Dessalines, Jean-Jacques

Dessalines, Jean-Jacques

biographical name

(born c. 1758, West Africa—died Oct. 17, 1806, Jacmel, Haiti) Emperor of Haiti who drove out the French in 1804. He was a slave of a black master in Saint-Domingue (Haiti) in 1791 when he joined a slave rebellion. He became a lieutenant of Toussaint-Louverture but submitted to the French expedition that deposed Toussaint in 1802. Napoleon's decision to reintroduce slavery led Dessalines and others to rebel, and with British help they expelled the French. In 1804 Dessalines proclaimed the island independent under its Arawakan name, Haiti, and proclaimed himself emperor the following year. He made it illegal for whites to own property and killed thousands; he also discriminated against mulattoes. He was killed during a mulatto revolt.

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