Author: krajka32

Emancipation in Saint Domingue…What is that?

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Between 1791-1802 blacks and mulattos in Saint Domingue struggled to become emancipated.  Slavery was always a controversial topic in Saint Domingue because some people wanted slavery, while others wanted to abolish it.  What was considered emancipation during this time period?  There were many thoughts of what emancipation actually was. Emancipation meant that their was no more slavery, people of color would have the same rights as whites, and slaves would be able to own their own land. Slaves thought that owning land was the key to their freedom.  But because slaves were seen as society’s lowest. At the time free people of color and gens de couleur had some rights.  They had basic rights but  they still weren’t allowed to participate in Saint Domingue’s political process. The fight for emancipation began in 1789 when the Declaration of Rights came out. Free blacks and Gens de couleur wanted the same rights as whites. Some of the free blacks and gens de couleur went ahead and created their own societies such as the Society of Friends with Blacks and Society of American Colonists. Through these organizations they rallied and listed their demands. Many of these groups drafted their own decrees saying that they wanted to be promoted under the same conditions as whites, have representation in the Assembly, and let black and mulattos serve in the government. By 1790, revolts started to break in Saint Domingue. Those who demanded rights were often executed.  The violence continued and slaves started to take part. Slaves would participate by attacking plantations and their owners. They wanted appropriated land and subsistence farms they could live on.  Plantation owners were surprised by these revolts because many of them believed that slaves were not smart enough to plan the revolts.   There was also fear that  slavery revolts would jump to neighboring islands that the British and Spanish owned. In February of 1793 Britain and Spain entered the war in Saint Domingue. The British and Spanish used tactics to get the slaves on their side. In May of 1793 provisions of the Code Noir were upheld.  The French agreed to have planation owners used less violence as well as receive more days off. The French used this tactic to try and lure slaves on to their side.  Many slave and slave leaders refused to join because of the arrival of the new Governor General Galbaud who was seen as very radical. In 1793 the Proclamation of Emancipation was issued. The decree stated that the principal of the Declaration of Rights of Man and Citizen would be applied to Saint Domingue and slaves would be free.  Even though the slaves were considered free, they were still forced to follow labor agreements and stay on the plantations and do the same work they did when they were slaves. They also had to follow and elaborate set of restrictions; for example having permission to leave the plantation. They only thing that truly changed with the 1793 Proclamation of Emancipation was how slaves were physically treated. Plantation owners were no longer allowed to physically whip the slaves. Slaves  however did not see this as emancipation  and continued to revolt. They still believed that could get a better deal. Also around this time, different areas of Saint Domingue were experiencing war. In the west the mulattos were for equality as well. Mulattos in a way were looking for emancipation but it was a different type. The mulattos were looking for having the opportunity to take part in Saint Domingue’s political process. In the North, Jean-Francois who was once a slave and became a maroon was able to negotiate with the French for amnesty for all slaves, improving conditions of slaves, and freedom for 50 leaders. In 1794 the Convention officially abolishes slavery in France and the French territories. With the abolishment of slavery, their was concern that the economy would no longer prosper. Because of this concern, right after the Decree of 1794 was put into effect, a new work code was created which made plantations owners give former slaves a third of the plantation revenue and an additional free day. Former slaves were still resisted against this and began to appropriate land for themselves. Even though slavery was officially abolished, the struggle would still continue for Saint Domingue. There was struggle to enforce the emancipation of slaves. The Constitution of Year III ensured that colonies would have the same laws as France and all people would be considered citizens. But their was still fear the slavery would return. Toussaint used  the Haitian Revolution to rise up. Toussaint would go on an make surethat all people would be considered citizens and the emancipation decree would be enforced. He did this by taking out his rivals such as Sonthonax and Laveaux by forcing them to represent Saint Domingue in the Council of 500.

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Work Cited:

“The First Emancipation Proclamaton.” A Concise History of the Haitian Revolution. N.p.: n.p., n.d. N. pag. Print.

Geggus, David Patrick. “Doc. 21 Free People of Color Organize.” The Haitian Revolution: A Documentary History. N.p.: n.p., n.d. N. pag. Print.

Geggus, David Patrick. “Doc. 25 The May 1791 Debates.” The Haitian Revolution: A Documentary History. N.p.: n.p., n.d. N. pag. Print.

Geggus, David Patrick. “Doc. 37 The Slave Insurgents Make Demands.” The Haitian Revolution: A Documentary History. N.p.: n.p., n.d. N. pag. Print.

Revolutions…What is the cause?


King Louis XVI helped triggered the French Revolution by attempting to avoid bankruptcy.

What is a revolution? Most people see revolutions as a forcible overthrow of a government or social system in favor of a new set up.  The big question that ponders most theorists is “What causes these revolutions?” Theorists such as Theda Skocpol sees revolutions as a rapid transformation of a society’s class and structure while political scientist Jack Goldstone sees revolution as a state breakdown which only happens when a government becomes weak. Sure, there’s numerous causes revolution; but out of all of those causes, which ones matter the most?

It is very important to point out all the possible causes of the various revolutions that have happened throughout history. Although it may be difficult to find a common factor between the varieties of revolutions, it becomes increasingly important to point out that revolutions are not always caused by class struggle. Class struggle can be one of the causes of a revolution, but in most cases class struggle is not the only causing factor. As stated above, both Skocpol and Goldstone see beyond class struggle as the primary causes of revolutions, because class struggle comes from something much deeper than a supposed alienation or unhappiness of lower classes in compared to the hierd9f3e6ec37cf9e5b292719bd4a43db40.jpgarchy. Both Skocpol and Goldstone see politics as a major cause of revolutions.

Skocpol theorizes that political crises are the trigger points to launch revolutions, and the political groups in turn become the social forces of a revolution. She makes this point with this quote “The political-conflict groups that have figured in social-revolutionary struggles have not merely represented social interests and forces. Rather they have formed as interest groups within and fought about the forms of state structures. The vanguard parties that have emerged during the radical phases of social revolutions have been uniquely responsible for building centralized armis and administrations without which revolutionary transformations could not have been consolidated (29).” This part of Skocpol’s revolution theory is important to examine because it does speak about social forces, because even Skocpol can agree with that there are more causes of revolutions than just class, or social, problems but class struggles can be added to the formula of what makes up a revolution. Goldstone also sees political aspects of being some major causes of revolutions. Goldstone theorizes that revolutions are because of forcible political change because of elites of attacking a weakened ruler or government instead of aiding the situation. Goldstone also sees politics partaking in the causes of revolutions because rulers spreading new ideologies, such as enforcing beliefs to justify that person’s rule and heavily forcing it upon the common population. This is also another scenario where another theorist states that although class struggle may not always be a primary cause, it is more certainly an underlying factor of the formula of what makes up a revolution.

With all the changes that come within a state such a political: change in power from one person to the next, or change in economics: people losing jobs or inflation, these changes will almost always effect the social aspects of a state. From the problems that are created, and the unrest of a state, class struggle will likely come out of the problems because those with the least will be the most impacted. It is important to discuss that class struggle is not the only cause of revolutions because class struggle usually is a result of a much bigger problem; there are many more contributing factors to revolutions than just unhappy citizens, because there is always something to make the citizens unhappy.

The media image of the graphic organizer web of the causes of the French Revolution clearly states what has been said all along, that there are several causes of revolutions much bigger than just class struggle. This organizer describes that the French Revolution was a product of five major problems: the age of Enlightenment, France was an absolute monarchy with a weak monarch, France sent troops and supplies to aid the revolutionaries in America, financial difficulties in France, and lastly, the population being divided into three states. All these causes of the French Revolution were all equally important and all had equally important impacts to the creating of this revolution, much more than just a problem of class struggle within France. Revolutions are much more complicated than citizens unhappy with the way they are being treated, revolutions are a result of citizens doing something about both the economic and political state of their country.


Work Cited:

Theda Skocpol, States and Social Revolutions: A Comparative Analysis of France, Russia and China (Cambridge: CUP, 1979), 29.