Date of Award
Sugar planters in Louisiana during Reconstruction needed to replace the enslaved labor force that had fled the plantation system after the Civil War. These Louisiana planters took inspiration from the system of coolie labor in Cuba, wherein exploited Chinese indentured servants would work on sugar plantation alongside enslaved Africans. The white Cuban planters’ goal was to racially dilute their plantation labor force, thus making the existing power structures easier to maintain while avoiding Haitian-style slave uprising. Sugar planters in Louisiana intended to recreate the Cuban system to compel Freedmen to work for less than their worth by importing Chinese laborers, whom they thought would work for lower wages than Freedmen would have accepted otherwise. The Louisiana coolie experiment was an economic failure for sugar planters due to Republican intervention, white supremacist rhetoric, and resistance from the Chinese themselves.
LeDesma, Joseph, "“The Very Class for Our Country”: How the Cuban Exploitation of Chinese Coolie Laborers Inspired Louisiana Sugar Planters" (2021). University of New Orleans Theses and Dissertations. 2856.
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