Viefville des Essars
Discours et projet de loi pour l’affranchissement des nègres, ou l’adoucissement de leur régime, et réponse aux objections des colons
Imprimerie nationale
1791 [?]
Abolition Campaigns
Bibliothèque Nationale de France. British Library.
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Speech Law Emancipation Black Slavery Reform Regime French Colonies Objections Emancipation
Viefville des Essarts, a deputy in the French parliament for Vermondois, declared his support for the project of colonial reform in this pamphlet. He argues for humanity's "sacred and inalienable right" (1) to liberty under Rousseau's Contrat Social, and describes slavery as "a violation of all social and human laws" (2). He suggests that France's abolition of slavery would set an example to other nations, which they would be obliged to follow or lose their slaves through desertion to the French colonies. He imagines progressive, gradual emancipation, and eventually a form of independence which would save France the expense of colonial administration. The pamphlet incorporates the text of Viefville's proposed law, which included the abolition of the slave trade and the Code Noir, and gradual emancipation over 16 years. It also includes a list of potential objections to the law, and Viefville's answers, printed in two columns (26-40).
The deputy's name is also spelled Viefville des Essarts. The text of this pamphlet has been made available on the website of the French National Assembly (see weblink above), including a link to a PDF image of several pages from the original document. The motion was debated in the National Assembly on 11 May 1791.