Frontin, An Enslaved Child from the Boré Plantation

Stop 6 of 6 on the No Sugar-Coating: The Plantation History of Audubon Park tour

On January 21, 1783, Étienne de Boré, an enslaver and owner of the Boré Plantation located within today’s Audubon Park, visited a public slave auction in order to sell two enslaved boys. Alexandro Baure purchased one of the boys from Boré for three hundred and fifty pesos. [1] This twelve-year-old’s name was Frontin. Boré may have  stripped Frontin from his family living on the Boré Plantation since no other enslaved people related to the Boré Plantation are mentioned in this act of sale. [2] 

After selling Frontin to Baure, Boré took legal action against Baure because he  refused to finalize the sale. In this court case, Baure claims that Boré sold Frontin with an undisclosed illness. The day Boré sold Frontin at the auction, Frontin had to endure several medical examinations. The doctor noted that Frontin’s “inguinal glands of both sides were obstructed and the lower part of the legs swollen, presuming ''that all the said incidents must be produced from an excessive amount of phlegm that may have interfered with the breathing.” [1] 

After several back and forth arguments within the court proceedings between Boré and Baure, the court ordered two doctors to examine Frontin again to determine the court ruling. In this examination, each doctor asked Frontin questions about his illness, “touching various parts of his body.” [1] The doctors determined that Frontin still faced the same ailments as before but they were not of much concern. In the reports, the doctors determined that Frontin was healthy and that Baure should complete his sale with Boré. However, Baure still refused the sale. The court ordered that Boré take Frontin back and for Baure to pay all legal fees. 

According to historian Walter Johnson in Soul by Soul, enslaved people endured these examinations within slave markets and courtrooms. Johnson states that buyers and doctors would “thumb their way into slaves’ mouths” to check gums and teeth, and have enslaved people strip naked to look for “clear or smooth skin” or scars from whipping.

While it is unclear what happened to Frontin after this court hearing, it is possible that Boré sold Frontin to another auction bidder named Leonardo Mazange, a notary during the Spanish Colonial Period, who, according to the court proceedings, previously offered seven hundred pesos for Frontin.