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Haitian Revolution, Validity Of Hostorical Archives.

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During times of war or revolution, many pretend the events of the outside world aren't happening, especially when they don't coincide with their belief systems, or they make up interpretations and formulas to reassure themselves. This behavior occurs throughout history and can be seen in the Haitian Revolution and the proceeding events of the late eighteenth century. The colonial powers had imposed their power and slavery on black people for over three centuries, but Haiti's sudden uprising was treated with disbelief and ignorance. Michel Trouillot in Silencing the Past argues that the complexity of issues surrounding the Haitian Revolution--from the European perception of black nations as inhumane to an inability to recognize black desires for freedom to mistakes in the white system--led to the overall silencing of the Revolution after its outbreak. Furthermore, the framework of the "unthinkable" revolution contradicts the morality of global powers and the validity ascribed in the present to historical archives as a whole.

The ignorance surrounding the beginning of the revolution was caused by the philosophical and psychological views about black people in Haitian society at the time of uprising. The Haitian revolution was "unthinkable" in the various schemes of perception recognized in the eighteenth century for categorizing human beings. Europeans divided humans into more humane Whites, and "less humane" Blacks, universally bad and having to be treated with disregard as if belonging to another species destined to be slaves. In short, the practice of slavery in the Americas secured blacks' position at the bottom of the human world: "Blacks were inferior and therefore enslaved, black slaves behaved badly and were therefore inferior" (Trouilliot 77). Slaves were believed incapable of the organizational and mental skills needed for revolutionary activity "since to acknowledge them was to acknowledge the humanity of the enslaved" (Trouillot 83). In other words, none of the accepted views included the possibility of a revolutionary uprising on the slave plantations, much less a successful one leading to the creation of an independent state. Trouilloit explains that the "unthinkable" revolution couldn't be conceived within the range of possible alternatives. Surprise and disbelief surrounding the beginning of the slave revolution was further enhanced by a lack of warning. Observers argued that blacks could never have enough courage to stand against the colonial powers or even enough intelligence to organize a revolt. However, planning was done in secrecy since slaves lacked publications or organized societies which could have created an opportunity to exchange ideas or plan a revolt. France, the most directly involved in the Haitian Revolution, paid a heavy price, as the losses in men were comparable to those who died at Waterloo, and Haiti was one of their most valuable possessions. While some thought the revolt a sudden, short outbreak soon to be stopped by the colonial powers, others started to fear for their own security within the emerging black-controlled society.




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