Christopher Columbus landed in Haiti in 1492 on his first journey to the Western Hemisphere. He awoke to the sound of breaking wood after leaving his admiral ship in the hands of a little kid so that he might rest on Christmas Eve. The Santa Maria had hit a reef and was quickly sinking. Columbus left part of his crew on the beach, where they established Fort Navidad, the Caribbean’s first European colony.
These islands are all fertile, but this one is especially so. It has numerous huge harbors, some of which are more beautiful than any I’ve seen in Christian nations, as well as many major rivers. Everything is fantastic. The area is high, with several hill ranges and mountains that are incomparably prettier than those found on Tenerife [in Spain’s Canary Isl. All are quite attractive and come in a variety of shapes, and they are all easily accessible. They are covered in towering trees of various types that appear to reach the sky.
After a terrible twelve-year battle that started with an insurrection of enslaved peoples headed by Toussaint Louverture, the French colony of Saint-Domingue gained freedom and became Haiti in 1804. Napoleon Bonaparte sent 50,000 men to Haiti to reinstate slavery and use it as a staging area for an invasion of the United States, but they were devastated by Haitian resistance and yellow fever
. He eventually gave up the scheme and ceded the Louisiana Territory to our Francophile ruler, Thomas Jefferson, for 60 million francs. By helping in a French blockade meant to punish Haiti, Jefferson showed his thanks to the Haitians. He shut off our ports to all of Haiti.
The role of Haiti in the Haitian Revolution, which has been largely forgotten in history, should be taught as part of a three-part series with the French and US revolutions. Unlike its writers, Toussaint Louverture aimed to make the ideals of the US Declaration of Independence and the French Declaration of the Rights of Man a reality for all mankind. Haiti made a substantial contribution to liberation efforts overseas, most notably in Venezuela, where it aided Simón Bolvar twice in his drive for independence from Spain.