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Overview

It was only "for the good of their souls" that Louis XIII authorized the French trade in African slaves in 1642.

By 1656 there were 3000 slaves in Guadeloupe; during the last quarter of the seventeenth century, 124,000 slaves were brought to the West Indies; and in the decade preceding the  Revolution, the French captured and exported an average of 27,000 African slaves per year.

The French slave trade—suspended by the Revolution, reinstituted by Napoleon, and permanently abolished in 1848—aroused fierce opposition and equally heated partisan defense. This collection includes rare eighteenth century descriptive works on the regulation of the trade and polemical works on both sides of the controversy, along with nineteenth century statistical surveys, accounts of the economics of the trade, descriptions of slave voyages, and proceedings of official commissions.

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