Item #2680 Réflexions sur la colonie françoise de la Guyane. Contrôleur de la marine M. B.
Scarce Work on French Guiana and Slavery

Réflexions sur la colonie françoise de la Guyane.

[Paris?]: [S.n.], 1788. First edition. Sewn binding. Protected with blank paper wrappers. [6] 52 [2] p. Title and date in ink on the front cover by a later neat hand. Printed on thick paper. Partly uncut, untrimmed. With a few contemporary corrections in the text in ink (like in other copies). Some stains on the cover. Inside clean. Overall in fine condition.

A scarce and interesting source of the French efforts to colonize Guiana in the late 18th century.

By the Treaty of Paris in 1763 France lost almost all her possessions in the Americas thus the relevance of her remaining islands on the Antilles and the territories in the Guianas dramatically increased. The first, ill-fated attempt to colonize Guiana with some 12,000 men in 1763 failed with a loss of about ten thousand settlers, killed by tropical diseases and hostile natives. The second endeavor in 1776 was much more successful. Under the administration of Pierre-Victor Malouet and with the assistance of the Swiss engineer Jean Samuel Guisan — and the heavy use of slave work — France established flourishing agriculture in the colony. This period ended very soon in the early 1790s when French Guiana was partly turned into a penal colony for political prisoners of the Revolution.

The present 1788 pamphlet describes the ill-fated first and the more successful second wave of colonization and designs an administrative plan based on slave work for the future success of the colony. Many chapters deal with the slaves and their work, and the author states that the “government should pay for about 3,000 African slaves to be introduced annually to populate Guyane until they are numerous enough to reproduce themselves.” (p. 15)

The essay was published anonymously, but the author’s name and title were added in ink by a contemporary hand to the title page of the copy held at the British Library however, for the most part it remained indecipherable to us: Par M. B[…], Contrôleur de la marine […].

Extremely scarce, we could trace copies in institutional holdings only in France (BnF, Bibliothèque Sainte-Geneviève) and the UK (BL). Sabin 29193; Hogg 1113 (The African Slave Trade and Its Suppression: A Classified and Annotated Bibliography of Books, Pamphlets and Periodical); Conlon 88:1966 (Le siècle des lumière. Vol. XXIII.).

Price: €3,200.00

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