I've spoken in earlier lectures, about the importance of, understanding the causes of the French Revolution as being bound up with the great, global clash of empires in the 18th century. Particularly that between Britain and France in North America, and in the Caribbean. Remembering that as a result of the Seven Years' War, that France had lost that massive area, in red of the, the Midwest and Canada to Britain, but had retained these crucially important colonies in the Caribbean particular the colony of St-Dominque. This colonial trade, which involves also West Africa, because of the trafficking in, in slaves to work in those plantations, is crucially important to, the development of the French economy in the 18th century. And I pointed out the importance to the great ports of Nantes, La Rochelle and Bordeaux of the colonial trade, which is a massive increase in terms of the volume, of trade going through those ports, in the 18th century. It explains why, a city such as Bordeaux doubles in size across that period. Some historians have estimated the volume of trade passing through Bordeaux increased by as much as nine times, across the 18th century. This is an economic boom, which introduces vast amounts of liquid wealth, into the French economy and facilitates the emergence of a much more, important, numerous, significant, mercantile and professional middle class. It's also of course, a colonial trade, which flourishes at the expense of a terrible horror, of human cargo, in the slave ships that ply their way, across the Atlantic in the 18th century. Even the celebration, of slave ships in works of art because they'd somehow managed to have, fairly minimal losses, as they make that terrible trip. Of course, the great issue, for those people, in 1789, is the universal claim in the declaration of the rights of man and the citizen, in August, that men are born and remain free and equal in rights. That man's natural and imprescriptible rights, rights you cannot surrender, are liberty, property, security, and resistance to oppression. Most importantly, and most obviously, does the ringing tone, of that decoration, on the universal right's of all humans, apply equally, to the slave populations of the Caribbean colonies. Early in the revolution, in 1790, one of the great debates of the revolutionary period pits people on both sides of that debate. For people like Brissot a member of the Society of the Friends of the Blacks founded before the Revolution and the Abbé Gregoire an important parish priest, from Eastern France, it is obvious, that the declaration of the rights of man and of the citizen must be applied within the French colonies. Other people such as Barnave, another prominent, conservative politician, a constitutional monarchist who animates the Massiac Club which is a pro-slavery lobby, argues that, whatever the ill treatment of slaves nothing can justify, an immediate emancipation, of those people, that it would be ruinous for the French economy, that there are other, reasons why it would be too rushed, that slaves aren't used to freedom, that it's somehow natural to people of Africa, etc, etc. There are all sorts of rationales, which are given to explain why, it would be too early, too drastic a step, to abolish slavery immediately. What happens in the middle of 1791, as a result of that debate is a compromise. The National Assembly gives active citizen status to those freed slaves who are the children of freed parents. In other words, if there are two generations of freedom there is no reason why someone from a slave background, should not become a citizen. But, it is quite clear, that the National Assembly decrees that it will never deliberate on the station of people of colour, slaves, who are not born of a free father and mother, without the prior free, and spontaneous wish, of the colonies; that the colonial assemblies, currently in existence will stay on, but that people of colour born of free father and mother would be admitted to, all future parish, and colonial assemblies, if they moreover have the required qualities. In other words, it is the colonies themselves, the colonial assemblies dominated by the planters, who will decide how the colonies run. We are giving equal rights to the children of free blacks, but we are not going to be involved in discussing, the future of slavery, that's a matter for the colonies. It's a compromise. But it's one that's fraught with ambiguity. This is a contemporary iconographic depiction, of the significance of that decision to recognize that the freed children of freed slaves have equal citizenship rights with others. This image shows liberty putting the bar of equality across the two heads, while the demons of superstition, of racist superstition are banished in to the background. But, it's a compromise which is unstable, because the national assembly by admitting that some blacks in French colonies, can have equal citizenship status with whites, that is at tacit recognition, that after all slaves are people too. They have the capacities to be, active citizens if they are freed. But the issue will not go away for people in the colonies and in August 1791 a massive slave insurrection, erupts in St-Domingue, the most important of the colonies. By 1792 something, unprecedented is happening even in France itself. Because in 1792 when elections take place for the National Convention, the new Republican Parliament of France, for the first time, there are, freed slaves, who are elected to represent the colonies, and they keep, the pressure up, on the National Convention, to do something about slavery in general. What really changes things, is the entry of England and Spain, into the war in 1793 because they are the other colonial great powers in the Caribbean, and the great military conflict, which sees France as encircled by counter-revolutionary armies which are invading France and Europe, is a war which is also being played out now, in the Caribbean. In 1793 fighting between French Republican forces and British and Spanish forces, involve St-Domingue itself, and both sides, appealed to the, slave population in rebellion to join with them, against the other. Finally in February 1794, as the National Convention hopes that, the slave population will join, with French revolutionary forces against British and Spanish forces, finally the National Convention decides to abolish slavery completely. A crucial moment in the history of slavery in the world. When in February 1794, the National Convention abolishes slavery in the French colonies. As much it must be said, out of military recognition that the French Republican armies cannot triumph, against their enemies in the Caribbean without the slave population fighting with them. As much a military consideration as an ethical one. But many people, in the Convention, have a long history of opposing slavery in general. There are a huge number, of drawings, of iconographic representations, of what this means. Here, a former a slave, with a measure of the carpenters balance, of equality, hanging around his neck. Here a former slave woman who's saying, I am now in freedom, like you, am I not your sister? The French Revolution has finally brought itself into alignment with nature, the natural rights of all people. Or this, image of fraternity which shows, the allegory of the goddess of fraternity, embracing both a black child and a white child. Under the period of the Convention and the Directory, with the abolition of slavery, it becomes possible for all former slaves to participate in political life. And for the first time during the Directory, a former slave, this man Jean-Baptiste Belley who was born in Senegal, in Africa, sold into slavery, is elected to represent his area of the Caribbean under the Directory after 1795. In 1802, when Napoleon Bonaparte seizes power, he seeks to reinstitute, the black code, the code noir, which had governed, slavery in the French colonies before 1793. An extraordinary move, effectively to attempt to, reintroduce slavery in the French plantation economies. In Saint-Domingue, at least, which is far away the most important of them, with half a million, former slaves, now living freely, there is a massive reaction against the attempt by Napoleon Bonaparte to send in French forces to re-impose slavery, led by, Toussaint L'Ouverture who had been one of the key leaders of Saint-Domingue slaves during the revolutionary period. Effectively, those former slaves in Saint-Domingue, rebuff the attempts of Napoleon's army to reimpose slavery. And in 1804, Napoleon Bonaparte has to recognize that, that attempt is doomed. He withdraws his troops, and recognizes the existence of the first, free former colony in the Americas. The colony of, Haiti the former colony of St-Domingue is recognized as a free, independent country on its own standing. It's not to say that slavery disappears, altogether. The National Convention, in 1794, had abolished slavery in the colonies, it hadn't abolished the slave trade, which continues until, the revolution of 1848 when finally a second republic does away with slavery in all of the remaining French colonies and does away with the slave trade itself. But certainly one could argue, that the experience of the French Revolution for hundreds of thousands of slaves in the French colonies is indeed a revolutionary experience and that for, the largest number of them, in the former colony St-Domingue, now the, new nation of Haiti, life will never be the same again.