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The Horrors of Saint Domingo: Monarchy or Republic?

Gary Oswald

Old and Foolish now
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Some particularly excellent pictures this time @AndyC. Love the one of Dessalines with the woman's head.

The existing rebels against Louverture and Rigaud which the Generals joined when they defected in 1802 are fascinating figures. A lot of the smaller ones were little more than brigand gangs but the bigger rebel groups which held land are interesting for the way they rejected the Louverture idea of playing the European game and trying to develop an export trading economy entirely and set up a self sufficient state.

Sans-Souci ran the largest of those groups but I could also mention Scylla and Macaya. Macaya is mostly notable for allegedly telling Dessalines during the period of negotiations between the rebels and the defectors when Henry killed Sans-Souci that the only King of the Blacks he'd ever recognise was the King of Kongo. Which illustrates a crucial difference between the two groups. The rebels tended to have arrived as adults from Africa and had experience of the African political scene whereas Louverture and Rigaud's factions were primarily raised to adulthood in Haiti and so more influenced by Europeans.

Emperor Dessalines and King Henry both ruled as absolute monarchs in the style of the French Kings. African Kings tended to be much less powerful and much more bound by the views of their subchiefs. Hence the workers councils being far more prominent in the African rebel groups than they were afterwards.

The flip side to this is part of the reason Dessalines was accepted as the leader of the rebels was the African rebel groups tended to be divided by language, you had Kongo groups and Yoruba groups and Fon groups. It's arguable that you needed a Haitian born, French speaking figure to unite them as he'd be outside of that division. Prior to the defection there wasn't as much working together as there was afterwards.
 

Alex Richards

A musical Hubble Space Telescope
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It occurs to me that in either the 'surviving Kingdom' or the 'Royal conquest of South Haiti' scenarios that you could well see the regime overthrown as a consequence of the 1842 Cap-Haïtien earthquake- after all whether it be King Henry or a (likely quite new to the throne) King Jacques-Victor who's in charge they're likely to prioritise the rebuilding of the Sans Souci Palace over anything else.
 

Gary Oswald

Old and Foolish now
Sea Lion Press staff
Published by SLP
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It occurs to me that in either the 'surviving Kingdom' or the 'Royal conquest of South Haiti' scenarios that you could well see the regime overthrown as a consequence of the 1842 Cap-Haïtien earthquake- after all whether it be King Henry or a (likely quite new to the throne) King Jacques-Victor who's in charge they're likely to prioritise the rebuilding of the Sans Souci Palace over anything else.
That's a good point. And you're right the priority will almost certainly be rebuilding the palaces rather than the homes.

I don't really buy a Kingdom of Haiti surviving to the modern day, tbh. It's a fun setting but there's too many crisis points coming up that it'll struggle to get past. Something like 1820 seems inevitable, the people of Haiti were veterans at rebelling against those oppressing them. And the Kingdom was designed around oppression.

And even if the Kingdom survives the early years like I said in the article the one thing everyone praises about the Kingdom, it actually having a working education system, is something that will work against it long term.

Another great article, but Christ this series is depressing.
It's not going to become less so, I'm afraid. Next up is Boyer and everything's about to get even worse.

The tragedy of Haiti is arguably one of humanities worst ever moments.
 

Avatar Of Khaine

Well-known member
That's a good point. And you're right the priority will almost certainly be rebuilding the palaces rather than the homes.

I don't really buy a Kingdom of Haiti surviving to the modern day, tbh. It's a fun setting but there's too many crisis points coming up that it'll struggle to get past. Something like 1820 seems inevitable, the people of Haiti were veterans at rebelling against those oppressing them. And the Kingdom was designed around oppression.

And even if the Kingdom survives the early years like I said in the article the one thing everyone praises about the Kingdom, it actually having a working education system, is something that will work against it long term.



It's not going to become less so, I'm afraid. Next up is Boyer and everything's about to get even worse.

The tragedy of Haiti is arguably one of humanities worst ever moments.
To me this reads that there is an interesting story of Haitian exceptionalism in a surviving Kingdom that manages to somehow thread the needle through every conflict point and retain some form of monarchy in the present that leads to interesting knock-on effects of this miraculous reputation in the US and Africa later on.

But perhaps it would be too hard that even a story about it managing so would stretch credulity too much.
 
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