The king of Haiti and the dilemmas of freedom in a colonised world | Aeon Essays

In the early 19th century, Haiti was the only example in the Americas of a nation populated primarily by former enslaved Africans who had become free and independent. Other nations, including Haiti’s trading partners, were determined to prevent abolition and their colonies from becoming free, so they refused to recognise Haitian sovereignty. When France finally agreed to do so in 1825, it extracted the astounding price of 150 million francs from Haiti for the act. To preserve slavery in its territories, England didn’t officially recognise Haitian independence until 1838, five years after it abolished slavery. The US refused recognition until after the start of the American Civil War, when most of the southern states had seceded from the Union. Even in the so-called Age of Revolutions, Black freedom in the Americas was not only feared, but reviled.
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