The Hanging of Angelique: The Untold Story of Canadian Slavery and the Burning of Old Montreal
Afua Cooper—writer, historian and poet—tells the astonishing story of Marie-Joseph Angélique, a slave woman who was convicted of starting a fire that destroyed a large part of Montréal in April 1734. On appeal, her punishment of death by hanging was modified to an even crueller fate. No longer would she first have her hands cut off; the precursor to the gallows would now be forced to undergo 'le torture extraordinaire,' a brutal leg-crushing, to encourage her to name an accomplice—a white man, Angélique’s sometime lover. Cooper brings an unknown chapter in Canadian history brilliantly to life with this narrative of a rebellious Portuguese-born Black woman who refused to accept her indentured lot. In a dramatic retelling of Angélique’s life, Cooper sheds new light on what might have compelled a young woman to commit such a crime. At the same time, she completely demolishes the myth of a benign, slave-free Canada, revealing a damning centuries-old record of legally and culturally endorsed slavery.