Episode 164: The American Revolution in the Age of Revolutions

The American Revolution took place within a larger period known today as the “Age of Revolutions.”

What does the Revolution look like when we place it within this larger context? Did it really help foment the many other failed and successful revolutions that took place during the period?

Over the next two episodes of the Doing History: To the Revolution series, we’ll explore answers to these questions by taking a closer look at how the American Revolution fit within the larger context of the Age of Revolutions.

The first part of our exploration will take us into the Caribbean. Laurent Dubois, a professor of history at Duke University and the author of four books about slavery and revolution in the French Caribbean, will serve as our guide.

About the Series

The mission of episodes in the Doing History: To the Revolution series.  is to ask not just “what is the history of the American Revolution?” but “what are the histories of the American Revolution?”

The Doing History series explores early American history and how historians work. It’s produced by the Omohundro Institute.

Be sure to check out Doing History season 1, Doing History: How Historians Work.

About the Show

Ben Franklin’s World is a podcast about early American history.

It is a show for people who love history and for those who want to know more about the historical people and events that have impacted and shaped our present-day world.

Each episode features a conversation with a historian who helps us shed light on important people and events in early American history.

Ben Franklin’s World is a production of the Omohundro Institute.

Episode Summary

Laurent Dubois, a professor of History at Duke University and author of four books about slavery and revolution within the French Caribbean, helps us begin our two-episode exploration of the American Revolution in the Age of Revolutions.

During our investigation of the Age of Revolutions in the Caribbean, Laurent reveals what the French Empire looked like on the eve of its revolutions; Details about the French Revolution and how the American Revolution influenced it; And, information about revolutions in the French Caribbean, such as the Haitian Revolution, and how these revolutions began.

What You’ll Discover

  • The French Empire on the eve of the Age of Revolutions
  • The French Revolution
  • Slavery within the French Empire
  • Slavery and the French Declaration of the Rights of Man in 1789
  • How the enslaved in the French Caribbean communicated and formed a revolutionary coalition
  • The Haitian Revolution
  • The August 1791 uprising in Saint Domingue
  • Haitian Revolution as a transnational movement
  • How Saint Domingue became Haiti
  • Revolution in Guadeloupe
  • How Caribbean revolutions influenced both Europe and the Americas


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Time Warp PlainTime Warp Question

In your opinion, what might have happened if Napoleon had not sent General Charles Leclerc to Haiti to bring the island back under white, French control? What if he had done more to work with the island’s black leaders? Would slavery have still returned to the French Caribbean?

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