The Haitian Revolution

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During times of war or revolution, many pretend the events of the outside world aren't happening, especially when they don't coincide with their belief systems, or they make up interpretations and formulas to reassure themselves. This behavior occurs throughout history and can be seen in the Haitian Revolution and the proceeding events of the late eighteenth century. The colonial powers had imposed their power and slavery on black people for over three centuries, but Haiti's sudden uprising was treated with disbelief and ignorance. Michel Trouillot in Silencing the Past argues that the complexity of issues surrounding the Haitian Revolution—from the European perception of black nations as inhumane to an inability to recognize black desires for freedom to mistakes in the white system—led to the overall silencing of the Revolution after its outbreak. Furthermore, the framework of the "unthinkable" revolution contradicts the morality of global powers and the validity ascribed in the present to historical archives as a whole.
The ignorance surrounding the beginning of the revolution was caused by the philosophical and psychological views about black people in Haitian society at the time of uprising. The Haitian revolution was "unthinkable" in the various schemes of perception recognized in the eighteenth century for categorizing human beings. Europeans divided humans into more humane Whites, and "less humane" Blacks, universally bad and having to be treated with disregard as if belonging to another species destined to be slaves. In short, the practice of slavery in the Americas secured blacks' position at the bottom of the human world: "Blacks were inferior and therefore enslaved, black slaves behaved badly and were therefore inferior" (Trouilliot 77). Slaves were believed incapable of the organizational and mental skills needed for revolutionary activity "since to acknowledge them was to acknowledge the humanity of the enslaved" (Trouillot 83). In other words,...
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