ORDONNANCE CONCERNANT LA LEVEE D'UNE SOMME DE 750 MILL LIVRES ARGENT DES IFLES, SUR LA COLONIE DE LA GUADELOUP, MARIE-GALANT, LA DESIRADE & DEPENDANCES, PENDANT L'ANNEE 1764 [caption title]
by [Martinque]: Peinier, Louis-Antoine Thomassin
Martinique: De l'Imprimerie de Pierre Richard, Imprimeur du Roi, 1764. 8pp. Small quarto. Minor scattered foxing. Very good. An exceedingly rare and early Caribbean imprint, written by Peinier, steward of Guadeloupe and Martinique, addressed to the French government. After the Treaty of 1763 Guadeloupe was returned to France and Peinier's address touches on the "happy" return of the French government to the island. He goes on to discuss the difficulties of achieving an annual tax of £750,000 and presses the Crown for leniency on that debt. Peinier goes on to outline nineteen articles which will help to achieve a reliable income for the colony so that they may achieve enough funds to fulfill the fee for the following year. The articles include proposed taxes on slaves aged fourteen to sixty, with a larger fee for those in the sugar industry, and slightly smaller for slave owners with coffee or cotton plantations, exemption from duties on goods imported from France and the imposition of taxes on exported commodities, and taxes to be paid by individuals, including "mulattos and negros" who are born free. Peinier closes with a plea to have these ordinances approved and published so that all will follow them as law and proposes that any income made from these taxes which exceeds the annual fee imposed by France will be applied to the following year's debt. The beginnings of printing in Martinque, as with other Caribbean islands, is shrouded in mystery. The Walter Beinecke collection contains a printed form from 1759, and we have also seen a small pamphlet printed in 1762. The earliest we have handled is similar to this in format and dated May 7, 1764, and we are aware of another of similar format at the Bibliotheque Schoelcher in Martinique dated May 28, 1764. In contrast, the earliest imprint recorded by Bradford Swan in his work on Caribbean imprints is 1784. We cannot locate any other copies of this item. (Inventory #: WRCAM51152)
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