Building peace in the minds of men and women

Route/Root to Freedom: A case study of how enslaved Africans gained their freedom on the dual national island of Sint Maarten/Saint Martin

Registration year: 2017
Submission year: 
2017
Collection ID: 
2016-96

Through the Treaty of Concordia, the island of Saint Martin is connected to two European powers – the Netherlands and France. The Dutch side of the island is known as Sint Maarten (16 mi²) and the French side as Saint Martin (21 mi²). The French freed their enslaved persons on May 28th 1848 with a decision of the government that came to power after the French revolution in 1848. However, enslavement remained a fact of life in Sint Maarten until July 1st 1863. On 29 May, the day after the abolition of enslavement in the French territories, twenty-six persons, the entire enslaved population of Diamond Estate Plantation in Sint Maarten, fled to the French Plantation Mount Fortune in Saint Martin where they were recognized as free men and women. The Dutch Commander, Johannes Willem van Romondt, wrote the French Commander Sir Munier, asking him to return any runaway slaves. The French Commander replied that any enslaved person who reached French territory would be considered free.  This nomination consists of a series of letters from Johannes Willem van Romondt, to the French Commander, and to the Governor of Curacao in his function as the Dutch West Indies administrative head. The nomination includes the response from the French Commander as part of the correspondence dating from when slavery was abolished in the French territories in 1848 up to and after slavery ended in the Dutch territories in 1863.

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