Historical Data


School Based Assessment (S.B.A)










Title of study 1

Statement of aim 2

Rationale 3

1.) Introduction 4

2.) The social effects of the Haitian Revolution on Haiti and
the wider Caribbean 6

3.) The political effects of the Haitian Revolution on Haiti and 7
the wider Caribbean

4.) The economical effects of the Haitian Revolution on Haiti
and the wider Caribbean 8

5.) Conclusion 9

6.) Bibliography 10

7.) Appendix 11



The social, economical & political effects of the Haitian revolution on Haiti and the wider Caribbean.


In reading this project the reader should have a clear understanding of the Haitian Revolution and its effects socially, politically and economically. They should be able to gain a better awareness of their roots, past and culture revolution wise. They should be able to link the Haitian Revolution to other Revolutions, how they came about and how it affected the most profitable good or produce known as (SUGAR) around that time.


The reason for this topic being chosen was to better identify, analyze, interpret and understand the Haitian Revolution. For me, History encourages the mind to think, and this topic brought out that ability. The Haitian Revolution was the first successful Revolution; therefore there was an abundance of factual information which then made me use my skills as a historian. The topic itself was a very interesting one which played a big part for me choosing it.


The French Colony of Haiti was known to be the most profitable sugar producing colony, producing forty-five percent (45%) of the world’s sugar around 1789. The sugar plantations were owned by whites and sometimes mullatoes but operated by the slaves. Haiti or St. Domingue as it was formally known, had a population of about 520,000 people with 450,000 or 86.7 percent being slaves and the rest being the whites and free coloured or (mullatoes) “as stated by Patrick E. Bryan in his book, “The Haitian Revolution and its Effects”. As time went on, issues arose about slavery and the slaves wanting freedom because they were being overworked and ill treated.

In 1660, the French settlers came to Hispaniola, after being driven by Spaniards from Tobago. They were sometimes expelled but returned to settle when Spanish vigilance slackened. Their persistency paid off in 1697, by the Treaty of Ryswick, in which Spain agreed to hand over the western Hispaniola to France. The French portion of the island received the name Saint Domingue, later renamed Haiti by Sir Dessalines.

Upon settling, they imported African slaves to operate the sugar plantations. This is how the problem arose. They overworked the slaves and ill treated them. The coloured were fighting for equal rights while the slaves were fighting to escape slavery and the harsh inhumane treatment they got from the whites. The French revolution in 1789 was known to be the trigger behind the Haitian revolution, because of the effects it left behind on Haiti and the wider Caribbean.

The Haitian Revolution occurred on August 23rd 1791 and lasted to 1804. It was caused by social inequalities between the three main social classes. Certain classes were denied social and political rights. There were many phrases leading to the Haitian Revolution. It started with the fact that Haiti, then known as Hispaniola was under Spanish control and “there were many attempts by the British to seize Hispaniola as a base for further British commercial territorial penetration of the Caribbean” as stated by Patrick E Bryan in his book The Haitian revolution and its effects”, the main one being in 1655.


The Haitian Revolution changed the social composition of the island through the expulsion and massacre of the dominant white class. It also increased the racial conflicts between the two groups of blacks and mullatoes. The racial tariff grew stronger between the two classes due to disagreements, especially with leadership and control of the island, the mullatoes were favored more by the French government, and therefore jealousy grew. The three broad issues with the social groups were Colonial Autonomy (either self-government or independence), racial inequalities and Emancipation.

Also after the Haitian Revolution, these gave the slaves of the other Caribbean plantations the knowledge, inspiration and know how about revolting. This therefore gave rise or influence for other slaves to revolt to gain freedom from the ‘shackles of slavery.’ Just between 1791 and 1830 many revolts had been known to occur but not all were as successful as the Haitian Revolution. As it was known, the Haitian Revolution gave rise to the 2nd Maroon War of 1795 in Jamaica. There were several revolt plots in St Kitts, Puerto Rico, Venezuela, Martinique and Guadeloupe.

The Haitian Revolution also caused a dividend between other countries like, the Northern Southern South America who at the time refused to recognize the independence of Haiti because they didn’t want to encourage their enslaved population of Haiti’s’ successful Revolution, so as to avoid any revolts. The Jamaican planters also wanted to terminate the commercial links with Haiti because they didn’t want to have anything to do with the wayward black republic because that would encourage their entry and expose the enslaved ones of the Jamaican island about the Haitian Revolution. Around that time, the British government still insisted on supporting the merchants who traded with Haiti.


Politically, the Haitian revolution gave the island of Haiti a chance to elect their own system and government, which made Haiti the first independent black state, s stated by Sir Eric Williams in his book, “From Columbus to Castro.” This also led to diplomatic isolation. Countries did not want to have anything to do with Haiti, so they isolated them. This also meant that other countries did not want to acknowledge Haiti or then called St. Domingue independence.

Haiti had to elect their own government, which led to political instability. This resulted because everybody wanted to lead the island. So there were conflicts with leaders and their Generals because there was a sense of dictatorship from the leader (Toussaint L’ouverture) at the time and to two Generals (Jean Jacques Dessalines & Henry Christophe) didn’t appreciate it so they ratted to Napoleon Bonaparte, the then ruler of France, who then sent his brother General Le Clerc to remove Haiti’s leader to restore slavery. This gave rise to more conflicts and war as stated by William Claypole and John Robottom in Caribbean story book 1(3rd edition).

The Haitian Revolution also contributed to the advancement of the anti-slavery movement. The Humanitarians and Abolitionists used slavery to back their point as to why to abolish slavery, which brought about the Act of 1833 which was then passed by the British government to end slavery in the British Empire “as stated by Isaac Dookhan in A Pre- Emancipation history of the West Indies.” This conversely brought about the apprentership period which was meant to be a period of transition to ready the slaves for life after slavery. Another main point used for the advancement of the Anti-Slavery movement was the James Somerset case, of 1772.


Economically, the Haitian Revolution brought about drastic declines in the levels of production in the island. Numerous efforts were made to produce but they failed. The reason being, most of the good soil that Haiti once possessed had been ruined or in stronger words, eradicated, by the destructive path of the Revolution. Conversely they lost profits because ‘sugar’ which was their main surplus of trade, began loosing value and steadily decreasing because of other foreign competitors in the market.

Although sugar was becoming unprofitable in Haiti, many of the St. Domingue refugees contributed to the economic development of other Caribbean islands which they had stayed on, by working on the coffee and sugar plantations.

Another reason for Haiti never recovering economically was because most of the plantations were destroyed. Equipment and infrastructure was also destroyed, and therefore Haiti couldn’t compete on the world market. Conversely Spanish colonies became more profitable due to the fall of Haiti’s sugar plantations. This also created a sudden void on the world market for tropical goods that a number of colonies immediately fought to fill. Cuba cultivated a lot of sugar and Jamaica; Brazil & Puerto Rico produced more sugar and coffee.


The Haitian Revolution was known to be the event which brought about mass murder, violence, chaos and rebellion between the varied classes who fought for reasons of freedom and equality. Although the Haitian revolution caused the lost of lives and many other negative impacts, the positive it had on the wider Caribbean impacted more.

If it wasn’t for the Haitian Revolution, there might not have been any diversification or planting of new crops. Sugar was the main surplus and the slaves were more knowledgeable on how to carry about revolts. Haiti made history as they were the first black republic to achieve independence and be freed from the ‘shackles of slavery’.

Napoleon, the then Ruler of France would have won the war but that wasn’t the case. Therefore the Haitian revolution was a success, which brought out many positives. Despite the fact that Haiti never recovered from the revolution; it was still beneficial to the wider Caribbean.


1.) Patrick E. Bryan, The Haitian revolution and its effects (Heinemann CXC History), Heinemann Educational Publishers, Halley Court, Jordon Hill, Oxford ox 28ej, 1984.

2.) Isaac Dookhan, A Pre-emancipation History of the West Indies, Carlong Publishers Ltd, kingston10, 33 Second Street, Newport West, Kingston 13, Jamaica, 1971.

3.) William Claypole & John Robottom, Caribbean Story Book 1 (3rd Edition), Carlong publishers (Caribbean Limited), Kingston Jamaica, 2001.

4.) Eric Williams, From Columbus to Castro: The history of the Caribbean 1492-1969, Carlton Publishing Group, London, 1970.