Alec Dun Publishes New Book, "Dangerous Neighbors: Making the Haitian Revolution in Early America"

September 03, 2016

Professor James Alexander "Alec" Dun's book Dangerous Neighbors: Making the Haitian Revolution in Early America was published on August 1, 2016. The book is available from the University of Pennsylvania Press.

About Dangerous Neighbors

Dangerous Neighbors shows how the Haitian Revolution permeated early American print culture and had a profound impact on the young nation's domestic politics. Focusing on Philadelphia as both a representative and an influential vantage point, it follows contemporary American reactions to the events through which the French colony of Saint Domingue was destroyed and the independent nation of Haiti emerged. Philadelphians made sense of the news from Saint Domingue with local and national political developments in mind and with the French Revolution and British abolition debates ringing in their ears. In witnessing a French colony experience a revolution of African slaves, they made the colony serve as powerful and persuasive evidence in domestic discussions over the meaning of citizenship, equality of rights, and the fate of slavery.

Through extensive use of manuscript sources, newspapers, and printed literature, Dun uncovers the wide range of opinion and debate about events in Saint Domingue in the early republic. By focusing on both the meanings Americans gave to those events and the uses they put them to, he reveals a fluid understanding of the American Revolution and the polity it had produced, one in which various groups were making sense of their new nation in relation to both its own past and a revolution unfolding before them. Zeroing in on Philadelphia—a revolutionary center and an enclave of antislavery activity—Dun collapses the supposed geographic and political boundaries that separated the American republic from the West Indies and Europe.

About the Author

James Alexander "Alec" Dun is an early American historian. His scholarly interests—in race and identity, radicalism and revolution, slavery and antislavery—lead him to focus particularly on the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries in America. Those same interests, however, widen the boundaries of this “America” to include the Caribbean and, in some ways, the greater Atlantic basin as a whole. Professor Dun received his B.A. from Amherst College and his Ph.D. from Princeton in 2004. Professor Dun teaches courses in Revolutionary-era and early national American history, as well as courses treating aspects of Caribbean history, comparative slavery and emancipation, and the era of Atlantic Revolutions.

Area of Interest: 
Colonialism & Post Colonialism
Latin America and the Caribbean
United States