Saint-Domingue | Wikipedia audio article

Saint-Domingue | Wikipedia audio article


Saint-Domingue (French pronunciation: ​[sɛ̃.dɔ.mɛ̃ɡ])
was a French colony on the Caribbean island of Hispaniola from 1659 to 1804, in what is
now Haiti. The French had established themselves on the
western portion of the islands of Hispaniola and Tortuga by 1659. In the Treaty of Ryswick of 1697, Spain formally
recognized French control of Tortuga Island and the western third of the island of Hispaniola.In
1791, the slaves and some free people of color of Saint-Domingue began waging a rebellion
against French authority. The rebels became reconciled to French rule
following the abolition of slavery in the colony in 1793, although this alienated the
island’s dominant slave-holding class. France controlled the entirety of Hispaniola
from 1795 to 1802, when a renewed rebellion began. The last French troops withdrew from the western
portion of the island in late 1803, and the colony later declared its independence as
Haiti, its indigenous name, the following year.==Overview==
Spain controlled the entire island of Hispaniola from the 1490s until the 17th century, when
French pirates began establishing bases on the western side of the island. The official name was La Española, meaning
“The Spanish (Island)”. It was also called Santo Domingo or San Domingo,
after Saint Dominic.The western part of Hispaniola was neglected by the Spanish authorities,
and French buccaneers began to settle first on the Tortuga Island, then on the northwest
of the island: they called it le Grande Terre. Spain later ceded the entire western coast
of the island to France, retaining the rest of the island, including the Guava Valley,
today known as the Central Plateau.The French called their portion of Hispaniola Saint-Domingue,
the French equivalent of Santo Domingo. The Spanish colony on Hispaniola remained
separate, and eventually became the Dominican Republic, the capital of which is still named
Santo Domingo.==Establishment==When Christopher Columbus took possession
of the island in 1492, he named it Insula Hispana, meaning “the Spanish island” in Latin
As Spain conquered new regions on the mainland of the Americas (Spanish Main), its interest
in Hispaniola waned, and the colony’s population grew slowly. By the early 17th century, the island and
its smaller neighbors, notably Tortuga, became regular stopping points for Caribbean pirates. In 1606, the king of Spain ordered all inhabitants
of Hispaniola to move close to Santo Domingo, to avoid interaction with pirates. Rather than secure the island, however, this
resulted in French, English and Dutch pirates establishing bases on the now-abandoned north
and west coasts of the island. French buccaneers established a settlement
on the island of Tortuga in 1625 before going to Grande Terre (mainland). At first they survived by pirating Spanish
ships, eating wild cattle and hogs, and selling hides to traders of all nations. Although the Spanish destroyed the buccaneers’
settlements several times, on each occasion they returned due to an abundance of natural
resources: hardwood trees, wild hogs and cattle, and fresh water. The settlement on Tortuga was officially established
in 1659 under the commission of King Louis XIV. In 1665, French colonization of the islands
Hispaniola and Tortuga entailed slavery-based plantation agricultural activity such as growing
coffee and cattle farming. It was officially recognized by King Louis
XIV. Spain tacitly recognized the French presence
in the western third of the island in the 1697 Treaty of Ryswick; the Spanish deliberately
omitted direct reference to the island from the treaty, but they were never able to reclaim
this territory from the French.The economy of Saint-Domingue became focused on slave-based
agricultural plantations. Saint-Domingue’s black population quickly
increased. They followed the example of neighboring Caribbean
colonies in coercive treatment of the slaves. More cattle, and slave agricultural holdings,
coffee plantations and spice plantations were implemented, as well as fishing, cultivation
of cocoa, coconuts and snuff. Saint-Domingue quickly came to overshadow
the previous colony in both wealth and population. Nicknamed the “Pearl of the Antilles,” Saint-Domingue
became the richest and most prosperous French colony in the West Indies, cementing its status
as an important port in the Americas for goods and products flowing to and from France and
Europe. Thus, the income and the taxes from slave-based
sugar production became a major source of the French budget. Among the first buccaneers was Bertrand D’Ogeron,
who played a big part in the settlement of Saint-Domingue. He encouraged the planting of tobacco, which
turned a population of buccaneers and freebooters, who had not acquiesced to royal authority
until 1660, into a sedentary population. D’Orgeron also attracted many colonists from
Martinique and Guadeloupe, including Jean Roy, Jean Hebert and his family, and Guillaume
Barre and his family, who were driven out by the land pressure which was generated by
the extension of the sugar plantations in those colonies. But in 1670, shortly after Cap-Français (later
Cap-Haïtien) had been established, the crisis of tobacco intervened and a great number of
places were abandoned. The rows of freebooting grew bigger; plundering
raids, like those of Vera Cruz in 1683 or of Campêche in 1686, became increasingly
numerous, and Jean-Baptiste Colbert, Marquis de Seignelay, elder son of Jean Baptist Colbert
and at the time Minister of the Navy, brought back some order by taking a great number of
measures, including the creation of plantations of indigo and of cane sugar. The first sugar windmill was built in 1685. On 22 July 1795, Spain ceded to France the
remaining Spanish part of the island of Hispaniola, Santo Domingo (now the Dominican Republic),
in the second Treaty of Basel, ending the War of the Pyrenees. The people of the eastern part of Saint-Domingue
(French Santo Domingo) were opposed to the arrangements and hostile toward the French. The islanders revolted against their new masters
and a state of anarchy ensued, leading to more French troops being brought in. An early death among Europeans was very common
due to diseases and conflicts; the French soldiers that Napoleon sent in 1802 to quell
the revolt in Saint-Domingue were attacked by Yellow fever during the Haitian Revolution,
and more than half of the French army died of disease.==Profitable colony==
Prior to the Seven Years’ War (1756–1763), the economy of Saint-Domingue gradually expanded,
with sugar and, later, coffee becoming important export crops. After the war, which disrupted maritime commerce,
the colony underwent rapid expansion. In 1767, it exported 72 million pounds of
raw sugar and 51 million pounds of refined sugar, one million pounds of indigo, and two
million pounds of cotton. Saint-Domingue became known as the “Pearl
of the Antilles” — one of the richest colonies in the world in the 18th-century French empire. It was the greatest jewel in imperial France’s
mercantile crown. By the 1780s, Saint-Domingue produced about
40 percent of all the sugar and 60 percent of all the coffee consumed in Europe. This single colony, roughly the size of Hawaii
or Belgium, produced more sugar and coffee than all of the British West Indies colonies
combined, generating enormous revenue for the French government and enhancing its power. The labor for these plantations was provided
by an estimated 790,000 African slaves, accounting in 1783–1791 for a third of the entire Atlantic
slave trade. Between 1764 and 1771, the average annual
importation of slaves varied between 10,000 and 15,000; by 1786 it was about 28,000, and
from 1787 onward, the colony received more than 40,000 slaves a year. However, the inability to maintain slave numbers
without constant resupply from Africa meant the slave population in 1789 totalled to 500,000,
ruled over by a white population that numbered only 32,000. At all times, a majority of slaves in the
colony were African-born, as the brutal conditions of slavery and tropical diseases such as yellow
fever prevented the population from experiencing growth through natural increase [1]. African culture thus remained strong among
slaves to the end of French rule. The folk religion of Vodou commingled Catholic
liturgy and ritual with the beliefs and practices of the Vodun religion of Guinea, Congo and
Dahomey. Slave traders scoured the Atlantic coast of
Africa, and the slaves who arrived came from hundreds of different tribes, their languages
often mutually incomprehensible. To regularize slavery, in 1685 Louis XIV had
enacted the code noir, which accorded certain human rights to slaves and responsibilities
to the master, who was obliged to feed, clothe and provide for the general well-being of
his slaves. The code noir sanctioned corporal punishment
but had provisions intended to regulate the administration of punishments. In the event, such protections were often
ignored by white colonists. A passage from Henri Christophe’s personal
secretary, who lived more than half his life as a slave, describes the crimes committed
against the slaves of Saint-Domingue by the French colonists: “Have they not hung up men with heads downward,
drowned them in sacks, crucified them on planks, buried them alive, crushed them in mortars? Have they not forced them to consume faeces? And, having flayed them with the lash, have
they not cast them alive to be devoured by worms, or onto anthills, or lashed them to
stakes in the swamp to be devoured by mosquitoes? Have they not thrown them into boiling cauldrons
of cane syrup? Have they not put men and women inside barrels
studded with spikes and rolled them down mountainsides into the abyss? Have they not consigned these miserable blacks
to man eating-dogs until the latter, sated by human flesh, left the mangled victims to
be finished off with bayonet and poniard?”Thousands of slaves found freedom by fleeing into the
mountains, forming communities of maroons and raiding isolated plantations. The most famous was Mackandal, a one-armed
slave, originally from Guinea (region), who escaped in 1751. A Vodou Houngan (priest), he united many of
the different maroon bands. For the next six years, he staged successful
raids while evading capture by the French. He and his followers reputedly killed more
than 6,000 people. He preached a radical vision of destroying
white colonization in Saint-Domingue. In 1758, after a failed plot to poison the
drinking water of the planters, he was captured and burned alive at the public square in Cap-Français. Saint-Domingue had the largest and wealthiest
free population of color in the Caribbean; they were known as the gens de couleur. The royal census of 1789 counted roughly 25,000
such persons. While many free population of color were former
slaves, most members of this class were mulattoes, of mixed French/European and African ancestry. Typically, they were the descendants of the
enslaved women and French colonists. As in New Orleans, a system of plaçage developed,
in which white men had a kind of common-law marriage with slave or free mistresses, and
provided for them with a dowry, sometimes freedom, and often education or apprenticeships
for their mixed-race children. Some such descendants of planters inherited
considerable property. As their numbers grew, they were made subject
to discriminatory colonial legislation. Statutes forbade gens de couleur from taking
up certain professions, marrying whites, wearing European clothing, carrying swords or firearms
in public, or attending social functions where whites were present.The regulations did not
restrict their purchase of land, and many accumulated substantial holdings and became
slaveowners. By 1789, they owned one-third of the plantation
property and one-quarter of the slaves of Saint-Domingue. Central to the rise of the gens de couleur
planter class was the growing importance of coffee, which thrived on the marginal hillside
plots to which they were often relegated. The largest concentration of gens de couleur
was in the southern peninsula. This was the last region of the colony to
be settled, owing to its distance from Atlantic shipping lanes and its formidable terrain,
with the highest mountain range in the Caribbean. In the parish of Jérémie, the free population
of color formed the majority of the population. Many lived in Port-au-Prince as well, which
became an economic center in the South of the island.==End of colonial rule==In 1758 white homeowners on Hispaniola began
to restrict rights and create laws to exclude mulattoes and blacks, establishing a rigid
class system. There were ten black people for every white
one. In France, the majority of the Estates General,
an advisory body to the King, constituted itself as the National Assembly, made radical
changes in French laws, and on 26 August 1789, published the Declaration of the Rights of
Man, declaring all men free and equal. The French Revolution shaped the course of
the conflict in Saint-Domingue and was at first widely welcomed on the island. At first, wealthy whites saw it as an opportunity
to gain independence from France. The elite planters intended to take control
of the island and create trade regulations to further their own wealth and power. Between 1791 and 1804, the leaders François
Dominique Toussaint-Louverture and Jean-Jacques Dessalines led the revolution against the
slave system established on the island; slavery in Saint-Domingue, along with other Caribbean
colonies from the French colonial empire, were the third largest source of income to
France. They were inspired by the houngans, sorcerers
or priests of Haitian Vodou, Dutty Boukman and François Mackandal. Léger-Félicité Sonthonax from September
1792 to 1795 was the de facto ruler of Saint-Domingue. He was a French Girondist and abolitionist
during the French Revolution who controlled 7,000 French troops in Saint-Domingue during
part of the Haitian Revolution. His official title was Civil Commissioner. Within a year of his appointment, his powers
were considerably expanded by the Committee of Public Safety. Sonthonax believed that Saint-Domingue’s whites,
most of whom were of Spanish descent, were royalist or separatist conservatives attached
to independence or Spain as a way to preserve the slave plantations. He attacked the military power of the white
settlers, and by doing so, he alienated the colonists from the French government. Many gens de couleur, mixed-race residents
of the colony, asserted that they could form the military backbone of Saint-Domingue if
they were given rights, but Sonthonax rejected this view as outdated in the wake of the August
1791 slave uprising. He believed that Saint-Domingue would need
ex-slave soldiers among the ranks of the colonial army if it was to survive. Although he did not originally intend to free
the slaves, by October 1793 he ended slavery in order to maintain his own power.In 1799,
the black military leader Toussaint L’Ouverture brought under French rule a law which abolished
slavery, and embarked on a program of modernization. He had become master of the whole island.In
November 1799, during the continuing war in Saint-Domingue, Napoleon Bonaparte gained
power in France. He passed a new constitution declaring that
the colonies would be subject to special laws. Although the colonies suspected this meant
the re-introduction of slavery, Napoleon began by confirming Toussaint’s position and promising
to maintain the abolition. He forbade Toussaint to control the formerly
Spanish settlement on the east side of Hispaniola, as that would have given the slave leader
a more powerful defensive position. In January 1801, Toussaint and Hyacinthe Moïse
invaded the Spanish settlements, taking possession from the Governor, Don Garcia, with few difficulties. Toussaint promulgated the Constitution of
1801 on 7 July, officially establishing his authority as governor general “for life” over
the entire island of Hispaniola and confirming most of his existing policies. Article 3 of the constitution states: “There
cannot exist slaves [in Saint-Domingue], servitude is therein forever abolished. All men are born, live and die free and French.”During
this time, Bonaparte met with refugee planters; they urged the restoration of slavery in Saint-Domingue,
saying it was integral to the colony’s profits. He sent an expedition of more than 20,000
men to Saint-Domingue in 1802 to restore French authority.The French Civil Code of Napoleon
affirmed the political and legal equality of all adult men; it established a merit-based
society in which individuals advanced in education and employment because of talent rather than
birth or social standing. The Civil Code confirmed many of the moderate
revolutionary policies of the National Assembly but retracted measures passed by the more
radical Convention. The code restored patriarchal authority in
the family, for example, by making women and children subservient to male heads of households
or excluding slaves. The situation of slaves and people of mixed
race was not improved. The Haitian Revolution culminated in the elimination
of slavery in Saint-Domingue and the founding of the Haitian republic in the whole of Hispaniola. France was weakened by a British naval blockade,
and by the unwillingness of Napoleon to send massive reinforcements. Having sold the Louisiana Territory to the
United States in April 1803, Napoleon began to lose interest in his failing ventures in
the Western Hemisphere. A minority of state officials and civil servants
were exempt from manual labor, including some freed colored Haitians. Many slaves had to work hard to survive, and
they became increasingly motivated by their hunger. Consisting mostly of slaves, the population
was uneducated and largely unskilled. They had lived under authoritarian control
as rural laborers. White residents felt the sting most sharply. While Toussaint, a former privileged slave
of a tolerant white master, had felt a certain magnanimity toward whites, Dessalines, a former
field slave, despised them. A firm hand was used in resistance to slavery. Napoleon’s troops, under the command of his
brother-in-law, General Charles Emmanuel Leclerc, planned to seize control of the island by
diplomatic means. They proclaimed peaceful intentions, and kept
secret his orders to deport all black officers. Meanwhile, Toussaint was preparing for defense
and insuring discipline. This may have contributed to a rebellion against
forced labor led by his nephew and top general, Moïse, in October 1801. It was violently repressed, with the result
that when the French ships arrived, not all of Saint-Domingue was automatically on Toussaint’s
side.For a few months, the island was quiet under Napoleonic rule. But when it became apparent that the French
intended to re-establish slavery, because they had done so on Guadeloupe, Dessalines
and Pétion switched sides again, in October 1802, and fought against the French. In late January 1802, while Leclerc sought
permission to land at Cap-Français and Christophe held him off, the Vicomte de Rochambeau suddenly
attacked Fort-Liberté, effectively quashing the diplomatic option. In November Leclerc died of yellow fever,
like much of his army.His successor, the Vicomte de Rochambeau, fought a brutal campaign. His atrocities helped rally many former French
loyalists to the rebel cause. Like other black slaves captured by the French
army, Mackandal was burned alive at the stake. The people of Saint-Domingue, mostly black,
were hostile toward abuse by the French. The slave population had severe food shortages
and brutal forced rural labor. The islanders revolted against their new masters
and a state of anarchy ensued, bringing more French troops. The people began a series of attacks on the
owners of sugar and coffee plantations. French soldiers from Napoleon were sent in
1802 to quell the revolt in Saint-Domingue. They suffered from seasonal epidemics of Yellow
fever and more than half of the French army died of disease. The British naval blockade to France persisted. Dessalines led the rebellion until its completion,
when the French forces were finally defeated in 1803. Whites were slaughtered and massacred wholesale
under the rule of Dessalines. The brutality toward whites shocked foreign
governments.The last battle of the Haitian Revolution, the Battle of Vertières, occurred
on 18 November 1803, near Cap-Haïtien. When the French withdrew, they had only 7,000
troops left to ship to France. Haiti did not try to support, or aid other
slave rebellions because they feared that the great powers would take renewed action
against them, as happened a few years later with Spain. After the defeat of the French army, wealthy
white owners saw the opportunity to preserve their political power and plantations. They attacked the town halls that had representatives
of the defeated French authority. Elite planters took control of the former
Spanish side of the island, asking Spain for a Spanish government and protection by the
Spanish army. Later these planters created trade regulations
that would further preserve their own wealth and power. Most whites that were left in Haiti proper
were killed in a brutal genocide.In the 19th and early 20th centuries, American and British
authors often referred to Saint-Domingue period as “Santo Domingo” or “San Domingo.”:2 This
led to confusion with the earlier Spanish colony, and later the contemporary Spanish
colony established at Santo Domingo during the colonial period; in particular, in political
debates on slavery previous to the American Civil War, “San Domingo” was used to express
fears of Southern whites of a slave rebellion breaking out in their own region. Today, the former Spanish possession contemporary
with the early period of the French colony corresponds mostly with the Dominican Republic,
whose capital is Santo Domingo. The name of Saint-Domingue was changed to
Hayti (Haïti) when Jean-Jacques Dessalines declared the independence of all Hispaniola
from the French in 1804. Like the name Haiti itself, Saint-Domingue
may be used to refer to all of Hispaniola, or the western part in the French colonial
period, while the Spanish version Hispaniola or Santo Domingo is often used to refer to
the Spanish colonial period or the Dominican nation.==See also==List of colonial governors of Saint-Domingue
History of Haiti French colonization of the Americas
Spanish Colony of Santo Domingo==Notes

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