Haitian Revolution


Haitian Revolution

Infobox Military Conflict
conflict=Haitian Revolution


caption="Battle on Santo Domingo", a painting by January Suchodolski depicting a struggle between Polish troops in French service and the Haitian rebels
date=August 22, 1791January 1, 1804
place=Haiti
casus=
territory=
result=Haiti wins independence from France
combatant1=Haiti
combatant2=flagicon|France France
Polish Legions
commander1=Toussaint Louverture
Jean-Jacques Dessalines
commander2=Charles Leclerc
Vicomte de Rochambeau
Napoleon Bonaparte
strength1=Regular army: <55,000,
Volunteers: <100,000
strength2=Regular army: 60,000,
86 warships and frigates
casualties1=Military deaths: unknown,
Civilian deaths: <100,000
casualties2=Military deaths: 57,000 (37,000 combat; 20,000 yellow fever)
Civilian deaths: ~25,000
casualties3=
notes=

The Revolution (1791–1804) was the most successful of African slave rebellions in the Western Hemisphere. It established Haiti as a free republic ruled by blacks, the first of its kind. At the time of the revolution, Haiti was known as Saint-Domingue and was a colony of France. Through the revolution, people of African ancestry freed themselves from French colonization and from slavery. Although hundreds of rebellions occurred during the slave era, only revolt on Saint-Domingue, beginning in 1791, succeeded in permanently liberating an entire island.cite book
first=Jan
last=Rogozinski
year= 1999
title= A Brief History of the Caribbean
edition= Revised
publisher=Facts on File, Inc.
location=New York
pages= pp 85, 116–118, 133, 158, 164-167, 169
id= ISBN 0-8160-3811-2
]

Haiti was the first republic in modern history led by people of African descent. It went directly from being a French colony to governing itself. The pattern established under colonial rule had powerful effects, having established a model of minority rule over the illiterate poor using violence and threats. Colonialism and slavery were outlived by the racial prejudice that they had contributed to. The new racial elite had African ancestry, but many were also of European ancestry as descendants of white planters. Some had received educations, served in the military, and accumulated land and wealth. Lighter-skinned than most Haitians, who were descendants mostly of former enslaved Africans, the mulattoes dominated politics and economics. Historians traditionally identify the catalyst to revolution as a particular Vodou service in August 1791 performed at Bois Caïman by Dutty Boukman, a priest.cite web
url=http://www.webster.edu/~corbetre/haiti/history/revolution/revolution1.htm
title=Prelude to the Revolution: 1760 to 1789
publisher=
accessdate=2006-11-28
] But a number of complex events set the stage that culminated in the most significant revolt in the history of enslaved Africans.

Background

The riches of the Caribbean depended on the Europeans' increasing taste for sugar, which plantation owners traded for provisions from North America and manufactured goods from Europe. Starting in the 1730s, French engineers constructed complex irrigation systems to increase sugarcane production. By the 1740s Saint-Domingue, together with Jamaica, had become the main supplier of the world's sugar. Sugar production depended on extensive manual labor provided by enslaved Africans in the harsh Saint-Domingue colonial plantation economy. The white planters who derived their wealth from the sale of sugar knew they were outnumbered by slaves by a factor of more than ten and lived in fear of slave rebellion.

In 1758, the white landowners began passing legislation that set restrictions on the rights of other groups of people until a rigid caste system was defined. Most historians have classified the people of the era into three groups. One was the white colonists, or "blancs". A second was the free blacks (usually mixed-race, known as mulattoes or "gens de couleur", free people of color). These tended to be educated, literate and often served in the army or as administrators on plantations. Many were children of white planters and slave mothers. The males often received education or artisan training, sometimes received property from their fathers, and freedom. The third group, outnumbering the others by a ratio of ten to one, was made up of mostly African-born slaves. A high rate of mortality among them meant that new slaves were being continually imported. They spoke a patois of French and West African languages known as Creole, which was also used by native mulattoes and whites for communication with the workers.cite web
url=http://www.kreyol.com/history003.html
title=Haiti - French Colonialism
publisher=
accessdate=2006-11-27
]

White colonists and black slaves frequently had violent conflicts. Gangs of runaway slaves, known as maroons, lived in the woods away from control. They often conducted violent raids on the island's sugar and coffee plantations. The success of these attacks established a black Haitian martial tradition of violence and brutality to effect political ends. [cite web
url=http://www.kreyol.com/history004.html
title=The Haitian Revolution - The Slave Rebellion of 1791
publisher=kreyol.com
accessdate=2007-08-22
] Although the numbers in these bands grew large (sometimes into the thousands), they generally lacked the leadership and strategy to accomplish large-scale objectives. The first effective maroon leader to emerge was the charismatic François Mackandal, who succeeded in unifying the black resistance. A Vodou priest, Mackandal inspired his people by drawing on African traditions and religions. He united the maroon bands and also established a network of secret organizations among plantation slaves, leading a rebellion from 1751 through 1757. Although Mackandal was captured by the French and burned at the stake in 1758, large armed maroon bands persisted in raids and harassment after his death.cite web
url=http://www.kreyol.com/history004.html
title=The Slave Rebellion of 1791
publisher=
accessdate=2006-11-27
] cite book
first=Jan
last=Rogozinski
year= 1999
title= A Brief History of the Caribbean
edition= Revised
publisher=Facts on File, Inc.
location=New York
pages= pp 85, 116–117, 164–165
id= ISBN 0-8160-3811-2
]

ituation in 1789

In 1789 Saint-Domingue, producer of 40 percent of the world's sugar, was the most valuable colony on earth.Fact|date=August 2008 The lowest class of society were enslaved blacks, who outnumbered whites and people of color by eight to one.cite book
first=Jan
last=Rogozinski
year= 1999
title= A Brief History of the Caribbean
edition= Revised
publisher=Facts on File, Inc.
location=New York
pages= pp 164–165
id= ISBN 0-8160-3811-2
] The slave population on the island totaled at least 500,000 by 1789, almost half of the one million slaves in the Caribbean. [Herbert Klein, Transatlantic Slave Trade, Pg. 32-33] They were mostly African-born. The death rate in the Caribbean exceeded the birth rate, so imports of enslaved Africans continued. The slave population declined at an annual rate of two to five percent, due to overwork; inadequate food, shelter, clothing and medical care; and an imbalance between the sexes, with more men than women. [Tim Matthewson, A Pro-Slavery Foreign Policy: Haitian-American Relations During the Early Republic, (Praeger: Westport, Ct. and London, 2003) Pg. 3] Some slaves were of a creole elite class of urban slaves and domestics, who worked as cooks, personal servants and artisans around the plantation house. This relatively privileged class was chiefly born in the Americas, while the under-class born in Africa labored hard under abusive conditions.

The Plaine du Nord on the northern shore of Saint-Domingue was the most fertile area with the largest sugar plantations. It was the area of most economic importance. Here enslaved Africans lived in large groups of workers in relative isolation, separated from the rest of the colony by the high mountain range known as the "Massif". This area was the seat of power of the "grand blancs", the rich white colonists who wanted greater autonomy for the colony, especially economically.cite book
first=Franklin W.
last= Knight
year= 1990
title= The Caribbean: The Genesis of a Fragmented Nationalism
edition= 2nd
publisher=Oxford University Press
location=New York
pages= pp 204–208
id= ISBN 0-19-505441-5
]

Among Saint-Domingue’s 40,000 white colonials in 1789, European-born Frenchmen monopolized administrative posts. The sugar planters, the "grand blancs", were chiefly minor aristocrats. Most returned to France as soon as possible, hoping to avoid the dreaded yellow fever, which regularly swept the colony. [C.L.R. James, Black Jacobins (Vintage, 1989) Pg. 29] The lower class whites, "petit blancs", included artisans, shopkeepers, slave dealers, overseers, and day laborers. Saint-Domingue’s free people of color, the "gens de couleur", numbered more than 28,000 by 1789. Many of them were also artisans and overseers, or domestic servants in the big houses. [Robert Heinl, "Written in Blood: The History of the Haitian People", New York: Lanham, 1996, p. 45]

In addition to class and racial tension between whites, free people of color, and enslaved blacks, the country was polarized by regional rivalries between the North, South, and West. There were also conflicts between proponents of independence, those loyal to France, allies of Spain, and allies of Great Britain - who coveted control of the valuable colony.

Impact of French Revolution

In France, the majority of the Estates General, an advisory body to the King, constituted itself as the National Assembly, made radical changes in French laws, and on August 26, 1789, published the Declaration of the Rights of Man, declaring all men free and equal. The French Revolution shaped the course of the conflict in Saint-Domingue and was at first widely welcomed in the island. So many were the twists and turns in the leadership in France, and so complex were events in Saint-Domingue, that various classes and parties changed their alignments many times.Fact|date=December 2007

The African population on the island began to hear of the agitation for independence by the rich European planters, the "grands blancs", who had resented France's limitations on the island's foreign trade. This class mostly allied with the royalists and the British, as Africans understood that if Saint-Domingue's independence were to be led by white slave masters, it would probably mean even harsher treatment and increased injustice for the African population as the plantation owners would be free to inflict slavery as they pleased without even minimal accountability to their French peers.

Saint-Domingue's free people of color, most notably Julien Raimond, had been actively appealing to France for full civil equality with whites since the 1780s. Raimond used the French Revolution to make this the major colonial issue before the French National Assembly. In October 1790, Vincent Ogé, another wealthy free man of color from the colony, returned home from Paris, where he had been working with Raimond. Convinced that a law passed by the French Constitutent Assembly gave full civil rights to wealthy men of color, Ogé demanded the right to vote. When the colonial governor refused, Ogé led a brief insurgency in the area around Cap Francais. He was captured in early 1791, and brutally executed by being broken on the wheel. Ogé was not fighting against slavery, but his treatment was cited by later slave rebels as one of the factors in their decision to rise up in August 1791 and resist treaties with the colonists. The conflict up to this point was between factions of whites, and between whites and free coloreds. Enslaved blacks watched from the sidelines.

Leading French writer Count Mirabeau had once said the Saint-Domingue whites "slept at the foot of Vesuvius", [Hochschild, Adam "Bury the Chains: The British Struggle to Abolish Slavery" (2006)] an indication of the grave threat they faced should the majority of slaves launch a sustained major uprising.

1791 slave rebellion

No one expected the slaves to participate in the rebellion. But suddenly on August 22, 1791, a great slave uprising plunged the country into civil war. Thousands of slaves in the fertile Plaine du Nord region rose up to take vengeance on their masters and to fight for their liberty. Within the next ten days, slaves had taken control of the entire northern province in an unprecedented slave revolt that left the whites controlling only a few isolated fortified camps. Within the next two months as the violence escalated, the rebellious slaves killed 2,000 whites and burned or destroyed 280 sugar plantations.cite book
first=Jan
last=Rogozinski
year= 1999
title= A Brief History of the Caribbean
edition= Revised
publisher=Facts on File, Inc.
location=New York
pages= p. 167
id= ISBN 0-8160-3811-2
] Within a year, the island was in revolutionary chaos. Slaves burnt the plantations where they had been forced to work, and killed masters, overseers and other whites.

French authorities were initially confident that they could put down the rebellion, as they had put down smaller revolts in the past. [Hochschild p.258] Larger disturbances began as leaders Jean François and Georges Biassou led the slave uprising to align with the pro-royalist Spanish authorities in Santo Domingo. The slave rebellion that had begun on the plantations in the north spread chaos across the colony.

On April 4, 1792, the French legislature proclaimed the equality of all free people in the French colonies regardless of color; this provided equal civil rights to the gens de couleur, but did not end slavery. They sent a commission led by Léger-Félicité Sonthonax to Saint-Domingue to ensure that the colonial authorities complied. The colony's Governor was recalled to France and guillotined. [Hochschild p.267] Many of the colonists resented extending rights to people of color.

Leadership of Toussaint

One of the most successful black commanders was Toussaint Louverture, a self-educated former domestic slave. Like Jean Francois and Biassou, he initially fought for the Spanish crown. After the English had invaded Haiti, he decided to fight for the French if they would agree to free all the slaves. Sonthonax had proclaimed an end to slavery on 29 August 1793. Toussaint Louverture worked with a French general, Étienne Laveaux, to ensure all slaves would be freed. He brought his forces over to the French side in May 1794 and began to fight for the French Republic. Many enslaved Africans were attracted to Toussaint's forces. He insisted on discipline and restricted wholesale slaughter.

Under the military leadership of Toussaint, the forces made up mostly of former slaves succeeded in winning concessions from the English and expelling the Spanish forces. In the end, he essentially restored control of Saint-Domingue to France. Having made himself master of the island, however, Toussaint did not wish to surrender too much power to France. He began to rule the country effectively as an autonomous entity. Louverture overcame a succession of local rivals (including the Commissioner Sonthonax, André Rigaud, who fought to keep control of the South, and Comte d'Hédouville). Hédouville forced a fatal wedge between Rigaud and Toussaint before he escaped back to France.cite web
url=http://www.webster.edu/~corbetre/haiti/history/revolution/revolution3.htm
title=Review of Haitian Revolution Part II
publisher=
accessdate=2006-11-27
] Toussaint defeated a British expeditionary force in 1798, and even led an invasion of neighboring Santo Domingo, freeing the slaves there by 1801.

In 1801, Louverture issued a constitution for Saint-Domingue which provided for autonomy and decreed that he would be governor-for-life. In retaliation, Napoleon Bonaparte dispatched a large expeditionary force of French soldiers and warships to the island, led by Bonaparte's brother-in-law Charles Leclerc, to restore French rule, and under secret instructions to later restore slavery. The numerous French soldiers were accompanied by mulatto troops led by Alexandre Pétion and André Rigaud, mulatto leaders who had been defeated by Toussaint three years earlier. During the struggles, some of Toussaint's closest allies, including Jean-Jacques Dessalines, defected to Leclerc.

Louverture was promised his freedom, if he agreed to integrate his remaining troops into the French Army. Louverture agreed to this in May 1802 but was later deceived, seized, and shipped off to France. He died months later while imprisoned at Fort-de-Joux in the Jura region.

Resistance to slavery

For a few months the island was quiet under Napoleonic rule. But when it became apparent that the French intended to re-establish slavery (because they did so on Guadeloupe), Dessalines and Pétion switched sides again, in October 1802, and fought against the French. In November, Leclerc died of yellow fever, like much of his army, and his successor, the Vicomte de Rochambeau, fought an even more brutal campaign. His atrocities helped rally many former French loyalists to the rebel cause. The French were further weakened by a British naval blockade, and by the unwillingness of Napoleon to send the requested massive reinforcements. Napoleon had sold the Louisiana Territory to the United States in April 1803, and had begun to lose interest in his ventures in the Western Hemisphere. Dessalines led the rebellion until its completion when the French forces were finally defeated in 1803.

The last battle of the Haitian Revolution, the Battle of Vertières, occurred on November 18 1803, near Cap-Haitien and was fought between Haitian rebels led by Jean-Jacques Dessalines and the French colonial army under the Viscount of Rochambeau. On 1 January 1804, from the city of Gonaïves, Dessalines officially declared the former colony's independence, renaming it "Haiti" after the indigenous Arawak name. This major loss was a decisive blow to France and its colonial empire.

Free republic

On January 1, 1804, Dessalines, the new leader under the dictatorial 1801 constitution, declared Haiti a free republic. Thus Haiti became the second independent nation in the Western Hemisphere, after the United States, following the only successful slave rebellion in world history. The country was crippled by years of war, its agriculture devastated, its formal commerce nonexistent, and the people uneducated and mostly unskilled.cite web
url=http://www.kreyol.com/history005.html
title=Independent Haiti
publisher=
accessdate=2006-11-27
] cite web
url=http://lcweb2.loc.gov/frd/cs/httoc.html#ht0013
title=Chapter 6 - "Haiti: Historical Setting", in "A Country Study: Haiti"
author=Anne Greene
publisher=* Federal Research Service of Library of Congress
publicationdate=1988-98
chapter=
] Haiti agreed to make reparations to French slaveholders in 1825 in the amount of 150 million francs, reduced in 1838 to 60 million francs, in exchange for French recognition of its independence and to achieve freedom from French aggression. This indemnity bankrupted the Haitian treasury and mortgaged Haiti's future to the French banks providing the funds for the large first installment, permanently affecting Haiti's ability to be prosperous. [cite web
year=200a
month=
url=http://lcweb2.loc.gov/frd/cs/httoc.html#ht0021
title=A Country Study: Haiti -- Boyer: Expansion and Decline
publisher=* Library of Congress
accessdate=2007-08-30
]

The end of the Haitian Revolution in 1804 marked the end of colonialism in Haiti, but the social conflict cultivated under slavery continued to affect the population. The revolution left in power an affranchi élite as well as the formidable Haitian army. France continued the slavery system in Martinique and Guadeloupe. Great Britain was able to abolish its slave trade in 1807 and in 1833 abolished slavery completely in the British West Indies. France formally recognized Haiti as an independent nation in 1834, as did the United States in 1862.cite book
first=Franklin W.
last= Knight
year= 1990
title= The Caribbean: The Genesis of a Fragmented Nationalism
edition= 2nd
publisher=Oxford University Press
location=New York
pages= p. 212
id= ISBN 0-19-505441-5
]

Impacts

The Haitian Revolution was influential in slave rebellions in America and British colonies. The loss of a major source of western revenue shook Napoleon's faith in the promise of the western world, encouraging him to unload other French assets in the region including the territory known as Louisiana. In the early 1800s, many refugees, including free people of color and white planters, of whom some in both categories had owned slaves, settled in New Orleans, adding many new members to both its French-speaking mixed-race population and African population.

In 1807 Britain became the first major power to permanently abolish the slave trade. Although slaves in the United States attempted to mimic Toussaint Louverture's actions without success, the Haitian Revolution stood as a model for achieving emancipation. Louverture remains a hero and is represented in art.

In 2004, Haiti celebrated the bicentennial of its independence from France.

Literature and art

* English poet William Wordsworth published his sonnet [http://www.nathanielturner.com/toussaintpoem.htm "To Toussaint Louverture"] in January 1803.
* In 1939, American artist Jacob Lawrence created a series of paintings "The Life of Toussaint Louverture", which he later adapted into [http://www.alitashkgallery.com/lawrencetl/ prints] .
* Cuban writer Alejo Carpentier's second novel, "The Kingdom of this World" (1949), (translated into English 1957), explores the Haitian Revolution in depth. It is one of the novels that inaugurated the Latin American renaissance in fiction beginning in the mid-20th century. Madison Smartt Bell has written a magnificent and powerful trilogy called All Souls Rising about the life of Toussaint Louverture and the slave uprising.Vintage Books 1995.
* In 2004 an exhibition of paintings entitled [http://kimathidonkor.net/docs/haiti_gallery_frameset.html "Caribbean Passion: Haiti 1804"] , by artist Kimathi Donkor, was held in London to celebrate the bicentenary of Haiti's revolution.
* Danny Glover is planning to direct a film about Toussaint Louverture in 2009.

ee also

* Mawon
* Polish Legions in Italy
* U.S. Reaction to the Haitian Revolution
* "The Crime of Napoleon (book)"

Notes

: *Please note that the URL in a footnote whose link is followed by an asterisk may occasionally require special attention.Web pages for FRD Country Studies are subject to changes of URL. If a page linked from a footnote that cites the Haiti study bears a title different from that cited next to the link, consult [http://lcweb2.loc.gov/frd/cs/httoc.html A Country Study: Haiti] for the revised URL.]

References

* Dubois, Laurent. "Avengers of the New World: The Story of the Haitian Revolution." Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard University (2005) ISBN 0-674-01826-5.
* Dubois, Laurent & Garrigus, John D. "Slave Revolution in the Caribbean, 1789–1804: A Brief History with Documents." Bedford/St. Martin's Press (2006) ISBN 0-312-41501-X.
* Garrigus, John D. "Before Haiti: Race and Citizenship in Saint-Domingue." Palgrave-Macmillan, (2006) ISBN 1-4039-7140-4.
* Geggus, David P. "Haitian Revolutionary Studies." University of South Carolina Press, (2002) ISBN 1-57003-416-8.
* James, C.L.R. "The Black Jacobins: Toussaint L'Ouverture and the San Domingo Revolution." Vintage, 2nd edition, (1989) ISBN 0-679-72467-2.
* Ott, Thomas O. "The Haitian Revolution, 1789–1804." University of Tennessee Press, 1973.
* Peyre-Ferry, Joseph Elysée. "Journal des opérations militaires de l'armée francaise à Saint-Domingue,1802-1803" (2006), ISBN 2846210527.

External links

* [http://www.webster.edu/~corbetre/haiti/history/revolution/revolution.htm Haiti: Revolutionary War 1791 - 1803]
* [http://thelouvertureproject.org/wiki/index.php?title=Main_Page The Louverture Project] : [http://thelouvertureproject.org/wiki/index.php?title=Timeline_of_Events_in_Haitian_Revolutionary_History Timeline of Events in Haitian Revolutionary History]
* [http://www.loc.gov/rr/international/hispanic/haiti/resources/haiti-history.html Portals to the World - Haiti]
* [http://thelouvertureproject.org/index.php?title=Haitian_Constitution_of_1801_%28English%29 Haitian Constitution of 1801 (English)]
* [http://www.hartford-hwp.com/archives/43a/index.html Haiti Archives]
* [http://www.ci.miami.fl.us/haiti2004/history.htm Haiti - The First Black Republic in the World]


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