French Views of Slavery

This essay French Views of Slavery has a total of 595 words and 3 pages.

French Views of Slavery

The issue of slavery has been touched upon often in the course
of history. The institution of slavery was addressed by French
intellectuals during the Enlightenment. Later, during the French
Revolution, the National Assembly issued the Declaration of the Rights
of Man, which declared the equality of all men. Issues were raised
concerning the application of this statement to the French colonies in
the West Indies, which used slaves to work the land. As they had
different interests in mind, the philosophes, slave owners, and
political leaders took opposing views on the interpretation of
universal equality. Many of the philosophes, the leaders of the
Enlightenment, were against slavery. They held that all people had a
natural dignity that should be recognized. Voltaire, an 18th century
philosophe, pointed out that hundreds of thousands of slaves were
sacrificing their lives just so the Europeans could quell their new
taste for sugar, tea and cocoa. A similar view was taken by Rousseau,
who stated that he could not bear to watch his fellow human beings be
changed to beasts for the service of others. Religion entered into the
equation when Diderot, author of the Encyclopedia, brought up the fact
that the Christian religion was fundamentally opposed to Black slavery
but employed it anyway in order to work the plantations that financed
their countries. All in all, those influenced by the ideals of the
Enlightenment, equality, liberty, the right to dignity, tended to
oppose the idea of slavery. Differing from the philosophes, the
political leaders and property owners tended to see slavery as an
element that supported the economy. These people believed that if
slavery and the slave trade were to be abolished, the French would
lose their colonies, commerce would co

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