Beaumont, Marie: Slavery in the United States

Translated by George Tombs

Gustave de Beaumont (1802-1866) is best known as the companion of Alexis de Tocqueville during their travels in 1831-32, exploring democracy in America. But the Comte de Beaumont was a magistrate, prison reformer and original thinker in his own right. In Marie, he denounces the institution of slavery in Jacksonian America, demonstrating how racism splits society in two. This is also a novel about the condition of women. Marie, to all appearances a young white woman, hopes to marry Ludovic. But when it turns out she has some black blood, her prospects are suddenly ruined, and Ludovic dreads the judgment of public opinion more than he loves her. Combining fiction and fact, this romantic novel about forbidden love and deeply-ingrained racial prejudice is accompanied by Beaumont’s critical observations on New York race riots in 1834, the social and economic status of black Americans at the time and the abolitionist movement.