The Horrible Lesson White Colonists Learned When Slaves Rebelled in Jamaica and Saint-Domingue During the Seven Years’ War

Jamaica and Haiti are today among the poorest and most troubled countries in the western hemisphere. Yet between 1748 and 1788 these places (with Haiti called by its French colonial name of Saint-Domingue) were fabulously rich and wondrous, at least for the 10 percent of the population that owned land and slaves. Those slaves and the commodities they produced gave the small population of European planters enormous influence within European imperial geopolitics. Abbé Raynal, the Enlightenment author, declared in 1770 that the labors of colonists in these “long-scorned islands” brought such profit to Europe that “they can be regarded as the principal cause of the rapid movement which stirs the universe.”

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