Mammon and Manon in Early New Orleans: The First Slave Society in the Deep South, 1718-1819
From its very beginnings in the early eighteenth century, New Orleans was a slave society with a black majority. It combined the labor and social relations of an urban setting with those of a planter society: for much of its early history it consisted of a town center encircled by plantations. Each individual in this community was shaped by his or her color, class, and gender, but slavery structured the community as a whole. In a study that is both sweeping and finely detailed, Thomas N. Ingersoll tells the story of this city of slaves, slaveholders, and nonslaveholders and how it grew during its first century.
Drawing on a wealth of sources--judicial and sacramental records, notarial archives, administrative reports, eyewitness accounts, personal correspondence--Ingersoll illuminates the lives of those who built New Orleans against great odds. Woven throughout the book is a fascinating comparative analysis. Since Louisiana fell under the administration of France and Spain before becoming a U.S. territory in 1803, the case of New Orleans offers an opportunity to test the longstanding thesis that slave regimes under the French, Spanish, and Anglo-Americans were significantly different. Ingersoll finds that, by contrast, the city's development was remarkably continuous, affected mainly by the changing volume of its slave trade between 1719 and 1808 and thereafter primarily by urban conditions. In addition, Ingersoll disputes the conventional wisdom that early New Orleans society was anarchic--a paradise, as one writer put it, for "thieves, vagabonds, and prostitutes." In fact, Ingersoll argues, the community's development was no less orderly than that of Charleston or Savannah. Consequently, it was incorporated swiftly and easily into the United States following the Louisiana Purchase of 1803, after which it rapidly emerged as the largest and most economically important city in the South.
Ultimately, Ingersoll argues, it was "Mammon"--the lure of wealth and possessions--that ruled in New Orleans throughout its early history and imposed order on a city whose population had become remarkably diverse by 1819. In the author's view, "Manon"--the enduring image of New Orleans as a disorderly place, ruled by a sultry temptress--"deserves not modification but retirement."
The Author: Thomas N. Ingersoll is associate professor of history at the Université de Montréal. The author of articles in such journals as Louisiana History and William and Mary Quarterly, he co-organized the conference "The Family and Slavery in the Americas" at the Université de Montréal in 1994.
Distribution of Slaveholding Households 1766
Number of Slaves per Household 1766
House and Gardens of FrancoisBenjamin Dumont de Montigny
Racial Classification of Slaves Baptismal Sponsors 17311733
The Cession to Spain the Insurrection of 1768
Madame Johns Legacy
MarieAnneCeleste Dragon c 17951800
Age at First Marriage of Brides and Grooms Born in New Orleans 17591768 and 17781802
Father FranciscoAntonioIldefonso Sedella c 1800
Age at First Marriage of Women Born in New Orleans and Their Spouses 17591768 an 17781817
Port of New Orleans 1819
Market Folks 1819
Slaves from the Upper South Being Conducted to the Lower South c 1839
Black Manon in the Capital City of the Slave South
Blacks the Slave Trade and the Advent of Sugar
The Slave Society of Spanish New Orleans
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African slave African slave trade American Antilles Bienville black population cabildo Charles Church Claiborne Code Noir Colonial Louisiana colonists color concubinage court creole cultural Delachaise domestic early emancipations ethnic francaises France Francois Francophones free blacks freed freedom French Louisiana Garic Governor Ibid immigrants important Indians Indies interracial Jacques Jean Jean-Baptiste Jesuits judicial labor Latrobe lived Louis Cathedral Louisiana State Univ major male manumission maroons marriage married marronage masters Maurepas Mississippi mulatto Natchez Negro NONA nonslaveholders Orleans Orleans Parish Paris parish percent Perier period Petition Pierre plantation planter class Press quadroon racial records refugees regime reported reprint runaway Saint Domingue Salmon to Maurepas Sedella Sept slave society slave trade slaveholding class slaveowners slavery social South Spanish status Succession sugar Superior Council tion town center white women woman