A history of losers

A while ago, I learned that New Orleans, where the post-hurricane looting is going on, was the recipient of convicts and other "winners" when it first began. Here's a bit of history of Louisiana, where New Orleans is located:

In 1717 the slow-growing colony came under the control of the Compagnie d'Occident (Company of the West), headed by Scottish financier John Law. Law gained great influence at the French court through his establishment of what became the French national bank. Because the bank invested heavily in the Company of the West and because Louisiana was the company's greatest asset, Law needed to develop the colony rapidly to maintain public confidence in the bank. He undertook a promotional campaign that brought in several thousand settlers. Many were German indentured workers who sold their services for a specified period, after which they gained their freedom. The settlers also included convicts who were forced to migrate to the colony. According to one company official, 7,020 Europeans went to the colony between October 1717 and May 1721. Because Law's company had acquired the Compagnie du Senegal (Company of Senegal), which held the French monopoly on the slave trade, black slaves from Africa were brought to Louisiana in 1719. About 3,000 slaves arrived between 1720 and 1731.

Law's promotional literature led immigrants to anticipate quick profits from mining and other endeavors that would require little effort and investment. However, the harsh world they found was dramatically different. Many people died because the overwhelmed colonial government could not meet their needs for food, clothing, and shelter. Most of the survivors stayed because they lacked the means to return to Europe.

Okay, let's review: a rich Scottish guy wanted to save his reputation, so he got a bunch of indentured servants, convicts, and slaves to go there. After those people arrived, and after he duped unsuspecting Europeans to migrate there, they were faced with misery and an indifferent government, but they were too broke to return to their homelands (except for the slaves and indentured servants, of course).

Apparently, this history impresses some people, including some folks in New Orleans and an ecstatic Canadian tourist: "New Orleans was colonized by convicts. No one wanted to move to the murky swamps around the Mississippi from Europe, so the French King put the populations of his prisons on ships and sent them to settle New Orleans. Locals proudly say that their city was founded by murderers, rapists, pirates and prostitutes."

So as the world watches the devastation and suffering, which is incredibly sad, they can also see a bunch of loser Americans behave no better than their predecessors. Way to go, U.S.A.