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Revolution and Independence, 1804-1821

Haiti | Napoleon | Mexico | Bolivar | Conclusion


Unrest or Rebellion?

Regime change?

1. Elected President: Jean Bertrand Aristide

Sunday (Sept. 22, 2004.) Aristide accepted US proposal to share power with the insurgents.

Opposition (insurgents) rejected the offer.

Their armed uprising (control northern half of the Country) is three weeks old.


2. Sept. 1991, military coup tried to kill Aristide: deep distrust has persisted since then. US intervened to keep Aristide, the elected President in office.

Anti military President - military want his removal

Military was disbanded under Aristide.

The average Haitian is poor, suspicious, aware of slave heritage, suspect of foreigners.

The root of this civil insurrection is two years old

The rebels are pressuring external intervention, and Aristide want foreign support for his regime.

Cap Haitien, growing anarchy is evidenced by retreat of the Red Cross.


In 1994 US intervened and restored Aristide, but did not support his efforts.

No one wants to lose troops over Haitian

French position is that Aristide needs to be removed, due to his lack of broad support.

Haitian history,

1803, civil unrest

1804, declaration of Independence from Napoleon and France

revolt against France

European (peninsulars) vs Creole (Americanos) tensions

"By 1800, the creole elite had become familiar with the most advanced thought of contemporary Europe."

p. 158.

French Revolution of 1789

"probably exerted and even greater influence."

p. 158

"liberté, egalite," security, property and anti-tyrannical.

Declaration of the Rights of Man was considered inflammatory by Spanish authorities

"Slave revolt in the French part of Haiti."

Toussaint L'Ouverture, Jean Jacques Dessalines, Henri Christophe, and Alexandre Petion.

Women in Haiti led slave troops against the land owners and royalists. p. 174.

The slave revolt spread reactionary policies throughout Cuba, the Caribbean and especially in the American Southern states.

But in 1806 Francisco Miranda lead foreign troops to land in Venezuela and declare a war for freedom, Venezuelans were tepid in their response.

1808-1810, the revolutionary crisis fermented in the Americas.

by 1796 with the Anglo-French wars Spanish shipping was unable to sustain the Caribbean and mainland colonies with necessary provisions.

p. 159.

Haiti | Napoleon | Mexico | Bolivar | Conclusion

1808, Napoleon forced his brother Joseph on the Spanish throne provoking Spaniards to rebel against the forced abdication by Napoleon of Spanish King Charles and his son Ferdinand.

When news of this arrest of Spain's old monarch's reached Mexico, Creoles and Spanish descendants in Mexico City vied for power -- The Mexican Cabildo, Creole stronghold, acted first to secure Mexican control.

p. 169

Conservative Creoles in Mexico demanded

  • end to the inquisition
  • Church subject to civil courts
  • free trade
  • reforms in agriculture, industry and mining

On September 16, 1810, Creole leaders, marginal economic interests in central Mexico, and the impoverished peons were urged by their parish Priest Miguel Hidalgo to rise up against Spain --after two years of drought and famine-- insurgents rose up to join the revolt, from mines and industrial areas of central Mexico.

The sack of Guanajuato emboldened Hidalgo and put the Creoles on the defensive, horrified by the sacking of Spanish property and killing of Spaniards.

  • Hidalgo declared the abolition of slavery
  • Hidalgo declared the abolition of tribute; the taxes paid by mulattos and indigenas
  • Hidalgo declared the return of pueblo lands (seized by Spaniards) to the Indians

Father Hidalgo defeated the Spanish and conservative Creole supporters near Mexico City.

p. 170-171

By 1811 Hidalgo had been hunted down, arrested tried and shot by a firing squad.

p. 172.

José Maria Morelos -- a mestizo priest-- took command of the revolutionary movement that all over Mexico grew as a guerilla action against the basis of Spanish hegemony. (He was from the Pacific lowlands of Michoacán, where sugar, cotton and indigo market crops were in decline from surplus and falling profits.)

Morelos declared the end to forced labor

Morelos declared the end to rents on common lands to Spanish patrones

Rich sugar plantations existed south and west of Mexico City.

Fall of 1813, the congress of Chilpancingo declared Mexican independence with Morelos' reforms and Morelo as supreme commander.

December 22, 1815, after a newly drafted Mexican constitution, Morelos was executed by his Royalist captors, having been tried by the Inquisition and found guilty.

His death led to an even wider insurgency and a polarization of indigenas and Spaniards from 1815-1820.

Spanish tactics alienated even the most conservative (royalist) of Creole loyalists.

p. 173.

September 28, 1821

Having had a compromise in the Spanish Cortes (parliament) rejected and war resumed, Agustin Iturbide and Vicente Guerroro declared Mexico an independent republic.

p. 174

The largest and oldest civilization in the Americas was free of European domination for the first time in Three centuries.

Haiti | Napoleon | Mexico | Bolivar | Conclusion

Simon Bolivar

1810 Creole Junta in Caracas replaced the Spanish Viceroy, those opposed in the Creole class retreated after independence to Cuba and Puerto Rico, creating centers of reactionary politics.

pp. 162-63.


1811, Venezuela affirmed its independence.


Bolivar successfully freed Caracas with Colombian troops, securing New Granada's separation from Spain.

1812, Liberal constitutions were adopted in Latin America to free the colonies from Spain.

Slave revolts in Venezuela spread despite Creole opposition to freeing slaves.

Colombian armies were defeated in Venezuela by reactionary rural elements.

By May 1815, Bolivar had retreated to Jamaica, where he wrote propaganda for Columbia to overthrow Spanish reactionary forces. Referring to Spain as "that aged serpent." Bolivar suggested that "monarchy" was alien to the "genius of Latin America."

Haiti | Napoleon | Mexico | Bolivar | Conclusion

January 1, 1820, the Spanish troops destined for war in the Americas mutinied, against Ferdinand and the Spanish control of the America's realistically ended.

By 1821 Venezuela, Colombia and Ecuador were free of Spanish colonial rule.

The rhetoric of revolution outweighed the social and economic reforms necessary to free the peasants from burdensome agricultural conditions of the Caribbean and Latin America and their economies from British and American commercial domination.

"Instead of broadening the base of land ownership in Latin America, the revolutions actually helped narrow it. The liberal, individualist ideology of the revolutionary governments undermined indigenous communal land tenure in some cases by requiring the division of community lands among its members. The process facilitated the usurpation of these communal lands by Creole landlords and hastened the transformation of the the native peasantry into a class of peons or serfs on Spanish haciendas. Because no structural economic change took place, aristocratic values continued to dominate Latin American society, despite an elaborate facade of republican constitutions and law codes."

Keen and Haynes, p. 175


Haiti's population was 8,706,497 in 2007 with a 2.453 percent growth rate

Benin's population was 8,078,314 with a 2.74 percent growth rate.

population figures

year Benin population type source Haiti population
4 925 253
census secondary
6 752 469
census secondary
7 527 817
7 395 040
estimate official
8 121 622
7 612 145
estimate official
8 308 504
8 078 314
8 706 497

Haitian Religion

Haiti | Napoleon | Mexico | Bolivar | Conclusion