An interesting historical account, The Black Jacobins, by C.L.R. James, examines the Haitian (San Domingo) Revolution of In thisclassic work, CLR James chronicles the only successful slave revolt in history and provides a critical portrait of their leader, Toussaint. The Black Jacobins: Toussaint L'Ouverture and the San Domingo Revolution Paperback – October 23, It is the story of the French colony of San Domingo, a place where the brutality of master toward slave was commonplace and ingeniously refined. James tells the story of the.


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Within the assembly the Amis Noirs, the Friends of the Blacks, demanded equal rights for the free men of color and gradual abolition of slavery itself.

But the merchants and planters who had their representatives within the assembly attempted to silence even this mild demand for reform. This contradiction between the proclaimed clr james the black jacobins of the revolution and the reality of bigotry and bondage would spark the slave revolution in San Domingue.

The Black Jacobins by C.L.R. James |

The big whites, small whites, and the free men of color split into hostile camps. The planters were nobles who after flirting with the idea of fighting for independence quickly became royalists.

They obviously opposed the Rights of Man and defended feudalism.

The merchants quaked in fear that their colonial slave economy was in jeopardy from the revolution that they themselves had started. Rights are noble and morally virtuous, but for the good bourgeois, profits trump principle on every question.

They needed the connection to the French state and so wanted a limited revolution that kept slavery and the colonial order intact. clr james the black jacobins


The small whites immediately aligned themselves with the revolution as an opportunity to strike out against the big whites. But they were far from the radicalism of the Parisian clr james the black jacobins they were adamantly opposed to rights for free men of color and the abolition of slavery.

The various white forces battled out their conflicting ideas in the colonial assembly set up in the wake of the revolution.

Review of “The Black Jacobins” by CLR James | The End of Capitalism

In these crosscurrents among the whites, the free men of color took up the standard of the revolution as an opportunity to win their rights as citizens. Of course, as colonial property owners, they too did not clr james the black jacobins abolition of slavery.

They sent a delegation to agitate for their inclusion in the Rights of Man at the assembly in Paris. The Friends of the Blacks and free men of color spoke to the assembly, sending a ripple of consternation through the merchants and planters who maneuvered to suppress the question.

The Black Jacobins

In the end, the assembly voted for a resolution that said nothing specific about rights for the free men of color.

After a furious debate, they passed a resolution that all persons over the age of twenty-five and with property qualifications would be granted the right to vote. Instead of solving the question, this vague compromise triggered a three-cornered fight between white and free colored rulers and the clr james the black jacobins whites, many of whom would be denied the vote under the new law due to clr james the black jacobins lack of property.

Oge convinced him to supply money for an armed insurrection of the free men of color for their rights. Oge appealed not to the slaves, but to the big whites, hoping to convince them with arms that they held common interests as plantation owners.

The Black Jacobins

The big whites would have none of it. They responded with the utmost savagery, suppressing clr james the black jacobins rising, torturing Oge and the other leaders, and finally killing them. But the spark of rebellion had been lit, and the fire of revolution would travel back and forth between the France and the colony for the next decade.

The fate of the two revolutions was tied together in a complex knot. France becomes a republic Faced with revolution in France and chaotic conflict in the colonies, the king attempted to organize a counterrevolution with international backing to reimpose the old order.

The King fled Paris and was seized by the masses in Varennes.

Review of “The Black Jacobins” by CLR James

They now demanded liberty and equality not clr james the black jacobins at home but also abroad. Under pressure from the radicalized masses, the assembly again debated the question of rights for free men of color.

Julien Raimond, himself a free man of color, argued for rights for his group but also defended slavery before the assembly.

In the end, they reached another rotten compromise that only served to further inflame the colonial revolt.


They granted rights to free men of color who had been born of free parents. They thus enfranchised only about out of the 30, free men of color.

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