Today's Hours
Museum: 10:00 AM - 7:00 PM
Gardens: 7:00 AM - 5:30 PM
Today's Hours
Museum: 10:00 AM - 7:00 PM
Gardens: 7:00 AM - 5:30 PM
Salome, front
Salome, side
Salome has an Armand Marseille bisque head with brown hair and brown eyes. By
1820, the neo-classical style was over. Sleeves and skirts both became very
full. Sleeves moved toward what was called the gigot style, the upper portion
very full, but becoming tighter below the elbow. As skirts became more
bell-shaped, corsets and also a small version of the bustle came back into
style. The new shape of the skirt also led some women to begin to adopt drawers
for warmth and modesty. Colors tended to be brighter and livelier than in the
empire style. Therefore, Salome is wearing a yellow printed cotton underskirt
under a white dress trimmed in black embroidery. She tops this outfit with a red
and black straw hat trimmed in yellow ribbons. Salome adds a white cravat
trimmed in black velvet ribbon. Hair styles become more elaborate and are
frequently augmented with false hair. Equally elaborate are the hats they wear;
usually straw hats from Leghorn or Dunstable that are loaded with decoration,
including this red and black straw hat trimmed in yellow ribbons and bearing
both foliage and fruit. As a walking dress, this skirt is slightly shorter, but during
this time period, even ball gowns tended to provide glimpses of the ankle
(something Queen Victoria was about to put a stop to). So underneath her
skirts, we can see Salome wearing the kind of black kid shoes that were most
common for everyday use.

Salome Muller

Salome Muller, sometimes called Sally Miller, was at the heart of an epic law
case in Louisiana - "the case of the lost German slave girl". In March, 1818,
three ships arrived at New Orleans with several hundred German emigrants from
Alsace, including Daniel Muller and his two daughters, Dorothea and Salome,
whose mother had died on the passage over. They went up the river to Attakapas
Parish (now St. Martin''s Parish) to work on the plantation of John F. Miller.
A few weeks later, Daniel's relatives in New Orleans learned that he had died of
a fever, but his two daughters had disappeared. Nothing was heard of them from
1818 till 1843. In 1843, Madame Karl, a German woman who had come over on the
boat with the Mullers, was passing through a street in New Orleans and accidentally
saw Salome in a wine-shop belonging to Louis Belmonte, by whom she was held
as a slave. Madame Karl recognized her at once and took her immediately to the
home of another German woman, Mrs. Schubert, who was Salomes cousin and
godmother and who verified her identification.

Belmonte had acquired Salome by an act of sale from John F. Miller, the planter
in whose service her father had died and a man of consideration substance and
reputation. Writer John Bailey reports, "Though the cabaret owner Louis Belmonti
was the alleged slaveholder, Miller took over the case as his own, seeking to
''expose to the best of my abilities, the tissue of perjury, folly and corruption
of which this case was made up, and in which I was made the victim. ''Both
sides hired high-profile lawyers, and both dug into evidence that was often vague,
confusing, incomplete and contradictory. Beneath it all lay the central question:
Was Sally Miller white? Bailey writes: "A pure white person couldn't be a slave.
This wasn't a presumptive rule that could be rebutted by an owner bringing
evidence to the contrary. Quite simply, no white person could be a slave and
no number of contracts of sale, court records, or memories of mothers in
bondage could make it otherwise. At the core, the issue in Sally Miller's case
was whether she was of pure German descent. If she was, it didn't matter how
Miller obtained her, she must be free." As Bailey points out, at various times it
was claimed that she "was a mulatto; she was part Amerindian; she was pure
German; she was yellow; she was white. If she had even the proverbial drop of
black blood, she was black and could be in bondage."

The case went all the way to the Supreme Court which finally declared that "she
was free and white, and therefore unlawfully held in bondage." The decision to
free her was very unpopular in the state and led to the Louisiana Supreme Court
that freed her being abolished by the Louisiana State Constitutional Commission
in 1846. When it was restored, none of the old justices who had settled the case
were returned to the bench. In 1855, a law was passed which required a slave
owner to sue the state in a jury-decided case in order to free a slave; in 1857
emancipations of any kind were prohibited; and in 1859, legislation was passed
to allow free men of color to pick a master and become a slave. It would take
the Civil War to finally end the peculiar institution.

Nothing is known of what happened to "Sally Miller" after she was set