The Haitian Revolution (1791–1804) was important because it led to the creation of the second independent nation in the Americas—after the United States. Saint-Domingue (Haiti) had been a valuable French colony.
By the late eighteenth century, Haiti was a powder keg. The island had been ruthlessly exploited since the Spanish arrived in the late fifteenth century. The main causes of unrest were slavery and racial divisions. In 1790, about 550,000 people lived on the island, and ninety percent were slaves. The others were whites or mixed-race Haitians (affranchis). Both the slaves and the affranchis were discontented.
The French Revolution had several impacts on this explosive situation. First, France fell into chaos for a decade after 1789, and it could no longer administer its colony. Second, France's wars with other European powers—especially Great Britain—hindered its ability to maintain sea links with its colony. Third, educated Haitians, especially the affrinches, were...
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