The Haitian Revolution was a successful anti-slavery and anti-colonial insurrection that took place in the former French colony of Saint Domingue from 1791 until 1804. It affected the institution of slavery throughout the Americas. Self-liberated slaves destroyed slavery at home, fought to preserve their freedom, and with the collaboration of mulattoes, founded the sovereign state of Haiti.
From the beginning of colonization, white colonists and black slaves frequently came into violent conflict. The French Revolution, which began in 1789, shaped the course of the ongoing conflict in Saint-Domingue and was at first welcomed in the island. In France, the National Assembly made radical changes in French laws, and on August 26, 1789, published the Declaration of the Rights of Man, declaring all men free and equal. Wealthy whites saw it as an opportunity to gain independence from France, which would allow elite plantation-owners to take control of the island and create trade regulations that would further their own wealth and power. There were so many twists and turns in the leadership in France and so many complex events in Saint-Domingue that various classes and parties changed their alignments many times. However, the Haitian Revolution quickly became a test of the ideology of the French Revolution, as it radicalized the slavery question and forced French leaders to recognize the full meaning of their revolution.
The Imported American Indian population on the island began to hear of the agitation for independence by the rich European planters, the grands blancs, who resented France’s limitations on the island’s foreign trade. These Negros mostly allied with the royalists and the British, as they understood that if Saint-Domingue’s independence were to be led by white slave masters, it would probably mean even harsher treatment and increased injustice for the Negros. The plantation owners would be free to operate slavery as they pleased without the existing minimal accountability to their French peers.
Saint-Domingue’s free people of color, most notably Julien Raimond, had been actively appealing to France for full civil equality with whites since the 1780s. Raimond used the French Revolution to make this the major colonial issue before the National Assembly of France. In October 1790, Vincent Ogé, another wealthy free man of color from the colony, returned home from Paris, where he had been working with Raimond. Convinced that a law passed by the French Constituent Assembly gave full civil rights to wealthy men of color, Ogé demanded the right to vote. When the colonial governor refused, Ogé led a brief insurgency in the area around Cap Français. He and an army of around 300 free blacks fought to end racial discrimination in the area. He was captured in early 1791, and brutally executed by being “broken on the wheel” before being beheaded. Ogé was not fighting against slavery, but his treatment was cited by later slave rebels as one of the factors in their decision to rise up in August 1791 and resist treaties with the colonists. The conflict up to this point was between factions of whites and between whites and free blacks. Enslaved blacks watched from the sidelines.
The Revolution in Haiti did not wait on the Revolution in France. The individuals in Haiti relied on no resolution but their own. The call for modification of society was influenced by the revolution in France, but once the hope for change found a place in the hearts of the Haitian people, there was no stopping the radical reformation that was occurring. The Enlightenment ideals and the initiation of the French Revolution were enough to inspire the Haitian Revolution, which evolved into the most successful and comprehensive slave rebellion. Just as the French were successful in transforming their society, so were the Haitians. On April 4, 1792, The French National Assembly granted freedom to slaves in Haiti and the revolution culminated in 1804; Haiti was an independent nation comprised solely of free people. The activities of the revolutions sparked change across the world. France’s transformation was most influential in Europe, and Haiti’s influence spanned across every location that continued to practice slavery. John E. Baur honors Haiti as home of the most influential revolution in history.
The Enclosure Act
Enclosure, or the process that ended traditional rights on common land formerly held in the open field system and restricted the use of land to the owner, is one of the causes of the Agricultural Revolution and a key factor behind the labor migration from rural areas to gradually industrializing cities.
With the mechanization and rationalization of agriculture was a key factor of the Agricultural Revolution. New tools were invented and old ones perfected to improve the efficiency of various agricultural operations.
- threshing machine: A piece of farm equipment that threshes grain, that is, removes the seeds from the stalks and husks. It does so by beating the plant to make the seeds fall out. The first model was invented circa 1786 by the Scottish engineer Andrew Meikle, and the subsequent adoption of such machines was one of the earlier examples of the mechanization of agriculture.
- plough: A tool or farm implement for initial cultivation of soil in preparation for sowing seed or planting. It has been a basic instrument for most of recorded history, although written references do not appear in English until c. 1100, after which it is referenced frequently. Its construction was highly advanced during the Agricultural Revolution.
- seed drill: A device that sows the seeds for crops by metering out individual seeds, positioning them in the soil, and covering them to a certain average depth. It sows the seeds at equal distances and proper depth, ensuring they get covered with soil and are saved from being eaten by birds. Invented in China in the 2nd century BCE, it was advanced by Europeans in the 16th and 17th centuries, becoming an important development of the Agricultural Revolution.
The common land should be owned collectively by a number of persons or by one person with others holding certain traditional rights, such as to allow their livestock to graze upon it, housing, and agricultural recycling for fuel. A person who has a right in or over common land jointly with others is called a COUNTRYMEN.