Pierre Adolphe Rost ( 1797 – September 6, 1868 ) was a Louisiana politician, diplomat, lawyer, judge, and plantation owner.
Early Life and Emigration to the United States
Born in the department of Lot-et-Garonne, France in 1797, Rost received his education at the École Polytechnique in Paris, where men were recruited into either the civil service or military service. As an artilleryman, he was credited for brave conduct in the defense of Paris on March 30, 1814. Rost applied for a commission in Napoleon's army after the Emperor's escape from Elba, but was too late for the Battle of Waterloo.
Escaping from what he thought to be an oppressive régime, Rost emigrated to New Orleans, arriving in the spring of 1816. He became a teacher in Natchez, Mississippi, and studied law under Joseph Emory Davis, the brother of Jefferson Davis. Rost then moved to Natchitoches, Louisiana, where the majority of the people spoke French, a factor he was confident would bolster the success of his law practice. In 1826 he was elected to the Louisiana state senate, where he served for 4 years. In 1830 he was nominated for Congress, but at the time of the nomination he was engaged to Louise Odile Destrehan [des Tours] (1802 - Feb. 24, 1877), and when they decided to marry before the congressional elections the distractions of marriage caused him to somewhat neglect his political campaign. The unfortunate result of this is that he was defeated by a few votes. Shortly after losing his bid for Congress, near the end of 1830 he moved with his family to New Orleans (his wife already had one or two children from a previous marriage) and commenced practicing law again. Rost continued in his law practice for the next 8 years, until the summer of 1838 when he took his family on a trip to Europe to visit his mother and sisters. He and his family returned to the United States in the autumn of 1838.
Louise Odile Destrehan and the History of Destrehan Manor
In 1830 Rost married Louise Odile Destrehan [des Tours] in New Orleans, becoming her second husband. On April 11, 1839 he bought Destrehan Manor (including its contingent of about 83 slaves), a plantation located in St. Charles Parish, Louisiana, which had been associated with the Destrehan family since 1802. Rost purchased the plantation from the executors of its previous owner Stephen Henderson (1773-1838). Henderson in turn had bought Destrehan Manor for the sum of $114,400 on March 23, 1825, not long after its prior owners had both died. Then, he went on to marry (on Oct. 19, 1826) Marie Eleonore "Zelia" Destrehan [des Tours] (1800-1830) who was a daughter of the prior owners and a sister of Rost's wife. The owners of Destrehan Manor prior to Stephen Henderson were Jean Noel Destrehan [des Tours] (Dec. 12, 1759 - Oct. 4, 1823) and his wife Marie Claudine Celeste Elenore Robin de Logny (Sept. 5, 1770 - Sept. 3, 1824). Jean Noel and his wife had owned the plantation since April 12, 1802 when Jean Noel bought it from his brother-in-law Pierre-Paul-Guy Robin de Logny (born June 29, 1764).
Upon his return from a trip to Europe, Rost was appointed judge of the Supreme Court of Louisiana, served in 1839, then resigned to engage in agricultural pursuits. He returned in 1846 when reorganization of the court was effected, serving until 1854. During the American Civil War, he sided with the Confederacy. On March 16, 1861, Confederate President Jefferson Davis appointed Rost, William Lowndes Yancey (1814-1863) and Ambrose Dudley Mann (1801-1889) the first Confederate Commissioners to Europe. Rost served as the Commissioner of the Confederate States of America for Spain. Yancey served as the Confederate Commissioner for England and France, and Mann eventually served as the Confederate Commissioner for Belgium and the Vatican. The three sailed together for Europe on March 31, 1861. Rost and Yancey were later replaced by John Slidell (1793-1871) and James Murray Mason (1798-1871).
Rost owned the Destrehan Plantation also known as the Rost Home Colony in St. Charles Parish, Louisiana which was owned by the family of his wife, Louise Odile Destréhan, from 1865 until it was seized by the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen and Abandoned Lands in 1866. Through that time, it was used to house a self-contained colony of freedmen, complete with a hospital, schools, colony store and police force. Rost then returned with a full pardon from President Andrew Johnson and successfully demanded for the return of his property.
Rost continued practicing law until he died in New Orleans, Louisiana, on September 6, 1868.
- Eulogy upon the life and character of George Eustis,: Formerly chief justice of the Supreme court of Louisiana. Pronounced at Lyceum hall, on the 31st March, 1859 (1859)
- Knight, Michael F., The Rost Home Colony, St. Charles Parish, Louisiana Prologue, Vol. 33, No. 3 (Fall 2001): 214-220, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, D.C.
- Manuscripts Department Library of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill: Hermitage Plantation in St. Charles Parish, Louisiana Papers
- Info on Confederate State commission to Europe
- The Rost Home Colony, St. Charles Parish, Louisiana by Michael F. Knight
- Freedmen's Bureau, LA - Rost Home Colony