Rachel of Old Louisiana

678 Words3 Pages
For many years, cultivating plantations and slavery have been very big topics in the state of Louisiana’s history. The book, Rachel of Old Louisiana, by Avery O. Craven deals with the life of a woman who herself is a plantation owner who owns slaves in the early 1790s and late 1840s. In this work of literature it is displayed the pure drive and determination of Rachel O’Connor despite the things she goes through in life.
Rachel moved to Louisiana at the age of four, in 1778, with her mother, Rachel Hopkins Swayze, and brother, Stephen Swayze. Rachel’s mother moved there once she married a Bayou Teche planter, William Weeks, with whom she was expecting a son with by the name of David Weeks, who Rachel will in time be dependent on. Rachel married Richard Bell around 1789 and delivered him a son; after about three years of their marriage Richard passed away leaving Rachel to raise Stephen alone (11). Rachel married again in 1797 to Hercules O’Connor and moved to West Feliciana Parish where they were very poor and they slowly began building up property for a plantation. Rachel wrote “we had only provisions to last us two days” (12). Within the next twenty five years Rachel lost both of her sons, her husband, and Stephen Swayze; each of their deaths left Rachel with new problems. Rachel’s brother left his two daughters, Clarissa and Charlotte, who she cared for as if they were her own (14). Stephen Bell left her with his immense debts that had to be paid immediately in 1822. This ultimately had to be paid now by his mother, whose plantation was now being held for security for the amount due. So to keep the plantation out of the creditors’ hands she then sold the land to, her half-brother, David Weeks (16). Rachel finally thought thing...

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... 65). I enjoyed Craven’s use of sarcasm on page seventy seven where Louisiana is referred to as a “Fertile Mud Paradise”. I find this somewhat funny because in the very beginning of the book the author mentions a list of diseases common to the state of Louisiana and how the native insects carry these deadly germs (8). I also enjoyed that Avery did not write a formal biography of Rachel O’Connor because I think if he had done so, I believe that the reader would not have been able to see Rachel’s beautiful, sympathetic, and kind personality that is expressed through her letters. The only negative aspect of the book I did not care for was the overlapping of the years in the chapters because some of the topics would be discussed in two different chapters.

Works Cited

Craven, Avery O. Rachel of Old Louisiana. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1975. Print.
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