The Haitian Insurgency was a social and political cataclysm in the French colony of Saint-Domingue. The Haitian Uprising in tandem with the French Revolution was one of the most critical and historic encounters to European imperialism in the modern world, and historians greatly consider it as a revolutionary at the end of slavery. The main causes of the Haitian Revolution included; The attractive Haitian economy, which was greatly contributed by husbandry and Trade. For example, Saint Domingue was a coffee- and sugar-producing colony, due to its tropical climate. This lured the French who wanted to forcefully own their large and profitable plantations. The French revolution also contributed to the Haitian Revolution, since the rebellion had a deep impact on the reinforcements of the Haitian society. For example, on March 15, 1791, the National Constituent Assembly avowed that the "gens de couleur Libres" had the right to participate in voting, however that did not work for slaves. The white colonists' confrontation with the new law was seen as the main cause of the 1791 slave revolt that ultimately grew to the Haitian Revolution. The paper will attempt to answer different events that are connected to the Haitian Revolution and the end of Slavery.
The Background: Slavery Before the Haitian Revolution
Popkin, Jeremy 2010 indicated that before the Haitian Revolution, the economy of Saint-Dominique thrived, because the slaves were working relentlessly on the coffee and sugar plantations. During that period, the French society stood with the notion that all human beings should submit to their superiors. Therefore, slaves who did not respect their masters were punished heavily and to some extent even murdered. The French merchants who had colonized Haiti subjected slaves to hard labor on the plantations, since they had the intentions of maximizing on the productivity of these plantations to enrich themselves even further
African Slaves were confined in slave quarters and they were not treated equally as the Americans or Europeans. The Spaniards normally imported African slaves to address the labor shortage on the plantations. Most of the slaves spent almost the whole of their lives carrying out cruel and challenging labor in the field. The work was exhausting, and health-wise dangerous, so the slave masters distributed the work between the skilled slaves. They were categorized into precise groups, and were to work under strict supervision of one "driver", who was a slave but with the right to delegate duties. Some of the slaves cultivated the land, manured the planted cane, or clipped and cut the cane stalks. The strongest ones excavated the canals, ploughed the soil, and planted the sugarcane. The slaves did these strenuous duties from dawn to dusk so as to yield as much harvest as possible, while others were promised to be liberated. Sugarcane would be cultivated at any time of the season.
Though, it needed cautious care during the initial few months, after plantation and it was the task of the slaves. Those who would mess up would be punished severely. Afterwards, a slave would cut the sugar, he had to quickly rush it to a grinder in order to avoid the crop from turning into acid. They had to physically insert the stalks into the mill, and then pass the latter over a fire so that sugar could be produced. Most slaves died due to fatigue and illness as even they were not taken to hospital. Saint-Domingue was a racial government. The black slaves were discriminated by the whites, and they were seen as inferiors. The free blacks were hardworking business people and responsibly managed the economic affairs in the colony, despite being prejudiced. This prompted them to form an alliance and stage a revolt later in 1791 which grew to the Haitian Revolution.
The Impact of 1789
The Haitian Revolt has often been taunted as the major and most efficacious slave insurgence in the Western Hemisphere. The upheavals were caused by the French Revolution of 1789, which brought a new era, which would redefine the concepts of human rights, universal citizens and participation of black people and women in politics. The "Declaration of the Rights of Man" was an document that highlighted the main ideas from French Revolution in 1789. The General Assembly in Paris retorted by ratifying a legislature which provided different colonies some liberty at the local level. The legislation was known as "all local landowners... to be active citizens". These occurrences inspired the slave revolution by the blacks. This law created a three-angled civil war among the planters, free blacks, and petit Blancs. The French radicals lobbied for reforms such as fairer taxes and freedom of the press. They wanted the fortunate classes to give up their private hunting rights, special legal statures, and exclusion from taxes. In 1789, a revolt started in the French colony of Saint-Domingue since the area had a lucrative economy since it was half of world's coffee and supplied 40% of its sugar to different nations. During the period, approximately 30,000 slaves were brought to Saint-Dominique from Africa and were to work on the coffee and sugar plantations. They were whipped and strictly punished when they committed an error while in the field. Large figures of slaves succumbed from maltreatment, malnourishment, and disease. The "grand blanc" took the French revolution as a chance to chant for commercial independence from the metropole. They were also helped by an rebellion by the black slaves in the north section of the nation due to becoming fed up by the mistreatment they were subjected to. Compelled to live under the harsh rule of their masters, during the French rebellion. The slaves in the French colony managed to establish some communal life and looked for ways to oppose the worst forms of oppression.
The Slave Rebellion of 1791
The insurrection that erupted in the French Caribbean colony of Saint Dominique in 1791 was the greatest and the most effective slave revolt. The August 1791, slave rebellion began in the northern plains of Saint-Dominique, mainly in the south of Cap Francais. There two occurrences that are touted to be the main causes of the revolt. The initial one was a meeting held by slave leaders at "Lenormand" plantation, where it is believed the upheaval was planned and organized. The second cause is linked to the voodoo ceremony in the forest of "Aligator Wood" where it is believed the revolt was planned. It later transformed into Haitian Revolution. One of the reasons why the slave revolt was staged is because slaves wanted to resist the oppression they were been subjected to by the French soldiers. The slaves and free blacks protested against their rulers and colonial managers in order to gain liberty and equal rights for themselves. After the first rebellion, the commanders of the rebel slaves negotiated with the colonial administration to end the revolt. But the planters and the French managers disagreed to make concerns. The concession would have only secluded the uprising in the north, and it would have been easier to end conflicts. Nevertheless, when the deliberations broke down, the war progressed and intensified even further in the entire colony. France later sent troops, which created a vicious war against the insurgent slaves, and later won the battle.
The French Response to the 1791 Revolt (Political, Military)
Following the previous upheaval, the troops of the rebel slaves deliberated with the colonial government in an attempt to end the revolt. However, the planters and French government declined to make concessions which would have brought to an end the slave rebellion. Though, when the deliberations failed, the war continued and further grew to the entire colony. France decided to send troops in the fall of 1792, who were involved in a string of triumphant fights against the rebel slaves. The rebellion was in danger, but the slaves discovered their luck the following year. Following the arrest of King Louis XVI, France avowed war on Britain and Spain. Notwithstanding the mayhem in Saint-Domingue, both nations viewed their war with France as a great chance to snip the most treasured colony in the globe. Therefore, both nations invaded Saint-Domingue. The slave rebels, under the leadership of Toussaint Louverture, primarily befriended themselves with the Spaniards to fight the French who had oppressed them. In fear, the French administration obliterated slavery in order to convince the rebel forces to switch their allegiance and support them during the war. Toussaint Louverture and his rebels were able to defeat the French side in 1793. He then went on to defeat both the British and Spaniard armies by 1798 and were able to gain full control of the colony. After defeating the French Republic, he wanted to maintain his influence and allow liberty to prevail among the slaves. He was resolute to preserve and develop the farmstead structure, and so he opted to restrict the movement and freedom of the emancipated slaves. In the following year, after he merged with the French Republic the economy dampened and the nation was overwhelmed from the effects of the war.
The Attitudes of Local Whites Towards Slavery in Haiti
The local whites had a discriminatory attitude towards the people of color and slaves who were working in the plantations. They viewed them as inferiors because of their race and color. Jeremy Popkin 2010 stated that the local whites initially had the heart to help the black slaves landing on their shores. However, they did not manage due to the intervention of the French troops who viewed these slaves as assets to work on the coffee and sugar plantations. On the other hand, some local whites viewed Haitians as assets since they would provide cheap labor, however, racial attitudes cannot be ruled out on black Haitians. Most people fled away from the Caribbean due to the slave trade, and social dislocation prompted by the Haitian Revolution. King Louis XVI introduced the Black Code, which specifies the subjugation against enslaved Africans in all categories. During that time, the local whites abided to the code and developed a racial attitude towards black families. The local white in Haiti also had a fearful attitude towards the black slave insurgents. For example, the black rebels guarding the manager of the Clement Plantation informed him that their plan is to destroy all the properties of the local whites, and blaze fire to all the farms making themselves rulers of the nation. To the local white colonists of Saint Domingue, the debate over the rights of the liberated people of color was focused on the elimination of the "color line". The suffrage of the liberated black people enforced racial parity within the colonial society thereby removing the bad attitude, which had been intentionally forged between the whites and black. Liberating these people gave the ultimate chance to participate in local social and political-administrative positions of the colony, particularly in the areas where the number of free black people was nearly identical to those of the whites. By 1791, the failure of the parliament to include the liberated black people provoked them to hire more slaves in a rigorous effort meant to dismantle white reign in the colony. In the following year, the white colonial masters helped by the French military troops were not able to encompass the concerted revolt of the slaves and the free black people. Therefore, the National Assembly initiated a law that officially eliminated discrimination against color or race, by giving them full French citizenship. The motive of the parliament behind developing the verdict was to hire the black people to help the whites in securing the colony against the slave rebels who had al...
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Research Paper on Haitian Uprising: Socio-Political Cataclysm & Revolutionary End to Slavery. (2023, Mar 11). Retrieved from https://proessays.net/essays/research-paper-on-haitian-uprising-socio-political-cataclysm-revolutionary-end-to-slavery
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