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'to transplant in alien soil': Race, Nation, Citizenship, and the Idea of Emigration in the Revolutionary Atlantic


The emigration of African Americans to Haiti throughout the nineteenth century was influenced by the Haitian Revolution (1791–1804). Looking beyond this influence as mere legacy, this article proposes that scholars begin to interrogate the relationship that developed between African American Black Nationalists and Haitian allies. The article explores whether the emigration by African Americans to postrevolutionary Haiti during the nineteenth century was a political rejection of the US. Or was it an opportunity to explore the possibilities of democratic citizenship—the right to have rights—that only Haiti had to offer, in the hope of promoting genuine democracy in the United States, as well? Why, in spite of their insistence that they, too, were Americans, did some African Americans accept the invitation by Haitian revolutionaries to board a ship to the island republic? Black emigration, I argue, was not born of racial solidarity. Rather, it was the political consequence of racial exclusion.

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