Before the onset of the slave revolt of Saint-Domingue, currently known as Haiti, the island was
one the largest, most populous, prominent, and economically wealthy possessions owned by the
French. It exported mostly sugar but also produced small amounts of coffee, cacao, indigo, and,
of course, cotton (Ferguson, 2009, ¶4). The massive number of slaves on the island in relation to
whites— outnumbering whites 14 to 1—was always problematic to plantation owners and
overseers (Trotter, 2001, p. 53). History shows that the enslaved people used a number of
resistance methods before an actual, full-on rebellion, ensued.
Since Africans had extensive
knowledge of the topography, they would use plants contrary to their medicinal purposes to
poison their masters (Trotter, 2001, p. 94). The enslaved people’s most powerful form of
resistance, though, came in the form of escaping and running away (Trotter, 2001, p. 94). Not
only that, bondspersons would use language as a form of resistance. Since blacks were forbidden
from learning and being taught Standard English, they would advertently perform a duty or task
wrong to show that they did not understand what was being asked of them (Trotter, 2001, p. 84).
In this essay, I will explore how the initial revolution of Saint-Domingue resulted in other
rebellions taking shape in other parts of the world as well as how those monumental events still
have a footprint in the African American community today.
The idea of revolting was not conjured up by mere happenstance or fortuitous