|First Earl Grey|
Today, Victor Hugues is most remembered for his carrying out of the abolition of slavery in accordance with the order of the National Convention, however, the image of the liberating revolutionary opposing the wicked slave-holding royalists backed up by Britain is an extremely misleading one. Hugues, it should not be forgotten, was typical of the Jacobins he aligned himself with. These were people who espoused lofty, liberal sentiments but who used the most brutal and barbaric methods to push forward their cause. These were the people who instituted the Reign of Terror in France and Hugues had no hesitation in using the same methods on Guadeloupe. Similarly, his abolition of slavery was not the great liberation most people think. In typical Jacobin fashion, it ultimately proved to be a mere matter of rhetoric that bore no relation to actual reality. In fact, slavery was not abolished by the revolutionaries at all but simply renamed. The end result was that, while no one was technically a slave, the supposedly liberated people were still subject to forced labor as the governor saw fit to employ and he employed a great deal of it in the pursuit of his goal to crush the royalists and drive the British from the island. For the Black residents of Guadeloupe, nothing fundamentally changed other than that, instead of being forced to work without pay for the benefit of private owners, they were forced to work without pay for the benefit of the revolutionary government.
|Hugues' proclamation ending slavery|
As for Guadeloupe, while the British did send reinforcements to the West Indies for a new offensive led by the talented General Sir Ralph Abercromby, that island was never retaken and it became a paradise for pirates and smugglers throughout the period in question. Eventually, Napoleon Bonaparte sent troops to bring the island under his control and during the subsequent occupation about 10,000 inhabitants were killed. In 1810 the British did return and retake the island, holding it until 1816. During that time, from 1813, it was under the nominal jurisdiction of the Kingdom of Sweden before being ceded back to France in 1814. Slavery returned with the troops sent by Napoleon and was not actually abolished for good until 1848 through the efforts of Victor Schoelcher. In 1946 Guadeloupe became an overseas department of France which it has remained ever since.