The Haitian Revolution was not only revolutionary in its events and what it lead to, but also in how it was completely left out of historical records. This lack of consideration that surrounds the Haitian revolution embodies a powerful event that can completely redefine our modern notions of liberty and equality. Professor Jeremy Popkin from the University of Kentucky used the French and American Revolutions to compare and bring to light how equally important yet completely neglected the Haitian Revolution has been and still continues to be from general knowledge. Nobody even used the term “Haitian Revolution” until recently despite the fact that bringing this point in history into the picture would lead to a completely new way of thinking about the United States and what these revolutions all mean together.
Professor Popkin mentioned early on in his lecture that you can easily count the number of times that the term “Haitian Revolution” has been searched in a Google Ngram, and that most of those searches have been executed by african-american scholars. The reality is that the Haitian Revolution was one of the most important in our history and it forever changed the world we live in. The Haitian Declaration of Independence in 1804 was an event that should be as widely regarded as the US Declaration of Independence in 1776 and the French Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen in 1789. The Haitian Declaration was arguing the same principle that all people, regardless of skin color, deserved equal rights. This was a revolutionary notion that completely redefined social institutions during this time period, and it should be regarded as respectably as it established the same standards.
Today there is a new interest in the Haitian Revolution throughout many different academic fields, but the question of how we include this in the definition of revolutions is still an issue. What is required to get individuals to see the Haitian Revolution for its value, and how do we make sure that its presence is solidified in our historical records? Earlier this semester we discussed the institutionalized way that we tell history with Professor Gillen D’arcy Wood when we looked at how the environment and natural events have been completely neglected from our historical contexts. Similarly, how do we interject not only the important external factors that had an influence but also whole events that have been completely left from the record? Is it possible? Furthermore, how will the revolution itself look if it’s being told by scholars who only have a minimal and outsider understanding of Haiti and its culture? Scholars like Professor Popkin are presented with this challenging opportunity to create new narrative that will include the contributions of all three revolutions to the foundation of equality.