Haitian Revolution and Independence
The Saint Domingue (modern Haiti) was a rich society of European colonies in the Caribbean that produced many goods such as sugar, coffee, and cotton. Their productions accounted for “almost one-third of France’s foreign trade” (P.501). Wealthy planters usually owned black slaves who normally toiled in the fields under brutal conditions. Many slaves ran away into the mountains to escape. By the late eighteenth century, Saint Domingue had a lot of maroon communities, which were groups of escaped slaves. The American and French revolutions led to a violent political and social revolution. Because the French were against British rule, colonial governors in Saint Domingue sent hundreds of gens de couleur to fight in the American war of independence. They returned to Saint Domingue with the intention of reforming society. When the French Revolution broke out in 1789, white settlers sought the right to govern themselves, but they did not want equal rights for gens de couleur, so a war broke out between the two in 1791. Conflict continued for two years and then expanded dramatically when a priest started a slave revolt in August of 1791. “Some twelve thousand slaves began killing white settlers, burning their homes, and destroying their plantations” (P.302). French troops showed up in 1792 to try to restore order. British and Spanish forces then intervened in hopes of benefitting from France’s difficulties. Eventually slave forces overcame white settlers and gens de couleur. Their success was mostly because of their leader, Francois-Dominique Toussaint. In 1801, he issued a constitution that granted equality and citizenship to all residents of Saint Domingue. He stopped short of declaring independence from France because he did not want Napoleon to attack the island. In 1802, Napoleon attacked the island anyway. The French arrested Toussaint and sent him to jail, where he eventually passed...
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