Find the word definition


Plaçage was a recognized extralegal system in French and Spanish slave colonies of North America (including the Caribbean) by which ethnic European men entered into the equivalent of common-law marriages with non Europeans, of African, Native American and mixed-race descent. The term comes from the French placer meaning "to place with". The women were not legally recognized as wives but were known as placées; their relationships were recognized among the free people of color as mariages de la main gauche or left-handed marriages. They became institutionalized with contracts or negotiations that settled property on the woman and her children, and in some cases gave them freedom if enslaved. The system flourished throughout the French and Spanish colonial periods, reaching its zenith during the latter, between 1769 and 1803.

It was most practiced in New Orleans, where planter society had created enough wealth to support the system. It also took place in the Latin-influenced cities of Natchez and Biloxi, Mississippi; Mobile, Alabama; St. Augustine and Pensacola, Florida; as well as Saint-Domingue (now the Republic of Haiti). Plaçage became associated with New Orleans as part of its cosmopolitan society.

Usage examples of "placage".

Some of their numbers were comprised of placage households, but there were other families who boasted no Creole or Anglo blood at all and would have been offended at the introduction of it because of the unsanctified nature of such alliances.

Charlie was just as aware of the placage system as she was aware of the impropriety of a white woman to claim such knowledge.

They say her great-great-grandmother ran the Creole placage system on Rampart Street before the Civil War.