Haitian Revolution and Birth of the Republic of Ayiti on January 1, 1804

Haiti, peinture de January Suchodolski
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The Haitian revolution began with the ceremony of the Bois-Cayman (organized by Hougan Dutty Boukman, assisted by Cécile Fatiman). This first act of the slave revolution would have taken the form of a voodoo ceremony. Within a few days, all the plantations in the North were in flames and a thousand whites were slaughtered. Despite the repression in which Bukman was killed, armed slave bands persisted in the countryside and mountains. In other parts of the country, more spontaneous revolts ensued. The slave uprising led to lively debates in the new legislative assembly in Paris. The latter, initially sensitive to the arguments of the settlers, sent civilian commissioners to bring the free and slaves back to order. While the latter demanded an honorable peace, the settlers' stiffness revived the revolts.

Napoleon promulgated the Law of 20 May 1802, which restored slavery in the French colonies. On June 7, 1802 Toussaint Louverture was arrested, deported to France, he was interned at Fort de Joux, in the Jura, where he died of the rigours of the climate and malnutrition on April 7, 1803, after prophesied the victory of the Blacks. On learning of the restoration of slavery in Guadeloupe, Alexandre Pétion gave the signal of the revolt on 13 October 1802. At the head of five hundred and fifty men he marched against the main French post in the Haut-du-Cap, surrounded him, disarmed him and saved fourteen gunners whom his people wanted to slaughter: the army of the “independents” was then formed.

Dessalines then joined the revolts, led by Pétion, in October 1802. On 19 Nov. 1803, at the head of the army, with Henri Christophe, he imposed on Rochambeau (commander at the head of the French army) the surrender of Cape Town after the defeat of the French armies the previous day at the Battle of Vertières. Rochambeau had no choice but to order the evacuation of the island. After the departure of the French, Dessalines immediately caused the massacre of the remaining white population except priests, doctors and technicians. He gave Santo Domingo his Indian name of Haiti (Ayiti) and proclaimed the Republic on January 1, 1804 to Gonaïves.