NEW ORLEANS — One of the most influential Spaniards was Bernardo de Gálvez. The Historic New Orleans Collection helps us celebrate Hispanic heritage by showcasing the Patent of Nobility awarded to Gálvez within their collection.
Spanish heritage is a major influence in New Orleans and greater Louisiana. At one point, the Spanish empire stretched across the globe to include large swaths of today’s United States. There is evidence of the Spanish in local government.
“The city council is actually a creation of Spanish government,” said the Historic New Orleans Collection’s Williams Research Center Director Alfred Lemmon.
Gálvez was born from a well-educated and well-respected family and he became the Spanish Colonial Governor of Louisiana in 1777. Gálvez was also a fan of the fine arts.
“His uncle was in charge of running the entire overseas empire. His father was Viceroy of Mexico,” Lemmon said.
Gálvez would eventually leave his own mark on Mexico City as the new Viceroy after his father’s death and would spend much of his later years building up Mexico City, investing a great deal of his own wealth in the process.
Lemmon said many people know Gálvez as a war hero, but they don’t know his full story.
“Usually the Viceroy would enter in the great ceremonial carriage, but Gálvez stunned everyone because he chose to enter on foot with the Native Americans,” Lemmon said.
Years before Gálvez would rule New Spain, he was a valuable military ally to George Washington’s effort of independence. Gálvez would show his strength and strategy during the Siege of Pensacola by cutting the British off from the south. It was also in the best interest of Spain to help Washington, because Spain and France had a long-standing enemy in Great Britain.
The Title of Nobility of 1783 is a testament to the legacy of Bernardo de Gálvez.
“Military leaders from South America, Venezuela and Colombia served under him. The documentation The Historic New Orleans Collection has on him allows a glimpse into his work and a glimpse into the people he helped to form,” Lemmon said.