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From Saint Domingue to Louisiana
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Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Photographs and Prints Division

King Henri I

Revolutionary events in Saint Domingue had profound repercussion on all slave societies in the Americas. The successful revolt by enslaved men and women struck panic among slaveholders, who feared similar uprisings among their enslaved populations. Leaders like Henri Christophe (1767-1820), who was born a slave in Grenada and purchased his freedom in Saint Domingue, were reviled throughout the hemisphere. Christophe, who was only twelve, had fought with the Americans during the Revolutionary War and been wounded in Savannah. In 1794, during the Haitian Revolution, he served in the French republican army under Toussaint L'Ouverture, who gave him command of the North. When Napoleon Bonaparte attempted to crush Toussaint and reintroduce slavery in 1802, Christophe evacuated and burned the newly rebuilt Cap Français to prevent the French army from landing. The fire swept away two thousand residences, leaving only fifty-nine undamaged. In 1811 he declared himself King Henri I. In 1820, after suffering a paralyzing stroke, Christophe committed suicide at his Sans Souci palace by shooting himself with a silver bullet.

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