Lettres sur l'esclavage dans les colonies françaises, par M. L'Abbé Dugoujon, Ex-Missionnaire apostolique du St-Esprit
Travel Writings
Bibliothèque Nationale de France. British Library.
Letters Slavery French Colonies Caribbean Guadeloupe Antilles Missionary
A series of letters written by the Abbé Dugoujon during the seventeen months that he spent as a missionary in the French plantation colony of Guadeloupe, in 1840-41. In them, Dugoujon describes his voyage to the Antilles, his impressions of the country and of the people that he was sent to evangelise. His doubts on the legitimacy of slavery begin as soon as he arrives in Guadeloupe, prompted by the treatment of slaves that he witnesses. His personal testimony is documented by footnotes and citations from French newspapers, colonial reports, books, religious annals etc. He remarks in one letter, dated 23 May 1840, to "F.", an "African priest" of his order in France, that: "The seminary often reminds us not to get involved in agitation and politics in the Antilles: I recognise the wisdom of this counsel, but it cannot prevent me from being disgusted by slavery, and calling for its end in the strongest possible terms" (30).
Some of Dugoujon's letters from Guadeloupe were originally published in the journals Univers (November 1841) and Revue des Colonies (the journal founded and edited by Martinican abolitionist Cyrille Bissette from 1834 to 1842). The final two letters in the collection were written after Dugoujon's return to France, in May-June 1843. Addressed to Victor Schoelcher, they examine the question of slavery and Christianity.