Who Abolished Slavery in France?

By BYJU'S Exam Prep

Updated on: November 9th, 2023

Slavery in France was abolished by the first elected Assembly of the Republic under Maximilien Robespierre’s leadership on February 4, 1794, It was restored by Napoleon to maintain French sovereignty in its colonies. To overcome the labor shortage on the plantations, the triangular slave trade between Africa, Europe, and the Americas began in the 17th century.

Abolition of Slavery in France

French traders sailed from the ports of Nantes or Bordeaux to the African coast, where they purchased slaves from local chiefs. Shackled and branded, the slaves were tightly packed into ships for the three-month voyage across the Atlantic to the Caribbean. They were bought by plantation owners there. Thus, France had a long history of the slave trade.

  • The 18th century in France saw little opposition to slavery. The National Assembly spent a lot of time debating whether or not all French subjects, including those in the colonies, should have access to human rights.
  • However, the Assembly didn’t enact any laws, out of concern for the merchants whose livelihood depended on the slave trade.
  • In 1794, the convention finally passed a law emancipating every slave in France’s colonies abroad. However, this was short-lived.
  • After ten years, Napoleon reintroduced slavery in 1804, which was finally abolished in the French colonies in 1848.
  • Jacobin was a member of the Jacobin Club, a revolutionary political movement that was the most famous political club during the French Revolution. The club took its name from a meeting in the Jacobin monastery in the Dominican rue Saint-Honoré.


Who Abolished Slavery in France?

Maximilien Robespierre abolished slavery in France on 4 February 1794, he was the first elected Assembly of the Republic. Napoleon made the restoration in order to uphold French colonial dominance. However, France was finally free of slavery forever in 1848.

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