Toussaint Louverture, Haitian general and the most prominent leader of the Haitian Revolution. Photo Credit: © New York Public Library Digital Collections.

Haiti – The Haitian Revolution

The Haitian Revolution was an act of self-determination and self-liberation by enslaved Africans against French colonial rule in Saint-Domingue, now the sovereign state of Haiti.

The revolt began on 22 August 1791 and ended in 1804 with the former colony’s independence. It involved Black, Mulatto, French, Spanish, and British participants — with the ex-slave Toussaint Louverture emerging as Haiti’s most charismatic hero.

The revolution was the only slave uprising that led to the founding of a state which was both free from slavery and ruled by non-White people and former captives. It is now widely seen as a defining moment in the history of the Atlantic World.

This had major reverberations elsewhere. For example, plantation owners in the United States wanted to suppress the news of the revolution to prevent further insurrections. Slavery flourished in the western hemisphere for many more decades. However, as argued by W.E.B. Dubois, the Haitian revolution resulted in economic pressure which eventually led the British to abolish slavery.


  • Madiou, Thomas. 1848. Histoire d’Haiti Volume 3 of Histoire d’Haïti [1492]. J. Courtois. p. 313.
  • Ott, Thomas O. The Haitian Revolution, 1789-1804. Univ. of Tennessee Press, 1973.
  • Sutherland, C. 2007. “Haitian Revolution (1791-1804).” Blackpast.