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Confronting Black Jacobins: The United States, the Haitian Revolution, and the Origins of the Dominican Republic


October 2015

The Haitian Revolution, the product of the first successful slave revolt, was truly world-historic in its impact. When Haiti declared independence in 1804, the leading powers—France, Great Britain, and Spain—suffered an ignominious defeat and the New World was remade. The island revolution also had a profound impact on Haiti’s mainland neighbor, the United States. Inspiring the enslaved and partisans of emancipation while striking terror throughout the Southern slaveocracy, it propelled the fledgling nation one step closer to civil war. Gerald Horne’s path breaking new work explores the complex and often fraught relationship between the United States and the island of Hispaniola. Giving particular attention to the responses of African Americans, Horne surveys the reaction in the United States to the revolutionary process in the nation that became Haiti, the splitting of the island in 1844, which led to the formation of the Dominican Republic, and the failed attempt by the United States to annex both in the 1870s.

Drawing upon a rich collection of archival and other primary source materials, Horne deftly weaves together a disparate array of voices—world leaders and diplomats, slaveholders, white abolitionists, and the freedom fighters he terms Black Jacobins. Horne at once illuminates the tangled conflicts of the colonial powers, the commercial interests and imperial ambitions of U.S. elites, and the brutality and tenacity of the American slaveholding class, while never losing sight of the freedom struggles of Africans both on the island and on the mainland, which sought the fulfillment of the emancipatory promise of 18th century republicanism.

If you can’t see the video, below, of Gerald Horne interviewed by Dr. William Seraile on CCPTV, about Confronting Black Jacobins, please click on this link

Gerald Horne’s masterly Confronting Black Jacobins is a tour de force of historical excavation: he not only extends the intellectual trajectory of C.L.R. James’s work on the region, but he reimagines the geography of black revolt by documenting the impact of the Haitian Revolution in France, Britain, Spain, and most notably, in the United States too. By tracing the lethal spread of white supremacy, and its courageous confrontation by a rebellious black republic, Horne helps us to see the powerful blow for justice struck by a militantly resistant population of black citizens who more nobly embodied the ideals of freedom and equality than the European and North American powers that sought to defeat them.

—Michael Eric Dyson, author, The Black Presidency: Barack Obama and the Politics of Race in America

Following C.L.R. James’ impressive portraiture of the labyrinth-like Haitian revolution, Confronting Black Jacobins unmasks many of the silent actors of the revolution, reconciling Haiti’s genesis with the eventual severance of the Dominican Republic, and countless U.S. interventions and occupations. Horne chronicles not simply the emergence of the Black Jacobins, but importantly, their ideological and political transformations over the course of almost 100 years. Horne stands alone among historians not only for the number of works he has authored, but also for his mastery of different epochs and topics regarding Hemispheric Africans, reverberating with the cries of revolution.

—Claudine Michel, Editor, Journal of Haitian Studies

Gerald Horne is one of the great historians of our time. His scholarly erudition is impeccable and his revolutionary fervor is undeniable. Like W.E.B. Du Bois or C.L.R. James, Gerald Horne is a towering scholar in service to oppressed people. His book once again reconfirms his superlative achievements.

—Cornel West, public intellectual, author, Race Matters / Professor of Philosophy and Christian Practice at Union Theological Seminary, New York City

Gerald Horne, progressive-activist historian, demonstrates a masterful grasp of his discipline with illuminating research and inviting writing about influential voices and events that coalesce into the global watershed victory of the Haitian Revolution. He demystifies and reveals History as a concentrated storyline of social struggles and transformative results grounded in ethical visions defined by humanity and inhumanity – and the Haitian Revolution as standard-bearer of just progressive, social, and political movements looming well into the 21st Century.

—Danny Glover, citizen-artist, actor

Without detracting from C.L.R. James’ path-breaking and seminal work, Black Jacobins: Toussaint L’Ouverture and the San Domingo Revolution (1938), Gerald Horne’s study clarifies for all time the identities of the heroes, villains, evolution, and immediate as well as long-range implications and influences of the Haitian Revolution, the harbinger to U.S. Civil War. He quite wisely builds on this earlier work of nearly eight decades ago. Horne’s command of the plethora of archives on both sides of the Atlantic is matched only by his peerless command of the various islands and mainland personalities, their often contradictory reasoning and activities, and the global aspects of this first bloody step in the abolition of slavery.

—Douglas H. Daniels, author, Lester Leaps In / Professor Emeritus of Black Studies, University of California, Santa Barbara

On the centennial of the U.S. invasion of Haiti, this book describes the nefarious relationship that existed from the beginning between the two first republics of the Americas. The Haitian Revolution of 1791 was the proponent of universal freedom, while 1776 was not, and neither was the French Revolution of 1789. Haiti’s impact on the world and the foundation of its diplomacy were anchored in a quest for global liberation of the enslaved while, in juxtaposition, the U.S. aggressively championed slavery. The Black republic, a pariah state to slaveholding nations, became the beacon of freedom for others throughout North and South America. Based on Horne’s luminous analysis, the U.S. may never be able to be objective in its rapport with Haiti.

—Patrick Bellegarde-Smith, professor emeritus of Africology, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee; author, Haiti: The Breached Citadel

A truly informed and informative study of seminal scholarship, Confronting Black Jacobins: The U.S., the Haitian Revolution, and the Origins of the Dominican Republic is an especially well crafted and detailed study that is very highly recommended for both community and academic library Haitian History, Caribbean Studies, and 19th Century American History reference collections and supplemental studies reading lists.

—Willis M. Buhle, The Midwest Book Review

Besides providing a needed focus on the salience of international/economic relations in domestic race relations, Horne uses an array of primary sources to effectively focus on a less-evaluated factor—the presence of a self-governing sovereign territory—as a catalyst of the African American struggle to freedom and self-determination…. [A] must for serious scholars. Highly recommended.


Praise for Race to Revolution:
In his path breaking book, Gerald Horne reveals how the histories of Cuba and the United States, from the slave trade to Jim Crow and the Cold War, have always been closer and more turbulent than the ninety miles separating them across the Straits of Florida. Indeed, one cannot possibly understand the journey from bondage to freedom in America without wrestling with its consequences for the people of African descent in Cuba. Their story is our story, and thanks to Horne, we can now study its flow in a single, and profound, narrative.

—Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Alphonse Fletcher University Professor, Harvard University

Gerald Horne is John J. and Rebecca Moores Professor of African American History at the University of Houston. He is the author of more than two dozen books, including Race to Revolution, The Counter-Revolution of 1776, and Negro Comrades of the Crown.

Confronting Black Jacobins: The U.S., the Haitian Revolution, and the Origins of the Dominican Republic
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Publication Date: October 2015

Number of Pages: 424

Paperback ISBN: 9781583675625

Cloth ISBN: 9781583675632

eBook ISBN: 9781583675649