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Warning to Gen. Shepley on slaves, New Orleans, 1862

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P. M. Lapice of St. James Parish in Louisiana wrote to Brig. Gen. George F. Shepley, military governor of Louisiana, warning him that "Negroes believe they are free."

Lapice, a farmer, wrote that the black population would cause "serious troubles" between Christmas and New Year's if told they are not free and that the authorities should take action to prevent problems.

"The negroes being so much accustomed to submission," he wrote, "a small number of white men would enforce order."

He added, "The visits of the Native Guards have the very worst effect on the blacks as well as on the Whites."

The Native Guards were free blacks or men of mixed race who were free and had been given freedom when the U.S. made the Louisiana Purchase in 1803.

Lapice also noted that even if there were no insurrection, the slaves would be idle after Jan. 1 and "may refuse to work."

He wrote, "How can loyal citizens' rights be protected against idle and vagabond negroes...?"


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