French Revolution vs. the Haitian Revolution

The French Revolution vs. The Haitian Revolution A revolution is a shift, a turning point, a change in government. A revolution usually occurs when the majority of a nation is frustrated with the economic, political, or the social situation of their country. Two very interesting revolutions were the Haitian and the French revolutions. While the Haitian and French revolutions took place in close proximity to one another, the cause for the revolutions and results were quite different. The political situation at the time of the revolution was the white French planters who owned the large cotton, tobacco, and sugar cane plantations.

Then came the Petit Blanc who were the artisans and workers. The Petit Blancs had some slaves but were extremely racist. They were jealous of the Free Persons of Color. These blacks abandoned all African heritage, they acted white, were racist towards other blacks, and were not citizens. Following the Free Persons of Color came the Domestics slaves. These were the House slaves who were loyal to their masters and treated better than the next group; the Field Slaves. The Field Slaves worked under horrible conditions, they wanted freedom and a black republic, and they retained their African Heritage.

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Finally came the Maroons who were fugitive slaves who had escaped to the mountains, they want a black revolution. Both the French and Haitian revolution took place in 1791. This was no coincidence. France was struggling with an economic crisis as well as a revolution of their own. The political leaders Haiti realized that this was the perfect time to revolt. Because of the economic crisis going on in France, France couldn’t afford to send troops across the Atlantic to protect the oppressive Planters.

France’s turmoil at home required the French Government to focus domestically not on their territorial Haiti. The goal of the Haitian revolution was to separate from France and create a free black republic. Field slaves had become fed up with the horrible treatment they received from; the slaves rebelled and brutally killed a number of the Planters. On the other hand, France was an independent nation. France’s goals were to reform the estates general from an order vote to a head vote (order vote, one vote per estate; head vote, one vote for everyone).

This would mean that the overwhelming majority of the French people, the third estate would have more say in government. Another goal was to reform the tax system so that the poorer third estate would pay lower taxes and the upper two estates actually paid taxes. While these were different causes for the revolutions, both revolutions did involve an insistence on fairness by the lower income population and a rejection of the status quo. The results of the two revolutions were very different. In Haiti, the slaves killed thousands of planters leading to the realization by France that it could not continue to rule.

But the French required Haiti had to pay billions of dollars to France for damages to French property. The leaders of the Haitian revolution were in a tough predicament here, either to stay a colony under the oppressive control of France or become independent but be in debt for many years to come. The leaders chose to become independent. This decision decimated the Haitian economy and it still bears the consequences of the debt today. In France the Third Estate broke away from the Estates General forming the National Assembly.

They wrote a constitution, stormed an armory and stole weapons. With help from local peasant rebellions the National Assembly took control of France. Once in control they abolished Nobility privileges and exemptions. “Reign of Terror” where Robespierre killed everyone he thought was a “threat” to the republic. Followed by the Reign of Terror the “Directory” came. The directory was a political structure where five people led the country but to pass laws the vote had to be unanimous. The Directory was a failed effort because unanimity was difficult and the Directory was very corrupt.

After Napoleon failed to conquer Russia, France reverted to a noble monarchy. Unlike the Haitian revolution, the French revolution failed and the people finished exactly where they started The French and Haitian revolutions were two very interesting and revolutions. The Haitian and French revolutions were different in their results and their causes. But they happened at the same time and in a similar environment; when the underclasses were frustrated with the social and political structures. One might ask what would the world have been like if these revolutions hadn’t taken place?



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