In its formative years, America, birthplace of a revolution,
wrestled with a volatile dilemma. John Adams, Thomas Jefferson,
Alexander Hamilton, and many other founding fathers clashed. What
was to be the new republic's strategy toward a revolution roiling
just off its shores?
From 1790 to 1810, the disagreement reverberated far beyond
Caribbean waters and American coastal ports. War between France and
Britain, the great powers of the time, raged on the seas and in
Europe. America watched aghast as its trading partner Haiti, a rich
hothouse of sugar plantations and French colonial profit, exploded
in a rebellion led by former slave Toussaint L'Ouverture.
"Toussaint's Clause: The Founding Fathers and the Haitian
Revolution" narrates the intricate history of one of America's
early foreign policy balancing acts and one of the nation's
defining moments. The supporters of Toussaint's rebellion against
France at first engineered a bold policy of intervention in favor
of the rebels. But Southern slaveholders, such as Jefferson, eyed
the slave-general's rise and masterful leadership skills with
extreme alarm and eventually obtained a reversal of the policy-even
while taking advantage of the rebellion to make the fateful
Far from petty, the internal squabbles among America's founders
resolved themselves in delicate maneuvers in foreign capitals and
on the island. The stakes were mortally high-a misstep could have
plunged the new, weak, and neutral republic into the great powers'
global war. In Toussaint's Clause, former diplomat and ambassador
Gordon S. Brown details the founding fathers' crisis over Haiti and
their rancorous struggle, which very often cut to the core of what
America meant by revolution and liberty.
During a thirty-five-year Foreign Service career, Gordon S.
Brown served mainly in the Middle East and North Africa including
assignments as General Norman Schwarzkopf's political advisor in
the first Gulf War and ambassador to Mauritania. Since his
retirement, he has written "Coalition, Coercion, and Compromise" on
the diplomacy of the first Gulf War and "The Norman Conquest of
Southern Italy and Sicily."
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