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The Two Lives of Sally Miller: A Case of Mistaken Racial Identity in Antebellum New Orleans

Overview

In 1843, the Louisiana Supreme Court heard the case of a slave named Sally Miller, who claimed to have been born a free white person in Germany. Sally, a very light-skinned slave girl working in a New Orleans caf, might not have known she had a case were it not for a woman who recognized her as Salom Muller, with whom she had emigrated from Germany over twenty years earlier. Sally decided to sue for her freedom, and was ultimately freed, despite strong evidence contrary to her ...

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Overview

In 1843, the Louisiana Supreme Court heard the case of a slave named Sally Miller, who claimed to have been born a free white person in Germany. Sally, a very light-skinned slave girl working in a New Orleans caf, might not have known she had a case were it not for a woman who recognized her as Salom Muller, with whom she had emigrated from Germany over twenty years earlier. Sally decided to sue for her freedom, and was ultimately freed, despite strong evidence contrary to her claim.

In The Two Lives of Sally Miller, Carol Wilson explores this fascinating legal case and its reflection on broader questions about race, society, and law in the antebellum South. Why did a court system known for its extreme bias against African Americans help to free a woman who was believed by many to be a black slave? Wilson explains that while the notion of white enslavement was shocking, it was easier for society to acknowledge that possibility than the alternative-an African slave who deceived whites and triumphed over the system.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780813540580
  • Publisher: Rutgers University Press
  • Publication date: 3/28/2007
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 180
  • Product dimensions: 7.41 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.42 (d)

Meet the Author


Carol Wilson is an associate professor of history at Washington College in Chestertown, Maryland.
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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations     ix
Acknowledgments     xi
Introduction: The Discovery of Salome Muller     3
A Slave Sues Her Master     8
The Mullers of Alsace     14
New Orleans     24
Germans and Redemptioners     36
Sally and John Miller     46
Sally and Louis Belmonti     58
From Black to White     69
White Slavery     77
Sally Miller and Salome Muller     84
Conclusion     100
Notes     115
Bibliography     141
Index     155
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