Synopses & Reviews
As the first complete narrative in English of the Haitian Revolution, Marcus Rainsford's An Historical Account of the Black Empire of Hayti was highly influential in establishing nineteenth-century world opinion of this momentous event. This new edition is the first to appear since the original publication in 1805. Rainsford, a career officer in the British army, went to Haiti to recruit black soldiers for the British. By publishing his observations of the prowess of black troops, and recounting his meetings with Toussaint Louverture, Rainsford offered eyewitness testimonial that acknowledged the intelligence and effectiveness of the Haitian rebels. Although not an abolitionist, Rainsford nonetheless was supportive of the independent state of Haiti, which he argued posed no threat to British colonial interests in the West Indies, an extremely unusual stance at the time. Rainsford's account made an immediate impact upon publication; it was widely reviewed, and translated twice in its first year. Paul Youngquist's and Grégory Pierrot's critical introduction to this new edition provides contextual and historical details, as well as new biographical information about Rainsford. Of particular interest is a newly discovered miniature painting of Louverture attributed to Rainsford, which is reproduced along with the twelve engravings that accompanied his original account.
"Marcus Rainsford's book is one of the most important sources on the Haitian Revolution, and it has been a constant resource for historians. This is so in part because the particularities of Rainsford's position allowed him to present a portrait that is in many ways at odds with other famous accounts of the Haitian Revolution. The editors do a terrific job of identifying Rainsford's literary and historical perspectives and contextualizing Rainsford's arguments."—Laurent Dubois, author of Haiti: The Aftershocks of History
"Marcus Rainsford's narrative and engravings have long been recognized as a unique source for the antislavery revolution in Saint Domingue and the imperial politics in the slaveholding Atlantic. Paul Youngquist and Grégory Pierrot provide fascinating new background for the artistic, literary, and political contexts of Rainsford's remarkably sympathetic account of the revolution and one of its key figures, Toussaint Louverture."—Sibylle Fischer, author of Modernity Disavowed: Haiti and the Cultures of Slavery in the Age of Revolution
"This new edition, with its important editorial insights about the text and the author, gives us the opportunity to take a closer look at the text and will undoubtedly contribute to our understanding of the implications of the Haitian Revolution for Atlantic World history and beyond." Julia Gaffney
“Rainsford’s Historical Account was the first lengthy report of the slave uprising and, for many years, the narrative on which English-speaking European politicians and other interested observers relied. This, its first modern re-production, includes a helpful, skillful introduction to the book, to rebellious Haiti, and to Rainsford.” The Americas
A new edition of the earliest English-language account of the Haitian Revolution. Originally published in 1805, the narrative played a significant role in establishing nineteenth-century world opinion of that momentous event.
About the Author
Marcus Rainsford (1758-1817) was a career officer in the British Army who fought in the Revolutionary War in the United States. He also wrote the epic poem The Revolution; Or, Britain Delivered, as well as a number of other poems and pamphlets.
Paul Youngquist is Professor of English at the University of Colorado at Boulder. He is author of Cyberfiction: After the Future.
Grégory Pierrot is a Visiting Assistant Professor at Bucknell University.