Haiti's History of Lawlessness: Background information when reading Claire of the Sea Light

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Claire of the Sea Light

by Edwidge Danticat

Claire of the Sea Light
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  • First Published:
    Aug 2013, 256 pages
    Jul 2014, 256 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Suzanne Reeder

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Beyond the Book:
Haiti's History of Lawlessness

Since its independence in 1804, Haiti has struggled with lawlessness, due in large part to being a former slave nation that, after it won its independence, was left with the massive challenge of creating a stable and autonomous society while being actively isolated by the dominant trading nations of France, Britain and the USA.

Before 1804, Haiti was a French colony called St. Domingue that occupied the entire island of Hispaniola. By the 1760s, it had become the most profitable colony in the Americas, with highly successful sugar and coffee industries. With this success, however, came the exploitation of African slaves. The French Revolution inspired slaves in northern St. Domingue to organize a rebellion, which began in 1791. This rebellion, known as the Haitian Revolution, lasted thirteen years. During the conflict, Spanish and British forces also intervened. After declaring victory in January 1804, Jean-Jacques Dessalines—a former slave and a leader of the Haitian army&#...

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