A Revolutionary World

How should Americans respond to aspirations for equality and rights around the Atlantic world?

The American Revolution had a powerful impact on people and events outside the borders of the new United States. International events of the 1790s and 1800s also inspired and challenged Americans to think about the commitments and meaning of their own nation.

  • 1789–1799: French Revolution
  • 1791–1804: Haitian Revolution
  • 1792: Freetown, Sierra Leone, founded by African American loyalists
  • 1798: Irish Rebellion
  • 1800: Gabriel’s Slave Revolt, Richmond, Virginia
  • 1808–1813: Tecumseh’s Confederacy, Northwest Territory
  • 1811: German Coast Slave Revolt, Louisiana
  • 1811–1821: War for Venezuelan Independence
Engraving of Toussaint L’Ouverture, Paris, around 1800

Engraving of Toussaint L’Ouverture, Paris, around 1800

Courtesy of Photographs and Prints Division, Schomburg Center, The New York Public Library

Toussaint L’Ouverture’s cane

Gift of Gaillard Hunt

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This cane belonged to Toussaint L’Ouverture, a military and political leader in the Haitian Revolution. The revolution began as a slave revolt in the French colony of Saint-Domingue in 1791 and ended with emancipation and the founding of the free nation of Haiti in 1804. Nearly half a million enslaved people gained freedom. These events terrified U.S. slaveholders and other whites while they heartened African Americans. The United States did not recognize the independence of Haiti from France until 1862. A U.S. Department of State official acquired this cane there later in the 19th century.