Ramonat Seminar: Final Reflection

It’s hard to imagine that my undergraduate career—and Historical scholarship—has finally come to an end. I first heard about the Ramonat Seminar by stumbling into Professor Karamaski’s office last spring. I asked him, as I always did, what he was working on with Native American History. He told me that he had been putting together a seminar to expand on the topics I first learned in his course on the History of the American Frontier Movement. I am truly lucky that I took the time that day to talk with him about the Ramonat Seminar. Not only because I was able to fulfill my Engaged Learning Credits, but because I was able to fully understand what it meant to be a student in the realm of Jesuit teachings. This last year has allowed me to understand that institutions of today have a long history that needs to be authentically understood.

The Ramonat Seminar has helped me understand the relationship between the Catholic Church and Native American captive-slavery. This past semester I have put together the most comprehensive research paper of my undergraduate career. Though I am disappointed that my research was not selected for Ramonat Research Award, I am confident that this paper was my strongest scholarship yet!

By far my favorite part of the Ramonat Seminar was Professor Karamaski’s lectures in the fall and spring semesters. This was mainly because I felt less pressure and more freedom to absorb information in a way that benefited my future understanding of History. When it came to the process of writing my research, I also found database research extremely rewarding. As I discovered new and interesting information on Jesuit and captive-Indian slavery, my confidence grew because the primary documents I found were only located because of my understanding of how to efficiently navigate online research; a skill that will most certainly help me in law school, next fall.

The hardest part of the seminar was narrowing down the focus of my research and being able to articulate my topic to others while presenting. Because my research goal was very ambitious, I hesitated to initially engage with sources in an active manner. It was not until after I submitted my first draft, that I was able to understand which texts were less relevant and which sources were foundational to my argument. Additionally, even after my final presentation I still struggled with my ability to explain the transition of enslavement practices clearly.

I feel that I made the most progress with my research while revising and adding to my final paper. By having such an early and strict first deadline, I was put in a place where my revision could become very useful to my final paper. During my revision process, I was able to fix EVERY problem Professor Karamaski and Marie found, and provide additional information that clearly brought the focus of my paper to argue against Brett Rushforth’s beliefs. Part of the reason why I was taken back by not receiving the Ramonat Award, was because I felt that my final paper was exceedingly stronger than my first draft.

I wish that I had more time with understanding the further implications of slavery in Kaskaskia, Illinois. This struggle to know more comes from my inability to confidently answer Susan Ramonat’s questions, after my presentation. I too would have like to know whether or not there is documentation of Jesuit priests traveling down-river to personally selected “their” new African slaves.

All in all, I am extremely proud of my work this semester and thankful for all of the help I received, while finishing my Historical education strong.


Abstract of Paper:

Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam. Loyola University Chicago’s boastful institutional motto associates our Jesuit education to honoring the greater glory of God. Through this analysis, we can understand how honoring God, historically, has also compelled actions where glory isn’t found. Slavery in Jesuit Country: How French Jesuit Missionaries Interacted & Responded to Early Native American & African Slavery in the New World, sheds light on the Society of Jesus’ interaction with indigenous and foreign slave practices; while the order established Catholic mission communities within the North American French frontier. This research aims to critique the historical narrative of Jesuit slavery participation.”


Even though Marquette intentionally studied some Indian language before arriving in New France, he still needed additional assistance to better communicate with the more distant communities of the Upper Great Lakes and Mississippi valley. Which is why he stressed the significance his new slave had to his future explorations, “…If the Indians who are promising to make me a canoe keep their word, we shall go down this river as far as we can, with a Frenchman and this young man who has been given me, who knows some of those languages and has a facility for learning the others…”[1]Though Marquette accepted multiple gifts of Indian slaves over the course of his life, this phenomena is not directly related to his religious status as a Jesuit missionary, rather this should be seen as an extension of the cultural practices that were associated with a cultural of Indian captivity, Christina Snyder agued earlier.

Though Indian slaves held no individual freedoms in New France, without the explicit freedom granted by their masters, French subjects often became attached to their slaves and frequently mentioned them when planning the succession of estates. French explorer and companion to Marquette, Louis Jolliet developed a strong bond to his Indian slave, so much that he became distraught following the slave’s accidental death in June of 1674: “[My] canoe capsized and I lost my men and a box werein were all my papers, my journal as well as some curios from those far off countries. I am much grieved over the loss of a ten year old slave who had been presented to me. He was of a good disposition, quick-witted, diligent, and obedient. He could express himself in French, and was beginning to read and write.”[2]We can also see how missionary priests would eventually develop close affection for their slaves, even after the establishment of African slavery and investment in agricultural production for Louisiana.

In Carl Ekberg’s article Code Noir: The Colonial Slave Laws of French Mid-America, Ekberg includes an example of Kaskaskia’s Jesuit missionary’s support for a Christianized Indian slave’s sacrament of holy matrimony (Image 2). Providing further evidence towards the practice of spreading Christianity through a cultural relativist philosophy, this document’s translated form (Image 3), indicates that even in 1726—after Jesuits begin to transition away from Indian captive-slavery and embrace chattel slavery—the Kaskaskia Mission settlement applied Christian doctrine in connection to the blended cultural practices of that time, “…The said Jacques Hyacinth and Therese, man and wife to be, promised and promised to take each other in legitimate marriage…to be celebrated as soon as possible. And the future couple will share in common all their present and future possessions according to the custom of the city and viscounty of Paris to which they will be subject in all things.”[3]To Father LeBoullanger, S.J., spreading the Catholic religion, and converting Indians within Kaskaskia, meant that when preforming the sacrament of holy matrimony, his Indian slave (Therese) would join freedman Jacques Hyacinth in a promise that embodied the cultural obligations and religious practices of the demographically diverse and culturally blended society. If Father LeBoullanger did not approach this ceremony from a relativist perspective then he would not have formally honored or even mention the cultural practice of a new couple sharing all of their possessions; Father LeBoullanger, in this sense, would not have felt any obligation to take the local practices into consideration, and solely interacted with Indians through a foreign Catholic perspective.

Even though Father LeBoullanger’s marriage ceremony may outwardly appear to be from a French perspective, this example further proves that Jesuit priests interacted with Indians through an understanding of relative cultural traditions. Rushforth would attempt to argue that this example fails to fully explain how Native Americans were not exploited under Jesuit missions. Because Rushforth also ignores the other instances of cultural relativism established through Marquette’s critique of the Illinois reception, Rushforth will be unable to understand that LeBoullanger’s letter attributes agency to Indians. Not only does this source provide evidence of a continued Jesuit cultural relativist approach for spreading Christianity, but it also explains how Jesuits did not blatantly support Indian Slavery.

Looking back to his argument, Rushforth claims that “there is no evidence of western missionaries’ opposing Indian slavery in New France.” This Jesuit priest’s 1726 letter proves that evidence exists refuting Rushforth’s claims. For if Father LeBoullanger did not oppose Indian slavery in New France, then he would not so publically support the manumission of his Indian slave, Therese. As he mentions in his letter, Father LeBoullanger freed Therese upon administering his holy blessing. LeBoullanger, like other Jesuit missionaries assigned to the Pays d’en Haut region, opposed Indian slavery in New France. To claim that Rushforth’s argument is valid, even after the revelation of LeBoullanger decision to free Therese, is to also claim that this Native American woman’s life and escape from captive-slavery is not important enough to challenge our historical record. It is for this reason, that this paper authentically argues that historian Brett Rushforth’s argument about the Society of Jesus’ participation and apparent support for Indian slavery is flawed and must be amended to incorporate the narrative stories of Indigenous Peoples, often neglected hidden from history.


[2]Delanglez, Jean. Life and Voyages of Louis Jolliet…131.

[3]Carl J. Ekberg, and Grady Kilman, Pierre Lebeau. The Code Noir: The Colonial Slave Laws of French Mid-America. Naperville, IL: Center for French Colonial Studies, 2005. 67.


First Revision Meeting

Last week, I had the chance to sit down and workshop the first draft of my research. After speaking with Dr. Karamanski and Marie, I feel more confident about my research project. The feedback, between all of us, made me feel as though my paper is in a strong position to clearly explain ALL that I have learned during this seminar and make a definitive historical critique.

My plan for revising is simple:

  1. resolve each issue Marie or Professor Karamanski within my paper
  2. provide additional context (where needed)
  3. argue my conclusion, and then
  4. return to my work and make sure my thesis is understood throughout each section

As I begin this process, I think it will be best if I examine the sources I have already used. Dr. Karamanski noted that one of my short-comings came from only using one to two primary documents. As we discussed during our individual meeting, part of my revision process will also include finding additional sources (where needed).

The biggest challenge I will face, while revising, is most likely finding a strong way to relate the differences between Indian slavery during the early period of French settlement (fur trading and hunting) and the Indian enslavement during agricultural expansion (production of foodstuffs in lower Illinois). Though we were able to talk through these different periods of slavery (in our individual meeting), I still believe this is a complicated aspect of Indian slavery and important to my audience’s understanding.

I believe the strongest aspect of my paper comes from my comprehensive examination of Jesuit interactions with Indian slavery. Aside from providing substantial excerpts of Jesuit Priests writing about Indian slaves, the secondary content of my paper also highlights the relative culture of Jesuit missions in New France. As we discussed during our meeting, I think that if I am able to build on the Jesuits’ history of practicing cultural relativism, then I should be able to prove how their relationship with Indian slavery could have been too harshly judged.

I am confident that my future (additional) edits to my paper will help me construct the strongest undergraduate research I have ever completed.

FIRST DRAFT: Writing On Jesuits and Indian Slavery

This past week I finished the first draft of my research paper, Slavery in Jesuit Country: How French Jesuit Missionaries Interacted & Responded to Early Native American & African Slavery in the New World. After finally sitting down to write my paper, I now know how I was successful and where I actually struggled.

First, I believe that I need to spend more time revising my preliminary draft to include stronger evidence that supports my critique of Rushforth’s statements on Jesuit missions in Bonds of Alliance: Indigenous & Atlantic Slaveries in New France (2012). My ultimate goal is to be able to provide criticism throughout my discussion of Indian slavery, not just when I specifically focus on Rushforth’s work. Additionally, I feel that my draft needs at least four more pages of content to prove my argument and describe New France’s history.

After finishing my draft, I felt confident and satisfied with the breadth of information I was able to relate–especially since I still have time before the final version of the paper is due for our different presentations. I also felt a sense of fulfillment when writing, because I was able to create stronger and more interesting headings for the outline of my paper:


The most frustrating aspect of my paper was the fact that the information I address span vastly different times in New France’s history. By discussing early Jesuit explorations, while establishing missions, and later Jesuit plantations (Kaskaskia), I feel that my argument towards Jesuits’ relationship–with slavery–may be vulnerable. Additionally, while criticizing Rushforth, I became frustrated with Rushforth’s arguments that blamed Jesuit missions for using Indian slaves as chattel slaves. I felt that Rushforth did not authentically explain pre-European Indian slave-captivity practices; even though he attempted to advocate against Jesuit use of slaves on missions (before the 1700s).

Even though I am confident with the content of my first draft, I know that my research needs work. I envision presenting a graduate-level research thesis, that includes research supported by reproduced images of primary documents and scholarly criticism. I also fully recognize that I may not have met the full length of the goal for the preliminary draft. I plan to extend my paper to the maximum of 25 pages, as I include the final concluding section of my paper. I would also like to look into additional criticism against Rushforth, as I did not focus on this until the drafting of my outline.

I hope that I can be confident in the revised versions of this research paper.

Outline: The Art of Preparation

Over the last few weeks, I got a chance to sit down and begin the planning stages of my paper. Like I did for prior research projects, my preparation included a balance between essential ideas and specific quotations to help provide context. The process of putting together an outline essentially is loosely structured, in order to help ideas flow consistently throughout writing a final research project.
Because of this free flow and loose structure, I created a preliminary outline that emphasizes the structure I want to create. Through working closely with Dr. Karamanski and Marie, I was able to determine a specific direction for my writing.
The basic flow of my paper is as follows:
I. Introduction and Thesis Construction
II. Early Indian Slavery
III. New France’s Participation with Slavery
IV. Jesuit Relationship to Slavery
V. Conclusion and Critique of Historical Scholarship
My process for determining what I needed to include in my outline, stemmed from the specific examples I discussed with Dr. Karamanski and my additional reading of Empire By Collaboration and Bonds of Alliance–through reading more about these two secondary sources, I was able to understand how to present them in my paper. Because each source discusses aspects of the history I am trying to explain, I decided to include these works in earlier sections of my paper, but leave room for an in-depth critique of each book in my conclusion.
Essentially, because I keep improving my ideas and learning more about each source, the outline never really has an “end.” For the purposes of this assignment, I ended my outline after I was able to accurately layout what my plan was and include the quotes needed to help grow my thoughts. After reviewing my initial feedback, I plan to revise and adjust my outline during spring break, next week.
I feel that the strongest part of my outline so far is my construction of specific sections and their respective topics. After constructing each subheading, I realized that the entire section has potential to expand upon an over-arching theme, while still providing substantial chance to comment on Jesuits and Indian slavery throughout the paper. I feel that if I progressively build my connection to Jesuits and slavery, then when I get to the conclusion my argument will be more sound.
The major gaps that I still need to fill are finding multiple Jesuit priests interacting with Indians. So far, my research has been focused on Father Marquette. Even though this focus is important, I find myself constantly looking for references to Marquette, limiting my source base. In my defense, however, most of the sources reference his specific volumes of the Jesuit Relations–which I also find challenging to incorporate into my paper without focusing on Father Marquette.
The one thing that surprised me about writing my outline was how quickly I was able to establish the specific topics within each specific section (ie. III New France’s…). I thought that my specific bullet-pointed-ideas came to me very quickly, but still fit the ideas I talked about with Professor Karamaski. However, I am also curious to see if Professor Karamaski and Marie both think I am heading in the correct direction so far. Personally, I know I need to “dive deeper” into my sources, but I want to make sure I am swimming in the right direction.
As I said earlier, I plan to continuously add to my outline, but maintain the sections and quotations–unless I am advised otherwise. I’m truly looking forward to drafting my ideas soon!

First Primary Sources

Over the last two weeks I have been able to do a preliminary reading of two primary sources:

  1. Delanglez, Jean. Life and Voyages of Louis Jolliet, 1645-1700. Loyola University of Chicago. Institute of Jesuit History. Publications. Chicago: Institute of Jesuit History, 1948.
  2. Pease, Theodore Calvin, and Raymond Clarence Werner. The French Foundations, 1680-1693. Collections of the Illinois State Historical Library, Vol Xxiii. French Series, Vol. 1. Springfield, Ill.: Trustees of the Illinois State Historical Library, 1934.

Both of these sources are located at Loyola University Chicago’s Cudahy Library. Life and Voyages of Louis Jolliet, 1645-1700 was compiled and written by Father Jean Delanglez, S.J., Ph. D. for the Institute of Jesuit History (Loyola University Chicago) in 1948. This source provides Father Delanglez scholastic argument in response to the original letters or writings of seventeenth-century Jesuit missionaries including Father Marquette and Louis Jolliet.

Though my complete understanding of apparent biases is still being developed, we can still see the (obvious) influence God has on these missionaries, even when writing about survival and the loss of missionary companions:

Louis Jolliet: [Letter]

“…my canoe capsized and I lost my men and a box werein were all my papers, my journal…I am much grieved over the loss of a ten year old slave who had been presented to me. He was of a good disposition, quick-witted, diligent, and obedient. He could express himself in French, and was beginning to read and write. I lost consciousness, and after four hours in the water, I was found by fishermen who never go to this place and who would not have been there if the Blessed Virgin had not obtained for me this grace from God, Who stayed the course of nature in order to rescue me from death.” (June 1674) (p.131)

The only immediate limitation of this source could be that the primary references exist within a secondary source’s comments. Although, I believe I may be able to find these letters and writings outside of this specific printed edition.

In comparison to Delanglez’ source, Theodore Pease’s work, The French Foundations, provides a direct translation to writings about the French frontier. Though not specifically referencing the Jesuit missionary efforts, pages 255 to 259 directly express France’s Indian trade policy–relevant to my understanding of Indian/French slave trading.

This source specifically mentions the King of France’s ordinance (May 2, 1681) that clearly outlined colonial policy for dealing with Indians and avoiding conflict with the Iriqouis. What I find interesting about this section is the fact that it does not specifically mention acquiring slaves from Indians, in exchange for presenting gifts, but it does, however, emphasize the importance of limiting and preventing French acceptance of reciprocal Indian gifts and further trading. The fact that I can not find a specific reference to Native American slavery is unusual, especially because it was through this French practice of presenting gifts that Marquette and other Jesuits received slaves during their missionary activities.

To digress, these last two weeks have provided me with the opportunity to start working with primary sources. At the moment, I am trying to get a stronger idea of what specific missionaries I want to investigate and trying to find the proper balance of incorporating information on Native American slavery and captive practices during this period.

The most surprising aspect of looking at these sources was how common it is for a book to include both the original French writing and the equivalent English translation with footnotes. If only I knew French, then I’d be able to better interact with these sources!

-Rob Baurley

New topic, new beginning​

This last week I decided to re-visit my previous topic choice for the seminar. After speaking to Professor Karamanski, I realized that although I am interested in Native American legal history, a project on this subject would be too difficult for my research to turn out successfully. After weighing my options I have chosen to continue my previous scholarship on Native American captive slavery, as this practice related to French missions and Father Marquette.

I have begun to compile a bibliography covering the history of Marquette and Native American slavery in Illinois territory; also including information on French Louisiana connecting to New Orleans hub. My previous scholarship on the topic of Native American slavery was centered in South Carolina (1715). Though the low-country is different from the French territory, the scholarship on Indian slavery is still relevant.

After reading over Andres Resendez’ 2016 book, The Other Slavery: The Uncovered Story of Indian Slavery in America, I have located a few chapters that appear relevant to my new topic. Unsurprisingly, some of the sources Resendez references were incorporated into my research on the Yamasee Indians; specifically the Allan Gallay’s work with Native American history of trading Indian slaves. Through reading the seventh chapter of his book, I was able to locate a new source, Anthropologist Robbie Ethridge. Ethridge writes about the militaristic slave society that emerged over the practice of Indian slave trade.

For the next week, I hope to review my bibliography with Professor Karamaski and locate a solid primary source base, to begin researching. I also have a meeting with Dr. Roberts scheduled to learn about the best ways to use my research stipend. I hope that by the end of February, I will be in a place to begin outlining my findings and forming a solid argument.