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Grad student uncovers Haitian founding document

Grad student uncovers Haitian founding document

Published April 1, 2010

DURHAM, N.C. – A Duke University graduate student has found what historians think is the only surviving printed copy of Haiti's Declaration of Independence.

The university said Thursday that 26-year-old history student Julia Gaffield discovered the yellowing document in February while combing through papers in Great Britain's National Archives in London.

Haiti's revolutionary leaders issued the declaration on Jan. 1, 1804, after they fought to overthrow French colonial rule and slavery, creating the world's first black republic.

But in the following years, the country didn't preserve a printed version of the declaration. However, the British colonial governor of Jamaica had obtained a copy of the declaration printed hours after it was issued. This copy was the one Gaffield eventually found.

Written by Associated Press

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