8 of the Most Revolting and Abominable Acts of Cruelty Inflicted on Enslaved Blacks

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The Atrocities of the Infamous Madame Lalaurie

Louisiana slave owner Madame Lalaurie was one of the most infamous slave owners in the state’s history. The conditions she subjected enslaved people to were so heinous and despicable that even other slave owners were appalled by her actions. Journalists of the time couldn’t even bring themselves to describe the awful things she did. Instead, the New Orleans Bee wrote, “We would shrink from the task of detailing the painful circumstances connected therewith, were it not that a sense of duty …. renders it indispensable to do so.” After Lalaurie’s home caught fire one day, a crowd came to fight the flames but soon discovered something so gruesome they couldn’t believe their eyes.

“Seven slaves more or less horribly mutilated, were seen suspended by the neck, with their limbs apparently stretched and torn from one extremity to the other. The slaves were the property of the demon, in the shape of a woman,” the Bee wrote.

history's worst slave owners

Louisiana Slave Owner Gouges Hole in Enslaved Man’s Stomach

The first appeal of a criminal conviction for cruelty to an enslaved person in Louisiana came with the case of State v. Morris. The court said the defendant beat the enslaved man to death “in a cruel and barbarous manner” and the enslaved man’s injuries would serve as proof. The enslaved man was not only found with a series of massive bruises and severe wounds on his thighs, loins and other parts of his body, but he also had a large hole in his abdomen. The court described the hole as being the size of a dollar which appeared to have been “gouged out.”

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