Timeline of Events Relating to These Articles
Written and researched by Margaret Odrowaz-Sypniewska
2007 MARKS THE 205th ANNIVERSARY OF THE POLES IN HAITI:
This page is dedicated to those Poles who were lost in Haiti after the 2nd (114) and 3rd (113) Polish Half Brigade was sent to Haiti, by Napoleon, to fight in their 1802 slavery rebellion under the leadership of Francois Dominique Toussaint. 2002 was the 200th anniversary of these events, which are reported here lest we forget. Some Polish writers have called this mere mythology, however, my own research points to the known facts.
FRANCOIS DOMINQUE TOUISSANT L'OUVERTURE:
Francois Dominique Touissant L'Ouverture (1743-1803) was the son of Pierre Baptiste Simon. His father was educated by Catholic priests and learned to read and write. He worked on the Breda Plantation and was originaly known as "Pierre-Francois-Dominique Toussaint Breda." His mother was named Pauline and they raised eight children. Francois was born, in 1744, near Cap Haiten, on All Saints' Day (Toussaint means "all saints" in French). Later on Francois learned to read and write in French. On the Breda Plantation he was made "head coachman." Toussaint, at age 40, chose a wife. Her name was Suzanna and she had a four-year old son, which she bore to another man, and Toussaint's son was named Isaac.|
There is another Toussaint named Pierre Toussaint, who was thirty-seven (37) years younger than Francois. These two never met, and are not thought to be related.
Toussaint read about the French Revolution and eventually he decided that this might work for the slaves in Haiti too. He joined other slaves in a rebellion on August 14, 1791. His wife Suzanne and her sons fled to St. Dominque. Toussaint was governor of Haiti in 1801. He had well-educated whites and mulattos in his service.
This likeness was made well after Touissant's death
- 1492 ... December 6, 1492, Christopher Columbus arrived on the island he named Isla Española (Hispaniola), and discovers gold in what is now the Dominican Republic. The Santa Maria ran aground in Haiti's reefs. The crew used its timbers to construct Fort Navidad, which was later burned to the ground by the Arawak Indians.
- 1498 ... In May 1498 there is a revolt on Hispaniola organized by Francisco Roldan
- Christopher Columbus arrives to face Roldan.
- 1500 ... Auguste-Francisco de Bobadilla (d. 1502), commander of the Order of Calatrava, arrives in Hispaniola, and arrests the Columbus brothers, who are sent back to Spain in chains.
- 1501 ... 600 pounds of gold are found in Hispaniola by Bobadilla.
- 1502 ... In April 1502, Brother Nicholas de Ovando, commander of the military Order of Alcantara, brings 2,500 settlers on 30 separate ships. Ovando rules the island of Hispaniola until 1509.
- 1502 ... In July 1502, the entire Spanish fleet is sunk on the way to Spain, after a hurricane.
- The Awarak Indians are made the serfs of the colonists.
- 1502 ... Bartholome de las Casas (1476-1566) called the "Apostle to the Indians," joins the Dominican Order in 1522. He dedicated the last years of his life to the defense of the Indians from 1515-1566.
- 1509 ... Diego Colon is restored as governor of Hispaniola (1509-1515) (1520-1523).
- Diego is Christopher Columbus' only legitimate son.
- 1511 ... Antonio de Monterino, a Dominican, speaks out about the Spanish treatment of the Arawak Indians.
....1518 ... Importation of West African slaves begins.
- Black slaves are brought in to replace the now extinct native population in Hispaniola.
- 1542 ... The Spanish Crown abolishes American Indian slavery. However, this comes too late. The Arawaks are now close to extinction from slavery and white-man's diseases.
....1556 ... Governor Alonso de Feun, mayor of Hispaniola, completes the building of the cathedral and the erecting of walls and fortification around the city of Santo Domingo, their major port. This is to protect them from sea invaders.
- Treaty of Ryswick
- August 14, 1791 - Boukman, an ex-slave said "Live free or die." Boukman died fighting for his freedom.
....1700 ... Hispaniola prospers through piracy, not sugar cane.
....1700 ... Saint-Domingue imported 74.5 thousand slaves.
- 1691 ... Saint-Domingue's population was: 4,336 whites versus 2,312 slaves.
- 1687 ... France claims one-third (1/3) of the island of Hispanola and names it's new colony "Saint Domingue" Tobacco was the main cash crop at this time. Pirates all gather on Saint-Domingue.
- 1690 ... Pirates operate openly in Hispaniola until this year.
|***Please note that the French named their one-third of the island "Saint-Domingue," which was changed back to its original name in 1804. The Arawak Indians (the original inhabitants) called Hispaniola island "Hayti." |
I have referred to Haiti as "Saint Domingue" (named after the founder of the Dominican Order, Dominie de Guzman) until this name change takes place, because that WAS its French name.
Santo Domingo, is a port city in the Dominican Republic and it was influenced by the Spanish.
It was a brief time, in history, that Santo Domingo and the Dominican Republic (in eastern Hispaniola) were ruled by Jean Pierre Boyer, of Haiti, in 1821. This was a short time, as the Spanish revolted against his rule in November 30, 1821.
....1760 ... Saint-Domingue imported 308.7 thousand slaves.
- 1713 ... Sugar cane is first grown in Saint-Domingue (Haiti).
- 1720 ... 1720-1730 Cap Francais posesses rich soil and adequate rainfall for sugar cane crops.
- 1740 ... Sugar cane plantations, in Saint-Domingue, produce more sugar than all the British islands taken together.
- 1741 ... 1741-1745, Saint-Domingue produces 42.4 thousand tons of sugar.
- 1752 ... 1752-1758 Hundreds of "maroon" bands rebel.
- 1761-1810 ... Saint-Domingue imports 481,000 slaves.
- The Africans brought to the Caribbean already were slaves in Africa, they were sold to European traders by their African owners. Most came from West Africa, where slavery was so widespread it took more than 1/3 of the population into bondage.
In pre-colonial Africa, no one really was a free individual. It was common to take slaves in war or to kidnap them from other rival tribes.
- 1766 ... 1766-1770, Saint-Domingue produces 61.3 thousand tons of sugar.
- to increase production, the French engineers build an elaborate series of irrigation systems.
- 1770 ... An earthquake in Haiti destroys most stone buildings, from this point on all new buildings are made in wood.
- 1774 ... August 26, 1774, the "Declaration of the Rights of Man" abolishes slavery in French Colonies.
It begins: "Men are born and remain free and equal in rights."
- 1785 ... John James Audubon was born in Saint Domingue (now Haiti). He was the illegitimate son of a French Sea Captain/merchant and his Creole mistress. He was raised by his stepmother, Mrs. Audubon, in Nantes, France, after the death of his biological mother. In 1803, he was sent to America to escape conscription into Emperor Napoleon's army. This was a brilliant move considering the fate of those who ended up in Haiti, during this time period. His family owned an estate at Mill Grove, near Philadelphia. Here he met and married Lucy Bakewell, the daughter of an English settler. In 1807, he migrated to Kentucky. He is most famous for his magnificent illustration of bird. His Birds of America was published in 1826. It was done on colored plates and cost $115,000.00. Today it is priceless!
- 1788 ... 50,000 slaves and 62,500 colonists are in Saint Domingue.
- 1789 ... Saint-Domingue was the most valuable colony in the world! It supplied two-thirds of the overseas trade of France, and was the greatest international market for the European slave trade.
- 1789 ... The French Revolution occurs in France.
- 1789 ... Saint-Domingue has 490,108 total population: 30,831 are whites; 437,429 are slaves; and 24,848 are free non-whites. The free non-whites lived mainly in the country.
- 1791 ... August 1791 was two years after the French Revolution. 1791-1804 The great slave rebellion destroys French plantations on Saint-Domingue (Haiti). The rebels had heard of the French Revolution in France from the few that were taught to read by their owners.
- Toussaint L' Ouverture leads a black army against the French. Many plantations and towns are destroyed.
- August 22, 1791, near Cap Francais: in two months, rebel slaves have killed 2,000 whites and destroyed their mansions.
- 1793 ... Slavery is abolished on Saint-Domingue (Haiti).
- 1793-1797 the British invade Saint-Domingue: 20,500 British soldiers died of malaria and yellow fever.
- Cane estates along the coastal plains produced 40 percent of the world's sugar.
- Mountainous interiors produced coffee
- 1796 ... In April of this year, Toussaint is ruling with the consent of the French governor.
- 1797 ... On January 4, 1797, Napoleon writes to the council of the State of Lombardy saying that General Dombrowski is willing to raise a Polish legion to help the people of Lombardy.
- On January 9, 1797, a convention was signed by Dombrowski which guarantees the service of his compatriots to the republic in exchange for his men being allowed Lombardy citizenship. They will also receive the same pay and privileges as the other troops.
- 1797 ... January 20, 1797, Dombrowski publishes a proclamation calling on Poles to enter his new legion.
- In two weeks, there are 1,200 men in Polish uniform.
- kurtka, pantaloones, and czarpka in blue cloth
- By April there are 5,000 men for Dombrowski's legion.
- In May there are two infantry legions:
- One commanded by General Kniaziewicz
- The other commanded by General Wielhorski.
- 1797 ... July 1797, Dombrowski's Legions suppressed the insurrection in Reggio.
- 1798 ... December 1798, the Neapolitians are defeated at the battle of Civita Castellana.
- Colonel Karwowski, Elie Tremo, and Biernacki are Chefs d'Escadrons.
- General Kniazienwicz is the Legion Commander
- Gawronski is the Chief of Staff
- Sokolnicki is the Chef de bataillons
- Redel is the artillery battery
- Jan Pawlikowski is a lancer
- 1799 ... Napoleon I comes to power in France. He examines the wealth of the colony in Saint Domingue (Haiti) and decides his regime can be wealthier with products from this island.
- 1800 ... On November 8, 1800 the Italian Legion, under the leadership of Dombrowski, has them joining the Army of Italy.
- 1801 ... January 1801, Toussaint invades Spanish Santo Domingo.
- 1801 ... After eleven years of civil war, Saint-Domingue's prosperity is lost. All cities are now charred ruins. The island lacks skilled technicians, laborers, and money.
- 1801 ... On January 26, 1801, the Peace of Luneville has ended, and Poland is still not liberated. In protest, Kniaziewicz resigns his command of the Danube region and General Jablonowski takes his place. This act was repeated, in 1813, by General Count Josef Zaluski who resigned from French service after the realization that Napoleon had still NOT honored his idea of a free Poland.
- In this time period, France has been the refuge of all Polish exiles.
- Article 287, of the French Constitution did not permit the presence of foreign troops on French soil, Dombrowski was thus sent to Italy.
- Dombrowski arrives in Italy on December 2, 1796.
- 1801 ... The French disband both Polish Legions and convert them into demi-legions.
- The Italian Legion (the old 1st Polish Legion) becomes the 1st and 2nd demi-brigades.
- The old Danube Legions becomes the 3rd demi-brigade.
- The old Danube Legion are again re-numbered as the 113 demi-brigade with 118 officers and 2,235 men in three batallions commanded by Zagarski, Bolesta, and Pierre Wierbycki.
- 1802 ... Napoleon sends an army to Saint Domingue (Haiti) to restore slavery. In most accounts it states that the Poles were forcibly embarked at Livorno for service in the French West Indian colony of Saint Domingue! Many thought this was to remove the need to fulfill the promises made before Napoleon's reign (the promises of citizenship and equal pay).
- Two French demi-brigades "escorted" the Poles (approximately 2,270 of them) on the transport.
- General Jan Henryk Dabrowski, general inspector of the Polish contingency, receives a letter written by Battalion Commander Bolesta of the 3rd Polish Half-Brigade (now the 113), mailed from Malaga, dated June 21, 1802. Bolesta reports that: on the 24th (of the month of Floreal) they embarked at Livorno. Bolesta complains of the crowded conditions on the ship, saying they were like sardines in a can. The Third Batallion suffers severe loses (in battle) and he states that Captain Kastus and a handful of men are the only survivors. They had gale force winds and various other odd wind conditions (such as dead calm) and it took 34 days to reach Malaga, where they only stayed for four hours, because of the winds there, and landed at OKap (Kay?). Two men died on the voyage, and Commander Wodzinski had falled ill, so he remained on board. They were then guided by French commander, Bernard.
- First Pole, General Jablonowski, dies of yellow fever on September 29, 1802, in Jeremie (at age 32).
- 1801...February 1801, General Charles Leclerc (1722-1802) and 20,000 soldiers, including Swiss and Polish conscripts reach Saint-Domingue.
- May 1802, Leclerc reimposes slavery in Saint-Domingue.
- 1802 ... Toussaint is captured and is imprisoned in France. Many of his men run for safety in the mountains.
- 1802 ... November 2, 1802, General Rochambeau (1725-1807) replaces Leclerc (Napoleon's brother-in-law). Leclerc has died of yellow fever. 25,000 French re-enforcements come with Rochambeau, whose brutality verges on genocide.
- 1803 ... at Cape Francais the French employ 700 fighting mastiffs against the ex-slaves.
- 1803 ...June 17, 1803, Major Lozinsky dies. Napoleon loses 40,000 of his best soldiers, twenty-two months after February 1802.
- 1803 ... The 2nd Demi-Brigade is also re-numbered as the 114th and they are "escorted" to Genoa, Italy, with 87 officers and 2,750 men and they also set sail for Saint Domingue at the beginning of February 1803.
- Of these two demi-brigades, of 5,280 Poles, 4000 were reportedly dead. Of the survivors, only about 15 officers and 150 men returned to Europe. The rest were killed in action, had died of yellow fever, or were sent to English prison hulks. It is generally thought, by historians, that the Poles sympathized with the plight of the Haitians, since the French went back on their law freeing the slaves, The Poles also thought the French to be extremely cruel, with the giant mastiffs that were trained to kill slaves or maim them. This same breed of dogs were used for "Bear Baiting" in Tudor and Elizabethan England because of their fierceness. Accounts vary on these facts according to authors. Most believe that the Poles that stayed in Haiti were not of the officer class. The officers paid their own way back, while the poor had no money to buy their way out of this awful place. Likewise, there are not too many enlisted men accounted for in the casuality listings:
After this defeat of Bonaparte's expedition, the Negro state of Haiti was established. It still exists to this day.
- 1803 ... April 7, 1803, Toussaint dies in a freezing prison. Jean Jacques Dessalines (1758-1806), Toussaint's lieutenant, has succeeded him as leader of the slaves.
- 1803 ... The French are defeated at the battle of Vertieres on November 18, 1803.
Poles in Haiti - Table of Contents
SOURCES:The Anniversary of the Napoleanic-Polish Brigades in Haiti ... Poles in Haiti and Haitian Revolution ... The Tragedy of the Lost Brigrades (1802-2002)
Nabaszek, Dariuz, Thomas Biber, et al. An Illustrated History of Poland. Poznan, Poland: Podsiedlik Raniowski & Co., Ltd, 1988.
Oivka, Otto von. Napoleon's Polish Troops. Berksire, Eng.: Osprey Publishing Limited. Men-at-Arms Series, 1974.
Orizio, Riccardo. Lost White Tribes: The End of Privilege and the Last Colonials in Sri Lanka, Jamaica, Brazil, Haiti, Namibia, and Guadeloupe. New York: Free Press, 2000, 124-179.
Rogozinski, Jan. A Brief History of the Caribbean: From the Arawak and the Carib to the Present. New York: A Meridian Book, 1994.
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