The Hatian Revolution
Symptoms of a Revolution
The symptoms of a revolution include things such as the lower/ middle class loudly voicing their opinions against an inept leader or an inefficient government.
The Hatian Revolution appeared because of the ideas and influences of the French Revolution (1891). The slaves, free black population, and the Mulattoes demanded equality for all classes, and a rumor of abolishment of slavery was spread throughout the country. All of these factors lead to the fuel that started the revolution.
The French Revolution started due to years of exploitation of the peasants. In rebellion, peasants looted and burned the homes of tax collectors and other officials. This became known as the Great Fear, or "La Grande Peur." These ideas influenced the Haitian Revolution.
The class differences were the root cause of the revolution, as each class desired something different. The "Grand Blancs desired autonomy for colony and fewer economic restrictions on trade. "Petit blancs" wanted equality and citizenship for all whites. Both of these groups saw themselves as better than the blacks— free or enslaved. Free blacks and slaves desired freedom, but this idea challenged the entire slave labor system.
As the angers intensifies, the revolt begins and the uprising culminates into a large battle.
Dutty Boukman was a Voudu priest from Jamaica who gave a prediction which lit the fire of the Haitian Revolution. Boukman predicted that Haitians would be able to escape French revolution under the leadership of Jean François Papillon, Georges Biassou, and Jeanoot (three men who were slaves at the time). This began rebellions across the land and within ten days eighteen hundred plantations had been destroyed. Boukman was killed for his speech shortly after the rebellions began and the French put his head on a pike as a warning to others, one which was for the most part ignored.
In the turning point of the rebellion, new modeerate leaders are violently replaced with radical ones, often causing the revolutionary spirit to run out of fuel.
Jean-Jacques Dessalines was a former slave turned revolutionary leader that came to power after Toussaint Louverture's deposition by French forces. Born in 1758 in West Africa he was brought to the Saint-Domingue as a slave where he worked on a plantation until 1791 in which he eventually joined the slave rebellion caused by the ideas of the French Revolution. In the decade and a half of revolution he would distinguish himself as a Lieutenant of Toussaint Louverture. After Louverture's capture by French forces Dessalines would be the one to lead Haiti to its independence in 1804.
Toussaint Louverture was a former black slave the led the Haitian Revolution. Under his leadership, the Haitian Revolution became the only successful slave revolt known in modern history. Louverture was born into slavery in 1743, and when he was young, he learned how to read and write. By the time he was twenty, Louverture became a well respected man who was multilingual, literate, a horseman, and a man knowledgeable on plants and medicine. When the slave revolts started, although he was a free man, he was angered by the inadequate treatment of slaves, and joined the fight. He quickly established himself as a good fighter and military leader. After the French decision to emancipate the slaves, Louverture continued on to become a dominant military and political leader in the French colonies.
The revolting slaves planned to burn all the plantations and massacre all the whites. They slave rebels organized themselves into groups of several hundreds to thousands, and each group took a plantation to attack. Using torches and makeshift weapons, the slave rebels burned down or seized control of plantations, establishing military bases and killing most whites that got in the way.
With the revolutionary fire extinguished, the country searches for stability under a strong, central government.
Though the Declaration was originally written in French, it has been translated into English.
"It is not enough to have expelled the barbarians who have bloodied our land for two centuries; it is not enough to have restrained those ever-evolving factions that one after another mocked the specter of liberty that France dangled before you. We must, with one last act of national authority, forever assure the empire of liberty in the country of our birth; we must take any hope of re-enslaving us away from the inhuman government that for so long kept us in the most humiliating torpor. In the end we must live independent or die.... We have dared to be free, let us be thus by ourselves and for ourselves. Let us imitate the grown child: his own weight breaks the boundary that has become an obstacle to him... Let us ensure, however, that a missionary spirit does not destroy our work; let us allow our neighbors to breathe in peace; may they live quietly under the laws that they have made for themselves... Therefore vow before me to live free and independent, and to prefer death to anything that will try to place you back in chains. Swear, finally, to pursue forever the traitors and enemies of your independence."
Excerpts from the Hatian Declaration of Independence written in 1804 at the headquarters of Gonaives.
The Hatian Revolution changed the lives of not only those living during its time period, but those of each Hatian to come later. It was the worlds only completely successful slave rebellion, and the country was altered greatly because of it.