rumor to rebellion to race war
first successful revolution by slaves in modern era
1) preemptive rebellion by conservative white landowners to secure independence.
2) Attempt by free blacks to secure status and privileges as citizens and break political social economic power of whites.
3) Largest slave population uprising outside of the U.S and Brazil
1804 first black republic in western hemisphere
Latin American Revolution Context
Ordered along racial lines in complex relationships.
1) Peninsulares- people born in Spain or Portugal living in Americas.
2) Creoles- Spanish/Portuguese descent born in Americas. resent Peninsulares for societal position
3) Mestizos- mixed race. European and Ameridian
4) Ameridians - indigenous population
Background to Revolution
Haiti and Its Economy, Place in the French Empire
Saint Domingue- land of opportunity.
economy takes off after the use of slavery takes off after 1700
cash crops, starts out as sugar then indigo and coffee
Pearl of French Empire
Slavery essential to every aspect of life
Louis XIV inherits complex social relationships
1685 “Black Codes” meant to govern the conduct of slave owners but provides little real protection.
Largely ignored by owners or interpreted literally
Owner full power- feed, clothe and provide religion
dominant political and social feature slaves: men- skilled work in mills or carpentry women- work the fields children- begin work very early seniors- gaurds Gens de Couleur - free blacks. no political power and ceiling on economic status.
Relationship with France
6% of population, exercise complete political, economic, and social power
no concern for institutions created, no care for French regulation. Resent any colonial interference
France has a monopoly on supplies and imports
Wealthy and self-confident, want same rights and independence as granted by the British to Jamaica.
Financial Crisis and the summoning of Estates General -leverage to gain political, economic independence
Support Third Estate in 1789 in challenging royal and aristocratic privilege but sidestep question of slavery
List of Grievances
lobby newly created National Assembly to include representatives from the colonies. July 1789 Saint Domingue granted 6 seats (not significant number)
economic importance and liberty arguments
no taxation without representation - Crown favors French merchants over plantation owners
Argue that abolishing slavery is an impractical Utopian ideal.
Remain in alliance with National Assembly despite fears of dismantling slavery till summer 1789
Effect of Storming Bastille and August Decrees
Bastille- July 14th 1789
August decrees abolishing social hierarchy, feudalism and the Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen.
French Revolution growing too radical for white land owners pushed more towards independence.
Declarations of the Rights of Man and the Citizen
Unclear if it applied to colonies. Free people of colour not slaves, causes debate about social hierarchy.
Colonial Power Vacuum
Royal Authority collapses, Governor flees the island. Need authority because 1) NEED slaves and 2) the radical direction of the French Revolution ie) abolishing feudalism system
New Colonial Assembly
1st Action, ban French Newspapers
Short lived uprising in Martinique summer 1789
Relationship to French Rev
Gens de Couleur
White landowners deliberately exclude Free Blacks from Estates General
Black securing representation/ any influence on National Assembly
Free Blacks lobby National Assembly for representation.
Late Summer 1789- Too radical for white landowners
1st and 2nd Decrees
Laws of March 1790
1st Decree- Colonies get some freedom, regulate their own internal affairs.
2nd Decree- “Citizens” authorized to elect representatives to local assemblies.
“citizens” left vague on purpose, National Assembly doesn’t want to get involved.
White landowners perceive the lack of definition of the term as any definition, specifically No Free Blacks or Slave would see the positive effects the French Revolution
White Landowners reserve the right to determine the definition of citizenship
April 1790 all white colonial assembly meet at St Marc
Area once occupied by Royal Authority ie) Port au Prince
Colonial Constitution of Self- Governance
May 28th 1790
Language suggests that sending it to Paris simply a courtesy , doesn’t recognize Paris’ inherent right.
The French Revolution and Colonial Independence
Supporters of Revolution are against colonial independence.
Saint Domingue- act of treason and a plot to collude with the British
French Sailors stationed. Leopard mutiny French Sailors in Saint Marc. Take 85 white colonists to France, denounce independence
not certain, but prevention of French media circulation is not effective
overhear conversations regarding freedom, independence, natural rights. all new vocabulary.
Gens de Couleur don’t have an immediate goals to free slaves
richest gens de couleur
witnesses and participates in 1789 discussions and Estates General.
Designed to secure rights of Gens de Couleur and Whites
returns with true meaning of what the National Assembly intended, doesn’t want to abolish slavery, advocated for a division of power between whites and free blacks.
If power is not shared, a revolution within a revolution will occur and the slaves will be freed.
Insurrection led by Vincent Oge
just outside Le Cap (May- December 1790)
fails to achieve goals, Brutal response by whites, convinces free blacks that goals cannot be obtained through peace.
Oge captured, tortured and executed publicly , set an example
incites slave rebellion
fears of white land owners- violent slave/ black insurgence
catalyst for racial violence
catalyzes Rewbell Amendment 1791
Jean Francois Rewbell friend of Oge
full political rights to free men of colour whose parents were also free
narrow, but the best the National Assembly is able to do.
Seen by white landowners as an usurpation of their ability to regulate their own affairs
May 15th 1791- white population revolt, cannot be enforced
September 1791- votes to leave fate of Gens de Couleur in hands of whites
Aug 22nd 1791- insurrection in Northern Province. hear about French Rev and filter through their own eyes and ears.
Cahier de Doleances- thought Louis XVI would intervene and make their lives better, free Sundays, holidays and shorter work days.
Effect of French Rev, Rewbell Amendment, Conditions of Slavery, Divisions in society.
Rumour that Louis XVI granted rights and that the white land owners were oppressing them
Caymen Wood Ceremony
August 14th 1791 - voodoo ceremony, conducted by Boukman Dutty and Cecile Fatiman depicted in Ceremony at Bois Caiman
Boukman Dutty: recent arrival from Jamaica. can read and write, organizes Jean-Francois Papillion, Georges Biassou and Jeannot Bullet
Prophecy- 3 slaves present would become military leaders
Functional equivalent of Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen
Rebellion in North Province
Aug 16 1791, plantation fire, colonists suspect slaves and under interrogation a larger plot is revealed, but the colonists don’t believe that the slaves are capable of orchestrating it
Rebellion begins on Aug 22-23
Plantation owners in disbelief, believe British in Jamaica or Gens de Couleur are responsible
Oct 2nd- control of Easter part of North province won by slaves
Slave Rebellion Tactics and Details
use the element of surprise
can only stage ambushes and can’t move in to urban areas
Response to the Slave Rebellion by Whites
Colonial administration caught off guard, don’t know where to sen military forces.
cities- property and lives vs countryside- suppress the rebellion and protect plantations
Royal Governor and Colonial Assembly send urgent pleas to Spanish in Santo Domingo, British in Jamaica and America
Southern plantation owners commit soldiers to slave insurrection in Saint Domingue
Delay telling Paris, see National Assembly as enemy, Rewbell Amendment as partial cause in slave rebellion
Spanish will supply arms to slave rebellion in North Province
Response to the Slave Rebellion by Gens de Couleur
Uprising in West Province
plot their own rebellion, slave owners that demand racial equality but do NOT want to abolish slavery
Civil War within a rebellion
Outnumber whites, difficult for colonial administration to reassert authority
Meet openly at the Catholic Church in Merebalais
Now have rebellions in North and West province.
Pantheon of Hereos
Andre Regaud Jean-Paul Boyer Alexandre Petion Jean-Francois Papillion Georges Biassou
Not all slaves want to rebel, lack the ability to arm soldiers, can’t move in to urban areas.
First wave of black leaders proclaim themselves generals and pursue their own goals
Colonial Forces too thin , have better weapons and will employ slaves from time to time BUT waiting for troops to arrive from France
Establish forts to stop North and West province rebellion
Oct/Nov word reaches France, Sept. Louis XVI orders 3 commanders and troops to restore order, grants general amnesty for war crimes. Don’t arrive till spring 1792
Political Rights and citizenship granted to Gens de Couleurs. Attempt to preserve plantation system. Finances dictate action
Francois & Biassou
West province, want to accept amnesty if they get political freedom and the slave are not punished for their rebellion.
Accept Kings orders.
Whites, slave owners do not want to cut a deal, confident that enough troops will be sent to put down revolution. Reject terms sent by King
Establish themselves as war lords on plains of North Province.
Slaves don’t want to work on plantation, breakdown of plantation system, grow cash crops on land.
Francois and Biassou sell women and children to spanish for $$$$$
educated slave, has constant contact with white society
Attains freedom 1768-1770
Serves under Biassou
Active role in negotiation between Francois, Biassou and the French
Fighting under Spanish, 1794 joins French.
Turns slaves to soldiers Defeat Spanish in 1795 and British in 1798.
Power in L’ouverture’s hands
Announces government and constitution , espouses basic French Revolution principles
Doesn’t declare outright independence
till Janurary 1793 when 6000 French troops arrive.
South and West form a temporary truce
White landowners and Gens de Couleur
May 15th Decree Abolished
Sept 1791, Haiti finds out about the repeal of the May 15th decree.
division between leaders, justify rebellion because they asserted legal justification. that justification is removed
Blow to revolution
Execution of King Louis XVI
Britain and Spain declare war against revolutionary France
Look to take over or bleed off economic support from Saint Domingue
Tax Saint Domingue internationally, French Royal Government vs Military Commander (abolition movement)
Rumours of Coups and Counter Coups
Le Cap 1793
Military Commanders see elements of Gens de Couleur, French Military, and Nationalists conspiring against white landowners.
By June 1793, control of most of the island under French
Limited Emancipation, freedom to slaves who join French forces.
Aug 1793- general emancipation order
effectively ends slavery
1802 invasion, attempts to reassert French power for economic purposes.
French concede defeat but capture Louverture