Lecture 10. Haiti and the French Revolution: The Triangle Trade and the Architectures of the Slave Economy

Most histories of this period focus on the twin Revolutions in France and the United States. However, it was the Slave Revolution in what would become Haiti that changes the world in this period. This lecture explores the the architectures of the French Revolution and Empire through the island of S. Dominique (Haitian) and the Slave Revolution. It emphasizes the importance of of sugar, rum production, plantation slavery and the Louisiana Purchase as understood from the perspective of S. Dominique. In the late 18th Century, the island of S. Dominique was controlled by three colonial powers, France, Britain, and Spain This lecture also examines the Palladian architecture of the U.S. plantation system through the lens of Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello, as well as in Louisiana. In short, this lecture seeks to reframe world history through what is now Haiti, as it was the most profitable island in the West Indies, with over 400,000 slaves working on sugar and coffee plantations to feeding the fast-growing addiction of Europeans and their colonies, and shaped the vast world around it. Finally, the lecture ends with the ongoing legacies of French colonialism in the present. There are two systems illustrated here. • System One is the economic system of slavery, sugar, coffee and tobacco production that is an integral part of the Triangle Trade. • System Two focuses on global war with the parallel revolutions in France and Haiti, the American Revolution and the mercantilist “quasi-war” between the young United States, the Directory of France and the British Empire. In both cases the need to control trade and keep afloat struggling economies led to violence and the reshaping of the colonial world. Indeed S. Dominque influenced the 1803 acquisition of the Louisiana territory which opened up vast lands for plantations and indigenous displacement in the rapidly growing United States.

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Lecture Notes