The Coffee Planter of Saint Domingo (London, 1798)


Here Pierre Joseph Laborie provides the perspective of the planter. He gives a detailed description of the organization of enslaved labor in the production of coffee. Although he shared quite negative views of the African enslaved people, he was candid about the extreme brutality that they faced and admitted that it diminished their capacity to work.

The Maroons


In this passage, Moreau de Saint–Méry explains that runaways in Haiti, known as Maroons, are and have always been a persistent problem and details the tremendous efforts put into retrieving the runaways. Despite this effort, some Maroons survived and thereby regained their freedom.

The Pennsylvania Gazette: Blame Now Falls (16 May 1792)


The blame for the Haitian Revolution now falls, at least according to the author of this letter, on the "blood–thirsty aristocracy," which has created dissensions among the French. The author also expresses alarm at the thought of the revolt spreading to other islands in the Caribbean.

The Pennsylvania Gazette: Free blacks and mulattos flee (4 December 1793)


Along with whites, free blacks and mulattos were also among those who fled the Haitian uprising. Mulattos could own slaves and plantations, and many of them did. Free blacks often manned the militias used to hunt down runaway slaves. Like the white settlers, both groups therefore had reason to flee. But, as this source relates, states such as South Carolina feared the consequences of their... Read More »

The Pennsylvania Gazette: Magnitude of the Insurrection (12 October 1791)


The magnitude of the Haitian insurrection quickly became clear as alarmed observers related that considerable armies were being raised to fight the rebels. It is noteworthy that such reports even to northern U.S. newspapers expressed little sympathy for the rebels.

The Pennsylvania Gazette: U.S. Vigilance (13 December 1797)


The Haitian uprising stoked the fears of whites in the United States that a similar uprising would occur among enslaved populations in their country. This article relates how vigilance remained at a high pitch and rumors of rebellion were enough to cause a virtual panic as slaveowners dreaded the possible importation of rebellion from Saint Domingue.

The Pennsylvania Gazette: Unrest Continues (28 September 1796)


This newspaper details how despite the abolition of slavery in Haiti, turbulence continued in many parts of the colony. The French relied on local generals, including Toussaint L’Ouverture, to try to restore order.

The Pennsylvania Gazette: White Refugees (17 July 1793)


This newspaper article reports sympathetically on the situation of the white refugees fleeing Haiti because of uprising. The articles details how the cities of Baltimore and Philadelphia met the influx of these refugees.

The Revolt from An Historical Account of the Black Empire of Hayti


Rainsford’s detailed contemporary account of the revolt emphasizes the strenuous yet ultimately unsuccessful mobilization of colonial French resources.

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The Story of Africa

Each segment provides a selection of quotes from primary sources that illuminate specific issues. There are many gems to mine. They range from original lyrical quotations that capture the arresting images of initiation rituals and political power.