Readers’ Guide

Brief Chronology of Haitian History

1492: Christopher Columbus lands on the island of Quisqueya/Ayiti. He re-names it La Española (Hispaniola).

1500: The Spanish claim the island of Santo Domingo as a crown colony.

1502: The first enslaved Africans arrive in Santo Domingo.

1521: The first recorded slave insurrection in the Americas occurs in Santo Domingo.

Early 1600s: French settlement in the western part of Hispaniola begins.

1685: French king Louis XIV issues the Code Noir.

1697: The Treaty of Ryswick ends the Nine Years’ War. Spain recognizes French control of the western third of Hispaniola, the colony of Saint-Domingue. 

1700s: Saint-Domingue becomes France’s most profitable colony due to the labor of enslaved Africans on its sugar and coffee plantations.

1758: Colonial authorities in Saint-Domingue execute the maroon and alleged conspirator François Makandal.

1789: France’s Third Estate declares itself the National Assembly. The Bastille falls. The National Assembly adopts the Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizens then accepts petition of rights from Saint-Domingue’s “free citizens of color.”

1790: Conflict between royalists and patriots in Saint-Domingue

1791: Colonial authorities in Saint-Domingue execute Vincent Ogé. Insurrection of enslaved people begins in the northern province of Saint-Domingue. Insurgents burn Cap-Français to the ground. A general insurrection spreads throughout Saint-Domingue.

1793: The French commissioner Léger-Félix Sonthonax issues a general emancipation decree in the northern province of Saint Domingue. 

1794: France’s National Convention abolishes slavery in France and its colonies, including Saint-Domingue.

1801: Toussaint Louverture brings Santo Domingo under his governance and promulgates a new constitution for Saint-Domingue, which abolishes slavery across the entire island of Hispaniola. French first consul Napoleon Bonaparte sends the Leclerc Expedition to reinstate slavery in Saint-Domingue.

1802: Bonaparte re-opens the slave trade and reinstates slavery in the French colonies.

1803: Louverture dies while imprisoned in France’s Fort de Joux.

1804: Haiti declares its independence. Jean-Jacques Dessalines proclaimed emperor.

1805: Jean-Jacques Dessalines issues the Imperial Constitution of Haiti

1806: Dessalines assassinated at Pont Rouge, civil war ensues.

1807: Henry Christophe becomes president of the State of Haiti. Alexandre Pétion becomes president of the Republic of Haiti.

1811: Christophe becomes king of the Kingdom of Haiti

1820: President Jean-Pierre Boyer reunifies Haiti.

1822: Boyer unifies the east and west of the island under Haitian governance.

1825: France demands an indemnity to cease its aggression towards Haiti and grant diplomatic recognition to its former colony.

1826: Boyer issues his Code Rural

1842: Earthquake destroys Cap-Haïtien.

1843-44: Boyer is deposed, unification ends, and the Dominican Republic declares independence from Haiti

1844: Beginning of the Piquet rebellion under Jean-Jacques Acaau.

1862: The United States grants diplomatic recognition to Haiti

1915: The United States occupation of Haiti begins.

1934: The United States removes its marines from Haiti.

1937: Operating on the orders of Dominican president Rafael Trujillo, Dominican soldiers carry out a massacre of Haitians and Dominicans of Haitian descent on the Dominican-Haitian border.

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