Date of Award
A major problem in the historiography of slavery in Louisiana is the reliance of too many historians on the early narratives. Because they lack scholarly citations and often contain erroneous information, evaluations of slavery based on these early sources are often inaccurate. By examining four periods of slave unrest in colonial and territorial Louisiana — the 1829-1830 conspiracy known as "Samba’s Revolt," the 1795 conspiracy at Pointe Coupee Parish, the incident of runaway slaves at Natchitoches in 1804, and the 1811 uprising in St. Charles Parish — one can determine how errors in fact, once they enter the history of an event, gain credence with repetition. And not only errors in fact, but also errors in interpretation, cloud the literature of slave unrest. Because of the complexity of the subject, it is necessary for the researcher to carefully examine the primary sources rather than rely on suspect secondary accounts. But even the primary sources are not always objective. Memoirs, letters, and travel accounts, too, may contain mistaken information, either by accident or design, or may be clouded by personal bias. A final problem, and one over which the historian has no control, is the lack of primary source material left by blacks themselves. All primary accounts of slave unrest during this period were written by the white master class, a fact which complicates the historiography even more.
Witten, Morris Lewis, "Rumors, Runaways, Revolt!: an Overview of Slave Unrest in Colonial and Territorial Louisiana" (1986). LSU Historical Dissertations and Theses. 8290.