[Marxism] A Saga of Revolution | Solidarity

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Mon Feb 10 20:17:11 MST 2014

A Saga of Revolution
— Derrick Morrison

     The Black Count:
     Glory, Revolution, Betrayal, and the Real Count of Monte Cristo
     By Tom Reiss
     Crown Publishers, New York, 2012, 414 pages, $27 hardback.

“THOMAS-ALEXANDRE DUMAS Davy de la Pailleterie, 14, stepped onto the 
dock in Le Havre on August 30, 1776. He was listed in the ship’s 
manifest as ‘the slave Alexandre,’ belonging to a ‘Lieutenant 
Jacques-Louis Roussel.’ This was a necessary ruse, because a young 
mulatto could not simply walk off a boat into France by himself. Antoine 
had bought back his son’s freedom from Captain Langlois and paid for his 
safe passage to Normandy in the company of an ‘owner.’” (55)

To began the journey of this 14-year-old, who would later become General 
Alex Dumas due to the political, social, and economic upheaval known as 
the French Revolution. He would also become immortal in fiction in The 
Count of Monte Cristo, as the real-life prototype for the hero of the 
novel written by his son, the famous novelist Alexandre Dumas.

Deep Background Research

Tom Reiss chronicles the life of General Dumas, taking us on a trip 
through the 18th century; capturing life in Saint Domingue (now Haiti) 
and France under the Capetian monarchy; analyzing the explosive 
contradiction of the French monarchy’s support of an anti-monarchical 
rebellion by 13 British colonies in the New World; and following our 
protagonist as he is catapulted to great heights by the French maelstrom 
and then brought to new lows by the subsequent Napoleonic political 

Thomas-Alexandre was born March 25, 1762, in the port city of Jeremie, 
Saint Domingue, the most lucrative colony in the New World. His father 
was a French noblemans from Normandy, Alexandre Antoine Davy de la 
Pailleterie, his mother a slave, Marie Cessette Dumas. Thomas-Alexandre 
was their fourth child.

Reiss combines a deep bibliography with extensive field work. He visited 
Jeremie, which in the latter part of the 18th century became a “cultural 
mecca” (42) for free Blacks.

"While distancing themselves as much as possible from enslaved blacks 
and poor whites, free people of color learned to dance, ride, and fence 
like white colonists…. The colony so notorious for its treatment of 
black slaves was producing a mulatto cultural elite…. In the 1780’s, one 
of these men, Julien Raimond, moved to Paris and became a leading 
advocate for the rights of free blacks of the era, despite being the 
owner of hundreds of slaves." (42, 43, 44)

The rise of Jeremie was due to the boom in coffee prices at the time, 
and Raimond — before 1791 — was no different than the American 
revolutionaries Thomas Jefferson and George Washington, both of whom 
owned slaves and signed the Declaration of Independence in 1776.

full: http://www.solidarity-us.org/node/4074

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