Gilbert du Motier [Marquis de]
Letter to Thomas Clarkson, 27 January 1798
Abolition Campaigns
Merseyside Maritime Museum, Liverpool
Slave Trade Slavery Colonies British Parliament French
This letter from the Marquis de Lafayette, well-known military and political leader in the American and French revolutions, was written from Plön (Germany) in January 1798. Lafayette, who had recently been released from prison, defends the record of the Amis des Noirs against the slave trade. Faced with determined opposition from both right and left, he argues, "procrastination became necessary". He criticises the full 1794 abolition of slavery by France and its implementation as "hurried" and verging on "anarchy". Lafayette looks towards the prospect of peace, and suggests that any future European treaty should include: "a formal article which shall at once put a stop to the infamous trade, and promote as well as we can, the restoration of our Negroe brethren to the rights of man". He suggests that no "Christian Government" could refuse to support this policy if it was proposed as part of an international agreement.
Cropper family papers (D/CR/4/1), Merseyside Maritime Museum, Liverpool.