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A Colony of Citizens: Revolution and Slave Emancipation in the French Caribbean, 1787-1804 / Edition 1

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Overview

The idea of universal rights is often understood as the product of Europe, but as Laurent Dubois demonstrates, it was profoundly shaped by the struggle over slavery and citizenship in the French Caribbean. Dubois examines this Caribbean revolution by focusing on Guadeloupe, where, in the early 1790s, insurgents on the island fought for equality and freedom and formed alliances with besieged Republicans. In 1794, slavery was abolished throughout the French Empire, ushering in a new colonial order in which all people, regardless of race, were entitled to the same rights.

But French administrators on the island combined emancipation with new forms of coercion and racial exclusion, even as newly freed slaves struggled for a fuller freedom. In 1802, the experiment in emancipation was reversed and slavery was brutally reestablished, though rebels in Saint-Domingue avoided the same fate by defeating the French and creating an independent Haiti.

The political culture of republicanism, Dubois argues, was transformed through this transcultural and transatlantic struggle for liberty and citizenship. The slaves-turned-citizens of the French Caribbean expanded the political possibilities of the Enlightenment by giving new and radical content to the idea of universal rights.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"An impressive, erudite and engaging work. . . . Will undoubtedly be considered provocative. . . . Meticulously researched and well-written. . . . Exemplary. . . . Makes a significant contribution to Atlantic history."
The Southern Quarterly

"A milestone in the ever-expanding historiography of Atlantic slave emancipation. . . . Exhaustively researched, richly detailed, and superbly written."
The International Journal of African Historical Studies

"A rich and important study on Guadeloupe . . . during the Revolutionary period. . . . An extended and subtle analysis of the changing meaning of republicanism and race. Opens the door to such future research, and not just fills the gap in the historiography but firmly places the question of the universality of the Revolution at the forefront of historical research."
Latin America and the Carribbean

"Elegantly written and meticulously researched . . . will be regarded as the standard account for some time to come. . . . Dubois has done a marvelous job."
William and Mary Quarterly

"An inherently fascinating tale, and one rich in significance for our understanding of the history and legacies of slavery and racism, revolution and enlightenment, and democracy and human rights. . . . Beautifully written and exhaustively researched. . . . One hopes that . . . the book will be read across the traditional geographic boundaries of the academy."
The Americas

"An outstanding contribution to Caribbean historiography and Dubois has arguably written one of the best monographs on the Age of Revolution to date."
Estudios Interdisciplinarios de America Latina y el Caribe

"In this impressive work, Dubois reveals a world of ideas and conflicts that will astonish even most specialists of eighteenth-century history. One of the most informative works of history [I] have read in a long time."
American Historical Review

Dubois explores the slave revolts that brought about the abolition of slavery in the French Caribbean in 1793-1794, the contradictory form this emancipation took, and the process through which it was reversed in bloody conflicts in the early 19th century.

From the Publisher
"An impressive, erudite and engaging work. . . . Will undoubtedly be considered provocative. . . . Meticulously researched and well-written. . . . Exemplary. . . . Makes a significant contribution to Atlantic history."
The Southern Quarterly

"An inherently fascinating tale, and one rich in significance for our understanding of the history and legacies of slavery and racism, revolution and enlightenment, and democracy and human rights. . . . Beautifully written and exhaustively researched. . . . One hopes that . . . the book will be read across the traditional geographic boundaries of the academy."
The Americas

"Elegantly written and meticulously researched . . . will be regarded as the standard account for some time to come. . . . Dubois has done a marvelous job."
William and Mary Quarterly

"A rich and important study on Guadeloupe . . . during the Revolutionary period. . . . An extended and subtle analysis of the changing meaning of republicanism and race. Opens the door to such future research, and not just fills the gap in the historiography but firmly places the question of the universality of the Revolution at the forefront of historical research."
Latin America and the Carribbean

"An outstanding contribution to Caribbean historiography and Dubois has arguably written one of the best monographs on the Age of Revolution to date."
Estudios Interdisciplinarios de America Latina y el Caribe

"In this impressive work, Dubois reveals a world of ideas and conflicts that will astonish even most specialists of eighteenth-century history. One of the most informative works of history [I] have read in a long time."
American Historical Review

Dubois explores the slave revolts that brought about the abolition of slavery in the French Caribbean in 1793-1794, the contradictory form this emancipation took, and the process through which it was reversed in bloody conflicts in the early 19th century.

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Product Details

Meet the Author

Laurent Dubois is professor of history and Romance studies at Duke University. He is author of Les esclaves de la Republique: l'histoire oubliee de la premiere emancipation, 1789-1794.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Maps and Illustrations
Abbreviations
Introduction 1
Pt. I Prophecy, Revolt, & Emancipation, 1787-1794
Ch. 1 Insurrection and the Language of Rights 23
Ch. 2 A Social Cartography 30
Ch. 3 Prophetic Rumor 85
Ch. 4 The Insurgent Republic 124
Ch. 5 The Arrival of Emancipation 155
Pt. II The Meaning of Citizenship, 1794-1798
Ch. 6 Making Slaves Citizens 171
Ch. 7 Worthy of the Nation 189
Ch. 8 War and Emancipation 222
Ch. 9 The Mark of Freedom 249
Ch. 10 The Revolution's Spiral 277
Ch. 11 The Promise of Revolution 308
Pt. III The Boundaries of the Republic, 1798-1804
Ch. 12 The Road to Matouba 317
Ch. 13 Defending the Republic 324
Ch. 14 The New Imperial Order 349
Ch. 15 "Vivre libre ou mourir!" 374
Ch. 16 The Exiled Republic 402
Epilogue 423
Chronology 439
Glossary of French Terms 443
Index 445
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