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The Haitian Revolution

The Haitian Revolution (1791-1804) was both political revolution and slave rebellion, a radical event that shaped the consciousness of the Caribbean. This collection includes works that describe the buildup to the revolution, the revolution itself, and its results.

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A letter from one British man to another concerning the events of the Haitian Revolution, this letter expresses distaste and loathing for the slave trade. Though not a direct account of the events as they happened, this document is nonetheless significant in the wider context of the revolution for revealing how it captured the imaginations of the rest of the Caribbean and the globe, and helped shape the rest of the worlds views on and responses to slavery. 

(In French) The Haitian Revolution did not truly end with independence from France, as simmering tension and conflict continued on the island for decades after. This particular text, printed in 1810, looks at the events beginning in 1808, examining some of the fallout from the hard-won independence, following continued conflict with the French as well as attempts to establish a unified government in the east of Saint Domingue

Framed as a larger history of Haiti as a territory, this book’s publication in 1805 served to make it seem as if “the rise of the Haytian Empire” was the logical narrative thread to follow, and that the trend would continue into the future. The author, in seeking to establish the factors that led to Haiti’s rise in the first place, therefore traces the historical factors in Haiti that would make it strong and imperial, even dominant. A great deal of energy is devoted to understanding and charting the course of the revolution itself.

A collection of translated primary documents, mostly state papers, from the functioning of the independent Haitian state that, according to the editor, was intended to “excite a more lively concern for the promotion of the best interests, the improvement, the definite independence, and happiness of the Haitian people.” That these papers were translated into English for consumption by first a British, then American audience indicates that it was perceived that goodwill from the international sphere was necessary to guarantee continued Haitian independence and prosperity.

The author was a longtime Christian missionary to Haiti. Though this book does not profess to be a complete history of the island, it contains robust sections on the origin, events, and outcome of the revolution. It was commended for publication by the Haitian government as “useful to Hayti itself, as well as to its foreign friends.”