SOURCE/DIGITAL: Issue 3.0 of A Colony in Crisis: The Saint-Domingue Grain Shortage of 1789

A Colony in Crisis…

“…is designed to provide online access to both the French originals and the English translations of key primary sources dealing with the grain shortage faced by the colony of Saint-Domingue in 1789, which are found under the Translations menu. Alongside the French original, each translation is presented with a brief historical introduction to situate the reader in the time period and help understand how this particular pamphlet fits into the episode. Each document has been reviewed by one of the scholars on our Board of Advisors. These pamphlets are primarily drawn from the University of Maryland’s Special Collections, although related items available at other institutions have been included as well. Please see our Worldcat list if you are interested in the physical items.”

On Issue 3.0 via the Introduction by Marlene L. Daut:

“The six pamphlets that make up the next installment of A Colony in Crisis bring to the fore of this project a number of pressing concerns about the kind of knowledge about life under slavery that can be gleaned from the colonial archive. The historian Barbara Bush once wrote, “History has been written for men, by men, and thus records only what men wish to see.”[1] The documents gathered, translated, and contextualized by the editors in versions 1.0 and 2.0 of A Colony in Crisis painfully reveal that official colonial history can only help us to discern what “white” colonial men in power thought was important and what they believed should be remembered about the Saint-Domingue grain crisis of 1789.

“The pamphlets presented in version 3.0 continue to proliferate with the confusion of meanings that colonialism encourages, and indeed appears to engender, about the seemingly self-evident ideas of life and death, freedom and equality, and, in the end, humanity. In the documents presented here in English translation for the first time, these terms, which came to be seen as the basis of enlightenment universalisms, are used counter-intuitively to serve colonial interests just before and then in the wake of the rebellion of the free people of color and the enslaved population of Saint-Domingue in 1790 and 1791, respectively. The “Supplique,” penned by some of the more activist free people of color, and the Réflexions sur le code noir, written by members of the Société des Amis des Noirs, in particular, provide powerful glimpses of the distortion that colonial slavery wrought on the social world. The colonial plantation was characterized by forms of sociality whereby death could be considered better than life and where bondage could be promoted as being preferable to freedom….”

Read the issue: Issue 3.0: Introduction | A Colony in Crisis: The Saint-Domingue Grain Shortage of 1789

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