6. The Night When Haiti Erupted in a Revolt Against Slavery
On the night of August 14, 1791, a well-liked and respected voodoo priest named Dutty Boukman held a religious ceremony in Bois Caiman, in northern Haiti. There, he issued a signal for a slave uprising. Word went out to the sugar plantations, and on the night of August 21 – 22, 1791, thousands of slaves rose up in a violent rebellion that terrified slaveholders throughout the New World. They armed themselves with machetes, knives, pitchforks, and any weapons they could lay their hands on.
Then the slaves fell upon and attacked their masters, as well as everybody else they came across who was associated with the system that kept them in slavery. They exacted vengeance for generations of abuse with merciless massacres. Across the colony, armed slaves burst into their masters’ mansions, visited revenge upon their owners with pillage, assault, torture, and death, and left fire and blood in their wake. They slaughtered the enslavers and put to the torch their owners’ dwellings, cane fields, and sugar houses.