In the DO Archivo General de la Nación

DO AGN 2016-08-23 10.36.39

This is my fifth day at the DO Archivo General de la Nación in Santo Domingo, and I am finding that the curators have been doing a good job digitalizing the bulk of the pre-1930 documentation. Except for a few documents in some of the collections, (i.e., Policía, ayuntamientos, Hipotecas, Apelación, Oficialías, Instrucción, Hacienda), the only other records they claim that have not been placed on-line are the notarial documents, which are like untapped windows to the early nineteenth century.

A look at the Reading Room (Sala de Investigación)

María Filomena Gonzalez Canalda wrote a book (click here for her article) about these sources to show the potential they had in redefining the way we look at the so-called Unification Period (“Haitian Occupation”) in Dominican History.

2016-08-19 13.05.10

In this 1900 document, the Dominican vice-consul in Mayagüez writes to Santo Domingo informing his superiors of the steamship “Salvador,” which is departing with Puerto Rican migrants to the Dominican Republic. The list of travelers, however, is still missing.

 

Sibylle Fischer on the early Haitian Law

Re-reading: Sybelle Fischer’s Modernity Disavowed.

Look here for a post on this book at the blog for Caribbean & Atlantic Bibliographies

Modernity Disavowed: Haiti and the Cultures of Slavery in the Age of Revolution

Modernity Disavowed: Haiti and the Cultures of Slavery in the Age of Revolution

Fischer’s book is always refreshing and helpful. I realized how much it had influenced me when in a meeting with the author I told a story from the book back to her without realizing that I had actually learned it from her book. I came back to it today to review what she had written on the early Haitian law in chapters 1113. Her in-depth study of the earlier constitutions, particularly that of 1801 (Toussaint Louverture’s) is crucial to my study on the Haitian law. Also helpful is how she projects these constitutions forward in time and see their implications for the rest of the 19th century.

Sarah Franklin’s review focuses on Fischer’s powerful analyzes of Haiti’s postrevolutionary or postcolonial condition. Franklin explains Fischer’s contributions in this area similarly to how I see it.

She notes that the […]  implicit incongruity of forming a society around both racial equality and national sovereignty could not be reconciled. Additionally, her analysis of Haiti’s post-revolutionary constitutions provides new, much-needed insight into the society. She notes that these documents clearly articulate the struggles that lay ahead for Haiti as it formulated its own identity at a time when Europeans were extending their colonies into Africa and Asia and scientific racism was increasingly viewed as a ba- sis for sound policy decisions. Moreover, within the Caribbean and the larger slave-holding world, Haiti was a contagion requiring quarantine and it became increasingly isolated. Thus, Haiti, founded on principles of revolutionary antislavery and personal rights, became consumed by issues of [the] nation and national sovereignty. “Clearly, ideas of citizenship, nationality, and rights of residence undergo severe changes in the first half of the nineteenth century” (244). As Fischer argues, the transnational ideology that provided the foundations of Haiti had to be cast aside, or disavowed, in order for Haiti to survive in a world that had chosen a path of borders and nations.

Franklin’s points in bullets (with my thoughts on reading Fischer):

1- Racial equality was incongruent with the European model of the nation, and thus, impossible to realize (make it happen) under European hegemony.

2- The early Haitian constitutions were more than constitutions (more similar to declarations of independence); they were documents that emerged from a collective of diverse people who were using the drafting of these constitutions as a way to assert their claims to perpetual freedom. The nation was not for them the bourgeoisie ideal that Genovese saw.

3- An isolated “contagion”:  I also agree with Franklin and Fischer in that the Haitian nation missed out in the increasingly fast and copious connections that the new American nations (former Spanish America) were developing among themselves, with the U.S. and Europe. Look for example at how the 1823 Monroe Doctrine ignored Haiti and then the 1826 Panamá Congress. Even when France granted conditional recognition after 1825, Haiti continued being ostracized by the U.S. and other American and European countries. And even when countries did recognize Haiti, it was more a token than a real recognition, which should have meant formal cultural exchanges, less lopsided trade, etc.

Haytian papers. A collection of the very interesting proclamations and other official documents, together with some account of the rise, progress, and present state of the kingdom of Hayti. By Prince Sanders [i.e., Saunders]

Haytian papers. A collection of the very interesting proclamations and other official documents, together with some account of the rise, progress, and present state of the kingdom of Hayti. By Prince Sanders [i.e., Saunders]

4- Transnationalism turns inside out. This is for me an important issue, not so much because through this analysis Fischer looks into future ideologies of resistance used against the U.S. invasion after 1915, but because it provides a well-thought explanation forthe oddity of the Haitian law at its beginnings, before it “turned inside out.” Franklin noticed, as I did, how Fischer’s idea of an anti-nationaltransnationalism thatwas embedded in the writing of the early Haitian law helps explain the recurrent clause assuring the world that Haiti was not going to export its revolution. Such a clause was necessary because the Haitian law was,unmistakenly, a threat to other nations, not simply because it offered refuge to all of those whohad been persecuted by European colonialism (i.e., Spanish-American patriots and runaways), but it diluted its borders with its vague attempt in defining who a Haitian was. If the enslaved families from North Caicos could legally call themselves Haitians, and taken steps toward assuring such an identity by boarding boats and crossing the channel of 130 miles separating them from Hispaniola, then, no nation, not even those who were not in the vicinity, couldmaintain its borders sealed; no country could articulate a monolithic vision of the nation while there was a nation without borders– better said, with borders that protected its citizens from outside threat, but was open to those who would come to stay as natives. The 1824 migrationexemplifies this point. The party (the euphoria for the migration) was over after the American Colonization Society was able toverbalize, more persuasively than before, the threat that an open-borders Haiti meant for the U.S. imperial projects.

Turks and Caicos Islands

Turks and Caicos Islands

Another related point that Fischer offers, which might required more space, is the concept that the nation and the state grew gradually apart; that while the people and the law held on to revolutionary ideals, the state moved away, not simply because it became more authoritarian, but because it rejected the transnationalism that had given Haiti its reason to exist. Such a notion is also crucial for Robert Futton’s Roots of Haitian Despotism. It links to my study by helping frame the early years, prior to the 1826 Rural Code, at a time when the state was still weak enough for the nation (as opposed to the state) to be able to exercise disproportionate influence in domestic as well as foreign affairs.

Further reading (not included in the text above)

Accilien, C., J. Adams, Elmide Méléance, and U. Jean-Pierre. Revolutionary Freedoms: A History of Survival, Strength and Imagination in Haiti. Caribbean Studies Press, 2006.

Bellegarde-Smith, Patrick. Haiti: The Breached Citadel. Canadian Scholars’ Press, 2004.

Bongie, Chris. “Monotonies of History‘: Baron de Vastey and the Mulatto Legend of Derek Walcott’s ’Haitian Trilogy.” Yale French Studies, no. 107 (2005): 70–107

Brière, Jean-François. “Du Sénégal Aux Antilles: Gaspard-Théodore Mollien En Haiti, 1825-1831.” French Colonial History 8 (2007): 71–79.

Calarge, Carla, Raphael Dalleo, and Luis Duno-Gottberg. Haiti and the Americas. Univ. Press of Mississippi, 2013.

Daut, Marlene Leydy. “The ‘Alpha and Omega’ of Haitian Literature: Baron de Vastey and the U.S. Audience of Haitian Political Writing.” Comparative Literature Studies 64, no. 1 (2012): 49–72.

Dayan, Joan. Haiti, History, and the Gods. 1995.

Dubois, L. Avengers of the New World: The Story of the Haitian Revolution. Harvard University Press, 2005.

Smith, Matthew J. “Footprints on the Sea: Finding Haiti in Caribbean Historiography.” Small Axe 18:1 43 (2014): 55-71.

Fatton, Robert. Haiti’s Predatory Republic: The Unending Transition to Democracy. Lynne Rienner Publishers, 2002.

Ferrer, Ada. Freedom’s Mirror: Cuba and Haiti in the Age of Revolution. Book, Whole. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press, 2014.

———. “Haiti, Free Soil, and Antislavery in the Revolutionary Atlantic.” The American Historical Review 117:1 (2012): 40–66.

———. “The Archive and the Atlantic’s Haitian Revolution.” Haitian History–Sepinwall: New Perspectives, 2012, 139.

Fick, Carolyn E. “The Haitian Revolution and the Limits of Freedom: Defining Citizenship in the Revolutionary Era.” Social History 32, no. 4 (11): 394–414.

Forsdick, Charles. “Situating Haiti: On Some Early Nineteenth-Century Representations of Toussaint Louverture.” International Journal of Francophone Studies 10, no. 1–2 (March 7, 2007): 17–34.

Gaffield, Julia. “‘Liberté, Indépendance’: Haitian Anti-Slavery and National Independence.” In A Global History of Anti-Slavery Politics in the Nineteenth Century, edited by W. Mulligan and M. Bric, 17–36. Palgrave Macmillan, 2013.

Garraway, Doris Lorraine. Tree of Liberty: Cultural Legacies of the Haitian Revolution in the Atlantic World. Charlottesville, VA: University of Virginia Press, 2008.

Ghachem, Malick W. The Old Regime and the Haitian Revolution. Book, Whole. Cambridge; New York: Cambridge University Press, 2012.

Girard, Philippe R. “The ‘Dark Star’: New Scholarship on the Repercussions of the Haitian Revolution.” Canadian Journal of Latin American and Caribbean Studies 36, no. 72 (2011): 229–47.

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. –

James, C.L.R. The Black Jacobins: Toussaint L’Ouverture and the San Domingo Revolution. Vintage Books, 1989.

Jenson, Deborah. Beyond the slave narrative: Politics, sex, and manuscripts in the Haitian revolution.  Liverpool University Press, 2011.

Johnson, S.E. The Fear of French Negroes: Transcolonial Collaboration in the Revolutionary Americas. University of California Press, 2012.

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

Joseph, Celucien L. “‘The Haitian Turn’: An Appraisal of Recent Literary and Historiographical Works on the Haitian Revolution.” Journal of Pan African Studies 5, no. 6 (2012): 37–55.

Kaisary, Philip. The Haitian Revolution in the Literary Imagination: Radical Horizons, Conservative Constraints. University of Virginia Press, 2014.

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.

Leger, Natalie Marie. “‘A Tragedy of Success!’: Haiti and the Promise of Revolution.” Cornell University, 2012.

Mayes, April, Yolanda C Martín, Carlos Ulises Decena, Kiran Jayaram, and Yveline Alexis. “Transnational Hispaniola: Toward New Paradigms in Haitian and Dominican Studies.” Radical History Review 2013, no. 115 (2013): 26–32.

Middelanis, Carl-Hermann. “Blending with Motifs and Colors: Haitian History Interpreted by Edouard Duval Carrie.” Small Axe 9, no. 2 (2005): 109–23.

Mongey, Vanessa. “A Tale of Two Brothers: Haiti’s Other Revolutions.” The Americas 69, no. 1 (2012): 37–60.

Munro, M., and E. Walcott-Hackshaw. Reinterpreting the Haitian Revolution And Its Cultural Aftershocks. University of the West Indies Press, 2006.

Nesbitt, Nick. Universal Emancipation: The Haitian Revolution and the Radical Enlightenment. The University of Virginia Press, 2008.

_______ “Turning the Tide: The Problem of Popular Insurgency in Haitian Revolutionary Historiography.” Small Axe 27 (2008).

Nessler, Graham. “The Shame of the Nation: The Force of Re-Enslavement and the Law of ‘Slavery’ under the Jean-Louis Ferrand in Santo Domingo, 1804-1809.” NWIG: New West Indian Guide / Nieuwe West-Indische Gids 86, no. 1/2 (2012): 5–28.

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

Nicholls, David. From Dessalines to Duvalier: Race, Colour, and National Independence in Haiti. Rutgers University Press, 1996.

Paravisini-Gebert, Lizabeth. “The Haitian Revolution in Interstices and Shadows: A Re-Reading of Alejo Carpentier’s The Kingdom of This World.” Research in African Literatures 35, no. 2 (2004): 114–27.

Past, Mariana. “Reclaiming the Haitian Revolution: Race, Politics and History in Twentieth-Century Caribbean Literature,” 2006.

Pisarz-Ramirez, Gabriele. “‘The Darkest Is Before the Break of Day.’ Rhetorical Uses of Haiti in the Works Fo Early African-American Writers.” Atlantic Studies 4, no. 1 (March 2007): 37–50.

Popkin, Jeremy D. “Race, Slavery, and the French and Haitian Revolutions.” Eighteenth-Century Studies 37, no. 1 (2003): 113–22.

Ramsey, Kate. “Performances of Prohibition: Law, ‘Superstition,’ and National Modernity in Haiti.” Columbia University, 2002.

Reinsel, Amy. “Poetry of Revolution: Romanticism and National Projects in Nineteenth-Century Haiti.” Ph.D., University of Pittsburgh, 2008.

Scott, David. Conscripts of Modernity: The Tragedy of Colonial Enlightenment. Duke University Press, 2004.

Scott, Rebecca J. “Paper Thin: Freedom and Re-Enslavement in the Diaspora of the Haitian Revolution.” Law and History Review 29, no. 04 (2011): 1061–87.

Semley, Lorelle D. “To Live and Die, Free and French Toussaint Louverture’s 1801 Constitution and the Original Challenge of Black Citizenship.” Radical History Review 2013, no. 115 (2013): 65–90.

Sepinwall, Alyssa Goldstein. Haitian History: New Perspectives. New York: Routledge, 2012.

Sheller, Mimi. “The Army of Sufferers: Peasant Democracy in the Early Republic of Haiti.” New West Indian Guide 74, no. I/2 (2000): 33–56.

Sheridan, Richard B. “From Jamaican Slavery to Haitian Freedom: The Case of the Black Crew of the Pilot Boat, Deep Nine.” Journal of Negro History, 1982, 328–39.

Trouillot, Michel-Rolph. Silencing the Past: Power and the Production of History. Boston, Mass: Beacon Press, 2002.

West, M.O., W.G. Martin, and F.C. Wilkins. From Toussaint to Tupac: The Black International Since the Age of Revolution. University of North Carolina Press, 2009.

Buccaneers

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

Buccan

Buccan

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.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

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.

Theses and Dissertations– Bibliography of the 1824 migration to Haiti

Screen-shot-2010-09-18-at-11.47.30-AM

 

 

 

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.

phd052107s

 

 

 

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.

 

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

 

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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.

 

 

An island or not?

San Juan edicifios

When is an island surely an island? In Puerto Rico is common to hear people living in San Juan and adjacent suburbs referring to the rest of the country as “the island.” The implication is that San Juan’s metro region is not a physical part of the island of Puerto Rico, but it is instead linked to the United States, the American continent, or perhaps, to the world—as if the rest of the island is not. It further implies that the metro region, with its modern buildings, large professional workforce, and vibrant cultural life to which the elite and foreign visitors regularly attend, cannot possibly be an island. There seems to be a long history behind this split. To the urban-obsessed Spanish colonists, strategic port cities like San Juan stood at the crux of a complex network of communication that connected the colonies to Cadiz, Seville and ultimately, Madrid. The closer you were to the ports where ships brought news, products and instructions from the metropole, the closer you were to power. It was a matter of the empire assigning value to geography and this, in turn, determining power relationships. Circumstances have not changed much today. Yet, notwithstanding tensions between urban and rural populations, this reference to the rest of the island, to what is beyond the metro area as the proper island is a genuine state of mind that imagines space and power in relation to distance from the metropole.

peninsula-samana-

Indeed, an island does not need to be a piece of land completely surrounded by water to be called an island. In other words, an island does not have to display all the physical traits of an island to be such. It simply needs to be its image, something resembling an island. The Random House Dictionary (2013) suggests this as one of its definitions for the term island. And the geo-political history of the Peninsula of Samaná, in the Dominican Republic, seems to confirm this idea. Samaná history also helps explain the epistemological assumption that those in lower ranks of power need to be controlled. It is the erotic pull that draws control over exotic islands emitting their naturally rebellious charm. An island is, thus, the erotized fresh and vivacious female requiring domesticity.

John Thomson, “Haiti, Hispaniola or St. Domingo,”

For most of the modern period, the Samaná Peninsula has been in an ambiguous category: an undefined status between an island and a peninsula. Today we know that it is a peninsula linked on the ground to the rest of the island of Hispaniola, the second largest in the Caribbean Sea. But that is not how it always was.

24x36 Poster; Map Of Hispaniola Haiti Dominican Republic 1767; Antique Reprint

Historical documents are to blame for our current uncertainty of the region’s real physical status in the past. They often refer to Samaná as an island, and historical maps frequently show it as a separated piece of land, but sometimes not. The pattern with most documents seems to point to a change after the mid 19th century. Historians are now trying to determine the exact last time Samaná was referred to as an island. The idea is to find what may have changed its geographical status; why it is no longer an island? It seems that geological or other natural changes may have lifted up, or dried up the “estéros” or swamps that stood between Samaná and the rest of Hispaniola. Was it the 1824 earthquake? Could it have been the new farming and irrigating methods extracting water from the Yuna? One thing is sure, that the present-day mangrove swamps of Maria Trinidad Sanchez, along the Rincón River’s estuary, is what is left of a larger wetland isolating Samaná and covering the neck from Bahia Escocesa to Bahia de Samaná.

24x36 Poster; Map Of Hispaniola Haiti Dominican Republic 1762; Antique Reprint

My scholarly interest goes beyond simply searching for the “event” that changed Samaná from an island to a peninsula. The reports we have from historical records show a persistent ambiguity about the nature of this region. It is very probable, as some historians have pointed out, that Samaná’s enigma resulted from occasional natural changes. At different times, the Yuna and Rincón estuaries at the neck may have flooded the area making passage through it almost impossible (in fact, a few of the colonial stories point exactly to this kind of experience). It may also have been that the region may have finally risen above the sea level after 1842, making land-access to Samaná easier.

Yet, what is most fascinating to me is to see how and when Samaná is presented as an island, and when is not. Its physical ambiguity, being sometimes accessible through land and sometimes not, lends Samaná to imaginative manipulation. Since you could never be completely sure about what it was (an island or a peninsula), you may call it whatever you felt it was right at the moment. So, looking at the contexts of these references to Samaná may offer us an insight about past geo-political perceptions of the regions.

My argument is that the rhetorical process of making Samaná an island or peninsula, in writing or in drawing, reveals at least two things. First, calling it an island or not is a matter of convenience. Claims for ownership would impact this perception, of course. Second, the perceived physical distance of Samaná in the minds of the authors and cartographers. If the region was seen as easily reachable, then, there is no mention of it as being an island: the distance to Samaná from Puerto Plata as opposed to the distance from Santo Domingo or Port-au-Prince.

Constitution Hayti Samana

This document is a portion of the 1805 Haytian constitution, also known as the Dessalines Constitution (Julia Gaffield made an interesting discovery about this documentHere is her blog). As mentioned at the bottom of the piece featured above, Samaná is not only considered part of Hayti, but it is included as an island.

At this time, Hayti claimed the entire archipelago of Hispaniola–not only the major island, but also all the smaller islands, islets and cays near its coastline. But this was also a time for regrouping and consolidating the gains made with independence of 1804. Haytian leaders could not yet enforce their claim over the eastern side– or more accurately, they could not yet liberate the island’s eastern side from slavery and European colonial yoke (French émigrés in Samaná still owned enslaved Haitians). The Spanish Santo Domingo was still under the control of some obstinate French soldiers led by Louis Marie Ferrand, who had arrived with Leclerc in 1802, and survived the resounding defeat at the hands of the united Haytian forces.

Not only did Samaná appear far from Port-au-Prince, but Haytian claim for it was only in name. It had no soliders there yet. And there was no other practical way of reaching this roadless region from the Haytian capital (which was at its exact opposite), but through water, the same way you reached an island.

Late 18th Century French naturalists wrote extensively about the natural wonders of Samaná. This was at a time when French expansionists impulses were checked by the Spanish control of Hispaniola’s larger eastern region. The case was different in Samaná since here the Spanish had but a precarious hold. So, the French writers’ focus of attention on this region shows more than the region’s wonders. It reveals what they thought was within their reach of controlling. The Samaná region, island or not, was begging to be controlled. I see no reason why these perceptions of geography would not have influenced Haytian leaders in 1805.

REVIEWS: Modernity Challenged, or how I learned to love others

English: Coat of arms of Cuba. Español: Escudo...

Coat of arms of Mexico. Español: Escudo Nacion...

Coat of arms of Mexico. Español: Escudo Nacional de México. Français : Armoiries du Mexique. 日本語: メキシコの国章。 Română: Stema Mexicului. Русский: Герб Мексики. Svenska: Mexikos statsvapen. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Modernity

Modernity (Photo credit: brian glanz)

Geoffrey Fox <gf@geoffreyfox.com> and Lorrin Thomas
<lthomas2@camden.rutgers.edu> have indulged us with two fine reviews:

1- Fox: “Frustrated Bourbons vs. Urban Reality in Old Mexico
http://www.h-net.org/reviews/showrev.php?id=31423

2- Thomas: “Against A U.S.-Dominated Modernity
http://www.h-net.org/reviews/showrev.php?id=31919

The theme of modernity, be it in Mexico, Cuba, or the United States, ties Fox and Thomas’ reviews together. Though one more than the other, both allude to the need of revising our interpretations of European modernity and to value those opposing it.  The power of the supposedly un-modern to frustrate aggressive Bourbon reforms may reveal more than just an incompetent colonial bureaucracy. Similarly, the intricate visions of de-nationalized, but racialized wandering dissident authors may help us appreciate a universal thirst for justice, betterment and order, a prerogative (seemingly) previously claimed by modernity.

 

Picture you as a sophisticated and street-wise Mexica healer walking
purposely on the “wrong side of town” in Bourbon “modern” Mexico City,
while exuding the distinctive aroma of traditional herbs– an
assortment of long cherished greens, which by now have grown to
include others from Africa (thanks to the importation of African
captives) and Asia (made available through the Manila Galleon). You
have made a name by resisting the medical “modern” bleed-treatment of
pious European-trained physicians in overcrowded colonial hospitals,
and perhaps by surviving a few close encounters with the inquisition.

 

Travel now ahead in time, but only for about a century. Picture you
again as a person of color, but this time fortunate enough to write
and travel to Cuba and the Harlem at a time when lynching was common,
states and provinces were passing laws forbidding interracial
marriages, and science seems to confirm ideas of the gradual
extinctions of non-White people. In your travels, as well as in your
writings, you oppose this new version of “modernity”: the USAmerican
“modernity” (thanks to Brian Owensby for the term). This is, in fact,
a neo-euro modernity, not that different from the Bourbon’s that
cannibalizes other states’ sovereignties and attempts to impose a
global “scientist” social order with racial difference at its
hierarchical social core. Your writing, not unlike the shamanic
practice in your previous incarnation as a Mexica healer opposing
modern Bourbon reforms, envisions a radically different world-order
that de-centers race and nations, and makes better claim for human
equality than what the European modern liberalism has done yet. Who
are you? And why should historians write about you?

 

In a seminal article about modernity, Richard Wolin admits the
profound failings of European modernity as a historical paradigm while
also arguing for its “benefit.” (1) The blessing is what he calls,
“cultural reflexivity,” or the ability to use a second order to
critically examine the first one. In other words, the euro-modernity
project, despite all of its deficiencies, has a trait, a device, if
you like, that allows for self-criticism through the appreciation of
the Other (i.e., Protestant Reformation, Enlightenment critique,
Romantic view of the exotic).

 

Latin American historians are perhaps more familiar with this idea
(than most other historians) through the studies of Bartolomé de las
Casas, called often the first “modern” (of many things). But
tragically, we are also well-versed with the problems in this rosy
view of pious compassion, and, even more terrifying, with the plethora
of “modern” followers of Gines de Sepulveda. Take for example Domingo
Faustino Sarmiento’s push for an uncompromising nationalist modernity,
a decidedly neo-euro modernity. Perhaps in desperation, American
patriot-nationalists like Sarmiento sought functional order and
validity from civilized Europe and the USA. Many Latin American
positivists would later follow the unfortunate natural logic of
evolutionism and scientific racialism. In their national projects, the
traditional, non-modern order would not be assimilated, not even
treated kindly, but extricated and expunged, to give way to a more
advanced, robust and brighter future where capitalist forms of
production were favored, and patriarchy and whiteness were once again
(if not more viciously) enthroned. This horrid image gives some
validity to Homi Bhabha’s argument that euro-modernity’s most serious
problem is its inability to assimilate or deal fairly with traditional
(ancient) practices.  Thus, after all, self-criticism might not be a
particularly strong trait of euro-modernity.

 

What are we left with, then? Don’t forget yet to give credit to
Emanuel Kant’s most sanguine interpretation of euro-modernity, which
asserts that euro-modern individuals are modern because they transcend
their parochial cosmos (perhaps an audacious depiction considering his
virulent racism). This enlargement of compassion, in fact, fueled many
Romantic reforms (including abolitionism). However, the existence of
this positive side to euro-modernity is not in question, but rather
its uniqueness (exceptionalism) and perhaps its comparative strength
or importance in the mix. The other side of Kant’s coin, in clear view
to euro-thinkers only after the rude awakening of both WWs, is better
expressed in the foucauldian grim articulation of power as a
historical point of inquiry (a grimmer and more totalizing turn in
thought from “class struggle”). Daniel Brunsetter puts it grislier in
coining the term “othercide:” euro-modernity’s tendency to kill the
Other. (2) Here, Europe’s modernity left us again naked and with
little room for love (bummer).

 

But then, from the ashes of a nihilist postmodernism, which found all
meta-histories, as well as all purposes of history simply distasteful
and useless, have risen a more clearly defined oppositional
scholarship, busy trying to decipher the ugly post-colonial reality
and searching for signs of origins other than euro’s pasts. It is the
Age of Heroines and Heroes all over again, but from humbler origins (a
theme long popular): the rise of the margins? From this utterly honest
political scholarship we hear clamors, like that of Dilip Gaonkar,
which entreat us to stop our obsession with European “modernity,” and
start listening to other modernities. From this paradigm, modernity is
not the monopoly of Europe anymore, but it is perhaps the universally
human impulse to find and negotiate order—it just happens throughout
history somewhat differently in time and space. (3) In fact, Sarmiento
could have easily written _Facundo_ in ancient Mesopotamia (_Epic of
Gilgamesh_). His consideration of Enkidu would have certainly
differed, however, from his treatment of the dispossessed
American-poor, Amerindian and Black people. And the questions we would
have asked would have been, how and why?

 

So, the anti-Bourbons and anti-USAmericans in these reviews may be
suggesting alternative modernities, perhaps a prodding for us to
follow similar tracks and look for modernities (as opposed to a single
modernity) all around and throughout the historical record.

 

1. Richard Wolin, ““Modernity”: The Peregrinations of a Contested
Historiographical Concept,” _The American Historical Review_ 116, no.
3 (2011): 741-751.
2. Daniel R. Brunsetter, _Tensions of Modernity: Las Casas and His
Legacy in the French Enlightenment_, (Routledge, 2012).
3. Dilip Parameshwar Gaonkar, ed. _Alternative modernities_ Vol. 12,
no. 3. (Duke University Press Books, 2001).

Latinos as a political classification

The post below is part of the H-LatAm conversation about Latino versus Hispanic identity. The original post is found here:

Migrant Jesis

“Migrant Jesus,” from Lemos “Latino Gothic” works.
http://bit.ly/YmxsCn

Redistas y Neteros (thanks for the reminder, Tom [Holloway]),

What a surprising reception to Nelly‘s question! It is not simply the rapid-firing of messages which tells when a topic has touched a nerve, but the depth of its engaging posts which sets the thread apart. The sharing of articles, written by participants, and of new research (Gary) makes this forum a necessary contribution to the study of Latin American History, and as this discussion has shown, of Latin@ Studies. And it is to this last point that I want to draw your attention to.

 

Though Latino America, as the place of origin, is important to identify the roots of the Latino/a community in the U.S., what makes the Latino (Latin@) experience unique is its diasporic nature. An engineering Professor recruited directly from [Latin America] is not necessarily a Latino Professor. These professors would often have difficulties in relating to the struggles of Latino students coming directly from U.S. High Schools. Their loyalties and identities would often linked them to their countries of origin rather than to the Latin@ more amorphous and (perhaps) transnational sense of community.

 

This (Latino) community would be more comfortable with accepting and even speaking Spanglish, with moving across various cultures and subcultures, and more familiar with “mixed” marriages of, [say] Peruvians and Mexicans, and with “Latino” kids that have never visited Latino America, and yet, [who] do not fit the “American”/”Gringo” mold (a light color would facilitate assimilation, though). The “Latino,” thus, is not a “Latino American.” She is certainly more American than the [typical] U.S. American. But it is the fact that this community is a diaspora, a people without a tangible country, but with a dispersed identity, that makes its [efforts in] naming crucial. It is politically fraught, as Roger briefly mentioned, but it is also inevitable. We can call it an exercise in absurdity all we want, but people on the ground, the activists, the “undocumented,” the religious leader, the community counselor, the teacher, and most importantly, the young members of the second and third generations, would find this the struggle of their lives.

 

So, this is not a mere discussion in semantics, but one that strike at the heart of past and current histories.

 

Cheers

Dennis R. Hidalgo

Latino Gothic

“Latino Gothic,” from Alejandro Garcia Lemos works: http://bit.ly/YmxsCn

La Piedra Escrita

La Piedra Escrita, the “Written Rock,” is a rock with symbols apparently made by pre- Columbian people of the island today called Puerto Rico (called, Boriken by the natives). The rock sits on the Rio Saliente in Jayuya, Puerto Rico. I found this rock of immense interest, partly, because it is not preserved. Visitors come in throngs to climb the rock and swim on the river. The symbols seem of human faces, of circles and curved lines. Though the human faces, and what seems as a frog image, are similar to those of other places around the island, for the most part, the symbols in Jayuya are particular of this place. These type of circles, and the curved lines, are not found in any other region.

20130102-131725.jpg

Frog?

20130102-131740.jpg

Unique circles?

20130102-131749.jpg

 

Rough Crossings: Britain, the Slaves and the American Revolution – Simon Schama – Google Books

Rough Crossings: Britain, the Slaves and the American Revolution – Simon Schama – Google Books.

Front Cover Schama, a well-known art historian, jumped ships to write a highly evocative and detailed history that should be central to the Black Atlantic. He did so after his popular work on A History of Britain, which should have given him the research background he needed to have written this work. It is arguably a history that only a British scholar could have written, and thus, a much needed one against the blinding American patriotic narrative. We should expect that his critics are not a few–we will get to that later, and mostly from the United States’ side.

I regret not having read it before.

In a way, this is a “British Atlantic History” done in reverse to what has been happening from the United States shores, which has emphasized the position of the former British North American colonies (i.e., 13 colonies) within the broader context of the English-speaking Atlantic. Schama, instead, raises the voices of those who has been writing about Blacks outside of the traditional U.S. patriotic paradigm by showing, more evocative than most, how for Blacks the rhetoric of freedom was clearer from the British than from the U.S. Patriots’ side. In doing so, he is able to help revise U.S. Black History.

Using tragedy to promote dependency

I wrote the post below in response to an attempt to use Camacho’s death for partisan purposes. The original post I read appeared in the otherwise admirable blog “Repeating Islands.” But it had first come from Time.com, written by Tim Padgett

“I am surprised to see such a partisan and pro-colonial (and ahistorical) post in this blog. The pro-statehood movement on the island has been on an evangelical-like impetus that ignores the facts for the “positive” vision.

The main reason Puerto Rico, as well as much of Latin America, has sunk into what it seems as social disarray (as seen in the surge of violence) is in fact because of its colonial status and the neo-liberal policies affecting the entire region. Adding Puerto Rico to the integral political structure of the colonial master (statehood) would not only miss the goal of producing a solution to the problems affecting the region, but it would simply be impossible.

Understanding the nature of nation-building and nationalism would help explain why the U.S. would find it impossible to assimilate the island as an equal. There are plenty of historical examples that would also highlight the foolishness of this idea. France in the Caribbean is perhaps the most salient one, where the colonial territories have been integral and full members of the French political apparatus (unlike Puerto Rico’s “commonwealth” status, which by the way, it reads radically different in the Spanish version).

And yet, the French “Overseas Departments” have not been nor will be in the same social or political level as the rest of France. They are rather dependencies “well treated,” or better yet, “people hanging from the borders of the more progressive nation that is France” (which happens to thrive at the historical expenses of their colonial possessions). No wonder the French have not accepted them as real social equals.

The U.S. seems farther behind the French in admitting this possibility with Puerto Rico–even less of accepting Puerto Ricans as full members of their society (in the continental U.S., they are considered “immigrants” in the process of becoming “Whites” as the Irish and Italians once were, if they are willing to shed away most of their cultural traits and join the “melting-pot”). So, there are enough evidences showing the final destination of the “statehood” pipe-dream.

Puerto Rico has a long history of reactionary and pro-colonial support, and this post seems to follow in such a tradition (this thought also relates to plantation owners in Cuba who sought union with the U.S., and discredited Dominican caudillos who wanted the U.S. to re-colonize their country in the 19th Century).

Yet, there are also traditions of more genuinely native and more creative lines of thinking that put a premium on emancipation, collaboration and fair equality rather than on pernicious social hierarchies. I suggest that we tap on these latter traditions, improve on them and rethink our future more brightly than joining a cause of futile begging for acceptance.”

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