The following is an illuminating lecture by Paul Foot on the Haitian slave revolt where he challenges the perception that British goodwill ended slavery. The lecture is based on C.L.R. James’ classic study The Black Jacobins. There is also an excellent documentary on this topic titled Egalite for All: Toussaint Louverture and the Haitian Revolution.
Paul Foot – The Haitian Slave Revolt of 1791 (57:27): MP3
Paul Foot vividly describes how the most successful slave revolt in history, which began in 1791, came to be closely allied to the events of the French Revolution and how each in turn influenced the other.
Taking self-emancipation as his main theme, Foot also challenges the idea that it was William Wilberforce, the British Tory MP and factory owner, that brought about the abolition of the most brutal and systematic regime of bondage and exploitation.
On the contrary, it was the San Domingo slave army itself, brilliantly led by their General, Toussaint L’Ouverture that made the greatest contribution to the ending of slavery. Over twelve years this Caribbean revolution defeated the French slave owners, Spanish colonists, a British expeditionary force, a native mulatto army and finally, Napoleon’s army. Through this struggle, independence was won in what had been France’s most profitable colony, which today we know as Haiti.
In a talk lasting one hour Paul Foot brings the lessons of these events to life, encompassing an array of hidden history in a compelling and humorous way.