Despite the important role of free persons of color in the Haitian Revolution, and their reputation for attaining a level of wealth and education prior to the revolution far surpassing that of the same group in any other colonial society, they are the subject of only a handful of scholarly studies. John Garrigus has made the most important contributions to date, focusing on the free colored elite in the southern province of Saint Domingue. Now Stewart King, another student of Robert Forster at Johns Hopkins University, has published his dissertation on free persons of color in the northern and western provinces. It is based, like Garrigus’s work, primarily on notarial records, among the richest sources for French colonial social history.

King’s sample consists of 3,520 notarial acts in which a free person color was a major actor, drawn from six parishes, including the...

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