Pinsteps. Religion, enslaved property and personal things in Oak Alley Plantation
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Religion played a significant role in the lives of enslaved people on Oak Alley Plantation. Many enslaved people were Catholic, voluntarily or mandated by the Roman family. The Catholic ritual of Infant Baptism was essential, and slave baptisms were complex affairs that required the presence of the mother, child, owner, priest, and two godparents. At Oak Alley, godparents were often chosen from other plantations, suggesting that mothers had some agency in their child's identity.

Despite the importance of religion, practising Catholicism was not always easy for enslaved people. The closest Catholic churches, St. James and St. Michael, were far from Oak Alley, and St. Michael's required a ferry trip. As a result, Jacques Roman, the owner of the plantation, often waited until there were several infants to be baptized so that slave mothers, children, and Jacques could make the long trip as a group, stopping at different plantations to collect godparents.

Religion offered enslaved people a way to find meaning and community amid unimaginable adversity, but it was also a reminder of their lack of agency and freedom. The Catholic faith, which emphasizes humility and obedience, may have resonated with enslavers but also reinforced the power dynamic between enslavers and the enslaved. Despite these challenges, enslaved people found ways to make meaning and find solace in their faith, creating a rich and complex legacy that continues to shape our understanding of the intersection between religion and slavery.

Chattel slavery was a brutal system in which enslavers had complete control over their human property's health, liberty, and life. Enslaved people were bought, sold, mortgaged, and traded as groups or individuals, with their value assigned based on distinctions such as complexion, skills, or birthplace. This dehumanizing system reduced people to mere commodities to be appraised and sold like furniture.

The inventory of enslaved property from Jacques T. Roman's succession is a stark reminder of the horrors of chattel slavery. The inventory lists dozens of enslaved people, each with a monetary value assigned based on age, gender, and perceived skills or attributes. Distinctions such as "American," "Creole," "African," "Negro," and "Mulatto" were used to determine their value.

Enslaved people were often divided into groups based on their perceived value. Those deemed most valuable - such as skilled craftsmen or those with lighter skin - often received better treatment or more opportunities for freedom. The inventory of Jacques T. Roman's enslaved property is a chilling reminder of the dehumanizing effects of slavery and how people were reduced to nothing more than a monetary value. Yet, despite these dehumanizing conditions, enslaved people found ways to resist, survive, and create communities in the face of unimaginable adversity. One such example is the story of the boy Pret-a-boire, who, despite being repeatedly demoted to the lowest class of field enslaved person due to his owner's capricious whims, found ways to persevere and make a life for himself.

Enslavement significantly impacted the identity of enslaved people, including their clothing and personal possessions. Archaeological findings from the exhibit area have provided insight into the material culture of the enslaved community at Oak Alley. Recovered artefacts, such as broken china, metalwork, and a hoe, tell a story of the daily life of those who lived and worked on the plantation. Clothes symbolized an individual's identity, but for enslaved people, clothing was chosen by their masters and made from limited materials. Slaves Meanna, Pognon, and Rosalie were responsible for creating clothing for the entire enslaved community at Oak Alley, using whatever materials were provided by the Roman family. Their efforts to repurpose and reuse materials demonstrate the necessity of making the most of what was available. Despite the limitations imposed by their enslavement, the enslaved community at Oak Alley found ways to express their identity through their clothing and personal possessions.

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Evgeny Praisman
Oak Alley Plantation in Vacherie of May 20, 2021

It was an incredible adventure! Vacherie is a small St. James Parish, Louisiana, USA community. It is known for its historic plantations that offer visitors a glimpse into the area's antebellum past. One of the most famous plantations in the area is Oak Alley Plantation, renowned for its oak-lined driveway and Greek Revival-style mansion. Visitors can also explore the Laura Plantation, known for its Creole architecture and offers tours that delve into the history of the area's enslaved African American population. Vacherie is also a popular spot for Cajun and Creole cuisine, with many restaurants offering dishes such as gumbo, jambalaya, and po'boys.

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Evgeny Praisman (author)
Здравствуйте! Меня зовут Женя, я путешественник и гид. Здесь я публикую свои путешествия и путеводители по городам и странам. Вы можете воспользоваться ими, как готовыми путеводителями, так и ресурсом для создания собственных маршрутов. Некоторые находятся в свободном доступе, некоторые открываются по промо коду. Чтобы получить промо код напишите мне сообщение на телефон +972 537907561 или на и я с радостью вам помогу! Иначе, зачем я всё это делаю?
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