The Haitian Revolution

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INTRODUCTION

The French Colony of Haiti was known to be the most profitable sugar producing colony, producing forty-five percent (45%) of the world’s sugar around 1789. The sugar plantations were owned by whites and sometimes mullatoes but operated by the slaves. Haiti or St. Domingue as it was formally known, had a population of about 520,000 people with 450,000 or 86.7 percent being slaves and the rest being the whites and free coloured or (mullatoes) “as stated by Patrick E. Bryan in his book, “The Haitian Revolution and its Effects”. As time went on, issues arose about slavery and the slaves wanting freedom because they were being overworked and ill treated.

In 1660, the French settlers came to Hispaniola, after being driven by Spaniards from Tobago. They were sometimes expelled but returned to settle when Spanish vigilance slackened. Their persistency paid off in 1697, by the Treaty of Ryswick, in which Spain agreed to hand over the western Hispaniola to France. The French portion of the island received the name Saint Domingue, later renamed Haiti by Sir Dessalines.

Upon settling, they imported African slaves to operate the sugar plantations. This is how the problem arose. They overworked the slaves and ill treated them. The coloured were fighting for equal rights while the slaves were fighting to escape slavery and the harsh inhumane treatment they got from the whites. The French revolution in 1789 was known to be the trigger behind the Haitian revolution, because of the effects it left behind on Haiti and the wider Caribbean.

The Haitian Revolution occurred on August 23rd 1791 and lasted to 1804. It was caused by social inequalities between the three main social classes. Certain classes were denied social and political rights. There were many phrases leading to the Haitian Revolution. It started with the fact that Haiti, then known as Hispaniola was under Spanish control and “there were many attempts by the British to seize Hispaniola as a...
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