Table of contents for From Saint-Domingue to New Orleans : migration and influences / Nathalie Dessens ; foreword by Stanley Harrold and Randall M. Miller.

Bibliographic record and links to related information available from the Library of Congress catalog.

Note: Contents data are machine generated based on pre-publication provided by the publisher. Contents may have variations from the printed book or be incomplete or contain other coding.

List of Illustrations 000
Series Foreword 000
Preface and Acknowledgments 000
Introduction 000
1.	The Saint-Domingue Epic 000
	French Colonial Saint-Domingue
	Revolution and Departures
	Away from the Island
	The Saint-Domingue Diaspora
2.	Louisiana, Land of Welcome 000
	Louisiana, the Meeting Place for the Diaspora
	The Louisianan Asylum at the Turn of the Nineteenth Century
	The Louisianans and the Refugees
3.	The Refugee Community 000
	Building an Identity
	Dissolving within the New Orleans Creole Society
	Between Symbolic Ethnicity and Mythic Influence
4.	Influencing Louisiana's Economic Pattern 000
	Success Stories
	Fitting into the New Orleans Occupational Pattern
	Fields of Excellence
5.	A New Social Era? 000
	Impact on the Three-Tiered Society
	An Altered Conception of Race Relations?
	Consequences on the Religious Community
	Altering Social Practices
6.	The Refugees' Politics: From Visibility to Influence 000
	Distrust and Repression
	Slave Agitation and the Louisiana Psyche
	Shaping Political Activism
	Louisiana Politics, American Politics
	Shaping Ideologies in Nineteenth-Century America
7.	A Still Unfathomed Cultural Legacy: Refugees in Creole New 
Orleans 000
	A New Cultural Environment
	Creole and Folk Cultures
	Linguistic and Cultural Heritage
Conclusion 000
Notes 000
Bibliography 000
Index 000
1.	Map of Saint-Domingue 000
2.	Map of the Caribbean 000
3.	Pili¿'s Map of New Orleans, 1808 000
1.	Tombstone, Church of St. Mary of the Annunciation, 
Charleston 000
2.	Tombstone, St. Louis cemetery #1, New Orleans 000
3.	Caf¿ des R¿fugi¿s, New Orleans 000
4.	Th¿¿tre d'Orl¿ans, New Orleans 000
5.	Destrehan Plantation 000
6.	Pitot House, New Orleans 000
7. "The Bamboula at Congo Square," Century, April 1886 000
For generations historians have sought to understand the 
American South. In his famous Life and Labor in the Old South, 
Ulrich B. Phillips begins began with the weather. Novelist 
Margaret Mitchell writes wrote that it was only the land that 
mattered. Others have insisted insist that God counted most in 
making Dixie. Even before there was a South, anyone who grew up 
below the Mason-Dixon Line knew that race made all the 
difference. Americans who lived after the American Revolution 
knew that slavery, the "peculiar institution," set the South 
apart from the rest of the United States, and many came to 
appreciate that slavery could destroy the Union. Neoconfederates 
insist that the South was born in defeat and will rise again.
	French historian Nathalie Dessens, in From Saint-Domingue 
to New Orleans: Migration and Influences, does not dispute the 
aforementioned claims. Instead, she asks us to be more 
particular-; to get down to cases. She wants us to begin with the 
people. In her case, the people are the white and black refugees 
from Haiti (then known as Saint-Domingue) who came to the lower 
Mississippi region, especially New Orleans, to escape the 
revolution that began in 1791 and raged for a decade. Dessens's 
purpose is not to contest prior readings of southern history so 
much as it is to ask us to consider the variety and 
particularity of places and people. By studying the perspective 
of Gallic creoles and by focusing on lower Louisiana, Dessens 
gives the South a more variegated character.
	In Dessens's interpretation, the Haitian revolution was a 
transcultural event that profoundly affected the character of 
New Orleans and lower Louisiana. It made that subregion less 
southern than those places where cotton and slavery defined all. 
The free Haitian refugees were intent on holding onto as much of 
the world they left behind as their numbers, education, and 
wealth would allow. The enslaved refugees were as intent on 
asserting their own claims to freedom in Louisiana as their 
brethren were in Saint-Domingue.
	As Dessens demonstrates, the Haitian migration to lower 
Louisiana reinvigorated Gallic culture there and strengthened 
the region's Creole identity, institutions, and interests. 
Through an interaction of family relations, cultural and 
educational institutions, social exchanges, newspapers and other 
publications, and economic development, the refugees cultivated 
a group consciousness. In doing so, they resisted assimilation 
and muted the impact of the American political, social, and 
cultural forces that came to Louisiana after 1803. In several 
important ways they dissented from emerging southern norms. To 
be sure, refugee slaveholders were no less demanding and brutal 
than other southerners in driving their slaves. The rigors of 
the sugar production the refugees brought to Louisiana pushed 
slaves especially hard. The slaves, for their part, used their 
Afro-Caribbean culture to resist the masters' demands whenever 
possible, and they bred in the Louisiana sugar parishes a 
violence that burst forth in rebellion on several occasions. 
Yet, in their acceptance of a tripartite racial order that 
recognized a special place of gens de couleur libre, the "white" 
refugees stood apart from a racial regime that in most of the 
South saw little in free African Americans but a threat to white 
supremacy. In their Catholic religion and urban orientation, 
among several factors, they also departed from major southern 
	By studying Haitian refugees in Louisiana, Dessens achieves 
a new understanding of the cultural diversity that underlay what 
has at times appeared to be a monolithic South. In considering 
the impact of Gallic and Afro-Caribbean cultures on the North 
American mainland, she expands the canvass of the black Atlantic 
revolutionary ethos. She suggests that, social and caste 
differences notwithstanding, the refugees' common cultural roots 
in Saint-Domingue and initial estrangement from the Louisiana 
power structure encouraged intricate interlacings of identity 
and interest among them. By examining the white, free black, and 
enslaved black Haitians, she offers a new approach to studying 
community formation and a new appreciation for the 
exceptionalism of Louisiana.
Preface and Acknowledgments
This book is designed as a small contribution to the 
boundless field of Louisiana history. My hope is to add to the 
developing reflection on the large multiracial migration that 
eventually reached Louisiana at the turn of the nineteenth 
century, bringing several thousand whites, free people of color, 
and slaves from the lost French colony of Saint-Domingue. The 
idea for this research sprang from my discovery of this large 
refugee influx and my subsequent difficulty in finding 
information on the topic, despite the proportion it represented 
of the Louisiana population at the time.
	Of course, much still remains to be done, although the 
importance and legacy of this migration has started to be 
properly assessed. In this research, I am heavily indebted to 
the pioneers on the topic, Gabriel Debien and Ren¿ Le Gardeur, 
and to those few who followed in their footsteps, including 
Thomas Fiehrer and Paul Lachance for Louisiana, as well as the 
historians of the refugee diaspora in the Caribbean, Alain 
Yacou, Jacques de Cauna, and Carlos Esteban Deive.
	This work is the result of many encounters with 
extraordinarily helpful people. I want to express my gratitude 
to the staffs of many archives and libraries for their 
availability and efficiency. I was heartily welcomed at the 
Special Collections of Louisiana State University at Baton 
Rouge, Tulane University and Xavier University at New Orleans, 
the Amistad Research Center of Tulane University, the New 
Orleans Public Library, the Historic New Orleans Williams 
Research Center, the Archives of the Archdiocese of New Orleans, 
the Notarial Archives Research Center of New Orleans, the 
Archivo General de la Nacion in Santo Domingo, and the Instituto 
Cultural Dominico-Americano in the Dominican Republic. My thanks 
go especially to Pamela Arceneaux, Wilbur Meneray, Charles E. 
Nolan, Sally Reeves, Brenda Square, and Lester Sullivan for 
their invaluable suggestions.
	During this research I met many scholars who helped and 
encouraged me. My deep thanks go to Virginia Meecham Gould for 
the challenging discussions we had over many a fine dinner in 
New Orleans, for the information we shared, and for her 
unwavering hospitality. I also thank Caryn Coss¿ Bell and Paul 
Lachance for their suggestions and interest, as well as 
Elizabeth Sullivan-Holleman and Isabel Hillery Cobb, who offered 
me their book at the end of the presentation I gave at a 
symposium celebrating the three hundredth anniversary of the 
French presence in the lower Mississippi basin (Biloxi, March 
1999). I owe a great debt to Sylvia Frey for giving me the right 
contacts for easier access to the sources and to the Deep South 
Regional Humanities Research Center of Tulane University for 
granting me a Georges Lurcy Postdoctoral Fellowship, which 
offered me the best conditions for summer research, and for 
making my life in New Orleans so much easier.
	I am also very grateful to my friends Sheryl Rahal and 
James Bolner for their patient revision of my manuscript and to 
Meredith Morris-Babb and the University Press of Florida for 
their trust in me. I also want to express my gratitude to the 
two anonymous readers and to the editors of the Southern Dissent 
series, Stanley Harrold and Randall M. Miller, for the time they 
spent on my manuscript and for their extraordinarily helpful 
suggestions. 	Studying the demographic facts of a migration is 
a painstaking task. Trying to assess the influence of a refugee 
movement is still more difficult. Many people will find fault 
with my interpretative conclusions. Their remarks will help me 
move forward, since criticism is the fuel of research.
Some 200 years ago, a large refugee group settled in 
Louisiana after fleeing the turmoil of the slave revolution that 
occurred in Saint-Domingue. The revolution ended in the creation 
of Haiti, the second republic of the Americas and its first 
black republic, in 1804. Between 1791 and 1815, at least 15,000 
(and possibly close to 20,000) refugees from Saint-Domingue 
settled in the lower Mississippi region, 80 to 90 percent in New 
Orleans and vicinity.1 Considering the population of New Orleans 
at the time (the censuses give the figures of 5,028 in 1785, 
8,056 in 1799, and 17,242 in 1810), the multiracial influx was 
enormous and more than doubled the size of the New Orleans free 
population of color. This migration could not help but have a 
deep impact on Louisiana's social, economic, political, and 
cultural context. It eventually reinforced Louisiana's cultural 
exception in the United States as well as Louisianans' conscious 
efforts to dissent from the rest of the American South.
	Despite the importance of the migration, it attracted 
little attention from historians. A survey of nineteenth-century 
historiography reveals either a relatively brief mention of 
arrivals or a total silence.2 It is true that, until the 
nineteenth century, migrations were studied in the general 
transatlantic context rather than in an intracontinental 
perspective. It is most probable that the incorporation of 
Louisiana into the United States in 1803, exactly in the middle 
of the refugee flow, also overshadowed the importance of this 
migration. The new national destiny of this colonial territory 
brought many changes in the society, economy, politics, and 
culture of Louisiana and became a topic of major concern for 
historians. Ironically, the refugee community, which contributed 
so much to the persistence of a Gallic Creole culture despite 
the ongoing Americanization of Louisiana, attracted little 
interest from scholars. Various reasons might account for this 
neglect, including the three-tiered racial composition of the 
refugee population that was at odds with the ideology distilled 
in the antebellum and post-Reconstruction Anglo-American South. 
Finally, acknowledging the importance of the refugee flow in the 
socioeconomic and cultural development of Louisiana might have 
implied recognizing the indebtedness of the United States to 
Haiti at a time when the political elite of the country were 
trying to downplay the importance of this newly independent 
	Early-twentieth-century historians of Louisiana seemed to 
discover this migration, as reflected in a few superficial 
articles that simply state the existence of the refugees.4 The 
existence of the refugees seemed, by then, to have entered the 
Louisianan collective unconscious.5 Interest in the topic had not 
yet arisen, however, and only the pioneering works of Ren¿ Le 
Gardeur and Gabriel Debien, as well as Winston C. Babb in the 
mid-twentieth century (although his dissertation has remained 
unpublished), brought new light to this important event in 
Louisiana history.6 These historians kept writing that there was 
still much to do to grant fair recognition to the migration.7
	Some historians settled down to this task in the last two 
decades of the twentieth century, using Debien and Le Gardeur's 
work as a basis. Both Thomas Fiehrer and Paul Lachance, for 
instance, made invaluable contributions to the understanding of 
the "unfathomed legacy" of the refugee movement.8 At that point, 
realizing the importance of this scholarly work, Carl A. 
Brasseaux and Glenn R. Conrad edited The Road to Louisiana, a 
collection of the main articles written by Debien, Le Gardeur, 
Fiehrer, and Lachance, with the aim of attempting to "fill 
comprehensively one of the most enduring lacunae in Louisiana 
historiography."9 Gathering the scattered articles into a volume 
was the best way to draw attention to this forgotten aspect of 
Louisiana history. It was also a good incentive for other 
researchers to follow the trail of the refugees.
	Today almost everyone in Louisiana has heard about this 
refugee movement which, according to Fiehrer, had "remained 
buried until recently in the recesses of the collective 
unconscious,"10 and even most travel guides mention its influence 
on Louisiana society. Moreover, Louisianans now seem conscious 
of this impact, and all responded favorably to the author's 
assumption that the refugees had influenced Louisiana in more 
than one way. Most inhabitants of New Orleans with (real or 
supposed) Saint-Domingan ancestry are proud of their origins, 
and several individuals and genealogical societies have been 
working on the topic. Articles are regularly published in the 
New Orleans Genesis, and New Orleans boasts a Saint-Domingan 
special interest group.11 The refugees are even often surrounded 
by a mythical aura.12 Now that the refugees' true contribution is 
being assessed, all kinds of legends circulate on their 
contribution.13 A more precise assessment of their legacy--which 
will probably strengthen some beliefs and damage some legends--
seems necessary.14 It will undoubtedly enable a better 
understanding of Louisiana's dissenting tradition in the 
American South and in the United States more generally.
	Although the present work will use extensively the first 
findings of the pioneers and will present a summarized view of 
the migration itself, its ultimate goal will be to pave the way 
for assessing the "unfathomed legacy," which may well prove to 
be unfathomable. This is an arduous task that necessarily 
implies interpretative conclusions with which other historians 
might disagree. Indeed, it goes far beyond studying the facts, 
figures, and conditions of the migration. It even goes beyond 
considering the refugees' reception by the Louisiana population 
and conditions of insertion into this population, although this 
will have to be included in the study. It is an attempt to 
determine what impact they had on the social, economic, and 
political life of Louisiana and to what extent they influenced 
Louisiana culture. Probably the most difficult task is to draw 
the line between mere visibility, due to the great number of 
immigrants, and real influence that might derive from the 
dynamism fostered by their previous experience in Saint-Domingue 
and by the trauma of flight and relocation in an unknown 
	This will require some reflection on a number of notions 
involved in the migration processes, in terms of ethnicity, 
integration, assimilation, amalgamation, acculturation, and 
creolization (or rather re-creolization here).15 These notions 
will not be treated theoretically, however, but will be 
systematically applied to the case of the Saint-Domingan 
refugees in Louisiana. This will imply a reflection on the 
existence of a symbolically ethnic community.16 In this respect, 
the conditions of this forced migration play an important part. 
Studying a migration necessitated by revolution calls for 
totally different concepts than when studying a voluntary 
migration, whatever proportion of push (rather than pull) 
factors may have caused the latter.
	Moreover, both the similarities and differences between the 
society they knew before their migration and the one they found 
upon arrival are essential to understanding their easy 
integration and potential influence on their new homeland. The 
reflection on the legacy of the refugees--especially their 
cultural legacy--requires an intimate knowledge of both their 
original society and the society that they discovered upon 
reaching their new abode. The task is made especially difficult 
by the multiracial character of the refugee population as well 
as the various social statuses found among the migrants. The 
migrant group not only included white people and black slaves, 
but also free people of color with various proportions of 
African ancestry. The present study will thus have to focus on 
the three groups, which obviously had very different statuses. 
Because of the long neglect of people of African descent, free 
and enslaved, by the dominant historiography and the later 
attempt by historians to compensate for this omission, the 
various groups have often been studied separately. Within the 
scope of the present historical rehabilitation of the entire 
refugee community, dividing the refugee population--which 
included people from all three groups in almost equal numbers--
was inappropriate.
	If these people, either of African, European, or mixed 
ancestry, had been influenced only by their original birthplace 
or that of their ancestors, such an association would have 
proved overly complex. The initial hypothesis of the present 
work, however, is that they all came to the Americas with 
definite social and cultural patterns but that they gained an 
identity, a kind of common cultural blend, through their stay in 
Saint-Domingue. This implies a creolization due to their 
coexistence (whether chosen or unwanted) as well as the specific 
character of the place in which they lived and the society that 
emerged from it. This will to treat the community without 
separating the groups does not, by any means, run counter to any 
study of the specific African contributions to Louisiana or the 
French, Spanish, or American influences. This study is aimed to 
be complementary, since its main focus bears on the specific 
traits developed in Saint-Domingue by French colonists, African 
slaves, and their offspring of mixed ancestry who came to the 
Gulf Coast and to New Orleans at the turn of the nineteenth 
	The present work is deeply indebted to the historians who 
have started exploring this migration, which occurred at a 
crucial point in Louisiana history. The sources also include 
much archival material, from the sacramental records to the 
notarial acts of the period. It also draws from public and 
private correspondence, from the letters of the officials who 
ruled Louisiana to the private papers of several families, 
either from Saint-Domingue or from the Louisiana Creole society, 
thus bearing witness to the refugees' intimate experience and 
how they were perceived by the Louisiana Creoles. Finally, the 
present study relies on many secondary sources dealing with 
specific aspects of the Saint-Domingan society, the revolution, 
and subsequent events, as well as on the abundant literature 
concerning the Louisiana society. Those works on Saint-Domingue 
and Louisiana were read with the constant purpose of tracing 
influences and determining the legacy of the refugees in their 
new homeland. Some influences were easily traceable, for the 
authors of the pioneer studies had--at least partially--
identified them. Others, however, had not been associated with 
the Saint-Domingan group, and tracing them was sometimes an 
arduous task. Articles have been written on newspapermen, 
printers, authors, and many other professionals who were 
refugees or descendants of refugees, although their authors were 
unaware of those origins.17 They simply thought they were writing 
about Louisiana Creoles of European or mixed African ancestry, 
which may be a good indicator of the perfect assimilation of the 
refugees into nineteenth-century Louisiana Creole society.
	The present overview of the migration and of its legacy to 
the history of Louisiana will be a novel attempt at 
understanding this specific population movement. I hope it will 
launch other scholars on the path of the refugees, especially on 
the "road to Louisiana." It will also be a new attempt at 
understanding Louisiana's difference and dissenting tradition 
(both in the South and in the United States), a characteristic 
that has persisted even into the twenty-first century.
	The present study will open with a brief historical survey 
of Saint-Domingue in the eighteenth century, including some 
references to the revolution itself, with special focus on the 
various waves of departures from the island. It will also 
briefly examine the way in which the migration occurred, as well 
as the various destinations of the refugee diaspora. The second 
chapter will study more specifically the Louisiana destination, 
the reason why the refugees chose to go (and stay) there, the 
society the newcomers found in this new homeland, as well as 
their reception by the Louisiana population and authorities. The 
study will then focus on the refugee population, the links 
between its various members, the sense of community it 
developed, and the kind of "symbolic ethnicity" it built. The 
last four chapters will assess the refugees' legacy in the 
economic, social, political, and cultural fields.

Library of Congress Subject Headings for this publication:

Haitian Americans -- Louisiana -- New Orleans -- History -- 18th century.
Haitian Americans -- Louisiana -- New Orleans -- History -- 19th century.
Immigrants -- Louisiana -- New Orleans -- History.
Refugees -- Louisiana -- New Orleans -- History.
Refugees -- Haiti -- History.
Haitians -- Migrations -- History.
Haiti -- History -- Revolution, 1791-1804 -- Refugees.
Haiti -- Emigration and immigration -- History.
New Orleans (La.) -- Emigration and immigration -- History.
New Orleans (La.) -- Social conditions.