New Orleans’s French and Spanish colonial roots irrevocably shaped its political and legal culture. Cradled in this history is a heterogeneous set of legal practices that gird New Orleans’ cultural and historical differences with British North America. These include the Code Noir, a set of legal measures promulgated in 1724 to police chattel slavery and the large population of free people of color; and the 1808 Civil Code, arguably based on either Napoleonic or Spanish colonial law. New Orleans politics is more famous for its defiance of norms than for its accordance with them. Names like Huey Long and Edwin Edwards, places like pool halls and back rooms, and words like “under-the-table” evoke rowdy, dangerous, controversial and sometimes smutty, political memories. New Orleans political culture also emphasizes family heritage, generational roots, questions of “belonging” to the city, and issues of racial domination and disenfranchisement. Family dynasties dominate city politics in both the twentieth (for example, Morial), and twenty-first centuries (for example, Landrieu.)
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