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date: 26 April 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This article focuses on the impact of the colonial issue on Revolutionary France particularly during the late 1780s and early 1790s. It demonstrates the importance of the slave colonies in the French economy and the French public sphere after the Seven Years War. In particular, the boom in Saint-Domingue created tensions between planters and merchants on the one hand and whites and free people of colour on the other. The stakes of colonial conflict became completely intertwined in the revolutionary dynamic, as failure by the ‘Friends of the Blacks’ during the National Assembly contributed to radicalizing political divisions among patriots. The colonial issue remained high on the agenda, although most of the changes came from the colonies themselves, especially after the slaves’ insurrection. But beyond the 1794 abolition decree, historiography should expand its analysis to fully understand how imperialism informed citizenship in a revolutionary age.

Keywords: Colonies, race, slavery, commerce, Friends of the Blacks, abolition, legal pluralism, free people of colour

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