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Review Article
Capitalism After Slavery? The French Slave Trade
and Slavery in the Atlantic, 1500-1900*


Review of Serge Daget, La traite des Noirs; Bastilles negrieres et velleites

abolitionnistes (Editions Ouest-France Universite, 1990) and ofjosette
Fallope, Esclaves et Citoyens, les Noirs a la Guadeloupe au XIXe siecle dans
leprocessus de resistance et d'integration, 1802-1910 (Basse Terre: Societe
d'Histoire de la Guadeloupe, 1992. ISBN 2-900339-294).

i) Introduction
Unfortunately, there is still no general history of European expansion in
the Atlantic. The topic has usually been split into various national compart-
ments. Recent attempts at generalisation have yielded another divide: a
historiographical barrier between the Iberian expansion which created a
South Atlantic circuit or system of trade and migration on the one hand
and on the other, the trade and migration circuits in the Middle and North
Atlantic operated by the British, French, Dutch and Scandinavians. In both
systems plantation colonies as well as colonies of European settlement came
into existence.1
In spite of the similarities between the two Atlantic expansion systems
much of the older historical literature suggests that they were fundamentally
different because of the dissimilarities between the economic development
of the Iberian peninsula and of Northwestern Europe. The economies of
Spain and Portugal were hampered by so many feudal impediments that
it was impossible to develop capitalist trading and manufacturing sections.
Such islands of capitalist enterprise did exist in Britain, France, the Nether-
lands and Scandinavia, which explains why the overseas expansion of North-
western Europe was much more dynamic than that of the Iberians.2
Recent research into the economies of Spanish and Portuguese America
have queried the existing divisorio, or watershed, between the two expansion
systems in the Atlantic. It has been pointed out that there were mines and
haciendas in several regions of Spanish America which exclusively produced
for the export market and which were managed according to the same

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capitalist principles as the plantations in the Caribbean and North America.

Similar observations have been made regarding the Portuguese slave trade
and the plantations in Northeastern Brazil.3
In view of the difficulties in assessing the capitalist nature of Iberian
export agriculture in Latin America, it seems relatively easy to come to
grips with the intercontinental trade and production for export of both
the Caribbean region and North America. Few historians have doubted
that these economic activities were governed by the market and the drive
to maximise profits, while in the past few decades it has become fashionable
to label them as capitalist. This discovery seems to undermine the old
orthodoxy that the capitalist expansion of Europe took place after the
Industrial Revolution. It had always been assumed that the expansion of
Europe before 1800 was driven by mercantilist forces, composed of a mix-
ture of market and non-market elements, typical of many ancien regime
economies in Western Europe and North America.4
Economic historians have undermined this standard view. There seems
little reason to doubt that most sections of the British economy in the
seventeenth and eighteenth centuries were of a market-oriented, capitalist
nature. As a consequence we should not feel inhibited to also label the
British expansion in the Atlantic as capitalist. There no longer is a need
to make a difference between trade and production in the British Atlantic,
and hence, to argue that trade indeed was a purely capitalist venture while
the production of food and export products was governed by the exigencies
of mercantilism. In the older interpretation it was assumed that the produc-
tion sector in the New World did not aspire to achieve a capitalist mix of
the factors of production, since it made use of expensive unfree labour.
Most of the older interpretations of slavery pointed out that only after the
abolition of the slave trade and after slave emancipation a capitalist labour
economy could come into existence.5
After this turn-about in the historiography of slavery, all the composite
pieces of the picture rapidly seemed to fall into place. New research pointed
out that the transition from slave to free labour in the New World was a
process, which was clearly dictated by the drive to minimise costs. Free or
indentured labourers either from the New World itself or imported from
Europe were more expensive than slave labourers from Africa. In addition,
it has been amply documented that the management of plantations, both
in North America and in the Caribbean, usually was aimed at maximising
profits and that in the same vein the behaviour of the majority of the slaves
can be interpreted as a conscious choice to satisfy their material needs as
much as possible. In short, the recent avalanche of studies on all kinds of
aspects of slavery and the slave trade has robbed the 'peculiar institution'
of most of its assumed peculiarities.6
These new views on the African slave trade and on New World slavery
seemed to have found wide acceptance. In its present stage the ethnic
emancipation of black Americans no longer needs a history in which, by
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hook or by crook, the slave trade and slavery were supposed to be the basis
of all present-day problems. The academic study of these phenomena has
largely been brought back to the locations, where they belong: to libraries,
archives and university classrooms.
The abolition of the slave trade and the emancipation of the slaves have
also been newly interpreted. In earlier days the ending of the slave trade
and of slavery was seen as an adaptation to modernity. Slowly, the Europeans
and New World planters were supposed to have realised that the Atlantic
economy would only benefit when the slave trade and slavery disappeared.
The new findings on the profitability of the slave trade and of slavery made
the ending of these institutions much more difficult to explain than before.
The need for slave labour in the New World might have shifted from one
region to another, but the demand at large did not decline. Similarly, the
ending of slavery did not reduce but, rather, did increase the labour costs
of the plantations in most areas. The traditional historical interpretation
was turned upside down; the continuation of the slave trade and slavery
no longer looked economically irrational, but their destruction did.

ii) The French Slave Trade

It has always been argued that the race relations in Latin countries in the
New World differ from those elsewhere. Time and again, this thesis has
been shot through, but I would like to revive it in order to explain the
limited production of historical studies on the French participation in the
Atlantic slave trade and on slavery in French America. The black populations
of francophone Africa, and of the French West Indies and of France itself
do not seem to have had the same need for a history of dieir own as did
the blacks in the U.S., Britain and the British Caribbean. Consequendy,
the public interest in these topics in France was limited. Philip Curtin noted
that the public reception of his drastic revisions of the total volume of the
Atlantic slave trade differed widely between English and French speaking
countries. In lectures and seminars in die U.S., severe doubts were voiced
about his calculations that the volume of the slave trade between 1500 and
1800 amounted to 'only' 10-12 million slaves.7 Since earlier estimates had
put the slave trade volume at 20 to 40 million, some felt that by implication
Curtin's new figures reduced the guilt of the Europeans who had master-
minded the largest forced migration in history. Curtin's talk in Dakar, on
the other hand, also generated opposition but this time not because of the
new calculations, but because the topic of the slave trade was raised at all.
In addition, the amount of work which French historians could produce
on the slave trade and on slavery was also limited by the simple fact that
the number of positions for professional historians, such as Ph.D.'s and
University Professors, is limited in France, at least in comparison with North
America. Just the sheer number of history departments in the U.S. and
Canada makes this a convincing argument.

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Nevertheless, there always have been some historians in France, who

took an interest in the past of the Atlantic world, and in the history of the
slave trade and of slavery. D. Rinchon, J. Meyer and G. Martin have written
classic studies on the French slave trade and Gabriel Debien published
excellent work on slavery in the French Antilles.8 However, studies of French
commerce in the Adantic during the period of the ancien regime remained
extremely scarce and French contributions to the history of the slave trade
and of slavery were no match for the numerous and sometimes extremely
sophisticated studies on these topics by historians, economists and anthro-
pologists in the U.S. and Great Britain.9
This situation started to change in the early 1970s, when the study of
the precolonial history and of the anthropology of black Africa attracted
some well-known anthropologists in Paris, notably Meillassoux, Godelier
and Terray.10 In addition Jean Mettas, a young historian at the University
of Rennes, took an interest in the history of Africa because of his sympathies
for the struggle to liberate Portuguese Africa at the time. Mettas realised
that there existed a wide variety of documents on the slave trade in the
archives of many French cities and he systematically visited every former
slave trade port in France. Tragically, this search came to an end in 1975,
when Mettas died at the age of 34 and his many boxes with index cards
documenting virtually every eighteenth-century slave voyage from France
were in danger of gathering dust."
Serge Daget, a senior lecturer at the Department of History at the Univer-
sity of Ivory Coast and - later - Nantes, took up the enormous task of
editing the index cards ofjean Mettas. These were published in two volumes,
in 1978 and 1987 respectively.12 It took some time before the mass of
information contained in these two volumes, became the subject of scholarly
analysis. Neither Robert Louis Stein, a Canadian who published a compre-
hensive survey of the French slave trade in 1979 nor James A. Rawley, who
wrote a monograph on the Atlantic slave trade in general in 1982 used
Mettas' Repertoire.'3
Even the editor himself, Serge Daget, mentioned the Repertoire only in
passing in his contribution to a monograph on the African slave trades,
jointly authored with Francois Renault. It should be stressed, however, that
this monograph only surveyed the Atlantic slave trade in general and thus
could not pay special attention to the French participation in this trade.
In fact, the book is highly original, because in addition to the Atlantic slave
trade it also surveys the overland trans-Saharan slave trade and the Oriental
slave trade during the period 1700-1940."
The conclusion must be that to date we are still waiting for a new mono-
graph on the French slave trade based on the new source edition of Mettas.
Some of the data have been used in articles on the slave trade by David
Geggus and David Richardson in a recent issue of the Journal of African
History together with information on the British, Portuguese and Dutch
slave trades. Both authors used the Repertoire of Mettas in order to get
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information on the demographic and ethnic composition of the slave car-

goes, which differed widely along Africa's Atlantic coast.15
Some of the data provided by Jean Mettas have also been used in one
of the books under review published by Serge Daget in 1990. Again, this
book is devoted to the Atlantic slave trade in general and only pays limited
attention to the French participation in that trade. The book starts with
the Iberian beginnings of the slave trade and also discusses the impact of
the slave trade on the economy and the demography of those regions in
West Africa, which were affected. In spite of its general character Daget's
recent monograph offers some interesting information on the French slave
trade, which should be mentioned here.
First of all Daget provides an extensive and nearly exhaustive list of the
goods, which the Europeans exported to Africa. He confirms the analysis
of David Eltis that this assortment of goods was not specifically geared to
Africa. The export cargoes from Europe to other continents were similarly
composed. In fact, most of the goods exported to Africa were also in high
demand in Europe itself and there seems to be no reason to assume that
the importation of these goods in Africa contributed in a disproportionate
way to the economic underdevelopment of that continent.16
Secondly, Daget analyses the data on mortality which are contained in
Mettas' Repertoire and he calculates that the mortality among the crew during
the triangular voyage amounted to about 17 to 18 percent, while 13 to 14
percent of the slaves died during the Middle Passage. The mortality rate
declined over the years and this - again - confirms the data on the develop-
ment of mortality aboard British and Dutch slavers. However, it now seems
possible to take these calculations one step further by establishing a morta-
lity rate per 30 days, which will allow for a better comparison between the
death rates of the crew and of the slaves.17
Thirdly, Daget mentions the impact of the slave trade on the French
economy and he refers to contemporary estimates made at the end of the
eighteenth century, which would have us believe that perhaps as much as
a quarter of the French population was in one way or another dependent
upon the Atlantic trade. This estimate seems to deviate grossly from the
percentage of the G.N.P. of other countries, which was generated by all of
their overseas trade and by consequence Daget's estimate also differs from
the assumed impact of the Atlantic trade elsewhere. Daget's figure seems
to be counter-intuitive, especially in view of the fact that the G.N.P. of
France must have been larger than that of Britain due to the larger size
of the French population. For Britain the percentage of the G.N.P. gene-
rated by overseas trade in general has been estimated at about 12 and for
France it is unlikely to have been much larger. Only the overseas trade of
Portugal and the Dutch Republic might have contributed between 15 and
20 percent to their respective G.N.P.'s between 1500 and 1800. On the
other hand Daget's figure rightly stresses the fact that the Atlantic trade
of France constituted a much larger percentage of the country's overseas

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trade than did the Atlantic trades of the U.K. and the Netherlands.18
Perhaps the most interesting part of Daget's survey is the last section -
about a third of the book - which is devoted to the abolition of the slave
trade. In this domain the author shows his special expertise, since he has
made an extensive study of the French illegal slave trade and prepared a
voluminous these d'etat on this subject as well as a Repertoire of all illegal
French slave voyages.19 This part of the book shows that there existed a
striking contrast between the formal abolition of the slave trade in France
and in the U.K. In the latter country the slave trade had been abolished
as of March 1, 1808 after a lengthy debate lasting for several decades in
which a large section of the population voiced their opinion on the matter.
In France, on the other hand, the decision to stop the trade was taken as
a political move by Napoleon, by the same person who had reinstituted
slavery in the French Antilles in 1802 in an attempt to recapture the loyalty
of the planters there. The abolition of the French slave trade in 1815 again
was a political trick of Napoleon and a desperate attempt to obtain British
support during his last 100 days as an emperor. The subsequent Bourbon
monarchy could not go back on this issue, but only as late as 1831 did the
French government agree to a mutual right of search by the respective
navies of France and Great-Britain of those vessels which could be suspected
of trading in slaves.
Daget clearly shows how difficult it was for the French to stamp out the
illegal slave trade. The trade yielded profits of more than 50 percent. By
using the documentation of his own Repertoire Daget is able to point out
that the destination of most illegal French slavers was not the French
Antilles, but Cuba. Imagine what would have happened in case the British
government had been as lax as the French in suppressing the slave trade.
No doubt, many more millions of slaves would have been transported to
the Caribbean and Brazil.20
Daget does not answer all the questions on the illegal slave trade. His
Repertoire has not yet been fully used in order to establish whether the
mortality of the slaves and of the crew aboard illegal slavers decreased or
increased over time. The author mentions that a growing number of slave
ships originated in the West Indies. Who provided the capital for these
ships? What happened to the barter-trade in Africa? Did the illegal slavers
use a similar assortment of goods as the legal slavers had done or were
other products or indeed money used in order to obtain slaves?
We need other scholars to answer these questions since Daget died in
May 1992 soon after he took up his appointment at the University of Lille
to one of the few chairs in African history in France. It will not be easy to
replace him. Daget not only did extensive and original research in the slave
trade history of his own country, but was also aware of the new findings in
the historiography of the British, Portuguese, Dutch and Danish slave trades.
In fact, in 1985 Daget organised a large international symposium on the
history of the slave trade in Nantes. More than 130 scholars of 21 nationali-
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ties participated and the subsequent publication of the Actes in two volumes
consisting of 76 contributions and 1300 pages. It is impossible to summarize
the contents of all these contributions. The reader will recognize the majo-
rity of the English language scholars in these volumes such as Curtin, Miller,
Drescher, Solow, Richardson and so on. However, in addition there are
several detailed studies on the French slave trade by authors who were
hitherto unknown to me. Daget used several of these contributions in order
to write his monograph on La traite des noirs and every student of the slave
trade is well advised to check these rich volumes especially for those aspects
of the slave trade which have not been covered by the English-language
scholarly world.21

iii) Slavery and Emancipation in the French Caribbean

The dearth of studies concerning the French slave trade finds its counter-
part in the lack of plantation monographs concerning the French Antilles.
In theylctesof the Nantes symposium, however, there are some indications
that there is work in progress concerning this topic. Josette Fallope wrote
on the contribution of the various nations in West Africa to' the slave
population of the French Antilles. Jacques Cauna described a large sugar
plantation on St. Domingue during the years 1777-1778 and Arlette Gautier
discussed the various contemporary ideas regarding the demography of
the slaves. The last two contributors have also published books on these
subjects.22 In addition, a recent monograph by an American historian Dale
Tomich studied the last decades of slavery in Martinique.23
In spite of the promising beginnings, there still are considerable gaps
in the historical coverage of the French Antilles, at least in comparison
with the wealth of information regarding the British Caribbean and the
U.S. South. In view of this the recently published book under review by
Josette Fallope on the transition from slavery to freedom in nineteenth-
century Guadeloupe is most welcome. This book allows us to answer the
question whether slavery and capitalism in the French Antilles went hand
in hand as happened in British America and whether the changes during
the last decades of slavery, the transition to freedom and the post-slavery
society on Guadeloupe were similar to those elsewhere in the region.
In her voluminous study Fallope carefully sets out to answer all these
questions. The book has been divided in three sections of about 200 pages
each. The first section covers the period between 1802 and 1830. In this
part the re-institution of slavery in 1802 is discussed as well as the results
of the illegal slave importation, which went on until the very end of this
period. The author also mentions the policies of amelioration, slave resist-
ance and the struggle of the free coloured for more civil rights.
In the second section of her book the author discusses the external and
internal 'erosion' of the slave system during the period 1830-1848, the

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abolition debate in metropolitan France and the various changes which

occurred in the years from 1848 to 1870 after the slaves had been liberated.
In the third and last part of the book Fallope talks about the economy and
society of Guadeloupe between the years 1870 and 1910. She discusses the
impact of the general franchise of 1870, the position of the dwindling
numbers of whites, the consequences of the immigration of Asian inden-
tured labourers and the effects of the world-wide sugar crisis in 1888.
Back to the first section of the book and to the last decades of slavery.
Do the figures on Guadeloupe allow us to intensify the attack on the
traditional interpretation of slavery as a non-capitalist institution bound to
disappear as soon as the colonial economies had been brought into line
with the ideology that free labour was always cheaper? The author does
not subscribe to the new interpretation of slavery and still seems to believe
that slavery on Guadeloupe collapsed because of internal and external
factors. However, she does not provide convincing arguments to substan-
tiate this interpretation. As far as the external factors were concerned it is
true that the production of sugar increased after 1815, both inside and
outside the Caribbean region. It is also true that the slavery system had
come under heavy ideological pressure and that the abolition of the slave
trade had made the supply of slaves on Guadeloupe much less responsive
to the demand than before. Similar arguments have been advanced by
Tomich in his study of slavery on Martinique. This author, like Fallope
believes that the slavery system of Martinique constituted an inflexible
supply of labour and he argues that slavery somehow required an unchange-
able 'equilibrium' between the various production units of the plantation.
However, none of these factors could have stimulated the planters in any
way to abolish slavery and to increase their labour costs by using alternative
labour supplies.
Fallope discusses the internal erosion of the slave system in similar
fashion. She mentions the competitive supply of beet sugar in France and
the difficulties in obtaining credit by planters struggling to industrialise
their sugar plantations. These problems made plantation agriculture in
Guadeloupe less profitable than before and they must have confirmed the
planters in their opinion that the French Antilles needed the cheapest
possible supply of labour. The planters must have been aware of the fact
that the use of non-slave labour would increase costs dramatically since a
rise in labour costs had occurred in most British sugar colonies in the
region after the abolition of slavery in 1833.
In spite of its interpretation to the contrary, both books provide the
reader with ample evidence that unfree labour on Guadeloupe and Martini-
que could go hand in hand with rapid technological and agricultural im-
provements even during the final decades of slavery. Both authors mention
the new industrial equipment for refining sugar and the introduction of
new varieties of cane from which more sugar was obtained. The extraction
and refining of cane juice on the French Antilles was made even more
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efficient by the establishment of central sugar-factories, the usines centrales.

The mere fact that large investments were forthcoming in order to build
these factories and in order to import large amounts of expensive equip-
ment should have indicated to the authors that slavery clearly was not
inhibiting industrial progress. However, Fallope nor Tomich do make this
point and, instead, dwell extensively on the difficulties experienced by the
usines centrales in obtaining labour. This was not a sign of the inflexibility
of the slavery system as the authors would have it. Instead, this labour
shortage was caused by the general difficulty in obtaining any amount of
additional labour on Guadeloupe around 1830, be it slave or free. The
labour problems of the new usines centrales had been caused by the abolition
of the slave trade and by the newly imposed restrictions on the sale of slaves
which made the labour shortage the result and not the cause of the move-
ment towards emancipation.
Similarly, Fallope misinterprets the rise in the number of insurrections,
escapes, strikes and refusals to work without a wage which all occurred
during the very last years of slavery. Again, these phenomena were inspired
by the forthcoming abolition of slavery and they do not prove that the
system of slavery was on the brink of internal collapse.
The dynamic character of 'the peculiar institution' and its increasing
efficiency is nicely demonstrated by Fallope in her discussion of the changes
which took place after the ending of slavery in 1848. In the second section
of her book several phenomena are discussed which are familiar to the
student of slave emancipation in the British West Indies in spite of the fact
that no system of apprenticeship was instituted in the French Antilles. After
1848 Guadeloupe experienced a lengthy period in which the labour market
remained unsettled due to the extensive internal migrations of the freed-
men. There was an increase in the number of criminal court cases in which
ex-slaves were involved, especially since the theft of food became more
widespread than before. The increase of imported luxury items for the
freedmen is mentioned and a decline in the amount of food imports due
to the growth of the subsistence sector of the economy. Most of these
changes indicate that the production of export crops had become less
efficient and the author shows that in 1847 32,000 workers in the cane
produced 37,800 tons of sugar. More than 20 years later the production
of sugar on Guadeloupe again reached 38,000 tons and the labour force
employed in this sector of the economy consisted of 38,000 labourers.
These figures confirm the recent findings for most British West Indies that
the transition from slavery to freedom caused a dramatic and protracted
deterioration in exports.
In addition to the similarities between French and British emancipation,
there are also a few unique aspects in the post-slavery history of Guadeloupe.
First of all, the author mentions the emigration of the free coloured to
Haiti during this period. Unfortunately, she does not mention how many
went there. Elsewhere this migration to Haiti is absent and we need to find

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out why the black republic was especially attractive to these migrants. Also,
the payment of compensation money in the French colonies was handled
differently in comparison with the British and Dutch Caribbean; the former
slave owners in the French Antilles only received 5 percent of the amount
of compensation in cash, the remainder was paid in government bonds.
Thirdly, the author mentions the rapid success of schooling for the ex-
slaves, while civil servants and missionaries in the Dutch and British Carib-
bean usually complained that education seemed to be of peripheral interest
to the freedmen and that usually the children of the ex-slaves had only a
small chance of finishing school because of the constant migrations of their
In spite of Fallope's extensive coverage of the transition from slavery to
freedom there are several remaining questions. The first one concerns the
alternatives for freedmen to plantation work. How much land was available?
Did most freedmen opt for a mix of activities such as small-scale subsistence
farming for women and children, and part-time work on the plantations
for the men? The drastic increase in the theft of food suggests that the
development of subsistence agriculture left much to be desired. Secondly,
the author does not mention that large numbers of freedmen cultivated
sugar cane on dieir own plots. In theory, the usines centrales should have
made this possible, but in actual practice there might have been too many
difficulties to imitate the post-slavery share cropping in the cotton sector
of the U.S. South.24 Last, but not least, the author makes no mention of
the constant threat of the cheap slave-grown sugar from Brazil and Cuba
on the French consumer markets. The West Indian planters suffered se-
riously from this competition both in Britain and the Netherlands. Of
course, it is possible to argue that the rapid growth of the beet sugar
industry in France constituted a similar threat to the planters on the French
Antilles. In reality, however, beet sugar constituted much less of a risk,
since the French planters were able to influence the French legislature and
to obtain a system of taxation which favoured sugar from the French West
Indies above French beet sugar and non-French sugar. This occurred during
the 1840's when the planters in the British empire lost the protection of
their sugar on the British home market.
The last section of the book deals with the years between 1870 and 1910.
It is difficult to evaluate the data on the political, social and economic
development of Guadeloupe in this time since there are virtually no compa-
rative studies of the British and Dutch Caribbean colonies during this
period. In view of that, it seems best to point to the unique items in the
history of the French Antilles after 1870. First of all, it should be stressed
that the Third Republic introduced a general franchise at the same time
as in metropolitan France. However, no political revolution took place and
the political power on Guadeloupe remained firmly in the hands of the
white and coloured politicians. The majority of the black electorate did
not go to the polls. Nevertheless, about one third of the total population
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went to school and all the state schools were free which constituted another
achievement of the Third Republic.
The author feels that these two aspects made the majority of the popula-
tion of Guadeloupe more politically aware than elsewhere in the region.
There were many strikes and around 1900 the socialist party received about
fifty percent of all votes. At first sight, however, it seems possible to argue
that the development of labour relations on Guadeloupe did not really
differ from those elsewhere in the region in spite of the early general
franchise and the relatively high participation in education. In Guyana,
Jamaica and Trinidad there also were strikes in those years and the arrival
of indentured labourers also should have had a similar impact on the
labour relations in these areas. I hasten to add that the numbers of Asian
immigrants in Jamaica and Guadeloupe remained much smaller than those
in Guyana and Trinidad and that the answer as to why this was so needs
further research, since Fallope's book provides little information on this
issue which goes beyond the studies on Indian immigration to the French
Antilles by Singaravelou.25

iv) Conclusion
Was there such a thing as capitalist slavery in the French Antilles? Or do
the slavery systems of the U.S. South and of the British Caribbean constitute
a counterpoint? Daget's book ascertains that at least the French slave trade
fits the new orthodoxy in pointing out that this trade was profitable until
its abolition and that it was stopped because of a political decision to do
so. The tables in Fallope's study also confirm the new interpretation that
the slavery system on Guadeloupe was profitable to the very end and that
it was not abolished because of internal economic and social difficulties,
but- again - because of a political decision taken by parliament in metropo-
litan France. As mentioned, this conclusion can only be drawn in case the
reader is prepared to separate Fallope's data from her conclusions. A similar
separation is required when using a recent monograph on the sugar industry
on Martinique by Dale Tomich. Tomich - as well as Fallope - provide the
reader with plenty of arguments to defuse their thesis of the inflexible
system of slavery and, instead, to support the contention that slavery was
alive and kicking in both islands until the very end.
The new literature on slavery in the French Antilles indicates two things
at the same time. First the books by Faloppe and Tomich show how difficult
it is for scholars to accept the new interpretation that slavery was a viable
economic institution, and that the changes in the economies of both the
metropolis and the plantation colonies themselves did not alter that econo-
mic viability. On other issues, however, the new books clearly follow the
international historiography on the slave trade and on slavery. This indicates
that differences in historical interpretation have little chance of remaining
unchallenged for long. In view of that it is not difficult to predict that the

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114 P.C. EMMER

French Antilles cannot hold out as the last heaven for those who see the
'peculiar institution' as impediment to economic growth and technical
progress. Only two decades ago the interpretation of the economic viability
of slavery in the U.S. South differed widely and at present very few historians
subscribe to the notion that the slave economy of the U.S. South was
economically backward. The same holds true for much of the recent litera-
ture regarding the last decades of slavery in the British, Dutch and Spanish
Caribbean.26 Why should the French Antilles have been different?

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* My sincere thanks to Seymour Drescher, who commented upon an earlier version of this
review article.

1 P.C. Emmer, 'The Two Expansion Systems in the Atlantic', Itinerario, XV/1 (1991) 21-29.
2 P.C. Emmer, 'The Dutch and the Making of the Second Atlantic System', in: Barbara L.
Solow ed., Slavery and the Rise of the Atlantic System (Cambridge 1991) 76-81.
3 Peggy K. Liss, Atlantic Empires; The Network of Trade and Revolution, 1713-1826 (Baltimore/
London 1983) 48-74.
4 Thomas A. Brady,'The Rise of Merchant Empires, 1400-1700: A European Counterpoint',
in: James D. Tracy ed., The Political Economy of Merchant Empires; State Power and World
Trade, 1350-1750 (Cambridge 1991) 117-160.
5 Seymour Drescher, Econocide; British Slavery in the Era of Abolition (Pittsburgh 1977) 4, 5
and 166, 167.
6 Robert William Fogel, Without Consent or Contract; The Rise and Fall of American Slavery
(New York 1989) 393-406.
7 Philip D. Curtin, The Atlantic Slave Trade; A Census (Wisconsin 1969).
8 Robert Louis Stein, The French Slave Trade in the Eighteenth Century; An Old Regime Business
(Wisconsin 1979) xviii and G. Debien, I*es esclaves aux Antilles francaises, XVIIe - XVIIIe
slide (Basse-Terre/Fort-de-France 1974).
9 Joseph C. Miller, Slavery: A Comparative Teaching Bibliography (Boston 1977) and subsequent
supplements in Slavery and Abolition.
10 A.G. Hopkins, 'Clio-Antics: A Horoscope for African Economic History', in: Christopher
Fyfe ed., African Studies since 1945; A Tribute to Basil Davidson (London, 1976) 35.
11 Hubert Deschamps, Jean Mettas, 1941-1975, Revue francaise d'histoire d'outre-mer, LXII
(1975) 5, 6.
12 Jean Mettas, Repertoire des expeditions negrieres francaises au XVIIIe siecle, Serge Daget ed., I,
Nantes (Paris 1978) and Jean Mettas, Repertoire des expeditions negrieres francaises au XVIIIe
siecle, Serge and Michele Daget eds., II, Ports autres que Nantes (Paris 1984).
13 Stein, The French Slave Trade and James A. Rawley, The Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade (New
York 1981).
14 Francois Renault and Serge Daget, Les traites negrieres en Afrique (Paris 1985).
15 David Geggus, 'Sex Ratio, Age and Ethnicity in the Atlantic Slave Trade: Data from
French Shipping and Plantation Records, Journal of African History, 30 (1989) 23-44 and
David Richardson, 'Slave Exports from West and West-Central Africa, 1700-1810: New
Estimates of Volume and Distribution', Journal of African History 30 (1989) 1-22.
16 David Eltis and Laurence C.Jennings, 'Trade between Western Africa and the Atlantic
World in the Pre-colonial Era', American Historical Review 93/'4 (1988) 936-959.
17 On the calculations of sea-board mortality: Ralph Shlomowitz andjohn McDonald, 'Morta-
lity of Indian Labour on Ocean Voyages', Studies in History, 6, 1 n.s. (1960) 37, 38.
18 P.K. O'Brien, 'European Economic Development; The Contribution of the Periphery',
Economic History Review, 2nd series, XXXVI/1 (Feb. 1982) 4 and P.K, O'Brien and S.L.
Engerman, 'Exports and the Growth of the British Economy from the Glorious Revolution
to the Peace of Amiens', and Patrick Villiers, 'The Slave and Colonial Trade in France
before the Revolution' in Solow ed., Slavery and the Rise of the Atlantic System, 187, 211,
213. Niels Steensgaard, 'The Growth and Composition of the Long-Distance Trade of
England and the Dutch Republic before 1750' and Paul Butel, 'France, the Antilles, and
Europe in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries: Renewals of Foreign Trade', in
James D. Tracy ed., The Rise of Merchant Empires; Long-Distance Trade in the Early Modern
World, 1350-1750 (Cambridge 1990), 147-151, 163.
19 Serge Daget, Repertoire des expeditions negrieres francaises a la traite illegale, 1814-1850 (Nantes
20 David Eltis, Economic Growth and the Ending of the Transatlantic Slave Trade (New York 1987)

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116 P.C. EMMER

21 Serge Daget ed., De la traite a I'esclavage; Actes du colloque internationalsur la traite des Noirs,
Nantes 1985,1 (V-XV11I siecles), II (du XVIIIeme au XlXeme siecle) (Nantes/Paris 1988).
22 Jacques Cauna, Au temps des isles a sucre; Histoire d'uneplantation de Saint-Domingue au XVIII
siecle (Paris 1987) and Arlette Gautier, Les Soeurs de Solitude. Condition feminine dans I'escla-
vage aux Antilles du XVIIe au XIXe siecle (Paris 1985).
23 Dale W. Tomich, Slavery in the Circuit of Sugar; Martinique and the World Economy, 1830-
1848 (Baltimore/London 1990).
24 The colonial legislature of Guadeloupe did propose an emancipation scheme in which
sharecropping was one of the elements. Seymour Drescher, 'British Way, French Way:
Opinion Building and Revolution in the Second French Slave Emancipation', American
Historical Review, 96/3 (June 1991), 727, 728.
25 Singaravelou, 'Les Indiens de la Guadeloupe; etude de geographie humaine' (Bordeaux,
1987); Singaravelou, Us Indiens dans la Caraibe, (3 vols.; Paris 1987).
26 For a discussion of the economic viability of slavery see: Robert William Fogel, Without
Consent or Contract; The Rise and Fall of American Slavery (New York 1989); J.R. Ward, British
West Indian Slavery, 1750-1834; The Process of Amelioration (Oxford 1988); Manuel Moreno
Fraginals, Frank Moya Pons and Stanley L. Engerman eds., Between Slavery and Free Labor;
The Spanish Speaking Caribbean in the Nineteenth Century (Baltimore/London 1985) and
Alex van Stipriaan, Surinaams Contrast; Roofbouw en overleven in een Caraibische plantage-
kolonie, 1750-1863 (Leiden 1993).

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