The Case of <i>Jean Boucaux v. Verdelin:</i> Fashioning the National Myth of Liberty

Sue Peabody

in ‘There Are No Slaves in France’

Published in print January 1997 | ISBN: 9780195101980
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199854448 | DOI:
The Case of Jean Boucaux v. Verdelin: Fashioning the National Myth of Liberty

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This chapter discusses the case of Jean Boucaux v. Verdelin. In June of 1738, the Paris Admiralty Court heard its first two petitions for freedom by slaves. It was through these that the 1716 edict's lack of registration was first discussed by the court. One of these cases was brought by Jean Boucaux, a slave from Saint Domingue, against his master Sieur Verdelin. The slave's lawyer Mallet and the procureur du roi Le Clerc du Brillet published briefs that justified the maxim that any slave who sets foot on French soil is free. These lawyers also credited Christianity with the elimination of Roman slavery and its transformation into serfdom. Second, the case called the government's attention to slave owners' abuses of the Edict of 1716, prompting new and stricter legislation in the Declaration of December 15, 1738.

Keywords: Jean Boucaux; Sieur Verdelin; Paris Admiralty Court; Mallet; Le Clerc du Brillet; freedom; slaves

Chapter.  7733 words. 

Subjects: Early Modern History (1500 to 1700)

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