The Haitian Revolution, which occurred between 1791-1804, is important because Haiti is the only country where slave freedom was taken by harsh ways. It is the only successful slave rebellion. A ragtag force of slaves managed to unify Haiti, defeat Europe’s mightiest army and become the first Latin American country to gain independence.Everything started when Christopher Columbus found the island of Hispaniola in 1492. At that time, the island was known by Taíno Indians as Hay-ti, which meant “mountainous place.
” In 1493, he returned with 1,200 men and created the colony of Santo Domingo. He enslaved local people, forced them to work in the gold mines, and perished the native population. Once gold mines ran out, they started to grow sugar. In 1670s created permanent settlements including Port-de-Paix in the northwest. They started to produce coffee, tobacco, and sugar. Left-hand side of Hispaniola became the French colony of Saint-Domingue. In 1685, King Louis XIV issued some harsh set of codes called Code Noir (Black Code) which outlined France’s position on slavery in the colonies.
According to these codes, slaves were the personal property of their masters, and they can get killed if they try to run away. Also there was a social structure in Saint-Domingue. It was divided into four groups. Grands Blancs the plantation owners, Affranchis the free people of colour, Petits Blancs the white working class, and slaves.
The revolution started when Declaration of Rights of Man and Citizen did not give colonies rights as it did to those in France many slaves believed that they need to have those rights, but their white masters refused to abide by decrees. In the leadership of Boukman Dutty, rebels started to plan their revolt in the north. After months of planning, on September 1791 they killed hundreds of whites and burned more than 1,000 plantations. Many Affranchis joined to rebellion after these activities.
On April 1792 French gov’t. decreed that all free people of color were granted the full rights of citizenship. Spain and Britain tried to remain neutral. although they were fearful revolution would spread across the border to Spanish Santo Domingo and British Jamaica.Toussaint L’Ouverture was a former slave that became a great leader. was formerly enslaved in Saint-Domingue, but was freed by his progressive master who taught him how to read and write in the 1770s.
He was known for his military and strategic brilliance his army grew to several thousand troops under the Spanish. While the Spanish was busy on fighting Saint-Domingue on their border in Santo Domingo, the British forces took over parts of the south and southwest portion of Saint-Domingue. White planters allied with the British forces because tThey believed this was the only way to maintain slavery in Saint-Domingue.