Alexander Historical Auctions LLC

Lot 105

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Interesting A.L.S. of R. Stevens, Jr., 3pp. 4to., New Orleans, Aug. 23, 1812, with details concerning an abortive slave revolt. Stevens writes to his parents in Rhode Island, in part: "...The subject of my present Letter is to record to you a Scene of horror & devastation, which this...city & Environs experienced on the night of Wednesday last the 19th Inst. at about dusk we were alarmed by the Bell, with the news of an intended Insurrection of the Negroes. Their plan was to set fire to the town in the four quarters, to rob the Banks, plunder the Inhabitants & murder those who should make opposition to their progress, their plot however was timely discovered, & stifled in embryo. A Whiteman [sic] their head, & several Blacks, were immediately taken up & put in prison - This evil was thus happily avoided, but another awaited us - the Weather was rainy & stormy, but at about 10 o'Clock, the most sever Gale from the N.E. came on & increased to a Hurricane...We retreated to the ground Floor. The Windows were blown in, the railing, tiles, brick whisked about, & the whole house inundated. The next morning the Street & particularly the Levee presented a more lively picture of the night's destruction...50 Houses were blown down, about 3 times the number unroofed, & not ten in the whole City...but what had received damage....The plantations...were swept away...", and much more regarding the damage to the city and boats within the harbor. In Jan. 1811, New Orleans saw the largest slave revolt in U.S. history in which sixty-six slaves were ultimately killed and eighteen executed. As a result, Louisiana passed stricter slave control laws and reforms to improve the quality and effectiveness of local militia. Threats of slave revolts - and the corresponding slaveholders' fear - continued well into 1812 and, in October of that year, a significant plot among slaves from four different plantations to revolt in New Orleans was uncovered, resulting in the capture and execution of the leaders. A 3" x 5" chip to final page with corresponding loss of text, a bit fragile, overall good condition.

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