Reconstructing Society in the Post Slavery Caribbean
The French Revolution brought the Caribbean slaves equality, fraternity and the long-awaited freedom. Negros and mulattos of Haiti demanded that the slogan of “liberty, equality and fraternity” was applied to Haiti as well as to France. To defend their demand, they conducted for decades one of the most severe and most bloody wars in the history of Western half-globe. Haitian Revolution, being one of the most important episodes of struggle of liberatory fight of modern times, found a wide response worldwide. It has helped to undermine the foundations of slavery system. The victory of the revolution in Haiti dealt a serious blow to the colonial system and contributed to the rise of the liberation movement in Central and South America. Independent Haitian government provided military assistance to the fighters for independence in Latin America. For the termination of the slave trade Spain paid UK about 400 thousand pounds. Although in Cuba slavery was finally abolished only in 1886.
The Haitian Revolution, which at critical moments in the struggle against the Latin American colonial oppression gave refuge and inspired many revolutionaries of the continent, has also had a special and powerful influence on the formation of the Cuban nation. Latin American countries after liberation from Spain became formally independent republics. The stage of formation and development of politically independent Latin American countries and respectively the Latin American nations began.
The leader of the Haitian Revolution, Toussaint L'Ouverture, “taking into account the importance of his services rendered to the colony”, as “a sign of the unlimited trust” for him on the side of the people was declared ruler of San Domingo with the right to appoint a successor. The governor of the colony was both commander in chief. He was responsible for internal and external security of the country, has the authority to communicate directly with the mother country of all questions relating to the interests of the colony. To him the legislative initiative belonged, he signed laws, appointed all civil servants and the commanders of military units, was the chief censor. Legislative body of 1801 Constitution was the central meeting, which included representatives from each department (Fick, 2007).
Back in October 1800 a regulation was issued that prohibited farmers to abandon their plantations and pass to others. The Constitution of 1801 maintained the prohibition. In addition, sale of state land plots smaller than 50 acres was prohibited; with acquiring land, the owner had to guarantee its economic use. In other words, compulsory managing og plantations was assumed.
The relationship between employees and management of plantations (whether appointed by the governor, or former owners) was defined as the relathionships of active and strong family, where the father is necessarily the owner of the land or his representative ... Every employee – is the member of the family income and equity holder. The practice of life was far from idyllic relations stipulated by the constitution. The remaining planters used all possible attachment of workers to the ground for ruthless exploitation. New plantation managers often proved no better conditions than the former owners. This was causing dissatisfaction of former slaves. However, Toussaint Louverture introduced and strengthened the plantation system (Fick, 2007).
The resulting state was a state of transition. It preserved monocracy inherited from the war had just ended and the resulting of still not completely eliminated threat posed by external and internal enemies. In it, on the one hand, freed slaves who have received land, tended to the creation of the peasant economy, and on the other – the interests to strengthen the freedom won by them caused the need to maintain the plantation economy. The state could not defend the freedom of the Negro without placing a large and well-equipped army, control apparatus, fleet, means for the restoration of the war-torn roads, bridges and public buildings, for organizing mail, etc. Emerging farm in any way could not satisfy all these needs. At first it was supposed to have mainly natural character and was not able to provide even a meager diet of the population of the colony. In addition, the skills of slaves in the conduct of the peasant farms were clearly insufficient and confined mainly to the ability to cultivate small gardens. Conservation and restoration of sugar cane plantations and coffee allowed to solve the problem, challengingat the time the state of former slaves. Trade in the products of the traditional economy made it possible to acquire the necessary funds to purchase food (they did not have enough in the war-ravaged country), maintenance of the armed forces of the state apparatus, etc. (Fick, 2013).
So, in the name of the final consolidation of freedom it was necessary to support the plantation, in some extent limiting the freedom of action of the former slaves. The state exercised daily control over the plantation owners and managers of plantations through its commissioners. Corporal punishment was strictly prohibited by law. Severely were punished abuse, theft and mistreatment of workers. Toussaint personally go into all the details, keenly watched to free Negro was not gradually turned into a slave again. To the residence of Toussaint anyone could come and bring a complaint against anyone.
In social life, as much as it was possible with the autocracy, democratic principles were manifested, which was stimulated by the governor. Neither skin color nor social status were impediment to visit any public places and institutions. A lot of attention was paid to the education of children inculcated attentive attitude and respect for the woman (Scott and Zeuske, 2002). The racial problem at all the difficulty of its solving, especially in connection with a match race and class contradictions, rooted tradition, lost former sharpness. Toussaint was doing his utmost to eliminate the remnants of mistrust and suspicion between members of different races.
In the country the court proceedings has been ordered. For fighting abuse Institute of government commissioners was created, performing functions resembling modern features of prosecutors. Cassational Tribunal was established.
The policy of the new state has provided unprecedented flourishing of the economy of the island. Strict military discipline provided dedication of effort and ensured the smooth organization of work. Liberty contributed to the increase in population, which before were dying out and was replenished mainly due to the importation of slaves from Africa. The liberation from slavery served as a powerful impetus of development of black music and art (Scott and Zeuske, 2002).
According to Carolyn Fick, the revolutionary slaves of Saint Domingue radicalized the notion of natural rights and exposed the tensions and philosophical contradictions in Enlightenment thought in ways that no other historical event of that period could have done. In its particularities, as in its universal qualities, the Haitian revolution turned on its head the principles enshrined in the Rights of Man and, contra distinctively, redefined the meaning of freedom” (Fick, 2013, P.395).
At the same time, “Freedom accompanied by citizenship required that the newly freed, that is, the armed slaves who had been waging warfare since the first outbreak of August 1791, should become responsible citizens” (Fick, 2013, P.396).
During the War of Independence were eliminated many barriers to capitalist development in Latin America (the poll tax, labor service population in favor of the Spanish crown, colonial taxes and customs duties). Class and racial inequality wer canceled, Inquisition was banned, a republican system was established (Craton, 1988).
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- Nadiia Kudriashova (Author), 2017, Reconstructing Society in the Post Slavery Caribbean, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/500559