Saturday, May 27, 2017

The Summer of 2017

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Summer 2017 

Summer is certainly here. Summer has hot weather, sunshine, some storms, and many people going on extended vacations. The cause of justice still remains. We have U.S. military strikes in Syria. Sessions is hesitant in submitting to consent decrees (which are trying to stop overt police brutality). So, the struggle for liberation continues in 2017. I'm in my early 30's and I'm learning so much about the real world. I still have so much more to learn since the principle of learning encompasses a life long experience. I believe in love too. I will always love black women. A black woman gave me life in the world and black women are beautiful. So, the truth is real and life is not easy. Still, faith and progressive actions can establish miracles to flourish in the world. I will continue to hold onto my core convictions forevermore. I believe in social justice. I believe in care for the environment. I believe in health care for all and I believe in black liberation. Also, I believe in God too. I honor my heritage and I will treat my neighbor as myself. Raising your consciousness means precisely about loving your identity and expressing what you know to the world. Also, it is about embracing a great sense of humility since once upon a time, we didn't know what we know now. A woman gave birth to me. I always love women forever too. Staying in a great foundation is important too. Keeping it moving means precisely to move forward, honor the blessings that you have, and creating plans to establish a better future. We all want a greater future as human beings.

May Day is gone. Yet, it is important to show what it means. It means that workers should have fair wages, great conditions, and human justice. It means that human beings in general deserve economic justice too. Human beings are known to be innovators. May Day is about how important workers' rights and legitimate social activism can cause real change. Innovators don't just exist in America. They exist globally. I am a social justice warrior and I'm proud of it. The far right crowd readily use that term as a slur, but it's really a badge of honor. Social justice warriors are about that life for real in helping to form the Voting Rights Act, the Civil Rights Act, the EPA, the Clean Air Act, Social Security, Medicaid, Medicare, and so many blessings that some take for granted. So, we are protected by federal statues and we will fight for liberation internationally. Also, it is important to acknowledge the heroism of Sister Coretta Scott King. She lived from 1927 to 2006. She lived a life as a mother, a civil rights activist, an anti-war activist, and a black woman who lived a fruitful existence. For decades, she has inspired Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to carry onward in the tradition of nonviolence and peaceful resistance against injustice. She could write, sing songs, and she was a great organizer of various people. She was born in Heiberger, Alabama. Coretta Scott graduated valedictorian from Lincoln Normal School in 1945 where she played trumpet and piano, sang in the chorus, and participated in school musicals. She enrolled at Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio during her senior year at Lincoln. June 18, 1953 was the date of her marriage to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. She fought for the rights of women. She opposed the Iraq War. She opposed the Vietnam War. She fought against apartheid. Her funeral was attended by about 10,000 people, including four of five living US presidents. She was temporarily buried on the grounds of the King Center until she was interred next to her husband. She was inducted into the Alabama Women's Hall of Fame and was the first African-American to lie in State in the Georgia State Capitol. Coretta Scott King was a hero.

Rest in Power Sister Coretta Scott King.

This is a very important issue. Activism should be executed in rescuing missing black women and black girls. In the final analysis, when one person is kidnapped, it is a threat against the whole of the human family. Also, it is good that many people want to refute the evil stereotypes about kidnapped black females. Kidnapped black women and girls exist in many socioeconomic levels. People ought to realize that. The Congressional Caucus on Black Women and Girls is doing the right thing in publicly showing information about this epidemic and establishing solutions. One of the most sad parts of Trump is his total ignorance of history. He made a recent statement about how Andrew Jackson could have prevented the Civil War. He said that Andrew Jackson had a big heart. The truth is the opposite. Andrew Jackson (who was a notorious white supremacist) had a stone cold heart and he owned slaves. He wanted the expansion of slavery in Western territories. Also, Andrew Jackson supported the oppression of Native Americans (he allied with the Trail of Tears journey, which was about the forcible removal of Native Americans from the Deep South into Oklahoma) and he economically crippled America. The Civil War existed because the South immorally wanted slavery and the tensions economically, socially, and politically between the North and the South. The South refused to end slavery ASAP, so they seceded from the Union. In essence, Trump is trying to promote historical revisionism and Andrew was a wicked male. I'm from Virginia. I know about the Civil War and its history. When black folks fought en masse in the Union, the Civil War ended in less than 3 years. So, Trump is an extremist.

I have to mention this story. It is about the tragic killing of the young Brother Jordan Edwards. He was only 15 years old when he was murdered by one cop in Texas. In Texas, football culture in high school is a paramount occurrence. Jordan Edwards was not only a great football player. He had amazing, uplift character and had a GPA well above 3.5. He was loved by his friends and family members. Jordan Edwards was in a vehicle which was moving award from the cop car, but he was shot in the head. Later, he died. We mourn his loss as he was a black teenager once again murdered by a crooked officer. For a long time, our community have fully expounded about the epidemic of police killings of unarmed people in America. This incident confirms our words in total opposition to police terrorism. Nothing short of justice is necessary to create authentic accountability. The officer responsible for Edwards' death should be in prison.
Rest in Power Brother Jordan Edwards.

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The Haitian Revolution of 1804

It has been over two centuries since Haiti had its own independence. Before 1804, war, slavery, and oppression existed in Haiti for centuries. The island of Hispaniola was a victim of genocide and slavery for a long time. Yet, determined, courageous black people heroically defeated not only French imperialists, but imperialists from other European nations too. Haiti itself inspired many slave revolts and the black liberation movement in general. We have modern scholars and black people globally currently who are inspired by the Haitian Revolution. The Haitian Revolution was bloody, it was long, and many of our Brothers and Sisters were murdered by imperialists during the configuration. Today, we have a clearer understanding of the events. We are totally reminded about its historical significance. Future generations should learn about the Haitian Revolution in order for them to remember our ancestors and for them to be motivated in continuing the fight for social justice. From 1791 to 1804, we have seen the strength of black people, who were fighting to end slavery. One hero of the Haitian Revolution was Toussaint L'Ouverture (1743-1803). After America's independence (which was filled with bourgeois components and overtly hypocritical contradictions) nations in the Caribbean including Latin America fought for independence and justice. Dessalines and Henri Christopher worked in the audacious journey for Haitian freedom too. Black women like Sanité Bélair worked in the Haitian Revolution for freedom as well.

Now, it is time to not only show the history of the Haitian revolution. It is time to further inspire the younger generation to fight for human justice too.

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An Introduction

Before the Haitian Revolution, black people in Haiti were suffering tons of injustices. European imperialists demanded sugar. Plantation owners in Haiti traded sugar for European and North American manufactured goods. Back then, Haiti was called Saint Domingue by the French. Haiti had extensive coffee, cocoa, and indigo plantations. Yet, these were less profitable than wealthy sugar plantations. By the 1730’s, French engineers created complex irrigation systems to grow sugarcane production. By the 1740’s, Saint-Domingue together with Jamaica, had become the main supplier of the world’s sugar. More African slaves were used to produce sugar and slaves were heavily brutalized in the Haitian colonial plantation economy. Haiti was the most profitable French colony in the world. There was an average of 600 ships engaged every year in shipping products from Saint-Domingue to Bordeaux (in France). The value of Saint-Domingue’s goods was almost equal in value to all of the products shipped from the British 13 colonies to Great Britain. France depended heavily on the crops of coffee, indigo, and sugar from Saint Domingue. 1 million people lived in Haiti back then and 25 million people lived in the Kingdom of France in 1789. Many people died of malaria and yellow fever. The French in 1787 imported 38,000 slaves to all of their Caribbean colonies. The death rate from yellow fever was such that at least 50% of the slaves imported from Africa died within a year of arriving, and as such the slave owners preferred to work the slaves as hard as possible. The slave owning oppressors would provide black slaves with the barest minimum of food and shelter, calculating that it was better to get the most work out of their slaves with lowest possible expense possible. Many slaves died of yellow fever and other diseases. Many slaves did polyandry (or one woman married to many men) because the death rate of slaves were so high. Slaves were denied human rights. Slave owners regularly raped black women in Haiti back then. That was evil and wrong. Africans outnumbered white planters more than ten to one. The planters feared a slave rebellion.

The French slave owners were very cruel against slaves. White slave owners used physical violence. Slaves were whipped for resisting. Some were burned and castrated. They did these things to warn other slaves too.  Louis XIV, the French King, passed the Code Noir in 1685 in an attempt to regulate such violence and the treatment of the enslaved person in general in the colony, but slave-owners openly and consistently broke the code. Local legislation reversed parts of it throughout the 18th century. Coir Noir is a disgrace since slavery should be banned outright not regulated. In 1758, white landowners passed legislation to restrict the rights of other people until a rigid caste system was instituted.

Most historians defined the caste system into 3 groups. One was the white colonists (or blancs). This group was subdivided into plantation owners and a lower class of whites, who were overseers or day laborers. The second group was the free black people (usually black, biracial or multiracial people. They were the gens de couleur libres, free people of color). The gens de couleur had educational experience, were literate, and many were in the army. Some were even administrators on plantations. Many of them were children of white planters and enslaved mothers (so, these mothers were raped) while others had purchased their freedom from slave owners (from the sale of their own produce or artistic works). Many of them had artisan training. Some of them inherited freedom or property from their fathers. Some gens de couleur even operated their own plantations and were slave owners. The third group was the largest group in Haiti. They were the mostly black African born slaves.

A high rate of mortality among them meant that planters continually had to import new slaves. This kept their culture (of the Africans) more African and separate from other people on the island. Many plantations had large concentrations of slaves from a particular region of Africa, and it was therefore somewhat easier for these groups to maintain elements of their culture, religion, and language. This also separated new slaves from Africa from creoles (slaves born in the colony), who already had kin networks. The slaves born in the Caribbean or lived in the region for a while often had more prestigious roles on plantations and more opportunities for emancipation. Most slaves spoke a patois of the French language known as Creole, which was also used by native biracial people and whites for communication with the workers. The majority of the slaves were Yoruba from what is now modern Nigeria, Fon from what is now Benin, and from the Kingdom of Kongo in what now modern northern Angola and the western Congo. The Kongolese at 40% were the largest of the African ethnic groups represented amongst the slaves.

The slaves developed their own religion, a synesthetic mixture of Roman Catholicism and West African religions known as Vodou, usually called voodoo in English. Vodou provided the slaves with their own belief system that implicitly rejected their status as slaves. There were conflicts violently between white colonists and black slaves. There was hatred around, because black people were very much brutally oppressed by criminals.  The French historian Paul Fregosi wrote: "Whites, mulattos and blacks loathed each other. The poor whites couldn't stand the rich whites, the rich whites despised the poor whites, the middle class whites were jealous of the aristocratic whites, the whites born in France looked down upon the locally born whites, mulattoes envied the whites, despised the blacks and were despised by the whites; free Negroes brutalized those who were still slaves, Haitian born blacks regarded those from Africa as savages. Everyone-quite rightly-lived in terror of everyone else...Haiti was hell, but Haiti was rich." To correct Paul, not every Haitian born black person regarded those from Africa as savages. Many Africans worked together to fight tyranny. No black African is a savage. They are human beings.

So, I want to make that perfectly clear. Africans are the first humans on this Earth. African peoples are strong and Africa is Beautiful as Black is Beautiful. Many of these conflicts involved slaves who had escaped the plantations. Many runaway slaves—called Maroons—hid on the margins of large plantations, living off the land and what they could get from their former slave owners. Others fled to towns, to blend in with urban slaves and freed slaves who often concentrated in those areas. If caught, these runaway slaves would be severely and violently punished. However, some brutal owners tolerated petit marronages, or short-term absences from plantations. Larger groups of runaway slaves lived in the woods away from control. They often used violent raids on the island’s sugar and coffee plantations. There were thousands of these groups.

The Maroons were heroic Black Brothers and Sisters. One maroon leader who was effect was the charismatic François Mackandal, who succeeded in unifying the black resistance. A Haitian Vodou priest, Mackandal inspired his people by drawing on African traditions and religions. He united the maroon bands and also established a network of secret organizations among plantation slaves, leading a rebellion from 1751 through 1757. Although Mackandal was captured by the French and burned at the stake in 1758, large armed maroon bands persisted in raids and resistance after his death.

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The Beginning (1789)

There was great social stratification in Haiti before the Haitian Revolution. In 1789, Haiti produced 60% of the world’s coffee, and 40% of the world’s sugar (which was imported by the French and the British). It was the most profitable possession of the French empire. Saint-Domingue was also the wealthiest and most financially prosperous colony for the imperialists. The plantation owners were very brutal. In 1789, there were 40,000 white people in Haiti, there were 28,000 free black people and biracial people, and black slaves numbered in an estimated 425,000 people. Two thirds of the slaves were African born and they readily rebelled against tyranny. The death rate in the Caribbean exceeded the birth rate. So, many Africans were passing away via diseases, etc. in Haiti, so more people were forced to work the plantations.  The slave population declined at an annual rate of two to five percent, due to overwork, inadequate food and shelter, insufficient clothing and medical care, and an imbalance between the sexes, with more men than women. Some slaves were of a creole elite class of urban slaves and domestics, who worked as cooks, personal servants and artisans around the plantation house. This relatively privileged class was chiefly born in the Americas, while the under-class born in Africa labored hard, and more often than not, under abusive and brutal conditions.

Among Saint Domingue’s 40,000 white colonials in 1789, European born French people monopolized administrative posts.  The sugar planters, the grands blancs, were chiefly minor aristocrats. Most returned to France as soon as possible, hoping to avoid the dreaded yellow fever, which regularly swept the colony. The lower-class whites, petits blancs, included artisans, shopkeepers, slave dealers, overseers, and day laborers. Around that time, colonial legislation, concerned with this growing and strengthening population, passed discriminatory laws that visibly differentiated these freedmen by dictating their clothing and where they could live. These laws also barred them from occupying many public offices. Many of these freedmen were also artisans and overseers, or domestic servants in the plantation houses. Le Cap Français, a northern port, had a large population of freed slaves, and these men would later become important leaders in the 1791 slave rebellion and later revolution. There were racial conflicts among whites, free people of color, and enslaved black people.

There were also regional rivalries among the North, South, and the West of Haiti. There were class and racial tensions. Regional tensions grew. The North was the center of shipping and trading. It had the largest French elite population. The Plaine du Nord on the northern shore of Saint-Domingue was the most fertile area with the largest sugar plantation. It was economically productive. Most of the colony’s trade went through these ports. The largest and busiest port was Le Cap Francais (or modern day Le Cap Haitien) or the capital of French Saint-Domingue until 1751. By 1751, Port-au-Prince was the capital. In the northern area, enslaved Africans lived in large groups of workers in relative isolation, separated from the rest of the colony by the high mountain range known as the Massif du Nord. These slaves would join with urban slaves from LeCap to lead the 1791 rebellion. It was started in the Northern region.  This area was the seat of power of the grands blancs, the rich white colonists who wanted greater autonomy for the colony, especially economically. The Western Province grew after the capital was moved to Port-au-Prince in 1751. The region became more and wealthier in the second half of the 18th century when irrigation projects allowed significant sugar plantation growth. The Southern Province lagged in population and wealth because it was geographically separated from the rest of the colony. However, this isolation allowed freed slaves to find profit in trade with British Jamaica, and they gained power and wealth here. In addition to these interregional tensions, there were conflicts between proponents of independence, those loyal to France, allies of Spain, and allies of Great Britain – who coveted control of the valuable colony.

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Influence from the French Revolution

The French Revolution changed the landscape of the history of Haiti. In France, the National Assembly made radical changes in French laws. On August 26, 1789, the French people published the Declaration of the Rights of Man. It declared all men free and equal. The French Revolution existed during the time of the Haitian Revolution. Many wealthy whites viewed the French Revolution as an opportunity to gain independence from France. They wanted elite plantation owners to take control of the island and create trade regulations that would further their own wealth and power. Many twists and turns existed during the French Revolution in France. Many complex events occurred in Saint-Domingue. So, many various classes and parties changed their alignments numerous times. The Haitian Revolution soon was a test of the ideology of the French Revolution. It radicalized the slavery question and forced French leaders to recognize the full meaning of their revolution. The African population in the island began to hear the agitation for independence by the rich European planters (the grands blancs) who had resented France’s limitations on the island’s foreign trade. The Africans mostly allied with the royalists and the British, as they understood that if Saint-Domingue's independence were to be led by white slave owners, it would probably mean even harsher treatment and increased injustice for the African population. The plantation owners would be free to operate slavery as they pleased without the existing minimal accountability to their French peers.

Saint-Domingue’s free people of color (like Julien Raimond) had been actively appealing to France for civil equality with whites since the 1780’s. Raimond used the French Revolution to make this the major colonial issue before the National Assembly of France. In October 1790, Vincent Ogé, another wealthy free man of color from the colony, returned home from Paris, where he had been working with Raimond. Convinced that a law passed by the French Constituent Assembly gave full civil rights to wealthy men of color, Ogé demanded the right to vote. When the colonial governor refused, Ogé led a brief insurgency in the area around Cap Français. He and an army of around three hundred free blacks fought to end racial discrimination in the area. He was captured in early 1791, and brutally executed by being "broken on the wheel" before being beheaded. Ogé was not fighting against slavery, but his treatment was cited by later slave rebels as one of the factors in their decision to rise up in August 1791 and resist treaties with the colonists. The conflict up to this point was between factions of whites, and between whites and free blacks. Enslaved blacks watched from the sidelines. Leading 18th-century French writer Count Mirabeau had once said the Saint-Domingue whites "slept at the foot of Vesuvius", an indication of the grave threat they faced should the majority of slaves launch a sustained major uprising.

There are similarities between the Haitian Revolution and the French Revolution. The Haitian Revolution started from below among the majority of the population. Many supporters of the Haitian revolution were slaves and freed Africans who were treated unequally by society and unjust laws. Both revolutions involved massive violence since the oppressors refused to willingly give liberation to people. The Reign of Terror, during the French Revolution, was bloody. Many people in that time were killed via the guillotine and other machines. The Reign of Terror caused 18,000 to 40,000 to die in France during the French Revolution. In the Caribbean, total casualties were about 162,000 people during the Haitian Revolution. Violence in Haiti was executed by military excursions, riots, the killing of people, and guerrilla warfare. The Haitian Revolution didn’t wait on the revolution in France. Haitians fought for their own freedom. The Enlightenment ideals and the initiation of the French Revolution inspired many in the Haitian Revolution. Yet, the people of Haiti completed the most successful and comprehensive slave rebellion via their own black power. Just as the French were successful in transforming their society, so were the Haitians. On April 4, 1792, The French National Assembly granted freedom to slaves in Haiti and the revolution culminated in 1804 (which caused Haiti to be an independent nation solely of freed peoples). The activities of the revolutions sparked change across the world. France’s transformation was most influential in Europe, and Haiti’s influence spanned across every location that continued to practice slavery. John E. Baur honors Haiti as home of the most influential Revolution in history.

Chasseurs-Volontaires de Saint-Domingue At Savannah 1779, from wikipedia consisting of over 500 gens de couleur—free men of color from Saint-Domingue—fought on the French side. Henri Christophe, who later became king of independent Haiti, is thought to have been among these troops. Many other less notable Haitians served in this unit and formed the officer class of the rebel armies in the Haitian Revolution, especially in the North Province around today's Cap Haitien where the unit was recru...: Jean-Jacques Dessalines... In the back of this picture is the Haitian flag. The white part of the French flag was removed. The remaining blue was taken to represent Haiti's citizens and the red to represent les gens de couleur (the people of color).:

The Enlightenment

The influence of Enlightenment thought existed in the Caribbean region. The Enlightenment is a philosophical movement that believed in critical thinking, the power of human reason to transform society, and the usage of logic to define what reality ultimately is. The French writer Guillaume Raynal attacked slavery in his history of European colonization. Raynal’s Enlightenment philosophy went deeper than a prediction and reflected many French Enlightenment philosophies including those of Rousseau and Diderot, even though it was written thirteen years before the “Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen.” The declaration, in contrast, highlighted freedom and liberty but still allowed slaves to be characterized as property. Toussaint Louverture was a key man who was influenced by the Enlightenment. He was a leader in the Haitian Revolution.

Louverture attempted to bridge this divide between the popular masses and the enlightened few. Louverture was familiar with Enlightenment ideas within the context of European imperialism. He attempted to strike a balance between Western Enlightenment thought as a necessary means of winning liberation, and not propagating the notion that it was morally superior to the experiences and knowledge of people of color on Saint Domingue. As an extension of himself and his enlightenment education, Louverture wrote a Constitution for a new society in Saint-Domingue that abolished slavery. The existence of slavery in society was an incongruity that had been left unaddressed by numerous European scholars. Louverture took on this inconsistency directly in his constitution. In addition, Louverture exhibited a connection to Enlightenment scholars through the style, language and accent of this text. Like Louverture, Jean-Baptiste Belley was also an active participant in the colony’s insurrection. Belley was a native of Senegal and a former slave from Saint-Domingue. He lived to 1805 and was a member of the National Convention and the Council of Five Hundred of France.

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The 1791 start of the Haitian Revolution.

The 1791 slavery rebellion against slavery occurred in stages. The Enlightenment writer Guillaume Raynal predicted the slave revolt in the colonies. The French revolutionary government gave citizenship to wealthy free people of color in May 1791. White plantation owners refused to comply with this action. Later in about 2 months, isolated fighting broke out between the former slaves and white people. This increased the tense atmosphere among slaves and grands blancs. On the night of August 21, 1791, the slaves of Saint Domingue came up in revolt. Thousands of slaves attended a secret vodou (voodoo) ceremony as a tropical storm came. The lightning and the thunder was taken as auspicious omens and later that night, the slaves started to attack slave owners and the colony existed in a civil war.

The signal to start the revolt was given by Dutty Boukman. He was a high priest of vodou and the leader of the Maroon slaves. The religious ceremony on the night of August 14 occurred as well. In the next 10 days, slaves took control of the entire Northern Province. This was an unprecedented slave revolt. Whites controlled only a few isolated fortified camps. The slaves wanted justice. For long years, oppression caused many black people to desire retribution against white slave owners. It or the revolution involved a lot of violence. People’s heads were placed on spikes. Plantation owners were armed and ready to fight.  Nonetheless, within weeks, the number of slaves who joined the revolt reached some 100,000. Within the next two months, as the violence escalated, the slaves killed 4,000 whites and burned or destroyed 180 sugar plantations and hundreds of coffee and indigo plantations. At least 900 coffee plantations were destroyed and the total damage inflicted over the next two weeks amounted to 2 million francs. In September 1791, the surviving whites organized themselves and struck back, killing about 15,000 black people in an orgy of revenge. The slaves wanted freedom from slavery. At this point, many didn’t demand independence from France. Most of the rebel leaders professed to be fighting for the king of France (who it was alleged had issued a decree that was suppressed by the governor freeing all the salves). They wanted their rights as Frenchmen which had been granted by the king.

In 1792, slave rebels controlled one third of the island. The success of the slave rebellion caused the newly elected Legislative Assembly in France to realize that this was a serious situation. The Assembly gave civil and political rights to free men of color in the colony as an economic move (in March of 1792). Many countries in Europe and in the United States were shocked by the decision. Yet, the Assembly wanted to stop the revolt. Apart from granting rights to the free people of color, the Assembly dispatched 6,000 French soldiers to the island. The new governor sent by Paris, Léger-Félicité Sonthonax was a supporter of the French Revolution who abolished slavery in the Northern Province of Saint Domingue and had hostile relations with the planters, whom he saw as royalists. In 1793, France declared war on Great Britain. The white planters in Saint Domingue were unhappy with Sonthonax. So, these planters made agreements with Great Britain in causing Britain to have British sovereignty over the colony. They believed that the British would maintain slavery. The British Prime Minister, William Pitt the Younger believed that the success of the slave revolt in Saint Domigue would inspire slave revolts in the British Caribbean colonies and that taking Saint Domingue, the richest of the French colonies would be a most useful bargaining chip to have when the peace negotiations began to end the war, and the interim, occupying Saint Domingue would mean bringing all of its great wealth into the British treasury. The American journalist James Perry wrote that the British campaign in Haiti was ironic.

The reason was that the British wasted millions of pounds in their futile campaign. Thousands of British soldiers died in their campaign. Spain controlled the rest of the island of Hispaniola. They would fight with the British against France. The Spanish forces invaded Saint Domingue and were joined by the slave forces. For most of the conflict, the British and Spanish supplied the rebels with food, ammunition, arms, medicine, naval support, and military advisors. By August 1793, there were only 3,500 French soldiers on the island. On 20 September 1793, about 600 British soldiers from Jamaica landed at Jérémie to be greeted with shouts of "Vivent les Anglais! from the French population. On 22 September 1793, Mole St. Nicolas, the main French naval base in Saint Domingue surrendered to the Royal Navy peacefully. Everywhere, the British went, they restored slavery, which made them especially hated by the Haitians. To prevent military disaster, and secure the colony for republican France as opposed to Britain, Spain, and French royalists, separately or in combination, the French commissioners Léger-Félicité Sonthonax and Étienne Polverel freed the slaves in St. Domingue. The decision was confirmed and extended by the National Convention, the first elected Assembly of the First Republic (1792–1804), on the 4th of February 1794, under the leadership of Maximilien Robespierre. It abolished slavery by law in France and all its colonies and granted civil and political rights to all black men in the colonies. The French constitutions of 1793 and 1795 both included the abolition of slavery.

The constitution of 1793 was never applied. Yet, that of 1795 was implemented and lasted until it was replaced by the consular and imperial constitutions under Napoleon Bonaparte. There were racial tensions in Saint Domingue. Also, many had welcomed the abolition of slavery with a show of idealism and optimism. The emancipation of slaves was viewed as an example of liberty for other countries, much as the American Revolution was meant to serve as the first of many liberation movements. Danton, one of the Frenchmen present at the meeting of the National Convention, expressed this sentiment.

In nationalist ways, the abolition of slavery to the French represented the moral triumph of France over England. Toussaint Louverture stopped working with the Spanish army and soon fought for independence. The British force that landed in St. Domingue in 1793 was too small to conquer Haiti. They only held a few coastal places. The French planters were disappointed in this. Sonthonax refused twice to ultimatums from Commodore John Ford to surrender Port-au-Prince. In the meantime, a Spanish force under Captain-General Joaquin Garcia y Moreno had marched into the Northern Province. Back then, Toussaint Louverture (who was the most ablest of the Haitian general) joined the Spanish. He accepted an officer’s commission in the Spanish Army and being a knight in the Order of St. Isabella. General Grey from Britain wanted to conquer St. Domingue. Admiral Sir John Jervis from the UK set sail from Portsmouth on November 26, 1793, which was in defiance of the well-known rule that only during from September to November was when one could campaign in the West Indies. Grey came into the West Indies in February of 1794. He decided to conquer Martinique, St. Lucia, and Guadeloupe. Troops from his force were under the command of John Whyte. They arrived in St. Domingue in May 19, 1794. Whyte decided rather attacking the main French bases at Le Cap and Port-de-Paix to march towards Port-au-Prince, whose harbor was reported to have 45 ships loaded with sugar as the allure of rich resources proved more enticing. Whyte took Port-au-Prince, but Sonthonax and the French forces were allowed to leave in exchange for not burning the 45 ships loaded with sugar.

By May 1794, the French forces were severed in two by Toussaint with Sonthonax commanding in the north and André Rigaud leading in the south. At this point, Toussaint for reasons that remain obscure, suddenly joined the French and turned against the Spanish, ambushing his allies as they emerged from attending mass in a church at San Rapheal on May 6, 1794. The Haitians soon expelled the Spanish from St. Domingue. Toussaint, despite being a former slave, proved to be more forgiving of the whites in the beginning. In the beginning, he insisted that he merely fighting to assert the rights of the slaves as black French people to be free and he did not want independence from France. He urged the surviving whites, including the former slave owners to stay and work with him in rebuilding St. Domingue. Andre Rigaurd checked the British in the south. He took the town of  Léogâne by storm and driving the British back to Port-au-Prince. During the course of 1794, most of the British forces were killed by yellow fever.

As within two months of arriving in St. Domingue, the British had lost 40 officers and 600 men to yellow fever. Of Grey’s 7,000 men, about 5,000 of them died of yellow fever. The Royal Navy reported losing, “…forty-six masters and eleven hundred men dead, chiefly of yellow fever.” The British historian Sir John Fortescue wrote "It is probably beneath the mark to say that twelve thousand Englishmen were buried in the West Indies in 1794."  Rigaurd didn’t retake Port-au-Prince, but on Christmas Day 1794, in a surprise attack, he stormed and retook Tiburon.  The British lost about 300 people. The French took no prisoners. That means that they executed any British soldier and sailor who surrendered.

At this point, Pitt decided to reinforce failure by launching what he called "the great push" to conquer St. Domingue and the rest of the French West Indies, sending out the largest expedition Britain had yet mounted in its history, a force of about 30,000 men to be carried in 200 ships. Fortescue wrote that aim of London in the first expedition had been to destroy "the power of France in these pestilent islands...only to discover when it was too late, that they practically destroyed the British army.” Many British soldiers rebelled, because the journey in the West Indies was a death sentence. The British executed their plan on November and then December 9, 1795 after the storm passed. General Ralph Abercromby (or the commander of the forces of the great push in the West Indies) didn’t know where to attack first when he arrived in Barbados on March 17, 1796. He dispatched another force under Mayor General Gordon Forbes to Port-au-Prince. Forbes failed to get the French held city of Leogane. The French had a ditch to defend the area. The French commander, the biracial General Alexandre Pétion proved to be an excellent artilleryman, who used the guns of his fort to sink two of the three ships-of-line under Admiral Hyde Parker in the harbor, before turning his guns to the British forces; a French sortie led to a British rout and Forbes retreating back to Port-au-Prince.

When more British troops came into Haiti, more of them died from yellow fever. By June 1, 1796, of the 1,000 from the Sixty sixth regiment, only 198 had not been infected with yellow fever. Of the 1,000 men of the Sixth-ninth regiment, only 515 were not infected with yellow fever. Abercromby predicted that at the current rate of yellow fever infection, all of the men from the two regiments would be dead by November. Ultimately, 10, 000 British soldiers had arrived in Saint Domingue by June, but besides for some skirmishing near Bombarde, the British remained put in Port-au-Prince and other coastal enclaves while yellow fever continued to kill them all off. The government much attracted much criticism about the mounting costs of the expedition to St. Domingue in the House of Commons, and in February 1797, General John Graves Simcoe arrived to replace Forbes with orders to pull back the British forces to Port-au-Prince. As the human and financial costs of the expedition mounted, more and more people in Britain demanded a withdrawal from St. Domingue, which was devouring money and soldiers while failing to produce the expected profits.

In April 11, 1797, Colonel Thomas Maitland (of the 62nd Foot regiment) landed in Port-au-Prince. He wrote a letter to his brother that British forces in St. Domingue were annihilated by yellow fever. There was a lot of unpopularity of the British Army coming into Haiti among British people. Simcoe used the new British troops to push back the Haitians under Toussaint. In a counter offensive, Toussaint and Riguard stopped the offensive with Toussaint retaking the fortress at Mirebalais. On June 7, 1797, Toussaint attacked Fort Churchill in an assaulted that showed his skills and ferocity. The Haitians faced a storm of artillery. So, the Haitians used ladders on the walls and were driven back after 4 times with heavy losses. Toussaint was defeated in that battle. Yet, the British were astonished that Toussaint had turned a group of former slaves with no military experience into troops whose skills were the equal of a European army. In July 1797, Simcoe and Maitland sailed to London to advise a total withdrawal from St. Domingue, a thesis that was so persuasive by this point that in March 1798 Maitland returned with a mandate to withdraw, at least from Port-au-Prince.

On May 10, 1798, Maitland met with Toussaint to agree to an armistice, and on May 18, the British had left Port-au-Prince. British morale decreased when news of Toussaint taking Port-au-Prince. Maitland decided to leave all of St. Domingue. By August 31, 1798, Maitland and Toussaint signed an agreement where in exchange for pulling out all of St. Domingue (Haiti), Toussaint promised to not support any slave revolts in Jamaica. Obviously, I disagree with that agreement. Between 1793-98, the expedition to St. Domingue had cost the British treasury four million pounds and 100,000 men either dead or crippled from the effects of yellow fever.

Now with the British gone, Toussaint turned his attention to Rigaurd (a biracial man). In March of 1797, the Directory had unleashed French privateers against American shipping. This caused the Quasi war between France and America with the U.S. Navy hunting down the French ships that were taking American merchantmen. Through the United States was hostile towards Toussaint, the U.S. Navy agreed to support the Haitians with the frigate USS General Greene command by Captain Christopher Perry providing fire support to the Haitians as Toussaint laid siege to the city of Jacmel, held by French forces under the command of Rigaud. On March 11, 1800, Toussaint took Jacmel and Riguad fled on the French schooner La Diana. Through Toussaint maintained he was still loyal to France, to all intents and purposes, he ruled Saint Domingue as its leader. It has recently been estimated that the slave rebellion resulted in the death of 350,000 Haitians and 50,000 European troops.

According to the Encyclopedia of African American Politics, "Between 1791 and independence in 1804 nearly 200,000 blacks died, as did thousands of mulattoes and as many as 100,000 French and British soldiers." Yellow fever did most of the killing. Geggus points out that at least 3 out of every 5 British troops sent there in 1791-97 died of disease.

Episode 11: The Haitian Revolution | 15 Minute History: Image result for Marie-Jeanne Lamartiniere


Toussaint Louverture was a great leader of the Haitian Revolution. He was self-educated former domestic slave. Like Jean Francois and Biassou, he initially fought for the Spanish crown in the 1790’s. After the British invaded Haiti, Louverture decided to fight for the French. He wanted them to free all of the slaves. Sonthonax then proclaimed an end to slavery on August 29, 1792. So, Louverture worked with a French general, named Etienne Laveaux to ensure that every slave in Haiti would be free. Louverture abandoned the Spanish army in the east. He brought his forces over to the French side on May 6, 1794 after the Spanish refused to take steps to end slavery. The military leadership of Toussaint mostly made up of former slaves. They won concessions from the British and expelled the Spanish forces. In the end, Toussaint restored control of Haiti to France. Louverture was a very intelligent, organized, and articulate man. He knew of the island. Toussaint didn’t want to surrender too much power to France. He ruled Haiti as an autonomous entity. Louverture overcame a succession of local rivals (like the Commissioner Sonthonax, a French white man who gained support from many Haitians, angering Louverture; André Rigaud, a free man of color who fought to keep control of the South in the War of Knives; and Comte d'Hédouville). Hedouville forced a fatal wedge between Rigaurd and Louverture before he escaped into France. Toussaint defeated a British expeditionary force in 1798. Also, he led an invasion of neighboring Santo Domingo (or the Dominican Republic) on December of 1800. He freed the slaves there on January 3, 1801.

In 1801, Louverture formed a constitution for Saint-Domingue. It said that he would be governor for life. He wanted a black autonomous and a sovereign black state. In response to this, Napoleon Bonaparte sent a large expeditionary force of French soldiers and warships to the island. These forces were led by Bonaparte’s brother in law Charles Leclerc. They wanted to make Haiti a French colony again. They were under secret instructions by the French to restore slavery in the formerly Spanish held part of the island at least. Bonaparte ordered that Toussaint was to be treated with respect until the French forces were established. Once that was done, Toussaint was to be summoned to Le Cap and be arrested. If he failed to show up, Napoleon wanted Leclerc to wage war to the death (without mercy to people. He wanted Toussaint’s followers to be shot when captured). So, France wanted slavery to be restored in the island. The numerous French soldiers were accompanied by traitorous biracial troops led by Alexandre Pétion and André Rigaud (who were defeated by Toussaint three years earlier). The French arrived on February 2, 1802 at Le Cap.

The Haitian commander Henri Christophe was ordered by Leclerc to turn over the city to the French. Christophe refused to do so. Then, the French assaulted Le Cap and the Haitians set the city afire rather than surrender it. Leclerc sent Toussaint letters promising him: “Have no worries about your personal fortune. It will be safeguarded for you, since it has been only too well earned by your own efforts. Do not worry about the liberty of your fellow citizens.” When Toussaint didn’t show up at Le Cap, Leclerc issued a proclamation on February 17, 1802 that, “General Toussaint and General Christophe are outlawed; all citizens are ordered to hunt them down, and treat them as rebels against the French Republic.” Captain Marcus Rainsford, a British Army officer who visited St. Domingue observed the training of the Haitian Army, writing: “At a whistle, a whole brigade ran three or four hundred yards, and then, separating, threw themselves flat on the ground, changing to their backs and sides, and all the time keeping up a strong fire until recalled…This movement is executed with such facility and precision as totally to prevent cavalry from charging them in bushy and hilly country.”

Now, Toussaint had to fight the French. In a letter to Jean-Jacques Dessalines, Toussaint outlined his plans for defeating the French: "Do not forget, while waiting for the rainy reason which will rid us of our foes, that we have no other resource than destruction and fire. Bear in mind that the soil bathed with our sweet must not furnish our enemies with the smallest sustenance. Tear up the roads with shot; throw corpses and horses into all the foundations, burn and annihilate everything in order that those who have come to reduce us to slavery may have before their eyes the image of the hell which they deserve.” Dessalines never received the letter as he already taken to the field, evaded a French column sent to capture him and stormed Léogane. The Haitians burned down Leogane and killed all of the French with the Trinidadian historian C. L. R. James writing of Dessalines's actions at Leogane: "Men, women and children, indeed all the whites who came into his hands, he massacred. And forbidding burial, he left stacks of corpses rotting in the sun to strike terror into the French detachments as they toiled behind his flying columns." The French, who believed in the racist view that the Haitians were going to just happily go back to being their slaves as they believed it was natural for blacks to be the slaves of whites were stunned to learn how much the Haitians hated them for wanting to reduce them back to a life in chains. A visibly shocked General Pamphile de Lacroix after seeing the ruins of Leogane wrote: "They heaped up bodies" which "still had their attitudes; they were bent over, their hands outstretched and beseeching; the ice of death had not effaced the look on their faces.” Many of the French believed in the racist myth that black people were naturally submissive to whites.

Leclerc ordered 4 French columns to march on Gonviaves. That was the main Haitian base.  One of the French columns was commanded by General Donatien de Rochambeau, a proud white supremacist and a supporter of slavery who detested the Haitians for wanting to be free and it was Rochambueau who Toussaint tried to stop at Ravin-a-Couleuvre, a very narrow gully up in the mountains that the Haitians had filled with chopped down trees. In the ensuring Battle of Ravine-à-Couleuvres, after six hours of fierce hand to hand fighting with no quarter given on either side, the French finally broke through, albeit with heavy losses. During the battle, Toussaint personally took part in the fighting to lead his men in charges against the French. After losing 800 men, Toussaint ordered a retreat.

The Haitians tried to stop the French at a British built fort up in the mountains called Crête-à-Pierrot, a battle that is remembered as a national epic in Haiti. Toussaint took the field. He left Dessalines in command of Crête-à-Pierrot, who from his fastness could see three French columns converging on the fort. Dessalines appeared before his men standing atop of a barrel of gunpowder, holding a lit torch, and saying: "We are going to be attacked, and if the French put their feet in here, I shall blow everything up", leading his men to reply "We shall die for liberty!" The first of the French columns appeared before the fort was commanded by General Jean Boudet, whose men were harassed by skirmishes until they reached a deep ditch that the Haitians had dug. When the French tried to cross the ditch, Dessalines ordered his men (who were hiding to come out and open fire) to hit the French with great volley of artillery and musket fire. The attackers experienced heavy loses. General Boudet himself was wounded and as the French dead and wounded start to pile up in the ditch, the French retreated. The next French commander who tried to assault the ditch was General Charles Dugua, who joined shortly afterwards by the column commanded by Leclerc. All of the French assaults ended in total failure, and after the failure of their last attack, the Haitians charged the French, cutting down any Frenchmen. General Dugua was killed, Leclerc was wounded and the French lost about 800 dead.

The final French column to arrive was the cone commanded by the white supremacist Rochambeau. He used heavy artillery. It knocked out the Haitian artillery. He failed with 300 of his men killed. After many days, the French continued to bombard and assault the fort. Yet, they were repulsed every time. The Haitians defiantly sang songs of the French Revolution. The Haitians celebrated the right of all men to be equal and free. The Haitian psychological warfare was successful with many French soldiers asking why they were fighting to enslave the Haitians, who were only asserting the rights promised by the Revolution to make all men free. Despite Bonaparte's attempt to keep his intention to restore slavery a secret, it was widely believed by both sides that was why the French had returned to Haiti, as a sugar plantation could only be profitable with slave labor. Finally after twenty days of siege with food and ammunition running out, Dessalines ordered his men to abandon the fort on the night of March 24, 1802 and the Haitians slipped out of the fort to fight another day. Even Rochambeau, who hated all blacks, was forced to admit in a report: "Their retreat-this miraculous retreat from our trap-was an incredible feat of arms.” The Haitians left because of shortages of food and ammunition not because of the French army. The French lost over 2,000 people. After the Battle of Crête-à-Pierrot, the Haitians abandoned conventional warfare and reverted back to guerilla tactics, making the French hold over much of the countryside from Le Cap down to the Artibonite valley very tenuous. With March, the rainy season came to St. Domingue, and as stagnate water collected, the mosquitoes began to breed, leading to yet another outbreak of yellow fever. By the end of March, 5, 000 French soldiers had died of yellow fever and another 5, 000 were hospitalized with yellow fever, leading to a worried Leclerc to write in his diary: "The rainy season has arrived. My troops are exhausted with fatigue and sickness.”

By April 25, 1802, Christophe defected with much of the Haitian Army to the French. Louverture was promised his freedom if he agreed to integrate his remaining troops into the French army. He agreed to this on May 6, 1802. The French of course lied. Under the terms of surrender, Leclerc gave his solemn word that slavery would not be restored in St. Domingue, that blacks could be officers in the French Army, allowed the Haitian Army to be integrated into the French Army, and gave Toussaint a plantation at Ennery. Toussaint was later deceived, seized by the French and shipped to France. He died months later in prison at Fort-de-Joux in the Jura region. Shortly afterwards, Dessalines rode into Le Cap to submit to France and was rewarded by being made the governor of Saint-Marc, a place that Dessalines ruled with his customary cruelty. However, the temporary surrender of Christophe, Toussaint and Dessalines did not mean the end of Haitian resistance.

Throughout the countryside, guerrilla warfare continued and the French staged mass executions via firing squads, hanging and drowning Haitians in bags. Rochambeau invented a new means of mass executions, which he called "fumigational-sulphurous baths" of killing hundreds of black Haitians in the holds of ships by burning sulphur to make sulphur dioxide to gas them. These actions were long before Nazis used gas weapons against Jewish people in the Holocaust.

cultureunseen:  François-Dominique Toussaint Louverture, also Toussaint L’Ouverture, Toussaint-Louverture, Toussaint Bréda, nicknamed The Black Napoleon, was the leader of the Haitian Revolution.Our President for Life arrived on May 20, 1743 and departed on April 7, 1803.  Happy birthday:

More on the Resistance

Napoleonic rule conquered Haiti temporarily. The black people of Haiti continued to stand up for freedom. France wanted to re-establish slavery in Haiti. They nearly did so in Guadeloupe. Therefore, black people revolted in the summer of 1802. Many of the French died as a product of yellow fever. By the middle of July 1802, the French lost about 10,000 to the disease.  By September of 1802, Leclerc wrote in his diary that he had only 8,000 fit men because yellow fever killed the rest of the soldiers. Many of the soldiers were Polish people. As many as 5,000 Poles served in the two demi-brigades in the French Army. The Polish people believed that if they fought for the French, Bonaparte would reward them by restoring Polish independence. This ended with the Third Partition of Poland in 1795. Of the 5,000 Poles, about 4,000 of them died because of yellow fever. Death from yellow fever is horrible. Blood came out of people’s mouths, eyes, and nostrils. Many Polish people died in battle. The battle of Port Sault saw the Polish Third Battalion fighting about 200 Haitians (who ambushed them with musket fire and by pushing boulders down on them). One historian noted that "the Poles, rather than spreading out, each man for himself, slowly advanced in a tightly packed mass which afford an ideal target for the well-protected insurgent rifleman.” Most the Poles were cut down by the Haitians, which led Rochambeau to remark that one could always count on the Poles to die without flinching in battle. Some of the Poles came to believe that they were fighting on the wrong side, as they had joined the French Army to fight for freedom, not impose slavery, and they defected over to join the Haitians. Dessalines and Petion remained allied with the French until they switched sides again. They did this on October 1802 and fought against the French. Leclerc was dying of yellow fever. When he heard of the news, he ordered all of the black people living in Le Cap to be killed by drowning in them in the harbor. Leclerc died of yellow fever in November of 1802.

His successor, the Vicomte de Rochambeau. He fought a more brutal campaign than Leclerc. Rochambeau executed genocide against black people in Haiti. He wanted to kill everybody who was black. He imported 15,000 attack dogs from Jamaica. These dogs were trained to savage black people and biracial people. At the Bay of Le Cap, Rochambeau had so many black people drowned that no one would eat fish from the bay for months afterward as no one wished to eat the fish that had eaten human flesh. Bonaparte heard that most of his army in Haiti died of yellow fever. The French only held Port-au-Prince, Le Cap, and Les Cayes. So, he sent about 20,000 reinforcements to Rochambeau. Dessalines used militant actions.  At Le Cap, when Rochambeau hanged 500 blacks, Dessalines replied by killing 500 whites and sticking their heads on spikes all around Le Cap, so that the French could see what he was planning on doing to them.

Rochambeau's atrocities helped rally many former French loyalists to the rebel cause. Many on both sides had come to see the war as a race war where no mercy was to be given. Many Haitians burned French prisoners alive, cut them up with axes, or tied to a board and sawed them into two. Having sold the Louisiana Territory to the United States in April 1803, Napoleon began to lose interest in his failing ventures in the Western Hemisphere. He was more concerned about France's European enemies such as Great Britain and Prussia. With that, he withdrew a majority of the French forces in Haiti to counter the possibility of an invasion from Prussia, Britain, and Spain on a weakened France. Napoleon couldn’t send massive reinforcements after the outbreak of war on May 18, 1803 against the British. The Royal Navy sent a squadron under Sir John Duckworth (from Jamaica) to cruise in the region. They wanted to end communication between the French out spots and to capture or destroy the French warships based in the colony. There was the blockade of Haiti not cut the French forces out form reinforcements and supplies from France. The British started to give arms to the Haitians. Rochambeau was now blocked, filled with soldiers dying of yellow fever, etc. His army fell to pieces. He soon as James wrote was, “amused himself with sexual pleasures, military balls, banquets and the amassing of a personal fortune.” He lost interest to command his army. The Royal Navy squadrons soon blockaded the French held posts of Cap Francais and Môle-Saint-Nicolas on the Northern coast of the French colony. In the summer of 1803, when war broke out between the United Kingdom and the French Consulate, Saint-Domingue had been almost completely overrun by Haitian forces under the command of Jean-Jacques Dessalines. In the north of the country, the French forces were isolated in the two large ports of Cap Français and Môle-Saint-Nicolas and a few smaller settlements, all supplied by a French naval force based primarily at Cap Français.

One October 8, 1803, the French left Port-au-Prince. Rochambeau wanted to concentrate his forces at Le Cap. Dessalines marched into Port-au-Prince. He was welcomed as a hero by the 100 whites who had chosen to stay behind. Dessalines thanked them all for their kindness and belief in racial equality, but then he said that the French had treated him as less than human when he was a slave, and so to avenge his mistreatment, he promptly had the 100 whites all hanged. By November 3, the frigate HMS Blanche captured a supply schooner near Cap Francais, the last hope in supplying the French forces. Dessalines started to attack the French blockhouses outside of Le Cap on November 16, 1803. The last land battle in the Haitian Revolution was the Battle of Vertieres. It happened on November 18, 1803. The battle occurred near Cap-Haitien. Dessalines’ army fought against the remaining French colonial army under Vicomte de Rochambeau. The rebels and the freed revolutionary black soldiers won the battle. Both sides experienced war.

Rochambeau seeing defeat inevitable procrastinated until the last possible moment, but eventually was forced to surrender to the British commander. By the end of the month the garrison was starving, having reached the conclusion at the a council of war that surrender was the only way to escape from this "place of death.” Commodore Loring refused to allow the French to sail and agreed to the terms with Dessalines that permitted them to safely evacuate provided that they left the port by December 1. On the night of November 30, 1803, 8,000 French soldiers and hundreds of white civilians boarded the British ships to take them away. One of Rochambeau's ships was almost wrecked while leaving the harbor, but was saved by a British lieutenant acting alone, who not only rescued the 900 people on board, but also refloated the ship. At Môle-Saint-Nicolas, General Louis de Noailles refused to surrender and instead sailed to Havana, Cuba in a fleet of small vessels on December 3, but was intercepted and mortally wounded by a Royal Navy frigate. Then, the few remaining French held towns in Haiti surrendered Then, they surrendered to the Royal Navy. Dessalines led the rebellion until its completion. French forces were finally defeated by the end of 1803.

On January 1, 1804, the historic day finally arrived. From the city of Gonaives, Dessalines officially declared the former colony’s independence. It was reminded Haiti after the indigenous Arawak name. He lasted from 1804 to 1806. Many changes took place. The independence of Haiti was a major blow to France and its colonial empire. The French state would take decades to recognize Haiti. The French retreated and Haiti experienced a new chapter. The Revolution caused a new day. The Haitians had paid a high price for their freedom, losing about 200,000 dead between 1791-1803, and unlike the majority of the European dead, who were killed by yellow fever; the majority of the Haitian dead were the victims of violence. The Haitian nation was a new chapter in black history. It was the first black Republic in the Western Hemisphere.

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A new Republic (in 1804)

The Haitian Revolution ended on January 1, 1804. Dessalines was the new leader. The 1805 Constitution made Haiti a Republic too. Changes existed. The Haitian Revolution war caused Haiti to be damaged in many of its industries and resources. Its agriculture suffered because of the war. So, Haiti had to be rebuilt. Many whites were massacred. Dessalines created serfdom in order for the nation to be rebuilt. Dessalines wanted every citizen to belong to the category of either laborer or soldier. He wanted the state to rule over the individual and wanted all laborers to be bound to a plantation. He banned the whip, which was used in slavery. The working day was shortened by a third. He wanted production of resources.  Barred from using the whip, many instead turned to lianes, which were thick vines abundant throughout the island, to persuade the laborers to keep working. The countryside was rebuilt and production levels grew, but this system was authoritarian. He expanded the military since he didn’t want the French to return to try to conquer Haiti.  During his reign, nearly 10% of able-bodied men were in active service. Furthermore, Dessalines ordered the construction of massive fortifications throughout the island, like the Citadelle Laferrière. Many commentators believe that this over militarization contributed to many of Haiti's future problems. In fact, because young fit men were the most likely to be drafted into the army, the plantations were thus deprived of the workforce needed to function properly. The Presidency of Jean-Pierre Boyer was different.

During this time, the French imposed an unjust action. The French forced the Haitians to pay for reparations. This was about 150 million francs in 1825. It was reduced in 1838 to 60 million francs. This was done in exchange for French recognition of its independence. Boyer was wrong to believe that this deal was necessary to protect a French invasion. This policy damaged the Haitian economy. Also, French warships anchored near Haiti. The Haitian treasury was bankrupted. Boyer invaded the Dominican Republic in February 1822. It caused an occupation lasting 22 year. Colonialism ended in 1804. Later, the affranchi élite, who continued to rule Haiti while the formidable Haitian army kept them in power. France continued the slavery system in French Guiana, Martinique, and Guadeloupe. Before 1804, many black people were massacred by racists like Rochambeau and Leclerc. The massacre in 1804 was done to whites. By the end of April 1804, some 3,000 to 5,000 persons had been killed  practically eradicating the country's white population. Dessalines had specifically stated that France is "the real enemy of the new nation." This allowed certain categories of whites to be excluded from massacre who had to pledge their rejection to France: the Polish soldiers who deserted from the French army; the group of German colonists of the Nord-Ouest (North-West) department of Haiti who were inhabitants before the revolution; French widows who were allowed to keep their property;  select male Frenchmen;  and a group of medical doctors and professionals.  Reportedly, also people with connections to Haitian notables were spared, as well as the women who agreed to marry non-white men. In the 1805 constitution that declared all its citizens as black,  it specifically mentions the naturalizations of German and Polish peoples enacted by the government, as being exempt from Article XII that prohibited whites ("non-Haitians;" foreigners) from owning land. The Haitian Revolution changed the world forever. I am glad that Haiti became independent.  I don’t agree with killing innocent human life. I reject anti-black racism and oppression of any form. Haiti today is still fighting for real justice too.

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The Global Impact

The impact of the Haitian Revolution has been global. The Haitian Revolution inspired further slave rebellions in America and in the British colonies. The biggest slave revolt in American history was the 1811 German Coast Uprising in Louisiana. The slave rebellion in Louisiana was put down. The slaves received such a severe punishment that no contemporary news reports about it exist. Many abolitionists brought the issue of slavery in public discourses. Black people continued to fight against slavery worldwide. In America, discussions about slavery continued. Thomas Jefferson was a slaveholder. He refused to establish diplomatic relations with Haiti. The United States didn’t even recognize Haiti until 1862. The U.S. imposed an embargo on trade with Haiti until 1862. Jefferson was so racist that he wanted Haiti to fail as a new republic. Many white refugees from Haiti from 1791 traveled into American cities like Philadelphia, Baltimore, New York City, and Charleston. The immigration intensified after the journée (crisis) of June 20, 1793, and soon American families began to raise money and open up their homes to help exiles in what became the United States' first  refugee crisis. While some white refugees blamed the French Revolutionary government for sparking the violence in Haiti, many supported the Republican regime and openly expressed their support of the Jacobins.

Some historical information showed that refugees who supported the French Revolution had an easier time to go into America. American slave-owners commiserated with the French planters. Many white French and free people of color came into Louisiana from Saint Domingue. Louisiana back then already had a large French speaking, biracial, and black populations. Many racists feared slavery rebellions in America on the scale of the Haitian Revolution. In 1807 Haiti was divided into two parts, the Republic of Haiti in the south, and the Kingdom of Haiti in the north. Land could not be privately owned; it reverted to the State through Biens Nationaux (national bonds), and no French whites could own land. The remaining French settlers were forced to leave the island. The Haitian State owned up to 90% of the land and the other 10% was leased in 5-year intervals. Napoleon didn’t want to regain Haiti again because of the disease and the bloody war. He sold Louisiana to the Americas and gave up rebuilding a French empire in the Western Hemisphere. There never again was such a large-scale slave rebellion. Napoleon reversed the French abolition of slavery in law, constitution, and practice, which had occurred between 1793 and 1801, and reinstated slavery in the French colonies in 1801–1803—which lasted until 1848.The Haitian Revolution inspired anti-slavery efforts in America, ended Napoleonic rule in the Americas,  etc. Also, in Latin America, independence movement grew and new Latin American nations were free from Spanish and Portuguese domination throughout the 1800's also.

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She is Sister Bayyinah Bello. She is a professional and a scholar of the Haitian Revolution. For years, she has done philanthropic work to help Haitian people and others worldwide. She is a Haitian historian, a teacher, and a humanitarian. She has lived in Africa for years too. To this very day, she has worked hard to help Haitian people. 


The Haitian Revolution changed history forever. It caused slavery to end in Haiti. It motivated black people in the Americas and worldwide to defeat slavery. It was very bloody. The Haitian Revolution didn’t exist in one phase. It existed in multiple phases. Many European powers wanted to control Haiti for geopolitical reasons, but the Haitian people defeated them all. Heroic black men and heroic black women stood up against Western imperialist tyranny. One of the most brutal forms of slavery in the Americas existed in Haiti. Many black slaves in Haiti were brutalized with such a ferocious nature that this caused more death. Black people were determined to be free. The Haitian Revolution had many leaders and it involved a collective effort among the Haitian people to get their independence from French. They or the Haitians formed their independent republic on 1804. Afterwards problems did exist. French forced Haitians to pay them, which is wrong. The U.S. executed an embargo against Haiti for a while. The U.S. even occupied Haiti militarily during the 20th century. The recent Earthquake in Haiti has harmed people too. Also, it is important to recognize the determination of the Haitian people back then and today. Bayyinah Bello is the founder of an organization for historical research called Fondation Marie-Claire Heureuse Félicité Bonheur Dessalines, popularly known as Fondasyon Félicité (FF), named after Marie-Claire Heureuse Félicité Bonheur Dessalines the Empress consort of Haiti and wife of revolutionary leader of Haiti Jean-Jacques Dessalines.  Soon after the 2010 Haiti earthquake, the Friends of Fondation Félicité was set up, an associated not-for-profit organization that is helping Haitian people to rebuild their own country, and raises funds for grass-root projects on the island. We won’t back down. We always love Haiti forever.

By Timothy

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