Guadeloupe History

Topics: Slavery, British Empire, Atlantic slave trade Pages: 10 (3595 words) Published: January 9, 2013
1-The history of slavery in Martinique
Before 1635:
Era of French colonial discovery and settlement, with slavery forbidden on French territory. Pierre Belain d’Esnambuc (wiki), a former pirate from Normandy, is dispatched to the Caribbean colonies by the Compagnie des Îles d'Amérique ("American Island Company"), one of the main shareholders of which was Cardinal de Richelieu (wiki), an original founding father of the French colonial movement.. 1635 :

Discovery and settlement of Martinique by
d' Esnambuc.
1639 :
The Company begins importing both indentured servants (wiki) (French workers who have voluntarily committed to a 36-month work contract) and slaves purchased on the coast of Africa. Tobacco production is introduced into Martinique and requires little manual labor, which is performed mainly by the "concessionaire" (a person who has been awarded a land grant as a "concession" or a sort of homestead) and his indentured servants. At the end of the 36 months, the indentured servants could request their own homesteads ("concessions"). 1640 :

The company, encountering severe financial problems, is forced to sell off the island to Dyel Duparquet, a Norman nobleman, who forms an alliance with the Caribbean Indians, and a royal edict is decreed forbidding their use as slaves, for strategic reasons. During this period, there are very few slaves on Martinican plantations (just a few dozen, approximately). 1645 :

A group of Dutch Jewish colonists, driven out of northeastern Brazil by the Portuguese, land on Martinique, bringing with them the knowhow and technology involved in the production of sugar. Sugar-cane begins to replace tobacco as the primary crop in the West Indies and will eventually lead to a period of enormous prosperity in Martinique through the rest of the XVII century. The era of alcohol begins with the first techniques of distillation of juice from the sugar-cane plant , perfected by Père Labat (wiki). The first sugar refineries are established in Martinique, with the start-up capital coming from merchants from the various ports of France and the Paris region. But it soon becomes evident that manual labor from indentured servants alone will not be adequate to stoke the broad development of sugar production, with the result that traders and ship-captains begin to promote the use of slave-labor. It is first the Dutch, then shortly thereafter the French, forming the Sénégal Company, who are to launch the full-scale slave-trade. The Company, earning a royalty from the French Crown (Louis XIV) for every slave brought to Martinique, turns Goree island (wiki), off the Senegalese coast near Dakar, into one of the main focal points of French slave-trading activity, with ships leaving from Le Havre, Nantes (wiki), and la Rochelle, bringing trinketry and other cheap goods to exchange with the slave-traffickers of the "slave coast" (the part of the African coast stretching from Senegal to what is now Nigeria). 1685 :

Colbert, Finance Minister under Louis XIV, drafts a set of rules governing the status of slaves in the colonies, called the "Code Noir (wiki)". 1685-1717 :
Sugar plantations progressively cover Martinique, which is bought back by the the French Crown. The economics of sugar production require two or three slaves per hectare, with the result that Martinique now has more slaves than free colonists, in turn resulting in twin social problems: one, a general rebelliousness among the slaves in various forms (revolts, poisonings, suicides); and, two, the high male-female ratio in the population, which has to be adjusted to allow for adequate levels of slave-breeding. Thus, the importation of slave women becomes a necessity. The status of all children derives from the status of their mother: a child born of a slave mother and a free father becomes a slave. 1715 :

More than 1400 regular slave-trading sailings leave Nantes.   1717 :
A revolt, called the "Gaoulé", breaks out among white...
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