How Did Slavery Affect The Haitian Revolution

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Most historians have classified the people of this era into three groups. One was the white colonists, or blancs. A second was the free blacks (usually mixed-race, known as mulattoes or gens de couleur libres, free people of color) and the third group, outnumbering the others by a ratio of ten to one, was made up of mostly African-bornslaves. Although a majority of multi-racial people were free, they did not enjoy equal status with whites. They were viewed as second class and subjected to many personal and professional slights, indignities and unfair laws if they stepped out of line.
The free colored and the blacks were always fighting with the whites for equality. The free coloreds, many of whom had been educated in France, did have some supporters
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Slaves made up the vast majority of the population and were oppressed on a daily basis in the most naked ways and thoroughly deprived economically in a system that produced great wealth. For the slave population, the most pressing issue was the termination of slavery. As the colony was 90 percent slave, this issue was inevitably the focus of the revolution (Ott, 1973).
Sugar production as well as coffee production depended on extensive manual labor provided by enslaved Africans in the harsh Saint-Domingue colonial plantation economy. Saint-Domingue produced over 60 percent of the world’s coffee and 40 percent of the world’s sugar. This made Saint-Domingue France’s most profitable plantation colony. To meet the growing needs of this plantation system, Saint-Domingue’s colonists continuously expanded the number of slaves. Thus, the colonial economy fueled the social imbalance that led to the revolution. The white planters who derived their wealth from the sale of sugar knew they were outnumbered by slaves by a factor of more than ten; they lived in fear of slave rebellion. White masters extensively used the threat of physical violence to maintain control and limit this possibility for slave rebellion. When slaves left the plantations or disobeyed their masters, they were subject to whipping, or to more extreme torture such as burning and castration, the punishment being both a a warning for other
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The French Revolution was another important factor that shaped the Haitian Revolution. The French Revolution, along with the American Revolution, set precedents for overthrowing the old regime. In fact, the French Revolution had a deep effect on the philosophical underpinnings of Haitian society. One aspect that was drastically changed by the ideas of the French Revolution was the role of gens de couleur libres (Saylor Foundation , 2014).The French revolution furnished the mulattoes and slaves with the opportunity and an inspiration after having witnessed the successful insurrection in France against the government’s long- standing of denial of equal representation of the commons to that of the Nobility and Clergy (Rand). The Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen, of 1789, led several mixed-raceleaders, including Vincent Ogé, Henri Grégoire, and Julien Raimond, to petition the French National Constituent Assembly for equal rights. On May 15, 1791, the National Constituent Assembly declared that the gens de couleur libres had the right to vote. Though it did not apply to slaves, the white colonists’ resistance to this new law was cited by the insurgents as one of the causes of the 1791 slave revolt that eventually became the Haitian
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