Avengers of the New World: The Story of the Haitian Revolution

Avengers of the New World

l a u r e n t d u b o i s

Avengers of the New World

t h e s t o r y o f t h e

h a i t i a n r e v o l u t i o n

the belknap press of

harvard university press

Cambridge, Massachusetts

London, England

2 0 0 4

Copyright © 2004 by Laurent Dubois

All rights reserved

Printed in the United States of America

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Dubois, Laurent, 1971–

Avengers of the New World : the story of the Haitian Revolution / Laurent Dubois.

p. cm.

Includes bibliographical references and index.

ISBN 0-674-01304-2 (alk. paper)

1. Haiti—History—Revolution, 1791–1804. I. Title.

f1923.d83 2004

972.94Ј03—dc22

2003063010

For Haiti

a c k n o w l e d g m e n t s

My greatest debt is to the many historians whose research and writing

made this book possible. Some are ancestors, like Beaubrun Ardouin, Ga-

briel Debien, and C. L. R. James, the others part of a small and scattered

group who often work in isolation. John Garrigus was encouraging about

the project throughout, and our conversations were crucial in determining

the final shape of the book. David Geggus, whose writings have trans-

formed the study of the Haitian Revolution, has been a supportive and in-

sightful interlocutor over the years. Malick Ghachem has taught me a great

deal through his work and our conversations. Stewart King played a crucial

role in my early research on the Caribbean. Michel Rolph Trouillot and

Carolyn Fick have profoundly influenced the way I think about the revolu-

tion. Laennec Hurbon and Michel DeGraff shaped my ideas on Haiti’s

cultural history. Richard Turits read some early chapters of the book and

gave me encouragement and good advice. And Julius Scott has been a con-

stant inspiration because of his passion for reconstructing the lives of the

often-elusive figures who built the Haitian Revolution.

I must also thank Julius, and Ada Ferrer, for having—over a greasy

breakfast in Ann Arbor years ago—first planted in my mind the idea of

writing this book. I owe a debt to three early mentors who guided my first

research on Haiti: Barbara Browning, Joan Dayan, and Peter Johnson. I

am grateful to Robert Bonner, who read many of the chapters of this book,

as well as Christine Daniels and the students in our Atlantic history semi-

nar for their comments. I thank Monique Dubois-Dalcq for having read

and commented on the manuscript. The members of the “Club Littéraire

du Gentilsart,” André and Marie-Claude Dubois, were avid readers and in-

sightful critics throughout.

A grant from the Intramural Research Grant Program at Michigan State

University funded research in the United States, France, and Haiti, as well

as the work of my extremely able research assistant, Marco Meniketti. The

Comparative Black History Program helped me to cover the cost of illus-

trations. Marcel Chatillon kindly gave me permission to reprint some of

the images from his collection
Images de la Révolution aux Antilles,
and Peter Berg helped me to track down and reproduce several engravings.

Parts of the manuscript were presented at Yale and Vanderbilt universities,

and some material from Chapters 4 and 5 was included in “Our Three

Colors: The King, the Republic and the Political Culture of Slave Revolu-

tion in Saint-Domingue,” in
Historical Reflections,
29:1 (Spring 2003): 83–

102.

I wrote much of this book while I was a visiting scholar at the Clark

Center for Seventeenth and Eighteenth Century Studies at the University

of California, Los Angeles. I thank Lynn Hunt and Peter Riell for having

given me this home in Los Angeles. And I am grateful to Christine Lazaridi

for our lunches spent discussing the different stories we were tracking

down and weaving together.

In Haiti, Chantalle Verna was a generous host and made much of my

research possible. I thank the Fouchard family for their generosity in giv-

ing me access to their library. Philippe Cherdieu, of the Bibliothèque

Haïtienne, enthusiastically showed me some of the treasures of this collec-

tion. And I cannot thank Erol Josué enough for the amazing journey

we took to visit Le Cap, and for showing me Gallifet, Sans-Souci, and the

Citadel.

Two anonymous reviewers for Harvard University Press gave me en-

couragement and helpful advice. Ann Hawthorne’s expert copyediting was

much appreciated. And through her enthusiasm for the project and her

guidance, Joyce Seltzer was crucial to making this work what it is.

It was Katharine Brophy Dubois who showed me how to write this

book. I thank her, and I thank our son, Anton, who arrived just as I was fin-

ishing the manuscript, and who has made everything, once again, into an

adventure.

viii

a c k n o w l e d g m e n t s

c o n t e n t s

Prologue

1

1. Specters of Saint-Domingue

8

2. Fermentation

36

3. Inheritance

60

4. Fire in the Cane

91

5. New World

115

6. Defiance

132

7. Liberty’s Land

152

8. The Opening

171

9. Power

194

10. Enemies of Liberty

209

11. Territory

231

12. The Tree of Liberty

251

13. Those Who Die

280

Epilogue: Out of the Ashes

302

Notes 309

Index 349

ATLANTIC

SAINT-DOMINGUE

B

OCEAN

Gulf of

a

(FRANCE)

Mexico

Nassau

h a m

Havana

a

MÔLE SAINT-NICOLAS

C

s Spanish

u b a

Santo Domingo

Cap-à-Foux

Hispaniola

Jamaica

Kingston

French

0

300 miles

Saint-Domingue

Caribbean Sea

Parishes of the North Province

Saint-Domingue

L

Le Cap
CAP FRANÇAIS

P

Baie de

l

Port

a

(LE CAP)

Le Borgne

i

in

Margot

Mancenille

e

in

m

du

or

Other books

The Cleanest Race by B.R. Myers
Floating by Natasha Thomas
Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell
Orhan's Inheritance by Aline Ohanesian
Allegiance by Wanda Wiltshire
A Broken Kind of Life by Jamie Mayfield
I Shall Be Near to You by Erin Lindsay McCabe
El prisionero en el roble by Marion Zimmer Bradley