Tunisia was the first country in the Muslim world to officially abolish slavery at the end of the first half of the nineteenth century, between 1841 and 1846. The documents related to this major event in Tunisia’s modern history are evidence of the wish of the Tunisian elite to lead a number of reforms deeply affecting Tunisian society at every level. Indeed, in January 1846, Ahmad Pasha Bey (1837–1855) promulgated a decree to permanently abolish slavery, two years before the abolition of slavery in the French colonies in 1848, which was one of the outward signs of a modernist and reformist movement. This decision was unprecedented in the Muslim world at the time. The reading of the decree, circulars, correspondence, notarial deeds, and tax records, kept in the National Archives of Tunisia, highlights a series of increasingly impactful events in this process from the closing of the slave markets, the abolition of taxes collected by the state from the activity of these markets, the emancipation of children born into slave families and all slaves entering Tunisia, and finally the permanent abolition of slavery. The abolition of slavery in Tunisia was encouraged and applauded by the western world as being the result of the humanistic and forward-looking thinking of the Tunisian elite.
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The Abolition of Slavery in Tunisia 1841-1846
The archival collection "The abolition of slavery in Tunisia 1841-1846" comprises the decree of Ahmed Pasha Bey (1837-1855) promulgated in January 1846 and which abolishes slavery. It also includes circulars, correspondences, deeds and tax records kept in the national Archives of Tunisia. These documents dating from the end of the first half of the 19th century used to highlight several steps that led to the formal abolition of slavery, from the closure of slave markets, the elimination of taxes collected by the state as such, the liberation of children born in slave families and of all slaves entering Tunisia for during it definitive abolition.