Bicentenario de las Independencias Americanas

The Independence of Haiti (1804)

 

Since the late 17th Century, the French holds the western part of Saint-Domingue´s Island, Hispaniola. A century later, sugar cane production makes Haiti one of the current most prosperous colonies of the Caribbean, thanks to the new independent United States. To supply their labour needs, the planters depended on merchandisers to import slaves. A lack of political and economical authority as well as the exclusion of mulattos from the decision arena will generate a social and racial conflict that will erupt after the French Revolution.

The Revolutionary France proclaimed at the Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen in 1789 the equality of mankind. In 1790, the blacks and the mulattos start to demand the end of racial discrimination. The French Assembly started to acknowledge rights only to mulattos whose parents were free. Black and mulattos prepared for a war against the white. In 1791, Dutty Boukman (Jamaica, ¿? -Haiti, 1791) started to remove slavery in the French part of the island. The violence of the war turned to be extreme from both parties.

A lot of the rebellious slaves hid in the Spanish part and also Touissaint L´Ouverture (Saint-Domingue Island, 1743-La cluse-et-Mijoux, -France, 1803) and leader of Haiti´s independence, achieved in being part of the officials in the Spanish Army. As a result, the slaves became leaders of the French part in 1793. Later after, France abolishes slavery even though the war continues in Haiti. In 1799 the conflict turned into a war between slaves (who were leaded by Toussaint L´Ouverture) and mulattos, leaded by André Rigaud (Aux Cayes, Haiti, 1761-Haiti, 1811). The slaves become the victorious party.

Meanwhile, Spain, on behalf of the Tratado de Basilea (Treaty of Basel) in 1795, transfers the Hispaniola territories -the first of the Spanish territories of the New World- to the Revolutionary France. But the French will not takeover until Toussant L´Ouverture occupies the Spanish part of the island in 1801. The new government seeks to establish a system that can chance Councils into municipalities, opens up trade ports to English and Americans, imposes a single crop farming system, but will not be able to prevent creoles to escape towards the continent parallel to establishing a constitution that releases the slaves of its servitude.

Napoleon sends troops to stop L´Ouvertures leadership; banishes him, ends up with his governmental program and the French take over. The French government will then focus in recovering part of the current economy, will defend the north territory from the invasion of Haitians and prepares to recover its colony, an action that will never take place. In 1804 the General Jean Jacques Dessalines (Cormiers, Haiti, 1758-Pont-Rouge, Haiti, 1806) will proclaim the independence of Haiti and will become Emperor.

Dessalines who rules on a tyrannical power and orders the extermination of white people (who are useless to his interests) will be killed in 1806. After his death, the island is divided in two, as a result, the south part is governed by the mulatto Alexandre Petión (Port-au-Prince, Haiti, 1770-Port-au-Prince, Haiti, 1818) and the north part ruled by Henry Christophe (Granda Island, 1767-Port-au-Prince, Haiti, 1820) a black man that rules as a severe tyrant until 1820, the year of his suicidal. The same year, Pierre Boyer (Port-au-Prince, Haiti, 1776-Paris, Francis, 1850) reunifies the island.

While all of this is happening in America, Napoleon (Ajaccio, France, 1769- Santa Elena Island, 1821) invades the Iberian Peninsula in 1808. This fact is used by a Creole sector lead by Juan Sánchez Ramírez (Cotuí, Dominican Republic, 18th C-? 1811) in order to take over the Spaniards discomfort over the French occupation. The defeated French troops left the Spanish territory by the end of the year.

The violent events that surrounds Haitis Independence are quite fearful and had a contagious effect at the Caribbean, resulting on revolts in places like the coasts of Venezuela (Coro, 1795).



Icono de conformidad con el Nivel Doble-A del W3C-WAI. Se abre en ventana nueva

© Ministry Culture and Sport.