In the late 1700s, the western part (St. Domingue) of the Caribbean island of Hispaniola was under French colonial rule. It had long been a major centre of sugar production on plantations using enslaved African labour. In 1791, Toussaint Louverture led the first – and only – successful uprising of slaves, in St Domingue. After a series of bloody conflicts and traumas with European colonial powers, St Domingue was renamed Haïti and became the first independent Black republic in 1804. These events became known as the Haitian revolution and played an important role in the decline of the Transatlantic slave trade. This lithograph depicts the Battle of Vertières in 1803, the final engagement between Haiti’s revolutionaries and Napoleon’s French forces.
The first – and only – successful uprising of enslaved Africans, establishing Haiti as the first independent ‘black’ republic.
The campaign for the abolition of Transatlantic slavery, acts of resistance by those who were enslaved, and opposition from those who stood to benefit from the brutal trade in African people.
The wars precipitated by the struggles for independence and attempts at empire building that characterise the Age of Revolution, and their impact on the changing world map.
Jean-Jacques Dessalines (1758 – 1806) was born into slavery in St Domingue (now Haiti) he went on to become the first ruler of the independent republic.
In 1791 Toussaint Louverture (1743 – 1803), who was born into slavery, led the first - and only - successful uprising of enslaved Africans.