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Cul de SacPatrimony, Capitalism, and Slavery in French Saint-Domingue$
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Paul Cheney

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780226079356

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: September 2017

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226411774.001.0001

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Humanity and Interest

Humanity and Interest

(p.71) Chapter Three Humanity and Interest
Cul de Sac

Paul Cheney

University of Chicago Press

Planters and administrators in the French and British empires were aware of the ravages of the slave system of labor and attempted, toward the mid-eighteenth century, to improve the profitability and stability of the plantation complex by ameliorating the condition of slaves. This chapter argues that rational schemes of improvement rarely had much discernible effect, even if planters and administrators imagined themselves to be implementing enlightened ideas and practices that were thought to reconcile economic interest with the dictates of humanity. Planters also drew on a widespread discourse of enlightened sensibility found, for instance, in the sentimental novel of the eighteenth century, in order to improve human relations on the plantation. The discourse of sensibility, which emerges from the letters written by Jean-Baptiste Corbier, Ferron de la Ferronnays's plantation manager, was equally impotent to effect substantial change in the conditions of slaves on the Antillean plantation.

Keywords:   enlightenment, amelioration, manumission, sentiment, police, discipline of slaves, sensiblity, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, abolition, improvement

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