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Grégoire, Mémoire en faveur des gens de couleur ou sang-mêlés de St.-Domingue, & des autres Isles françoises de l'Amérique, 1789.

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"In favour of people of colour"

Pivotal point in the fight for racial equality and to abolish slavery


Henri Grégoire (1750-1831).

Mémoire en faveur des gens de couleur ou sang-mêlés de St.-Domingue, & des autres Isles françoises de l'Amérique, adressé à l'Assemblée Nationale.

Paris, Belin, 1789.

8°. 52 pp. With a woodcut device on title and a woodcut headpiece. Collates: A-C8, D2.

Modern marbled boards with gold-tooled title on red morocco on spine.

The first work against slavery by one of the architects of the first abolition. This publication marks the initial printing of a controversial speech delivered by Henri Grégoire at the National Assembly of France, a speech that played a crucial role in igniting the path toward abolition. Copies of this publication are now considered extremely rare.

Henri Grégoire was among the most prominent figures of the French Revolution. In 1789, he served as the initiator and author of the First Article of the Declaration of the Rights of Man. It was from him that the pivotal sentence originated: “Men are born and remain free and equal in rights.” An inevitable consequence of this belief was the recognition of the equality of all skin colors and thus the demand for an end to slavery. Therefore, shortly after this declaration, Grégoire delivered his speech titled “In Favor of the People of Color or Half-Bloods of Santo Domingo, & of the other French Isles of America,” the transcript of which was subsequently published (the copy offered here). In that same year, he became a member of the "Society of Friends of the Blacks" (Société des amis des Noirs), ultimately assuming the presidency a year later.

Grégoire's speech faced significant resistance, particularly from planters in the West Indies and those with vested interests in slavery. An example of such resistance is evident in the anonymously published work titled "Observations d'un habitant des colonies sur le Mémoire en faveur des gens de couleur, ou sang-mêlés, de Saint-Domingue & des autres îles françaises de l'Amérique, adressé à l'Assemblée nationale, par M. Grégoire" (Paris, s.n., 1789).

Condition: margins of the last seven leaves repaired without affecting text.

Reference: Bissainthe 6045; Cioranescu, A. 18. s., 32008; Sabin 28730.

Rita Hermon-Belot, L'Abbé Grégoire, la politique et la vérité, Paris, Seuil, 2000.

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