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scot47 Sep 15th 2020 8:16 am

Pursuing my interests in History by working through
"Black Spartacus" by Sudar Hazareesingh.

The story of Toussaint L'Ouverture and the tragedies that led to Papa Doc, familiar to some of us through book by Graham Greene, and the film based on it.
A dilemma for French Revolutionaries in the 1790s - Did the rights of man extend to slaves ?

uk_grenada Sep 15th 2020 10:22 am

Re: Haiti
Haiti has always been a basket case of a country and this continues to today. When the UN imported cholera , the major earthquake, and the local murderous police being maybe the most recent occurances.

The french occupy a special place in hell for their actions over the centuries [when did they stop taxing the island for rebellion?] but local leaders have pretty much all been bastards too. Didnt L’overture keep slaves?

scot47 Sep 15th 2020 2:40 pm

Re: Haiti
He did and he didn't. I recommend the book. I was surprised about the equivocal position of Bonaparte. And the role of Britannia in the shape of Scotland's own Henry Dundas.

uk_grenada Sep 15th 2020 2:49 pm

Re: Haiti
You are quoting the old british ‘scriptures’ about him. Take a read:On one matter Girard leaves no doubt, which is that L’Ouverture sometimes put his well-known talent for deceit to ruthless purposes. There was a moment in 1799 when, seeing an opportunity to curry favor with the British Empire and the hostile Americans, he treacherously betrayed an antislavery conspiracy in Jamaica — a coldblooded act if ever there was one, even if it served the narrow interest of the emancipated slaves in Saint-Domingue. Maybe L’Ouverture’s antislavery principles were more flexible than James could ever have suspected. L’Ouverture was himself a slave owner at one point (as his father had probably been in the Allada kingdom, Girard tells us), which is a fact that emerged only in 1977.

It is a little shocking to learn from Girard that at an early point in the revolution, when the antislavery cause seemed on the verge of collapse, L’Ouverture broached the idea of betraying his own emancipated followers by leading them back into bondage, in the hope of getting official protection for himself and one of his comrades. Ultimately he restored the slave trade in Saint-Domingue, after having abolished it — restored it because the plantations needed laborers, though he intended to free the newly purchased Africans after they had toiled for a number of years. Meanwhile he promulgated a labor code that in practice was only marginally better than slavery, even if it maintained the principle of emancipation.

L’Ouverture was not, in short, an “abolitionist saint.” He was a man of his time. L’Ouverture’s “equivocation was representative of an age that had to reconcile Enlightenment principles and the labor requirements of plantations. Like three other great figures of the Age of Revolutions — Thomas Jefferson, Simón Bolívar and Napoleon — he had conflicted views on the delicate matter of human bondage.” At least L’Ouverture brought a greater lucidity to his conflicted views than did Jefferson or Napoleon. He knew that his goal was double: to preserve Saint-Domingue’s prospects for wealth, and, even so, to uphold the abolitionist idea.

scot47 Sep 15th 2020 5:32 pm

Re: Haiti
The biography by Girard is now contested by Sudar Hazareesingh of Baliol. "Black Spartacus" is a more positive account than that of Girard.

Next I shall turn my attention to the life of Dessalines. Then I shall start that task I have avoided until now - a survey of the literature on Napoleon Bonaparte.

uk_grenada Sep 15th 2020 5:58 pm

Re: Haiti
What does ‘positive’ mean in this context? Frankly its an academic exercise, whether some person who died acling time ago was only a slight slave owner or a more major slave owner, the legacy of the rulers of that island has not been a positive one. At least both acknowledge the african / middle eastern heritage of slavery.

scot47 Sep 18th 2020 4:45 am

Re: Haiti
Toussant L'ouverture and his successor Dessalines played a part in liberating the slaves of Haiti. No doubt about that. the region is still mired i n poverty and oppression. Haiti needs a Guevara or similar ! What they gor was the Duvaliers,, pere et fils !

Gordon Barlow Sep 22nd 2020 9:43 pm

Re: Haiti
Graham Greene felt frightened in Haiti in Papa Doc's time because he (GG) was writing a critical book. I spent a week there in 1966 as a backpacking tourist, and found it peaceful and very friendly - no doubt because I was not writing a book!

As for what Haiti needs... I think it needs the USA to keep out of the place. The country is way too far gone for it to ever develop democracy, but it might be better governed by the home-grown brownskin elite than by US or UN soldiers.

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