Ref NoBFSS/1/5/1/8/3
Alt Ref NoBFSS/FC/Haiti
Date1816 - 1881
Related MaterialAR 1816, 1817, 1818 (pp30-32). Simmonds = AR 1818 p63.
Extent19 items
AdminHistoryIn 1816 several teachers from Borough Road College, including John Daniel and Thomas Gulliver, were despatched to Haiti at the request of King Henri Christophe, who had been recommended to use the services of the BFSS for his schools by William Willberforce. One of the teachers sent to Haiti was William Simmonds, a young man of African descent who had been placed at BRC by the African Instiution. They made good initial progress, despite the undenominational Lancasterian system being opposed by the Roman Catholic Church which had much influence amongst the local people. Daniel had briefly tutored at Borough Road College. He was appointed tutor to the prince. Two of the schoolmasters succumbed to fever. In 1820 Henri Christophe's reign collapsed and most of his protestant schools with it, although Gulliver managed to maintain his school for some years despite a serious shortage of books and equipment.
Haiti is part of the island of Hispaniola, which was divided between Spain and France in 1697. France received the western third and named it Saint-Domingue. To develop sugar cane plantations, 1000s of slaves were imported from Africa. By 1789, approximately 40,000 French colonists lived in Saint-Domingue. Slaves outnumbered whites by about ten to one.
French colonists provided some rights to free people of colour, many of whom lived in the south of the island, near Port-au-Prince. In 1791 there was a revolution of the slaves in Saint-Domingue, starting in the northern plains. In 1792, the French government endorsed abolition and extended it to all the French colonies.
The struggle within Haiti between the free people of color and the black Haitians led by Louverture devolved into the War of the Knives in 1799. Many surviving free people of color left the island as refugees.
In 1802 Napoléon sent an expedition of more than 20,000 men to retake the island. More than 50,000 French troops died in an attempt to retake the colony, mostly from Yellow Fever. The French captured Louverture, transporting him to France where he died in 1803.
The slaves, along with free gens de couleur and allies, continued their fight for independence. French troops were defeated at the Battle of Vertières in Nov 1803. France withdrew its remaining troops from the island.
The independence of Saint-Domingue (Haiti) was proclaimed on 1 Jan 1804. Dessalines was proclaimed "Emperor for Life" but was assassinated on 17 October 1806. Henri Christophe, a former slave who had fought under Dessalines, retreated to the north and created a separate government. On 17 February 1807, he was elected President of the State of Haiti, as he named that area. Alexandre Pétion, a free man of colour, was elected president in the South. On 26 March 1811, Christophe had himself proclaimed Henry I, King of Haiti. He also created a nobility. He established a semi-feudal system, with a rigid education and economic code. Fearing a coup, he committed suicide in 1820. His son and heir was assassinated 10 days later. In 1821, President Jean Pierre Boyer, a free man of colour and successor to Pétion, reunified the two parts of St. Domingue and extended control over all of the western part of the island. Boyer passed the Code Rural in 1826, which denied peasant labourers the right to leave the land, enter the towns, or start farms or shops of their own.

In July 1825, King Charles X of France sent a fleet to reconquer the island. Under pressure, President Boyer agreed to a treaty by which France formally recognized the independence of the nation in exchange for a payment of 150 million francs (reduced to 90 million in 1838).
Boyer was ousted in 1843. A long succession of coups followed. Santo Domingo achieved independence from Haiti on 27th February 1844.
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