Address to the French National Assembly

Address to the National Assembly title page

Adresse a l'assemblée nationale pour l'abolition de la traite des noirs.

(Address to the National Assembly for the Abolition of the Slave Trade)

La Société des Amis des Noirs de Paris

(Society of the Friends of the Blacks)*

1790

 

This pamphlet provides the transcription of a speech that was delivered to the National Assembly in Paris in 1790 arguing for the abolition of the slave trade. The document’s verbatim nature leaves the speech’s reception unclear.

The brevity of this abolitionist text indicates that it was meant for widespread circulation and gives the modern audience an intriguing window into race-relations of the late 18th century. The insignia included on the cover page of the pamphlet (Image 1) asks readers, both modern and contemporary, “NE SUIS-JE PAS TON FRERE?” (“Am I not your brother?”).

Address to the National Assembly text

The large fibers and signatures, as denoted by “A2” (Image 2), located in the lower corners of each page ease the construction of the pamphlets. Both of these factors indicate that the document was meant to be ephemeral—intended to only last a short time. The unadorned document suggests large-scale production and contemporary rather than timeless content. Despite its disposability, this historical sample remains in remarkable condition sustaining only minor spots and annotations. In the preservation of this document we see a defiance of its expected physical decay. That defiance speaks in harmony with the abolitionists that defied the societal norms and inspire us to do the same today.

 

Aaron Graybill, Class of 2022                                                             

*All translations are the author’s