French Revolution and the Emancipation of Slaves

The Making of the Modern World

The events of the French Revolution and the emancipation of slaves in Saint Domingue cannot be looked at as isolated events in history. As a matter of fact these events need to be studied in conjunction with one another, as the emancipation of slaves was a direct product of the French Revolution and the creation of the Declaration of Rights. It is not to say that the emancipation of slaves wasn’t inevitable, but rather the Declaration acted as a catalyst to promote the equality of all men regardless of race, religion, and social status. Similar to many other historical events, the Declaration promoted a new way of viewing one’s purpose and rights within society. Just as Martin Luther enabled the common man to interpret the bible for himself, the Declaration enabled men of all color and religions to be conscious of their natural and civil rights. It goes without mention that the initial motive for the Declaration was not to encourage religious or slave riots but rather, the Declaration was a vehicle to protect natural and civil rights in a time where the King no longer had the justification of complete authority. There are many theories that suggest that the emancipation of slaves was influenced by the rebellion and the introduction of the ideals set forth in the Declaration. This paper will specifically talk about the validity of the declaration, St. Domingue as an unstable colony, and the lack of the King’s authority that made the emancipation of slaves in St. Domingue an inescapable fate.
One of the reasons the Declaration was so successful was because it was uncontested. During the period of the Declaration “not one responsible spokesman [..] attempted to show that there were no natural rights, or even that the specific rights of the Declaration were not valid”. No white man in his right mind dare say that one man is more worthy of rights than another especially being the minority in the colony. Just as the Jews were free...