Bulletin de la correspondance. A Monsieur le Président de la Société de la Morale Chrétienne
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Letter Society Christian Morality President Nantes Visit Slave Ship Chains French Trade
This letter, addressed from "Un membre de la Société de la Morale Chrétienne" to the President of the Society and dated 5 December 1825, describes a visit to the docks at Nantes. The correspondent had gradually become convinced through reading the Society's journal, letters, and reports of the British parliament and African Institution that French slave traders were still operating illegally. He went to Nantes to witness this first hand, saw several ships being fitted out for slave voyages, and boarded one, the Bretonne, that still had "the cadaverous odour" in the hold (190). He also visited an iron-mongers which sold chains and handcuffs to slave traders. He concludes that although the slave trade was still operating from France, it was not "deeply rooted amongst us", it was "condemned by public opinion" and could easily be suppressed (192). A footnote recommends Sophie Doin's La Famille noire for an account of what happens to slaves once they reach the Americas.
Versions of this anonymous letter (probably by Auguste de Staël) were published in the Journal de la Société de la Morale Chrétienne, vol. 6, no. 33 (1826), 185-92, and in the pamphlet entitled: Faits relatifs à la traite des noirs (Paris: Crapelet, 1826). Similar letters were also published in the French press, including Le Courrier Français, 341 (7 December 1825, 3-4). De Staël would recount this visit to Nantes, and exhibit the chains he and a companion bought there at the annual general meeting of the Society, in April 1826 (see account of this meeting in the 'Revue Protestante', tome III).