Coping in a Complex World Free Black Women in Colonial New Orleans

Kimberly S. Hanger

in The Devil's Lane

Published in print June 1997 | ISBN: 9780195112436
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199854271 | DOI:
Coping in a Complex World Free Black Women in Colonial New Orleans

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This chapter explores the world inhabited by free black women or libre women in colonial New Orleans. These women found themselves living within a plantation slave society in which racial discrimination and a hierarchy ordered by race, class, and gender interacted to subordinate them as women and as non-whites. These women seemed to have more freedom to choose their fate than did slave and even white women, who, if they acted as prescribed by society, rarely could own and operate business, enter into legal contracts without the consent of their fathers or husbands, serve as heads of household, and marry or cohabit with someone of “unequal” status. All New Orleans women cared less about the conduct of libre women because they had no honor; with less to lose, free black women had more flexibility to maneuver within the system.

Keywords: libre women; free black women; New Orleans; slave

Chapter.  7502 words. 

Subjects: History of the Americas

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