The Beginning In 1492 Christopher Columbus sailed to and island in the Caribbean which he named Hispaniola. The following year in 1493, he returned with 1,200 men and created the Spanish colony of Santo Domingo (modern day Dominican Republic) which is located on the east side of the island. Sadly, after his arrival Columbus enslaved the Taino’s who were native people of Haiti and forced then to mine for gold and work on plantations.
This forced labor led to the near decimation of the native population. Later on, the French had made their way over to the island of Hispaniola, and in 1659 they were able to successfully establish the French colony of Saint-Domingue (modern day Haiti) on the western side of the island.Slavery BeginsIn 1685 King Louis the XIV created the Code Noir (The Black Code) which was a document that outlined France’s position on slavery. This document established five main rules that the slaves and the residents of Saint-Domingue were obliged to follow. According to the Choices: The Haitian Revolution, here are the five mains components of the Code Noir.
Slaves were considered their master’s personal propertySlaves were forbidden from assembling for things such as marriage ceremonies or dancesFugitives that were caught trying to escape were subjected to very cruel punishments (having their ears cut off – or being killed)After the Code Noir was established, white planters were given the ability to shoot anyone that they thought to be a fugitiveThe name maroons was given to the slaves that had escaped the plantations(Choices, 9)The Revolution BeginsWhen The Declaration of Rights of Man and Citizen was signed in France and it stated that all men were born free. Slaves in the French colonies believed that the same rules applied to them as well, which wasn’t the case. The slaves in Saint-Domingue believed that they were free, but their masters refused to go abide by their claims. In August 1791, after an extensive amount of planning the Haitian Revolution began. Under the command of rebellion leader Boukman Dutty, rebels burned and destroyed thousands of plantations and killed hundreds of whites and mulattoes (Choices, 12). As the Revolution broke out in Saint-Domingue, Spain and Britain did their best not to provoke war, and make sure that revolutionary ideas didn’t spread to their territories (Spanish Santo Domingo and British Jamaica). Though after the National Convention was established, it became impossible for them to remain neutral and war began.
Many leaders of the rebel from Saint-Domingue joined Spanish forces and helped them fight against the French.Toussaint Louverture Toussaint Louverture was a former educated slave who was legally freed in 1776 (John E. Fagg). When the Revolution began he became a rebel leader, and joined the revolt against the French. He was a military strategist and was known for his brilliance.
His army grew tremendously and he ended up with several thousand troops under the Spanish. He played a big role in helping Haiti gain the freedom it has today.European ReactionWith both the French and Haitian Revolution occurring at the same time, other European countries thought it would be a good idea to seize opportunity to take over the land of Haiti because it has become on of the wealthiest colonies on earth. Britain ended up taking over a few parts of south Saint-Domingue. The white planters that lived in Saint-Domingue worked the British because they believed that, that was to only way to keep slavery alive. In 1794 the National Assembly abolished slavery Later, Louverture abandoned the Spanish and began working with the French again. The Spanish knew that they couldn’t stand a chance against the French, both countries ended up signing the Treaty of Basel.
So then the Spanish ceded and now France had total control of the island.Still, Britain occupied some territory in Saint-Domingue so Louverture teamed with Affranchis leader Andre Rigaud to push them out. They were able to complete to free the remaining slaves.Sadly their alliance was only temporary and soon after the got rid of the British civil war broke out and now the two were fighting against each other.
They fought and whoever won would have complete control over the island of Hispaniola. Louverture’s army fought to protect themselves from the inequality that the Affranchis promoted.The War of the KnivesDuring the war Louverture created a blockade which prevented Rigaud’s army from receiving any food money, food, or supplies. They were left to fend for themselves which severely weakened their forces. Finally in July 1800 Louverture sent his highest ranking officer Jean-Jacques Dessalines to one and for all defeat Rigaud’s army.
The United States and Britain worked with Louverture and provided him with all the necessities that he needed to succeed. And he did. Economics After Louverture was named the governor of Saint-Domingue by the National Assembly the economy wasn’t doing so well. After such an extensive amount of fighting Saint-Domingue was producing a fraction of what they were able to before all the conflict began. Sadly the economy hasn’t improved much since.***Insert charts and graph***The Constitution of 1801 Now, Louverture has total control of the island he made it his priority to abolish slavery, and he created The Constitution of 1801.
The constitution consisted of…Abolished slavery and declared that all citizens had equal rightsOutlawed voodoo in favor of CatholicismAll people of S-D were to be French citizensLand to be concentrated into large estates (needed to be fifty carreaux or about 3.3 acres)Citizens required to work a mandatory number of hours on the plantations in order to keep the economy functioning ? received daily wagesLouverture declared himself Governor-General for Life(Choices, 24)Napoleon Fights Back The people of Hispaniola were not quite fond of their governors new resolution, and Napoleon Bonaparte was definitely not a fan. The people believed that Louverture was just introducing slavery in another name and wanted to gain independence from France. Napoleon believed that this constitution was a push for independence which scared him. So, he sent his top officer General Leclerc to recapture Saint-Domingue. Within three weeks of being deployed French forces were able to obtain Saint-Domingue, and most of Louverture’s army joined the French not knowing the Napoleon was planning to reinstate slavery as soon a power over Saint-Domingue was given to him.