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The Haitian Revolution

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1 The Haitian Revolution

2 2

3 Saint Domingue’s Racial Breakdown in the 18th Century
20,000-40,000 whites 3.5% - 7% 30,000 free people of color 5% 15,000 mulattos 2.5% 500,000 slaves 88% 3

4 What was the situation in Haiti before 1791?
• France controlled the western part of the Island. Near the end of the 18th century, 500,000 people, mainly of western African origin, were enslaved by the French. Colony of Saint Domingue is the most lucrative colony in the world. French plantation owners were watching the events of the French Revolution.

5 What was Haitian Slavery Like?
• The conditions on the island were the worst in the world. • The death rate of slaves was around 50%. • Most died of overwork in the sugar, coffee and indigo plantations. • Torture of slaves who resisted was common. • Most slaves had memories of freedom in Africa.

6 Why did the Slaves Revolt in Haiti First?
• Because slaves outnumber whites 10 to 1, slaves were allowed to keep their African customs. • Vodou (Vodon) was widely practiced among the slaves. • This religion gave the slaves a form of cultural expression and rallying point for protest against their oppressors.

7 What is Vodou? • Combined elements of Roman Catholicism
and tribal religions of western Africa, particularly Benin. • Worshiped a high god, Bon Dieu; ancestors or, more generally, the dead. • Practiced in Haiti, Cuba, Trinidad, Brazil, and the southern United States, especially Louisiana


9 How did the Revolt Begin?
• The upper, middle, and Mulatto classes were at odds with each other. • Black slaves rebelled against their owners in 1791 taking advantage of the situation. – Killed whites and destroyed plantations • Boukman, a Vodou priest, led over one hundred thousand slaves against the vastly outnumbered and infinitely hated French

10 Toussaint L’Ouverture

11 What role did Toussaint L'Ouverture play?
• Former slave who wanted to ensure the revolution took hold. – 50 year old carriage driver. • Began organizing slaves into military units. • Did not participate in the original uprising. • Organized the military to fight the French, Spanish, and English. – All three countries wanted to control the island and ensure failure of slave revolt.

12 How did L'Ouverture beat the French, Spanish, and English?
• Joined forces with the Spanish army against the French. – rose to high rank within the Spanish army. • When France abolished slavery, he switched sides. – Promoted to General in the French Army. • Toussaint Louverture ruled the colony as the French governor-general. • Forced the British troops to withdraw. – Defeated a mulatto group in the south in a bloody race war.

13 What happened to L'Ouverture?
• Liberated the entire island from slavery but still demanded the production of sugar and coffee. – Wanted to rebuild the French/Haitian economy. • Napoleon sought to return Saint Domingue to French control and reinstate slavery. • Sent French force to recapture the island. – L’Ouverture is captured and imprisoned in France.

14 How did Haiti gain its independence?
• Jean-Jacques Dessalines lead a revolt following the capture of L’Ouverture. • Horrific war broke out where both sides resorted to mass murder. – Haitians killed all Europeans and French killed all blacks. • Because France could not re-supply their troops and suffered fever in their camps, Haiti wins the war in November 1803.

15 Jean-Jacques Dessalines

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