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Paper Thin: Freedom and Re-enslavement in the Diaspora of the Haitian Revolution

Abstract

In the summer of 1809 a flotilla of boats arrived in New Orleans carrying more than 9,000 Saint-Domingue refugees recently expelled from the Spanish colony of Cuba. These migrants nearly doubled the population of New Orleans, renewing its Francophone character and populating the neighborhoods of the Vieux Carré and Faubourg Marigny. At the heart of the story of their disembarkation, however, is a legal puzzle. Historians generally tell us that the arriving refugees numbered 2,731 whites, 3,102 free people of color, and 3,226 slaves. But slavery had been abolished in Saint-Domingue by decree in 1793, and abolition had been ratified by the French National Convention in 1794. In what sense and by what right, then, were thousands of men, women, and children once again to be held to be “slaves”?

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rjscott@umich.edu
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This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

Ariela J. Gross , What Blood Won't Tell: A History of Race on Trial in the United States (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2008), especially 153–60

Rebecca J. Scott and Jean M. Hébrard , Freedom Papers: An Atlantic Odyssey in the Age of Emancipation (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, forthcoming 2012)

Jean Allain , The Slavery Conventions: The Travaux Préparatoires of the 1926 League of Nations Convention and the 1956 United Nations Convention (Leiden: Martinus Nijhoff, 2008), especially 47

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Law and History Review
  • ISSN: 0738-2480
  • EISSN: 1939-9022
  • URL: /core/journals/law-and-history-review
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