They remained, however, a substantially powerful group in the Louisiana society. Their property holding went on increasing, 13 they went on interacting with the white population, and retained their distinct status in New Orleans until the Civil War. Their presence in the militia was not even threatened, despite a relative loss of prestige of the function Hanger New Orleans historians were scarce and had difficulty gaining national recognition. Most of the historians were strangers to the Crescent City and a Louisiana exception was no part of the canonical American narrative 15 which was more intent on pitting against each other the main sections interacting in the antebellum era than on showing the complexity and heterogeneousness of the individual sections.
The vision that has emerged from these reinterpretations of Louisiana's early postcolonial history is one of a slightly isolated Louisiana, still extremely Latin in its management of race relations, despite the attempts of the new American rulers to impose their more binary conception. In the early national period, New Orleans remained, as historians have shown, a three-tiered order, with a relatively more relaxed management of interracial relations, where free people of color often thrived and managed to keep an intermediate position which deprived them of any political power but gave them space for economic and cultural influence.
Although this representation of race relations in New Orleans is much closer to historical reality than the earlier ones, history never stops reinterpreting the past and recent historiographical trends have started elaborating more dialectic depictions of the racial order and giving a much more complex vision of race relations in early postcolonial New Orleans. Those years were an era of tremendous growth for the city, which went from a population of about 8, inhabitants in to being the third largest city in the United States in , with a population of , inhabitants Dessens , This tremendous increase had several origins: the constant influx of foreigners, from Europe for the most part from France, Germany, Ireland, principally , but also from Mexico at the time of the independence from Spain in ; and the tremendous influx of Saint-Domingue refugees.
This influx was essential in inflecting the racial policies in early American Louisiana. The arrival of the refugees, first of all, numerically reinforced the free population of color whose proportion to the total population had started diminishing owing to the influx of the Anglo-Americans who had brought numerical additions to the white and slave groups almost exclusively.
It is clear that the perception of race relations could not be the same for all the ethnic groups. There was, however, more diversity than heretofore believed since, among the new inhabitants of Louisiana, were also people who came from countries that had never relied on slavery like Germany or from countries that had institutionalized slavery in their colonies like Spain. Much is also known about the Creole vision based on the three-tiered order of society, inherited from the French and Spanish colonial era. The French-speaking group was much more heterogeneous than what was long thought, since new migrants ceaselessly arrived, either from French American slave colonies like Saint-Domingue or from metropolitan France.
It may be inferred that there was thus no single perception of races and race relations in this very composite population. Primary sources indicate that Louisiana's racial and ethnic pattern was so rich that each group had its own discourse on race and race relations and that there could even be diversity within each ethnic group.
There was not one single way of writing race in the Crescent City in Louisiana's early national era and it is important to try to reconstruct this complex pattern by using new, relatively unexplored testimonies written by Louisianans at the time. An insight into the Saint-Domingue refugee group, for instance, attests to this rich diversity. Married to a white Creole whose family had settled in the colony three generations before and possessed several coffee plantations, he was successively the captain of the harbor of Jacmel, a royal notary in Ste. Lucie now St. Evacuated from Saint-Domingue in the last days of the Haitian Revolution, in late , he lost his wife in their last moments on the island, and found refuge in Santiago de Cuba, in the Cuban Oriente , with his two children.
He then found his second asylum, New Orleans. On their way to New Orleans, if not before, they became close. He then returned to his French country castle, the cradle of his family, near Toulouse, in He trusted Jean Boze so much that he left all his financial assets and his illegitimate family of color in his care. He had indeed come to New Orleans with his companion of color from Saint-Domingue, with whom he had had three children, all born in New Orleans, and thus Creoles of color of New Orleans. Boze's position is an original one. As part of the Saint-Domingue refugee group, he writes both as an insider and an outsider to the system.
He is, to some degree, an insider, in that he had been living in American colonies for almost four decades when the correspondence started. Having lived in French and Spanish Caribbean colonies, he intimately knew the slave colonies of the Latin European countries.
Although he had not been a slave owner personally, his wife's family had had large coffee plantations in Saint-Domingue. As a harbor captain and as a ship captain involved in corsair activities, he had, at least indirectly, condoned the institution of slavery. He was, however, also an outsider to Louisiana, having settled there six years after its purchase by the United States, and only three years before statehood.
He was no part of the Louisiana Creole society, although he obviously had connections with it. As part of the Saint-Domingue refugee group, he observed from a distance the struggle for power between the Americans and the Creoles. As an already old man who had no direct involvement in the economic and political life of his new home, he had a relatively detached and impassionate perspective.
This makes for the richness and interest of his testimony.
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Although he had never owned slaves himself, he had lived in close contact with slavery and had married the daughter of a slaveholding family. He had had to flee Saint-Domingue just before it became the Republic of Haiti and had lost his wife, killed by the black insurgents. All in all, he spent 60 of his 90 years in slave societies. And what his letters show is a strange mixture of racial prejudice, general agreement with the New Orleans fixed racial order, and a clear tendency to often let other considerations supersede his perception of races.
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His letters show a permanent wavering between his belief in the whites' superiority, his defense of the three-tiered order and opposition to any attempt at reducing this order to any binary perception of races, and the strong sense of belonging he had developed in the St. Domingue refugee group. For him, it was a normal feature of society, in keeping with his past and present life. Whenever he mentions slaves, he does it as someone who has integrated the institution in his mental representation of society.
He—often implicitly, but also sometimes explicitly—condones slavery, including the enslavement of racially mixed persons.
Whenever he seems to criticize the system, he is, in fact, only condemning unusual cruelty. Beside cruel treatment, the only thing that apparently made him cringe was the constant importation of slaves from the Anglo-American states, and he recurrently expresses the opinion that these bad subjects jeopardize public peace and may trigger revolts.
In , he expatiates on the two great slave rebellions of Jamaica the Christmas rebellion and South Carolina Nat Turner's rebellion and keeps commenting that this is what will happen in Louisiana if the constant influx of Anglo-American slaves does not stop:. If anything needs to be criticized, it is the increasing proportion of slaves from the Anglo-American South in the Louisiana slave population. New Orleans Creoles of color, including those with Saint-Domingue origins, were, for instance, regularly involved in dueling, a practice normally reserved for gentlemen in the rest of the South.
To give a single instance, he tells him, without passing the least judgment, about Mr.
This is in keeping with what historians have recently written about the attitude of New Orleans Creoles towards the three-tiered order and interracial relationships that prevailed in the city and clearly indicates a certain homogeneousness among the French speakers, whatever their origins. Indeed, very often, from what he writes and from the wording he uses, the cultural and ethnic origins of the people he mentions seem more important than their color.
What he despises most is not slaves, but slaves from the English-speaking United States. Already more acceptable are the black Creoles, be they slaves or free people of color. But the group he is most defensive of is obviously that with Saint-Domingue origins. All Rights Reserved. Reproduction without permission prohibited. Home News. Also Read. Watch: Metro cop allegedly under the influence of alcohol threatens bystanders [videos].
Judicial aspects of race in the United States
Do you think the government should -- or should not -- make cash payments to black Americans who are descendants of slaves? Next, I'm going to read a list of problems facing the country. For each one, please tell me if you personally worry about this problem a great deal, a fair amount, only a little or not at all?
How much do you personally worry about race relations? Next, we'd like to know how you feel about the state of the nation in each of the following areas. For each one, please say whether you are -- very satisfied, somewhat satisfied, somewhat dissatisfied or very dissatisfied.
If you don't have enough information about a particular subject to rate it, just say so. How about -- the state of race relations? How about -- the position of blacks and other racial minorities in the nation? Next we'd like to know how you feel about the way various groups in society are treated. For each of the following groups please say whether you are very satisfied, somewhat satisfied, somewhat dissatisfied or very dissatisfied with the way they are treated.
How about … Immigrants? How about … Women? How about … Blacks? How about … Hispanics?
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How about … Asians? How about … Arabs? Next, we'd like to know how you would rate relations between various groups in the United States these days. Would you say relations between -- whites and blacks -- are very good, somewhat good, somewhat bad or very bad? Would you say relations between -- whites and Hispanics -- are very good, somewhat good, somewhat bad or very bad?
Would you say relations between -- whites and Asians -- are very good, somewhat good, somewhat bad or very bad? Would you say relations between -- blacks and Hispanics -- are very good, somewhat good, somewhat bad or very bad? Would you say relations between -- blacks and Asians -- are very good, somewhat good, somewhat bad or very bad?