Slaves in the Spanish colonies

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Illustrated paperback ISBN: 9788498169300
ISBN hardcover: 9788411266727

In 1841 the Countess of Merlin published in Paris, in the prestigious Revue de Deux Mondes, the official organ of French romanticism, Les esclaves dans les colonies espagnoles (Slaves in the Spanish colonies), a highly polemical essay on slavery in Cuba and its abolition.
Slaves in the Spanish colonies analyzes this practice from the perspective of the Countess of Merlin, born into a Cuban slave-owning family. This book was written in the first half of the 19th century, at a time when Cuba’s economy was generating enormous profits through sugar production. Slavery was then the main source of agricultural labor on the island. Los esclavos en las colonias españolas is a controversial text that nevertheless contains first-hand accounts of the issue:

“The magic harmony of the word freedom deceives many imaginations and causes them vertigo. Without going deeper into the facts that give rise to these debates, they start from an incomplete appropriation, and from false consequence to false consequence, philanthropy concludes by having the whites’ throats slit in order to plunge the blacks into misery, hoping to give them freedom. I know that on hearing these words the enthusiasts will pronounce an anathema against me, a hardened Creole, educated with pernicious ideas, and whose interests are bound up with the principle of slavery; but I will let them say so, and appeal to the good sense of sensible people. If, after having read this writing, they condemn me, I give myself up to them, asking their pardon in favor of this restless love of justice, which may lead me astray, but which will never destroy the generous piety in a woman’s heart.”

Imprenta de Alegría y Charlain, Madrid, 1841.

Translation by Agustín de Palma.

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