Mise en place du Comité d’Émancipation graduelle et d’Évaluation des Esclaves

Regulations and Instructions for the Gradual emancipation & Slave appraising Comittee, adopted provisionally by the Council of Government this day; the Council reserving to itself the right to revoking, altering or amending the same, as and whenever circumstances may require.

§.1. All cases of estimating or valuing slaves, whether only such as mentioned in the Royal Ordinance of the 6th September 1842, or as found necessary in consequence of the Royal Letter of the 22nd January this Year, will henceforward be refered to a standing Comittee, called The Gradual Emancipation and Slave Appraising Comittee, whose decisions in in such cases are valid, without appeal.

§.2. This Committee is constituted in the following manner, viz – one third chosen by the Slave owners of the Town and Country, one third by the Court of Justice; and one third by His Excellency the Governor; each one of these three constituent bodies or authorithies appointing either one or two members of the Committee, whose office is purely honorary.

§.3. The Comittee will consequently consist of not less than three, nor more than six, members who will elect one amongst themselves to act as President.

§.4. The members of the Comitee will assemble for the first time on Monday coming instant the 25th Instant at 11 O’clock in the day at Government House, formerly the Town Majors residence, by permission of His Excellency the Governor; in order to constitute themselves into a Committee, elect a President, procure the necessary assistance and attendance required and arrange all preliminary matters; after which the Committee is to meet at least once a month, viz – on the 15th day in each month, /when not a Sun- or holy day in which case the meeting is to take place the §.4. following day/ and oftener if required.

§.5. The Committee will at its meetings take into consideration any offers that may then be made, or have been made since its last meeting to anyone of its members, either by Slaves, or others on their behalf, to buy or contribute to buy themselves free, or by Slave-owners to sell their Slaves for freedom, preference being always given to those first mentioned, and amongst them to those who contributed the greatest amount in proportion; Reference also in general being had to the views and principles developed in the aforesaid Royal Letter of the 22nd of January this Year; it being in all cases the duty of the Committee, in the first instance to examine the title of the Slave-holder and to make itself fully satisfied that the Slave in question is legally and bon afide the property of the reputed owner, and that such Slave has not been introduced into the Island in contravention to, or after the promulgation here, on the 8th of January 1831, of the Royal Ordinance against Slave trade of the 7th of January 1830, nor is otherwise entitled to freedom; the Committee having it in’its power of compelling the appearance before the Committee of the owner, no less than the Slave or any other person required for such purpose, on application to His Excellency the Governor; and in doubtful cases of refering the parties concerned to the Judge for an examination of the titles and his opinion or certificate thereof in writing.

§.6. The Committee is in all cases that may come within its cognizance to fix the value or price of the Slave in question, who must therefore in every such instance be personally present before the Committee, in observing however that such value must never be fixed higher than that set by the owner; and also to give its opinion as to whether it be advisable to accept or not of offers made or to assist or not in buying such Slave free, taking into consideration not only the probability of his or her becoming or not, from tender youth, old age, sickness, inability to work, or any other reason, a burden upon the Community, there being at present no proper fund to provide for the education and maintenance of those so libarated, but also whether such Slave is deserving or worthy of freedom by an orderly and industrious conduct, it being clearly implied in the Royal letter of the 22 January this Year that preference is to be given to those deserving of such a boon.

§.7. The Committe must be guided in its decisions as to the value of the Slaves, by their age, health, strenght, and ability to work, conduct, behaviour and other qualities moral and physical, and their conscientious opinion as to their real no less than present value and prices.

§.8. From the manner aforesaid of forming the Committee, it is clear that each one of the three constituting Authorities, viz. His Excellency the Governor, the Court of Justice and the Slave owners of the Island, is intended to be represented in the Committee and to influence its decisions in an equal degree; and it follows therefore also as a matter of course, that if said constituting authorities should not each appoint an equal number of members of the Committee, the opinion and votes of the one or those chosen by any one of the said constituent authorities, must still have the same weight and influence as the opinion and votes of the one or those chosen by any one of the other two, so that if one of them appoints only one member of the Committee, his vote counts double or equal to those of any two appointed by another.

§.9. The Committee is competent to decide cases, whenever, at any meeting duly called and notified or agreed upon, three members including the President are present; that is to say one of those appointed by each of the electing Authorities, in which case such member has the same double vote as stated in foregoing § when only one had been elected by any one of said Authorities.

§.10. The Committee decides by a majority of votes, according to the rules here above laid down, each member having at least one vote and the casting vote resting with the President when the votes are equally divided; but in fixing the value of a Slave an average is taken, by dividing the aggregate amount of his or her estimated value as set down by each vote with the number of votes, except in those cases, should such ever occur, where the estimated value as set down by any one of the members should be so unreasonable or extavagantly either high or low, that the Committee should by a clear majority of votes / not effected by the casting vote / resolve entirely to set aside such evaluation, when consequently his vote or votes also must be deducted from the number of the diviser.

§.11. The awards and evaluations of the Committee, signed by the President on behalf of the Committee, are to be delivered in writing to the parties concerned or requesting the same, and short minutes or register of the proceedings are to be held and written down in a separate book kept for that purpose, and signed by the President and the other members at each meeting of the Committee, embodying in each individual case, the name, birthplace, / if born out of the Island when here introduced /, and age as near as can be found out of the slave, his or her owners name, at whose request estimated, and the value of the slave as fixed by the Committee, if the owner is satisfied or not therewith, whether the Slave is able to contribute or not to his or her manumission, whether deserving thereof, and if advisable to pay therefore or not: according to the annexed forms; and a Duplicate or Copy of such minutes or Registers, signed by the President, is to be sent in after each meeting to His Excellency the Governor.

§.12. Each member of the Committee must before entering on his functions take and subscribe the following oath, as has been done this day before the Council by those now forming the Committee : - Viz.
I promise and swear, by God and on His Holy Evangelists, that I will honestly, truly, justly and faithfully, administer the functions to me now committed, to the best of my knowledge, understanding and conscience, and that I will not be influenced nor be assed by relationship, friendship, hatred, envy, fear, self interest or from any other cause whatsoever, nor act otherwise in this my capacity, than agreeably to the instructions of His Excellency the Governor or the Royal Council, and so that I may be able to depend my conduct before God and Man.
So Help Me God !

Given at Gustavia, on the Island of Saint Bartholomew, the 22nd of May 1846. Justeradt. James H. Haasum. Carl Ulrich. Gust. Ekerman. Labastide. R. Dinzey. A. S. Delisle.

[en annexe : modèle du tableau d’évaluation / non reproduit ici : repris à l’identique dans Minutes of the proceedings and evaluations of the Gradual Emancipation and Slave Appraising Committee]

Source = Série PG [Procès-verbaux du Gouvernement] / volume n° 130 = microfilm 50 Miom 15 - Fonds Suédois de Saint-Barthélemy (Archives Nationales d'Outre-Mer. Aix-en-Provence)

Bibliographie (abolition de l'esclavage & Saint-Barthélemy)

  • 2008. [Fr] COMITÉ DE LIAISON ET D'APPLICATION DES SOURCES HISTORIQUES. Histoire de l'abolition de l'esclavage à Saint-Barthélemy, île de Nantes.
  • 2007. [Sv] SCHIBBYE, Martin. Svensk handel med slavar 1784-1847 - Varför infördes och avskaffades slaveriet på den svenska kolonin S:t Barthélemy [Le commerce suédois d'esclaves, 1784-1847 - Pourquoi l'esclavage a t-il été introduit et aboli dans la colonie suédoise de Saint-Barthélemy], Stockholms universitet, Ekonomisk-Historiska institutionen, Magisteruppsats [Mémoire de maîtrise], 88 p. Édition en ligne.
  • 1996. [Sv] BARCK, Mårten et Tobias BORGSTRÖM. Redaktör Bergstedts dilemma. En studie av abolitionism och anti-abolitionism i The Report of Saint-Bartholomew 1804-05 [Le dilemne de l'éditeur Bergstedt. Une étude sur l'abolitionisme et l'anti-abolitionisme dans The Report of Saint-Bartholomew 1804-05], Stockholms universitet, B-uppsats i journalistik [Essai en journalisme], 76 p.
  • 1994. [Sv] BORGSTRÖM, Tobias. Angående avskaffandet av slaveriet på S:t Barthélemy. Analysis av en svensk riksdagdebatt [À propos de l'abolition de l'esclavage à Saint-Barthélemy. Analyse d'un débat parlementaire suédois], Stockholms universitet, Uppsats i statsvetenskap [Essai en sciences politique], 32 p.
  • 1993. [En] MAYER, Francine M. et Carolyn E. FICK. « Before and After Emancipation : Slaves and Free Colored of Saint Barthélemy (French West Indies), in the 19th Century [Avant et après l'Emancipation : esclaves et libres de couleur de Saint-Barthélemy (Antilles françaises), au XIXe siècle] » dans Scandinavian Journal of History, Jyväskylä (Finlande), vol. 18, no 4, p. 251-274.
  • 1992. [En] MAYER, Francine M. et Carolyn E. FICK. « Slavery, Slave Emancipation and Social Reorganization in Nineteenth-Century Saint-Barthélemy, French West Indies [Esclavage, émancipation et réorganisation sociale au XIXe siècle à Saint-Barthélemy, Antilles françaises] » dans Le Peuplement des Amériques, Veracruz, Actes du congrès de l'Union internationale pour l'étude scientifique de la population (UIESP), vol. 1, p. 233-259.
  • 1987. [Fr] GONTHIER, Denis. Abolition de l'esclavage et transformation des ménages de la population rurale de couleur, Île antillaise de Saint-Barthélemy, de 1840 à 1857, Montréal, Université de Montréal, mémoire de maîtrise co-dirigé par Yolande Lavoie et Francine MAYER, 127 p.
  • 1847 (livraison du 10 janvier). [Fr] SCHŒLCHER, Victor. « Abolition de l'esclavage dans l'île suédoise de Saint-Barthélemy » dans Extrait de la revue indépendante, Paris, quatrième édition, Imprimerie Schneider et Langrand, p. 11-15.
  • 1843. [Sv] ALEXANDER, George William, et Benjamin Barron WIFFEN. Tankar om nödvändigheten och pligten af slaveriets omedelbara avskaffande på ön S:t Barthelemy [Pensées sur la nécessité et l'obligation morale de l'abolition immédiate de l'esclavage sur l'île de Saint-Barthélemy], Stockholm, L.J. Hjerta.

« L'abolition de l'esclavage » sur le web