Jean-Baptiste Belley-Mars, the former slave who abolished slavery in France

04 February 1794

JEAN-BAPISTE BELLEY-MARS was enslaved as a boy and taken to Saint-Domingue where he managed to purchase his freedom. He had a distinguished career in the French army before returning to the island where he became a prosperous planter. He was elected to represent the colony at the French National Convention in Paris in 1794 and is widely credited with persuading that body to abolish slavery in France and its overseas colonies following a powerful and emotive speech he delivered on February 4, 1794.

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