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Sun, 08.21.1791

The First Haitian Slave Revolt Occurs

On this date in 1791, the first Black African slave revolt in Haiti took place.

The island was settled in the 1600s by white-French buccaneers. In 1664, the newly established French West India Company took control of the colony, and named it named Saint-Domingue. France formally claimed control of the western portion of the island of Hispaniola and later, France named its newly colonized island Saint Domingue in early 1700s.

French colonists brought in Black African slaves and developed big coffee and spice plantations. By 1788, there were eight times as many slaves (almost 500,000) as colonists.  During the Revolution, the slaves in Saint Domingue rebelled against their white masters, destroying plantations and towns. Toussaint L'Ouverture, a former slave, took control of the government and restored some order to the country.

After Napoleon I came to power in France in 1799, he sent an army to restore colonial rule. The army Napoleon sent captured L'Ouverture and imprisoned him in France.

But many of the French soldiers caught yellow fever and died, and the rebels defeated the weakened French army in 1803. On Jan. 1, 1804, General Jean-Jacques Dessalines, the leader of the rebels, proclaimed the colony an independent country named Haiti.


Africana: The Encyclopedia of the African and
African American Experience
Editors: Kwame Anthony Appiah and Henry Louis Gates Jr.
Copyright 1999
ISBN 0-465-0071-1

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