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Grant number like: FZ-280056-21

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Julia Kohler Gaffield
Georgia State University (Atlanta, GA 30303-2538)

Public Scholars
Research Programs

[Grant products]

$60,000 (approved)
$60,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
9/1/2021 – 8/31/2022

Jean-Jacques Dessalines (1758-1806) and the Haitian Revolution

Research and writing a history of Jean-Jacques Dessalines and the Haitian Revolution.

Jean-Jacques Dessalines was the abolitionist founding father of the most radical nation-state in the Age of Revolution. This biography neither venerates Dessalines nor condemns him. Instead, it offers a true account of his life and rule while emphasizing his global impact. Dessalines’s country prioritized freedom, equal citizenship, and Blackness—this directly exposed the fallacies of Enlightenment universalism and positioned race explicitly at the center of the world hierarchy that emerged in the nineteenth century and that remains relevant today. The man who proclaimed the Haitian Declaration of Independence does not currently fit comfortably in the popular US conception of a founding father. This book challenges that assumption by reevaluating the criteria by which a person qualifies as a “founding father” and I situate him amongst his contemporaries in the hemisphere to reveal his pragmatic strategy and his profound vision.