Haitian Revolution

Main

Emancipation of the Slaves

1791

The first uprising was at the Vaudou Ceremony (Aug. 14, 1791). A Vaudou Ceremony is a Voodoo Ceremony worshiping spirits. The slaves called themselves the Black Insurrections. They benefited from the Free Classes (whites) fighting themselves. Theory: Impossible demands made of the government, which, if granted, would mean its end.

France is Preoccupied

1791

France was preoccupied with its wars with Britain and the United States. Theory: Unsuccessful government attempts to suppress revolutionaries.

Eastern Hispaniola

1795

France could not take back this important port (which was ceded by Spain in 1795) due to naval war with Britain. Theory: Unsuccessful government attempts to suppress revolutionaries.

Conquered Santo Domingo

1801

Toussaint L’Ouverture: Former slave. Knowledge of the art of command and mastery of intrigue. Joined French army in Hispaniola (commanding general). Switched to the Black Insurrectionists (Aug. 1791). France declares war on Britain, he switches to the side of Spain (Feb. 1793). France proclaims emancipation, he rejoins French army as brigadier general. Conquered Santo Domingo (1801), abolished slavery in eastern Hispaniola, and proclaimed himself governor-general of the entire island for life. Napoleon Bonaparte sent General Charles Leclerc to capture him and restore French sovereignty (1802). Taken to France, he later died in a prison in 1803. Theory: Revolutionaries gain power and seem united.

Haitian Civil Wars

1804 - 1820

Jean-Jacques Dessalines: Black general of Toussaint. Proclaimed himself emperor in 1804. Assassinated in 1806.

Henri Christophe: Black general of Toussaint. Ruthless king of the north. Committed suicide during a revolt in 1820.

Alexandre Pétion: President of a weak republic in the south. Died in 1818.

Spain: Took back Santo Domingo in 1809

Theory: Revolutionaries begin to quarrel among themselves, and unity begins to dissolve.

Loan from the French

1825

Jean-Pierre Boyer unties the entire island. Can’t restore the former Haiti without huge sums of money. Promised large indemnity to former French planters (1825). To keep promise, he had to borrow huge sums multiple times from France which weakened the economy. Theory: Moderates gain the leadership but fail to satisfy those who insist on further changes.

No More Boyer

1844

Haitians overthrew Boyer while he tried to regain Santo Domingo, now the Dominican Republic. Theory: Power is gained by progressively more radical groups until finally a lunatic fringe gains almost complete control.

Many Men

1845 - 1862

Many men come into power, restore harsh rules to maintain that power, and are assassinated or removed. Theory: A strong man emerges and assumes great power. The extremists try to create a “heaven on earth” by introducing their whole program and by punishing all their opponents. A period of terror occurs.

State of Independence

1862

Abraham Lincoln recognized Haiti’s independence in 1862. Haiti had to rely on other nations. The old, wealthy plantation economy is unable to come back. Theory: Moderate groups regain power. The revolution is over.