"Grounded in extensive research in the rich notarial records of Saint Domingue, Blue Coat or Powdered Wig tells a fascinating story of people of African descent who, in the face of racial discrimination and within the confines of America's richest plantation colony, become successful landowners, merchants, and officers. In the process, the book paints a vivid portrait of a society on the verge of revolution."
—Laurent Dubois, author of A Colony of Citizens: Revolution and Slave Emancipation in the French Caribbean, 1787-1804
Stewart R. King identifies two distinctive groups that shared Saint Domingue’s free black upper stratum, one consisting of planters and merchants and the other of members of the army and police forces. With the aid of individual and family case studies, King documents how the two groups used different strategies to pursue the common goal of economic and social advancement. Among other aspects, King looks at the rural or urban bases of these groups’ networks, their relationships with whites and free blacks of lesser means, and their attitudes toward the acquisition, use, and sale of land, slaves, and other property.
King’s main source is the notarial archives of Saint Domingue, whose holdings offer an especially rich glimpse of free black elite life. Because elites were keenly aware of how a bureaucratic paper trail could help cement their status, the archives divulge a wealth of details on personal and public matters.
Blue Coat or Powdered Wig is a vivid portrayal of race relations far from the European centers of colonial power, where the interactions of free blacks and whites were governed as much by practicalities and shared concerns as by the law.
List price: $30.95
View Shopping Cart
List price: $24.95
Check ebook availability