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Lettres de Louisiane

 

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Introduction

The Lettres de Louisiane database, funded by the French government in 2007-2008, is a collection of 38 letters written in French by Louisianans about the French Revolution. This corpus highlights Louisiana's strong cultural, linguistic, and social ties with France.

 

The goal of this ongoing project is to enhance access to rare and understudied French documents held in the Special Collections by providing images of the original documents along with transcriptions in the Louisiana Digital Library. For the initial selection, Dr. Carole Salmon chose approximately 40 documents, mostly manuscripts, taking into consideration factors such as the author's profession and social status in France following the French Revolution.

 

Historical Information

The French Revolution was an event of tremendous importance, and one which had profound impact on most of the world. Outside of Europe this was especially true of the French Caribbean colonies, and the Spanish colony of Louisiana. Many Louisianians felt a great attachment to France, and throughout the Spanish reign pushed to have the colony retroceded. After the revolution, particularly after the publication of Citizen Edmund Charles Genet's 1792 pamphlet calling for uprising (and promising French support), it looked as though those discontented with Spanish rule might have cause for celebration. Alas, though French revolutionary influence played a factor in several small revolts and demonstrations across the colony from New Orleans to Natchez, it did not lead to successful revolution, or force a retrocession from Spanish hands back to the French. Indeed, the colony did not retrocede until nearly a decade later in 1800.

 

The Lettres de Louisiane collection demonstrates the depth of connection felt by many Louisianians to France. The French identifying people of New Orleans demonstrated in the streets during the years immediately following the Revolution. Songs were invented and plays staged that contained themes of popular uprising and even the execution of royals and the Spanish regime. At the same time, however, there were royalists and French refugees, particularly from the French colony of St. Dominque, taking up residence in the city as well. Fear of slave revolt, fresh in the memory of the St. Domingue refugees, had a chilling effect on the willingness of the French planters to throw their lot in with the agitators in the city.

Related Collections

Louisiana Early English Corpus

Early Louisiana French Correspondence

 
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