The Colonial Robespierre: Victor Hugues on Guadeloupe, 1794-98

H.J.K. Jenkins profiles a dictator and liberator in the West Indies under the first French Republic.

Proclamation by Victor Hugues abolishing slavery
Proclamation by Victor Hugues abolishing slavery

Among the lesser figures of the French Revolution, few excited such a volume of abuse as did Victor Hugues. Contemporary writers- English, American and French - vied with each other in describing him as ‘the demon of republicanism’, ‘the well-known brute’, and even ‘disgustingly lewd cynic’. Certainly he was a womaniser, a spoilsman, and a savage opponent. But he was also a most capable administrator, an early and successful exponent of racial integration, and a master of his own particular brand of warfare.

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