Choctaw Club

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The Choctaw Club

Photo Credit: http://nutrias.org/monthly/dec98/dec982.htm

Contributors

The Choctaw Club was a social club in New Orleans synonymous with the “Old Regulars”: the Machine, the Ring, and the Regular Democratic Organization. Having powerhouses behind it such as those, and members including judges, lieutenant governors, and even mayors, this social club had a hand in the political goings, happenings, and actions of New Orleans. The building that they were last located at, on St. Charles, was demolished in 1973. Now standing in its place is the Parc St. Charles Hotel.

History

The institution of the Choctaw Club was decided upon in March of 1897 by Regular Democrats of New Orleans trying to resurrect themselves after defeats in the polls a the end of the 19th century [1] . Taking example of such clubs as the Tammany and Iroquois Clubs, the men organized at the Crescent Democratic Club on December 29, 1896 to vote on a Native American name for the club, eventually choosing the Choctaw name. Its formal opening was on May 1, 1897 [2] . The organization moved from several locations, from its first location being at No. 4 Carondelet Street, to 824 Canal Street (this is the current location of The Boston Club), to 923 Canal Street, before finally settling at 518 St. Charles Avenue, a building built by James Gallier in 1841. The objective of the club was as follows:

“betterment of the conditions of our city” and “establish a higher code or morals, which tends to better citizenship and better fits us in every way to render the city good and efficient service [3] . “(To maintain) that the welfare of the Country, and the continual prosperity of its institutions require for their preservation that the policy and character of the Government shall be determined and guided by the principles of the Democratic Party . . . to add to the organized strength of the Democratic Party in the State of Louisiana . . . to promote harmony, enjoyment and literary improvement . . . to provide the conveniences of a Club House [4] .”

Structure of the Club

The charter that the club members enacted also established a board of governors and divided membership into three categories: resident, non resident, and life member. In another charter, each of the seventeen wards of New Orleans would elect a representative that would “act and pass upon all matters affecting the honor, preservation and integrity of the Democratic party in Louisiana. The board of governors would also decide upon the president, vice-president, and secretary-treasurer of the club. [5]

Members

As said before, the members of this club seem to be that of the elite, including judges, mayors, candidates for governor, lieutenant governors, an so on. “The Choctaws were veterans of the Democratic machine. Thirty-nine charter members had held public office on the municipal, parish and state level during Regular Democratic administrations before 1896. Six had been members of the Democratic State Central Committee from the Orleans Parish in January 1896. Six belonged to the caucus of New Orleans ward leaders that had selected the Regular ticket for the city elections of 1896. Ten . . . had been candidates on that ticket [6] .”
Some of the members included: Senator S.D. McEnery, Senator Murphy J. Foster, Ex-Gov. Francis T. Nicholls, Ex-Gov. W.W. Heard, Hon. John Fitzpatrick, Hon. Jared Y. Sanders-Lieutenant Governor of Louisiana, John T. Michel-Secretary of State of Louisiana, Hon. Theodore S. Wilkinson-Candidate for Governor or Louisiana, and Hon. Martin Behrman-Mayor of New Orleans. Below are a number of photographs of some of the officials of the Choctaw Club.

Control and Influence in New Orleans

The Choctaw Club, and its related counterpart the Regular Democratic Organization, assumed control of the electoral apparatus . . . (with) its foremost backers including labor, immigrants, and to a certain point the disfranchisement pliable blacks. The group utilized patronage, political favors, violence, and election fraud to control the vote. After 1900, the politicians aligned with utility companies, timber corporations, railroads, sugar growers and refiners, and Standard Oil executives in Baton Rouge to garner political bonds that reached further than the city, and thus having more patronage [7] [8] . Along with political influence, the Choctaw Club also created many city jobs. By their influence, they created jobs such as: makework tasks, sidewalk inspectors, and city contracts. In the 10th and 11th wards of New Orleans, they created 2,200 jobs in the Department of Public Works. With the organization, they believed that if they were kept in power, they would continue to help the people of New Orleans. As Martin Behrman said, “You take care of me and I’ll take care of you [9] .”

Works Cited

  • Haas, Edward F. “John Fitzpatrick and Political Continuity in New Orleans, 1896-1899.” Louisiana History: The Journal of the Louisiana Historical Association Vol. 22, No. 1 (Winter, 1981) Louisiana Historical Association, pp. 7-29.
  • Haas, Edward F. “John Fitzpatrick and Political Continuity in New Orleans, 1896-1899.” Louisiana History: The Journal of the Louisiana Historical Association Vol. 22, No. 1 (Winter, 1981) Louisiana Historical Association, pp. 7-29.
  • This was found in a program, located at the Special Collections in Jones Hall at Tulane University, for an event held by the Choctaw Club which included a brief history.
  • Haas, Edward F. “John Fitzpatrick and Political Continuity in New Orleans, 1896-1899.” Louisiana History: The Journal of the Louisiana Historical Association Vol. 22, No. 1 (Winter, 1981) Louisiana Historical Association, pp. 7-29.
  • Haas, Edward F. “John Fitzpatrick and Political Continuity in New Orleans, 1896-1899.” Louisiana History: The Journal of the Louisiana Historical Association Vol. 22, No. 1 (Winter, 1981) Louisiana Historical Association, pp. 7-29.
  • Haas, Edward F. “John Fitzpatrick and Political Continuity in New Orleans, 1896-1899.” Louisiana History: The Journal of the Louisiana Historical Association Vol. 22, No. 1 (Winter, 1981) Louisiana Historical Association, pp. 7-29.
  • Haas, Edward F. “Political Continuity in the Crescent City: Toward an Interpretation of New Orleans Politics, 1874-1986.” Louisiana History: The Journal of the Louisiana Historical Association Vol. 39, No. 1(Winter, 1998), Louisiana Historical Association pp. 5-18.
  • The States-Item October 10, 1978 pg. 1 sec. B
  • Haas, Edward F. “John Fitzpatrick and Political Continuity in New Orleans, 1896-1899.” Louisiana History: The Journal of the Louisiana Historical Association Vol. 22, No. 1 (Winter, 1981) Louisiana Historical Association, pp. 7-29.

This page was last modified on 18 April 2012, at 06:28

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Choctaw Club

518 St Charles Ave, New Orleans, LA 70130, USA