Toussaint’s Clause: The Founding Fathers and the Haitian Revolution

In its formative years, America, birthplace of a revolution, wrestled with a volatile dilemma. John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton, and many other founding fathers clashed. What was to be the new republic’s strategy toward a revolution roiling just off its shores?

From 1790 to 1810, the disagreement reverberated far beyond Caribbean waters and American coastal ports. War between France and Britain, the great powers of the time, raged on the seas and in Europe. America watched aghast as its trading partner Haiti, a rich hothouse of sugar plantations and French colonial profit, exploded in a rebellion led by former slave Toussaint L’Ouverture.

Toussaint’s Clause: The Founding Fathers and the Haitian Revolution narrates the intricate history of one of America’s early foreign policy balancing acts and one of the nation’s defining moments. The supporters of Toussaint’s rebellion against France at first engineered a bold policy of intervention in favor of the rebels. But Southern slaveholders, such as Jefferson, eyed the slave-general’s rise and masterful leadership skills with extreme alarm and eventually obtained a reversal of the policy-even while taking advantage of the rebellion to make the fateful Louisiana purchase. Buy this book:



Silencing the Past: Power and the Production of History

Trouillot, a distinguished Haitian scholar who teaches at The Johns Hopkins University, has produced a sparkling interrogation of the past. He examines the suppression of the role of Africans in the Haitian Revolution to demonstrate how power silences certain voices from history. The background is the “war within the war.” As Napoleonic France attempted to reestablish imperial control and eventually slavery, black creoles — natives of the island or the Caribbean — fought dissident groups composed of Bossales — African-born ex-slaves mainly from the Congo. The Congo-born guerrilla leader, Jean Baptiste Sans Souci, one of the most effective opponents of the French, was murdered by Henry Christophe, his former comrade and commander. When Christophe became King Henry I of Haiti, he built the Sans Souci palace literally and figuratively over the murdered African hero’s body, obliterating his memory entirely when European visitors assumed the name Sans Souci was borrowed from the palace of the same name in Potsdam, Germany. Haiti was, Trouillot convincingly shows, the first modern state of the so-called Third World, and it experienced all the trials of postcolonial nation-building when new elites partially appropriated the culture of the masses and silenced dissent. The silencing was doubly effective because the Haitian Revolution, the most successful slave revolt in history, was largely written out of the texts by historians of the period. Trouillot places the Haitian story within the context of the denial of the Holocaust, the debate over the Alamo, and the meaning of Columbus. A beautifully written, superior book.  Buy this book:



Henry Christophe & Thomas Clarkson: A Correspondence  By Henri Christophe (King of Haiti), Thomas Clarkson

Brief history of Haiti from the discovery of the island by Columbus to the slave trade by the french, the subsequent revolt by the slaves and the rise of three prominent Haitians who would control the island after defeating the French. The correspondence between Henry Christophe, the republic of Haiti’s leader, and Thomas Clarkson a slave abolitionist gives keen insight into the deep relationship formed between the two individuals.


Medicine and Morality in Haiti: The Contest for Healing Power (Cambridge Studies in Medical Anthropology)

Medicine and morality in rural Haiti are shaped both by different local religious traditions and by biomedical and folk medicine practices. People who become ill may seek treatment from Western doctors, but also from herbalists and religious leaders. This study examines the decisions guiding such choices, and considers moral issues arising in a society where suffering is associated with guilt but where different, sometimes conflicting, ethical systems coexist. It also reveals how in the crisis of illness people rework religious identities and are forced to address fundamental social and political problems.

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Clash of Cultures

Clash of Cultures retraces the United States intervention and occupation of Haiti for two decades, 1915–1934. Though the treaty of 1916, which legalized the occupation, did not place educational matters under American control, the Marines used their unlimited authority to interfere with the operation of Haitian schools. Their interference led to a clash between Haitian and American cultures over educational policy for Haiti. American officials proceeded to develop a scheme aiming at a complete take-over of the Haitian school system, which was sternly opposed by the Haitians. As the obstacles in the way of a take-over proved to be insurmountable, the Americans moved to bypass the Haitian school system by creating a system of their own through the Service Technique de l’Agriculture et de l’Enseignement Professionnel, an American controlled agency. Clash of Cultures highlights the patterns of racism which permeated educational aims and objectives pursued by American bureaucrats. It demonstrates that in the background of the cultural conflicts between Haiti and the United States lies a wider collision of cultural imperialism, between the Breton clergy who safeguarded the French culture in Haiti and the Anglo-Saxon Americans.

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The U.S. Naval Mission to Haiti, 1959-1963

U.S. Marines have been sent to Haiti many times since 1800, including as recently as 1995, but one of the most intriguing operations has–until now–been the least known. The 1959-63 mission exposed America’s Cold War domino theory to the quagmire of Third World political tyranny. This revealing firsthand account of the operation is a tale of good intentions gone bad. Charles Williamson offers a captivating and instructive look back at America stumbling toward costly foreign adventures and policies that continue to challenge the nation today. Here for the first time is the full story of a mission, which included the Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard, that quickly became embroiled in Haiti’s mystifying brew of intrigue, conspiracy, secret cabals, coups, and double-cross. All of this was linked to President “Papa Doc” Duvalier’s manipulation of his country and people–and the Eisenhower and Kennedy administrations. An original member of the mission, the author consulted surviving records and interviewed American and Haitian participants to finally uncover the truth about such provocative stories as U.S. Marines fighting Castro-led Cuban invasion forces and covertly supporting military coup attempts. Williamson also presents previously unreported accounts of American men and women risking their lives to help Haitians being hunted and murdered by Duvalier’s Tonton Macoute death squads. By so effectively portraying the human costs of one of America’s first foreign policy failures of the Cold War, Williamson has given us a timely and very readable warning about future uses of the military in operations short of war.