Today, the Andrew Jackson Presidential Dollar Coin remembers the day of Thanksgiving celebrated on January 23, 1815 after the American success at the Battle of New Orleans.
Two different publications from the late 1800s provide insight into the actions of the people and the resulting celebration and recovery.
First, from The American Catholic Quarterly Review. Vol. XII.— April, 1887.— No. 46 and an excerpt from their article “Education in New Orleans in Spanish Colonial Days:”
Abbe Dubourg officiated at the thanksgiving for the success of the American arms in the battle of New Orleans.
From their galleries and dormer windows the nuns could see the smoke rising from the plains of Chalmette and hear the sharp report of rifles and the thunder of cannon, January 8, 1815.
All night they watched before the Blessed Sacrament, beseeching the Lord of Hosts to give victory to the Americans.
Over the entrance of the monastery was exposed an image of Our Lady of Prompt Succor, still religiously preserved by the New Orleans Ursulines.
That morning Abbe Dubourg said mass in the convent chapel for the same intention. There were present only women and children; the men were on the battle-field.
Humanly speaking, the English were certain to win. Never had the nuns been in such danger. The horrible watchword of the enemy was Booty and Beauty.
Had the day gone against Jackson, he would, had he survived, have blown up the city.
“For,” said he, using energetic expletives which we forbear from quoting, “New Orleans shall never fall into the hands of the British.”
A magnificent pageant celebrated this great victory.
General Jackson entered the city in triumph on January 23d, 1815.
In the midst of the historic plaza, now Jackson square, a triumphal arch was erected supported by symbolic figures.
Under this he was crowned by a fair girl who represented Louisiana.
He moved slowly through an avenue of lovely girls representing the States and Territories, with silver stars on their foreheads, flags in their right hands, and hanging from their left arms baskets of flowers which they emptied beneath the feet of the preserver of New Orleans.
M. Dubourg received him at the church door.
It is doubtful if any who witnessed the procession of July 13, 1734, were present January 23, 1815, though some of the Creoles and negroes live to a great age.
But many were there — the whole city turned out to do honor to its savior — that remembered the picked veterans of Spain who paraded the same square and drew up before the church, under another warrior of the same race — a race always enamored of religion and poetry and military glory.
But the gallant O’Reilly was judge and savior, whereas Jackson was savior alone.
There was not, as he poetically said, a cypress leaf in the laurel circlet that crowned him.
The conqueror visited the nuns to receive their felicitations, and thank them for their prayers and vows in his behalf.
Nor did he ever omit to call on the nuns on his subsequent visits to New Orleans.
Jackson was the last great soldier that passed into the cloisters of the old monastery, and the only President of the United States that ever stood within its precincts.
Another similar viewpoint with additional commentary from Donahoe’s Magazine of March 1888:
Anniversary of the Battle of New Orleans.
On Sunday, January 8th, at 8.30 o’clock, Solemn High Mass of Thanksgiving was celebrated in the Ursuline Chapel, New Orleans, Rev. V. Boudard, chaplain, being celebrant, Rev. Father Molloy, C.S.C., deacon, and Rev. M. Chapin, of St. Mary’s, subdeacon.
After the first gospel Rev. F. Molloy, C.S.C., preached a very impressive sermon which was listened to with marked attention.
He compared the Christian warfare to that of the great battle of New Orleans gained by Jackson over the British.
The Christian battle, said he, is not a battle that lasts but a few hours, but it is a lifelong battle to obtain an everlasting triumph in heaven.
The chapel was thronged on the occasion by pious worshippers, who came to commemorate the grand event, and to thank God for having preserved their beautiful city from the thraldom of English sway.
On that ever-memorable day, the Ursuline nuns could see the smoke rising from the plains of Chalmette, and hear the rumbling of cannons and report of rifles.
All night long had they watched at the altar and besought of the God of Battles to crown the American army with victory.
Humanly speaking, there was no chance that the Americans would be victorious; but, no doubt, it was owing to the prayers of the pious nuns whom General Jackson always treated with the greatest kindness.
Jackson, who was a man of deep religious feeling, attributed the glory of his grand victory to the God of Armies.
It was by his desire a solemn thanksgiving service was held January 23, 1815.
At the Cathedral door Abbe Dubourg addressed the conqueror in words never to be forgotten, and placed upon his head a laurel crown. Jackson made a most felicitous reply.
Every year since, on the 8th of January, a Solemn High Mass of Thanksgiving is celebrated in the Ursuline Chapel, in order to fulfill the vow made by the sisters on that occasion.
Mgr. Dubourg, who was then vicar-apostolic, offered to God the Holy Mass through the intercession of Our Lady of Prompt Succor.
At the moment of Holy Communion, news arrived that the Americans had gained the victory.
Afterwards the sick and wounded soldiers were cared for by the devoted Ursulines, who turned their class-rooms into infirmaries during three months.
There is still living in the new convent, Third District, the venerable Sister Gertrude Young, who accomplished her eighty eighth year on the 21st inst.
She was among the sisters who showed General Jackson through the house when he visited the community after his presidential election.
Since 1824 the nuns have occupied their beautiful spacious monastery three hundred feet long, fronting the Mississippi, nearly three miles from the ancient nunnery which is now the Archbishop’s residence.
The Andrew Jackson Presidential Dollar Coin shows with an image of the old Ursaline convent in New Orleans, circa 1930s.