JCB Fellow's Talk: Joseph la Hausse de Lalouvière

July 25, 2018 - 4:00pm

Joseph la Hausse de Lalouvière (Harvard University), Virginia and Jean R. Perrette Fellow

"Human property, economic security and the politics of French slave-trade suppression"

This presentation delves into the murky politics of slave-trade abolition within France and its transatlantic empire in the early 19th century. Between the French prohibition of the slave trade in 1817 and the tightening of the ban in 1831, approximately 170,000 enslaved ​Africans​ were trafficked to the Americas on French ships, approaching pre-abolition rates. Following Haitian independence from France in 1804, French slave merchants shifted their investments into emerging slave markets in Brazil and Cuba. Meanwhile, the French flag provided legal cover for hundreds of foreign slaving expeditions. Scholars have argued that the restored Bourbon monarchy turned a blind eye to illegal slave trading. The cases I will present, drawn from JCB printed works and other archival collections, instead show how French legislators, administrators and prosecutors actively used abolitionist policies to protect the slave trade’s economic foundations and to profit from them.

The Reading Room will close to researchers at 3:30pm.