Petition #20883818


Jean Baptiste Cécile, a free man of color, seeks to cancel the sale of his two slaves to a free woman of color named Augustine Saint Denis. Cécile represents that Saint Denis, aided and abetted by her slave named Cyprienne [Cyprien], a "statu libri" believed to be her husband, had cheated him out of his two slaves. He charges that, while he was intoxicated on the night of the 4th of April 1838, Saint Denis induced him to sell his two slaves to her, Henry and Mary, by representing to him that he could thus avoid seizure of the slaves by his creditors. According to Cécile, Saint Denis led him to believe that, after the sale, he could retain possession of the slaves and, to seal the deal, a lease was signed by which he agreed to pay Saint Denis a monthly fee for the services of the two slaves and Saint Denis gave him a will whereby she bequeathed the two slaves to him in case of her death. The day after the sale, Cécile became “sensible of his error” and tried to cancel the sale. Saint Denis agreed to do so, but asked that the matter be allowed to stand a few days. However, Saint Denis never cancelled the sale. Instead, she took possession of the slaves for whom she had never paid Cécile the purchase price of $1,100. Cécile therefore seeks an order declaring the sale null and void and decreeing him the owner of the slaves. A number of related documents reveal that Cécile was indeed near insolvency and that he and Saint Denis had concocted a plan to avoid seizure of his property by creditors, but that Saint Denis had then carried the plan one step further by defrauding her own accomplice.

Result: Denied; appealed & remanded; denied; new trial granted; found for plaintiff; new trial granted; found partially for plaintiff and against defendant in favor of intervenors; new trial denied; appealed; partially sustained.

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Citation information

Repository: Natchitoches Parish Courthouse, Natchitoches, Louisiana