Dessalines Day in Haiti

17 Oct 2019  Thu

Dessalines Day is a national holiday in Haiti observed on October 17th each year. It commemorates the life of Jean-Jacques Dessalines on the anniversary of his assassination in 1806.

The Haitian Revolution is regarded as the largest and most successful slave rebellion in the Western Hemisphere. The rebellion against French authority began in 1791. Toussaint Louverture emerged as the leader of the revolt against the French.

When Louverture was imprisoned, his lieutenant; Jean-Jacques Dessalines took the leadership of the revolution, defeating French troops at the Battle of Vertières on November 18th, 1803. France then withdrew its remaining 7,000 troops from the island.

On January 1st, 1804, in the city of Gonaïves, Dessalines officially declared the former colony's independence as a free republic, renaming it "Haiti" after its indigenous name. He also freed all slaves making Haiti the first country in the Americas to permanently abolish slavery.

Dessalines became the first Emperor of Haiti in October 1804. He was made Emperor for life in 1805, which proved accurate but short-lived as he was assassinated by his political rivals in October 1806. In 1903, the national anthem of Haiti, "La Dessalinienne", was named in his honor.

Haiti post issued a set of 2 stamps on 25th January 1982. The stamps were issued with the denominations of 1.25 and 2 Haitian gourde which depicts the portrait of Dessalines along with the coat of arms of the country. The denomination value and the name of the country are inscribed at the bottom of the stamp.

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