By Sarah Tuttle.
Boston: Massachusetts Sabbath School Union, 1831.
68 pages.

Comments of Bob Corbett
December 2004

Note: Author’s name is uncertain. See comments at bottom.

I just acquired this tiny volume a few days ago and believe it to be quite rare. I have never seen it mentioned in any bibliography on Haiti, and a check of the OCLC on-line list of university library catalogues shows only two universities having this work.

It is a short and mainly, quite standard account of the first arrival of Columbus to the island of Hispaniola, the subsequent colonization and division of the island into two colonies, one of Spain and one of France, and the eventual revolution and freedom of Hayti from France is all rather standard stuff, and briefly done.

However, what marks the overwhelming bulk of such writings in the period shortly after the U.S. Revolution and establishment of the U.S. state is material which attacks the blacks of Hayti as being barbaric and incapable of self-rule. This is decidedly NOT the case for Sarah Tuttle. Rather, she has strong empathy for Hayti and sees the people as having been terrible victims of European violence and unjustified treatment, especially from France.

What attracted her to write this volume were what she claims were large numbers of:

colored people, who flocked there from the United States in 1825, that I have written a brief history of Hayti, which I send you with this letter. In it, you will learn the origin of the emigration, and I am confident your tenderest sympathy will be excited for that suffering people, and your heart will bleed when you read of the cruelties and oppressions, practised upon the unsuspecting natives, by their treacherous invaders, ever since the discovery of the island by Christopher Columbus.

Again, that is not in anyway typical of the views of people in the 1830s.

However, she is convinced that the Haytians need two things: 1. To be converted to Christianity. 2. To be converted to the government form of the United States.

Will you not pity the poor Haytiens, when you read of the destruction of human life, by wars and massacres? And will you not consider that if those islanders enjoyed the same -opportunities which we enjoy, for becoming acquainted with the one living and true God, and Jesus Christ whom he hath sent, their condition for time, and their prospects for eternity, would be altogether changed ?

But deplorable as the present state of society is at Hayti, it is not a hopeless field of labor. Were its numerous inhabitants to embrace the religion of Christ, and to adopt the entire plan of our federal government, I can scarcely conceive of a spot upon the globe more lovely variegated as it is with mountains, plains, and gentle declivities.

Then follows her sympathetic, brief and sketchy history of the colony and nation of Hayti up to about 1830. She claims to have read virtually everything published in English at the time in order to prepare her remarks, and that’s quite believable.

It is actually a bit of speculation and detective work of my own to attribute the work to Sarah Tuttle. On the cover page we read:


Ten the preface is signed simply S.L.

When I consulted the OCLC, a number of university list the “Conversations” book in their collection and list it as written by Sarah Tuttle. Thus I think the assignation of her as the author is fairly reasonable.

Hopefully, as time permits, I will be able to scan the whole of this small volume and post it to my web page in the near future.

Bob Corbett corbetre@webster.edu

Becoming Reading Thinking Journals


Bob Corbett corbetre@webster.edu