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2003 articles 2003 articles

Emigration, Abolition and the Atlantic World in the Revolutionary Era

Matthew J. Shaw (notes)

Abstract

The upheavals of the French Revolution not only affected France and Europe, but heralded crucial consequences for the Caribbean. Revolution in Saint-Domingue (modern-day Haiti) led to the collapse of slavery and the creation of Haiti as an independent republic. 'Jacobin' slaves fleeing the island carried word of Revolution to British territories such as Jamaica. These disturbances added urgency to French and British planter's calls for military assistance and, some felt, undermined the case of those opposed to the slave trade in the popular imagination. This article, which draws on material from British and Early Printed Collections and the Department of Manuscripts, draws attention to the connections between the French and British abolitionist movements and to the role played by émigré communities in the debate on the colonies and slavery.

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