Folks, I didn't hear too much this week during the readings of the French colonial period. I hope that you were moving ahead to read for this week, since this is probably one of the two or three most heavy reading weeks as I cautioned you last week.
We will look at the Haitian revolution. This is a very complex affair and utterly decisive in forming later Haiti; the most important period we've looked at yet in determining the future shape of Haiti.
This revolution does not really begin as a slave revolt. As my first paper on the revolution shows, it began as a dispute among FREE PEOPLE about the right and status as citizens of free people of color. The French Revolution had affirmed the "rights of man," and for the first time all (male) citizens were to be recognized as participating citizens. However, the free people of color of St. Domingue were not recognized. Their color was the barrier, though they met the criterion of being free males of the realm.
There are many other class and color conflicts going on, and my first couple of essays touch on them. There were a great number of "shifts" as to who is with whom and who is fighting and struggling for what. At times the free people of color (both black and mulatto) side with the slaves, at other times against them. The whites were divided by both class and politics. Class was NOT as obvious as it seems. It was not only the class of slaves vs. free (which would have been a color distinction too), but also economic class. The whites included planters (land owners) who were both black, mulatto and white. Black and mulatto, recall, are treated differently in Haiti, so there are three colors to deal with here, not two, and then there were the working class French whites --.the so-called "Petit Blancs" (the little whites), little meaning economically little. Then they divided up in terms of loyalists, those who wanted to reinstate the monarchy and favored the restoration of the king and wanted to do away with the French Revolution. Then there were those in favor of the revolution, and lastly there were those who wanted independence for the colony of St. Domingue. These folks were divided by class and color and hard to predict. However, MAINLY the loyalists were white property owners, the republicans were free people of color, and the independence folks were slaves and petit blancs, though they were DEEPLY divided by race.
It is all very complex.
So, I ask all of you to read my four essays on the Haitian Revolution, found on my web site under the section of the Revolution.
Also, in that section there are several other essays. I urge you to read as many of those as you care to, but they are not mandatory.
In our text book, LIBERTE, please read , as mandatory reading for this week:
Chapter 1: sections 13-19. These are short but very useful.
And please, let us all hear from you!
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