Timeline of Events in Haitian Revolutionary History

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  • 1492 - Over a million Taino/Arawak Indians live on Hispaniola (Parkinson, p. xii)
  • 1492-12-05 - Columbus lands at Bay des Moustiques, Quisqueya (cradle of life). Renames the bay "Harbour of the Conception" and the island Hispañola (Little Spain).
  • 1492-12-16 - Columbus lands on the island of San Salvador. He would land on Hispaniola shortly thereafter. (Parkinson, p. xii) Note that he named the island "Espagnola," which was later corrupted to Hispaniola. (Korngold, p. 3)
  • 1492-12-25 - Columbus’ flagship, the Santa Maria, runs aground in the bay of Cap Haitien.
  • 1493 - Jan-Feb --- Columbus's crew builds La Navidad, the first European structure in the new world. The sailors staying on Hispaniola will live in this fort, built with the remains of the Santa Maria, close to what is now Bord de Mer Limonade.


  • 1503 - Betrayal of Hispaniola’s Queen Anacaona. She and her subjects are massacred by the Spanish governor of Hispaniola, Nicolas Ovando.
  • 1517 - Less than 60,000 Taino Arawak Indians live on Hispaniola (Parkinson, p. xii)
  • 1577 - Spain decreed that "15,000 Negro slaves should be shipped from Africa to Hispaniola" (Parkinson, p. xiii) Las Casas hoped that this would relieve the stresses which were killing the natives.
  • 1586 - Sir Francis Drake captures the city and holds it for nearly a month. (Korngold, p. 7)
  • 1592 - Fewer than 200 Taino Arawak Indians remain on Hispaniola (Parkinson, p. xii)


  • 1603 - Buccaneers settle into mountainous, rocky Ile de la Tortue immediately north of Port de Paix.
  • 1640 - France sends Governor Levasseur to Hispaniola to establish a claim on the island. (Parkinson, p. xiv)
  • 1644 - "the Brazilian Jew Benjamin Dacosta introduced sugar cane from Java into the Antilles and brought about a great economic revolution." (Korngold, p. 11)
  • 1670 - Cap François is established (later named Cap Français, then Cap-Haïtien). French pirates from Ile de la Tortue under the leadership of Betrand d'Ogeron establish a settlement in the future St. Domingue.
  • 1676 - The first slave rebellion of St. Domingue is led by Padre Jean.
  • 1697-09-20 - the Treaty of Ryswick is signed in United Provinces (Netherlands); France officially gains the western third of Hispaniola, naming it Saint-Domingue. Ratified by the Treaty of Aranjuez on June 3, 1777.


  • 1700 (c) - Trade begins between St. Domingue and the 13 British colonies in North America (the future United States of America).
  • 1711 - The town of Cap Français is founded by royal decree.
  • 1743-05-20? - Pierre François Dominique Bréda is born. He will evntually take the name Toussaint Louverture.
  • 1758-01-?? - François_Mackandal is burned at the stake for organizing a failed rebellion.
  • 1763-02-10 - Treaty of Paris between Great Britain, France and Spain ends the Seven Years' War (Europe) and the French & Indian War (North America). The treaty provided for France to cede all land east and southeast of the Mississippi to Britain, all land west of the Mississippi to Spain, and Canada to Britain. Spain ceded Florida to Britain.
  • 1768 - "coloured women were forbidden by law to marry white men." (Parkinson, p. 24)
  • 1775-04-19 - The American Revolution begins with the Battle of Lexington and Concord.
  • 1776-07-04 - The United States' Declaration of Independence is ratified.
  • 1777-06-03 - The Treaty of Aranjuez between France and Spain officially recognizes the French colony of Saint-Domingue (the western 1/3 of Hispaniola).
  • 1783-07-24 - Venezuelan revolutionary leader Simón Bolívar born
  • 1783-09-03 - The Paris Peace Treaty signed by U.S., Great Britain, France and Spain. Great Britain cedes East and West Florida to Spain; also recognizes the United States.
  • 1784 - "'a balloon was launched in Le Cap amongst scenes of incredible enthusiasm.' (Des Fosses)" (Parkinson, p. 22)
  • 1785 - England acknowledges the USA's independence. (Parkinson, p. 26)
  • 1787 - La Societé des Amis des Noirs founded in Paris. St. Domingue is at height of its production (James, before p. 53)
  • 1788 - The planter Le Jeune successfully defends himself against charges of burning two Negresses legs. (Parkinson, p. 20). The island's population at this time consisted of 42,000 white, 38,000 slaves and 8000 plantations. The military forces consisted of 5,000 men. 80,000 sailors were engaged in trade. "St. Domingue, the 'Pearl of the Antilles', produced and exported more sugar than the entire British West Indies put together." (Parkinson, p. 22)


  • 1789 - "St. Domingo had attained a height of prosperity not surpassed in the history of European colonies. It supplied half Europe with sugar, coffee and cotton." H.E. Mills (Korngold, p. 12) 8,000 plantations were producing crops for export. (Geggus, p. 5)
  • 1789-06-20 - Tennis Court Oath, France. Representatives of the Estates General (which last met in 1614) promise to meet and not disband until they write a new constitution for France.
  • 1789-07-14 - Storming of the Bastille in Paris.
  • 1789-08-26 - the Estates General in France passes the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen (La Déclaration des Droits de l'Homme et du citoyen)


  • 1790-01-30 - St. Domingue mulatto delegation including Vincent Ogé and others go to the French Assembly to request French rights for mulattos. (James, p. 70)
  • 1790 - October - Vincent Ogé leads a failed revolt in Saint-Domingue. His trial lasts 2 months, and he is then brutally executed.


  • 1791-03-?? - governor of Saint Domingue murdered by his own soldiers. (Kennedy, p. 136)
  • 1791-05-15 - National Assembly in France gives full political rights to mulattos and free blacks.
  • 1791-08-14 - (Sunday) "a meeting of slave-drivers, coachmen, and other members of the 'slave elite' from about 100 plantations took place in Plaine du Nord Parish" on the Lenormand de Mézy sugar plantation. (Geggus, p. 84)
  • 1791-08-17 (?) - a rebel uprising occurs on the Chabaud plantation. (Geggus, p. 87)
  • 1791-08-21 - 20 slaves attempt to kill the manager of La Gossette. (Geggus, p. 86)
  • 1791-08-21 - Boukman leads a vodou ceremony at Bois Caïman (Alligator Wood).
  • 1791-09-21 - The Colonial Assembly in St. Domingue recognizes the Paris decree of May 15 and grants citizenship to all free blacks. White planters object; violence erupts.
  • 1791-09-23 - The General Assembly (Paris) revokes the May decree and names three commissioners to restore order in St. Domingue.
  • 1791 - October - Port-au-Prince is burned down during the fighting between whites and mulattos. Toussaint joins the rebellion, soon becoming chief medical officer, then Biassou’s aide.
  • 1791-11-29 - Commisioners Roume, St. Leger, and Mirbeck land in St. Domingue.


  • 1792-04-04 - French General Assembly issues a decree which enfranchises free Blacks and free Mulattoes but does not emancipate the slaves. (Kennedy, p. 137) The Assembly prepares a second commission, led by Léger-Félicité Sonthonax, to enforce the ruling.
  • 1792-07-?? - Sonthonax and two other Commissioners arrive in Saint-Domingue with 6,000 troops. (Kennedy, p. 136)
  • 1792-09-17 - Commissioners Roume, St. Leger, and Mirbeck leave St. Domingue (Parkinson, p. 66)
  • 1792-09-18 - The three new French civil commissioners -- Sonthonax, Polverel, and Ailhaud -- arrive; pledge support to the gens de couleur (free blacks) after the colonial whites refused to honor their enfranchisement.


  • 1793 - Citizen Genet affair exacerbates tension between America and France.
  • 1793-01-21 - Louis XVI, Marie Antoinette executed in Paris. (Kennedy, p. 138)
  • 1793 - February - England is at war with France and Spain. Tousssaint and troops begin fighting for Spain. Eli Whitney invents the cotton gin. Governor-General Gilbaud flees the Saint-Domingue civil war with 10,000 white refugees and 100 ships, bound for Baltimore.
  • 1793-08-29 - Commissioner Sonthonax emancipates 15,000 slaves (basically freeing the northern province of the island) who had helped to defeat General Galbaud (basically freeing the northern province of the island). ALSO Toussaint uses the name L'Ouverture in an official paper for the first time.
  • 1793-09-19 - 500 British troops under Whitelocke land in St. Domingue and take Jeremie. (Parkinson, p. 74) They intend to restore order, make Saint Domingue a British colony, and reinstate slavery. They will remain for five years.
  • 1793 - October - December - Abolition purportedly is extended to the west in September and south. The French commissioners form an alliance with the free coloreds and deport white conservatives and radicals. By the year's end, Toussaint has cut a swath through the north, has swung south to Gonaïves, and effectively controls north-central Saint-Domingue.


  • 1794 - early - Toussaint and the Spaniards control the entire north of the island (apart from Le Cap) (Parkinson, p. 73)
  • 1794-02-04 - French National Assembly abolishes slavery in the colonies; word reaches Saint Domingue a few weeks later. (Parkinson, p. 76)
  • 1794-05-06 - Toussaint takes Mass with Cabrera, then rides out of San Domingo to rejoin France. He has 4,000 trained troops.
  • 1794-06-08 - Gen. John Whyte, British Brigadier-general commandant, attempts to take St. Domingue by proclamation. Promises to pardon those who turn themselves in and to execute those who won't. The British capture Port-au-Prince.
  • 1794-06-15 - Sonthonax is recalled to France to face trial for treason (Parkinson, p. 83)
  • 1794-07-22 - Peace agreement between France and Spain gives Hispaniola to France. Ratified the following year in the Treaty of Basel.
  • 1794-07-24 - Laveaux and Toussaint meet in person for the first time (Parkinson, p. 81)
  • 1794-11-19 - Jay's Treaty between Britain and the U.S. angers the French and leads to the Quasi-War.
  • 1794 - late - The armies of Jean-François and Biassou disband; many go over to Toussaint, "the remaining black commander of stature.” Toussaint’s finger crushed by a falling cannon. The French Assembly names Gen. Etiénne Laveaux as Gov. General of St Domingue.


  • 1795-02-03 - Toussaint, Rigaud, and Beauvais launch simultaneous attacks against the british from Jeremie to Môle St. Nicholas. (Parkinson, p. 93)
  • 1795 - June - Toussaint takes Mirebelais after five months of fighting. (Parkinson, p. 85)
  • 1795-07-22 - Treaty of Basle with Spain cedes eastern two-thirds of Hispaniola to France (Parkinson, p. 92)
  • 1795-10-27 - Pinckney's Treaty (aka Treaty of Madrid brings concessions from Spain to the U.S., defining the boundary with the US and Florida, and guaranteeing unlimited navigation of the Mississippi, use of the port of New Orleans, and the right of deposit.


  • 1796-03-20 - After a military parade at the Place d'Armes in Le Cap, Laveaux is seized and imprisoned by the mulattos. (Parkinson, p. 100)
  • 1796-03-27 - Toussaint rides to Haut-Le Cap to see Laveaux, who is recuperating from his ordeal. (Parkinson, p. 101)
  • 1796-04-01 - Laveaux names Toussaint Lieutenant Governor.
  • 1796-05-11 - Sonthonax, Roume, and Raimond return as Commissioners.
  • 1796-08-19 - The first Treaty of San Ildefonso allies France and Spain against Britain in the French Revolutionary wars
  • 1796-10-19 - Laveaux leaves St. Domingue, at Toussaint's behest, to be the island's representative in France.


  • 1797-spring - Sonthonax appoints Toussaint Commander in Chief.
  • 1797-08-16 - Toussaint arrives in Le Cap with a large force and begins the process of forcing Sonthonax to leave St. Domingue. (Parkinson, p. 108)
  • 1797-08-27 - Sonthonax finally leaves St. Domingue aboard the frigate L'Indien (Parkinson, p. 109)


  • 1798-05-02 - Toussaint negotiates with Gen. Thomas Maitland for the British troop withdrawal from St. Domingue. (The troops leave by October.)
  • 1798-07-07 - United States Congress rescinds treaties with France, marking the beginning of the Quasi War.


  • 1799 - June - The War of Knives begins between Rigaud and Toussaint.
  • 1799-06-13 - Toussaint makes a secret treaty with Great Britain and the United States which states, in part, "No expedition shall be sent out against any of the possessions of his Britannic Majesty and of the United States of America." (Korngold, p. x)
  • 1799-06-24 - U.S. Consul Stevens tells Sec. of State Pickering of the “absolute necessity of supporting Toussaint by every legal measure."
  • 1799-06-26 - John Adams signs a Proclamation Regarding Commerce with St. Domingo, allowing U.S. trade with the colony to resume.
  • 1799-12-04 - U.S. Sec. of State Pickering instructs Navy Capt. Silas Talbot to give "protection to every part of the island under Toussaint's control.”
  • 1799-11-09 - Napoleon overthrows the failing French Directory in a coup d'état. Shortly afterward, he declares himself Consul for life.
  • 1799-12-14 - George Washington dies. On hearing the news, Toussaint orders Saint-Domingue flags to be flown at half-mast.


  • 1800-07-31 - Toussaint -- aided by naval support from the U.S. and Britain -- defeats Rigaud through blockade and seizure. Rigaud escapes to Guadeloupe
  • 1800 - August - Toussaint controls all of Saint-Domingue.
  • 1800-09-30 - US and France sign Treaty of Mortefontaine (aka the Convention of 1800), marking the end of the Quasi-War.
  • 1800-10-01 - The second Treaty of San Ildefonso is signed in secret. In it, Spain gives the Louisiana Territory to France and Napoleon promises to give a kingdom in Italy to Spain for the king’s son-in-law to rule over. (Eventually he usurps Tuscany to create the kingdom of Etruria for this purpose.)


  • 1801-01-28 - Toussaint conquers Santo Domingo (the Spanish side of Hispaniola); he now controls the entire island and abolishes slavery throughout.
  • 1801-03-21 - Treaty of Aranjuez is signed between France & Spain. Spain agrees to cede the North American territory of Louisiana to France. Another secret treaty, the Treaty of Madrid, is signed. It ratifies the 1800 Treaty of San Ildefonso in which France got the Louisiana Territory back. The U.S. did not become aware of the transfer until many months after the fact. Having the only port on the Gulf of Mexico under foreign control leaves the United States with no control over its own trade and with a back door open to invasion.
  • 1801 - July - Toussaint promotes his Constitution. Sends a copy to Napoleon via Gen. Vincent.
  • 1801-10-01 - Peace of Amiens ends England’s war with France. Napoleon orders Gen. Victor Leclerc to create an army and armada to take over Saint-Domingue.
  • 1801 - November - Toussaint's nephew, Moîse, rebels against his uncle.


  • 1802 - February - Leclerc's troops lands in Saint-Domingue. Toussaint's sons, Isaac and Placide, return to Saint-Domingue with Leclerc. They bring their father a letter from Napoleon suggesting that he “negotiate his surrender."
  • 1802 - April - Leclerc reports to Napoleon that he has only 7,000 men left in the field, 3,000 in hospital, as a result of fierce resistance by Toussaint. At Napoleon’s direction Leclerc lies to the rebels, promising that if the fighting ends slavery will not be reinstituted. Toussaint and Dessalines first fight against France, then agree to a truce with Leclerc. Christophe and Dessalines defect from Toussaint to Leclerc. Leclerc tells Napoleon that all blacks over age 12 should be destroyed to preserve peace in the colony. Many French go to Ile de la Tortue to escape the yellow fever epidemic in St. Domingue.
  • 1802-05-05 - Toussaint is allowed to retire from the field.
  • 1802-06-07 - Toussaint is deceived and imprisoned.
  • 1802-06-11 - Toussaint and his family and manservant are deported to France, first on the ship La Creole, then on Le Heros.
  • 1802-08-24 - Toussaint is jailed at Fort de Joux in the Jura Mountains near the Swiss border.
  • 1802-10-16 - Spanish Intendant Morales cancels the U.S. right of deposit at New Orleans.
  • 1802 - October - "Dessalines and Pétion unite in rebellion." (Geggus, p. 223.)
  • 1802-09-15 - General Caffarelli, Napoleon's aide-de-camp makes the first of perhaps seven visits to Fort de Joux to question Toussaint.
  • 1802-11-02 - Leclerc dies of yellow fever.


  • 1803 - March - Leclerc’s successor, General Rochambeau, worsens the massacres in St. Domingue, bringing man-eating dogs from Cuba to hunt blacks.
  • 1803-04-07 - Toussaint dies at Fort de Joux.
  • 1803-04-30 - Louisiana Purchase Treaty is signed in Paris.
  • 1803-11-18 - At the Battle of Vertières, Dessalines and Pétion deliver the final defeat to the French troops now led by Rochambeau.
  • 1803-11-28 - Proclamation of Independence signed by Dessalines, Christophe and Clerveaux.
  • 1803 - December - The last French troops leave Saint-Domingue.


  • 1804-01-01 - At Gonaïves Gen. Jean-Jacques Dessalines proclaims Saint-Domingue's independence. The former colony becomes the Republic of Hayti (later Haiti).
  • 1804 - March-April - Continuing his revenge against the whites, Dessalines begins massacring the remaining colonists. He butchers more than 4,000 men, women and children. Cap Français becomes Cap Haitien.
  • 1804 - October - Dessalines declares himself Jacques I, Emperor of Haiti.
  • 1804-12-02 - Napoleon declares himself emperor of France.


  • 1806-10-17 - Dessalines is assassinated. Henry Christophe will become dictator of north Saint Domingue.
  • 1808 - Napoleon puts his brother Joseph on the Spanish throne. Deposes King Carlos (Charles) IV and his son, Ferdinand VII.
  • 1809 - The British help the Spanish regain Santo Domingo from Haiti.
  • 1811-07-05 - Christophe becomes president of Haiti; names himself King Henry I; renames Cap Haitien as Cap Henry.
  • 1815-06-18 - Napoleon is defeated at Waterloo.
  • 1816-05-03 - Simon Bolivar sails from Haiti for Venezuela with a pledge of support from President Pétion.
  • 1820 - August - Christophe is paralyzed by a stroke.
  • 1820-10-08 - Christophe commits suicide in his palace (purportedly with a silver bullet).
  • 1820-10-26 Jean-Pierre Boyer, Pétion's hand-picked successor, becomes Haiti’s fourth president; is. Serves until 1843. He was a free mulatto who fought first under Toussaint, then against him under Rigaud, then under Leclerc, then Pétion. Renames Cap Henry to Cap Haitien.
  • 1822 - Boyer unites north and south Haiti.
  • 1824 - Boyer establishes a colony of black American farmers in Saint Domingue.
  • 1825-04-17 - King Charles X of France recognizes Haiti in return for the crushing assessment of 150 million francs, payment for the expelled French planters' losses in St. Domingue/Haiti.
  • 1831-09-22 - Boyer founds Pétionville (Port-au-Prince suburb) in honor of Alexandre Pétion, the militant mulatto general who fought against Toussaint.
  • 1833 - Britain formally recognizes Haiti.
  • 1843-03-13 - Gen. Boyer is forced to resign as president of Haiti. Expatriates to Paris.
  • 1834-12-31 - Charles Hérard Aine (Riviere Hérard) is appointed president of Haiti.
  • 1844 - The Spanish people in the Dominican Republic rebel against the Haitians and proclaim their own independence.
  • 1861-04-12 - The American Civil War begins.
  • 1862 - Haiti is recognized by the U.S. Frederick Douglass is named U.S. Consul Minister to Haiti.
  • 1862-Sept. 22 --- President Abraham Lincoln issues his Emancipation Proclamation.
  • 1863-01-01 -- Emancipation becomes law in the U.S.
  • 1865-12-18 --- 13th Amendment to U.S. Constitution. Abolition of slavery.

Also see


  • Geggus, David Patrick (2002). Haitian Revolutionary Studies (Blacks in the Diaspora). Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press. ISBN 0-253-34104-3.
  • Kennedy, Roger G. (1989). Orders from France: The Americans and the French in a Revolutionary World, 1780-1820. New York: Alfred A. Knopf. ISBN 0-394-55592-9.
  • Korngold, Ralph (1944). Citizen Toussaint. Boston: Little, Brown and Company. LCCN 44007566.
  • Parkinson, Wenda (1978). This Gilded African. London: Quartet Books. ISBN 0-7043-2187-4