Book Spotlight: 2 Works by Julia Gaffield

Book covers of Haitian Connections in the Atlantic World and The Haitian Declaration of Independence, by Julia Gaffield.Julia Gaffield, Haitian Connections in the Atlantic World: Recognition after Revolution.  Chapel Hill, N.C.: University of North Carolina Press, 2015. 270 pages. Paperback.

—, ed. The Haitian Declaration of Independence: Creation, Context, and Legacy (Jeffersonian America). University of Virginia Press, 2016. 296 pages. Hardback.

In conjunction with UNC Press, the University of Virginia Press, and Julia Gaffield, Age of Revolutions is proud to offer its second revolutionary raffle. On the cutting edge of Haitian Revolutionary scholarship, Julia Gaffield’s work explores the relations between Haiti and the wider Atlantic World.

The “revolutionary raffle” is now closed.

Bruce Spadaccini is the winner!

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Read on below for synopses and initial reviews of both books.

About Haitian Connections in the Atlantic World

On January 1, 1804, Haiti shocked the world by declaring independence. Historians have long portrayed Haiti’s post-revolutionary period as one during which the international community rejected Haiti’s Declaration of Independence and adopted a policy of isolation designed to contain the impact of the world’s only successful slave revolution. Julia Gaffield, however, anchors a fresh vision of Haiti’s first tentative years of independence to its relationships with other nations and empires and reveals the surprising limits of the country’s supposed isolation.

Gaffield frames Haitian independence as both a practical and an intellectual challenge to powerful ideologies of racial hierarchy and slavery, national sovereignty, and trade practice. Yet that very independence offered a new arena in which imperial powers competed for advantages with respect to military strategy, economic expansion, and international law. In dealing with such concerns, foreign governments, merchants, abolitionists, and others provided openings that were seized by early Haitian leaders who were eager to negotiate new economic and political relationships. Although full political acceptance was slow to come, economic recognition was extended by degrees to Haiti–and this had diplomatic implications. Gaffield’s account of Haitian history highlights how this layered recognition sustained Haitian independence.

Awards & Distinctions

2016 Mary Alice and Philip Boucher Book Prize, French Colonial Historical Society


“This thoughtful book revises understanding of Haiti’s supposed post-revolutionary isolation. . . .Highly recommended.”
–R.I. Rotberg, Harvard University, Choice

“Show[s] vividly how Haitian sovereignty was negotiated and contested on the international stage. . . . Provide[s] a model for the growing number of scholars engaged in writing the history of sovereignty in the revolutionary era.”
–Nathan Perl-Rosenthal, University of Southern California, William and Mary Quarterly

“Timely and compelling, Haitian Connections in the Atlantic World is on the leading edge of a new wave of Haitian Revolution scholarship. Eschewing platitudes about Haiti’s enforced isolation after the revolution, Gaffield traces the complex history–and legacies–of an Atlantic World variably confronting, evading, ignoring, and interacting with the new Haitian state.”
–Ada Ferrer, New York University

“A pioneering work on early republic Haiti. Taking a global approach and treating all of the major powers that controlled trade and colonial enterprise in the period, Julia Gaffield not only debunks the myth of Haitian isolationism but also demonstrates Haiti’s connectedness and importance to the rest of the world in spite of the radical and transformative circumstances that created the republic.”
–Matthew J. Smith, University of the West Indies, Mona

About The Haitian Declaration of Independence

While the Age of Revolution has long been associated with the French and American Revolutions, increasing attention is being paid to the Haitian Revolution as the third great event in the making of the modern world. A product of the only successful slave revolution in history, Haiti’s Declaration of Independence in 1804 stands at a major turning point in the trajectory of social, economic, and political relations in the modern world. This declaration created the second independent country in the Americas and certified a new genre of political writing. Despite Haiti’s global significance, however, scholars are only now beginning to understand the context, content, and implications of the Haitian Declaration of Independence.

This collection represents the first in-depth, interdisciplinary, and integrated analysis by American, British, and Haitian scholars of the creation and dissemination of the document, its content and reception, and its legacy. Throughout, the contributors use newly discovered archival materials and innovative research methods to reframe the importance of Haiti within the Age of Revolution and to reinterpret the declaration as a founding document of the nineteenth-century Atlantic World.

The authors offer new research about the key figures involved in the writing and styling of the document, its publication and dissemination, the significance of the declaration in the creation of a new nation-state, and its implications for neighboring islands. The contributors also use diverse sources to understand the lasting impact of the declaration on the country more broadly, its annual celebration and importance in the formation of a national identity, and its memory and celebration in Haitian Vodou song and ceremony. Taken together, these essays offer a clearer and more thorough understanding of the intricacies and complexities of the world’s second declaration of independence to create a lasting nation-state.


“A terrific book—timely and original. The boom in Haitian revolutionary studies (which has been shaped in critical ways by many of the authors in this collection) is producing a new wave of English-language work on post-independence Haiti. This book addresses this growing interest in the early Haitian state and the legacies of the Haitian Revolution not just in the Atlantic World but in Haiti itself. A very strong, interesting collection with broad appeal.”

—Ada Ferrer, New York University, author of Freedom’s Mirror: Cuba and Haiti in the Age of Revolution

“This landmark collection offers the first detailed examination of one of the most neglected documents in modern world history. Julia Gaffield and the other contributors offer a comprehensive account of the creation, meaning, and legacy of the Haitian Declaration of Independence. The essays demonstrate both Haiti’s deep links with the Atlantic World and the distinctiveness of the Haitian case.”

—Alyssa Goldstein Sepinwall, California State University San Marcos, editor of Haitian History: New Perspectives

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