Nicolás María Vidal

Don Nicolás María Vidal y Madrigal (10 December 1739 – 25 May 1806), civil governor of Spanish Louisiana and Spanish Florida from 1799–1801.

Nicolás María Vidal
Acting Civil Governor of Spanish Louisiana
In office
Serving with Francisco Bouligny (1799)
Sebastián Calvo de la Puerta (1799–1801)
MonarchCharles IV
Preceded byManuel Gayoso de Lemos
Succeeded byJuan Manuel de Salcedo
Personal details
Born(1739-12-10)December 10, 1739
Cartagena de Indias, Colombia
DiedMay 25, 1806(1806-05-25) (aged 66)
Pensacola, Florida
Domestic partnerEufrosina Hisnard


Vidal was born in Cartagena de Indias in 1739 to Pedro Luis Vidal and Josefina Marcelina Madrigal y Valdés. He was educated at the Colegio de San Bartolomé, Santa Fé in Bogotá, Colombia and earned degrees in civil and canon law in 1763.[1] He worked for 20 years as an attorney in Colombia for both the Spanish government and private clients, including serving as an interim governor in Popayán and Quito. He also worked as a law professor at the Colegio Seminario de San Bartolomé.[2][3]

In 1790, he was posted to Louisiana as a governmental legal adviser (auditor de guerra), arriving in New Orleans on March 17, 1791.[4][2] Vidal's relationship with The Cabildo was contentious with disputes over larger issues like smallpox vaccination, fire hazards, and slavery, as well as minutia around protocol.[5][6]

Following the death of Louisiana Governor Manuel Gayoso de Lemos of yellow fever on July 18, 1799, Vidal was named civil governor of Spanish Louisiana alongside Col. Francisco Bouligny, who was named military governor of the territory, under the authority of the new Acting Governor General Sebastián Calvo de la Puerta, 1st Marquess of Casa Calvo.[7] After Bouligny's death, Vidal continued to serve as lieutenant-governor under Casa Calvo until the last Spanish governor, Juan Manuel de Salcedo, arrived to oversee implementation of the Third Treaty of San Ildefonso and the return of Louisiana to France.[8] After the transfer of Louisiana to the United States was complete, Vidal removed to Pensacola, capital of Spanish West Florida, where he served as auditor de guerra until his death in 1806.[3]

Personal life

Vidal was described as a "shameless roué with a face like a monkey,"[9] and in his official acts he was very sensitive to the importance of his position.[2] He complained to Spanish officials on several occasions about public slights and offences.[10]

Starting in 1800, Vidal acquired through purchase and a royal grant several properties along Bayou St. John in New Orleans to establish a plantation. He sold the property in 1804, following the sale of Louisiana.[11]

Vidal acknowledged at least three children — Maria Josefa, Mercedes, and Carolina — born through plaçage relationships with free women of color. Maria Josefa was left with her mother, Rosa Noriega, in Colombia when Vidal moved to Louisiana. In Louisiana, he entered into a relationship with Eufrosina Hisnard, who at the time was about 15 years old.[12] Hisnard and Vidal had Mercedes and Carolina, along with a son who died in infancy.[13] Hisnard and Vidal's daughters were accepted as part of Vidal's social circle without scandal.[14]

Following Vidal's death, Mercedes and her mother sought help from U.S. authorities in the newly acquired Florida Territory in settling Vidal's estate,[15] which led to a conflict between Andrew Jackson, the newly appointed military commissioner and governor, and the last Spanish governor of Florida, José María Callava.[16]


  1. Martínez Garnica, Armando; Gutiérrez Ardila, Daniel (2010). Quién es quién en 1810: guía de forasteros del virreinato de Santa Fe [Who is Who in 1810: A Guide to Visitors of the Vice Royalty of Santa Fe] (in Spanish). Bogotá, Colombia: Universidad del Rosario. p. 45. ISBN 978-958-738-032-3. Retrieved 17 October 2018.
  2. "Dictionary of Louisiana Biography". Louisiana Historical Association. Retrieved 17 October 2018. |article= ignored (help)
  3. Din, Gilbert C. (2001). "In Defense of Captain Tomás Portell: An Episode in the History of Spanish West Florida" (PDF). Revista Española de Estudios Norteamericanos. 12 (21–22): 143–158. Retrieved 15 October 2018.
  4. Martin, François-Xavier; Howe, William Wirt; Condon, John Francis (1882). The History of Louisiana, from the Earliest Period. New Orleans, Louisiana: James A. Gresham. Retrieved 11 October 2018.
  5. Din, Gilbert C.; Harkins, John E. (1996). New Orleans Cabildo: Colonial Louisiana's First City Government, 1769--1803. Baton Rouge, Louisiana: Louisiana State University Press. pp. 92–94. ISBN 978-0-8071-2042-2.
  6. Lafon, Barthelemy; Edwards, Jay; Fandrich, Ina (2018). Surveys in Early American Louisiana: Survey Book No. 3, 1804-1806 (PDF). Alexandria, Louisiana: Masonic Grand Lodge. p. 73. Retrieved 17 October 2018.
  7. Martin, Fontaine (1990). A History of the Bouligny Family and Allied Families. Lafayette, Louisiana: The Center for Louisiana Studies, University of Southwestern Louisiana. ISBN 978-0940984516.
  8. Huber, Leonard Victor (1971). New Orleans: A Pictorial History. Gretna, Louisiana: Pelican Publishing. p. 5. ISBN 978-1-4556-0931-4. Retrieved 11 October 2018.
  9. Edwin Adams (1971). Louisiana, a Narrative History. Baton Rouge, Louisiana: Claitor's Publishing Division. p. 126. Retrieved 17 October 2018.
  10. Vella, Christina (2004). Intimate Enemies: The Two Worlds of Baroness de Pontalba. Baton Rouge, Louisiana: Louisiana State University Press. pp. 64–65. ISBN 978-0-8071-2962-3. Retrieved 17 October 2018.
  11. Toledano, Roulhac; Christovich, Mary Louise; Derbes, Robin (2003). New Orleans Architecture: Faubourg Tremé and the Bayou Road. Gretna, Louisiana: Pelican Publishing. pp. 54–55. ISBN 978-1-56554-831-2. Retrieved 15 October 2018.
  12. Clinton, Catherine; Gillespie, Michele (1997). The Devil's Lane: Sex and Race in the Early South. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press. pp. 238–239. ISBN 978-0-19-802721-8. Retrieved 17 October 2018.
  13. Hanger, Kimberly S. (13 March 1997). Bounded Lives, Bounded Places: Free Black Society in Colonial New Orleans, 1769–1803. Durham, North Carolina: Duke University Press. p. 99. ISBN 978-0-8223-1898-9. Retrieved 19 October 2018.
  14. Martínez y Gálvez, Inmaculada (1998). La Mujer y la Vida Familiar en Nueva Orleans (1763–1803) [Women and Family Life in New Orleans (1763–1803)] (PDF). XIII Coloquio de Historia Canario-Americana & VIII Congreso Internacional de Historia de America (in Spanish). Las Palmas de Gran Canaria. pp. 1380–1394. ISBN 84-8103-242-5. Retrieved December 18, 2018.
  15. United States Congress (1834). "Transactions in the Floridas". American State Papers: Documents, Legislative and Executive, of the Congress of the United States. Washington, D.C.: Gales and Seaton.
  16. Doherty Jr., Herbert J. (1955). "Andrew Jackson vs. The Spanish Governor: Pensacola 1821". The Florida Historical Quarterly. 34 (2): 142–158. JSTOR 30139745.
Preceded by
Manuel Gayoso de Lemos
Spanish Governor of Louisiana
With: Francisco Bouligny (1799)
Sebastián Calvo de la Puerta y O'Farrill (1799-1801)
Succeeded by
Juan Manuel de Salcedo

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