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British Mauritius

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Title: British Mauritius  
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British Mauritius


British Mauritius was a British crown colony. Despite the only French naval victory (during the Napoleonic Wars) of Battle of Grand Port on 20–27 August 1810 by a fleet commanded by Pierre Bouvet, Mauritius was captured on 3 December 1810 by the British under Commodore Josias Rowley. Their possession of the island was confirmed four years later by the Treaty of Paris (1814). French institutions, including the Napoleonic Code of law, were maintained. The French language was at that moment still used more widely than English.

The British administration, which began with Robert Townsend Farquhar as governor, was followed by rapid social and economic changes. One of the most important events was the abolition of slavery on 1 February 1835. The planters received a compensation of two million pounds sterling for the loss of their slaves which had been imported from Africa and Madagascar during the French occupation.

The Mauritian Creole people trace their origins to the plantation owners and slaves who were brought to work the sugar fields. Indo-Mauritians are descended from Indian immigrants who arrived in the 19th century via the Aapravasi Ghat in order to work as indentured laborers after slavery was abolished in 1835. Included in the Indo-Mauritian community are Muslims (about 17% of the population) from the Indian subcontinent. The Franco-Mauritian elite controlled nearly all of the large sugar estates and was active in business and banking. As the Indian population became numerically dominant and the voting franchise was extended, political power shifted from the Franco-Mauritians and their Creole allies to the Indo-Mauritians.

Conflicts arose between the Indian community (mostly sugarcane labourers) and the Franco-Mauritians in the 1920s, leading to several – mainly Indian – deaths. Following this the Mauritius Labour Party was founded in 1936 by Maurice Cure to safeguard the interest of the labourers. Cure was succeeded a year later by Emmanuel Anquetil who tried to gain the support of the port workers. After his death, Guy Rozemond took over the leadership of the party.

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