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Islandwide Struggle for FreedomRevolution, Emancipation, and Reenslavement in Hispaniola, 1789-1809$
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Graham T. Nessler

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9781469626864

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: January 2017

DOI: 10.5149/northcarolina/9781469626864.001.0001

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The Courage to Conquer Their Natural Liberty

The Courage to Conquer Their Natural Liberty

Conflicts over Emancipation in French Santo Domingo, 1795–1801

(p.62) Chapter Two The Courage to Conquer Their Natural Liberty
Islandwide Struggle for Freedom

Graham T. Nessler

University of North Carolina Press

In 1795, as a result of a military victory, the embattled French Republic acquired Spain’s oldest colony of Santo Domingo, the neighbor to Saint-Domingue. Since Paris had proclaimed the legal abolition of slavery throughout the entirety of the French empire the prior year, the annexation of Santo Domingo would seem to have legally freed that colony’s 15,000 or so slaves. Were these men, women, and children in fact freed? Chapter two engages with this question via an analysis of legal documents, military records, government decrees, and other sources. This chapter details the conflicts that arose when those claimed as slaves in Santo Domingo asserted their rights as free French citizens and connects these conflicts to political changes in the French and Spanish empires.

Keywords:   Annexation of Santo Domingo (by France), French empire, Spanish empire, French Republic, Legal history of slavery

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