A Choice for God: The Life of Henriette Delille

A Choice for God: The Life of Henriette Delille

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Free, educated, and beautiful, Henriette Delille enjoyed the highest status possible for a black woman in a slave state before the Civil War. Yet, out of love for God, Henriette chose to exchange a life of relative ease and wealth for one of poverty and struggle.

She gave up the possibilities of life with a wealthy man for a life of consecrated chastity and resolved to use her talents, her education, and all her worldly goods for the benefit of the disfranchised and downtrodden members of her race: the slaves and the poor blacks of New Orleans. Following the example of Jesus, who was himself a member of a despised and oppressed race, Henriette chose to become a servant to the slaves.

Life in New Orleans To understand the courage and the magnitude of the choices Henriette made, it is necessary to understand a little about the social structure of the South during her lifetime, and especially of New Orleans, the city in which she lived.

As the slave market of the South, New Orleans had developed a unique social structure all its own, one influenced…

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