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The Whitney Plantation

Louisiana Slave Action

Under Louisiana law, slaves were real property attached to the land and their sales had to be officially recorded by notaries in the city or parish judges who also served as notaries assisted by sworn recorders. In St. John the Baptist Parish Adolphe Sorapuru, a member of a family of Creoles of color served as the sworn recorder of sales and mortgages during the decade preceding the Civil War. Terence Le Blanc (1774-1857), his father in law, was Judge and ex-officio notary public of the same parish during many decades in the first half of the 19th century. Auctions were a common way of liquidating estates and settling debts and auctioneers made a living selling slaves. In New Orleans, the auctions were held every Saturday and they drew large crowds of onlookers beneath the rotundas of the city’s luxury hotels. On March 24, 1840, a group of 62 slaves, owned by Jean Jacques Haydel and most of them from Habitation Haydel, were displayed on the auction block at the Bath Saloon of the St. Louis Hotel in New Orleans and sold to the highest bidders. These sales were officially recorded before Felix Grima on June 27, 1840. A week before the auction, Terence Le Blanc had issued a certificate ascertaining that all of them were mortgage free. The Haydel slaves exposed and sold by auctioneer Joseph Le Carpentier comprised a majority of young males and females, with eight infants and many elderly people, twelve of them born in Africa, and affected by ailments such as asthma, hernia, and the piles. Jacob, an African affected by an hernia and the oldest person in the group (seventy years), was sold to Lucien Wells for $175. Little Guim (Jim), a fifty-year-old African, and Marianne, a fifty-six-year-old Congo slave, were probably delivered from the horrors of slavery when they were bought by Etienne Villeré, a free man of color and a possible relative. Mental illness did not prevent the sale of Sery, a twenty-five-year-old female described as an “idiot” and sold for $105, the lowest price recorded that day. One of the most striking views on the auction block was that of twenty-eight-year-old Queto with his apparel revealing a maimed arm which gave him the distinctive name Queto Manchot (one-armed man in French). He lived on Habitation Haydel where he served as a carter and ploughman. Despite his infirmity, this Creole slave was sold $350 to Widow Choppin, a resident of St. James parish. The most active buyer was Felix Garcia of St. John the Baptist parish, a high-ranking official who was at that time the President of the Louisiana Senate. The twenty-three slaves he purchased were also acquired in the name of Achille Lorio, his partner and co-owner of a plantation located in St. Charles parish. Although most of them were not displaced too far, this was trying time for these enslaved people who were forced to reconstruct new lives away from their loved ones.

Jean Jacques Haydel, Jr. Auction

Total: $57,075

Sold at the Bath Saloon of the St. Louis Hotel, by Joseph Le Carpentier, Auctioneer, by virtue of an order from the Honorable the District Court for the First Judicial District of the State of Louisiana dated 24th March 1840, and at the request of the syndics of the creditors of Jean Jacques Haydel, after the advertisements required by law, to wit: In the Bee (State paper) in french and english, March 27th, April 13th, 20th & 30th, and in the Louisiana Courier in French and English, March 29th, April 13th, 20th & 29th, the following slaves.

Terms: One half payable in March 1841 and one half in March 1842 in notes satisfactorily endorsed and bearing mortgage until final payment. Said notes must be made payable in New Orleans and in case of non payment when due will bear from the day of expiration an interest of 10% per annum until final payment. Said clause not to be taken advantage of to defer the payment of any note. The slaves will be delivered to the purchasers when the conditions of the sale will be fulfilled. The acts of sale to be passed at the cost of the purchasers before Felix Grima, Esq., notary public.