A Brief History
On August 21, 1791, a voodoo, or alternately “vodou,” ceremony at Bois Caïman, Haiti was the scene of the first major assembly of African slaves in Haiti, an event that led to the slave rebellion known as the Haitian Revolution.
White European colonial slave owners viewed the voodoo ceremonies as harmless exercise of the slave religion, making such rituals the only opportunity for large numbers of slaves to meet.
Dutty Boukman, a voodoo priest and slave looked up to by other slaves, was named by a mysterious woman who appeared during the ceremony as the “Supreme Chief” that would lead the slaves in a rebellion to freedom. Boukman would die in November of 1791, missing out on the eventual victory of the Haitian slaves that would not come until 1804 when the rebellion resulted in an independent Haiti ruled by former slaves, the only successful slave revolt in history.
Question for students (and subscribers): Have you been to Haiti or known any Haitians? Please let us know in the comments section below this article.
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For more information, please see…
Fermin, Antenor. Bookman and the 1791 Slave Revolt in Haiti: The Beginning of the Haitian Revolution. Kindle, 2015.
Niles, Blair. Black Haiti: A Story of the Haitian Slave Revolt; or, A Biography of Africa’s Eldest Daughter. Independently published, 2022.
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