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Saturday, June 20, 2020

Destrehan Plantation: Part Five

Not Sponsored: For Part Five, I would like to focus on the 1811 German Coast Uprising (Slave Revolt) that occurred along the Mississippi River of Louisiana. You may be asking yourself, why it was called the German Coast Uprising. It was called the German Coast, because it had been settled by many German immigrants in the 1720s. I don't think I have to explain why the slaves planned this uprising. Throughout history, whenever there is disparity, inequality, and/or oppression there will always be dissatisfaction and an up-rise with people. Its bound to occur. Its usually not pretty. It was true then. It holds true now. I can't help but think about what is happening currently in The United States and also Worldwide, in regards to public protests and dissatisfaction with the way the world is today. Everyone has a voice. People want to be heard. There will be agreements and disagreements. If you desire change, its important to channel that energy into positive actions (personally, individually & collectively) that will make a difference and make the changes that are needed. My grandmother use to tell me, they can't take "that" away from you ... what's up there (brain)! So start with yourself. Start with your family. Strengthen your community. That's the path to positive change.

Destrehan Plantation

The 1811 German Coast Uprising Story: A group of enslaved plantation workers met on January 6, 1811 regarding the revolt. It was headed by a mulatto, Charles Deslondes. Slaves spread the word of the uprising to slaves from other plantations up and down the Mississippi River.

The revolt began January 8, 1811 on Andry Plantation (St. John Baptist Parish). The plantation owner Manual Andry was attacked with an axe wounding him. His son was killed (Gilbert Tomassin Andry). Despite being wounded Manual Andry was able to warn the inhabitants of other surrounding plantations. "According to eye witness accounts at the time, the rebels marched in military style while beating drums, waving flags, and armed with pikes, hoes, axes with a few carrying firearms (source)." An upwards of 200-500 enslaved people participated in this revolt. Small groups of slaves from other plantations joined the protest as they would pass.

The revolt was a two-day, twenty mile march! Plantation houses (a total of five), sugarhouses and crops were burnt (source) along the way. A plantation owner by the name of Jean Francois Trepangnier was killed. "By the end of the uprising, the rebels had murdered two whites but more than ninety-five rebels were killed during the uprising and in the retaliation, making the suppression of this revolt the bloodiest in the history of the country." (source)

Below (left) is a chart that outlines the two-day march route (where it began and ended January 10th). Its important to note that not all slaves participated in this uprising or supported the idea. Some provided support to the rebels. Others protected plantation owners property and told on other slaves. While all of this was going on, a militia was sent out and United States troops (US Army troops and Navy sailors) were called upon to quell the rebels. See chart below (right).

Deslondes was among the first captured by dogs after the battle. The militia did not hold him for trial or interrogation. Samuel Hambleton described Deslonde's fate: "Charles [Deslondes] had his hands chopped off then shot in one thigh & then the other, until they were both broken — then shot in the body and before he had expired was put into a bundle of straw and roasted!"[9] His dying cries sent a message to the other escaped slaves in the marshes.[10] (source)

For the other slaves that were captured, there were various parish trials. For most it meant death. There was death by firing squad. More than 100 heads of the executed were displayed on pikes along River Road. Many of the bodies were mutilated. Some slaves were forced to watch the executions. Some were even lashed with a whip.

Below are the names of the Destrehan slaves who died in 1811 fighting an oppressive government for their freedom.

I live near a major thoroughfare in New Orleans called Claiborne Avenue (there's South Claiborne Avenue and North Claiborne Avenue - its the longest street in New Orleans). Back in 1811, the Governor of the Territory of Orleans was William C. C. Claiborne. He was the 1st Governor of the Territory of New Orleans, Governor of Louisiana and United States Senator of Louisiana. He was actually from Virginia. Served as a congressman in Tennessee. He was Governor of Mississippi Territory. Claiborne moved to New Orleans and oversaw the transfer of Louisiana to U.S. control after the Louisiana Purchase in 1803. His reaction to the revolt as described below was "to impose more rigorous restrictions on the black population, both slave and free, changing the laws pertaining to emancipation, movement, and gathering together." Wikipedia states, "Claiborne himself wrote at least twice to parish officials requesting that they refer cases to him for executive pardon or clemency, rather than accept the wholesale death sentences which were being handed out in Orleans Parish, as well as in St. Charles Parish and St. John the Baptist Parish. The only known beneficiaries of his pardon were two men named Theodore and Henry; however, no records exist of Claiborne refusing any other pardon requests related to the rebellion (source)." This all makes me feel very differently about Claiborne Avenue.

I found two interesting things about his descendents:
1. William Claiborne was the great—great—great grandfather of fashion designer Liz Claiborne.[21][22]
2. And for Louisianians ... He was the great-great-great granduncle of Lindy Boggs

After the revolt, things returned back to the way they were. Slavery did not end (Slavery wasn't abolished in Louisiana until 1864). The changes that were made, were not in the slaves favor. The slaves that rebelled believed death was better than living. This is such a sad story. That's why it took me so long to write Part Five. Think about it. Life is so bad, you rather die. Think about that. The treatment they received. The conditions they had to live in. I want you to look up the word OPPRESSION! There's not just racial oppression. There are other types you should know.

Despite being given a wonderful education, there's so much I don't know (visiting Destrehan Plantation has taught me that). There are so many people & places I've looked at ... taken for face value (not questioning, learning about its history or meaning). I've driven up and down Claiborne Avenue, knowing that it was named after a man from Louisiana history (but not really reading about and understanding the man). What I take from all of this, is the importance of building your knowledge. Inform yourself. Ask questions. Build on that everyday! Take one street a day in your city and find out its history. If a building was named after someone, read about them. Start with your city. Learn more about your state. Venture on to learn more about other cities and states. Take time to learn about other countries and cultures. Read! This should be done everyday. I learned so much from this one experience. I hope you did as well. You can't change history, but you can learn from it. You can appreciate the sacrifices others made for you to have a better life and build upon that. From there you can build a better life not only for yourself and family, but others.

Destrehan Plantation had a wonderful store filled with an assortment of items. I purchased a tote for my mom (see below). It lists all the popular dishes served on certain days here in New Orleans. Everybody knows Monday's are red bean & rice day. I was particularly enamored with the artwork displayed. My older readers know I remodeled my home, so I'm just starting to add those extra touches that are personal. I love that really small Lucky Dog cart with the brown background (artwork). See if you can spot it! I think it would be cute in my kitchen. I've taken a lot with me just from this one experience. Fill your life with experiences and adventures! They'll teach you so much! You'll learn a lot. Explore places you've never been. I'm so thankful for this opportunity.

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