Being black under 18th century Spanish Louisiana law: An examination of the legal paths to freedom
Reed, Bertrand Johnathan, II
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Louisiana's history is uniquely Caribbean in nature due to having been controlled by three separate empires: France, Spain, and the United States- in the space of half a century. The transfers in power occurred close enough in time for the different sociopolitical cultures to cause noticeable change in the lives and behavior of the people of the territory. This study examines legislation written to pertain specifically to people of African descent, known literally and more comprehensively as "Black Code" in all three empires and languages, and how the changes between empires affected this group of people and their efforts at attaining upward social mobility. Following this, four cases found in the Archivo General de Indias of people of African descent utilizing legal methods to either attain freedom or improve social standing will be examined in context of the laws and culture of the times. This will be done to give evidence to the notion that community and manipulation of social capital was crucial in the efforts of slaves and freed people of color in countering the society stacked against them. Finally, this project will attempt a different presentation of the research in the form of a sample of a larger planned work of historical fiction.