Revolutionary Instruction: Creating Educational Equality in the Revolutionary French Atlantic
Philanthropists led advances in revolutionary education projects aimed at incorporating former slaves into society and solidifying emancipation and racial equality in Saint-Domingue. While white French officials planned, organized, and reported on these projects, more often it was the philanthropists typically unnamed in the historiography or left unspecified in contemporary sources that actually brought to life and operated the colonial schools. Whites, such as Citizen Binet, opened schools to teach children of all colors about the principles of French republicanism after the emancipation in 1794. Another man dedicated to improving the lives of people of African descent, Jean Alexandre Paulmier left his own plantation to serve as a teacher. Paulmier, a free man of color, demonstrates how philanthropy was not only carried out by whites during the Haitian Revolution. Indeed peoples of all races worked together to establish colonial public instruction. Various other unidentified people sent their children to the mixed-race colonial schools, or educated the new black citizens in improvised schools on plantations. These citizens, by engaging in public instruction projects, helped to advance the revolution in Saint-Domingue by institutionalizing ideas of abolition and racial equality in the colony’s citizens of all colors. They sought to integrate former slaves into the French citizenry, just as much as officials sent from France.