Here’s the abstract of the paper I will be presenting tomorrow (Saturday, May 27) at the First Symposium on Haitian Heritage to be taken at the African American Research Library and Museum (Fort Lauderdale, Florida): 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
“Rethinking the Intellectual Foundation of the Haitian Revolution: A Letter for Freedom and Independence (July 1792)”
by Celucien L. Joseph, PhD
“In the field of Haitian Revolutionary Studies, the idea of general liberty and universal emancipation has been contested by a minority but powerful voices and historians. Particularly, some Haitianist historians have argued that the enslaved African population in the French colony of Saint-Domingue had not been preoccupied with an early notion of general emancipation and neither had the natural drive to rupture the schackles of slavery and put an end to the French colonial regime.
Many historians have unconvincinly contested that Libertè générale was a latter manifestation and progressive thought, as thr slaves themselves moved switfly toward freedom, independence, and decolonization. In this presentation, we argue that the resolution toward general liberty and independence were one singular commitment for the enslaved African population. These twin and inseparable ideas did not develop in the latter phase of the Haitian Revolution.We contend that general emancipation as total independence (and decolonization) was already an early goal that came to fruition in the unfolding events leading to a double event: The triumph of the Haitian Revolution and the founding of the Republic of Haiti. However, it was conditioned by a range of contingent circumstances and watershed events in which Saint-Dominguan Slaves were obliged to fight for freedom, which translated into a matter of practical reality.
Toward this goal, we analyze the rhetorical force, devices, and demands of the historic letter of July 1792, penned by three early and prominent leaders of the Revolution: Jean-François Papillon,Georges Biassou, and Charles Belair/Toussaint Louverture.”