Catholic missionaries accompanied the first French colonial ventures into the Antilles in the seventeenth century and reported on their experiences in manuscript and published accounts. The first generation of these accounts, from the 1640s and 1650s, focused primarily on Carib Indians; where African slaves were mentioned, it was in the most denigrating terms. As the plantation system took hold and the number of forced African immigrants increased and as Caribs made their resistance to Catholic conversion clear in prolonged warfare, missionaries shifted their attention to the increasingly creolized slave population. Later missionary accounts, from the 1660s–1680s, portray African descended slaves in much more positive, if paternalistic, terms. For the missionaries, religious conformity remained the overriding evaluative measure; black slaves could be "whitened" through conversion to the Catholic faith.

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pp. 113-126
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