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Décret qui abolit l'esclavage des nègres dans les colonies,

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€7.500,00 EUR
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€7.500,00 EUR


Declaration of the first abolition of slavery in the modern world: an unrecorded edition


France. National Convention (1792-1795).

Décret de la Convention Nationale, du 16 pluviôse, an second de la République Française, une & indivisible. Qui abolit l'esclavage des nègres dans les colonies.

[colophon:] Xantes [= Saintes], de l’imprimerie de P. Toussaints, Imp. Du Département de la Charente inférieure, An 2 de la Republique [1794].


4°. 3, [1 blank] pp. Printed to right of caption title: No. 2262. Signed and dated on page 2: “Fait à Xantes, en séance publique, le 6 Floreal, an second de la république [= 25 April 25, 1794], une & indivisible. Signé P.-Hec. Savary, president; Edmond, secr.-général.”


On February 4, 1794, France abolished slavery, specifically targeting the enslavement of black people in its American colonies, making it the first modern nation-state to do so. Following the drafting of the decree, the signed manuscript text was promptly printed as "Décret no. 2262" in Paris, Versailles, and several provincial capitals across the country. The copy presented here was printed in Saintes (then Xantes), the capital of the department Charente inférieure. This department was a crucial location for spreading the news of abolition as it housed the major slave trading hub of La Rochelle. In addition to its historic significance, the copy we offer here is remarkable for its rarity. Notably, this Saintes edition is not referenced in major online bibliographies, including the Collective Catalog of France (CCFR), BnF, WorldCat, KvK, or auction results.
The 1794 decree enacted by the National Convention in France was the first significant legislative act to abolish slavery in a major nation-state. It was a pioneering effort in terms of a government taking official action to end the institution of slavery within its jurisdiction. While there were earlier abolitionist efforts and decrees in various regions, the French decree of 1794 was among the first of its kind on a national scale.

Condition: in excellent condition.

Literature: Patrick Baradeau, Le Code noir: et autres textes de loi concernant l'esclavage en France, XVIIe siècle-XVIIIe siècle. Bègles, l'Esprit du temps, 2019.

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