In the long run was the Haitian Revolution a mistake?

And France did everything it could to make it a painful moment for centuries to come.

In a cruel twist of fate anti-slavery sentiment swept the world just years after, or was the Haiti revolution the source?

I’m not arguing morality here, rather was it a mistake for Haiti as a whole?

EDIT:Or rather lets posit a world where Haiti remained a French colony(would the Louisiana purchase have occurred?) Slavery is outlawed 20-30 years after the Rebellion that never happened, and Haiti slowly gains independence like other former colonies.

Well, first of all you have to be careful with the word “mistake” here.

If I’m locked in some psycho’s basement and I manage to escape, I have not made a mistake if it happens that a little while later police raid the house and I would have got medical care, water etc quicker by staying. I didn’t, and couldn’t, have known that.

Fair enough, like I said I wasn’t questioning the morality of it which isn’t in doubt.

I was wondering if Haiti would have fared better had it not occurred, had the nation as a whole not been punished for it for centuries(and been seen as fair game).

Well, you’d only have to look at French slaveholding colonies that didn’t have a rebellion, and see how they’re doing. But would they look the same without the Haitian Revolution hanging over the masters’ heads?

This alt-history stuff is hard…

I would note that Haiti later agreeing on paying to France massive indemnities for decades might have significantly impaired Haiti, and it might have been much better off otherwise.

ETA : in any case, it’s difficult to call a sucessful slave revolt a “mistake” even if the result wasn’t as rosy as expected. The kidnapping example given by a previous poster seems quite apt to me. What was the alternative? “My socio-political analysis showed that Haitians might be better off in the long term if we don’t revolt, so we should stay enslaved for the time being”?

I sort of see this along the same line of logic as saying that the trans-Atlantic slave trade was a really windfall because the new-world Black diaspora now don’t have to live in low-development African states. Trans-generational trade offs only make sense: 1) With 20/20 hindsight 2) To those who end up reaping the benefits.

Well, if we **really **want to go into Alt-history territory… if Haitians didn’t mount a successful revolution in 1804, Jefferson might not have banned the US from importing Africans as slaves in 1807; and with the increasing number of slaves, maybe a successful slave revolt could have happened in the south!

Hollywood even makes Oscar winning films about bloody ones that failed horribly.

My impression was that if that treaty to pay crippling retributions for lost property(slaves) was not signed Haiti would have almost certainly been retaken by military force. France had warships offshore and strong ally support in this, no one wanted a slave revolt to go unpunished among nations at the time.

More like it was signed at gunpoint really.

Tough choice. It is worth remembering that Haiti had a particularly brutal form of slavery. Haitian slaves died at a fantastic rate. And Haiti always relied on a constant supply of imports of slaves from Africa, as the local growth rate (births minus deaths) was always negative, frequently in the -5% range. Compare this to the US experience where imports were banned in 1808 and yet slave numbers grew immensely through natural increase alone. In the 50 years between the importation ban and the start of the civil war, slave populations in the US nearly quadrupled (just over 1 million to just under 4 million). If you imagine the same thing happening in Haiti (importation ban), without independence or a significant change in conditions. Haiti would go from 500,000 black slaves to about 50,000 black slaves by 1850 or so. As rough as independence was… it was still better by far than slavery for the slaves.

If anything, the Haitian revolution set back anti-slavery sentiment in the rest of the world. White people looked at Haiti and said, this is what will happen to white people if we ever abolish slavery. It certainly had that effect in the United States.

More like 57 years. The French Empire didn’t abolish slavery until after the revolution of 1848.

I suppose Haiti today might be better off if the revolution had never happened. But I don’t see how that makes it a mistake for the people at the time. Given the choice between being worked to death (quickly) on a Haitian sugar plantation, and free life even in the shittiest shit-hole country on the planet, I’d take the latter in a heartbeat.

Yea mistake was probably the wrong word, as I said I was never questioning whether it was the right thing to do or beneficial for residents at the time because of course it was.

It was more of a alternate history thing, because man did Haiti pay dearly for independence all the way to the 20th century.