Black History

Haiti proclaims independence from France (1804)

On January 1, 1804 the island of Haiti gained its independence from France. It made history as the first black republic west of the hemisphere to achieve independence. Its original name was Saint Domingue.

The road to independence began in 1791 when a slave revolt erupted on the island, led by former slave Toussaint L’Overture. He was blessed with military genius and was able to lead a fight that proved effective against the colonial population. L’Overture was accompanied in able generals Jean-Jacque Dessalines and Henri Christophe, who were, like L’Overture, former slaves. It was in 1795 that L’Overtire was able to find peace with France following the abolishment of slavery. L’Overture conquered the Spanish portion of the island where he freed slaves.

In 1802, Napoleon ordered an invasion which caused L’Overture to agree to a cease-fire. L’Overture returned to his plantation. He was later arrested, tortured and died that next year.

After L’Overture’s arrest, Napoleon made an announcement to re-intriduce slavery to Haiti. One of the generals that L’Overture fought with, Jean-Jacques Dessalines did not agree with Napoleon’s announcement. Dessalines decided to respond Napoleon with another revolt. The British stepped in, aiding Dessalines and the rebels secure a victory against the French. In 1804, Dessalines assumed dictator power and Haiti was independent. Dessalines later declared himself Emperor Jacques I. He was killed two year later while partaking in a revolt.

Source: Haiti proclaims independence

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