In this age of globalization, the eighteenth-century priest and abolitionist Henri Gregoire has often been called a man ahead of his time. An icon of anti racism, a hero to people from Ho Chi Minh to French Jews, Gregoire has been particularly celebrated since 1989, when the French government placed him in the Pantheon as a model of ideals of universalism and human rights. In this beautifully written biography, based on newly discovered and previously overlooked material, we gain access for the first time to the full complexity of Gregoire's intellectual and political universe as well as the compelling nature of his persona. His life offers an extraordinary vantage from which to view large issues in European and world history in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries and provides provocative insights into many of the prevailing tensions, ideals, and paradoxes of the twenty-first century. Focusing on Gregoire's idea of 'regeneration', that people could literally be made anew, Sepinwall argues that revolutionary universalism was more complicated than it appeared.
Tracing the Revolution's long-term legacy, she suggests that while it spread concepts of equality and liberation throughout the world, its ideals also helped to justify colonialism and conquest.
Alyssa Goldstein Sepinwall is Associate Professor of History at California State University, San Marcos.
List of Illustrations Prologue. Regenerating Biography, or In Search of Universalism PART ONE. GREGOIRE'S EARLY YEARS: ENLIGHTENMENT AND RELIGION IN FRANCE, 1750--1789 1. From Tailor's Son to Enlightened Abbe: A Provincial Journey 2. The "Bon Cure" of Embermenil 3. A Physical, Moral, and Political Regeneration of the Jews PART TWO. GREGOIRE IN PARIS: REVOLUTION AND REGENERATION, 1789--1801 4. Creating a French Nation 5. A Religious Revolution? Regeneration Transformed 6. Overcoming the Terror, Rebuilding the Empire PART THREE. KEEPING THE FAITH: GREGOIRE, REGENERATION, AND THE REVOLUTION'S GLOBAL LEGACY, 1801--1831 7. The Joys and Frustrations of the Atlantic Republican Network: Gregoire and the Americas 8. Exporting the Revolution: The Colonial Laboratory in Haiti 9. Christian Apologetics and the Universal Human Family Epilogue. Icon Of Universalism: Gregoire's Life after Death Acknowledgments Appendix Notes Bibliography Index