Henry Louis Gates takes it to Thomas Jefferson:
Jefferson was terrified that the creation, and flourishing, of a black republic in the New World would serve as a model for the rebellion of America's own slaves; and that, at all costs, would be unacceptable. As early as 1793, Jefferson wrote to James Monroe that "Never was so deep a tragedy presented to the feelings of man ... I become daily more and more convinced that all the West India Island will remain in the hands of the people of colour, and a total expulsion of the whites sooner or later take place. It is high time we should foresee the bloody scenes which our children certainly, and possibly ourselves (south of the Potomac), have to wade through and try to avert them." Two years later, in a letter to Aaron Burr, Jefferson compared the Haitians to assassins and referred to them as "Cannibals of the terrible republic."
Jefferson feared that a successful Haitian revolution would threaten the stability of slavery: "If something is not done, and done soon, we shall be the murderers of our own children." By 1802, Jefferson's worst fears had come true: the "course of things in the neighboring islands of the West Indies," he wrote to Rufus King in July, "appears to have given considerable impulse to the minds of the slaves....a great disposition to insurgency has manifested itself among them."
After temporarily supporting the revolution, Jefferson then reversed course:
By 1804, Jefferson told John Quincy Adams that he was determined to end trade with Haiti. Having helped the Haitians gain their freedom, he then sought to strangle the new-born nation. He sought to quarantine the island and opposed official trade because that would mean recognizing its independence. And that could inspire slave insurrections throughout the American South. The embargo on Haiti remained in force until the spring of 1810; trade fell from $6.7 million in 1806 to $1.5 million in 1808. Non-recognition of the republic remained official American policy until 1862.
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