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© 2001 Donald J. Mabry
It was a very rich French colony. Its wealth based on sugar and slavery. In 1789, it had 41,000 whites, mostly Frenchmen, 26,000 free blacks and mulattos, and 440,000 black slaves. In March, 1790, the French National Convention declared Haiti an integral part of the French empire and authorized it to create a provincial assembly. In 1790, people of color (gens de coleur) provoked a slave rebellion. Many whites were killed. In 1793, the French revolutionary government abolished the slave trade, followed by the 1794 abolition of slavery. Whites in the southern part of the country got the British and Spanish to invade. Fought from 1793 to 1796. Nearly all the whites died. Also, the blacks and mulattos began disagreeing. Toussaint L'Overture, a rich, propertied, and educated ex-slave and Jean Jacques Dessalines, an ex-slave from Africa, fought the mulattos and won.
In 1801, they adopted a constitution adopted and independence declared. Toussaint L'Overture declared himself president for life. Napoleon sent his brother-in-law, LeClerc, with an army to put down the revolt. LeClerc tricked Toussaint and shipped him to France. Henri Dessalines, who ran the northern part of the independence movement, continued the battle against the French. Dessalines, a black, was monarchical. Made people work. Southern part was mulatto and controlled by André Rigaud. Freer. Permitted division of estates, which resulted in the extreme division into tiny plots. Destroyed the sugar economy there. The peasants wanted their own land. LeClerc was beaten by the Haitians and disease. In November, 1803 he surrendered. The next year, Dessalines declared independence, now confined to the western part of the island because the French (and later, the Spanish) controlled the rest. Dessalines proclaimed himself emperor for life in 1806 but was soon killed trying to put down a rebellion. Henri Christophe now became the ruler of north Haiti.
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Colonial Latin America by Don Mabry.
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