The Haitian Revolution has gone down in history as one of, if not the most successful slave rebellion of all time. It led to the breakdown of a social structure and social change not only on the island of Haiti, but around the globe. In 1791, the slaves of Saint Domingue rose to revolt against the French who had colonized them. The slaves were violent and brutal as they took out their anger on their former masters through “pillage, rape, torture, mutilation, and death.” It was one of the most violent revolutions in history. Eventually, nearly one hundred thousand slaves joined the revolt and the slaves controlled a third of the island within a year. The slaves killed four thousand whites and burned or destroyed around one-hundred and eighty plantations.
Eventually, the French Legislative Assembly realized that something had to change. They realized that they had to do whatever it took to end the rebellion, even if it meant giving in to part of what the slaves were demanding. They also recognized that if their plantations continued to be destroyed, France’s economy would be crippled. As a result, in March of 1792, the Legislative Assembly granted civil and political rights to free men of color in the colonies. This move essentially broke apart the previous social structure in French colonies. In the past, black were considered inferior to white and had absolutely no rights, whether they were free or slaves. Now, the social structure was altered and free black men were granted rights in which they never had. Obviously, this did not result in equality but it allowed them to participate in government and hold rights. This was an enormous social change because it altered the previous social structure of complete white superiority.
The Haitian Revolution led to social change not only in French colonies, but around the entire world. This was essentially the first time that a major European power granted rights to any men of color. World wide powers such as Spain, England, and the Untied Stated looked upon the move with astonishment. Word of the Legislative Assembly’s move of desperation to end the rebellion spread around the world and provided slaves with hope that led to many more slave rebellions. Many of these rebellions eventually led to more rights be granted to men of color. The social structure of white superiority not only broke down in Haiti, but it created a trickle down effect that spread throughout the entire world over the next two centuries. Although it was violent, bloody, and horrific, the Haitian Revolution led to social change around the globe.