Empire of Haiti
Dieu, Ma Patrie Et Mon Épée
God, My Fatherland, My Sword
The Dessalines Song
|1 January 1804|
|22 September 1804|
|17 April 1825|
|89,742.3 km2 (34,649.7 sq mi) (Nth)|
• Water (%)
• 2017 estimate
• 2015 census
|260.6/km2 (675.0/sq mi) (Nth)|
|GDP (PPP)||2017 estimate|
|$1.103 trillion (Nth)|
• Per capita
|GDP (nominal)||2017 estimate|
|$1.023 trillion (Nth)|
• Per capita
low · Nth
very high · Nth
|Currency||Haitian gourde (₲) (HTG)|
|Time zone||UTC-5 (Eastern Time Zone)|
|Date format||dd-mm-yyyy AD|
|ISO 3166 code||HT|
The island of Hispaniola was originally inhabited by the Taíno people prior to the arrival of Europeans in the 15th century under Christopher Columbus, whose band of explorers landed on the eastern half of the island nation. The island was discovered and claimed by Spain in 5 December 1492 by Christopher Columbus, who had originally presumed he had arrived in India, his original destination during his first voyage across the Atlantic Ocean. Two centuries following the colonization of the island by the Spaniards, the western half of the island was ceded to France in 1697 in the Treaty of Ryswick, resulting in the formation of the French colony of Saint-Domingue. Saint-Domingue would become the most prosperous colony in the known world as sugarcane production, fueled by the vast black African slave population on the island, allowed the colony to produce some of the wealthiest landowners on the planet during the 17th and 18th centuries. During this period, the gens de couleur, the population of free black and mulatto inhabitants in Saint-Domingue, rose to prominence as they came into possession of a fourth of all slaves and a fifth of the land in the colony by the turn of the 19th century. During the 1700s alone, Saint-Domingue was home to the largest free black population in the New World, as many had purchased their freedom as well as that of their families, and had worked extensively to make it to the top of the social ladder in Saint-Domingue according to the limitations placed on them by the Code Noir.
In 1791, the Haitian Revolution began as many of the island's 700,000 slaves rose up in arms to end their enslavement to their French and free black masters throughout the colony of Saint-Domingue. Many of the wealthy black and mulatto landowners switched sides as France's own revolution began to shake the ability of the French military to project power overseas. Individuals who had once supported the French government, such as Toussaint Louverture, Jean-Louis Vigouroux, TBD, and TBD, became the founding fathers of an independent Haiti. Though the revolution was violent and destructive, with more than 25,000 white colonists and 200,000 black slaves dying the midst of the conflict, the colony of Saint-Domingue successfully broke away from the French empire, and was renamed Haiti in 1804 as an absolute empire under the leadership of Jacques I of Haiti. Though there were several attempts to reconquer the newly-independent black nation, the product of the first and only successful slave revolt in the New World, Haiti maintained its independence from France. Later attempts to force Haiti into paying reparations for the losses suffered during the revolution also failed, as the Haitian government defied the French throughout the 19th century and aligned itself against European colonialism in the region.
Taking full advantage of its position in the Caribbean Ocean and the main center for sugarcane production, Haiti's wealth grew exponentially, with many of the new government policies aimed at increasing literacy, sanitation, transportation, and defense. The Haitians also pushed to expand its influence overseas, establishing colonies in TBD and TBD, which blossomed under the harsh yet efficient governance of Haitian aristocrats who believed they were protecting the natives from suffering the same tribulations of colonialism and European imperialism their people had to bear. In 1821, Haiti annexed the Republic of Spanish Haiti, using its superior military and economic might to force the weaker Spanish colonists into accepting their hegemony on the island. The Spanish language and culture was brutally suppressed throughout the eastern half of Hispaniola. During the Dominican Revolt of 1844, the white and mulatto population in the eastern portions of the island were brutally massacred by the Haitian military, permanently ending all non-black influence in the region and cementing the rule of the black nobility in Haiti. With the authority of the Haitian emperor cemented throughout Hispaniola, the modernization of Haiti, spurred on by the export of exotic fruit and sugarcane, as well as the increasingly burgeoning industrial sector on the island, resulted in the growth of Haiti as a regional power in the Americas.
A founding member of the Non-Aligned Movement, Haiti maintained a prominent stance toward independence and neutrality, allying itself with nations seeking a third alternative to the influence of Western and Eastern world powers throughout World War II and the later Cold War. The country is one of the few remaining absolute monarchies in the world, with the monarch of Haiti wielding a degree of political influence rare among most countries of similar size. Haiti has traditionally supported authoritarian regimes across the globe to secure its geopolitical interests, and has a history of clandestinely deploying special forces to back the armies of totalitarian regimes in Africa allied to it within the non-aligned movement, as well as those in the Middle East and Southeast Asia. Haiti has grown to become a recognized middle power, and an influential country which wields one of the world's most-developed economies. Haiti is a member of the international War on Terror, considering Islamic jihadism as a direct threat to its colonial possessions and foreign interests, and actively intervenes in foreign affairs as a part of global coalitions, such as the ongoing War in Afghanistan.
Etymology[edit | edit source]
The name Haiti originates from the pre-Columbian Taíno language, spoken by the native population on the island of Hispaniola. The meaning of the name Haiti in Taíno was "land of high mountains", and was the source of the Latin translation of the name, "Hispaniola". In Latin, "Hispaniola" shares the same etymological origin, hence its original use as the European alternative to Haiti. At the time of the Spaniards' arrival to the island, the Taíno used the name "Hayti" to refer to the entire island, rather than the eastern portion as had been the custom during the period of the Haitian Revolution between 1791 and 1804. In French, the h in the name is silent, while the diacritical ï marked itself as a separate vowel from the preceding a. In English, this convention is ignored, and Haiti pronounced as "Hay-ti" rather than as the French "Ayi-ti".
The colonial period of Haitian history, the island was referred to as "Saint-Domingue", the French spelling of Christopher Columbus's original "Santo Dominigo" from 1492. The colonial name for the island remained in force for more than three hundred years until the original name of Haiti was restored by Toussaint Louverture in 1802 after he took over the island from the French. His decision to do so was done to honor the original Taíno inhabitants of Haiti, who had been enslaved and exploited by the European colonists, and later driven into extinction by their new masters. The island was also known as the La Perle des Antilles, or the Pearl of the Antilles, given the vast amounts of wealth produced on the island which made it the most richest and most productive colony owned by any of the European powers anywhere in the world.
History[edit | edit source]
Prehistory[edit | edit source]
Settlement by Amerindians[edit | edit source]
Prior to the arrival of the Europeans in 1492, the island of Haiti was inhabited by the Taíno people, an indigenous Amerindian people who migrated to the island from the South American mainland, most likely from the interior of the Amazon Basin. Much of this theory had been suggested following the genetic studies on surviving members of the Taíno population, linking them as relatives to the Yanomami of the Amazonian rainforest. They dominated the island for centuries, developing an intricate culture that had prospered for nearly century prior to European colonization. According to some archaeological discoveries on Haiti and other islands in the Greater Antilles, the Taíno had been pushed toward Haiti by the Carib people, the dominate Amerindian population on the other islands of the ocean which today bares their name. Indeed, the Taíno had migrated across the Lesser Antilles before making their way to Haiti, where the stood their ground against the regular incursions of the neighboring Caribs, who sought to overwhelm the Taíno prior to their settling on the second-largest island of the Greater Antilles archipelago.
The population of Haiti had prospered for the nearly one hundred years that the island had been inhabited by the Taíno people, with more than half a million inhabitants of Taíno descent living throughout Haiti when the Spanish discovered them. Artifacts left behind by the Taíno following their demise at the hands of disease and genocide via slavery, included cave paintings, pottery, and tools of various uses, which were all discovered and collected by the Spanish and French as trinkets for the wealthy. The Taíno established an elaborate societal structure that was organized around the cacique, or "chief" of the Taíno settlements in the chiefdom. Prior to the colonization of the island by the Europeans, there were five such chiefdoms, or cacicazgos, in pre-colonial Haiti. These were Marién, Maguá, Maguana, Jaragua, and Higüey, with the largest of the five being Jaragua, which existed in the region of modern-day Port-au-Prince in the southwestern end of the island. The caciquedoms at their base form were tributary kingdoms where harvests were presented as tribute to their chiefs, a system which the Europeans would later exploit to extract resources from the island, with disastrous results.
Exploration and colonization[edit | edit source]
The island of Haiti was inadvertently discovered and landed upon by Christopher Columbus on 25 December 1492, after his flagship, the Santa Maria, sank off the coast after running aground. Columbus landed on the island with some of his men, where upon they established an outpost which they christened La Ninavad on the north coast of Haiti. La Ninavad would become the first European settlement in the New World, and though it would be destroyed later that same year by infighting among the settlers, the settlements creation would spark the beginning of the Age of Discovery. Columbus would later return to the island, establishing a second settlement known as La Isabela, after his sponsor Queen Isabella I of Castile. It was from La Isabela that the first two earliest recorded hurricanes by Europeans in the New World were observed. However, in spite of the efforts of the early Spanish colonists, the settlement was later abandoned by the European settlers under Columbus' leadership, as he moved his primary center of settlement and development to modern-day Saint-Domingue, then known as Santo Domingo. It would be from Santo Domingo that the rest of the island would be managed under Spanish rule and the colony developed as the earliest base of operations for the growing Spanish colonial empire in the New World.
At the time the Spanish colonized the island under the oversight of Christopher Columbus, the native Taíno people had reached the peak of their civilization on their island of Haiti. By 1492, the estimated population of pre-Columbian Haiti ranged from 500,000 to 1,000,000. This made the Taíno a prime supply of early slaves by the Spanish colonists, who sought to utilize slave labor as a potential means of boasting the growth of Santo Domingo's economy. Harsh methods of slavery were introduced by the Spanish, who would redirect food and labor from the natives toward the colonists, which devastated the Taíno population, increasing mortality rates and lowering the fertility rate, as many women of childbearing age either lost their child due to harsh treatment, or simply died off in the process of enslavement themselves. The desire to find gold and silver on the island of Haiti had resulted in the introduction of Spain's infamous encomienda system, which had also been introduced in the rest of Spain's American colonies. The racial-based caste system witnessed untold atrocities in which the lower caste American Indian population was brutalized for slave labor while the white European and mixed mestizo population managed the wealth and resources of the colony.
By 1517, the Taíno population had collapsed from nearly a million to just little over 14,000 within two and half decades of Spanish rule. With the potential prosperity of Santo Domingo threatened by the loss of cheap labor, the Spanish began to import African slaves as a replacement for the Taíno natives, with black Africans assumed to be more capable of demanding physical labor and possessing a robust immunity to tropical diseases. Seeking to boast the economical output of the colony, Columbus imported sugar cane during his second voyage to Santo Domingo, providing the colony with the crop that would turn it into the most prosperous colony in the world within the next century to come. Molasses would become the primary export good of Santo Domingo, with several sugar mills sprouting up throughout the colony. Within the next couple of decades, the colony would grow albeit slowly. During the 1574 census for Santo Domingo, there were 1,000 white colonists and 12,000 African slaves throughout the colony. Overtime, the Spanish would redivert their attention from Hispaniola to Cuba, and to the Spanish Main, resulting in the waning prosperity of the colony in the face of shifting regional colonial policies.
Colonial era[edit | edit source]
Spanish rule[edit | edit source]
The Captaincy General of Santo Domingo was established in 1493 a year after the colonization of Hispaniola, with Christopher Columbus as the first government of the island. His rule quickly became the most brutal in the colony's young history, with the native population worked to death in the gold mines that contributed to the newly established export economy of Santo Domingo. The population of Taíno in Santo Domingo dropped from nearly half a million to less than 60,000 within two decades of Spanish rule, and by 1535, barely a few dozen remained alive. The widespread tyranny of Columbus and his men in the form of oppression, forced labor, hunger, disease, and mass killings, contributed to this horrifying decline in the population. When Columbus left for another expedition, a new governor, Francisco de Bobadilla, took over the colony of Santo Domingo, and the colonists were free to demand justice for the actions of Columbus in his brief seven years of governing them. Bobadilla was tasked by the Spanish government with investigating Columbus on the grounds that he had governed Santo Domingo tyrannically, and produced a report that proved that his rule was indeed cruel and unnecessarily harsh against both the native Taíno and the newly arrived European settlers.
The report described a number of actions on the part of Columbus and his brother, Bartholomew Columbus, who had arrived in the colony during Columbus' second expedition. Columbus had a man accused of stealing corn mutilated and sold into slavery; his brother had a woman stripped and marched through the streets after she insinuated Columbus was of lowly birth; and how in dealing with a native revolt, Columbus had the natives killed, cut into pieces, and the piles of limbs paraded through the streets to discourage further rebellions against his rule. As a consequence of the report, Columbus was stripped of his power by the very monarchs who had sponsored the expedition that discovered New World, and he was formally replaced with Bobadilla. One Spanish historian noted that "Even those who loved him [Columbus] had to admit the atrocities that had taken place." Columbus and his brothers were imprisoned in Spain following one of their voyages, and following their release six weeks later, were restored to their wealth and prestige, but forbidden from ever holding the office of governor again.
Following the brutality of the Columbus era, Santo Domingo grew significantly economically and demographically, with the introduction of sugar cane on the island by Columbus contributing to the growth of the colony. The Taíno slaves were replaced by African slaves in the early 1500s, which allowed for a population already acclimated to the climate of the island to endure somewhat better under Spanish rule than the Taíno. This came in the form of 250 Black Ladinos, or Hispanicized black Africans exiled from Castille. Many of these became members of the Maroon population of escaped slaves who formed the core of the feared cimarron bands that regularly raided plantations throughout the colony. So numerous were these raids that the Spanish colonists had to travel in large armed groups to safely traverse the island. The island's economy eventually waned as a number of natural events and policies by the Spanish weakened its sugar industry. One such policy was the decision to move the designated stopping point for merchant fleets from Santo Domingo to Havana, which was better located along the Gulf Stream.
Following an earthquake which destroyed the main cities of Santiago de los Caballeros and Concepción de la Vega, Santo Domingo's influence in the region had come to an end. As the Spanish expanded their colonies on the North and South American mainlands, Santo Domingo was eclipsed in importance by Cuba and New Grenada, both in terms of economic size and population. English, French, and Dutch pirate raids also helped to further damage the economy of the colony, until it became highly unviable to allow individual merchant vessels to travel to the island to purchase goods and bring new slaves. By the start of the 17th century, Santo Domingo was one of the poorest colonies in the New World, as the colony could no longer compete with the larger economies of the Greater Antilles colonies of Cuba, Guadeloupe, and Jamaica. Many of the colonists left the island for the mainland to work in the silver mines of Peru and Mexico, while constant slave rebellions made it difficult for the authorities in Hispaniola to restore order. Eventually, wars between the European powers would become the final nail in successful Spanish rule over the entirety of Hispaniola.
French rule[edit | edit source]
In 1605, after discovery that the colonists of Santo Domingo had been trading with other European powers and their colonies in the region, Spain forced thousands of the colonists to relocate closer to the capital city of Santo Domingo in the eastern half of Hispaniola. This became known as the devastaciones, in which thousands of colonists died and the economy was ruined by the forced resettlement of the population. The English and French buccaneers in the area took advantage of the affair which forced the Spanish into a small corner of the island, and settled the island of Tortuga in the north. The French later established direct control over the island in 1640, and declaring it as one of its official colonies. This was later expanded in 1697 in the Treaty of Ryswick, when Spain ceded the western half of the island to France, which immediately incorporated it into the colony on Tortuga, and reorganized the entire area as the colony of Saint-Domingue. This brought half of Hispaniola into French rule, allowing for the widely depopulated region to be revived in the future under France. However, seeking to take over the colony for themselves, the English attacked the French and Spanish in Hispaniola, with the intent of conquering it. They were swiftly defeated at the capital city of Santo Domingo, and instead retreated to Jamaica, where English rule was established following a successful battle on that island.
The French focused their efforts on reviving the once thriving and successful agricultural industry in the colony, importing thousands of slaves to Saint-Domingue, investing heavily in cattle farming and plantation expansion. The slave population rapidly increased overtime, as sugar, coffee, and spice plantations were established throughout the entirety of Saint-Domingue. Coconuts, cocoa, and snuff were also cultivated on the island as the potential of the French settlements in the colony were realized and exploited by France, allowing for the successful implementation of new economic policies aimed at expanding the agricultural output of the French colony. Eventually, Saint-Domingue came to overshadow the Spanish colony of Saint Domingo in the east, and Saint-Domingue, now nicknamed the "Pearl of the Antilles", became the richest and most prosperous French colony in the West Indies, and firmly establishing itself as the primary center of trade between Europe and the Americas. Such was the economic output of Saint-Domingue, the much of the French budget of the time was directly sourced from the slave-based sugar plantations of Saint-Domingue. The French sponsored many buccaneers to raid the English and Spanish colonies in the region, which also served as sources of revenue for the colony.
By 1767, Saint-Domingue was the most successfully European colony anywhere in the world, with sugar and coffee serving as the main export crops of the colony. Saint-Domingue exported 72 million pounds of raw sugar, 51 million pounds of refined sugar, two million pounds of cotton, and one million pounds of indigo to Europe, holding a virtual monopoly on American sugar production and providing more than 75 percent of all the coffee consumed in Europe. Because oft he vast quantity and quality of the goods exported from Saint-Domingue, the small island colony came to produce immeasurable amounts of revenue for the French crown, and was paramount in the ability of France to become a global superpower. The labor for all of this production was driven by Saint-Domingue's 790,000 African slaves oversee by 25,000 white Europeans. The slaves were driven harshly by the French so as to maintain the economic output of the colony, which required the constant importing of some 10,000-15,000 slaves per year as thousands of slaves died from overworking, tropical diseases, and the simple brutality of their masters. To regulate and regularize slavery in Saint-Domingue, the Code Noir was enacted throughout the island, codifying the limited rights of free blacks and slaves, and sanctioning the brutal punishments of slaved by their masters.
At the same time, Saint-Domingue was home to the largest and wealthiest population of free blacks anywhere in the Caribbean, known as the gens de colour. In 1789, a royal census found that there were 25,000 members of this group, many of whom were former slaves and predominately of mixed heritage, coming from families made up of wealthy French fathers managing plantations and impoverished slave mothers of African descent. The introduction of the code noir did not restrict their ability to purchase land or slaves, resulting in many of the gens de colour accumulating vast sums of wealth and property overtime. In the same year as the royal census, the census found that the gens de colour owned a third of the plantations and a quarter of all the slaves in Saint-Domingue. The majority of these free people of color resided in the southern portion of the French colony, primarily around the economy center of the Saint-Domingue, Port-au-Prince, and on the southern peninsula around the settlement Jérémie, where the gens de colour constituted the majority of the parish's population. The free black and mulatto population would largely dominate the coffee market in Saint-Domingue, while their white counterparts were the primary owners of sugar plantations in the colony.
Haitian Revolution[edit | edit source]
Post-independence era[edit | edit source]
Redevelopment of the island[edit | edit source]
At the time of its independence from France, Haiti was the single most prosperous colony anywhere in the world, providing almost half of the sugar consumed in Europe, and more than seventy-five percent of all of its coffee. The Haitians also produced more sugar and coffee than all of the British colonies in the British West Indies, and played a crucial role in bankrolling French military power on the world stage. Following the revolution, considerable portions of Haiti's infrastructure had been destroyed, along with a third of its manpower. Seeking to maintain its status as the world's wealthiest nation, the Haitian government was quick to encourage the newly liberated Haitians to remain on the land they had worked their entire lives, incentivizing both the laborers and the landowners to maintain the old system that had worked so well throughout Haiti's history. Landowners were encouraged to share a greater percentage of their profits with their tenants in exchange for tax cuts, while the laborers were granted increased wages as a sign of "His Imperial Majesty's gratitude and generosity for bolstering the wealth of the people and the Empire".
This measure was crucial as Haiti's export-focused economy required vast amounts of manpower to maintain, and the imperial government had no interest in giving up Haiti's virtual monopoly on the sugar and coffee market. Newly liberated slaves were encouraged to stay on their land as Toussaint Louverture had desired, and those who were not convinced were lectured on the importance of their contribution and sacrifice by staying on the plantations. Emperor Jacques I himself went out to request the sacrifice, stating that "unless one generation of Haitians does not give of their sweat and tears, then many more will suffer until prosperity has been achieved." The acts were successful in convincing the majority of Haitians to remain on the land of their old masters, thus preserving the export economy of Haiti, and allowing it to rebuild its once vast coffers yet again. Over time, Haiti would regain its status as the wealthiest nation in the New World, and go on to maintain its domination over the sugar and coffee markets for more than a century and a half, preserving Haitian wealth and prosperity in the face of impending economic collapse.
Many of the of initiatives were highly successful, as the turbulent nature of Haitian politicians under the auspices of the founding fathers had been stopped in its tracks, allowing many of the Haitian subjects to remain on their lands without fear of conflict and civil war. The gens de couleur who had once made up a considerable portion of the wealthy landowner class, had returned to Haiti to help manage the economy using their experience of trade and finance to keep the economy stable. Though France had refused to trade with the Haitians, the importance of Haiti's exports to Europe was to combat, and many other European nations continued to trade with the Haitians in spite of France's objections. The economy recovered considerably, though not fully, by the time of the Napoleon's Continental System in 1806, blockading the British from trade with the European states on then continent. This blockade from the continent forced the British to redirect economic ties to North and South America, from which Haiti benefited greatly. With little business available on the European mainland, the Haitians were able to "encourage" the British to invest in the island nation.
British merchants established regional trade centers in Port-au-Prince as they sought to increase their presence in the region. Other European powers such as the Dutch, also followed suit, as Jacques I provided generous terms to any European merchants willing to establish their base of operations in Haiti under official Haitian protection. Many saw the fees for establishing a foothold in the region either waved or paid in full by the Haitian government, attracting much support for the program from members of the Haitian nobility, who owned trading vessels which were contracted to fulfill orders on behalf of the European merchants. The rise in trade in Haiti helped propel the growth of a Haitian middle class on the island, made up of craftsmen, laborers, traders, and various other positions that produced a thriving and vibrant urban culture in Haiti. Many saw that with the threat of individuals who would have plunged the nation into chaos, such as Alexandre Pétion and Henri Christophe, removed from power and positions of authority, Haiti could recover from its post-war wounds with ease and prosper.
Anglo-Haitian Treaty[edit | edit source]Following the independence of Haiti from the French government in 1804, there were considerable concerns over the possibility of a French invasion of the island in the coming years. Though he had done much to bolster the military of Haiti through his prior experience as a general in the French Army, Jean-Louis Vigouroux, now the newly christened "1st Duke of Cap-Haïtien", acknowledged that a determined France could easily overwhelm the Haitian defenses and reconquer the island. Based on this information, Jacques I acknowledged that foreign assistance would be required in spite of the wide disdain for whites in Haiti. Spain was a complete non-starter, as the Haitians presented a major threat to their colony in eastern Hispaniola, and France's military presence in the region of Lowlands made the Dutch Republic an unlikely ally. As such, the Haitians found themselves in good company with the British, who feared a French rise to power on the European continent and wished to prevent them from attaining too much power overseas, especially with the increasing popular support for one of its greatest generals, Napoleon Bonaparte.
In 1807, a delegation of Haitian diplomats was dispatched to London to negotiate a treaty between Haiti and the United Kingdom, with the goal of isolating the French in the Western Hemisphere, and protecting both the British colonies in the Americas and Haiti itself as a regional ally of the British. British vessels would be permitted safe passage through Haitian waters, the French would be denied access to port facilities in Haiti, and the British would be granted any support necessary in exchange for loan forgiveness and a line of credit extended to the nation through its bankers. With Haitian support, the threat of the French returning to the region in force was minimized to a non-issue, and the Haitians could direct their attention to more pressing matters, such as internal redevelopment and political stability where the threat of the French could no longer be leveraged as a means of gaining political power. The Anglo-Haitian Treaty was signed on 17 November 1808 by the delegates of the British and Haitian governments, and entered into force 1 January 1809.
British naval forces entered into the region with Haitian authorization the same month, with more than 5,000 military personnel landing on the shores of Port-de-Paix, where they established a military camp for the remainder of the Napoleonic Wars, frustrating French attempts to strike at British possessions in the region. The treaty served as a great boon to the Haitian imperial government. As the threat of France dissipated over the years with the backing of the British Empire, the Haitians could easily redirect their attention to domestic issues, allowing them to maintain their status as the "Pearl of the Antilles". Jacques I was now able to redirect funding from the military to infrastructure redevelopment, which greatly enhanced the industrial output of Haiti as centers of production where established in the urban centers of the country so as to support the sugarcane exports. The line of credit granted by the British also permitted the Haitians to provide funding to members of the merchant class who had wished to expand their merchant fleets to an extent where they could better take advantage of Haiti's strategic location in the Caribbean Ocean.
Wisely, Jacques I and his chancellor, The Duke of Cap-Haïtien, took advantage of the opportunity afforded to them by the British to bolster the capabilities of the Haitian military. Weapons for the army were purchased from Great Britain, along with several warships that would make up the core of the young Imperial Haitian Navy. By 1810, the Haitian army consisted of 35,000 troops and 10,000 cavalry, while the navy considered of three ships-of-the-line, six frigates, and thirteen sloops, all paid for by the Haitian government. The Duke of Cap-Haïtien took it upon himself to train his troops in French combat doctrine, utilizing his experience from the battles of the French Revolution to train his men up to European standards, and enforced a strict merit-based officer corps, having witnessed first-hand the incompetence of his former colleagues in the French Royal Army result in preventable defeats at the hands of inferior enemies. At his request, Jacques I signed an imperial decree declaring that all members of the Haitian nobility would be required to go through military training if they sought a command in the army or navy, rather than the old European model of assigning officer positions to aristocrats based on title and prestige rather than merit or experience.
Annexation of Spanish Haiti[edit | edit source]
On the eastern half of Hispaniola, Santo Domingo had been the less successful colonial territory on the island, with barely 130,000 inhabitants to Haiti's nearly 800,000 citizens, and its economy was completely overshadowed by the sheer economic output of Haiti on the western end of the island. Much of the colony's cities were impoverished and forced to rely upon contraband trade to stay afloat, as most of the European population migrated to the mainland to work in the silver mines of Spanish South America. Thus, overall, Santo Domingo had remained poor and undeveloped compared to a sprawling trade ports and market centers of Haiti, the wealthiest state in the New World. When the Haitian Revolution came to an end, and the political landscape in the newly independent nation calmed down, the landowners who had fled to Santo Domingo returned to their homes in the west, living the jobs they had created in Santo Domingo to dwindle and disappear. The Haitians had conquered the area in 1804 during the revolution, but the French managed to maintain control over the eastern half by the end of the war, after which the Spanish reconquered their colony in 1809. All of the fighting over that brief period of time had ruined what little infrastructure remained in the colony.
Over the next several years, the colonists of Santo Domingo had grown impatient with their masters in Europe, and had begun agitating for independence. The Spanish greatly weakened by their defeat and conquest by the French by Napoleon, could do little to keep the colonists under their thumb. The Haitians for their part had grown fearful of a possible Frano-Spanish invasion of their lands from the east through Santo Domingo, and resolved to handle the issue before it came to fruition. Thus, in 1821, the Haitian government under the leadership of Jean-Pierre Boyer, 1st Duke of Port-de-Paix, sought to further expand the defensive posture of the nation, and thus turned their eyes to the Spanish colony of Santo Domingo. Following the declaration of independence by the newly founded Republic of Spanish Haiti, Haiti sent emissaries to the eastern half of the island to spread word of work and opportunities in Haiti, and the possibility of prospering with the Haitian people in exchange for joining their empire. The president of the new state, José Núñez de Cáceres, was wary of Haitian intentions, and immediately refused the offers for political union with Haiti, and expelled their emissaries.
Núñez de Cáceres instead sought to join the growing state of Gran Colombia, which was under the leadership of Simón Bolívar. Not interested in losing out on a golden opportunity, with the authorization of Jacques I, the Port-de-Paix ordered troops into the new state and to annex it by force. The social and military elite of Spanish Haiti had aligned themselves with the Haitians, believing they would benefit from the already prosperous state in the west, rather than building from the ground up in the east. The same view was true of the people, who were search for work that only the Haitians could provide, isolating Núñez de Cáceres from any sources of popular support or political backing. Núñez de Cáceres stalled for as much time as possible, seeking the potential protection of Simón Bolívar and Gran Columbia. However, Boyer discovered his attempts to reach out to the South Americans, and using his influence over the elites in Spanish Haiti, ordered Núñez de Cáceres exiled from the island, arguing that his activities would have been an inconvenience for the betterment of the island. With Núñez de Cáceres removed from power, Spanish Haiti was immediately annexed by Haiti on 9 February 1822, unifying the whole of the island under Haitian imperial rule.
Return of France[edit | edit source]
In 1825, the French sent a fleet of fourteen warships to Haiti with the intention of forcing the island nation into paying reparations for the economic losses France had suffered as a result of the Haitian Revolution. Haiti had blossomed into a wealthy nation free of French control, while the French had lost the most prosperous colony in the world at that time to black slaves, humiliating the French as a global power. The demand for a payment of indemnity was sent ahead of the fleet by the French, who delivered the Haitian emperor, demanding of 150 million francs within a period of five years. Such a demand would have ruined the Haitian economy, forcing them to buy their independence from France after spilling so much blood to win it twenty years prior. Jacques I, who had personally led Haitian forces during the Haitian Revolution, remarked that he "would not led Haitian forces for a second time against the same dastardly force", and immediately rebuked the French ambassador. Seeking an easy fight, the French force attempts to approach Port-au-Prince from the Canal de Saint-Marc north of Gonâve Island, with the intention of bombarding the capital city in relative safety.
This plan was immediately thwarted following the discovery of the Haitian Navy behind the French fleet, which had awaited their arrival and remained out of sight south of Gonâve Island. The Haitians cut the French off from retreating back north, and trapped them between Port-au-Prince and the Haitian warships. The Haitians had further expanded their navy from twenty-two warships to nearly forty, and their army had grown to more than 50,000 troops, as the Haitians had anticipated a potential fight with the French following the end of the Napoleonic Wars. Though the British had aligned themselves with the Haitians during the war, as the French no longer presented a tangible threat to their possessions in the region, the British withdrew the majority of their forces from Hispaniola to other locations where their military presence was in greater demand. Despite this, the Haitians did not allow the promises of the British to lower their guard, and knew very well their position in the great scheme of things as far as Haiti was concerned. Though the economy had recovered over the years, the military was not forgotten, and resources had been directed to ensure Haiti's independence.
With a relatively-modest, yet modernized Haitian military confronting them on both land and sea, the French fleet was forced onto shore by the numerically superior Haitians following a brief yet bloody battle at sea, and the survivors captured and imprisoned. The victory over the French had wounded their prestige, while Haiti had solidified itself as a reputable force in the region and earned the recognition of its independence from various European states after their victory. With several thousand Frenchmen in captivity in Haiti, the French government was forced to negotiate for their release with the Haitian government, that a victory in and of itself, as the negotiations had forced the French to acknowledge the Haitians as an independent power. The French soldiers and sailors were released after several months of deliberations, with the ultimate prize of recognition of Haitian independence by France attained in 1826. With the acquiescence of France to Haitian demands, Haiti had finally established itself an an major independent power in the Americas, and with both its economy, military, and prestige left intact.
Though the Haitians celebrated their complete independence from France, many slaveowners in the Americas had come to fear the consequences of these development in the region. With the victory of a black state over a white colonial power, many in the southern American states believed that the Haitians would encourage further uprisings in the Americas, as had been the case in Jamaica during the Haitian Revolution. Furthermore, the status of Haiti has the only black nation outside of Africa free of European control, saw many free blacks throughout the Western Hemisphere migrate to the island following the victory, which also concerned slaveowners throughout the area. With the increasing influence of Haiti in the black populations of the Americas, many feared the some blacks would return home and encourage rebellions across the two continents. The lobbying of the slaveowners through the influence of the Democratic Party, saw the United States refuse to recognize Haiti for another two decades until the time of the American Civil War in 1861. Likewise, Brazil would not consider Haiti as an independent state until 1881, when slavery was finally abolished in that country.
Industrial era[edit | edit source]
Industrialization[edit | edit source]
Following an era of peace in the wake of the French threat disappearing, Haiti funnel led much of its vast wealth into developing industries to help break its dependency on agricultural goods and the price for individual products such as sugar and coffee, both of which were becoming cheaper as alternative sources opened up on the market. Under a series of initiatives spearheaded by Emperor Jacques II, the government sponsored dozens of industrialization programs, such as the construction of Haiti's first railway, linking Port-au-Prince with the northern port city of Cap-Haïtien. A group of sugarcane mills were built in Gonaives, and a coffee roasting factory built in the town of Ganthier, were the bulk of future coffee production would take place in the plans of the government industrialization program. Several Haitian industrialists emerged in this period of rapid development, such as Marian Ardouin, Basile Thibodeaux, Jean-Michel Darche, and Noël Devillers, established themselves as important figureheads in the epoch of industrial growth. Thibodeaux in particular was responsible for financial much of the construction of railways in western Hispaniola, where he had a major stake in shipbuilding there. His donation to the effort directly expanded the Haitian shipbuilding industry as a result.
On the western side of the island, mining and cocoa plantations were expanded to meet the growing demands of the industrializing economy. With the advent of renewed diplomatic ties with France in the 1850s and 1860s, the French had an restored interest in Haitian goods, which allowed the economy to find a familiar buyer back home. Likewise, due to its strategic location in the Caribbean Ocean, Haiti could find equally important buyers on the other side of the globe, mainly in China and Australia, where finished goods imported from Haiti were finding a growing market, especially in the British colonies. Several steel mills were built across the island, particularly in Gonaives, where raw iron ore from South America was imported and smelted into steel, transforming Gonaives into Haiti's larger steel producer, and the largest producer of steel south of the United States. By the 1860s, there were twelve major railways on the island of Hispaniola, sufficient for the needs of the economy. Several other railways were likewise under construction, with the goal of laying down as much railway as possible for the plans of the state to modernize its economy from an agrarian model, to a modern industrial model.
Opportunists seeking a fortune in Haiti's economy were men such as Cyrille Beaumont, who established Beaumont Armories in 1863, Haiti's first small arms manufacturer. Beaumont saw a market for locally-produced armaments when the Haitian Army announced that it would begin to contract small arms production to the British or the Russians, following a decision to retire the old Carabine à tige rifles imported from France in the 1840s in exchange for the French sailors captured not long before. Beaumont's actions would spark a series of other armament industries to rise across the empire, such as cannon foundries and sword producers. Such was the growth that Haiti was able to promote itself as an arms exporter for states looking for a third-party supplier outside of the European and American markets. Likewise, shipbuilding grew as a consequence of Haiti's location and export-driven economy, with nearly 500 seagoing vessels flying the Haitian flag in the 1860s. One merchant, Pierre-Antoine Bozonnet, had carefully positioned himself in the shipbuilding market to become the head of Haiti's largest shipping family, and the wealthiest man in the country bar the Emperor himself.
As time progressed, Haiti's industrial capabilities grew to the point where it was fully able to meet demands for certain types of industrial goods such as steel, train engines, railway tracks, telegraph stations, and by the time electricity became commercially available, power stations. Transitioning from a predominately agrarian country at the beginning of the century, to a highly-industrialized state by the 1880s, Haiti had successfully utilized its vast wealth in exotic fruits, sugar, and coffee, to move away from agriculture to heavy industry, avoiding the trap of complacency afforded by an expensive crop as industrialization drew near. In 1887, Port-au-Prince became the first Haitian city to have a full sewage network built up according to European standards, while the city of Saint-Marc was the first to have a complete electrified lighting grid. Before the turn of the century, twelve of Haiti's cities would receive complete sanitation and electric lighting networks, while all of Haiti's industrial centers would be connected by rail. By 1900, Haiti had achieved parity with the European nations in terms of industry, but led them all—with the exception of the Untied States—in terms of per capita income.
Dreadnought race[edit | edit source]
As the years went by, Haiti focused all of its financial effort over a fifty year period on industrializing the country. However, this came at the expense of its military, which though incredibly important in protecting Haiti from the rapaciousness of the European powers, was viewed as less important to the overall goal of securing Haiti's financial independence. As such, the military was hit with a number of budgetary cuts, none more so than in the navy. Even by 1900, Haiti's entire navy of fifty warships was still entirely wooden, with its largest warship, the steam cruiser Fierté de Jacque, having fallen into disrepair and having all of its guns removed for storage. After witnessing the destruction of the Spanish fleets in Cuba and Manila in 1898, there were calls within the Estates General to rectify the matter, by the calls had fallen on deaf ears in the wake of Haiti's industrialization efforts. Most politicians within the imperial saw little need for concern, as they saw Haiti's economy as its protection, not the military. It wasn't until the start of the dreadnought race in South America that the Haitian government took a more proactive approach to resolving the decay of its navy and military as a whole.
Beginning in 1904, Brazil, Argentina, and Chile had become engaged in a race to develop the strongest navies with dreadnoughts as the backbone of those empowered fleets. Coinciding with the larger Anglo-German naval arms race which began six years prior, the various South American countries decided to funnel their vast wealth into buying new dreadnoughts to outclass their neighbors, and become the regional hegemon on the continent. This posed a direct threat to Haiti, which prior to the construction of the Panama Canal, relied heavily on getting its goods to market in East Asia by rounding the Strait of Magellan in South America. If the South American navies grew too powerful, then Haitian dominance of those trade routes would be threatened, and the Haitian economy would suffer. Therefore, until an alternative solution was found, it was necessary that Haiti find a more direct manner in which to resolve the affair. So as to prevent the feared outcome, it was determined by Emperor TBD to enter into the dreadnought race at full speed, and overwhelm the three South American nations by show of financial and industrial prowess.
Of note was that while the South American powers purchased their ships from overseas, mainly from Britain, Germany, and the United States, Haiti had developed its shipbuilding industry as a consequence of its needs as an island country which relied upon trade for economical survival. Relying upon its experience in shipbuilding, Haiti embarked upon its mission of building the first warship designed, laid out, and built in the country, the L'Ouverture-class battleship. The warship would be built with 60% imported parts from Great Britain, though all of the labor and financial resources would be provided by Haiti and within the country using its own drydocks for construction. Two of the ships would be laid down: the L'Ouverture and the Jacques I. Both would be "all-big-gun" dreadnoughts, that is to say, all of the main guns on the warships would be of the same 12-inch caliber guns. The L'Ouverture was laid down in 1905 using 60% imported British parts, while the Jacques I would be laid down in 1907 using just 35% imported parts from Britain, the rest sourced from Haiti itself. The entire project itself was sponsored entirely by the Haitian government, though many of the other ships constructed by Haiti would be paid for by various contributions collected from the people of Haiti.
Though many within the government remained skeptical of the need for such massive battleships by the Haitian navy, it was agreed that given its precarious position in the region of the Caribbean, and the vital shipping routes passing between it, the Atlantic, and the American mainland, it was widely understood that Haiti needed some degree of naval power to dissuade a naval invasion of the island. As such, the imperial government made it a priority to rebuild the navy and expand the naval infantry in line with these defense goals, and the dreadnoughts were officially sanctioned by the government as "vital national security assets" related to the safety of Haiti and the Haitian people. Though many foreign observers feared the danger of an arms race spreading from South America to Haiti and potentially to the fractious North American mainland, Haiti's allies acknowledged the country's fears of a potential invasion, and the European great powers agreed not to interfere with Haiti's rapid naval expansion programs. Over the course of several years, the Imperial Haitian Navy would balloon from a handful of wooden warships to a fleet of two dreadnoughts, seven cruisers, nine gunboats, and five torpedo boats, along with several auxiliary ships, securing Haiti's naval prominence in the Caribbean Ocean.
First World War[edit | edit source]
Over the decades following the solidification of Haitian independence in the 1800s, Haiti had made it a point of pride to avoid getting itself entangled in foreign conflicts, seeking to maintain its status as a "merchant state", trading and producing goods for other countries as it grew rich from the benefits of free market capitalism. However, the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria in Sarajevo in 1914 by Bosian nationalists, dragged all of Europe's major powers into a conflict of proportions not seen since the Napoleonic Wars more than a century ago. The assortment of alliances created to surround and cut off the opposing powers in Europe, mostly pursued by France and Germany, ultimately forced Europe into a war based on age old rivalries that effected the economies of the world. Haitians saw the entire debacle as foolish, and many rejoiced to see their former oppressors killing one another over pointless debates related to European imperialism, and as a group wished to have no part in the fighting. However, Haitian chancellor TBD, saw opportunity where bloodshed had taken place. TBD had long been witness to Haiti's meteoric rise as a regional power, but understood that few nations saw Haiti as an international peer or equal, instead relegating the country to just a "mildly success nation of negroes", angering him and fellow Haitians seeking acceptance in the Western world.
Looking to exploit the European conflict, TBD made the argument to Emperor TBD, that joining the war on the side of one of the allied powers would go a far way in gaining Haiti respect on the global stage. Though no Haitian wished to get involved in a war involving their former owners, TBD successfully wiped them into a supportive fervor to prove Haiti as a mighty nation which could not only defend itself and its interests, but come to the aid of those who shared its ideals of a free world devoid of violence and oppression. He exclaimed that it was Haiti's divine responsibility to take part in the "war to end all wars", and achieved an astounding victory in the Estates General supporting intervention into the conflict. Though he had the support of the legislature and the people, TBD had not declared which side he would send his fellow countrymen to fight for. On one hand, the Triple Entente – with which Haitians overwhelmingly supported in the conflict – had an old ally, the United Kingdom, supporting it; but its former master and perpetual political boogeyman, France, was its primary leader. On the otherhand, Germany and the Central Powers sought to weaken the French and its global empire, which would open the way for the Haitians to enter into Africa, most of which dominated by the French, and expand its political power on the continent it sought to uplift.
Though the pull to join the Central Powers was strong, TBD rather acknowledged that the Germans had no chance of winning against the far more numerous Entente powers, and threw his hat in with the British, French, and Russians. In an unprecedented display of support, Haiti sent 18,000 soldiers, more than half of its existing standing army, to Europe on behalf of the allied powers against Germany. In what was a major shock to their age old fear and hatred of France, the Haitian expeditionary forces landed in Brest in 1915, to the warm embrace of French citizens welcoming their allies in the war. These forces were placed under the command of the French army, which in yet another shock to the Haitian soldiers, treated them with a degree of respect accorded to fellow soldiers against a common enemy. The Haitians were immediately deployed to Ypres where the Germans were mounting an offensive to break through Allied lines to move southward into France. There, the Haitian soldiers were exposed to the first documented use of chemical weapons during the war, and by the end of the battle, lost more than three thousand men. The force would later be redeployed to further south into France to hold the line at Champagne, where another four thousand Haitians would die in battle.
Over the course of the war, more than 50,000 Haitians would be mobilized for war and sent to Europe to fight against the Central Powers. Of these men and women, 17,000 would die of wounds, disease, or accidents, and another 20,000 wounded in battle. The Haitian navy would play a role in countering German submarines in the Atlantic with other Allied warships, though most of the navy would be kept at home close to Haiti to protect it from a potential invasion no matter how remote that chance would be. TBD's population would plummet as more and more Haitians died in battles that had less and less relevance to Haitian interests, and only had his mandate renewed by the intervention of the Emperor, who understood the long-term goals of Haitian involvement in the conflict. By 1918, the German military was exhausted and its allies all by defeated by the combined might of the various powers aligned against it. Forced into an armistice on 11 November 1918, the German surrender had all by ended the fighting in the Great War. For its material and financial contributions during the war, Haiti was invited to join the Paris Peace Conference, where its independence was all but confirmed, and its status as a Western nation fully acknowledged by its new allies. Furthermore, Haitian soldiers returning home had told of the generosity of the French, and the respect they received, helping to rehabilitate Franco-Haitian relations.