Bastille Day look at Benard de La Harpe

Today is Bastille Day, or as they say in France, la Fête nationale.  It commemorates both the 1789 storming of the Bastille as well as the 1790 Fête de la Fédération.   

At the time both events occurred, the land today known as Little Rock, like the rest of the Louisiana Purchase, was under Spanish control. (A fact overlooked in the operetta The New Moon which is set in New Orleans during the French Revolution.)

However, since this area was “owned” by the French from 1699 to 1762 and again from 1800 to 1804, it seems appropriate to acknowledge the French heritage of the area on this day.

Even though Arkansas was explored by the French in 1722, no official settlement of the area now known as Little Rock took place until 1812.  There was no permanent settlement until 1820 (though by 1818 settlement was eminent as evidenced by the Quapaw Treaty).

Jean-Baptiste Benard de La Harpe was the lead French explorer who first came to Little Rock in 1722.

From 1718 through 1723, he spent time exploring various areas of the southern sections of North America.  His 1722 trip up the Mississippi and Arkansas Rivers was at least his third such expedition along a river in the area.  From 1718 to 1719, he explored part of what is now Oklahoma up from the Red River.  Next, he explored part of what is now the eastern section of Texas.

After a trip back to France in 1720, he came back to the New World in 1721.  After his February to May 1722 trip up the Mississippi and Arkansas Rivers, he then went to transfer Pensacola to the Spanish on behalf of the French. In 1723 he went back to France and remained there until his 1765 death.

A Bastille Day look at Benard de La Harpe

Today is Bastille Day, or as they say in France, la Fête nationale.  It commemorates both the 1789 storming of the Bastille as well as the 1790 Fête de la Fédération.   

At the time both events occurred, the land today known as Little Rock, like the rest of the Louisiana Purchase, was under Spanish control. (A fact overlooked in the operetta The New Moon which is set in New Orleans during the French Revolution.)

However, since this area was “owned” by the French from 1699 to 1762 and again from 1800 to 1804, it seems appropriate to acknowledge the French heritage of the area on this day.

Even though Arkansas was explored by the French in 1722, no official settlement of the area now known as Little Rock took place until 1812.  There was no permanent settlement until 1820 (though by 1818 settlement was eminent as evidenced by the Quapaw Treaty).

Jean-Baptiste Benard de La Harpe was the lead French explorer who first came to Little Rock in 1722.

From 1718 through 1723, he spent time exploring various areas of the southern sections of North America.  His 1722 trip up the Mississippi and Arkansas Rivers was at least his third such expedition along a river in the area.  From 1718 to 1719, he explored part of what is now Oklahoma up from the Red River.  Next, he explored part of what is now the eastern section of Texas.

After a trip back to France in 1720, he came back to the New World in 1721.  After his February to May 1722 trip up the Mississippi and Arkansas Rivers, he then went to transfer Pensacola to the Spanish on behalf of the French. In 1723 he went back to France and remained there until his 1765 death.

Little Rock Look Back: John Tyler

640px-WHOportTylerOn March 29, 1790, future US President John Tyler was born.

Upon the death of President William Henry Harrison, as Vice President he assumed the office of President.  The language in the U.S. Constitution was open to interpretation as to whether he was President or merely acting as President.  He insisted he was President which established the precedent (until a subsequent amendment formalized the procedure he had put into place).  His detractors, including many in his own Whig Party, referred to him as “His Accidency.”

Tyler was a strong proponent of Manifest Destiny and westward expansion.  He actively sought to bring the Republic of Texas into the U.S.  Because of his interest in this, the Tyler Administration was a benefit to Arkansas. As the western border of the US (and a neighbor to Texas), Arkansas was an important stop for commercial and political leaders on the road to and from Texas.

He is memorialized in Little Rock with Tyler Street.  An easy way to remember which street is Tyler and which is Taylor (a couple of blocks away): Tyler Street has Saint John’s Seminary as a terminus. So the street named after John Tyler, ends at the Saint John’s campus.

As of this writing, two of his grandsons are still alive.  Born in 1924 and 1928, they make Tyler the earliest U.S. President with living grandchildren.  Many of his successors do not have living grandchildren.

The Music of Texas will be focus of 2014 Oxford American Music Issue

oa texasRecently, Academy Award-winner Matthew McConaughey, Oxford American editor Roger D. Hodge, and the Texas Music Office will announce that the state of Texas will be the focus of the OA‘s 16th annual music issue. The announcement is at 4 PM at Austin’s iconic Continental Club.

“The Oxford American is thrilled to showcase the music of Texas, home of many of the world’s most influential artists and recordings,” says Rick Clark, the OA‘s music editor. “In addition to delving into the state’s noteworthy historic recordings and figures, we will put emphasis on Texas’s current vibrant, creative artistic culture.”

The issue will be published and available on newsstands nationwide in December 2014. It will be packaged with a compilation CD dedicated to the music of Texas. The magazine will include a special editorial section comprised of essays and features about the artists and songs on the CD.

“The Texas Music Office in the Governor’s Office is working closely with the Oxford American to help produce the Music of Texas issue,” says Casey Monahan, Director of the Texas Music Office. “We’re looking forward to this exciting and high visibility edition.”

The Oxford American‘s annual Southern Music Issue has won two National Magazine Awards and other high honors since it was first introduced in 1996. It is considered by many readers and listeners to be among the best music packages in the country. In 2012, Dwight Garner of the New York Times wrote, “The Oxford American may be the liveliest literary magazine in America….The CDs are so smart and eclectic they probably belong in the Smithsonian.”

Over the years, NPR has featured many of the OA‘s music issues on its broadcasts. Over the past twenty years, the Southern music issue has showcased an incredible range of talents spanning many genres and decades, including R.E.M., Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Isaac Hayes, Lucinda Williams, Willie Nelson, Elvis Presley, Charlie Rich, and more. Music-writing legends-such as Greil Marcus, William Gay, Stanley Crouch, Peter Guralnick, John Jeremiah Sullivan, and Rosanne Cash-have contributed memorable writing to the issues. Past OA music issues have featured the states of Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana and, last year, Tennessee.