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Facing Racial Revolution: eyewitness accounts of the Haitian Insurrection

My purpose in this article is to examine just one small and neglected chapter of it, namely, the reactions of whites who personally witnessed the Haitian Revolution of 1791 to 1804 and then wrote about their experiences. The witnesses of the Haitian Revolution were the first whites to live through a true racial revolution, one in which people who the European world had defined as inferior succeeded in overturning the racial hierarchy. Although their memoirs were not widely read at the time, the whites who had been at this extraordinary event give us a unique window into the impact of living through this kind of inversion of racial power relations. These witness accounts from the Haitian Revolution thus demonstrated the deeply troubling implications of personal memoir literature for white Europeans' sense of self.

Haiti; Haiti Insurrection; racial conflicts

Pós-Graduação em História, Faculdade de Filosofia e Ciências Humanas, Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais Av. Antônio Carlos, 6627 , Pampulha, Cidade Universitária, Caixa Postal 253 - CEP 31270-901, Tel./Fax: (55 31) 3409-5045, Belo Horizonte - MG, Brasil - Belo Horizonte - MG - Brazil