Julius S. Scott, professor emeritus at the University of Michigan, died on December 6. He was 66 years old and had been in poor health for some time due to diabetes.
A native of Marshall, Texas, Professor Scott earned his undergraduate degree at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island. He earned a Ph.D. in history at Duke University, where his dissertation concerned communications between groups of free and enslaved Africans throughout the Atlantic World that were facilitated by travelers on ships between ports in the New World.
The dissertation was originally contracted to be made into a book by Oxford University Press, but Professor Scott and the publisher never agreed on a final version of the manuscript. In a 2018 interview with Publishers Weekly, Dr. Scott said that “part of the problem was that I was not committed to one place: I wasn’t a U.S. historian or a Jamaican historian. I included all of those places. I studied archives in Jamaica, Cuba, Haiti, England, and France. I could read and speak Spanish and French, but I also wanted to learn Dutch and Danish [to study the other islands in the Caribbean], but that would have taken more years to write. I set an agenda for myself that was far too ambitious. Eventually, I put the dissertation aside.” Dr. Scott joined the faculty at the University of Michigan in 1991.
The dissertation was finally published as a book more than 30 years later in 2018 by Verso Press with the title The Common Wind: Afro-American Currents in the Age of the Haitian Revolution. The title is from a tribute by William Wordsworth for Toussaint Louverture, the leader of the Haitian Revolution: “There’s not a breathing of the common wind/That will forget thee.”