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I would like first to thank God for giving me the strength to complete this Students Based Assessment. I would like to thank my teacher who was not just a source of information but also inspiration, my mother for her invaluable financial and moral support. For those I have not mentioned for your contribution, thank you.


Theme: Resistance and Revolt Topic: The Haitian Revolution

Is it true to say that the Haitian Revolution had a more positive effect on the wider Caribbean socially, economically and politically than on Haiti itself?

The French Colony of Haiti was known to be the most profitable sugar producing colony, producing forty-five percent of the worlds sugar around 1789, the sugar plantations were owned by whites and sometimes mullatoes but operated by imported African slaves. As

time went on, issues arose about slavery and the slaves wanted freedom because they were being overworked and ill treated. The coloured were fighting for equal rights while the slaves were fighting to escape slavery and the harsh inhumane treatment they got from the whites. The French revolution in 1789 was known to be the trigger behind the Haitian revolution, because of the effects it left behind on Haiti where the slaves and the mullatoes felt that the ideas of Liberty, Equality and Fraternity was for them, and the Haitian Revolution occurred on August 23, 1791 and lasted to 1804. It was caused by social inequalities between the three main social classes. Certain classes were denied social and political rights. The reason for this topic being chosen was because the Haitian Revolution was the first successful Revolution in the Caribbean and the researcher will be aiming to find out if the Haitian Revolution had a more positive effect on the wider Caribbean than on Haiti itself and the researcher will compare and contrast the effects of the Revolution on Haiti and the wider Caribbean.


The issues with the social groups were racial inequalities and the Haitian Revolution changed the social composition of the island through the expulsion and massacre of the dominant white class (grand blancs and petit blancs), it increased the racial conflicts between the blacks (noirs) and mullatoes (gens de colouer). The racial tariff grew stronger between the two classes due to disagreements, especially with leadership and control of the island, the mullatoes were favored more by the French government, and therefore jealousy grew. In the fighting of 1791, 10,000 blacks died; and another 30,000 died before the end of the century in the various wars against the mulattoes and the British and 60,000 were killed in the campaigns of Leclerc and Rochambeau. The mullato population also suffered terribly from both the blacks and the whites, many died in Sonthonaxs terror of 1792-3 and while fighting in Rigauds army against the British between 1794-5 and after the British withdrew, Toussaint turned against them and Dessalines massacred many of them when Rigaud and Petion attempted resistance. About 10,000 mullatoes were killed between 1798-1800 and many of them who were in the army of Rigaud, Petion and Boyer joined Leclercs army and many more were killed. Creole whites in Haiti had numbered between 30,000 and 35,000 but by the end of Dessalines rule in 1806 there was none as thousands were killed and many went into exile. Whites hadGran evacuated to the north from 1791 by but those had stayed or had Blanc

G ra p h h o w in g th e e c returned were massacred by Dessalines. The people of Haiti weresmainly peasantsdand lin e in H a itia n p o p u la tio n a fte r th e R e v o lu tio n
there was the re-distribution of the large estates to the peasants.
Petit Blancs

The effect socially on the wider Caribbean was that the white exiles from Haiti during ,0 0 0 3 5 0 the
Y ear 1804 Years

Revolution went(Gens de colouer) of Puerto Rico, Cuba and Jamaica. They were gladly Mulattoes to the islands accepted in Jamaica where they helped to contribute to the white population where the
Y ear 1791
Slaves (Noirs)

5 0 0 ,0 0 0

1 0 0 ,0 0 2 0 0 ,0 0 3 0 0 ,0 0 4 0 0 ,0 0 5 0 0 ,0 0 0 0 0 0 0

N u m b e r o f p e r so n s

enslaved Africans had outnumbered them 50:1 and they also contributed their culture and religion. Also after the Haitian Revolution, these gave the slaves of the other Caribbean islands the knowledge, inspiration about revolting and this therefore gave the influence for the slaves to revolt to gain freedom from the shackles of slavery. Between 1791 and 1830 many revolts had occurred but not all were as successful as the Haitian Revolution. As it was known, the Haitian Revolution influenced the 2nd Maroon War of 1795 in Jamaica, the Barbados Revolt of 1816, and the Demarrara Revolt 1823. There were several revolt plots in Belize, Puerto Rico, Martinique and Guadeloupe.

Social hierarchy of Haiti before the Revolution

Economically, the Haitian Revolution brought about drastic declines in the levels of production in Haiti, as before the revolution it was the leading sugar producer in the

Caribbean, numerous efforts were made to restore the industry but independent Haiti could not do so because most of the ex-slaves refused to go back to the plantations, most of the good soil, equipment and infrastructure and plantations that Haiti once possessed had been destroyed by the events of the Revolution and when they did produce they lost profits because sugar which was their main surplus of trade, began loosing value and steadily decreased because of other foreign competitors in the market. The United States, France, Britain and Spain had put an embargo on trade with Haiti which meant Haiti could not buy and sell via the major markets and the Jamaican planters also wanted to terminate the commercial links with Haiti because they didnt want to have anything to do with the black republic because that would encourage their entry and expose the enslaved of Jamaica to the idea of revolution. Coffee did not collapse to an extent as it was grown in the peasants small-holdings.

G ra p h s h o w in g th e d e c lin e in s u g a r o u tp u t in H a iti a fte r 1 7 9 1 to 1 8 1 8

2 0 0 ,0 0 0 ,0 0 0 Million pounds of sugar 1 5 0 ,0 0 0 ,0 0 0 1 0 0 ,0 0 0 ,0 0 0 5 0 ,0 0 0 ,0 0 0
4 7 ,6 0 0 ,0 0 0

Graph sho w in g decline in coffee outpu t fro m 1791 - 1818

80,000,000 M illion 60,000,000 68,151,180 p ou n ds o f40,000,000 Coffe e 20,000,000

1 ,8 9 6 ,4 4 9

1 6 3 ,4 0 5 ,2 2 0


0 Y ear 1791

Y ear 1804 Y e a rs

Y ear 1818

0 Y ear 1791

Y ear 1818 Ye a rs

The effect on the wider Caribbean was that the collapse of the sugar industry in Haiti boosted production elsewhere this created a void on the world market for tropical goods that a number of colonies immediately fought to take over; sugar from the British West Indies took over the market of The United States in 1794, but Cuba cultivated a lot of sugar, Jamaica, and Puerto Rico produced more sugar and coffee. The exodus of the white and mulattoes of Haiti also had effects on the islands where they settled as they gave their knowledge of planting coffee in Jamaica and Jamaica owes its emergence as an important coffee producer due to these persons and they gave their knowledge of running a full efficient sugar plantation where they took this to Cuba and Puerto Rico.

After the Revolution, the Haitian revolution gave the island of Haiti a chance to elect their own system and government, which made Haiti the first independent black state, as stated by Sir Eric Williams in his book, From Columbus to Castro. There was political instability because everybody wanted to lead the island. So there were conflicts with

leaders and their Generals because there was a sense of dictatorship from the leader Toussaint, and the two Generals Dessalines and Christophe didnt appreciate it so they called upon Napoleon Bonaparte, the then ruler of France, who sent General Leclerc to remove Haitis leader to restore slavery. Dessalines was crowned Emperor Jacques I in 1804 and was assassinated in 1806 by soldiers of Petion. Haiti was divided with King Henri I in 1811 in the north and a republic in the south by Petion. In 1812 both were at war but made peace in 1814. This also led to diplomatic isolation, countries did not want any relationship with Haiti like the monarchies of European countries as they saw it as a republican and feared it would influence their colonies, and so they isolated them. The effect politically on the wider Caribbean was that the Haitian Revolution contributed to the advancement of the anti-slavery movement. The Humanitarians and Abolitionists used slavery and incidents of the Haitian Revolution and other revolts to back their point as to why to abolish slavery, which brought about the Act of 1833 which was then passed by the British government to end slavery in the British Empire as stated by Isaac Dookhan in A Pre- Emancipation History of the West Indies. This brought about the apprenticeship period which was a period of transition to ready the slaves for life after slavery. They believed that slavery was unnecessary and evil.

The Haitian Revolution was known to be the event which brought about mass murder, violence, chaos and rebellion between the varied classes who fought for reasons of freedom and equality. Haiti made history as they were the first black republic to achieve independence and be freed from slavery, although the Haitian revolution caused the lost of lives and many other negative impacts, the positive influences it had on the wider Caribbean impacted more. If it wasnt for the Haitian Revolution, there might not have been any diversification of crops as if the exiles did not go to the other islands they would not have introduced to new crops such coffee. Sugar was the main surplus and with the news of the success by black people during slavery it gave the slaves the inspiration and knowledge on how to carry about revolts. If wasnt for the Revolution the abolitionists would not have the strong arguments of showing how dangerous and reckless it was of

keeping the Africans enslaved and so helped in the abolition of slavery in the British West Indies. Therefore the Haitian revolution was a success, which brought out many positives, despite the fact that Haiti never recovered from the revolution; it was still beneficial to the wider Caribbean.


Beckles, Hilary, and Shepherd Verene. Freedoms Won: Caribbean Emancipations, Ethnicities and Nationhood, Cambridge University Press, United Kingdom 2006.

Eric Williams, From Columbus to Castro: The History of the Caribbean 1492-1969, Carlton Publishing Group, London, 1970.

Isaac Dookhan, A Pre-emancipation History of the West Indies, Carlong Publishers Ltd, Kingston, Jamaica, 1971.


Patrick E. Bryan, The Haitian revolution and its effects (Heinemann CXC History), Heinemann Educational Publishers, Oxford, 1984.

William Claypole & John Robottom, Caribbean Story Book 1 (3rd Edition), Carlong publishers (Caribbean Limited), Kingston Jamaica.