Discussion Question

What is the internal bias that is prevalent in the Philidelphia General Advertiser and how is it shown?

While reading the reports that were printed in the Philidelphia General Advertiser about the slave revolution, it becomes clear that this article attempts to paint the slaves in a bad light. Through phrases like, “a horrid carnage ensued, as they had orders to give no quarter to men, women, or children; the slaughter finished at two, and the troops began to plunder” (98) and “They fight under a bloody flag, having on it a motto, denouncing death to all whites!” (98) are used to illustrate the slaves as violent, horrific people who are murdering white landowners. What the article fails to acknowledge, however, are the horrific conditions that these slaves were under. Instead, it uses fearmongering to further its motive.

Discussion Question

In Pierre Mossut’s letter to Marquis de Gallifet, he mentions that there is a driver behind the actions of the slaves that he does not understand, “There is a motor that powers them and that keeps powering them and that we cannot come to know.” (pg 94) What do you think this driver is and why do you think that Mossut doesn’t understand it?

The driver behind this revolution was how badly slaves were being treated and how they didn’t want to be in slavery anymore. The fact that this revolution is being driven by the experiences of the slaves is one reason that Mossut can’t seem to understand the revolt. He does not understand the experiences and the lives of slaves as he is a free white man. Being added to the lack of understanding is the previous ideas and notions that Mossut and other white people have about slaves and colored people. Mossut states “All experienced planters know that this class of men have neither the energy nor the combination of ideas necessary for the execution of this project” (pg94). So not only do they know that these slaves are being worked so hard they shouldn’t have extra energy, but they also think that slaves do not have the intelligence to organize a revolt like this. Mossut’s lack of understanding of what it means to be a slave as well as slaves themselves is what prevents him from knowing what is driving the revolts.

Discussion questions for 11/20

What role, if any, did religion play in the uprisings? How do the descriptions of religious rituals in the excerpts from Herard Dumesle’s Voyage to the North of Haiti and Antoine Dalmas’ History of the Revolution of Saint-Domingue demonstrate their authors’ perceptions of the Haitian Revolution?

In the primary source documents for Wednesday, religion is mostly prominent in the first two documents by Dumesle and Dalmas, which focus on the uprising in August 1791. Overall, it does not play a substantial role in the debates and situations that follow, which primarily emphasize the concept of liberty without mentioning religious ideas or themes. Dumesle’s excerpt (despite its fictional elements) highlights the importance of the Bois-Caiman ceremony, noting its centrality to the entire uprising when he writes that the slaves “formed a plan for a vast insurrection, which they sanctified through a religious ceremony” (Dumesle 87). In the speech that was supposedly given by one of the slaves, the influence of religion is especially clear. God is explicitly referenced toward the end of the speech, referred to as a supporter of the slave revolt: “‘But that God who is so good orders us to vengeance; / He will direct our hands, and give us help, / Throw away the image of the God of the whites who thirsts for our tears, / Listen to the liberty that speaks in all our hearts'” (Dumesle 88). Ultimately, Dumesle portrays the uprising as being motivated by a sort of religious fervor, associated with God as well as the concepts of liberty and vengeance (Dumesle 88). Describing the insurrection as “the most sad of spectacles,” Dumesle ultimately casts it in a negative light (Dumesle 88).

Dalmas describes the August 1791 rebellion and, more specifically, the Bois-Caiman ceremony, in an even worse light than Dumesle. For example, he states that “a black pig… was offered as a sacrifice to the all-powerful spirit of the black race. The religious ceremony in which the negres slit its throat, the greed with which they drank its blood, the importance they attached to owning some of its bristles which they believed would make them invincible reveal the characteristics of the Africans. It is natural that a caste this ignorant and stupid would begin the most horrible attacks with the superstitious rites of an absurd and bloodthirsty religion” (Dalmas 90). He condemns the entire revolt and its religious aspects, viewing the slaves as inferior while also associating their religious rituals with the violent nature of the rebellion.

Primary Source Question for Wednesday

Considering Jean-Francois and Biassou’s letter to the new group of commissioners, why was the Colonial Assembly not convinced by Jean-Francois and Biassou’s warning about the possibility of destabilizing relations further?

Jean-Francois and Biassou argue that giving liberty to the commanders would allow them to effectively return their followers back to the plantations (101). Being the chiefs, they carried a lot of power over the slaves. However, as the preamble stated before the document, this negotiation “fell through… because of the intransigence of the whites in the Colonial Assembly” (99-100). Even Gros, who was a prisoner in the insurgent’s camps, supported Jean-Francois. Gros stated that Jean-Francois was “far more disposed toward peace” than continuing to fight for liberty (106). But he also recognized that the Africans would “never return to work without repression and partial destruction” (107). Therefore, while Gros outlines the severity of the situation, he also understands that Jean-Francois intentions were not to fight the French, but rather to deal with conflict diplomatically. It was obvious that the Europeans did not want to do that at the time.

INCA Tea Tuesday 11/19 @6:30

The Center for Entrepreneurship invites you to join us on Tuesday, November 19th from 6:30PM-7:30PM in APEX Commons for desserts, discussion, and Ryan Florio, TeaEO of Inca Tea, where he will share how he quit his job at 38 to start a tea company. Inca Tea specializes in teas derived from an ancient Incan recipe that uses antioxidant-rich purple corn.  Ryan started his company with $300 and now sells his teas in Whole Foods, Kroger, Target, Giant Eagle, Earth Fare & Freshthyme.  His brand now includes Inca Tea Cafes and a line of Kombucha called Inca Buch. The event is open to everyone so please share with others.

Curious about the Impeachment Inquiry? Talk Tuesday 11/19 @7

I write to share an invitation from Phi Alpha Theta president Savanna Hitlan:
Dear All,
Hello! I am Savanna Hitlan and I am the President of Phi Alpha Theta (PAT), the history honors society on campus. I wanted to let you all know about an upcoming event co-hosted by PAT and the Political Science Club.
As many of you know, the U.S., for the fourth time in the history of the nation, is currently beginning trials for the impeachment of President Donald Trump. In loom of that, our two clubs have come together to create an event that can help students and faculty alike understand the situation from a historical and political science lens.
Professor Roche (History) and Professor Bas van Doorn (Political Science) have agreed to demonstrate their interpretations of the impeachment trials. They each will give about a six to ten minute synopsis of their points and once both done we will open the floor to any questions that the general audience may have. One person from each of the above clubs will moderate.
If that wasn’t enough, there will also be snacks provided by Spoon.
The event will be held Tuesday, November 19, from 7:00-8:00pm in Kauke 038.
Hope to see you all there!
Thank you,
Have a nice day!

Class Notes 11/11


The main topic for class discussion on 11/11 was the Bourbon Reforms. There were four central questions that drove class discussion. How does King Philip V attempt to rationalize colonial government according to Enlightenment ideals? What effects does this have on stability of colonial rule? How do race, class, and gender shape lived experiences during late colonial era? How can historians use biography to better understand the past? First, we talked briefly about King Philip V’s lineage and how he became the King of Spain. He removed himself from the line of succession in France and was the start of the Bourbon Reforms in Spain. The Bourbon Reforms were composed of four central topics: administrative, church, economic, and social. Philip V had some concerns regarding these ideas, however. The first one was anything that took away crown revenue, such as pirates. He also believed the church had too much power. He tried to limit what the church could do; therefore, they would be under colonial authority. Along with these concerns, there were a few goals Philip V wanted to achieve. He wanted direct collection of taxes, increased trade, regulation of wages and prices, abolition of the sale of office, and greater restrictions for social mobility. Next, we had a book report by Rachel on Mark W. Lentz’s Murder in Merida. This book discusses race, class, and politics of the Bourbon Era through the story of the murder of Lucas De Gálvez. One of the main points in the book was the belief that geography has something to do with racial makeup.

After this, we looked at the cases of Pedro de Ayarza and Juan Barbarín. Pedro de Ayarza’s story looks at the Gracias al Sacar petitions and what it reveals about colonial hierarchies of race and class. Honor or “Quality” was important in society, and this honor came with public reputation. Honor was based off phenotype, title, money, education, legitimacy, and legal status—either freeborn, enslaved, or freed. Pedro de Ayarza tried to gain white status for himself and his three sons. He claimed they were worthy of this status due to their accomplishments. Unfortunately, only his one son, Josef Ponciano was able to gain white status, while Pedro and his other sins were not. This story shows how race and class were limiting factors under colonial rule. Juan Barbarín’s story focuses on the fear of revolution in the New World. People, goods, and ideas were all circulating throughout the Atlantic World. Ideas of revolution were sparked by American, French, and Haitian Revolutions. Due to the lack of basic protection by the Spanish, revolution was a feared idea in other Spanish territories.



“The first question that naturally arises is: why would a pardo from Panama ever believe that he could successfully plead with a Spanish monarch to make him white? Pedro had several excellent reasons to forward such a request. First, a historic Hispanic mentality had always validated the monarch’s power to alter an individual’s rank or heritage. Second, at the same time that Pedro petitioned, the crown issued a 1795 arancel, or price list of favors that might be purchased through a process known as gracias al sacar. One provision made it possible for pardos to buy whiteness, while another set a price for the purchase of the honorific title of “don.” Third, there were precedents of others who have been whitened”

This excerpt shows ways as to how pardos would be able to purchase their whiteness. It also gives an insight on the Spanish greed and how they would capitalize on the opportunity for nonwhites to buy whiteness or a title. Under Spanish rule, a title or the whiteness of a person was important in social structure.


Key Terms:

Honor – “Quality”; based off appearance, title, money, education, legitimacy, and legal status

Gracias al Sacar – process through which people could buy “whiteness”

Pardo – dark skinned man in Spanish New World



https://notevenpast.org/purchasing-whiteness-race-and-status-in-colonial-latin-america/ – gives more insight about gracias al sacar

https://www.britannica.com/event/War-of-the-Spanish-Succession – gives more insight about the War of the Spanish Succession

http://colonialbuenosaires.blogs.wm.edu/government-and-administration/ – gives more insight on Bourbon Reforms


Potential Exam Questions

What was the gracias al sacar process and what did it show about race and class during the bourbon reforms?

What were some of the main goals King Philip V wanted to accomplish during the bourbon reforms?

What are some reasons for the talk of possible rebellion under colonial rule?

Class Notes 11/4

We started class with announcements.  We then transitioned into the questions.  We discussed two main questions before heading into the primary sources.  The first question was “What do we know about the impacts of African slavery in Latin America?”   The second question was, “How do historians understand the lived experiences of Africans and their descendants in the New World?”  We looked at several maps that depict the movement of Africans to the New World.  We also looked at paintings from the era and discussed the meaning behind certain features in the paintings.

We had a book presentation on From Africa to Brazil: Culture, Identity, and an Atlantic Slave Trade, 1600-1830 by Walter Hawthorne.  Emma gave the presentation.  This book discussed the Guinean identity both before and after the slave trade brought Guineans to Brazil.  This tied into the class discussion for the day because it looked at the impact of slavery in Latin America.  The readings we had to do for class focused on the working conditions of slaves in Brazil as well as resistance to the slave system.

“But when today I see them so devout and festive before the altars of Our Lady of the Rosary, all brothers together and the children of that same Lady, I am convinced beyond any doubt that the captivity of the first transmigration is ordained by her compassion so that they may be granted freedom in the second….”    Antonio Viera’s Sermon

This passage discusses a Jesuit’s view of slavery in Brazil.  It relates to the main point because it discusses slavery in Brazil.  This passage in particular says that slavery must be ordained by the Lady of the Rosary because it allowed the Africans to get “saved”.  This ties in nicely with our discussion about the way Europeans viewed slaves.

Quilombos- Brazilian hinterland settlement founded by people of African origin.





  • How did the working conditions of slaves lead to Brazil having to bring in more slaves?
  • Looking at “Blacks Dancing”, a painting from 1640, how is colorism present and what does this imply about the way Brazilian society views people of African descent?
  • Why is it that there is better data for the arrival of slaves to the New World rather than the departure of slaves from Africa?

Native American Heritage Month

The Center for Diversity and Inclusion invites you to celebrate Native American Heritage Month with our kickoff event this Thursday, November 7 at 7PM in the Andrews Library Core. Join the Native American Indian Center of Central Ohio in learning about native foods and their origins.

Then sit back and relax on November 20 from 11AM to 1PM in the Lowry Pit and enjoy the sounds of Cherokee singer/songwriter Michael Jacobs.