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Desprez, Henriques (fl. 1777) Account of slave rebellion in New Orleans [in Spanish]

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Gilder Lehrman Collection #: GLC03040 Author/Creator: Desprez, Henriques (fl. 1777) Place Written: New Orleans, Louisiana Type: Letter signed Date: 24 February 1777 Pagination: 3 p. : docket ; 36.5 x 24 cm.

Summary of Content: Account of a slave rebellion while New Orleans was under Spanish rule. States that the rebellion occurred on 9 and 10 February 1777. Discusses what should be done to prevent future rebellions. States that drinking causes enslaved people to commit crimes and advises taking away their weapons. Mentions an uprising in the Suriname capital of Dutch Guinea in 1762 where all the whites were killed. Lists provisions that should be made to keep enslaved people from drinking, such as requiring bartenders not to serve them without their masters' permission.

Background Information:

Full Transcript: [draft translation]
The Procurator General of this city in representation of Your Excellency that since it has been proved of the uprising in this city on the night of the ...ninth through the tenth of the next day of the current month, it was absolutely without fundament and that the reaction taken by the Governor General of this province, we have bee" preserved of any success for the prudency and activity with his convenient commands to avoid the dangers that could have happen to us: he also said this matter needs the best attention from your majesty and it is consistent that now the negroes have known we are prepared in defense against them, suppose they want to come and commit some disorder: in any way you consider it, it is true that this manner can give a lot of ideas to the slaves making them more cautious and more discreet, if in the future they intend to do some bad actions against the whites in whose consequence the true way of content those in the obligation and in a regular subordination is (according with my belief) to execute the established law for the negroes of this province, they are wise, clever and His Excellency Count Ordeilly ordered the execution of the law even though they are not absolutely conformed with the law of the Indies: His Excellency saw the negroes code as a ordinance private to this province and also was dangerous to pay no attention without any risk produced by a new ordinance between the negroes to be accustomed to control imposed and completely know the charge applicable for the different crimes they can commit. These ordinances we do not put in execution with the negroe renegades who were not punished according with the negroes' code, Article XXXIV whose impunity has grown considerably. Numerous times they shot their rifles against the whites and their boldness sustained by the communication they have with the other negroes of their lodging can attract in the near future terrible consequences to this colony.
To take away the weapons from the slaves is a convincing proof of the vigilant attention of Your Excellency for the public welfare because the facility they have not only to get drunk in the tavern (against the continuous orders) also they carry their beverages in quantities to their lodgings transforming them completely to lose control of themselves and damage their temperament, this excites them to rob their masters to contribute to pay for their alcoholism, this put them in loose respect to the whites, escape, and also produce daily abominable crimes and this should be fixed as soon as possible to quickly resolve without any resentment Your Excellency. By estate you are the true father of this town if any lacking of attention over important matters to the tranquillity and conservation of inhabitants cost the devastation of this province! It is not necessary to make present to Your Excellency it is very important to destroy the escape of the slaves: everyone has been experimenting for themselves the terrible damage they have been doing and can do by the negroes renegade now for lack of harvesting created most of the time by their sudden desertion in the most rigorous of the works, now for the killing of the cattle they do daily in their loding in which they hurl down like hungry wolves looking for food to a high cost of the inhabitants and also destroy the inhabitant's cattle very necessary for the harvest of the land also you have to make present Your Excellency the tragic spectacular happening in the year of 1762 at the place called Berbiches belonging to the Surinam capital of the Dutch Guinea where the negroes had an uprising and killed all the whites. The prudence of your excellency of the favorable inclination that our honorable governor profess to have for this province assigning to his authority do not need to be exulted for attending to the inevitable disgrace which will happen if the political to the slaves is not sustained, whom they do not pretend to not shake a burden that always has been heavy they are going to find everything worse if they are used to doing it easier. In this consequence to fix some abuse at least from least to most and principally to the desertion of the slaves, the Procurator General require to Your Excellency.
FIRST encourage the difference, so penalty of a considerable fine and also a corporal punishment if the case require to all bar tenders to not give drinks publicly or smuggled to the slaves without permission from the master with the date when they should present themselves in the tavern. SECOND verify if the tenants of the tavern do not give more licenses than they are convenient according with the manager of this city. THIRD that such a tavern should not be attendant by any colored men. FOURTH finally that Your Excellency may make the favor of sending the negroes' code done in the month of March of 1721 especially for this province and authorizes for His Excellency Count Ordeilly now for execution in order like it is; and the deliveration that Your Excellency give it to be printed, published, reading, and located in any frequenting corner in this city New Orleans 29 of February of 1777 years.
Henriques Desprez
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People: Desprez, Henrique, fl. 1777

Historical Era: American Revolution, 1763-1783

Subjects: African American HistorySlaveryRebellionSlave RebellionGlobal History and US Foreign PolicyGlobal History and US Foreign PolicyAlcoholWeaponryCaribbeanCrime

Sub Era: The War for Independence

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