L'Union Daily Newspaper
The First Daily Newspaper Published in America by people of Color
was born June 12, 1823, in Saint James Parish, Louisiana. His
parents were Louis Roudanez, a French merchant, and Aimee Potens,
a femme de couleur libre (free woman of color). (L'Abeille,
March 13, 1890) Roudanez's baptismal record shows him listed
in the "white ledger of the parish church, and two prominent
white men, M. Potier, the president of the College of New Orleans,
and Marius St. Colombe Bringer, a member of one of Louisiana's
wealthiest families, participated in his christening.
he was a child, Roudanez's parents sent him to New Orleans,
where he began his formal education and received some practical
business experience in Hill and Cooley's notion store. He
acquired a small fortune by investing in municipal bonds and
went to Paris to study medicine. Attending medical school
in Paris did more than guarantee Roudanez excellent medical
training: it also exposed him to one of the most "politically
liberal" professions in France.
so many years in France under liberal racial attitudes, one
is surprised that Roudanez wanted to return to the racially
restricted New Orleans of the 1850's; however, his friends
persuaded him to settle in the North first, which he did.
He enrolled at Dartmouth to study for a second medical degree.
Roudanez graduated in 1857, moved to New Orleans and developed
a lucrative medical practice serving black and white patients.
(Rousseve, 119) He married Celie Saulay, a free woman of color
1858 and they had eight children. Two sons, George A. Roudanez
and Charles Louis Roudanez became doctors, while a third
May 12, 1864
Loaned by Gaspar Cusachs
became a dentist. At his death, three of his daughters lived
in Paris, and a fourth son studied at Louis le Grand College.
He lived and worked at his Customhouse Street residence the
remainder of his life.
wealth, refinement, and successful medical practice distinguished
him from most other New Orleanians, black and white, and rendered
him worthy of attention and repect.
The New Orleans Tribune
was the successor to L'Union when it folded, with Louis Charles Roudanez and Paul Trévigne again at the helm. The Tribune served as a voice for both free and freed African Americans in Louisiana, reflecting the changing attitudes of civil rights leaders. The Tribune printed the first page in the French of many free blacks and the reverse in the English mainly read and spoken by freedpersons.
Jean-Charles Houzeau, a white journalist from Belgium whom many believed to be of African-American ancestry because of his long association with the civil rights movement, replaced Trévigne as managing editor in November 1864.
In 1867 the federal government designated the Tribune an official paper of the United States, one of only two in the state given the responsibility of publishing the authentic texts of laws, administrative announcements, and judicial decisions. The paper was published weekly by 1869 and folded the following year.
a doctor and a writer, he sought to remedy the societal injustice
leveled against the people sharing his African heritage. Therefore,
when the timing was right, he was ready to act upon his radical
ideals of progress and reform.
the Spring of 1862, New Orleans was captured by the Union
Navy, which alleviated some of the oppression felt by the
black population. Roudanez, who had experienced racial equality
in Paris, met with other Afro-Creoles of similar experience
in an attempt to unite their energies into one political force.
Roudanez and few of his colleagues satisfied this need by
establishing L'Union. Considering the violent temper of the
times, this act took courage.
L'Union folded Roudanez purchased the remaining shares and
the equipment and became the primary proprietor of the New
Orleans Tribune. Dr. Roudanez appears to have been the dominant
force behind the newspaper. Trevigne states that Dr. Roudanez
through his financial generosity made both L'Union and the
Tribune possible. (New Orleans Crusader, 3-22-1890) The paper's
maiden editorial reflects Roudanez's beliefs of the paper's
critic, P.B.S. Pinchback, termed Roudanez "a man who
would endanger the safety of his entire race, because he could
not have everything just as he wanted it." he warned
black people to be aware of how they listened to this "hissing
of the serpent". (Rankin, 7 In) In later years, Pinchback
changed his feelings about Roudanez; and worked with him in
the Unification movement of 1873.
the Unification movement
was composed of men of both races. (Williams, for black people
while working with prominent, influential ex-Confederates
for the good of Louisiana. In this respect, he demonstrated
his unrelenting battle for legal parity among the citizens
of the United States, and his willingness to negotiate with
adversaries to achieve this end. In an interview with the
New Orleans Times, Dr. Roudanez stated his intentions.
Louis Charles Roudanez died on March 11, 1890, leaving behind
a legacy of human-rights accomplishments. The fact that he
did not attempt to hid his African heritage is evidenced by
the time and commitment he gave to secruing equal rights for
people who shared his African ancestry. His vision and intelligence
are reflected in an obituary written in the most conservative
white-owned newspaper in New Orleans, the Picayune.