French Quarter - CBD, New Orleans, Louisiana, United States

Madame LaLaurie's Terrible Secret

Delphine LaLaurie, a woman who had married well three times and was a woman of fortune, built this three-story mansion in 1832. LaLaurie was an attractive socialite, who kept a number of slaves on her property. There were some reports of ill treatment towards her slaves, but nothing in comparison to what was found in her house on April 10, 1834.

A fire broke out in the kitchen. When the police and fire marshals arrived, they discovered a seventy-year-old woman chained to the stove at her ankle. She confessed that she had started the fire as a suicide attempt. She was terrified that she might be taken to a room upstairs, where other slaves had been taken...but never came back from.

Meanwhile, bystanders were breaking into the locked slave quarters to help them evacuate. When inside, they found the slaves in horrifying condition, some being chained by the neck, suspended from the ceiling, starving and unable to walk. Their skin had lash marks from being whipped. When the discovery of the slave conditions spread through town, a mob gathered and stormed the mansion, leaving nothing more than the walls standing. Madame LaLaurie fled and was not heard from again.

Portrait of Delphine LaLaurie. Via Ruminating.

Madame LaLaurie's Terrible Secret