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5344: Article on the Haitian Revolution (fwd)

From: Karioka9@cs.com


The American Historical Review


February 2000 (Vol. 105, No. 1)


The Haitian Revolution


Franklin W. Knight <fknight@jhu.edu>, John Hopkins University




The Haitian Revolution represents the most thorough case
study of revolutionary change anywhere in the history of
the modern world. In ten years of sustained internal and
international warfare, a colony populated predominantly by
plantation slaves overthrew both its colonial status and
its economic system and established a new political state of
entirely free individuals -- with some ex-slaves constituting
the new political authority. As only the second state to
declare its independence in the Americas, Haiti had no viable
administrative models to follow. The British North Americans
who declared their independence in 1776 left slavery intact,
and theirs was more a political revolution than a social and
economic one. The success of Haiti against all odds made
social revolutions a sensitive issue among the leaders of
political revolt elsewhere in the Americas during the final
years of the eighteenth century and the first decades of the
nineteenth century. Yet the genesis of the Haitian Revolution
cannot be separated from the wider concomitant events of the
later eighteenth-century Atlantic world. Indeed, the period
between 1750 and 1850 represented an age of spontaneous,
interrelated revolutions, and events in Saint Domingue/Haiti
constitute an integral -- though often overlooked -- part of
the history of that larger sphere. These multi-faceted
revolutions combined to alter the way individuals and groups
saw themselves and their place in the world. But, even more,
the intellectual changes of the period instilled in some
political leaders a confidence (not new in the eighteenth
century, but far more generalized than before) that creation
and creativity were not exclusively divine or accidental
attributes, and that both general societies and individual
conditions could be rationally engineered.

Copyright (c) 1999-2000 American Historical Association.