Interpretations and Influences of the Haitian Revolution in Puerto Rico: Resistance and Racism
Thesis DT 3.5 1999 D465
x, 114 leaves: col. map; 29 cm.
In 1791, a group of enslaved and free Africans led by Toussaint L'Overture executed one of the most important events in the history of the New World: The Haitian Revolution. Haiti became independent in 1804. The Haitian revolution established a precedent among peoples of the African Diaspora in the Americas. This revolution generated conflicts, fears and confusion among many: the enslaved, the free Africans and the Europeans.
In Puerto Rico, the Haitian revolution sparked such reactions as revolts among the enslaved Africans, which resulted in campaigns against the African community by the colonial government. Although the Spanish authorities deployed some measures of military and civil force in order to prevent the spread of news about the Haitian revolution, they did not altogether succeed.
Puerto Rican historiography has produced little research regarding the repercussions of the Haitian revolution on the island, specifically among the free African and Afro-Puerto Rican population. Studies made by local historians mainly focus on the Puerto Rican economy and the social controversy generated which mainly affected the enslaved population. This thesis explores and analyzes the repercussions of the Haitian revolution on Puerto Rico and the circumstance related to the spread of revolutionary waves and how they reached the enslaved and free Black Puerto Rican population.
The data collected through interviews, archival research, and secondary sources will show that enslaved Africans and Afro-Puerto Ricans played important roles in spreading information about Haiti. This thesis also discusses how contradictory policies of the Spanish government, such as offering asylum to runaway Africans, hosting émigrés from French colonies, and smuggling goods and slaves contributed to the development of a communications network in which Puerto Rico and the rest of the Caribbean actively participated.