• $5.99

Publisher Description

On October 30, 1826, the Provostial Court of Martinique delivered its final verdict on an unwieldy criminal case involving some 30 defendants, including slaves belonging to nine different owners, several runaways with no known master, and three free men of color. At the core of the conspiracy was a group of five slaves whose confessions revealed a plot aimed at "entirely ruining" two plantations by poisoning livestock, slaves and the white masters themselves. One group stood accused of selling the deadly, venomous powder used in the crimes, while another provided a poisonous syrup to be used on the slavemaster. At the same time, a woman named Martherose was said to have performed two abortions using "harmful substances," and that "two of her own children and one belonging to another woman seemed to have died from poison, following threats she had made." The court records go on to say that these offenses "do not seem entirely proven," but the two women were nevertheless condemned to forced labor in Senegal. Five other slaves were accused of poisoning both men and animals, "but these charges, though very compelling, are not completely convincing, although time could bring proof of these crimes." The slaves in this group were not sentenced by the court at all, but sent back to their respective masters to be disciplined. Finally, the provost and his fellow magistrates spent some time sorting out the case against Lubin, a freedman denounced by the slave Hyacinth, who claimed to have seen him at a secret meeting of a societe d'empoisonneurs. According to Hyacinth, Lubin was well known among poisoners for having started the tradition of drinking a toast to their fallen leader. Another slave testified that Lubin had asked him for a protective amulet during Lent, a practice said to be common among poisoners. Yet another slave-witness asserted that Lubin "[was] said to be powerful in the sect of poisoners" and that he was "well known" to have poisoned livestock on a nearby plantation. But Lubin was defended by his former owner, la Dame Millet, who blamed the rumors on a slave Lubin had once owned, "un negre tres mauvais sujet who could have wanted to slander his master's reputation." The court that decreed Lubin be watched by public authorities, but he was given no punishment. (1)

March 22
Journal of Social History
The Gale Group, Inc., a Delaware corporation and an affiliate of Cengage Learning, Inc.

More Books by Journal of Social History