The Haitian Revolution began in 1791 and was the world's most significant slave insurrection. Slavery was abolished in the Caribbean in 1804 after several revolts, revolutions, and resistances (Beckles H., Shepherd V. A., 2). The process established a historical monument that continues to impact global civil rights movements. Such a revolution and its impact must have seemed unexpected and uncontrollable when it began (Fick, Carolyn E., 1). However, the ill-treatment of enslaved people, societal inequality, and the French Revolt made the revolution unavoidable by 1791. (Rand, 1).
Before the revolution, Haiti was called the French colony Saint Domingue. It started as a French pirate base robbing Spanish ships. Sugar, coffee, indigo, and cotton plantations made this island the most productive colony in the West Indies, if not the globe. It supplied 40% of Europe's sugar and 60% of its coffee. Every year, nearly 30,000 new enslaved Africans arrived to replace those who died of overwork or sickness and fuel the colony's fast economic expansion. The average population increase was also stopped, and death rates were high. A third to half of the enslaved people on the island were born in Africa, and the slave population swelled to 90%. Slave Christianization had begun early in the colony but was quickly abandoned. The enslaved people were then left to their own devices, developing their own culture, language, and religion based on African roots.
Slavery was a problem in France since it had colonies in the West Indies. Before 1789, opponents denounced the slave trade and its brutality. Saint Domingo's slavery system was overseen by royal edicts known as the Code Noir or slave code. This code dealt with rebellious enslaved people (Sylviane A. Diouf.) Enslavers feared enslaved people harming them on their farms. So rigorous and harsh punishment increased. Tired of being mistreated, enslaved people formed revolts and plots of insurrection. The whites' dominance over plantations was often challenged through voodoo, rallies, property damage, and poisoning of owners. Slave revolts made the French rulers insecure and worried (Sylviane A. Diouf). Of course, they put down these dangers before 1791, but the enslaved people who fought back gave hope to the revolution. The revolution was inescapable once these resistances continued.
The whites or Blancs, the free lacks, and Mulattoes or gens de couleur libres, the impoverished whites and enslaved people, made up Haitian civilization (Rand D). Whites were the ruling Europeans. The colonial government, plantation, and slave proprietors. They stayed in France and hired someone to run the farms and enslaved people. The wealthy free collared folks followed. The Mulattoes were the offspring of Frenchmen who had children with enslaved people. Other free people of colour were enslaved Black people who had bought or been granted their freedom by their owners. Then came the impoverished white artisans and workers. On the bottom were enslaved Black people and maroons. Domestic enslaved people and maroons are two sorts of enslaved Africans. The maroons were many escaped enslaved people who hid in the Saint Domingue Mountains. They numbered in the tens of thousands before the 179th.
The Haitian revolution sprang from a fundamental socio-economic imbalance. Following reports of enslaved people being mistreated in the colonies, the French government sought to enact legislation to improve the enslaved people's working conditions in Saint Domingue. So many white planters sought independence from revolutionary France to avoid trade rules and keep doing what they considered was the most efficient way to acquire slave labour. Despite being members of a free and educated property elite, the system prevented them from holding numerous public jobs and required them to join the French military, which they disliked. So, while fighting for full citizenship rights, they were drawn to the equality philosophy of The Rights of Man. Some travelled to France to advocate for slavery's abolition. The impoverished whites didn't care that they were poor and that brown people were treated better. Slave discontent grew due to maltreatment. Unrest and political instability arose because no one could live in harmony.
Classes worked against one other and formed surprising alliances. For example, historians think the French government sponsored the slave insurrection in 1971 to thwart the plantation owners' ambition to secede from Saint Domingue. To overthrow the French empire formed in Saint Domingue, other countries, including the US, Spain, Dutch, and Britain, eagerly aided slaves who saw this as a chance to fight back. With so many people jumping at the event, the revolution appeared confident.
The French Revolution influenced the Haitian Revolution, which lasted from 1789 until 1799. Years of feudalism, which involved keeping land in exchange for a service or labour, and oppressive taxes led to the French Revolution. Also, the country's economy was mismanaged. As a result, France went into debt, and King Louis XVI spent money to repair the problems, causing further obligation. The French economy crumbled and the people revolted owing to increased taxes, lack of food and medication for the ill, and alleged social hierarchies where the royals were left to fend for themselves. And so battle broke out to fight for liberty, equality, and brotherhood (Rosenzweig Roy, Centre for History and New Media).
The French Revolution and the battle for equality and civil rights encouraged free people of colour to strive for their civil right of citizenship, which they were awarded (The Saylor Foundation). Enslaved people learned about the changing conditions surrounding the French revolution and hoped for freedom, and this was all the enslaved people needed to start a process. The French Revolution had already developed concepts that were undoubtedly simmering in the brains of the revolutionists. Therefore it was unnecessary to watch it (Fick, Carolyn E., 4).
Circumstances in Haitian culture affected the inescapable slave revolt that began in 1971. The white colonists failed to anticipate the insurrection they had been bringing upon themselves since the social devastation began. Enslaved people were mistreated, and the French Revolution had a significant impact on this violent and finally victorious slave insurrection.
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