By Jeremy D. Popkin
The one actually winning slave rebellion within the Atlantic international, the Haitian Revolution gave delivery to the 1st self sufficient black republic of the fashionable period. encouraged via the revolution that had lately roiled their French rulers, black slaves and folks of combined race alike rose up opposed to their oppressors in a bloody rebel that resulted in the burning of the colony’s greatest urban, a sour fight opposed to Napoleon’s troops, and in 1804, the founding of a unfastened nation.Numerous firsthand narratives of those occasions survived, yet their valuable insights into the interval have lengthy languished in obscurity—until now. In dealing with Racial Revolution, Jeremy D. Popkin finds those files and offers excerpts from greater than a dozen money owed written by means of white colonists attempting to come to grips with a global that had unexpectedly disintegrated. those dramatic writings provide us our such a lot direct portrayal of the activities of the revolutionaries, vividly depicting encounters with the uprising’s leaders—Toussaint Louverture, Boukman, and Jean-Jacques Dessalines—as good as placing faces on some of the nameless contributors during this epochal second. Popkin’s professional statement on each one choice presents the mandatory history concerning the authors and the incidents they describe, whereas additionally addressing the complicated query of the witnesses’ reliability and urging the reader to think about the results of the narrators’ perspectives.Along with the yank and French revolutions, the delivery of Haiti contributed to shaping the trendy international. The strong, relocating, and infrequently troubling tales gathered in dealing with Racial Revolution considerably extend our realizing of this momentous occasion. (20070223)
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Extra resources for Facing Racial Revolution: Eyewitness Accounts of the Haitian Insurrection
In some ways, however, these are the least “Saint-Dominguan” of the accounts represented here. Brun-Lavainne’s experiences in Saint-Domingue in 1802–3 constituted an exotic childhood episode in a life that was otherwise lived in metropolitan France, and Lecompte’s experiences during the revolution were secondary in his narrative to the recounting of his spiritual transformation. Most of these authors probably did not think of themselves as following in the footsteps of Rousseau, but some may have been aware that they were continuing a long tradition of writing about the colonies, a tradition in which an author’s ability to speak from personal experience about this exotic overseas world was crucial to his or her credibility.
None of these memoirists were regular soldiers, but many of them saw combat as members of ad hoc forces assembled to ﬁght the insurgents and were, there- From Saint-Domingue to Haiti 23 fore, in a position to describe scenes of warfare. Interracial violence was unquestionably a predominant element in the Haitian Revolution, but these accounts may make it seem even more pervasive than it actually was. In particular, as noted earlier, they tell us very little about conditions between 1794 and 1801, before Napoléon’s military expedition destroyed any hope that the colony could become the home of a racially mixed society without slavery.
Although the narrative “I” is central to these texts, self-portrayal is not their ostensible purpose. Some of these stories ﬁt, as has been noted, into the captivity-narrative tradition, but these accounts of the racial upheaval in Saint-Domingue di≠er 16 introduction from earlier captivity narratives in several important ways. Most are devoid of the strong religious element that scholars of this literature have emphasized. They also take place in a di≠erent kind of setting. Whites who were taken captive in the wilds of North America or along the Barbary Coast found themselves in territories that had always belonged to non-Europeans.
Facing Racial Revolution: Eyewitness Accounts of the Haitian Insurrection by Jeremy D. Popkin