Please click here to see full details of the inauguration of this important memorial commemorating the abolition of the slave trade in France at the mouth of the Loire River at the city of Nantes. Nantes was by far the leading 18th & 19th century slave port of France – 45% of French slaving vessels sailed from Nantes. The port’s merchant ships were responsible for the transportation of 500,000 enslaved Africans to French colonies in the New World. Bordeaux, La Rochelle and Le Havre were the other three leading French slaving ports each were responsible for 11% of the trade.
The International Slavery Museum at Liverpool has this to say about why Nantes became so dominant in the French trans-Atlantic slave trade:“Although Nantes was some 50 miles from the sea, its position at the confluence of the Loire and the Erdre rivers gave it access to an important hinterland, including Paris. But it was also the main import port for the French Indies Company which gave it easy access to Indian cloths. Good international trading connections were needed for other items – it got guns from England and beads and cowries came through Amsterdam. But Nantes had one significant advantage over Liverpool: it had its own textile industry producing fine quality printed cloths which were much in demand in West Africa. These indiennes, produced from 1759 onwards, became an important local industry. By 1780 there were a dozen factories, employing 4,500 workers, all producing cloth almost exclusively for the trade to Africa. Nantes also produced alcohol – the local eaux de vie – as well as swords and knives.”