SLAVERY FACTS!

SLAVERY FACTS!

  
The Story Of You, The Story Of Us, The Story Of America 
    

Slaves of Thomas F Drayton of Magnolia Plantation, Hilton Head, South Carolina, 1862. 

LOUISIANA FREE PEOPLE OF
 COLOR

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GENS DE COULEUR LIBRES

 The origin of the state's free colored population dated back to the colonial era when some French and Spanish settlers took black women as their wives and mistresses. Despite the strictures of the Catholic church against whites marrying slaves, many men lived openly with Negro women, often recognizing their mulatto children as their own and providing them with land and financial assistance. In addition, the free Negro population was augmented by a stream of emigres from the Caribbean, first from Saint Domingue following the Haitian Revolution in the 1790s, then from Cuba, following the Spanish persecution of the French during the early 1800s. By the time of statehood in 1812, the free black population in the state had swelled to 7,585, with nearly one out of five blacks claiming the status of freeman. Often literate, possessing skills as artisans and farmers, they had already established themselves as part of the economic life of the state.
 
One of the most important traditions emerging from the colonial to the American periods was the ability of free persons of color to enjoy the same rights and privileges as whites with regard to ownership of property. In their possession of real estate and slaves, one law stated, they could not be molested, injured, or ill-treated "under the penalties provided by laws for the safety and security of the property of white persons." In addition, free blacks could petition the government for redress of grievances, sue and be sued, testify in court against whites, be baptized, married, and buried with the sacraments of the Roman Catholic church, secure an education, and enter any occupation or business. While these privileges came under attack during the post-1820 period, the state's unusual customs with regard to free people of color contrasted sharply with the proscriptive laws, mores, and institutions confronting blacks in other regions of the South.

 As a result, Louisiana's free persons of color emerged as the most prosperous group of blacks in the South. By the 1830s, in New Orleans and smaller towns and cities, they owned mercantile stores, grocery stores, and tailoring shops. They also worked as brickmasons, carpenters, stores, grocery stores, and tailoring shops. They also worked as brickmasons, carpenters, coopers, stonemasons, mechanics, shoemakers, cigar makers, and in other capacities as skilled artisans. In rural parishes, Creoles of color6 managed productive farms and plantations, raising cotton, sugar, rice, and corn, and owning herds of cattle, sheep, and horses. One of the most successful planters was Jean-Baptiste Meullion of St. Landry Parish, who farmed 1,240 acres along Bayou Teche, but in each of a half-dozen other parishes prosperous planters and farmers had emerged: Plaquemines Parish sugar planters Andrew Durnford, Louise Oliver, and Adolphe Reggio; St. John the Baptist Parish slaveowner Louisa Ponis; Pointe Coupée Parish cotton planter Zacharie Honoré; Iberville Parish plantation owners George Deslone, Antoine Dubuclet, and Cyprien Ricard; and Natchitoches slave masters Nicholas Augustin Metoyer, Marie Suzanne Metoyer, and Dominique Metoyer.

​​THOSE WHO OWNED US!​​

   
To maintain their businesses and agricultural enterprises free persons of color purchased increasing numbers of slave laborers. By 1830 slave ownership had become widespread among free blacks in Louisiana. In New Orleans, 753 free persons of color were members of the slaveholding class, including twenty-five who owned at least ten bondsmen and women, and 126 who owned between five and ten slaves.  

As a result,  Like their white neighbors, some were benevolent masters, granting their blacks special privileges, emancipating especially loyal servants, respecting the sanctity of slave families. But most considered their blacks as chattel property. They bought, sold, mortgaged, willed, traded, and transferred fellow Negroes, demanded long hours in the fields, and severely disciplined recalcitrant blacks. A few seemed as callous as the most profit-minded whites, selling children away from parents, mothers away from husbands, and brutally whipping slaves who ignored plantation rules.

On sugar estates, where the harvesting and pressing of the cane demanded, as it did in the Caribbean, sixteen- and eighteen-hour workdays, mulatto owners pushed their slaves incessantly; and, when women were unable to work such long hours, they stocked their plantations with young men. Among the twenty- eight field hands on Louise Oliver's estate, the men outnumbered the women three to one; in the age group fifteen to thirty-six, the ratio was four to one; only two women had any children. 

Listed below are census reports from  1777 - 1830 that list the name of African American Slave owners, as well as general property owners. 

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Gens De Couleur Libres Real Estate Families
The Dollioles & Souliés

  
During the first half of the 19th century, the Dollioles and Souliés — two gens de couleur libres families —amassed great wealth by building, owning and managing real estate in New Orleans. Through their entrepreneurship, these two families became pillars of their communities, exerting a measure of control by free people of color not seen in other cities in the United States.

As an architectural historian, I have spent the past 15 years studying the buildings erected and commissioned by the gens de couleur libres in New Orleans. My research, though, focuses on more than just the buildings. It also explores the people behind the architecture.

A native of Lafayette, I became fascinated by the Dollioles and Souliés while studying Louisiana and African-American architecture in graduate school. I have used these two families as case studies to illustrate the profound influence that the free people of color had on the physical growth as well as the cultural and socio-economic development of antebellum New Orleans.

On Oct. 6, I will share my research in an exhibit and talk on “The Free People of Color Who Built Early New Orleans” at the Preservation Resource Center.

At the time of the Louisiana Purchase, both the Dolliole and Soulié families were well-established in the city. By the 1850 U.S. Census, Jean-Louis Dolliole had amassed a real estate portfolio worth $10,000 (or the equivalent of $323,084.62 in 2018). His brother Joseph Dolliole’s real estate holdings were valued at $12,000 (or $387,701.54 in today’s money). The Souliés were even wealthier. Bernard Soulié’s property was valued at $20,000 — almost $650,000 today.

How did these families—and other gens de couleur libres in New Orleans—amass wealth? They did so through a three-fold process that I found strategic and purposeful: through real estate ownership, engagement and entrepreneurship.

  

Gens De Couleur Libres Privileged Grandkids
New Orleans Middle Class

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In New Orleans, prior to the Louisiana Purchase, there existed an honored three tier race system that greatly benefited Free People of Colored. This group was more commonly referred to as Creole. A few paragraphs down I will dig deeper into the many categories of creole, but in antebellum New Orleans, if you were the end result of a miscegenation situation, then you could very easily claim you spot on that middle creole tier. In New Orleans (like other places) skin color came with privileges, and the lighter you were then chances are you were free from slavery and living independent of a plantation.

From slavery until this very day, lighter complexion African Americans have benefited from the same perceptional acceptance that helped them thrive as free people of color during slavery in New Orleans. After the three-tier class system was demolished by the Black Codes then totally eradicated by Plessy vs Ferguson, the lighter skin African Americans maintained their upper-class status in the black community. After all, the lighter complexion free persons of color had a 90-year head start on the emancipated darker skin members of the community, and that head start was achieved by assimilation and emulation.
  
As our race eased into the 20th century, the grand children of the so-called Creoles, represented the majority of the black own business like funeral homes, clinics, restaurants, grocery stores, real estate ownership, and construction companies. In New Orleans, the lighter complexion crew even practice their own form of segregation, banning darker complexion members from with high society clubs like The Boston Club, and sorority chapters of AKA passed the paper bag test with straight A’s.
  

There were even private schools established for lighter complexion girls, thought it’s hard to get anyone to admit it, but Katharine Drexel Xavier prep high school in New Orleans was founded for lighter completion African Americans. The excuse one supporter of the school gave me was:
 
“During the planning of the school in the early enrollment days (1915), the KKK was very active in uptown New Orleans, and the School was in a predominately white neighborhood. If the first few classes were lighter than a paper bag, then it was merely  of a safety precaution, and not outright discrimination. I would have you to know that Xavier has education people from ever skin tone.”  
 
Though we disagreed on the paper bag test, we did agree on one obvious truth: many of the lighter complexion families represent the middle class in New Orleans, and it was those families who could afford private schools.  To many of you reading this article this may seem like a lot about nothing until you consider this, even Howard University had this same controversy in the 30’ & 40’s with students segregating themselves according to the paper bag test. We also witnessed Spike Less tackle the topic of Colorism in his 1988 movie School Daze: The WannaBe’s & Jigaboos.
 
Whether it's admitted or not, here’s the one thing that is for certain, within the African American community the skin color is still as sensitive because of what it has historically represented. A slave in the middle of a sugarcane field, making eye contact with the house slave in the 2nd floor bed room.
 
The origins of Colorism In New Orleans.
 
Let’s travel back to a time in Louisiana when all of the kidnapped imports from Sierra Leone region of Africa were one consistent complexion of brown. According to research by Penny Johnson-Ward: in colonial Louisiana, ―sleeping with a negress became not only an accepted practice, but also an expected one for all levels of society. From the founding of New Orleans in 1718, white men significantly outnumbered white women. According to Hall, in 1719, there were 416 men to only 30 white women and children. In that same year, 450 enslaved Africans arrived in French colonial Louisiana. Hall argues that enslaved Africans ―arrived in an extremely fluid society where a socioracial hierarchy was ill defined and hard to enforce.
 
 It was in this society that early plaçage partnerships were formed. Foner demonstrates how the French colonial government attempted to regulate early plaçage partnerships by prohibiting enslaved or free Africans, from entering into a marriage contract or sexual relationship with white colonists. Despite such laws, the partnerships continued, evolved, and adapted within the frontier culture that helped to create them. Louisiana‘s frontier culture evolved from many influences, including ―corruption, exploitation, brutality, and sexual cohabitation between European men and African women.
 
Foner cites a letter dated September 6, 1723 that states, ―Louisiana was a country of robbers, forgers, murderers, and prisoners, a region without justice, without discipline, without order, and without police. When these socio-political conditions are considered in the context of a long history of French men indulging in sexual liaisons with enslaved African women what emerges is a place and time ripe for a 9 practice such as plaçage. The lack of white women in the French territories makes the development of plaçage even more inevitable. According to an early Louisiana census, 1,215 white women arrived in Louisiana between 1717 and 1721.
 
However, by 1726, more than half of these women were dead from disease, mistreatment, or other difficulties of frontier life. In addition, some were deported to France because of their undesirable behavior or physical condition. In 1719, 164 white women were sent from France to Louisiana, however, the men of the colony found the newly arrived women undesirable. One male colonist described the women as having ―bodies as corrupt as their manners. Consequently, by July 1719, 220 women were placed on the deportation list and returned to France. Foner argues that, as the scarcity of white women persisted, ―the complexion of colonial Louisiana changed.
 
According to anthropologist Marvin Harris, as quoted by Hanger, in some cases ―where white males heavily outnumbered white females, racial intermixture prevailed and white fathers tended to manumit their light-skinned offspring, and occasionally consorts, over other slaves. This intermixture produced a unique population in Louisiana, one that was not easily categorized and is still difficult to define. By 1788, there were over 3,000 free Creoles of color in Louisiana, over 800 of whom lived in New Orleans. THE CREOLE OF COLOR COMMUNITY IN NEW ORLEANS In a larger view, plaçage created a third race of people in Louisiana.
 
Their unique position between master and slave, together with the fact that they could find a home with neither, caused them to become a separatist, self-focusing community. The group was bound by ties of language, birth, culture, religion, and wealth.  One cannot discuss the practice of plaçage in New Orleans without including a discussion of the term ―Creole, which is defined by several sources cited in this work. Gwendolyn Midlo Hall, argues that ―the word Creole … derives from the Portuguese word crioulo, meaning a slave of African descent born in the New World.
 
 Hall further explains, ―In Spanish and French colonies, including eighteenth-century Louisiana, the term Creole was used to distinguish American-born from African-born slaves. According to Hall, ―all first-born slaves and their descendants were designated Creoles. One the best explanations of the term ―Creole. The meaning of Creole, implied or stated, varies on the axes of time and place, ethnicity, race, class and politics of the speaker, and in the context in which the work is spoken … A Creole, in the usage of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, may be white, black, or mixed, he was usually of French or Spanish ancestry, culturally Latin and Catholic, … and likely descending from stock residing in the region for a generation or more prior to the era of American domination.
 
Some contemporary accounts restrict the term to native white of French or Spanish ancestry, but many more emphasize that the distinguishing elements was nativity, not race … Further clarification may be gained by identifying who would not have been Creole in the period under discussion. A recent immigrant from Ireland or Germany would not be a Creole (he would be a ―foreigner), although a descendent of the 1720s–era German settlers to La Côte des Allemandes  would be Creole.
 
A French–blooded Saint Dominigue refugee who escaped to New Orleans in the early 1800s would not be Creole, nor would a Paris-born Frenchman residing in the city (both would be considered ―foreign French) … A bonds man of pure African descent [born into] enslavement in Louisiana … would be a Creole, but a mixed-race French speaking slave from a Caribbean island (living in Louisiana) would not be … In Louisiana, every native, be his parentage what it may, is a Creole .
 
The free black community had emerged from a frontier society characterized by a high degree of social and economic fluidity. During this period New Orleans had more black entrepreneurs than did any other American city during the 1800s. The nearly $2.5 million in real estate held by the free black community in 1850 represented nearly 60% of the total property held by the entire free 11 black population of the time in the United States.
 
 Overall, some 650 free people of color owned land in New Orleans during the 1800s and the community shared a devotion to Catholicism, pride in their culture, and zeal for freedom inspired by French revolutionary thought.
 
At the end of the day here’s the one thing that remains true, those human being born of the darkest skin have battled for equality for larger than those who were lighter than a paper bag, but to the white supremist, black is still black.
 
  
  

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SNATCHED
IN BROAD DAYLIGHT!

The year was 1810, the city was New Orleans, and Adélaïde Métayer faced the seizure of herself and her children for sale in the slave market. The tailor Louis Noret claimed the right to sell the family in order to recoup an unpaid debt owed to him by Louis Métayer, brother of Charles Métayer, who had been his business partner.

TRUE STORY