The recorded history of Haiti began on December 5, 1492 when Christopher Columbus happened upon a large island in the region of the western Atlantic Ocean known as the Caribbean Sea. Columbus promptly claimed the island for the Spanish Crown, and renamed it La Isla Española ("the Spanish Island"), or Hispañola.

Following the arrival of Europeans, Haiti's indigenous population suffered near-extinction, in possibly the worst case of depopulation in the Americas. The high mortality in the colony can be attributed at least in part to murder, forced labor, and repression. However, evidence elsewhere suggests that the natives were exposed to Old World diseases, from which they had no immunity.

Spanish interest in Hispaniola began to wane in the 1520s, as more lucrative gold and silver deposits were found in Mexico and South America. Thereafter, the population of Spanish Hispaniola grew slowly. Fearful of pirate attacks, the king of Spain in 1606 ordered all colonists on Hispaniola to move closer to the capital city, Santo Domingo. The decision backfired, as British, Dutch, and French pirates then established bases on the island's abandoned northern and western coasts.

In 1664, the newly established French West India Company took control over the colony, which it named Saint-Domingue, and France formally claimed control of the western portion of the island of Hispaniola. In 1670 they established the first permanent French settlement on the mainland of Hispaniola, Cap François (later Cap Français, now Cap-Haïtien). Under the 1697 Treaty of Ryswick, Spain officially ceded the western third of Hispaniola to France. By that time, planters outnumbered buccaneers and, with the encouragement of Louis XIV, they had begun to grow tobacco, indigo, cotton, and cacao on the fertile northern plain, thus prompting the importation of African slaves. Slave insurrections were frequent and some slaves escaped to the mountains where they were met by what would be one of the last generations of Taíno natives. After the last Taíno died, the full-blooded Arawakan population on the island was extinct.

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.[2] Saint-Domingue became known as the "Pearl of the Antilles" – one of the richest colonies in the 18th century French empire. 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 Maryland or Belgium, produced more sugar and coffee than all of Britain's West Indian colonies combined. 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 importation of slaves varied between 10,000-15,000, by 1786 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, by 1789, totaled 500,000, ruled over by a white population that, by 1789, numbered only 32,000. At all times, a majority of slaves in the colony were African-born, as the brutal conditions of slavery prevented the population from experiencing growth through natural increase. African culture thus remained strong among slaves to the end of French rule, in particular the folk-religion of Vodou, which commingled Catholic liturgy and ritual with the beliefs and practices 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 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 their slaves. The code noir also sanctioned corporal punishment, allowing masters to employ brutal methods to instill in their slaves the necessary docility, while ignoring provisions intended to regulate the administration of punishments. A passage from Henri Christophe's personal secretary, who lived more than half his life as a slave, describes the crimes perpetrated against the slaves of Saint-Domingue by their French masters:

"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 eat excretement? 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, who escaped in 1751. A Vodou Houngan (priest), he united many of the different maroon bands. He spent the next six years staging successful raids and evading capture by the French, reputedly killing over 6,000 people, while preaching a fanatic vision of the destruction of white civilization in St. Domingue. In 1758, after a failed plot to poison the drinking water of the plantation owners, he was captured and burned alive at the public square in Cap-Français.

Saint-Domingue also had the largest and wealthiest free population of color in the Caribbean, the gens de couleur (French, "people of color"). The mixed-race community in Saint-Domingue numbered 25,000 in 1789. First-generation gens de couleur were typically the offspring of a male, French slaveowner and an African slave chosen as a concubine. In the French colonies, the semi-official institution of "plaçage" defined this practice. By this system, the children were free people and could inherit property, thus originating a class of "mulattos" with property and some with wealthy fathers. This class occupied a middle status between African slaves and French colonists. Some Africans also enjoyed status as gens de couleur.

As numbers of gens de couleur grew, the French rulers enacted discriminatory laws. 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. However, these regulations did not restrict their purchase of land, and many accumulated substantial holdings and became slave-owners. 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, 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, they formed the majority of the population.

~For more details on the Haitian History see:wikipedia.org~

On the left is a portrait of Toussaint L'Ouverture leader of the Haitian Revolution. Born in Saint Domingue, in a long struggle for independence Toussaint led enslaved Africans to victory over Europeans, abolished slavery, and secured native control over the colony, Haiti, in 1797 while nominally governor of the colony. He expelled the French commissioner Léger-Félicité Sonthonax, as well as the British armies; invaded Santo Domingo to free the slaves there; and wrote a constitution naming himself governor-for-life that established a new polity for the colony. On the right is 1797 portrait of Jean-Baptiste Belley. Born in Senegal and enslaved in Santo Domingo (Haiti), Belley went on to be one of the Haitian delegates to the French National Convention, which abolished slavery in 1794. In 1802, he fought with Toussaint L'Ouverture and, as a consequence, died in a French prison in 1802. The bust is the painting is Abbé Raynal, a noted abolitionist.


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Comment by Lydell Jackson on December 21, 2010 at 6:04pm
Comment by Mbarika Karen Kazingizi on January 14, 2010 at 4:02pm
"My decision to destroy the authority of the Blacks in Saint Domingue is not so much based on consideration of commerce and money as for the need to block forever the march (of) the Blacks in the world" Napolean Bonaparte

Brother Lydell - I hold your hand iright now in sorrow and pain and thristing for us to heal from this evil deed - never again should it happen. exposure of what is at play is vital and we must no fear that people will think us crazy for thinking what we know is true. I have long long had this dream - reurring and feel guilty and lost for not having been able toitnerpret it till too late - instead I focused on intellectual interest about Haiti - when all the time it was a warning of imminent danger.

I have done the best I could befor limiting myself to texting 501 501 to YELE. I have also just donated through a page you posted to us via e-mail. Although this help will sustain the lives of those who survive - let us continue raising funds for th safe keeping of Haiti from those who seek to destroy her through CHEMITRIALS!

Comment by Lydell Jackson on January 13, 2010 at 11:29am

AP Photo/Jorge Cruz

Please send whatever you can spare to those who have been impacted by this horrible devastation. These are difficult times for us all, but they are also the times that will prove what sort of people we truly are. I know your prayers will be with the people of Haiti, but your actions will be just as important as your prayers. So as you ask for assistance from above, don't forget, you have strength from above so that you can prove your faith here below..."by your works." Don't forget to act in harmony with your prayers for others in need.

Here is one organization that is taking contributions to assist those affected in Haiti. They guarantee 100% of your contributions will go to relief efforts. The operations of this organization are financed by other means that don't affect contributions made.


Comment by Ty Gray-EL on November 19, 2009 at 7:29am
Thanks once again my brother, for this eye-opening piece of our history that is buried in the muck, mire and minutia fed to us in a steady stream of lies and deception. Bravo once again for helping to restore the legacy that was stolen.
By the way, can you find "Stolen Legacy" by George G.M. James and feature it somehow. It certainly is right in line with Living Legacy
Comment by Lydell Jackson on November 18, 2009 at 6:26pm
Mbarika my dear friend,

I am delighted that you have found a since of connection with the material on this page. I do greatly appreciate your expressions above. While we continue to watch as the oppressors of humanity self destruct, may we be ready as our ancestors (like L'Ouverture and Belley) to lift not only our voices in objection but to surrender our very souls in revolution if need be, in order to secure a better future for our children and all humanity. I pray that I am committed to that end even though I began rather late in life. I will make the journey as far as this life will take me and I will work forever and endlessly as a spirit in the next life. I too pray! I Pray that those younger than I will understand their responsibility not only to the Legacy of the diaspora but to humanity and that they will do a better job than my generation at demanding a better (more loving) world for all.

I love this version of the Haitian National Anthem! I feel the sincerity and conviction in her voice.
Comment by Mbarika Karen Kazingizi on November 18, 2009 at 5:24pm
Silence, contemplation and appreciation for so much learnt in one reading. My first reading of Haitian history. Am attached to Mackandal - impulsively. Will never forget to honour L'Ouverture and Belley when giving thanks or appealing to our revolutionary ancestors. Wonder why the two fought? Will share as much as i can on my sites - where youths are ranting about revolution while others warn against it - preferring instead to let the serpent devour itself as it has been slowly doing for these past 2000 years. Now that it is finishing itself off - do watch, do we push it over? Let our living spirits, in their unison with our departed spiritual ancestors, combine like a force unseen before and will them to at last bow down, repent and be gone from our lives. From persecuting us, imprisoning us, killing our people with aids, hunger and terrain destruction, they will desist. I offer my prayers as thanks for this sharing. Thank you.


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