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THE POINTE COUPEE CONSPIRACY (1795)
POINTE COUPEE CONSPIRACY (1795)
The Pointe Coupee Conspiracy, an abortive slave revolt, created such a legacy of paranoia that it was sometimes called an uprising in early histories of Louisiana. In spring of 1795, when Louisiana was under Spanish control, the remote Pointe Coupee district located on the Mississippi River about 150 miles upriver from New Orleans was not an unlikely place for a slave revolt. Colonial economic troubles had caused reductions in already meager rations, and masters, isolated from each other on plantations stretched along the river, were significantly outnumbered by their slaves. In fact, the district's population included approximately 2,000 whites and 7,000 slaves, a differential that would certainly have given rebelling slaves reason to be optimistic about their chances for success.
The night of April 12-13 was set for the revolt, which was to be initiated on the estate of Julien Poydras, a bachelor who lived alone except for his slaves. Poydras, a prominent Louisiana literary figure, was considered one of the most humane planters in his treatment of slaves. He had planned to vist the United States in April, which may have been a factor in timing the rebellion. The slaves planned to steal guns and ammunition form Poydras's store and then set fire to a building on the estate. It was hoped that masters form neighboring estates would come to help extinguish the blaze, and when they arrived, they would be killed. Slaves would then march on other estates, killing both the masters and those slaves who refused to participate in the rebellion.
On April 10, two Tunica Indian women betrayed the rebellion when they informed Spanish authorities of a conversation they had overheard. Upon learning that the slaves intended to kill all whites except for the young women, the Indian women apparently feared for their own safety if the revolt were successful. Patrols were immediately dispatched with orders to arrest all blacks assembling at plantations other than their own and any strangers found in the slave quarters. Authorities found several witnesses who confirmed the story told by the Tunica women. Governor of Louisiana and West Florida Luis Francisco Hector de Carondelet was informed of the plot, and he ordered all commandants of Louisiana to make a simultaneous raid on slave quarters, to confiscate all firearms, and to arrest any strangers found there.