Jean-Jacques Dessalines
Overview
 
Jean-Jacques Dessalines (20 September 1758 – 17 October 1806) was a leader of the Haitian Revolution
Haitian Revolution
The Haitian Revolution was a period of conflict in the French colony of Saint-Domingue, which culminated in the elimination of slavery there and the founding of the Haitian republic...

 and the first ruler of an independent Haiti
Haiti
Haiti , officially the Republic of Haiti , is a Caribbean country. It occupies the western, smaller portion of the island of Hispaniola, in the Greater Antillean archipelago, which it shares with the Dominican Republic. Ayiti was the indigenous Taíno or Amerindian name for the island...

 under the 1801 constitution. Initially regarded as Governor-General, Dessalines later named himself Emperor Jacques I of Haiti (1804–1806). He is regarded as a founding father of Haiti.

Dessalines served as an officer in the French army when the colony was trying to withstand Spanish and British incursions.
Encyclopedia
Jean-Jacques Dessalines (20 September 1758 – 17 October 1806) was a leader of the Haitian Revolution
Haitian Revolution
The Haitian Revolution was a period of conflict in the French colony of Saint-Domingue, which culminated in the elimination of slavery there and the founding of the Haitian republic...

 and the first ruler of an independent Haiti
Haiti
Haiti , officially the Republic of Haiti , is a Caribbean country. It occupies the western, smaller portion of the island of Hispaniola, in the Greater Antillean archipelago, which it shares with the Dominican Republic. Ayiti was the indigenous Taíno or Amerindian name for the island...

 under the 1801 constitution. Initially regarded as Governor-General, Dessalines later named himself Emperor Jacques I of Haiti (1804–1806). He is regarded as a founding father of Haiti.

Dessalines served as an officer in the French army when the colony was trying to withstand Spanish and British incursions. Later he rose to become a commander in the revolt against France. As Toussaint L'Ouverture
Toussaint L'Ouverture
François-Dominique Toussaint Louverture , also Toussaint Bréda, Toussaint-Louverture was the leader of the Haitian Revolution. His military genius and political acumen led to the establishment of the independent black state of Haiti, transforming an entire society of slaves into a free,...

's principal lieutenant, he led many successful engagements, including the Battle of Crête-à-Pierrot
Battle of Crête-à-Pierrot
The Battle of Crête-à-Pierrot was a major battle of the Haitian Revolution. The battle took place at the fort of Crête-à-Pierrot , east of Saint-Marc in the Artibonite River valley. General Charles Leclerc's French colonial army besieged the heavily barricaded fort, which was defended by Haitian...

.

After the betrayal and capture of Toussaint Louverture in 1802, Dessalines became the leader of the revolution. He defeated Napoleon
Napoleon I of France
Napoleon Bonaparte was a French military and political leader during the latter stages of the French Revolution.As Napoleon I, he was Emperor of the French from 1804 to 1815...

's forces at the Battle of Vertières
Battle of Vertières
The Battle of Vertières , the last major battle of the Second War of Haitian Independence, the final part of the Haitian Revolution under François Capois. It was fought between Haitian rebels and French expeditionary forces on 18 November 1803 at Vertières...

 in 1803. Declaring Haiti an independent nation in 1804, Dessalines was chosen by a council of generals to assume the office of Governor-General. In September 1804, he proclaimed himself Emperor and ruled in that capacity until being assassinated in 1806.

Early life

Haitian tradition holds that Dessalines was transported to Saint-Domingue as a slave. Most historians believe that he was born in Saint-Domingue to enslaved African parents. Dessalines was a slave on a plantation in the Plaine-du-Nord
Plaine-du-Nord
Plaine-du-Nord is a municipality in the Acul-du-Nord Arrondissement, in the Nord Department of Haiti.It has 28,544 inhabitants....

 in Cormiers (now known as Cormier
Cormier
Cormier may refer to:In people:* Charles Cormier , a Quebec businessman and political figure* Chris Cormier , a professional bodybuilder* Clément Cormier , a Canadian Priest, academic and the vice chancellor...

), near the town of Grande-Rivière-du-Nord
Grande-Rivière-du-Nord
Grande-Rivière-du-Nord is a municipality in the Grande-Rivière-du-Nord Arrondissement, in the Nord Department of Haiti. Jean-Jacques Dessalines was born there in 1758 on the Cormiers plantation....

, where he was born as Jean-Jacques Duclos, the name of his father, who adopted it from his owner. The identity of his parents, as well as his region of origin in Africa, are not known, but most slaves imported to Haiti came from West, and Central West Africa.

Dessalines had two brothers, Louis and Joseph Duclos, who also took the name Dessalines. The first was the father of Maréchal de Camp Monsieur Raymond Dessalines, created 1st Baron
Baron
Baron is a title of nobility. The word baron comes from Old French baron, itself from Old High German and Latin baro meaning " man, warrior"; it merged with cognate Old English beorn meaning "nobleman"...

 de Louis Dessalines on 8 April 1811, aide-de-camp
Aide-de-camp
An aide-de-camp is a personal assistant, secretary, or adjutant to a person of high rank, usually a senior military officer or a head of state...

 to King Henry I
Henri Christophe
Henri Christophe was a key leader in the Haitian Revolution, winning independence from France in 1804. On 17 February 1807, after the creation of a separate nation in the north, Christophe was elected President of the State of Haiti...

, Privy Council
Privy council
A privy council is a body that advises the head of state of a nation, typically, but not always, in the context of a monarchic government. The word "privy" means "private" or "secret"; thus, a privy council was originally a committee of the monarch's closest advisors to give confidential advice on...

or, Secretary-General
Secretary-General
-International intergovernmental organizations:-International nongovernmental organizations:-Sports governing bodies:...

 of the Ministry of War
Ministry of War
A Ministry of War or Ministry for War is an administrative, supply and services agency of an army, as opposed to the entire military establishment. Both Mexico and Brazil both still maintain a War Department for the support of their armies...

 between 1811 and 1820 and Member of the Royal Chamber of Public Instruction between 1818 and 1820, who received the degree of Knight
Knight
A knight was a member of a class of lower nobility in the High Middle Ages.By the Late Middle Ages, the rank had become associated with the ideals of chivalry, a code of conduct for the perfect courtly Christian warrior....

 of the Order of St. Henry on 1 May 1811 and was killed by the revolutionaries at Cap-Henri on 10 October 1820. The second was the father of Maréchal de Camp Monsieur Dessalines, created 1st Baron de Joseph Dessalines in 1816, Chamberlain
Chamberlain (office)
A chamberlain is an officer in charge of managing a household. In many countries there are ceremonial posts associated with the household of the sovereign....

 to Prince Jacques-Victor Henry, the Prince Royal of Haiti, and Major
Major
Major is a rank of commissioned officer, with corresponding ranks existing in almost every military in the world.When used unhyphenated, in conjunction with no other indicator of rank, the term refers to the rank just senior to that of an Army captain and just below the rank of lieutenant colonel. ...

 of the Grenadiers de la Garde, who received the degree of Knight of the Order of St. Henry on 28 October 1815.

Working in the sugar cane fields as a laborer, Dessalines rose to the rank of commandeur or foreman. He worked on the plantation of a Frenchman named Henry Duclos until he was about 30 years old. During this time, Dessalines was known as Jacques Duclos; his last name was assigned by his master, as was custom among the whites. Duclos was then bought by a free black man named Dessalines, from whom he received the surname which he kept in freedom. From then on he was called Jean-Jacques Dessalines. Jean-Jacques Dessalines worked for him for about three years, until the slave uprising of 1791, which spread across the Plaine du Nord.

Dessalines was embittered towards both whites and gens de couleur. After the defeat of French royalists during the Haitian Revolution, he ordered the killing of all royalists to ensure that Saint-Domingue would be a nation. Nonetheless, after declaring himself Governor-for-Life in 1804, Jean-Jacques Dessalines took his old master Dessalines into his house and gave him a job.

Revolution

In 1791, Jean-Jacques Dessalines joined the slave rebellion of the northern plains led by Jean François
Jean François
Jean-François Papillon was an African-born slave that had worked in the plantation of Papillon in the last decades of the 18th Century, in the North Province of Saint-Domingue...

 Papillon and Georges Biassou
Georges Biassou
Georges Biassou was an early leader of the 1791 slave rising in Saint-Domingue that began the Haïtian Revolution...

. This rebellion was the first action of what would become the Haitian Revolution. Dessalines became a lieutenant in Papillon's army and followed him to Santo Domingo, where he enlisted to serve Spain's military forces against the French colony of Saint-Domingue.

It was then that Dessalines met the rising military commander Toussaint Bréda (later known as Toussaint Louverture), a mature man also born into slavery, who was fighting with Spanish forces on Hispaniola. These men wanted above all to defeat slavery. In 1794, after the French declared an end to slavery, Toussaint Louverture switched allegiances to the French. He fought for the French Republic against both the Spanish and British. Dessalines followed, becoming a chief lieutenant to Toussaint Louverture and rising to the rank of brigadier general by 1799.

Dessalines commanded many successful engagements, including the captures of Jacmel
Jacmel
Jacmel, also known by its indigenous Taíno name of Yaquimel, is a town in southern Haiti founded in 1698. It is the capital of the department of Sud-Est and has an estimated population of 40,000, while the municipality of Jacmel had a population of 137,966 at the 2003 Census.The buildings are...

, Petit-Goâve, Miragoâne
Miragoane
Miragoâne is a coastal town in western Haïti and the capital of the Nippes Department. It is regarded as one of the major ports in the trade in used goods. Bales of used clothing, shoes, appliances and used cars arrive at the port from Miami and other U.S. cities. Local merchants in the informal...

 and Anse-à-Veau
Anse-à-Veau
Anse-à-Veau is a municipality in the Anse-à-Veau Arrondissement, in the Nippes Department of Haiti.It has 55,138 inhabitants....

. In 1801, Dessalines quickly ended an insurrection in the north led by Louverture's own nephew, General Moyse. Dessalines gained a reputation for his "take no prisoners" policy, and for burning homes and entire villages to the ground.

The rebellious slaves were able to restore most of Saint-Domingue to France, with Louverture in control and finally appointed by the French as Governor General of the colony. Louverture wanted Saint-Domingue to have more autonomy. He directed the creation of a new constitution to establish that, as well as rules for how the colony would operate under freedom. He also named himself as governor-for-life, while still swearing his loyalty to France.

The French government had been through changes and was led by Napoleon I, then calling himself First Consul. Many white and mulatto planters had been lobbying the government to reimpose slavery in Saint-Domingue. The French responded by dispatching an expeditionary force to restore French rule to the island, an army and ships led by General Charles Leclerc
Charles Leclerc
Charles Victoire Emmanuel Leclerc was a French Army general and husband to Pauline Bonaparte, sister to Napoleon Bonaparte.-To 1801:...

. Louverture and Dessalines fought against the invading French forces, with Dessalines defeating them at the battle for which he is most famous, Crête-à-Pierrot
Battle of Crête-à-Pierrot
The Battle of Crête-à-Pierrot was a major battle of the Haitian Revolution. The battle took place at the fort of Crête-à-Pierrot , east of Saint-Marc in the Artibonite River valley. General Charles Leclerc's French colonial army besieged the heavily barricaded fort, which was defended by Haitian...

.

During the 11 March 1802 battle, Dessalines and his 1,300 men defended a small fort against 18,000 attackers. To motivate his troops at the start of the battle, he waved a lit torch near an open powder keg and declared that he would blow the fort up should the French break through. The defenders inflicted heavy casualties on the attacking army, but after a 20-day siege they were forced to abandon the fort due to a shortage of food and munitions. Nonetheless, the rebels were able to force their way through the enemy lines and into the Cahos Mountains, with their army still largely intact.

The French soldiers under Leclerc were accompanied by mulatto
Mulatto
Mulatto denotes a person with one white parent and one black parent, or more broadly, a person of mixed black and white ancestry. Contemporary usage of the term varies greatly, and the broader sense of the term makes its application rather subjective, as not all people of mixed white and black...

 troops led by gens de couleur Alexandre Pétion
Alexandre Pétion
Alexandre Sabès Pétion was President of the Republic of Haiti from 1806 until his death. He is considered as one of Haiti's founding fathers, together with Toussaint Louverture, Jean-Jacques Dessalines, and his rival Henri Christophe.-Early life:Pétion was born in Port-au-Prince to a Haitian...

 and André Rigaud
André Rigaud
Benoit Joseph André Rigaud was the leading mulatto military leader during the Haïtian Revolution. Among his protégés were Alexandre Pétion and Jean-Pierre Boyer, both future presidents of Haïti.-The revolutionary:...

 from Saint-Domingue. Pétion and Rigaud, both wealthy with white fathers, had opposed Louverture's leadership. They had tried to establish separate independence in the South of Saint-Domingue, an area where wealthy gens de couleur
Gens de couleur
Gens de couleur is a French term meaning "people of color." The term was commonly used in France's West Indian colonies prior to the abolition of slavery, where it was a short form of gens de couleur libres ....

were concentrated in plantations. Toussaint Louverture's forces had defeated them three years earlier.

After the Battle of Crête-à-Pierrot, Dessalines defected from his long-time ally Louverture and briefly sided with Leclerc, Pétion, and Rigaud. When it became clear that the French intended to re-establish slavery on Saint-Domingue, as they had on Guadeloupe, Dessalines and Pétion switched sides again in October 1802, to oppose the French. Leclerc died of yellow fever, which also took many French troops.

The brutal tactics of Leclerc's successor, Rochambeau
Donatien-Marie-Joseph de Vimeur, vicomte de Rochambeau
Donatien-Marie-Joseph de Vimeur, vicomte de Rochambeau was a French soldier, the son of Jean-Baptiste Donatien de Vimeur, comte de Rochambeau....

, helped to unify rebel forces against the French. Dessalines, the leader of the Revolution after Toussaint's capture on 7 June 1802, commanded the rebel forces against a French army weakened by a yellow fever
Yellow fever
Yellow fever is an acute viral hemorrhagic disease. The virus is a 40 to 50 nm enveloped RNA virus with positive sense of the Flaviviridae family....

 epidemic. His forces achieved a series of victories against the French, culminating in the last major battle of the revolution, the Battle of Vertières
Battle of Vertières
The Battle of Vertières , the last major battle of the Second War of Haitian Independence, the final part of the Haitian Revolution under François Capois. It was fought between Haitian rebels and French expeditionary forces on 18 November 1803 at Vertières...

. On 18 November 1803, black and mulatto forces under Dessalines and Pétion attacked the fort of Vertières, held by Rochambeau, near Cap-Français in the north. Rochambeau and his troops surrendered the next day. On 4 December 1803, the French colonial army of Napoleon Bonaparte surrendered its last remaining territory to Dessalines' forces. This officially ended the only slave rebellion in world history which successfully resulted in establishing an independent nation.

Dessalines then promulgated the Declaration of Independence in 1804, and declared himself Emperor.

Emperor

On 1 January 1804, from the city of Gonaïves
Gonaïves
Gonaïves is a city in northern Haiti, the capital of the Artibonite Department. It has a population of about 104,825 people . The city's name derives from the original Amerindian name of Gonaibo. It is also known as Haïti's "independence city"...

, Dessalines officially declared the former colony's independence and renamed it "Haiti" after the indigenous Taíno name. He had served as Governor-General of Saint-Domingue since 30 November 1803. After the declaration of independence, Dessalines named himself Governor-General-for-life of Haiti and served in that role until 22 September 1804, when he proclaimed himself Emperor of Haiti. He was crowned Emperor Jacques I in a coronation
Coronation
A coronation is a ceremony marking the formal investiture of a monarch and/or their consort with regal power, usually involving the placement of a crown upon their head and the presentation of other items of regalia...

 ceremony on 6 October in the city of Le Cap. On 20 May 1805, his government released the Imperial Constitution, naming Jean-Jacques Dessalines emperor for life with the right to name his successor.

Dessalines tried hard to keep the sugar
Sugar
Sugar is a class of edible crystalline carbohydrates, mainly sucrose, lactose, and fructose, characterized by a sweet flavor.Sucrose in its refined form primarily comes from sugar cane and sugar beet...

 industry and plantation
Plantation
A plantation is a long artificially established forest, farm or estate, where crops are grown for sale, often in distant markets rather than for local on-site consumption...

s running and producing without slavery. Born into slavery and having worked under white masters for 30 years, as well as having seen many atrocities by all peoples, Dessalines did not trust the white French people. Dessalines declared Haiti an all-black nation and forbade whites from owning property or land there.

He enforced a harsh regimen of plantation labor, described by the historian Michel-Rolph Trouillot
Michel-Rolph Trouillot
Michel-Rolph Trouillot is an academic and anthropologist currently working as Professor of Anthropology and of Social Sciences at the University of Chicago....

 as caporalisme agraire (agrarian militarism). As had Toussaint L'Ouverture, Dessalines demanded that all blacks work either as soldiers to protect the nation or as laborers on the plantations to generate crops and income to keep the nation going. His forces were strict in enforcing this, to the extent that some blacks felt as if they were again enslaved. Although there has been found documents of real enslavement by the emperor.

Dessalines believed in the tight regulation of foreign trade, which was essential for Haiti's sugar and coffee
Coffee
Coffee is a brewed beverage with a dark,init brooo acidic flavor prepared from the roasted seeds of the coffee plant, colloquially called coffee beans. The beans are found in coffee cherries, which grow on trees cultivated in over 70 countries, primarily in equatorial Latin America, Southeast Asia,...

 based export economy. Like Toussaint L'Ouverture, Dessalines encouraged merchants from Britain and the United States over those from France. For his administration, Dessalines needed literate and educated officials and managers. He placed in these positions well-educated Haitians, who were disproportionately from the light-skinned elite, as gens de couleur were most likely to have been educated.

Death and legacy

Disaffected members of Dessalines' administration, including Alexandre Pétion
Alexandre Pétion
Alexandre Sabès Pétion was President of the Republic of Haiti from 1806 until his death. He is considered as one of Haiti's founding fathers, together with Toussaint Louverture, Jean-Jacques Dessalines, and his rival Henri Christophe.-Early life:Pétion was born in Port-au-Prince to a Haitian...

 and Henri Christophe
Henri Christophe
Henri Christophe was a key leader in the Haitian Revolution, winning independence from France in 1804. On 17 February 1807, after the creation of a separate nation in the north, Christophe was elected President of the State of Haiti...

, began a conspiracy to overthrow the Emperor. Dessalines was assassinated north of the capital city, Port-au-Prince
Port-au-Prince
Port-au-Prince is the capital and largest city of the Caribbean nation of Haiti. The city's population was 704,776 as of the 2003 census, and was officially estimated to have reached 897,859 in 2009....

, at Pont Larnage, (now known as Pont-Rouge) on 17 October 1806 on his way to fight the rebels. Some historians claim that he was actually killed at Pétion's house at Rue l'Enterrement after a meeting to negotiate the power and the future of the young nation. A monument at the northern entrance of the Haitian capital marks the place where the Emperor was killed. Défilée, a black woman from humble background, took the mutilated body of the Emperor to bury him.

Although reviled by generations of Haitians for his autocratic ways, by the beginning of the 20th century, Dessalines began to be reassessed as an icon of Haitian nationalism. The national anthem
National anthem
A national anthem is a generally patriotic musical composition that evokes and eulogizes the history, traditions and struggles of its people, recognized either by a nation's government as the official national song, or by convention through use by the people.- History :Anthems rose to prominence...

 of Haiti, La Dessalinienne
La Dessalinienne
La Dessalinienne is the national anthem of Haiti, honoring Jean-Jacques Dessalines. It was written by Justin Lhérisson and composed by Nicolas Geffrard and adopted in 1904.- Creole Lyrics :...

, is named in his honor, as is the city of Dessalines
Dessalines
Dessalines can refer to:* Jean-Jacques Dessalines, a general and statesman of Haiti.** La Dessalinienne, the national anthem of Haiti named in his honor.** Arrondissement of Dessalines, a Haitian arrondissement in the Artibonite Department...

.

Dessalines was a great-grandfather of Cincinnatus Leconte
Cincinnatus Leconte
Jean-Jacques Dessalines Michel Cincinnatus Leconte was President of Haiti from August 15, 1911 until his death on August 8, 1912. He was a great-grandson of Jean-Jacques Dessalines—a former African slave who briefly held power as Emperor of Haiti—and an uncle of Joseph Laroche, the only black...

, who served as President of Haiti from 1911 to 1912.

External links


|-
The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.
 
x
OK