In 1804 the free Republic of Haiti was declared in almost unimaginable triumph: hard to exaggerate the glory of that birth. Hundreds of thousands of enslaved Africans had labored to make Saint-Domingue, as Haiti was then known, the richest colony on earth, a vastly productive slave-powered factory producing tons upon tons of sugar cane, the 18th-century’s great cash crop. For pre-Revolutionary France, Haiti was an inexhaustible cash cow, floating much of its economy. Generation after generation, the second sons of the great French families took ship for Saint-Domingue to preside over the sugar plantations, enjoy the favors of enslaved African women and make their fortunes.

Haiti: the saturnalia of emancipation and the vicissitudes of predatory rule

ABSTRACT Since its independence in 1804 Haiti has failed to generate the political and economic institutions with which to usher in a functioning and accountable democratic order . In spite of its glorious revolution, which abolished slavery at the moment of its creation, Haiti faced a series of domestic and international constraints that prevented it from engaging in a successful process of nation-building. While these constraints have taken new forms, they have continued to plague the contemporary struggles for democratisation and equity. This article will analyse critical moments of Haiti's history to illustrate these persisting constraints.

Haiti and Abolitionism in 1825: The Example of Sophie Doin

Slavery and abolition gained newfound prominence as popular sub­ jects in the 1820s after having been suppressed through censorship for the nearly two decades since Haiti had gained its independence from France in 1804. Incidents contributing to the renewed interest in these subjects include the abolition of the slave trade at the Congress of Vienna in 1814; the scandal surrounding the sinking of the Meduse off the coast of Africa in 1816; the resumption of abolitionist activity by the Societe de la morale chretienne in 1821; the publication of Thomas Clarkson's Cries of Africa in 1822, which brought graphic, empirical evidence of the abuses of the slave trade; and the choice of abolition by the Academie franc;aise as the subject of the poetry prize in 1823.


The Hatian slave revolt from 1791 to 1804 remains the only successful slave revolt in history. It represents to all oppressed peoples a break with forced labor in the production of agricultural staples which undergirded the colonial system of the Euro­ pean powers. Haitian blacks, having received inspiration and active support from French antislavery leaders, were not deterred by Napoleon's later attempt to reverse the revolutionary policies and reimpose slavery and colonial dependency. Under the leadership of Toussaint L'Ouverture, himself a former slave who was later seized, Haitian blacks repulsed the invading armies of Great Britain and Spain. After his seizure by the French, Toussaint was sent to Europe to die in prison. His generals led the black armies to victory over General LeClerc, Napoleon's brother -in -law.

Haiti, Free Soil, and Antislavery in the Revolutionary Atlantic

IN  THE   LATE   EIGHTEENTH  CENTURY, the  French  colony of Saint-Domingue was the richest colony in the world. Set in the Caribbean Sea, a short sail from some of the principal American colonies of Britain and Spain, in the 1780s it produced  about half of all the  sugar  and  coffee  consumed  in Europe and  the  Americas.  It was, in the nomenclature of the  time,  the  “Pearl  of the  Antilles,”  the  “Eden  of the  Western World.” It was there,  in late August 1791, that the colony’s enslaved rose up, even- tually declaring  war against  the  regime  of slavery at its seat  of most extreme  and opulent  power. Within a month, the rebel slaves numbered in the tens of thousands, and  the  property  destroyed  amounted to more  than  a thousand sugar  and  coffee farms. With this event—the  largest and best-coordinated slave rebellion  the world had ever seen—the  enslaved of Saint-Domingue forced the issue of slavery upon the French  Revolution and  the  world.

Caribbean genocide: racial war in Haiti, 1802–4

A B S T R A C T Girard’s article covers the 1802- 4 period in Haiti, during which an expeditionary force sent by Napoleon Bonaparte on the one hand, and an army of Blacks and Mulattoes (most of them former slaves) on the other hand, openly considered genocide of the enemy population. Whites carried out massacres but fell short of genocide because of the French military defeat; Blacks won the war and eradicated Haiti’s white population in 1804. The article offers five main explanations for this genocide. First, the Haitian slave revolt coincided with the French Revolution, and the slaves and soldiers borrowed from the metropolis the idea that the survival of a revolution justified murder, war and even large-scale massacres, that ideology was worth dying, and killing, for. Second, economic interest was at the heart of the planters’ desire to force black slaves to work, but it also influenced the rebellious slaves’ decision to kill all planters and their families: black generals, who replaced Whites as plantation owners, directly benefitted from the genocide.

A b s a lo m , A b s a lo m !, H a it i a n d L a b o r H is t o r y : R e a d in g U n r e a d a b le R e v o lu t io n s

In 1791 slaves revolted on San Domingo: "The world's richest colony" was over run in a black revolution whose forces "defeated the Spanish; inflicted a defeat of unprecedented proportions on the British, and then made their country the graveyard of Napoleon's magnificent army."1 By 1804 the Americas had their first black national state, the independent republic of Haiti. In 1823 Thomas Sutpen leaves Virginia for the West Indies where, in 1827, he puts down an uprising among slaves on a French sugar plantation on Haiti. As due recompense, he marries the owner's daughter and achieves a son (1829). The dates are important since they indicate that Faulkner has the hero of Absalom, Absalom! (1936) earn the properties upon which he will eventually base his plantation "de­ sign," improperly. There were neither slaves nor French plantations on Haiti in 1827. Faulkner's chronology creates an anachronism that rewrites one of the key facts of nineteenth -century black American history, in what looks suspiciously like an act of literary counter­ revolution.

“We Must Live Independent or Die”: The Haitian Declaration of Independence in Atlantic Context 1

For the New York Historical Society’s Revolution! The Atlantic World Reborn exhibit in 2011-2012, curators Richard Rabinowitz and Lynda B. Kaplan commissioned a miniature sculpture of the Palace of Versailles from artists Martín Avila and Benita Rodriguez Alvarez of Guanajuato, Mexico. The artists built a desktop-sized palace constructed entirely of sugar tinged with vegetable dyes. Their message was crystal clear; as Rabinowitz explained, the sculpture emphasized that the French Empire “was in some ways a kingdom based on sugar.”2 Indeed, an estimated 30% of France’s wealth in the 18th century came from its colonies, especially Saint- Domingue, the Atlantic World’s most wealth-producing colony and one of the richest spots on the face of the earth.

Prosecuting Torture: The Strategic Ethics of Slavery in Pre-Revolutionary Saint-Domingue (Haiti)

In the spring and summer of 1788, a master was prosecuted for the torture of two female slaves in the French Caribbean colony of Saint-Domingue (present-day Haiti). The exceptional nature of the case was immediately obvious to the participants who lived through it. The governor and inten- dant of Saint-Domingue—in essence, the colony’s chief military and administrative officers, respectively—described it as a “unique opportunity.

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Funded by W.K. Kellogg Foundation