Professor Jeremy T. Popkin’s lecture shed a new light on the subject of the Haitian Revolution that began in 1804. He compared it to the American Revolution of 1776, and the French Revolution of 1789. Popkin noted the similarities between the American and French Revolution and how they different from the Haitian Revolution. He also explained that the Haitian Revolution has been belittled throughout history, and silenced as a significant revolutionary event by the Western world until the mid-1990’s, almost 200 years after it occurred.
Many people consider the American Revolution the event that caused revolutions against corrupt leaders throughout the western world. When the colonies proved that they could overcome the British superpower, other oppressed people were inspired to overthrow their monarchies since they has a newfound sense of hope of success. France followed this trend. Soon after the American Revolution, the French people rebelled against their monarch Louis XVI Capet. Unlike the American Revolution, the French Revolution did not end with a solid political structure but continued with rebellions against anyone that claimed power until Napoleon assumed control.
The Haitian people were enslaved members of the French Colony, and playd a role in the French Revolution. Toussaint L’Ouverture was the leader of the Haitian Revolution; although, he ironically did not support revolutionaries during the French Revolution. L’Ouverture, in fact, kept ties with the French monarchy even after revolutionaries had taken control of the government. L’Ouverture lead to black insurrection against French colonizers that enslaved black Haitian people. The Haitian Revolution has been defined by violence, where the American and French Revolutions were defined by liberty and freedom. This is ironic since they Haitian Revolutionaries arguably were also fighting for freedom, but from slavery as opposed to an oppressive government. Liberty and freedom are regarded as positive qualities, where violence is considered negative. Perhaps the Haitian Revolution has been defined by its violence to give the revolution less esteem. Throughout history, the Haitian Revolution has been silenced due to racist undertones from those responsible for recognizing its significance. This inherent racism in those that decided important event of history may have lead to the definition of the Haitian Revolution as a violent event.
While the ideology of the American Revolution promoted that “all men are created equal,” the nation post-revolution allowed the continuation of slavery, thus denying that black deserve equal rights. The Haitian Revolution, lead by blacks, truly worked to insist that all people, regardless of race, deserved equal rights. Ironically, the United States was considered the first “free” nation even though a significant population of its people were enslaved.