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270 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 3 maps, notes, bibl., index

ISBN  978-1-4696-2562-1
Published: October 2015

Haitian Connections in the Atlantic World

Recognition after Revolution

By Julia Gaffield

Awards & Distinctions

2016 Mary Alice and Philip Boucher Book Prize, French Colonial Historical Society

On January 1, 1804, Haiti shocked the world by declaring independence. Historians have long portrayed Haiti's postrevolutionary period as one during which the international community rejected Haiti's Declaration of Independence and adopted a policy of isolation designed to contain the impact of the world's only successful slave revolution. Julia Gaffield, however, anchors a fresh vision of Haiti's first tentative years of independence to its relationships with other nations and empires and reveals the surprising limits of the country's supposed isolation.

Gaffield frames Haitian independence as both a practical and an intellectual challenge to powerful ideologies of racial hierarchy and slavery, national sovereignty, and trade practice. Yet that very independence offered a new arena in which imperial powers competed for advantages with respect to military strategy, economic expansion, and international law. In dealing with such concerns, foreign governments, merchants, abolitionists, and others provided openings that were seized by early Haitian leaders who were eager to negotiate new economic and political relationships. Although full political acceptance was slow to come, economic recognition was extended by degrees to Haiti--and this had diplomatic implications. Gaffield's account of Haitian history highlights how this layered recognition sustained Haitian independence.

About the Author

Julia Gaffield is assistant professor of history at Georgia State University.


“This thoughtful book revises understanding of Haiti's supposed post-revolutionary isolation. . . .Highly recommended.”
--R.I. Rotberg, Harvard University, Choice

“Show[s] vividly how Haitian sovereignty was negotiated and contested on the international stage. . . . Provide[s] a model for the growing number of scholars engaged in writing the history of sovereignty in the revolutionary era.”
--Nathan Perl-Rosenthal, University of Southern California, William and Mary Quarterly

“[Gaffield’s] subtlety in tracing foreign relations and her ability to connect Haiti with multiple territories will appeal to scholars and students outside the specialized fields of Haitian and Caribbean history.”

"Timely and compelling, Haitian Connections in the Atlantic World is on the leading edge of a new wave of Haitian Revolution scholarship. Eschewing platitudes about Haiti's enforced isolation after the revolution, Gaffield traces the complex history--and legacies--of an Atlantic World variably confronting, evading, ignoring, and interacting with the new Haitian state."
--Ada Ferrer, New York University

"A pioneering work on early republic Haiti. Taking a global approach and treating all of the major powers that controlled trade and colonial enterprise in the period, Julia Gaffield not only debunks the myth of Haitian isolationism but also demonstrates Haiti’s connectedness and importance to the rest of the world in spite of the radical and transformative circumstances that created the republic."
--Matthew J. Smith, University of the West Indies, Mona

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