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Before Haiti / Edition 1

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Winner of the Society for French Historical Studies 2007 Gilbert Chinard Prize!

In 1804 French Saint-Domingue became the independent nation of Haiti after the only successful slave uprising in world history. When the Haitian Revolution broke out, the colony was home to the largest and wealthiest free population of African descent in the New World. Before Haiti explains the origins of this free colored class, exposes the ways its members both supported and challenged slavery, and examines how they created their own New World identity in the years from 1760 to 1804.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"This work makes an enormous contribution to the existing scholarship on Haiti, on free people of color in the Caribbean, and more generally to our understanding of the history of the Atlantic world."—Laurent Dubois, Michigan State University
"In 1791, the western third of the island of Hispaniola stood as the crown jewel of France's empire and the world's most valuable slave-based colony. It also possessed the most prosperous class of free-colored slaveholders in the history of the Americas. John Garrigus zeroes in on members of this ambivalent class, particularly those from St. Domingue's South Province who exerted disproportionate influence in challenging the metropolis to apply the high ideals of the French Revolution to end racial discrimination in France's overseas possessions. With this important book, Garrigus has illuminated the complex process that transformed ,slave revolt into social revolution, subjects into citizens, and colony into nation."—Robert L. Paquette, Publius Virgilius Rogers Professor of American History, Hamilton College
"Before Haiti, an important new study of free people of color in southern colonial Saint-Domingue, offers critical insights into the social and cultural roots of the Haitian Revolution. John Garrigus brings a nuanced understanding of the complexities of racial ideology to this detailed and grounded analysis of the kinship, business and political strategies free people of color undertook in the colonial plantation regime." Sue Peabody, Department of History, Washington State University Vancouver
"In this elegant and dynamic study, John Garrigus uncovers the ways in which color lines were built and un-built in different spheres of life in colonial Saint-Domingue. By focusing on free people of color from the southern peninsula, he shows the interplay of metropolitan interests and American identities in the domains of color, privilege, and citizenship. Using a rich vein of notarial records, Garrigus proposes a new and very subtle understanding of the development of racial ideologies on the eve of the Haitian Revolution."—Rebecca J. Scott, Professor of History and Law, University of Michigan, and author of Degrees of Freedom: Lousiana and Cuba after Slavery
"This long-awaited volume confirms Garrigus as the leading authority on Saint Domingue's free people of color, the wealthiest nonwhite population in the colonial Americas. Combining a meticulous socio-economic regional study with political and cultural analysis set in a broad hemispheric context, the work will assuredly reshape thinking about the Haitian Revolution." David Geggus, Department of History, University of Florida
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Product Details

Meet the Author

John Garrigus is Associate Professor of History, University of Texas at Arlington.

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Table of Contents

The Development of Creole Society on the Colonial Frontier
• Race and Class in Creole Society: Saint-Domingue in the 1760s
• Freedom, Slavery, and the French Colonial State
• Reform and Revolt after the Seven Years' War
• Citizenship and Racism in the New Republic Sphere
• The Rising Economic Power of Free People of Color in the 1780s
• Proving Free Colored Virtue
• Free People of Color in the Southern Peninsula and the Origins of the Haitain Revolution
• Revolution and Republicanism in Aquin Parish

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