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date: 27 September 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter traces the diverse meanings that contemporaries and later generations attached to atrocities upon slaves revealed in New Orleans in 1834 and allegedly perpetuated by Delphine Lalaurie. For abolitionists, Lalaurie’s atrocities exposed the immorality of slavery, in particular the utter absence of legal constraints on slave masters. For defenders of the institution of slavery, Lalaurie’s forced exile from Louisiana demonstrated the compassion of a slaveholding community for its human chattel. After the Civil War, despite a poignant and provocative essay by George Washington Cable, the legend of Madame Lalaurie evolved into an isolated act of a depraved woman that contributed to the exoticism and romance of the French Quarter.

Keywords: Delphine Lalaurie, slave abuse, slave torture, abolitionism, slave, law, George Washington Cable

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