The Economic Consequences of the Haitian Revolution
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Haiti is among the poorest nations in the world and it is the single poorest country in the western hemisphere. Yet, Haiti once possessed the exact opposite connotation. Haiti was once the French colony of Saint-Domingue, the wealthiest, most profitable colony in the world. Saint-Domingue was France's most prized possession and it became the prime destination for fortune seeking Frenchmen. However, the vast majority of people did not benefit from the colony's robust economy, as SaintDomingue became an economic powerhouse as a plantation economy based on slave labor. In 1791, slaves and free blacks rebelled against their masters and the colonial administrators in order to claim freedom and equal rights for themselves. The rebel forces defeated the French army in 1803, which made the Haitian Revolution the first successful slave revolt. Thus, on January 1, 1804, the rebels declared independence and created the modem nation of Haiti, the first black republic. The Haitian Revolution and the subsequent declaration of independence caused an economic decline that has left Haiti mired in poverty. Several crucial factors caused this decline. First, the warfare of the Haitian Revolution destroyed the capital and infrastructure of the economy. Second, Haiti lacked diplomatic and trade relations with other nations. Third, Haiti lacked investment, both foreign and domestic investment. Fourth, Haiti moved toward subsistence farming and away from plantation agriculture. Finally, reparation payments to France left the country deeply indebted. Haiti was unable to preserve or rebuild the wealth that Saint- Domingue once had, which made the country one of the poorest in the world today.