Palmer Park: The Name

Stop 2 of 7 in the Palmer Park tour

Hamilton Square was renamed Palmer Park as a “testimony to the honor of the late B. M. Palmer” through a city ordinance on July 1902. Benjamin Morgan Palmer was pastor of New Orleans First Presbyterian Church. Palmer’s 1860 Thanksgiving sermon is cited for its influence on Louisiana’s decision to join the Confederacy. In the speech, delivered shortly after the election of Abraham Lincoln, Palmer staunchly defended slavery and endorsed secession:

"If then the South is such a people, what, at this juncture, is their providential trust? I answer, that it is to conserve and to perpetuate the institution of domestic slavery as now existing...

“Without, therefore, determining the question of duty for future generations, I simply say, that for us, as now situated, the duty is plain of conserving and transmitting the system of slavery, with the freest scope for its natural development and extension."

Palmer preached to Confederate soldiers throughout the Civil War. Robert E. Lee stated, “I would rather have Dr. Benjamin Palmer in my camp than an entire regiment of troops.” In 1902, Palmer died after a streetcar on St. Charles Avenue struck him.

The effort to rename Hamilton Park in honor of Palmer was spearheaded by Adam Junker, a Carrollton business, and civic leader. Junker played a major role in the development of Carrollton, advocating for plans to pave Carrollton Avenue, construct schools and a firehouse on Oak Street, and further development of Palmer Park.

In 1912, Father Francis Prim of Mater Dolorosa Church proposed to rename the park after recently deceased Francis Janssens, archbishop of New Orleans from 1888-1897. Park commissioners were willing to change the name but needed approval from the city council. Prim withdrew the name after he found out the park's namesake was Benjamin Palmer; he told the city council he wished to avoid a “religious controversy.”



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