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On December 6th, 1492, Christopher Columbus landed in Hispaniola and established the first European settlement there. In 1493, Columbus returned to Hispaniola with 1,200 men and created the Spanish colony of Santo Domingo. This was a time of slave labor, and inequality for the colored. When Columbus returned, in 1493, he enslaved many of the locals, who were called Tainos. Later, in 1502, The first African slaves came to Hispaniola. Since there was lots of slave labor, there were lots of riches which sparked European interests. In 1670, France created a permanent settlement in Hispaniola. They colonized the left hand side, or the western side, and created the French colony of Saint-Domingue. (Refer to the map on the cover to see which side was Spanish and which side was French). In 1685, King Louis XIV who was the king of France at the time, issued the Code Noir or the Black Code. The Code Noir outlined France’s position in slavery. Some of the laws that the code issued were, slaves were not allowed to own property, slaves were property of their masters, slaves were not allowed to marry, slaves were not allowed to dance, fugitive slaves had many harsh punishments, Slaves that ran away from their plantations were called Maroons, and White Planters had the right to shoot any slaves that they thought were fugitives. The highest occupation in the social structure of Saint Domingue, were the Grand Blancs or Big Whites. These people were the plantation owners and the elite population of Saint Domingue. Then, there are the Affranchis, who were a rather growing population. The Affranchis were free people of color. Most were Mulatto, which meant, they were people who were both white and black. Then comes the Petit Blancs. These people were merchants and shopkeepers. Many Petit Blancs were outraged by the fact that the Affranchis were free, although they were of color. Last, there are the slaves. The graph above shows that 89 percent of the population of Sain  Domingue were slaves, 5 percent were Mulattoes, and 6 percent were the Whites. In 1789, The Declaration of Rights of Man and Citizen was published. The declaration gave whites, basic human liberties, which were inspired by the ideals of the French Revolution. Although the declaration gave rights for only the whites, many slaves believed that it gave them rights as well. In 1791, slaves started to create rebellions, which were organized by a man named Boukman Dutty. More than 1,000 plantations were burned to the grounds and the slaves killed 100’s of Whites. The majority of the rebellions were by slaves, but many Affranchis joined them. In 1792, the French government stated that all people of color were also guaranteed citizenship. When the government announced this, Spain and Britain tried to remain calm, as they did not want to provoke war and did not want rebellions to spread across the border. Even though the slaves were given their rights, they were not satisfied. The slaves overthrew King Louis XVI, and France was declared a republic under the National Convention. Spain and Britain could no longer remain neutral; rebel leaders such as, Toussaint Louverture, joined Spain and Britain for their fight against France. Toussaint Louverture was an enslaved man who was freed by his owner, his owner taught him to read and write. Louverture was very well known for his military strategies under the Spanish. While the Spanish focused on fighting Saint Domingue, the British forces had taken over parts of the south of Saint Domingue. Many White Planters allied with the British, as they thought that it was the only way to conserve slavery in Saint Domingue. In 1794, The National Convention abolished slavery so that they could win over the rebels. After this, Toussiant Louverture changed his position from being with Spain, to join the French side. In 1795, Spain, knowing that they could not defeat France, gave up and signed the Treaty of Basel. By the terms of the treaty, Spain had to give Santo Domingo to France. Without the support of Louverture, France would not have been in this position. This point in the revolution, with Louverture, is the Volte-face, which many historians mark as the turning point in the revolution. In 1796, Toussaint Louverture proclaimed to be Lieutenant Governor of Saint Domingue. Now that the Spanish had given up, Louverture still had to push Britain out of Saint Domingue. The Affranchis leader, Andre Rigaud, joined Louverture and together they defeated Britain. Although Britains defeat was successful, the alliance between Rigaud and Louverture was not. Both of them were looking for power and to have control over Saint Domingue, soon, a civil war broke out between them. The War of Knives is the name given to the civil war that broke out between Louverture and Rigaud. The war was between Louverture’s black army versus Rigaud’s mulatto army. The Affranchis wanted to preserve their privileges, while the blacks were scared that if the Affranchis won, then slavery would exist again. In order to win this war, Louverture blocked food and supplies from reaching Rigaud’s army for 6 months. Louverture also sent his top general, Desalines, to deafeat Rigaud’s army. Louverture signed many treaties with Britain and the United States, who supplied his army with money to feed and equip his army. The main reason that Britain and the United States signed these treaties was to weaken France’s position in the Caribbean. Napoleon came to power in 1799, and the Directory appointed Louverture as Governor of Saint Domingue. After Napoleon came to power, many feared that slavery would be reinstated. Louverture soon realized that France still controlled Santo Domingo, so he decided to seize it. He sent his top official, Moise, to invade Santo Domingo. Due to these constant conflicts and invasions, Saint Domingue’s economy was broke. Slaves perished during the  conflict, and left Saint Domingue with no plantations, and whites took money and business expertise with them when they fled. During January 1801, Louverture seized Santo Domingo and now Saint Domingue controlled all of Hispaniola. Louverture’s first act was to abolish slavery and draft a constitution. Napoleon, on the other hand, was furious with Louverture’s position and saw it as a threat. Now that Saint Domingue controlled all of Hispaniola, Louverture created the Constitution of 1801. As promised, Louverture abolished slavery and gave all citizens equal rights. In favor of Catholicism, Louverture outlawed Voodoo, which was part of the locals’ religious practices. He made all people of Saint Domingue, French citizens. The land was to be expanded into large estates. Citizens had to work a mandatory amount of hours in order to keep the economy running, but this gave the citizens daily wages. Last, Louverture declared himself, Governor-General for Life. Although the constitution may seem like it gave the citizens a better life, they were still not satisfied. There was lot’s of criticism about the Constitution of 1801. The citizens were more than happy about abolishing slavery, but laws such as land being expanded into large estates, were not as great. The large estates prevented people from owning land, and therefore, people wanted distribution of land. Also, the law that citizens had to work a mandatory amount of hours want not as popular as it should have been. Many people believed that although they received wages, life wasn’t different. Former slaves found this as a way to bring back slavery. Last, former slaves wanted independence from France. Napoleon still being unhappy, wanted to fight back. Although Saint Domingue controlled Hisoaniola, Saint Domingue was still a French colony. Napoleon thought the Constitution of 1801 was not a very friendly move for independence. Therefore, he sent 20,000 troops to retake Saint Domingue. With his 20,000 troops, he appointed General Leclerc to bring back order in Saint Domingue. Nearly half of Louverture’s officers joined Napoleon’s French army because they saw themselves as French citizens, but they didn’t know that Napoleon was bringing back slavery. In April 1802, Louverture agreed to negotiate with Leclerc. Louverture retired from the war and joined his family. Desalines, who was appointed by Louverture, joined the French army. Leclerc then betrayed his agreement with Louverture, and tricked him into a false meeting. Leclerc captured Louverture and put him on a boat to Europe. Louverture was put in a jail in the French Alps where he died. In July 1802, Napoleon reinstated slavery in other French colonies. Many soldiers in the French army then joined the insurrection. The insurrection was a violent uprising against government. France’s reaction to the insurrections was just as violent. They started to create terror campaigns against blacks and mulattoes. Later, Leclerc came to realize that in order to complete his mission he would have to kill all the blacks in Saint Domingue. During October 1802, Desalines, who was appointed by Louverture, abandoned the French Army to join the Insurrection. He soon became the commander and chief of the insurrection, and began the Scorched Earth Campaign. The Scorched Earth Campaign burnt many plantations to the ground. In November 1802, Lelcerc died of yellow fever, as it was an uprising issue due to the burnt crops. As commander and chief of the insurrection, Desalines was able to defeat many of Napoleon’s troops. During May 1803, Desalines created the Haitian flag by ripping the white part off of the French flag. The red and blue signified the blacks and mulattoes. The white, which was ripped off, signified the white planters and whites that hurt them. Soon, Desalines proclaimed the colony’s independence, and published a declaration of independence. He restored the original Taino name, Hayti, and ordered to kill the remaining French people. During October 1804, Desalines was crowned Emperor Jacques 1 of Haiti, and the constitution was ratified. This made all citizens of Hayti “black”, and white foreigners were not allowed to own land. Even after all of this, Napoleon continued the fight to gain Saint Domingue. Napoleon told United Kingom, Spain and the United States to isolate Haiti diplomatically and economically. Saint Domingue soon brought the attention of France. France’s leader, King Charles X, forced Haiti to pay for the damages caused during the revolution; the payment is equal to $22 billion today. Haiti was short on money and was forced to take loans; they believed that Haiti’s economic growth depended on international trade. After the revolution, Louverture’s constitution was introduced as being the first document in the modern world, which protected the human rights of all people, not just whites. Seeing that Haiti had to take many loans from others, and was not able to repay the loans, Haiti had declined from being one of the wealthiest islands on the Caribbean to being extremely poor. The Haitian Revolution is well known for being one of the greatest slave rebellions in history, and has inspired many poets, authors and people. 

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