A racist revolutionary: the literary career of Jean-François Dubroca as a propagandist of the French Consulate, 1800-1804

Antonio de Francesco
2022 La Révolution française  
From his point of view, there was no apparent reason why he could not operate similarly in the Americas, and the first testing ground was the decision to maintain slavery in the colonies that had been newly handed back by Britain. This is considered -rightly-as a tragic step backwards on the path towards civil rights; Bonaparte, nevertheless, reckoned it to be an advantageous move, given that the landowners in those colonies wanted to preserve the slavery that the British troops had allowed
more » ... to practice. 5 It was, in other words, unconscionable pragmatism that prompted the First Consul not to alter the social structure of Martinique, Tobago or Saint Lucia in order not to lose the planters' support, which was crucial to the development of a large-scale commercial policy in the Americas. 6 Previously though, with regard to Saint-Domingue, Bonaparte had taken the opposite approach and had disappointed all those expecting the abolition of slavery to be abandoned. On the island, where the slave rebellion had brought about that decision, Louverture was the dominant figure, and Bonaparte, for the very same reasons that forced him elsewhere to be a supporter of slavery, tried at first to win him over to his side. Their exchange of letters suggests that Bonaparte believed that he could place his faith in Louverture. This explains why he reacted so vigorously when the governor, rather than obey, and without even notifying the First Consul, nonchalantly borrowed certain words from the Year VIII Constitution regarding the characteristics of the colonies in order to endow the island with its own specific constitution. 7 9 10 This American prospect has remained a rather obscure affair for a long time, as Bonaparte, by then Napoleon I, Emperor of the French, willingly consigned his plans for a trans-Atlantic empire to oblivion in order to stifle any news regarding the defeats he had suffered in the New World. 8 None of this alters the fact that his plan got off to a good start, or that, throughout all the years of the Consulate, Bonaparte insisted that an American version of his political perspective was required. The problem lay with the different expectations aroused in French society. Conservative circles, which included the colonists in Saint-Domingue, called for an end to the Directory's policy in favour of A racist revolutionary: the literary career of Jean-François Dubroca as a pro...
doi:10.4000/lrf.6347 fatcat:os6gxm2najarhmj5pijfzan3cu