Society of the Friends of the Blacks
The Society of the Friends of the Blacks (Société des amis des Noirs or Amis des noirs) was a group of French men and women, mostly white, who were abolitionists. They opposed slavery, which was institutionalized in the French colonies of the Caribbean and North America, and the African slave trade. The Society was created in Paris in 1788, and operated until 1793, during years of the French Revolution. It was led by Jacques Pierre Brissot, with advice from British Thomas Clarkson, who led the abolitionist movement in the Kingdom of Great Britain. At the beginning of 1789, the Society had 141 members.
During the five-year period that it operated, it published anti-slavery literature and frequently addressed its concerns on a substantive political level in the National Assembly of France. In February 1794, the National Assembly passed the Universal Emancipation decree, which effectively freed all colonial slaves and gave them equal rights. This decision was later reversed under Napoleon, who tried unsuccessfully to reinstitute slavery in the colonies and to regain control of Saint-Domingue.
Several articles and monographs have explored the question of how influential the Society was in bringing about the abolition of slavery. Historians disagree on their influence, with some crediting the Amis des Noirs as instrumental in abolition, to others who say the Society was nothing more than a "société de pensée" (philosophical society).
The economy of France was dependent upon revenues from the colonies, which were slave societies based largely on production of sugar from cane plantations. The French economy thrived due to the lucrative trade triangle. Demand for sugar was high in Europe. Conditions on the sugar plantations in Saint-Domingue, Guadeloupe and Martinique, in the Caribbean, were so harsh that slave mortality was very high. This required steady importing of new slaves from Africa. In La Louisiane, in the southern United States, slavery was also the basis of the economy in the New Orleans and Mobile regions. Southern Louisiana had numerous sugar plantations.
Figures indicate that slave-trade activity alone during the years leading up to the French Revolution resulted in some profit percentages exceeding 100 percent. In 1784, for example, the outfitter Chaurands realized a profit of 110 percent through the use of a single ship, the Brune. In 1789, one outfitter reached 120 per cent profit on his voyages.[a]
Jacques Pierre Brissot organized the Société des amis des Noirs in February 1788. A follower of the Philosophes, Brissot's anti-slavery efforts were also due to his exposure to humanitarian activities on both sides of the Atlantic. In the United States, where he visited Philadelphia's constitutional convention following the American Revolution, he became absorbed by [Thomas Jefferson]'s humanitarian ideals as expressed in the Declaration of Independence. In England, Thomas Clarkson invited Brissot to attend a meeting of the Society for Effecting the Abolition of the Slave Trade. So enthused was Brissot that shortly thereafter he founded an abolitionist society in Paris. Its objectives were to suppress the slave trade and, at a later date, to attain equal rights for free persons of color. This was a class, generally in the French colonies, of persons of mixed French and African ancestry, generally born to French colonial fathers and mothers of African descent (some of whom were also of mixed-race.) The French-born or French Creoles extended them some rights, although not full equality to those of "pure" French descent.
The Amis advocated freedom in the French colonies, arguing that the ideas of the Revolution should extend to the colonies. The French concept of liberté, égalité, fraternité did not include the liberation of slaves, because the National Assembly argued that such abolition would be detrimental to the economy. The Amis des Noirs pushed for the abolition of slavery, although Clarkson recommended they reduce their demands to ending the Atlantic slave trade (which Great Britain and the United States did in 1808.)
Brissot decided at the outset that he would publish written works to influence the public and politicians. and this he did in profusion. The Society published French translations of British abolitionist literature, and also works written by Brissot ("Mémoire sur les Noirs de l'Amerique septentrionale"), written in the midst of the French Revolution. It also published work by other members of the Amis des Noirs, such as Étienne Clavière ("De la France et des Etats-Unis" – co-written with Brissot) and Condorcet ("Réflexions sur l'esclavage des negres"). Members gave lectures to other societies as well, such as the Amis de l'humanité, and the Société des Amis de la Constitution. It was a reflection of not only the "Philosophe upbringing" of the Society members, but also of their efforts to be active participants in the moulding of the revolutionary government.
La Société des Amis des Noirs was most active distributing its anti-slavery literature in and around Paris, due to the lack of a stable and reliable communications network, particularly as the French Revolution proceeded. The Society did make attempts to convey its message to those living outside Paris. For instance, in 1791, the society gained assistance from its Jacobin friends: "The Friends of the Blacks had several meetings with their friends in Jacobin clubs in provincial cities and sent to every city government a lengthy pamphlet exposing the injustices done to people of colour."
The political activities of the Friends of the Blacks included addresses to the National Assembly, for instance, speeches promoting the abolition of the slave trade were made in February and April 1790. Another address was delivered a few months later. Four months later, a discourse was presented concerning the violence in Saint Domingue, which had broken out in a struggle for rights by free people of color and slaves. In July 1791, Clavière addressed the National Assembly's commercial interests, discussing trade relations between France and its colonies.
The Society also directly appealed to government individuals such as Antoine Barnave, a member of the Committee on Colonies, and Jacques Necker, France's Controller-General Of Finance. Although Necker acknowledged that slavery was inhumane, he would not sanction emancipation in French colonies unless the practice of slavery and the slave trade were halted simultaneously in every country. He believed that this was needed to maintain the existing economic balance among nations. In a 1789 letter the Society urged Necker to form a committee similar to the one in England, and expressed hopes that the actions of the English parliament might have a positive effect on the Estates-General. Other Society addresses denounced individuals in the colonies. One such incident occurred in 1791, when the Amis des Noirs responded to criticism written by pro-slaver Arthur Dillon, Député de la Martinique, and owner of a large plantation.
In 1789, the royal government had requested petitions of grievances from all parts of the country. During the election of representatives to the Estates-General, Condorcet asked for a demand for abolition of the slave trade to be included in these cahiers de doléances. Out of the 600 cahiers assembled, fewer than 50 called for an end to the slave trade and slavery.
Society member Abbé Grégoire recommended in the fall of 1789 that two deputies to the Assembly be chosen from the population of free persons of colour. This was accepted by the Committee on Verification of Credentials in the National Assembly. Gregoire's was unable to present his proposal to the National Assembly because every time he rose to speak, he was shouted down by the colonists (usually planters) in the Assembly. In March 1790, Grégoire questioned the article on voting rights in the National Assembly, urging that free men of colour be given the franchise. The colonial deputies persuaded the National Assembly to close discussion of the matter. During that same month Barnave, a pro-slavery advocate, delivered his report on maintaining the slave trade. When Mirabeau, a member of the Society, advanced to the rostrum to protest, he was drowned out by cries of the opposition.
Focusing on the rights of free men of colour, Grégoire and Alexandre Pétion (another member of the Society) warned the Assembly on 15 May 1791 that if these people were not given their rights, violence would ensue in the colonies. Because of the increasing conflict in the colonies, as well as the growing influence of free men of colour with some deputies, Barnave felt that the members of the Society could not be ignored: "We can't win against the influence of the Friends of the Blacks."
On May 15 the Assembly decreed that all men of colour would be granted equal rights if they were born of free parents. Further legislation passed on 4 April 1792 (with influence from La Société des Amis des Noirs), stated that every free man of colour now enjoyed equal rights.
Opposition from pro-slavery groupsEdit
The Committee on ColoniesEdit
The Committee on Colonies was formed in March 1790 to deal with escalating problems arising from slavery unrest in the colonies. Its resolution of the problem leaned heavily in favour of the colonists, and its membership generally had little sympathy for conditions of slaves. The members of the committee included colonial landowners (who were usually slaveholders), other slave owners, lawyers and merchants, and all were advocates of French commercial interests. The final report of the Committee did not alleviate any of the problems relating to slavery. It stressed that it did not wish to interfere in the commercial interests of the colonies: "The National Assembly declares that it had not intended to innovate in any branch of commerce direct or indirect of France with its colonies..."
A group of National Assembly deputies who were either colonists or slave trade merchants lobbied the French chambers of commerce and city governments to maintain the slave trade and slavery, proclaiming that economic disaster would result from its abolition. The deputies argued their point so effectively that members of La Société des Amis des Noirs feared abolition would cause chaos. One such pro-slavery group was composed of the lobbyists for the French chambers of commerce, who designated themselves as the "Deputies Extraordinary of Manufactures and Commerce." Their main efforts focused on influencing the Committee on Agriculture and Commerce to maintain slavery and the slave trade. Since revenue from the colonies was collected mainly from the sale of slaves and crops, the Committee was investigating the economic ramifications should this source of income cease to exist. Historian Quinney wrote in 1970 that Barnave's non-committal report to the National Assembly resulted from he learning that the Committee on Agriculture and Commerce "had already decided to advise the National Assembly to retain the trade and slavery."
A pro-slavery organization called the Massiac Club, headquartered in Paris, was composed of colonial planters living in Paris and throughout France. The club had its main headquarters in Paris, with chapters located in the provinces. Realizing that success related to political influence, the club proceeded to systematically contact government officials.[b]
The Massiac members opposed any type of abolition legislation, and communicated with each colonial deputy to ensure that pro-slavery interests were maintained. Mirabeau stated that when he attempted to sway the deputies in favour of abolition, every official he spoke to had already been approached by a member of the Massiac club. The Massiac group published and distributed literature, responding in toto to practically every idea the Amis des Noirs had put forward.
In a leaflet distributed to members of the Comité de Commerce de l'Assemblée Nationale, the Massiac accused the Amis des Noirs of being involved in subversive activity. The Massiac Club published a handbill that said the abolitionists were not truly humanitarian philanthropists, but rather an organization attempting to subvert social order. They claimed the Amis des Noirs should be viewed as counter-revolutionaries, and pro-British. The pro-slavers also distributed leaflets specifically denouncing individuals: Brissot, Grégoire and Pétion. They supported the slave trade in debates held in district assemblies within Paris, and attempted to influence voting in these districts when the question of the slave trade was introduced.
Historians have concluded that the Society was virtually impotent due to its organization, strategy, and membership criteria. In terms of organization, Quinney refers to the group's ineffective operations, stating that the government, which contained pro-slavery elements, had a nationwide propaganda network, while the Society was mainly Paris-based. Resnick concurs when he states: "Both leadership and membership at large were drawn heavily from the Paris area, with no established network of regional filiations."
In addition, they held meetings irregularly, without full membership present. Even in 1789, Thomas Clarkson commented upon the poor attendance at the meetings. The lack of organization and continuity was shown by the departure of Brissot in June 1789 for the United States to meet abolitionists, although he had organized the Society's first meeting in February 1789. He did not become active in the Society until the spring of 1790, when he again became the Society's president. The Society required presidents to serve only three months; they shared responsibility, but the short tenure hindered continuity of effort within the organization. The Society decided that a "General Assembly" would be elected from within. This body would not only represent the Society and make the rules, but would also hold exclusive voting rights in the election of the officials. Hence, from the organization's inception, rank and file membership were excluded from participating in the Society's operations.
Elitist membership policiesEdit
Analysis of the membership list of the Society reveals a predominance of elite individuals. Although they possessed great influence, they had most of their power in Paris. There was a lack of popular participation, which reflected the structure of government and society. The founding members of the Society included such notables as Brissot, Condorcet, Saint-Lambert, Lafayette, La Rochefoucauld, and Clavière. The Society began with a handful of abolitionists, increased to ninety-five by 1789, and would swell to a maximum of 141 associates in later years.
Of the 141 members, twenty-five percent were government employees, twenty-nine percent were nobility, and thirty-eight were professionals; the total of elitist membership made up 92% of all members. Cohen observed: "It [the Society]... concentrated on having important, well-connected members, rather than large members ... The members [were] drawn from the French social elite ..."
The Society restricted members to those who could pay dues and be recommended by four other men. There were different fee scales: two Louis per year for those who lived in Paris, and 24 livres per year for those living in the provinces. The membership practices of La Société des Amis des Noirs both hampered its attempt at increasing in size, and affected its ability to become a credible and effective entity.
Relationship to English abolitionistsEdit
Perroud states that Brissot's trip to London in November 1787 prompted him to form an identical chapter in France. The English society had been formed only a few months earlier, in May 1787. A group of abolitionist friends in Paris discussed how the London society encouraged others to join its cause, and noted that France and England had a commonality with respect to abolishing slavery.
The Society translated and published English anti-slavery literature. Brissot, shortly after founding the Society, wrote to Quaker James Philips, an original member of the English abolitionist society. Brissot stated his intention for the Amis des Noirs to translate and publish English anti-slavery works for distribution to the French public.
Many French citizens believed that the Society was an offshoot of the English abolitionist society, and some suspected the English were paying them to promote their cause. rt. This resulted in a loss of credibility in the eyes of the French populace. Britain and France had historically been antagonistic towards each other for decades. Britain had defeated France in the Seven Years War and taken over much of its territory in North America. Influences from England were seen as "dealing with the enemy." This view extended to encompass the activities of the Society. The perception that it was a vehicle for English infiltration into French matters overshadowed its intentions.
The Society was rendered inactive by the outbreak of the Haitian Revolution, begun as a slave rebellion, as well as by the major crisis of the First French Republic (with the start of the French Revolutionary Wars). It remained active until 1793, publishing its calls in papers such as Patriote français, L'Analyse des papiers anglais, Le Courrier de Provence, and La chronique de Paris.
On 4 February 1794 (16 Pluviôse an II), approximately a year after the demise of the Amis des Noirs, the National Convention passed the Emancipation Declaration, abolishing slavery:
- La Convention Nationale déclare que l'Esclavage des Negres dans toutes les Colonies est aboli: en conséquence elle décrete que tous les hommes, sans distinction de couleur, domiciliés dans les colonies, sont Citoyens Français, et jouiront de tous les droits assurés par la Constitution. Elle renvoie au comité de salut public, pour lui faire incessamment un rapport sur les mesures a prendre pour assurer l'exécution du présent décret. [The National Convention declares that slavery of Negroes in all the Colonies is abolished; consequently it decrees that all men, without distinction of color, domiciled in the colonies are French citizens, and shall enjoy all the rights guaranteed by the Constitution. The public safety committee was charged with regularly reporting on measures taken to ensure implementation of this Decree].
- Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges
- Jacques Pierre Brissot
- Jean-Louis Carra
- Étienne Clavière
- Étienne Charles de Loménie de Brienne
- Marquis de Condorcet
- Olympe de Gouges
- Henri Grégoire
- Samuel de Missy
- Marquis de La Fayette
- Honoré Gabriel Riqueti, comte de Mirabeau
- Maximilien Robespierre
- Dominique de La Rochefoucauld
- J. Hector St. John de Crèvecœur
- Léger-Félicité Sonthonax
- Jérôme Pétion de Villeneuve
- This is further corroborated by Atlantic slave ship tonnage statistics.
- "Le club, en fait, forme avant tout un lobby. Il n'a pas de représentant en tant que tel B l'Assemblée nationale mais joue sur l'influence de certains élus, en tLte desquels l'avocat grenoblais Barnave, membre des Jacobins." Biondi, J.P. – Zuccarelli, F. 16 Pluviose An II, p. 42
- Resnick (1972), p. 562
- Stein (1975), p. 782
- Viles (1972), pp. 530–531
- Seeber (1937), pp. 160–161
- Brissot (1789)
- La Révolution française et l'abolition de l'esclavage (1968)
- Seeber (1937), p. 172
- Condorcet (1788)
- La Révolution française et l'abolition de l'esclavage (1968) 6, p. 34.
- La Société des Amis des Noirs (1790b)
- La Révolution française et l'abolition de l'esclavage (1968) 8, p. 86.
- Brissot (1791)
- La Révolution française et l'abolition de l'esclavage (1968) 8, p. 173.
- Quinney (1970b), p. 555
- La Société des Amis des Noirs (1790a)
- Brissot (1790)
- La Révolution française et l'abolition de l'esclavage (1968) 7, p. 245.
- La Société des Amis des Noirs (1790c)
- La Révolution française et l'abolition de l'esclavage (1968) 8, p. 90.
- "A toutes les Villes de Commerce, a toutes les Manufactures, aux Colonies, a toutes les Sociétés des Amis de la Constitution; Addresse dans laquelle on approfondit les relations politiques et commerciales entre la Métropole et les Colonies, etc."
- La Révolution française et l'abolition de l'esclavage (1968) 9, p. 1.
- Lokke (1968), p. 77
- La Société des Amis des Noirs (1789c)
- La Révolution française et l'abolition de l'esclavage (1968) 7, p. 53.
- "La Société des Amis des Noirs a Arthur Dillon, Député de la Martinique a l'Assemblée Nationale"
- La Révolution française et l'abolition de l'esclavage (1968) 8, p. 173.
- Cahen (1906)
- McCloy (1954), p. 291
- Garrett (1916), p. 33
- Necheles (1971), p. 59
- Quinney (1970a), p. 126
- Quinney (1970a), p. 125
- Quinney (1970b), p. 550
- Quinney (1970b), p. 553
- Cochin (1979), p. 10
- Gaston-Martin (1948), p. 214
- Quinney (1970b), p. 545
- Quinney (1970b), p. 547
- Quinney (1970b), p. 549
- Quinney (1970b), p. 548
- McCloy (1961), p. 67
- Hazard (1873), p. 116
- Vidalenc (1957), p. 64
- Resnick (1972), p. 564
- Cohen (1980), p. 139
- Benot (1988), p. 154
- Quinney (1970a), p. 123
- Quinney (1970a), p. 124
- Quinney (1970a), pp. 124, 126–127
- Clarkson (1808), pp. 381–404
- Perroud (1916), p. 124
- La Société des Amis des Noirs (1789a)
- La Révolution française et l'abolition de l'esclavage (1968) 6, pp. 27–28.
- La Révolution française et l'abolition de l'esclavage (1968) 6, p. 26.
- Benot (1988), p. 40
- Perroud (1916), p. 144
- There were two sources used to accumulate the names of the members: Tableau des Membres de la Société des Amis des Noirs. Année 1789 – S.I. (Paris), s.d. (1789) and Perroud (1916) (A list of members is presented at the end of this article.)
- La Révolution française et l'abolition de l'esclavage (1968) 6, pp. 19–20.
- Perroud (1916), p. 123
- La Société des Amis des Noirs (1788), p. 16
- La Société des Amis des Noirs (1788), p. 2
- Seeber (1937), p. 161
- La Société des Amis des Noirs (1788), p. 15
- Quinney (1970a), p. 122
- La Société des Amis des Noirs (1794), pp. 320–323
The following list of letters, addresses, and minutes were obtained from a collection of pamphlets entitled La Révolution française et l'abolition de l'esclavage. 12 vols. Paris: Editions d'histoire sociale. 1968.
- Brissot, J. P. (1789). Mémoire sur les Noirs de l'Amérique Septentrionale, lu a l'Assemblée de La Société des Amis des Noirs, le 9 février 1789. Paris: Bureau du Patriote.
- Brissot, J. P. (1790). Seconde Addresse a l'Assemblé Nationale, par la Société des Amis des Noirs, etablie a Paris. Paris: Imprimerie du Patriote François.
- Brissot, J. P. (1791). Discours sur la nécéssité de maintenir le décret rendu le 15 mai en faveur des hommes de couleur libres, prononcé le 12 septembre 1791, à la séance de la Société des Amis de la Constitution. Paris: Imprimé par ordre de la Société.
- Clarkson, T. (1808). History of the Rise, Progress and Abolition of the African Slave Trade by the British Parliament. London. pp. 381–404.
- Claviere, E. (1791). Addresse de la Société des Amis des Noirs, a l'Assemblée Nationale, a toutes les Manufactures, aux Colonies, a toutes les Sociétés des Amis de la Constitution; Addresse dans laquelle on approfondit les relations politiques et commerciales entre la Metropole et les Colonies (2nd ed.). Paris: Desenne et au Bureau du Patriote François.
- Condorcet, J. A. N. de Caritat, marquis de (1788). Réflexions sur l'esclavage des negres. Par M. Swartz [Condorcet's pseudonym], Pasteur du Saint Evangile a Bienne, Membre de la Société économique Nouvelle édition revue & corrigée. Neufchatel et Paris: Froullé.
- Wadstrom, Charles-Bernard (1796). Additions aux réglemens de la Société des Amis des Noirs et des Colonies. Paris.
- La Société des Amis des Noirs (1788). Discours sur la nécessité d'établir a Paris une Société pour concourir, avec celle de Londres, a l'abolition de la traite & de l'esclavage des Negres. Prononcé le 19 Février 1788, dans une Société de quelques amis, rassemblés a Paris, à la priere du Comité de Londres. Paris.
- La Société des Amis des Noirs (1789a). Reglemens de la Société des Amis des Noirs. Paris.
- La Société des Amis des Noirs (1789b). Tableau des Membres de la Société des Amis des Noirs. Année 1789. Paris.
- La Société des Amis des Noirs (1789c). Lettre de la Société des Amis des Noirs, B. M. Necker, avec le Résponse de ce Ministre. Paris.
- La Société des Amis des Noirs (1790a). Addresse a l'Assemblée Nationale, pour l'abolition de la Traite des noirs Par le Société des Amis des Noirs de Paris. Paris: Imprimerie de Potier de Lille.
- La Société des Amis des Noirs (1790b). Addresse aux Amis de l'humanité, par la Société des amis des Noirs, sur le plan de ses travaux Lue au Comité, le 4 juin 1790, et imprimée par son ordre. Paris: Imprimerie du Patriote François.
- La Société des Amis des Noirs (1790c). Reflexions sur le Code Noir, et Dénonciation d'un crime affreux, commis a Saint-Dominigue; addressés a l'Assemblée Nationale par la Société des Amis des Noirs. Paris: Imprimerie du Patriote François.
- La Société des Amis des Noirs (1794). Decret de la Convention Nationale, du 16. jour de Pluviôse, an second de la République Française, une & indivisible, Qui abolit l'esclavage des Negres dans les Colonies. Paris.
- This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "article name needed". Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
- Brown, G. (1922). "The Origins of Abolition in Santo Domingo". The Journal Negro History. 7: 365–376.
- Cahen, L. (1906). "La Société des Amis des noirs et Condorcet". La Révolution française. 50: 481–511.
- Despin, J. (1977). "Montesquieu était-il esclavagiste?". La Pensée. 193: 102–112.
- Foubert, B. (1974). "Colons et esclaves du sud de Saint-Domingue au début de la Révolution". Revue Française d'histoire d'outre-mer. 61 (223): 199–217.
- Geggus, D. (1989). "Racial Equality, Slavery, and Colonial Secession during the Constituent Assembly". American Historical Review. 94: 1290–1308.
- Hunting, C. (1978). "The Philosophes and the Question of Black Slavery 1748–1765". Journal of the History of Ideas. 39 (3): 405–418.
- Krebs, A. (1956–57). "La Fayette et le Probleme de L'Esclavage". Annuaire-Bulletin de la Société de L'Histoire de France: 49–60.
- McCloy, S. (1945). "Negroes and Mulattoes in Eighteenth-Century France". The Journal of Negro History. 30: 276–292.
- McCloy, S. (1954). "Further Notes on Negroes and Mulattoes in Eighteenth-Century France". The Journal of Negro History. 39: 284–297.
- Perroud, C. (1916). "La Société Française des Amis des Noirs". La Révolution Française. 69: 122–147.
- Quinney, V. (1970a). "Decisions on Slavery, the Slave Trade, and Civil Rights for Negroes in the Early French Revolution". Journal of Negro History. 55 (2): 117–130.
- Quinney, V. (1970b). "The Problem of Civil Rights for Free Men of Color in the Early French Revolution". Journal of Negro History. 55 (2): 544–557.
- Resnick, Daniel P. (1972). "The Société des Amis des Noirs and the Abolition of Slavery". French Historical Studies. 7 (4): 558–569.
- Stein, R. (1975). "The Profitability of the Nantes Slave Trade". Journal of Economic History. 35 (3): 779–793.
- Stein, R. (1981). "The Free Men of Colour and the Revolution in Saint Domingue, 1789–1792". Social History. 14: 7–28.
- Tarrade, J. (1989). "Les colonies et les Principes de 1789: Les Assemblées Révolutionnaire face au Probléme de L'Esclavage". Revue française d'Histoire d'Outre-Mer. 76: 9–34.
- Vidalenc, J. (1957). "Les traite des negres en France au début de la Révolution (1789–1793)". Annales Historiques de la Révolution Française. 146: 56–69.
- Viles, P. (1972). "The Slaving Interest in the Atlantic Ports, 1763–1792". French Historical Studies. 7 (4): 529–543.
- Whitman, D. (1977). "Slavery and the Rights of Frenchmen: Views of Montesquieu, Rousseau and Raynal". French Colonial Studies. 1: 17–33.
- Baker, K. (1975). Condorcet. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.
- Benot, Y. (1988). La révolution française et la fin des colonies. Paris: Éditions La Découverte.
- Blackburn, R. (1988). The Overthrow of Colonial Slavery 1776–1848. London: Verso.
- Biondi, J. P. (1989). Zuccarelli, F. 16 Pluviose An II. Paris: Éditions Denoel.
- Cochin, A. (1979). L'Abolition de L'Esclavage. Fort-de-France. Editions Emile Désormeaux.
- Cohen, W. B. (1980). The French Encounter with Africans. Bloomington, Indiana: Indiana University Press.
- Cooper, A. (1988). Slavery and the French Revolutionists (1788–1805). Lewiston, New York: The Edwin Mellen Press.
- Davis, D. (1969). The Problem of Slavery in Western Culture. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.
- Ellery, E. (1970). Brissot de Warville. New York: Burt Franklin.
- Gainot, Bernard; Dorigny, Marcel (1998). La Société des amis des noirs, 1788–1799. Contribution à l'histoire de l'abolition de l'esclavage. Collection Mémoire des peuples, Paris, Éditions UNESCO/EDICEF. ISBN 92-3-203306-2. (this book contains protocols of the society and can only ordered from UNESCO; content in French)
- Garrett, M. (1916). The French Colonial Question 1789–1791. Ann Arbor, Michigan: George Wahr.
- Gaston-Martin (1948). Histoire de L'Esclavage dans les Colonies Françaises. Paris: Presses Universitaires de France.
- Hazard, S. (1873). Santo Domingo, Past and Present: With a Glance at Hayti. Harper and Brothers.
- Lafontant, J. (1979). Montesquieu et le Probleme de L'Esclavage dans L'Esprit des Lois. Sherbrooke, Québec: Editions Naaman.
- Jameson, R. (1911). Montesquieu et L'Esclavage. Paris: Librairie Hachette.
- Jennings, L. (1991). The Interaction of French and British Antislavery, 1789–1848. Unpublished article.
- Lokke, C. (1968). France and the Colonial Question. New York: AMS Press.
- McCloy, S. (1961). The Negro in France. Kentucky: University of Kentucky.
- McCloy, S. (1972). The Humanitarian Movement in Eighteenth-Century France. New York: Haskell House Publishers.
- Métral, A. (1985). Histoire de L'Expédition des Français a Saint-Domingue. Paris, Editions Karthala.
- Necheles, R. (1971). The Abbé Grégoire 1787–1831. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Publishing Corp.
- Seeber, E. D. (1937). Anti-Slavery Opinion in France During the Second Half of the Eighteenth Century. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press.
- Stein, R. (1979). The French Slave Trade in the Eighteenth Century. Madison, Wisconsin: The University of Wisconsin Press.
- Stein, R. (1985). Léger Félicité Sonthanax. London: Associated University Press.
- Stoddard, T. (1970). The French Revolution in San Domingo. Westport, CT: Negro Universities Press.
- Thibau, J. (1989). Le Temps de Saint-Domingue. Saint-Armand-Montrond, France: Editions Jean-Claude Lattes.
- Tulard, Jean; Fayard, Jean-François; Fierro, Alfred (1998). Histoire et dictionnaire de la Révolution française 1789–1799. Éditions Robert Laffont. ISBN 9782221088500.
- Society of the Friends of Blacks, "Address to the National Assembly in Favor of the Abolition of the Slave Trade" (5 February 1790)
- Société des Amis des Noirs (France). Adresse à l'Assemblée nationale, pour l'abolition de la traite des Noirs, février 1790
- Société des Amis des Noirs (France ). Adresse de la Société des Amis des Noirs, à l'Assemblée nationale, à toutes les villes, Paris, Mars 1791
- Société des Amis des Noirs (France). La Société des Amis des Noirs à Arthur Dillon, député de la Martinique à l'Assemblée, mars, 1791
- Works by Society of the Friends of the Blacks at LibriVox (public domain audiobooks)
- Société des Amis des Noirs (France). Réflexions sur le Code Noir, et dénonciation d'un crime affreux commis à Saint-Domingue, Paris. Imprimerie du Patriote françois, 1790
- La Société des Amis des Noirs : quels regards sur les Africains ?, Manioc video, 2013