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date: 03 August 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This article reviews scholarship on the Haitian Revolution (1791–1804). The revolution stands as the only one in history to have destroyed a society in which slaves performed almost all productive labour and constructed on top of the rubble a nation-state in which slavery was prohibited. This unique phenomenon resonated throughout the transatlantic world, with repercussions in the imperial capitals of western Europe and throughout every slaveholding region in the Americas. The revolution inspired slaves with pride and the hope of ultimate deliverance and freedom, and it encouraged advocates of liberty in Europe. Perceptions of the revolution over the ensuing two centuries have been coloured by racial attitudes and by the subsequent experience of independent Haiti. In the last half century, scholars have rediscovered the Haitian Revolution. New data and new methods have advanced understanding of the social and cultural circumstances of the revolution and its preconditions.

Keywords: slaves, slavery, European imperialism, slaveholding, freedom

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