Pay homage to the heroes of the Haitian slave revolution with the Haiti t-shirt and hoodies collection!
This collection is for those who believe that freedom always comes at a price, which is unity, strength and determination
The Haitian Revolution, which took place between 1791-1804, is significant because Haiti is the only country where slave freedom was taken by force, and marks the only successful slave revolt in modern times. A ragtag force of slaves managed to unify Haiti, defeat Europe’s most powerful army and become the first country in Latin America to gain independence, second only to the United States in the Americas as a whole.
Haiti's first post-revolutionary leader was the fire-brand General Jean-Jacques Dessalines. It was Dessalines who drafted the strongly worded Haitian declaration of independence from France and renamed the island 'Haiti,' after the name used by the island's original indigenous inhabitants. Dessalines also ordered the mass slaughter of around 5,000 of the island's remaining white inhabitants.
Dessalines named himself 'Governor for Life,' but eventually changed his title to 'Emperor.' His life term turned out to be rather short; Dessalines was assassinated in 1806 by his own men after ruling with a cruel hand for only two years. After Dessalines' brief reign was brought to a close, Haiti plunged into civil war.
At the war's conclusion, the island was divided in power between two of Dessalines' generals. The south of Haiti fell under the rule of the General Alexandre Petion. In the north, Henri Christophe named himself king and began construction on what came to be known as the Citadel, a huge fortress designed to repel any foreign invaders who might wish to invade Haiti and reinstate slavery.
International Responses to the Revolution
Whites in Europe and throughout the Americas were predictably horrified by the Haitian slave revolt that resulted in a nation controlled by blacks. Although the threat of slave rebellions had always loomed possible in societies that practiced slavery, few took the prospect of a wide-scale, successful slave rebellion seriously until the Haitian Revolution unfolded.
The young United States imposed an embargo on Haiti, causing further financial chaos in post-revolutionary Haiti. The French under Napoleonic rule continued to plan a re-invasion of Haiti, although this never came to pass. Haiti was not recognized by either France or the United States 1825 and 1865, respectively. This eventual recognition only occurred because Haiti was forced to pay an exorbitant 150 million gold Francs in reparations to France for the revolt and secession. The huge sum of money was paid to end the country's economic isolation and to reestablish trade with its neighbors, but the debt crippled Haiti's economy so severely that it never really recovered.
Slaves in the United States and throughout the Americas were inspired by the success of the Haitian Revolution. In 1811, eight years after Haiti gained independence, the German Coast Uprising in Louisiana became the most serious slave revolt in the United States. There is little doubt that the participants of the German Coast Uprising took inspiration from the Haitian Revolution, although they were not nearly so successful.
Throughout the southern plantations in the United States, slave holders increased their vigilance and ramped up brutality to dissuade any would-be rebels from imitating their Haitian neighbors. Conversely, the Haitian Revolution reaffirmed for American abolitionists the conviction that slavery could not continue forever.
The Haitian Revolution has often been described as the largest and most successful slave rebellion in the Western Hemisphere. The Haitian Revolution, however, was much more complex, consisting of several revolutions going on simultaneously. These revolutions were influenced by the French Revolution of 1789, which would come to represent a new concept of human rights, universal citizenship, and participation in government.
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