French Revolutionary Colonial Mobilization and the Making of the Haitian Revolution

Thursday, January 3, 2019: 1:30 PM
Salon 3 (Palmer House Hilton)
Micah Alpaugh, University of Central Missouri
The French island colony of Saint-Domingue came to feature a French Revolution in miniature – with all the antagonisms of France itself, plus what would become a multi-sided race war. As such, the conflicts that within two years fueled the Haitian Revolution took not the form of a relatively straightforward conflict between revolutionaries and counterrevolutionaries, but rather numerous groups – planters, poor whites, mulattoes, free blacks and slaves – each mobilizing social movements to turn the French Revolution to their own advantage. Part of a broader project on the interconnected rise and spread of social movements around the Atlantic basin circa 1765-1800, this paper will focus on both the conjunctures and dissonances between colonial movements for greater liberty and the slave rebellion of summer 1791. The great uprising which became the only successful slave insurrection in human history followed a two-year revolutionary apprenticeship, in which all parties looked to co-opt for their own purposes the social movement mobilization methods honed around the Revolutionary Atlantic.
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