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The Movements Towards Emancipation History Essay

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Published: Mon, 5 Dec 2016

Prior to the Haitian Revolution, St. Domingue was the richest French colony in the Caribbean. Haiti had many useful resources, but there was still the problem of slavery with all the estates and plantations that could be found in the country. Slavery became too much to bear and the slaves of St. Domingue to revolt against the French government. The revolt which came to be known as the Haitian Revolution was the most successful slave revolt in Caribbean history. Although Haiti became an independent nation, all was not well with the country’s economy and social structure. The researcher was, therefore, led to investigate the effects that the Haitian economy and society suffered. This project also seeks to tell what happened to Haiti’s wealth and social structure after the Haitian revolution which ended in 1804. This research project is also being undertaken in partial fulfillment of the requirement of the Caribbean History Syllabus.

In the year there was high violence and conflict in the French colony of Saint Domingue which led to the abolishment of slavery and the establishment of the first republic ruled by blacks which was Haiti. Although hundreds of rebellions occurred during the slave era, only the revolt on Saint-Domingue, beginning in 1791, was successful in permanently abolishing slavery. The Haitian Revolution was the only successful slave revolt in human history and, as such, is regarded as a defining moment in the history of Africans in the new world, which is stated by,’James, The Black Jacobins, p. ix’. Though this is true, many bad effects came afterwards in the areas of economy and society.

But before the war the society was done differently with social classes and different laws to governt each social group. The groups ranked from whites to mulatos and freed Negros to slaves. And each social group had its own standards and status on the estate.

The different classes of whites were: the planters, the top royal officials which contained civil and military officers, these were the “grand blancs”. The second group consisted of the merchants and professional men. Unfortunetly these men hated the planters (resons unknown). The thired and lowest group of whites were the “petit blancs” this includes artisans, shopkeepers and bookkeepers. These three groups of whites numbered 35,000. Below the whites are the mulattos and or free coloureds and the free Negros. The number of people in that category was 28,000. They possessed one third of the real estate, and one third of the personal property. They were denied social and political equality with the whites. Many of them were educated, and they were greatly resented by the “petit blancs”.

Restrictive laws of 1776 robbed them of many priviledges, for example 1. The law forbade them to hold pulbic office or any legal position, or to be officers in the militia. 2. They were not allowed not allowed to carry firearms. 3. They had to wear different clothes from the whites. At the bottoms of the social ladder were the 450,000 slaves. They were divied accourding to their occupation, and they were of different ethnic origins. The slave laws of 1685, the code noir dictated how they should be controlled and treated. As stated by Doris Hamilton-Willie, author of Lest You Forget, Resistance and revolt. (What did the source state?)

All of that changed at the end of the revolt in 1804, it was documented by Anne Greene ‘In a country study, Chapter 6, Hati: Historical setting’, that Haiti created an independent government, although that was suppose to be a proud moment in haiti, its society was deeply affected by the pattern that was established by the French under colonial rule. These models of minority rules which took over the illiterate poor using voilences and threats, because of this colonialism and slavery were outlived by the racial prejudice that they had contributed to; the new post-rebellion racial elite which was referred to as mulattoes had African ancestry, but many were also of European ancestry as descendants of white planters. Some had received educations, served in the military and accumulated land and wealth. Lighter-skinned than most Haitians, who were descendants mostly of former enslaved Africans, these mulattoes dominated politics and economics.

The same was with Haiti’s economy. It was once the richest country in the French Caribbean until the revolt started and changed everyhing.

In 1734, the colonists began to cultivate coffee. By 1788 there were 3,000 coffee plantations, 800 sugar plantations, nearly 800 cotton, and 2,950 indigo plantations. The colony supplied half of European with tropical produce. It was the world’s premier sugar producer. The French, like every other government in those days, saw the colonies as exsisting exclusively for profit of the metropolis (mother country). The government introduced a system called the “Exclusive”. Under this system, whaever manufactured goods the colonists needed, they were compelled to buyfrom France. The goodswere to be transported only in french ships. The raw sugar produced in the colonies was to be refined sugar from the colonies.

Thanks to the Haitian (avoid sarcasm) revolution Haiti’s current economy is not what it used to be, Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere with 80% of the population living under the poverty line and 54% in abject poverty. Two-thirds of all Haitians depend on the agricultural sector, mainly small-scale subsistence farming, and remain vulnerable to damage from frequent natural disasters, exacerbated by the country’s widespread deforestation.

Figure one blow shows the unemployment rate of Haiti over the years.

The figures must be up to 1985 not beyond that time

The researcher finally sees that if it had not been for the successful revot in 1791 the economy and social structure of Haiti would not be where it is now. (Where is it now?) Yes we can all agree that slavery is not the best was to have control over people and we know that human rights state that each mans birth right is their freedom. But it did not turn out well in the long run. Maybe is slavery was abolished in a different and more calm and peaceful way Haiti would not have been in this mess from 1804 untill now. The syllabus covers up to 1985, not now

Caribbean History


The Haitian Revolution

Name: Shantal Ferguson

Teacher: Mrs. Cumberbatch

Subject: History

Form: 502

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