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    Haiti: The Revolution of 1791

    The Haitian Revolution of 1791-1803

    An Historical Essay in Four Parts by Bob Corbett

    Overview of First Essay

    The shortest account which one typically hears of the Haitian Revolution is that the slaves rose up In 1791 and by 1803 had driven the whites out of Saint-Domingue, (the colonial name of Haiti) declaring the independent Republic of Haiti. It's certainly true that this happened. But, the Revolution was much more complex. Actually there were several revolutions going on simultaneously, all deeply influenced by the French Revolution which commenced In Paris in 1789. In this first of four essays on The Haitian Revolution, I will do two things:

    Analyze the antecedents of the revolution and clarify some of the complex and shifting positions of the various interest groups which participated in it.

    Follow the earliest days of three revolutionary movements:

    The planters' move toward independence.

    The people of color's revolution for full citizenship.

    The slave uprising of 1791.

    Prelude to the Revolution:  1760 to 1789

    The colony of Saint-Domingue, geographically roughly the same land mass that is today Haiti, was the richest colony in the West Indies and probably the richest colony in the history of the world. Driven by slave labor and enabled by fertile soil and ideal climate, Saint-Domingue produced sugar, coffee, cocoa, indigo, tobacco, cotton, sisal as well as some fruits and vegetables for the motherland, France.

    When the French Revolution broke out in 1789, there were four distinct sets of interest groups in Saint-Domingue, with distinct sets of interests and even some important distinctions within these many categories:

    The whites

    The free people of color

    The black slaves The maroons

    The Whites

    There were approximately 20,000 whites, mainly French, in Saint-Domingue. They were divided into two main groups:

    The Planters

    These were wealthy whites who owned plantations and many slaves. Since their wealth and position rested entirely on the slave economy they were united in support of slavery. They were, by 1770, extremely disenchanted with France. Their complaint was almost identical with the complaints that led the North American British to rebel against King George in 1776 and declare their independence. That is, the metropole (France), imposed strict laws on the colony prohibiting any trading with any partner except France. Further, the colonists had no formal representation with the French government.

    Virtually all the planters violated the laws of France and carried on an illegal trade especially with the fledgling nation, the United States of America. Most of the planters leaned strongly toward independence for Saint-Domingue along the same lines as the U.S., that is, a slave nation governed by white males.

    It is important to note at the outset that this group was revolutionary, independence-minded and defiant of the laws of France.

    Petit Blancs

    The second group of whites were less powerful than the planters. They were artisans, shop keepers, merchants, teachers and various middle and underclass whites. They often had a few slaves, but were not wealthy like the planters.

    They tended to be less independence-minded and more loyal to France.

    However, they were committed to slavery and were especially anti-black, seeing free persons of color as serious economic and social competitors.

    The Free Persons of Color

    There were approximately 30,000 free persons of color in 1789. About half of them were mulattoes, children of white Frenchmen and slave women. These mulattoes were often freed by their father-masters in some sort of paternal guilt or concern. These mulatto children were usually feared by the slaves since the masters often displayed unpredictable behavior toward them, at times recognizing them as their children and demanding special treatment, at other times wishing to deny their existence. Thus the slaves wanted nothing to do with the mulattoes if possible.

    The other half of the free persons of color were black slaves who had purchased their own freedom or been given freedom by their masters for various reasons.

    The free people of color were often quite wealthy, certainly usually more wealthy than the petit blancs (thus accounting for the distinct hatred of the free persons of color on the part of the petit blancs), and often even more wealthy than the planters.

    The free persons of color could own plantations and owned a large portion of the slaves. They often treated their slaves poorly and almost always wanted to draw distinct lines between themselves and the slaves. Free people of color were usually strongly pro-slavery.

    There were special laws which limited the behavior of the free people of color and they did not have rights as citizens of France. Like the planters, they tended to lean toward independence and to wish for a free Saint-Domingue which would be a slave nation in which they could be free and independent citizens. As a class they certainly regarded the slaves as much more their enemies than they did the whites.

    Culturally the free people of color strove to be more white than the whites. They denied everything about their African and black roots. They dressed as French and European as the law would allow, they were well educated in the French manner, spoke French and denigrated the Creole language of the slaves. They were scrupulous Catholics and denounced the Voodoo religion of Africa. While the whites treated them badly and scorned their color, they nonetheless strove to imitate every thing white, seeing this a way of separating themselves from the status of the slaves whom they despised.

    Source : faculty.webster.edu

    The Haitian Revolution (1791

    The Haitian Revolution (1791-1804):  A Different Route to Emancipation

    Copyright 2003  Prof. Jeremy Popkin, University of Kentucky (email: [email protected])

    Not for citation without permission

    The American Revolution of 1776 proclaimed that all men have “inalienable rights,” but the revolutionaries did not draw what seems to us the logical conclusion from this statement:  that slavery and racial discrimination cannot be justified.  The creation of the United States led instead to the expansion of African-American slavery in the southern states.  It took the Civil War of 1861-65 to bring about emancipation.

    Just when the American constitution was going into effect in 1789, a revolution broke out in France.  Like the American revolutionaries, the French immediately proclaimed that “men are born and remain free and equal in rights.”  But did this apply to the slaves in France’s overseas colonies?  The question was an important one.  Even though France’s colonies looked small on the map, the three Caribbean colonies of Saint Domingue (today’s Republic of Haiti), Guadeloupe and Martinique contained almost as many slaves as the thirteen much larger American states (about 700,000).  Saint Domingue was the richest European colony in the world.  It was the main source of the sugar and coffee that had become indispensable to “civilized” life in Europe.

    The French slave colonies had a very different social structure from the slave states of the American South.  The white population in the largest colony, Saint Domingue, numbered only 30,000 in 1789.  In the United States, non-whites were almost always put in the same class as black slaves, but in the French colonies, many whites had emancipated their mixed-race children, creating a class of “free coloreds” that numbered 28,000 by 1789.  The free coloreds were often well educated and prosperous; members of this group owned about 1/3 of the slaves in the colony.  They also made up most of the island’s militia, responsible for keeping the slaves under control.

    Black slaves heavily outnumbered both the whites and the free coloreds, however:  there were 465,000 of them in Saint Domingue by 1789.  About half of the slaves had been born in Africa.  Slaves were imported from many regions in West Africa.  They brought some traditions and beliefs with them, but they had to adapt to a very different environment in the Caribbean.  Newly arrived slaves had to learn a common language, , a dialect of French.  Out of elements of African religions and Christianity they evolved a unique set of beliefs, , which gave them a sense of identity.

    Many early supporters of the French Revolution were uncomfortably aware of the role that slavery played in France’s colonies.  Some of them formed a group called the (“Society of the Friends of Blacks”), which discussed plans for gradual abolition of slavery, the ending of the slave trade, and the granting of rights to educated free colored men from the colonies.

    Like white plantation-owners in the American South, slaveowners in the French colonies participated actively in the French Revolution.  They demanded liberty for themselves: above all, the liberty to decide how their slaves and the free people of color in their colonies should be treated.  The slaves were their hard-earned property, they argued, and a fair-minded government could not even consider taking them away.  If the French National Assembly took up the issue of slavery, the colonial plantation-owners threatened to imitate their neighbors to the north and launch a movement for independence, or else to turn their colonies over to the British, France’s traditional enemies.  The slaveowners also violently denounced the , accusing it of stirring up the slaves and the free colored populations in the colonies.

    The French revolutionaries, many of whom had money invested in the colonial economy, took these issues seriously.  A well-funded lobbying group backed by the plantation-owners, the , spread pro-slavery propaganda and convinced the National Assembly to guarantee that no changes would be made in the slave system without the consent of the whites in the colonies.  Initially, representatives of the colonial free colored population, many of whom owned slaves themselves, had hoped that the whites might be willing to reach an agreement with them and form a common front against the slaves.  Most colonial whites, however, feared that granting political rights to people who were partly descended from slaves would undermine racial hierarchy and lead eventually to the abolition of the slave system.

    The free coloreds, many of whom had been educated in France, did have some supporters in the French National Assembly and in the .  They were very frustrated when planter opposition kept the National Assembly from granting them equal rights with the whites.  In October 1790, a free colored leader, Vincent Ogé, returned to Saint Domingue from France and led an armed uprising.  He did not try to gain support among the slaves, and his movement was quickly crushed by the trained white troops on the island.  Ogé and his followers were executed in a particularly cruel manner.  When news of the executions reached France, the National Assembly blamed the colonists for their severity and passed a decree granting rights to a minority of the free colored population.  The revolutionaries were beginning to move away from unswerving support for the whites in the colonies.

    Source : www.uky.edu

    Latin American Revolutions

    Coup d'etats are most often very violent. The man in the picture, Padre Miguel Hidalgo, is noted for beginning the Mexican independence movement. In

    Latin American Revolutions-Pre-Test

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    Coup d’etats are most often

    very violent.

    The man in the picture, Padre Miguel Hidalgo, is noted for

    beginning the Mexican independence movement.

    In Spanish Latin America, people who were of mixed European and Indian ancestry were called

    mestizos.

    The pie chart shows that the population of enslaved people in Saint Dominique was

    larger than the number of free whites and non-whites combined.

    The passage shows that L’Ouverture believed that freed enslaved persons would

    rather die than go back to being enslaved.

    Brazil’s road to independence was different from that of its Latin American neighbors in that

    criollos signed a petition and asked the king’s son, Don Pedro, to rule.

    What was the economy of Saint Dominique dependent upon? Check all that apply.

    sugar plantations enslaved Africans strenuous Manuel labor ruthless plantation owners

    Who sparked the independence movement in Mexico?

    mestizos and American Indians

    Augustine de Iturbides was able to declare independence from Spain while also proclaiming himself emperor in part because

    that was the type of government the Spanish colonists were used to.

    The passage shows that the author was most likely someone who was

    in support of slavery

    Which best explains why some plantation owners punished enslaved persons?

    to keep them as helpless as possible

    African enslaved persons outnumbered free people 10 to 1 in Saint-Domingue, which led to

    a massive and successful uprising.

    General Toussaint L’Ouverture died in a ______ prison in 1804, after leading the revolution in Haiti.

    French

    When Napoleon seized the Spanish throne replaced it with a French king, criollos in Latin America

    believed the people should take control.

    Saint Dominique, a French colony in the Caribbean Sea where 100,000 slaves rebelled, became a country called

    Haiti

    Bolívar had hoped for a unified state in Latin America, but

    instead Latin America was divided into Columbia, Ecuador, and Venezuela.

    The pie chart shows that the population of enslaved people in Saint Dominique was

    larger than the number of free whites and non-whites combined.

    Bolivar had hoped for a unified state in Latin America, but

    instead Latin America was divided into Colombia, Ecuador, and Venezuela.

    Saint Dominique, a French colony in the Caribbean Sea where 100,000 slaves rebelled, became a country called

    Haiti

    The man in the picture, Padre Miguel Hidalgo, is noted for

    beginning the Mexican independence movement.

    General Toussaint L’Ouverture died in a ____ prison in 1804, after leading the revolution in Haiti.

    French

    African enslaved persons outnumbered free people 10 to 1 in Saint-Domingue, which led to

    a massive and successful uprising.

    What was the economy of Saint Dominique dependent upon? Check all that apply.

    sugar plantations enslaved Africans strenuous manual labor ruthless plantation owners

    Who sparked the independence movement in Mexico?

    mestizos and American Indians

    Brazil’s road to independence was different from that of its Latin American neighbors in that

    criollos signed a petition and asked the king’s son, Don Pedro, to rule.

    When Napoleon seized the Spanish throne and replaced it with a French king, criollos in Latin America

    believed the people should take control.

    Political instability in the emerging Latin American countries was due in part to

    conflicting views on government.

    In Spanish Latin America, people who were of mixed European and Indian ancestry were called

    mestizos. Read the passage.

    I declare to you to re-establish slavery would be to attempt the impossible: we have known how to face dangers to obtain our liberty, we shall know how to brave death to maintain it. Toussaint L’Ouverture, 1797

    The passage shows that L’Ouverture believed that freed enslaved persons would

    rather die than go back to being enslaved.

    What is the name of this man, who led the 1791 revolt in Haiti?

    Toussaint L’Ouverture

    Which best explains why some plantation owners punished enslaved persons?

    to keep them as helpless as possible.

    Look at the chart.

    The pie chart shows that the population of enslaved people in Saint Dominique was

    larger than the number of free whites and non-whites combined.

    The Napoleonic Wars in Europe prompted which groups to declare independence in Spanish Latin America?

    criollos

    African enslaved persons outnumbered free people 10 to 1 in Saint-Domingue, which led to

    a massive and successful uprising.

    In Spanish Latin America, people who were of mixed European and Indian ancestry were called

    mestizos. Read the passage.

    The Africans transplanted to Saint Domingue remain in general indolent and idle, quarrelsome and talkative, and liars, and are addicted to stealing. Always given to the most absurd superstitions, there is nothing which does not frighten them more or less.

    Source : subjecto.com

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