White Creole Identity on Trial: The Haitian Revolution and Refugees in Louisiana

Posted in Articles, History, Law, Louisiana, Media Archive, United States on 2018-04-03 19:56Z by Steven

White Creole Identity on Trial: The Haitian Revolution and Refugees in Louisiana

Age of Revolutions

Erica Johnson, Assistant Professor of History
Francis Marion University, Florence, South Carolina

Louisiana, c. 1814

The flight of refugees from the Haitian Revolution intertwined the histories of Louisiana and Saint-Domingue. The story of one refugee, Pierre Benonime Dormenon illustrates how perceptions of the Haitian Revolution and racial prejudices within Louisiana affected an emerging white Creole identity. In Louisiana, Dormenon was the Point Coupée parish judge, but political opposition forces sought his disbarment based on alleged activities in the Caribbean. According to the Louisiana Superior Court Case court report, accusers contended that Dormenon “aided and assisted the negroes in Santo Domingo in their horrible massacres, and other outrages against the whites, in and about the year 1793.” What role Dormenon played in the Haitian Revolution is not clear, nor is it clear how slaves and free people perceived him. Nonetheless, claims of Dormenon’s actions during the Haitian Revolution called into question his own racial identity.

Dormenon’s accusers focused heavily on his racial sympathies. The most shocking portrayal of Dormenon as black was in the testimony of Antoine Remy. Remy recounted a discussion with an innkeeper, a Mr. Prat, in a southern parish of Saint-Domingue. “He [Prat] heard him [Dormenon] say several times that he hated whites and was ashamed to be one of them,” testified Remy. He added, “He [Dormenon] believed that by opening a vein he could take in some black blood.” This testimony is questionable, because Remy based it upon hearsay. However, it was still significant within Dormenon’s case, because it deepened Dormenon’s connection to and sympathy for people of color…

Read the entire article here.

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Status, Race, and Marriage: French Continental Law versus French Colonial Law

Posted in Caribbean/Latin America, Europe, History, Law, Live Events, New Media, Papers/Presentations, Slavery, Social Science on 2010-01-08 02:31Z by Steven

Status, Race, and Marriage: French Continental Law versus French Colonial Law

American Historical Association
124th Annual Meeting
Friday, 2010-01-08 14:30 PST (Local Time)
Manchester Grand Hyatt San Diego
Manchester Ballroom F (Hyatt)
San Diego, California

Valérie Gobert-Sega
École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales, Paris, France

In its most traditional moral and legal conception, marriage had for consequence to erase the crime of cohabitation and dissoluteness. Independentently of geographic space and by virtue of the principle of the unity of French laws and customs, the institution of marriage could not be left supplant under colonial law and order. In 1685, the Edict administering the rights and the duties of slaves and emancipated slaves as well as their relationships with white people in the French colonies established legitimacy and religious rules. However, the rigidity of statutory tripartition of the population could not concretely integrate these justifiable, legally valid but socially prohibited unions. The first legal ban was introduced into the Code of Louisiana in 1724 and the second was imposed by the prescription of April, 1778 for continental France. Meanwhile, the Monarchy was never resolved to reform article 9 of the Code of 1685. In doing so, the administration strategically restricted the civil and professional rights of those who chose to go against the social misalliance. It isn’t until the promulgation of the Civil code of 1805 that the restriction based on race and status is finally unified. But once again even if the principle is acquired, its execution remains unpredictable: it extends to all people, of color or black, in colonies but only to black people in metropolitan France. However, for more than two centuries, the legislator, conscientiously maintained a flaw in the prohibition: whether it be in the colonies or in France, these marriages will never be punished by nullity. This absence of penalty will finally allow the Supreme Court and the Abolitionists to declare the legal ban on interracial marriages invalid and to overrule it.

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