The 1795 Conspiracy in Pointe Coupee

In April, 1975, a number of enslaved were arrested at Pointe Coupee for plotting to rise up and kill their asters in order to abolish slavery. The conspiracy was organized from the estate of Julien Poydras. The plan was to set fire to a building on the Poydras estate, and when masters from neighboring estates rushed to put out the fire, they would be slaughtered. The slaves would then take arms and ammunition from Poydras’ store and wipe out the remaining masters, as well as the Creole slaves who refused to become involved in the plot. Although Poydras’ slaves were the most numerous among the accused, slaves throughout Pointe Coupee and False River and several local whites were also involved. The plot had ramifications throughout lower Louisiana: to Natchitoches, Opelausas, the German Coast, and New Orleans. There were military as well as ideological links with international Jacobinism.

The trial began at Pointe Coupee on May 4, 1795. Fifty-seven slaves and three local whites were convicted. By June 2, twenty-three slaves were hung, their heads cut off and nailed on the posts at several places along the Mississippi River from New Orleans to Pointe Coupee. Thirty-one slaves were sentences to floggings and to hard labor in Spanish fortresses in Mexico, Florida, Puerto Rico, and Cuba. All three whites were deported, and two of them were sentences to six years of forced labor in Havana.[1]

Historical myths about the Pointe Coupee Conspiracy of 1795 were deeply implanted into the consciousness of white Louisians. They became the cornerstone of ideology justifying racist violence and oppression of Afro-Louisianans and of whites who opposed slavery and racism. White schoolchildren were taught that this conspiracy proved that Afro-Louisianans were only awaiting an opportunity to rise up and massacre all whites, except for the young, white women who were to serve them as love slaves; that it was only fear instilled by racist terror that ensure the survival of the white race and protected white womanhood from a fate worse then death. Nineteenth-century white Creole historian, Charles Gayarre explained the involvement of whites in this conspiracy against slavery as a manipulation of the ignorant, naïve slaves who would have been incapable of rising up against slavery on their own. This historical myth functioned well in controlling Louisiana’s defiant, multiracial. Multinational underclass, as well as its people of African descent. It pinpointed whites who opposed slavery and racism as the greatest danger  to the survival of the white race, mobilizing the violent  of the frontier against Louisiana’s long, deep tradition of racial openness.[2] It was used to enlist white Louisianans, regardless of class, to defend a racist system that was against the interests of a vast majority of the population. The basest instincts among whites, especially men, were manipulated. Louisiana’s deeply rooted universalist tradition was brutally repressed. This historical myth continues well into the twentieth century. It was taught to this writer in private schools in New Orleans during the early 1940s.

What is the truth about this conspiracy? It was a complex movement, the causes of which cannot be reduced to any one factor. It is not an isolated movement that simply sought to take advantage of control mechanisms weakened by warfare resulting from the French Revolution. There were economic, ideological, and military reasons why this particular conspiracy developed at this particular time and place. It was not a movement of blacks against whites. It was part of a multiracial abolitionist movement supported by a large segment, the dispossessed of all races in Louisiana and throughout the Caribbean: a manifestation of the most radical phases of the French Revolution which had spilled over from Europe to the Americas.

By 1790s, Louisiana still resembled Anne Perotin-Dumore’s model of the “open islands” like Guadeloupe and Puerto Rico. The colonies were economically marginal to the metropolis. St. Domingo and Martinique in the French empire and Cuba in the Spanish empire were geared toward the production and export of staple crops. They imported directly from the metropolis and sent the inferior leftovers to the marginal colonies at greatly marked-up prices. The marginal colonies remained faithful to the earliest stages of colonization, when the sea was an open road, and when coastwise trade, smuggling and piracy were the most vital economic activities. The marginal colonies incubated a bold, egalitarian, cosmopolitan, mobile, seafaring population that moves easily from legitimate trade to smuggling, piracy, and, during periods of open warfare, private ring. A large, tough breed of French privateers functioned as a counterweight to British naval supremacy during the prolonged naval warfare that began with the American and French revolutions and ended with the Napoleonic Wars. Sailing under the flag of the French Revolution[3] There were economic, ideological, and military reasons why this particular conspiracy developed  at this particular time and place. It was a part multiracial abolitionist movement supported by a large segment of the dispossess of all races in Louisiana and throughout the Caribbean: a manifestation of the French Revolution, which had spooled over from Europe to the Americas.

By 1790s, Louisiana still resembled Anne-Pertim Dunmore’s model of the “open islands” like Guadeloupe and Puerto Rico. The colonies were economically marginal to the metropolis. St. Domingie and Martingue in the French empire and Cuba in the Spanish empire were geared toward the production and export of staple crops, They imported directly from the metropolis and sent the inferior leftovers to the marginal colonies at greatly marked-up prices. The marginal colonies remained faithful to the earliest stages of colonization when the sea was the open road, and when coastwise trade, smuggling, and piracy were the most vital economic activities. The marginal colonies incubated a bold, egalitarian, cosmopolitan, mobile and seafaring population that moved easily from legitimate trade to smuggling, piracy, and, during periods of open warfare, private ring.[4] A large, tough breed if French privateers functioned as a counterweight to British naval supremacy during the prolonged naval warfare that began with the American and French revolutions and ended with the Napoleonic Wars. Sailing under the flag of the French Revolution and then of the French empire, the privateers financed themselves through legitimized piracy. Operating from Charleston and from Guadeloupe during the French Revolution, they dispersed when Britain conquered Guadeloupe in 1810. The privateers reemerged as the insurgent corsairs, playing a major role in the maritime dimensions of the Latin American independence wars, which began in 1810.[5] Some of these privateers, under the leadership of Jean Lafitte, cane to Louisiana. They settled at Barataria, the last refuge of the remnants of St. Malo’s maroons.

The 1795 conspiracy in Pointe Coupee took place during the most radical phase of the French Revolution, when France and Spain were at war, and when the lower classes throughout Europe and the Americas had risen up in and international movement against social tyranny. The slogan Liberte, Egalite, Fraternite was legally extended to the free people of African descent in the French Caribbean by the law of April 4, 1972, that gave them full civil and political rights. In January 1973, King Louis XVI was executed, and in February and March of the same year, France declared war against the crowned heads of Europe in Britain, Holland, and Spain. On February 4, 1794 (16 pluviose), the French National Convention abolished slavery in all French colonies, “decreeing that all men, without distinction of color living in the colonies are French citizens enjoying all rights assured by the Constitution.” This decree was published in English and in French and was widely distributed throughout the Caribbean.[6] As the French Revolution became widely radicalized, the French slave owners became royalists. Losing their enthusiasm for France, as well as the French Revolution, they went into exile in the British and Spanish islands. Slave owners sided with Britain when it invaded St. Domingue.

The cause of France and the French Revolution was left in the capable hands of soldiers stationed in the colonies and of port workers and seafarers: an internationalist, multiracial population that spread the latest news about the revolution throughout the ports of the Americas. Some merchants, local officials, clergy, shopkeepers, and small planters were also involved. Many of these white Jacobins had recently arrived from France and were still culturally very attached to the motherland. In July 1794, Commissioner Victor Hughes arrived in Guadeloupe and retook the island from the royalists. Between January and June, 1795, he occupied the Dutch islands of St. Martin and St. Eustache, conquered St. Lucia from the British, and launched campaigns against St. Vincent and Grenada. Hughes’s success was due to a great extent to his informing slaves throughout the Caribbean that France had had abolished slavery in all its colonies. Slave revolts mushroomed throughout the Caribbean during 1795. In 1796, after the most radical phase of the French Revolution ended, Hughes was kept in power under the new title of agent of the directorate.[7]

The French Revolution became Americanized in its purest and most dramatic form in St. Dominigue, where the free people of African descent rose up for equality, and in August, 1791, the slaves revolted en masse. After many years if civil and international war, slavery was definitely abolished and Haiti established herself as the second independent nation in the Americas.[8] When the large slave owners and merchants abandoned France as well as the French Revolution, the white Jacobins in the Americas were mainly the dispossessed: merchant seaman, dock workers, voyagers, indentured servants, and soldiers. There were eager to ally themselves with slaves and free people of African descent, supporting full equality for peoples of all races and the abolition of slavery by any means necessary.

This internationalist, revolutionary effervescence among the lower classes led by seafarers, the gens de mer, Washed up on the shores of Louisiana, radiating to New Orleans and along her major waterways. Louisiana was “blanketed with partisans of the revolution who came in many guises and colors. They appeared in the smallest outposts, among the clergy, in all the city’s tavern, and among the immigrant merchant community. They were French, Saint-Domingan, and locally bred. They were white, brown, and black. Their precise contact with and influence among the slaves, though unknown was a source of numerous nightmares.[9]

The ideology of the Rights of Man reverberated throughout lower Louisiana. France had abolished slavery in all its colonies in a little over a year before the conspirators were arrested. The Pointe Coupee conspiracy was widely supported by lower-class whites in Louisiana. It was directed, not against whites, but against slavery.

The Spanish authorities were concerned that the free people of African descent and the slaves of Louisiana and the Hispanic Caribbean populations would follow the Haitian example. They tried to quarantine the revolutionary contagion coming from France and from St. Dominque. Their fear if the international ramifications of the egalitarian ideology of the French Revolution is well illustrated by their response to the Louisiana mulatto Beaure, who arrived in late 1791 at Balize at the mouth of the Mississippi River aboard a ship coming from Boudreaux. Beaure had lived in France since childhood and was returning to Louisiana, his native and, where his mother and siblings still resided. According to the captain and the passengers aboard the ship, Beaure was well informed and talkative, discussing the “operations of the National Assembly, the Rights of Man, and the class active citizen, The commander at Balize sent Governor Miro a document, in Beaure’s handwriting, entitled “Plan for a Society among Mulattoes and Mulatress.”

The society was to hold a ball every week at which each man would “take care of his companera in terms which would indicate disorder of customs,” Miro, citing royal orders calling for great care in dealing with affairs of France and prohibiting the introduction of any free black or mulatto from the French colonies into Louisiana, arrested Beaure and seized his passports. The governor argues that though Beaure was born in Louisiana, he could be considered a foreigner because he had been an expatriated since childhood. On June 1, 1792, Carondelet, the new governor, agreed to Beaure’s request to be sent to Havana in order to go elsewhere from there. But municipal officials in Havana refused to allow him to reside in Cuba and put him in jail, telling him he could embark on any foreign colony he chose. He chose to go to Guarico (St. Doningue), but he was not allowed to land there and was returned to Havana. The Cuban governor feared that Beaure, expelled from his native land, could become another Oge, the free mulatto whom he considered the principal instigator of the slave revolution that was destroying St. Domingue. Beaure was kept in prison until he was embarked for Cadiz. The governor of Cadiz found that the governor of Louisiana did not have grounds to deprive Beaure of this right to return to his native land “to live with his Mother, brothers, and sisters.” This law applied to free blacks and mulattoes of the French colonies, not to natives of Louisiana. But it was inconvenient for him to return to his native land under prevailing circumstances, he should reside temporarily in Spain. On December 24, 1794, Beaure was sent to Cordoba, where he worked as a hairdresser. He was threatened with forces labor and other punishments if he did not modify his “conduct, conversations, and obscene ideas.”[10]

The Pointe Coupee slaves were well informed about the war between France and Spain, the French Conventions; abolition of slavery in all French colonies, and the revolutionary advances throughout the world. While there were local reasons for discontent, including deprivations suffered as a result of economic collapse, the main reason the slaves acted is that they had realistic hopes for freedom when France took over Louisiana. The trial summary indicates that they conspiracy was inspired by the Haitian Revolution and that whites, as well as slaves, were deeply involved: “It is evident that these slaves proposed to put their depraved subversions into execution under the barbarous tyranny of those Guarico, and no one can doubt…from the malicious conversations and false news spread that there were various whites as well as blacks who instigated and animated the scheme to attract supporters to this frightful enterprise which if successful would have spread throughout the Province.”[11]

It is clear from the extensive testimony of slaves involved in the 1795 conspiracy that the ideology of the Rights of Man, given new impetus by the French Revolution and its impact throughout the world, and the slave revolt in Haiti were well known among slaves in Pointe Coupee. Joseph Bouyavel, a Waloon teacher from St. Omer en Artoil who lived on the Gourdeau estate, read paragraphs to the negres of the district about the revolution in France, at Le Cap (in St. Domingue), and partout (everywhere). A copy of the book Theorie de l’impot, containing the Declaration of the Right of Man advocation freedom for slaves, was found in his possession. Bouyavel admitted that the book belonged to him and that he knew its contents. Bouyavel had been telling the slaves that slavery would soon be abolished, but the slaves did not take him to seriously because he was drunk. One slave testified that his master’s schoolteacher Bouyavel “came into my cabin one night a little drunk (un peu souil). And told me in the presence of my wife that all the slaves were free in the Capital and that undoubtedly they would soon be free here. I told the mulattoe Francois what he said without positively believing it.” Several Goudeau slaves tried to protect Bouyavel. Petit Pierre testified that Bouyavel had told them that all the slaves in the capital were free, but he also told them “to be patient because slavery would not last very long. Bouyavel also said that the whites wanted us to be free, This is what he told us when he was in his right mind [dans son bon sense].[12]

A meeting had taken place in Antoine Sarrasin’s cabin. Slaves from several estates were present, as well as three Louisiana whites who were engages from New Orleans and the tailor George Rockenbourg, a local white who described himself as a German born Philadelphia. One engage was quoted as saying: “ ‘Why make petitions? There are letter asking if it would not be better for you to do like the negres du Cap.’ And at the moment , Noel Capitaine [a Fulbe Poydras slave] began to jump with joy. I saw Rockenbourg writing a petition. Noel took it, saying he would bring it to town when he went with his master, and if that failed they would kill all the whites. [13]

Jean Baptiste, slave of Widow Lacour, testified that Rockebbourg had told him and other negres several times that the negres of the post were all free but that the comandante did not want to give them their freedom, and if they wished, he would make a petition to send to the government. Timothy testified that Rockenbourg made a petition to send to town. Cecille, slave of Tournoir, was to bring it to their captain, Antonio Cofi Mina, the black militiaman who interpreted for the Mina slaves during their trial in New Orleans.[14]

Both Bouyavel and Rockenbourg denied the charges that they gave false news of liberty to encourage the negres to revolt. Several Lacou slaves defended Rockenbourg, testifying that they never heard him speak of freedom or offer to make a petition.[15]

Another slave testified that some Indians had been taunting the negres, saying that they were cowards because one hundred negres let themselves be ruled by a single white, to which Jean Baptiste, Poydras commander and one of the principal leaders of the conspiracy replied, “You see that this man is right, because we could do the same here as at Le Cap.”[16]

Reports that the slaves had already been freed came from all directions. Free colored and whites came upriver from New Orleans and informed slaves of Pointe Coupee that the king had freed all the slaves but the masters and the comandante of the post were not telling them. Antoine, commandeur of Widow Lacour, was told by the negres of his atelier that that some voyagers coming up the river from New Orleans said that if the French won the war they would all soon be free. Sarrasin testified that two or three months earlier, two free mulattoes passed by in a boat heading for Natchez and told them that all the slaves had been freed by the king.[17] Jeanne and Louison, two women slaves of Widow Lacour, were planting corn when they were approached by four whites who were coming from New Orleans in a pirogue. They were led by a heavy-set, five-foot-tall, brown-faced man named Charles. Jeanne thought he was “Spanish by the way he spoke French.” He asked her what she was doing, and she replied that she was sowing corn. He said that was useless, because as soon as peace was published, they would all be free. A Poydras slave testified that Jean Baptiste, their commandeur, would not allow them to plant corn, and no corn was planted on the Poydras estate. The Poydras slaves had not planted corn, though the season was far advances, because they no longer wished to serve masters. A Poydras slave asked a Goudeau slave why they still planted corn; Pointe Coupee slaves who had been sent to pick up merchandise in New Orleans reportedly confirmed that the slaves were already free in the capital.[18]

The Pointe Coupee slaves became convinced that their masters were trying to force them to sign a petition renouncing their freedom. Jean Baptiste, commadeur of the Poydas estate, testified that about three months before the trial, he had met a negre who was a Creole of Curacao on his way to the cipriere of his master, Segu. The Curacao slave told Jean Baptiste

That they are awaiting at the Capital an Order of the King which declares all slaves free, and to prove that this was true, he pointed out that Sieur Le Blanc and Sieur de Verbois wanted to sell all their slaves. Antoine Sarrasin, the other Poydras commandeaur, told me that when this order of freedom had arrived, the comandante was at Avoyelles  and they were awaiting his return to see if he would carry out. A little later M. Duffief [administrator of the Poydras estate] had begged the commandante not to publish the order of freedom. Duffief made a petition for slaves to sign [renouncing their freedom] without telling them what the petition said, and if all this was true, they mist oppose it and kill the whites. I as well as the negres of my master and of other masters were convinced.[19]

Louis Bordelon, Poydras slave, was quoted as saying, “The King had given us our freedom, but the masters made a petition to prevent it, making the negres sign renouncing their freedom and saying that they wanted to end their days with their masters.[20]

The slaves’ suspicions were reinforced by a trick played on them to force them to work. On Plam Sunday, Marie Neyou Griffe who was “in communication with” Sieur Duffief, began to swear at the negres for refusing to plant corn, saying that she would send for the petition that Duffief had made for them to sign and that “when all the negres will be free, you will never be free here.” After this speech, all the negres on the estate were convinced that if Buffief tried to force them to sign, they would massacre the whites rather then obey. [21]

Although the slaves of Pointe Coupee were bombarded with rumors coming from several directions that all the slaves of Lousiana have been freed by order of the king, but that the planters  of Pointe Coupee were suppressing the order and pressuring the governor not to publish or enforce it, they maintained a reasonable amount of skepticism about this news. Stanislao Anis, Bara commandeaur, testified that he told his slaves to await his return from the capital to see of the stories they heard about being free were true. He was asked, “Wait for what?” He replied, “The Negres would go off to become maroons in case their liberty was refused, and that is why I told them to await my return.”[22]

The conspiracy had been planned several months in advance. It was clearly well organized and remained a secret for a surprisingly long time, especially considering how openly and confidently the conspirators acted. The masters, no doubt aware of unrest among the slaves, were powerless to control them. Sarrasin was clearly the major leader of the conspiracy. When the slaves involved in the conspiracy were about to be hanged, all the condemned reproached Sarrasin. Although Sarrasin claimed that Jean Baptiste, the other Poydras commandeur, was the only leader, Jean Baptiste more accurately attributed the leading role to Sarrasin. Jean Baptiste pointed out that it was Sarrasin who gave the order to assemble at the bridge of New Roads and who traveled around to all the slaves quarters solving the problems that came up. Several slaves testified that Sarrasin was the main leader and that he traveled widely. Lambert, mulatto slave of Bourgeat, testified that Sarrassin approached him about becoming involved in the plot, asking him if he was man. He replied, “Why do you ask?” Sarrasin said. “We will find out at the fort when you are made to sign.” Lambert replied. “I do not know how to sign, but my little master will sigh for me.” Sarrasin then threatened to have his throat cut, saying, “Don’t you know we are free?” Lambert replied, “do you believe that the French who have worked for so long to buy us would give us our freedom without any conflict?” Sarrasin replied, “I do not want to say any more, there will be time to tell you the rest.”[23]

Lambert also testified that Sarrasin got on his horse tow or three nights between nice and ten o’clock and traveled to the upper coast. Charles, a Poydras slave, believed that all the other negres north of Pointe Coupee were also involved because Sarrasin “had gone up there to inform them.” Jean Baptiste, the other Pordras commandeur, testified, “Sarrasin told me that the negres of Natches as well as all the negres down the rover only awaited the moment that the negres of the post rose up to revolt themselves.” The slave owners, as well as the slaves, of Natchez were largely English-speaking, and there were many English-speaking slaves in Opelousas as well. The Farar estate, by fat the largest at the post, was English-speaking and there were many English-speaking. Spme slaves testified that all the negres of Pointe Coupee, including all Farar slaves, were involved in the plot. One Poydas slave was Jamaican and a Protestant. But the major link with the English-speaking slaves was no doubt Capitain, a sixty-year-old Mande slave of Farar. He needed an English interpreter during his interrogation. One slave testified that Captain’s real name was Antoine Bambara dit Capitain, but he identified his nation as Mandinga when he was sentenced. He was able to communicate was the Mande slaves on various estates, as well as with the English-speaking slaves. Captain was sentenced to five years at hard labor in Havana. He and three other Pointe Coupee slaves survived the sentence.[24]

The Spanish officials believed that the Pointe Coupee Conspiracy had wide ramifications among the slaves in the colony. Carondelet wrote, “All appearances indicate that all slaves from Pointe Coupee to the capital, which is a distance of more then 50 leagues, had knowledge of that was going on there.”[25] There was coordination with the Opelousas post, where a slave revolt had taken lace in February 1795.[26] An English settler wrote to the commandante that in late April seven negres had visited his slave cabins after the family had gone to bed an had informed his slaves that they were “only three days from Pointe Coupee where the slaves were all in arms against the whites, and they had been assigned to make leas, and if possible to drive the whites out of the country. Then all would be their own masters and they should be fee. They asked if there was any ammunitions in the house, and particularly where it was kept, and what number of fuses I had.” The slaves from Pointe Coupee said that they were well supplied with fuses but needed powder and balls. Before they left, they promised to return soon to see their new acquaintances. A thirteen-year-old slave boy informed his master about his visit and the conversation.[27]

Bringier, and influential merchant-planted from the German Coast, reported that the night of April 22, 1795[28], he heard a wild cry answered by another wild cry from the opposite bank of the Mississippi River. Hiding behind a hedge in the levee, he listened in on a conversation between two negres, hearing some alarming phrases about arms. Another negre arrived in a poirogue from the opposite bank, reporting that all was well, they were all one, and they discussed the availability of arms and ammunition.28

The conflict with the slave owners intensified during Holy Week. The night before Easter, Sarrasin returned from the estate of the merchant Tournoir, reporting that they had flogged several negres and that the whites had agreed that if they found only two negres together who were not of the same estate, they would be flogged. The conspirators organized show of force at the entrance to the church on Easter Sunday. They agreed to assemble there in groups of ten, fifteen, twenty, and thirty, daring whites to flog them. If the whites flogged them, they planned to kill all the whites to get even with them for trying to deprive them of the freedom the king granted them.29

Slaves were vigorously, widely, and openly recruited for this assembly at the church on Easter Sunday. More then self-confident, they were intoxicated. Jean Baptiste, Poydras commandeur, said of a slave who denied that he was involved, “He was not only involved in the plot, but he even said that if he had seven balls in his body, that would bot be enough to make him surrender. He tried to recruit several others.” One slave testified that when he was told they would kill Duffief when he was on the road on his way to town, he said that he saw many difficulties. They replied that if would be a small matter; that it would take only a moment to destroy all the whites; and that they expected the negre Stanislao Anis from the capital with other negres of Dame Bara “who were all gens gaillards.”30

Luca, a Goudeau slave, testified, “The negre Guillaume of Madame Le Doux entered my cabin, and told me, in the presence of Francois and Louis, that he was coming from the upper coast from the slave quarters of Dame Lacour on business. Louis asked him, ‘What business?’ to which he replied, ‘I have my knife, my ax, and a lance, and that will be enough.’” Another Goudeau slave testified “He was all worked up, holding a dagger in one hand and s stink in the other, and he told us he had a lance and 46 arms in his cabin, and he would surely ‘find the way to make a path among the whites.’” (“troveroit bien le moyen de es faire chemin parmi les blancs”). The Goudeau slaves claimed that when they refused to join, Guillaume said they were nothing but women, adding, “We do not need you. The slaves or Poydras, Lacour, and Bara are brave enough to destroy all the whites and the slaves who do not wish to join us.”31

Frederick Riche testified that while listening outside a Poydras slave cabin, he heard Guillaume say that they knew very well not all of them could have guns, but that there were knives; that a good stick would do, and he hoped that thunder would crush him if he was afraid. Guillaume, who described himself as a creole of the post, was asked before being sentences why he lent himself to the crime of revolution to kill the whites, knowing that he deserved to be hanged. He replied, “Because I was not afraid.”32

Evidently, the masters did not accept the slaves’ challenge on Easter Sunday. Petit Pierre, slave of Goudeau, testified that the revolt did not occur on Easter because “our leaders said that we should first allow the voyage of Sieur Duffief  to take place. Brise Feu told me this, saying that their leaders had decided to suspend the affair until the return of Noel, Cossi, Charles Negre, and the Baptiste Mulatre, all Poydras slaves who were to bring provisions and munitions from the city.33

After the show of force at the church on Easter Sunday, Sarrasin called a meeting behind the Vigne estate a the bridge of New Roads at False River to decide when the revolt should begin. On April 9. before the meeting could take place, Charles Duflour and Martin Bourgeat informed Alejandro de Blanc, militia officer of Pointe Coupee, about the plot. Douflour testified:

I learned from one of my negres named Pierre that Jean Baptiste, slave of dame Lcaour, had come between seven and eight o’clock at night and called him to the road, telling him that they were free but the whites did not want to five them their freedom, and they must take it. Pierre asked him how, and he replied that they must kill all the whites. Pierre told him in the presence of Charlot Negre, xlave of Sieur Riche, who had come along and entered into the conversation, “I do not want this kind of freedom. You can keep it for yourself. My father and mother were born slaves and so was I. I do not pretend to be free in this way. Since I have no money with which to buyr freedom, I do not want this kind of freedom. Besides, it is not possible that the whites would give freedom to all the slaves.”

Jean Baptiste left, and Charlot Negre, slave of Sieur Riche, advised Pierre, “GO ahead to your cabin, my son, the words of this Negre are not good at all.”

Duflour went to Riche’s to check Pierre’s story with Charlot. Charlot confirmed the story word for word. That evening, about ten or eleven o’ clock, Riche left his house to look around, He heard a negre say to his companion, “We are free, but the settles do not want to give us our freedom, We must wipe them all out. We have enough axes and sticks to kill them. We missed once, but do not think this coup will miss, because it is led by des gens gaillards.34

Madeleine and Francoise, two Tunica women who loved on the Riche estate, informed Riche about the slave conspiracy the same day. Whey had first heard about it in the cipriere of Widow Lacour. There some slaves had told them that they had sent Philip Mancot, slave of David Lacour, to the capital to find out if it was true that the commandante had received a letter from the government giving the slaves their freedom, But since Mancot had not returned, the slaves had “decided to take their freedom by destroying the whites, kill them, and seize the arms in the Poydras storehouse where the powder, balls, and rifles were kept.” Even though the whites did not want to give them their freedom, “they were going to take it themselves, destroying all the whites, including the old women and the children, keeping only the young women and girls to make use of.” L’Eveneille, Igbo slave or Poydras, confirmed the slaves; intentions to keep the young women and girls. According to Françoise and Madelaine, Chika, another Tunica woman who lived in the slave quarters of Widow Lacour, reported that Marie Jeanne, the wife of the commandeaur of Colin Lacour’s slaves, insulted and threatened her, saying that blacks were ready to finish off the whites and that they (the Tunica women) had caused their coup to fail by warning the whites. The Tunica women had felt they were in danger from the blacks, and that they had nothing further to report because they were afraid of leaving their cabins. 35

The revolt was planned in the cipriere, where slaves from various estates could meet freely. The slaves were well aware that they outnumbered the whites three to one. They held a meeting in the slave quarters of Widow Bourgeat after they left the mass at the church on Easter. Sarrasin called another meeting for the Saturday after Easter at sunset at the bridge at False River to decide upon how and when to carry out the coup against the whites. Jean Baprtiste assured them that they should not be afraid: After they had killed the whites, he was capable of presenting himself to the government to explain the reasons for carrying out the massacre; and, he reminded them, they had arms. Noel, a Poydras slave, said that he would furnish all the ammunition. It was said that all the blacks were involved in the plot as well as all the Poydras slaves. Eight bars of iron were found in Marcos Dick’s pirogue. He and his crew all testified that the iron had been furnished by La Pique, jailer of the New Orleans prison, and sent with his black, who was traveling in the pirogue and who said the iron belonged to him. A Poydras slave claimed that the 33 ½ piasters found in his strongbox in New Orleans came from poultry and pigs that he had sold for himself and other slaves, and that the three guns found on Duffief’s boat belonged to him, Noel, and Petit Francois. The guns had been put in the boat before they left Pointe Coupee without telling Duffief.36

Before the meeting could take place at the bridge of False River, Sarrasin and several other slaves were arrested. There was a second plot, this time to free the arrested slaves from the patrol before they could be removed from the district. Jean Baptiste claimed that Joseph Mina took the initiative in the second plot, testifying that a few days after the first arrest were made,

Joseph Mina came to see me and told me he could not sleep since they arrested Antoine Sarrasin, and he had decided to attack the patrol. I asked him if he was capable of doing it, and how he expected to attack the patrol without arms. He replied, “Don’t you know that in the place where one writes, there are four guns, and two others in the bedroom of Sieur Gaunce?” Since Joseph Mina was determined, I told him to go see the negres of Monsieur Goudeau, and if they were convinced to come back and tell me.[37]

The Goudeau slaves were a bad choice. Although three Goudeau slaves were convicted during the trial, this was an old style estate. With close emotional ties between masters and slaves. The estate had eighteen slaves with an even sex ratio among them in 1790. In 1798, Femme Goudeau agreed to mortgage her separate property in a vain effort to save her husband from economic ruin. She excluded a creole slave woman and her children from the mortgage, but they were all eventually seized and sold by Poydras. The teachers Bouyavel lived on he estate and no doubt influenced the slaves, but the Goudeau slaves were not ready to kill their master. Instead, they informed him immediately about Joseph Mina’s proposition.38

According to Jean Baptiste, Joseph Mina reported that he did approach the Goudeau slaves, and they agreed to kill their master and then join the Poydras slaves at their slave quarters. Jean Baptiste sent Louis Bordelon to tell the Goudeau negres not to act until he notified them. Jean Baptiste said he told Poydras slaves, “It would be better to do this after all of us agree to is, and you should not believe that it is fear which makes me say this, because I am just as determined as the rest of you.” Grand Francois Poulard said, “I see that this affair will never have an end.” Jean Louis Mina said, “Any man who wants to get himself killed does not need company.”

Jean Baptiste said he persuaded Joseph Mina not to act. That night, Petit Piere, a fifteen-year-old Goudeau slave, came and told them that a negresse told Goudeau about the plot, Joseph Mina said, “We are lost!” They heard three gunshots from the fort, which they interpreted as a signal to the whites to assemble and to arrest the blacks of the Poydras estate. That evening, Jean Baptiste said, Joseph Mina came looking for him at slave quarters and said, “They are going to arrest us tonight. We should run away.” He replied, “Where do you expect us to go?” Joseph Mina answered, “We should try to reach the Choctaws,” Jean Baptiste asked, “Do you know the way?” Joseph Mina answered, “Yes.”    Jean Baptist told him, “It is useless. It is better to stay.”

But Joseph Mina claimed that it was Jean Baptiste who took initiative for the second plot: “At noon, Jean Baptiste commandeaur of the Poydras slaves, told me he thought the commandante was going to send my godfather Sarrasin Multare, commandeaur of the said estates, to town, and Jean Baptiste ordered me to go to the fields of M, Goudeau and ask the negres if this estate if they would join them to attack the patrol and kill the whites, to which negres Hector, Lucas, Jean Antione did not reply, only asking him, what time, saying, ‘He! He!” which made me believe that they had consented.

Joseph Mina explained the second plot in some detail:

The plan was to go to the master’s house that evening, kill the whites who were there, force the storehouse to get arms and then join the other negres of the plot and attack the guard at the fort, free Antoine Sarrasin and the other prisoners, and at that time kill all the whites and the others told me that the negres named Sanslao Anis, Jean Louis, and Françoise, Widow Bara and many others had returned and were waiting in the cipriere to kill      the whites and the negres who did not want to be part of the plot. And when someone asked how this could be done because there were a lot of people at Natchez, and did they think themselves capable to resisting cannon, Charles and Jean Baptiste replied that it did not matter if they had to die, the would die.

After he returned from talking to the Goudeau slaves, Joseph Mina said, he was told that the plot had been discovered. He told Jean Baptiste that he was afraid and wanted to run away. Jean Baptiste advised him not to run away, because, in case he had was arrested, he, Jean Baptiste, would not name him. Joseph Mina and Louis Borderlot ran away when they heard that  Tournoir’s mulatresse had left for town. They were captured two miles beyond the east bank of the Mississippi River by Frederick Riche. On May 29, fifteen slaves were hanged in Pointe Coupee before ten o’clock in the morning. Joseph Mina at the age of eighteen mounted the scaffold, laughing and saying good-bye to his friends.[39]

Although the slave cabins were thoroughly searched for arms, none were found. Comandante Duparc feared that the slaves kept arms hidden in the woods. Widow Lacour made the mistake of sending Timothee Mulatre for two guns. Instead of bringing them to her, he left with the funs to become a maroon. When recaptured, Timothee claimed that he had five the guns to her slave Bambara. Both Timothee and Bambara were severely lashed, but neither revealed the whereabouts of the firearms.40 There were both found guilty during the trial.

Estates with the largest numbers of enslaved and with imbalanced sex rations were most deeply involved in the conspiracies. Most of the slaves convicted were from large, heavily Africanized estates. The Colin Lancour estate, for example, was heavily Senegambian. An inventory, dating from 1782, of the Bara dit Leblond estate shows that its slave force was more heavily African than that of the average Pointe Coupee estate. Twenty-one out of the twenty-eight slaves inventoried were Africans. Two of the seven creoles were children. There were three African children, aged five, ten, and twelve. This estate was 78.3 percent adult African, and even the majority of the children were Africans, though the African nations were unidentified. The vague term Guinea was used. The 1795 conspiracy was organized from the estate of Julien Poydras, a native of Nantes, France who played an important role in Louisiana history. Poydras began publishing poetry in 1779 and is considered the first literary figure of Louisiana, He became on of the wealthiest merchants and planters and an important political figure after the United States acquired Louisiana. He held several offices and chaired the statehood convention. By 1822, when Poydras made his will, he owned four plantations in Pointe Coupee and two in West Baton Rouge Parish. His will provided that the slaves he owned at his death be e Gold Coast] attached to their respective plantations and not sold. After twenty-five years of service they were to be freed. A retirement pension of twenty-five dollars a year was provided for slaves or former slaves reaching age sixty. The Poydras will gave rise to endless litigation and was never fully executed.41

During its formation, the Poydras estate was heavily populated  by slaves from the Bight of Benin, and it was heavily Africanized because of its unusual gender, family, age, and ethnic structure. The men were forced to develop sexual relationships and family ties off the estate, and family networks radiated from the Poydras estate to various other plantations. Although an inventory of the Poydras estate around the time of 1795 conspiracy does not exist, the development of its slave population can be traced through notarial records, including acts of sale and two early inventories. Poydras began purchasing individual slaves during early 1780s42. Normally, after the death of the master, the slaves were dispersed through sale to various local slave owners. But in 1778, Dr. Amand Dubertrand bought the entire estate if Meuillon, including all his slaves. There were twenty-four Africans among the forty-seven slaves, two of them children, and twenty-three creoles, four of them children. Thus 53.7 percent were adult Africans. Five of the Africans were from Senegambia, eight from the Bight of Benin, two were Yoruba women and three were Mina men. In 1784, Dubertrand returned to France and sold his estate, including all his slaves, to Poydras There were fifty-eight slaves, twenty-nine of whom were adult Africans. There were eleven creole children and eighteen creole adults.  Africans wee 61.7 percent of the adults. The ethnic composition and sex ratio among Africans shifted sharply. The Congo had dropped from seven to two. The Ibo had dropped from four to two. Among the seven slaved from Senegamnia, Wolof women had increased from from one to four. Among the twelve slaves from the Bight of Benin, women had risen from two to seven.  The gender structure was unusual among both creoles and Africans. There were only six adult creole women and twelve adult creole men. giving a sex ratio of 2.0, or two men for every woman, among the creoles, while the average sex ratio among creole slaves at Pointe Coupee was 1.92. This estate was heavily weighted toward the Bight of Benin, especially toward Yoruba women, with African women outnumbering creole [enslaved African born in the U. S.] women sixteen to five. The parents of the children were not indicated. Between 1785 to 1790, there is a record of nine slaves purchased by Poydras. Five of them were Africans, two males and three females, including an eleven-year-old girl and children aged four, seven, and thirteen. Only one adult creole, a seventeen-year-old male, was purchased.43

The 1790 census listed Poydras as a bachelor who lived alone on his estate with his seventy-two slaves. There were six elderly women, almost certainly overwhelmingly Africans, some of them very likely Yoruba. There were only four women of childbearing age, including one mixed-blood. Nevertheless, there were twenty children on the estate: eight girls and twelve boys. There were no elderly men and forty-two mature men, two of them whom were mixed-bloods. Poydras purchased six slaves, all Africans, three men and three women, from the Claude Turnonay estate sale in 1794. Mature, single men outnumbered women of childbearing age by more then ten to one. The sex ratio was 10.5, while the average sex ration among all the slaves at Pointe Coupee was 1.41. Evidently, Poydras did not like young women especially young creole women. His inclination to purchase children without their mothers and his strong preference for Africans possibly stemmed from his desire to mild his slave force to his liking. It appears from the 1790 census and Poydras pattern of purchasing slaves that the Poydras estate was a matriarchy if elderly African women, likely Yoruba women. The extremely unbalanced gender and age structure on this estate surely enhanced the power and influence if elderly African women and contributed to the restlessness and discontent among the men, forcing them to travel widely to find sexual gratification as well as to form families. There were a significant number of children in the plantation without either parent. Those mothers who were present were most likely mainly African.44 African men who became fictive kin acculturated children, especially male children, to a great extent.

The impact of the distorted gender, age, ethnic, and family structure on the Poydras estate is reflected in the brief career of Joseph Mina. Joseph was only three years old when Dubertrand acquired the Meuillon estate and was listed without a parent.45 He must have been deeply influenced by the Mina men on the estate. After he grew up, he was called Joseph Mina, though he was a creole.

Fifteen Poydras slaves were convicted fir the 1795 conspiracy, including seven Africans, only one of whom was a Mina [from th. His other African slaves convicted were one Igbo, two Chamba, and three Fulbe. One creole of Jamaica was convicted from the Poydras estate. Both creoles of New Orleans convicted were Poydras slaves who no doubt had relatives in the capital. Only five of the Poydras slaves convicted were local creoles, including Joseph Mina.

The Mina influence on the 1795 conspiracy obviously transcended the two Mina slaves convicted. It was manifested through the role if Antonia Cofi Mina, the free black leader of the Mina community who served as interpreter in the Mina trial. His prestige was high because he was credited with saving, and eventually freeing, the Mina [from Ghana] slaves. The slaves involved viewed Cofi Mina as a key figure in the 1795 conspiracy, at least. His role in this conspiracy earned him deportation to Havana. Several slaves testified that various slaves were sent to approach Cofi in order to coordinate their uprising with one planned for New Orleans. Although Cofi testified that he knew few slaves if Pointe Coupee and he had not seen them for years, this was clearly untrue. He claimed that he knew the accused Mina slave for whom he interpreted only slightly, and not by name. He admitted that he knew Jean Baptiste Forgeron (blacksmith), slave of Lacour, but had nit seen him since the 1788 fire in New Orleans. Evidently, skilled slaves from rural areas were sent to help rebuild New Orleans after this fire. Antonio Cofi Mina testified that a Chamba slave who could speak “a little Mina” approached him. Tham, Mina slave of Bara, testified, “It is true that I was charged to ask Cofi if it was true that all the slaves were free, but it is false that I wanted to attack the whites in case it was not true because in case the French took the country, we should fight against them to the death to defend the whites.” Stanslao Anis testified that Tham had spoken of defending the country against the French earlier, but later he had agreed with the rest of them to attack the whites.[46]

Although Cofi Mina denied knowing Andre Negre, slave of Colin Lacour, Andre testified that Cofi knew him well. Cofi must have become acquainted with Andre when he was working for the king in New Orleans, after Andre ran away when his master threatened to kill him. Andre testified that he cautiously approached Cofi and said, “The blacks of Pointe Coupee are acting like fools up there, and there are mulattoes mixed up in it. They want to be free by force” (“ Le Negres de la Pointe Coupee font des betises par al haut, il y a des mulatre fourres la dedans, et qu’ils vouloient etre par force”). Cofi claimed that he replied that he did not want to hear bout it saying, “Why do you tell me that? You should take care of your own affairs among yourselves. This is none of my business” (“Pourquoi me dites vous ca? At rangez-vous, vous autres, ce ne sont pas mes affaires”).

Andres testified that Cofi Mina added, “The number of slaves is not great and the free blacks and mulattoes fall on the whites using the negres, then effectively, the Indians will also fall in the said negres.[47]

Cofi Mina’s observation was astute. Indians were still the principal military force in the colony. Their loyalty to the Spanish regime intensified because of the pressure from the new, vigorous, expanding United States. In 1785, the Houma Indians were used to put down an anticipated imminent slave insurrection along Bayou Lafouche. They hunted down Philippe, a free black who had organized the slaves to a company of fugitive slaves. Three blacks and one white sympathizer were arrested and punished. There is no evidence of cooperation between the conspirators and Indians during the Pointe Coupee conspiracy. A creole slave expressed contempt for him, saying, “The Indians are all barbarians because they do not know the good Lord, and a child would take up a gun to his kill his father.”[48]

Tunica Indians betrayed the 1795 conspiracy and chased runaway slaves for the masters. Indians hunted slaves who ran away after the conspiracy was exposed. The Tunica Indians of Pointe Coupee were a mere remnant of their former selves. The Tunica village contained only thirty-three people in 1766.49 But Tunica Indians lived on estates in Pointe Coupee, and if we can judge by their role in 1795 conspiracy, they were there to spy on the slaves.

There were clearly tensions between slaves on subsistence farms, where the old, intimate familial tradition between masters and slaves remained, and those on estates involved in large-scale production of export staples. There was considerable reluctance among slaves on the old-style farms to join the plot, some of which clearly stemmed from their affection for their masters and their unwillingness to harm them. Some slaves did not want to take risks when the outcome was unclear. One slave testified that he said, :I will not be the first, but I will not be the last.” A Bambara slave testified that he said to a creole, “It’s up to you to begin, because you are free, and I will follow.”[50]

There was widespread intimidation of those who might betray the plot and of those who refused to join. A number of slaves, especially the creoles, were intimidated by the conspirators, fearing retribution not only from them but also from their families if the conspirators were arrested and condemned. Louis Bordelon testified that the leaders of the plot threatened to burn up the first one who informed the whites and throw his ashes on the others. Several slaves finally confessed, claiming that they were intimated into joining the plot. Timothee admitted. “I really was involved in the plot, because I was warned that all the creoles who refused to get involved would have their throats cut, and I was obliged to do like the others,” Before being sentenced, he said, “I consented out of fear, and because I believed that if the plot were uncovered before the revolt broke out, they would only hang the captains.”[51]

Jean Baptiste, another Lavour slave, made the following statement before being sentenced: “I was intimidated, being told that the creole slaves who refused to enter the plot would be killed like the whites” Several other slaves, in their final statements, also claimed that they had not been intimidated. One slave testified that he knew all about they plot to kill the whites and that those refusing to participate “would have their throats cut.” He claimed he never consented to join.  Five other slaves stated, “before sentencing, that they entered the plot because “I believed the threat of Jean Baptiste”; “I consented through fear”; “I entered the plot through fear”; “I consented out of fear that the other slaves might kill me”; “I consented out of fear of the crowd [Grand monde] who told me that the same thing would happen to me as the whites.”[52]

While the condemned slaves can be suspect if making a plea for leniency on the grounds that they had been intimidated into joining the plot, it is clear from testimony of slaves who admitted involvement in, and leadership of, the plot that the conspirators did indeed intent to kill the slaves who refused to join the revolt. [53]

The Creole slaves, though a minority among adults, were a tightly woven community reinforced by both blood and fictive kinship ties ramifying throughout the district. Stanislao Anis, commandeur of the Bara estate, testified that he met his brothers Francois and Jean Loise, both Bara slaves, in the cipriere.[54]

Three brothers and a son of one of them, all slaves of Widow Lacour, were convicted. Two of them, Philipe and Jacob, were identical twins. Jacob testified, “I was not involved in any plot. I stayed in the cipriere. Jean Baptiste Forgeron told me that the slaves wanted to kill the whites to have their freedom and asked me to join, but I refused and said I would warn my mistress, and he told me they would kill me if I did. I was sick and I stayed in my cabin, I think it was my twin brother Philipe who was at the Church on Easter Sunday. He testified that he tried to stop his brother Jean Baptiste from getting involved n the plot, without success. Other slaves claimed that they tried to stop their family members from getting involved. One father testified that he went to look for his son to stop him. Grand Joseph, commandeaur of the Colin Lancour estate, went to look for his son at the Riche estate “to forbid him from going to the Poydras estate,” but he could not find him. Although Grand Joseph was sixty-nine years old, he was convicted and flogged.[55]

Family ties among the slaves of the district were so strong that the slaves and the free Indians who denounced the conspirators feared vengeance from their relatives. Only after it was clear which way the wind was blowing did Marie Louise, a Riche slave, ask to speak. She testified, “Up to this time, I was reluctant to admit that it was I who revealed the secret plot to the authorities because I was afraid that the relatives of the criminals would try to kill me, but now, having thought it over, I did in fact tell my master.” She did not show up to ratify her declaration, claiming to be sick. Marie Louise, slave of Riche, the two Tunica women, Françoise and Madelaine, and Jean Baptiste Forgeron, slave of Widow Lacour who had informed Marie Louise about the plot and told her to tell her master, were all given rewards. Jean Baptiste Forgeron was freed and sent to New Orleans, evidently in the hope of anonymity.[56]

Mulatto slaves were involved far out of proportion to their numbers in slave population, but other black-Indian mixtures besides Sarrasin might have been designated mulattoes. Among those found guilty and sentenced during the trial were nine mulatto and twenty six creole blacks and nineteen Africans/ The Africans from Senegambia were five Bambara, one Maninga, and four Fulbe (Poulard). The one Maninga was Capitain from the Farar estate. There were two Mina, two Congo, two Chamba. One Igbo. One Caraba, and one Thoma.

There is a strong evidence to support the belief that the conspiracy was linked to a broader plan, very likely the aborted Genet-Clark invasion. The slaves discussed which side to support if France invaded Louisiana, and they chose France for the sake of liberty and abolition. The final statements made by the leaders before being sentenced point toward a broader plan. When asked why they lent themselves to the crime of revolution to kill the whites, of which they were charged, knowing they deserved to be hanged, Jean Baptiste  commandeur of Poydras, replied, “I know the crime and the penalty but I was surprised and fooled.” To the same question, Antoine Sarrasin replied, “I consented through bad advice. Stanislao Anis, commandeur of Bara, replied, “I only consented through bad advice.”57

The vast majority of the accused refused to admit any knowledge of the conspiracy. When asked the foregoing question before being sentenced, forty-one of the accused slaves and all three of the accused whites denied all charges against them.

The Spanish authorities believed that the conspiracy was linked to the projected French invasion of Louisiana, and that plans were coordinated through soldiers and through boatmen plying the Mississippi River. Governor Cardonelt asked that the French soldiers stationed in the Spanish army in Louisiana be exchanged for Spanish soldiers stationed in Havana, because French soldiers were involved in slave conspiracies; but he could not prove it. In order to discover the broader ramifications of the conspiracy, Cardonelt ordered the investigation to continue after the trial and sentencing. He had no doubt that there were many white provocateurs spreading false rumors of freedom among slaves, but their names were never revealed. The night before his execution, Sarrasin asked to speak to Commandante Dupare. The contents of this conversation are not known, but Sarrasin did not reveal any names of the others involved. Duparc spoke to several other condemned slaves, without results. Attempts to get the condemned leaders to reveal the names of their contacts failed. According to the Spanish official who questioned them the night before their execution, the condemned slaves refused to talk and "took their secret to their graves, with firm courage."[58]

Spanish officials feared a renewal of the slaves' insurrectionary plots because of the "resentful and vengeful character of the people of color." They pointed out the inherent danger of the physical setting. If the plot had not been discovered in time, "the fire would have gone from plantation to plantation throughout the length of Providence, and the settlers would not have had the time to assemble for their respective defense because all plantations are spread out and distant from each other on both banks of the river by at least a quarter league. Four or five whites surprised by 20, 30, or 100 of their blacks could neither defend themselves nor could they expect help from their neighbors."[59]

Cardonelet asked permission to expel all freedmen from Pointe Coupee, because they had no other place of refuge except the slave cabins. A captain of the Mixed Legion of Mississippi was sent to look for a free black named Lexime who had arrived at night at a plantation in Pointe Coupee and had remained in the slave quarters for two days "under the pretext that he was repairing a tool in the blacksmith's shop of the district." A free black man named Jimi was suspected of being involved in the slave conspiracy. Arms and munitions belonging to him had been found in a slave cabin. He was given a passport to go to the capital and not return to Pointe Coupee, but he had returned anyway to make tools for a blacksmith. He was arrested and held at the fort.[60]

The arrival in New Orleans of the convicted prisoners created alarm among Spanish authorities, because condemned slaves had kinship ties with slaves there. Bothe Jean Baptiste and Grand Charles Poydras slaves, who were leaders of the insurrection, were born in New Orleans. Sarrasin's mother, Marie Jeanne, and his spouse, Nanette, as well as their two adolescent boys, were almost most likely in the capital, hosted by Cecilia India Libre, who had lived in New Orleans for many years. According to Cardonelt, the presence of these prisoners in New Orleans, where they had many relatives, would increase unrest among the slaves in the capital. New Orleans had been burnt to the ground again in December 1794. Over two hundred of the best houses were destroyed. Three of four arson attempts were made in the city to enable the prisoners to escape during the confusion. Prisoners were secretly embarked on the Mississippi, which was about to leave for Havana. Soldiers and officers of the fixed infantry Regiment of Louisiana, who had orders to separate slaves and watch them closely to prevent any escape plot, guarded them. Anotonio Cofi Mina was deported to Havana on the same ship. along with a free black named Louis Benoit, a native of St. Domingue who was accused of being "very imbued with  the revolutionary maxims which have devastated the said colony," Luis de las casas, captian general of Cuba, wrote to Carondelet, complaining that if there fee blacks were prejudicial in Louisiana, they could be even more harmful in Cuba. Furthermore, he wrote, the captains of merchant ships refused to take them to any other colony. He concluded, "In the future, send such individuals to some foreign country, which is easier to do directly from New Orleans than from Cuba, because we have nowhere to send them and no funds to maintain them.[61]

The Pointe Coupee Conspiracy developed a core of leaders who operated collectively. Meetings were held, and plans were discussed and agreed upon. Jean Baptiste, Poydras, commandeur, believed that the revolt failed because the conspirators disagreed among themselves: "Some time before last Easter, we disputed among ourselves about the most propitious hour to carry out our coup in case we did carry it out. One said at midnight; another said at 4 am, and I said at suppertime, and our differences remained undecided. When I proposed something, some of them accepted it and others rejected it, depending upon what they saw in each slave quarters.[62]

Unlike some slave conspiracies in Anglo North America, the Pointe Coupee Conspiracy was a secular, not religious, movement.63 It was therefore more dangerous. Millenarian movements tend to focus upon the one, charismatic leader, encouraging blind loyalty. They are vulnerable to destruction if the leader is killed and discouraged both participatory democracy and continuity. When Toussaint l'Ouverture was removed from St. Domingue in chains, he sad that he was only the trunk of the revolution: It would spring up again by its roots, because they were many deep. The abolitionist movement in Louisiana sprang up again, too. Despite the hangings and the brutal display of bodies along the Mississippi River, despite moves for massive deportation of slaves considered dangerous, the blacks were not intimidated. Festivals for the dead, honoring the executed slaves, were held in the homes of free blacks. In March, 1796, Carondelet sent forty troops by riverboat and thirty others overland to suppress a plot on the German Coast. In 1797, the government offered an amnesty to maroons who returned to their masters voluntarily. But maroons increased instead of diminished. More slave conspiracies were discovered in February, March, and April of 1976 in Pointe Coupee and on the German Coast. There were some complaints that some blacks and mulattoes who were, or claimed to be, free were armed with swords and acting insolent. When anyone tried to clarify their status, they did not respond except to place their hands on their swords. The militia of Baton Rouge was ordered to kill any dog belonging to a slave at the slightest sign of unrest. Armed maroons moved about freely. In spite of the patrols, maroons could cross the district from one end to the other without being seen. Ledoux, a Pointe Coupee settler, informed the commandante that when an Indian spotted a group of seven armed negres, two them chased the Indian. They were believed to be heading for Nathcitoches.[64]

In the 1975 conspiracy, the desires of all the slaves at Pointe Coupee for freedom were fused; there is no doubt about its reality. The slaves were very well informed about the conflicts between France and Spain. Inspired by the ideals on the French Revolution and its successes throughout the world, they had realistic hopes for freedom and found slavery intolerable. Aside from the intoxication with democratic and antislavery ideals, there was a direct instigation of revolt, Jacobin agents laying the groundwork for the French invasion of Louisiana.

The 1791 conspiracy of the Mina slaves was an early stage of agitation for freedom that gripped the slave population of the Pointe Coupee post. It was an African ethnic conspiracy; therefore it was doomed to failure and was much less frightening. Masters defended their slaves and doubted their guilt during the Mina conspiracy trial in 1792, but in 1795 the conspiracy was another matter. It was broad based and included slaves of all colors and nations, free people of African descent and poor whites: voyageurs, indentured servants and soldiers. The leaders of the conspiracy claimed that there would be no lack of whites to help them.65 The slaves of Pointe Coupee were well informed about revolutionary developments in France, Haiti, and throughout the world. The Declaration of the Rights of Man war read to them by Joseph Bouyavel, an abolitionist who was a schoolteacher and a tailor who worked on the Goudeau estate. He admitted that he had burned two other books that he had bought to New Orleans. The leaders of the conspiracy traveled widely and sent couriers throughout lower Louisiana. Jacobins of all colors traveled through Point Coupee, informing the slaves that they already been freed but their master were not telling them. Slaves were aware that slavery had been abolished in all French colonies and that if France won the war, they would all be free.66 Their revolt was to be coordinated with slave uprisings in Natchez, Opelousas, the German Coast, and New Orleans, probably linked to the anticipated French Invasion.

The 1795 conspiracy of Pointe Coupee was not a race war. Jacobins of Louisiana of all races and nationalities fought against slavery and social tyranny. It was a sophisticated, well-organized movement. It involved mulatto and black creole slaves born in Pointe Coupee, creole of Jamaica, two creoles of New Orleans, one slave from New York, African slaves if eight different nations, free blacks and mulattoes, and white Jacobins who hated slavery, including a Waloo schoolteacher, a German tailor born in New York, and an indentured servant voyageur plowing the Mississippi River who described himself as a native of the Republic or Raguse. Soldiers stationed themselves throughout lower Louisiana were involved in the plot. It was led by the most skilled and trusted slaves: by the commandeurs, by mulatto slaves, who often played the role of police on the larger estates, and by the creole slaves. The African thrust came from the Mina and the Mande slaves, who historically were the leaders among the African slaves of Louisiana. There was widespread support among  the white Jacobins of Louisiana who, by 1974, were no longer white creole merchants and planters but the international, maritime working class and soldiers. Inspired by the ideals and successes of the French and Haitian revolutions, the longings for freedom of slaves of all races and nations and the despised and mistreated soldiers, sailors, and indentured  servants were fused. The 1975 conspiracy took place because the slaves of remote Pointe Coupee post became deeply involved in the international revolutionary ferment of the 1790s.

[1] Carondolet to Marques del Campo, June 19, 1795, in Leg. 8137, Atado 2, Doc. 105, Estado, AS. Informe Rendon to Gadoqui, June 15, 1795, in Leg. 2612, Doc 54, fols 498-501, SD, AGI, reported twenty-one hangings and thirty-one floggings. Noticia de las  sumas que reclama el executor of Justicia Antonio Sousa, New Orleans, June 10, 1795, in Leg. 1, Doc 31. PC, AGI, cited in Juan Jose Andreau Ocariz, Movimientos rebeldes de los esclavos negros durante el domino espanol en Luisiana (Zaragoza, 1977), 55n, 171=72, shows an executioner’s bill dated June 10, 1795, for hanging twenty-three and flogging twenty-three.

[2] Charles Gayarte, Histtory of Louisiana (4 vols; 1854-66; rpr. Baton Rouge, 19 II, 355).

[3] For a discussion that emphasizes the military factor un slave revolts, see Da Geggus, “The Enigma of ,Jamaica in the 1790s. New Lights on the Causes of Slave Rebellions,” William and Mary Quarterly, 3rd ser., XLIV (1087), 274-99.

[4] For an interesting study if the culture of the Anglo American maritime workers during the first half of the eighteenth century, see Marcus Rediker, Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea: Merchant Seamen, Pirates, and the Anglo-American Maritime Worlds, 1700-1750 (Cambridge, Eng., 1987.)

[5] Anne Ptrotin-Dumon, Etre Patriote sous les tropiques: La Guadeloupe, la colonisation et la revolution (1789=1794) (Basse-Terre, Guadeloupe, 1985), 68-69, 205-23.

[6] Las Casas to Carondelet, June 12, 1795 (copy) in Leg. 6929, GM, AS.

[7] Petronin-Dumon. Guadeloupe et la revolution (1789-1794), 19. 227, 232, 323-30

[8] The best account of the Haitian Revolution remains C.L.R. James, The Black Jacobins, (2nd ed.; New York, 1963). For an interesting recent study based upon some new research, see Carolyn E. Fick, The Making of Haiti: The Saint Domingue Revolution from Below (Knoxville, 1990).

[9] Thomas Marc Fiehrer, “The baron de Carondelet as Agent of Bourbon Reform: A study of Spanish Colonial Administration in the Years of the French Revolution” (Ph.D. dissertation, Tulane University, 1977), 473.

[10] Captain General of Louisiana re mulatto Beaure. June 1, 1792, July 28, 1794. December 24, 1794, in Leg. 6917, Doc. 190, GM, AS, and Conde del Campo de Alange, San Lorenzo, November 20, 1794, ibid. Doc. 448.

[11] Trial Summary by Don Manuel Serrano, May 22, 1795, fols. 254-59, in Trail, OAPC.

[12] Testimony of Jean Baptiste, commandeer of Poydras, May 10, 1795, fol. 73, ibid.; Final statement of Joseph Bouyavel, May 16, 1795, fol. 232, ibid. Testimony of Louis, slave of Goudeau, May 9, 1795, fols. 35-38, ibid. Testimony of Petit Pierre, slave of Goudeau, May 9, 1795, fols. 46-48, and Testimony of Philibis dit Felicite, slave of Goudeau, May 9, 1795 fols. 41, both ibid.

[13] Testimony of Philipe Jumean, slave of Widow Lacour, May 12, 1795, fols. 117-19, ibid. The engage was later identified by Philipe as Jean Sorgo, a native of the Republic of Raguse, a revolutionary state established in Yugoslavia during the height of the French Revolution (May 14, 1795, fols. 162-63, ibid.); Final statement of Jean Sorgo, May 16, 1795, fols 236, ibid.

[14] Testimony of Jean Baptiste, slave of Widow Lacour, May 11, 1795, fols. 84-86, ibid. Testimony of Timothee, slave of Widow Lacour, May 12, 1795, fol. 136, ibid.

[15] Testimony of Jeanne and Eugene, slaves of Widow Lacour, May 12, 1795, fols. 94-95, ibid.

[16] Testimony of Michel Mulatre, slave of Charles Duflous, May 9, 1795, fols. 52-54, ibid.

[17] Testimony of Antoine, commandeur of Widow Lacour, May 11, 1795, fols. 86-88, ibid.; Testimony of Antoine Sarrasin, May 11, 1795, fols. 88-91, ibid. Sarrasin identified the free mulatties as George who lived at Bayou St. Jean and as Domingue.

[18] Testimony of Jeanne, May 9, 1795, fols. 48-49, and Testimony of Louison, May 19, 1795, fol. 55, slaves of Widow Lacour, both ibid.; Testimony of Eveille, Ibo slave of Poydras, May 10, 1795, fols. 58-60, both ibid.

[19] Testimony of Cofi Mina, slave of Poydras, May 12, 1795, fols. 99-101. ibid.; Testimony of Jean Baptistem commandeaur of Poydras, May 10, 1795, fols. 65-73, ibid.

[20] Testimony of Louis, slave of Charles Duflour, May 19, 1795, fols. 63, ibid.

[21] Testimony of Jean Baptiste, commandeur of Poydras, May 19, 1795, fols. 65-73, ibid.

[22] Testimony of Antoine Sarrasin, May 11, 1795, fols. 88-91, ibid.; Testimony of Guillaume, slave of Widow Le Doux, May 9, 1795, fols. 38-40, ibid.; Testimony of Jeanne, slave of Widow Lacour, May 9, 1795, fols. 48-49, ibid. Testimony of Louison, slave of Widow Lacour, May 10, 1795, fols. 55, ibid.; Testimony of Cofi Mina, slave of Poydras, May 12, 1795, fols. 99-101, ibid. Testimony of Stanislao Anis, commandeur of Bara, May 11, 1795, fols. 75-78, ibid.

[23] Andréa Ocariz, Movimientos rebeldes, 159; Testimony of Antoine Sarrasin, May 11, 1795, fol. 89, in Trial, OAPC; Testimony of Jean Baptiste, commandeur of Poydrasm May 10, 1795, fols. 65-74, OAPC; Testimony of Jeane Baptiste, commandeur of Poydras, May 10, 1795, fols. 65-74, OAPC; Testimony of Martin Bourgeat, May 4, 1795, fols. 7-7, and Testimony of Lambert Mulatre, slave of Widow Bourgeat, May 8, 1795, fol. 23, both in OAPC.

[24] Testimony of Lambert Mulatre, slave of Widow Bourgeat, May 8, 1795, fol. 23, ibid,; Testimony of Louis Bordelon, salve of Poydras, May 9, 1795, fols. 49-51, ibid. Testimony of Antoine Sarrasin Mulatre, May, 11, 1795, fols. 88-91. ibid.; Testimony of Jean Baptiste, commandear of Poydras, May 10, 12, 1795, fols. 65-73, 114, ibid. Testimony of Grand Charles, slave of Poydras, May 12, 1795, fols. 95-99, ibid. Testimony of Auguste Mulatre, slave of Bergeron, May 11, 1795, fols. 95-99, ibid.; Testimony of Tham, slave of Poydras, May 10, 1795, fols. 78-80, ibid.; Testimony of Jean Baptiste Forgeron, slave of Widow Lacour, May 8, 1795, fols. 27-30, and Final Statement of Capitain slave of Farar, May 16, 1795, fol. 212, both ibid.; Andreu Ocariz, Movientos rebeldes, 228.

[25] Carondelet to Luis de las Casas, New Orleans, July 30, 1795, Leg. 2564, Doc. 556, fols. 661-69, SD, AGI.

[26] Slaves tried for theft of rice during the slave rebellion, February 20, 1795 (illegible), in SJR, LHC, listed in Kerr, “Petty Felony, slave Defiance, Frontier Villainy,” 344.

[27] Theodore Collins to Martin Duralde, captain of the militia, commandant of Opelousas post, May 5, 1795, in Leg. 31, Carpeta 21, Doc. 187, fol. 772, PC, AGI.

[28] James T. McGowan, “Creation of a Slave Society: Louisiana Plantations in the Eighteenth Century” (Ph.D. dissertation, University of Rochester, 1976), 363-364.

[29] Testimony of Jean Baptiste, commandeur of Poydras, May 10, 1795, fols. 65-74, and Testimony of Grand Charles, slave of Poydras, May 12, 1795, fols. 95-99, both in Trial, OAPC.

[30] Confrontation between Jean Baptiste of Poydras and Honore of Simon Croisset, May 14, 1795, fol. 165, ibid. Testimony of Eveilled, Ibo slave of Poydras, May 10, 1795, fols. 58-60 ibid.

[31] Testimony of Lucas, Françoise Mulatre, and Louis, slaves of Goudeau, May 8, 1795, 24-38, ibid.

[32] Testimony of Frederick Riche, May 5, 1795, fols. 9-10, ibid.’ Final statement of Guillanume, slave of Widow Le Doux, May 16, 1795, fol. 170, ibid.

[33] Testimony of Petit Pierre, slave of Goudeau, May 9, 1795, fols. 56-48, ibid.

[34] Declaration of Martin Bourgeat, Louis Riche, Frederick Riche, Jean Baptiste Riche, April 24, 1795 (pretrial statements), unnumbered, in OAPC; Testimony of Charles Duflour, May 4, 1795, fols. 5,6, and Testimony of Petit, slaves of Charles Duflous, May 8, 1795, fol. 20, both in Trial OAPC.

[35] Declaration of Jean Baptiste Riche, April 24, 1795, unnumbered, in OAPC; Testimony of Jean Baptiste Riche, May 5, 1795, fols. 10-11, in Trial OAPC; Declarations of Françoise and Madelaine, Tunica Indian women questioned through and interpreter, April 27, 1795 (pretrial statement), unnumbered, in OAPC, Testimony of Louis, slave of Goudeau, May 8, 1795, fols. 35-38, verified in the testimony of  l’Eveille, Ibo slave of Poydras, May 10, 1795, fols. 58-60, both in Trial, OAPC; Testimony of Françoise and Madelaine, Sauvagesses, May 6, 1795, fols. 13-18, in Trial, OAPC.

[36] Testimony of Jean Baptiste Fogeron, slave of Widow Lacour, May 8, 1795, fols. 27-30, in Trial, OAPC; Testimony of Auguste Mulatre, slave of George Bergeron, May 11, 1795, fols. 78-80, and Testimony of Jean Baptiste, slave of Widow Lacour, May 11, 1795, fols. 84-86, both ibid.; Testimony of Marcos Dick, Jean Aubert, Jean Sorga, and Maturin Boisseau, May 14, 1795, fols. 158-61, ibid.; Testimony of Baptiste Mulatre, slave of Poydras, May 11, 1795, fols. 81-83, ibid.

[37] The two conflicting versions of the second plot, which are recounted to subsequent paragraphs, are drawn from Testimony of Jean Baptiste, commandeur of Poydras, May 10, 1795, fols. 65-74, and in Testimony of Joseph Mina, May 9,1795, fols. 42-46, both ibid.

38 Docs, 1968, 1976, in OAPC; Duparc to Carondelet, April 22, 1795, in Leg. 31. Carpeta 23, Doc 84, fols. 812-14. PC, AGI.

[39] Testimony of Joseph Mina, May 9, 1795, fols. 42-46, and Testimony of Louis Bordelon, slave of Poydras, May 9, 1795, fols. 49-51, both in Trail, OAPC; Duparc to Carondelt, April 24, May 31, 1795, in Leg. 31, Carpeta 23, fols, 812-14, 847-48, PC, AGI.

[40] Duparc to Carondelet, Pointe Coupee, May 1, 1795, in Leg. 31, Carpeta 23, Doc. 95, fols. 829=31, ibid,

[41] Light Townsend Cummins, “The Final Years of Colonial Louisiana,” in Louisiana: A History, ed. Bennet H. Wall )2nd ed., Arlington Heights, Ill., 1990), 75, 76; Joe Gray Taylor, Negro Slavery in Louisiana ( Baton Rouge, 1963), 164-65.

[42] Poydras purchased three slaves in 1782 and four in 1783. There are no extant documents for 1780 and 1781 (from DB Inventories).

[43] Calculated from DB Inventories.

[44] Recensement de la Pointe Coupee et Fausse Riviere, March 29, 1790, in Leg. 227A, Carpete 21, Do. 2, PC, AGI; Sale of Trenonay Estate, January 17, 1794, Doc, 1799, in OAPC.

[45] Doc. 919, in OAPC.

[46] Andreu Ocariz, Movimientos Rebeldes, 161 Confrontation between [Stanislao Anis ans Tham Mina, both slaves of Widow Bara, May 14, 1795, fol. 145, in Trial, OAPC.

[47] Province of Louisiana vs. Coffy [sic], June 16, 1795, in Notarial Acts of Francisco Broutinm 1790-1798, Vol, XXXVI, Doc, 21, fols. 944-84, OAOP.

48 Carl A. Brasseaux, The Founding of New Acadia: The Beginnings or Acadian Life in Louisiana, 1765-1803, (Baton Rouge, 1987), 193-94; Testimony of Michel Mulatre, slave of Charles Duflour, May 9, 1795, fols. 52-54, in Trial OAPC.

[49] Jacqueline K. Voorhies, Some Late Eighteenth-Century Louisianans: Census Records, 1758-1796 (Lafayette, La., 1973), 164.

[50] Testimony of Jacob, slave of Jean Pierre Decuir, May 14, 1795, fol. 140, in Trial, OAPC; Confrontation between Jean Baptiste and Bambara, slaves of Widow Lacour, May 14, 1795, fol. 148, ibid.

[51] Testimony of Bordelon, May 9, 1795, fols, 49-51, ibid. Confrontation between Jean Baptiste and Timothee Mulatre of slave of Widow Lacour, May 16, 1795, fols. 186-87, ibid.

[52] Final statements of Baptiste, slave of Poydras, fol 175, of Jean Baptiste, slave of Widow Lacour, fol. 177, of Rokelaure, slave of Widow Lacour, fol. 182, of Philipe Bambara, slave of Widow Lacour, fol. 185, of Petit Pierre, slave of Goudeau, and of Baptiste, slave of Decuis, fols. 242-43, all May 16, 1795, ibid.

[53] See, for example, Testimony of Joseph Mina, May 9, 1795, fols, 42-46, ibid.

[54] Testimony of Stanslao Anis, slave of Bara, May 11, 1795, fols, 75-78, ibid.

[55] Testimony of Jacob Jumeau, Philipe Jumeau, and Timothee, slaves, of Widow Lacour, May 12, 1795, fols. 115-19, 136, ibid. Testimony of Andre, slave of Charles Duflous, May 12m 1795, fols. 106-107, ibid.’ Testimony of Michel Mulatre, slave of Charles Duflour, May 9, 1795, fols. 52-55, ibid,; Testimony of Grand Joseph, commandeaur of Colin Lacour, May 12, 1795, fols. 92-93, ibid. Execution of sentences, May 29, 1795, fol. 262, ibid.

[56] Act of May 18, 1795, fol. 243, ibid. Testimony of Marie Louise, slaves of Louis Riche, April 10, 1795, fol. 74 ibid.; Testimony of Jean Baptiste Forgeron, slave of Widow Lacour, May 9, 1795, fols. 27-30, ibid. Gratifications, May 22, 1795, fol. 258, ibid.

[57] Confrontation between Anis and Tham Mina, both slaves of Widow Bara, May 14, 1795, fols. 145-47, ibid.; Final statements of Antoine Sarrasin, fol. 178, of Jean Baptiste, commandeur of Poydras, fol. 173, of Stanilao Anis, commandeaur of Widow bara, fol. 179, all May 16, 1705, ibid.

[58] Copia del officio reservado no. 140 y sus documentos del Gobernador de la Luisiana al Calitan General, and Carondelet to Luis de las Casas, New Orleans, July 30, 1795, in Leg. 2564, Doc. 556, fols. 661-69. SD, AGI. For a fuller discussion of the involvement of French soldiers and free people of African descent in slave conspiracies, see McGowan, “Creation of a Slave Society,” 349-55.

[59] Rendon to Gardoqui, June 15, 1795, in Leg. 2616, Doc. 54, fols. 498-501, SD, AGI; Carondelet to Las Casas, New Orleans, July 30, 1795, in Leg. 2564, Doc. 556, fols. 661-69, ibid.

[60] Duparc to Carondelet, Pointe Coupee, May 5, 1795, in Leg. 31, Carpeta 23, Doc. 95, fols. 829-31, PC, AGI; Duparc to Carondelet, Pointe Coupee, May 1, 1795, ibid.

[61] Andreau Ocariz, Movimientos rebeldes, 160-62.

[62] Testimony of Jean Baptiste, commadeur of Poydras, May 10, 1795, fols, 65-74, in Trial OAPC.

[63] For a discussion of the religious roots of Denmark Vesey conspiracy in South Carolina, see Margaret Washington Creel, “A Peculiar People”: Slave religion and Community-Culture Among the Gullahs (New York), 1988), 161.

[64] Eugene D. Genovese, From Rebellion to Revolution: Afto-American Slave Revolts in the Making of the Modern World (Baton Rouge, 1979), 122-23; Andreu Ocariz, Movimientos rebeldes, 125-28, 203, 204, 207, 211, 223; Durale to Carondelet, Opeloussas, May 10, 1795, in Leg. 31, Carpeta 21, fols. 773-74, PC, AGI.

[65] Testimony if Grand Charles, slave of Poydras, quoting Jean Baptiste, commandeur of Poydras, May 12, 1795, fols. 95-98m in Trial, OAPC.

[66] Testimony of Joseph Bouyavel, May 15, 1795, fols. 167-68, ibid.; Testimony Antoine, commandeur of Widow Lacour, May 11, 1795, fols. 86-88, ibid.