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The Negro in France

The Negro in France

Copyright Date: 1961
Pages: 288
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  • Book Info
    The Negro in France
    Book Description:

    This historical study examines the black experience in Metropolitan France from the 1600s to 1960. Shelby T. McCloy explores the literary and cultural contributions of people of color to French society -- from Alexandre Dumas to Rene Maran -- and charts their political ascension.

    eISBN: 978-0-8131-6398-7
    Subjects: History, Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
    (pp. v-viii)

    THE PURPOSE of this study is to present a history of the Negro who has come to France, the reasons for his coming, the record of his stay, and the reactions of the French to his presence. It is not a study of the Negro in the French colonies or of colonial conditions, for that is a different story. Occasionally, however, reference to colonial happenings is brought in as necessary to set forth the background. The author has tried assiduously to restrict his attention to those of whose Negroid blood he could be certain, but whenever the distinction has been...

  3. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-x)
    (pp. 1-10)

    A DISTINGUISHEDNegro leader in the United States has remarked that the outstanding problem of the twentieth century is that of the “color line” (the relationship of the light and dark races). Although it is not of the gravity and scope of the world’s struggle with nationalism and communism, I do agree that our race problem is of gigantic import.

    The furor over racial integration in the United States of America and the apartheid movement of the Union of South Africa have brought the race issue most sharply to the fore in recent years. To a lesser degree, but nonetheless...

    (pp. 11-24)

    IN EUROPEof the ancient Graeco-Roman world, Negroes were rarities; it was in the medieval period that they first appeared in numbers. Many came to Constantinople in the sixth and seventh centuries A.D., both as freemen and as slaves. A black contingent served with the Arab army that attacked Sicily in 902. In the eleventh century several thousand black troops from Senegal, the Sudan, and Morocco were used by the Arabs in Spain in their warfare with the Christians; and in 1099 some Ethiopians served in the defense of Jerusalem against the Crusaders. These first arrivals were naturally seen in...

    (pp. 25-42)

    THE MEMOIRof Mellier, written in the spring of 1716, was one of several submitted to the government, possibly at its own solicitation. Remarkably enough, all of its suggestions were set forth in an Edict of October, 1716, by the Royal Council of State. This edict clarifying government policy in regard to the importation of Negro slaves in France by colonial slaveowners became the standard of action for more than two decades, and then it was but slightly modified by the Declaration of December, 1738. The Edict of 1716 gave significant concessions to slaveowners, who were allowed to bring their...

    (pp. 43-62)

    HOW DIDone reconcile the internal policy on slavery and the policy for the colonies which France pursued during the 1700’s? This was a live question and many felt very strongly about it. Slavery in theory had not existed in France since the Middle Ages, and slaves could not be bought and sold on French soil. But it had been recognized as necessary and legal in the colonies, where labor was scarce and the climate severe and conditions prevailed which were considered beyond the strength of the white man. Could the colonist bring his slave to France, where slavery did...

    (pp. 63-85)

    THE FRENCHRevolution came as a boon to the Negro, whether slave or free. It espoused the rights of the common man; it proclaimed liberty, equality, and fraternity; from an early date it declared all men equal before the courts. Slavery could not exist long when these broadly stated principles set forth in the Declaration of the Rights of Man of August, 1789, were carried to their logical conclusion. In May, 1791, all free colored men, whether in France or the colonies, were accorded full legal rights, and in February, 1794, the slaves in all French colonies were emancipated and...

    (pp. 86-111)

    RECORDS OFNegroes serving in the French army are found dating back to the late 1600’s. Moreau de Saint-Méry tells of a Captain Vincent Ollivier, a freedman from Santo Domingo, being buried on the island in 1780 at the age of about 120. When young he had accompanied his master as a slave to the siege of Cartagena in 1697. Later captured at sea, he was taken prisoner and carried to France, where because of his tall stature he was presented to Louis XIV. Fond of the military life, he enlisted in the French army and served under Villars in...

    (pp. 112-123)

    MUCH ALLUSIONto social conditions has been made in previous chapters, but it has been brought in incidentally and other phases have not been mentioned—how the Negroes of the era lived, how the Revolution aided or blocked them in their ambitions, what employment they found, what were their virtues and their vices, what were their relations to their former owners. Certainly freedom proved a mixed blessing. Friends of the Negro like the Abbé Grégoire and Lafayette feared such a move as was taken by the National Convention on February 4, 1794, in granting emancipation and citizenship to all slaves...

    (pp. 124-144)

    THE NAPOLEONICorder of May 20, 1802, restoring slavery as of 1789 in the French colonies had less significance before the Congress of Vienna than afterward. As for Santo Domingo, it was never put into effect, for after Rochambeau surrendered there the next year, the island was lost to France. In the Indian Ocean colonies the emancipation decree of 1794 had never gone into effect, and thus the Napoleonic order merely legalized a state already existing. The Caribbean colonies, save for Santo Domingo, did remain under French rule, however, until conquered by the British colony by colony from 1803 to...

    (pp. 145-158)

    THE SECONDFrench Republic brought a new opportunity for Negroes to participate in politics. Under the First Republic several had come to Paris and sat in the National Convention and the Legislative Corps or had called on the government to influence legislation. Brochures by Negro writers had been published, Negroes had participated as members in the Jacobin Society, and at least one was sent on a colonial mission. Something of the same experience was to renew itself in the days of the Second Republic, although there were to be some marked differences. There were to be fewer deputations and fewer...

    (pp. 159-187)

    THE DESIREto write has animated a large number of French Negroes, and it is surprising how many have been successful—surprising because many have had little formal education, surprising because most of them have lacked the literary background in their homes, surprising because so many have exploited the one theme of race relations. Good writers are commonly considered to be well trained in rhetoric and well read in literature. But in the instances of several Negro writers to be considered in this chapter, such conditions did not prevail. On the other hand, these writers had a vivid imagination, a...

    (pp. 188-203)

    IN AN EARLIERChapter the story has been told of Negro participation in French wars since the middle of the eighteenth century, sometimes fighting as units, sometimes as isolated soldiers in white units, often in the role of drummer or bugler. Not until the time of Napoleon were they organized overseas for service in France; some were sent to France from the West Indies for military duty in 1799.¹ It was the beginning of Negro troops for continental use from that quarter. Not until 1819 were troops raised in Senegal, and then only for domestic usage. From 1819 until 1849...

    (pp. 204-227)

    THERE AREno summary figures for Negroes who have studied in France, whether in the past or at present, and the acquisition of information on such students is difficult, due in part to the increasing tendency both in the ship lists of passengers and elsewhere since about 1840 to omit indication of color. During the present century a return to color reference has been made to some degree, at least in the press, as the “noirs” have become increasingly proud of their race and its accomplishments. Further, what information is available concerns chiefly Negroes who have gone from the French...

    (pp. 228-241)

    WHILE EDUCATIONis the greatest magnet drawing Negroes to France, there are also others, some professional, some diversionary. The most influential is music. Jazz, spirituals, and even classical music every year bring many Negroes, especially from the United States, not to study but to practice a profession. The French government permits them to do this and apparently to remain as long as they desire, but for some years prior to the De Gaulle regime a law prohibited the taking of more than about 30,000 francs (less than $100) out of France. But regardless of the money carried home, the visit...

    (pp. 242-254)

    WITH THIRTYor forty thousand Negroes in France,¹ one will find most of the aspects of modern society presented, from riches to poverty, from pleasures to vice and crime. Yet the evidence is fragmentary, weighed in favor of those features which by their nature are matters of public record. One must rely on personal observation, remembering, however, that the eye is often deceived.

    In general, there is little anti-Negro discrimination in France. There appears to be no segregation as to residence save in Paris and Marseilles, and in both cities it is limited in extent. The dormitory for African students...

    (pp. 255-270)

    SINCE 1789,Negroes have participated in French politics and shown themselves remarkably adept at it. Raimond and other mulattoes of the Amis des Noirs were successful in obtaining various advantages for the Negroes of the colonies, until by February 4, 1794, they had gained not only the right to sit in the French legislative bodies but also the abolition of the slave trade and even slavery itself. Thenceforth until the time of Leclerc’s expedition in 1801, Negroes participated in the French government. Afterward they were absent until the time of the 1848 Revolution, but the writings of Richard, Fabien, Bissette,...

    (pp. 271-274)

    IT IS DIFFICULTfor those who have not been to France to visualize the status of the Negroes there. Rarely are they servants. Most are of the middle class and to some degree approximate American students and travelers who go to France, though displaying more frugality. They number thirty or forty thousand, one may estimate, with two-thirds at least living in Paris, and the others in the port and university cities, especially in the South. Several thousand are students, on tenures running from one to five or six years, and of these perhaps a third or more hold a scholarship...

  20. INDEX
    (pp. 275-278)