At the West AJ

So, yesterday (October 30, 2014), I go to the faculty office at the West AJ for my first office hours here and look what I found: a big bag of chocolate kisses. With incentives like this, who would not come again?

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Laurent Dubois: How Will Haiti Reckon with the Duvalier Years?


Great Work

Originally posted on Repeating Islands:


This piece by Laurent Dubois appeared in The New Yorker.

In January, 2011, one year after an earthquake killed tens of thousands of people (by some estimates, hundreds of thousands), Jean-Claude Duvalier landed unannounced in Haiti following twenty-five years of exile in France. In the years between his return to the country and his death on Saturday at the age of sixty-three, he circulated freely about Port-au-Prince, meeting with old friends, dining at fancy restaurants, and occasionally accepting invitations to government events. For Haitians who had suffered imprisonment or torture under his regime, or who had been forced into exile themselves, Duvalier’s unapologetic presence in the country was shocking. A group of twenty-two plaintiffs, the Collectif contre l’impunité (the Collective Against Impunity) had been pushing for a trial against him, and had been gathering evidence to present in court. This February, they won a victory when a Haitian appellate…

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I Freed Myself: African American Self-Emancipation in the Civil War Er


It was about time that we would put the Declaration of 1863 in its proper place.

Originally posted on El Imperio de Calibán:

I Freed Myself: African American Self-Emancipation in the Civil War Era

Marshall Poe 

New Books in History  June 5, 2014

David Williams

David Williams

Lincoln was very clear–at least in public–that the Civil War was not fought over slavery: it was, he 61eT-apOtrL._SL160_said, for the preservation of the Union first and foremost. So it’s not surprising that when the conflict started he had no firm plan to emancipate the slaves in the borderland or Southern states. He also knew that such a move might prove very unpopular in the North.

So why did he issue the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863? There are many reasons. According to David Williams‘ fascinating new book I Freed Myself: African American Self-Emancipation in the Civil War Era (Cambridge University Press, 2014), an important and neglected one has to do with African American self-emancipation. After the war began, masses of slaves began to leave…

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We still lie about slavery: Here’s the truth about how the American economy and power were built on forced migration and torture

Originally posted on El Imperio de Calibán:

We still lie about slavery: Here’s the truth about how the American economy and power were built on forced migration and torture

Edward E. Baptist  September 7, 2014

We still lie about slavery: Here's the truth about how the American economy and power were built on forced migration and torture

The Shores family, near Westerville, Neb., in 1887. Jerry Shores was one of a number of former slaves to settle in Custer County. (Credit: AP/Solomon D. Butcher)


A beautiful late April day, seventy-two years after slavery ended in the United States. Claude Anderson parks his car on the side of Holbrook Street in Danville. On the porch of number 513, he rearranges the notepads under his arm. Releasing his breath in a rush of decision, he steps up to the door of the handmade house and knocks.

Danville is on the western edge of the Virginia Piedmont. Back in 1865, it had been the last capital of the…

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Saint-Rémy, Joseph -1816-1858.

The following is an entry that John Gillespie, a student in my Critical Issues in World History (The African Diaspora), wrote with me for the Dictionary of Caribbean and Afro-Latin American Biography from the Oxford University Press. It has already been accepted for publication.

remy book.highres

Saint-Rémy, Joseph (1816-1858), lawyer, activist, and historian, and known as “Saint-Rémy Les Cayes,” was born in 1816 in Basse-Terre, in the French colony of Guadalupe to free mulatto parents. Saint-Rémy’s family soon moved to Les Cayes in southern Haiti, to claim Haitian citizenship as a person of African descent. The family was responding to a new provision included in the Haitian Constitution of 1816, much touted by Alexander Pétion, then president of Haiti. When he reached maturity, Saint-Rémy traveled to Paris, where he studied law, before returning to Les Cayes to serve as an avocet (lawyer) under the government of Jean Pierre Boyer. Saint-Rémy sympathized with the liberal revolution of 1843 in Haiti, which opposed the long-lived rule of Boyer. Saint-Rémy’s connections with the regime of Charles Hérard led to his arrest, imprisonment, and eventual banishment of Haiti by Jean-Louis Pierrot. When Faustin Soulouque rose to power in 1847, Saint-Rémy returned, but left soon afterward for Paris for a time. He returned to Haiti for the final time in 1853 to practice law in Gonaïves, where he died five years later in the year 1858.

Louverture Baquoy-2Saint-Rémy lived through Haiti’s early formative period and played an important role in shaping it through his writings and his political activities. His primary work as a scholar revolved around his studies of the lives and events of Haiti’s early leaders. Saint-Rémy’s most important and influential works were his historical texts La vie de Toussaint Louverture (1850) and Pétion et Haiti (1855). These volumes describe the lives and deeds of two of the most important and influential men in Haitian history. Though he also edited a number of historical works and published pamphlets during his time, his five-volume work on Pétion and the book he wrote about Toussaint Louverture have received the most attention, and criticism. He, along with fellow Haitian historian Alexis Ardouin and Joseph Bonnet are described by David Nicholls and other twentieth first century historians as being central in a cultural movement to vindicate and justify the leadership positions that mulattos played in the Haitian Revolution, and the positions of power they still held when Saint-Rémy and Ardouin were writing. To a large extent, Saint-Rémy and Ardouin were writing in response to Thomas Madiou’s Histoire d’Haiti. In contrast to Madiou, Saint-Rémy and Ardouin presented a narrow and stylized picture of the past favoring mulatto rule. Nicholls placed their works within the Anglo-American Whig interpretation of history, crafted in a specific way to paint a certain portrait of the mulatto leaders. Nevertheless, he is among those early Haitian writers that forcibly and eloquently countered the emerging racist ideologies of the time.

Portrait of Pétion. In Pétion et Haïti: étude monographique et historique, five volumes, by Joseph Saint-Rémy​.

Portrait of Pétion. In Pétion et Haïti: étude monographique et historique, five volumes, by Joseph Saint-Rémy​.

As a part of his attempt to paint the actions of mulattos in a positive light, Saint-Rémy attempted to play down the racial tensions of post-revolutionary Haitian history. Like Pompée Valentin Vastey, and Madiou who were also mulattos, but open to the black perspectives of history, he identified white colonial rule as the source of all forms of segregation in the postcolonial nation. Yet, differently from them, he ignored the mulatto prejudice and paternalism, and presented the black leaders’ contributions unsympathetically. Thus, he wrote the history of the life of Toussaint Louverture in a tone that was condemning of his political decisions, while also admiring his skills and accomplishments. While he approved of Louverture’s role in exercising control over the French colonial government in 1800 and keeping French imperialism at bay, Saint-Rémy showed Louverture’s decision to preserve Haiti as a French Colony as a sign of his willing submission to European rule. But, that does not mean he favored of Jean-Jacques Dessalines, the black leader who led the final separation from France in 1804. Rémy’s treatment of Louverture is ambiguous at best, but his handling of Jean-Jacques Dessalines and Henri Christophe, Dessalines’ successor who became emperor of northern Haiti, is downright scathing. Saint-Rémy painted both as tyrants, and described Dessalines’ assassination and Christophe’s suicide as a “cause of liberty.”

Laurent Quevilly's book on Vastey

Laurent Quevilly’s book on Vastey

In contrast to his description of Louverture and Dessalines, Saint-Rémy’s five-volume work on the life of Alexandre Pétion is an absolutely glowing endorsement of everything that is good and right about a Haitian leader. Saint-Rémy hailed Pétion and Jean Pierre Boyer, Pétion’s successor, as being the paragons of good governance for Haiti, and once again, Nicholls attributes this to his attempt to “vindicate mulatto ascendency.” Despite the fact that he is painted as a “Whig” in his interpretation of history, Saint-Rémy’s lasting impression in the minds of most historians seems to be somewhat more positive than one might expect. Saint-Rémy was at least willing to admit that there were racial divisions in Haiti; he simply desired to get rid of them. This is a somewhat less whiggish than Ardouin, who refused to acknowledge any racial issues in Haiti once the whites were gone. And for this Saint-Rémy was even rebuked by fellow mulâtriste writers for straying from the path of mulatto ideology. His writing style and skill also earned him great praise, as Joseph-Anténor Firmin later wrote of him in his book, The Equality of the Human Races: “Saint-Rémy is clearly a gifted writer who uses the French language to magnificent effects. His style is that of the craftsman. His diction is pure and correct, and often charming. With brilliant turns of phrase, always tempered by the sober rhythm of the sentence, he highlights the points that he wants to clarify and to which he wishes to draw the reader’s attention.” And as important, Saint-Rémy consistently attacked white rule, giving historical examples that undermined ideas of racial purity and white supremacy.


Entry by

Dennis R. Hidalgo
John Gillespie

James Tredwell, the 1816 Haitian Constitution and the Migration to Haiti

General Joseph Balthazar Inginac

Joseph Balthazar Inginac

This entry is not about the British cricketer, but about the United States’ Black (African-American) who travel to Haiti in 1817 and brought back with him the first copy of the Haitian Republican Constitution to become broadly mentioned in the U.S. and Atlantic media culture. Tredwell managed to translate it from the French. In addition to the Constitution, he also published other documents that Joseph B. Inginac gave him. Most of these documents related to French intrigues attempting to recapture Haiti. But in his brief introduction to the papers, Tredwell included a letter that Inginac gave him with an answer to his question about the possibilities of U.S. Blacks relocating in Haiti.

Alexandre Pétion

Alexandre Pétion

It hit the Northern Atlantic news much like it would have been with blogs today: The Boston Centinel was the first to spread the news and then other papers and publications picked it up in fragments. The news of Tredwell’s publication was reblogged in several papers. These news included portions of the Inginac’s letter and just a few of the articles.  This was the first time that the Haitian government was passing a direct invitation to U.S. Blacks to settle in Haiti, and it did so through the promise of citizenship. That’s why the constitution was at the center of the invitation. In fact, without the constitution there was no invitation.

American Colonization Society

American Colonization Society

The so-called “Pétion’s Constitution of 1816,” introduced articles that guaranteed citizenship to all People of Color regardless of their birth place (Ada Ferrer wrote an article about this subject). Runaways from nearby islands appeared to have responded to news by fleeing toward Haiti. Others who were not enslaved also responded and relocated to Haiti (i.e., Joseph Saint Remy‘s family)  What Tredwell brought to the U.S. was the same type of invitation, but Inginac worded his letter in such a martial and masculine tone that is hardly surprising why it was filtered by the U.S. media. For example, as part of his invitation to U.S. Blacks who were living under a racist society, Inginac wrote: “Let them come and show to white men that there yet exists coloured and black men who can raise a fearless front, secured from insult and from injury.” Here Inginac was just warming up. He was obviously very upset, and his source of anger was the American Colonization Society, which, according to how many Blacks and even sea captains were perceiving, it wanted to deport all U.S. Blacks to Africa.  Inginac knew that this type of scheme well because it had been part of the French colonization project a few years back. And it is within this context that we should understand what he says here:

Well! Let them know how to oppose to persecution the firmness of men made to be respected. Let them abandon an ungrateful country, which repulses them, and seek elsewhere a more hospitable land, before violence drags them into regions uninhabitable by civilized men… The Republic of Hayti has no more to fear of invasion than that from the United States.

Of course, none of this ballistic rhetoric transpired in the U.S. papers; you would have to read the original document in Tredwell’s publication to get it. The Boston Centinel did not want to raise more specter of Haiti as a source of fear.  Their interest was to promote the emigration of free Blacks to the island in opposition to the American Colonization Society. And it was their version of the news that was reblogged in about 7 other papers along the east coast in Britain. But by extracting the causes of Inginac’s anger, the papers presented the news of Haiti’s invitation out of context. As it appeared in the Atlantic print culture (or blogosphere), Tredwell’s publication was a desperate call from Haiti to have immigrants relocating on the island– a grave mistake, because the reason why Inginac had given Tredwell those papers, including the constitution and the letter he wrote himself, was to rescue U.S. Blacks from the ACS schemes.

Click here for the bibliographic information:

Tredwell Hayti  City of Washington Gazette; Date- 10-13-1818; Volume- III; Issue- 281; Page- [2]; Location- Washington (DC), District of Columbia copy.jp2


Buccaneers of America by  Exquemelin, A. O. (Alexandre Olivier); Ringrose, Basil, d. 1686; Raveneau de Lussan; Mountauban, de, 1650?-1700; Perkins, Oliver L

Buccaneers of America by
Exquemelin, A. O. (Alexandre Olivier); Ringrose, Basil, d. 1686; Raveneau de Lussan; Mountauban, de, 1650?-1700; Perkins, Oliver L

By Thomas Benjamin and Dennis R. Hidalgo

Commerce raiders called privateers, pirates, buccaneers, and other such names roamed the Caribbean Sea, as well as the Atlantic and Indian oceans, in the sixteenth, seventeenth, and eighteenth centuries as the detritus of the first Western colonies. During the sixteenth and first half of the seventeenth centuries, French, English, and Dutch raiders of Spanish and Portuguese shipping and ports generally acted under the authorization of their governments. The English Crown, for example, granted merchants and captains “letters of marque and reprisal,” which authorized attacks on Spanish shipping and ports. This legal document required that the privateer captains deliver to an admiralty court their captured ships, whereupon everyone would legally carve up a share of the spoils.

These privateers became invaluable military forces in times of war in an age when permanent navies did not exist. Until the late seventeenth century, the powers of Europe generally did not recognize truces and peace agreements outside of Europe. Privateers, therefore, were tolerated and often encouraged, even in peacetime. In the second half of the seventeenth century, there was often little meaningful difference between a privateer and an independent sea raider, that is, a pirate. Letters of marque and reprisal were widely granted.

When the French, English, and Dutch were becoming established in the Caribbean in the early to mid-seventeenth century, privateers were important naval forces in their own right. Perhaps the first commerce-raiding outpost to appear in the Caribbean arose around French Tortuga, lying just northwest of Hispaniola. These raiders



became widely known as boucaniers or buccaneers, after a Tupi Indian word for a smoking frame (boucan) used to roast wild cattle. These raiders were also called freebooters in the sense they that soldiered without pay for booty. To the Dutch, a commerce raider was a vrijbuiter, which the French translated to flibustier. The English and French word pirate derived from centuries-old Latin and Greek words.

In 1630, the same year the Puritan colony of Massachusetts Bay was founded, a second Puritan colony was founded on Providence Island off the Caribbean coast of Nicaragua. The colony had little success as an agricultural settlement, but a change in foreign policy and the issuance of letters of marque and reprisal to the Providence Island Company in 1626 turned the island into a privateering base and a new source of profit. In 1641 the Spanish retook the island. Thereafter, however, the Spanish and the buccaneers fought over the island and its harbors and inlets for decades.

Walter Raleigh sacking a Spanish city walter-raleigh-sacking

Walter Raleigh sacking a Spanish city walter-raleigh-sacking

After the English seized Jamaica in 1655, that island, in the center of the Spanish Caribbean, became the center of privateering and privacy. To maintain possession of the island, England issued letters of marque to French, Dutch, Danish, Italian, Swedish, Portuguese, and English captains. One of Jamaica’s first historians, Bryan Edwards (1743–1800), noted that “nothing contributed so much to the settlement and opulence of this island in early times, as the resort to it of those men called Bucaniers; the wealth which they acquired having been speedily transferred to people whose industry was employed in cultivation or commerce.” But, he continued, these men were not “piratical plunderers and public robbers which they are commonly represented.” Because of the Spanish War, he noted, these buccaneers “were furnished with regular letters of marque and reprisal” (Edwards 1793, vol. 1, p. 160).

The first royal governors of Jamaica established the seaport of Port Royal, which attracted privateers and pirates, as well as merchants, tavern-keepers, runaway servants, prostitutes, and others. This town, encouraged by the governor, sent fleets of privateers under Henry Morgan (1635–1688) between 1665 and 1671 to plunder Spanish seaports on the coasts of Cuba, Panama, Venezuela, and Nicaragua. Despite England’s promise to Spain to end privateering and suppress piracy in the Treaty of Madrid in 1670 and the Jamaica Act of 1683, buccaneers continued to freely operate from Port Royal until the end of the century. Over time, however, the “scum of the Indies drifted away from

Four Pirates Buccaneers

Four Pirates Buccaneers

Jamaica,” writes Violet Barbour, “to Hispaniola and Tortuga where aliens of any nation or reputation were received with obliging catholicity” (1911, p. 567). Port Royal was hit by a great earthquake in 1692 that utterly destroyed the port. The government of Jamaica rebuilt a new port, Kingston, on firmer ground across the harbor, and the buccaneers moved to new haunts in the Bahamas, North America, and West Africa.

During the second half of the seventeenth century, buccaneers not only attacked Spanish and Portuguese shipping and ports but also English, French, and Dutch shipping and American and African ports and posts. When wars erupted between the northern European powers, governments and their colonial authorities began issuing letters of marque to captains of just about any nationality, so long as the holder was clear who the “enemy” was.

A Buccaneer.

Buccaneers, also known as privateers and pirates, roamed the Caribbean Sea, as well as the Atlantic and Indian oceans, in the sixteenth, seventeenth, and eighteenth centuries as the detritus of the first Western colonies. This buccaneer guards his booty with a flintlock rifle and a pistol. © Bettmann/Corbis. Reproduced by Permission.

During the Anglo-Dutch Wars and the Franco-Dutch Wars of the second half of the seventeenth century, the English in Jamaica and the French in Tortuga enlisted buccaneers to cruise against the Dutch. In 1666 when France entered the war on the side of the Netherlands, the Dutch in Curacçao and the French in Tortuga directed buccaneers against English islands and trade. In 1673 the Dutch launched a serious effort to seize the French West Indies, and Dutch privateers, assisting the effort, brought more than twenty-five French prizes into Curaçao that year.

During the next several years of the war, aggressive Dutch privateers eliminated a few hundred French buccaneers and brought about the decline of commercial traffic from France. The buccaneers themselves, while no friend of any government, generally preferred in the seventeenth century to enrich themselves from the Spanish and stay away from English, French, and Dutch prizes. The Spanish had more hard money, and the buccaneers had more reasons to take vengeance on them. The French buccaneer Sieur de Grammont in 1683 mounted a raid on Vera Cruz, the principal port of New Spain, which yielded four days of uninterrupted looting. The Dutch buccaneers Nicholas van Hoorn and Laurens de Graaf two years later attacked the city of Campeche on the eastern coast of the Yucatán Peninsula, and left the city in ashes after looting the government treasury, churches, and private houses.

A Dutch buccaneer known as Roche Brasiliano provides an example of the buccaneer’s basic animosity to the Spanish. A fellow buccaneer described Brasiliano’s particularly infamous modus operandi: “Unto the Spaniards he always showed himself very barbarous and cruel, only out of an inveterate hatred he had against that nation. Of these he commanded several to be roasted alive upon wooden spits, for no other crime than that they would not show him the places, or hog-yards, where he might steal swine” (Exquemelin 1678/2000, p. 73).

French buccaneers in Tortuga were also active during the last three decades of the seventeenth century. One buccaneer captain was so successful in his looting as to invest his wealth in Martinique and become the owner of the largest sugar plantation in the French West Indies. Buccaneers who found a hostile reception in their nation’s different entrepôts in the Caribbean, or were welcome nowhere else, eventually made their way to Tortuga.

CIA Map of Central America and the Caribbean

CIA Map of Central America and the Caribbean

It was from Tortuga in the seventeenth century that the French and other buccaneers began to colonize the western end of Hispaniola. In 1669 the governor of French Saint-Domingue (now Haiti) claimed there were 1,600 freebooters, hunters, settlers, and indentured servants on Tortuga and the coast of Saint-Domingue. Two years later, a navy captain estimated that about 500 or 600 freebooters and about 100 boucaniers lived in the Cul-de-Sac or western district of Saint-Domingue alone. The successful privateers and petty noblemen established tobacco and later sugar plantations. The Spanish officially recognized French possession of its new colony in the Treaty of Ryswick in 1697. During the next fifty years, Saint-Domingue would become the most valuable European colony in the Atlantic.

By the late seventeenth century, the English, French, and Dutch had achieved the recognition they had long sought from the Spanish of their New World colonies. The buccaneers that they themselves had commissioned were increasingly not only interfering with but also seriously ravaging Atlantic commerce. The early eighteenth century would see the golden age of piracy and its brutal suppression.

Library of Congress: Buccaneers of the Americas

Library of Congress: Buccaneers of the Americas

The most famous buccaneers of the period were Anglo-Americans based largely in New Providence in the Bahamas. Men like Edward Teach (Blackbeard), Bartolomew “Black Bart” Roberts, William Kidd, and John “Calico Jack” Rackman operated on a much smaller scale than Henry Morgan. They led only one or two heavily-armed ships and sought prizes isolated from convoys. The governor of Bermuda in 1718 reported the deeds of “Tatch [Blackbeard] with whom is Major Bonnett of Barbados in a ship of 36 guns and 300 men, also in company with them a sloop of 12 guns and 115 men and two other ships” (Cordingly 1996, p. 111). Some, like Black Bart, were extraordinarily successful. In the 1710s and 1720s he captured some four hundred ships of all nationalities. Some buccaneers, such as William Kidd, found the Caribbean too confining when the English and French navies were fighting piracy, and employed their skills in the Indian Ocean.Blackbeard

Some buccaneers in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries saw themselves as social bandits, agents of the poor and oppressed against rich and powerful merchants and tyrannical captains. One pirate captain named Bellamy described the enemies of piracy among the ruling class thus: “They vilify us, the Scoundrels do, when there is only this Difference, they rob the Poor under the Cover of Law, forsooth, and we plunder the Rich under the protection of our own Courage” (Bolster 1997, p. 14). Captain Thomas Checkley in 1718 told of the capture of his ship by pirates who “pretended to be Robbin Hoods Men” (Rediker 1993, pp. 267-269).

Morgan in Panama City

Morgan in Panama City

English suppression of piracy became serious at the end of the seventeenth and the beginning of the eighteenth century. The British Parliament’s 1699 Act of Piracy established vice-admiralty courts in the American colonies that permitted local authorities to hang pirates. From 1716 to 1726, some four hundred to five hundred pirates were executed in Anglo-American ports. The British Crown also began to replace governors and other officials who were accomplices of buccaneers. The new governors seized buccaneer ships docked in their ports, as well as their cargos.

The War of the Spanish Succession (1701–1714) brought many pirates into official service and their decommission led to a last flurry of piracy in the Atlantic. After the war the British and French governments deployed more and more naval power in the Caribbean to protect their own commerce from each other and from the buccaneers. Authorities and colonial governors offered bounties for captured pirates, and in 1717 and 1718 King George I (1660–1727) granted general pardons for piracy—about 450 pirates turned themselves in. Any and all contact with pirates thereafter was criminalized.

Anne Bonny (1697-1720). Engraving from Captain Charles Johnson's General History of the Pyrates (1st Dutch Edition 1725)

Anne Bonny (1697-1720). Engraving from Captain Charles Johnson’s General History of the Pyrates (1st Dutch Edition 1725)

The Bahamas was brought under control by a special expedition led by Woodes Rogers (ca. 1679–1732) with four Royal Navy men-of-war. Examples were made of pirates who fell into the hands of authorities: corpses were hung in British ports all around the Atlantic. By 1730 pirate attacks were becoming isolated and rare events and only a handful of buccaneers remained in business. Many of these pirates, still free and unreformed, moved on to Madagascar in the Indian Ocean.


Andrews, Kenneth R. English Privateering Voyages to the West Indies, 1588–1595: Documents Relating to English Voyages to the West Indies from the Defeat of the Armada to the Last Voyage of Sir Francis Drake. Cambridge, U.K.: Hakluyt Society, 1959.

Barbour, Violet. “Privateers and Pirates of the West Indies.” The American Historical Review 16 (3) (1911).

Bolster, W. Jeffrey. Black Jacks: African American Seamen in the Age of Sail. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1997.

Burney, James. History of the Buccaneers of America (1816). New York: Norton, 1950.

Cordingly, David. Under the Black Flag: The Romance and the Reality of Life Among the Pirates. New York: Random House, 1996.

Defoe, Daniel. A General History of the Robberies and Murders of the Most Notorious Pirates(1724). New York: Carroll & Graf, 1999.

Edwards, Bryan. The History, Civil and Commercial, of the British Colonies in the West Indies. Dublin: Luke White, 1793. Reprint, New York: Arno, 1978.

Exquemelin, Alexander O. The Buccaneers of America (1678). Translated by Alexis Brown. Mineola, NY: Dover, 2000.

Gage, Thomas. The English-American, His Travail by Sea and Land, or, A New Survey of the West-Indies. London: Cates, 1648.

Kupperman, Karen Ordahl. Providence Island, 1630–1641: The Other Puritan ColonyCambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 1993.

Lane, Kris E. Pillaging the Empire: Piracy in the Americas, 1500–1750. Armonk, NY: Sharpe, 1998.

Rediker, Marcus. Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea: Merchant Seamen, Pirates, and the Anglo-American Maritime World, 1700–1750. Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 1993.

Swanson, Carl E. Predators and Prizes: American Privateering and Imperial Warfare, 1739–1748. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1991.

Williams, Eric. From Columbus to Castro: The History of the Caribbean, 1492–1969. London: Deutsch, 1970.

Williams, Neville. The Sea Dogs: Privateers, Plunder, and Piracy in the Elizabethan Age. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1975.

Source Citation   (MLA 7th Edition) 

Benjamin, Thomas, and Dennis Hidalgo. “Buccaneers.” Encyclopedia of Western Colonialism since 1450. Ed. Thomas Benjamin. Vol. 1. Detroit: Macmillan Reference USA, 2007. 165-168.Gale Virtual Reference Library.


by Thomas Benjamin and Dennis R. Hidalgo

Western colonialism has engendered anticolonialism from the beginning of the age of European expansion. All empires, in fact, have provoked local and indigenous defiance, backlashes, and resistance throughout human history. The conquest, domination, exploitation, and rule of neighboring and distant peoples and their lands by a powerful and often alien polity, by their very nature, has time and again produced many different kinds of challenges, opposition, and violence.

A Protest Against Globalization, Colonialism, and the United States. An antiglobalization protestor marches in Paris in November 2003 during the annual European Social Forum.

A Protest Against Globalization, Colonialism, and the United States. An antiglobalization protestor marches in Paris in November 2003 during the annual European Social Forum. © Antoine Serra/in Visu/Corbis. Reproduced by Permission.

Beginning in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries the overseas colonies of western Europe met resistance, and created resistance, by the native peoples in the Americas, Africa, the Middle East, Asia, and the Pacific. Indigenous opposition and resistance, however, were rarely a simple matter of non-Europeans rejecting European governance, order, or culture. Overseas imperialism and colonialism also produced a tradition of intellectual critique, criticism, and condemnation within the West itself. Western anticolonialism was based upon various and evolving objections, stemming from moral, religious, humanitarian, economic, and political concerns and interests.

The immigrant settlers of Europe’s overseas colonies in time developed their own anticolonial critiques that led, in the Americas most particularly, to resistance, rebellion, and revolutions creating independent states. Anticolonialism contributed to, and was a product of, nationalism and the struggles to create new identities for the peoples of Europe’s overseas colonies. Indeed, true anticolonialism—that is, the theoretical and active resistance to colonial rule with the objective of overthrowing imperial control and establishing independent, national states—became nearly indistinguishable from nationalism in Africa, the Middle East, and Asia by the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

There are a number of entries devoted to anticolonialism and indigenous and settler nationalist and independence movements in the Americas, Africa, the Middle East, South Asia, East Asia, and the Pacific in this encyclopedia. There are, as well, several entries that describe and analyze Western thought regarding colonialism. This entry, as a result, does not retrace all of these historical developments, nor does it reconsider the history or historiography of anticolonial thought. Although this entry presents no all-embracing theory to explain anticolonialism, it does identify, describe, and classify the broad patterns of anti-Western anticolonialism of the past five hundred years in an effort to translate an extraordinarily complex historical phenomenon into an understandable and useful analysis.

Although anticolonial thought and action has existed for many centuries, indeed, for millennia, the concept “anticolonialism” is quite recent. The word colonialism did not appear in an English dictionary until the mid-nineteenth century. Although theorists in the past have emphasized the difference between colonialism and imperialism, writers and even historians today often use these concepts interchangeably. Following the lead of political scientist David Abernethy, empireis defined as a state (metropole) that dominates and legally possesses one or more territories beyond its boundaries (colonies). Imperialism refers to the process of expansion and conquest necessary in the construction of an empire. The territories seized, dominated, and possessed by the imperial state are colonies. “Colonialism,” writes Abernethy, “is the set of formal policies, informal practices, and ideologies employed by a metropole to retain control of a colony and to benefit from control” (2000, p. 22). Anticolonialism is a broad concept that includes every kind of opposition—from political thought to popular violence—against imperialism and colonialism.

Defiance, opposition, and resistance to European expansion, conquest, and colonization by indigenous communities, organized groups, disparate “mobs,” states and empires, and slaves took different forms and sought different outcomes. The most significant and widespread kinds of indigenous resistance over the five centuries of Western colonialism were the following:

  1. Preexisting indigenous polities, states, and empires used violence to defend their people, land, autonomy, and power against Western expansion.
  2. Popular nativist uprisings were often violent reactions to the interference by, or imposition of, Western colonists, institutions, and customs, which often came in the form of militant or missionary Christianity.
  3. African and Creole slaves revolted against, primarily, the plantation and the master class.
  4. In all colonies, protest uprisings and movements appeared to highlight colonial injustice, and often specific abuses and impositions, in order to provoke concessions, reform, and improvements. These ameliorative protest uprisings and movements challenged colonial regimes but did not attempt to destroy or defeat them.
  5. State builders, often nationalists or nationalist movements, organized violence against colonial regimes to defeat them and create new states governed by leaders from the majority indigenous population.
Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla

Posada, José Guadalupe (1852-1913) – This image is available from the United States Library of Congress’s Prints and Photographs

When historians examine specific uprisings, revolts, rebellions, and insurrections, the artificial boundaries of these categories begin to bend and collapse. The Hidalgo Revolt (1810–1811) in central Mexico was a popular nativist uprising against “whites” and the wealthy, but it was also a genuinely anticolonial—that is, antiSpanish—rebellion intended to establish Spanish American and popular self-government in Mexico, if not an independent nation-state in time. There were, of course, many more kinds of indigenous resistance to Western colonialism, both violent and nonviolent, than the five described above. These five forms of resistance, however, represent the basic models that dominated the non-Western responses to Western colonialism.

In most parts of the world, the expansion of European empires came into direct conflict with existing indigenous states and empires. The Spanish defeat of the armies of the Inca Empire and the occupation of the imperial capital of Cuzco in 1536 was the beginning, not the end, of serious organized resistance to Spanish encroachment in the central Andes. Less than a year later, a massive Inca rebellion besieged the Spaniards in Cuzco and attacked them in Lima. Although the siege was broken, in 1538 the defiant Inca leader Manco Inca had two armies in the field and had organized local rebellions across the Andes. The Inca army in the northern Sierra fought the Spaniards for eight years. Manco Inca and his successors retreated to the remote eastern Andean site of Vilcabamba and defended the restored neo-Inca state until 1572.

In southern Africa, the expansionist Zulu kingdom and empire came into conflict with Dutch colonists (Boers), and then the British colonial state, in the nineteenth century. For more than fifty years the Zulu fought the Boers and the British until their defeat and “conquest” in 1879. The Zulu, nevertheless, rose in rebellion in 1906.

A quite distinct and more widespread form of resistance was nativist uprisings, popular indigenous reactions against colonial exploitation and the imposition of Western culture, religion, and governance. The Tzeltal Revolt of 1712, a Maya uprising against the Spanish in southern Mexico, aimed to kill or drive out of the province all Spaniards, mestizos, and mulattos and establish a new Indian Catholic society and kingdom. The Indian Revolt of 1857 in India and the Boxer Rebellion in China in 1900 were popular explosions of violence against Christian missionaries, local converts and collaborators, and “foreign devils” in general.

Slave revolts in the Atlantic world from the sixteenth to the nineteenth century—violent uprisings by enslaved Africans for many centuries and, later, by Creole AfricanAmericans—attacked one of the most important economic institutions and social systems erected by Western colonialism. In the numerous assaults against the plantation system and its masters, and against the degrading, exploitive, and violent slave system itself, African and Creole slaves attacked colonialism or colonial rule indirectly and inadvertently. Rebel slaves used violence to respond to violence and injustice. Rebels sought revenge, escape, return to Africa, the creation of a new society, and, occasionally, the extermination of the slave-owners and their like.

Wolof slaves revolted against the Spanish in Hispaniola in 1521. Across the Atlantic, a slave revolt beginning around 1544 in the Portuguese island colony of São Tomé in the Gulf of Guinea produced a settlement of free Africans who continued to fight the Portuguese. These Angolares (originally, slaves exported from Angola) raided plantations and burned fields and sugar mills, and in 1574 attacked and largely destroyed the city of São Tomé In 1595 a leader named Amador led a slave army of five thousand men and women that burned or destroyed some seventy sugar plantations on the island.

Over the next four hundred years, there were many hundreds of major slave revolts and insurrections in the Americas. The massive slave insurrection that began in 1791 in France’s richest colony, Saint-Domingue (now Haiti) became transformed into an organized military campaign led by the ex-slave Toussaint Louverture (1743–1803) that defeated Spanish, British, and French armies. In 1804 the black generals established the independent nation-state of Haiti, the second new state in the Americas and the first modern state ever created by a slave insurrection.

Ameliorative protest uprisings and movements employed violence against the colonial regime or its officials, but also nonviolent methods of protest and resistance, such as demonstrations, riots, strikes, petitions, and more. Many, if not most, of the village uprisings in colonial Mexico were provoked by specific abuses or perceived threats and ended when colonial officials promised to act upon the grievances of villagers. As William B. Taylor, a historian of colonial Mexico, notes, community outrage was directed against local officials, the tax collector, or the parish priest. “Villagers in revolt generally did not make the connection between their grievances and the colonial system as a whole” (1979, p. 134).

In the Gold Coast, the British colony in West Africa, the Aborigines’ Rights Protective Society (ARPS) was formed in the 1890s to appeal to, and it was hoped to influence, British public opinion against the colonial authorities on the spot. The colonial government began a program to transform property rights and relations. The ARPS, formed by traditional chiefs working with African lawyers educated in Britain, organized the first colonywide protest and sent a delegation to London that succeeded in getting legislation that protected their land rights.

In the wake of the French conquest of Algeria in the 1830s, the Muslim Sufi order of the Qadiriyya in western Algeria provided the religious and political legitimacy for a resistance movement. In 1834 ‘Abd al-Qadir (1808–1883) became the head of the order and fought tribal authorities and the French to expand his authority. Within three years, the French recognized ‘Abd al-Qadir’s authority and the sovereignty of the Qadiriyya state over two-thirds of Algeria. In the 1840s conflict with the French—that is, with the more technologically advanced French army—led to the defeat and surrender of ‘Abd al-Qadir in 1847.

Depiction of the Battle of Omdurman (1898).

Depiction of the Battle of Omdurman (1898). Richard Caton Woodville (1856–1927)

In the Egyptian colony of Sudan, the Mahdi (a messianic Muslim leader) Muhammad ibn-Abdallah began a campaign in the 1880s to create an independent theocratic state. The campaign took advantage of Egypt’s turmoil and weakness in the face of French and then British intermeddling. In 1883 the forces of the Mahdi destroyed the ten-thousand-strong Egyptian army. General George Gordon (1833–1885) went to Khartoum, Sudan, to evacuate Egyptians, but was besieged and killed in 1885. The middle Nile Valley was controlled by the Mahdist state, thereafter, it seemed, for more than a decade. In 1898 an Anglo-Egyptian army invaded the Sudan and met the Mahdist army at Omdurman on the banks of the Nile River. The British forces, armed with Maxim (machine) guns, repeating rifles, and gunboats, killed and wounded tens of thousands of Mahdist dervishes. After the five-hour battle, only forty-eight British soldiers were killed. The Mahdist state was overthrown as the British Empire took control of Sudan.

Scene from the Egyptian Revolution of 1919. Image from Egyptian History website.

Scene from the Egyptian Revolution of 1919. Image from Egyptian History website.

Anticolonialist nationalist revolts of the twentieth century were remarkably successful. A nationalist Egyptian uprising in 1919, followed by mass demonstrations, prodded the British to grant independence in 1922. Within three months of the assignment of the mandate of Iraq by the League of Nations to Britain 1919, the “Great Arab” insurrection in the new country began. The Arabs of Iraq had reasons of their own to oppose British colonialism, but the Communist International (or Comintern, a Soviet-led revolutionary organization), trying out its anticolonial legs, employed propaganda in an attempt to add fuel to the fire: “In your country there are eighty-thousand English soldiers who plunder and rob, who kill you and violate your wives!” (quoted in Kiernan 1998, p. 191). Over the next seven years, the British occupation faced not only Arab resistance but also Kurdish insurrection, which began in 1922. At the end of 1927, Britain recognized the independence of Iraq under the sovereignty of King Faisal (1885–1933) and in 1932 Iraq was admitted to the League of Nations.

Ho Chi MinhIndochina (today Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia) was not brought under effective French colonial rule until the 1880s and 1890s. However, at the Paris Peace Conference (1919–1920), which established the terms of peace after World War I ended in 1918, Ho Chi Minh (1890–1969) and other Vietnamese nationalists were attracted by U.S. president Woodrow Wilson’s (1856–1924) call for national self-determination and the possibility they might negotiate some degree of self- government and autonomy with the Great Powers. The Vietnamese spokesmen, like those from India, Egypt, Senegal, and other colonies, were ignored.

Back in Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh and other nationalists formed the Communist Party in 1925; the party organized an uprising in 1930. The repression that followed kept order until a revolt erupted in 1940. After this uprising was crushed, Ho Chi Minh and other nationalists in 1941 established a united front of various parties and resistance groups called the Vietminh. At the conclusion of World War II (1939–1945), following the Japanese surrender in Hanoi, the Vietminh declared the independence of Vietnam. The French, however, unwilling to give up control of the colony, sent an army to Vietnam and fought the Vietminh from 1946 until 1954, when a garrison of sixteen thousand French and African soldiers at Dien Bien Phu surrendered to a superior Vietminh force. In that same year, a FrenchChinese agreement, accepted by the Geneva Conference on the Far East (1954), divided Vietnam at the seventeenth parallel. The Communist Vietminh government took control of the northern section and established the Democratic Republic of Vietnam. France then granted independence to South Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia.

These five distinct kinds of indigenous resistance to Western colonialism disguise a social complexity that characterized the establishment and maintenance of colonialism itself. Colonialism was not something that was imposed from outside or that operated with the collusion of forces inside; it was a combination of both developments. Anticolonialism, in a similar way, was resistance to the outside imposition, as well as a contestation of political authority, among indigenous leaders, groups, regions, and classes within a colony.

The Indian Revolt, or Great Rebellion, of 1857 to 1859 began as a mutiny of Indian soldiers orsepoys who served the British East India Company. The sepoys of the Bengal Army protested their pay and conditions. Once British rule began to waver in the north, towns, artisans, and peasants rose up in rebellion to restore, at least symbolically, the Mughal Empire. The British defeated the rebellion in large measure because large sections of the Indian army, the Ghurkas and Sikhs in particular, remained loyal. When Delhi fell to “British” forces, most of those forces were Indian.

The Boxer Rebellion in China in 1900 was both an anti-Manchu and an anti-Western rebellion. “Boxers,” a secret society, were Han Chinese nationalists who opposed the “Manchu” Qing regime and foreigners, particularly missionaries and businessmen, who supported the regime.

Table 1 provides a list of important anticolonial rebellions and slave revolts of the past five hundred years. It suggests the great geographical diversity and temporal persistence of anticolonial struggles around the world. This list, however, is far from definitive and complete. Scholars of colonized peoples, furthermore, have emphasized that peasants, slaves, women, and other relatively powerless groups have employed “weapons of the weak”—that is, everyday forms of resistance, such as shirking, theft, sabotage, arson, and flight—to resist, recoup, or survive colonialism. While these “quiet” and often clandestine forms of resistance have rarely entered the history books, they have, according to James C. Scott (1985), constituted the greatest part of peasant politics.

The long and bloody history of resistance to Western colonialism that is suggested by the names and dates in Table 1 influenced Western political and social thought from the sixteenth century to the present. Prior to the mid-eighteenth century, European encounters with other peoples and lands prompted philosophical debates about the nature of humans and the moral responsibility of Christian monarchs and colonizers to the “barbarians” and “savages” they encountered, conquered, and ruled. A number of sixteenth-century Europeans, such as Antonio de Montesinos, Thomas More (1478–1535), Desiderius Erasmus (ca. 1466–1536), Bartolomé de las Casas (1474–1566), Alonzo de Zorita (1512–1585), Michel de Montaigne (1533–1592), Philippe de Mornay (1549–1623), and José de Acosta (1539–1600), opposed war and violent expansion, and in particular criticized Spanish colonial excesses and abusive policies, but they never rejected the imperial project. Some French Protestants, and more English and Dutch Protestant critics, seized upon the discourse of the Spanish critics and created the “Black Legend,” an exaggerated reprimand of Spanish colonialism.

Not all western European writers in the seventeenth century, however, were anti-Spanish, and very few criticized, let alone opposed, their own nation’s imperial projects. A number of French Catholic philosophers and missionaries in the seventeenth century praised Spanish attempts to legislate protections on behalf of Native Americans in their New World kingdoms. By the 1660s, the English dramatist John Dryden (1631–1700) romanticized the Spanish conquest of Mexico in his play The Indian Emperor (1665).

By the mid to late eighteenth century, a number of prominent European and American thinkers and politicians not only criticized the abuses and excesses of Western colonialism, but for the first time challenged “the idea that Europeans had any right to subjugate, colonize, and ‘civilize’ the rest of the world” (Muthu, 2003, p. 1). Such Enlightenment philosophers and writers as François-Marie Arouet, known as Voltaire (1694–1778), Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712–1778), Denis

Table 1. Non-European rebellions, resistance movements and slave revolts

Table 1. Non-European rebellions, resistance movements and slave revolts The Gale Group.

Table 1. Non-European rebellions, resistance movements and slave revolts
Date Leadership/People Event
Phase 1: Expansion, 1415–1773
1490s Hispaniola (Sp.) Taino Chieftain’s Revolts
1521 Hispaniola (Sp.) Mexico (Sp.) Wolofs: Slave Revolt
1540s Mexico (Sp.) The Mixtó War
1520s–1540s Yucatan (Sp.) Yucatec Maya Resistance
1540s–1550s Brail (Por.) Potiguar, Caeté & Tupinambá: Resistance and Wars
1550s–1600 Northern Mexico (Sp.) The Chichimeca War
1567 Bahia, Brazil (Por.) Indian Slave Revolt
1595 São Tomé(Por.) Amador: Slave Revolt
1622 Virginia (Br.) Powhatan Confederation Attack
1637 Connecticut (Br.) Pequot War
1673 Jamaica (Br.) Slave Revolt
1680–1692 New Mexico (Sp.) Pope: Pueblo Rebellion
1712 Chiapas (Sp.) Tzeltal Rebellion: Maya Revolt
1731 Louisiana (Fr.) Samba: Slave Revolt
1733 St. Johns (Dm.) Slave Revolt
1734–1738 Jamaica (Br.) Cudjoe: Chief of Trelawny Town: First Maroon War
1739 South Carolina (Br.) Stono Rebellion: Slave Revolt
1742–1750s Peru (Sp.) Juan Santos Atahualpa
1760 Jamaica (Br.) Tacky’s Revolt: Slave Revolt
1761 Yucatan (Sp.) Canek: Maya Uprising
1763–1766 North America (Br.) Pontiac’s Rebellion
Phase 2: Contraction, 1775–1824
1777 Upper Peru (Sp.) Tomás Katari: Aymaras
1780–1783 Peru-Upper Peru (Sp.) José Gabriel Condorcanqui (Tupac Amaru II Rebellion)
1791–1804 Saint Domingue (Fr.) Toussaint L’Ouverture: Slave Rebellion
1795 New Granada (Sp.) Slave Revolt
1795 Demerara (Da.) Slave Revolt
1795–1796 Jamaica (Br.) Second Maroon War
1810–1811 Central Mexico (Sp.) Miguel Hidalgo: Popular Uprising
1811–1815 Mexico (Sp.) José María Morelos: Continuation of the HidalgoUprising
1816 Barbados (Br.) Slave Revolt
1823 Demerara (Br.) Slave Revolt
Phase 3: Expansion, 1824–1912
1825–1830 East Indies (Dt.) Prince Dipangara: Java War
1831 Jamaica (Br.) Slave Revolt
1831 Virginia (US.) Nat Turner: Slave Revolt
1832–1847 Algeria (Fr.) Abd el Kader: War of Resistance
1835 Brazil (Por.) African Muslim Slave Revolt
1838 South Africa (Br.) First Zulu War
1843–1847 New Zealand (Br.) First Maori War
1857–1859 India (Br.) The Indian Mutiny
1865–1872 New Zealand (Br.) Second Maori War
1860–1890 North America (US.) Sitting Bull & Crazy Horse: Sioux Wars
1862–1872 North America (US.) Cochise: Apache War
1865 Jamaica (Br.) Morant Bay Rebellion
1871 Algeria (Fr.) Kabyle Revolt
1879 South Africa (Br.) Second Zulu War
1882–1885 Sudan (Egpt/Br.) The Mahdi: Islamic Revolt and War for Independence
1891–1894 German East Africa Mkwawa Rebellion
1895 Madagascar (Por.) Red Shawl Uprising
1896 Ethopia (Ind.) Italian Defeat at Adowa
1896–1897 Southern Rhodesia (Br.) Shona and Ndebele Rebellion
1899–1900 India (Br.) Birsa Rising
1900 China (Ind.) The Boxer Rebellion
1899–1902 Philippines (US.) Emilio Aguinaldo: Philippine Insurgency
1899–1920 Somaliland (Br.) Muhammad Abullah Hassad: Resistance Movement
1899–1905 Somaliland (It.) Muhammad Abullah Hassad
1904–1907 South-West Africa (Gr.) (Nambia) Nama & Herro Revolt: resistance to German settlers
1905–1906 East Africa (Ger.) (Tanganyika) Maji Maji: Popular Uprising
1906 South Africa (Br.) (Natal) Zulu Revolt
1908, 1912, 1918, 1925 Panama (Pro.) Social and Political “Unrest”: US. Military Intervention
1912–1918 Libya (Fr.) Sanussi Sheikhs
Table 1. Non-European rebellions, resistance movements and slave revolts [CONT]

Table 1. Non-European rebellions, resistance movements and slave revolts [CONT]

 This table is based on Table 13.1, “Colonial Rebellions by Indigenous or Slave Populations,” in David B. Abernethy, The Dynamics of Global Dominance: European Overseas Empires, 1415–1980 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2000), 308-309. Using Abernethy’s template, data from other sources have been added to this table: See C.A. Bayly, The Birth of the Modern World, 1780–1914 (Oxford: Blackwell Publishing, 2004); Jeremy Black, Europe and the World, 1650–1840 (London: Routledge, 2002); Chambers Dictionary of World History (Edinburgh: Chambers, 2005); Seymour Drescher and Stanley L. Engerman, eds., A Historical Guide to World Slavery (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998); Susan Schroeder, ed., Native Resistance and the Pax Colonial in Colonial New Spain (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1998). The Gale Group. 
Table 1. Non-European rebellions, resistance movements and slave revolts [CONT]
Date Leadership/People Event
Abbreviations: Br. British Colony, Dn. Danish, Dt. Dutch, Fr. French, Ger. German, Ind. Independent, Por. Portuguese, Pro. Protectorate, Ru. Russia, Sp. Spanish, US. United States, USSR. Union of Socialist Soviet Republics.
Sources: This table is based on Table 13.1, “Colonial Rebellions by Indigenous or Slave Populations,” in David B. Abernethy, The Dynamics of Global Dominance: European Overseas Empires, 1415–1980 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2000), 308-309. Using Abernethy’s template, data from other sources have been added to this table: See C.A. Bayly, The Birth of the Modern World, 1780–1914 (Oxford: Blackwell Publishing, 2004); Jeremy Black, Europe and the World, 1650–1840 (London: Routledge, 2002);Chambers Dictionary of World History (Edinburgh: Chambers, 2005); Seymour Drescher and Stanley L. Engerman, eds., A Historical Guide to World Slavery (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998); Susan Schroeder, ed., Native Resistance and the Pax Colonial in Colonial New Spain (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1998).
Phase 4: Unstabe Equilibrium, 1914–1939
1915 Nysaland John Chilembwe
1920 Mesopotamia (Br.) ‘The Great Iraqi Revolt’
1921–26 Morocco (Sp.) Abd el-Krim: Berbers’ Rif War
1925–26 Morocco (Fr.) Rif War against the French
1922–31 Libya (Fr.) Sanussi Sheikhs
1930–31 Vietnam (Fr.) VNQDD: Yen Bay Uprising
1930–32 Burma (Br.) Saya San
1930s–48 Palestine (Br.) Arab and Jewish Revolts
Phase 5: Contraction, 1940-Present
1945–49 East Indies (Dt.) Independence War
1946–54 Vietnam (Fr.) Ho Chi Minh: Independence War
1947–60 Madagascar (Por.) Independence Rebellion
1948–56 Kenya (Br.) Mau Mau Rebellion: Kikuyu People
1954–61 Algeria (Fr.) FLN: War for Independence
1961–75 Angola (Por.) Independence War
1962–75 Mozambique (Por.) War for Independence led by FRELIMO
1963–75 Guinea-Bissau (Por.) Amilcar Cabral: Independence War
1972–79 Rhodesia (Ind.) Robert Mugabe: Civil War
1979–1989 Afghanistan (Ind.) Anti-USSR Insurgency
1994–Present Chechnya (Ru.) Anti-Russian War
2003–Present Iraq (Ind.) Anti-United States & Coalition Insurgency

Diderot (1713–1784), Abbé Guillaume-Thomas Raynal (1713–1796), Richard Price (1723–1791), Immanuel Kant (1724–1804), Joseph Priestly (1733–1804), Thomas Paine (1737–1809), Marquis de Condorcet (1743–1794), Thomas Jefferson (1743–1826), Johann Gottfried Herder (1744–1803), and others rejected imperialism and colonialism for a number of different reasons. For Diderot, European imperialism had been a disaster for non-European peoples in terms of war, oppression, and slavery and had, in addition, corrupted Europe itself. Many of these anti-imperialist Enlightenment writers opposed European imperialism and colonialism on the basis of the idea that all the world’s different peoples were human and therefore deserved respect and fair treatment. Not only did these thinkers accept the concept of shared humanity, they shared the idea that non-Europeans were peoples of culture (as were Europeans), not savages or “natural” humans, and that their cultures were not necessarily better or worse than the oppressive, corrupt, and violent societies of Europe.

Thomas Jefferson, the American philosophe, wrote in the Declaration of Independence in 1776 “that all men are created equal,” and as a consequence governments derive “their just powers from the consent of the governed.” Jefferson’s shattering of the moral underpinning of colonialism was complemented by Alexander Hamilton’s (1755/57–1804) American anticolonialism expressed in The Federalist over a decade later:

The world may politically, as well as geographically, be divided into four parts, each having a distinct set of interests. Unhappily for the other three, Europe, by her arms and by her negotiations, by force and by fraud, has, in different degrees, extended her dominion over them all. Africa, Asia, and America, have successively felt her domination. The superiority she has long maintained has tempted her to plume herself as the Mistress of the World, and to consider the rest of mankind as created for her benefit. (Hamilton, 1787)

This state of affairs, according to Hamilton, will no longer be tolerated. “Let Americans disdain to be the instruments of European greatness!”

Not all, or even most, Enlightenment philosophers and writers, of course, opposed imperialism and colonialism. Eighteenth-century political thought was complex and even contradictory regarding certain issues. Antiimperial and anticolonial writings, like the antislavery tracts of the eighteenth century, were profoundly novel and uniquely Western. Both intellectual critiques were founded upon centuries of Western thought and, in particular, nearly three centuries of observing, listening to, and writing about non-Europeans. Antislavery arguments, political campaigns, and diplomatic and military actions in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries led to the abolition of the transatlantic slave trade and the emancipation of all bondsmen in the Americas. The anti-imperial and anticolonial discourse of the eighteenth century, on the other hand, while undoubtedly significant over the long term, was followed by a new wave of European imperial expansion and annexation in the nineteenth century. The great political thinkers of the nineteenth century—conservatives, liberals, and radicals—generally accepted the arguments on behalf of imperialism.

Even Karl Marx (1818–1883), who argued that Western colonies were often set up in rich and well-populated countries for the specific purposes of plunder, thus providing Europe with “primitive” or “original” accumulation of wealth and capital, could not deny the historical necessity and advantage of colonialism. “In actual history,” Marx wrote in 1867, “it is a notorious fact that conquest, enslavement, robbery, murder, in short, force, play the greatest part” in this accumulation (1867/1990, p. 874). As was true for many of his contemporaries, however, Marx viewed European colonialism as an indispensable element of world progress. Colonialism was an important modernizing force, noted Marx, part of “the process of transformation of the feudal mode of production into the capitalist mode” (1867/1990, pp. 915-916).

Marx’s twentieth-century intellectual heirs—Marxists, communists, neo-Marxists, dependency and world-systems analysts, postcolonialists, and others—had little difficulty condemning imperialism and colonialism. Karl Kautsky (1854–1938), Rosa Luxemburg (1870–1919), and V. I. Lenin (1870–1924) in the early twentieth century redirected “Marxist” thought against capitalist imperialism and colonialism. In 1920 Lenin’s Comintern in Moscow offered a systematic program for global decolonization.

Liberal anticolonial principles were as influential during the twentieth century as Marxist ones. In 1918 President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed his “Fourteen Points” in a message to the U.S. Congress as a plan to end World War I. In his fourteenth point, Wilson suggested the creation of an association of nations to facilitate the sovereignty and independence of all nations based upon self-determination. The Fourteen Points encouraged a number of colonial leaders, including Ho Chi Minh, to attend the Paris Peace Conference and present petitions for autonomy and independence. The Atlantic Charter, a declaration of principles issued by U.S. president Franklin D. Roosevelt (1882–1945) and British prime minister Winston Churchill (1874–1965) in 1941, echoed Wilson’s Fourteen Points and called for the rights of self-determination, self-government, and free speech for all peoples.

Anticolonial leaders and movements in Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and elsewhere during the twentieth century drew upon elements of both liberal and Marxist anticolonial thought. Anticolonial movements generally spoke the rhetoric of liberalism (freedom, self-determination, self-government, individual rights, and so on) when discussing politics, and the rhetoric of Marxism (equality, economic development, social rights, and so on) when discussing social and economic problems. Twentieth-century anticolonial thought was also saturated by the development of nationalism and the use of history to help create or invent national identities. The great anticolonial movements of the century, it is not surprising to note, were nationalist movements: the African National Congress, the Indian National Congress, the Conference of Nationalist Organizations of the Portuguese Colonies, the National Congress of British West Africa, and others.

In the past, historians have argued that the anticolonial movements of Asia, Africa, and the Middle East—of the so-called third world—adopted the liberal and Marxist anticolonial critiques, the ideas and forms of nationalism, and even rational, narrative history from the West. There is little doubt that there was substantial borrowing. As more and more non-Western historians are exploring their national histories, however, they are learning that their form of anticolonialism was not simply a “derivative discourse.” Indian historian Partha Chatterjee argues that as colonized, Anglicized, Bengali intellectuals were schooled in Western statecraft and economics, they also worked to create through schools, art, novels, and theater an Indian aesthetic sphere that was distinctively Indian. “The bilingual intelligentsia,” writes Chatterjee, “came to think of its own language as belonging to that inner domain of cultural identity, from which the colonial intruder had to be kept out” (1993, p. 7).

Other historians have charged that anticolonialism, or at least the history of anticolonialist struggles, has focused too much on elites and intellectuals. Amílcar Cabral (1924–1973), leader of the independence movement of Guinea-Bissau and the Cape Verde Islands, in the late 1960s and the early 1970s realized that genuine anticolonialism is the “cultural resistance of the people, who when they are subjected to political domination and economic exploitation find that their own culture acts as a bulwark in preserving their identity” (1973, p.61).

Anticolonialism, in violent actions and in formal thought, and in the hands, pens, and movements of non-Europeans as well as Europeans and Americans, has a history that is long, complex, and still being debated and written. There are many interesting questions but few easy answers.


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Kiernan, V. G. Colonial Empires and Armies, 1815–1960. Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 1998.

Marx, Karl. Capital: A Critique of Political Economy, Vol. 1 (1867). Translated by Ben Fowkes. London: Penguin, 1990.

Muthu, Sankar. Enlightenment Against Empire. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2003.

Schroeder, Susan, ed. Native Resistance and the Pax Colonial in New Spain. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1998.

Scott, James C. Weapons of the Weak: Everyday Forms of Peasant Resistance. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1985.

Scott, James C. Domination and the Arts of Resistance: Hidden Transcripts. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1990.

Taylor, William B. Drinking, Homicide, and Rebellion in Colonial Mexican Villages. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1979.

Wesseling, H. L. The European Colonial Empires, 1815–1919. Translated by Diane Webb. Harlow, U.K.: Pearson Longman, 2004.

Source Citation   (MLA 7th Edition) 

Benjamin, Thomas, and Dennis Hidalgo. “Anticolonialism.” Encyclopedia of Western Colonialism since 1450. Ed. Thomas Benjamin. Vol. 1. Detroit: Macmillan Reference USA, 2007. 57-65. Gale Virtual Reference Library.

Theses and Dissertations– Bibliography of the 1824 migration to Haiti





I thought about putting a list of theses and dissertations related to my book, In Search of an American Dream. Corrections and additions are more than welcome. I will come back to it and perhaps add a few links, etc.





Theses and Dissertations


Allen, William Ezra. “Sugar and Coffee: A History of Settler Agriculture in Nineteenth-Century Liberia.” Ph.D., Florida International University, 2002.


Ball, Erica Louise. “From Elevation to Uplift: Gender, Citizenship and Northern Black Political Culture on the Eve of the Civil War.” Ph.D., City University of New York, 2002.


Bonner, Donna Maria. “Garifuna Town/Caribbean Nation/Latin American State: Identity and Prejudice in Belize.” Ph.D., State University of New York at Buffalo, 1999.


Brown, Jarrett Hugh. “Black Masculinities as Marronage: Claude Mckay’s Representation of Black Male Subjectivities in Metropolitan Spaces.” Ph.D., The College of William and Mary, 2011.


Bulthuis, Kyle Timothy. “Four Steeples over the City Streets: Trinity Episcopal, St. Philip’s Episcopal, John Street Methodist, and African Methodist Episcopal Zion Churches in New York City, 1760–1840.” Ph.D., University of California, Davis, 2007.


Burnham, Thorald M. “Immigration and Marriage in the Making of Post-Independence Haiti.” ProQuest, UMI Dissertations Publishing, 2006.


Cameron, Christopher Alain. “To Plead Our Own Cause: African Americans in Massachusetts and the Making of the Antislavery Movement, 1630–1835.” Ph.D., The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 2010.


Carter, Ralph Donald. “Black American or African: The Response of New York City Blacks to African Colonization, 1817-1841.”  Dissertation, 1974.


Crozier, Karen Denise. “Pedagogies of Empowerment: Towards Institutional Change in a Local Black Church.” Ph.D., Claremont School of Theology, 2006.


Cryderman, Kevin. “Ghostly Spectators of History: Collective Identity, Regulative Frameworks and the Idiosyncratic Subject.” Ph.D., University of Rochester, 2009.


Curtis, Lesley Shannon. “Utopian (Post)Colonies: Rewriting Race and Gender after the Haitian Revolution.” Ph.D., Duke University, 2011.


Dain, Bruce Russell. “A Hideous Monster of the Mind: American Race Theory, 1787-1859.” Ph.D., Princeton University, 1996.


Daut, Marlene Leydy. “Science of Desire: Race and Representations of the Haitian Revolution in the Atlantic World, 1790-1865.” Ph.D., University of Notre Dame, 2009.


Davies, John. “Class, Culture, and Color: Black Saint-Dominguan Refugees and African-American Communities in the Early Republic.” Ph.D., University of Delaware, 2008.


de Briffault, E. Christian. “The Haitian Revolution, 1791–1803. Race, Slavery, and the Balance of Power: A Comparative Analysis.” D.A., St. John’s University (New York), 2004.


De Vidas, Albert. “The Foreign Relations of Haiti in Hemispheric Affairs from Independence to Occupation, 1804-1915.” Book; Archival Material, NYU, 1971.


DeFay, Jason Bradley. “Identity Matters: Immigration and the Social Construction of Identity in Garifuna Los Angeles.” Ph.D., University of California, San Diego, 2004.


Den Hartog, Jonathan J. “”Patriotism and Piety”: Orthodox Religion and Federalist Political Culture.” Ph.D., University of Notre Dame, 2006.


Diemer, Andrew Keith. “Black Nativism: African American Politics, Nationalism and Citizenship in Baltimore and Philadelphia, 1817 to 1863.” Ph.D., Temple University, 2011.


Dowdy, Calenthia S. “Youth, Music, and Agency: Undoing Race, Poverty and Violence in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil.” 3498194, American University, 2012.


Dyck, David Wayne. “The Missionary Church in the Dominican Republic.” Dissertation, 1975.


Edmondson, Philip N. “The St. Domingue Legacy in Black Activist and Antislavery Writings in the United States, 1791–1862.” Dissertation, 2004.


Egea Fernandez-Montesinos, Alberto. “La Construccion Del Imaginario Literario Andaluz: Entre La Imagi-Nacion Folclorica Y Las Margi-Naciones Del Sur.” Ph.D., Emory University, 2000.


Fanning, Sara Connors. “Haiti and the U.S.: African American Emigration and the Recognition Debate.” Ph.D., The University of Texas at Austin, 2008.


Fellows, Kristen R. “African Americans from “Back Yonder”: The Historical Archaeology of the Formation, Maintenance, and Dissolution of the American Enclave in Samana, Dominican Republic.” ProQuest, UMI Dissertations Publishing, 2013.


Flemming, Tracy K. “Negro: Travel and the Pan-African Imagination During the Nineteenth Century.” Ph.D., University of Michigan, 2010.


Fleszar, Mark J. “The Atlantic Legacies of Zephaniah Kingsley: Benevolence, Bondage, and Proslavery Fictions in the Age of Emancipation.” Ph.D., Georgia State University, 2013.


Franks, Julie Cheryl. “Transforming Property: Landholding and Political Rights in the Dominican Sugar Region, 1880-1930.” Ph.D., State University of New York at Stony Brook, 1997.


Fuste, Jose I. “Possible Republics: Tracing the ‘Entanglements’ of Race and Nation in Afro-Latina/O Caribbean Thought and Activism, 1870–1930.” Ph.D., University of California, San Diego, 2012.


Gaffield, Julia. “”So Many Schemes in Agitation”: The Haitian State and the Atlantic World.” Ph.D., Duke University, 2012.


Garcia, Armand. “Jose Marti and the Global Dimensions of Late Nineteenth-Century Cuban Nation Building.” Ph.D., Washington State University, 2006.


Glenn, James Hogan. “Andrew Johnson and the Dominican Republic.” Creighton University, 1967.


Gonzalez, Johnhenry. “The War on Sugar: Forced Labor, Commodity Production and the Origins of the Haitian Peasantry, 1791–1843.” Ph.D., The University of Chicago, 2012.


Greene, Ousmane Kirumu. “Against Wind and Tide: African Americans’ Response to the Colonization Movement and Emigration, 1770–1865.” Ph.D., University of Massachusetts Amherst, 2007.


Grivno, Max L. “”There Slavery Cannot Dwell”: Agriculture and Labor in Northern Maryland, 1790–1860.” Ph.D., University of Maryland, College Park, 2007.


Hanks, Iyelli Ichile. “Black Magic Woman: Towards a Theory of Africana Women’s Resistance.” Ph.D., Howard University, 2011.


Head, David. “Sailing for Spanish America: The Atlantic Geopolitics of Foreign Privateering from the United States in the Early Republic.” Ph.D., State University of New York at Buffalo, 2010.


Hetrick, Matthew J. “African American Colonization and Identity, 1780-1925.” ProQuest, UMI Dissertations Publishing, 2013.


Hidalgo, Dennis Ricardo. “From North America to Hispaniola: First Free Black Emigration and Settlements in Hispaniola.” Ph.D., Central Michigan University, 2003.


Hudson, Linda Sybert. “Jane Mcmanus Storm Cazneau (1807-1878): A Biography.” ProQuest, UMI Dissertations Publishing, 1999.


Jackson, James O’Dell, III. “The Origins of Pan-African Nationalism: Afro-American and Haytian Relations.” Ph.D., Northwestern University, 1976.


Jones, Christina Violeta. “Revolution and Reaction: Santo Domingo During the Haitian Revolution and Beyond, 1791–1844.” Ph.D., Howard University, 2008.


Kaisary, Philip James. “The Literary Impact of the Haitian Revolution.” University of Warwick, 2008.


Kaussen, Valerie Mae. “Romancing the Peasant: History and Revolution in the Modern Haitian Novel.” Ph.D., University of California, Santa Cruz, 2000.


Kwon, Yun Kyoung. “Ending Slavery, Narrating Emancipation: Revolutionary Legacies in the French Antislavery Debate and “Silencing the Haitian Revolution,” 1814–48.” Ph.D., The University of Chicago, 2012.


Leung, Ka Yee. “Embodied Cultural Cognition: How Culture Is Carried by Our Bodily Experiences?” Ph.D., University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2007.


Lovit, Alex. ““The Bounds of Habitation”: The Geography of the American Colonization Society.” University of Michigan, 2011.


Malka, Adam C. “The Haitian Evolution: Emigration and Diasporan Consciousness in Nineteenth Century America.” University of Wisconsin–Madison, 2005.


Márquez Macías, Rosario. “La Emigración Española a América, 1765-1824.” Universidad de Oviedo, Servicio de Publicaciones, 1995.


Matijasic, Thomas David. “Conservative Reform in the West: The African Colonization Movement in Ohio 1826-1839 ” Dissertation, 1982.


Matthews, Gelien. “Slave Rebellions in the Discourse of British Anti-Slavery.” University of Hull, 2002.


McCarthy, Timothy Patrick. “A Culture of Dissent: American Abolitionism and the Ordeal of Equality.” Ph.D., Columbia University, 2006.


McDaniel, William Caleb. “Our Country Is the World: Radical American Abolitionists Abroad.” Ph.D., The Johns Hopkins University, 2006.


Menely, Tobias. “Cultivated Sympathies: Human Sentiments and Animal Subjects in the Long Eighteenth Century.” Ph.D., Indiana University, 2006.


Mills, Brandon. “Exporting the Racial Republic: African Colonization, National Citizenship, and the Transformation of U.S. Expansion, 1776–1864.” Ph.D., University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2011.


Mongey, Vanessa. “Cosmopolitan Republics and Itinerant Patriots: The Gulf of Mexico in the Age of Revolutions (1780s–1830s).” Ph.D., University of Pennsylvania, 2010.


Morales, Edgardo A Pérez. “Itineraries of Freedom Revolutionary Travels and Slave Emancipation in Colombia and the Greater Caribbean. 1789-‐1830.” University of Michigan, 2013.


Morales, JosÈ. “The Hispaniola Diaspora, 1791-1850 Puerto Rico, Cuba, Louisiana, and Other Host Societies.” 1987.


Moulton, Amber D. “Marriage Extraordinary: Interracial Marriage and the Politics of Family in Antebellum Massachusetts.” Ph.D., Harvard University, 2011.


Myers, Amrita Chakrabarti. “Negotiating Women: Black Women and the Politics of Freedom in Charleston, South Carolina, 1790-1860.” Rutgers University, 2005.


Nessler, Graham Townsend. “A Failed Emancipation? The Struggle for Freedom in Hispaniola During the Haitian Revolution, 1789–1809.” ProQuest, UMI Dissertations Publishing, 2011.


Nwankwo, Ifeoma Chinwe Kiddoe. “Cosmopolitan Consciousness: Inter-American Engagements in the Scripting of African-American and Caribbean Identities.” Duke University, 1999.


Oliver, Albert G. “The Protest and Attitudes of Blacks Towards the American Colonization Society and the Concepts of Emigration and Colonization in Africa 1817 – 1865.” Dissertation, 1978.


Ozuna, Ana. “Reclaiming Blackness through the Literary Figure of the Maroon in Dominican Literature.” Ph.D., State University of New York at Buffalo, 2009.


Page, Sebastian Nicholas. “The American Civil War and Black Colonization.” D.Phil., University of Oxford (United Kingdom), 2012.


Pamphile Miller, Chrislaine. “”‘Blessed Are the Peacemakers”: African American Emigration to Haiti, 1816-1826.” ProQuest, UMI Dissertations Publishing, 2013.


Peña, Julissa. ““Yo Soy Negro, Pero Negro Blanco:” Hispanicity, Antihaitianismo and Genocide in the Dominican Republic.” Wesleyan University, 2012.


Phillips, William M. “Nightmares of Anarchy and Dreams of Revolution in English and American Literature, 1870-1910.” Ph.D., The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 1996.


Pierce, Jennifer J. “Discourses of the Dispossessed : Saint-Domingue Colonists on Race, Revolution and Empire, 1789-1825.” 2005.


Piggush, Yvette Renee. “Governing Imagination: American Social Romanticism, 1790–1840.” Ph.D., The University of Chicago, 2007.


Polgar, Paul J. “Standard Bearers of Liberty and Equality: Reinterpreting the Origins of American Abolitionism.” ProQuest, UMI Dissertations Publishing, 2013.


Ramlagan, Michelle N. “(Re)Placing Nation: Postcolonial Women’s Contestations of Spatial Discourse.” Ph.D., University of Miami, 2011.


Riley, Padraig Griffin. “Northern Republicans and Southern Slavery: Democracy in the Age of Jefferson, 1800–1819.” Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley, 2007.


Rivas, Christine D. “Power, Race, Class and Gender in Colonial Santo Domingo: An Analysis of Spanish Dominican Marital Patterns in the Archbishopric of Santo Domingo, 1701–1801.” Ph.D., Carleton University (Canada), 2008.


Roberts, Neil Douglas. “Freedom as Marronage: The Dialectic of Slavery and Freedom in Arendt, Pettit, Rousseau, Douglass, and the Haitian Revolution.” University of Chicago, Department of Political Science, 2007.


Rodriguez, Nestor E. “Configuraciones Y Desfiguraciones De Lo Nacional En La Literatura Dominicana Contemporanea.” Ph.D., Emory University, 2003.


Sacks, Dan. “The Historical Traditions of Nat Turner.” 2008.


Sagas, Ernesto. “Antihaitianismo in the Dominican Republic.” 1993.


Salt, Karen N. “The Haitian Question.” Purdue University, 2011.


Scallet, Daniel. “”This Inglorious War”: The Second Seminole War, the Ad Hoc Origins of American Imperialism, and the Silence of Slavery.” ProQuest, UMI Dissertations Publishing, 2011.


Schoeppner, Michael Alan. “Navigating the Dangerous Atlantic: Racial Quarantines, Black Sailors and United States Constitutionalism.” UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA, 2010.


Scruggs, Dalila. “”The Love of Liberty Has Brought Us Here”: The American Colonization Society and the Imaging of African-American Settlers in Liberia.” ProQuest, UMI Dissertations Publishing, 2010.


Sesay, Chernoh Momodu, Jr. “Freemasons of Color: Prince Hall, Revolutionary Black Boston, and the Origins of Black Freemasonry, 1770–1807.” Ph.D., Northwestern University, 2006.


Shabaka, Segun. “An Afrocentric Analysis of the 19th Century African-American Migration to Haiti: A Quest for the Self-Determining Community.” Ph.D., Temple University, 2001.


Smith, Eleanor Valerie. “Mate Selection as an Indicator of Ethnic Identity and Maintenance: A Case Analysis of the “Immigrants” in Samana, Dominican Republic (Blacks, Afro-American).” Ph.D., University of Florida, 1986.


Smith, Reiland Rabaka. “Africana Critical Theory: From W. E. B. Du Bois and C. L. R. James’s Discourse on Domination and Liberation to Frantz Fanon and Amilcar Cabral’s Dialectics of Decolonization.” Ph.D., Temple University, 2001.


Stringer, Rozanne McGrew. “Hybrid Zones: Representations of Race in Late Nineteenth-Century French Visual Culture.” Ph.D., University of Kansas, 2011.


Tagliamonte, Sali Anna. “A Matter of Time: Past Temporal Reference Verbal Structures in Samana English and the Ex-Slave Recordings.” Ph.D., University of Ottawa (Canada), 1991.


Tillman, Ellen D. “Imperialism Revised: Military, Society, and Us Occupation in the Dominican Republic, 1880-1924.” University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2011.


Torbett, David James. “Theology and Slavery: Charles Hodge and Horace Bushnell on the Slavery Question.” Ph.D., Union Theological Seminary & Presbyterian School of Christian Education, 2002.


Torres Casillas, Pablo Samuel. “Los Cronistas De La Americanizacion: Representacion Y Discurso Colonial En Puerto Rico (1898–1932).” Ph.D., University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras (Puerto Rico), 2013.


Treudley, Mary Bosworth. “The United States and Santo Domingo, 1789-1866.” 1916.


Twa, Lindsay Jean. “Troubling Island: The Imagining and Imaging of Haiti by African-American Artists, 1915–1940.” ProQuest, UMI Dissertations Publishing, 2006.


Van Sickle, Eugene S. “A Transnational Vision: John H. B. Latrobe and Maryland’s African Colonization Movement.” ProQuest, UMI Dissertations Publishing, 2005.


Walker, James A. . “Present Accounted For: Prosody and Aspect in Early African American English.” University of Ottawa, 2000.


Walton-Hanley, Jennifer A. “Reversing the Middle Passage : The American Colonization Society and Race Relations, 1816-1964.” [s.n.], 2009.


Walton-Hanley, Jennifer A. “Reversing the Middle Passage: The American Colonization Society and Race Relations, 1816–1964.” Ph.D., University of Kentucky, 2009.


Weir, Donna Maxine. “Beyond Binaries: Creolized Forms of Resistance in African-American and Caribbean Literatures.” Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley, 2000.


Wirzbicki, Peter. “Black Intellectuals, White Abolitionists, and Revolutionary Transcendentalists: Creating the Radical Intellectual Tradition in Antebellum Boston.” Ph.D., New York University, 2012.


Woodcock, Lowell. “Islands of Inequality: The Environmental History of Tobago and the Crisis of Development and Globalisation in the Caribbean 1763–2007.” University of Sussex, 2010.


Yarema, Allan E. “The American Colonization Society : An Avenue to Freedom?” University Press of America, 2006.


Younger, Karen Virginia Fisher. ““Africa Stretches Forth Her Hands Unto You”: Female Colonization Supporters in the Antebellum United States.” The Pennsylvania State University, 2006.




Listening to John Brown’s biography & “book-googling it”: How we interact with technologies

Originally posted on The Critical Historian:

I promised a student I would blog about this. So, here it is.

Today, in my Topics 4004 seminar course, a student seemed to have coined a phrase that reflects how the academic world interacts with new technologies.


These days in class we are listening and reading Evan Carton’s biography of John Brown, at about three chapters per class (two x week). I think that finishing the semester with an exciting reading is a good idea. This is part of adapting to the semester’s rhythms, understanding that after the Thanks Giving Break professors are not unlike lame duck incumbents. Since the students have reached the point of diminishing returns, this couple of weeks require a different approach, like changing gears as we near our destination.


Carton’s book reads well. In fact, on the first day reading it, I overheard a student commenting that she would rank Carton’s book on…

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Working philosophy of historical research

What does it mean to focus on freedom in history?

Here are Diana, Dennis and Beverly getting prepared for a group picture but not ready yet when Jerome immortalized the moment.

Here are Diana, Dennis and Beverly getting prepared for a group picture but not ready yet when Jerome immortalized the moment.

My focus is human. There is certainly value in speculating about how events from the past have shaped our present. However, I believe that what makes our species unique are the ability to think about ourselves, to find value around us, and to choose our movements, and then to assign meaning to our choices and the repercussions that follow. I seek in history, then, not much a number of precedents so I could recreate a plausible sequence of episodes reaching our times. Instead, I chase the humanity in them. In other words, I try to learn how people identified themselves; how they perceived their (historical, social and material) milieu; and how they deliberately dealt with the aftermath of their elections. So, if people’s freedom began when they first attempted to realize their limits and then moved to identify and prioritize their options, to focus my attention on how folks understood their constraints, as well as their opportunities, is to study cognition. More human, then, the historian’s task cannot be. In my view, this is what searching the past for human agency is all about.

GBN Wishes Everyone a Happy Mother’s Day

Originally posted on GOOD BLACK NEWS:

To all the mothers, grandmothers, daughters and sons – may you have a wonderful day celebrating or being celebrated as the most important women in our lives. Happy Mother’s Day – like Kevin Durant says, you are the real MVP!1526776_10152256493054086_2240527185522353751_n

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“Garifuna in Peril”: Film on How Indigenous Hondurans Unite to Preserve Culture

Originally posted on Repeating Islands:


Vinette K. Pryce reviews the 2012 documentary film Garifuna in Peril—an attempt to work towards the preservation of a rapidly dwindling Afro-Amerindian culture struggling to survive in Guatemala, Nicaragua, Belize, and Honduras (and the diaspora). Their language is in danger of disappearing as is a wide array of cultural practices and beliefs. [Also see previous post Garifuna featured in film.] Read full review in the link at the bottom.

Film Description: The film centers on Garifuna peoples, their Caribbean origins and their steadfast determination to hold onto their culture. Descended from enslaved West Africans on St. Vincent in the Caribbean and Indians from the Carib and Arawak tribes, the Garifuna were exiled to Central America by British in the 1700s. Living today in Central American nations such as Honduras and Belize, and in major cities such as New York and Los Angeles, the Garifuna proudly maintain their centuries-old culture, language and music.

Ms. Pryce writes: Were it not for conscientious documentaries, topical, historic and often…

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Class Picnic Experience with Lila from Nepal

Originally posted on eryn94:

By Eryn Humphries, Lindsey Baumann, Tanner Conkwright


We really enjoyed the picnic on the last day of classes. Not only was it a beautiful day but we were finally able to meet the Humphrey Fellow from Nepal! At first, we were not sure who our fellow was because we only had contact with her through email. However, another group in our class was also doing a blog on Lila and so we decided to join their group and get to know her. She was very interesting to talk to and get to know. I think we all under-estimated her accent, since it was a bit hard to understand everything she was saying. However, we got a lot of information for our blog and got to know her on a more personal level. Her life is so different than how we live here in the United States. Everything was so…

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My new blog: The World of Jacques Roumain

Originally posted on celucienljoseph, Ph.D.-- Author, Scholar, Intellectual:

Welcome to The World of Jacques Roumain!! The purpose of this blog is to engage the writings and ideas of Jacques Roumain–one of the most influential writers in Haitian history. My name is Celucien L. Joseph, Ph.D. (a.k.a. Dr. Lou), the host and administrator of this blog. I’m a specialist on Caribbean Literature, Culture, and History, African American Literature and Intellectual History, Haitian Literature, Culture,  and History, Black Atlantic Culture and Thought,  Comparative History and Literature of the Black Diaspora, Postcolonialism, Religion, etc. In this blog, I will occasionally reflect on Roumain’s writings and share my understanding of his ideas. The main languages that will be used here are English, French, and (Haitian) Creole.


For a succinct biographical essay on Jacques Roumain, click on the link below:

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Re-Watching “Invictus”


After Mandela’s death I rewatched the film “Invictus,” but this time I also read two film reviews: Bugliani and Baum’s. The three years since its release gave me enough distance to bypass the anticipated jovial triumph of reconciliation. Who would not like to see hundred of years of bitter clashes, cultivated racism, and the establishment of the highest form of White supremacy shattered into pieces simply after a rugby victory–even if it is against the most diverse and integrated rugby team in the world (who had even adopted the dances and moves of the once conquered people: the Maoris)? I remember how I felt the first time I saw it, and how I continued feeling for a long while. We could do this. We can forgive and forget. You cannot blame me for that. Who would not want to feel that way?

But we have been reading Evan Carton’s John Brown’s biography in class, and I have grown much since. In rewatching Invictus’ I knew that Hollywood’s goal, of a fleeting sense of victory, should be seen from a different angle.  To analyze the film anew, I needed to find a way to sail against the film’s ideological current, similarly as Atlantic sailors have played with the lateen and square rigs to forestall and even sail against oceanic wind currents.

The simple truth is that despite its good intentions and historical research, this film has serious problems— as you could see in Baum’s analysis. Yet like sailors sailing against strong ideological currents combining the use of lateen and square rigs, it is our task to propose an alternative view of the past that could do more justice to the subject of racial oppression and reconciliation.

Bugliani focuses more on the art and film’s narrative, while Baum places the film in the context of other two recent movies and within the broader historical context of slavery, race and imperialism. For Bugliani what matters is the wordless pull of the nation; the sport is only a symbol, a vehicle. And though he can seem simplistic, his piece underscores the gravity and unpredictability of the outcome. Moreover, he subtly hits on the problem of Whites’ needs supplied as opposed to that of Blacks. Baum’s more historically informed assessment lays bare the weaknesses of a film that focuses on an ephemeral and superficial reconciliation.

Yes, they all play together and even dance together, laughing and sharing the same seats. But what would happen after that moment is gone, when the differences in wealth, access to power and status continue? What will happen to the habits and prejudices cultivated for centuries in the ethos of these nations? In a way, this film seems to be asking Blacks to once more bend to the faults of the Whites. It is true that he proposed and worked hard for forgiveness, but Mandela went beyond what this film shows. Forgiveness is nothing without redress. John Brown’s approach to reconciliation seems to have contrasted with the one presented in this film. His focused on bringing equality after the law and in power too.

When the rugby team travelled to the poor Black neighborhoods to offer free rugby clinics to poor kids we all got a first look at the poverty that have stricken their lives. That view was not shown much again in the film. Poverty kills, but it is worse when it does not kill and lingers as Povertenza crippling the lives of millions of people who live in societies gushing in Affluenza.  Reconciliation means to bring people out of poverty so we can then really be at the same level. Reading this film in reverse can be an enlightening experience.


Junot Díaz representing the Diaspora vs. Dominican government and intellectual nationals


Junot Diaz Speaks Out After Insults To His Dominican-ness


From the outsider’s perspective, those who are not Dominican or Dominican diasporans, this news may look as a scandal, a circus show of high-profile figures throwing rotten tomatoes at each other. But from the intellectually curious’ view, the one familiar with the history of nations and imperialism, this news is much more than what it looks to either the insider or the outsider. Indeed, this news is worth noting beyond the obvious issue of the Dominican judicial racist ruling because it shows us a significant trend in world identities.


Beneath the journalist view, this news is a furious clash between the diaspora (Dominicans actually living outside of the DR) and national locals (Dominicans living on the east side of the island and with deep roots in Dominican soil). Those interested in studying current nationalisms, particularly the expressions of patriotism emanating from small and poorer countries struggling to maintain dignity and sovereignty, may want to pay attention to how national locals (Dominicans in the DR) are now perceiving their own diasporas: they are half-breeds, tools of foreign intervention and imperialism. In this case, viewed from the local nationals’ perspective with a long history of struggle against US imperialism, the US does not have to intervene directly on Dominican politics anymore (the Marines can stay calmly home in their military bases, and the likes of cultural diplomats like Sumner Welles can stay in their DC offices observing the drama developed, but from the outside). The Dominican diaspora in the US, already assimilated into (even when partially) modern paradigms of liberalism, can do the work of chastising the recalcitrant and outdated Dominican national visions of race and retrograding nationalisms that keep both nation-states on Hispaniola (Haiti and the DR) in constant disharmony and international source of shame.


The Diaspora, then, people like Junot, is not always welcome back home, neither it belongs legitimately at the center of the empire (look here for an example, to what happened recently to Marc Anthony when he tried asserting his US credentials by signing a historically US song publicly and was then openly treated as a foreign “Mexican” and not as a legitimate US citizen, nor even a Puertorrican. This is also similar (look here) to what Joe Feliciano went through in the fateful year of 1968). The diasporan can’t speak English, the imperial language, well enough to be seen a bona fide US individual (she/he does not have the looks anyways), nor can she/he articulate thoughts well in Spanish to be embraced by Dominican locals as a genuine Dominican. Without a legitimate home, the Diaspora floats around as if hanging over in space without a hard surface to land on or call home (Diasporans are the anti-nationals). The airports are its bungalows, the airlines its agents and the impersonal internet its only real network.


Yet, as indicated in this story, the Diaspora is ever more powerful, and despite local-national accusations of imperial complicity, the Diaspora is its own emancipated self. Perhaps it is because I am also a diasporan, have always been, I say, “Go Junot, dale pa’ lante, show them lo ignorante y atrasados que se ven.”


A pic with Junot Díaz after a reading in 2010.

A pic with Junot Díaz after a reading in 2010.



“Listen to What the Drums Say” – Jasiri X

What does it say when the young and rebellious who are on the trenches resisting racial and economic oppression, and are too smart to believe the establishment’s eulogies, continue thinking and reinterpreting the inspirational life of Mandela? There may be reasons to hope in the future.

The Daily News posted that James Baker has tried to clean Reagan from his defense of the South African Apartheid.

When even the most reactionary leaders, who once feared and disapproved of Mandela, are chanting his praises, we need critical thinkers in the front lines ready to speak truth to power.

Though unknown to many, grassroots music and other forms of artistic performances were at the vanguard of the fight against the Apartheid. Drums, in particular, were symbols of resistance since the start of slavery in the Americas. Jasiri X’s metaphor on drums, then, runs deeper than what it looks on the surface.

The lyrics to this song are here

About Jasiri X

Lynching and the Susquehannocks


Racial lynching, the tortuous spectacle of killing non-Whites without impunity, seems to have a unique tradition in United States. Certainly, people of color in colonial conditions all over the world have occasionally joined those in the U.S., who, without the protection of the law, have been forced to perform pain and death in public for no other crime than living among Whites. But the intensity and length of this practice in the U.S. have no rivals. Even the few late 19th and 20th centuries African states ruled by White minorities that practiced it, did so for a much shorter time.

Lynching is not the same as other racial brutalities. Differently, from what Las Casas wrote about the Spanish-Indian violence (even when exaggerating), lynching is not collateral violence that simply derives from an unfair system of labor or from social inequalities and acts of conquest. And in contrast to other forms of racial or ethnic exterminations (i.e., Nazi, Rwandan, Cambodian, Japanese), lynching is done, at most, against a handful of victims at a time and in public for the sadistic satisfaction of onlookers. Though extermination is the ultimate goal, the immediate aim is to plant terror within the non-White communities– often emasculating young males. In most cases, an overwhelmingly large-group descend on one or a few unsuspecting bystanders—a sort of super-bullying. And it shows no distinction of color, as long as the victims are not perceived as White (i.e., Indians, Latinos, Romas and Blacks).

Bartolome de las casas

The main reason a public performance so opposed to publicized U.S.’s religious and civic values became hence socially and culturally ingrained is because its long historical roots. The regular whipping of Blacks in plantations is a formative part of the lynching culture, as some historians have already pointed out. Mimi Sheller wrote, “A differential valuing of white and black bodies, as well as of socially acceptable forms of male and female bodies, is one of the most enduring legacies of slavery.” 1 But the violence of U.S. frontiersmen toward Amerindians is very similar to what later evolved into lynching. Indeed, it was the mob-culture mentality, sometimes mixed up with ideals of patriotic vigilantism, that gave shaped to a more pervasive and acceptable culture of lynching. Though the large majority of U.S. nationalist historians apologize for the frontiersmen by explaining they were simply reacting to Amerindian attacks, the reality is that these settlers and rangers were invading indigenous communal lands. Specific acts of “retaliatory” violence carried out against Amerindians are at the foundation of the U.S. lynching tradition. One such case, the Conestoga massacre, illustrates the argument.


On the winter of 1763-4, pressed between aftershocks of the French and Indian War, and the opening of the Pontiac insurrection, Presbyterian Scots-Irish, were in no mood for Quaker doctrines of nonviolence. Unfortunately, for the Susquehannocks, their type had become the driving force of the Pennsylvanian frontier expansion, the “peaceable kingdom” of the Quaker Penn family. More alarming was that these freshly arrived Ulster-Scots speakers, accustomed to conflict over land in the British Isles, saw no difference among Native Americans, even when they have settled along the Western frontier and should have been familiar with the diversity of Amerindian cultures. They have crossed the Atlantic as immigrants from the Irish Ulster, a zone of imperial expansion with a long history of religious and ethnic violence, where legends of massacres echoed through folk narratives. Some even descended from Border Reivers who for centuries have kept the Anglo-Scottish border in a state of low-conflict war. These were veterans of border cultures, but like the Spanish Conquistadors, who had come to the New World embodying the ethos of the Spanish Reconquista, the Scots-Irish came to conquer and control in order to better their social and economic status.

Conestoga India Tow

At daybreak on Wednesday, December 14, 1763, an armed mob of these Scots-Irish, who had traveled through a snowy night from northern Lancaster, showed up at the reservation-like village of Conestoga Town, what today is Millersville, PA. Witnesses put their numbers between 50 to 100 restless young and “unmarried” men. They did not come to barter or talk peacefully with the Susquehannock, who had been reduced to this location after their lands and power had disappeared, and were alarmingly dwindling in numbers— a sign of things to come for “peaceful” or pacified indigenous groups. The rangers came only to kill. 

conestoga mannorThe Susquehannocks, who were part of the Iroquois-speaking network of Amerindians of the mid eastern band in North America, would not have expected this misfortune. They had lived in Conestoga for over sixty years, and held copies of the treaties signed with the Penn family— they were a living historical patrimony for the “peaceable” colony. Some even professed Christianity and played key roles in negotiations between the colonial government and other Amerindian groups. They had already begun the process of assimilation by inserting themselves into White society— albeit as a permanent underclass bartering, selling their own crafts and begging at local farms. Following its legal and moral obligations, the Penn colonial government had unwittingly extended over them a sort of welfare system that many non-Quaker White colonists resented, a social order similar to the Spanish-American “República de Indios,” which tried keeping Indians in a subservient state while offering them protection from the ravages of White Creole colonists.

The morning of the Boys’ visit, only about six Susquehannocks were in the village. The rest had stayed among White neighbors the night before while weathering the snow storm— the same one that the armed mob had walked through with a sense of urgency. What ensued was pure calamity. The frontiersmen attacked the six unarmed Susquehannocks mercilessly, not only killing them, but torturing, scalping and cutting them into pieces. Death arrived brutally, quickly and without warning or reasonable justification. The victims’ mutilated bodies, of people who simply happened to look like the combative Indians fighting for their lives on the Western frontier, laid on the floor as evidence of the Boys’ “heroic performance.”


Though a vocal minority protested vigorously, it seems that the majority’s apathy or subtle support increased the group’s resolve. The other fourteen Susquehannocks found refuge in the Lancaster’s local prison, which also served as a workhouse. Among the refugees were children and pregnant women. While they may have felt secured under the sheriff’s eye, in reality, they had only about two weeks of grace. Their location had been given away and their safety rendered useless. On December 27, the Boys, who had time to put their animus on ice, but did not, came down to Lancaster “equipped for murder.”  They seemed to have represented a silent majority of colonists when they stormed, once more, into the Castenogas’ lives to perform an even more grotesque act of terror and extermination. Again, mutilated body parts laid across the prison’s yard, representing the hardening of racial divisions.

Lancaster Jail

That was not the last of the Paxton Boy’s feats. They organized an even larger assembly of frontiersmen to march against the colony’s capital city, Philadelphia, threatening to kill more Amerindians if the colonial government did not give them protection against Amerindian resistances. As if holding letters of marque, they felt completely entitled to venture into and appropriating Indian land while covered by the British Majesty’s safety. Though they did not meet their economic goal, which was to acquire indigenous-owned lands, they changed politics for ever in Pennsylvania. The Penn dream of racial harmony came to a screeching halt, and Quakers lost their long-held political grip on colonial power. But, most importantly, they left a powerful precedent of justified terror and violence against the “other” non-White. The tacit support from the population at large helped explain the high level of atrocity this event reached, and how it gradually became part of folk legends and culture. The assassins never saw a day in court because they were never prosecuted (one has to question the potential implications of public memorialization of such acts).

mason dixon

Charles Mason, one of the two surveyors of the Mason-Dixon Line, took time away of his surveying to investigate why the people of Lancaster, with the King’s Highlanders in town, did not show much effort in stopping the violence and protecting the last of the Conestogas, as the Susquehannocks living in the Conestoga Town were called. After a mourning and investigative visit to the Lancaster jail in January 1765, to envision the acts and confirm the atrocities he had heard about, Mason wrote in his diary the following words, which represent the view of an outsider who could not make sense of the American mob-culture.

[I] left Brandywine and proceeded to Lancaster (distance about 35 miles) a town in Pennsylvania distant from Philadelphia 75 miles, bearing nearly duly west. What brought me here was my curiosity to see the place where was perpetrated last winter the horrid and inhuman murder of 26 Indians, Men, Women and children, leaving none alive to tell. These poor unhappy creatures had always lived under the protection of the Pennsylvania Government and had lands allotted them a few miles from Lancaster by the late celebrated William Penn, Esquire, Proprietor. They had received notice of the intention of some of the back inhabitants and fled to the Goal (jail) to save themselves. The keeper made the door fast, but it was broken open; and two men went in and executed the bloody scene; while about 50 of their party sat on horse back without; armed with guns, etc. Strange it was that the town as large as most market towns in England, never offered to oppose them, though its more probable they on request might have been assisted by a company of his Majesties Troops who were in the town… no honor to them! What was laid to the Indians charge was that they held a private correspondence with the enemy Indians. But this could never be proved against the men and the women and children (some in their mothers wombs that never saw light) could not be guilty. 2 (emphasis mine)

This is the Mason-Dixon Journal kept at the Library of Congress

This is the Mason-Dixon Journal kept at the Library of Congress

In the perpetrators mind, Amerindians of all kinds should be distrusted. Their religiosity did not matter; neither the many years they have lived peacefully within White society, nor to which community they belonged (to the peaceful or aggressive Indians). They have been forever racialized, reduced to an unbreakable racial category, in which all the Amerindians were one single group, and thus deserving of any type of violence.

Precedents like this one were soon followed by many similar acts and thus became normal practices wherever Amerindians lived amidst fertile lands. Andrew Jackson’s Indian Removal Act of 1830, only makes sense in the context of the Conestogas Massacre. Similarly, the lynching culture, already taking shape under the whip in plantations all over the Americas, add up just after considering violent acts like the one in Conestoga. With the Amerindians gradual decline in the East, the more this sort of violence was deployed against Blacks.

The Haitian American anthropologist Michel-Rolph Trouillot wrote about how power relations shape the production of history, and this may lead to a silencing of the past. In bringing up the historical connections that explain the enduring power of lynching we dig beneath the tranquil surface of national timelines in search for the hidden scripts that often determine unconscious acts of violence against the racialized “other.”

1- Mimi Sheller, Citizenship from Below: Erotic Agency and Caribbean Freedom (Duke University Press, 2012), Kindle Locations 117-118.

2- Charles Mason, and Jeremiah Dixon, The journal of Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon (Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society, 1969).

3- Michel-RolphTrouillot, Silencing the past: Power and the production of history (Beacon Press, 2012), 26.

Citizen G!


Citizen G!

Jonathas Granville on the New Brunswick, NJ, incident.
Jonathas Granville on the New Brunswick, NJ, incident.

This is a remarkably revealing and yet amusing news document. The context is Jonathas Granville’s visit to the United States to offer Blacks social dignity through the extraordinary political right of citizenship. He was sent in a hurry with the mission of luring at least 6000 immigrants to Hayti (Haiti). He was arguably the first Haitian (unofficial) ambassador to the United States. The incident in reference took place just days after arriving to the US.

In early July 1824, as Granville traveled from Philadelphia to New York, he stopped in New Brunswick, NJ, precisely a few miles from Staten Island. Here, a US Southern military officer made a horrid spectacle when noticing that Granville, a person of color, was sitting on the same table. His tirade made it known, in no uncertain terms, how he felt about eating with a non-White.

The startled Haitian visitor wisely replied, not to the argument of racial inequalities that underpinned the southerner’s reaction, but to his demeanor instead. Granville calmly explained that the aggressor’s shameful manners were unknown to him and his people back in Haiti. He had never been mistreated in public like this, but since he was in a foreign country, he would follow the customs of the land. So, rather than to continue an open public confrontation, Granville simply moved his plate to another table.
His group of White companions, in defiance, immediately abandoned the racist offender and deliberately joined Granville’s table. The story promptly hit the Northern newspapers to become fodder for Southern bashing. The abolitionists’ vocal minority also used this scene to showcase what they perceived as evidence of nobility and humanity in Blacks, which contrasted with southerly arrogance and intolerance. For Granville, this painful experience gave him an insight into the struggles of the so-called free Blacks living in the northern states.

The attached news story, dated a few days. The attached news story, dated a few days after the incident, is Granville’s reply to a previous piece published in the same paper to defend his public honor. Much is explained here about Haiti, US abolitionists, and of Granville himself. What I find amusing is how the translator struggled to convey Granville’s French prose into English, a fact admitted on a note on the bottom of the article. What might pass inadvertently is the way the translator referred to Granville, a refined and high-ranking officer of the Haitian Government. The translator called Granville, Citizen G!

It is hard not to wonder if this renaming of Granville was the result of the already common US practice of shortening names, an expression of endearment, or perhaps just an example of the pervasive (“subtle” in this case) contempt towards persons of color. It could also have been an editorial restrain since the story was running out of space. Certainly, a combination of some of these factors could have played a role in thrusting Granville’s name into the future. As Citizen G ,,G, Granville seems more like a present-day stylish figure with a trendy name, a pop star, a media darling. Or, perhaps, today he could have been a special government agent. But in fact, in 1824 he was both: a special agent of the Haitian government and the new darling of the US northern press (particularly of the abolitionists’ papers).

InIn the coming months, Citizen G would, in fact, become the center of attention among some Northerner readers. The sympathizing White press would admire his genteel manners, eloquent speech and the broad knowledge he appeared to command, and some would see in him the Black “messiah” that could spark an enthusiasm for self-improvement among the less refined US Blacks. The subtext was the conviction that slavery and the pernicious White racial prejudice have rendered US Blacks phlegmatic and unambitious. Little did they seem to know of the more numerous Black leaders among them. These unnamed US Blacks have long struggled against a racial oppression to which Granville could only relate partially.

Citizen G may have remembered how in Saint Domingue White colonists considered gens de couleur like him as inferiors, and how Napoleon Bonaparte’s 1802 scheme would have relegated him to a secondary-level citizen. But the Haitian emissary had never been enslaved or even a potential kidnapped prey for mercenary enslavers. His formal education, military training, and experience in high government posts placed him apart from the bulk of population in any Atlantic city of the time. Citizen G was used to command respect from Blacks and Whites alike. And his message to the US was indeed going to attract the attention and elevate hopes among African Americans. But not because US Blacks needed to be prodded for self-improvement. Citizen G’s message stroke cords among US Blacks because it was their own message too.

Reference: Boston Recorder (1817-1824); Jul 10, 1824; 9, 28

This is the link to the full news article:

Granville Forgives


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