New York: Schribner and Welford, 1889

Bob Corbett
April 1993

In 1886 a notorious book appeared, Sir Spencer St. John's HAYTI OR THE BLACK REPUBLIC. This is the singly most negative book every written on Haiti. I'd been seeking it for years and finally got a copy of it recently, the only copy I've ever seen. At any rate, by 1907 J.N. Leger wrote his book which is, in part, a reply to Sir Spencer St. John.

I am currently reading the St. John book. Wow, is it ever negative. Yet, much of it rings true. It just doesn't look at even the slight possible positive thing, and does exaggerate some of the negatives much beyond the reasonable -- especially his notorious long chapter on the alleged cannibalism in Voodoo. (Actually I lucked out. I ended up with the 2nd edition of this book. At first I was wishing it have been a 1st edition, especially since I paid a great deal of money for the book -- more than $200.00. But, when I read the introduction to the 2nd edition I realized I was lucky. His cannibalism claims raised the greatest outcry. So, he claims, he restudied the issue and "discovered" that the cannibalism was much worse than he assumed, so he rewrote that chapter with the stronger claim.

This interests me, since I believe the evidence shows that St. John is DEAD wrong about the whole business of cannibalism. In fact I'm now reading a new 1992 book by Leslie Desmangles, THE FACE OF THE GODS, which denounces the whole St. John tale as a myth or lie. Plus, I have collected up numerous sources on this whole business and hope to produce some article on this in the future.

I've not yet read the Leger book. I intend to finish the St. John book, then read the Leger book and then probably write an article in the future that that tells this whole story in more detail.

About Columbus

p. 28 "I do not doubt but that the discovery of America by Columbus was good in its results to mankind; but when we read the history of early Spanish colonization, the predominant feeling is disgust at the barbarities and fanaticism recorded in almost every page."


Art, Music, & Dance Book Reviews Film History Library Literature
Mailing List Miscellaneous Topics Notes on Books People to People Voodoo


Bob Corbett