Resistance to slavery

Fantaisie, a slave belonging to The Desbassayns, applying the principle of ‘Free Soil’ in Paris

Washington State University Vancouver

Fantaisie, a slave belonging to The Desbassayns, applying the principle of ‘Free Soil’ in Paris

On 19 October 1823, Eglé Mourgue, wife of Philippe Panon Desbassayns the former ordonnateur (authorising officer) of Bourbon, commonly referred to as the baroness of Richemont, reported to the Police Commissioner of Paris that her slave, Fantaisie, was missing.

Several years after his arrival from Bourbon island, Fantaisie had “abandoned his post” at 10, rue Pigalle. The baroness requested the police to arrest her slave, so that he could be returned to Bourbon island . This was not the first such episode in the family’s history. In 1790, the baroness’s father-in-law, Henri-Paulin Panon Desbassayns, had lost his enslaved domestic servant, François, “an entirely trustworthy mulatto” to the liberty of Paris .
While the revolutionary spirits no longer prevailed in 1823, the Commissioner responded to the baroness with “regret” that, “after careful consideration of the case,” he must inform her that his hands were tied; the police could not order Fantaisie’s arrest. “I have no other option than to exert strict surveillance over him and even to have him summoned to my Prefecture to ask him to present his Papers and to urge him to prevent, through submitting, the legal action to which his misconduct and vagrancy might expose him” . The police might harass, interrogate, and even jail him, but Fantaisie had effectively achieved his personal freedom from the Desbassayns family.

Madame Philippe Panon Desbassayns de Richemont (Jeanne Eglé Mourgue, 1778-1855)
and her son, Eugène (1800-1859). Marie Guilhelmine Benoist. 1802. Oil on canvas.
Collection of Metropolitan Museum of Art

Fantaisie’s journey toward self-liberation in Paris is all the more fascinating because it took place only a few years after Furcy’s failed lawsuit for freedom in Bourbon island. In 1817, Furcy, the son of an enslaved mother and a French father, attempted to free himself from Joseph Lory, a colonist from Mauritius who had married a daughter of the island’s powerful Creole family. Lory easily obtained the support of Philippe Panon Desbassayns de Richemont, a distant relative by marriage to the same Panon clan . In the dispute with Furcy, Desbassayns proved his fidelity to the local slave-holding elite by orchestrating the opposition to Furcy’s allies – his free sister, Constance, the bailiff, Toussaint Huard, and two Paris-trained magistrates, the Procureur du roi (King’s prosecutor) Louis Gilbert Boucher, and the substitute Procureur du roi, Jacques Sully Brunet. Desbassayns effectively quashed these opponents, leaving Furcy illegally detained in the island’s prison for almost a year, to the point of near death. At the time of Fantaisie’s bold escape in Paris, Furcy remained the slave of the Lory clan, doing manual labor on their sugar plantation in Mauritius .

Poster for the exhibition “The strange story of Furcy Madeleine: 1786-1858” organised by the Villèle museum, Saint-Gilles-Les-Hauts, 11 December 2019 – 30 April 2020

Who was “Fantaisie”? Where did he come from? What enabled him to successfully assert his freedom from the Panon Desbassayns family when Furcy had thus far failed?

“Fantaisie” was born around 1804, presumably somewhere between modern Mozambique and Kenya, where he would have received a name in his parents’ language . We don’t know how or when he was transported to Bourbon island, but somehow he became the slave of Ombline Gonneau-Montbrun, widow of Henri-Paulin Panon Desbassayns of Saint-Paul . Like the many branches of the extended Panon clan, Ombline lay claim to a plantation on one of the island’s choice parcels of land, and purchased hundreds of slaves to grow maize, rice, coffee, and, eventually, sugar .
The name “Fantaisie” appears in both the baroness’s 1823 letter to the Paris Préfet de Police and an 1821 colonial report to the ministry, where Fantaisie is described as belonging to the ‘Widow Panon Desbassayns’ and arriving at Rochefort with her grandson, Eugène Desbassayns .

Mr. Eug. Desbresseurs [sic] Cte de Richemont, Governor of Pondicherry in 1826-28.
Anonymous. Between 1828 and 1842. Drawing, graphite.
Collection of Villèle museum
However, the name “Fantaisie” does not appear on any of the widow Ombline’s extant census returns for the years 1814 to 1823 in Bourbon . An eighteen-year old African slave deemed culturally competent to accompany the twenty-one year-old Eugène to France as a servant must have begun to learn French language, customs, and the skills of domestic service from a relatively early age. We would expect to see his name among the “negroes aged 14 and under” itemized alphabetically in the widow’s 1814 census. His omission is all the more puzzling because these returns are very precise as to the whereabouts of several other slaves absent from the plantation .

Several possible explanations arise. Perhaps one of the widow’s cafre (African) slaves was rechristened “Fantaisie” just as he departed for France with Eugène in 1821. Colonial slave owners could assign names to their slaves at whim. Ombline listed two fourteen-year old cafres – Fleurisson and Philogène – as domestiques (domestic servants) in her 1814 census return, which would make either of them about the right age at Eugène’s departure for France. However, both names reappear as cultivateurs (agricultural workers) (ages twenty-two and twenty-three) on the censuses of 1822 and 1823, so it is unlikely that either of these youths was the secret identity of “Fantaisie” . A more likely explanation is that Ombline, like many other wealthy planters, neglected to declare Fantaisie on her censuses because she held him illegally, smuggled into the colony from Africa following the 1811 slave trade ban . At some point, Ombline must have selected him to be trained for service, and it was in this capacity that he became the companion to Ombline’s grandson, Eugène Desbassayns, aboard the king’s corvette La Sapho, arriving in Rochefort on 13 April 1821 . A third possibility combines the first two explanations: smuggled into Bourbon in violation of the ban, named Fleurisson or Philogène and trained as a servant, “Fantaisie” assumed his new name on the eve of his departure and the old name was transferred to a newly smuggled African slave on the widow’s plantation . Finally, Ombline may have purchased the enslaved servant Fantaisie from another colonial family close to Eugène’s departure, such that he never appeared on her extant censuses.

How did Fantaisie arrive in Paris?

In the wake of Furcy’s affair, Philippe Desbassayns de Richemont assumed the post of Commissaire Inspecteur pour le Roi des Etablissements français dans l’Inde (King’s Commissioner and Inspector for the French Establishments in India) . Accompanied by his wife, Eglé Mourgue, their son, Eugène, and three enslaved domestic servants, Christophe, Ozone & Agathe, Desbassayns departed Bourbon for Pondicherry on 21 July 1819 .  It is not clear when Eugène left India, but he must have passed through Bourbon late in 1820, when he likely acquired Fantaisie from his grandmother, Ombline. Eugène then traveled independently from his parents to France, arriving with Fantaisie in Rochefort. According to law, at this point Eugène should have arranged for Fantaisie to be housed in the port depot, awaiting immediate return to Bourbon island, in order to prevent his entry and effective liberation in metropolitan France.

The port of Rochefort. Seen from the colonial shop. Nicolas-Marie Ozanne, del. ; Yves-Marie Youaz, sculp.
Print. In Nouvelles vues perspectives des ports et rades du royaume de France et de ses colonies, 1819.
Collection of National Library of France

French Free Soil policy, which liberated any slave who set foot on French soil, was complicated, having vacillated over the course of centuries. It originally emerged in the fourteenth through seventeenth centuries, primarily in contest with the expanding Spanish empire, and flourishing during the reign of Louis XIV. The royal edict of October 1716 and the Declaration of 15 December 1738 effectively suspended the Free Soil principle when French masters brought their slaves to the continental kingdom, under certain conditions . However, the Admiralty Court of Paris refused to enforce these laws because the Parlement (High Court) of Paris did not recognize slavery in metropolitan France; this effectively liberated hundreds of slaves who had accompanied their masters there . In 1777, Minister of the Navy Antoine de Sartine, the former Commissioner of the Police of Paris, hit upon a solution: the Déclaration pour la police des Noirs (Declaration for the Policing of Blacks) would ban the entry of “all Blacks, mulattos or other persons of colour of either sex” . By using the language of race instead of slave status, the law effectively circumvented judicial opposition. Moreover, the Police des Noirs established depots in France’s main ports, where non-whites were to be confined awaiting the next available ship returning to the colony of origin. This system, however, met with continued resistance by courts, port officials, and – not least – the slaves themselves. During the Revolution, the Constituent Assembly’s decree of 28 September 1791 resurrected the Free Soil principle, declaring, “Any person who enters France is immediately free”, but Napoleon restored the police des Noirs racial quarantine in 1802 . Finally, in 1817, Mathieu Louis, Count Molé, the Minister of the Navy, began to modify this policy. He suppressed Article 3 of the 1777 law, which had ordered the arrest and deportation of “Blacks or mulattos who had been brought [or introduced] into France”, with the net effect of placing the burden of returning slaves to the colonies on the masters . Masters who neglected to place the slaves in port depots upon arrival risked the loss of their slaves, and the Ministry refused to intervene on their behalf.
Eugène was one of the scofflaws who chose not to place his slave in a port depot for immediate return. From Rochefort, the pair continued to Le Havre, where Eugène asked permission to bring Fantaisie with him to Paris. Refusing, the port official reported on the incident to the minister of the Navy:

“Mr. Desbassayns, a pupil of the naval administration, received from the Governor of Bourbon authorization to be accompanied to France by a black accustomed to providing him with the care required for his health: on the basis of the same motive, Mr. Desbassayns requests that this servant may follow him to Paris. Although the position of an administrator during the trip cannot, in the context of the report in question, be assimilated to that of a colonist, the provisions of the dispatch of October 17, 1817, are too precise for me to consider myself exempted from informing your Excellency of the request granted” .

Together, Eugène and Fantaisie made their way to Paris and set up residence at the family mansion at 10 rue Pigalle, awaiting the arrival of his parents from India .

6-8-10 rue Pigalle, façades sur rue. 9ème arrondissement, Paris. Charles Joseph Antoine Lansiaux. Photograph.
Collection of Carnavalet Museum, History of Paris

Eugène’s ongoing ill health is confirmed in a chatty letter to his grandmother Ombline, while he awaited his father’s imminent arrival in Nantes. Much of the letter is difficult to decipher, due to its fragile condition, but Eugène clearly mentions “a pain I have in my side” and “the Doctor bled me” . However, there is no mention of his grandmother’s slave, Fantaisie, which probably indicates that he continued to serve Eugène without incident in Paris for a time.

The Baroness Desbassayns de Richemont reported Fantaisie’s escape over a year later, in the autumn of 1823. No extant records explain why he left the family’s service, but one can imagine that the arrival of the parents changed the dynamics in Eugène and Fantaisie’s dyad.
Fantaisie probably obtained key information and inspiration for his escape from a network of free people of color in Paris, for Madame Desbassayns’ complaint was only the latest in a stream of letters to the ministry from frustrated masters seeking to recover their absconding slaves. Late in 1821, for example, a master from Martinique complained that the slave who had accompanied him to Paris “claims to remove himself from my rights as owner” . The Council of Ministers, ruling on his request in March 1822, had determined that “the laws applicable in mainland France in respect of persons do not permit any legal action of the type he requests to enable him to cease the disobedience of his slave” . In June 1822, another slave from Bourbon, Tranquillin, declared himself free from his master Jean-François Dancla in Bagnères-de-Bigorre, enlisting a lawyer to write a brief claiming Tranquillin free “through the effect of his prolonged stay on the Continental territory of the Kingdom” . From these and a series of similar affairs, Fantaisie probably learned that the authorities would not intervene on behalf of the Desbassayns.

Where did Fantaisie go?

After the baroness complained to the Commissioner of Paris, the police traced him to 65 rue St. Nicolas, across the city, at the home of one François, “coloured man” and musician . However, the police could not issue orders to arrest Fantaisie without cause. He fell under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of the Navy, and without the minister’s order, the police could not deliver him to a port for deportation. “He would have had to be guilty of an offence or been in a state of vagrancy, in which case he would immediately have been placed at the disposal of the judicial authority, to be judged in accordance with the law, which, as regards application of sentences, admits no distinction of origin”  .

Fantaisie’s escape was not only an individual affair. His actions prompted the ministry to reconsider its policy regarding colonial slaves brought to the kingdom who escaped their master’s control. In November 1823, reviewing the clauses of the original 1777 police des Noirs, especially Article 3, which provided for the arrest and return of Blacks brought to France, and Article 12, which ensured that their “status” (i.e. slavery or freedom) remained unchanged while they were in France, an anonymous colonial functionary drafted a letter to the Commissioner of Police on behalf of the Minister of the Navy. Drawing upon the preamble to the 1777 police des Noirs, which justified the exclusion of all non-whites from metropolitan soil in order to prevent “the highest disorder … particularly in the capital” , this bureaucrat noted that:

“The result of the spirit of the legislation is that it is absolutely in the interest of the Colonies for black slaves who have been brought to France by their masters to be immediately sent to their workshops; in addition, it is equally in the the interest of order that France should send away isolated Individuals who would only increase the number of vagrants and indeed, whose presence has a tendency to alter, with no Compensation, the purity of European blood” .

The minister, Gaspard de Clermont-Tonnerre, reviewing this draft, crossed out the last phrase about mixing of blood. Nevertheless, he validated the Commissioner’s proposal that the police should have the authority to arrest fugitive slaves and deliver them to the port authorities, where they would return to the jurisdiction of the Ministry of the Navy: “According to this opinion, which I share, I have no doubt, Monsieur [Police Commissioner], that you can bring back to the depot the black man in question [Fantaisie].” However, there is no indication that the undated letter was ever sent. A note in pencil states, “information to be retained” .

Aimé Marie Gaspard de Clermont-Tonnerre.
Robert Jefferson Bingham. Circa 1860. Photograph

Enthused with the Commissioner’s proposal to use the kingdom’s interior policing powers to restore fugitive slaves to the naval authorities, Clermont-Tonnerre brought this idea to the Council of Ministers for discussion in November 1823. However, the Council rejected the proposed solution and instead decided “that the transport of slaves from the French Colonies was to be banned entirely” .Therefore, in March 1824, the minister sent a circular letter to all colonial governors suspending the Police des Noirs, and forbidding colonial administrators from authorizing travel for any slaves who would leave the colonies, for France or any other destination. Royal policy thus reinforced the sharp division between colonial slavery and metropolitan freedom (status), while distancing itself (as it had throughout the Restoration) from exclusion on the basis of race .
The ban on slave mobility, justified by the need to retain colonial labor following the slave trade ban, remained France’s policy until 1830, when the July Monarchy reverted to allowing slaves who escaped their masters in metropolitan France to become de facto free. In 1835, Furcy embarked upon his appeal of his enslavement to the Cour de Cassation (France’s highest court of appeal) on the basis of his mother’s brief residence on the Free Soil of France in 1771 . The following year, Louis Philippe formalized the Free Soil ordinance, officially recognizing all people who arrived in metropolitan France as
free .

And what became of Fantaisie?

In their council of November 1823, the Ministers rejected the Commissioner’s proposal that the police arrest and deliver him to the port depot in Brest, for return on a royal ship to Ile Bourbon. “For this individual, the Council considers that there is nothing to be done” . Thus, Fantaisie apparently achieved his freedom and continued to live undisturbed in Paris.

“I’m free” In Recueil. Collection de Vinck. Un siècle d’histoire de France par l’estampe, 1770-1870.
Vol. 44 (items 5943-6108), Ancien Régime et Révolution
. 1794. Coloured etching.
Collection of National Library of France

It is an irony of history that, once beyond the surveillance of the police and the rest of the French state, Fantaisie disappears from the archives. Today, he also enjoys his freedom from our historical scrutiny. We can only imagine him listening to the music of François and searching for a position as chef or valet, waiting for spring to return to the cold, gray city of Paris.

1 The original of her letter is missing, but it is mentioned in the response, Guy Delavau, préfet de Police, (Paris), à la baronne de Richemont, le 14 novembre 1823 (Archives Nationales d’Outre-Mer (hereafter: A.N.O.M.), GEN 629, dos. 2735), hereafter: Delavau to the baroness, 14 Nov. 1823.
2 Anne-Marie Nida and Colette Dubois, Les Panon Desbassayns-de Villèle à Bourbon : Dans l'intimité d'une grande famille créole 1676-1821 ((Réunion) : Surya Éditions, 2018), 156. However, his freedom was not achieved thanks to the Revolution. François requested his freedom in application of the principle of Free Soil in France. A summary of his story follows.
On 22 July 1790, Henri-Paulin declared in his private diary “François escaped on 15th after dinner. What upsets me the most is the he was a slave belonging to Mr Montbrun, my father-in-law, who lent him to me. Henri-Paulin Panon-Desbassayns, Petit journal des époques pour servir à ma mémoire : 1784-1786, edited by Annie Lafforgue, Saint-Gilles-Les-Hauts : Musée historique, 1990, 44.
François’ request still remains in the archives of the Table de Marbre, the French Admiralty Court, in Paris. On July 23, 1790, while Henri-Paulin was socializing with his family in the region around Paris, François “Quelville,” demanded his freedom from “Mr. Pannau de Bassin,” assisted by a lawyer, Pollet de Cresne. François’ request declares: “Whereas there are no slaves in France and it suffices to exist there for all the bonds of slavery to fall, (the court recognizes) the claimant complete freedom of his person and (his) property.” Francois was seeking to obtain “the return in cash or in kind of 200 pounds of coffee which belonged to the claimant and which were sold and (obtained?) By… Sr. De Bassin… and in case of a dispute that the defendants should be ordered to pay the costs.” The court declared him free the same day; French Admiralty, Jugements et pieces de procedure (Archives Nationales de France, Z / 1D / 137, July 23, 1790). On August 1, Henri-Paulin noted, “Last Saturday, July 31 (sic), François, my negro, or mulatto slave that I brought over from Bourbon Island, made it known to me that he was free, and that he was asking me for two bales of coffee. This decision was handed to me by a bailiff. If I were a bad man, I would have punished him: he did not leave my house with pure hands. I have told no-one about that.”; Panon-Desbassayns, Petit journal, 49.
3 Delavau to the baroness, 14 Nov. 1823.
4 In the months preceding Furcy’s dispute, Desbassayns had returned from decades in Paris, London and the United States, appointed by Louis XVIII as the island’s ordonnateur. His parents, Henri-Paulin Desbassayns de Richemont and Ombline Gonneau-Montbrun, had sent Philippe to boarding school in Paris at the tender age of six in 1780; his arrival in 1817 was his first return to his natal Bourbon in thirty-seven years. Nida and Dubois, Les Panon Desbassayns-de Villèle, 137.
5 Sue Peabody, Madeleine’s Children : Family, Freedom, Secrets and Lies in France’s Indian Ocean Colonies (New York and Oxford : Oxford University Press, 2017), esp. chap. 6-7.
6 The report of his passage to France in 1821 describes Fantaisie as cafre (black), i.e. born on the African continent (as opposed to Créole or Malgache). The same document gives his age as eighteen years, but such declarations were only estimates, since the year and circumstances of his birth were unknown. “Declaration of ten in number of servant slaves freed, left for France since 12th December 1818,” St. Denis, Bourbon island, 13 April 1821 (A.N.O.M. GEN 629, Dossier 2735), hereafter Declaration, 13 April 1821.
7 Henri-Paulin was the grandson of one of the first French women to populate Bourbon island. The illegitimate orphan (possibly of noble blood), Françoise Chatelain, had arrived in 1676, marrying the carpenter Augustin Panon. Most of the earliest French and Malagasy men to colonize Bourbon island had begun their families with women from Madagascar and, later, India; Nida and Dubois, Les Panon Desbassayns-de Villèle, 25-26, 40-41, 48.
8 Census return of Marie Anne Thérèse Ombline Gonnereau-Montbrun, Widow Panon Desbassayns, 1822 (A.N. Pierrefitte, 696AP/12/C).
9 Delavau to the baroness, 14 Nov. 1823; Declaration, 13 April 1821.
10 Census return of Marie Anne Thérèse Ombline Gonnereau-Montbrun, Widow Panon Desbassayns, 1809 (Archives Nationales Pierrefitte-sur-Seine (hereafter: A.N. Pierrefitte), 696AP/12A), 1814 (ibid., 696AP/12B), 1822 (ibid., 696AP/12C), 1823 (ibid., 696AP/12D), 1827 (ibid., 696AP/12E).
11 For example, Census return of Marie Anne Thérèse Ombline Gonnereau-Montbrun, Widow Panon Desbassayns, 1823: “Bastien, Indian, 71, fugitive since 1820; Olive, with my son, Joseph – Sold to Jph Desbassayns; L’Éveillé, black, 41, chained up following judgement; Denise, Creole, 20, left for France by permission” (A.N. Pierrefitte, 696AP/12D).
12 Census return of Marie Anne Thérèse Ombline Gonnereau-Montbrun, Widow Panon Desbassayns, 1814 (A.N. Pierrefitte, 696AP/12B), 1822 (ibid., 696AP/12C), and 1823 (ibid., 696AP/12D)
13 Under English occupation, the Indian Ocean slave trade was banned in 1811, and reaffirmed by Louis XVIII upon the restoration of Bourbon island to France. Slave Trade Felony Act of May 1811 (UK, 51 Geo III c. 23); Héloïse Finch, “Comprendre la traite illégale d’esclaves pendant l’occupation britannique de la Réunion à travers les archives britanniques, in Lucette Labache,” in Laurent Médéa & Françoise Vergès, eds., Identité et société réunionnaise. Nouvelles perspectives et nouvelles approches (Paris, Karthala, 2005), 74-75.
14 Declaration, 13 April 1821. Eugène had accompanied his parents, Philippe Desbassayns de Richemont and Jeanne Mourgue during their sojourn to Pondicherry, during his father’s deployment as King’s Commissioner and Inspector for French establishments in India. Departure of La Minerve, from Saint-Paul, Bourbon island, bound for Pondicherry, 21 July 1819 (A.N.O.M. COL F/5B/34). On that voyage, they brought with them three enslaved domestic servants named Christophe, Ozone & Agathe. The security deposit for the departure of these three Africans from the colony was paid in St. Paul.
15 Examination of the census returns shows many examples of masters “recycling” the names of their former slaves, especially those who were smuggled in violation of the slave trade ban.
16 In 1818, the ministry replaced him with Pierre Bernard Milius, who occupied a new joint position combining both the governorship and the civil affairs of the colony.
17 The government required this deposit of 1,000 francs of any masters who removed their slaves as assurance that the latter would be returned to the original colony after the voyage. “Rapport sur les dispositions de la déclaration du Roi du 9 août 1777, qui défend l’introduction des hommes de couleur en France, 25 sept. 1817,” (A.N.O.M. GEN 629, dos. 2735), and “Circulaire du ministre de la Marine aux administrateurs des colonies sur le même sujet, 17 oct. 1817,” in Annales maritimes et coloniales, t. 5, 1817, 1ère partie : lois et ordonnances (Paris, Imprimerie royale, 1817), p. 385-386, no 86. Both of these are reprinted in Pierre H. Boulle et Sue Peabody, Le droit des Noirs en France au temps de l’esclavage, Autrement Mêmes (Paris : L’Harmattan, 2014), 194-196. Port officials, no doubt at Desbassayns’ insistance, recorded that “The security deposit for the departure of these three Africans from the colony was paid in St. Paul.” “Ile de Bourbon, Port de St. Paul, Etat nominatif des passagers partis pour les ports de France ou pour d’autres colonies pendant le 2e semestre 1819” (A.N.O.M. COL F/5B/34)
18 Boulle and Sue Peabody, Le droit des Noirs, chap. 1-4. Masters needed to seek permission in advance, pay a deposit, and, after 1738, return the slaves to the colonies within three years, or face their confiscation by the crown.
19 Ibid., 73.
20 Art. 1, “Déclaration du Roi pour la police des Noirs, donnée à Versailles le 9 août 1777,” quoted in ibid., 99-100
21 Ibid., 149; “Arrêté du 13 messidor an X (2 juil. 1802),” in ibid., 178
22 Molé also suspended Articles 9-11, which had required the registration of non-whites already resident in the kingdom. “Circulaire du ministre de la Marine aux administrateurs des colonies,” 17 Oct. 1817, in ibid., 185, 195-196.
23 Chabanth, General Commissioner for the Navy, le Hâvre, 11 June 1822 (A.N.O.M. GEN 629, dos. 2735)
24 The baronne de Richemont and her daughters departed from Bourbon in February 1822. Governor Freycinet to Minister of the Navy, 3 February 1822 (Reunion Departmental archives 1M306)
25 Eugène Desbassayns, Vichy, to Ombline Desbassayns, Saint-Paul, Bourbon, 12 July 182(3). A.N. Pierrefitte, Fonds Panon-Desbassayns et de Villèle (1689-1973), 696AP/9, doss. 2. Many thanks to Dr. Jérémy Boutier for his insightful transcription of this letter
26 Soisson, faubourg St. Honoré, to the minister, 23 December 1821 (A.N.O.M. GEN 629, dos. 2735)
27 Ministry of the Navy and Colonies, “Note,” March 1822 (A.N.O.M. GEN 629, dos. 2735)
28 The Préfet of the Hauts Pyrenées was quoted as noting that “all the young lawyers of Bagnères, exalted by philanthropic ideas, appear to be taking an interest in the fate of that Black, and to have taken him under their wing.” Commandant générale de service, Auguste Bergerrin, Direction de la Police, Ministère de l’Intérieur to the Ministre de la Marine, 16 June 1823 (A.N.O.M. GEN 629, dos. 2735).
29 Delavau to the baroness, 14 Nov. 1823. While it is tempting to imagine that this François is the same man who escaped Henri-Paulin Desbassayns in 1790, this scenario seems unlikely
30 Ibid.
31 “Déclaration du Roi pour la police des Noirs, donnée à Versailles le 9 août 1777,” in Boulle and Peabody, Le droit des Noirs, 99
32 Minister of the Navy, “Projet (de lettre au) préfet de Police, (Paris), novembre 1823” (A.N.O.M., GEN 629, dos. 2735).
33 Ibid.
34 Internal ministerial note, untitled, dated Nov. 1823, on the means of ensuring the return to the colonies of slaves escaped in France (A.N.O.M., GEN 629, dos. 2735)
35 Since the ministry of Molé, in 1817, royal policy had quietly stepped back from Napoleon’s extreme racial hierarchies, by permitting the mobility of free people of color between the colonies and metropolitan France, and marriages between free people of color and whites in continental France. See Boulle and Peabody, Le droit des Noirs, chap. 8
36 Peabody, Madeleine’s Children, ch. 9
37 Ordinance of 29 April 1836, Bulletin des lois, 9e sér., t. 12, 1er semestre 1836, No 419, p. 172-173 (no 6276) ; Boulle and Peabody, Le droit des Noirs, 217-218 & 226
38 Internal ministerial note, untitled, dated Nov. 1823, on the means of ensuring the return to the colonies of slaves escaped in France (A.N.O.M., GEN 629, dos. 2735)
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