Jan 18, 2010

Haiti's Founding Fathers: Toussaint Louverture, Jean-Jacques Dessalines, Henri Christophe and Alexandre Pétion

¨Let's celebrate the courage Haitians showed against the staggering odds of willful, sustained, and profound human injustice.¨


"Plagued nation" a woman says in private. Her words, though uttered with compassion, twine in my mind with those of Pat Robertson, who announces in utter seriousness that Haitian freedom, won from France in a massive slave revolt led by Pierre Dominique Toussaint in a 10-year war with slave owners, was made possible in a "pact with the Devil" that would render centuries of trouble...¨
C.S. Manegold, ¨Inside Politics¨ Daily, HERE


Toussaint Louverture
(Born François Dominique Toussaint, c. 1743, Bréda, near Cap-Français, Saint-Domingue—died April 7, 1803, Fort-de-Joux, France)

Leader of the Haitian independence movement during the French Revolution. Born a slave, he was freed in 1777. In 1791 he joined a slave rebellion and soon assembled an army of his own, which he trained in guerrilla warfare. When France and Spain went to war in 1793, he and other black commanders joined the Spaniards, but in 1794 he switched his allegiance to the French because France, unlike Spain, had recently abolished slavery. His revolt created the first independent nation in Latin America. He rose from lieutenant governor to governor-general of Saint-Domingue and gradually rid himself of nominal French superiors. Treaties with the British secured their withdrawal, and he began trade with them and the U.S. In 1801 he turned his attention to Santo Domingo, the Spanish-controlled portion of Hispaniola, driving out the Spanish and freeing the slaves there. He made himself governor-general for life. He was deposed by the French in 1802 and died in custody in France. The Free Dictionary and also at Wikipedia, HERE


Jean-Jacques Dessalines (born c. 1758, West Africa—died Oct. 17, 1806, Jacmel, Haiti)

Emperor of Haiti who drove out the French in 1804. He was a slave of a black master in Saint-Domingue (Haiti) in 1791 when he joined a slave rebellion. He became a lieutenant of Toussaint-Louverture but submitted to the French expedition that deposed Toussaint in 1802. Napoleon's decision to reintroduce slavery led Dessalines and others to rebel, and with British help they expelled the French. In 1804 Dessalines proclaimed the island independent under its Arawakan name, Haiti, and proclaimed himself emperor the following year. He made it illegal for whites to own property and killed thousands; he also discriminated against mulattoes. He was killed during a mulatto revolt.

Alexandre Sabès Pétion (April 2, 1770 – March 29, 1818)

President of the Southern Republic of Haiti from 1806 until his death. Pétion was born in Port-au-Prince to a Haitian mother and a wealthy French white father. Like other gens de couleur libre with wealthy fathers, Pétion was sent to France in 1788 to be educated and study at the Military Academy in Paris. In Saint-Domingue, many gens de couleur, often freed by their fathers, constituted a third caste between the whites and enslaved Africans. While restricted in political rights, many became educated and wealthy landowners, resented by the petits blancs, who were minor tradesmen. Before the slave uprising of 1791, they led a rebellion to gain voting and political rights they believed due them as French citizens after the French Revolution. At that time most did not support freedom or political rights for enslaved Africans and blacks.

Pétion returned to Saint-Domingue as a young man to take part in the Créole expulsion of the British from Saint-Domingue (1798–99). There had long been racial and class tensions between gens de couleur and enslaved Africans and free blacks in Saint-Domingue, where slaves outnumbered whites and gens de couleur by ten to one. During the years of warfare against planters or grand blancs, Spanish, English and French, racial tensions were exacerbated in competition for power and political alliances.

When tensions arose between blacks and mulattoes, Pétion often supported the mulatto faction. He allied with General André Rigaud and Jean Pierre Boyer against Toussaint L'Ouverture in a failed rebellion, the so-called "War of Knives", in the South of Saint-Domingue, which began in June 1799. By November the rebels were pushed back to the strategic southern port of Jacmel; the defence was commanded by Pétion. The town fell in March 1800 and the rebellion was effectively over. Pétion and other mulatto leaders went into exile in France.

Following the assassination of Dessalines on October 17, 1806, Pétion championed the ideals of democracy and clashed with Henri Christophe who wanted absolute reign. Wikipedia, read all about Pétion, HERE

Henri Christophe (Born 6 October 1767 – Death 8 October 1820, Cap-Haïtien, Haiti)

¨Henri Christophe was a key leader in the Haitian Revolution, winning independence from France in 1804. On 17 February 1807, after the creation of a separate nation in the north, Christophe was elected President of the State of Haiti. On 26 March 1811, he was proclaimed Henri I, King of Haïti

Born probably in Saint Kitts or Grenada,[1] the son of Christophe, a freeman on the island of Grenada, Christophe was brought to Saint Domingue as a slave in the northern region...

...Beginning with the slave uprising of 1791, Christophe distinguished himself in the Haïtian Revolution and quickly rose to be an officer. He fought for years with Toussaint Louverture in the north, helping defeat the French, the Spanish, British, and finally French national troops. By 1802 he was a general under Toussaint Louverture...

...In 1806 Christophe was aware of a plot to kill Dessalines; seeing an opportunity to seize power for himself, he did not warn the self-proclaimed Emperor. The plot was said to involve Alexandre Pétion, a competing "gens de couleur"; since he was half white, this presumably led him to use assassination because of his weak position among the majority of black leaders and population. However, this allegation has not been proven; other sources clear Pétion's name from the plot and say that he has been tied to Dessalines's assassination only because of the question of race. In any case, after Dessaline's assassination, Christophe was elected to the newly created position of president, but without real powers...

Feeling insulted, Christophe retreated with his followers to the Plaine du Nord and created a separate government there. Christophe had suspected that he would be next to be assassinated. In 1807 Christophe declared himself président et généralissime des forces de terre et de mer de l'État d'Haïti, in English, President and Generalissimo of the armies of land and sea of the State of Haïti.[2] Pétion became President of the "Republic of Haïti" in the south backed by General Boyer who had control of the southern armies.

In 1811 Henri made the northern state of Haïti a kingdom, and was ordained Emperor by Arch Bishop of Milot Corneil Breuil.
Wikipedia, read all about Henri Christophe, HERE

¨In Caribbean islands like Antigua, where slaves were sometimes left to die of thirst in times of drought, slave revolts had come and gone without success. News from Haiti, when it came, was balm to broken souls. It gave them hope. The spirit raced through slave communities. It sometimes worked on the deep, moral consciences of others, too.

In time, freedom came with all its chaos. The journey back to wholeness has proved long and hard. It continues, when we let it.
So as we mourn this cataclysmic shifting of tectonic plates, let's also celebrate something as important. Let's celebrate the courage Haitians showed against the staggering odds of willful, sustained, and profound human injustice. And let's remember that their spirit, so-long-tested, can meet this seismic challenge with the same determination they used against that other, more fleshy and persistent one two centuries ago.¨
C.S. Manegold, ¨Inside Politics¨ Daily, HERE


El Revmo Martín Barahona
Obispo de El Salvador
Primado de IARCA (the Anglican Church of the Region of Central America)

In Solidarity with the Haitian People

¨I beg you, I implore you, for the love of God, that we do all we can to help the people of Haiti. They are suffering from the tragedy of 12 January when a 7.3 earthquake destroyed a major part of the infrastructure of this nation and left more than 100.000 dead and millions of homeless. It is one of the greatest tragedies that we have seen in recent times.¨

To assist those suffering in the wake of this disaster, please consider making a donation to the Haiti Fund or call 1-800-334-7626, ext. 5129. Gifts can be mailed to Episcopal Relief & Development, PO Box 7058, Merrifield, VA 22116-7058. Please write "Haiti Fund" in the memo of all checks. Episcopal Relief and Development for ¨Haiti Fund¨, HERE

·Thanks to The Courageous People of Haiti
·Thanks to Wikipedia
·Thanks to The Free Dictionary
·Thanks to Politics Daily, ¨Inside¨
·Thanks to C.S. Manegold
·Thanks to Archbishop Martín Jesus Barahona
·Thanks to The Episcopal Relief and Development ¨Haiti Fund¨
·Thanks to The Anglican Church of the Region of Central America

2 comments:

Revd Ivan Ackeroff said...

An interesting history. Prayers for the people of Haiti.

Göran Koch-Swahne said...

Prayers for the people of Haiti!