top of page

On April 27, 1848, the efforts of Victor Schœlcher  resulted in the abolition or more precisely the second abolition of slavery in the Colony of Guadeloupe.


-          De nombreux_cc781905-5cde- 3194-bb3b-136bad5cf58d_ freed slaves who no longer wanted  to work the land emigrated to the most rugged parts of the island to constitute true corners of Africa;


-          D'autres se sont directed towards the Cities and the Towns to swell the miserable or idle population, and thus a weak part remained on the dwellings.


Despite the return to the sugar plantations of some of the former slaves who had fled there, there is a sudden reduction in the labor force on the plantations, there is inevitably less cane grown, hence a drop_cc781905-5cde -3194-bb3b-136bad5cf58d_ of sugar production.


Seeing this situation worsen  over time, with cane production decreasing by half in the 5 years following the abolition of slavery, i.e. 34,000 tons to 17,000 tons, the planters had the feeling that they were heading towards the ruin of the sugar economy.


The country's economy at the time was based on sugar cane (monoculture); it was therefore necessary to find a way to boost this economy which was going to decline, and to face the competition of metropolitan beet sugar. For this, cheap labor  is necessary, but the freedmen demanded a salary that the planters considered too high.


The strategy was to bring in labor from outside. The use of immigration gave the mass of settlers the freedom to impose the prices that suited them and to be less dependent on what they called “the whims of the blacks”.

Attempts have been made at the level of China, Japan, Portugal, and even Africa without positive results.

There remained the inexhaustible INDIA, which had already proven itself in the British Isles: The rapporteur of the  immigration commission in a session of the Colonial Council declares among other things that:


-   the coolie is the immigrant par excellence

-   the  coolie's salary is the lowest of all those awarded to immigrants  

-   this breed:

         est de mœurs douces et polies

         d'un caractère doux et submitted

         remarquable par sa scrupuleuse fidélité aux commitments made, by his work always followed and correct under the eyes or outside the  

         surveillance du maître.


  The principle of Indian immigration was retained all the more easily since France had its 5 counters in India (Pondicherry, Chandernagor, Yanaon, Karikal and Mahé).


  After settling in India, immigration controlled by the public authorities was therefore retained, which was also desired by the settlers. After the conventions signed between Great Britain and France, it is necessary to proceed with the recruitment which was done in different forms  and not without difficulties: The oldest Indians have kept alive the memory of a painful and violent uprooting of India: capture, deception, ruse, conspiracy as a factor explaining their presence in Guadeloupe.


  It is generally accepted that the Indian leaves his country driven out by poverty. It remains however that all the  Indians present in Guadeloupe were not kidnapped since theoretically their consent was required before the boarding permit was issued to them.


  In reality, many Indians decided to emigrate, tempted or deceived by the recruiters who paint the colony near Pondicherry for them, in more than flattering colors, in search of El Dorado or better being .


It should be specified that  the arrival of the Indians was spread over 2 major periods:

-  A first period going from 1854 to 1860 during which the recruitment was done in the 5 counters with boarding in the French ports of Pondicherry and Karikal.


-  A second period which extends from 1861 to 1889 dates from the end of regulated immigration. The counters not managing to satisfy the requests of the 3 islands (Guadeloupe, Martinique and Réunion), the French recruiters operated clandestinely in the Anglo-Indian territory and were hunted down by the English civil servants in front of this irregularity. To put an end to this illegal process, a so-called convention (Franco-English convention) was signed on 01.07.1861 between France and Great Britain which stipulates that from now on the French government could recruit and hire workers on any Indian territory belonging to Great Britain, and embark them either in the French ports, or in the British ports of India.


An important event marking the history of Guadeloupe, occurred in Pointe à Pitre on December 24, 1854. Indeed that day saw the arrival of the boat "L'Aurélie", commanded by Captain Blanc, which landed 344 Indians who had left the port of Pondicherry on September 30 of the same year.


95 convoys followed from 1854 to 1889 to take a little more than 42,000 Indians with a 5-year contract, to be led and settled in the sugar cane regions.

    The employment contract  (Click)

-    could be renewed once for a period of up to 5 years, always with the right of repatriation at government expense for the Indian and his family.
If after this renewal, theimmigrant  wanted to stay, he should make Guadeloupe his adopted land, losing the right of repatriation at the expense of the Administration, this is what happened for almost half .


-  stipulated that the Indian should be well fed, well treated, well paid, well looked after, well dressed, but the reality was all  other, because the conditions of life that the Indians knew were in no way to the glory of the host country. (see complaint of the engaged,(Click)


These are the main stages of Indian immigration to Guadeloupe.

Nearly half died or repatriated, and the other half made Guadeloupe    his adopted land.

We the descendants of this half are Guadeloupeans of Indian  origin.


Reconstruction of the arrival of a group of Indian immigrants (Habitation Duval, in Petit-Canal, Dec. 2006)


On December 24, 1854, the first convoy of Indian immigrants arrived in Guadeloupe (the “Aurélie”: 344 Indians). It is the result of fundamental transformations, at the social and economic level, in the post-slavery colonial society.


Immigrants disembarked at the port of Pointe à Pitre and were distributed among the settlers then directed to the cane plantations.


A staging of transfer of a group of immigrants was organized on the Duval estate (Petit-Canal) on Sunday, December 10, 2006. The moment of the meeting with the freed slaves was first presented. The reception conditions and the first exchanges, sometimes difficult between new immigrants and freedmen, were highlighted.

bottom of page