The word affranchi in the context of Haiti and other French Caribbean colonies meant specifically an emancipated slave. It was used more generally by whites for all free people of color (gens de couleur libre). Most of those were mulattoes, or of mixed race, and some were born free. [cite web
title=Haiti - French Colonialism
] The term came from the French word for emancipation - "affranchisement", or enfranchisement. French colonial Saint-Domingue (now Haiti) had three social classes that arose out of the institution of slavery: French planters; affranchis, a small elite class of mixed race, some of whom became landowners and slaveholders in turn; and enslaved Africans. The affranchis were usually light-skinned (mulattoes) free persons of color, often the offspring of white French slaveholders and enslaved African women whom they took for mistresses and who had their children. [ [ Country Studies: Haiti] , Federal Research Division, Library of Congress, Dec 2005, accessed 1 Jul 2008] Often such children were freed by their fathers, and when adults they became overseers or craftsmen on slave plantations, or domestic servants. Others created economic niches in the few towns. Technically, freed slaves were also "affranchis", as the term meant ex-slave. The term "gens de couleur libre" was generally reserved for people of mixed European and African heritage.

The "affranchis" had legal and social advantages over enslaved Africans and became a distinct class in the society. They could get some education, were able to own land, and could attend some French colonial entertainments. However, the colonists passed so many restrictions that the "affranchis" were really limited as a separate caste: they could not hold colonial administrative posts or work as doctors or lawyers. They were also forbidden to wear the style of clothes favored by the wealthy white colonists. In spite of the disadvantages, many "affranchis" identified themselves culturally with France rather than with the enslaved population.

There were tensions with both whites and enslaved Africans. Many whites used "affranchis" for all free people of color, although it specifically meant "ex-slave", so referred to free Africans rather than mulattoes. The institution of slavery confused ideas about status and race. Ambitious mulattoes sometimes distanced themselves from their African roots in an attempt to gain acceptance from the white colonists. As they advanced in society, "affranchis" also held land and slaves. Some acted as creditors for planters. One of their leaders, the indigo planter Julien Raimond, claimed the "affranchis" owned a third of all the slaves in the colony. Many were committed to maintaining slavery in the early years of the French Revolution and Haitian Revolution.

After the Haitian Revolution and years of disruption, most of the planters left. The society evolved into the "affranchis" and the masses of former slaves.


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  • affranchi — affranchi, ie [ afrɑ̃ʃi ] adj. et n. • de affranchir 1 ♦ Qui a été affranchi. Esclave, serf affranchi. N. (1640) À Rome, Esclave affranchi (« libertinus »). 2 ♦ Qui s est intellectuellement libéré des préjugés, des traditions. « Le plus ferme et… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • affranchi — affranchi, ie (a fran chi, chie) part. passé. 1°   Esclaves affranchis par leur maître. Les esclaves des colonies anglaises et françaises ont été affranchis. Les Américains du Nord affranchis de la domination de la Grande Bretagne. Affranchi de… …   Dictionnaire de la Langue Française d'Émile Littré

  • Affranchi — (spr. frangschi), befreit; so hieß la ville affranchie Lyon während der Revolution …   Pierer's Universal-Lexikon

  • affranchi — affranchi, e adj. et n. Qui a rejeté tout scrupule, tout souci de morale. / Qui observe les règles d honneur du milieu (arg.) …   Dictionnaire du Français argotique et populaire

  • Affranchi — Affranchissement  Pour l’article homonyme, voir Affranchissement (système postal).  L’affranchissement est une procédure juridique qui permet au propriétaire d un esclave de lui rendre sa liberté. Sommaire 1 Antiquité …   Wikipédia en Français

  • affranchi — I. Affranchi, [affranch]ie. part. pass. Il a les significations de son verbe. II. Affranchi, [affranch]ie. subst. Esclave à qui l on a donné la liberté. L affranchi d Auguste. la condition d affranchi. Acté l affranchie de Neron …   Dictionnaire de l'Académie française

  • affranchi — adj., libéré : liberâ, â, é pp. (Albanais.001). A1) affranchi // libéré affranchi (d une dette), acquitté, délivré (d une promesse, d un engagement), qui n est plus redevable : kito, a, e <quitte> adj. (001) …   Dictionnaire Français-Savoyard

  • affranchi —   adj.   Mis au courant. Voir affranchman.    C était des mensonges, c était de l infecte injustice... Je le sentais nettement. Car j étais affranchi! Ces salades puantes c était pour que je bosse à l œil!... Il profitait de mes parents.. Qu ils… …   Dictionnaire Céline

  • Pallas (affranchi) — Pour les articles homonymes, voir Pallas. Marcus Antonius Pallas (v. 1 – 63) fut un important affranchi grec et secrétaire durant les règnes des empereurs romains Claude et Néron. Il avait un frère cadet, Marcus Antonius Felix, procureur de la… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Calliste (affranchi) — Pour les articles homonymes, voir Calliste. Caius Julius Callistus ou Calliste est un affranchi durant les règnes de Caligula et de Claude, qui profita de son influence sur Claude pour exercer le pouvoir. Esclave d origine grecque, il est acheté… …   Wikipédia en Français

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