The Revolution

Saint Domingue French, (1659) 1697-1789

In 1629, the Spanish raided the French and English settlements on St. Christopher. Some of the ousted French settlers settled down on the small island of TORTUGA, off the northwest coast of Hispaniola. In 1659, the first permanent French settlement was founded there. The settlers lived of hunting cattle (roaming the island freely) and of piracy.
From Tortuga, further settlements were established on Hispaniola's western coast, an area neglected by the Spanish : CAPE FRANÇAIS in 1670. Meanwhile, the French colony had become property of the French WEST INDIA COMPANY (1664). In the TREATY OF RIJSWIJK 1697, Spain formally recognized SAINT DOMINGUE (modern Haiti) to be French. The colony's capital was PORT-AU-PRINCE.
The French vigorously established SUGAR and COFFEE PLANTATIONS; the population increased rapidly, especially that of African slaves. Saint Domingue became France's most profitable colony and in the 18th century produced ca. 40 % of the world's sugar and 60 % of it's coffee.
Although the plantation industry generated a lot of wealth, little of it remained on the island; the profits were held in France. The conditions under which the African slaves had to work were characterized by high mortality.

Haiti, from Library of Congress, Country Studies
Articles from Infoplease : Haiti
REFERENCE Jan Rogozinski, A Brief History of the Caribbean (1992) London : Penguin 1994

This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted in 2001, last revised on November 6th 2004

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