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Voices of the EnslavedLove, Labor, and Longing in French Louisiana$
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Sophie White

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9781469654041

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: January 2021

DOI: 10.5149/northcarolina/9781469654041.001.0001

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“Our Place”

“Our Place”

Francisque, Démocrite, and Hector

(p.132) Chapter 4 “Our Place”
Voices of the Enslaved

Sophie White

University of North Carolina Press

This case study centers on the court case brought in 1766 against Francisque, an outsider of African descent who self-described himself in New Orleans as an “Englishman from Philadelphia” whose peripatetic life as a slave took him around the British, Spanish, and French Atlantic. Francisque was prosecuted for marronnage (being a runaway) and in the court of the trial, a picture of life on one plantation on the outskirts of New Orleans emerges. Francisque’s behavior, including ostentatious deployment of dress at slave assemblies and in courtship left him vulnerable to the enmity of rival slaves, laying bare the artificial cleavages between freedom and unfreedom when the “free” person was a runaway slave. The Igbo Démocrite, in particular, revealed through his words and actions how local enslaved communities—and their leaders, such as Hector—made use of French colonial justice to regulate social, economic, and sexual interactions. This is Démocrite’s and Hector’s story as much as it is Francisque’s.

Keywords:   Plantation, Slave narratives, masculinity, Free black militias, West African justice systems, Sexuality, Colonial America, Marronnage, Freedom, Igbo

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