Haitian Revolution Effect on Slavery

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The uprising of nearly 100,000 slaves in Saint-Domingue from 1791-1804 was the largest insurrection of slaves in history. The Haitian Revolution resulted in the creation of the first successful independent freed slave state in the world, a fact that rocked the socio-political, economic, and moral foundations of the Caribbean.[1] However, in the period following the Revolution, there is a noted increase of slavery in the Caribbean as a whole. Did the success of the Haitian uprising merely serve as a lesson for Caribbean planters and reinforce the slave society? To answer this question one must examine the factors that led to the Revolution’s success both externally, in the European metropoles, and internally, in the psychological and…show more content…
This was especially prevalent in French colonies, as evidenced by the refusal of Saint-Domingue planters to relinquish any power even to wealthy Creoles, many of which owned slaves themselves. This social division was paired with a moral doctrine of domination that justified brutal slavery by citing white moral superiority to savage, subhuman Africans. This social division and moral justification had been entrenched in Caribbean society for nearly three hundred years before the Haitian Revolution.[4] Thus, not only was a successful slave rebellion unconscionable to whites, it also was morally revolting. This viewpoint was well chronicled by Don Pedro Irisarri of nearby San Juan, who wrote the Informe communicating instructions to Puerto Rico’s representative in the Cádiz about the Saint-Domingue uprising. Based on the history of racial division and subjugation in the Caribbean it is not surprising that Irisarri does not sympathize with the former slaves but instead notes that “just as it would be impossible to change their color from black to white it would be less possible that their corrupt and vicious hearts be innocent during their captivity.” The lesson Irissari drew from the Revolution was that the slaves’ success was due to their “numerical superiority.” Thus, he suggests a more careful use of slavery, not its abolition. This same reaction was held by whites around the Caribbean. Superficially, the Revolution strengthened slavery
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