10 Facts on the Haitian Revolution

10 Facts on the Haitian Revolution
  • It was a successful antislavery and anticolonial revolution against the French colonial rule by the slaves in Saint Dominigue (modern day Haiti). It lasted from 1791-1804 and is the only slave uprising that led to the formation of a country.
  • It is the largest slave revolution in the western hemisphere. In the 18th century, Haiti was the wealthiest French colony. The sugar, coffee, Indigo and cotton generated by the slaves made it very rich.
  • There were white people in the late 1700s that were artisans and shopkeepers called the petit Blancs. The French Government imposed high tariffs on them and this made them want support the liberation movement. There were also another group of white people called the planters who owned slaves but were forbidden by France to trade with any other nation. This also made them dissatisfied with the French rulers.
  • In 1789 there were about 30,000 free black people in Haiti, most of them were “Mulatto”(of mixed heritage) and they were wealthier than the petit Blancs. There were over 50,000 slaves and other run away slaves who lived in the remote areas and survived off farming. The slaves outnumbered the colonial officials greatly and this often led to a number of slave rebellions. Slavery in Haiti was said to be so cruel that the life expectancy of the slaves was very low and some slaves could not even bear children. As a result, many slaves had to keep being brought in. This meant that the slaves still had close connections to their African roots. This was helpful to them because they were said to have defeated the French by dropping the religion forced on them by their colonial masters (Christianity) and turning to their ancient traditional practices (Voodoo).

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  • Inspired by the French Revolution, some revolutionary movements were stirred up in Haiti and then the General Assembly in Paris issued a legislation that called for all local business owners to become active citizens. Only the planters were said to have benefited from this and the petit blancs were left feeling unsatisfied. Some “Mulattoes” also benefited from this legislation, this legislation was a poor attempt by France to keep Haiti under their colonial empire. The Petit Blancs hated the “Mulattoes” even before the legislation was passed. Some say they resented the fact that people with African Heritage were seen as “better” than them.
  • There was a three-sided civil war of some sorts between the Planters, Petit blancs and Mulattoes. The slaves, on the other hand, were unimpressed with all three groups as they were also influenced by the French Revolution.
  • On the 21st of August 1791, a group of slaves led by a former slave Toussaint l’Overture rebelled against their masters (the planters). By 1792 they had conquered so much land and freed so many slaves that they now controlled about a third of the Island. France kept sending in more soldiers but to no avail. The British arrived in 1793 to conquer the colony and they were also prevented from doing this by the rebels and thus withdrew in 1798 after being defeated several times by Toussaint’s army.
  • By 1801 Toussaint captured the Spanish Colony of Santa Domingo (modern day Dominican Republic) and freed the slaves by abolishing slavery. He later declared himself Governor General of the Hispaniola Islands. This caused some controversy because he declared that he will be the Governor General for life.
  • Napoleon Bonaparte sent over 40,000 troops to Haiti to stop the revolution and capture Toussaint l’Overture. He was captured and died in prison in 1803. Jacques Dessalines was a general under Toussaint, he took over and led the revolutionaries to a victory against the French forces at the Battle of Vertieres on the 18th of November 1803.
  • Saint Dominigue was declared independent on the 1st of January 1804 and was renamed Haiti. Haiti became the first Black Republic in the world and France was the first nation to recognise it’s independence.
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26 thoughts on “10 Facts on the Haitian Revolution

  1. Wow, thanks for this post! I learned a lot about Haiti. I definetely did not know that it was the first black republic. Was there a reason why France was first to recognise them?

    1. The had to concede because they lost to them. I think it used to be some kind of war protocol.

  2. Very interesting, a lot i didnt Know . Thanks for efucating me 👍 I have visited once,but very briefly.

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  4. sara

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