Madame Delphine LaLaurie is a notorious figure in New Orleans history, known for her cruelty and mistreatment of slaves in the early 19th century. However, little is known about her fourth husband, Dr. Leonard Louis Nicolas LaLaurie, who played a key role in her life and legacy.
Leonard LaLaurie was born in France in 1787 and came to the United States as a young man to study medicine. He settled in New Orleans, where he met and married Delphine Macarty in 1825. At the time, Delphine was already twice-widowed and had four children from her previous marriages. Leonard became her fourth husband and the couple had one child together, a daughter named Marie Borja LaLaurie.
Leonard was a successful physician and a member of the American Medical Association, and his status as a respected member of society likely helped Delphine maintain her social standing. Though he began his practices as a dentist, he later ventured into orthopedics, a common change during that time period. Despite rumors of Delphine's cruel treatment of her slaves, Leonard appeared to turn a blind eye to her behavior and even participated in it himself. However, not much information is given about Leonard himself. Madame LaLaurie had not previously been accused of torturing slaves prior to her fourth marriage. She had even given a slave freedom at the request of her second husband upon passing, and was happy to oblige. Was Delphine simply afraid of her husband? Were the tale of his abuse towards her, and the multiple counts of infidelity simply the surface to a much more sinister truth? Is the medical nature of the torture simply a coincidence?
On the afternoon of April 10, 1834, a fire broke out in the kitchen of the LaLaurie Mansion. The cause of the fire is unknown, but it quickly spread throughout the house. Neighbors and firefighters rushed to the scene to try and put out the flames, but their efforts were hampered by the locked doors and barred windows of the mansion.
As the fire raged on, Madame Delphine LaLaurie and her husband, Dr. Leonard LaLaurie, fled the scene, leaving behind their slaves, who were still chained up in the attic. As firefighters battled the blaze, they made a gruesome discovery - the slaves in the attic had been horribly mutilated and abused.
News of the discovery quickly spread throughout the city, and an angry mob descended on the mansion. They broke down the doors and windows, and began looting and destroying everything inside. The mansion was left in ruins, and the LaLauries were forced to flee the city in the middle of the night to escape the angry mob.
It is unclear what happened to Leonard after the fire. Some accounts suggest that he left New Orleans with Delphine and they traveled to France, while others claim that he remained in the United States and continued to practice medicine under a different name. There are also rumors that Leonard died under mysterious circumstances, possibly at the hands of Delphine or one of her slaves.
Despite his role in Delphine's life and legacy, Leonard LaLaurie remains a largely enigmatic figure. His exact involvement in Delphine's cruelty towards her slaves is unknown, and his ultimate fate is shrouded in mystery. Nevertheless, his connection to one of the most infamous figures in New Orleans history makes him an intriguing subject of study and speculation.