Slavery Abolition Day in Guadeloupe takes place every May 27. The holiday also extends to other Caribbean nations once colonized by Europeans, who were notorious for enslaving Indigenous peoples and subjecting them to unspeakable atrocities. On Slavery Abolition Day, citizens attempt to confront their past. Those subjugated by serfdom or other forms of involuntary servitude also mark this important date. The day reminds us of humanity’s cruel history and our efforts to ensure that it doesn’t repeat itself.
History of Slavery Abolition Day (Guadeloupe)
Slavery Abolition Day is a public holiday celebrated every May 27 in Guadeloupe, a French overseas department in the Caribbean Sea where Indigenous people have lived for hundreds of years. The day commemorates the anniversary of Guadeloupe’s abolition of slavery in 1848.
Christopher Columbus, an Italian explorer, arrived at Saint Mary in November 1493. He later named the island Guadeloupe in honor of the Extremaduran monastery, Santa María de Guadalupe. On June 28, 1635, however, the French overthrew the natives and gained control of the island. The settlers then decided to plant sugar cane and import enslaved people from West Africa to the Caribbean to do the work for them. The French monarchy would go on to establish Guadeloupe as a colony in 1674, where a plantation economy flourished. The 1800s in Guadeloupe were a difficult time. It was first held by the British from 1759 to 1763 (during the Seven Years’ War) and then returned to France when the Treaty of Paris was signed. However, it was again captured by the British in 1794, but Victor Hughes, the Convention’s Commissioner, promptly reclaimed it and sought to abolish slavery. On April 27, 1848, a petition by Victor Schoelcher finally ended slavery. A month later, total abolition became effective. Indentured laborers from India began to arrive in the late 1900s to fill the labor shortage on plantations.
Slavery Abolition Day honors Guadeloupe’s long struggle with slavery and the decree that granted enslaved people freedom, putting an end to tyranny in the region. It is a celebration of overcoming oppression and a beacon of hope for the future.
Slavery Abolition Day (Guadeloupe) timeline
Columbus arrives in what is to become Guadeloupe.
The French seize Guadeloupe and institutionalize slavery.
The British rule over the islands until French control is restored in 1763.
Following the French Revolution, slavery is abolished in Guadeloupe.
Slavery Abolition Day (Guadeloupe) FAQs
When did slavery start in Guadeloupe?
The slave trade first brought workers to the colonists’ sugar, coffee, and other plantations in 1644, when slavery became institutionalized.
Is slavery legal in any country?
Enslaving another human being is not a crime that can be prosecuted and punished in over 94 countries.
Is slavery still practiced today?
Today, approximately 20 to 50 million people are enslaved in some way.
How to Observe Slavery Abolition Day (Guadeloupe)
Speak for the oppressed
Although slavery was officially abolished centuries ago, modern-day slavery is widespread, taking the form of forced labor, forced marriage, human trafficking, and debt bondage. Speak out against these abuses and help make the world better, safer, and happier.
Days like Slavery Abolition Day compel us to reflect on the past. They are excellent opportunities to investigate the conditions that allowed such evil practices to flourish and ensure they don’t happen again.
Spread the word
Raising awareness about Slavery Abolition Day can get others involved in humanitarian causes. Share social media posts about the day so that more people learn about the history of slavery in their regions.
5 Facts About Slavery That You Didn’t Know
The origin story
The first recorded instances of slavery were in Sumer, Mesopotamia.
Over 90% of enslaved Africans were brought to the Caribbean and South America.
Not every enslaved person survived
Over 12% of those taken across the Atlantic on slave ships died in transit.
It was a widespread practice
Between 1526 and 1867, approximately 12 million enslaved people were transported from Africa to the Americas.
It’s an ongoing problem
More people are estimated to be enslaved today than in any other historical period.
Why Slavery Abolition Day (Guadeloupe) is Important
It encourages us to reflect on the past
Slavery Abolition Day and other commemorations help us reflect on the past. This is a day to think about the dark periods in our history and resolve to be better. To combat today’s evils, we must revisit the past.
It emphasizes human dignity
Slavery and physical brutality left enslaved people and their descendants with long-term emotional and mental scars. Slavery Abolition Day serves as a reminder of the lengthy and vital struggle for human dignity.
It inspires us to hope for a better future
We commemorate Slavery Abolition Day while hoping that history will not repeat itself. We must allow everyone to live with dignity, value their individuality, and treat those different from us equally.
Slavery Abolition Day (Guadeloupe) dates