It was with revulsion and disbelief that I heard, Pat Robertson’s theory that Haitian slaves made a “pact with the devil” 200 years ago in order to free themselves from the hated clutches of Napoleon Bonaparte's regime – resulting in a curse that led to the destruction of much of
and a massive loss of life in Tuesday's earthquake.” They have a place in history that no one in the region can rival. They brought down Napoleon and secured freedom for themselves and their people. They were after all slaves, and according to Pat Robertson, because they did not want to continue as slaves, God cursed them. Mr. Robertson may consider himself a Bible Scholar, but he is certainly no historian. Maybe he should check out this blog before continuing to give his opinion about Haitians. Port-au-Prince
The First People ofThe Arawak name for
Toussaint L’Overture The Slave Who Defeated Napoleon
The remarkable leader of this slave revolt was Toussaint Breda (later called Toussaint L'Ouverture, and sometimes the “black Napoleon”). Slave revolts from this time normally ended in executions and failure – this story is the exception. It began in 1791 in the French colony of Saint Dominique (later
). Though born a slave in Saint Dominique, Toussaint learned of Haiti Africa from his father, who had been born a free man there. He learned that he was more than a slave, that he was a man with brains and dignity. He was fortunate in having a liberal master who had him trained as a house servant and allowed him to learn to read and write. Toussaint took full advantage of this, reading every book he could get his hands on.
In 1789, the French Revolution rocked
. The sugar plantations of Saint Dominique, though far away, would never be the same. Spurred on by such Enlightenment thinkers as Jean-Jacques Rousseau, the early moderate revolutionaries considered seriously the question of slavery. Those moderate revolutionaries were not willing to end slavery but they did apply the "Rights of Man" to all Frenchmen, including free blacks and mulattoes (those of mixed race). France owners in the colonies were furious and fought the measure. Finally, the revolutionaries gave in and retracted the measure in 1791. Plantation
The news of this betrayal triggered mass slave revolts in Saint Dominique, and Toussaint became the leader of the slave rebellion. He became known as Toussaint L'Ouverture (the one who finds an opening) and brilliantly led his rag-tag slave army. He successfully fought the French (who helped by succumbing to yellow fever in large numbers) as well as invading Spanish and British. The slaves in
were jubilant and Toussaint agreed to help the French army eject the British and Spanish. Toussaint proved to be a brilliant general, winning seven battles in seven days. He became a defacto governor of the colony. In Haiti , the Jacobins lost power. People finally tired of blood flowing in the streets and sent Maximilian Robespierre, the leader of the Jacobins, to the guillotine, ending the Reign of Terror. Leaders that were more moderate came and went, eventually replaced by Napoleon, who ruled France with dictatorial powers. He responded to the pleas of the plantation owners by reinstating slavery in the French colonies, once again plunging France into war. Haiti
By 1803 Napoleon was ready to get
off his back, and made an agreement with Toussaint to terms of peace. Napoleon agreed to recognize Haitian independence and Toussaint agreed to retire from public life. A few months later, the French invited Toussaint to come to a negotiating meeting with full safe conduct. When he arrived, the French (at Napoleon's orders) betrayed the safe conduct and arrested him, putting him on a ship headed for Haiti . Napoleon ordered that Toussaint be placed in a prison dungeon in the mountains, and murdered by means of cold, starvation, and neglect. Toussaint died in prison, but others carried on the fight for freedom. Napoleon suffered a similar fate, dying in a prison under suspicious circumstances. France
The end to the war came in January of 1804, when Dessalines and his generals declared the independent state of
. They chose the Arawak word for the island, which meant” the land of the mountains." Dessalines spent the rest of his life as governor-general, even being crowned emperor in 1805 in imitation of Napoleon, but he died in an uprising the following year. Haiti occupied France from 1808-1812, allowing the Creole leaders to take control in the Spain Caribbean and the . It was at the end of this war, however, that Americas finally recognized the colony of France as its own country. Haiti 's precarious history has continued to this day. The Ex Slaves on Haiti Hispaniola had gotten a taste of a free world, and they fought to keep it that way, but the European interest was continuously troublesome.
needed help with Hurricane Katrina, the Haitians now need assistance. They are down, but not out, as they are a resilient people, and God has their backs. America is a society built on the land of the Arawak and the labor of slaves. They were willing to die for freedom, rather than live as slaves. Many died in the Earthquake, and many more survived. The world is there to assist Haiti (including Haiti ), and maybe we can assist them in getting on firmer footing. Haitian Society is a contrast of the very wealthy and very poor people, with no Middle Class. There are educated Haitians, there and throughout the Diaspora. France
Our prayers and thoughts are with the Haitian People.