Jump to Content Jump to Main Navigation

Atlantic History The French Revolution
by
Allan Potofsky

Introduction

Was the French Revolution part of a single movement that historians conceptualize as the revolutionary Atlantic or was it a unique event? The history of the impact, consequences, and broader meaning of the French Revolution in the Atlantic is dominated by revolutionary exceptionalism. Much as with the English and American cases, exceptionalism attracted historians to focus exclusively on the Revolution, as a favored terrain, because of its nearly transcendental distinctiveness. It was the founding national moment for France, the West, and indeed, perhaps, of modernity itself. But such a historical perspective, centered on the uniqueness of the Revolution, also divorces events within the French métropole from an international context—to such an extent that, until very recently, scholars of the French Revolution rarely included the colonies and the Empire in their narrative of the incomparable events in France. The new French Atlantic paradigm, with its emphasis on colonization, slavery, native peoples, and anti-imperialism, opened Revolutionary-era studies to broader fields of inquiry. Moreover, rather than diminishing its meaning, a reexamination of the Revolution and the first French empire in the Americas reinforces the argument for the Revolution’s Atlantic significance. The revolutionary Atlantic was a movement of public opinion, protest, and representative institutions that grew out of independence and democratic movements spanning the ocean. Atlantic historians point not only to the French Revolution’s role in the rise of radical politics in the United States of the 1790s but also to its relationship with the less familiar Swiss, Dutch, Corsican, Polish, and Belgian revolts, as well as the Haitian revolution and Latin American independence movements. Most recently, historians examining these and other questions have viewed the issue of the Revolution abroad as the origin of modern French colonialism. International relations, commercial diplomacy, and the demands of war compelled the revolutionaries to broaden the global ambitions of revolutionary France with consequences up through the 19th century.

General Overviews

The points of departure of discussions of the French Revolution’s Atlantic influence are Alexis de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America (Tocqueville 2004) and his The Old Regime and Revolution (Tocqueville 1998). Tocqueville’s core argument was that the social conditions and political traditions in America, and America alone, unified to create a truly democratic form of government. France’s Rousseauist past was hostile to civic traditions. A centralizing state crushed social intermediaries—both under the old regime and Revolution—and structured the political life of unmediated subjects and citizens. The finest general treatment of the French Revolution’s impact in the Atlantic is, however, distinctly anti-Tocquevillian: R. R. Palmer’s two-volume masterpiece, Palmer 1959–1964, emphasizes not differences but the interconnections between the American and French models, extending the discussion to cover a vast canvas of revolutionary interaction. The universality of the aspirations and politics of 18th-century revolutionary movements, from North America to Europe, and from Latin America to the Haitian revolution, anchored the Age of Democratic Revolution firmly in the Atlantic. Collaborating closely with Palmer, and following his insights, Godechot 1965 and Echeverria 1957 demonstrate social, diplomatic, literary, and economic commonalities between revolutionary France and the broader Atlantic world. Jourdain 2004 adds Anglo-American radicalism to the Atlantic synthesis. By contrast, the political theorist Hannah Arendt (Arendt 1961) proposes a neo-Tocquevillian analysis, foreshadowing the anti-Marxist “Furet school” in France and the United States in developing an unrelenting critique of the Revolution’s trajectory toward radicalization. Rousseau, not Locke, alone inspired the French Revolution. More recently, Stone 2002 seeks to transcend the previous terms of the French revolutionary debate with an emphasis on a “world-historical” perspective. The French Revolution was fundamentally about restructuring the state to meet challenges of evolving world orders. But if the dynamic of future revolutions flowed from other causes, their immediate origins must be found in the same sense of inequality or injustice as well as the promise of universal human rights. A postideological approach to the French Revolution in the Atlantic awaits its historian.

  • Arendt, Hannah. On Revolution. New York: Viking, 1961.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    An influential political theorist’s comparative assessment of the American and French revolutions to the stark advantage of the former and the disadvantage of the latter. To Arendt, Americans accepted a constitutional compromise that excluded discussion of social issues and the French applied radical solutions to eradicate inequality. A classic Tocquevillian formulation on the tragedy in France of the utopian ambition to resolve “the social question” at the cost of imperfect but more consensual solutions.

    Find this resource:

  • Echeverria, Durand. Mirage in the West: A History of the French Image of American Society to 1815. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1957.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Discusses manifestations of the twin sentiments of Américanophilie and Francophilie as well as the opposite phobias these engendered on both sides of the Atlantic. A lyrical and congenial study, graced with many epigrammatic insights and beautifully written, but which ultimately focused on stereotypes, caricatures, and simplistic descriptions of life in America and politics in France.

    Find this resource:

  • Godechot, Jacques. France and the Atlantic Revolution of the Eighteenth Century, 1770–1799. Translated by Herbert H. Rowen. New York: Free Press, 1965.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A dated but representative study of older approaches to Atlantic history, which is conceived as the history of French coastal cities in their social, diplomatic, and economic interconnections. Here the historical focus is on the Revolution’s unfolding in seaports as viewed by ministerial officials concerned with the métropole’s policies rather than the broader Atlantic. The original French publication is entitled La grande nation: L’expansion révolutionnaire de la France dans le monde de 1789 à 1799, first published in 1956.

    Find this resource:

  • Jourdain, Annie. La Révolution: Une exception française? Paris: Flammarion, 2004.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Jourdain dissolves the specificities of the French Revolution into a broader movement seeking an irreparable rupture with the past by means of forces from within society. A political analysis of the extensive borrowing by French revolutionaries of the ideas, the culture, and the institutional reforms of 18th-century American revolutionaries in particular.

    Find this resource:

  • Palmer, R. R. The Age of the Democratic Revolution: A Political History of Europe and America, 1760–1800. 2 vols. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1959–1964.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Palmer famously demonstrated that constituent bodies—the British Parliament, American Houses of Burgesses, the French Parlements, the Dutch Estates-General, and independent clubs—were the locus of powerful criticism of royal absolutism and became dynamic centers of opposition to monarchies nearly everywhere. A rare narrative coherence systematizes Palmer’s vast panorama, which remains deeply pertinent for historians of the Atlantic more than half a century after its publication.

    Find this resource:

  • Stone, Bailey. Reinterpreting the French Revolution: A Global-Historical Perspective. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2002.

    DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511614941Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A synthetic essay arguing for the centrality of international diplomatic and geopolitical concerns during the French Revolution. The French state’s drive for survival, power, and prestige in an international order inspired many supposedly domestic developments of the Revolution itself, such as provisions of the 1793–1794 Terror.

    Find this resource:

  • Tocqueville, Alexis de. The Old Regime and Revolution. Vol. 1, The Complete Text. Translated by Alan S. Kahan. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1998.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Tocqueville concluded that the French Revolution was not a rupture but rather completed a long process that dismantled French civil society and reinforced state control. While not an Atlantic study, this argument influenced subsequent analysis of the impact of the Revolution in comparative contexts. Originally published 1856.

    Find this resource:

  • Tocqueville, Alexis de. Democracy in America. Translated by Arthur Goldhammer. New York: Library of America, 2004.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    The classic analysis of the “model” of American democracy as constituting the political and social antipode of French Jacobin statist centralization. An excellent translation by Arthur Goldhammer brings Tocqueville back to life. Originally published 1835–1840.

    Find this resource:

Journals

The only periodical to be entirely dedicated to the French Revolution, in its national and international dimensions, is the Annales Historiques de la Révolution Française. Other journals listed below are generalist in nature, concerned principally with the history of France, but are uniformly dedicating more pages to the French Atlantic. The journal that pioneered the turn to social history, and that gave an entire methodological school its proper name, Annales, is closely attached to the institution École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales. It remains committed to history “from below.” French Historical Studies celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2004 and is the most significant trade journal of historians of France. French Colonial History is published by Michigan State University Press and features articles in French and English. It is the trade journal of the French Colonial History Studies. French History, published by Oxford University Press, is also increasingly focused on questions of France abroad. Outre-Mers, Revue d’Histoire published biannually, is the organ of the Société Française d’Histoire d’Outre-Mer and has been published for nearly a century. The Revue d’Histoire Moderne et Contemporaine is a distinguished journal that covers a wide range of questions for the most part focusing on Europe but increasingly opening to “Europe abroad.” Finally, the William and Mary Quarterly occasionally focuses on the French Atlantic, which is appropriate given its specialization in early American history. It has published many of the finest studies in the new Atlantic history to appear in recent years.

  • Annales: Histoire, Sciences Sociales.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Launched in 1929 by Lucien Febvre and Marc Bloch, two early practitioners of comparative history, this journal spearheaded the “social turn” in the historical profession everywhere. It is influenced by ethnography and anthropology and is increasingly attentive to histories of Atlantic civilizations.

    Find this resource:

  • Annales Historiques de la Révolution Française.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Published four times a year by the Société d’Études Robespierristes since 1908, it is the journal closely associated with the prestigious Institut d’Histoire de la Révolution Française at the Université Paris-I, the Sorbonne. Founded by Albert Mathiez, the review is broadly engaged in the defense of the “social” interpretation of the French Revolution, and against the Tocquevillian “political” method and perspectives outlined above.

    Find this resource:

  • French Colonial History.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Published by Michigan State University Press, this journal spans a vast chronological framework and is attentive to the French American empire as much as to recent postcolonial questions. Up until this year, this journal published the papers given at the annual congress meetings of the French Colonial History Society. Under its current editorial board, it has established a more open policy for submissions. It has held yearly conferences in North America and more recently has alternated with France and her former colonies, including Senegal, Martinique, and Guadeloupe.

    Find this resource:

  • French Historical Studies.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Founded in 1956, French Historical Studies is the trade journal of the Society for French History and publishes articles mostly on post-1700 France from a wide variety of perspectives. Its editors have recently opened it to broader Atlantic concerns.

    Find this resource:

  • French History.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Published by Oxford University Press, this journal is published on behalf of the British-based Society for the Study of French History, now in its twenty-third year of existence. It features on occasion subjects specific to the Atlantic, but it is increasingly attentive to the history of France abroad.

    Find this resource:

  • Outre-Mers: Revue d’Histoire.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Publication of the Société Française d’Histoire d’Outre-Mer, this review is published twice yearly and devotes a majority of each issue to a forum or a theme. Published continuously since 1913, under different titles, the journal provides ample material for evolving approaches to colonization in France.

    Find this resource:

  • Revue d’Histoire Moderne et Contemporaine.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    The oldest, leading, and most prestigious historical journal in France, founded in 1899, the Revue d’Histoire Moderne et Contemporaine is dedicated for the most part to European history, with a particular focus on France. It publishes four issues per year.

    Find this resource:

  • William and Mary Quarterly.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A publication of the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture. Deeply admired for its editorial quality and cutting-edge scholarship, the William and Mary Quarterly accommodates a wide range of publications, including forums and discussions of original documents. Particularly attentive to the 17th- and 18th-century and, under its current editorial board, it has greatly increased its attention to the Atlantic and the question of the American and French revolutions.

    Find this resource:

Reference Works

Several comprehensive reference works on the subject of the French Revolution and the Atlantic exist in most well-stocked university libraries. The two volumes of Echeverria and Wilkie 1994 are a vital starting point for research on the subject. To understand the institutional context of France abroad during the Revolution, Godechot 1989 remains a reliable selection. Mézin 1998 contains succinct biographies of members of the consular corps, which provide excellent detail for the study of commercial diplomacy. The diplomatic history of the French Atlantic is also greatly advanced by Turner 1904, a collection of French diplomatic dispatches from 1791 to 1797. Monaghan 1961 is a judicious bibliography of travel literature featuring many accounts by French émigrés to America.

  • Durand Echeverria, and Everett C. Wilkie. The French Image of America: A Chronological and Subject Bibliography of French Books Printed Before 1816 Relating to the British North American Colonies and the United States. 2 vols. London: Scarecrow, 1994.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    An invaluable source, listing the titles; bibliographical information, including library and archival holdings; and brief commentary on French-language published material discussing North America. While the occasional source mentions North America only in passing, this bibliography is fully comprehensive, especially for the period, 1700–1816.

    Find this resource:

  • Godechot, Jacques. Les institutions de la France sous la Révolution et l’Empire. Histoires des Institutions. Paris: Presses Universitaires Françaises, 1989.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    This dictionary of institutions is the point of departure for all students and scholars of the French Revolution, with particular balance between domestic and international and administrative organs of the Revolution. The amount of useful detail and the chronological precision of this source are still unsurpassed.

    Find this resource:

  • Mézin, Anne. Les consuls de France au siècle des Lumières (1715–1792). Diplomatie et Histoire. Paris: Ministère des Affaires Étrangères, 1998.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    An invaluable repertory of major 18th-century consular officers and other personnel before the reorganization of the foreign affairs ministry in the First Republic. An excellent guide to diplomatic history and the Revolution’s commercial diplomacy, demonstrating the intimate links formed in the diplomatic corps.

    Find this resource:

  • Monaghan, Frank. French Travellers in the United States, 1765–1932: A Bibliography. New York: Antiquarian Press, 1961.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    First published by the New York Public Library in 1933. A deeply useful research tool with many references to published accounts of little-known voyagers to North America. Includes references from libraries and archives across the Atlantic. Eighty-four references in the bibliography concern titles published during the French Revolution (1789–1815).

    Find this resource:

  • Turner, Frederick Jackson, ed. Correspondence of the French Ministers to the United States, 1791–1797. Annual Report of the American Historical Association for the Year 1903 2, Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1904.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    The French Ministers Plenipotentiaries, aided by a dense consular network, penned a massive body of correspondence involving every aspect of the young republic’s politics, economy, and society. Their collective effect was to encourage the United States to become a French cornucopia: through the exchange of agricultural products for luxury goods, both Atlantic powers would prosper. Although published more than a century ago, this edition of the correspondence, drawn from the archives of the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs, reflects the revolutionaries’ ambitions for a Franco-American political and commercial Atlantic policy.

    Find this resource:

Primary Texts

The published correspondence in Chinard 1931 demonstrates that the American Enlightenment was embraced by many leading figures of the French Enlightenment. Also, the inspired writings of the future Girondin Brissot (Brissot de Warville 2000), and his writings in collaboration with the future Finance Minister, in Brissot de Warville and Clavière 1996, provide remarkable commentary on the spirit of Atlantic solidarity at the moment of the French Revolution. The Dorigny 1998 French collection on abolitionism in the French Atlantic, and Garrigus and Dubois 2006, a translated rich compilation of descriptions of the slave uprisings, provide original sources for understanding the resistance to slavery. Lüsebrink and Mussard 1994 collects the responses to a national essay competition on the progressive nature of the American Revolution. Although no submission was awarded the top prize, in fact Condorcet wrote the finest essay in defense of the American model. The travelogue La Rochefoucauld-Liancourt 1940 is testimony to the narrative of destitution that haunted the French émigrés once they arrived in the United States.

  • Brissot de Warville, Jean-Pierre. New Travels in the United States of America, Performed in 1788. Revolution and Romanticism, 1789–1834. Washington, DC: Woodstock, 2000.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Facsimile of 1792 edition. Brissot’s observations of the United States were directly applied to the French Revolution, evidence of his failed attempt to export “federalism” to Europe. This travelogue is valuable for its observations on the potential for greater commercial relations between France and the United States, as well as for its commentary about American life.

    Find this resource:

  • Brissot de Warville, Jean-Pierre, and Etienne Clavière. De la France et des États-Unis, ou l’importance de la Révolution de l’Amérique pour le bonheur de la France. Edited by Marcel Dorigny. Paris: Editions du C.T.H.S., 1996.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    This vibrant call for Franco-American solidarity was in fact the founding charter of the Société Gallo-Américaine, a company of real-estate speculators, many of whose founding members were involved with the Scioto Land Company collapse in 1790. Nevertheless, Brissot and Clavière conceive of Atlantic commerce as the basis for a stable alliance between the two nations. First published 1787.

    Find this resource:

  • Chinard, Gilbert, ed. The Correspondence of Jefferson and DuPont de Nemours, with an Introduction on Jefferson and the Physiocrats. Johns Hopkins Studies in International Thought. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press, 1931.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Gilbert Chinard, from the 1920s to the 1950s, edited, wrote about, and translated nearly a hundred substantial volumes on Franco-American relations during the 18th century. Most useful are the letters and commentaries exchanged by Jefferson and his French Enlightenment correspondents Lafayette, Volney, Cabanis, J.-B. Say, Auguste Comte, and Dupont de Nemours. Well before the papers of Jefferson were properly assembled and published in systematic fashion, Chinard translated the core documentary history of the two revolutions. The exchanges between Jefferson and Dupont de Nemours are perhaps the most illuminating of all.

    Find this resource:

  • Dorigny, Marcel, and Bernard Gainot, eds. La société des Amis des Noirs 1788–1799: Contribution à l’histoire de l’abolition de l’esclavage. Paris: Unesco/Edicef, 1998.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    The Society of the Friends of the Blacks included such luminaries as Mirabeau, La Fayette, Brissot, and l‘abbé Grégoire. As French abolitionists, they sought first to abolish the slave trade and then the gradual end to slavery in the colonies. This valuable collection of letters, treatises, and other documents demonstrates that the French Revolution was a propitious time for abolitionism.

    Find this resource:

  • Garrigus, John, and Laurent Dubois. Slave Revolution in the Caribbean: A Brief History with Documents. Bedford Series in History and Culture. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2006.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    These translated documents include a few that have been never been published in the original French. Intended for teaching purposes, this wide-ranging collection gives students access to a set of documents for understanding the motivations behind the Saint-Domingue slave insurrections.

    Find this resource:

  • La Rochefoucault-Liancourt, François-Alexandre-Frédéric de. Journal de voyage en Amérique et d’un Séjour à Philadelphie, 1 Octobre 1794–18 Avril 1795. Edited by Jean Marchand. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press, 1940.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    The diary of one of the most famous “American” émigrés, fleeing the French Revolution, providing excellent insight and an educated European philanthropist’s impressions of the young republic.

    Find this resource:

  • Lüsebrink, Hans-Jürgen, and Alexandre Mussard, eds. Avantages et désavantages de la découverte de l’Amérique: Chastellux, Raynal et le concours de l’Académie de Lyon. Saint-Etienne, France: Université de Saint-Etienne, 1994.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Illuminating collection of the submissions of an essay contest held by Guillaume-Thomas Raynal on whether the American “model” represented the start of a progressive era in world history. Despite the inclusion of Condorcet’s brilliant essay arguing in favor of the American cause, no contest winner was declared.

    Find this resource:

Databases

Most impressive as a database on all subjects involving the History of France is the Bibliothèque Nationale de France’s (BNF) Gallica project. While exclusively French-language, it features over a million documents, images, and manuscripts and is accessible to all. In collaboration with the Library of Congress, the BNF has also created a database as a part of Gallica, France in America, specializing above all in French explorations of the New World from the 16th to the early 19th centuries. Several other Internet sites are in the process of putting many late-18th-century Atlantic texts on line. These include several series within the Library of Congress’s American Memory database. Among the useful series are the American Notes: Travels in America, 1750–1920 portal, which assembles 253 travel narratives and the invaluable Early Western Travels, 1748–1846.

  • American Notes: Travels in America, 1750–1920. Washington, DC: U.S. Library of Congress, American Memory Collection.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A part of the Library of Congress’s American Memory collection, American Notes includes the thirty-two volumes of Early Western Travels and a substantial collection on the Louisiana Purchase. Famous French travelers of the prerevolutionary or revolutionary period included in this source are André Michaux, Chateaubriand, Crèvecoeur, and many others.

    Find this resource:

    • France in America.

      Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

      The fruit of a rich collaboration between the BNF and the Library of Congress, this bilingual collection of books, maps, prints, and synthetic historical essays by librarians is an invaluable research tool for students and scholars focused on any aspect of France in America from the 16th to the beginning of the 19th centuries. It represents a window into the Library of Congress’s Global Gateway, a project to create digital libraries in collaboration with national libraries the world over.

      Find this resource:

      • Gallica.

        Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

        Perhaps the gold standard of digital libraries today. This collection gives electronic access to many of the classic book editions but also to many obscure brochures of great historical interest and in PDF format. A rich collection of images supplements this collection. Gallica texts concerning the French Revolution in the Atlantic are numerous but represent only a fragment of this immense digital library.

        Find this resource:

        The Revolution’s Atlantic Economy

        A long historical tradition emphasizes constitutional “anglophilia/anglophobia” or international Enlightenment solidarities as determining principal French Revolutionary perspectives of North America. However, Atlantic research emphasizing economics rather than politics—including the debate and the institutionalization of Atlantic political economy—forces attention on the hard historical realities of international trade. In particular, the French consular corps, gradually put in place after the 1778 Treaty of Amity and Commerce, wrote about the American regions and the types of commerce that would most benefit the agriculturally based French economy. Hill 1988 and Bégaud, et al. 2005 are extremely useful institutional histories of the French North American consular corp. Cheney 2010 demonstrates the broader intellectual context by fitting the writings of some consular officers within the larger debate of Enlightenment theories of empire before 1792. Marzagalli 2005 shows that the first officers to represent the United States in Bordeaux in the 1790s had deep contacts with Europe and were often French houses. Potofsky 2006 and Price 1973 focus on the political repercussions of economic controversies surrounding the American debt to France and the ending of the French tobacco monopoly. O’Rourke 2006 quantifies with devastating conviction the economic cost of the Revolutionary and Napoleonic wars to world trade. Andrien and Johnson 1994 argue persuasively that the state was ever-present in the organization of commerce in a period of unremitting warfare.

        • Andrien, Kenneth J., and Lyman L. Johnson, eds. The Political Economy of Spanish America in the Age of Revolution, 1750–1850. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1994.

          Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

          Argues that an interventionist state was deeply influential in organizing Latin American trade during the late colonial and early republican period of Spanish America. Sectors such as mining were favored to the detriment of manufacturing. It is a persuasive argument in explaining the subsequent persistence of a postcolonial economy in Spanish America.

          Find this resource:

        • Bégaud, Stéphane, Marc Belissa, and Joseph Visser. Aux origines d‘une alliance improbable: Le réseau consulaire français aux Etats-Unis (1776–1815). Diplomatie et Histoire. Brussels: P.I.E.-Peter Lang S.A., 2005.

          Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

          As institutional questions about Franco-American relations have not been fully examined, this book attempts to rectify the lapse with an overview of French consular officers in the United States in the context of changes and reorganizations during the revolutionary period.

          Find this resource:

        • Cheney, Paul. Revolutionary Commerce: Globalization and the French Monarchy. Harvard Historical Studies 168. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2010.

          Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

          An intellectual history of Atlantic political economy through the fall of the French Crown in 1792. Supplementing the arguments of political economists and consular officers with rich material about 18th-century economics, this book persuasively demonstrates that Atlantic commerce of this period was conceptualized as an early form of globalization. Like globalization today, late-18th-century globalization provoked an international debate on the possibilities and disadvantages of international trade.

          Find this resource:

        • Hill, Peter P. French Perceptions of the Early American Republic, 1783–1793. Memoirs of the American Philosophical Society 180. Philadelphia: American Philosophical Association, 1988.

          Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

          A rich political history of Franco-American commercial diplomacy. It focuses on many secondary actors in the diplomatic corps to sketch out a complex and contradictory Atlantic relationship. The book’s argument focuses on French blunders that alienated American leaders and unnecessarily marginalized a previously Francophile American republicanism.

          Find this resource:

        • Marzagalli, Sylvia. “Establishing Transatlantic Trade Networks in Time of War: Bordeaux and the United States, 1793–1815.” Business History Review 79.4 (2005): 811–844.

          DOI: 10.2307/25097115Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

          A quantitative study of the relationship of war and commerce, focusing on the shipping houses of Bordeaux and their relationship to consular officers. Broadly critical of the argument that Atlantic commercial networks were different from other national or international business relations. Available online to subscribers.

          Find this resource:

        • O’Rourke, Kevin. “The Worldwide Economic Impact of the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars, 1793–1815.” Journal of Global History 1 (2006): 123–149.

          DOI: 10.1017/S1740022806000076Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

          A persuasive economic analysis of the twenty-three-year war in which most of the world was engaged but concentrating on the Atlantic where war was provoked by the enemies of the French Revolution. The article quantifies the depth of the economic cost to France, mostly to the advantage of its British enemies.

          Find this resource:

        • Potofsky, Allan. “The Political Economy of the Debt Debate: The Ideological Uses of Atlantic Commerce, from 1787 to 1800.” William and Mary Quarterly 63.3 (2006): 489–515.

          Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

          Argues that the “debt consciousness” that took hold with the near-bankruptcy of the French state in 1787 drove Franco-US relations into an impasse. French revolutionaries merged the national crisis engendered by debt with the inability of the US to reimburse the loan made by the French to the insurgent Americans in the War of Independence. Available online to subscribers.

          Find this resource:

        • Price, Jacob M. France and the Chesapeake: A History of the French Tobacco Monopoly, 1674–1791, and of Its Relationship to the British and American Tobacco Trades. 2 vols. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1973.

          Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

          With Volume 2 dedicated to the American and French Revolutions, this study remains perhaps the finest monograph of the French Revolution’s Atlantic impact. Through France’s tobacco monopoly in the new world, Price uncovers layers of political, economic, and diplomatic maneuvers that deeply entangled commercial relations between the colonies and the two nations.

          Find this resource:

        The Two Revolutions Question

        The question of impact, influence, or emulation is raised by a vast historical literature on the two major Atlantic revolutions. In the cosmopolitanism and intellectual repudiation of the nationalism of World War I, Aulard 1921 outlined the many ways that Franco-American relations affected the course of the Revolution, beyond the immediate international impact of the founding fathers. This is in contrast to the often France-centered research of those who succeeded Aulard at the Sorbonne. Deconde 1966, focusing on the more somber period of the Quasi War between the two republics, demonstrates how commercial diplomacy failed at century’s end. Marienstras 1990 and Albertone and De Francesco 2009 are edited collections showing enduring interest in analogies between the two revolutions. Strategic and intellectual parallels are also brought out in Bukovansky 2002. By contrast, Higonnet 1988 and Edelstein 2003 highlight Atlantic divergences, with both arguing that the radicalism of the French Revolution also implied deeper commitments to republicanism and democracy.

        • Albertone, Manuel, and Antonino De Francesco, eds. Rethinking the Atlantic World: Europe and America in the Age of Democratic Revolutions. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009.

          Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

          Fourteen articles shed fresh light on the mutual “influences” between the American and French revolutions. As an ensemble, the authors reflect a renewed interest in political economy—commercial diplomacy, economic ideologies, and industrial policies—as surpassing in importance purely political issues in the relationships between the two models.

          Find this resource:

        • Aulard, Alphonse. “La Révolution française et la Révolution américaine.” In Etudes et leçons sur la Révolution française. By Alphonse Aulard, 59–134. Paris: Felix Alcan, 1921.

          Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

          In reaction to the chauvinism unleashed by World War I, the republican historian Aulard spearheaded efforts to create a more cosmopolitan approach to the French Revolution. The prolegomena brilliantly outline the major Atlantic questions to be treated over the next century.

          Find this resource:

        • Bukovansky, Mlada. Legitimacy and Power Politics: The American and French Revolutions in International Political Culture. Princeton Studies in International History and Politics. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. 2002.

          Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

          A political science study of the parallel “strains of thought” and strategic situations in the United States and France at the end of the 18th century. Considers cultural ferment—defined primarily as Enlightenment thought and the polarizing reactions it provoked—as the cause of the parallel emergence of nationalism, popular sovereignty, and democracy in the two revolutions.

          Find this resource:

        • Deconde, Alexandre. The Quasi War: The Politics and Diplomacy of the Undeclared War with France, 1797–1801. New York: Scribner’s, 1966.

          Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

          At five hundred pages, a substantial and clearly written study of diplomatic conflicts—intended for both scholars and general readers—between the two nations leading to the Quasi War. The author successfully transcends many of the biased arguments about the struggle for American neutrality or the distant mirage that obscures the more vital commercial and geopolitical questions at the heart of the French-American conflict.

          Find this resource:

        • Edelstein, Mel. ”Les révolutions américaine et française et l’avancement de la démocratie .” Annales Historiques de la Révolution Française 75.334 (2003): 45–58.

          DOI: 10.3406/ahrf.2003.2811Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

          A provocative, judicious, and ultimately convincing effort to demonstrate that—against the Tocquevillian idea of the American Revolution as more democratic—French citizens throughout the revolutionary decade had greater access to democratic institutions originating from a broader suffrage and wider participation in elections.

          Find this resource:

        • Higonnet, Patrice. Sister Republics: The Origins of French and American Republicanism. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1988.

          Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

          An analysis of political conceptions across the Atlantic, demonstrating the degree to which concepts such as republicanism and democracy were received by different historical contexts and political cultures. Implicitly opposed to the ideas of an Atlantic democratic revolution, this study emphasizes the divergences between French and American politics, emphasizing the radicalism of the French Revolution.

          Find this resource:

        • Marienstras, Elise. L‘Amérique et la France: Deux révolutions. Série Internationale 39. Paris: Publications de la Sorbonne, 1990.

          Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

          Seventeen substantial articles on transversal subjects which seek to create an alternative to the classic question of “influence.” Published during the bicentennial of the French Revolution, this collection is an effective repudiation of the exceptionalist argument on both sides of the Atlantic. It examines the parallel influences of constitutionalism, freemasonry, republicanism, and even conspiracy theories in America and France.

          Find this resource:

        The Influence of North America

        In the political debates before and after 1789, the Atlantic revolutionary “influence” went beyond that of the iconic figures of Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, and the Marquis de Lafayette. Sagnac 1941 emphasizes the constitutional parallels between America and France. Appleby 1971 argues that the distinction between pro-English constitutional monarchists and pro-American radicals had a deep influence on the French constitutional debates. R. R. Palmer (see Palmer 1959–1964, cited under General Overviews) had also made the same arguments. Marienstras and Wulf 1999 shows the widespread importance, in theory and in practice, of French reactions to the Declaration of Independence in translated form. Rossignol 2006, taking a broad historiographical view, notes the relative neglect of the American Revolution in France. This, Rossignol argues, is changing with the broader acceptance of new Atlantic history. The widely cited article Taylor 1967 demonstrates, rather, the impact of North American historians on French Revolutionary studies, as Taylor’s programmatic conclusion on the primacy of political, rather than social, economic, or intellectual, causes, became the clarion call for a methodological turn toward political history.

        • Appleby, Joyce. “America as a Model for the Radical French Reformers of 1789.” William and Mary Quarterly 28.2 (April 1971): 267–286.

          DOI: 10.2307/1917311Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

          An influential article that posits an opposition between Anglophiles and Americanophiles in constitutional debates during the early French Revolution. Seizing on the objection of certain radicals to bicameralism, Appleby argues that the American model was evanescent, lasting only until the challenges of war and the project to suppress the Old Regime radicalized the French Revolution. Available online to subscribers.

          Find this resource:

        • Marienstras, Elise, and Naomi Wulf. “French Translations and Reception of the Declaration of Independence.” Journal of American History 85.4 (March 1999): 1299–1324.

          DOI: 10.2307/2568254Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

          An invaluable study of the cultural and intellectual barriers to translating Transatlantic concepts for a distant yet sympathetic audience. Argues that translations and circulation of texts are as important as the original ideas that were diffused.

          Find this resource:

        • Rossignol, Marie-Jeanne. “The American Revolution in France: Under the Shadow of the French Revolution.” In Europe’s American Revolution. Edited by Simon Newman, 51–71. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2006.

          DOI: 10.1057/9780230288454Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

          A historiographical review of the place of the American Revolution in the French academic world. Between 1800 and 1989, the American Revolution is largely overlooked or interpreted as merely a prolegomena of the French Revolution. Recent advances in Atlantic history have broadened horizons and promises to revise standard commonplace assumptions about the significance of the American Revolution to Europe.

          Find this resource:

        • Sagnac, Philippe. La fin de l’Ancien Régime et la Révolution américaine (1763–1789). Peuples et Civilisations, Histoire Générale 12. Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1941.

          Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

          An outline of a vast synthesis on America and France that was never fully brought to fruition but that made a deep impression on Atlantic research agendas. Sagnac, who spent the war years in New York, argues that the diffusion of the Declaration of Independence and the state constitutions and the Federalist debate decisively swayed public opinion in France to critique the monarchy—American ideas in sum were more influential in France than was the impact of the French Revolution on the United States: an antipatriotic argument reflecting the broader context of the period in which it was written. Third, revised edition published in 1952.

          Find this resource:

        • Taylor, George V. “Noncapitalist Wealth and the Origins of the French Revolution.” American Historical Review 72.2 (1967): 469–496.

          DOI: 10.2307/1859237Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

          This famous article is focused exclusively on the French Revolution. However, its declaration that France had experienced “a political revolution with social consequences and not a social revolution with political consequences” unified the causes and origins of the American and French Revolutions in a single political lens—only without the solidarities implied in the Atlantic Democratic Revolutions thesis. It became the much-followed clarion call for historians in the United States to reject the methods of social history that had reigned as the primary explanatory model of the French Revolution. Available online to subscribers.

          Find this resource:

        The Impact of France on the Americas

        Musing on the question of the historical image of France in America, Eltkins and McKitrick 1993 expresses disillusionment with the stagnant state of contemporary historiographical discussions about the two revolutions. Slauter 2011, however, demonstrates a refreshing approach in using the sociology of texts to seize on the misunderstandings created in the translation and diffusion of Atlantic texts in the age of revolutions. Also, McClellan 1992, by a historian of science, demonstrates that scientific academies, as with other Atlantic institutions, fostered close ties between communities of elites. Lacorne 1991 argues that the American model was multiform and deeply protean in its political impact on France. Kramer 1996 and Medlin 1978, in their original treatments of the iconic Atlantic figures of Lafayette and Jefferson, demonstrate the complexities and problematic nature of their transatlantic identities. Rossignol 2004 shows the primacy of Atlantic foreign policy in driving the Americans toward the adoption of an exceptionalist posture by century’s end with the outbreak of the Quasi War between France and the United States.

        • Elkins, Stanley, and Eric McKitrick. The Age of Federalism: The Early American Republic, 1788–1800. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1993.

          Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

          The chapters devoted to “France in America” are among the finest syntheses devoted to the effect of the French Revolution on the United States. In this sweeping essay, the authors demonstrate the tremendous impact of the French Revolution in galvanizing the Democratic-Republicans in their opposition to the Federalists in the 1790s.

          Find this resource:

        • Kramer, Lloyd. Lafayette in Two Worlds: Public Cultures and Personal Identities in an Age of Revolutions. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1996.

          Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

          Arguing that “Lafayette’s life became inseparable from the public narratives about his life,” this cultural history focuses on the shifting identity of the Frenchman from the American Revolution to the 1830 Revolution in France. It seeks to interpret Lafayette’s deep reservations about democracy as symbolic of contemporary forms of disillusionment with modern politics.

          Find this resource:

        • Lacorne, Denis. L’invention de la république: Le modèle américain. Collection Pluriel. Paris: Hachette, 1991.

          Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

          Principally focused on the origins of the American republic, this influential study offers many insights into the “common sources” of transatlantic ideas of the 18th century. In particular, the state constitutions of Massachusetts and Pennsylvania, rather than the United States Constitution, were for different reasons “models” for French constitutional scholars and radicals.

          Find this resource:

        • Medlin, Dorothy. “Thomas Jefferson, Andre Morellet, and the French Version of Notes on the State of Virginia.” William and Mary Quarterly 35.1 (1978): 85–99.

          DOI: 10.2307/1922572Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

          Out of a vast welter of Franco-American historical discussions, often focusing on the elusive figure of Jefferson, this article remains particularly effective as a textual and contextual discussion of the difficulties encountered by Morellet, Jefferson’s translator, in trying to render the Notes comprehensible to an enlightened French audience. To Jefferson’s dismay, the Notes were simplified and rendered more palatable to a French audience by Morellet, anxious to render North America fathomable to Europe. Available online to subscribers.

          Find this resource:

        • McClellan, James E., III. Colonialism and Science: Saint-Domingue in the Old Regime. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1992.

          Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

          A study of the creation of a scientific academy, the “Cercle des Philadelphes,” associated with the prestigious academies in Philadelphia and Boston, as well as the Académie de Paris. The author demonstrates the multifaceted nature of a Caribbean French Creole culture and education, and the relatively close nature of scientific ties between the Americas and France, and he convincingly argues that French colonization needed a scientific justification to validate overseas development, one provided by the Enlightenment’s ideas of material progress.

          Find this resource:

        • Rossignol, Marie-Jeanne. The Nationalist Ferment: The Origins of U.S. Foreign Policy, 1792–1812. Columbus: Ohio State University Press, 2004.

          Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

          The questions posed by Atlantic commerce, alliances, and wars are at the core of this original reinterpretion of American history, which argues persuasively that foreign policy drove domestic policies in the early republic. American nationalism developed in the midst of Atlantic crises, many stemming from revolutionary and Napoleonic wars, and was the origin of American expansionism.

          Find this resource:

        • Slauter, Will. “Constructive Misreadings: Adams, Turgot, and the American State Constitutions.” Papers of the Bibliographical Society of America 105.1 (2011): 33-67

          Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

          Focuses on the mistranslations and misunderstandings of a famous letter written by the physiocratic controller general, Anne-Robert-Jacques Turgot, addressed to Richard Price in 1778 about the American state constitutions. Misreading rendered Turgot’s letter into a plea for the United States to emulate French-style centralization, and it became the subject of a harsh attack by John Adams in his famous three-volume Defence of the Constitutions (1787–1788). Available online to subscribers.

          Find this resource:

        The Revolution and Latin America

        The question of the relationship between the French Revolution and the independence movements of Latin America at the turn of the 19th century is the subject of much controversy. The precise impact of the Revolution’s liberalism on Simón Bolívar and José de San Martín, for example, is an elusive subject. However, as Blaufarb 2007 convincingly concludes, “If any one individual bears responsibility for precipitating Latin American independence, that individual is Napoleon Bonaparte.” As argued also by a tradition from Graham 1994 through Chasteen 2008, the destabilizing effects of the Napoleonic invasion of the Iberian Peninsula in 1807 and 1808 and the rivalry of the great powers over the American West, were more crucial than the political example of the “democratic revolution.” The edited collection Dorigny and Rossignol 2001 situates the French Revolution’s republican ambitions in a continuum from North to Central to South America. Chasteen 2008 concludes that French Jacobinism produced an anticolonial reaction among most Spanish-American revolutionary elites. Lynch 1986 provides a classic account of how economic and political conflicts between Spanish authorities and merchants and the Creolized elites led to radicalization. Langley 1996 represents a useful overview of the trajectories of popular revolutionary struggles, focusing in particular on Venezuela, Mexico, Chile, Peru, and Haiti. Written in an accessible style, Racine 2003 is a political biography of the Venezuela-born Francisco de Miranda, emphasizing the quixotic aspects surrounding his plan to liberate and unify all Spanish American colonies. Finally, Rodríguez O. 1998, through the prism of European politics, explores their broader ramifications throughout the Spanish Empire.

        • Blaufarb, Rafe. “The Western Question: The Geopolitics of Latin American Independence.” American Historical Review 112.3 (2007): 742–763.

          DOI: 10.1086/ahr.112.3.742Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

          Argues that Latin American independence was provoked by the collapse of Spanish rule following Napoleon’s occupation of Spain starting in 1808. An innovative geopolitical exploration of “entangled empires”—the theme of this American Historical Review issue’s forum—as the catalyst of Latin American political movements.

          Find this resource:

        • Chasteen, John Charles. Americanos: Latin America’s Struggle for Independence. Pivotal Moments in World History. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008.

          Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

          A succinct, descriptive survey, most useful for teaching, which focuses on women and men who played secondary roles, subsidiary but indispensible to those of the familiar names of great liberators. This book highlights the political divisions between creolized Spanish Americans born in the Americas (thus the title) and Europeans.

          Find this resource:

        • Dorigny, Marcel, and Marie-Jeanne Rossignol. La France et les Amériques au temps de Jefferson et de Miranda. Études Révolutionnaires 1. Paris: Société des Études Robespierristes, 2001.

          Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

          With about half of this collection devoted to French Latin American independence movements—chapters by Marcel Dorigny, Clémént Thibaud, Rémy Herrera, and Carla Soto—the problematic of the book locates the Revolution’s expansionist and republican ambitions in the Americas at the heart of its international diplomacy. The universalist message of the French Revolution was expressed simultaneously by colonization and the anti-imperialism of Miranda.

          Find this resource:

        • Graham, Richard. Independence in Latin America: A Comparative Approach. Studies in World Civilization. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1994.

          Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

          At less than two hundred pages, a very concise overview of the independence movements against Spanish, Portuguese, and French rulers. Argues that, principally, economic factors, conjectural circumstances, and active resistance from native peoples helped Spanish America’s elites resist European domination. First published 1974.

          Find this resource:

        • Langley, Lesler. The Americas in the Age of Revolution, 1750–1850. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1996.

          Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

          A comparative history of the American Revolution, the slave uprisings of Saint- Domingue, and Latin-American independence movements through the 19th-century. Balanced and comprehensive, the book examines class, race, and politics to demonstrate the “moment” whereby independence struggles become revolutions in their dynamic of change.

          Find this resource:

        • Lynch, John. The Spanish-American Revolutions, 1808–1826. 2d ed. Revolutions in the Modern World. New York: Norton, 1986.

          Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

          Interweaves social and economic history into the biographical accounts of the great liberators of Central and South America. Originally published in 1973.

          Find this resource:

        • Racine, Karen. Francisco de Miranda: A Transatlantic Life in the Age of Revolution. Latin American Silhouettes: Studies in History and Culture. Wilmington, DE: Scholarly Resources, 2003.

          Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

          A rich, bottom-up reading of the Venezuelan-born Miranda. Among numerous studies of the great liberators, this represents an innovative approach because of its focus on broader and formative factors such as Miranda’s collaboration with Brissot and his narrow escape from the guillotine during the French Revolution.

          Find this resource:

        • Rodríguez O., Jaime E. The Independence of Spanish America. Cambridge Latin American Studies 84. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1998.

          Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

          While métropole-centered, this book examines the political and constitutional elements of Latin American independence movements. This study views the Spanish American movements as part of a broader civil war within the Empire, in which the French Revolution was a principal catalyst.

          Find this resource:

        Atlantic Emigrés

        The French émigrés and Saint-Domingue refugees who crisscrossed the Atlantic in search of havens (and for many a commercial opportunity), fleeing revolutionary violence and slave insurrections, are not a group that has inspired much recent research. This, fortunately, is about to change—several large-scale projects are now being devoted to this group of social outcasts. Childs 1940 is the finest of older studies that view the émigrés in light of their social and linguistic identities, and as forgotten victims of the Revolution. In far more complex analyses, Harsanyi 2010 and Meadows 2000 view their travels in light of political and socio-economic networks. Dessens 2007 and Brasseaux and Conrad 1992 stress the cultural and linguistic solidarities between French refugees in the New World, highlighting as well the political, religious, and racial divisions that made “Frenchness” so problematic as an identity in the revolutionary Atlantic. Moreau-Zanelli 2000 and Blaufarb 2006 emphasize that real estate speculation often fed the French colonists’ ambitions in the New World, with a resulting disillusionment aggravating the daunting challenge represented by the often-poor land that was bought and sold by the French. The New World was far from a utopian cornucopia as portrayed by Brissot and Clavière (see Brissot de Warville and Clavière 1996 in Primary Texts).

        • Blaufarb, Rafe. Bonapartists in the Borderlands: French Exiles and Refugees on the Gulf Coast, 1815–1835. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 2006.

          Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

          Refugees from the Haitian Revolution and exiles from Napoleon’s defeated empire converged on a part of the United States that would later become Alabama. They launched the “Vine and Olive Colony,” with support from President James Madison and Henry Clay as a counterweight to the Spanish presence in Florida. This study highlights the complex Atlantic geopolitical calculations that ultimately motivated American westward expansion.

          Find this resource:

        • Brasseaux, Carl A., and Glenn R. Conrad, eds. The Road to Louisiana: The Saint Domingue Refugees, 1792–1809. Lafayette: Center for Louisiana Studies, University of Southwestern Louisiana, 1992.

          Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

          A collection of articles that focus on a fascinating aspect of French revolutionary emigration from Saint-Domingue: that of the relationship between French-speaking nationals in Louisiana and the French-speaking whites, mulattoes, and freed blacks fleeing the island’s slave insurrections. The question of French identity in the broader Atlantic, in particular between Creoles and the métropole’s citizens, is raised in this original compilation.

          Find this resource:

        • Childs, Frances S. French Refugee Life in the United States, 1790–1800: An American Chapter of the French Revolution. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press, 1940.

          Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

          A dated book, but at a little more than two hundred pages, also a handy and accessible synthesis with particular attention paid to the political and social divergences between many of the French-speaking refugees and émigrés in the United States. The intellectual context on both sides of the Atlantic is also well researched; the book demonstrates how prejudices as well as utopian ideas of America colored the French experiences in the New World.

          Find this resource:

        • Dessens, Nathalie. From Saint-Domingue to New Orleans: Migration and Influences. Southern Dissent. Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2007.

          Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

          Focuses on the fifteen thousand—and possibly more—French-speaking whites, slaves, and free persons of color who arrived in lower Louisiana from 1791 to 1815, fleeing the slave insurrections of Saint-Domingue. It argues that the preservation of a strong francophone culture in the lower Mississippi resulted, with many migrants clinging to their native French (and at times Creole) language, customs, and traditions in the United States.

          Find this resource:

        • Harsanyi, Doina Pasca. Lessons from America: Liberal French Nobles in Exile, 1793–1798. University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2010.

          Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

          Argues that a liberal, enlightened, and patriotic identity ideologically justified many of the leading “American” (as they came to be known in France) émigrés’ decisions to cross the Atlantic during the French Revolution. Far from being reactionaries, these constitutional monarchists were motivated, for the most part, by a principled opposition to absolutism and by the rejection of the popular violence in the radical phases of the Revolution.

          Find this resource:

        • Meadows, Darrell R. “Engineering Exile: Social Networks and the French Atlantic Community, 1789–1809.” French Historical Studies 23.1 (2000): 67–102.

          DOI: 10.1215/00161071-23-1-67Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

          An ambitious article that demonstrates the many uses of narratives of destitution by which formerly wealthy émigrés and refugees revitalized complex commercial and kinship links in the New World. Most often, economic interests—rather than liberal ideological sympathies or enlightened wanderlust—motivated French exiles to explore political and social opportunities in North America. Available online to subscribers.

          Find this resource:

        • Moreau-Zanelli, Jocelyne. Gallipolis: Histoire d’un mirage américain au XVIIIe siècle. L’aire Anglophone. Paris: L’Harmattan, 2000.

          Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

          An innovative, well-argued, and thoroughly comparative history of the financial debacle that ruined hundreds of real-estate French speculators in 1790. The Scioto Company sold land in what is now southeastern Ohio to wealthy French speculators who emigrated to the United States only to find wasteland and financial ruin. Both French and American perspectives are treated with equal weight in this study of an affair that deeply but temporarily damaged America’s reputation as a land of opportunity for real estate speculation.

          Find this resource:

        Atlantic Colonization

        This section treats the French Revolution and colonial policy as distinct from the subject of Saint-Domingue, slavery, and abolition (see the separate Oxford Bibliographies articles Saint-Domingue Refugees, Atlantic Slavery, and Abolition of Slavery). The broad question posed by these studies focuses on the role of the democratic promise of the Revolution embodied by the Declaration of the Rights of Man, as well as republicanism in its Jacobin form, in inspiring colonial uprisings. Was the political message emanating from Paris responsible for local uprisings in the French colonies—in particular, in the West Indies—or were the circumstances of war between the Spanish, British, and French and divisions between white Creoles, mulattoes, and the black slave population primarily responsible for colonial rebellion? The traditionalist’s apology for the Revolution’s colonial history is furnished by Saintoyant 1930, which proclaimed it as an integral part of France’s struggle for European domination. Benot 2004, Benot 1992, and Césaire 1960 are deeply critical of French Revolutionary colonial policy, stressing the divorce between the Enlightenment’s trenchant critique of empire and slavery, and the timid and circumstantial nature with which the Revolution approached these questions in national policy debates. By contrast, Røge 2008 and Garrigus 2006 stress viable alternatives to the Revolution’s colonial policies that were explored by intellectuals and statesmen. Gaspar and Geggus 1997 also argues for the Revolution’s positive role in upsetting the old colonial order. Finally, Spieler 2009 conceptualizes the Revolution’s colonial policy as an example of the rationalization of colonial violence by the application of laws of exception.

        • Bénot, Yves. La démence coloniale sous Napoléon: Essai. Textes à L’appui, Série Histoire Contemporaine. Paris: La Découverte, 1992.

          Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

          The sequel to La Révolution française et la fin des colonies (Benot 2004, first published 1987), this book covers the political, military, and diplomatic history of Napoleonic overseas “dementia” (démence). In a taut synthesis, this book demonstrates how Napoleon and his administrators were convinced that the Great Army could occupy the wide swath of territories annexed from defeated European powers. Covering North Africa (Tunisia and Casablanca), Egypt, parts of Western Africa, Madagascar, and several Indian port cities, the author also examines the failed reimposition of slavery in Saint-Domingue and the sale of Louisiana. Finally, this book is attentive to the “poles of resistance” constituted by a few liberal humanists who were convinced early on that infinite expansionism would lead to disaster.

          Find this resource:

        • Bénot, Yves. La Révolution française et la fin des colonies, 1789–1794. Sciences Humaines et Sociales. Paris: La Découverte, 2004.

          Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

          First published in 1987. The historian Yves Bénot was the author of many historical works on French colonization and slavery. During the 1960s and 1970s, he was profoundly engaged in anti-imperialist political causes as well. This book treats the colonial “question” of the French Revolution as both a complex scholarly issue and as an ethical disaster. Unlike many Enlightenment thinkers, the revolutionaries were excessively attentive to the “nationalist slippery slope” (dérapage), allowing war, racism, and commercial calculation to dictate the terms of its colonial policy. Even the chaotic 1794 abolition of slavery was the result of a series of circumstances rather than abolitionist or humanist commitments.

          Find this resource:

        • Césaire, Aimé. Toussaint Louverture: La révolution française et le problème colonial. Paris: Club Français du Livre, 1960.

          Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

          An older, pioneering work by one of the outstanding members of the literary movement La Négritude, rehabilitating the contributions of black intellectuals to Francophone culture. This study put the revolutionary figure, military leader, and first governor of the republic of Haiti, Toussaint L’Ouverture, at the center of the Revolution’s narrative. This study is deeply critical of the French revolutionaries for violating their universalist creed with a race-based colonial policy.

          Find this resource:

        • Garrigus, John D. Before Haiti: Race and Citizenship in French Saint-Domingue. The Americas in the Early Modern Atlantic World. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2006.

          Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

          The free people of color of Saint-Domingue are the subject of this prize-winning monography. Their reaction to the 1790s uprisings underlined the ambiguities of the free people of color toward slavery, and the fragile identity of a specifically French, Creole, or mulatto identity. This book studies the formation and politicization of a separate racial, social, and economic group in the French colonies and métropole during the Revolution.

          Find this resource:

        • Gaspar, David Barry, and David Patrick Geggus, eds. A Turbulent Time: The French Revolution and the Greater Caribbean. Blacks in the Diaspora. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1997.

          Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

          These nine articles focusing on the French Revolution in the Caribbean make a persuasive argument for the depth of its material, rather than ideological, impact. The revolutionary wars and the undermining of power structures in the region also created invaluable object lessons for the enslaved population.

          Find this resource:

        • Røge, Pernille. “‘La clef de commerce’: The Changing Role of Africa in France’s Atlantic Empire ca. 1760–1797.” History of European Ideas 34.4 (2008): 431–443.

          DOI: 10.1016/j.histeuroideas.2008.08.003Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

          An examination of prerevolutionary- and revolutionary-era projects for colonizing the west coast of Africa with free labor. This article demonstrates that intellectual history has a central place in uncovering the origins of colonial policies, through analyzing the imperial arguments of certain physiocrats who entered into key positions of the empire’s administrative apparatus.

          Find this resource:

        • Saintoyant, Jules. La colonisation française pendant la révolution (1789–1799). 2 vols. Paris: La Renaissance du Livre, 1930.

          Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

          A dated discussion that still provides a clear and useful overview of political discussions on the Revolution and empire concerning the colonial administration, the political debate on granting autonomy to the colonies, termination of certain trade monopolies based on navigation acts, and the political rights of mulattos and liberated slaves.

          Find this resource:

        • Spieler, Miranda. “The Legal Structure of Colonial Rule during the French Revolution.” William and Mary Quarterly 66.2 (2009): 365–408.

          Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

          An original article about the role of law in structuring colonial violence. Using the arguments of the controversial legal historian Carl Schmitt, this study argues that a “state of exception” denied political rights to the colonies, by conceptualizing them as zones in need of emergency measures under the sovereignty of the métropole, while remaining well beyond the reach of the Declaration of the Rights of Man. Available online to subscribers.

          Find this resource:

        Slavery

        The proclamation that ended slavery in February 1794 has long been an object of debate. It arrived only after Saint-Domingue’s plantation economy—the richest in the Atlantic— had collapsed after four years of slave insurrections and at the moment when the British occupied most of the island in collaboration with the Spanish. Moreover, the emancipation lasted only until Napoleon’s restoration of slavery in 1802. The sheer magnitude of the slave society created in Saint-Domingue is vividly portrayed by Geggus 2001a, and the profound effect of the liberation, even temporary, is repeatedly evoked in the author’s edited collection (Geggus 2001b). Using the insights of the New Atlantic History, Dubois 2004 very effectively restores a vivid narrative to the history of Saint-Domingue, and Dubois 2005 does the same for Guadeloupe. Against the weight of recent critical literature concerning the French Revolution’s failure to end the ancien régime abroad by granting full rights to the peoples of the colonies, Piquet 2002 and Wanquet 1998 emphasize the experimental radicalism of many of the Revolution’s reforms, particularly in eliminating some forms of racial exclusion. Nevertheless, the eyewitness accounts of slave insurrection assembled by Popkin 2007, as well as the contributors to the essays assembled in Bénot and Dorigny 2003, leave the reader with the sense of profound tragedy and of a Revolution viewed as incomplete by the French colonies.

        • Bénot, Yves, and Marcel Dorigny, eds. Rétablissement de l’esclavage dans les colonies françaises 1802: Ruptures et continuités de la politique coloniale française, 1800–1830; aux origines d’Haïti: Actes du colloque international tenu à l’Université Paris VIII les 20, 21 et 22 juin 2002. Paris: Maisonneuve et Larose, 2003.

          Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

          Five sections comprising thirty-five essays, spanning the time from the Napoleonic revival of slavery in 1802 to the second abolition of 1848. Slavery’s revival is seen in the context of its effects on Saint-Domingue, its broader impact in the Caribbean, American and European reactions to the Haitian revolution, and the continuities between the Napoleonic empire and French colonialism. A wide-ranging discussion demonstrates the monumental tragedy of Napoleon’s decision, which led to the sacrifice of tens of thousands of ex-slaves and perhaps up to 50,000 soldiers. The reimposition of slavery also paved the way for the Haitian Revolution in 1804.

          Find this resource:

        • Dubois, Laurent. Avengers of the New World: The Story of the Haitian Revolution. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2004.

          Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

          In a lyrically written and powerfully-argued narrative, the author constructs a seamless and dramatic account based on the writings of Moreau de St.-Mery (1796), the French eyewitness Descourtiltz (1809) and extensive militaro-diplomatic correspondence. This study emphasizes the central role of the French Revolution, but also the local and international geopolitical intrigue, involved in the events leading to Independence. Exploding the myth of “race war” as well as the nationalist account of a straightforward slave upheaval, this book is a particularly vivid reminder of the interconnected and blurred causality at the events’ origins.

          Find this resource:

        • Dubois, Laurent. A Colony of Citizens: Revolution and Slave Emancipation in the French Caribbean, 1787–1804. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2005.

          Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

          A lesser-known colony in the French Caribbean was the island of Guadeloupe. This book traces the island’s history during the French Revolution and demonstrates how after the 1794 abolition of slavery, administrators set free the slaves while purposefully using forms of racial intimidation to coerce freed blacks to remain in near states of servitude. The study follows Guadeloupe through Napoleon’s brutal reestablishment of slavery in 1802.

          Find this resource:

        • Geggus, David. “The French Slave Trade: An Overview.” In Special Issue: New Perspectives on the Transatlantic Slave Trade. Edited by Philip Morgan and David Eltis. William and Mary Quarterly 58.1 (2001a): 119–138.

          DOI: 10.2307/2674421Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

          The point of departure for all contextual histories of the French slave trade. This is an impressive statistical analysis from the Du Bois Institute data set of four thousand slaving voyages by French registered ships between France and the Americas. The slavers’ voyages between the métropole—a majority leaving from Nantes—and St. Domingue, Martinique, Guadeloupe, and Guyane featured increases in the numbers of slaves carried per vessel, as well as the mortality rate, rising steadily from the 18th to the 19th century. A vital prelude to broader discussions of the Revolution and slavery.

          Find this resource:

        • Geggus, David, ed. The Impact of the Haitian Revolution in the Atlantic World. Carolina Lowcountry and the Atlantic World. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 2001b.

          Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

          A collection of essays presented at the College of Charleston (South Carolina) in October 1998. The participants agree that slave revolts most everywhere in the Caribbean were deeply inspired by the slave revolts that led to the emancipation of 1794 and the Haitian Revolution of 1804. Slaves themselves, as well as planters, abolitionists, and statesmen, were, with different sources of information, deeply attentive to the events transpiring on the “pearl of the Antilles.”

          Find this resource:

        • Piquet, Jean-Daniel. L’émancipation des Noirs dans la Révolution française, 1789–1795. Paris: Karthala, 2002.

          Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

          A political history of the abolition which challenges Yves Bénot’s critical perspective on the motivations of the 1794 emancipation. This book underscores the depth of antislavery sentiment among the revolutionaries, as reflected in newspapers, parliamentary debates, and pamphlet literature, and denies that slavery became a political apple of discord separating the Girondins and the Montagnards.

          Find this resource:

        • Popkin, Jeremy D., ed. Facing Racial Revolution: Eyewitness Accounts of the Haitian Insurrection. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2007.

          Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

          An assemblage of eyewitness narratives of the island’s insurrections, from 1790 to 1804. This book uses published memoirs as well as newspaper accounts, letters, and legal and police documents to reconstruct first-person accounts based on the accounts of white Creoles as well as visitors from the métropole. The focus of these anonymous and signed narratives is often the rationality of the principal actors in the Haitian revolution, many of whom had followed the events in the métropole, The supposed “barbarism” of the insurrection is here belied by accounts of often deeply ambiguous relations between whites, people of color, and blacks, both enslaved and freed.

          Find this resource:

        • Wanquet, Claude. La France et la première abolition de l’esclavage 1794–1802: Le cas des colonies orientales Ile de France (Maurice) et La Réunion. Paris: Karthala, 1998.

          Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

          Despite its title, this is a study of most of the French colonies during the Revolution after the 1794 abolition of slavery. Following, chronologically, Piquet’s study (above), this book also complements it with a focus on emancipation, its implementation, and the ways in which the abolition was revoked by Napoleon in 1802. Against the more critical approach of Yves Bénot, this book also emphasizes the symbolic and political significance of revolutionary policies after abolition, such as the right of entry given to freed slaves and mulattoes in the French assemblies.

          Find this resource:

        LAST MODIFIED: 06/29/2011

        DOI: 10.1093/OBO/9780199730414-0026

        back to top

        Article

        Up

        Down