Louisiana: Crossroads of the Atlantic World

Louisiana: Crossroads of the Atlantic World

Louisiana: Crossroads of the Atlantic World

Louisiana: Crossroads of the Atlantic World


Located at the junction of North America and the Caribbean, the vast territory of colonial Louisiana provides a paradigmatic case study for an Atlantic studies approach. One of the largest North American colonies and one of the last to be founded, Louisiana was governed by a succession of sovereignties, with parts ruled at various times by France, Spain, Britain, and finally the United States. But just as these shifting imperial connections shaped the territory's culture, Louisiana's peculiar geography and history also yielded a distinctive colonization pattern that reflected a synthesis of continent and island societies.

Louisiana: Crossroads of the Atlantic World offers an exceptional collaboration among American, Canadian, and European historians who explore colonial and antebellum Louisiana's relations with the rest of the Atlantic world. Studying the legacy of each period of Louisiana history over the longue durée, the essays create a larger picture of the ways early settlements influenced Louisiana society and how the changes in sovereignty and other circulations gave rise to a multiethnic society. Contributors examine the workings of empire through the examples of slave laws, administrative careers or on-the-ground political negotiations, cultural exchanges among landowners, slave holders, and slaves, and the construction of race through sexuality, marriage, and household formation. As a whole, the volume makes the compelling argument that one cannot write Louisiana history without adopting an Atlantic perspective, or Atlantic history without referring to Louisiana.

Contributors: Guillaume Aubert, Emily Clark, Alexandre Dubé, Sylvia R. Frey, Sylvia L. Hilton, Jean-Pierre Le Glaunec, Cécile Vidal, Sophie White, Mary Williams.


Perros los Franceses” are the words that Antoine Paul, a domestic slave, would have cried out to the Sieur Rivière, a merchant in New Orleans, on one street of the Louisiana capital on a Sunday afternoon in 1766. Witnesses, some neighbors who watched the fight, told the judge that the Sieur Rivière was hitting the slave with a stick and that Antoine Paul was trying to defend himself while “chattering incessantly.” None of them understood what the slave was saying, because he spoke in Spanish. The Sieur Rivière complained that Antoine Paul not only tried to defend himself but also attacked him. Coughing and spitting on the ground, the slave would have made “many silly remarks about the French.” In front of the magistrate, Antoine Paul claimed that he did not insult the French; he only said “that the English were dogs, that they did not know the Virgin Mary or anything else, and that the Sieur Rivière did not understand correctly if he believed that it was about the French that he talked, that he had nothing wrong to say about them since he was himself a Creole from Martinique.” During his first questioning, the defendant had told the judge his complex peregrinations since his birth in Martinique: Dutch merchants bought him and took him to Curacao and then Santo Domingo, where he was baptized. Afterward he circulated in the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico, living in various Spanish settlements, before landing in Havana where his current master, Mr. de Loyola, purchased him.

The French, the English, the Spaniards in an enslaved man of Africa descent’s view … The incident happened while Louisiana, a colony founded by the French in 1699, had been divided and given to Spain and Great Britain by the treaties of Fontainebleau and Paris in 1762–1763. Antoine Paul’s owner . . .

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