The story of freedom in colonial New Orleans and Louisiana pivoted on the choices black women made to retain control of their bodies, families, and futures.
How did black women in colonial Louisiana navigate French and Spanish black and slavery codes to retain control of their bodies, families, and futures?
Jessica Marie Johnson, Assistant Professor of History at Johns Hopkins University and author of the award-winning book Wicked Flesh: Black Women, Intimacy, and Freedom in the Atlantic World, joins us to investigate answers to this question and to reveal what viewing the history of the Atlantic World through the histories of slavery and gender can show us about what life was really like for colonists, settlers, and the enslaved.
About the Show
Ben Franklin’s World is a podcast about early American history.
It is a show for people who love history and for those who want to know more about the historical people and events that have impacted and shaped our present-day world.
Ben Franklin’s World is a production of the Omohundro Institute.
Jessica Marie Johnson, Assistant Professor of History at Johns Hopkins University and author of the award-winning book Wicked Flesh: Black Women, Intimacy, and Freedom in the Atlantic World, joins us to investigate how black women in colonial Louisiana navigated French and Spanish slave codes to achieve a sense of control and freedom in the highly restricted world they lived in.
During our investigation, Jessica reveals details about French entry into colonization and the diplomacy they conducted to establish a trade with Africa; The place of colonial New Orleans and Louisiana within the larger worlds of Atlantic trade and colonization; And, information about the French Code Noir of 1685 and how African women and women of African descent navigated this code to create opportunities for freedom and control.
What You’ll Discover
- New Orleans and its place within the French and Spanish Atlantic Worlds
- France’s entry into colonization & transatlantic trade
- Life and trade in Senegal during the 17th century
- The slave trade between Senegal and the French
- La Traverse or the Middle Passage to Louisiana
- Experiences of Marie Baude
- New Orleans in the 1720s and 1730s
- The Code Noir and how the enslaved experienced it
- Ideas about blackness in colonial New Orleans
- How enslaved and free blacks gained knowledge of the Code Noir
- How the Code Noir developed between 1721 and the 1800s
- Development of free black communities in colonial New Orleans
- What freedom meant to enslaved women in colonial New Orleans
- What studying African and African-descended women reveals about what really happened on the ground in early America
Links to People, Places, and Publications
- Jessica Marie Johnson
- Jessica Marie on Twitter
- Jessica’s Digital Projects
- Electric Marroonage
- Slavery Archive Book Club
- Jessica Marie Johnson, Wicked Flesh: Black Women, Intimacy, and Freedom in the Atlantic World
- Rebecca Scott & Jean M. Hebrard, Freedom Papers: An Atlantic Odyssey in the Age of Emancipation
- Cécile Vidal, Caribbean New Orleans: Empire, Race, and the Making of a Slave Society
- Omohundro Institute
- Robert Parkinson’s Thirteen Clocks: How Race United the Colonies and Made the Declaration of Independence
Support Ben Franklin's World
Join Us!! Become a Ben Franklin’s World Member. Subscribe and help us bring history right to your ears!
- Episode 037: Kathleen DuVal, Independence Lost
- Episode 120: Marcia Zug, A History of Mail Order Brides in Early America
- Episode 167: Eberhard Faber, The Early History of New Orleans
- Episode 232: Christopher Hodson, The Acadian Diaspora
- Episode 282: Vincent Brown, Tacky’s Revolt
- Episode 289: Marcus Nevius, Maroonage & the Great Dismal Swamp
- Episode 295: Ibrahima Seck, Whitney Plantation Museum
- Episode 303: Matthew Powell, La Pointe-Krebs House
Time Warp Question
In your opinion, what might have happened if African women had not been involved in the slave trade? How might the history of Atlantic slavery be different if African women had not been enslaved?
Questions, Comments, Suggestions
Do you have a question, comment, or suggestion?
Get in Touch! Send me an e-mail, tweet, or leave a comment.
Enjoy the Podcast?
Why Not Listen regularly through one of these apps?
Ratings & Reviews
If you enjoy this podcast, please give it a rating and review.
Positive ratings and reviews help bring Ben Franklin's World to the attention of other history lovers who may not be aware of our show
Click here to rate & review on iTunes | Click here to rate & review on Stitcher