Black History Month 2013: France Abolishes Slavery

France abolishes slavery on February 4, 1794
France abolishes slavery on February 4, 1794

French Caribbean

NewsOne is celebrating February 4 as the 219th anniversary of the abolition of slavery in the French Empire.

It was on this fateful day that the French National Convention under Jacobin influence took the bold step of becoming the first major European power to abolish slavery in its colonies.

The NewsOne article focuses exclusively on Saint-Domingue, which later became independent Haiti after 1804, but slavery was temporarily abolished across the entire French Empire in 1794, which at that time included the slave-based plantation colonies of Guadeloupe, Martinique, French Guiana, and Île de France (Mauritius) and Réunion in the Indian Ocean.

Slavery was only effectively abolished by this decree in Saint-Domingue, Guadeloupe, and French Guiana which remained under the control of the French Republic. Martinique was occupied by the British during the War of the First Coalition. Réunion and Île de France resisted the implementation of abolition.

In 1802, the abolition law of 1794 was revoked under Napoleon and slavery was later restored in Guadeloupe and French Guiana. Napoleon dispatched the Leclerc and Richepance expeditions to restore the authority of the French Republic over Saint-Domingue and Guadeloupe.

In Guadeloupe, Richepance succeeded in defeating the black insurrection led by Louis Delgrès on the slope of the Matouba volcano. In Saint-Domingue, which is a far larger and more mountainous colony, the resumption of hostilities with the British in 1803, the topography of the country, and the toll of malaria and yellow fever on French troops led to the defeat the Leclerc expedition.

Haiti became the world’s first black republic. It also become the world’s first post-colonial society. In Guadeloupe, Martinique, Réunion and French Guiana, slavery would continue to exist until 1848, and white supremacy and colonialism were never completely eliminated, as these colonies became departments of France in 1946.

This schism of the French Empire – Saint-Domingue becoming an independent black republic with a free labor peasant economy, Guadeloupe and Martinique returning to their status of slave-based plantation societies with a capitalist economy under white supremacy and colonialism – is arguably the ultimate example of the lack of capacity of black people to maintain a White level of civilization.

In both Saint-Domingue and Guadeloupe, the abolition of slavery in 1794 sent the plantation economy into a tailspin, which was the lifeblood of the wealth of both French colonies:

“Between 1790 and 1799, the total surface farmed on the island of Guadeloupe decreased dramatically, from 51,279 hectares to 18,469. Here, cotton was hardest hit, despite the increase in the number of plantations: after a rapid expansion in the 1780s, there were 8,766 hectares in 1790 and only 2,214 in 1799, a drop of 75 percent. Overall production of coffee decreased as well, though not as markedly: the number of hectares dropped from 8,607 in 1790 to 5,281 in 1799 (61 percent). And the amount of land cultivated in sugar decreased from 22,620 hectares in 1790 to 7,288 in 1799 (68 percent). Statistics on the amount of sugar actually produced are difficult to come by because its distribution was not very well controlled, but the available numbers note a drop from 18,300 metric tons of sugar produced in 1784 to only 3,900 in 1799. These calculations probably underestimated the total output on the island because they did not account for commodities that were stolen from plantations and sold in the active underground economy described below. They do, however, suggest that, even as land defined by the administration as coffee and cotton plantations multiplied in numbers, cultivateurs focused on growing provisions rather than on producing crops for export.”

Laurent DuBois, A Colony of Citizens: Revolution & Slave Emancipation in the French Caribbean, 1787-1804, p.214

In The Beauties of Negro Rule: The Present and Past of Hayti, we learn that Saint-Domingue exported 93,573,300 pounds of raw sugar, 47,516,531 pounds of white sugar, 76,835,219 pounds of coffee, 76,835,219 pounds of cotton, and 7,004,278 pounds of indigo in 1789. The commodities generated by Saint-Domingue’s agricultural sector made it the richest colony in the world at the time.

By 1801, seven years after the abolition of slavery, Haiti’s production of raw sugar had declined to 8,016,540 pounds, white sugar to 18,517,381, coffee to 29,510,450, and cotton to 2,170,440 pounds. The decline in Haiti’s agricultural sector mirrored the decline in production in Guadeloupe.

In both cases, the cause of the decline was the same: free blacks preferred to abandon the plantations or refused to work with the same discipline and intensity as they had as slaves. They preferred to shift their energies to growing food crops in their garden plots for their own consumption rather than growing commodities for export in disciplined gangs on large scale plantations.

The restoration of slavery in Guadeloupe reversed the economic decline of the 1790s by forcing blacks to return to work on the plantations. In the early nineteenth century, Guadeloupe, Martinique, French Guiana, and Réunion (Île de France was ceded to Britain in 1810 and became Mauritius) would later go on to produce more sugar than Saint-Domingue at its height of production in 1789.

Just the opposite was true in Haiti: by 1850, raw and white sugar, cotton, indigo, and tobacco had completely disappeared as articles for export, and while coffee production had actually risen to 80,608,343 pounds, the coffee exported from Haiti was wild coffee of inferior quality harvested from the ruins of abandoned plantations. The epicenter of world coffee production had long since shifted to the slave plantations in south central Brazil which was producing half the world’s coffee by 1868.

In 1995, Haiti’s exports were worth less than Saint-Domingue’s exports in 1788:

“In the first half of 1995 Haiti exported $65 million, a figure that, 207 years later, falls far short, when adjusted for inflation, of the $41 million in exports of Saint-Domingue (French colonial Haiti) in 1788. During the same period, its imports amounted to $265 million, or four times its exports. Haiti has to import all petroleum products, machinery, processed goods and the bulk of even the simplest consumer goods. In only four years of the last fifty has Haiti enjoyed a favorable balance of trade.”

In terms of technology, independent Haiti in 1995 had retrograded to a level that compared unfavorably with the Roman Empire:

“Few countries have regressed so far or been so misused by man. In 1789 a flourishing Haiti, France’s richest colony, ran its mills and ground its grains by waterpower. In 1995 – an anthropological regression measurable in centuries – the waterwheel and flume were largely forgotten and the Biblical ox and beam prevailed.”

In 2012, the average per capita income in Haiti was $1,300, whereas Guadeloupe (where slavery, white supremacy, and colonialism was restored) has a per capita income of $21,780 and Martinique has a per capita income of $24,118.

To put this in perspective, the Bahamas has a per capita income of $30,400, Barbados has a per capita income of $25,000, and Puerto Rico has a per capita income of $16,300. Even Cuba under communism and American sanctions has a per capita income of $9,900. All of these neighboring countries have a longer experience with slavery, white supremacy, and colonialism than Haiti which was the second country in the Western hemisphere to win its independence in 1804.

The one area where Haiti differs from its Caribbean neighbors is that it is the longest running experiment in black freedom in the world. Nowhere else in the Americas were black people as successful in preserving their own African culture or as unmolested by Europeans as they were in Haiti after 1804.

In Haiti, blacks used their freedom to recreate the richest colony in the world in the image of the primitive African societies in which the majority of Haitians had been born and were then only a few years removed. Elsewhere in the Caribbean such as in Barbados, the European impact was much more enduring and those colonies have been much more successful since independence.

OD celebrates Black History Month 2013 by remembering Feburary 4, 1794 – the day on which slavery was abolished in the French Empire – as one of the most important milestones on the road to the creation of modern Haiti which is by far the most impoverished and dysfunctional country in the Western hemisphere.

About Hunter Wallace 12367 Articles
Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Occidental Dissent


  1. To press the point of African inferiority further during this early period of the first Abolition experiment, why weren’t those slaves smart enough to continue the plantation operations and start trading elsewhere, instead of with the Evil White Man, why not the Indian tribes of Mexico? A barter exchange if both parties had not gold or paper currency would produce decent economic wealth gains. Would those tribes have tried to pillage such traders and abduct them into slavery?

  2. I find this article to be materialistic and utilitarian in nature. It seems to making the case that since we produce less cotton and sugar when slaves are free then abolition is bad. That is fine when you place the value of farm produce on the same level as actual human beings, but when you see that slavery was leading to the abuse and murder of millions of africans then you worry less about cotton and sugar.

    It is a cold blooded argument to make.

  3. Slavery allowed the failing DNA of the black to thrive. Since freedom the disease of the indolent black has found an artificial home Jim professional sports and the prison system anyway. Both of which are a financial drain to civilization.

  4. Cotton, tobacco, sugar, etc has value and improves folks quality of life. The negro has no value, creates nothing of value, adds no value to individual citizens or the nation as a whole

    What happens to commodities like cotton is important. What happens to negros is not

  5. Hunter, what did you expect the slaves to do ?

    If I was a slave (and plenty of Whites have been) who got freed I’d do exactly what they did, go mind my own business and take care of myself. I don’t blame them for not wanting the plantation owners to get the bulk of the benefits of their labor, I wouldn’t either nor could I blame the Haitians for killing the slave owners, I’d also do that given an opportunity were I slave just as other Whites have (c.f Spartacus)

    The issue is deeper than money anyway. simply the needs of most Negroes and Whites didn’t mesh well and the two groups are different enough that neither live together well. Its not our White Mans Burden to “uplift them” from savagery or “make them contribute” we ought to either take what we want in honest war or better leave them alone and make sure they are not in lands we inhabit. This will benefit them and more importantly us.

    And yes granted that slavery was efficient back than but it fails the moral stink test and we have machines now anyway.

  6. Here is the ultimate Black History Month graphic, chock full of maps and statistics:

    In 1950, Detroit was the nation’s 4th largest city with 1.85 million people. Whites made up 83.6% of the population, or roughly 1.55 million people, and dominated the vast majority of the city’s neighbourhoods. Blacks made up 16.2% of the population and were concentrated in a small strip running up the east side of Woodward Avenue in the central part of the city.

    In 1950, Detroit was one of the wealthiest, if not the wealthiest city on Earth. It had a relatively low homicide rate of 6.1 per 100,000, and a relatively low unemployment rate of 6.7%. Its factories were instrumental in winning WWII, earning it the nickname Arsenal of Democracy, and it was undeniably the industrial capital of America, if not the world. The Motor City was humming on all cylinders.

    Fast forward to 2010. Detroit’s population had collapsed by more than 1.1 million down to 714,000. Detroit’s white population had shrunk by an incredible 95%, down to a mere 76,000, or 10.6% of the population. Whites were the majority in only one tiny census district in the city, completely surrounded by blacks.

    By 2010, Detroit had reached Peak Moolie. Blacks made up 82.7% of the population and dominated virtually every neighbourhood in the city, with the exception of a growing Hispanic section in the southwest. Even though blacks have been fleeing the city in droves in recent years, partially offset by a small influx of Hispanics and even a tiny trickle of whites moving in, Detroit remains America’s blackest city, BRA’s showcase if you will.

    And how is BRA’s showcase doing these days, you ask? Aside from widespread poverty and impending bankruptcy and the thousands upon thousands of burned out and abandoned office buildings, factories, shops and houses, Detroit has an astronomically high homicide rate of 43.4 per 100,000 and an equally high unemployment rate of 23.4%. The very name “Detroit” has become a byword for urban blight and squalor and out-of-control crime.

    So for this Black History Month 2013, let us point to Detroit and say “This is what blacks hath wrought”. From Arsenal to Arsehole in 60 short years. Celebrate diversity, yo.

  7. Correction: In 1950, Detroit was the nation’s 5th largest city, behind New York, Chicago, Philadelphia and Los Angeles.

    Check out this demographic map of Metro Detroit:

    The Jim Crow South had nothing on modern Detroit in terms of residential segregation. The city is more than 80% black while the suburbs are more than 80% white. Eight Mile Road, the northern boundary of Detroit, divides white neighbourhoods from black ones almost as neatly as Johannesburg was divided from Soweto back in the good old days.

    Even though Detroit is America’s blackest city, the 6 counties of Metro Detroit (pop. 4.3 million), including the city, are actually whiter than the national average. These stats are a few years old, but Metro Detroit is about 68.9% white. And the 10 county (9 in Michigan, 1 in Ontario) Greater Detroit Area (pop. 5.6 million) is probably close to 75% white, making it considerably whiter than most other similar sized urban areas in North America.

    The city of Detroit is merely the black hole in the white donut that is Metro Detroit.

  8. Check out this demographic map of Metro Detroit:

    It’s a thing of great beauty, isn’t it? That’s why I laugh when people say it’s “too late” to re-segregate. Total hogwash. The only challenge is how to attach some permanence to the arrangement.

    Naturally, many here would say that segregation doesn’t go nearly far enough. That’s fair enough. But, personally, I think it’s overwhelmingly likely that some form of official segregation (whatever euphemism is substituted) will be a ‘first step’ in any program that aims to ultimately go much further.

    • Segregation has already been tried. It failed because Yankees couldn’t resist the temptation to enfranchise blacks in order to use the black vote to capture the federal government and push America further to the Left.

  9. “Truth is hard, who can carry it?”

    Only slaves, obviously. For their White Masters.

    And unless we restore the biblical construct of Slavery in all its facets, the only other alternative is to live in a totally White society- no octaroons, mixed-race bastards, or ‘multiculti’ types.

    “Be Ye separate, and touch not the unclean thing.” – St. Paul

    Truer words were never spoken.

  10. totally false statistics- clear sign of liberalism. outcome-based preset conclusions. of course production of slave-driven commodities went down- who wants to work for free? boy Jeff Foxworthy is sure right- if you’re poor and vote rich, you’re a redneck. And from the looks of it, a greedy redneck at that.

    thank God we destroyed you people 150 years ago. And since all things come from God, and we see to whom He gave the victory- by any means- and there is the Truth, and the Whole Truth. Which being Liberals (ie-a bit faggy and whiny, and weak) there you go- you hate the Truth.

  11. People self segregate pretty well. That is what we simply need to allow to happen.

    The Empire will come down because, in large part, of that very fact.

    When the Empire comes down, I suspect the Dominicans will feel their oats and take over all of the island, pushing the Hatitans in the sea or killing them outright. No one will stop them.

  12. “Segregation has already been tried. It failed”

    Except it didn’t, especially in the North as that urban map of Detroit clearly shows. I don’t know why you stick to repeating this canard. Blacks in the North are confined to urban ghettoes and unlike the Deep South rural Northern and Western counties are still overwhelmingly White.

    And no Hunter, I’m not going to post a link to a map of the racial makeup of the US at the county level for the umpteenth time. You will simply ignore the evidence that stares you right in the face. The Deep South is the real black belt of this country.

    Physical segregation is alive and well everywhere except where you live.

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