Slavery, War, and Revolution: The British Occupation of Saint Domingue, 1793-1798

TitleSlavery, War, and Revolution: The British Occupation of Saint Domingue, 1793-1798
Publication TypeBook
Year of Publication1982
AuthorsGeggus, David Patrick
Number of Pages492
PublisherClarendon Press
CityOxford, UK

When Louis XVI recalled the Estates-General to Versailles on May 5, 1789, he inadvertently set in motion a profound revolutionary process of dire consequences for himself and for France. He eventually lost his head, both figuratively and literally. France lost its premier colony, the tropical, staple-producing western part of the island of Hispaniola called Saint Domingue. If Europe was never the same after the French Revolution, the Western world was never the same after the Haitian revolution. And when the slaves became the masters of that ill-fated French colony in 1798, they not only laid the foundation for the emergent free Black republic (in 1804), but also sounded the deathknell for the system of slavery in the Western Hemisphere. In this volume, the author focuses on the years of the British military occupation, when a faction of the French plantocracy opted to invite the English to defend (and eventually to restore) the system of slavery in the colony. This history is, however, far more than an accounting of the complex and ultimately disastrous military events between 1793 and the expulsion in 1798. Based on archival research in England, Scotland, Spain, France, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Jamaica, and the United States, as well as a reading of the extensive published accounts by contemporaries and historians, this work is a magisterial examination of both the colonial slave society on the eve of its disintegration and the profound consequences for British and European military and an imperial analysis of the late eighteenth-century colonial slave society.

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