Monday, September 1, 2014

The Lost German Slave Girl - John Bailey

This was a great find at a Goodwill before I took off for vacation a couple of weeks ago.  The author was researching laws related to slavery to write a scholarly piece and ran across the story of Salome Mueller (Sally Miller).  She was a very young (5?) German immigrant to New Orleans in 181who disappeared along with her father and siblings, when they left their ship to work as indentured servants.
She is discovered in her 20's by a fellow immigrant living as a slave.  The German community takes up her cause to have her freed, as no white person can be a slave.  The story of her lawsuits all the way to the Louisiana Supreme Court are full of intrigue and revelations of the laws of slavery before the civil war.

I found it interesting in that it provided context for the period that explained that many Germans immigrated to America after 1813 because of volcanic eruptions in 1813 (West Indies), 1814 (Philippines) and 1815 (Indonesia) that resulted in widespread crop failures in the Rhine Valley and elsewhere in Europe.  It also explained the financial panic of 1837 that left the slave owner, John Miller, bankrupt.

The author does a good job of presenting legal proceedings in understandable summaries.  Whether the woman discovered at 20 was the real German girl or a very clever slave I'll leave you to find out.

Published: 2003  Read: August 2014  Genre: History

  • ISBN-10: 080214229X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802142290

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