Sunday, January 5, 2014

The many meanings of the Haitian Declaration of Independence

Two hundred and ten years ago, on 1 January 1804, Haiti formally declared its independence from France at the end of a bitter war against forces sent by Napoléon Bonaparte. This was only the second time, after the United States in 1776, that an American colony had declared independence, so the event called for pomp and circumstance. Haiti’s generals, led by Jean-Jacques Dessalines, gathered in the western city of Gonaïves, where they listened to a public reading of the Declaration by the mixed-race secretary Louis Boisrond-Tonnerre. A handwritten original has yet to be found, but early imprints and manuscript copies have survived.

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