“She Persisted in her Revolt”: Between Slavery and Freedom in Saint-Domingue


  • Jennifer Palmer




This article argues that women of colour were particularly well placed to take advantage of the porous boundary between slavery and freedom, flexible categories that operated on a continuum. Through a fine-grained analysis of the legal case of Marie Victoire Morisseau, one of the few appeals from Saint-Domingue that reached the Conseil du roi in Versailles, this article inserts women of colour into debates over who had the authority to arbitrate the boundary between slavery and freedom. It concludes that slavery and freedom were gendered categories that were less absolute for women of colour than for men. They were more manipulable, more permeable and possible to traverse, and less about legal absolutes and documents that provided “proof” and more about social experience and lived reality.