The Components of Revolution:
Haitian Success and the Fall of Cuba Libre
“A forcible overthrow of a government or social order, in favor of a new system;” this is the definition for revolution from the Oxford Dictionaries. The term revolution has been used in many ways and often misused, such as referring to a new form of technology as being revolutionary. Another example being the United States war with the British in the sixteenth-century, the American Revolution;was it really a revolution? Some historians say no.The conflicts in Saint Domingue in the late sixteenth-century and Cuba in the late seventeenth-century are cases in which we can truly determine exactly what a revolution is. The war in Saint Domingue has been considered a revolution, and the war in Cuba has not. The question is how and why? Ultimately for a conflict to be considered a revolution it must be unified by a group of people who will establish a new social order, or new system threw force, as the definition implies. With the war over Saint Domingue, a revolution would come about when the French went back on their promises, most of all the abolition of slavery, and the people of Saint Domingue would be united in its goal of a free black republic. In the wars that took place in Cuba the ideas of Cuba libre (Cuba free), would not come to a reality for two reasons, the betrayal of the idea itself among the Cuban elites, and because of the United States intervention in the war, both being working components. Revolution is not simply a change in leadership, but a change in social structures, a complete reversal from the previous structure. The fight for territory in Saint Domingue, which led to a revolution, was very complex, involving many variables: the French, British, Spanish, slaves, former slaves, and men of mixed race. It ultimately took a unified Haitian nation to bring about a revolution. The French being the originalcolonizerhad fought hard to keep their colony and in 1794 in a bold move, primarily pushed by civil commissioner Leger-Felicite Sonthonax, the French Republic would decree the emancipation of all slaves, trying to prevent British control. For the next four years general/governor Toussaint Louventure would be the dominant force in Saint Domingue, effectively driving out the British, Spanish, and claiming supreme authority over all other French authority in Saint Domingue. When Toussaint became governor, the beginnings of a unified people were under way, however not fully developed. Toussaint would have dictatorship-like power over the territory, all the time claiming loyalty to France. The people, even though being given strict labor laws, would rather have this style of government than the former, under slavery. With Napoléon Bonaparte taking power in France, he began to question the rule of Toussaint, starting with his aspirations to control all of Hispaniola, without ever getting consent from the French government. Then without permission, Toussaint drafted a constitution for Saint Domingue. In October of 1801, Bonaparte received the constitution, which gave him more than enough reason to have Toussaint taken from his seat of power. Bonaparte then sent Charles Victor Emmanuel Leclerc to Saint Domingue, to restore the French colony. Bonaparte gave Leclerc essentially a three-part procedure for terminating Toussaint’s regime: one, promise black leadership in a French dominated government, two, arrest and deport problematic leaders such as Toussaint, and three, disarm blacks and reestablish a pre-wartime colony, which included reestablishingslavery.The French were voiding all the progress that the people of Saint Domingue have fought and died for over the previous decade. Toussaint was now, from his standards, forced into war, and the proper response was the unification of rebel forces to bring down the French army. “He declared that since France had sent forces to ‘put us back into slavery,’ there was no choice but to...
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