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Discover the history of Haiti: A fascinating story to explore!Haïti
Discover the history of Haiti: A fascinating story to explore!
Haïti
  • April 18, 2024
  • | 0

Discover the history of Haiti: A fascinating story to explore!

Once nicknamed "the pearl of the Antilles", Haïti is an island of remarkable fertility, a fascinating destination that combines spectacular natural beauty with a rich and complex history. It is part of the Greater Antilles alongside Cuba, Puerto Rico and Jamaica. Nestled between the two Americas, on the Panama Canal route, this island nation is a well-kept treasure, offering visitors a unique blend of magnificent landscapes, vibrant culture and historical heritage.

Summary

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1. HAÏTI

Located in the western part of the island of Hispaniola, Haïti is a country rich in history and culture. With an estimated population of 11.58 million in 2022, its official languages ​​are French and Creole. Port-au-Prince, its bustling capital, is by far the most important city, a central point in the economic and social life of the country.

Haïti is divided into ten departments (Artibonite, Center, Grand’Anse, Nippes, Nord, Nord-Est, Nord-Ouest, Ouest, Sud, Sud-Est), each headed by a delegate appointed by the government. These departments offer geographical and cultural diversity, ranging from the fertile plains of Artibonite to the majestic mountains of the North.

The country, bordered by the Atlantic and the Caribbean Sea, also offers a picturesque coastline, punctuated by small coastal towns like Cap-Haitien to the north and Les Cayes to the south. Offshore, islands such as Île de la Tortue and Île à Vache add to the natural beauty of the area.

Haïti remains a place of great historical and cultural importance. Its heritage, shaped by centuries of African, European and indigenous influences, is reflected in its culture, cuisine and art, making this country a fascinating destination to discover.

Discover 10 reasons to visit Haiti: https://haitiwonderland.com/haiti/tourisme/10-raisons-pour-decouvert-haiti/5

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2. TOPONYMY OF HAITI

Haiti’s toponymy reflects a fascinating mix of historical and cultural influences, reflecting the movements and moments that have shaped the island over the centuries.

The story dates back to the French buccaneers who originally left their mark on Turtle Island to the north. Their expansion towards the western part of the island of Hispaniola led them to Frenchify the name of Santo Domingo, the Spanish capital located in the southeast.

Between 1630 and 1664, this name remained informal until Colbert integrated the region into the "colony of Saint-Domingue" under the aegis of the French West India Company. Confirmed by the treaties of Ryswick (1697) and Basel (1795), the name of Saint-Domingue became emblematic of the western part of the island, also nicknamed the "pearl of the Antilles" during the French colonial era.

The decisive turning point came on January 1, 1804, when Dessalines proclaimed the independence of Haiti. In a gesture of reaffirmation of identity and recognition towards the Native American people, he gave them back their original name, “Haiti”, borrowed from the Taino language.

Thus, the toponymy of Haïti resonates with a rich history of struggles, independence and cultural reappropriation, inscribing in its names the various layers of its tumultuous and vibrant past.

HISTOIRE D’HAÏTIHISTOIRE D’HAÏTI

3. HISTORY OF HAITI

Haiti’s history is deeply rich and complex, marked by moments of resistance, revolution and struggle for independence that have profoundly shaped not only the identity of this Caribbean country, but also world history.

- THE FIRST INHABITANTS

The first inhabitants of the island were the Taino Indians, of the Arawak group, peaceful and living in harmony. Their existence was intertwined with the generosity of the forests, rich in fruit trees, which freed them from arduous agricultural work. Fishing and hunting were their main means of subsistence, supplemented by the cultivation of potatoes, corn and cassava. Unlike some neighbors in the Lesser Antilles, they did not practice cannibalism.

Nature was their home, and they revered it through their customs and daily lives. The black, straight hair fell in cascades over their shoulders, witness to their great natural beauty. Until the age of 18, they walked naked, tattooing their bodies with achiote, a rite of passage in their society. Women wore loincloths or tanga, a simple outfit that reflected their connection to the land.

Dance was their most vibrant form of expression, a way to celebrate life and communicate with the spirits in their environment. The island had different names for them: Boyo, Quisqueya, Haiti, so many names that resonated with the very essence of their existence.

Their craft skills were rudimentary but functional. They used gourds to store water and food, weaved cotton to create hammocks and loincloths, and they left traces of their know-how through pottery remains.

In the field of defense, they were ingenious. Their weapons included arrows and zagaies, strong sticks called buttons, daggers fashioned from fish bones, and very hard wooden clubs called macanas.

Their languages ​​were varied, derived from a mother tongue, but without writing to preserve them, they eventually faded over time. Despite this, words of Indian origin such as coui, hamac, guanes, matoutou, matoutou, macana, rapadou and others continue to resonate in everyday language, recalling the lasting imprint left by these first inhabitants on the island.

- THE CACICATS

The island was divided into five kingdoms or cacicats:

a) The Marien, to the north, was led by Guacanagaric and extended from the bay of Môle St. Nicolas to the region of Monte Cristi.

b) La Magua, to the northeast, was governed by Guarionex and included the vast Vega Real plain, as well as Monte Christi and Samana.

c) Xaragua, to the west and south, led by Bohékio, occupied the entire southern peninsula, the plains of Léogâne and Cul de Sac, extending as far as the Artibonite.

d) La Maguana, in the center, was led by Caonabo and included the territory of Cibao, La Source, and part of Artibonite.

e) The Hyguey, to the east, governed by Cotubanama, extended from the banks of the Ozama to Cape Engano.

- THE CACIQUES

Ruled by powerful chiefs known as caciques. Each cacicat was led by a supreme chief, both guardian of traditions and spiritual guide of his people. Among these notable figures were names such as Caonabo, intrepid defender of the lands of Quisqueya, Guacanagaric, whose friendship towards foreigners was notorious, and the beautiful Anacaona, whose grace and talent in dancing intoxicated her subjects.

For the inhabitants of this island, divinity permeated every element of their existence: the majestic trees, the animals that inhabited the forests, the springs of living water, and the infinite expanse of the sea. Their beliefs were embodied in the Zemes, deities venerated during sacred rituals led by priests, the Butios. Each year, these colorful and lively ceremonies, mixing songs and dances, honored the mystical powers who governed their world. The first inhabitants, nourished by legends and hopes, dreamed of an earthly paradise where the delights of apricots would be eternal.

During large gatherings, the population went to the sacred caves, carried by the intoxicating music of the drums and the voices of their leaders. In this stone sanctuary, the sovereign took the lead in singing, raising his voice to commune with the Zémes. A solemn silence then enveloped the assembly, while the priests, through mystical rites, sought to unravel the secrets of the future. Once the oracle was revealed, eyes shone with hope or dulled with fear, depending on whether the signs announced were auspicious or disastrous. And when the deities smiled upon them, joy burst forth, setting hearts ablaze with faith and gratitude to the powers watching over them.

- ARRIVAL OF THE SPANISH

After years of approaches to various European courts, CHRISTOPHER COLUMBUS finally succeeded in capturing the interest of the Queen of Castile, Isabella the Catholic, with her ambitious project of discovering new horizons and thus extending the borders of the kingdom. Attracted by the promise of glory and riches that such an enterprise could offer, the queen agreed to provide Columbus with modest financing as well as two modest ships at her expense. Columbus had a third ship armed on his own initiative. Thus equipped, on August 3, 1492, La Santa Maria, La Pinta and La Niña, with a crew of 120 men, cast off from the port of Palos, in Andalusia.

It was the beginning of a daring and uncertain journey across the vast expanses of the ocean. The sailors faced raging storms, contrary winds and endless days with no land on the horizon. But their determination does not weaken. On October 12 of that same year, after weeks of navigation, their efforts were rewarded by the discovery of an island in the Bahamas, which they named Guanahani and which Columbus renamed San Salvador.

This historic moment marked the first step of Europeans on American soil, thus paving the way for centuries of exploration, conquest and irreversible upheaval for the indigenous peoples of the Americas.

- DÉCOUVERTE D’HAÏTI PAR CHRISTOPHE COLOMB

Continuing his exploratory journey with determination, Christophe Colomb discovered the coasts of Haiti, where he set foot on December 5, 1492. Landing on the northwest coast of the island, he entered a majestic bay which would become famous under the name from Môle Saint-Nicolas. It was there that he planted the standard of Spain and erected a cross, thus solemnly claiming this land in the name of his sovereigns.

Convinced that he had reached the Indies by sailing west, and aware of the roundness of the Earth, Christophe Colomb named the natives he encountered "Indians", believing he had reached the West Indies. During his brief stay, he collected numerous samples which testified to the prodigious wealth of the island. Struck by the similarities with his distant homeland, he decided to rename it Hispaniola, in homage to Spain, and Spain to Hispaniola.

- THE HOSPITALITY OF THE TAINOS

The Tainos, benevolent inhabitants of the island, welcomed the Spaniards with warm hospitality and respect. Among them, a young indigenous woman, introduced to Christopher Columbus, was treated with attention and generosity, adorned with clothes and gifts before returning to her community.

It was with the chief of Marien, Guacanagaric, that Columbus had his first exchanges. Informed of the shipwreck of La Santa Maria on December 24, 1492 at the entrance to Caracol Bay, Columbus found in Guacanagaric an ally and a friend. Touched by the compassion of the Taino chief, Columbus accepted his invitation to stay among them. A relationship of trust and friendship was then forged between the two men, so much so that Guacanagaric granted Columbus a plot of land on his own territory.

- BETRAYAL OF THE SPANISH - THE NATIVITY

After the shipwreck of La Santa Maria, Columbus decided to build the Fort of the Nativity from the wreckage of the stranded ship. He assigned a garrison of 39 men there, under the orders of Diego de Arena, Pedro Gutierrez and Rodrigue Escoredo, with clear instructions: respect the natives and not strip them of their wealth. In addition, he enjoins them to stay in the Marien region.

Having established this strategic post, Columbus returned to Spain, leaving The Nativity on January 4, 1493 to arrive the following March 3. Greeted by an impressed crowd, he revealed treasures of newly discovered America: sparkling gold, exotic plants and birds with shimmering plumage. Before Their Majesties Ferdinand and Isabella, he recounted the epic tale of his extraordinary discovery. In recognition of his exploits, on May 28, 1493, Christopher Columbus received from royal hands the prestigious titles of Admiral of the Ocean, VIceroy and Governor of all lands already discovered and yet to be discovered.

However, despite Columbus’ strict instructions, the Spanish stationed at The Nativity succumbed to the temptation of gold and brutality. Ignoring the dictates of their commander, they began to mistreat Guacanagaric’s peaceful subjects and pillage their treasures. Worse still, expeditions were launched into the Maguana region, where gold was abundant, exacerbating tensions and discontent among the natives. Thus, the betrayal of the Spanish sowed the seeds of discord and revolt in this fragile new world.

- CAONABO’S VENGEANCE

Furious at the abject actions of the foreigners, CAONABO, a resolute leader, swore to inflict implacable vengeance on them. He sealed an alliance with Guarionex, gathering a formidable army with the intention of punishing the invaders. One dark evening, like a vengeful shadow, they appeared on The Nativity. The garrison, taken by surprise, suffered a merciless assault, while the fortress was reduced to ashes under the fury of their attack.

Despite the torments inflicted by the Spaniards on his subjects, Guacanagaric came to the aid of the besieged. But Caonabo’s power was merciless: he quickly crushed Guacanagaric, seriously injuring him in the head, before ravaging his village in a devastating blaze. Thus, Caonabo’s vengeance fell like a scourge, sowing terror and desolation in the ranks of the invaders and their native allies.

- THE RETURN OF COLOMB

When Columbus set foot on the shores of the island on the morning of November 28, he was greeted by ruins at the Nativity Square, and Guacanagaric, the native chief, lay wounded in the head. On December 7, eager to find a suitable place to build a city intended to shelter the many adventurers who had followed him, Columbus set out in search of a suitable site. This is how he founded the city of Isabelle, the first in the New World, in the north of the island, in 1494.

Determined to provide a complete report on Hispaniola, Columbus set out to explore the Cibao. He entrusted this crucial task to Alfonso Ojeda, accompanied by some young hidalgos. Despite the obstacles, Ojeda managed to reach Cibao and confirm the presence of gold mines. Columbus was satisfied with the results of this expedition. On February 2, 1494, he sent out the fleet under the command of Antoine de Torres, responsible for transporting gold, cotton and other products to the sovereigns of Spain.

Columbus left Isabella with a troop of 400 men, miners and workers, leaving command of the colony to his brother Diego. On his way he discovered many gold mines. He first erected a fortress which he named Saint-Thomas, where he left 90 men under the direction of Pedro Margarite, then a second, the Magdalena, in the plain of Vega Real.

To ensure his domination, Columbus imposed a tribute in kind on the Indians, including food, cotton and gold dust. Faced with this oppression, Caonabo managed to unite several leaders against the Spaniards and prepared an offensive to eliminate them. He besieged Fort St. Thomas, holding it under his control for thirty days. The Magdalena was also attacked, but the attackers were repulsed, inflicting heavy losses.

- RULES OF THE SPANISH TO CAPTURE CAONABO

Colomb and his men hatched a cunning plan to capture Caonabo, the powerful cacique. They used a ruse to deceive the cacique of Maguana, who easily fell into the trap set by the Spaniards. Columbus requested an audience with Caonabo himself, who, without suspicion, agreed to meet him. Taking advantage of this opportunity, Ojeda, with skill, kidnapped Caonabo from the midst of his subjects and led him to Isabella. In March 1494, the prisoner was shipped to Spain, but fate decided otherwise, as he perished in a shipwreck at sea.

Although the capture of Caonabo weakened Indian resistance, some still attempted to fight. His brother, Manicatex, launched an attack on St. Thomas. However, the Spaniards, equipped with arquebuses and supported by mastiffs, inflicted massive losses on the Indians in numerous clashes, notably during a bloody battle in 1495 on the Vega Real plain.

https://haitiwonderland.com/haiti/histoire/caonabo-le-premier-a-avoir-defendu-haiti/64

- THE ORIGIN OF SLAVERY IN HISPANIOLA - THE REPARTIMIENTOS

After the disappearance of Caonabo and the horrors of the massacres perpetrated by the Spanish, Columbus’s adversaries seized the opportunity to plot his downfall. They denounced him to Queen Isabella, holding him directly responsible for the heinous crimes committed in Hispaniola. Columbus was forced to go to Spain, where he had little difficulty in discrediting his accusers.

During his absence, a man named Roldan, then a judge in Hispaniola, took advantage of the situation to rebel. Upon his return, Columbus found himself forced to compromise, yielding to the peace terms dictated by Roldan. These terms included the granting of land to the rebel leader and his followers, accompanied by a number of Indians assigned to cultivate the land. This is how the origin of slavery in Hispaniola was born, under the name of “repartimientos”.

These repartimientos marked the beginning of a devastating practice, where Indians were forced to work on the lands of Spanish settlers in often brutal and inhumane conditions. This dark period in Haiti’s history was the result of political intrigue and individual ambition, leaving an indelible mark on the island and its indigenous inhabitants.

- BOBADILLA AND THE DEATH OF COLOMB

The concessions granted by Colomb to Roldan caused further turmoil for the admiral. His opponents successfully maneuvered to bring Commissioner Bobadilla to the island, charged with investigating his conduct. Accusations rained down on Columbus, pushing him towards an unexpected outcome: Bobadilla arrested him and his brothers and sent them in chains to Spain.

Bobadilla took the reins of Hispaniola for two tumultuous years (1500-1502). Under his reign, many natives succumbed in the grim depths of the mines, victims of merciless working conditions.

Even if Isabella eventually disavowed the cruel actions of the royal commissioner, this in no way alleviated Columbus’s pain. Overwhelmed with disgust and sadness, he breathed his last in 1506 in Valladolid, in poignant solitude and deep misery. In accordance with his final wishes, his remains were repatriated to Hispaniola in 1526 and now rest in the majestic Santo Domingo Cathedral, a melancholy conclusion to a life marked by adventure, discovery and the torments of history.

- ESTABLISHMENT OF THE BLACK TRADE

Colomb’ reign ended with the arrival of Nicolas Ovando, who initially showed a certain humanity towards the Indians. However, this attitude soon gave way to a regime of implacable terror.

By 1501, Hispaniola was so depopulated that the importation of African slaves became inevitable. Every year, thousands of slaves, from various peoples such as the Bossales or Danda, the Congos, the Aradas, the Nagos, the Ibos, etc., landed on the island. They were sold like cattle in public markets, with Croix des Bossales as one of the main sales sites.

One of the most significant crops introduced to the island at this time was sugar cane. This plant would become the pillar of the island’s economy and society, but at the cost of brutal exploitation of African slaves, condemned to a life of forced labor in the sugar cane fields. Thus, with the establishment of the slave trade, a dark era in the history of Haïti began, leaving an indelible mark on its destiny and that of its inhabitants.

- SPANISH DECADENCE

During this tumultuous time, a young man named Henry, descended from a royal line that had once ruled Xaragua, found himself thrust into slavery. Although of royal blood, he was not spared the chains of servitude. In his youth, he was entrusted to the Dominican fathers of Santo Domingo, who taught him the basics of reading and writing. However, his fate changed when he came under the tutelage of Valenzuela, a master with particularly harsh treatment. Despite his complaints to the Spanish authorities, his suffering went unpunished. Eventually, tired of the mistreatment, he rebelled and fled to camp in the rugged highlands of Bahoruco, an isolated mountain in the southeast of the Republic of Haiti.

For fourteen long years the Spaniards attempted to dislodge the rebels from Bahoruco, but their efforts were in vain, only strengthening the resolve of the courageous defenders of the Indian race. Seeing the impasse, Emperor Charles V sent Baruo-Nuevo to Hispaniola to find a solution. The latter opted for the path of negotiation, concluding a treaty with the cacique Henri. Under this treaty, Henry obtained the small village of Boya as independent territory.

The concessions granted to the cacique Henry ended the conflict, but Hispaniola was desolate, its indigenous population decimated by the years of war. Spain, now more interested in the riches of the American continent, gradually abandoned its colony. This neglect encouraged the emigration of Spanish settlers and opened the way for English and French pirates, who began to roam the West Indies, thus marking the beginning of Spanish decadence in the region.

- THE ARRIVAL OF THE FRENCH

The decline of Spanish interest in Hispaniola opened the way for the buccaneers, the ruthless privateers who had made the West Indian Sea their domain. They first took possession of Turtle Island, a stronghold of piracy, before establishing bases along the northern coasts of the mainland around 1626. Soon, they settled there permanently, thus marking the beginning of French influence on the island in 1629.

Meanwhile, buccaneers, tired of the risks of piracy at sea, turned to a lucrative new venture: hunting the wild cattle and brown pigs abundant in the region. Their expertise in meat preparation (boucanage) earned them their name, but it was their role in the colony’s emerging economy that set them apart.

Little by little, the buccaneers and buccaneers abandoned their nomadic lifestyle to establish themselves as settlers or permanent inhabitants, thus inaugurating the first plantations of the new colony. With the arrival of the French and the gradual transformation of these sea adventurers into farmers and planters, Haïti entered a new era in its history, marked by cultural diversity and power conflicts between European empires seeking domination in the Caribbean.

- BEGINNING OF THE ORGANIZATION OF SANTO DOMINGO (HAITI)

For a certain time, the colony of Saint-Domingue (HAITI) was governed by leaders chosen from among the adventurers who had taken up residence there. However, the arrival of Bertrand d’Ogeron marked the beginning of a period of more formal organization under the yoke of France. D’Ogeron, the first governor officially appointed by France (1666-1675), was a key figure in the history of the colony.

Upon his arrival in Haiti, d’Ogeron was confronted with a population of only 400 people. Aware of the need to increase this number to ensure the prosperity of the colony, he took bold measures, notably by encouraging the immigration of French women to encourage colonists to found families. Under his administration, the first cocoa plantations were introduced to Haiti, laying the foundations for an economy that would prosper in the decades to come. In addition, he had the honor of founding the city of Cape Town in 1670, a city destined to become the beating heart of Santo Domingo, often compared to Paris.

Despite his achievements, d’Ogeron did not see the full extent of his legacy realized, as he died in Paris in 1675. His successor, M. de Pouancey, had to deal with a slave revolt at Port-de-Paix in 1678, led by a slave named Padrejan, who aspired to overthrow the colonists and take control of the colony. The colonial forces succeeded in suppressing the rebellion, and Padrejan died during the clash. Mr. de Pouancey himself died in 1682, leaving behind a complex legacy and an uncertain future for Saint-Domingue.

- THE BLACK CODE

For many years, the administration of justice in Santo Domingo suffered from a lack of serious organization. Criminal and misdemeanor cases were usually tried by a military tribunal presided over by the acting governor. However, under the governorship of M. de Cussy (1683-1690), significant efforts were undertaken to establish a more structured judicial organization.

Mr. de Cussy, successor to Mr. de Pouancey, was the first to seriously consider the establishment of regular courts, known as Sénéhaussees. Four of these courts were established, with a Supreme Court headquartered in Léogâne. This judicial organization marked notable progress in the governance of the colony, bringing a semblance of stability and order to the legal system of Saint-Domingue.

However, the most significant development came with the promulgation of the Edict of 1683, also known as the Code Noir. This code, a crucial regulation for colonial society, established strict rules governing the regime of slavery in Saint-Domingue as well as in the other French colonies. The Black Code imposed severe restrictions on slaves, limiting their rights and reinforcing masters’ control over their lives and destinies.

Thus, the introduction of the Code Noir marked a turning point in the history of Santo Domingo, profoundly shaping the social and economic relations of the colony and laying the foundations for a system of racial exploitation that would persist for decades.

- AMERICAN WAR OF INDEPENDENCE

In 1776, while the French metropolis was at war with England, a wind of revolt was blowing across the Atlantic in the English provinces of America. Taking advantage of this opportunity, France signed a treaty with the American insurgents, offering support to their cause.

In 1779, Count d’Estaing, a French representative, began recruiting men in Santo Domingo to reinforce the American troops led by Washington. Among these reinforcements were eight hundred blacks and mulattoes, ready to fight for freedom. These courageous men, including names such as Rigaud, Beauvais, Chavannes, Lambert, Christophe, Ferou, Cange, Martial Besse, VIllate, Toureaux, Jourdain, Morne, and others, participated in the expedition with bravery and determination.

Their contribution was particularly noted during the famous siege of Savannah, where their valor and courage covered them with glory. Their engagement in the War for American Independence marked an important chapter in the history of Santo Domingo and demonstrated the solidarity between liberation movements in the Americas.

- MACKANDAL

In the tumultuous history of the slaves’ struggle for freedom in Santo Domingo, Haiti, no name inspires as much fear and respect as that of Mackandal. Despite his infirmity, this brown one-armed man emerged as the most formidable enemy of the French colonists.

Determined to avenge the suffering of his people, Mackandal took refuge in the mountains, becoming a maroon, a fugitive from the laws of the colony. There, he perfected his art of revenge by concocting deadly poisons from leaves and plants whose properties only he knew. These poisons were used to destabilize plantations and sow terror among settlers.

However, trickery is not enough for Mackandal to escape his tragic fate. Captured in a trap set by his enemies, he was quickly tried and sentenced to be burned alive on the Place d’Armes in Cape Town. Mackandal’s execution on January 20, 1758, was a dark and poignant moment in the history of Santo Domingo, Haiti, but his legacy of resistance and determination inspired and continued to inspire those who fought for freedom and freedom. justice.

- COLONIAL POPULATION

The colonial population of Santo Domingo (Haiti) was large and diverse, numbering approximately 606,000 individuals in total. Among them, whites were the largest group, numbering approximately 420,000. These whites were primarily French settlers and members of the colonial elite, who often enjoyed considerable privilege and power in slave society.

In addition to whites, there were approximately 25,000 freedmen, people of African or mixed race who had gained their freedom, often after being enslaved. Although free, freedmen were often subject to significant social and economic restrictions, but some managed to prosper despite the obstacles.

Finally, the vast majority of the colonial population consisted of slaves, who numbered approximately 533,000 individuals. These African men, women and children were held in forced servitude, working on the sugar, coffee and indigo plantations that were the mainstay of the colonial economy. Their hard work and suffering were the foundations on which the wealth and prosperity of Santo Domingo (Haiti) rested, but their story is also one of resistance and the struggle for freedom.

- PORT-AU-PRINCE FOUNDATION

The founding of Port-au-Prince dates back to the arrival of the ship Le Prince in the port formerly known as Port de l’Hôpital. From then on, this port took the name of Port-au-Prince, thus becoming the cradle of a city destined to become the capital of the future Republic of Haiti. The year of this foundation was 1750, when the town was built on the Randaut habitation.

Port-au-Prince was not alone in its rapid development. Other towns emerged and also prospered, such as Port-de-Paix, Môle St. Nicolas, St. Marc, les Cayes, and others. This urban expansion marked a new era in the history of the colony, testifying to the economic and demographic growth of the region.

To better administer this growth, the colony was divided into three distinct provinces: the Western province, with Port-au-Prince as capital, the Northern province, with Cap-Français as capital, and the southern province, having Les Cayes as its capital. Each of these provinces was then subdivided into parishes, with each group of parishes forming a district, thus creating an administrative structure that facilitated the management and organization of the colony.

- PROSPERITY OF SAINT-DOMINGUE (Haïti)

The economic reforms put in place, combined with the privileges granted to companies for the black trade, generated spectacular results for Santo Domingo. The colony experienced unprecedented prosperity, earning it the envied nickname of Pearl of the Antilles. Its capital, Cape Town, was honored with the title of Paris of Santo Domingo, testifying to its splendor and economic importance.

The commercial dynamism of Santo Domingo was reflected in impressive figures, with an annual business movement reaching the considerable sum of 350,000,000 francs, equivalent to approximately 70 million dollars. Among the colonial products which contributed the most to this wealth, coffee stood at the head. This lucrative crop was introduced to the island in 1729 and quickly became one of the pillars of its thriving economy.

In addition to coffee, Santo Domingo profited from the cultivation of various other commodities. Indigo, cotton, sugar cane and logwood were also successfully cultivated, contributing to the diversification and wealth of the colonial economy. This period of prosperity and abundance testified to the vigor and potential of Santo Domingo as a regional economic power, attracting the desires and investments of the Metropolis and other European nations.

- BEFORE THE SLAVE REVOLT

The beginnings of the slave revolt in Saint-Domingue (Haiti) were fueled by a series of significant events, both inside and outside the colony. These included iconic moments of the French Revolution, such as the storming of the Bastille and the Declaration of the Rights of Man on July 14, 1789. The ideals of liberty and equality proclaimed in this declaration quickly spread throughout the colony, exacerbating tensions between the different social classes present on the island at the time.

This tumultuous period saw three main groups clash: the great whites, defending their privileges, the little whites demanding equal rights, and the freedmen, aspiring to the full exercise of their political and social rights. Finally, the slaves, deprived of their freedom, demanded their emancipation.

The freedmen’s revolt broke out in 1790, led by figures such as Ogé, Chavannes and later Bauvais. The latter joined forces with Lambert and 300 slaves or Swiss, thus marking the start of a violent struggle against the colonial authorities.

After defeating the Whites, Bauvais continued his quest towards the habitation of Peinier, where he confronted Praloto’s army. During the fight which ensued on September 2, 1791, the French troops suffered a rout.

The 300 captured slaves or Swiss were handed over to the authorities, then loaded onto the boat "Emmanuel", bound for Florida. Unfortunately, their return to the harbor of Môle St Nicolas in 1792 ended in a bloodbath, when these unfortunate people were massacred by whites from the Artibonite, called the Saliniers. This terrible episode bears witness to the sacrifices made by those who fought for rights and freedom, a poignant reminder of the struggles and suffering that marked the path to emancipation in Santo Domingo (Haiti).

- THE SLAVE REVOLT

The night of August 14, 1791 marked a decisive turning point in the history of Saint-Domingue, as slaves, until then considered submissive, revolted in the West and North of the island. At Morne Rouge, on the Mezi habitation, around two hundred slaves gathered to witness the reading of a false decree. This fictitious document, allegedly from the National Assembly, proclaimed the abolition of the punishment of whipping and granted three days of freedom per week to slaves. This false decree served as a catalyst, triggering the general slave revolt.

- THE CAIMAN WOOD CEREMONY

On August 22, 1791, the slaves gathered around Boukman, who became their leader, supported by Jean-François, Biassou and Jeannot as lieutenants. Before launching their revolt, Boukman led the conspirators to the heart of the Bois Caïman forest, where a mystical ceremony took place. During this ceremony, a pig was sacrificed and its blood shared, symbolizing the participants’ solemn oath to follow their leaders and carry out their orders.

Shortly after 10 p.m., the surroundings of Cape Town echoed with the sinister sound of the queen conch. Groups of armed slaves, coming from various plantation workshops such as Clément, Turpin, Flavie, Noé, spread across the rich Cape plain. They engaged in acts of violence, slaughtering all the whites in their path, burning mills and plantations. Then, they headed towards the city of Cape Town, but were finally pushed back by the troops of the mother country.

Unfortunately for Boukman, his revolt ended when he was captured and executed by beheading. However, the Bois Caïman ceremony and the resulting revolt marked the beginning of a tumultuous and revolutionary period in the history of Santo Domingo, heralding the dawn of a fierce struggle for freedom and the emancipation of slaves.

- PROCLAMATION OF GENERAL FREEDOM OF SLAVES IN THE NORTH, WEST AND SOUTH

Growing tensions between the different factions of the colony plunge Saint-Domingue (Haiti) into unprecedented turmoil. Despite the efforts made by several commissions sent from France to restore order and peace, the situation remains unstable and volatile. The years of incessant conflicts, exacerbated by English threats and the rise in power of Jean François, leader of the rebellious slaves, pushed Sonthonax to make a radical decision: to proclaim the general freedom of slaves in the Northern province.

Thus, on the morning of August 29, 1793, on the Cape Town parade ground, in the presence of all components of society, Sonthonax announced in a firm and solemn voice:

All Negroes and half-breeds currently in slavery are now declared free and enjoy the rights attached to the status of French citizens.

This resounding proclamation of general freedom was quickly broadcast throughout the Northern Province. Shortly after, Commissioner Polvérel, in charge of the administration of the Western and Southern provinces, took a similar measure in these regions as well.

- TOUSSAINT LOUVERTURE

Among the insurgents was a remarkable man named Toussaint, born at the Bréda habitation near Cape Town on May 20, 1746, a descendant of Gaou-Guinou of the African tribe of the Aradas. Despite his status as a slave, Toussaint acquired an education thanks to Pierre Baptiste, who taught him to read and write. Having become a coachman for Mr. de Bâillon de Libertat, he gained the trust of his master. Endowed with extraordinary intelligence, he exerts a great influence on his peers.

His knowledge of medicinal plants propelled him to the rank of army doctor, then he quickly rose through the military ranks. He distinguished himself in the battles against the Spanish and the English, contributing to the successes of France. Appointed brigadier general, then lieutenant governor of Saint-Domingue (Haiti) in 1795, he is praised for his courage and his sense of administration. After triumphing over the English in 1796, he became the main leader of the colony.

France, worried about its growing power, sent General Hédouville to counter it, but in vain. Attempts to divide Toussaint and Rigaud failed, leading to war between them. Despite Rigaud’s peace efforts, he was forced into exile in France with his supporters in 1800.

Toussaint then pursued his ambition, extending his control over the island and abolishing slavery in the east. Proclaiming himself governor for life with a local constitution in 1801, he strengthened the administration, promoted education and ensured economic stability. But his act of independence defied France, triggering a reaction that would mark the history of Santo Domingo (Haiti).

- THE EXPEDITION OF 1802

The 1802 expedition against Santo Domingo (Haiti) was motivated by various factors, including the complaints of the colonists expelled by Toussaint, their poverty in France, the local Constitution of 1801 and the takeover of the Spanish side, as well as the arrest of Roume.

To break Toussaint’s power, Bonaparte organized an imposing expedition of 22,000 soldiers and 76 ships, coming from various French ports. Leclerc, Bonaparte’s brother-in-law, is secretly responsible for reestablishing slavery and deporting the rebel generals. With the title of Captain General and Governor of Santo Domingo (Haiti), Leclerc arrived in the colony accompanied by Rigaud and his supporters. Its objective is to occupy the main cities simultaneously.

On February 1, 1802, the fleet anchored in the harbor of Cap, where Leclerc summoned Christophe to deliver the city to him. The latter firmly refuses, proclaiming that he will only give it up until reduced to ashes. On February 4, hostilities broke out. Christophe burns the city of Cape Town, and despite fierce resistance from the Haitians, several towns fall under the control of French forces.

General Rochambeau massacred the garrison of Fort-Liberté, while Admiral Latouche Tréville took Port-au-Prince. Despite Dessalines’ determination, Saint-Marc was set on fire. This expedition marks a turning point in the fight for Haitian independence, marked by the fierce resistance of Haitians to attempts at French reconquest.

- CRÊTE-À-PIERROT HEADQUARTERS

The siege of Crête-à-Pierrot, near the town of Petite-Rivière, was a crucial battle during the struggles for Haiti’s independence. This strategic fort, armed with 12 cannons and housing 1,200 men under the command of Dessalines, was vital for the defense of the Cahos hills where Toussaint’s arsenal and treasure were believed to be.

On March 4, the French attempted a first assault led by Generals Debelle and Devaut, but failed. A week later, on March 11, a general attack led by General Boudet turned into a disaster for the French, with three generals wounded and more than 900 dead.

Faced with this failure, Leclerc decided to tighten the noose around the fort, launching an intense cannonade. However, the besieged, lacking water, food and ammunition, opted for evacuation. On the evening of March 24, 1802, they left the fort in an organized manner, opening a bloody passage through the French lines to join Dessalines at Morne du Calvaire.

This retreat, led admirably by Magny and Lamartinière in the lead, is considered one of the most remarkable exploits in the history of Haiti. Although Crête-à-Pierrot was evacuated, Toussaint continued the fight for some time. However, the successive submission of several Haitian leaders, including Charles Belair, Vernet, Christophe and Dessalines, ended up destroying any hope of success for Toussaint.

- DEATH OF TOUSSAINT LOUVERTURE

TOUSSAINT Louverture, after negotiations with Leclerc, is arrested during a conference on administrative questions. Taken first to Gonaïves, then to Cape Town, he was embarked for France aboard the ship “Le Héros”. At this crucial moment, he uttered prophetic words:

By overthrowing me, they only felled the trunk of the tree of Black Liberty in Santo Domingo. It will grow back through the roots, because they are deep and perennial .



Once in France, he was held in a damp dungeon at Fort Joux, deprived of all contact with his family and his faithful servant. Exposed to the cold and isolation, Toussaint, a major figure in the history of Haiti, died on April 7, 1803 at the age of 60.

After the elimination of Toussaint, Leclerc establishes terror in Santo Domingo. Any suspicion leads to shootings, hangings or drownings, establishing a climate of terror in the colony.

- JEAN-JACQUES DESSALINES

Jean-Jacques Dessalines, born in 1758 on the Cormiers habitation, nestled in the folds of the Grande-Rivière du Nord, embodied the quintessence of resilience. Despite his modest stature, his robust constitution and fierce spirit made him a man apart. The scars of slavery marked his soul, nourishing in him a deep aversion towards the French, a hatred that knew no respite.

Endowed with undeniable tactical genius, he was distinguished by his intrepid courage. Illiteracy had not hindered his rise, and it was only late that he learned the simple gesture of signing, thus testifying to his determination to overcome the obstacles that stood in his way.

- AGREEMENT BETWEEN DESSALINES AND PETION

At the heart of 1802, oppression weighed heavily on the blacks of Saint-Domingue. As Leclerc’s cruelties multiplied and the shadow of the reestablishment of slavery loomed, the horizon darkened. In this climate of terror, farmers and soldiers, fleeing the atrocities, joined the ranks of the insurgents, swelling the rebel bands.

Faced with this atmosphere of violence and despair, Leclerc attempted to exploit racial divisions to maintain his hold. He summoned Dessalines to Cape Town, daring to submit to him the audacious proposal to exterminate the men of color. It was after this famous conference, in the first days of October 1802, that Dessalines, returning to Artibonite, had a crucial meeting with Adjutant General Pétion, quartered at Haut du Cap, at Petite Anse.

From that moment on, a tacit agreement sealed the fate of the two main players in the future war for independence. On the night of October 13 to 14, Pétion and Clerveaux deserted the ranks of the French army, withdrawing their loyalty to Morne Rouge. From there, two days later, they launched the assault on the Cape. On the 18th, at dawn, Christophe and Toussaint Brave joined their struggle, thus marking the beginning of a determined resistance against colonial oppression.

- DESSALINES GENERAL IN CHIEF OF THE NATIVE ARMY

Faced with increasing difficulties in organizing the war, Pétion made a bold decision at the end of November 1802: to leave the North to go to Petite Rivière, where Dessalines commanded. Welcomed with enthusiasm, he was named brigadier general by Dessalines himself. This union, symbolized by Pétion recognizing the supreme authority of Dessalines, had a positive effect on the state of mind of the former Rigaudin officers.

Alongside Dessalines, figures such as Christophe, Vernet, Capois, Gabard, Cangé, Pérou, Moreau, Gérin, Daut, and others, contributed to the cause. The need for a unified leadership becoming more and more pressing, the officers met at Arcahaie from May 15 to 18, 1803 for a historic Congress. There, they solemnly conferred on Dessalines the title of General in Chief of the indigenous army, thus recognizing his undisputed leadership in the struggle for independence.

- CREATION OF THE NATIONAL FLAG (May 18, 1803)

During the historic congress held in May 1803, Dessalines made a capital decision: that of transforming the French tricolor flag. He opted for strong symbolism by removing the white and bringing the blue closer to the red. For him, this gesture embodied not only the radical break with the colonial past, but also the vibrant symbol of the union between blacks and mulattoes, thus uniting the sons and daughters of Santo Domingo in a common quest for freedom and independence.

The first martyrs of this new banner were Laporte and his companions. While they were traveling by barge to Léogâne after the Arcahaie Congress, they were chased by a French patrol. In a final act of defiance, Laporte proudly brandished the new flag, refusing to submit to oppression. With cries of

Long live freedom, Long live independence

, Laporte and his companions were swallowed up by the waves, taking with them the symbol of their indomitable struggle for the dignity and sovereignty of their people.

- YELLOW FEVER / DEATH OF LECLERC

During the month of May 1802, an invisible enemy fell on the colony of Saint-Domingue: yellow fever. Its ravages were devastating within the expeditionary army, decimating in four months no less than 45,000 men, including 26 generals. Even the Captain General himself, Leclerc, could not escape the clutches of this relentless disease. After a brief fight against illness, he succumbed on November 2, 1802. His remains, accompanied by his wife Pauline Bonaparte and a few officers, were repatriated to France and placed in the Pantheon.

Before taking his last breath, Leclerc designated his successor: General Rochambeau. Renowned for his indomitable courage but also for his limitless ferocity, Rochambeau distinguished himself by acts of barbarism which provoked a merciless response from Dessalines, plunging the colony into a cycle of reprisals and unprecedented violence.

Towards the end of June 1803, Dessalines undertook a crucial trip to Camp-Gérard, in the South, with the aim of uniting all the forces of the colony. There, he urged the natives to unity, appealing to turn the page of the past and stand up for freedom. He then named Geffrard division general, responsible for command of the Southern province. It was also at Camp-Gérard that the first meeting between Dessalines and Boisrond-Tonnerre took place, which would play a crucial role in the drafting of the Act of Independence, thus announcing a new era in the tormented history of Santo Domingo.

- CAPITULATION OF PORT-AU-PRINCE

Under the enlightened leadership of Dessalines, the war in the South was fought with unyielding determination, epitomized by figures such as Laurent Peru and Nicolas Geffrard. At Karatas, near the Coteaux, the independence forces of the South inflicted a crushing defeat on the French troops led against them by Rochambeau.

Under the implacable pressure of the native army, the garrisons of Jérémie, Les Cayes and Saint-Marc surrendered one after the other. With a force of 10,000 men, Dessalines, supported by Gabart, Cangé and Pétion, laid siege to Port-au-Prince at the end of September 1803. Faced with a shortage of food and water, the city found himself forced to capitulate.

On October 10, at 7 a.m., the general-in-chief entered the city, flanked by Pétion on his right and Gabart on his left. It was a historic moment, marking a decisive step in the fight for independence of Santo Domingo.

- BATTLE OF VERTIERES

At the end of November 1803, the majority of the native troops, bringing together a total of twenty-seven thousand men, deployed in front of the Cape, the last bastion where the remaining forces of the French army were regrouping. To weaken the city’s resistance, the besieging army had to first conquer a few fortified positions, notably those located in Haut-du-Cap. Among these, Vertières stood out for its strategic position that was difficult to take. This is where General Rochambeau took refuge with his guard of honor.

Dessalines ordered General Capois to seize the mound of the Charrier habitation, overlooking Vertières. Despite several repulsed assaults, Capois, braving death on the front line, tirelessly returned to the charge, galvanizing his men.

At the height of the fight, a ball knocked down Capois’ horse. Having fallen to the ground, he got up immediately, shouting that

En avant, En avant, Boulèt se pousyè

. A murmur of admiration ran through Rochambeau’s guard of honor. The drums of this guard beat, the fire stopped, and suddenly, a French horseman appeared at the natives’ camp, declaring enthusiastically:

Captain-General Rochambeau sends his admiration to the general officer who has just covered himself with so much of glory.



The hussar disappeared and the fire resumed. The fight, which began in the morning, did not stop until the evening. In the dark, under the pouring rain, the French had no choice but to capitulate. Aware that he faced enemies determined to win or die, Rochambeau decided not to unnecessarily prolong the hostilities. He retreated to the Cape and signed the capitulation on November 28, 1803.

During the negotiations for the capitulation of the Cape, Rochambeau sent a magnificent horse to Capois as a sign of admiration for the hero of Vertières, thus showing respect between worthy enemies.

- VICTORY OF THE NATIVE ARMY

At Môle Saint-Nicolas, under the residual command of General Noailles, some vestiges of the expeditionary army persisted. After the fall of Cape Town, Dessalines demanded that the head of the garrison there surrender his arms. At first, he stubbornly refused. However, learning of the Cape’s surrender, he in turn gave in. From then on, the flag of Haïti flew triumphantly in all the squares of the land of Santo Domingo, the Haitians remaining the sole masters of their destiny.

Dessalines sent the native troops back to their quarters after generously rewarding them for their courage and dedication. Determined to officially proclaim Independence on January 1, 1804, he summoned the generals of the South, West and North regions to Gonaïves at the end of December 1803, the location chosen for this historic celebration. His secretaries, Charéron, Chanlatte, Mentor and Boisrond-Tonnerre, were responsible for drafting the Act of Independence. It was Boisrond-Tonnerre who, with his just and powerful words, expressed the essence of this fundamental proclamation.

- PROCLAMATION OF INDEPENDENCE

On January 1, 1804, on the Place d’Armes in Gonaïves, a moment of capital importance took place in the history of Haiti. It was there that, in a solemn manner, Dessalines proclaimed the Independence of Haiti, thus reaffirming the sovereignty of the nation and giving it back its original name.

Under a sky full of promises, all the officers present at this ceremony solemnly swore to renounce France forever, ready to sacrifice their lives rather than live again under its oppressive yoke. It was a resolute oath, forged in the heat of the struggle for freedom and self-determination. On that memorable day, Dessalines’ voice resonated like a hymn to newfound dignity and freedom, marking the beginning of a new era for the Haitian people.

- DESSALINES FIRST HEAD OF HAITIAN STATE

In recognition of the eminent services rendered by Dessalines to the nation, the assembly of generals, by unanimous consent, proclaimed him Governor for life of the Haitian State. In a gesture of trust and respect, he established the seat of his government in Marchand, determined to guide the nation towards a future of prosperity and stability.

To ensure effective management of each province, Dessalines appointed some of his most loyal lieutenants to lead them: Geffrard in the South, Pétion in the West, Christophe in the North and Gabart in Artibonite. This decision, taken in the best interest of the nation, demonstrated Dessalines’ desire to establish a strong and balanced government, ready to meet the challenges that arise on the path to the reconstruction and development of Haiti.

- CONSTRUCTION OF FORTIFICATIONS

In a strategy aimed at preventing any attempt at French reconquest, Dessalines ordered his generals Christophe, Clerveaux, Gabart, Pétion, and Geffrard to build strategic fortifications in their respective departments, perched on top of the mountains.

Soon, these efforts resulted in the erection of defensive forts essential to the security of Haiti: Fort des Trois-Pavillons in Port-de-Paix, Fort Jacques à la Coupe, Fort Campan in Léogâne, and Fort Plato in Les Cayes. In addition, Christophe undertook the imposing work of the Citadelle La Perrière, a grandiose fortress intended to protect the country against any external threat.

These monumental works testified to Dessalines’ determination to guarantee the security and sovereignty of Haiti, and they became symbols of the resistance and strength of the Haitian people in the face of any attempt at foreign interference.

- MASSACRE OF THE FRENCH

One of the darkest and most significant events at the start of Dessalines’ government was the merciless order he gave to his lieutenants: to massacre, with the exception of priests, doctors, pharmacists and craftsmen, all the French people they would encounter in their command. This cruel directive plunged many innocent people into the horror of violence and death.

Many of these unfortunates were mercilessly immolated, their lives sacrificed on the altar of vengeance and anger. However, thanks to the protection of Dessalines and the compassion of certain provincial commanders, many were able to escape this disastrous fate. This massacre, testimony to the cruelty of troubled times, leaves an indelible stain in the history of Haiti, recalling the tragic consequences of blind hatred and revenge.

- DESSALINES EMPEREUR (September 2, 1804)

Eight months after being appointed governor, Dessalines took a new step in his political rise. On September 2, 1804, he rose to the summit of power by taking the title of Emperor. This bold decision marked a major turning point in Haiti’s history, asserting Dessalines’ sovereignty and authority over the newly independent nation.

A few days later, on October 8, in a solemn ceremony in Cap-Haïtien, he was crowned Emperor by the Curé Corneille Brelle. Under the name of James I, he reigned with authority and determination, thus consolidating his power over Haitian territory.

By taking the title of Emperor, Dessalines also had the privilege of choosing his successor, thus strengthening his dynasty and laying the foundations of a new era for Haiti. This historic moment symbolized the desire of the Haitian people to govern themselves and fiercely defend their freedom and independence.

- ADMINISTRATION OF DESSALINES

If Dessalines distinguished himself by his unrivaled skills as a warrior, his ability to govern was far removed from that of Toussaint Louverture. His administration was based entirely on military rule, reflecting his preference for command and discipline.

Financial management as well as several key ministries such as External Relations, Justice, Agriculture, Public Education and Public Works were entrusted to General Vernet. General Gérin took charge of the Ministry of War. The Emperor surrounded himself with a Council of State made up of brigadier and division generals, as well as his private secretariat made up of Boisrond-Tonnerre, Juste Chanlatte and Charéron Mentor.

Justice itself was administered by military officers, while the property of the former settlers was distributed, in the form of concessions, to the higher ranks of the army. The troops, in general, lacked uniforms and pay. Foodstuffs were mainly sold to the English, and trade was regulated solely by the whim of the monarch. Considerable disorder reigned in the administration, as the great leaders, including the emperor himself, quickly considered the public treasury as their personal property. This discretionary management of public resources contributed to the instability and inefficiency of the Haitian state under the reign of Dessalines.

- VERIFICATION OF PROPERTY TITLES

In the South, in particular, many citizens had taken possession of vast plantations without having legitimate property titles, formerly held by the settlers. Wishing to establish a more equitable distribution of these lands, Dessalines ordered a careful verification of the property titles in question. Titles deemed suspect were invalidated and destroyed.

This measure of justice, although intended to restore order and equity in land ownership, aroused the indignation of those who thus found themselves dispossessed of their land. However, it reflected Dessalines’ desire to put an end to the injustices inherited from the colonial era and to reform the land system for the well-being of the Haitian population.

- CONSTITUTION OF 1805

Two of the Emperor’s principal secretaries, Boisrond-Tonnerre and Juste Chanlatte, were the architects of the Imperial Constitution of 1805. However, Dessalines made the mistake of not first consulting the generals on this crucial subject, thus sparking new discontent. from his view.

The most striking feature of this constitution was the refusal to recognize the right of property to foreigners. His last article resonated like a rallying cry imbued with grandiose energy:

At the first sound of the alarm cannon, the cities disappear and the nation rises.



This Constitution, although carrying strong principles of defense of national sovereignty, unfortunately contributed to widening the gap between Dessalines and part of his entourage, thus accentuating the political tensions already present in the Haitian empire.

- REVOLT AGAINST DESSALINES

The revolt rumbled dully, like an ember smoldering for too long under the ashes of history. We quickly forgot the exploits and sacrifices of the man who had drawn the first lines of Independence, only to see the shadows of his questionable acts, the dark corners of his reign. The malcontents, lurking in the shadows, murmured names: Christophe, Gérin, Pétion, Geffrard, men of intrigue, souls in search of power.

The Emperor, without artifice or veil over his emotions, let escape the bitterness that was brewing within him. He took out his frustrations on his lieutenants, threatening in a fit of anger. But before their plans took shape, destiny cut the thread of the plot. Geffrard, one of the conspirators, was carried away by the unexpected breath of death, and with him evaporated the first breaths of a rebellion.

Yet destiny is a relentless intrigue weaver. At the beginning of October, in the troubled South, the spark finally broke out in Port-Salut. Dessalines, the furious sovereign, rushed towards the center of the rebellion, carrying on his shoulders the weight of his wavering authority. But destiny, a merciless executioner, had a disastrous encounter in store for him.

At the gates of Port-au-Prince, where Pétion held the reins of power, the Emperor was trapped, swallowed up by the shadow of a treacherous ambush. Thus ended the tumultuous reign of one who was both the founder and the victim of his own empire, carried away by the tumultuous waves of the revolt that he himself had helped to nourish.

- DEATH OF DESSALINES

On the night of October 17, 1806, fate played out cruelly for Emperor Dessalines. Launching towards Port-au-Prince with a modest escort, he was unaware of the dark designs that were being hatched against him. The darkness of the night enveloped his walk, and the silence of the Cul-de-Sac plain left nothing to foreshadow the betrayal that awaited him.

At the bend in the path, near the Pont-Rouge, a macabre scene appeared before him. Troops, which he believed to be his own, stood in menacing rows. Blinded by confidence and hope, he continued on his way, unaware of the trap that was closing in on him. But soon, the tone of orders and hostile shouts revealed the truth: he was surrounded by his enemies.

In a final act of bravery, the emperor attempted to fight his way through enemy lines, defying the death that awaited him. His voice rang out, calling for the loyalty of his soldiers, but the betrayal was already complete. The bullets whistled, taking with them the lives of the emperor and his faithful officer, Charlotin Marcadieu, who had stood at his side.

Dessalines’ mutilated body bore witness to the violence of the attack, while those who had orchestrated his fall sought to erase all traces of their crime. In the darkness of night, a lost soul, Parade, gathered the scattered remains of the LIBERATOR, leading them reverently to their final resting place.

But the tragedy did not end there. The conspirators, seeking to erase all traces of their guilt, attacked those close to the emperor. Mentor and Boisrond Tonnerre, his secretaries, were assassinated, while Juste Chanlatte found refuge in the North, near Christophe, thus escaping their disastrous fate.

Thus ended the tumultuous life of Dessalines, taking with him the hopes and dreams of a people in search of freedom. But his legacy, forged in the fire of struggle and resistance, would live on forever in the history of Haiti.

- AFTER THE DEATH OF DESSALINES

After the disastrous episode of the Pont Rouge, where the life of Emperor Dessalines was extinguished in a whirlwind of betrayal, a new horizon opened up for Haiti. The empire faltered and collapsed, giving way to the emergence of a new political era.

Representatives of the people, elected for this crucial task, gathered in Port-au-Prince to form a Constituent Assembly. On December 27, 1806, they gave birth to a Constitution which established the Republic as the new political regime of Haiti. In this new order, a Senate of 24 members was established, invested with extensive powers: to legislate, impose taxes, manage public finances, and appoint to civil and military positions.

At the heart of this transition, two men emerged as contenders for the presidency: Pétion, commander of the second Western division, and Christophe, general in chief of the army. The rivalry between them was palpable, with Pétion skillfully maneuvering to hinder his opponent’s chances. Using his influence and political shenanigans, he attempted to limit presidential power for his own purposes.

On December 28, 1806, despite Pétion’s maneuvers, Christophe was elected president. Informed of the plots hatched in Port-au-Prince by the deputies of the North, he set out with his army, already alerted by the winds of moving politics.

- BATTLE OF SIBERT

The crash of drums heralded the impending storm, as the two factions drew inexorably closer on the battlefield of Sibert. The Senate, lucid about Christophe’s shenanigans, clearly discerned his warlike intentions. With the announcement of its advance towards Arcahaie, the assembly entrusted Pétion with the mission of confronting it.

On January 1, 1837, under the early veil of dawn, the two armies found themselves on the grounds of the Sibert habitation, only three leagues from Port-au-Prince. There, Haiti’s destiny was sealed in the clash of arms and the tumult of war. A fierce battle broke out, where each cannon shot, each cavalry charge, made the earth tremble under their feet.

The Western troops, although engaged valiantly, were confronted with an implacable force, and soon, rout took hold of them. In the thick of the fight, bravery and determination clashed with the cold tactical efficiency of the enemy. Amidst the chaos and confusion, the outcome of the battle seemed already written.

- PETION PRESIDENT

After the resounding victory at Sibert, Christophe, like a wounded beast, rushed towards Port-au-Prince to do battle. But faced with the indomitable resilience of the inhabitants and the firmness of their defense, he finally had to lift the siege, forced to return to the North, where he established his own independent government, proclaiming himself the undisputed leader within it.

Meanwhile, the Senate, determined to put an end to the reign of terror, pronounced Christophe’s dismissal and declared him an outlaw. In the charged atmosphere of this tormented era, on March 9, 1807, eyes were turned towards a 37-year-old man, then almost at the dawn of his political life: Pétion. With confidence and hope, the Senate conferred on him the highest office in the state, thus placing him in command of a Haïti in search of stability and peace.

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Haiti: The Rara season in Petit-Goâve: A celebration of life, unity and resilience

As the new season of Rara looms on the horizon, certain groups such as Saint Jacques Majeur, Ratyèfè, Florida Band, Lambi Grand, and Grap Kenèp are already preparing to light up the streets of Petit-Goâve with their flamboyant costumes and their captivating melodies. For these groups, the future looks bright, promising a season full of passion and success. However, other rara bands are still hesitant about which direction to take. Despite these uncertainties, optimism reigns regarding the success of this new season for all rara groups in the commune of Petit-Goâve. Rara, anchored in the Vodou tradition, is much more than a simple artistic manifestation. It embodies the very essence of Haitian culture, highlighting questions of memory, tradition and identity. This increasingly popular form of artistic expression attracts a large audience and arouses unprecedented enthusiasm. Groups like Ratyèfè, Grap Kenèp, Florida Band and Chenn Tamaren, recognized for their ability to delight their fans, play a crucial role in the continued growth of rara in the town. The rara season traditionally begins on Dead Thursday and ends on the night of Easter Sunday or quasimodo Monday. To mark the beginning of this sacred period, groups organize opening ceremonies, honoring the spirits of the deceased in rituals steeped in spirituality. These ceremonies, often held in cemeteries or in the "Bitasyons" of groups, symbolize the deep link between the rara and Vodou traditions.

Haïti web agency: Appo-Graphic N°1 in website and mobile site creation

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History

History

First black nation to free itself from slavery and gain independence from France in 1804 and influenced other liberation movements around the world, inspiring struggles for freedom and equality.

Natural beauty

Natural beauty

Haïti is blessed with spectacular natural landscapes, including white sand beaches, mountains and rich biodiversity.

Heritage

Heritage

Haïti has a rich historical heritage, including sites like the Citadelle Laferrière and the Sans-Souci Palace, listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Culture

Culture

Haïti has a rich and diverse culture, influenced by African, European and indigenous elements. Haitian music, dance, art and cuisine are celebrated around the world.