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A Few Stories about Haiti, or, Stigma Revisited
Abstract

In revisiting the history of Haiti, this essay demonstrates the powerful presence of this site as both a source of pride and denigration. Taking Frederick Douglass's arrival as minister resident and consul general to the Haitian government of Louis Florvil Hyppolite in 1889 as focus, the analysis deals with the attempted acquisition of the Mole St. Nicholas by the United States, and Douglass's memorial in the final chapters of his Life and Times (1892) to citizens of the United States, described as "sharks, pirates and Shylocks, greedy for money, no matter at what cost of life and misery to mankind." As Douglass understood, "the badge of servitude" remained too powerful an apparatus to lose. Its terms underwrote—and still sustain—the network of images that perpetuate such antinomies as civility and brutality, ability and deficiency: the rules for a modern concept of servility.