Slave Conspiracies during the Early 1790s in French Louisiana

The eruption of the French Revolution in 1789 precipitated great unrest in Louisiana. Louisiana was a Spanish colony with a French population and a merchant class with close ties to France, National and cultural identity and the desire for the spoils of office, the major source of wealth as well as power, motivated Louisiana’s white creole elite to seek reunification with France. When trade with France and the French West Indies ceases, merchants led revolutionary demonstrations. Merchants of Bordeaux and New Orleans sent petitions to Paris asking for the return if Louisiana to France. Merchants of New Orleans took up a subscription to offer a gift to the French Conventions. In early 1793, 150 subjects signed a petition asking for the province to be reunited with France.

When Baron de Carondelet became governor general in December 30, 1791, he found aphorisms and philosophies of the French Revolution repeated on the streets of New Orleans. Many short-lived Jacobin clubs distributed revolutionary literature in the capital. The “Marseillaise,” “Ca ira,” “Carmagnolle,” and  “Les aristocrats a la lanterne” were sung in the streets. The opposition to the Spanish regime was called Jacobin, Vagabond, Sans-Cullotes, and American, terms meaning. Vaguely, rebellious person. Governor Carondelet resorted to mass deportations. All persons who had come to the colony since 1790, as well as those who did not own property of have other permanent interests, were required to take an oath of allegiance to Spain. Those who refused had to go to the United States or the Danish West Indies. A considerable group left. By July, 1793, sixty-eight suspected persons had been expelled from the capital.[1]

The outbreak of war between France and Spain in the spring of 1793 was a devastating blow to the security and the prosperity of the colony. By early 1795, disorder reigned in New Orleans. Houses were ignited, and dangerous mobs were attracted to the fires. The authorities did not have the forces to deal with these disorders, and officials stayed away from the scene to avoid precipitating a crisis or being assassinated. American royalist militia were brought in from Natchez to restore order. The province was faced with an invasion threat by land and sea. Edmont Genet, the French ambassador to the United States, conspired with the United States general George Rogers Clark, to seize the colony for France, promising free navigation of the Mississippi River to the United States. Clark recruited American frontiersmen from the upper Mississippi who were to descend upon New Orleans while a French squadron organized in New York blockaded the Mississippi River from the south. The conspirators organized a mass uprising in support of the invasion. Carondolet exiled those suspected of disloyalty to Havana. The Gener-Clark scheme went pretty awry. Spain’s alliance with the Indians help up, and they spied on the American frontiersmen for Spain. President Washington published a proclamation prohibiting recruitment on the United States soil for the invasion planned by Genet and Clark. The fleet organized in New York to blockade New Orleans by sea never arrived. Its crew revolted.[2]

The French Revolution had an immediate, drastic impact upon Louisiana’s economy. The colony’s indigo crop was marketed in France via the French West Indies. Planters had suck deeply into debt during the 1780s, obtaining slaves on credit against future indigo crops. Maritime trade was disrupted, and the market for indigo evaporated. Spain canceled Louisiana’s monopoly of the Mexican tobacco market and stopped buying Louisiana tobacco. The Pointe Coupee post was hard hit because its two major export crops could no longer be sold. Planters defaulted on their debts. There were numerous seizures for debt at the Pointe Coupee post during 1790. Hunger and famine gripped the district.[3]

Slave control, never easy in colonial Louisiana, became increasingly difficult during the 1790s. Masters in Pointe Coupee built upon several themes in order it divide and rule their slaves. They created and tried to maintain a hierarchy of status, placing mixed-blood creole slaves over black creole slaves and all creole slaves in a privileged position over Africans. While the ideal of the masters resembled the pattern discerned by Vanony-Frisch in Guadaloupe, where mixed-blood slaves were at the top, black creoles in the middle, and Africans on the bottom, the hierarchy in Louisiana was bent at the edges. The commandeaurs, both black and mixed-blood, were at the top, though a disproportionate number of commandeurs were mulattoes. Conflicts  among African slaves were encouraged on the estates by tolerating organized language-ethnic communities, creating clusters if slaves from the same nation and culture region. Slaves from Senegambia continued to arrive in large numbers throughout the Spanish period. The Senegambia slaves, especially the Bambara, were close to the creoles, probably because of the common ancestral ties dating from the French slave trade.[4] The proportion of slaves from the Bight of Benin rose sharply after 1782, when free trade in slaves was allowed. Slaves from Central Africa, almost all listed as Congo, were third in numerical importance, with their proportion among Africans diminishing over time.

The advantages and disadvantages of allowing organized African ethnic communities to function became clear on the night of July 8, 1791, the same night that Claude Trenonay was assassinated by his Ibo slave, Latulipe. Valentin Leblanc, commandante of the Pointe Coupee post, was officially informed that the Mina slaves were about to rise up and kill their masters.[5] George Olivo, pere, sent word to Leblanc that the slaves of Mina and Bambara nations planned to rise up against all whites of the district and that both nations planned to meet at New Roads in False River on July 6 to discuss plans to attack the French. The uprising did not take place, however, because of bad weather and because the slaves from outside False River were not adequately notified of where the meeting would be held. The Mina conspiracy was revealed a month before the major slave revolt erupted in St. Domingue. The plan was to kill the masters, beginning with the merchant Tournoir, take arms and ammunitions from his store, and free themselves from slavery.[6]

Who were the Mina slaves of Louisiana? Although historians of the Atlantic slave trade sometimes include Mina slaves with Gold Coast slaves, assuming that their named indicates that they came through the slave-trade post of El Mina, this writer has included Mina slaves with slaves coming from the Bight of Benin, assuming that they came from the Mina Coast and were probably Ewe and closely related to the Ado and the Fon (Dahomean).[7] In Pointe Coupee lists, Fon slaves were enumerated separately from Mina slaves, and neither the designations Ewe nor Gege, the Brazilian term for Dahomean, were used, leading to the strong possibility that the Mina slaves of Louisiana were Ewe. Pierre Verger explained that the Mina Coast, or the coast east of Mina, was so named after the Dutch seized the slave trade from post of El Mina from the Portuguese. They allowed the Portuguese to trade through four ports: Grand Popo, Whydah, Jaquin, and Apa to the east along the present coast of Dahomey. In Louisiana, the Mina were a well-organized language community, and therefore, the term Mina referred to a nation, not a slave trade post. The Mina language in Brazil had been identified as a dialect of Ewe closely related to Fon.[8]

The Mina slaves of Pointe Coupee met and socialized as a group, maintaining a language and social community that had ties with an organized Mina community in Newo Orleans. The 1791 Pointe Coupee Conspiracy was an African ethnic movement organized from the estate of Widow Provillar by her Mina slaves and those belonging to a number of different masters. The Provillar estate was inventoried in 1790. Its slave force consisted of a sixty-year-old Mina woman, three Mina men, an Ibo woman, and a creole child. The accused conspirators held regular balls in the cabin of Juan Luis, Mina slave of the Widow Provillar, because of her estate, located at New Roads of False River, allowed for easy communications between Pointe Coupee and False River. Only Mina men were invited. The king of each ball was responsible for providing the refreshments. Their conspiracies was betrayed because of ethnic conflicts among Africans and ties of fictive kinship between a creole and an African woman, both Olivo slaves. Venurs, a slave of the Ado nation, was the godchild and namesake of a creole slave. Venus’ baptismal name was Francisca, the name of her creole grandmother. According to Venus, Digue, Ado slave of Terran, who informed her about the Mina conspiracy, approached her. She told him, “You are not a Mina. You are and Ado like me. Do not join them.” Digue agreed not to join them and told her of the date and time of the uprising. According to Digue’s version of this conversations, he warned Venus about Santiagos Fabre’s Mona slave Jacp. Who had entered her cabin armed. Digue said, “Be careful with the negre because he is a Mina and that nation is very bad. “Venus, her godmother, Francisca, Francisca’s father, George Creole, and Pedro Chmaba, all Olivo slaves, went to their masters’s house to warn him about the plot and then hid in his house to avoid retribution from the Mina slaves.[9]

The African slaves on Olivo estate whose nations have been identified all came from the Bight of Benin, though there were no Mina slaves among them. Three of the Olivo slaves died in 1798 as the result of a murder –suicide love triangle involving a slave husband of the Fon nations. Olivo operated an old-style estate, where family ties among slaves were respected. He owned twenty-eight slaves in 1790, all of them black, with an even sex ratio among the fourteen mature adults. There were ten slave children on the estate.[10] Olivo testified that for Marie Jeanne, mother of Antoine Sarrasin, the main leader of the 1975 conspiracy, in her efforts to have herself and her children emancipated on the grounds that they descended from an Indian woman. Olivo testified that he knew Marie Jeanne’s mother and that she was, indeed, a full-blooded Indian. In 1801, Olivo’s son freed his slave concubine and their five children.[11]

Although Venus’ original testimony indicated that Digue and Bambara slaves were also involved in the plot, Digue’s testimony did not indicate any such involvement. On the contrary, he quoted Jaco, one of the three leaders of the plot, as saying that if there were not enough Mina in False River, they would join up with those of Pointe Coupee. They did not need other nations. It seems likely that the Bambara had been approached by the Mina and refused to join, and Venus had prior knowledge of plans for both groups to rise up. Digue claimed that he knew nothing about the plot until Venus informed him of it and that Venus was a neighbor of Jaco and saw him regularly. Venus insisted that she was informed of the plot by Digue. Although some Bambara slaves were brought in and questioned, there is no record of interrogations of Bambara slaves, and no Bambara were detained or accused.[12] It seems likely that the Bambara slaves were too close to the creole slaves to act without them and were therefore reluctant to become involved in a purely African movement.

Although the Olivo slavers reported the Mina plot to their master in the night of Friday, July 8, it was not until the following night, July 9, 1791, at night about 8 pm, that Antoine Decuir reported it tit he commandante. Patrols were sent out to arrest all the Mina and Bambara slaves of the district. A patrol reported that it found Cofi Mina knocking on the door of the Mina slave of Gabriel Roufat. According to the commandante, this slave had a knife and attacked a member of the patrol. The patrol searched the cabins but found nothing. After their initial interrogation, some of the Mina slaves were sent back to their masters. One of them, when called back to the fort for further interrogation, threw himself into the river and drowned.[13]

There is a written record of the initial interrogation of sixteen slaves at Pointe Coupee. The accused were all single laborers, and among those whose ages were given, three were in their forties, eight were in their thirties, two were in their twenties, and one was nineteen. According to their testimony, there were only Mina at the ball, except for Cesar, a creole slave from Jamaica of Emable Couvillon, and Pedro, a nineteen-year-old Chamba slave who was raised by the Mina. Pedro Chamba acted as a courier among the leaders of the plot.[14] Cesar, Juan Luis, and Jaco were the leaders. Cesar was the main leader.

In August 1, 1791, the original testimony was forwarded to the superior tribunal and the prisoners were sent to New Orleans for trial. The accused slaves and the testimony arrived at a time when Governor Miro’s attention to runaway slaves who had been frequenting cabarets outside the city, buying drinks and ammunition at very low prices. When the ayuntamiento ordered these cabarets closed, a series of fires was set in several places in the city in order “to destroy whatever had been saves or rebuilt after the disaster of 1788.” New Orleans had been burned down twice over the past few years. Arson trials began in New Orleans during the first week in July, 1791. Miro also suspected escaped presidios, criminals sentenced to forced labor in Louisiana. He maintained two patrols of fifty men each to try to prevent and/or extinguish fires set in the capital. The commandante complained that the military needs of Pointe Coupee post had been neglected to go from house to house to assemble the militia because they had no drummer, the fort was in ruins, and there no cannon were mounted. Miro rejected this complaint, writing that Pointe Coupee was no longer considered a military post, since the British had evacuated the east bank of the Mississippi River. With great reluctance, the governor sent a drummer, two corporals, eighteen soldiers armed with twenty-one cartridges each, and thirty muskets for the local militia to reinforce the post, instructing the commadante to ask for six more men from Baton Rouge if necessary. He insisted that these reinforcements be sent back as soon as possible because they were needed elsewhere. He went on to berate the settlers for allowing their slaves to have arms and to move about freely among the plantations in violation of the laws promulgated.[15]

Carondelet inherited the problem of the Mina conspiracy from outgoing governor Miro. Carondelet assumed office a few months after the first major slave uprising in St. Domingue. The Spanish authorities were convinced that the slave revolt in St. Domingue was provoked by the mistreatment of slaves by their masters. Carondelet was instructed to see to it that Louisiana slaves were not similarly provoked into rebellion. He kept himself informed of conditions on the plantations and did, on a few occasions, intervene to protect mistreated slaves. He promulgated a protective slave code. In Aprl, 1792, an overseer and a slave were sentenced to be hanged for beating a slave to death. Carondelet’s reform policies provoked growing hostility from slave owners. The new governor responded by cultivating the support of the slaves and the free colored population to prevent unrest and to serve as a counterweight to disloyalty among white creoles. He increased the colored militia, commissioning 29 free colored officers, and relied heavily upon the people of African descent for intelligence of all kinds. There was some hesitation among the militiamen of African descent about which side to support during the threatened French invasion, but Carondelet attested to their loyalty to Spain. He strongly supported a petition by officers of the three companies of free people of African descent for the same pay and of the military fuero. There companies comprised two of pardos (mixed bloods) of 120 men each, one larger company of blacks, and 16 officers. They were all skilled workers earning considerably more than what they were paid when on militia duty. Carondelet praised them for their constant loyalty, especially during the war against France. They were always ready to march and publicly demonstrate their loyalty to Spain. They remained for over a month at the Plaquemine post, defending the entrance to the Mississippi River against the expedition organized in New York by Genet, working arduously to strengthen the defenses of the fort.[16] We will never know which side they would have chosen if the French invasion had materialized.

The Mina trial began in New Orleans in March, 1792, while St. Domingue (Haiti) was up in flames. Carondelet presided personally over  an extensive reinterrogation of the Mins slaves. All of the accused denied the truth of the documents that emerged from their original interrogations in Pointe Coupee. The claimed that they had been beaten when they refused to admit their guilt. And they could neither understand nor properly answer the questions asked to them because of their limited knowledge of Louisiana Creole, the language in which they were interrogated. Their answers were not written down and read back to them. The persons who signed their interrogations as attending witnesses had not been present.

Commandante Leblanc explained that the accused slaves had been interrogated in the French creole language, which he described as a “mixture of the language of their nations and of French pronounced with great diversity.” And though not all the settlers knew the language, he, the witnesses, and the notary who presided at their interrogations knew French creole very well. Leblanc expresses misgivings about the ability if the French interpreters in New Orleans to understand, or to be understood by, the slaves, who did not know legitimate French. There had been a long delay before the accused slaves were reinterrogated because of the illness of the auditor de guerra. The jail was not set up to keep the prisoners separate from each other. They could have agreed among themselves to present false testimony.[17]

A notary was sent from New Orleans to Pointe Coupee to take sworn statements from all who had signed the documents as attending witnesses. It came out during the Mina trial in New Orleans that several solid citizens of Point Coupee perjured themselves, swearing falsely under oath that they were pressured into signing these documents by Leblanc, who wrote them all in his own handwriting, many of them after the interrogations were over, even though Fernando Rodriguez, escribano real, was present at all of the interrogations. Isaac Fastiau, who signed all the interrogations taken at Pointe Coupee as official interpreter into Spanish, had not attended even one interrogation, and his grasp of Spanish was so poor that he himself needed an official interpreter into Spanish when he testified in New Orleans. Manuel Monsanto had to sign a bond for him so he could return to Pointe Coupee.[18]

Carondelet ordered the prisoners questioned again under oath and with proper interpreter, since he had serious doubts that the slaves had understood, and had been understood by, their interrogators. Antonio Cofi Mina and Juan Baptist Cupidon, both free Minas of New Orleans, were named as interpreters from the Mina language into Spanish when he testified in New Orleans, were named as interpreters from the Mina language into Spanish, and two other interpreters from Louisiana Creole into Spanish were named.[19]

The wheels of justice ground slowly. While Carondelet personally presided, each accused slave was asked again each original question of his interrogation through the Louisiana Creole interpreters and was also asked to respond in the same language. Then each question was asked once more in the Mina language by the Mina interpreters. During the reinterrogation of Jaco, slave of Santiago Fabre, the conclusion was, “While the accused understood many words, he did not understand the real meaning of the questions, because when the Mona interpreters explained them, he answered well and elaborated upon his answers.” The linguistic capability of the Mina slaves in Louisiana Creole was generally poor, and they explained that their knowledge of the language had improved while they had been working in the city with the French during the past year. Evidently, Louisiana Creole was widely spoken in New Orleans at the time. One of the accused was fluent in Louisiana Creole, but he testified that no one had read to him what was written down and that he had not said what was in his original imagination, It was claimed that Leblanc used his own Mina Rigodon to interpret from Mina when necessary, though the slaves denied that Rigodon was present.[20]


Although this trial took place during the height of the Haitian Revolution and though their slaves had been accused of plotting to kill them, most of the masters were eager to establish their slaves’ innocence and take them home. They wished to avoid the cost of their slaves’ imprisonment and to regain the benefit of their labor, which was a matter of economic survival, especially for the many small slave owners, involved. Some of them seemed to sincerely believe that their slaves would not do such a thing to them. Their pride and self-image were at stake. They referred to their slaves as “their own” (“los suyos”). Some of them seemed to be emotionally attached to their slaves. In May 1792, Garbriel Rufat petitioned the court that Pedro, his imprisoned slave, was innocent and that he would answer for him “with his own body.” He asked that Pedro be returned to him because he was a poor man and he needed his slave to do his work. Before Pedro was taken from Pointe Coupee, Rufat had been told that he had to await the arrival of the proper documents before they would release his slave. Instead, Pedro was sent to New Orleans, and Rufat said that he was ruined for having lost his labor. His slave had denied to him that he wanted to kill him. And when asked about the Mina ball, Pedro had pried: “There was a ball that lasted 24 hours, in which a lot of liquor [aquardiente] was drunk. Several of them decided to steal from their masters and go off to become maroons to free themselves from mistreatment by their masters.” Rufat denied that the slave who had been arrested by the patrol while knocking at the cabin door of his Mina slave had a knife or made any resistance, adding that he submitted very humbly. Rufat’s slave was not released until July 12. 1793, after Rufat petitioned that his imprisoned slave was incurably ill and that he feared that Pedro might die unless he was released to him so Rufat could care for him.

Jorge Bergeron denied Leblanc’s statement that he had helped to obtain and had witnesses a confession from his slave Petit Francois. Bergeron doubted his slave’s guilt and denied Leblanc’s statement that was read to him.[21]


This citation is false in all its parts. And it is also false that I gave Petit Francois the declaration that was just read. What happened was that I went to get a loaf of bread for Petit Francois while he was being interrogated on the porch by the commandante…. The commandante called out to me saying that he understood Petit Francois better than I did, and that he was questioning him about the details of the so-called uprising of the Mina negres. When I asked Petit Francois if he had gone to the ball, and for what reason, he replied that he had gone to enjoy himself. His violin got broken, and not liking the party, he left. I did not hear him say anything else, much less what was put in the declaration which was just read.[22]


Justin Poydas denied the commandate’s claim that he had witnesses Petit Francois’ confession. He testified that though he was present when Bergeron bought Petit Francois to the commandante to be questioned, he “did not hear nor understand the questions of the one nor the answers of the other, because I was on guard at the fort and did not pay attention to any of that.”[23]

Many prominent settlers of Pointe Coupee denied ever hearing any of the Mina slaves say that they had plotted to rise up against the whites, whether during interrogation or under any other circumstances, contradicting Leblanc’s claims that they had reported such information to him. Joseph Decuir said that the militia patrol he commanded never reported to him that the Mina slave who was knocking on the door of another Mina slave belonging to Rufat resisted with a knife when he was apprehended.[24]

It is clear that Leblanc put down whatever he pleased in the original interpretations. He intimidated the settlers into signing false documents and lying under oath when they were questioned at Pointe Coupee about the documents they had signed.[25] But it is also clear that conspiracy was real. The Allain brothers, Auguste and Francois, did hear and understand the statements of some of the Mina slaves who were being interrogated, and it is their testimony that is most reliable. Auguste Allain testified that he was in the fort by chance while the commandante was interrogating Jaco, slave of Santiago Fabre. He heard Jaco say that his intention was only to go maroon. He also heard Juan Luis say, “Jaco had been talking like an old cow, because whatever he had said that they had pigs and other things that they could sell them and buy whatever was necessary. Auguste Allain testified that the interroagtions took place in French. “Although corrupted and badly pronounced, which they call French negre creole.” He understood them very well because he was accustomed to hearing the language, and he could tell that they could undestand it, too.[26]

The tribunal had Allain ask Cofi a question in French Creole. Cofi did not understand him. When questioned through the Mina interpreter, Cofi denied that he had implicated Cesar and that the Minas wanted to rise up and kill all the whites, adding that when he denied during earlier interrogation that he was guilty, they had struck him.[27]

Allain was confronted by Juan Luis, who spoke good French Creole. Juan Luis denied that he called Jaco an old cow, and said he had denied that there was a conspiracy to rise up and kill the whites. Allain was confronted with Jaco, and Jaco testified that he told the commandante, “We had no such intentions, because in Guinea, out land, we do not kill whites, and what recourse would we have here if we killed them, because although no other occasions someone has made the proposition to me, I never consented because my master does not mistreat me, and what is why I never ran away before this event.[28]


Francois Allain testified that while he was on patrol on the night of July 9, 1791, to prevent communication between the negres of the post and those of False River, there was no way negres congregated either in their cabins or in the countryside, and he made no arrests. But he did attend the interrogations of several slaves. He testified that Juan Luis admitted that various meetings had taken place in his cabin and that he was finally persuaded by Cesar to become involved in the plot. He and the others asked Cesar how could they succeed without arms. Cesar replied, laughing, “Don’t be like stupid cows, We have pigs and chicken, and we can sell them and buy guns, powder, and balls. And furthermore, we don’t really need arms, because we can go around from plantation to the other cutting off the heads of the whites with our axes, beginning with Tournoir who had guns, powder, and balls in his store, And if we fail, I can lead you to a country where you will be secure.”[29]

Francois Allain had also been at the interrogation of Cofi, who spoke French very badly, but Allain though he said: “If the French kill the Minas and not the negre Cesar, that would be bad, but is they kill Cesar too, that would be good, because during the past year since the beginning of the planting of the indigo crop, he was has been trying to persuade us to rise up and kill the whites.” In the original testimony recorded at Pointe Coupee, Francisco Mina testified that the testimony recorded at Pointe Coupee, Francisco Mina testified that the Jamaican Cesar said to him in the presence of Jaco, “How is it possible that we are always working? If you want to join us, we will kill all the whites of False River and Pointe Coupee.’ To which I replied, ‘How can the whites be killed?’ Cesar relied, ‘I will show you what the English blacks do to kill the whites.’”[30]

Clearly, Cesar, the Jamaican, was the main instigator of the plot. Francois Allain testified that a slave belonging to Miguel Lejeune said that there was a meeting of the Minas, but it was to enjoy themselves at a ball; and though the proposition was made to him to rise up against the whites, he did not want to consent. The Minas sent Petit Francois, slave of Jorge Bergeron, several times to try to convince Lejeune’s slave, but he never agreed. Lejeune’s slave said: “I preferred to go warn the creole slaves at the ball they were having somewhere else. If I did not warn my master, it was because I did not think they could carry it out, and also, I was afraid of the negres of my nation. I had asked them if the creole negres were involved in the uprising or had consented to it, and they answered no. They had told them nothing about it because they considered the creoles great lovers of the whites [muy amantes de los blancos].[31]

It is clear from the testimony that this conspiracy was real. The commandante did, in fact, find arms loaded with lead shot made by the Mina slaves, a bag containing one hundred cartridges, some with enough powder for one shot, and another bag, containing two cartridges and some lead shot, which he sent to Miro. The Mina slaves’ main defense was that they did not understand Louisiana Creole, the language in which they were interrogated. They coordinated their testimony and feigned ignorance of the language. Diego Ortiz, a Spanish soldier, claimed that the accused Mina slaves spoke better French . during the interrogation at Pointe Coupee than during the reinterrogation. When asked to explain how their French could have deteriorated instead of improving after spending a year in New Orleans with people who spoke only French, Ortiz replied, “If the black does not speak well now, it is because he does not want to.”[32]

The Mina slaves broke down Ortiz’ testimony when he persisted in his claims that he was at all the interrogations and understood what was being said. Four of the accused slaves gave an identical answer: that Diego Ortiz came in only to bring in meals. Ortiz finally had to admit that he had lied, that he had not remained at the interrogations but had gone in and out. When he had objected to signing the documents on the grounds that as a soldier he could not play such a role in a nonmilitary trial and he did not understand the questions or the answers, he was pressured into signing, and did so “out of respect for the commandante who was his superior.” Francois Allain testified that the questions were asked in the French creole language, which the blacks spoke fairly well (regularamente), and that they answered in the same language. He insisted that he understood very well what they were saying, and they understood perfectly well what was being asked.[33]

Pleading ignorance has always been a useful defense of the weak, appealing to the disdain of the powerful. But the Mina slaves had advice and help from an expert. Antonio Cofi Mina was one of the two officials interpreters from the Mina language at the trial. He had been free since 1778, live in New Orleans, was single, a Catholic, a shoemaker by trade, and a member of the black militia. Antonio Cofi Mina was recognized by the Mina as the leader of their community. His name figured prominently in the 1795 Pointe Coupee Conspiracy. During his trial in 1795, he testified that for over twenty years, all the Mina of the colony, even those he did not know, called him “capitain.” The title was given to him by the negres of the balls. Evidently, Mina balls had been held since 1775. He was recognized as conduit to the Spanish establishment because of his close relationship with his former master, Don Andres Almonaster y Rojas, a Catalonian who was chief magistrate (alferez major and regifor perpetuo) of New Orleans and a colonel in the militia. A talented financier and noted philanthropist, Almonster was reputed to be the richest man in Louisiana and both Floridas. Three of Antonio Cofi Mina’s sons were slaves of Almonaster, and they stayed at Cofi’s house regularly. Cofi influence was widely recognized, not only by Mina, but by the people of African descent of all races and status. During the trial he explained that he was stopped in the street by a little mulatto and given a letter from an English mulatto who was in jail and who asked for his help, and Cofi agreed to stop by the jail to see him. It came out during his trial that Cofi was illiterate, though he was court interpreter from the Mina language and he testified in elegant French during his own trial. He spoke Spanish and Louisiana Creole, and possibly Catalonian as well. A carbine, a musket, six hunting muskets, two lances, a sword, and a larger arched pistol were found in his house. He claimed that several of these weapons belonged to a slave of Almonaster and two others to two free negres. And that two of the other guns were old and out of service. Cofi’s three sons testified that some of the other guns were old and out of service. Cofi’s three sons testified that some of the other weapons belonged to them.[34]

The last testimony in the Mina trial was taken on January 21, 1793, the day King Louis XVI was executed in France. Within weeks, the French Republic went to war against Britain, Holland, and Spain. The Mina trial was suspended while the government attended to the more pressing matter of the threatened French invasion of Louisiana. The accused slaves languished in jail. Two and a half year after their arrest, their existence was called to the attention of the authorities when Cofi, slave of Jacinto Chistes, became ill. He was sent to the hospital, where he died after running up a bill. There were several exchanges and in April 1794, his master was ordered to pay up at once. The next day, the masters of three of the alleged leaders of the conspiracy petitioned the court to sell their slaves as advantageously as possible in order to pay for the imprisonment. They could not pay the expenses of their incarceration, since they were without means. In June, 1794, these last three slaves still in prison were sent back to their masters. Jean Baptiste Nicollet paid the back bill for their imprisonment and accepted financial responsibility for returning them to the tribunal when needed. The explanation for their release was the poverty if their masters, who were described as “unfortunate settlers, fathers of families, in the most poverty stricken circumstances” (“unos infeliices habitantes, padres de familias, sumamente miserables”). [35]

The Spanish authorities went to great lengths to enforce proper judicial  norms in dealing with the accused Mina slaves, clashing with the brutal, arbitrary tradition of Louisiana’s white creoles. Spain was eager to project an image as a protector of the slaves because of the fragility of the control of Louisiana and its reliance upon the people of African descent for loyalty, intelligence, and defense. In truth, the Mina conspiracy posed no serious threat. It was a narrowly focused ethnic conspiracy involving slaves who belonged to small slave owners. Many of their masters were not listed in the 1790 census, indicating that they did not own land and lived in the households of other persons. The only slave from a large estate was Joseph from the Tournoir estate, which had forty-five slaves in 1790. The Mina slaves distrust if the creole slaves alienated them from the most powerful and best-informed slaves and undermined the possibility if an alliance with the slaves from Senegambia, who were close to the creoles because of ancestral ties. There is no evidence of hysteria in the part of accused slaves, reluctant to lose their services and to be obliged to pay for their incarceration, defended them and took them home as soon as possible. The Mina conspiracy took place before the eruption of the slave insurrection in St. Dominique, when the French and Caribbean revolutions had an economic, and not yet and ideological, impact. By the time the Mina slaves had come to trial, St. Dominique, was in flames. Shortly after their trial was suspended, war broke out broke out between France and Spain. While they remained in jail in New Orleans, they were put to work, no doubt loading and unloading ships and building fortifications. They mingled with Louisiana’s multinational, multiracial underclass of deported convict laborers (presidarios) and soldiers whose character and social origins differed little from the rejects and deserters sent to Louisiana under French rule, though their treatment was considerable less brutal.[36] No doubt they established ties with the underclass of New Orleans and brought exciting news back to Pointe Coupee when they returned shortly after slavery was abolished in all French colonies and a French invasion was imminent.

Meanwhile, at Pointe Coupee, the structure of conflict among slaves, which had been established and promoted by the masters, was coming unglued. The close relationship between Bambara and creole slaves, as well as a growing identification between creoles and recently arrived Africans, is evident in testimony taken on the estate of Colin Alcour in 1792. Lacour was a large planter, owning eighty-eight slaves in in 1790. His slave force was heavily Senegambian: They comprised 38.6 percent of the Africans. There were six Bamabara slaves, five Mandingo, nine Wolof, four Poulard, and one Nard on his estate when it was inventoried in 1797[37]. An investigation arose out of charges against Lacour by his creole negre, Andre, who had run away to New Orleans and was working for the government. The testimony was taken during this investigation reveals the master’s inability to maintain divisions between creole and African slave.

Lacour took Andre’s desertion as a betrayal. He was not only a creole slave, but a privileged one. Lacour testified that Andre had run away under the pretext of “two or three blows with a cane which he received because he did not return promptly to work on the levee where his presence was very necessary to carry out the work.” Lacour testified that he had taught Andre several trades. He was kindly treated and never beaten. He claimed that he had helped Andre’s mother, a negresse libre, to purchase and free Andre’s son born to a negresse of an estate in False River, in return for Andre’s promise not to run away. He bought the negresse to please Andre, and she rendered him little service because of frequent illness.[38]

Andre ran away because his master attacked him and threatened to kill him for siding with the African slaves. All the slaves who were questioned, creole and African, including both creole commandeurs, confirmed Andre’s story. It was a time of hunger. Fassouand Fauchonnette, a Senegalese (Wolof) negrese, testified that the negres bruts were only getting a pint of corn a day, which was not enough, and that they had gone three days without corn. When they asked their masters for corn, he beat them with fireplace tongs, demanding to know if it was Andre who told them to ask for their rations. Although they denied this, their master ran out into the fields to look for Andre.

Joseph Multare Creole quoted his master as saying to Andre, “Why did you let the negres bruts come ask for rations ahead of you, who are a creole negre?” You should have come before them, and not allowed these bruts to go ahead of you.”


Andre replied that they were all hungry.


Lacour shouted, “It is you, you rogue (caquin), who put the negres up to coming to ask for rations.


Andre replied, “We were all hungry, that’s why we all asked for corn. I was hungry just like the rest.”

The master shouted, “You are lying!” Then he hit Andre with his cane, breaking it. The master tried to take Andre’s pickax away from him, but Andre threw it out of the master’s reach, and ran away. Lacour grabbed Andre’s pickax, threw it after Andre, and missed him. The master then tried to take the pickax away from Fassou, but he would not let go. Then the master shouted, “I am going home to get my gun to blow out your brains, and if you are a man you will wait here for me.” Andre did not wait. He ran off to New Orleans and filed a complaint against his master for threatening his life. On August 1, 1792, the investigation, satisfied that there was sufficient proof of the threats made against Andre by his master, sent the case to Carondolet and to the superior tribunal for further action. Andre and other Lacour slaves, including their commandeur, were deeply involved in the 1795 conspiracy to abolish slavery at the post.

Both Andre of Colin Lacour and Antoine Sarrasin, the main leader of the 1975 conspiracy, were children of a network of women slaves who saved, fought, and litigated for their own freedom and that of their relatives. Therese Negresse Libre, Andre’s mother, had obtained her own freedom through litigation in 1780. In 1784, she was the sole heir of John Le Pire, a man born in Canada. He was not a rich man. He left her one old slave and little property. The relationship between them is unclear. She might have simply nursed him during his final illness. In 1785, she was a key witness in a case involving the theft of corn from a cornfield by a slave. The same year, she sued to force the master of her grandson, Angre Negre, son of her son, Andre Negre of Colin Lacour, to have him estimated so she could purchase and free him. She paid three hundred piastres for this two-year-old child.[39]

The black-Indian mixture of Pointe Coupee played a special role within the slave population, creating a “mulatto” slave population that was very independent-minded. The women spearheaded movements to free their relatives from slavery through legal action and purchase. While the cultural factors explaining the defiant stance of the black-Indian population are difficult to analyze, the social factors are clear. We have seen that mulattoes who had white fathers tended to be freed as children, either passing into the white population or becoming part of a separate grouping of free people of color called “free mulattoes” that emerged by 1803. Because of the shortage of women among the slaves brought from Africa, black-Indian mixtures had most likely descended from Indian mothers and black fathers, and their fathers were normally not in a position to free them. Some of the slaves listed as mulatto were black-Indian mixtures designated as such to avoid Spanish prohibition of the Indian slavery.

Since Indian slavery was prohibited under Spanish law, slaves who descended from Indian women were legally entitled to their freedom. When O’Reilly repossessed Louisiana for Spain in 1769 after Ulloa was expelled by the colonists, he found that there were Indian slaves in the colony. He published a decree on December 7, 1769, that proclaimed that no vassal of the king, nor even transients in the colony, could acquire, purchase, or appropriate an Indian slave. Those owning such slaves could not dispose of them in any manner except to free them. While awaiting further orders from the king, the commandantes of all the posts were to take a census of all Indian slaves, giving their name. sex, age, and ancestry, as well as their estimated price and the name of their owners.[40]

Although this order was sent to and published at all the posts, no such censuses have been found for lower Louisiana, nor is there any record of a decision made by the king. However, between 1790 and 1794, when Carondelet suspended such suits, there were at least thirteen lawsuits involving families of slaves descended from Indian women petitioning to be freed. Carondele suspended both such suits, there were at list thirteen lawsuits involving families of slaves descended from Indian women petitioning to be freed, Carondelet suspended such suits, there were at least thirteen lawsuits involving families of the slaves descended from Indian women petitioning to be freed, Carondelet claimed that freeing the descendents of female Indian slaves in Louisiana would “ruin a number of families who have no other slaves but them” and would cause “a complete reversal of the fortune of many inhabitants.” Carondelet supported the recommendation made by twenty spokeswomen for Louisiana a slave owners that slaves who could prove maternal descent from the Natchez would have the right to redeem themselves at their estimated price, while those descended from other nations who had been “saved by their masters from the violent death which their cruel enemies had in store for them” would be allowed to redeem themselves for 250 piastres, the price of a slave newly arrived from Africa (bozal). They would be freed a year after paying their purchase price, to give their masters time to replace them. The matter got lost in the bureaucratic maze of the Spanish Empire. No report of the O’Reilly order could be found in the files. On September 11, 1794, it was refereed to the Council of the Indies for prompt action in view of seriousness of the matter. On December 18, 1795, the council asked for further information about what measures the king of Spain had taken in response to O’Reilly’s order of 1769 about Indian slavery in Louisiana. No evidence of further action had been found. The statute of slaves establishing maternal descent from Indians ground slowly through legal process. The lawsuits demanding freedom for families have been other lawsuits that have not yet been found in these little explored documents. There were no doubt many slaves who were descendants of Indian women who did not know their descent, did not know they could sue for freedom, did not chose to do so because they feared reprisals, or did not feel confident that they would succeed, especially after such suits were suspended. Furthermore, descendants of black women and Indian men had no right to their freedom, even in theory. Many of the black-Indian slaves were in Pointe Coupee. Over half of the twenty-nine slaves owners who signed a petition protesting the freeing of slaves descending from Indian women were from Pointe Coupee.[41]

Cecilia India Libre and her family demonstrate the tireless energy and independent spirit of Afro-Indian creoles in Louisiana. Cecille, listed as a  negresse, was a slave on the was a slave in the estate of Leonard and Marguerite Bordelon. According to Marguerite Bordelon, they got along well with until Sieur Louis Patus, a white man from New Orleans, fell in love with Cecille and offered to force her masters to tell her to him so he could free her. Marguerite Bordelon believed they were lovers. Cecille was freedom 1780, but she refused to live with Patus. Patus tried to convince the Bordelons to destroy Cecille’s emancipation papers and then sell her to him. They refused, and Cecille was free of  Patus as well as her masters.[42]

Cecille learned her lesson well. She took the name Cecilia India Libre and made various petitions to the superior tribunal of New Orleans to free her entire family from slavery. She established that they were descendants of an Indian woman at the Pointe Coupee post and argues that Spanish law did not permit Indian slavery. Cecilia India Libre claimed that her sister, Maria Juana (Marie Jeanne), then a slave of Edmond of the Opelousas district, was the daughter of an Indian woman of the Patucas nation who had been a slave of Germain and then of Jean Decuir. Maria Juana had given birth to several children: Carlata (Charlotte), slave of Edmond; Melania (Melanie), who had two sons who were slaves of Francois Decuir of Pointe Coupee; Santiago (Jacques), who belonged to Don Santiago Ozenne of Point Coupee, Babet, whose own daughter also belonged to Ozenne; and Nanette, slave of Jean Baptiste Tournoir of Pointe Coupee. Marie Jeeanne and three of her children, Nanette, Babet, and Jacques, were indeed listed on the inventory of Jean Decuir in 1771. She was described as the griffe mother of there three mulattoe children, and was ill at the time of the inventory. Her daughter Nanette was twenty-two in 1779 and was the mother of two sons, aged five and two.[43]

Cecilia, represented by Felipe Guinault, subpoenaed a number of free black women from the district to testify in her behalf. Françoise Negresse Libre, Marianne Negresse Libre, and Therese Negresses Libre all testified under oath that they knew Marie Jeanne’s mother. Her name was Marie, and she was indeed a pure Patucas Indian. Marie was a slave of Germain, then Normand, and then Jean Decuir. They traced lineage of Marie’s descendants and indicated their owners, confirming all Cecilia’s allegations. Melaine had two children, and Nanette, slave of Tournoir, had three. Jacques Ozanne defended his rights over his slave Jacques (Santiago) and Jacques’ niece, the daughter Babet, deceased.[44]


SOURCES: Cecilia, free Indian woman, vs. Edmond, et al., October 17, 1793, in Notarial Acts of Francisco Broutin, 1790-1798, Vol. XXII, Doc. 2, File 49, fols. 21-81, OAOP; Dilifencias por Maria Juana, ija de una Inida, y de un negro, perteneciente a Don Manuel Minsamto, sobre pretender au Libertad, September 4, 1793, ibid., fol 303; Testimony of George Oliveau, Pointe Coupee, October 24, 1793, ibid., fol. 309; Testimony of Germillion, Pointe Coupee, October 24, 1793, ibid., fol. 309; Testimony of Mme. Guillaume Andre, signed by Marguerite Mayeax, and of Marie Francoise Negresse , Pointe Coupee, October 29, 1793, ibid., fol. 3111; DB Inventories.


In January 1795, Cecilia India Libre petitioned Carondelet, pointing out that he had issued an order that no Indian he mistreated by those who suppose themselves to be their master and that Tournoir had her niece Nanette and Nanette’s son flogged three times by his brother-in-law. Nanettes’ other son had also been mistreated, according to Cecilia’s petition. She asked, in the name of justice, that those who had mistreated her relatives to be punished in accordance with law and that her relatives be freed right away. Otherwise, they would be exposed daily to many atrocities, “even worse than those imposed upon blacks.” They would not, for example, be given any clothes. Hearings were held among Tournoir’s neighbors and his slaves. Simon Croisset said that he was often on Tournoir’s house and had never seen Nanette mistreated; that she was, not worse, but better dressed than the other slaves; that she and her son were the best dresses if the slaves. He denied that she had been flogged. Commandante Duparc testified that he had not seen Nanette being daily mistreated; but he said that the previouse summer, Madame Tournoir gave her two or three slaps in the face because she had not come to help the other slaves remove water from the house after a storm. He said that he had no knowledge of the flogging of Nanette or of her son by Jean Baptiste Decuir, Tournoir’s brother-in-law. He testified that he always saw her well dressed.[45]

Alexandre, commandeur of Tournoir’s slaves, testified that he had not seen Naneete being daily mistreated by Tournoir or Decuir. When asked if  Nanette and her son had been flogged three times, he replied that he had and been sick but had heard that her son Zari [Lazarie] had been flogged. Alexandre said he did not know the reason for the flogging. He affirmed that Nanette was well dressed, and her son was as well dresses as the other negres. Louison Negresse, the cook, denied that Nanette was flogged by Jean Baptiste Decuir and stated that she and her son were as well dresses as the other slaves. But she added that since she worked in the house, she did not know what went on in the field.[46]

Another Marie Jeanne, daughter of an Indian woman and a black man, appeared in court in September of 1793 claiming her freedom as a daughter of Therese, a pure Indian woman who had belonged to Jean Rondeau. She also claimed freedom for her two natural children held in slavery by Julien Poydras. One was Antoine Sarrasin, metis, and the other was Marie Griffe. A number of whites from Pointe Coupee testified in support of freedom for Marie Jeanne and her two children. George Olivo, aged fifty-seven, Louis Gremillion, aged eighty-three, Madame Guillaume Andre, and Marie Françoise Negesse all affirmed that Marie Jeanne was the daughter of Therese Sauvagesse pure, former slave of Jean Rondeau, and that Antone Sarrasin and Marie Griffe were her two “so called natural children.” Antoine Sarrasin was the main leader of the 1975 conspiracy. Sarrasin had been, according to Poydras, condemned to perpetual slavery under Governor Unzaga. Sarrasin had lost his suit against the estate of Deshote for his freedom on the grounds that his deceased master had promised to free him. Poydras added that Sarrasin and his sister were priceless to him because of the time and effort he had put into giving them “all the qualities one can demand from people in their situation.”[47]

These two lineages of Afro-Indian slaves were linked through Antoine Sarrasin and Nanette, niece of Cecilia India Libre. They had apparently been a couple for many years. Nanette’s oldest son, born around 1774, was named Antoine. After Sarrasin was arrested and held prisoner in the fort at Point Coupee, his mother, Marie Jeanne, described as slave of the Benjamin Monsanto estate, arrived at the post with a decree of the superior tribunal, probably freeing her, and left at night with Martin Boisseau, a white engage voyageur who was interrogated during the trial. Nanette, described as a quadroon slave of Tournoir, disappeared the same night, along with her three children. Commandante Duparc was convinced that Marie Jeanne had instigated her grandchildren and their mother’s flight. Nanette was finally freed from the estate of Jean Baptiste Turnoir after his death in 1798.Cecilia India Libre petitioned that Nanette either be freed gratuitously ad a descendant of Indians, or that she be estimated so she, Cecilia could purchase her and free her. Nanette was listed as Nanette Bordelon on the Tournoir inventory –a tribute, evidently, to Marguerite Bordelon for refusing to cooperate with Louis Patus, Cecilia’s white lover, in his efforts to reenslaved her. Nanette’s age was estimated at forty-eight. She was suffering from hernia Her estimated price was two hundred piastres. Cecilia India Libre paid six hundred Piastres for her.[48]

[1] Ernest R. Lilegren, “Jacobinism in Spanish Louisiana, 1792-1797,” LHQ, XXII (1939), 47-97.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Debt seizures calculated from OAPC; Goudeau contra Divers Habitans, April 6, 1790, Doc. 1712, in OAPC.

[4] Nicole Vanony-Frisch, Les esclaves de la Guadeloupe a la fin de l’ancien regime d’ apres les sources notariales (1770-1789), extrait, du Bulletin de la Societe d’ Histoire de la Guadeloupe Nos. 63-64 (1985), 151. For an interesting discussion of ancestral links between creole and African slaves as a factor in a slave conspiracy, see David Barry Gaspar, Bondmen, and Rebels: A Study of Master Slave Relations in Antigua with Implications for Colonial British America (Baltimore, 1985).

[5] Ulysses S. Ricard, Jr., “The Pointe Coupee Slave Conspiracy if 1791,” in Proceedings of the International Congress of the French Colonial Historical Society, ed. Philip Bourcher (in press, University Press of the Americas).

[6] Testimony of Antonio Decuir, July 9, 1791, fols. 1v-2v, in Mina, OAPC; Testimony of Cofi, Mina slave of Jacinto, July 12, 1791, fol. 51v. ibid.

[7] The Ado could have been people from Otta, or southwestern Yoruba (Philip D. Curtin, The Atlantic Slave Trade: A Census [Madison, Wis., 1969], 197).

[8] Pierre Verger, Flux et reflux de la traite des negres entre le Golfe de Benin et Bahia de Todos os Santos du 17ieme au 19ieme siecles (Paris, 1968), 7, 10: Antonio da Costa Peixoto, Obra nova de lingua geral de mina, ed. Luis Silveira (Lisbon, 1945); John Holm, conversation with the author.

[9] July 7, 1790, Doc. 1719, in OAPC; Testimony of Juan Luis, slave of Widow Provillar, July 12, 1791, fols. 42r, 42v, in Mina, OAPC; Testimony of Francisco Allain, January 19, 1793, fol. 552 (477), in Mina, AGI; Testimony of Venus, Ado slave of Olivo, July 9, 1791, fol. 9r, in Mina, OAPC, Testimony of Digue, Ado slave of Ternan, July 9, 1791, fol. 12v, in Mina, OAPC; Testimony of Venus, July 9, 1791, fols. 10r, 10v, in Mina, OAPC.

[10] Declaration sur les Negres tues au George Olivo, April 5, 1798, Doc. 1992, in OAPC; Recensement de la Pointe Coupee et Fausse Riviere, March 29, 1790, in Leg. 227A, Carpeta 21, Doc. 2, PC, AGI. Spanish censuses defined mature adults as aged fifteen to forty0nine. Antonio Acosto Rodriguez, La poblacion de la Luisiana espanola 91763-1803) (Madrid, 1979), 110, 313.

[11] Lettre de Liberte, January 20, 1801, Doc. 2096, in OAPC.

[12] Testimony of Venus, July 9, 171, fol. 8v, in Mina, OAPC; Testimony of Digue, July 9, 1791, fols. 13v, 14r, ibid. Testimony of  Digue, September 11, 1792, fol. 411 (366), and Testimony of Venus, September 11, 1792, fol. 409 (364), both in Mina, AGI; Testimony of Eustaquio Bedel, January 18, 1793, fols. 515-16 (470-71), Testimony of Juan Bautista Bara, December 17, 1792, fols. 484-86 (439-45), both in Mina, AGI.

[13] Declarations of Luis Estevan, Guillermo Reuron, Pedro Oliende, Joseph Porche, and Huber David, July 15, 1791, fols. 93r-103r, in Mina, OAPC; Testimony of Fernando Rodriguez, escribano real, September 20, 1792, fol. 417 (372), in Mina, AGI.

[14] Testimony of Thomas, Mina slave of the Widow Latendresse, July 12, 1791, fols. 71r, 71v, n Mina OAPC.

[15] Decree of July 21, 1791, fol. 103v, Original testimony sent the government sent to the governor general, August 1, 1791, fol. 105r, both ibid.; Maude Caroline Burson, The Stewardship of Don Esteban Miro (New Orleans, 1940), 122; Arson trial, July 5 to November 14, 1791, in SJR, LHC; Governor Miro to Captain General Luis de las Casas, July 2, 1791, in Leg. 2556, fol. 238, SD, AGI; Miro to Leblanc, July 23, 1791, on Leg. 2556, fols. 240-42, SD, AGI.

[16] April 19, 1792, in LHC, Doc. 2901, listed in Derek Noerl kerr, “Petty Felony, Slave Defiance and Frontier Vilainy: Crime and Criminal Justice in Spanish Louisiana, 1770-1803” (Ph.D. dissertation, Tulane University, 1983), 337; James T, McGowan, “Creation of a Slave Society: Louisiana Plantations in the Eighteenth Century” (Ph.D. dissertation, University of Rochester, 1976), 350-56; Francisco Dorville and Noel Carriere, Captains of the Black and Pardo Militia, to Carondelet, February 1, 1791, and Memorandum from Comandante General Carondelet, February 20, 1797, in Leg. 6919, fol. 24, GM, AS. For a detailed study of the militia, see Jack D.L. Holmes, Honor and Fidelity: The Louisiana Infantry Regiment and the Louisiana Militia Companies, 1766-1821 (Birmingham, Ala., 1965), especially the pages 54-59.

[17] Testimony of Valentin Leblanc, commandante of the Pointe Coupee post, March 30, 1792, fols. 399-403 (354-58), in Mina, AGI.

[18] Testimony of Fernando Rodriguez, September 20, 1792, fol. 415 9370), ibid.; Testimony of Isaac Fastiau, November 26, 1792, fols. 455-58 (410-13), and Testimony of Manuel Monsanto, December 20, 1792, fols. 421-22 (376-77), ibid.

[19] September 20, 1792, fols. 421022, (376-77) ibid.

[20] Interrogation of Jaco, slave of Santiago Fabre, September 22, 1792, fol. 423 (378), ibid,; Interrogation of Francisco, slave of Jorge Bergeron, September 22m 1792, fol. 429 (383) ibid.; Interrogation of Cofi of Juan Paul, September 22, 1792, fol. 430 (385), ibid.; Interrogation of Joseph of J.B. Tournoir, September 22, 1792, fol. 432 (387), ibid.; Interrogation of Jaco of Widow Lablond, September 25, 1792, fol. 437 (392), ibid.; Interrogation of Thomas of the Widow Latendresse, September 25, 1792, fol. 438 (393), ibid,; Interrogation of Joseph of Pequeno Jorge, September 25, 1792, fol. 440 (395), ibid.; Interrogation of Cuyo of Francisco Porche, September 25, 1792, fol. 442 (327), ibid.; Confrontation between Fernando Rodriguez and Jaco, slave of Fabre, September 22, 1792, fol. 426 (381), ibid.

[21] Testimony of Juan Baustista Bara, December 17, 1792, fols. 484-86 (439-45), ibid. Testimony of Gabriel Rufat, May 22m 1792, fols. 403-406 (358-61), ibid. Petition of Rufat, July 9, 1793, and Order of Release, July 12, 1793, fols. 539-40 (494-495, ibid.

[22] Testimony of Jorge Bergeron, December 9, 1792, fols. 481-83 (436-38), ibid.

[23] Testimony of Julien Poydras, November 26, 1792, fols. 459-60 (414-15), ibid.

[24] Ibid., Testimony of Simon Croisset, December 9, 1792, fols. 475-79 (430-34), ibid, Testimony of Juan Bautista Bara, December 17, 1792, fols. 484-86 (439-45), ibid. Testimony of Luis Guillo alias Lajeunesse, December 17, 1792 fol. 487 (442), ibid.; Testimony of Eustaquio Bedel, January 18, 1793, fol. 514-518 (469-473), ibid.; Testimony of Joseph Decuir, January 21, 1793 fols. 526-29 (481-84), ibid. Testimony of Domingo Seizan, April 6, 1793, fols. 536-37 (491-92), ibid.

[25] See, for example, Testimony of Diego Ortiz, December 22, 1792 fols. 502-503 (457-58, ibid.

[26] Testimony of Augustin Allain, captain of militia, December 17, 1792, fols. 488-92 (443-47), ibid.


[27] Confrontation between Augustin Allain and Cofi, slave of Jacinto Chistes, December 22, 1792, fols. 506-509 (461-464), ibid.

[28] Confrontation between Augustin Allain and Juan Luis, slave of Widow Provialr, and between Augustin Allain and Jaco, December 24, 1792, fols. 509-12 (464-67), ibid.

[29] Testimony of Francisco [Francois] Allain, January 19, 1793, fols. 518-24 (473-19), ibid.

[30] Ibid. Testimony of Francisco Mina, slave of Jorge Bergeron, July 11, 1791, fols. 37v, 38r, in Mina OAPC.

[31] Testimony of Francisco (Francois) Allain, January 19, 1793, fols. 518-24, Mina, AGI.


[32] Valentin Leblanc to Governor Esteban Miro, July 11, 1791, in Leg. 6928, fols. 240-42, GM, AS; Testimony of Diego Ortiz, December 5, 1792, fol. 470 (425), in Mina, AGI.

[33] Confrontation of Diego Ortiz with Jacob, Cofi, Jaco, and Juan Luis, December 5, 1792, fols. 469-72 (424-27), in Mina, AGI; Testimony of Diego Ortiz, December 22, 1792, fol. 502 (457), ibid,; Testimony of Francisco (Francois) Allain, January 19. 1793, fols. 518-24 (473-79), ibid.

[34] Province of Louisiana vs. Cofi [sic]. June 16, 1795, in Notarial Acts of Francisco Broutin, 1790-98, Vol. XXXVI, Doc. 21, pp. 944-84, OAOP.

[35] February 25, 26, and April 8, 1794, fols. 541-43 (496-98), in Mina, AGI. Petition of Amiable Couvilllon, Jacques Fabre, Bathelemy Olonde, owners of Cesar, Jaco, and Juan Luis, April 9, 1794, Order to Release Prisoners, June 6, 1794, fols. 544-46 (499-501), all ibid.

[36] Recensement de la Pointe Coupee et Fausse Riviere, March 29, 1790, 227A, Carpeta 21, Doc. 2, PC, AGI; Kerr, “Petty Felony, Slave Defiance and Frontier Villainy,” 192-221.

[37] Recensement de la Pointe Coupee et Fausse Riviere, March 29, 1790, 227A, Carpeta 21, Doc. 2, PC, AGI; Inventory of Estate of Colin Lacour, May 25, 1797, Doc. 1941, in OAPC.

[38] Informaton and quotations in the account regarding Andre and Lacour are taken from the Proces entre Colin Lacour et Son Negre Andre, July 5, 1792, and Testimony of Joseph Mulatr Creole, Marie Barbe, Magdelaine, Francoise and Pierre, slave of Colin Lacour, July 29, 1791, all Doc. 1760, in OAPC.

[39] Emancipation document, March 14, 1780, in Leg. 206, fol. 62, PC, AGI; October 1, 1784, Doc. 1371, in OAPC; Proces entre Joseph Bourgeat et Colin Lacour au sujet du negre nomme Paul, October 7, 1785, Doc. 1445, in OAPC; Lettre de Liberte, October 6, 1785, Doc. 1459, in OAPC.

[40] A copy of the O’ Reilly order of December 7, 1769, concerning Indian slaves can be found in Leg. 2563, fol. 967, SD, AGI.

[41] Stephen Webre, “The Problem of Indian slavery in Spanish Louisiana, 1769-1803.” LH, XXV (1984), 125-26; February 2, 1794, in Leg. 2563, fols. 964-66, SD, AGI; Governon Carondelet to Eugenio Llaguno de Amirola, May 17, 1794, in Leg. 2563, fols. 964-66, SD, AGI; Francisco Cerda to Llaguno, December 18, 1795, Leg. 2532, fols. 616-17, SD, AGI; Petition dated February 28, 1794, in Leg. 2563, fols. 968-69. SD, AGI.

[42] List of emancipation papers beginning August 14, 1780 in Leg. 206, fol. 65, PC, AGI; Interview with Antoine Bordelon and Marguerite Bordelon, his wife, July 17, 1792, Doc. 1194, in OAPC.

[43] February 18, 1771, Doc. 393, in OAPC; February 17, 1778, Doc. 908, ibid.; March 2, 1778, Doc. 912, ibid.; May 16, 1778, Doc. 919, ibid.; October 12, 1779, Doc. 1014, ibid. The first discussion of Cecilia India Libre was in McGowan, “Creation of a Slave Society,” 343.

[44] Cecilia, free Indian woman, vs. Edmond, et al., Testimony of December 16, 1793, in Notarial Acts of Francisco Broutin, 1790-1798, Vol. XXII, Doc. 2, File 49, fols. 27-31, OAOP; At Post of Attakapas, March 16, 1794, fol. 50, ibid.

[45] New Orleans, January 18, 1795, fols. 65-66, ibid,; Pointe Coupee, March 27, 1975, fols. 69-70, ibid.

[46] Pointe Coupee, March 28, 1795, fols. 71,72, ibid.

[47] Diligencia pacticadas por Maria Juana, hija de una India, y de un Negro, perteneciente a Don Manuel Monsanto, sobre pretender su Libertad, September 4, 1793, in Notorial Acts of Francisco Broutin, 1790-1798, Vol. XXII, fol. 303, OAOP; Testimony of George Oliveau [Olivio], Pointe Coupee, October 24, 1793, ibid., fol. 309; Testimony of [Louis] Gremillion, Pointe Coupee, October 25, 1793, ibid., fol. 310; Testimony of Mme. Guillaume Andre, signed by Marguerite Mayeaux, and of Marie Francoise Negresse, Pointe Coupee, October 29, 1793, ibid., fol. 311; March 7, 1774, in SJR, LHC, cited in Webre, “Indian Slavery,” 128; Letter of Julien Poydras, in Diligencias practicadas por Maria Juan….. New Orleans, December 23, 1793, in Notarial Acts of Francisco Broutin, 1790-1798, Vol. XXII, fols. 324-28, OAOP.

[48]October 12, 1779, Doc. 1014, OAPC; Commandante Duparc to Carondelet, Pointe Coupee, March 24, 1795, in Leg. 31, Carpeta 23, Doc. 88 fol. 817. PC, AGI; June 25, 1798, Doc. 2002, in OAPC.