Slaves initiated the rebellion in 1791 and by 1803 they had succeeded in ending not just slavery but French control over the colony. 

In the 18th century, Saint Dominigue, as Haiti was then known, became France's wealthiest overseas colony, largely because of its production of sugar, coffee, indigo, and cotton generated by an enslaved labor force.  When the French revolution broke out in 1789 there were five distinct sets of interest groups in the colony. There were white planters -- who owned the plantations and the slaves -- and petit blancs, who were artisans, shop keepers and teachers.  Some of them also owned a few slaves.  Together they numbered 40,000 of the colony’s residents.  Many of the whites on Saint Dominigue began to support an independence movement that began when France imposed steep tariffs on the items imported into the colony.  

Haiti and The White Curse



The Progressive magazine, June 2004, "The White Curse [Haiti]" by Eduardo Galeano  --  On the first day of his year, freedom in this world turned 200. But no one noticed, or almost no one. A few days later, the country where this birth occurred, Haiti, found itself in the media spotlight, not for the anniversary of universal freedom but for the ouster of President Aristide.

The Slave Rebellion of 1791

Violent conflicts between white colonists and black slaves were common in Saint-Domingue. Bands of runaway slaves, known as maroons (marrons), entrenched 
themselves in bastions in the colony's mountains and forests, from which they harried white-owned plantations both to secure provisions and weaponry and to 
avenge themselves against the inhabitants. As their numbers grew, these bands, sometimes consisting of thousands of people, began to carry out hit-and-run attacks 
throughout the colony. This guerrilla warfare, however, lacked centralized organization and leadership.

Thomas Jefferson Would Want Reparations for Haiti's Wretched

by: Chantal Laurent

Is it indicative of the fear Haiti instills in the bosoms of tyrants that the vital role Haiti played in the abolishment of slavery globally is left out of most popular narratives and histories? No? Then, it must be by design.

Why is it that films like "Lincoln," for one, do not dare utter, never mind credit Haiti as the place where the quest for an end to slavery flourished and was fought and won in spectacular fashion over six decades before Lincoln "freed the slaves?"

Slavery and the Haitian Revolution

Since the revolutionaries explicitly proclaimed liberty as their highest ideal, slavery was bound to come into question during the French Revolution.  Even before 1789 critics had attacked the slave trade and slavery in the colonies.  France had several colonies in the Caribbean in which slavery supported a plantation economy that produced sugar, coffee, and cotton.  The most important of these colonies was Saint Domingue (later Haiti), which had 452,000 slaves, 32,000 whites, and 28,000 free blacks (which included both blacks and mulattos).  The slaves in Saint-Domingue, made up almost half of the approximate 1,000,000 slaves present in the Caribbean at the time.  Some free blacks owned slaves; in fact, the free blacks owned one-third of the plantation property and one-quarter of the slaves in Saint Domingue, though they could not hold public office or practice many professions (medicine, for example).

Slave Routes - Americas and Carabbean

The Dominican Republic occupies the eastern two thirds of the island called Hispaniola (Little Spain), which it shares with Haiti. In 1496 it became the site of the first European colony in the Western Hemisphere, with the city of Santo Domingo as the Spanish administrative capital for all the Americas. The early settlers enslaved many of the indigenous Taino people to work in their gold mines and brutality and disease all but wiped out a population of around one million in 50 years. With local labour in short supply, the gold hungry colonists made Santo Domingo the first destination for enslaved Africans in America, a substantial 'cargo' of 5000 arriving in 1511.

Haitian Slave Revolt 1791

One important period in Haitian history is the slave revolt. 

The slave revolt  is known of certainly, but how much is known of it?
Do we fully appreciate what a massive struggle it was, and how much the slave army overcame?
What message is held within their heroic struggle that may hold meaning for us ? Thinking about this piece of history, how one tiny island, and it's populace fought three empires, the Spanish, the French and the British.
I am left to wonder- Are we, the common folk, not taught about because it was a time when people, ordinary, largely illiterate oppressed people took the power?  
An excerpt below-

Haiti’s Agonies and Exaltations

The history of Haiti will break your heart. Knowing it, the weak will despair, but the caring will strive to break the chains of tragedy.

When Columbus landed on the island in December 1492, he found a native Arawak, or Taino, population of three million people or more, well fed, with cultivated fields, lots of children, living in peace. It had by far the largest population of any island in the Caribbean. Twenty-two years later, there were fewer than 27,000 who had not fallen victim to the sword, the ravages of forced labor, and diseases heretofore unknown to them. The Spaniards called the island La Ysla Española, which in use became Hispaniola.

Social Triggers of the Haitian Revolution

The Haitian Revolution was the result of a long struggle on the part of the slaves in the French colony of St. Domingue, but was also propelled by the free Mulattoes who had long faced the trials of being denoted as semi-citizens. This revolt was not unique, as there were several rebellions of its kind against the institution of plantation slavery in the Caribbean, but the Haitian Revolution the most successful. This had a great deal to do with the influence of the French Revolution, as it helped to inspire events in Haiti. The Haitian Revolution would go on to serve as a model for those affected by slavery throughout the world.

[12 3  >>  


Haitian Heritage Musem.png
Musee Ogie Foonbrum.png

Funded by W.K. Kellogg Foundation