She was played by the very talented Kathy Bates on American Horror Story: Coven.
When I saw the first scene on American Horror Story, I realized this was the story...the one that had been so disturbing. Few people in history have been as evil as Madame LaLaurie. She was a wicked, sadistic person who locked slaves up in her basement and physically abused them. Pure evil.
It's important to note that ghost-hunting tours and the screenwriters of American Horror Story have taken many dramatic liberties with their tales of torture. The facts, as they stand, can be traced back to newspaper accounts at the time. What we know today is that in 1834, a fire broke out at Madame LaLaurie's mansion. A judge ordered her husband, Dr. LaLaurie to free the slaves that neighbors knew were chained in her basement. Dr. LaLaurie told the judge to mind his own business.
|LaLaurie Mansion, New Orleans|
The judge ordered the doors to the basement be broken down and, according to the newspaper, the rescuers found, "seven slaves, more or less horribly mutilated … suspended by the neck with their limbs stretched and torn from one extremity to the other.”
Neighbors were reportedly so outraged, they ransacked the house and destroyed everything they could. Madame LaLaurie is said to have escaped to Paris. Some say she returned secretly at some point, but there is no evidence of any of that. This copper plate, found in St. Louis Cemetery No. 1, indicates that she was buried in Paris in 1842:
Today you can find a wax depiction of Madame LaLaurie in the Musee Conti Wax Museum, but only until January of 2016. The museum is closing its doors.
The LaLaurie Mansion, meanwhile, is said to still be haunted. For some reason, Nicolas Cage bought it in 2007 and let it go into foreclosure in 2009. If you take a New Orleans ghost tour, you'll likely find yourself standing outside of it, listening to numerous exaggerated tales about the torture that happened inside.
But you won't be able to set foot inside the house. The home was restored in 2013 and there were rumors it would be turned into a haunted bed and breakfast, but the home remains closed to the public.
Come back next week for the next stop on my ghost tour: