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The Negro in the French West Indies

The Negro in the French West Indies

SHELBY T. McCLOY
Copyright Date: 1966
Pages: 288
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt130hrkj
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  • Book Info
    The Negro in the French West Indies
    Book Description:

    In the research for his book on the opportunities of the black population in Metropolitan France, Shelby T. McCloy found the treatment accorded to people of color in the French colonies so significantly different as to warrant a separate book.

    This historical study examines the black experience in the French West Indies -- the islands of Martinique, Guadeloupe, and Santo Domingo -- from the days of slavery and the brutalCode Noirthrough struggle and revolution to freedom. McCloy provides a detailed account of the black popluation's increasingly important place in the islands from early in the seventeenth century to 1960.

    eISBN: 978-0-8131-6396-3
    Subjects: History, Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. PREFACE
    (pp. vii-ix)
    Shelby T. McCloy
  3. Table of Contents
    (pp. x-x)
  4. ONE THE INTRODUCTION OF SLAVES
    (pp. 1-14)

    French acquisitionof West Indian colonies dates to the seventeenth century. France took Guadeloupe and Martinique in 1635 and in 1697 took the western third of Hispaniola, Saint-Domingue (hereafter designated “Santo Domingo”), by the Treaty of Ryswick. In 1635 France sent a few settlers to the two smaller islands and announced her intention of establishing permanent settlements. The two islands along with others had served previously as occasional bases for piratical attacks on Spanish vessels carrying gold and other cargo to Spain. France, England, and the Low Countries had never recognized Spain’s right to ownership in the Western world, and...

  5. TWO THE CODE NOIR
    (pp. 15-34)

    During the firstdecades of slavery on the French Caribbean islands regulation of the institution appears to have been entirely in the hands of the slaveowners. As reports of abuses began to come into Paris, the government of Louis XIV decided that some constraining order needed to be issued, delimiting the rights of owner and of slave. In 1685 detailed royal ordinance, called the Code Nair, was issued which with certain later supplementary enactments regulated the life of the slaves down to the era of the French Revolution of 1789-1799 and, indeed, in most of the French colonies down to...

  6. THREE SOCIAL LIFE AND CRIME
    (pp. 35-50)

    The negrois a gregarious person; he enjoys company, in conversation, in games and dances, in work, in funerals. He enjoys above all the comradeship of his fellow Negroes, but he also enjoys, to a lesser degree, that of other races. He is thus pictured in the classicVoyages aux Iles de l’Amériqueof Father Jean-Baptiste Labat.

    Father Labat depicts the Negroes as being especially fond of dice, a game which they brought with them from Africa, and also of playing cards, an amusement they acquired by watching their masters. They wasted much time at these two sports but much...

  7. FOUR SERVICE IN THE MILITIA AND THE MARÉCHAUSSÉE
    (pp. 51-69)

    From the late1600’s throughout the Old Regime the Negroes and mulattoes of the French Caribbean islands played a part in the defense of these colonies against attack from enemy naval forces. And like the German barbarians who were incorporated into the Roman armies to defend the empire in the early Christian centuries, they played an ever increasing role. These faraway colonies appear to have been completely unmolested during the Thirty Years’ War and the War of Devolution, inasmuch as France had no strong naval power among her opponents like Britain or the United Netherlands, but the situation changed after...

  8. FIVE REVOLUTION IN THE COLONIES
    (pp. 70-90)

    The eraof the French Revolution (1789-1799) has been by far the most significant period of history for the French Caribbean and yet it is the most difficult to discuss. It was much more than a contest between the black man and the white man, between slave and autocrat. Three races were engaged in the struggle for power—whites, mulattoes, and Negroes—each seeking its selfish objectives, though sometimes two would combine to gain victory over the third. And yet this explanation is too simple, for each of these three parties was split into factions. The poorer whites opposed the...

  9. SIX THE EXPEDITIONS OF LECLERC AND RICHEPANSE
    (pp. 91-117)

    The year1802 saw two expeditions from France invade the unruly West Indies, one under General Charles Victor Emmanuel Leclerc, brother-in-law of Napoleon, the other under General Antoine Richepanse. Their purpose was to quell uprisings tantamount to independent dictatorship in Santo Domingo and Guadeloupe. In each case the island leader had continued to pledge allegiance to France but his actions had given grounds for an entirely different conclusion. The hands were those of Esau but the voice was that of Jacob. The colossus in Santo Domingo was Toussaint Louverture, whose military experience had begun only in 1791, but whose power...

  10. SEVEN RENEWAL OF SLAVERY, 1802-1848
    (pp. 118-140)

    On martiniqueand its dependencies of Tabago and Sainte-Lucie the decree of the National Convention of February 4, 1794, abolishing slavery had never been put into effect, inasmuch as these territories fell into British hands almost immediately and the British preferred to leave the institution of slavery intact. Martinique was indeed the most quiescent of the three largest French Caribbean islands during the period of the French Revolution and Napoleon. It produced no great revolutionary leader nor any attempt at revolution. It was not devoid of revolutionary sentiment, and more than once rumor had it that trouble was brewing. But...

  11. EIGHT FREEDOM AT LAST, 1848
    (pp. 141-159)

    From the timeof the restoration of the Bourbons the tide of antislavery sentiment had moved slowly but steadily forward in France. Napoleon during the Hundred Days had ordered the termination of the slave trade in order perhaps to curry favor with the British, but without much success. Louis XVIII declared null and void this decree of Napoleon, but at the same time he declared the trade abolished thenceforth. Officially, therefore, the slave trade was illegal in French territories after 1815, yet in actuality it continued to exist for two or three decades.¹

    In 1817-1818 legislation was enacted to terminate...

  12. NINE SINCE EMANCIPATION
    (pp. 160-180)

    The actof Emancipation had come suddenly and without adequate preparation. Large numbers of the slaves interpreted this act to signify that no longer would they have to labor in the fields, that the government in some manner would take care of them and see that they were provided for. A great labor shortage resulted and the colonists were compelled to look elsewhere for laborers. They found their answer in the importation of East Indians and Africans. According to De la Roche,conservateurof the Colonial Archives in Paris and an authority on French colonial history, 13,000 Africans and 65,000...

  13. TEN THE DEVELOPMENT OF EDUCATION
    (pp. 181-207)

    Although a feweducational institutions existed in the French West Indies prior to 1814, largely maintained by religious orders, there is, unfortunately, little information concerning them. A study of those in Martinique has been made by J. Rennard, which may be assumed to mirror conditions in Santo Domingo and Guadeloupe.¹ The Jesuits in the 1600’s were licensed by the government to engage in the instruction of the youth, but before the outbreak of the Revolution the Dominicans, the Capuchins, and the Brothers of the Christian Schools likewise were engaged in the instruction of boys; the Ursulines and the Daughters of...

  14. ELEVEN LITERARY AND SCHOLARLY PRODUCTIONS
    (pp. 208-232)

    To what degreehas the Negro of the French West Indies advanced in a cultural way since he was a slave? More than a century has passed since emancipation went into effect for the last of the enslaved in 1848. In this period the most sincere efforts of the French and the colonial governments have been devoted to extending colonial education. The Negroes and mulattoes on their part have shown laudable response, both in Martinique and Guadeloupe. An ever-increasing number have pursued secondary studies in lycees in their larger cities, while the more gifted and ambitious youth have received scholarships...

  15. TWELVE SANTO DOMINGO SINCE INDEPENDENCE
    (pp. 233-256)

    The colonyof Santo Domingo ceased to exist in 1804 when it declared independence from France, but culturally it has remained equally as French as Martinique or Guadeloupe. The position is anomalous. French political control has been repudiated but the use of French language and ideas and dependence on Paris as the cultural center has been continued voluntarily, even eagerly. Therefore, to add a chapter on developments in that former colony since it detached itself politically will be illuminating, partly to show the aspirations and tendencies of these freed Africans, but even more to reveal advantages that have accrued to...

  16. THIRTEEN RACIAL RELATIONS
    (pp. 257-272)

    By the 1600’sthere had developed among the French colonials of the Caribbean a feeling of white superiority in the matter of race and of opposition to marriage with the Negro. A case to illustrate the point happened in Guadeloupe in the 1680’s. A white girl of a prominent family formed a liaison with a Negro household servant named Jean Roland (also written Rolland), and by him bore a child out of wedlock. According to report, she had the mulatto child strangled. When later she became pregnant by this Roland a second time, Père Fleury persuaded her to get married....

  17. INDEX
    (pp. 273-278)