In 1783, the future leader of the First French Republic Jacques-Pierre Brissot claims in its Journal du Lycée that the American Revolution gives a “dreadful and memorable lesson to the oppressor despotism” and shows that “the abuse of force embitters, irritates the slave, who ends up breaking its chains.”

These words echo the American Insurgents who complain, through the voices of a Virginian committed in 1769, to be reduced “to a wretched and miserable State of Slavery”. If the revolutionary period has witnessed a considerable expansion of the use of the language of despotism and slavery, this lexicon is a part of a long republican tradition.

We will try to show the importance of this language mobilized by Atlantic republicans in their quest for freedom and will outline how the common awareness of sharing a lived experience of oppression is at the very basis of the existence of a transnational community of struggle that will be seen from the eve of the American Revolution to the first revolutionary upsurges in Saint-Domingue.


This event is part of the Global France Seminar sponsored by Global Languages Program and History Faculty
For more information contact


Régis Coursin
  • University of Montreal