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

By Gordon S. Brown | Go to book overview

CREATING A QUARANTINE

On the very day that President Adams signed the new ban on trade with France, the first significant American victory in the now open but undeclared war took place. Off St. Nevis in the West Indies, the Constellation defeated and captured the French frigate L'Insurgente, reputed to be the fastest ship in the French Navy. This new “quasi-war,” as historians have called it, was nonetheless real enough at the time, and its action was centered in the strategically important West Indies, where the fate of St. Domingo was crucial both in the context of American-French hostilities and in the longer-term struggle between France and Great Britain.

The Adams administration had made the reopening of trade with St. Domingo an exemption to the trade ban for a number of short-term reasons. Primary was a desire to get back at the French. Attacking French interests in the West Indies was the most direct method to do this, and helping the insurgents in St. Domingo was a way to deprive France of the benefit of what had been its most profitable colony.

A second rationale for the Toussaint Clause had to do with the logic of the embargo itself. If the general cutoff of trade was intended to hurt France, after all, then why should it apply to a colony that France scarcely controlled, and which might actually separate itself from the mother country if it could find supplies and political support in the United States? Moreover, supporters of the legislation had argued, weakening the island's ties with France

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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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