Racial Equality and the Abolition of Slavery in France

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Racial Equality and the Abolition of Slavery in France When Abbé Sièyes wondered, "What is the Third Estate [or are slaves]? Nothing. What has it [have they] been until now in the political order? Nothing. What does it [do they] want? To be become something…" (65), he could have just as easily spoken of slave's misery rather than the Third Estate's plight. While, his scope was limited, his pains were not. Following their first revolution, the French National Assembly helped to change the world. Enlightened, they saw, they defined, they tried to ease all of mankind's suffering. Finally, the term man began to transcend color. If man has rights, they must apply to all men. And thus, the concept of racial equality is born. I will argue in order to achieve this end, and to prove the necessity of racial equality, Enlightened thinkers exposed flaws in current social philosophy, demonstrated the logical conclusions of their progress, and finally addressed the implications of abolition. Marquis de Condorcet was an outspoken advocate for all forms of human rights-religious, gender, political and especially racial. In his "Dedicatory Epistle to the Negro Slaves" he writes: My Friends, Although I am not the same color as you, I have always regarded you as my brothers. Nature formed us with the same spirit, the same reason, the same virtues as whites…Your tyrants will reproach me…indeed, nothing is more common than the maxims of humanity and justice… Reducing a man to slavery…[takes] from the slave not only all forms of property but also the ability to acquire it… (56). Condorcet employs the technique of de/humanizing his subjects to display the arbitrary nature of slavery. Moderates, slaves, and whites-anyone could achieve slave status under these random means. Society needs to prevent subordination. The white Condorcet speaks almost in apostrophe; the style of his introduction greatly resembles an ode. Addressing the slaves in this manner gives even more deference to the...
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