The French colonial question and the disintegration of white supremacy in the Colony of Saint Domingue, 1789-1792

UNCW Author/Contributor (non-UNCW co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Molly M. Herrmann (Creator)
The University of North Carolina Wilmington (UNCW )
Web Site:
William McCarthy

Abstract: This thesis argues that the class of free people of color in the French colony of Saint Domingue threatened the dichotomy of master and slave, as defined by a strict divide between white and black and as was necessary for the perseverance of racial slavery. In restricting the free people of color from the right to vote and hold public office, white supremacy was maintained by upholding a racial divide within the free sector of Saint Domingue’s planter society. By the end of the eighteenth-century, the free people of color launched an aggressive campaign, by way of French legislative reform, to attain their rights as free and propertied citizens of France. The perception that the white race was unalterably superior to the black race was at the core of the planter society of Saint Domingue to safeguard racial slavery against a rapidly emerging class of free people of color. Once the free people of color seized upon French legislative reform as a means to win their rights, white supremacy was challenged and ultimately exposed as a social and political system that was alterable. The subsequent failure of French legislation to officially enfranchise them motivated the free people of color to openly ally with insurgent slaves in a revolution against a common adversary, white supremacy. The result of this coalescence, I argue, was the rapid and complete debilitation of white power in the colony by April 1792 when the National Assembly declared full and equal citizenship for all free people of color.

Additional Information

A Thesis Submitted to the University of North Carolina Wilmington in Partial Fulfillment Of the Requirements for the Degree of Master of Arts
Language: English
Date: 2009
France--Colonies--18th century, France--Colonies--Saint-Domingue, Haiti--History--Revolution 1791-1804, Haiti--History--To 1791, Saint-Domingue--History--18th century, Slavery--Saint-Domingue
Slavery -- Saint-Domingue
France -- Colonies -- 18th century
France -- Colonies -- Saint-Domingue
Saint-Domingue -- History -- 18th century
Haiti -- History -- To 1791
Haiti -- History -- Revolution, 1791-1804

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