Illegal trafficking

Illegal trafficking

  • The philanthropists of the day.

    DAUMIER Honoré (1808 - 1879)

  • Convention Relating to the Suppression of the Black Traffic - London, May 29, 1845.

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Title: The philanthropists of the day.

Author : DAUMIER Honoré (1808 - 1879)

Creation date : 1844

Date shown:

Dimensions: Height 23.1 - Width 20.8

Technique and other indications: Lithograph. Caricature published in Le Charivari of December 6, 1844. "Les philanthropes du jour", suite of 34 pieces, 1844.

Storage place: Departmental Archives of Martinique website

Contact copyright: © Departmental Archives of Martiniques website

Picture reference: 15 Fi 140

The philanthropists of the day.

© Departmental Archives of Martinique

To close

Title: Convention Relating to the Suppression of the Black Traffic - London, May 29, 1845.

Author :

Creation date : 1845

Date shown: May 29, 1845

Dimensions: Height 0 - Width 0

Technique and other indications: 24-page paper notebook - 8 red wax seals on cord

Storage place: Ministry of Foreign Affairs website

Contact copyright: © Archives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Paris

Picture reference: Treaties, Great Britain 18450018

Convention Relating to the Suppression of the Black Traffic - London, May 29, 1845.

© Archives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Paris

Publication date: April 2007


Illegal trafficking


Historical context

Suppress trafficking

Before the Revolution broke out in France, both England and France practiced the slave trade. In France, the evolution of mentalities is less rapid; if slavery had been abolished by the Convention in 1794 in France, Bonaparte re-established it in 1802, as well as the slave trade, implicitly. Louis XVIII banned it in 1818 but remained in favor of progressive measures; as a result, the French shipowners continue to trade. Several abolitionist laws will be needed to discourage this illegal trafficking.

England, champion of the abolition of the slave trade, is leading international action to purge Africa's coasts of slave traffickers. France is also gradually organizing

surveillance of the African coasts by its navy.

Shortly after the accession of Louis-Philippe, a bilateral agreement was signed with England to coordinate the surveillance of the coasts of Africa by exercising a reciprocal right of visit (1831 and 1833). This concerted action led to a significant decline in the slave trade from 1840.

But the France of Louis-Philippe, which has not yet abolished slavery, remains above all anxious not to appear behind England. A "visitation crisis" soon agitated political life. When Guizot tried to update the convention with England, in December 1841, months of parliamentary debates and multiple articles in the press, orchestrated by Thiers, prevented its ratification.

The visit of French ships by the English navy, aroused in France a visceral antagonism against England, reinforced by various cases mounted in hairpin, such as the seizure by the English, in 1839, of Senegambia, which carried not captives but workers hired for Cayenne.

In reality, the two navies no longer seize black captives on French ships because the French slave trade no longer exists. The slave trade took more complex routes, under other flags.

Image Analysis

"The philanthropists of the day"

Daumier caricatures the exercise of the right of visitation of ships by the English navy to fight against the slave trade in The Charivari December 6, 1844. Proudly camped on the deck of a ship, an English officer gazes over two tall blacks, taken aback and discontented, who bend their knees and cross their arms, their backs bent. He grabbed the slave ship that was carrying them and delivered them, but he's now forcing them - oh bad surprise! - to work for fourteen years in the English colonies. A sailor laughs heartily at this good trick. The captain's incredible bellied figure, shoulders drooping under a colorful uniform, epitomizes England's smugness and skill. The cartoon infuriates the spirits against the powerful "Mistress of the Seas" who advances her own economic and strategic interests, under the guise of philanthropy.

With jubilation, Daumier plays on an anglophobia, which is very common in France. This sentiment, engendered by decades of war between the two countries and the defeat of the Empire, is fueled by resentment against England's successes.

Daumier gives the floor to blacks for once, but their opinion is not taken into account: repression is whites' business. At the time, international law was a Western practice; black people must comply with it, whatever the material, social or economic fallout. In practice, whether captured by the English or the French, captives experience equivalent spells. They are not returned to their embarkation point where they could not remain free; the two countries sometimes serve them for several years before granting them freedom, but many of them settle in Sierra Leone.

All to their nationalist resentment, French opinion and the press limit themselves to rejecting any new agreement with England as humiliating. Meanwhile, illegal trafficking in human beings continues and the cause of blacks remains remote.

Bilateral agreement

Faced with the visitation crisis, Guizot must deploy skill and determination to maintain a diplomatic agreement. In December 1844 he resumed the initiative for contact with England, which no doubt prompted this caricature. To calm the public always eager to equal England, Guizot brought to fruition the idea of ​​a parity of the French and English navies to watch the coast of Africa.

The crisis was overcome by the new convention of May 29, 1845, but at what cost! France sends 26 warships, 2840 men and 222 guns, to cruise off the coast of Africa.
The French signatories, Louis de Baupoil, comte de Saint-Aulaire, ambassador in London, and the anglophile Victor de Broglie, former Minister of Foreign Affairs, affix a seal to their arms, a custom which is still in effect in this first half of the Nineteenth century. The English signatories follow: Lord Aberdeen, Principal Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, and Stephen Lushington, Admiralty High Court Judge. The triple link of blue white red silk threads which connects the seals at the bottom of the two language versions symbolizes the new solidarity instituted by the treaty and remains considered as a precaution against possible fraud.

This expensive French cruise was abolished by the Second Republic, which abolished slavery in 1848.


Survival of illegal trafficking

The slave trade continued for several decades into the 19th century after its condemnation by England, then by France and most Western nations. However, the international system of repression is not enough to put an end to it. For after 1848 there was still a demand for captives in the Dutch and Spanish colonies and in Brazil, where slavery continued. The slave trade did not disappear from the Atlantic until the turn of the 1860s.

In total, however, the repression carried out in the 19th century by the British and French navies enabled 160,000 Africans to escape slavery, and of these, 96,000 settled in Sierra Leone.

  • abolition of slavery
  • caricature
  • slavery
  • Louis Philippe
  • Slave Trade
  • Trafficking in blacks
  • slave ship
  • Black


Serge DAGETThe repression of the slave trade in the 19th century: the action of French cruises on the western coasts of Africa, 1817-1850Paris, Karthala, 1997.David ELTISEconomic Growth and the Ending of the Trasatlantic Slave Trade, New York, Oxford University Press, 1987.Guide to the sources of the slave trade, slavery and their abolitionDirectorate of Archives de France, La documentation française, Paris, 2007.

To cite this article

Luce-Marie ALBIGÈS, "Illegal trafficking"

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