Comparing The Haitian To The French Revolution

Haiti, known as Saint-Domingue before the revolution, it was the richest colony in the Americas in 1789. Almost half a million slaves toiled on its sugar, coffee, indigo, and cotton plantations. More than thirty thousand new African slaves arrived each year, both to replace the many that died of overwork or disease and also to fuel the rapid economic expansion that the colony experienced in the 1780s. Before the French revolution, the masters were, first of all, the King; after him, the nobles and clergy.From the King at the head to the poorest noble, they used their power badly. The rulers treated the ruled, the vast mass of the nation, as people created for their convenience, to supply them with money and to serve them. The King demanded great sums to provide armies for his wars, to surround himself with a brilliant and luxurious Court, to defray the expenses of government. As we go further in the French and Haitian revolution, they were both cruel and bloody, were there any significant similarities and differences? They both were spurred for similar reasons by oppressed people, but they were significantly different economically, very different leaders and events.The causes for the French and Haitian revolutions were fairly uniform. An unfair distribution of power between social classes, restricted liberties and representation, and a large gap between the rich and the poor were the main catalysts for both revolutions. The social class situations of Haiti and France were main causes of both revolutions. Social mobility was nearly nonexistent in both societies.The Haitian social class system was particularly stratified because it was based on race. The highest positions in the government and military were only held by Peninsulares. Peninsulares were individuals that were born in Europe and had come over to the colony to rule. Directly under the Peninsulares in the social class system were the Creoles. These individuals controlled most of the land and the business. Creoles were defined as individuals whose parents were both Peninsulares in the colonies. The next social classes were the Mestizo and the Mulattoes, who were half European and half Native American or African. Finally, all pure Africans or Natives were condemned to slavery. Slaves had no property, money, or rights. Most of the individuals in Haiti were slaves. Conversely, the French social system was also very stratified and consisted heavily of the lowest class. The system is broken down between three estates: the clergy, nobility, and the 3rd estate which consisted of a lower, middle and upper class. Most of the third estate consisted of peasants. The clergy encompassed one percent of the population. The one percent controlled twenty percent of the land and did not pay taxes. The 2nd estate encompassed the nobility, two percent of the population. The nobility owned twenty-five percent of the land and did not pay taxes. The remaining ninety-seven percent of France belonged to the third estate. The third estate held less than half the land in France and was forced to support the heavy burden of taxation in the bankrupt nation. The overwhelming gap between the political and economic power of the high and low classes caused resentment in both societies. A miniscule number of people, had privilege, comfort and luxury while the majority of people suffered. Social inequalities would a huge catalyst for both revolutions. The lowest class of each society realized their strength in numbers and passion for their cause. The 3rd estate broke free from France and created the Declaration of the Rights of Man. This document outlined a set of rights that pertained to every man from any class. From there, the 3rd estate moved forward in taking the country. The Haitian slaves utilized their massive population and excellent leadership to overthrow their oppressors. Toussaint Louverture was the leader of the revolution and a pivotal factor in defeating the Europeans. Significant overall economic differences were present between Haiti and France before the revolutions occurred.On the other side, The Women’s March on Versailles was one of the earliest and most significant events of the French Revolution. The march began among women in the marketplaces of Paris who, on the morning of 5 October 1789, were near rioting over the high price and scarcity of bread. Their demonstrations quickly became intertwined with the activities of revolutionaries who were seeking liberal political reforms and a constitutional monarchy for France. The market women and their various allies grew into a mob of thousands and, encouraged by revolutionary agitators, they ransacked the city armory for weapons and marched to the Palace of Versailles. The crowd besieged the palace and in a dramatic and violent confrontation they successfully pressed their demands upon King Louis XVI. The next day, the crowd compelled the king, his family, and most of the French Assembly to return with them to Paris. These events effectively ended the independent authority of the king. The march symbolized a new balance of power that displaced the ancient privileged orders of the French nobility and favored the nation’s common people, collectively termed the Third Estate. Bringing together people representing disparate sources of the Revolution in their largest numbers yet, the march on Versailles proved to be a defining moment of that Revolution. To conclude, the series of events that transformed the French colony of Saint-Domingue into the independent nation of Haiti lasted from 1791 to 1804, and the French revolution lasted around ten years, from 1789 until 1799. 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