New Orleans Public Library
|Administrations of the Mayors of New Orleans|
Paul Capdevielle (1842-1922)
Paul Capdevielle, the forty-second Mayor was of French descent. He was born in New Orleans, January 15, 1842. His father, Augustin Capdevielle, was born in France, but settled in New Orleans in 1825, becoming a prominent merchant in the commission business and active in politics. It was from his father’s interest in politics that young Paul inherited his interest in governmental affairs. His mother, Virginia Bertrand, was born in New Orleans in 1816.|
Paul Capdevielle was educated at the Jesuit’s College in New Orleans from which he was graduated in 1861. He served with credit in the War between the States, enlisting in the New Orleans Guard Regiment of Infantry, but in 1862 joined Boone’s Louisiana Artillery, and was wounded at Port Hudson.
After the close of the war he returned to civil life, taking up the first employment that offered itself, studied law in April 1868 was graduated from Louisiana State University. In 1892, he gave up law to accept the presidency of the Merchant’s Insurance Company. He served as its President for sixteen years, until it was liquidated and sold.
His political history began in 1877 when he was appointed to the School Board. Later he was a member of the Orleans Levee Board, a Commissioner of Prisons and Asylums and Chairman of the Finance Committee of the drainage commission. Mr. Capdevielle was an outstanding figure in Louisiana politics from the time of his election as Mayor of New Orleans in 1899. He was appointed auditor of Public Accounts in 1904, and re-elected three times, and held this office up to the time of his death. He survived the political storms attending the fall of the state administrations, the last in 1920, when Governor Parker was swept into office.
The Flower administration was a turning point in the history of New Orleans. It closed one epoch and opened another. With it began the period of commercial prosperity which extends into the present time.
Mayor Capdevielle’s administration was noted for two events, both inseparably connected with the beginning of New Orleans’ industrial development; the installation of the modern sewerage system and the organization of the Public Belt Railroad. The Board of Port Commissioners also began to function actively during this period.
City Park stands as a monument to his energy and civic spirit. The upbuilding of the park was his constant care, and he served continuously as President of the City Park Improvement Association for more than two decades, holding the office at the time of his death.
The new administration went into office May 9, 1900, at the beginning of the twentieth century when a wave of prosperity passed over the country and was felt in New Orleans. Mayor Capdevielle in his inaugural address spoke of the drainage system about to be constructed and stated if the city desired to have its own electric light plant it could do so without great additional cost by using the power house of the drainage system.
The contract to erect a modern jail, to be called the House of Detention, was awarded for $112,800 and the site of the old Marine Hospital, on Tulane Avenue and Broad Street, was selected.
The Clay statue, being in the way of safe operations of the street cars, was removed from Canal Street to the Lafayette Square on January 12, 1901. The consolidation of various street railways into one corporation under the name of the New Orleans Railways Company was an important factor of the years 1901-1902.
On May 1, 1901, New Orleans was honored by the visit of the President of the United States, William McKinley, accompanied by Mrs. McKinley and Secretaries John Hay, Charles Emory Smith, and E. A. Hitchcock. He was received in the Cabildo by the Governor of Louisiana, attended by his staff in full uniform. The bells of the Cathedral of St. Louis announced the arrival of the President and his cabinet, escorted by Mayor Paul Capdevielle, and a committee of distinguished citizens. As the cortege entered the Supreme Court Hall, Chairman Zacharie announced in a loud voice “The President,” and the assembly arose and remained standing while the Chief Justice conducted the President to a seat of honor at his right on the Supreme Court Bench. The Governor of Louisiana took a seat on the left of the Chief Justice, and the Mayor of New Orleans the one on the right of the President, the Justices occupying seats immediately in the rear of the bench. Chairman Zacharie then conducted the members of the cabinet and their wives to places on the left of the dais, where a seat, filled with roses, had been reserved for Mrs. William McKinley, who, at the last moment, was too ill to attend.
In 1873, Paul Capdevielle married in New Orleans, Miss Emma Larue, who died several years ago. Three sons and two daughters blessed this union; the sons are Christian, Auguste and Paul, Jr., and the daughters are the Misses Edith and Yvonne Capdevielle.
Paul Capdevielle was found dead at his home in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, August 13, 1922, following a long illness, at the age of eighty years and six months and is buried in St. Louis Cemetery No. 2. Besides his children, a sister, Mrs. Virginia Buddecke and five grandchildren also survived.
|Members of the Capdevielle Administration|
May 7, 1900-December 5, 1904
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