Abolition Day in Martinique Date in the current year: May 22, 2016

Abolition Day in Martinique Abolition Day is one of the public holidays in Martinique, an overseas region of France. It commemorates the abolition of slavery on the island of Martinique on May 22, 1848.

Martinique was discovered by Christopher Columbus in 1502. The first French settlement on the island was established in 1635. The French imported African slaves to work on sugar plantations. For over two centuries, slavery and slave revolts significantly influenced on the economy and politics of Martinique. In 1736, there already were 60,000 slaves in Martinique.

Slavery was officially abolished in the French Empire on April 27, 1848. François Perrinon was sent to Martinique as Commissioner of Abolition and charged with the task of abolishing slavery on the island. However, by the time he arrived in Martinique, the slavery had already been abolished by Governor Claude Rostoland.

The imprisonment of a slave in the village of La Prêcheur led to a slave rebellion that outbroke on May 20. Two days later, Rostoland was forced to abolish slavery on Martinique to quell the revolt. Abolition Day is celebrated annually on May 22 to commemorate this event. In Martinique, it is one of the few public holidays that are unique to this overseas community.

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