In 1802, Napoleon Bonaparte sent a large army to reconquer the former colony. Toussaint urged his countrymen to take up arms once again to resist the invaders. In April 1802 the French agreed to a truce, but then they captured Toussaint and carried him in chains to France. He died there in a cold mountain prison a year later.
The struggle for freedom continued, however, and late in 1803, with yellow fever destroying their army, the French surrendered. In January 1804, the island declared itself an independent country under the name of Haiti. In the following years, rival Haitian leaders fought for power. Finally, in 1820, Haiti became a republic.
Toussaint's army defeated British, Spanish, and French armies to end slavery in Haiti and win independence from France. Why would the British and Spanish join the fight against the rebels?
What conditions led to the Haitian fight for independence?
The slave revolt in Haiti frightened creoles in Spanish America. Although they wanted power themselves, most had no desire for economic or social changes that might threaten their way of life. In 1810, however, a creole priest in Mexico, Father Miguel Hidalgo (hee DAL goh), raised his voice for freedom.
Father Hidalgo presided over the poor rural parish of Dolores. On September 15, 1810, he rang the church bells summoning the people to prayer. When they gathered, he startled them with an urgent appeal, “My children, will you be free?” Father Hidalgo's speech became known as “el Grito de Dolores”—the cry of Dolores. It called Mexicans to fight for independence.
A ragged army of poor mestizos and Native Americans rallied to Father Hidalgo and marched to the outskirts of Mexico City. At first, some creoles supported the revolt. However, they soon rejected Hidalgo's call for an end to slavery and his plea for reforms to improve conditions for Native Americans. They felt that these policies would cost them power.
After some early successes, the rebels faced growing opposition. Less than a year after he issued the “Grito,” Hidalgo was captured and executed, and his followers scattered.
Another priest picked up the banner of revolution. Father José Morelos was a mestizo who called for wide-ranging social and political reform. He wanted to improve conditions for the majority of Mexicans, abolish slavery, and give the vote to all men. For four years, Morelos led rebel forces before he, too, was captured and shot in 1815.
Father Hidalgo led the Mexican independence movement, battling Spanish forces for almost a year before his capture and execution.