Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts - History



First Advisor

Dr. Mark Barringer

Second Advisor

Dr. Court Carney

Third Advisor

Dr. Brook Poston

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Linda Black


During the first half of the nineteenth century, slavery became a vital economic component upon which the success of the southern states in America rested. Cotton was king, and slavery was the peculiar institution that ensured its dominance in the domestic and international markets of America. Popular portrayals, however, often neglect the complicated dynamics of American slavery and instead depict the institution in simplistic terms. The traditional view has emphasized an image of white southerners as slaveholders and blacks as slaves. In New Orleans, the lives of three men—all of whom were tied to slavery in varying capacities—reveal a much more nuanced picture of American slavery. John McDonogh, a white slaveowner and member of the American Colonization Society (ACS), proposed an emancipation plan to his slaves by which they could gradually purchase their freedom on the condition that, once freed, they were repatriated to Liberia. Andrew Durnford, a homme de couleur libre (free man of color) and slaveowner, was a business associate and friend of McDonogh who showed little to no interest in emancipating his slaves. Washington Watts McDonogh, a college-educated former slave of John McDonogh, was a minister in Liberia who supported the ACS repatriation plan at a time when many free blacks in America did not support the African colonization movement, preferring to remain in the United States. The experiences of three men reveal how slavery in nineteenth-century New Orleans was a much more nuanced institution that did not resemble the traditional narrative that the public has come to know.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.



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