Cloth $40.00 ISBN: 9780226079356 Published February 2017
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Cul de Sac

Patrimony, Capitalism, and Slavery in French Saint-Domingue

Paul Cheney

Cul de Sac

Paul Cheney

264 pages | 7 halftones, 3 maps, 4 line drawings, 2 tables | 6 x 9 | © 2017
Cloth $40.00 ISBN: 9780226079356 Published February 2017
E-book $40.00 About E-books ISBN: 9780226411774 Published February 2017
In the eighteenth century, the Cul de Sac plain in Saint-Domingue, now Haiti, was a vast open-air workhouse of sugar plantations. This microhistory of one plantation owned by the Ferron de la Ferronnayses, a family of Breton nobles, draws on remarkable archival finds to show that despite the wealth such plantations produced, they operated in a context of social, political, and environmental fragility that left them weak and crisis prone.

Focusing on correspondence between the Ferronnayses and their plantation managers, Cul de Sac proposes that the Caribbean plantation system, with its reliance on factory-like production processes and highly integrated markets, was a particularly modern expression of eighteenth-century capitalism. But it rested on a foundation of economic and political traditionalism that stymied growth and adaptation. The result was a system heading toward collapse as planters, facing a series of larger crises in the French empire, vainly attempted to rein in the inherent violence and instability of the slave society they had built. In recovering the lost world of the French Antillean plantation, Cul de Sac ultimately reveals how the capitalism of the plantation complex persisted not as a dynamic source of progress, but from the inertia of a degenerate system headed down an economic and ideological dead end.
Contents

Introduction. The Colonial Cul de Sac

1. Province and Colony
2. Production and Investment
3. Humanity and Interest
4. War and Profit
5. Husband and Wife
6. Revolution and Cultivation
7. Evacuation and Indemnity

Epilogue
Acknowledgments
Sources and Abbreviations
Bibliography
Index

Review Quotes
Trevor Burnard, author of Planters, Merchants, and Slaves: Plantation Societies in British America, 1650–1820
“Until now, we had very few detailed accounts of plantations and how they operated. This book takes an especially rich set of records on a large absentee-owned plantation in Cul de Sac, a major sugar-planting region near Port-au-Prince, and creates a compelling account of slavery, capitalism, and family in this interesting society. Entertaining as well as informative, Cul de Sac will make a signal contribution to the scholarship of slavery and capitalism in the Atlantic World.”
Michael Kwass, author of Contraband: Louis Mandrin and the Making of a Global Underground
Cul de Sac takes us deep within the global center of one of the most brutal forms of capitalism in history. Masterfully reconstructing plantation life from newly discovered sources, Cheney exposes the fragility of a family enterprise riven by racial and ideological tensions as it confronted war and revolution. This is a must-read for students of Caribbean, Atlantic, and French history.”
Laurent Dubois, author of Avengers of the New World: The Story of the Haitian Revolution
“This deeply researched and richly detailed study of one plantation reconstructs and illuminates the complex world of colonial Saint-Domingue. Through the story of the Cul de Sac plain, Cheney offers a layered and insightful analysis of the relationship between slavery, trade, and policy in the eighteenth-century French Atlantic.”
For more information, or to order this book, please visit http://www.press.uchicago.edu
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