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“Avengers of the New World” by Laurent Dubois Essay


Introduction

It is necessary to mention that the piece by Laurent Dubois titled “Avengers of the New World: The Story of the Haitian Revolution” is an outstanding work that needs to be studied. The information provided is quite comprehensive, and it helps to get a better understanding of what aspects have influenced the revolt and made it so successful. One of the most significant aspects that differentiate this book from many others is that the author is not focused on scholars, and the work is aimed at any individual that is interested in these events. Moreover, it is quite well-researched, and many sources were utilized to reconstruct the events and discuss the process of revolution. Dubois is determined to explain how the abolition was achieved, and the colony has turned into an independent nation.

Discussion

“The culture of Saint-Domingue – that which shaped all its inhabitants, whether African-born or creole, white or black – was deeply influenced by the constant infusion of African slaves” is a critical line that needs to be discussed.1 Differently put, the author argues that such traditions, beliefs, and behaviors have spread rapidly, and it was an enormous problem for slave masters because it has led to unity.

Therefore, it is necessary to determine the causes that have led to rebellions. One of the most significant aspects that should be mentioned is that settlers believed that slavery is required to support the economy. The number of slaves that were imported is shocking, and it has led to enormous economic growth. Additionally, the fact that such right was granted by the law is especially problematic, and it was not an easy task to change the situation.

Slave masters understood that they were outnumbered, and particular measures should be taken to guarantee their safety. The threat of rebellions was always present, and it has led to tension. Many servants were not educated, and it was hard for them to communicate because of cultural diversity. Such methods as threats were utilized by slave masters to avoid possible rebellions. Individuals understood that they would be severely punished if they misbehave.

Moreover, plantation owners did not care about the safety and well-being of servants, and such practice could lead to infections and other complications. The psychological damage was also caused and is worth mentioning. Individuals felt like they did not have any control over the situation. Such treatment was hard to handle for many, and they did not have any desire to live in such conditions.

Masters believed that it is reasonable to force them to work until they reach their limit, and replace them. Moreover, they understood that it is beneficial to keep them uninformed about the situation in other countries, and they did not want servants to be aware of the Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen, a document that was passed in 1789. It has focused on the abolitionist movement that has started to gain popularity in Britain.

Debois believes that the legal elimination of such practice was of utmost importance for people to become equal. Vincent Oge was one of the free people of color, and he has recognized that abolition is necessary to progress. He was quite wealthy, but was not satisfied with the situation and believed that voting rights should be equal.2 The campaign that he has organized was a vital step in the right direction, but it was not successful.

A revolt that happened in 1791 is particularly interesting because slave masters were capable of turning it into a civil war, and provided servants with weapons. The fact that one of the slaves has provided support to his owners is fascinating and shows that the motives of some individuals were different.3 Some believed that it was too late to change the situation because the regime has established over many years. The armies were quite diverse, and it is nearly impossible to describe the scope of the battles. Slaves have tried to destroy everything related to their work, and it is clear that they had no other options.

They had no homes or any place to go, and they were victims of the economic situation. Nevertheless, the contribution of every individual was crucial, and the process of abolition has started at this point. Some of the ideas that were suggested by abolitionists were quite comprehensive. However, the problem is that they did not want to eliminate slavery, and focused on reforms.4 It was evident that free people of color felt empathy towards the servants because they shared the same background. “Despite the various official attempts to encourage cooperation between whites and free-coloreds, racial conflicts continued to polarize the economy” is a vital line.5

The author argues that abolition is necessary when societies can no longer properly function, and conflicts occurred quite often. Free men were ordered to defend slavery, but they had an opportunity to challenge white supremacy because they viewed it as a critical issue. Religion is another factor that has united these people, and such practices helped people to bond. Slave masters understood that it could be quite dangerous, and tried to criminalize the rituals.

Debois believes that such ideas have originated in France and rapidly spread on the territories they owned. The primary goal of the French Revolution was to achieve freedom and equality, and individuals in Saint Domingue were extremely motivated because they understood that such changes are possible.6 The primary argument of Dubois is that the events in France have inspired both people of color that were free and slaves because they were aware of unfair treatment.

He suggests that it is one of the primary reasons slaves became so rebellious. Such unity was not expected by French slave traders, and revolutionary ideas have broadly promoted by many individuals. However, it is necessary to understand that the color of skin was not a factor that has helped them to unite. Haitian slaves were discriminated against and tortured even by their people. Most people of color have mistreated servants and were trying to establish a particular position within the society.

They wanted to be equal to others and did not view slavery as a significant problem. Therefore, it can be seen that numerous internal and external factors influence the decisions of people that are oppressed. It is quite evident that they had different traditions, and dissimilarity between their cultures was also present. However, they understood that cooperation is required to deal with the situation that has occurred, and they should unite to defeat the common enemy. French soldiers believed that they would be capable of dealing with rebellions, but they did not expect such resistance and lost on numerous occasions.

Toussaint Louverture is an individual, whose accomplishments should be discussed. It is suggested that he was well-educated, and utilized the knowledge to gain an advantage in the battlefield. The fact that he was a slave for many years is vital because he understood the struggle of these people. However, some pieces of evidence suggest that the way he treated slaves was also questionable because he had a personal plantation.

He believed that such approaches as repression and forced labor are imperative for the society to be productive, and suggested that social hierarchy should not be changed. Moreover, many people of color did not support his actions and believed that his behavior was unreasonable. The success of Toussaint Louverture should not be disregarded, and his skills as a general were truly astounding. He was on the side of France, and also managed to deal with other threats independently. The situation was also complicated by the fact that the governments of such countries as Spain, Britain, and France have tried to gain control over the territory.

They stated that they would liberate people of color, but such promises were quite questionable. It is hard to argue with the fact that his victories were vital, but some of his actions were questionable, and a focus on the dictatorial regime was worrying.7 It is understandable that he wanted to increase levels of productivity, but such approaches as surveillance could be criticized. The French government has decided to abolish slavery.

The process was complicated, but the legislation was passed in 1794. However, the population would have to deal with another threat. The influence of Napoleon was a critical issue because he was determined to restore slavery on the territory of Saint Domingue. Louverture was captured as a result of the confrontation with French forces and died in the prison. Nevertheless, many generals have followed his steps and fought for freedom. Jean-Jacques Dessalines was his principal lieutenant, and became the leader after the incident, and managed to defeat French forces. The fact that many deaths were caused by yellow fever also should be highlighted, and it is one of the most important factors that have helped to achieved victory.

One of the aspects that differentiated the slaves from other fighters is their fearlessness.8 French soldiers could not handle both the disease and such strong force at the same time and had to leave. Jean-Jacques Dessalines was regarded as a fearsome enemy because of the strategies and techniques he used. His background was quite similar to Louverture, and he also has experienced slavery. He was proclaimed the first ruler of Haiti and has tried to ensure that any discrimination was avoided. Some of his actions could be criticized because he forces people to work on plantations, but it was much better than the previous regime.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the importance of this piece should not be overlooked because it has helped to highlight how Haitian people were capable of defeating slavery and unfair treatment. The primary argument of Debois is that freedom is not possible without abolition. The author suggests that people united because of several reasons. The race played a crucial role because slaves had similar traditions, and it was easier to communicate. Individuals had to deal with numerous challenges such as the political and economic situation, but they overcame such difficulties because of the focus on freedom.

The role of generals such as Jean-Jacques Dessalines was critical, but the efforts of every individual that participated in these rebellions should not be disregarded because they risked their lives and fought for their people. They utilized all the available instruments to gain an advantage and accomplish their goals. Political situation and conflicts between the countries have also affected the revolution. It is paramount to understand that abolition of slavery was not the only objective of the revolution. Overall, it is an outstanding example of what issues individuals may have to face when dealing with inequality.

Notes

  1. Laurent Dubois, Avengers of the New World: The Story of the Haitian Revolution (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2004), 42.
  2. Ibid., 80.
  3. Ibid., 111.
  4. Ibid., 128.
  5. Ibid., 145.
  6. Ibid., 170.
  7. Ibid., 250.
  8. Ibid., 281.
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IvyPanda. (2020, September 3). "Avengers of the New World" by Laurent Dubois. Retrieved from https://ivypanda.com/essays/avengers-of-the-new-world-by-laurent-dubois/

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1. IvyPanda. ""Avengers of the New World" by Laurent Dubois." September 3, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/avengers-of-the-new-world-by-laurent-dubois/.


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IvyPanda. ""Avengers of the New World" by Laurent Dubois." September 3, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/avengers-of-the-new-world-by-laurent-dubois/.

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IvyPanda. 2020. ""Avengers of the New World" by Laurent Dubois." September 3, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/avengers-of-the-new-world-by-laurent-dubois/.

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IvyPanda. (2020) '"Avengers of the New World" by Laurent Dubois'. 3 September.

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