Issue 2.0: Introduction

The Colony in Crisis team is excited to introduce you to our second issue of translated and curated primary source documents surrounding the grain crisis in colonial Saint-Domingue. First of all, we are very pleased to welcome Drs. Carolyn Fick (Concordia University) and Chelsea Stieber (Catholic University of America) to our Board of Advisors. Along with Drs. Fick and Stieber, our second edition features translations reviewed by returning members Alyssa Goldstein Sepinwall, Gina A. Ulysse, Mariana Past, and Sarah Benharrech.

Before introducing the new web content, we wish to recap a very exciting year in the reception of Colony in Crisis on the web and in the academic scene. Since our September 2014 launch, Colony in Crisis has received over 7,000 page views by over 1,900 individual users in over 50 countries. Our online success would not have been possible without the aid of numerous scholarly and popular social media tools and list-serves. Colony in Crisis would like to thank the University of Liverpool’s Francofil list-serve, H-France, and the Corbett List for allowing us to publicize our work for scholarly use across the globe. We are also extremely appreciative of Twitter users in and out of academia for the kind tweets and re-tweets as we made our first edition public. Colony in Crisis would like to thank, in particular, Commodity Histories, as well as the Haitian History Blog for sharing our website with their diverse following of Anglophone, Creolophone, and Francophone users, mèsi anpil.

Our online success is not to be overshadowed by our reception in the academic and artistic arena. In July 2014, Gina A. Ulysse, Colony in Crisis Advisory Board member and Professor of Anthropology at Wesleyan University, performed the keynote address at the University of Central Lancashire’s After Revolutions: Versions and Re-visions of the Haitian Revolution. During the Q/A session following her performance, Ulysse credited her work with Colony in Crisis as the genesis of her project entitled “Why Haiti Needs a Higher Love VI: Meditations on Distances & VooDooDoll.” Colony in Crisis has also been consulted by courses taught on Atlantic History, French History, and Caribbean History. We are also very pleased to announce that Advisory Board member Dr. Sarah Benharrech will be working with Colony in Crisis to incorporate colonial Saint-Domingue into a fall 2015 course entitled, “Riots, Rebellion, and Revolution: Cultures of Dissent.” These are just a few of the ways Colony in Crisis has been used and we continue to encourage people to make use of our content in creative ways.

With all of that said, we would like to introduce our second edition of curated translations of French language pamphlets pertaining to Saint-Domingue on the eve of the Haitian Revolution. This six document installment seeks to build on the first by providing a variety of perspectives on the “Grain Famine” of 1789. However, while the first issue focused mainly on the rapport between the Deputies of Saint-Domingue with French officials in France or Saint-Domingue, our second issue attempts to provide a larger, transnational context for the issues surrounding 1789 Saint-Domingue. For this reason we chose to include the Judgments from 1784 and 1786, which establish an understanding of the network of French colonies in the Caribbean and the laws governing intra- and international trade. These documents also build on the first edition by helping readers understand the conditions enslaved Africans were subjected to in the Atlantic Slave Trade. Another key focus of this issue is the attempt by the Colonial Deputies to dismantle the French trade monopoly known as the “exclusif” through the defamation and subsequent expulsion of the Intendant Barbé de Marbois from Saint-Domingue. This particular event creates a triangular relationship between France, Saint-Domingue, and the newly formed United States. Barbé de Marbois’ connection to Philadelphia provides just one example of how French colonialism left its mark on the Americas in the late 18th Century. Coastal US cities would, in the years following 1789, become a popular destination for Creole and French planters fleeing the Haitian Revolution. We hope, by highlighting these connections, that our content will provide a basis for further work in the study of the Atlantic World in the 18th Century.

Finally, Colony in Crisis would like to take the time to thank the various people and organizations that have supported us, provided us with invaluable feedback, and motivated us to continue working with primary source translations. Colony in Crisis, like any project, is a sum of its parts. Without the dedicated team of translators, reviewers, and readers this project would not have come to life and certainly would not be entering its second year. None of this would be possible without the efforts of libraries and their staff. We would like to extend a special thanks to The University of Maryland Libraries, The John Carter Brown Haiti Collection, The Digital Library of the Caribbean, the Bibliothèque Municipale de Pointe-à-Pitre, and the Bibliothèque Nationale de France. Colony in Crisis is indebted to the work of Abby Broughton and Kelsey Corlett-Rivera who always bring passion and enthusiasm our work. We are grateful because without the tutelage and caring support of our Advisory Board, Alyssa Goldstein Sepinwall, Carolyn Fick, Chelsea Stieber, Gina A. Ulysse, Jennifer Guiliano, Mariana Past, and Sarah Benharrech, our project would not have the nuance, depth, and quality that it has. We would also like to thank the University of Maryland School of Languages, Literatures, and Cultures, The College of Arts and Humanities, and the Department of French and Italian for their continued support. Many others have been influential, in ways big and small, including: Helen Atkinson, Hervé Campangne, Lesley Curtis, Marlene Daut, Cranston N. Dize, Marie-Laure Flamer, Charles Forsdick, Julia Gaffield, John Garrigus, David Geggus, Florent Gonsalès, Raphael Hoermann, Kate Hodgson, Chris Lewis, Adrian May, Valérie K. Orlando, David Sartorius, John P. Walsh, Kayla Watson, and Daryle Williams.

With all of that said, we hope that you enjoy Issue 2.0 of A Colony in Crisis: The Saint-Domingue Grain Shortage of 1789.
The Colony in Crisis team