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In France's maritime seaports, methods of both establishing and subverting racial hierarchy differed from techniques used in the colonies. With its small but steady population of slaves and free blacks, the Atlantic seaport of La Rochelle had little need for the mechanisms of slave control that were utilized in the French Antilles, nor would the state support such measures. The French state worked to keep an ever-closer eye on its black population with its increasingly strict regulation: the Edict of 1716, the Declaration of 1738, and the Police des Noirs legislation of 1777. Laws mandated, for example, that owners could only bring slaves into France for two reasons: to be educated in the Catholic religion or to learn a trade. Additionally, slaves had to leave France within a period of three years. Going even further, the 1777 Police des Noirs law, a piece of legislation based on skin color alone, mandated that all people of color, slave or free, register with the Admiralty office. No people of color were allowed to enter France, and those who were already there were encouraged to leave.

Even as government regulation of people of color grew more stringent, slaves and free women and men worked to shape their own status and to create and use networks of patronage to their own advantage. Many free blacks in La Rochelle had lived there for years and were familiar with the port city's politics, conflicts, and power structures. They challenged efforts to restrict their liberty, playing local and national interests against each other and creating their own networks of patronage and mutual interest. Both free and slave women and men in France drew on French ideas of masculinity, femininity, and household structure to make claims for freedom and integration into the Rochelais community. In particular, authority over their wives enabled black men to make claims to masculinity and legitimized their positions in the community as heads of households.[1]

In this article, I will focus on four cases. The first is that of Pierre Neptune, a former African slave who positioned himself as a male head of household to substantiate his claim to patriarchal privilege. The second examines Antoine Montreal, who emphasized his own patriarchal privilege over his race. Next, the case of Jean Nicolas demonstrates the difficulty contemporaries experienced in concretely defining racial identity. Finally, the former slaves Marie Catherine Mercier and Marie Jeanne Angelique had fewer options because of the dual oppressions of their race and their gender.

People of color and their relationships

People of color in La Rochelle knew each other and sought each other out in times of need. They picked their ways around the laws that made their presence in France increasingly precarious and even capitalized on and manipulated the historic conflict of authority between the rebellious city and the centralized authority of the king. In doing so, they formed their own patron-client relationships and put forth their own variants of authority, which often simultaneously built on and undermined patterns of authority set by their owners. In forming friendships or romantic relationships, people of color often turned to others of similar race or status.[2] Gender played a central role, however, in cementing claims along lines of race and status. Specifically, men of color used their authority over women and children to assert masculinity, a status that gave them both rights and position within the community. Expectations of masculinity and femininity in France extended to slaves and free people of color, shaping their gender roles, family structures, and ultimately their position in Rochelais society.

The slave Pierre Neptune maneuvered among state authorities, local officials, and his owner, successfully managing to gain his freedom and to become an established member of the Rochelais community of people of color. According to his own declaration in the 1777 Police des Noirs survey, Pierre Neptune was brought to France by one Monsieur Cadou, a white ship's captain, in 1724. Neptune identified himself as a native of Juda, on the coast of Guinea, and said that Cadou took him from his native land when he was only fourteen years old and brought him to La Rochelle on the ship Le Saint Philippe.[3] They probably came by way of the Antilles, where Cadou likely sold the rest of his human cargo. Exercising the customary privilege of the captains of slave ships, Cadou brought Pierre Neptune to France as his own slave. Neptune served Cadou for twenty-two years, and on his master's death in 1749 his heirs gave the African his liberty, apparently in accordance with their father's wishes.[4] Neptune was thirty-six.

In the decades he lived in La Rochelle, first as a slave and then as a free man, Neptune formed long-standing relationships with other free blacks. He married and had children, and he remained a constant figure in the port city for many years. Six years before Neptune received his freedom, Issac Vatable registered his slave Lisette with the Admiralty. He was traveling from Guadeloupe with his wife and children, and they brought Lisette, whom he identified as a twenty-six-year-old "creole negress," to serve them on their voyage. He also planned to instruct her in the Catholic religion, in accordance with the law. He promised to return Lisette to the colony within three years, as required.[5] Lisette remained in La Rochelle, however, and eventually she too received her freedom. She met Neptune, and in spite of their very different backgrounds, he from Africa and she born in the colonies, they were drawn together.

In the ten years after Pierre Neptune received his freedom, he built a life similar to that of many other residents of La Rochelle. Lisette changed her name to Louise, and she and Neptune were married. They had several children, although none lived. They both worked as independent laborers. Attitudes towards people of color in France had already begun to change, however. New legal strictures regulated their presence in France, and authorities increasingly pressured them to leave the country for the French Caribbean colonies. In 1763, Pierre Neptune complied with the law and made a declaration for himself and his wife in a survey of people of color living in La Rochelle. He promised that they would return to Saint-Domingue or Martinique, where neither of them ever seems to have lived, as he had been born in Africa and his wife had been raised in Guadeloupe. Neptune perhaps specified these colonies because Rochelais merchants traded with them most frequently, but perhaps also he wanted to avoid mention of his wife's colonial homeland. Although the former slave agreed to comply with the law and to move his household to the colonies, he undoubtedly had reservations about crossing the Atlantic on a voyage redolent of the Middle Passage, bound for a destination where the majority of the black population was enslaved. He had already undergone this horrific journey once in his life, and both he and his wife had already endured slavery. Neptune did not voice these reservations to the officials who recorded his statement, but he did point out the prohibitive cost of travel to the colonies and asked that the king pay for the trip.

Although childless, Neptune mentioned in his declaration that the couple had a mulatto girl of seventeen living with them. The identity of this girl is not clear; Neptune only mentions her once, in his 1763 declaration. She could be any number of young slave girls who arrived in La Rochelle from the late 1740s through the early 1760s. She could be Rosette, a mulatto girl of the right age, who arrived with her owner five years earlier from Saint-Domingue.[6] Alternatively, she could be Nanette, who worked as a chambermaid and was eventually freed by her mistress.[7] She even could have been born in France, daughter of a French man and his dark-skinned mistress or wife, product of a colonial liaison. Former slave men in France sometimes married French women, and she could have been born of this genre of union. Perhaps she was staying with Neptune and Louise until she found work in La Rochelle. She even could have been the daughter of either Louise or Neptune from a previous relationship. Whatever her origins, in acting as the patrons of this girl, Neptune and Louise took part in a traditional model of patronage. Their patronage, however, was specifically given to a girl whose status in France, like theirs, was determined by her skin color.

In 1788, eleven years after the passage of the Police des Noirs legislation, Rochelais officials were still stalling their enforcement of the legislation by delaying the registration of laws and raising question after question about the fine points of their enforcement.[8] Pierre Neptune and Louise could hardly have been unaware of the tensions between the local administration and the royal officials that led to this delay. In this context, Neptune's request for royal financing seems to be political savvy rather than thrift, a wise move that bought himself and his wife at least fourteen more years of freedom in France.

In 1777, Pierre Neptune and Louise were still living in La Rochelle; they seem never to have made further appeals for financial support for a transatlantic journey. Louise worked as a washerwoman and Neptune as a day laborer, and both professed to be practicing Catholics.[9] None of their three children lived past childhood, and the documents make no further mention of the mulatto girl. Their story suggests that slaves and free blacks living in France fit into and adopted traditionally French forms of patronage, with superiors in terms of status, power, or standing in the community acting to protect those less powerful than they.

Neptune could have drawn on several contemporary strands of thought to make his claim for freedom. Significantly, however, he neither asserted his equality using Enlightenment rhetoric about the rights of man, nor did he frame himself as a supplicant begging a superior for freedom. Neither did he explicitly suggest to local officials that his continued freedom would score them a point in their struggle against royal hegemony. Instead, Neptune drew on two widespread French ideas so well established they were difficult to counter: gendered family roles and patronage ties between social superiors and inferiors. Slaves and free blacks adopted these roles as they sought to become part of the broader community in La Rochelle. Neptune included the mulatto girl as a member of his household, framing this relationship both in terms of traditional French notions of patronage and protection of inferiors and also in terms of African ideas of extended family and fictive kin. In his declarations, Neptune presented his masculinity in a way that would leave no doubt about it, either in his native or his adopted countries: he asserted his own authority over his household.

Neptune actively shaped contested meanings of race in La Rochelle by asserting the primacy of masculine gender privilege over racial disadvantage. He worked to highlight the similarities between himself and other male heads of households in the town through emphasizing the differences between himself and the women in his charge. Men of color in La Rochelle presented gender as a fixed and immutable hierarchy against which they contrasted variable concepts of race. Neptune's declaration vividly expresses the hierarchical helix of gender and race. By including the mulatto girl in his declaration, Neptune offered her the status of a daughter whom he and his wife would care for and protect, even if they all went to the colonies. However, he could only extend this offer because he was a male head of household. By making a declaration as a head of household that included his wife and another person, he was drawing on patriarchal privilege to emphasize his gender over his race.

Masculinity, race, and patriarchy

Racial hegemony and patriarchal authority vied for supremacy in nation-wide surveys of people of color living in France, which took place in 1763 and 1777. The clash between these two conflicting power structures emerged most noticeably in the registers of free people of color living in the country. In these documents, freed women rarely made their own declarations; more often, husbands, male relatives, or male employers made the declarations for them. In these cases, patriarchy and race did not conflict. However, the declarations made for or by free men of color raised questions about which hierarchy took precedence. Should white men or even women make these declarations for free blacks, often their servants? Or should freed black men register themselves, their wives, and their children? Through their dealings with authorities, blacks shaped and challenged colonial-influenced ideas about race while building their claims for belonging in La Rochelle on patriarchy. Freed men of color, in particular, hinged assertions for inclusion in Rochelais society on their long-term associations with the community and, especially, on their roles as heads of households.

The initial 1763 municipal Police des Noirs survey conducted by the city of La Rochelle included only two declarations made by free blacks themselves: those of Pierre Neptune and Antoine Montreal. Although other free people of color lived in La Rochelle at the time, only Montreal and Neptune went to the authorities to make their own statements; other free people of color had declarations made by white masters who employed them as servants, former owners, husbands, or white relatives. Unlike most of the other free people of color who appeared in the survey, both Neptune and Montreal were husbands and heads of households. The men had both lived in La Rochelle for many years, Neptune for fifty-two and Montreal for forty-six. Both of them made claims of belonging in the Rochelais community based on their long residence, their faithful service to their masters, and their own patriarchal authority as heads of households.

Like Neptune, Antoine Montreal had been brought to La Rochelle as a boy. He arrived in 1717, only thirteen years old.[10] A native of Guinea, he came to France with a ship's captain whose name he could not recall. He served as a slave to Monsieur Pascauld, a merchant and a former deputy of the powerful Chamber of Commerce, until his owner died. He became the property of his former owner's widow, but when she wanted to take him with her to her new home in Paris, Montreal balked. He refused to leave La Rochelle, arguing with his mistress that at over sixty years old he was too old and infirm to make the trip, adding that he did not want to live in Paris. She agreed to leave him behind and gave him his freedom.[11] She also left him a substantial annual income of 200 livres upon her death. At a late age Montreal married a white French woman, but at the time of his declaration his wife had recently passed away after only five years of marriage.[12] Although the Declaration of 1738 forbade slaves from marrying, as a free man Montreal was exempt from this stricture.[13] His marriage to a white woman suggests not only a level of integration into Rochelais society, but also his persistent emphasis on status over race: as a free man, he could marry whomever he wished.

Neptune and Montreal's stories follow a similar trajectory. They arrived in La Rochelle within a few years of each other, both served a single owner for many years, received their freedom from their masters, and, significantly, married after becoming free. Like Neptune, Montreal expressed his uncertainty that the laws regulating blacks applied to him and asked for special consideration because of his long-standing membership in the community. In Montreal's 1763 declaration, for example, he points to his exceptionality, detailing how his status makes him different from other people of color:

The above named Montreal, sixty years old and infirm, has lived in this town for many years and has served as the domestic of Madame Pascauld for a very long time. She has left him two hundred livres of annual income. . . . He asks if he is in the same case as the other blacks with regard to his age and infirmity, [and] free state.[14]
Despite framing his declaration as a query, Montreal made clear that he felt he was an exception and that he differed from other people of color in La Rochelle because of his long residence in the community, status as a free man, white wife, and independent income. Like Neptune, Montreal put the burden of action on state officials; he complied with the requirement to register while making it clear that he viewed himself as a member of the community. By making his own declaration, using his white wife as a symbol of his belonging, Montreal made a powerful statement in favor of patriarchal authority.

Montreal, like Neptune, participated actively in the process of his classification. He elided racial differences between himself and the officials recording his declaration by emphasizing their gender similarities. For Montreal, race was an unstable category which, in the words of feminist theorist Amy Kaminsky, "rests on multiple factors, including self-definition, external attribution, and political exigency."[15] In contrast, gender categories were more stable and less contestable. Men of color in La Rochelle similarly played these categories off each other, using assumptions of fixed gender identity, bolstered by their assertions of masculinity substantiated by their wives and children, to shape fluctuating concepts of race. They worked to manipulate race as a category through their declarations, counterpoising it against supposedly fixed ideas about gender.

In emphasizing their status as married men and fathers, Neptune, Montreal, and other free men of color drew on what Robert Nye in his study of French masculinity calls "the concept of sexual identity," that is, the principles by which historical actors conceptualized and played out their sexuality as a lived social category.[16] They drew on masculinity as a fluctuating but "natural" category, implicitly opposing it to a much less stable concept of race, which many scientists and men of letters also framed as a natural category. By confronting these two categories, however, Neptune and Montreal contrasted their race with their gender, asserting that they were manly enough to have wives and to father children and also demonstrating that their gender was fixed in an identifiably French way that emphasized masculine honor through control over women and children.[17] Nye also suggests that in the eighteenth century "to contemporaries it must have seemed that family honor was inseparable from [a] stirring love of country."[18] In asserting the integrity of their family units, therefore, free men of color also were asserting their Frenchness.

Defining blackness

The construction of race did not take place in a closed society, however, and global events influenced the definition of race in France. The Seven Years' War (1756-1763), following closely on the heels of the War of Austrian Succession (1740-1748), disrupted the Atlantic trade routes, and the French merchant marine had to be constantly on the lookout for English corsairs on the prowl. These expensive wars drained the royal French treasury and interrupted trade between France and the Caribbean, also causing hardship for merchants, sailors, dockworkers, and shopkeepers whose livelihoods depended on transatlantic trade.[19] In order to fill this gap in trade, many ships' captains directed their vessels toward the Far East, particularly the French colonies in India.[20] Ships' captains persisted in exercising their customary privilege of returning to France with a slave as their personal property, and ships continued to carry passengers and their slaves. The population of people of color in France included those with roots in India or the French-held Île de Bourbon (presently Réunion) and Île de France (presently Mauritius), as sailors, administrators, merchants, colonists, and their families trickled back to the mother country, their slaves in tow. Of different complexion, features, and cultural background than slaves of African descent, these slaves posed challenges to emerging systems of racial classification. They could use their cultural and phenotypical differences in their favor as they formed ties in the French communities where they lived and made claims for freedom.

Jean Nicolas, a forty-year-old mulatto, arrived in La Rochelle from the Île de France in the Indian Ocean in about 1755 with his owner, one Monsieur Durango, an engineer for the king's works in the French colony of Pondicherry on the eastern side of the Indian subcontinent. Durango gave Jean Nicolas his liberty, and as a free man Nicolas worked as a cook to several French families. In 1777, when Jean Nicolas made his Police des Noirs declaration, he was in the service of M de Cramahay, an officer in the king's navy and a knight of the order of Saint Louis, and living in a small town a few miles from La Rochelle. Jean Nicolas had married a white woman named Marie Anne Perraud; together they had one child.[21]

A long-time resident of France, clearly well settled into the town in which he lived, Jean Nicolas' somewhat ambiguous racial identity, both as a mulatto and native of India, contributed to his ability to claim inclusion in the community for himself and his heirs. In the 1763 survey, no free male mulattoes declared their own presence to the authorities, although a number of both free black men and free mulatta women made their own declarations. This evidence suggests an opportunity for free mulattoes to become absorbed in the community, an opportunity that disappeared with the passage of the more stringent 1777 Police des Noirs laws, which applied to "blacks, mulattoes, or other people of color of one or the other sex."[22]

Some Indians brought their cases before the courts, defining their racial identities negatively, as not African, in order to gain their freedom and assert their place in French society. Sue Peabody investigates the case of Francisque, a slave born in India whose ambiguous racial identity was the basis for his suit for freedom.[23] In 1758, Francisque's lawyer argued before the Parlement of Paris that because he was not a black slave, the laws of 1716 and 1738 did not apply to him. Peabody points to the slippage in the French term nègre (now considered a vulgar term for a black person) in its relation to color and status; as the eighteenth century progressed, it increasingly referred exclusively to a slave of African descent. In such a context, definitions of race gained in importance. Indeed, Francisque's lawyers hinged their case on arguing that he was not in fact a nègre, because he had been born in India. Francisque ultimately was given his freedom, although the reasons why remain unclear.

Jean Nicolas had much in common with Francisque. A native of the Île de France and a mulatto to boot, in appearance he would more closely have resembled Francisque or even the French natives who surrounded him than Montreal, Neptune, Gilles, Louise, or other slaves coming from Africa or the Caribbean. Of mixed parentage himself, he brought out uncertainties in race and slavery, both because he was the son of a European and because he was not African. He may not have been perceived as a black man or as subject to the laws governing blacks in France. However, his masculinity and his status as a head of household were not in doubt; in his declaration, he specifically mentioned his white wife and their son. In spite of his father's declaration, Jean Nicolas' son does not appear in the register as a person of color. The former slave likely made a conscious choice to define his child as European. The official who took his declaration, knowing what Jean Nicolas looked like and his former status as a slave, accepted this choice. Nicolas' appearance in the register – and his son's absence – suggest that in France, racial classifications strayed from those outlined in the colonies, which usually focused on strict genealogical interpretations of bloodlines. Instead, racial classification depended more on appearance and status within the community.

Women's opportunities: slavery, servitude, and marriage

Slavery and freedom had different implications for men and women. Not only was slavery a gendered experience, but freedom and belonging in a community were also asserted in highly gendered ways.[24] Their gender effectively limited opportunities available to women both slave and free. The experiences of slaves Jean Baptiste André Deday, Marie Catherine Mercier, and Marie Jeanne Angelique suggest how gender shaped the position and opportunities of people of color in La Rochelle. Monsieur Ménard de Saint Michel brought all three slaves from Saint-Domingue. Deday, the only man, was born in Cap Français, Saint-Domingue, and came to France with his owner in about 1752, when he was about sixteen years old. He served Ménard as a domestic slave for eight years and then received his liberty. However, he continued working for Ménard as a domestic for another fourteen years, probably under similar circumstances as he had labored as a slave.[25] In the end, after working for Ménard for twenty-two years, Deday left his former owner to enter the service of the Marquis de Niran, an act that emphasized that he had one major power as a servant that he lacked as a slave: the power to make contracts. Armed with his freedom, he could enter into the service of anyone he wished, and in the end, he declared his independence by leaving his former owner. Marie Catherine Mercier and Marie Jeanne Angelique, brought to France by the same Monsieur Ménard, did not have that opportunity.

Marie Catherine Mercier and Marie Jeanne Angelique arrived in France in 1754 and 1756 respectively, both brought by Ménard. Both negresses came from Ménard's plantation in Cap Français; Mercier was twenty-three when she arrived in France and Angelique only eight. They could have been mother and daughter. Although they did not explain their relationship, they certainly knew each other in Saint-Domingue, and they continued their association in France, even going together to make their obligatory declarations to the Admiralty. Upon their arrival in France, the two women disembarked in Bordeaux. Mercier served her owner for two years after their arrival there. Although at that point he gave her liberty, she remained in his service for an additional twenty years, almost up to the time of the Police des Noirs declaration. At the beginning of 1777, Ménard decided to have her trained as a seamstress, suggesting that he still oversaw her welfare even though she was not enslaved. Ménard gave the eight-year-old Angelique to his sister in 1756. Angelique served her new mistress for twenty and a half years, a point on which she was very precise. She finally received her liberty, probably just before she made the declaration. She also worked as a seamstress.[26] None of the three former slaves detailed the journey from Bordeaux to La Rochelle, but in all likelihood they made it together, probably accompanying their master.

Although Mercier and Angelique were in situations very similar to that of Deday, their options were considerably more limited than his because of their gender. Their late-life training as seamstresses put them in the category of skilled female workers. The opportunity to acquire these skills came at the steep price of more than twenty years of slavery and domestic service. During these years, they were both dependent on and vulnerable to their master, placing them in a precarious situation within the household.[27] This vulnerability also limited their mobility; men servants tended to travel farther and more frequently than women.[28] Further, fewer opportunities for employment were available to women than men, making it less likely that the two women could find employment elsewhere.[29] In a society defined by the patriarchal family unit, women had little choice but to attach themselves to fathers, husbands, or masters. In fact, in 1777, Mercier and Angelique were two of only three free women of color who made their own declarations. The third, Victoire, was probably the illegitimate daughter of a wealthy colonist, possibly one who had roots in La Rochelle. A mulatto from Louisiana and a boarding pupil in the Convent of the Ladies of Providence in La Rochelle, she had been brought to France to be educated.[30] Other free women of color were declared by their employers, who often were their former masters or, like Louise, by their husbands.

People of color in La Rochelle adapted the hierarchical French social structure for their own purposes and to assert their own freedoms. Free men of color emphasized gender as fixed and immutable next to variable constructions of race, and they presented gender rather than race as an organizing hierarchy. Free men of color thus made claims to inclusion in Rochelais society by creating bonds of patronage themselves and by emphasizing their status as heads of households based on their control over their wives and children. These privileges enabled them to appeal to a common ground of masculinity between themselves and those who recorded their declarations. Black women, free or slave, had no such recourse. Their race united with established gender hierarchies to further circumscribe the opportunities they might have found in France. Gendered expectations limited the opportunities for women of color who were brought to France, and the ways in which they could both participate in and voice their role in their new community.


    1. Amy Dru Stanley similarly argues that newly-freed slave men made claims to freedom and masculinity through their ownership of the labor of their wives and children in the post-bellum United States: From Bondage to Contract: Wage Labor, Marriage, and the Market in the Age of Slave Emancipation (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1998), ch. 4, esp. 143.return to text

    2. Kathleen M. Brown, Good Wives, Nasty Wenches, and Anxious Patriarchs: Gender, Race, and Power in Colonial Virginia (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1996), 236-41. Brown discusses relationships among free blacks in the colony of Virginia and highlights that they were more likely to form ties with those of similar social or economic groups, including slaves and occasionally poor whites. return to text

    3. "Registre Conténaint les déclarations des noirs, mulâtres, et autres gens de couleur, en conséquence de l'Edit du Roy du 9 aout 1777," 1777, Archives Départementales de la Charente Maritime [hereafter ADCM], B 258.return to text

    4. Ibid. Neptune gives a full account of his history in his Police des Noirs testimony, including the date of his freedom and the name of the notary in front of whom the act was passed. Also see Notary Act, 7 Mar. 1749, ADCM 3 E 1612, which records Neptune's liberty. return to text

    5. "Registre de sa Majesté commencé le 19 octobre 1737 et fini le 27 juin 1744," ADCM B 226. return to text

    6. "Registre de sa majesté du greffe du l'amirauté commencé le 14 Avril 1757 et finy le 20 8bre 1760," 9 Sept. 1758, ADCM B 230. return to text

    7. Ibid., 17 Feb. 1758. return to text

    8. For example, one notable epistle asked if an exception could be made for black wet nurses of white children. La Luzerne to the Admiralty officers in La Rochelle, Versailles, 17 July 1788, ADCM B 5592. return to text

    9. "Registre Conténaint les déclarations des noirs, mulâtres, et autres gens de couleur, en conséquence de l'Edit du Roy du 9 aout 1777," ADCM B 258. return to text

    10. "Etat des noirs libres qui sont en France," 1777, Archives Municipales de La Rochelle [hereafter AMLR] Police des Noirs, 352. return to text

    11. Police des Noirs, 1777, ADCM B 258. return to text

    12. Police des Noirs, AMLR 352. return to text

    13. "Déclaration concernant les nègres esclaves des Colonies," 15 Dec. 1738, Art. 9: François-André Isambert et al., eds., Recueil général des anciennes lois françaises, depuis l'an 420 jusqu'à la Révolution de 1789 (Paris: Plon, 1821-33), 22:114.return to text

    14. Police des Noirs, 1777, AMLR 352.return to text

    15. Amy Kaminsky, "Gender, Race, Raza," Feminist Studies 20:1 (1994): 11. return to text

    16. Robert A. Nye, Masculinity and Male Codes of Honor in Modern France (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1993), viii. Nye argues that "sexual identity has been largely experienced and regarded in the past as a natural quality, expressed in and through the body and its gestures" (6).return to text

    17. In contrast, in her study of masculinity and race in the United States, Gail Bederman explores black men's struggle to achieve "manliness," which was implicitly defined in terms of whiteness and white masculine ideals: Manliness and Civilization: A Cultural History of Gender and Race in the United States, 1880-1917 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1995), 29. Bederman discusses the black heavyweight prizefighter Jack Johnson who self-consciously framed himself as a paragon of masculinity, portraying his successive white wives "as wealthy, respectable women whose husband was successful and manly enough to support them in comfort and luxury" (9).return to text

    18. Nye, 33. return to text

    19. The bulk of La Rochelle's slave trade in particular was conducted from 1729-90, with peak years in 1739, 1769, 1774, and 1783-87 and nadir years from 1744-47, 1756-62, and 1779-82, following the general pattern of the French slave trade. Robert Louis Stein, The French Slave Trade in the Eighteenth Century: An Old Regime Business (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1979), 207-9. return to text

    20. Ibid, ch. 9. return to text

    21. "Déclaration du Nommé Jean Nicolas, Mulatre," 18 Sept. 1777, Centre des Archives d'Outre Mer [hereafter CAOM] Colonies F1B4 Dossier VI. This information is repeated in "Registre Conténaint les déclarations des noirs, mulatres, et autres gens de couleur, en consequence de l'Edit du Roy du 9 aout 1777," ADCM B 258. return to text

    22. "Déclaration pour la police des noirs," 9 Aug. 1777; and Isambert, 25:82. return to text

    23. Sue Peabody, "There Are No Slaves in France": The Political Culture of Race and Slavery in the Ancien Régime (New York: Oxford University Press, 1996), 57-71. return to text

    24. Many authors address the gendered experience of slavery, including Kirsten Fischer, Suspect Relations: Sex, Race, and Resistance in Colonial North Carolina (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2002); and Jennifer L. Morgan, Laboring Women: Reproduction and Gender in New World Slavery (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2004). For post-emancipation gendered experiences, see Pamela Scully, Liberating the Family? Gender and British Slave Emancipation in the Rural Western Cape, South Africa, 1823-1853 (Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, 1997); and Glenda E. Gilmore, Gender and Jim Crow: Women and the Politics of White Supremacy in North Carolina, 1896-1920 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1996). On the gendered nature of servitude in early modern France, see Cissie Fairchilds, Domestic Enemies: Servants and their Masters in Old Regime France (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1984); and Sarah Maza, Servants and Masters in Eighteenth-Century France (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1983). return to text

    25. "Déclaration du Noé. [Nommé] Deday noir," 19 Sept. 1777, CAOM Colonies F1B4 Dossier VI. return to text

    26. "Declaration de la Noée [Nommée] Marie Jeanne Angelique" and "Declaration de la Noée. Marie Catherine Mercier," 22 Sept. 1777, CAOM Colonies F1B4 Dossier VI. return to text

    27. Maza, 89. return to text

    28. Fairchilds, 63.return to text

    29. Maza, 43. return to text

    30. "Declaration de Negresse nommée Victoire," 5 Oct. 1777, CAOM Colonies F1B4 Dossier VI.return to text