldiers, led by General Ben Butler, who took control of the city that May. The phrase was a Republican rallying cry in the 1860 election, and it derived from a British song which was sung to the tune of the “Star Spangled Banner.”
To this day Butler is not a popular person in the history of New Orleans, and his image can be found at the bottom of chamber pots sold in the city!