This collage uses several images I took during a research trip in New Orleans this past spring break. The statue on the left side of the image was commissioned in honor of John McDonogh’s donation to set-up the public school system in New Orleans. He made a similar donation to the city of Baltimore. In New Orleans, the schools that were established using his bequest were named after him, at one point, there were as many as 35 “John McDonogh Schools.”
John McDonogh was well known in the city of New Orleans for being tightfisted. The painting in the collage is a rendition after a similar one that can be found at the Met. This particular rendition depicts John McDonogh crossing the Mississippi on a small row boat so he could avoid the ferry fee. It can be viewed at the hotel Le Richelau in New Orleans’ French Quarter. Needless to say, the public was thoroughly astounded when they heard how much of his estate McDonogh had given to the public education system. In due time, they began to appreciate the man they had once loved to demonize.
McDonogh’s plantation was across the Mississippi in what is now Algiers. A walk through this part of New Orleans will take you to the “John McDonogh” street, among other landmarks named after him. This story cannot be told without mentioning certain personalities: Walter Lowrie, David and Washington McDonogh etc. This collage includes signatures from all these men taken from letters they wrote to keep in touch. See how many signatures you can locate!