Creole New Orleans newspaper editor Paul Trévigne, thebiracial son of a Battle of New Orleans veteran, was born in New Orleans in1825. Trévigne was part of the free people of color community in Louisiana thatprotested racial injustice before the Civil War and helped establish Republicanpolitics in the state after 1865.
Trévigne taught at the Catholic Indigent Orphan School inNew Orleans, a school dedicated to providing free education to African Americanorphans. From 1862 to 1864 he served as the editor of the militant Republicanjournal L’Union. Trévigne used thepaper to argue for the freeing of all slaves in Louisiana and across the south,and issued some of the earliest calls for full political equality for AfricanAmericans in the region.
After L’Union foldedin 1864, Dr. Louis Charles Roudanez started the bilingual (English and French) newspaper, La Tribune de la Nouvelle-Orléans (The NewOrleans Tribune), the first African American paper published in twolanguages in the United States. Trévigneedited La Tribune from 1864 to 1869.Near the end of the Civil War La Tribunewas outspoken in its support for the Union army. It motivated black Louisianamen to join the Union Army and later to become political activists. Both L’Union and La Tribune threatened New Orleans’s white southern community. Trévigne’s life was threatened on numerousoccasions and there were attempts to burn LaTribune. In response to theseattacks, Trévigne changed the style of the newspaper. He made indirect critiquesthrough satire and humor, a tactic which for a time spared him more animosityfrom the white community in an era when whites were unaccustomed to acceptingthe opinions of people of color.
La Tribune de laNouvelle-Orléans under Trévigne’s editorship drew upon the literary stylesof Voltaire, Rousseau, Montesquieu, Plato, and Pascal. The paper reminded its readers of thepotential political power of black Louisianians who comprised half thepopulation of the state. The paper also workedhard to remind whites in the state that