The Andrew Jackson French Quarter Hotel, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, is located at 919 Royal Street, the former site of the old United States courthouse where Major General Andrew Jackson was indicted for contempt of court and charged with obstruction of justice. United States District Judge Dominick Hall fined General Andrew Jackson $1,000 for contempt of court, shortly after Jackson and his troops defeated the British at the Battle of New Orleans.
On December 16, 1814, Jackson declared martial law in the city of New Orleans. All persons who entered or left the city were required to report to General Jackson’s office. Fearing another attack by the British, Jackson maintained martial law in the city after the British were defeated on January 8, 1815. While no other land invasion was attempted, a naval battle had taken place downriver on January 19th. Therefore, it was uncertain that British forces would not return.
On March 3, 1815, Louis Louaillier, a member of the state legislature, anonymously wrote an article in the newspaper criticizing General Jackson. After discovering Louaillier’s identity, General Jackson ordered his arrest. A writ of habeas corpus to release Louaillier from prison was sought from and granted by Judge Hall. In response, Jackson arrested Judge Hall and imprisoned him with Louaillier. General Jackson then banished Judge Hall from the city until either he received official notice that the peace treaty had been ratified or the British left the Southern coast. When officially notified that the Treaty of Ghent had been ratified, General Jackson ended martial law, releasing and pardoning all prisoners.
Upon his return to the city, Judge Hall ordered General Jackson to appear in the courthouse which once stood on this site. Jackson appeared in civilian attire and Judge Hall denied Jackson’s request for a jury trial. Instead, Judge Hall tried Jackson himself, finding Jackson guilty of contempt of court and fining him $1,000. Jackson paid the fine to Judge Hall. Sympathetic New Orleanians responded, contributing funds to reimburse the $1,000 to Jackson, who refused the offer. Instead, he asked that the money be donated to widows and orphans from the Battle. In 1844, the year before Andrew Jackson’s death, Congress ordered that the fine be repaid to Jackson with interest ($2,700).
The federal court house where Andrew Jackson appeared before Judge Hall was demolished by the early 1900s, and the present two story brick building was constructed. It is now a hotel.
Next door, to the left, is 915 Royal Street, once the home of Judge Francois-Xavier Martin. It is best known for its famous iron cornstalk fence. Appointed in February 1815, while New Orleans was under martial law, Judge Martin served on the Louisiana Supreme Court for 31 years. In March 1815, Judge Martin authored a Louisiana Supreme Court decision which also rejected Jackson’s imposition of martial law.