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President Macron, Don’t Forget Enslaved Frenchwomen Who Built Natchez, ‘New France’

French President Emmanuel Macron made his way to New Orleans on Saturday, Dec. 3, 2022, to talk about climate change. That’s terrific news and good politics, but I had hoped he would draw attention to the 200 or so enslaved women from France who helped turn the swampy bogs of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama into a habitable living space during the first half of the 18th century.

After reading French author Joan DeJean’s amazing book, “Mutinous Women,” I can’t help but think Macron would want to tell New Orleanians about the women the author called the “Founding Mothers of the Gulf Coast.” DeJean tells the story of a Paris police brigade snatching 132 women from the poor side of the Parisian streets and enslaving them on a ship, named La Mutine (the mutinous woman). It set sail in 1719 for the colony known as the New France. 

French President Emmanuel Macron made his way to New Orleans on Saturday, Dec. 3, 2022, to talk about climate change, Karen Hinton writes. Photo courtesy President.gov.ua via Wikimedia Commons

Only 62 women survived the trip from old France to the new. They made the most of their entrapment after being told to marry a French soldier or farmer and populate the colony in modern-day New Orleans, Mobile and Biloxi and an area that came to be known as Natchez, named after the Natchez tribe. The French-enslaved Africans, men and women, couldn’t even marry each other or stay married. 

In the book, the women who fascinated me the most were Marie Baron and an indigenous female leader from the Natchez tribe. Without a doubt, they were the Deep South’s first known feminists. They served as serious negotiators and historians in the well-known battle between the Natchez tribe and France in 1729. But we don’t know much about the role these two courageous feminists played during the battle between the first and then second owners of the land both wanted.

Wrongly Accused of Prostitution and Slavery

Baron was a 16-year-old girl wrongly accused of prostitution and thievery in Paris, thrown into jail and shipped away

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