Global Importance of the Haitian Revolution

Global Importance of the Haitian Revolution

May is a significant month in Haitian history. While January 1st 1804 is recognized as Haitian Independence, May 18th is recognized and remembered in history as to when in 1803 in anticipation of independence, the people of San Domingue created a flag for a new nation and decided to name this nation Haiti in recognition of the region’s indigenous name, Ayti.

Haiti is the first and only nation in the world to have been liberated by slaves and May 18th is celebrated and honored with cultural and historical traditions that remember and reflect on the importance of this extraordinary movement. Influenced by a number of forces – the French Revolution, discussions of abolition and more importantly, discussions of equality and freedom landed in Port-au-Prince at the end of the Eighteenth Century whetting angst amongst slaves, free blacks and mulattos alike. Each group could find hope in the ideas of freedom and equality.

The Haitian Revolution erupted in August of 1791 marking the second revolution in the Western Hemisphere. However, this revolution was unique in that it was a revolution led by slaves, ex-slaves and mulattos. Out of the complex society of San Domingue arose several men leading the charge of revolt and eventually independence. Toussaint L’Ouverture became one of the great and most noted leader of the revolt. Often compared to General George Washington, L’Ouverture was a natural born leader and well respected by his men. Born into slavery L’Ouverture earned his freedom through French law and his endearment to his owners. L’Ouverture earned respect through his natural intellect and ability to understand the business of sugar.
General L’Ouverture helped to liberate the nation and President Jean-Jacques Dessalines helped to establish this new and important nation.

In the face of such ingratitude, it might be good to take a moment to give Haiti credit as the first nation to demonstrate the unsustainability of slavery in the face of the desire to be free.