"Sons of the Same Father"
Gender, Race, and Citizenship in French Saint-Domingue, 1760-1792
John D. Garrigus
By 1789 France's Caribbean colony of Saint-Domingue was home to the largest, wealthiest, and most self-confident free population of African descent in the Americas. Comprising close to half the colony's free population, these gens de couleur won civil equality with whites from the French Legislative Assembly in April 1792 and their political demands helped produce the Haitian Revolution. This article lays the foundation for a reappraisal of the actions of Saint-Domingue's free men of color in the French Revolution by drawing attention to the role of gender in colonial racial discourse before the fall of the Bastille.
After 1763 legal and social prejudice against free mulattoes and other nonenslaved people of African descent in Saint-Domingue was based on feminized stereotypes. Colonial writers began to describe free men and women of color as passionate, narcissistic, and parasitic. Because of these dangerous vices, elite white society increasingly excluded free people of