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Revolution, Romanticism, and the Afro-Creole Protest Tradition in Louisiana, 1718–1870

Caryn Cossé Bell

Publication Year: 1997

With the Federal occupation of New Orleans in 1862, Afro-Creole leaders in that city, along with their white allies, seized upon the ideals of the American and French Revolutions and images of revolutionary events in the French Caribbean and demanded Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité. Their republican idealism produced the postwar South's most progressive vision of the future. Caryn Cossé Bell, in her impressive, sweeping study, traces the eighteenth-century origins of this Afro-Creole political and intellectual heritage, its evolution in antebellum New Orleans, and its impact on the Civil War and Reconstruction.

Published by: Louisiana State University Press


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p. 1-1

Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. 2-9


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pp. ix-xi

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pp. xiii-xv

Hurrying to class during my undergraduate days at the University of New Orleans, I thanked the courteous young man who opened the door for me. To my pleasant surprise, the polite stranger was Joseph Logsdon, my new history instructor. Since our first encounter on that fall day,...

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pp. 1-8

The most pressing and controversial question of the post-Civil War era was the place of southern blacks in the political and social order. The answer drawn up by delegates to Louisiana's constitutional convention of 1867 was arguably the Reconstruction South's most radical blueprint for change. Louisiana's 1868 constitution...

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1 Revolution and the Origins of Dissent

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pp. 9-40

In the summer of 1804, New Orleans officials demanded that Louisiana's territorial commissioner, William C. C. Claiborne, punish and banish black leaders who had attempted to assert the rights of free people of color. Instead, Claiborne met quietly with representatives of the free black community and insisted they...

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2 The Republican Cause and the Afro-Creole Militia

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pp. 41-64

In February, 1810, in the aftermath of the Saint Domingue refugee movement, American attorney James Brown deplored conditions in Louisiana, where, he complained, "we are at this moment a French province." Brown distrusted the French refugees who "have collected in this City & Territory where they find their...

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3 The New American Racial Order

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pp. 65-88

As the pattern of a dual racial order spread through the South during the opening decades of the nineteenth century, a three-tiered caste system set New Orleans apart. The city's unusual racial pattern contrasted sharply with an Anglo-American order that attempted to confine all persons of color—both slave...

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4 Romanticism, Social Protest, and Reform [Includes Image Plates]

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pp. 89-144

In a French-language literary work written before 1840, a War of 1812 veteran protested the treatment of black soldiers in the aftermath of the battle of New Orleans. The poem, titled "The Campaign of 1814-15" and attributed to Creole of color Hippolyte Castra, also dramatized the plight of...

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5 French Freemasonry and the Republican Heritage

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pp. 145-186

Liotau's poem dramatized the outcome of a prolonged struggle between the American church hierarchy and St. Louis Cathedral's church wardens for control of the city's dominant religious institution. The crisis had profound consequences for the free black population. During the clash, Creoles...

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6 Spiritualism's Dissident Visionaries

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pp. 187-221

In the fall of 1858, a bitter rivalry between the city's Catholic leaders and the advocates of spiritualism, a radical new religious sect, culminated in a confrontation between J. B. Valmour, a black Creole medium, and police authorities. The free man of color, highly acclaimed for his success in "the laying on of hands and...

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7 War, Reconstruction, and the Politics of Radicalism

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pp. 222-275

On February 6, 1860, in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Eugene Heurtelou, a leading Haitian journalist and the republican editor of Le Progres, addressed a letter to France's renowned Romantic writer Victor Hugo. Heurtelou thanked Hugo for his appeal to the United States government on behalf of John Brown....

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pp. 276-282

The "reign of knaves and adventurers," Rodolphe Desdunes later wrote of the Warmoth administration, "was of short duration." Besieged by charges of corruption and rent by political factionalism, the regime's downfall began as early as mid-1870. The Louisiana house delivered...

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Appendix: Membership in Two Masonic Lodges and Biographical Information

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pp. 283-294

The information in Tables 1, 2, and 3 was taken mainly from the Polar Star #i Minutes Book, 1858-1868, and the Fraternite #20 Minutes Book, 1868 -1873 (both written in French), in the George Longe Collection at the Amistad Research Center, Tulane University. M signifies member;...


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pp. 295-312


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pp. 313-325

E-ISBN-13: 9780807141526
Print-ISBN-13: 9780807130261

Page Count: 344
Publication Year: 1997