Between 1814 and 1831, French slave traders trafficked approximately 200,000 individuals. Among those, a small but still surprising number stopped over in Haiti on their return voyage after selling captives elsewhere in the Americas. Using the case of the brigantine the Marcelin as its prime example, this article shows how legitimate commodity trading with Haiti served as a cover for illicit French slaving in the era of slave-trade abolition.
– Mary D. Lewis
The article situates the Marcelin within a “second slave trade,” which emerged as European countries abolished the transatlantic trade on paper but continued it in practice. Because the second slave trade was illegal, it left a very limited historical trace. This article reconstructs its contours from fragmentary archival evidence, while arguing that, ultimately, the archive itself does violence to the history of the nineteenth-century slave trade.