This City Burst Into Flames After She Demanded Freedom

painting of marie angelique
Briona Lamback
January 19, 2023

Marie-Joseph Angélique was burning mad, and she had every right to be. Her captors denied her request for freedom. Rumors began spreading about their plans to sell her again, so she devised a fiery plan.

Angélique and her lover set her bed ablaze, crept through the smoke, and fled toward New England to board a ship to Europe. But anti-Blackness tried to stop them cold in their tracks.

Cops apprehended the couple and sent Angélique back to the plantation. She wasn’t done fighting for her freedom, though. Angélique knew that her liberation was worth the risk. 

When 46 buildings in Montréal Merchant’s Quarter neighborhood went up in flames, Angélique was accused and arrested within one day.

Angélique maintained she didn’t set the fire, but after a five-year-old girl testified against her, she was sentenced to death. 

After a grueling six weeks, she was tortured, hung, and burned alive. Even worse? They made an enslaved man carry out the execution.

Marie-Joseph Angélique knew what we must remember: escaping the system of anti-Blackness might mean burning it all down in exchange for the betterment of our people. Today Marie is celebrated as a symbol of Black resistance and freedom in Canada.

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