Haiti Revolution

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Erin McConlogue

History 304 Research Essay

29/11/12

“To What Extent Did the Haitian Revolution have on the United States Civil War?”

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The Union victory in the United States Civil War was influential for the abolition of slavery and served as a foothold for the growth of African American equality and a global shift towards a universal standard for human rights. However, it is necessary to note what encouraged and influenced this war. The atmosphere of upholding human rights through racial equality was fought for fifty years before the Civil War during the Haitian Revolution. This revolt was specifically instrumental as it gave hope to the United States slaves and put pressure on the U.S. government to take a stance on human rights. The goal of this essay is to analyze the extent to which the Haitian Revolution influenced and encouraged the United States Civil War to acknowledge human rights. This essay will focus on the ethic atmosphere of slavery and the influence of Haiti moving this issue onto a global scale. In order to weigh the effect the Haitian Revolution had on the Civil War, it is important to first establish a fundamental understanding of their history then observe the immediate impacts and the developed ideals established over time because of the Haitian Revolution.

The Haitian Revolution was one of the most influential events regarding human rights. Prior to it’s independence, Haiti was a French colony known as St. Domingue that was run by the white supremacist, French Creoles. Fed up with years of oppression, abuse and violence, there was a massive slave revolt from 1791 to 1804. Toussaint L’Ouverture emerged as the powerful leader who fought radically for human rights and made the country the first independent black republic in the western hemisphere[1]. L’Ouverture focused on winning the political freedom of blacks by breaking free from French rule. Though seemingly not intentional, this was a “two in one” battle, as they consciously fought for political freedom from France but also the underlying battle was that of races. Lasting more than ten years, Haiti lost over 400,000 people[2]. This war was unique because it was the first and only time in history where formerly enslaved Africans founded a new nation via revolution and maintained it. After the successful revolt, the former slaves had to start from scratch. Economically, St. Domingue was dependent on the income brought forth by slavery and this revolt dramatically scrapped their wealth. In-fact, “slave-based sugar and coffee industries [in St. Domingue] had been fast-growing and successful, and by the 1760’s it had become the most profitable colony in the Americas[3].” This ruthless ten year long battle consisted of burning sugar cane fields, killing white landowners and re-staking the land for Haiti. The Creoles did not just fold their cards and release the slaves, but the passionate oppressed were resilient and had a proportional advantage to the whites of ten to one[4]. Though this revolution was brutal, the outcome unstable, and the economy distraught, blacks became free. Upon succeeding, L’Ouverture established laws against slavery and the globe witnessed a historical event unimaginable of the time.

This war introduced issues of superiority, already existent for hundreds of years, that would dominate the politics of the United States in the 19th and 20th century. After the success of the former black slaves, a system of equality wasn’t created but rather a system of black superiority. This is evidenced by the massacre of the white population of French Creoles in Haiti immediately following the battle. This ethnic cleansing lasted for two months and “resulted in the death of between 3,000 to 5,000 people of all ages and gender”[5]. Though their anger was justified because the Creoles tormented, overworked, abused so many black people, they still failed to establish a equality based system. This issue introduced by...
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