Why does the Haitian Revolution matter? The Haitian Revolution began in 1791 and ended in 1804. It is the only instance in history where slaves successfully achieved freedom through rebellion. Haiti was the first country founded in Latin America and the first colony to gain independence (Rose 1).Spanish Colonization of Hispaniola On December 5th, 1492, Christopher Columbus arrived on the island of Hispaniola. A third of the island is present day Haiti and the rest of it is the Dominican Republic. The island was home to the native people known as the Taino (“Hispaniola” 1). In 1493, the colony of Santo Domingo was founded by the Spanish. The native people of the island were enslaved by Columbus and his men to find gold (“AD 1492” 1). The Taino population had drastically diminished due to European diseases and brutal treatment by the colonists (“Hispaniola” 4). Starting in the year of 1502, Africans were imported to Hispaniola as slaves. This was the start of the slave trade that brought thousands of slaves to Africa to the New World (Bradshaw 1).French Colonization of Hispaniola The sixteenth and seventeenth centuries saw French colonists obtaining a portion of  Hispaniola as Spanish colonists aimed their attention at their continental Latin American colonies. The French declared their western third of Hispaniola as the colony of Saint-Domingue (“The Haitian Revolution” 2). In 1665, King Louis XIV of France formally acknowledged the existence of the colony (“Hispaniola” 4). In 1697, the Treaty of Ryswick was made between Ahmed 2     Spain and France. Spain recognized the western territory of the island as property of France in the treaty (“The Haitian Revolution” 2). Saint-Domingue became the wealthiest colony in the West Indies. This was because of  the success of their massive sugar plantations (“Hispaniola” 5). In addition, the colony generated wealth from their coffee and indigo exports. The Social Structure of Saint-Domingue*ask about who’s above: mulattoes or petit blancsThe majority of the population were slaves. In 1789, there were approximately 32,000 European settlers, 24,000 affranchis, and close to 500,000 slaves from Africa (The Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica 2).Slavery in the ColonyThe colony’s economic success was only possible with the work done by slaves (Rose 4). To begin with, African slaves were brought to the Saint-Domingue to to work on the numerous plantations. Slaves had an extremely high death rate because they were being radically overworked (Bradshaw 2). Slaves would work from dawn to well after dusk. Typically, the average slave would survive on the island for about seven years (Rose 3).  Due to the high death rate, over 40,000 slaves were imported from Africa to Saint-Domingue each year (Bradshaw 2). In addition to their exhausting labor, slaves received brutal treatment from their masters. Slave owners resorted to physical abuse to keep their workers in check. Slaves who ran away, known as maroons, and were found were likely to be executed (Rose 4). In 1685, King Louis XIV of France established the Code Noir to contain the harsh conduct towards slaves by their master. Ahmed 3However, the law was disregarded by colonists and slaves were continued to be treated in a cruel manner (“The Haitian Revolution” 3).The Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen During the French Revolution, the National Assembly drafted a new a constitution for France, the Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen. The constitution was made on August 26, 1789. According to the document, all men were equal (“The Haitian Revolution” 3). Slaves in Haiti thought the constitution applied to them and they wanted freedom. Despite this, slave owners refused to give their slaves freedom. Ogé’s Revolt In 1790, Vincent Ogé, a mulatto, was the leader of a revolt (The Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica 2). With the help of his handful of followers, he successfully vanquished a group of French soldiers. Ogé and his men were exiled to Santo Domingo and were killed when they were asked to come back to Saint-Domingue (“The Haitian Revolution” 3).The Dawn of the RevolutionOn August 22nd of 1791, the slaves of Saint-Domingue begun their revolution against their white masters (Shen 2). The revolt was led by Dutty Boukman, a Vodou priest. However, Boukman died during the early stages of the rebellion. By September of that year, over eighteen hundred plantations were demolished by the slaves. The French tried to demoralize the rebellious slaves by showing them the chopped off head of Boukman. Despite this, close to one hundred thousand slaves participated in the insurrection. By 1792, the slaves conquered a third of the Ahmed 4island. That year saw France grant free people of color with full rights of citizenship in an effort to contain the rebellion. Next, on August 29th 1793, Léger-Félicité Sonthonax, a French commissioner, put an end to slavery in his province (“The Haitian Revolution” 3). However, his proclamation did not impact other districts due to it not being implemented in those areas (Bradshaw 2).Spain and England Invade Saint-DomingueIn 1793, the French colony of Saint-Domingue was invaded by Spain and England. The grand blancs sided with Great Britain in order to preserve slavery. On the other hand, Toussaint Louverture, a free black man, built up an army of four thousand slaves that would fight on the side of the Spanish (“The Haitian Revolution” 3). He caught the attention of many slaves in a letter which he stated that he was fighting to achieve liberty and equality (Rose 6 ).In addition to raising the army, Louverture trained them. On February 4th, 1974, slavery was outlawed by the National Convention in all of France’s colonies. This caused Toussaint to join the French along with his army of slaves and decimate the Spanish and English forces (“The Haitian Revolution” 3). Louverture in Control of the IslandAfter defeating the forces of Spain and England, Toussaint began to have authority over all of Saint-Domingue. In October 1798, a civil war, known as the War of the Knives, broke out between Louverture and André Rigaud, the leader of the mulattoes. Under the leadership of Jean-Jacques Dessalines, Louverture’s army was victorious. In 1801, Louverture conquered Santo Domingo (“The Haitian Revolution” 3).  Ahmed 5The Constitution of 1801 The Constitution of 1801 was established as the constitution of Saint-Domingue by Toussaint Louverture on July 8th, 1801. In the document, Louverture proclaimed himself as Governor-General for life.

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