By Ari Kelman
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Extra resources for A River and Its City: The Nature of Landscape in New Orleans
47 Forced off his land, having failed in his mission to appeal to Jefferson, Livingston went public with his plight, ﬁring off a new series of pamphlets designed to unmask the president as a villain. In the ﬁrst of these broadsides, Livingston focused on the sanctity of private-property rights in the United States. He argued that Jefferson had trampled the sacred principles of the Revolution, and so protested, “I am an American citizen! ”48 Livingston’s goal was clear: he hoped to tap into the young nation’s anxieties about governmental tyranny.
Accordingly, Livingston was bitterly disappointed when news arrived from Washington that Jefferson frowned on the court’s decision. Then the president’s choice to evict Livingston changed the conﬂict’s tenor. After Marshal D’Orgenois seized Livingston’s section of the batture, the New Yorker portrayed himself as an oppressed party in the conﬂict. In May 1808, Livingston traveled to Washington to confront the president, but Jefferson brushed him off. 46 In a ﬁnal letter to Madison, Livingston explained that he had shown restraint by not challenging Jefferson’s authority in New Orleans.
Once the new levee was there, he would construct a navigation canal and a large building on the site. 21 As the summer wore on, this strange tableau continued: shortly after Livingston’s laborers arrived next to the Mississippi, an appointed guard began beating a drum. At that signal, a crowd gathered to chase off the workers. The mob apparently recognized that if Livingston completed his private port, he would gain control of that portion of the riverfront, threatening its public character. It is unclear whether the rioters used the batture for storage, a promenade, a source of ﬁll, or for some other purpose.