William Hale held nothing against black people as long as they stayed in their place. In the course of his career he had learned to appreciate their work. For close to twenty years he relied on black slave labor to sustain his cotton-spinning mill in New Orleans. In antebellum Louisiana, where people were still bought and sold as private property, William Hale thrived. Once the Civil War had formally ended slavery in the southern states, and with many former slaves gone north, Hale decided to move to a place where labor remained cheap and abundant, and where his white skin counted for something. Perhaps this was the prime reason that he wound up in Saigon soon after the French conquest of the Mekong Delta.1