In 1841 the well-respected British writer Harriet Martineau published The Hour and the Man, her account of the Haitian Revolution, specifically to support the antislavery movement in the United States. Constrained by white middle-class values, essentialist notions of race, and her particular adaptation of utilitarianism, Martineau's "historical romance" of Toussaint L'Ouverture reveals the strikingly conservative perspective of many of those involved in the early antislavery movement in Britain and America. The novel-widely read and reviewed by abolitionists-provided a rich and timely resource for those involved in the American movement, which by the end of the 1830s was moving into a more widespread and increasingly political phase. Martineau presented Toussaint as a black hero, a tragic, larger-than-life hero who acted with conviction and courage to defend his people from slavery and who, as a general, was finally defeated by the overwhelming numbers and power of the French forces. She also affirmed revolution as the almost inevitable consequence of a slaveholding system, linking Toussaint to the heroes of the American Revolution. Martineau's images and themes would figure in the rhetoric of black and white antislavery writers alike, especially Frederick Douglass, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Lydia Maria Child, Wendell Phillips, and William Lloyd Garrison. Martineau's presentation of Toussaint made a black man central to the conception of what freed slaves might be capable of accomplishing, and it provided a crucial, if complicated, model for American writers.
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