Essay Sample on Impact of Religion in the Haitian and American Revolution

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  7
Wordcount:  1866 Words
Date:  2022-11-03


Haitian Revolution encompassed a series of conflicts between the Haitian slaves, colonists, British armies and French colonizers, and other parties between the years 1791 and 1804. While there a significant struggle among these parties, the Haitian people finally manages to win independence from France making them the first country to be founded by slaves. Up to date, the Haitians remains the first people in history who had been ensiled but managed to overthrow the slavery and further established an independent country under the control of their masters. The Haitian revolution also marked as a significant influence on the United States both economically and politically, especially during the American Revolution. While various aspects had a major contribution to the Haitian revolution, the papers aim at discussing the various ways on how religion has a significant impact on the Haitian and the American Revolution.

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History of the Haitian American Revolution

It dates back in the late 15th century when the Spanish began to enslave the native from the Taino and Ciboney people. The slaves were forced to mine for gold by the Spanish where they faced brutal working conditions. Additionally, they were devastated by the effect of the European diseases that saw most of the slaves vanish by the end of the 16th century. Nevertheless, the Spanish imported more slaves from other Caribbean islands who also met a similar experience.

Once the primary gold mines were exhausted, the French succeeded the Spanish. The French began to establish permanent settlements marked by the major institutions such as Port-de-Paix that were built in the 17 century in the northwest and the French West Indies as well. The French had named their colony as Saint-Domingue. Therefore, by the end of the 17th century, the landowners in the west had imported up to 5000 African slaves. As at 1789, Saint-Domingue was densely populated with slaves with an estimated population of over 500,000 people which encompassed approximately 500, 000 African slaves, 30,000 European colonialists, and over 20, 000 affranchis, free mulattoes. By 1790, Saint-Domingue had developed rapidly where it stood as the rich French colony in the world since it made huge profits form the coffee, sugar, and the indigo productions.

The Haitian society was differentiated by various people fragmented by gender, skin color and class. The affranchis were majorly made up of the mulattoes who were often the slave owners. They desired the economic and social development similar to that of the Europeans. However, the often feared the salve majority where they faced discrimination by the white European colonialists. These European colonists were mostly the merchants and the landowners. It is the desire to attain the European social and economic class that made the affranchis to strive to achieve independence. A significant proportion of the slave comprised of people born in Africa particularly the West Africans. The slaves worked in the fields, others were household servants, and others worked at the sugar mills, while pother acted as the slaves' drivers. They endured a lot of struggles by working long and backbreaking hours where most of them died from severe injuries sustained in the working areas or while other succumbed to tropical infections and diseases. Some of the slaves managed to escape where they hid in the mountains. The escapees were known as the Maroons who later participated in the guerrilla battles which were against the colonial militia.

It is the presence of his background that facilitated the rise of the revolution hic began as a series of conflicts in the early 1790s. The major causes of these conflicts were the fact that the affranchise were devastated and frustrated by the racist's society in the French colonies, the turmoil developed by the French Revolution, and the continued brutality exhibited by the slave owners and more importantly the emerging war between the European powers. The conflicts were marked by the participation of Vincent Oge, who was a mulatto that lobbied for a rebellion in 1790 but was captured, tortured and later executed.

Following the deep conflicts that arose, the French revolutionary government thus granted the wealthier affranchise citizenship in May 1971. Nonetheless, Haiti's in the European population ignore this law, and within two months a fight emerged between the Europeans and the affranchise. By August 1971, a significant proportion of the salves rose in support to the rebellion. As a way to suppress the slave rebellion and appease the mulattoes as well, the Europeans granted citizenship to all the affranchise in early 1972. To this effect, the country was torn into rival groups where some were supported by the by Spanish colonists in Santo Domingo while others by the British troops from Jamaica. In 1973, Leger-Felicite Sonthonax, a commissioner, was sent by the French government to create order amidst the heated conflicts in Saint-Domingue. Leger-Felicite Sonthonax managed to abolish slavery where he granted freedom to all the slaves that agreed to join his army.

In the late 1970s, a leader of the military and a former slave Toussaint L'Ouverture took control over most of the areas where he also earned some support from the French agents. While pursuing his political and military design, L'Ouverture gave loyalty to the France agents. His political designs included participation that saw L'Ouverture negotiate with the British in 1801. Through these negotiation arrangements, L'Ouverture was then named as the "governor-general for life." Later, Napoleon Bonaparte saw the need to restore the glory of the old regime of the European rule, and as a way to acquire and maintain control of the island, he sent General Charles Leclerc, his brother-in-law together with other experienced forces from Saint-Domingue. Although L'Ouverture managed to struggle against Leclerc for a few months, he agreed for a resolution in the mid-1802. Nevertheless, despite the resolution, the French armies broke the agreements where they capture and imprisoned L'Ouverture in France. He later died in 7th April 1803.

Following the intention that Napoleon had to restore slavery in Saint-Domingue, Jean-Jacques Dessalines and Henry Christophe led an army comprising of blacks against the French in late 1802. The black army defeated the French, and by November 1803, Viscount de Rochambeau who was the commander of the French armies admitted the defeat, and to this effect, the French withdrew from Haiti.

1st January 1804 marked the Independence Day for the Haiti's where the entire island was declared as an independent. Nevertheless, most of the Europeans and the Caribbean armies detested Haiti while the United States had mixed reactions. While the states that owed the slaves did all it was possible to suppress this news, the merchants and other free states had the desire to trade with Haiti instead of the European powers. The Haiti revolution thus formed a legacy in the entire Haitian history.

The Contribution of Religion on the Haitian Revolution

While other aspects influenced the Haitian revolution, it is worth noting that religion had a significant impact on this revolution. It is evident by the accounts provided by the various Haitians. For example, Notre Dame provides an account of one if the Haitians named Wilbur who states that "Faith makes us live, but misery divides us." Wilbur states that this statement was common among the Haitians. The evidence of religion as a significant element in the Haitian revolution is provided in three key examples of the immigrant profiles as seen in Notre Dame. These examples clearly show that although the Haitian practiced different religious piety in various areas, their faith was fundamental in confronting the miserable conditions that they faced in France, Canada, and the United States.

As a religious institution, Notre Dame played a significant role in enhancing the religious piety among the Haitians in Miami. For example, the leaders in Notre Dame provided a public vice t the immigrants in Miami where they also developed a social service point that helped the immigrants to adapt to the religious practices. Notre Dame also provided the immigrants with a moral community where they could nourish their faith and strengthen their dignity. Moreover, the three accounts show that although the immigrants put the effort in facing their struggles, the religious leaders, especially from Notre Dame, contributed significantly by acting as a mediator between the immigrants in Miami and the host countries.

One of the examples includes the profile of Donald, a Haitian Christina in Notre Dame. Donald recounts the struggles encountered while adapting to the new society in the United States. In this case, he adopts religious beliefs to construct a life of hope. It is through the faith and religious beliefs that saw Donald keep his goals burning and more importantly the success of his children in the United States. According to Donald, migrating to the United States was an avenue towards escaping the extremely difficult situation experienced in Haiti. The narrative by Donald was clear evidence that seeking spiritual nourishment was one of the strategies that they utilized in escaping the challenged they were facing in Haiti.

The Haitians faced a hard life including extreme poverty and political instability, and to this effect, they relied on their faith which was the only option that helped them to stay alive. A significant proportion of the Haitians are relatively poor with low levels of education. The data from the United States Census in 2000 shows that over 50% of the household in Haiti live below the poverty lines while approximately 46% of households have less than a high school degree. Out of this 46%, half of them have less than nine years of schooling. Following the extreme condition, Donald recounts how the support from the religious organizations has helped Haiti's is settling in the new societies. More importantly, Notre Dame plays a key role in providing crucial assistance to the new immigrants who settled in Miami. Besides, Donald claims that through this help, he and his family are on their way to achieving the American dream of living a middle-class status, a strong ethnic community, and an opportunity to acquire education and secure a job opportunity.

Therefore, the narrative by Donald not only gives an insight into the cultural adaptation of the Haitians in Miami but also tells a story of the Haitian Revolution in the 1980s. For example, it is through this narrative that helps in identifying the Notre Dame had earned a reputation for social activism for both within and without the Haitian community in the 1980s. It was necessitated by Father Thomas G. Wenski who was a vocal pastor that actively defended the thousands of Haitians who were arriving by boat in Miami. Most of these Haitians were escaping from the extreme conditions that the facing in Haiti following the colonialism by the French armies. Father Thomas also helped in establishing the religious community at Notre Dame, the social service point, and the Pierre Toussaint Center which became the largest service provider that offered religious nourishment to the Haitians in Miami.

Another narrative was given by Robert, who was a Haitian immigrant in Montreal. Although the story was similar to Donald's, Robert provides an insight into the challenges faced by Haiti's while adapting in Canada. Robert recounts how the religious institutions helped in adapting to the new immigration settlements as they escaped from the extreme conditions in Haiti. It was necessitated through the participation in the Haitian Catholic mission which goes by the same name as it is in M...

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