“Thrown into this Hospitable Land”: Saint-Dominguans in Virginia, 1796-1870

This post is a part of the 2020 Selected Papers of the Consortium on the Revolutionary Era, which were edited and compiled by members of the CRE’s board alongside editors at Age of Revolutions.

By Frances Bell

In October 1809, a Frenchman named Alexander Burot wrote to Thomas Jefferson. Burot was a refugee from colonial Saint-Domingue, who had fled the insurrection that would become known as the Haitian Revolution.[1] Arriving in Virginia in 1796 with his wife Marie Elizabeth Burot,[2] children, and nine enslaved “negro and mulatto domestics,” he bought a plantation in Chesterfield County near Richmond, and had three more children.[3] However, he left Virginia for Saint-Domingue in 1801, and, when he returned to Virginia in 1809, found that his slaves had been freed and, with Marie Elizabeth left unable to pay their mortgage, that the family had been evicted.[4] Burot appealed to Jefferson as a fellow “Virginia planter and father of a family” for help in restoring his slaves, his plantation, and his status as a new member of the Virginia elite. He was out of luck; Burot did not regain what he had lost. However, the letter’s description of the household’s experience in Virginia, of the opportunities, hardships, and unexpected obstacles faced both by Burot, and, implicitly, the other members of the household, provides a valuable starting point for a study of the experiences of French refugees from Saint-Domingue in Virginia.

As many as 25,000 free and enslaved people traveled from Saint-Domingue to the United States during this period, and a significant number of these settled in Virginia.[5] Despite this, the scholarship on French refugees in the state is sparse. Indeed, it has so far only been addressed in the context  of larger, more general works; in Ashli White’s work on the impact of the refugees in the United States, for example, or in Darrell Meadows’ dissertation on migration in the revolutionary French Atlantic.[6] The Virginian refugees also appear, albeit often tangentially, in more recent work on the geopolitical and diplomatic impact of the French and Haitian revolutions on the Early Republic; scholars such as Julia Gaffield and James Alexander Dun have discussed the refugees in this wider political context.[7] However, there is remains very little scholarship on the specific experiences of French refugees, both white and black, in Virginia.  By examining the Burot household through the lens of three different marriages – that of Alexander and Marie Elizabeth, of their daughter Joséphine, and of Virginia Ann Burot, daughter of one of the nine enslaved members of the household – I argue that the most important factor in the success of Saint-Dominguan migrants in Virginia was access to a strong family and community support network, which was in turn bound up with issues of slavery and freedom. Burot’s failure to maintain his household was determined by his separation from it, and his resulting inability to maintain ownership of the people he enslaved. Conversely, the success of Julia Ann Burot and her daughter Virginia Ann was predicated on Julia Ann’s legal manumission, and her daughter’s resulting integration via marriage into a strong, supportive community. 

In addition, I argue that by analyzing the migration at the level of the household, it is possible to uncover the ways in which community, kinship, and marriage shaped and were shaped by the movement of free and enslaved people from Saint-Domingue to Virginia. Historians of the Haitian Revolution in an Atlantic context such as Laurent Dubois, Julius Scott, Ada Ferrer, and, in the Virginia context, James Sidbury, have richly demonstrated how revolutionary ideas developed and circulated beyond Saint-Domingue, providing inspiration for black liberatory ideologies and struggles throughout the Atlantic region.[8] By focusing primarily on the content of these intellectual exchanges, however, we run the risk of overlooking the social relationships which facilitated them.[9] The people who spread Haitian revolutionary ideas rarely did so as solo actors, but within social, familial, and legal networks that often remained intact despite the disruption of the period. This is especially relevant when one considers that of the estimated 25,000 free and enslaved people who traveled from Saint-Domingue to the United States, many if not most traveled in connection with some sort of household unit. People who traveled in these households would have had different experiences of revolution than solo travelers, shaped by its effects on the daily intimacies of their lives and labors, and they would have held different ideas about the revolution as a result. To understand in more detail how different forms of knowledge and news were spread in the revolutionary Atlantic, therefore, we must attend to the household dynamics of the free and enslaved people who constituted these communication networks.  

Alexander Burot and the Perils of Separation

Before migrating, Alexander Burot had the advantage of being a relatively prosperous planter in Saint-Domingue. In his letter to Jefferson, Burot described himself as having owned “plantations” in the plural, and traces of his commercial activity appear in the notary records of Jérémie, the town in southwest Saint-Domingue near which the family lived.[10] Alexander and Marie Elizabeth may also have considered themselves lucky during the early years of the revolution – the area in which they lived was occupied by the British from 1793, meaning that when French emancipation was established in 1793-4, it did not extend to the people they enslaved. By 1796, however, the Burots must have realized the tide of events was beginning to turn against their interests. It had become clear that the British occupation, which had grown increasingly unpopular, was faltering. In the rest of the colony, meanwhile, Toussaint Louverture was consolidating his power as revolutionary leader and most senior military official in the colony.[11] The Burots may have decided their best hope for avoiding conflict and keeping their family safe was to migrate to Virginia, forcing nine enslaved people to travel with them. 

If Alexander recognized the irony of forcibly separating nine enslaved people from their families and communities in order to keep his own family together, he made no note of it. Long before the household’s migration, after all, the Burots’ success as a slave owning family had depended on the destruction of the kinship networks of the people they owned. For the nine enslaved people in the household, leaving Saint-Domingue was yet another dislocation, one amongst many they had experienced during their enslavement. However, it also seems possible that some of the nine may have had more mixed thoughts about the move. While it had become clear by 1796 that the British occupation of Jérémie was faltering, they did not yet show signs of withdrawing from the region, despite continued unrest and brief but bloody incursions from revolutionary forces. In this immediate context, some may have seen the move as a means to escape the turmoil of a revolution that threatened violence, even as it promised freedom. [12] Ashli White has suggested that friends or family of some enslaved Saint-Dominguans may have actually encouraged them to migrate for this reason     [13]

More generally, we can speculate that the attitudes of the nine enslaved household members would also have been influenced by their understanding of the political situation in the region, as well as by their knowledge of life in the United States. As scholars such as Laurent Dubois and John Thornton have shown, republican and royalist intellectual traditions were invoked and developed during the revolution to advocate for competing visions of liberty, and these would have influenced their attitudes towards the different factions in the Southern Province.[14] In addition, as Julius Scott demonstrates in The Common Wind, enslaved people were integrated into extensive communication networks between sailors, slaves, and other Atlantic travelers, meaning that they would have been informed not only about events in Saint-Domingue, but throughout the Americas.[15] As such, they would have known that moving to Virginia meant moving to a jurisdiction where, unlike Saint-Domingue, the institution of slavery was not in the process of being dismantled, and chances for liberty would likely be slim. However, there is also a good chance they would have known of events like the 1793 ‘Secret-keeper Conspiracy,’ in which enslaved and free Black Virginians and South Carolinians allegedly plotted to follow the Saint-Dominguan example and stage an insurrection; and they would likely have seen and heard support for the revolution in the form of tricolor cockades, revolutionary songs, and other expressions of solidarity expressed by travelers to the region.[16] They may also have heard of enslaved Saint-Dominguans who had been able to extract promises of manumission from their enslavers in return for agreeing to travel to the United States.[17] So while documentary evidence for what the enslaved members of the household knew or thought about the move has so far been elusive, they would not have been uninformed about the significance of their journey.

Finally, many Saint-Dominguan enslavers, including the Burots, intended their migration to be temporary.[18] As Michel-Rolph Trouillot writes in Silencing the Past, the ‘unthinkability’ of the Haitian Revolution meant that even when enslavers were forced to confront the spectacle of Black revolution, they were simply unable to see it as a “serious long-term danger” to the colonial system.[19] From the beginning of their time in Virginia, the Burots maintained property and business connections in Saint-Domingue, perhaps with the hope that France would re-establish slavery and they could return to their old life.[20] While the Burot migration separated enslaved people from kinship and community connections, the people who traveled with them may have expected to return.  

In order to maintain these connections with Saint-Domingue, the Burots divided their responsibilities, enabling the family to essentially be in two places at once. Marie Elizabeth, the children, and the nine enslaved people remained in Virginia, with some of the latter possibly being hired out as laborers in the surrounding area.[21] Meanwhile, Alexander used his Saint-Dominguan connections to make money as a merchant, sailing back and forth to the colony as the supercargo and part-owner of a Richmond-based merchant ship, before returning permanently in 1801 to prepare for the family’s anticipated return.[22] By leaving the household to pursue business, Burot fits what we could see as the stereotype of the early-modern Atlantic traveler – the striving European man who leaves his family in search of profit.[23]Indeed, Jennifer Palmer has noticed a similar pattern among merchant families in La Rochelle, whose patriarchs often left in search of fortune in Saint-Domingue, leaving their wives to take on the responsibilities of the de-facto head of household.[24] To the Burots, accustomed to life in profit-driven Saint-Domingue, this model of a separated, mercantile household would have seemed very normal. Of course, however, they were using this strategy in a more unstable situation than were the merchants of La Rochelle. They were living in a place which, despite also being a plantation slave society, had very different customs and laws from Saint-Domingue. And rather than traveling in search of fortune, Burot left to try and reconstitute an estate that they had left in the midst of revolution. Ultimately, the uncertainty surrounding this strategy was what caused its failure. 

In 1803, it became clear that the French expedition to Saint-Domingue was failing, and that the revolutionary forces, now led by General Jean-Jacques Dessalines and fighting for independence, were winning the war against the French. In the same year, Alexander left Saint-Domingue for Cuba, along with most of the other remaining white residents, and seems to have stayed there until forced to leave with other French exiles in 1809, following the Napoleonic invasion of Spain. As a result, when a newspaper advertisement was placed in Virginia in 1803 calling for him to appear in court as a defendant in a case brought by his mortgage holder, Burot did not appear.[25] Perhaps he never heard of the summons; perhaps he was simply unable to return home in time. While Marie Elizabeth had acted as head of household for several years, she could not appear in court to defend property held in her husband’s name. It is not entirely clear what happened next. But as we know, Burot returned to find the family had been evicted, and the nine people he enslaved had been freed. While the Burots used a marital strategy that seemed relatively reliable, the contingencies of revolution and legalities in Haiti and Virginia resulted in its failure. 

Joséphine Burot, Benjamin Chaigneau, and strategic marriage

In 1809, the year Alexander returned to Virginia, his daughter Joséphine married another Saint-Dominguan exile named Benjamin Chaigneau.[26] Chaigneau was almost certainly known to the Burots before their migration: they had both embarked from the same region of Aux Cayes, and would have been part of the same local community of planters and merchants in southwestern Saint-Domingue.[27] Chaigneau settled in Philadelphia in 1795, shortly before the Burots’ voyage, suggesting he may have even relayed information to the family from the U.S. in order to assist with their journey. By marrying Chaigneau, Joséphine forged an alliance with someone whom she and her family knew and trusted; perhaps even more importantly, she married someone with the same cultural background and experience of migration, who could provide continuity with her old life. This marriage wasn’t unusual. A combination of shared experience and culture, unwillingness to accept the permanence of their migration, and ambivalent attitudes towards Saint-Dominguans in the U.S. meant that they tended to stick together, and first-generation migrants overwhelmingly tended to marry each other.[28]

In addition to providing cultural continuity, however, the marriage to Chaigneau also aided the Burots in much more practical ways. Chaigneau had been naturalized as a U.S. citizen in 1804, meaning that by marrying him, Joséphine secured her future as a resident of the country at a time when it had become clear that returning to Saint-Domingue was no longer possible.[29] As a male head of household, Chaigneau was also a useful ally for Alexander, particularly when it came to legal matters: in 1813, Chaigneau appeared in a newspaper notice as Alexander’s legal administrator.[30] So while Joséphine’s marriage, like those of other Saint-Dominguan refugees, can partly be understood in sentimental terms, there was also a range of very practical reasons to marry a fellow refugee, from ensuring citizenship to gaining business partners. 

Julia Ann, Virginia Ann, and freedom in Virginia

While Alexander portrayed the legal fluke which led to his wife’s eviction as a cruel loss, it provided an opportunity for the nine enslaved people, taken from an emancipatory revolution, to claim their freedom in Virginia. Even after freedom, however, the nine people brought into Virginia by the Burots may well have felt themselves to be in a very vulnerable situation. They would likely have been able to forge some connections with other free and enslaved people prior to achieving freedom, particularly if they had been hired out in the surrounding area; likewise, they would have known and perhaps relied on each other. However, they had been removed from their family and community ties, and would not have had the same connections that many free Black Virginians relied upon to ensure their social and economic security.[31]Julia Ann Burot, the only formerly enslaved member of the household for whom I have yet been able to find a name, may well have felt particularly vulnerable. A couple of years after gaining her freedom, she had a daughter, whom she aptly named Virginia Ann.     [32] She seems to have never been legally married in Virginia, and  remained in Chesterfield County, suggesting she wanted to stay within a community that could support her as she raised her daughter. She may also have wanted to remain close to people who knew her experience as a domestic laborer and could provide paid work.[33]It seems likely that community, even if it wasn’t kin-based, was instrumental to her decision to stay in the area.[34]

As she grew older, Julia Ann’s daughter also remained close. In late 1851, then aged 38, Virginia Ann married Robert Logan, a free black bricklayer, in Chesterfield County.[35] By marrying a local bricklayer, Virginia Ann seems to have made a particularly good move. In the early nineteenth century, Chesterfield County was industrializing at a rapid pace. Between 1850 and 1860, Richmond’s factory workforce increased by 581 percent.[36] Logan’s skills would have been in high demand to build the factories, warehouses, and tenements of the burgeoning industrial city. Indeed, it seems the marriage paid off; by 1870, Robert owned real estate estimated at $900, and the family was prosperous enough to hire a domestic servant.[37] The couple would have been members of a burgeoning Black middle-class community in the greater Richmond area, whose more prosperous members prided themselves on their economic success and self-sufficiency. In 1865, only a few months after the surrender of Richmond to the Union Army, a group of local Black leaders petitioned President Andrew Johnson, highlighting their community’s achievements: “We represent a population…who have ever been distinguished for their good behavior…as well as for their high moral and Christian character…. Among us there are at least 2,000 men who are worth from $200 to $500; 200 who have property valued at from $1,000 to $5,000, and a number who are worth $5,000 to $20,000. None of our people are in the almshouse, and…our benevolent societies supported [former slaves] while they lived, and buried when they died.”[38] From Julia Ann’s initial status as an enslaved Saint-Dominguan, a combination of chance and careful social maneuvering had enabled her daughter to secure her place in a comfortable free household, and her family’s status as part of the Black Virginian industrial middle class.

Conclusion

This paper represents preliminary research into the Burots in Virginia. As such, there remain many questions to be answered. There is more work in particular to be done on uncovering the identities and lives of the formerly enslaved members of the household, who have been largely absent from the documents consulted so far. Despite this, however, this case study makes it clear that migrations such as that from Saint-Domingue to Virginia can only be fully understood by examining the household, family, and community networks that supported (or failed to support) the migrants. Although migrations such as the one from Saint-Domingue were often shaped by macro structures – revolutions, wars, and legislation – they were ultimately constructed on the micro-level, through countless decisions about where to move, which kinship units to maintain or separate, and whom to marry. The Burots used their marriage strategically, with Marie Elizabeth managing their interests in Virginia while Alexander attempted to maintain their property in Saint-Domingue. Joséphine married a man who would help her to solidify her social position as a citizen and as a member of the Virginia upper class, while preserving her ties to the Saint-Dominguan community. And while Julia Ann Burot was forcibly separated from her community, the breakdown of the Burot household enabled both her and her daughter to create new opportunities for themselves, even in a state where their enslavement seemed assured. Migration is a central theme in the history of the early-modern Atlantic world, and as this case study makes clear, strategic community formation was a fundamental part of this process. In order to fully understand migrations like the one from Saint-Domingue, we must begin by analyzing the choices made by individuals such as the Burots. 


Frances Bell is a PhD candidate at William & Mary. Her dissertation examines the experiences of the enslaved people brought to the United States by refugees from the Haitian Revolution between 1791 and 1840, and combines her interests in the revolution with broader interests in Atlantic migration, slavery, and the law.

Title Image: Benjamin Henry Latrobe, An Overseer Doing His Duty near Fredericksburg, Virginia, 1798.

Endnotes:

[1] Alexander Burot to Thomas Jefferson, Richmond, October 23 1809, Founders Onlinehttps://founders.archives.gov/documents/Jefferson/03-01-02-0489 .

[2] Transfer of the rights and property between Elizabeth Victoire Schomberg (wife of M. Lepage) and Alexander Burot, February 9th, 1803, Box 4, Folder 112, Jérémie Papers, MS Group 17,  University of Florida Smathers Libraries, Special Area and Studies Collections, Gainesville, FL (hereafter referred to as Jérémie Papers)My sincere thanks to Michele Wilbanks, Margarita Vargas-Betancourt, Keith Manuel, and everyone at the Smathers Libraries’ Special Area and Studies Collections for their assistance with viewing and reproducing these documents. 

[3] Burot to Jefferson Founders Online

[4] While I have not yet been able to find specific evidence detailing the circumstances of their manumission, it seems most likely that it was done on the basis of one of two laws: a 1780 Virginia law which allowed refugees from the American Revolutionary War to bring enslaved people into the state, on condition that if they remained in the state for more than a year, the enslaved people they had brought with them would be set free; or a 1778 anti-importation law, which banned slave importation and set free any enslaved person who had been brought into the state illegally. The fact that Alexander states in his letter to Jefferson that the relevant law “was passed before the French Revolution” supports this. The latter law was modified in 1793 to specifically exclude enslaved people who had been illegally imported from Africa or the West Indies, who would instead be exported. The fact that Julia Ann Burot was able to remain in the state suggests either that this law was not used, or that the exportation amendment was overlooked. Regardless of which was used, both were superseded in 1806 by a statute that banned all slave importations and required illegally imported slaves to be sold “for the benefit of the poor,” suggesting that the nine enslaved members of the Burot household were freed before 1806. Further research is required to determine the precise circumstances of the manumission. “An Act for Preventing the Farther Importation of Slaves,” A Collection of All Such Public Acts of the General Assembly of the Conventions of Virginia, Passed since the Year 1768, as Are Now in Force; with a Table of the Principal Matters (Richmond, Va., 1785), p. 80; Robert McColley, Slavery and Jeffersonian Virginia (Urbana Ill., 1973 [1964]), pp. 165-167; Eva Sheppard Wolf, Race and Liberty in a New Nation: Emancipation in Virginia from the Revolution to Nat Turner’s Rebellion (Baton Rouge, La., 2006), p. 116; Burot to Jefferson, Founders Online.

[5] While precise numbers are unclear, a convoy of 137 ships carrying passengers from Cap Français arrived at Norfolk, Virginia in 1793; another 376 Saint-Dominguans arrived in the port via Cuba in 1809. One traveler to Norfolk in 1796 estimated that there were between 2,000 and 3,000 Saint-Dominguans in the city, although most of these “afterwards dispersed themselves throughout different parts of the country.” Winston C. Babb, “French Refugees from Saint Domingue to the Southern United States, 1791–1810,” Ph.D diss., University of Virginia, 1954. ProQuest (0009631), pp. 54, 379; Isaac Weld, Jr., Travels Through the States of North America, and the Provinces of Upper and Lower Canada, During the Years 1795, 1796, and 1797, 3rd ed. I (London, 1800), p. 176; Elizabeth Sullivan-Holleman and Isabel Hillery Cobb, The Saint-Domingue Epic: The de Rossignol des Dunes and Family Alliances (Bay St. Louis, MS., 1984), p. 315. For the total estimate number of Saint-Dominguans in the United States, see Margaret Wilson Gillikin (who estimates between 15,000 and 20,000) and Catherine Therese Christians Spaeth (“nearly 25,000”). Margaret Wilson Gillikin, “Saint Dominguan Refugees in Charleston, South Carolina, 1791-1822: Assimilation and Accommodation in a Slave Society,” Ph.D diss., University of South Carolina, 2014. ProQuest (3672858), p. 1; Catherine Therese Christians Spaeth, “Purgatory or Promised Land? French Emigres in Philadelphia and their Perceptions of American During the 1790s,” Ph.D. diss., University of Minnesota, 1992. ProQuest (9222481), p. iii.

[6] Ashli White, Encountering Revolution: Haiti and the Making of the Early Republic (Baltimore, MD, 2010); Darrell Meadows, “The Planters of Saint-Domingue, 1750–1804: Migration and Exile in the French Revolutionary Atlantic.” Ph.D. diss., Carnegie Mellon University, 2004. ProQuest (3120207). See also Babb, “French Refugees from Saint Domingue to the Southern United States, 1791–1810.” There is a larger body of work on the Saint-Dominguans in other states, and particularly in Louisiana. See for example Nathalie Dessens, From Saint-Domingue to New Orleans: Migration and Influences (Gainesville, FL, 2007); Paul F. Lachance, “The 1809 Immigration of Saint-Domingue Refugees to New Orleans: Reception, Integration, and Impact,” Louisiana History: The Journal of the Louisiana Historical Association 29, no. 2 (Spring 1988), 109-141; Sara Rivers Cofield, “French-Caribbean Refugees and Slavery in German Protestant Maryland,” International Journal of Historical Archaeology 10, no. 3 (Sept. 2006), 273-287; Gillikin, “Saint Dominguan Refugees in Charleston”; Spaeth, “Purgatory or Promised Land?”; Allan Potofsky, “The ‘Non-Aligned Status’ of French Émigrés and Refugees in Philadelphia, 1793-1798,” Transatlantica: Revue d’Études Américaines/American Studies Journal 2 (2006), available at: http://translatlantica.revues.org/1147

[7] Julia Gaffield, Haitian Connections in the Atlantic World: Recognition After Revolution (Chapel Hill, NC, 2015); James Alexander Dun, Dangerous Neighbors: Making the Haitian Revolution in Early America (Philadelphia, PA, 2016); see also Frances Sergeant Childs, French Refugee Life in the United States, 1790-1800 (Baltimore, MD, 1940); and Gabriel Debien, “Réfugiés de Saint-Domingue aux États-Unis.” Notes d’Histoire Coloniale 27 (1950), pp. 2-138.

[8] Laurent Dubois, “An Enslaved Enlightenment: Rethinking the Intellectual History of the French Atlantic,” Social History 31, no. 1 (February 2006), pp. 1-14; Julius Scott, A Common Wind: Afro-American Currents in the Age of the Haitian Revolution (New York, 2018); and Sidbury, “Saint Domingue in Virginia: Ideology, Local Meanings, and Resistance to Slavery” Journal of Southern History 63, no. 3 (Aug. 1997), pp. 531-552 and Ploughshares into Swords: Race, Rebellion, and Identity in Gabriel’s Virginia, 1730-1810 (Cambridge, 1997). See also Ada Ferrer, Freedom’s Mirror: Cuba and Haiti in the Age of Revolution (Cambridge, 2014) and “Speaking of Haiti: Slavery, Revolution, and Freedom in Cuban Slave Testimony” in David P. Geggus and Norman Fiering, eds. The World of the Haitian Revolution (Indianapolis, 2009), pp. 223-247; and James Alexander Dun, Dangerous Neighbors: Making the Haitian Revolution in Early America (Philadelphia, 2016), among others. 

[9] While the question of household migration and its effect on communication networks remains under-explored, there is an important body of work on Atlantic families and communication, as well as on slavery, family, and migration from the Haitian Revolution. See for instance Jennifer L. Palmer, Intimate Bonds: Family and Slavery in the French Atlantic (Philadelphia, Penn., 2016).; Sarah M.S. Pearsall, Atlantic Families: Lives and Letters in the Later Eighteenth Century (Oxford, 2011); S. D. Smith, Slavery, Family, and Gentry Capitalism in the British Atlantic: The World of the Lascelles, 1648-1834 (Cambridge, 2006); Julie Hardwick, Sarah M. S. Pearsall, and Karin Wulf, eds., William and Mary Quarterly Vol. 70, No. 2, Centering Families in Atlantic Histories (April 2013); Rashauna Johnson, “From Saint-Domingue to Dumaine Street: One Family’s Journeys from the Haitian Revolution to the Great Migration, Journal of African American History 102, no. 4, African American Migration and Mobility After the Civil War, 1865-1915 (Fall, 2017), pp. 427-443; Rebecca Scott and Jean Hébrard, Freedom Papers: An Atlantic Odyssey in the Age of Emancipation (Cambridge, 2012).

[10] Burot to Jefferson, Founders Online; Jérémie Papers Box 4, folders 13 and 112; and  Box 19, folders 89, 100, and 101. 

[11] David Geggus, Slavery, War, and Revolution: The British Occupation of Saint Domingue, 1793-1798 (Oxford, 1982), p. 269.

[12] Ibid., p. 201. 

[13] White, p. 140.

[14] Dubois, “An Enslaved Enlightenment”; John Thornton, I am the Subject of the King of Congo: African Political Ideology and the Haitian Revolution,” Journal of World History 4., no. 2 (Fall, 1993), pp. 181-214.

[15] For the foundational work on these networks, see Scott, A Common Wind.

[16] Alderson, Robert, “Charleston’s Rumored Slave Revolt of 1973,” in David P. Geggus, ed., The Impact of the Haitian Revolution in the Atlantic World (Colombia SC, 2001), 94, 103; White, p. 147-148. 

[17] White, p. 141. 

[18] Ibid.

[19] Michel-Rolph Trouillot, Silencing the Past: Power and the Production of History (Boston, Mass., 2015 [1995]), p. 91. 

[20] Transfer of the rights and property between Elizabeth Victoire Schomberg (wife of M. Lepage) and Alexander Burot, February 9th, 1803, Box 4, Folder 112, Jérémie Papers.

[21] This is suggested by the mention in Burot’s letter to Jefferson of the mortgage being paid for via the profits of slave labor. The system of hiring out, in which slaveowners would generate revenue by leasing the people they enslaved to provide labor, was widespread in the Richmond area during this period. Sidbury, Ploughshares into Swords, p. 190.

[22] Burot’s return in 1801 coincided with the French military expedition to Saint-Domingue, which was widely expected to forcibly re-establish slavery. “Hodgson v. Marine Insurance Company of Alexandria,” in Frederick C. Brightly, ed., Reports of Cases Argued and Adjudged in the Supreme Court of the United States, in February Term, 1809, V, 3rd ed. (New York, NY, 1909), p. 58, available at: https://archive.org/details/reportscasesarg06petegoog; “The Marine Insurance Company of Alexandria, Appellants, v. Hodgson, Appellee,” in Richard Peters, ed., Condensed Reports of Cases in the Supreme Court of the United States, II (Philadelphia, PA, 1830), pp. 518-519.

[23] Hardwick, Pearsall, and Wulf, “Introduction: Centering Families in Atlantic Histories,” William and Mary Quarterly 70, no. 2, Centering Families in Atlantic Histories (April 2013), p. 211; Palmer, Intimate Bonds, p. 4.

[24] Palmer.

[25] Peter Tinsley, “Virginia: In the High Court of Chancery for the Richmond District,” The Virginia Argus vol. XI, no. 1066 (August 3, 1803), p. [4].

[26] Virginia, Compiled Marriages, 1740-1850, Ancestry.com (Provo, UT, 1999). 

[27] Pennsylvania, Federal Naturalization Records., 1795-1931. Ancestry.com (Provo, UT, 2011).

[28] Dessens, p. 47. In Virginia, attitudes towards the Saint-Dominguans were initially positive. In 1793, after the first wave of arrivals, funds were raised to aid the refugees in Williamsburg, Portsmouth, Petersburg, York, and Richmond, while the House of Delegates granted 2,000 to the Norfolk mayor to support the refugees. However, concern about the aristocratic (and possibly royalist) allegiances of the Saint-Dominguans, coupled with heightened tensions with France during the Quasi War of 1798-1800, and their importation of so-called “French Negroes” from revolutionary Saint-Domingue, fueled suspicions that the refugees would sow disruption and dissent in the new republic. Sullivan-Holleman and Cobb, p. 314; Journal of the House of Delegates of the Commonwealth of Virginia; Begun and Held at the Capitol, in the City of Richmond, on Monday, the Twenty-First Day of October, One Thousand Seven Hundred and Ninety-Three (Richmond, Va, 1793), p. 11, 93; Alderson, p. 95; White, p.90, 121; Debates in the House of Delegates of Virginia, Upon Certain Resolutions Before the House, Upon the Important Subject of the Acts of Congress Passed at their Last Session, Commonly Called, the Alien and Sedition Laws (Richmond, VA, 1798), pp. 57-59.

[29] Pennsylvania, Federal Naturalization Records.

[30] Alexandria Gazette, Commercial and Political 13, no. 3098 (Alexandria, VA, July 15 1813), p. [4].

[31] Elizabeth Joyce Wood, “The Family Politic: Free African American Gender and Belonging in Virginia, 1793-1865,” Ph.D diss., The College of William & Mary (Williamsburg, Va., 2018), p. 9,  18.

[32] “Burot, Virginia Ann (18), Free Negro Register,” December 9, 1831. Virginia Untold: The African American Narrative Digital Collection, record no. 000355264, Library of Virginia, Richmond, Va.http://digitool1.lva.lib.va.us:8881/R/V41EMGF87NB4CBEVJ5EI7I2PPBPSNEBBCV1FKQ17EK5BKSE7VS-03112Virginia, Select Marriages, 1785-1940, Ancestry.com (Provo, UT, 2014).

[33] Many free black women during this period earned money through domestic labor, such as cooking, sewing, childcare, or laundry, and it seems likely that Julia Ann may have done the same. This was particularly true of women who didn’t have male wage-earners in the household. For more on free women of color, marriage, and domestic labor, see Tera Hunter, Bound in Wedlock: Slave and Free Black Marriage in the Nineteenth Century (Cambridge, Mass., 2019); Wilma King, Essence of Liberty: Free Black Women During the Slave Era (Columbia, MO, 2006); Jacqueline Jones, Labor of Love, Labor of Sorrow: Black Women, Work, and the Family, from Slavery to the Present (New York, 1985); and Thavolia Glymph, Out of the House of Bondage: The Transformation of the Plantation Household (Cambridge, 2008). 

[34] On free black communities in Virginia during slavery, see Melvin Patrick Ely, Israel on the Appomattox: A Southern Experiment in Black Freedom from the 1790s Through the Civil War (New York, 2005); Tommy Bogger, Free Blacks in Norfolk Virginia, 1790-1860: The Darker Side of Freedom (Charlottesville, Va., 1997); and Ira Berlin, Slaves Without Masters: The Free Negro in the Antebellum South (New York, 1975). On mothers, family, and kinship in free and enslaved communities, see James Sweet, “Defying Social Death: The Multiple Configurations of African Slave Family in the Atlantic World,” William and Mary Quarterly 70, no. 2, Centering Families in Atlantic Histories (April 2013), pp. 251-272; Jennifer Morgan, Laboring Women: Reproduction and Gender in New World Slavery (Philadelphia, 2004); Stephanie Camp, Closer to Freedom: Enslaved Women and Everyday Resistance in the Plantation South (Chapel Hill, N.C., 2004); and Wilma A. Dunaway, The African-American Family in Slavery and Emancipation (Cambridge, 2003). 

[35] Virginia, Select Marriages, 1785-1940.

[36] Peter J. Rachleff, Black Labor in the South: Richmond, Virginia, 1865-1890 (Philadelphia, PA, 1984), p. 4.

[37] 1870 United States Federal Census, Ancestry.com (Provo, UT., 2009).

[38] New York Tribune, 17 June 1865, quoted in Rachleff, Black Labor in the South, p. 14.

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