JOHN GALLIOT alias GALLIUS (apprentice), Michael BODEY (sponsor), PETER GEORGE and VALENTINE SYLER (master): An indenture in which the master assumed complete responsibility for the care of the apprentice, with the obligations explicitly spelled out. Gallius's masters promised to find him "good & sufficient food, meat, drink, lodging, clothing, washing, and medical aid in case of sickness, and also ... four months of night schooling for the purpose of learning him how to read and write and the arithmetic as far as the rule of three." [I, 4: indenture of John Galliot (Gallius) to Peter George and Valentine Syler, coopers, February 6, 1811.]

GEORGE MEDART (apprentice), JACQUES MEDART (sponsor), RICHARD STOCKTON (master): Example of an indenture in which the master's responsibilities were expressed only in very general terms. Medart's master accepted to "generally maintain his said apprentice in health and sickness." [V, 387: indenture of George Medart to Richard Stockton, lawyer, September 3, 1835.]

ALPHONSE MICHEL (apprentice), LAZARRE MICHEL (sponsor), JAMES ARMITAGE (master): Full care by the master in return for the apprentice's faithful service for the duration of the contract was the traditional arrangement. As revealed by Judge Martin's justification for not rescinding the indenture of an apprentice severely whipped by his master, the apprentice paid for his maintenance, and for training in a craft, by his labor:
Apprentices ought to be protected against the cruelty of their masters, but the latter purchase, during the first years of the apprenticeship, by the labor and trouble they bestow on the instruction of youth, and the expenses of his maintenance, a right to his services during the last years of the apprenticeship.
[Source: Martin's Reports (O.S.) *44, Eastern District, May Term, 1821, opinion of Judge F.X. Martin, in Lazarre Michel (sometimes cited as "Mitchell") vs. James Armitage, Supreme Court of Louisiana Collection, Docket no. 573, Department of Archives and Manuscripts, Earl K. Long Library, University of New Orleans.]

For further discussion of this and another court case dealing with alleged physical abuse of apprentices, click here.

JEAN-LOUIS MOREAU (apprentice), LOUISE LOMINIL (sponsor), FERDINAND LIOTEAU (master): An example of indentures in which the sponsor agreed to assume part of the master's responsibility for maintenance of the apprentice. Louise Lominil sponsored her nephew Jean-Louis Moreau, a 14-year-old free-black orphan born in the former French colony of Saint-Domingue, when he was apprenticed in 1811 to the master carpenter Ferdinand Lioteau for five years. Lioteau promised to teach Moreau his trade, feed and lodge him and provide six months of night schooling. Responsibility for clothing, laundry, and medical care in case of sickness remained with the aunt. [I, 12: indenture of Jean Louis Moreau to Fernand Lioteau, cabinet maker, June 5, 1811]

JOSEPH RAPHAEL (apprentice), MARIE JOSEPH MARTINE (sponsor), LOUIS SIMON (master): Example of the 20 percent of indentures in which the master delegated all responsibility for the apprentice's needs to the sponsor. The 1819 indenture of Joseph Raphael specified: "All expenses such as board, food, clothing, maintenance, medicine in case of illness, etc., remain by express agreement at the charge of the aforesaid Marie Joseph Marine mother of the aforesaid apprentice." [III, 148: Indenture of Joseph Raphael to Louis Simon, cabinet maker, October 9, 1819]

AUGUSTE LEDUC (apprentice), JACQUES CORNU (master): Example of an indenture in which the master agreed, in addition to maintaining the apprentice fully, to make cash payments to him over the course of the apprenticeship. The tailor Jacques Cornu promised to pay Auguste Leduc $8.00 a month "above the costs of maintenance" during the last year of his apprenticeship. Such a payment may be considered a bonus because it was not contingent on the apprentice paying for his room, meals or any other needs. [ V, 431: indenture of Auguste Leduc to Jacques Cornu, tailor, February, 1839]

JEAN-BAPTISTE DEMOUILLE (apprentice), ROSE VERSAILLES (sponsor), HALL & ADAMS (masters): Provisions protecting the apprentice against physical abuse were reinforced first in 1808 and again in 1825. The 1806 law included abuse or cruel treatment among examples of violation that might justify cancellation of a contract; but it contained no provision limiting the master's power to administer corporal punishment. The 1808 Digest of the Civil Code was much more explicit: "A master may correct his indented servant or apprentice for negligence or other misbehaviour, provided he does it with moderation, but he cannot exercise such rights with those who only let their daily services." The 1825 Civil Code dropped the italics for "provided," but added after "with moderation," the phrase, "and provided he does not make use of the whip;" [Section 3 of the 1806 Act Regulating Apprentice, p. 52; Articles 9 and 10 of the 1808 Digest of the Civil Code, p. 38; Article 167 of the 1825 Civil Code]

Testimony in two parish court cases in 1819 and 1829 that were later appealed to the Supreme Court reveals, during the 1820s, a subtle shift in popular norms governing how far a master could go in correcting an apprentice. In the first case, the tailor James Armitage had punished his apprentice Alphonse Michel with twenty to thirty lashes of a cow-skin whip, cutting his back, for having stabbed a slave with a scissors in a quarrel. Armitage had no trouble finding witnesses to testify that the whipping was normal. Longbottam, the defendant's partner, testified that he "conceives the defendant might have chastised his own son in the same manner for the same fault; he would have done so himself." A journeyman by the name of Anderson, who had been working for Armitage for twelve years, declared:

That he has always corrected them [his apprentices] with a cow-hide, and never heard a complaint thereof. That he has been himself an apprentice and was ten times corrected so, and more than the plaintiff. That it happened sometimes that apprentices having been whipped, and having returned home, they [were] whipped by their parents and sent back.
Notwithstanding these depositions, the parish and city court of New Orleans cancelled the indenture of Alphonse Michel on account of cruel treatment. The decision was based on Article 9 on page 38 of the 1808 Digest of the Civil Code giving the judge authority to release an apprentice from his engagement if the "master shall abuse or cruelly or evilly treat" him. Armitage appealed this decision to the Louisiana Supreme Court. The Eastern District of the Louisana Supreme Court heard his appeal in May 21 and reversed the judgment of the lower court. Judge Martin admitted:
I am ready to say, that the correction was a severe one; such as ought not to be countenanced. But it appears to me, that the case is not of so black a die as to deserve an absolute forfeiture of the defendant's right to the boy's services, during the rest of the apprenticeship.
Judge Matthews concurred:
... the conduct of the plaintiff's son was certainly a gross violation, of the order which ought to prevail in the shop of a mechanic, and which, it is probable, cannot be supported without strict discipline and a full portion of correction, properly applied.
[Source: Martin's Reports (O.S.) *44, Eastern District, May Term, 1821, opinion of Judge F.X. Martin, in Lazarre Michel [sometimes cited as "Mitchell"] vs. James Armitage, Supreme Court of Louisiana Collection, Docket no. 573, Department of Archives and Manuscripts, Earl K. Long Library, University of New Orleans. The Collection includes manuscripts of the testimony taken in original case before the parish court of New Orleans.]

The importance of the 1821 decision is reflected by the summary reference to it in the 1833 decision in the case of Versailles, f.w.c., v. Hall, in which one of the issues was again excessive corporal punishment of an apprentice. William Boyle defended Joshua Hall, accused of having flogged Jn Bte Demouille "with a cowskin, with his hands tied behind him and the rope passed over a Beam, with his pantaloons off," by pointing out that "The Rope with which the Boy was chastised, was not as thick as a person's little finger." Instead of rationalizing the whipping by claiming it was no worse than that administered to most apprentices, or children for that matter, he insisted on evidence of its moderation. Since the apprenticeship of Rose Versaille's son dated from before 1825, the Supreme Court ruled, "The question whether the master, under the provisions of the Louisiana Code can correct the indented servant with a whip, need not be decided in this case."

Although the plaintiffs failed to obtain satisfaction on this point, the 1833 decision did imply that youth bound by indentures after 1825 would enjoy greater protection against excessive corporal punishment. How much progress was actually made is unknown.

[Source: 5 Louisiana Reports 281, New Orleans, March, 1833, opinion of Judge J. Porter, in Rose Versailles, f.w.c., vs. J.J. Hall, Supreme Court of Louisiana Collection, Docket no. 1906, Department of Archives and Manuscripts, Earl K. Long Library, University of New Orleans.]

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Created 8/11/98 pfl