A business archive of the French illegal slave trade in the nineteenth century

Joseph La Hausse De Lalouvière*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Following the abolition of the transatlantic trade in African captives, slave traders from France, Spain and Cuba devised strategies of concealment to perpetuate and even expand their enterprise. A close reading of the unexpurgated logbooks and business correspondence of the Jeune Louis, a French ship that transported more than three hundred captives from the Bight of Biafra to Havana in 1825, identifies three decisive innovations in the Franco-Cuban branch of the illegal slave trade. Transnational business structure, risk management through honour-based marine insurance policies, and redacted record keeping transformed the wider Atlantic slave-trading sector into one capable of eluding attempts at international suppression. The clandestine techniques that this transnational slaving network developed to skirt the law also distorted the archival record of that traffic. Accounting for the resulting distortions and disappearances will enable future researchers to better navigate them.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)139-177
Number of pages39
JournalPast and Present
Issue number1
Early online date20 Jun 2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2021


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