Journal of Undergraduate Research


abolitionist movement, 19th century Romania, French revolutionary discourse




French and Italian


Fragmented into multiple vassal principalities, Romanians had no country of their own until the 20th century. In the 19th century, French revolutionary ideas catalyzed Romanians’ aspirations for political unity and independence, producing the Revolution of 1848 in the principalities of Moldavia and Wallachia. Unfortunately, the revolution’s nationalist characteristic has long overshadowed another significant revolutionary goal, namely the abolition of slavery. My study aimed to shed light on Romanian abolitionism by understanding to what extent it was a direct echo of French revolutionary discourse. Thanks to its diaspora of young intellectuals educated and living in France, 19th-century Romania was under noteworthy French influence. Thus, I explored the roots of Romanian abolitionism as it materialized at the peak of French influence in Romanian art, culture, literature, and politics. Until mid-19th century, in both Moldavia and Wallachia, private individuals, the state, and even the Christian Orthodox Church owned Gypsy1 slaves. By 1856, Moldavia and Wallachia had emancipated their entire slave populations.