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Haitian Revolution

What do you do when your tenants don't want to be your tenants anymore? France chose to force them to remain as French tenants, though this approach failed, and Haiti escaped from the French 'empire', though they would continued to pay for 'damages' to French property for more than a century.

As a colony of France, Haiti had been the most prosperous one, owed to the amount of slaves there were. At first, wealthy whites wanted an opportunity to gain independence from France, which would allow elite plantation-owners to take control of the island and create trade regulations that would further their own wealth and power. They could lower tariffs and bring in extremely cheap goods, not just French goods.

In France, the majority of the Estates General, an advisory body to the King, constituted itself as the National Assembly, made radical changes in French laws, and on 26 August 1789, published the Declaration of the Rights of Man, declaring all men free and equal. The French Revolution shaped the course of the conflict in Saint-Domingue and was at first widely welcomed in the island (by the slaves and free Africans). 
The conflict in the beginning, was between whites and free African men. The enslaved men didn't do anything in the beginning.

However, in 1791, the slaves rebelled. The plantation owners asked Great Britain and Spain for help, in return for British sovereignty. Toussaint L'Overture fought for the Spanish side, until Commisioner Sonthonax proclaimed an end to slavery. Then he moved his troops back to the French side and defeated the British and Spanish.

However, the French established troops in the Spanish side, and attempted to bring back slavery. Toussaint L'Overture fought them, until the commander of the French forces (Leclerc) ordered a meeting, in which if Toussaint gave the French his troops, slaves would remain free.

The meeting was a trick, and Leclerc imprisoned him in France. Jean Jacques Dessalines continued the revolution after France attempted to bring back slavery in October of 1802 because word got out that slavery had been returned in other French Caribbean island colonies. Dessalines and Leclerc both did extremely atrocious acts that would be classified as torture, such as burying the opponent alive. However, in the end, Dessalines proved to be the more vicious one.

Napoleon lost interest in North America and gave up on all colonies because of the Haitian Revolution's continued success. His vision had been for Louisiana to be the breadbasket to supply Haiti with food, and Haiti would in turn be the sugar plantation that would make money for the French. With this dream crushed, he sold Louisiana to America and let Haiti go, though with huge debts to France.

Part 1 of the Haitian Revolution
Part 2 of the Haitian Revolution





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