Published On: Tue, Jun 5th, 2018

Sint Maarten heritage inscribed in UNESCO Register

unesco certificatePHILIPSBURG - May 29, 2018 marks the anniversary of a historic event that took place 170 years ago. On Monday, May 29th,1848, the day after slavery was abolished in the French territories, 26 slaves residing on the Diamond Estate Plantation took the brave decision and made a dash for freedom across the border to the French Side. 

This important aspect of Sint Maarten’s documentary heritage was inscribed in UNESCO Memory of the World Programme international register in October 30, 2017.  The inscription entitled: Route/Root to Freedom: A case study of how the enslaved Africans gained their freedom on the dual national island of Sint Maarten/Saint Martin outlines how the enslaved from the Diamond Estate walked/ran to freedom along a track across the international border between the two nations, Holland and France.

The nomination consists of correspondences between the Dutch Commander, dated May 31, 1848, informing him of the escape, and the response from the French commander dated June 20, 1848, which was published in the book “Abolition de L’esclavage a la Guadeloupe. Quatre moise de Gouvernement, Dans cette Colonie by Adolphe Ambroise Alexandre Gatine.

The response from the French commander stated that all enslaved persons who set foot on French soil whether via vessels, coasters, or other means will be considered free persons.

Mr. Alfonso Blijden, archive specialist, Department of Records & Information Management and Marcellia Henry, Secretary General UNESCO, would like to thank Ms. Daniella Jeffry, Ms. Elsje Bosch, Ms. Elizabeth Watson, Ms. Victoria O’Flaherty for their assistance in preparing, translating, editing and making the nomination ready for submission to UNESCO.

Photo: l to r -  Alfonso Blijden - archive specialist, Department of Records & Information Management,  Marcellia Henry - Secretary General UNESCO, and Mrs. Shermina Powell-Richardson - Acting Secretary General Ministry of Education, Culture, Youth and Sport.

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