The first and last king of Haiti – Marlene Daut


The royal couple of Haiti rode into their
coronation to thunderous applause. After receiving his ornate
crown and scepter, Henry Christophe ascended his throne,
towering 20 meters in the air. But little did the cheering onlookers
know that the first king of Haiti would also be its last. Enslaved at birth on the
island of Grenada, Christophe spent his childhood being
moved between multiple Caribbean islands. Just 12 years old in 1779, he accompanied his master to aid the
American revolutionaries in the Battle of Savannah. This prolonged siege would be Christophe’s
first encounter with violent revolution. There are few surviving written records about Christophe’s life immediately
after the war. Over the next decade, we know he worked as a mason
and a waiter at a hotel in the French colony of Saint-Domingue,
as Haiti was then known. In 1791, when the colony’s
slaves rose up in rebellion, Christophe got another opportunity
to fight for freedom. Led by Toussaint Louverture, the rebels
fought against plantation owners, as well as British and Spanish forces
seeking control of the island. Christophe quickly rose
through the ranks, proving himself the equal of more
experienced generals. By 1793, Louverture had successfully liberated
all of Saint-Domingue’s enslaved people, and by 1801 he’d established the
island as a semi-autonomous colony. But during this time, Napoleon Bonaparte
had assumed power in France, and made it his mission to restore
slavery and French authority throughout the empire. French attempts to reinstate slavery
met fierce resistance, with General Christophe even
burning the capital city to prevent military occupation. Finally, the rebellion and an
outbreak of yellow fever forced French soldiers to withdraw—
but the fight was not without casualties. Louverture was captured,
and left to die in a French prison; a fate that Christophe’s nine-year-old son
would share only a few years later. Following the revolution, Christophe and generals Jean-Jacques
Dessalines and Alexandre Pétion rose to prominent positions
in the new government. In 1804, Dessalines was proclaimed
the emperor of independent Haiti. But his desire to hold exclusive power
alienated his supporters. Eventually, Dessalines’ rule incited
a political conspiracy that ended in his assassination in 1806. The subsequent power struggle led to a
Civil War, which split the country in two. By 1807, Christophe was governing as
president of the north in Cap-Haïtien, and Pétion was ruling the south
from Port-au-Prince. Pétion tried to stay true to the
revolution’s democratic roots by modeling his republic after
the United States. He even supported anti-colonial
revolutionaries in other nations. These policies endeared
him to his people, but they slowed trade and economic growth. Christophe, conversely, had more
aggressive plans for an independent Haiti. He redistributed land to the people, while
retaining state control of agriculture. He also established trade with
many foreign nations, including Great Britain and
the United States, and pledged non-interference
with their foreign policies. He even built a massive Citadel in case
the French tried to invade again. To accomplish all of this, Christophe
instituted mandatory labor, and to strengthen his authority,
he crowned himself king in 1811. During his reign, he lived in an
elegant palace called Sans Souci along with his wife and their
three remaining children. Christophe’s kingdom oversaw rapid
development of trade, industry, culture, and education. He imported renowned European
artists to Haiti’s cultural scene, as well as European teachers, in order
to establish public education. But while the king was initially
popular among his subjects, his labor mandates were an
uncomfortable reminder of the slavery Haitians fought to destroy. Over time, his increasingly authoritarian
policies lost support, and his opponents to the south
gained strength. In October 1820, his reign finally
reached its tragic conclusion. Months after a debilitating stroke
left him unable to govern, key members of his military
defected to southern forces. Betrayed and despondent,
the king committed suicide. Today, the traces of Christophe’s
complicated history can still be found in the crumbling
remains of his palaces, and in Haiti’s legacy as the first nation
to permanently abolish slavery.

100 thoughts on “The first and last king of Haiti – Marlene Daut”

  1. As a first-generation American child to Haitian parents, it’s amazing to see my heritage portrayed in such a powerful way. Thank you TED-Ed for remembering the Pearl of the Antilles. 🙏🏾🙏🏾🙏🏾🙏🏾🙏🏾🙏🏾.

    P.S. Those pronunciations of the names won’t go unappreciated

  2. 0:40 The French lost the 1779 battle for Savannah. Why does the animation show the British raising the white flag?

  3. France currently owes Haiti around 25B dollars for 1825. Many other powers like USA, Canada contributed in the destruction of Haiti.

  4. France prohibited slavery in 1315 and in colonies in 1542. Implementation was lacking, as Haiti shows. French Republic also abolished slavery in 1794.

  5. Kudos to whoever it was who decided to make this piece👏🏾👏🏾👏🏾. Haiti has such a rich history that can even rival the histories of so many other "storied" nations of the world. This video could've easily been made about L'overture himself, or even Jean Jaccques Dessalines, in my opinion the most interesting figure in the Haitian Revolution. Thanks again for making this video

  6. Suggestion: at the end you should show your list of cited references and maybe recommended reading. Haitian history is complicated enough as it is. We could benefit from whatever references you use.

  7. Visited island in 94..at the time, much tension between DR and Haiti..both claimed the gravesite of Columbus.. and and old white guy turned off power, changed votes, stole election.

  8. The surname "Louverture" in Toussaint's name literally means 'the opening' in french. Christophe's palace "Sans souci" could also be translated with "without worry" or "carefree". Pretty Ironic considering how they both died 😥.

  9. "He redistributed lands to local farmers" <—He killed thousands of white land owners, their wife's and children, then gave the land to people who had no fucking clue how to farm, thus creating famine. -Literally the oldest story in the book when it comes to African's.

  10. Can you do more riddles I really like them and you haven't been making any lately so could you please make some more rentals

  11. Remember about fact that Napoleon send Polish soliders to fight Haitians. Polish soldiers, who were fighting for their own freedom (hoping that Napoleon would free them from Russia, Prussia and Austria) didn't like it, and refused to fight (with many soldiers even joining Haitian side).

  12. The one fact that this video failed to mention is that the slaves were able to free themselves was by the blunder committed by the french, which was importing more slaves than there were french inhabitant of the western part of the Hispaniola. In fact, this video is totally wrong in its facts about the history of the whole island known as the Hispaniola.

    Spain ruled the entire island. Spain neglected the island which was raided by British, Dutch, and French marauders during its involving in the euroüean war. In 1795 Spain ceded the western one-thirds of Hispaniola to France. The french initially named their part of the island Saint-Domingue and the spaniard named their part Hispaniola, which later would change to Dominican Republic when it claimed its independence in 1844.

    Once the haitian revolted against the french and obtained their freedom in 1804, Haiti was born. Haitian began consolidating their government and organizing their country. From time to time, they began to incurse raids into the spanish part of the island. which was also looking into gaining its independence from Spain.

    In 1822, under the leadership of T Jean-Pierre Boyer, the haitian overran the eastern part of the island going into a killing spread of white and mulatos, forced out the traditional ruling class, and all but obliterated the western European and Hispanic traditions. They ruled the entire island until 1844 when the dominican declared its independence from Haiti.

    So, there you have it in a nutshell part of the history of the Hispaniola.

  13. Lies.. lies lies.. !!!👹👺👀
    1st lie did not mention that had an Empire Dessalines was the Emperor
    2nd lie ,no white man gave him a gun to help the US ( Haiti did send soldiers to defeat the British so the US could become a Nation )

  14. 😇👑Didn't even mention Haiti has fought and gave their lives to free the entire South of America from slavery and European colonization 💪👍 Haiti even saved Greece with military help from the Ottoman empire.

  15. Some of those pronunciations sounded kinda cringe to me (I speak Haitian Creole) but other than that great video about Haitian culture.

  16. No more slaves!
    Marlene: excuse me, that’s f*ckin’ illegal and i will replace it with some f*ckin’ good laws!

  17. Cuban historian, ethnomusicologist, embassador and notable author, Alejo Carpentier, chronicles Haitian independence in his classic novel, The Kingdom of This World (El reino de este mundo).

  18. Mandatory labor was not without pay. It was more like a sacrifice to protect the new nation which was literally isolated by all the big Imperialists.
    They were building a big fortress out of fear for another invasion by France cause Napoléon wanted to come back and reinstate slavery. How do you think they would achieve that construction As a matter of fact, when Christophe died, Boyer who was so weak had to pay France an equivalent of 25 billions of today money to prevent the French from coming back.
    I'm pretty sure all of you who are criticizing are Caucasians, already quick to come up with their own conclusion. 🤦🏿‍♂️

  19. Please make a video on what consists the electric and magnetic field i.e what are the made off and how when these two inerect current produces i.e which type of particle intersect to produce electricity

  20. there is no democracy in usa, you sad down syndromes can't even vote for your president. George W Bush became president second time, despite 80% of usa population against it, almost the same with Donald Trump. The opinion of population doesn't mean a thing. Democracy? Never heard of it. Only small corrupt communion rule of usa

  21. Henry Christophe │ Dominican Republic

    The Haitian general Henry Christophe (referred to as Enrique Cristóbal in Spanish-language accounts), under Dessalines, attacked the towns of Moca and Santiago. The barrister Gaspar de Arredondo y Pichardo wrote, "40 children had their throats cut at the Moca's church, and the bodies found at the presbytery, which is the space that encircles the church's altar…" This event was one of several documented accounts of atrocities perpetrated by General Christophe, under the orders of Dessalines; they retreated from the Spanish-ruled side of the island after their failed invasion attempt of 1805.

    On 6 April 1805, having gathered all his troops, General Christophe took all male prisoners to the local cemetery and proceeded to slit their throats, among them Presbyter Vásquez and 20 more priests. Later he set on fire the whole town along with its five churches. On his way out he took along, fashioned like a herd, 249 women, 430 girls and 318 boys, a steep figure considering the relatively low population of the town at that time. Alejandro Llenas wrote that Christophe took 997 from Santiago alone, and "Monte Plata, San Pedro and Cotuí were reduced to ashes, and their residents either had their throats slit or were taken captives by the thousands, like farm animals, tied up and getting beaten on their way to Haiti."

    Before leaving Santo Domingo, Dessalines "gave the order to … commanders posted in conquered communities, to round up all dwellers and subdue them to prison, in so, at first command, have them stomped by mules and other beasts upon arriving to the Haitian side."

  22. Forced labour… a palace called “Sans souci”… I bet he’s gonna get killed.
    Edit: wow! he committed suicide… I expected a murder

  23. 2:25 Well, I like Haitians raised the Ukrainian revolutionary flag, but at least Wiki says the actual flag had vertical lines.

  24. The man was a monster. Haiti is still suffering from his totalitarian regime. You also lied at the end, Haiti did not abolish slavery, it continues to this day.

  25. Thank you for sharing our history with the world!
    This is one of the reasons why HAITI is so oppressed by the foreigners .
    May Elohim YESHUA RUACH protect us (the Levi tribe AYITI💙👑❤)

  26. Haiti is an s hole. Always have been. Always will be. Voo doo worshipping demons. No thank you. Build the wall.

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