This collection of letters by the radical Martinican abolitionist Cyrille Bissette, addressed to French politicians, clergy and colonial administrators, calls for legal and social reform in the French Antilles: "only legislative power can bring about the great social reform of abolishing slavery in the colonies" (64). Bissette's letters are deeply critical of French colonial society, censorship, and the willingness of other reformers to compromise with the colonial plantocracy.
Bissette takes up the cause of individual slaves brought illegally to France and lobbies for their freedom, writing to well-known French politicians like Ledru-Rollin and Lamartine for support. He also approves the political action of French slaves in freeing themselves by escaping to nearby British colonies in a letter to fellow abolitionist Baron Roger: "this growing number of escapes is becoming an excellent way of achieving gradual emancipation, with no compensation to the slave owners" (159).
Although the title page retains the original publication date of 1845, subsequent re-editions have added later letters: to Etienne Arago (12 August, 1846), as well as open letters to the French clergy (9 July 1847), to the regional councils (25 August 1847) and to the people of Martinique, after slavery had been abolished (10 June 1848).