Interracial Unions in the French Louisiana

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The title sums up the major theme of the essay written by Jennifer Spears. The essay touched on the changing methodologies for examining the history of interracial unions; between Frenchmen, Indian women, and African women during the eighteenth-century. Spear claims that demographic imbalance and cultural differences influenced the openness on interracial unions; also known as métissage. In hopes to create a European colony, this led to the official practices to break barriers between European men and Louisiana Indians by the sending young boys to learn the Indian customs and to spy. However, the Louisiana Administrators and the missionaries feared “losing” French Louisianans to the Indians. This problem they believed could be solved by bringing Frenchwomen to the Louisiana colony. Even with the increase population of Frenchwomen, administrators and clerics were unable to eliminate métissage because the Frenchwomen were not to the standards for officers. This caused more difficulties because métissage still continued to occur between Indian women and Euro-Louisianan men. Yet, with the decrease of Indian women and the increase of African Louisianans, this led to the illicit relationships between white men and black women.

In the essay, Spears points out quotes and examples from leaders, mechanists, administers, and missionaries’ reaction to métissage. Jean Baptiste Le Moyne, sieur de Bienville complained in 106, “several marriages of Frenchmen with Indian women [had been] performed by the missionaries who are among the Indians.” Father Henry de la Vente complained about the religious and unmoral sexual relations he observed. Then, also the administrators complained how the French and Canadian men would select local Indian women over Frenchwomen. These are all illustrations that help establish the responses of interracial union in the eighteenth-century.

The essay is a realistic input to the discussion of the origins of European racialism in the French...
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