Instructor: Mba Mbulu
Read the Essay below. Be able to answer and expound on the following questions.
(1) Who were probably the early inhabitants of Haiti and what type of people were they?
(2) What did the arrival of Cristóbal Colón mean to the native inhabitants of Haiti?
(3) Who were the buccaneers, who were the pirates and what role did they play in making Haiti what it was to become?
(4) What does the following sentence mean: "Out of the best and worst of the pirates, the best of the buccaneers, and the cultures and traditions of slaves from Africa was to come the most complete revolution the white world has ever known."
Class #6 Essay
The first known settlers in Haiti might have been the Ciboneys,
who probably came from North America in about 450 C.E. (A.D.).
About 400 or 500 years later, around 900 C.E., the Tainos (Arawaks)
arrived, probably coming from the Amazon valley, followed by a
number of Caribs, who had emigrated from South America. The Tainos
were a peaceful, agricultural people who lived in large villages.
They called the land Ayiti, which meant "land of the mountains.
The original inhabitants of Hispaniola had their first encounter with Europeans in 1492, when Cristóbal Colón (Christopher Columbus) "discovered" the island. Within a hundred years after Colón's arrival, the Spanish had conquered Hispaniola and wiped out most of the indigenous population. Because of labor needs, the Spanish imported slaves from Africa to work the island's plantations. In 1697 Spain ceded the western third of Hispaniola to France, a move Spain was later to regret because France made a fortune from extracting coffee, sugar and indigo out of the country.
When Cristóbal Colón arrived on the island on December 5, 1492, he and his crew enjoyed the hospitality of the Tainos, and he called them the most tractable (docile and well mannered) people in the world. When Colón's ship, the Santa Maria, was wrecked near the city of Cap Haitian, the Tainos helped him save it. They even helped collect the timber that was used to build La Navidad, the first European settlement in the new world.
Cristóbal Colón returned to Spain to organize a bigger expedition. When he returned to La Navidad, La Navidad had been destroyed and the Europeans had been slaughtered. Colón established a new colony in the eastern part of the island (the Dominican Republic), and initiated a policy that resulted in the death of possibly three million natives within the next fifty years. Some say 300,000 were slaughtered in the first year alone.
Although officially under Spanish rule, Hispaniola was mostly ignored by Europeans and left unpopuplated. The Spanish discovered there was only a small quantity of gold there, so they concentrated on colonies in South America. However, a telling process was playing itself out. The Spanish claimed control of all of Hispaniola, but established colonies only in the section now known as the Dominican Republic. The most independent minded and freedom loving Blacks who were brought to Hispaniola as slaves escaped slavery by running to the unpopulated section of Hispaniola that became known as Haiti. These Blacks armed themselves, fought against the Spanish troops that came looking for them, established towns and lived as free people. They retained their African essence, established an agriculture based economy, raised animals and traded with pirates and buccaneers. They became so prosperous that they attracted the attention of French speaking whites. These French speaking whites entered the area by claiming they would help protect the Blacks from the Spainish, only to trick the Blacks and establish slavery there. This series of events is essential to understanding the history of the Black revolutionary process in Haiti and the origin of the French entrance into that part of the island.
By 1630, French and British buccaneers and pirates had established
footholds in the Caribbean, and the pirates regularly raided Spanish
ships that were carrying treasures they had robbed from the Aztec
and Incan empires. These raids were the main reason the Spanish
turned over possession of the western third of the island to France
in 1697. This part of the island was renamed Saint Domingue (San
Domingo), and would later become La Republique d'Haiti (The Republic
Buccaneer and pirate society played a major role in making Haiti what it was to become. The worst of Europe was to congregate in the Caribbean at this time; the most violent men, the most antisocial appetites, those who were least likely to conform to anything. These criminal mindsets, popularly known as pirates, filibusters and corsairs, loved destroying more than anything else, and left a trail of destruction wherever they went. Yet, among these pirates there were no racial divisions, nor any based on region, nationality, religion or language. Everybody was equal, and everybody's rights were equally respected and disrespected. Even more important is this: Right there in the midst of the worst of Europe was, in many regards, the best of Europe. These were the buccaneers, men who sought to enjoy life, not get rich. They lived in a free society, a peaceful society; without written laws, without authorities, without trade barriers, without the fear of an oppressive governmental establishment. Buccaneers did not spend time warring or stealing-- that was what pirates did. Buccaneers lived off of the cattle and pigs that ran free in La Hispaniola, and had much in common with an agricultural society.
It was in La Tortuga, a dependency of Haiti, that the buccaneer and pirate societies flourished. Out of the best and worst of the pirates, the best of the buccaneers, and the cultures and traditions of slaves from Africa, Haiti would be born. Out of the best and worst of the pirates, the best of the buccaneers, and the cultures and traditions of slaves from Africa was to come the most complete revolution the white world has ever known.
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