Historians have to grapple with the multiple causes of events. In the historiography of the Haitian Revolution, historians were long split between the Revolution being driven by external factors—such as the view of R. R. Palmer that the events in Haiti were an outgrowth of the French Revolution—and arising out of internal factors—such as the view of C. L. R. James that events in Haiti were driven by the enslaved populace’s desire for freedom.
For this assignment: using at least three primary sources from Geggus’ The Haitian Revolution: A Documentary History, evaluate at least two causes of the Haitian Revolution. Your essay should be between 800 and 1000 words. Some questions to consider (you do not have to answer all of them):
At what point does the Haitian Revolution become “revolutionary”?
How do different groups within colonial/revolutionary Haiti disagree on the definitions of “liberty” and “freedom”?
What’s the role of Enlightenment ideas? Vodou cosmology? Kongolese ideas of kingship?
How much of the revolution is dependent on the military skills and strength of the participants?
Are there continuities in Haitian life between 1780-1810?
How are the sources we have available shaped by their creators?
What disagreements arise between French Revolutionary and Haitian leadership? Between the Haitian leadership and the farm workers?
What are the hazards of crediting the Haitian victory to yellow fever? Of ignoring environmental factors?
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