French Atrocities during the Haitian War of Independence

TitleFrench Atrocities during the Haitian War of Independence
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2013
AuthorsGirard, Philippe R.
JournalJournal of Genocide Research
Date Published05/2013

This article analyzes the atrocities committed by French troops during the Leclerc–Rochambeau expedition, which Napoléon Bonaparte sent to Saint-Domingue (Haiti) in 1802–1803. These emerged as a local response to a variety of factors, particularly the military difficulties encountered by the expedition's leaders. Atrocities were numerous and ranged from mass executions of colonial troops and rebel cultivators (particularly by hanging and drowning) to less numerous, but more cruel, forms of punishment (such as burning at the stake and the use of man-eating dogs). Though the expedition's leaders wrote of carrying a war of ‘extermination’ that would ultimately destroy the adult black population of the colony, they never had the opportunity to carry out such an agenda, which furthermore was aimed more at a rebel social class than a given race. French atrocities, however horrendous, thus only partly meet the modern-day standards for genocide.

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