This essay engages the broad question of the relation between the French Enlightenment and colonial racial slavery by exploring the literature of planters and slavetraders in the French Caribbean and showing how the ideals of French Enlightenment philosophy were not always framed as antithetical to practices of black enslavement. Abolitionists such as Condorcet, Brissot, and Grégoire may have considered themselves the inheritors of the Age of Reason. In the eyes of slave apologists, however, they were radicals who were trying to put into practice the impracticable, subversive thinkers who were betraying the intentions of Rousseau, Montesquieu, and the other great philosophes of the eighteenth century.

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