"His Most Paternal Chest": Bourbon Royalism and the Death of Paternalism in Nineteenth-Century Martinique
Brignac, Kelly Ann
This paper explores the connections between Bourbon Royalism and the death of paternalism during the Restoration Era and the July Monarchy in Martinique. Martinican planter Pierre Dessalles meticulously recorded his opinions on slavery and French and Martinican politics in his journal from 1811 to 1856. One of the many things that make his journal distinctive was his annual commemorations of Louis XVI’s execution by French revolutionaries. This paper explores why Dessalles mourned Louis XVI’s death and why he idealized the ancien régime as an era of political stability, while Frenchmen rejected absolutism in favor of republicanism. I argue that, with the execution of the paternalist Louis XVI, Dessalles could no longer claim to be a paternalist master to his slaves. This loss of power was exacerbated by slaves, inspired by the Haitian Revolution, who poisoned their masters’ livestock in the 1820s. By examining the politics of elite whites, scholars can better understand not only the impact of the Haitian and French Revolutions, but also differences in colonial and metropolitan politics.