The Haitian Revolution

The movement of the French Revolution of 1789 rippled not only in Europe but also in the Caribbean islands. The National Assembly of France granted citizenship to the free people of color. The “Declaration of the Rights of Man” should have applied to the inhabitants of Saint Domingue, however, the French farmers did not grant them their rights. Thus began, in 1791, a 12 years long rebellion that led to the creation of the independent state of Haiti.

Many slaves that fought for freedom in the Haitian Revolution were brought from the kingdom of Kongo thus countless rebels invoked allegiance to this state. The rebellion started on 21st of August at the call of one of them, Dutty Boukman, a high priest esteemed by the slaves in the region. The Haitian rebellion was a violent one. It started with as many as 100.000 belligerent slaves just in the Northern Province. Eyewitnesses noted that whites were tortured and murdered. Countless whites were found in spikes and white women were forced to become servants to the insurgents.

On the 1st of January 1804, the new free Republic of Haiti was declared, followed by a massacre of the remaining white inhabitants of the country. The extermination was carried out by the black population on the orders of Jean-Jacques Dessalines, the authoritarian ruler of the newfound state. Between 3,000 and 5,000 victims of the massacre were murdered across the whole territory of Haiti between February and April of 1804. Even though the Haitian Revolution was a success and colonialism was ended on the island, the populace struggled with social conflicts as the Haitian army kept the authoritarian regime in place for many years to come and other French colonies such as Martinique or French Guiana still kept slavery in place.

The revolution was focused on fighting slavery and colonialism. The newly self-freed slaves of Saint Domingue fought to keep their liberty and managed to create an anti-slavery movement across the world due to their achievement. Though succeeding in abolishing slavery in Saint Domingue was a colossal deed, this uprising along with the progress of capitalism, the ongoing collapse of feudalism and the idealism of the French Revolution altered the fate of the Western society. The significance of the Revolution was that it opposed the principle of black inferiority and the belief that slaves could never uphold their independence and freedom.