The workingmen of Europe feel sure that...the American War of Independence initiated a new era of ascendancy. — Karl Marx and the First International Workingmen’s Association to Abraham Lincoln, 1864
Today marks two hundred and thirty eight years on from the Declaration of Independence, penned by Thomas Jefferson and others. It was Thomas Paine's pamphlet Common Sense, published in The Rights of Man and Common Sense, which inspired people in the Thirteen Colonies to declare and fight for independence from Great Britain in the summer of 1776. In clear, simple language it explained the advantages of and the need for immediate independence. The passionate cry for independence continues to this day, with the recent call for a Scottish independence.
Greg Grandin reviews Robin Blackburn’s latest books for the Guardian. Grandin describes Blackburn’s The American Crucible not as “the capstone of an influential career” but rather as “a catching of breath and a continuation of arguments initially made by the great original theorists of the Atlantic World system.” In this monumental new book, Blackburn explores some of the historical conceptions and misconceptions of the complex system which sustained slavery and its economy in the Americas, with a new focus on the Haitian revolution:
The centrepiece of The American Crucible is Blackburn's measured reconstruction of the chronology of the Haitian revolution and its influence on freedom movements in the United States, Spanish America and Brazil, a persuasive rebuttal of scholarly assessments that the revolution was exceptionally bloody or that its leaders instituted a new form of anti-European racism.