Toussaint's Clause: The Founding Fathers and the Haitian Revolution

By Gordon S. Brown | Go to book overview

JULY 1790

Since the Fourth of July fell on a Sunday in 1790, the official celebrations were held on the following Monday. In New York, capital of the fledgling federal government, the citizens set aside their usual preoccupations and turned over the day, as a reporter put it, to “the little gods of festive mirth and conviviality.”1 There were good reasons for the festival atmosphere, too. Finally, years after the last battles against Britain, the full benefits of independence seemed attainable. The new general government, as many called the federal system created by the two-year-old constitution, had begun to organize the finances of the country and bring the economy out of its postwar slump. And even though the new republic was still weak, and its government very much a work in progress, the prospects were increasingly promising. It was a good time to commemorate the signing of the Declaration of Independence, and with a bit of real enthusiasm.

President Washington, on Monday, even gave up his usual dawn horseback exercise to prepare for the events of the day. Those events were, like the president, dignified, understated, and straightforward. In mid-morning, the New York militia mustered in the lower city, the pageantry of their parade heightened by bands and punctuated by gunfire salutes—thirteen rounds from cannon at the Battery, and rolling musket salutes, or feux de joie, from the infantry. Toward noon, the members of Congress, New York officials, “strangers of distinction” (there was as yet almost no resident diplomatic community), and the officers

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Toussaint's Clause: The Founding Fathers and the Haitian Revolution
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Foreword vii
  • Preface ix
  • Introduction 3
  • July 1790 8
  • St. Domingue 23
  • White Cockade, Red Cockade 45
  • The Cost of Neutrality 66
  • Trouble with Britain 89
  • Trouble with France 106
  • Toussaint's Clause 126
  • Creating a Quarantine 144
  • The St. Domingo Station 162
  • Jefferson Equivocates 179
  • The Leclerc Expedition 199
  • St. Domingo and Louisiana 213
  • A Risky Trade 229
  • The Clearance Act Debate 245
  • The Trade Suspended 263
  • Embargo and Neglect 279
  • Epilogue 292
  • Notes 296
  • Bibliography 310
  • Index 317
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