We cannot verify your location
Browse Book and Journal Content on Project MUSE

Diplomacy in Black and White

John Adams, Toussaint Louverture, and Their Atlantic World Alliance

Ronald Angelo Johnson

Publication Year: 2014

From 1798 to 1801, during the Haitian Revolution, President John Adams and Toussaint Louverture forged diplomatic relations that empowered white Americans to embrace freedom and independence for people of color in Saint-Domingue. The United States supported the Dominguan revolutionaries with economic assistance and arms and munitions; the conflict was also the U.S. Navy’s first military action on behalf of a foreign ally. This cross-cultural cooperation was of immense and strategic importance as it helped to bring forth a new nation: Haiti.

Diplomacy in Black and White is the first book on the Adams-Louverture alliance. Historian and former diplomat Ronald Angelo Johnson details the aspirations of the Americans and Dominguans—two revolutionary peoples—and how they played significant roles in a hostile Atlantic world. Remarkably, leaders of both governments established multiracial relationships amid environments dominated by slavery and racial hierarchy. And though U.S.-Dominguan diplomacy did not end slavery in the United States, it altered Atlantic world discussions of slavery and race well into the twentieth century.

Diplomacy in Black and White reflects the capacity of leaders from disparate backgrounds to negotiate political and societal constraints to make lives better for the groups they represent. Adams and Louverture brought their peoples to the threshold of a lasting transracial relationship. And their shared history reveals the impact of decisions made by powerful people at pivotal moments. But in the end, a permanent alliance failed to emerge, and instead, the two republics born of revolution took divergent paths.

Published by: University of Georgia Press

Series: Race in the Atlantic World, 1700-1900

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

pdf iconDownload PDF (128.8 KB)
pp. 2-9


pdf iconDownload PDF (64.1 KB)
pp. ix-x

List of Illustrations

pdf iconDownload PDF (60.4 KB)
pp. xi-xii

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF (56.9 KB)
pp. xiii-xviii

This book began at the Johns Hopkins Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies with generous fi nancial support from the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation. Subsequent research and writing was supported by the Library Company of Philadelphia; the Historical Society of Pennsylvania; the Boston University School of Theology; the American Bap-tist Churches, U.S.A.; the Purdue University Research Foundation; the Purdue ...

read more

INTRODUCTION: The Atlantic World: “An Ocean of Uncertainty”

pdf iconDownload PDF (89.4 KB)
pp. 1-12

John Adams became the second president of the United States just before noon on Saturday, 4 March 1797. There, on the fi rst fl oor of Congress Hall in Philadelphia, the members of a large crowd looked on, tears welling in their eyes. The U.S. government’s fi rst peaceful transfer of executive power created a scene that Adams later described as resembling “the sun setting full orbit and another rising no less splendid.” He gave the inaugural address standing ...

read more

ONE: Saint-Dominguan Revolution: “We Can and Must Do Something There”

pdf iconDownload PDF (256.0 KB)
pp. 13-38

Col. Pickering reminds Mr. Mayer of his request to- day, and begs him to present his respects to Mr. Bunell with an invitation to dine with Col. P. next Wednesday at half past three, with a few select friends.Around three o’clock in the aft ernoon on Wednesday, 26 December 1798, Joseph Bunel strolled through the streets of Philadelphia. America’s capi-tal city teemed with gaiety and brilliance. Snow had fallen earlier that week. ...

read more

TWO: U.S. Involvement: “Even South Carolinians Voted for It”

pdf iconDownload PDF (290.9 KB)
pp. 39-67

He did not wish to see this black population independent; and that the The political lobbying around Philadelphia for expanded Dominguan- American relations by Secretary of State Timothy Pickering and Toussaint Louverture’s envoy, Joseph Bunel, had just begun. Aft er gaining support from key congressional leaders over dinner, Pickering and Bunel had to sway an even more discerning ally: the president. Five days aft er their dinner, on 31 Decem-...

read more

THREE: Edward Stevens: “Our Minister to Toussaint”

pdf iconDownload PDF (123.3 KB)
pp. 68-86

Dr. Stevens possesses more knowledge of the true state of things here On 9 February 1799, President John Adams signed the Intercourse Act into law in the second- fl oor executive offi ce of the President’s House. Adminis-tration offi cials quickly shift ed their strategy to advance Dominguan- American relations beyond their public rhetoric. As Democratic- Republican leaders cor-rectly feared and adamantly opposed, the administration planned to use the new ...

read more

FOUR: Dominguan-American Diplomacy: “So Natural”

pdf iconDownload PDF (340.4 KB)
pp. 87-112

I shall at all times feel a sincere pleasure in promoting the Tranquility & The merchant ship Kingston set sail from Philadelphia on 17 March 1799. Onboard were Edward and Hester Stevens and Joseph and Marie Fran-çoise Bunel. President John Adams’s appointee to the government of Toussaint Louverture became the highest- ranking American diplomat ever dispatched to Saint- Domingue. Robert Ritchie of Pennsylvania traveled along as the new ...

read more

FIVE: Allied Command: “Willing to Serve General Toussaint”

pdf iconDownload PDF (238.4 KB)
pp. 113-136

I have given strict orders that understanding and intelligence may exist On 11 July 1799, the cutter captained by Silas Talbot left the U.S. frigate Constitution moored in Boston Harbor to make the ten- mile journey to Quincy Bay. The seaman from Rhode Island arrived shortly thereaft er at Peacefi eld, the lovely eleven- room home of President John Adams and his wife, Abigail. Talbot confi dently approached the front door, dressed in his crisp ...

read more

SIX: The United States and Hispaniola: “On a Permanent and Advantageous Footing”

pdf iconDownload PDF (241.3 KB)
pp. 137-160

Time and experience hath evinced to us the importance, of a close William Roberts made his way west toward Kentucky to spend the rest of his life in slavery as Toussaint Louverture headed east toward the city of Santo Domingo. The former Spanish colonial capital lay 175 miles from Cap Français, along the island’s southeastern coast. Louverture set out aft er receiving word that his military had secured that portion of the island. His march across ...

read more

SEVEN: After Adams and Louverture: “Great Changes Likely to Take Place”

pdf iconDownload PDF (274.4 KB)
pp. 161-184

The presidential campaign of 1800 devastated John Adams’s political future and historical legacy. Thomas Jeff erson’s Democratic- Republican support-ers labeled Adams a tyrant, a monarchist, a womanizer, and a lunatic. They campaigned on collective opposition to the Alien and Sedition Acts and cries of political arrogance. Partisan newspapers attacked his personal character, por-traying him with “neither the force and fi rmness of a man, nor the gentleness ...


pdf iconDownload PDF (149.7 KB)
pp. 185-208


pdf iconDownload PDF (151.5 KB)
pp. 209-232


pdf iconDownload PDF (429.1 KB)
pp. 233-242

read more

Further Reading

pdf iconDownload PDF (44.1 KB)
pp. 262-263

The Hanging of Angélique: The Untold Story of Canadian Slavery and the Burning Christian Ritual and the Creation of British Slave Societies, 1650–1780 African American Life in the Georgia Lowcountry: The Atlantic World and The Horrible Gift of Freedom: Atlantic Slavery and the Representation The Life and Letters of Philip Quaque, the First African Anglican Missionary ...

E-ISBN-13: 9780820346328
E-ISBN-10: 0820346322

Page Count: 216
Illustrations: 11 b&w photos
Publication Year: 2014

Series Title: Race in the Atlantic World, 1700-1900