HAITI NEWS AND VIEWS: How Haiti became the first country before Britain to abolish slavery after revolt

May 5, 2018

By MILDRED EUROPA TAYLOR, May 03, 2018, for Face2Face Africa, HISTORY

The Haitian Revolution — Timetoast

Long before the British abolished slave trade in 1833, the first slave trade came to an end due to political and other kinds of events, particularly the Haitian revolution in 1791.

It all happened on the night of August 22 and 23, in the then Saint-Domingue, where men and women sold into slavery revolted against the system to obtain their freedom and eventual independence for the country now known as Haiti.

Saint-Domingue was then a sugar island, and the French largely depended on it for economic growth. But on that fateful night, enslaved people rose against their French enslavers and they began the biggest and bloodiest slave revolt in history.

Led by former slave Toussaint L’Ouverture, the slaves killed their slave masters, torched the sugar houses and fields and by 1792 they controlled a third of the island.

France sent reinforcements but the area of the colony held by the rebels grew. At the end of the fight, thousands of blacks and the whites were killed.

Still, the blacks managed to turn away other French and British forces that arrived in 1793 to conquer them.

READ ALSO: 10 Powerful Times Enslaved Africans Rebelled To Show That Slavery Was Not a Choice 

By 1798, the forces had withdrawn from the colony and by 1801 l’Overture expanded the revolution beyond Haiti, and conquered the neighbouring Spanish colony of Santo Domingo (now called the Dominican Republic).

He eradicated slavery in Santo Domingo and made himself governor-general for life over the entire island of Hispaniola.

Napoleon Bonaparte, who was at the time the ruler of France, dispatched General Charles Leclerc, his brother-in-law, and over 40,000 French troops to capture L’Overture to enable him to restore both French rule and slavery.

L’Ouverture was taken to France where he died in prison in 1803.

But Jean-Jacques Dessalines, one of L’Ouverture’s generals and also a former slave, led a series of revolutionaries at the Battle of Vertieres on November 18, 1803, where the French forces were defeated.

On January 1, 1804, Dessalines declared the country independent and renamed it Haiti.

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