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2 BERQUIN-DUVALLON /Ia colonie Espagnole du Mississipi 106

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Description: Louisiana as seen by a French planter who fled San Domingo because of the slave revolts

[BERQUIN-DUVALLON, Pierre Louis].
Vue de la colonie Espagnole du Mississipi, ou des provinces de Louisiane et Floride occidentale, en l'année 1802.




Paris, Imprimerie Expéditive, 1803. 8vo. Modern half red morocco, spine gilt in compartments, with black title label, lettered in gold. 2 engraved folding maps by Blondeau after the designs by Pierre Louis Berquin-Duvallon, depicting lower and upper Louisiana, both coloured by hand. XX, 318, 5, (5) pp.

First edition of this work on Louisiana and the western part of Florida, by Pierre Louis Berquin-Duvallon, a San Domingo planter and writer who lived in Louisiana from 1799 until 1802. He was one of the French colonialists who fled a devastated and torn San Domingo in 1803, after black slaves had been successful in their revolt, known as the Haitian Revolution, which resulted in the abolition of slavery on Haiti. The author gives a general survey of the area, with special attention to the Mississippi river and the city of New Orleans, and deals with the climate, soil, flora and fauna, production of sugar, cotton, indigo, tobacco, rice and wood of the area, as well as with its trade and commerce, law, and government.
The chapters XXV-XXXIV are devoted to the different people living in the area: the American Indians, colonialists, Acadians (immigrants from French Nova Scotia), and slaves. Berquin-Duvallon's comments on the slavery in Louisiana are obviously based on contemporary thoughts on the subject in the 19th century. On pp. 259-60 for example, he states that because of their "esprit indépendant" (independent spirit), the American Indians were not suitable for slavery, whereas for African slaves, on the contrary: "l'esclavage est ... un état naturel, duquel ils ne sortent qu'avec violence, et dans lequel ils rentrent au contraire, avec souplesse, et comme un troupeau de moutons dans l'étable". (slavery is ... a natural state which they can only leave with violence, and into which, on the contrary, they enter with ease, like a flock of sheep entering the stable).
Louisiana, discovered by Spanish explorers in 1519, was claimed for France in 1682 by Sierra de La Salle, who named the area Louisiana, after Louis XIV. In 1792, France ceded the Louisiana region west of the Mississippi and New Orleans to Spain, the remaining land east of the river having already been given to the British in the Treaty of Paris in 1763. In 1800, however, Spain was forced by Napoleon Bonaparte to give back the Louisiana territory together as well as New Orleans to France. Because of this passing from Spanish to French hands, there was a renewed interest in the colony, which resulted amongst other things in the present work. Louisiana, however, turned out not to be as profitable for the French as expected. Berquin-Duvallon's descriptions, therefore, aren't always very enthusiastic. In 1803, Louisiana finally was sold to the United States by the Louisiana Purchase, for the sum of $ 15.000.000.

Good copy.
Leclerc, Bibliotheca Americana, 1038; Chadenat 1247; Sabin 4962; Streeter coll. 1530; Howes 389.
  • Number: 1060796
  • Dealer: Robert Putman