Law of 20 May 1802

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The French Law of 20 May 1802 was passed that day (30 floréal year X), revoking the Law of 4 February 1794 (16 pluviôse) which had abolished slavery in all the French colonies. That law had not taken effect in many of the colonies, with La Réunion hindering its implementation. Martinique refused to ratify it due to a royalist insurrection there, similar to that in the Vendée, which had been in revolt since 16 September 1793 and had, represented by planter Louis-François Dubuc, signed the Whitehall accord of submission to England. On 6 February 1794 the English began their military conquest of Martinique, completed on 21 March 1794, and thus the island avoided the abolition of slavery.

Slavery System under which people are treated as property to be bought and sold, and are forced to work

Slavery is any system in which principles of property law are applied to people, allowing individuals to own, buy and sell other individuals, as a de jure form of property. A slave is unable to withdraw unilaterally from such an arrangement and works without remuneration. Many scholars now use the term chattel slavery to refer to this specific sense of legalised, de jure slavery. In a broader sense, however, the word slavery may also refer to any situation in which an individual is de facto forced to work against their own will. Scholars also use the more generic terms such as unfree labour or forced labour to refer to such situations. However, and especially under slavery in broader senses of the word, slaves may have some rights and protections according to laws or customs.

French colonial empire Set of territories that were under French rule primarily from the 17th century to the late 1960s

The French colonial empire constituted the overseas colonies, protectorates and mandate territories that came under French rule from the 16th century onward. A distinction is generally made between the "first colonial empire," that existed until 1814, by which time most of it had been lost, and the "second colonial empire", which began with the conquest of Algiers in 1830. The second colonial empire came to an end after the loss in later wars of Indochina (1954) and Algeria (1962), and relatively peaceful decolonizations elsewhere after 1960.

Martinique Overseas region and department in France

Martinique is an insular region of France located in the Lesser Antilles of the West Indies in the eastern Caribbean Sea, with a land area of 1,128 square kilometres (436 sq mi) and a population of 376,480 inhabitants as of January 2016. Like Guadeloupe, it is an overseas region of France, consisting of a single overseas department. One of the Windward Islands, it is directly north of Saint Lucia, southeast of Greater Antilles, northwest of Barbados, and south of Dominica.

The Law of 20 May 1802 explicitly concerned the territories that had not been applied the 1794 law and was linked to the 1802 Treaty of Amiens which restored Martinique to France. The 1802 law thus did not apply to Guadeloupe and Guyane. Napoleon's position was more characterised by pragmatism than by any 'ideological' inclination. [1] The law had little effect in Saint-Domingue except to re-inflame rebellion and accelerate its march towards independence in 1804 – on 24 July 1802 general Leclerc (commander of the Saint-Domingue expedition) wrote to admiral Denis Decrès inviting him to renounce all attempts to restore slavery to Saint Domingue.

Treaty of Amiens peace treaty

The Treaty of Amiens temporarily ended hostilities between France and the United Kingdom during the French Revolutionary Wars. It was signed in the city of Amiens on 25 March 1802 by Joseph Bonaparte and Marquess Cornwallis as a "Definitive Treaty of Peace." The consequent peace lasted only one year and was the only period of general peace in Europe between 1793 and 1814.

Guadeloupe Overseas region and department in France

Guadeloupe is an insular region of France located in the Leeward Islands, part of the Lesser Antilles in the Caribbean. Administratively, it is an overseas region consisting of a single overseas department. With a land area of 1,628 square kilometres and an estimated population of 400,132 as of January 2015, it is the largest and most populous European Union territory in North America.

Napoleon 18th/19th-century French monarch, military and political leader

Napoléon Bonaparte was a French statesman and military leader who rose to prominence during the French Revolution and led several successful campaigns during the French Revolutionary Wars. He was Emperor of the French as Napoleon I from 1804 until 1814 and again briefly in 1815 during the Hundred Days. Napoleon dominated European and global affairs for more than a decade while leading France against a series of coalitions in the Napoleonic Wars. He won most of these wars and the vast majority of his battles, building a large empire that ruled over much of continental Europe before its final collapse in 1815. He is considered one of the greatest commanders in history, and his wars and campaigns are studied at military schools worldwide. Napoleon's political and cultural legacy has endured as one of the most celebrated and controversial leaders in human history.

Joséphine de Beauharnais's intervention in favour of re-establishing slavery is probably a myth, since there is no evidence for it, she had little political influence over Napoleon and her pro-slavery bias has not been clearly demonstrated. The maintenance and re-imposition of slavery was far more influenced by Britain and her allies.[ citation needed ]

Notes

  1. Jacques Adélaïde, La Caraïbe et la Guyane au temps de la Révolution et de l'Empire (1992), Ed. Karthala, ISBN   2-86537-342-8

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