Though the Haitian Revolution is not considered in the same light as the American or French Revolution, fortunately, lack of recognition has no affect on its historical significance. On January 1 1804, the Haitian Revolution came to fruition, as France became the first nation to recognize its independence. Haiti thus emerged as the first black republic in the world, and the second nation in the western hemisphere (after the United States) to win its independence from a European power.
The “silencing” of the Haitian Revolution ultimately undermined the role played by non-whites in forming the Western World and the ideas it stood for; namely that of liberty, freedom, and equality. While such notions are attributed to heroes of the American and French Revolutions, the Haitian Revolution is a reminder that they were not from purely a European descent. In fact, the Haitian Revolution was carried out predominantly by a group of non-white, illiterate men, women, and slaves. Although French Enlightenment ideas are commonly acknowledged as a source of inspiration for the Haitian Revolution, it was actually initiated quite randomly at a religious ceremony at “Bois Caiman”. The significance of this is twofold. First, it attributes further credit to the slaves and native population for having come up with the roots of a Revolution all by themselves. The second point of significance is that what happened at “Bois Caiman” is rather ambiguous. For this reason, the motives behind the Haitian Revolution are not as clear as they could be.
One thing that remains clear is that the Haitian Revolution was as prideful as the American and French. In 1793, the French, for the first time offered freedom to all the slaves of the Sainte-Domingue colony. The offer was rejected. While the slaves wanted their freedom, they had built it in their mind as something that they ought to establish, as opposed to something forced on or offered to them by French tyranny; which sounds to me like a similar concept to those that drove the American and French Revolutions.
Haiti had a history of slave rebellions; the slaves were never willing to submit to their status and with their strength in numbers (10 to 1) colonial officials did all that was possible to control them. Eventually, withstanding French power and English reinforcement, Haiti earned their freedom from the French. However, though the French relinquished their control of Saint-Domingue, the impact of French colonization remained in Haiti. For instance, the classes and hierarchical structures were predominantly set by the effect of French colonists breeding with the natives. Their children were the natives who were educated and wealthy once Haiti gained its independence.
In my opinion, whether or not the Haitian Revolution deserves more widespread recognition is not a question. While history classes in the United States will naturally be more inclined to talk about the American Revolution, the Haitian Revolution has equal significance.