Haiti, the Caribbean country that recognized first the independent Greece

This year 2021 marks 200 years since the start of the bloody battle fought by the Greeks for liberation from the Ottoman rule.

The history of this revolution is full of heroism, but also of massacres and other atrocities, reminding of treason and despair. Reading it now, it seems almost incredible how a small army, mostly consisting of irregular troupes of insurgents and almost torn apart by conflicts succeeded in defeating such a strong empire as the Ottoman one.

The Greek revolution was not well received by the three significant powers at that time, Austria, Prussia and Russia, which formed the Holy Alliance after the Napoleonian wars to crush any attempt of revolt in Europe. Thus, nobody rushed to help the Greek revolutionaries, even less to diplomatically recognize the Greek state at that time.

The surprise came from a small and remote country, which in its turn had just been established after a bloody revolution, Haiti.

Haitian Revolution. Public domain source

Haiti was established as a free and independent state in 1804, after the uprising of the slaves in the sugar plantations against the French masters. Their leader was general Toussaint Louverture, and after his capture by the French the battles was led by Jean-Jacques Dessalines. After the independence, the latter self-declared General Governor for life and then emperor.

President Jean Pierre Boyer. Public domain source

In 1822, the year after the Greek revolution, Haiti was governed by president Jean Pierre Boyer, a former revolutionary leader.

He received a letter from the famous Greek scholar Adamantios Korais, signed also by other famous Greeks in Paris, requesting for help in the Greek revolution. The letter care had been written on the recommendation of the renowned French General La Fayette.

Of course, the distance and particularly the financial state of the Caribbean state could not ensure direct and consistent help, however, the Haitian president sent an answer stating that his country was very poor and that the fight against the French colonists was not over yet. But, he wrote, he warmly supports the Greek cause and recognized the right of the Greek to self-determination.

Symbolically, Haiti sent a few tons of coffee to be sold by the Greek revolutionaries, as well as 100 volunteers who unfortunately all died during the sea voyage.

Map of Haiti and Santo Domingo Dominican Republic. Public domain source

This proof of solidarity from the people of Haiti, even when their country was devastated by fights for their own freedom, remains in the memory and heart of the Greek people as one of the most precious expressions of humanity and esteem.

This year, Greece celebrates 200 years since 1821, the moment when the Greek Revolution that liberated this ancient people from Ottoman rule started. A nation that suffered during millennia that, whatever the rule, succeeded in influencing the whole world in most aspects.

 

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