A vigorous retelling of Haiti's history intended to revive the promise of the world's first black-led republic.
This is not a story of the decline of a small nation, but an inspiring account of the struggle against adversity for freedom and independence. Dubois (History and French Studies/Duke Univ.; Soccer Empire: The World Cup and the Future of France, 2010, etc.) narrates the story of Toussaint Louverture’s leadership of the slave population of France's most profitable colony to independence in 1791, emancipation in 1793 and recognition by the government in 1794. The author also examines how Napoleon reversed independence and sent an army that was crushed in 1804 by Louverture and his collaborators and successors; how the Congress of Vienna secretly gave France the right to invade the country; and how Haiti was excluded from the Monroe Doctrine. Haiti was free, but a free country established by former black slaves—they had transgressed an order based not only on plantation slavery, but also racism. Invasion, blockade and isolation were used to deny Haitians their place among the free nations of the world; the United States did not recognize the country until Abraham Lincoln became president in 1860. Haiti endured until the U.S. Marines were sent to steal the country's gold and occupy the island in 1915. Franklin Roosevelt took credit for rewriting the constitution, and corporate-owned plantation-based production was reintroduced to replace the family-based system of land tenure. As Dubois writes, “the occupation propelled Haiti's political system backward by a century,” and the country has not been permitted to recover to the present.
A profound demonstration of what needs to be recognized, reconciled and forgiven if current crises are to be overcome.