The Haitian Revolution has been known to be one of the most successful slave rebellions in the Western hemisphere, because it has been the only one that has ended up with an independent nation.
Even though they were able to defeat slavery, they still suffered long term consequences. Up until today, Haiti still suffers from what the revolution left behind. The Haitian rebellion began in 1791 and ended in 1803. Their revolution was influenced by the French Revolution of 1789. The revolution started because the Spanish began to enslave the native Taino and Ciboney people.
Later on, after December 1492, Christopher Columbus had discovered an island that he called la Isla Española, which was later called Hispaniola. The native people of the island of Hispaniola were forced to mine gold and were tortured with European diseases and brutal working conditions. By the end of the 16th century the native people nearly disappeared and many slaves came from other caribbean islands that met the same destiny.
By the 18th century, Saint Domingue known as Haiti had become France’s wealthiest overseas colony. The reason why Saint Domingue was so wealthy was because of its production of sugar, coffee, and indigo. When the French Revolution ended the population of the island was divided into five specific groups: one was the white planters, who had their own plantations, and the second was petit blancs, who were made up of artisans, teachers, and shopkeepers. A few of them owned slaves. In total, there were about 40,000 white people living in Saint Domingue.
Planters couldn’t trade with other nations which made them very disappointed, they were paying taxes and they were still not represented in France. This dissapointment even though it was by both petit blancs and planters didn’t change their mind on slavery. The other three groups were made up of people of African descent, this included the free men, which as about 30,000, the enslaved men, about 50,000, and the run-away men, which accounted for the largest group. More then half of them were mulatto and there were regularly more wealthier and free then the petites blancs because they had more priority then them. Slaves that would run away would be called marrons. Slaves that would run away would have extreme severe punishments like their ears chopped off or even death depending on what the owner wanted. Owners had all the right when owning a slave.
So some of them would threaten their own slave if they weren’t working hard enough. Haitian society was very racial and was deeply split by skin colour, class, and gender. There had been slave rebellions even before 1791, one plot involved the poisoning of masters.
At this point, during 1791, is when some revolutions started by there own Haitians, but were influenced by the French Revolution. They were inspired by the “Decleration of Rights of Man” from France. France in turn gave them more autonoy, but this legislation was not clear. It gave more power to the white and black planters than to the petit blancs. This broke out into a civil war between the three groups.
The most thing they were afraid of was the run away slaves that were a majority by a big number.In the later 1790’s, there was a man called Toussaint Louverture, who was a military leader and a former slave who took control of many areas because of his intelligent tactics. He gained support from the French agents. He honored France while on the outlook for his own political and military designs.These military tactics were such as trading with the British, and in May 1801 he was called governor-general for life. In 1791, 26 of September, during the first weeks of the revolution, the slaves destroyed the whites and there own property with the same brutality and torture that they had suffered for so many years from their own masters. In 1792, a man called Governor Blanchelande marched against the slaves that encamped at Plantons.
The rebel army was out of supplies and goods so they retreated to the mountains leaving behind noncombatants, consisting of a few hundred women, children, elderly and the sick or hurt. Instead of the French troops slaying them, they tortured them by cutting their heads off or their bodies slashing them to pieces. Louverture’s first act was rebelling against the planters on August 21, 1791. By 1792, Louverture was controlling a third of the island. By the end, 100,000 out of the 500,000 blacks had been killed and 24,000 out of 40,000 of the whites had been killed. The former slaves managed to stay away from the British and French who had arrived in 1793 to overthrow the colony. And by 1798, after many defeats from Louverture forces, they withdrew.
By 1801 Louverture expanded the revolution beyond Haiti, to the next Spanish colony of Santo Domingo. Later on he had completely conquered slavery Spanish-speaking colony and declared himself Governor-General for life over the whole island of Hispaniola. Napdoléon was upset and wanted to maintain control of the island, by trying to rebuild the old regime. Napoleon sent his brother in law, Charles Leclerc, with 43,000 troops from Saint-Domingue, that included many exiled mulatto officers, to try to start slavery again Sadly, L’Ouverture was captured and taken to a prison. He died in the prison in 1803.
While Leclerc was trying hard to regain power, the Black army remained strong and declared their leaders as Henry Christophe and Jean-Jacques Dessalines. In 1802, they led the revolutionaries at the Battle of Vertieres on November 18, 1803 where the all the French forces were defeated. On January, 1804 it became independent and named Haiti. It was the second country to obtain freedom from the Europeans.
This gave many European powers fear of slave revolts. Nearly the entire population was extremely poor because the legacy of slavery. Haiti came forth as the first black republic in the world. Since the revolution, over 200 years ago, Haiti is still in poverty and is struggling lots with external and internal dilemmas. The revolutionary wars had destroyed all the production of crops and capabilities. Haiti is still trying to recover from all the disasters those years and is still facing challenges. Haiti is clearly an notable nation, and one that has had a philosophical impact on the world since it was found by Columbus over 500 years ago.