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Haitian Revolution

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In 1789, the population of St. Domingue consisted of about 35,000 whites; 25,000 and 45,000 slaves. There were rigid legal distinctions between these groups based on colour and there was a mutual distrust and hatred which was far deeper than in any French Islands. The whites were not a united group. At the top were the very rich planters, far superior in status to the planters of Martinique and Guadeloupe. Grouped with them socially were the leading civil and military officers . They was known altogether as the grand Blancs.

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These Grand Blancs attempted to keep political power in their hands and in so doing caused major deterioration in their relationship with other classes in St. Domingue. The merchants and the professional men were cut out socially from the Grand Blancs. In St. Domingue , the Grand Blancs despised the merchants. They all hoped for social equity with Grand Blancs but did not want this extended with the mulattoes. The third class of whites was the Petit Blancs.

They were the poor whites, overseers, artisans and small shopkeepers. The often had relationships through marriage with the mulattoes.

The whites born in France despised the creole whites (whites born in the West Indies) The mulattoes or free coloured were known as Affranchis in St. Domingue. They were unique among the mulatto population as they were small in number and some were very rich. Some were even educated in France and chose to live there. The Code Noir had allowed the mulattoes the rights of free men, but the restrictive laws which came later, especially those that were passed in 1766 took away many of these rights and freedoms. In 1789, one-third of all the fertile land in St. Dominique belonged to the mulattoes, which were in many cases large estates.

Property put them on the side of the whites when it came to the freedom of slaves. On the other hand, their legal and social abilities made them closer to the slaves. Because many were of mixed race, they could never hope to achieve equality with the whites. They were in stuck between the blacks and the whites, not liking either to a large extent. During slavery they were closer to the whites, and after emancipation, they became closer to the blacks. The treatments of slaves in St. Domingue were the worst in the West Indies, where work was excessively hard, and food and lodging conditions were poor.

This resulted in the highest mortality rates among slaves in the West Indies. The terrible life of the slaves was accentuated by its contracts to the luxurious life experienced by planters, both white and mulatto. Thus when revolts by the slaves started, one result was their efforts to exterminating the whites. The French revolution had a greater on St. Domingue because of the structure of its society and the great division between classes. The whites had demanded political power and set up a provincial assembly on their own, shutting out the mulattoes from political representation.

In October 1790,Vincent Oge arrived in St. Domingue to lead the mulattoes in revolt, becoming the spoke person for the mulattoes. An important result of this uprising, and his resulting execution was that it turned public opinion against the whites in France. Some effects of the Haitian Revolution: 1. 1st Black ruled state outside Africa. 2. 1st Independent state in the West Indies. 3. Haiti became a sign of freedom for blacks everywhere. 4. Slaves in other colonies were influenced by the Revolution. 5. Africans were seen as being intelligent and capable of organising themselves, they were not inferior. . Slaves realized that Europeans were not unbeatable. 7. There was increased fear of planters in other colonies 8. Fall in population as whites left and many slaves died. 9. Whites fled to other countries where they influenced sugar production eg. Cuba, there was firmer resistance by the whites to prevent privileges of the coloureds, harsher treatment of the enslaved. 10. Plantation was destroyed and agriculture was in ruins. 11. Fall in sugar production in Haiti (memories of plantation caused the slaves not to go back to work)

12.Other countries refused to trade with Haiti especially countries with slavery eg. US and Britain refused to trade as it was seen as supporting slave revolts. 13. Haiti was always fearful of France trying to recapture the island. 14. Money spent on defence and fortification and indemnity was to be paid to France over a period for official recognition of Haitian independence (loans taken to pay this and this made Haiti indebted for many years. The result of this was that there was less money to reconstruct and develop Haiti. 15. It was a call made for the peaceful and not revolutionary end to slavery.

Cite this Haitian Revolution

Haitian Revolution. (2016, Oct 19). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/haitian-revolution-2/

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