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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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Epilogue

Epilogue

Toward an Intellectual Critique of Slavery?

Chapter:
(p.216) Epilogue
Source:
Voices of the Enslaved
Author(s):

Sophie White

Publisher:
University of North Carolina Press
DOI:10.5149/northcarolina/9781469654041.003.0007

The Epilogue foregrounds the enslaved African François-Xavier, whose dogged attempts in 1753 Mobile to get a soldier shamed for a profoundly disturbing act reads at times like a searing indictment of slavery. In this highly unusual court case, François-Xavier’s actions and words signal how he made sense of his world and his place within it and, especially, how well he understood the limits imposed on his person because of his status as a slave. François-Xavier had witnessed a shocking and disturbing act but he knew that he was powerless to stop it simply because he was a slave and the soldier was not. His testimony served as a damning intellectual critique of slavery, one that he could not explicitly verbalize in court but that hung in the silence. By stepping away from the specific allegation against the soldier and parsing François-Xavier’s words, it is possible to recognize once again how testimony served as a form of autobiographical expression. Spoken in the moment, often in mere slivers, such narratives remind us to consider how—and why—some enslaved individuals spoke, often so fearlessly, about themselves, and how tenaciously they strove to keep the focus on their own humanity.

Keywords:   Mobile, soldiers, Intellectual history, Slave narratives, archives, French Atlantic, Louisiana, African-Americans, Colonial America

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