​October 17, 1806: Jean Jacques Dessalines Is Assassinated

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Jean-Jacques Dessalines (Haitian Creole: Janjak Desalin) was a leader of the Haitian Revolution and the 1st ruler of an independent Haiti under the 1801 constitution. Initially regarded as Governor-General, Dessalines later named himself Emperor Jacques I of Haiti (1804–1806). 

He is known as a founding father of Haiti.

Dessalines served as an officer in the French army when the colony was trying to withstand Spanish and British incursions. Later he rose to become a commander in the revolt against France. As Toussaint Louverture’s principal lieutenant, he led many successful engagements, including the Battle of Crête-à-Pierrot.

After the betrayal and capture of Toussaint Louverture in 1802, Dessalines became the leader of the revolution. He defeated Napoleon’s forces at the Battle of Vertières in 1803. Declaring Haiti an independent nation in 1804, Dessalines was chosen by a council of generals to assume the office of Governor-General. He ordered the 1804 Haiti Massacre of the white Haitian minority, resulting in the deaths of between 3,000 and 5,000 people, between February and April 1804.

In September 1804, he proclaimed himself Emperor and ruled in that capacity until being assassinated in 1806.

Read about his death and legacy at: Daily Black History Facts


  • Sherlynn V. Allen-Harris October 18, 2016 - 9:32 am Reply

    Dessalines’ story needs to be told alongside L’Overture’s. Dessalines was truly a freedom fighter. He did not want reconciliation with Hati’s former French oppressors as did L’Overture. I would love to see more of this remarkable history come to light.

    • Cal October 26, 2016 - 10:50 am Reply

      I know. But it’s too bad Dessalines was such racist. He had the opportunity to take the high road, to prove that his own race could be surperior to his former white oppressors. Instead he proved that blacks can be just as animalistic as white people. His genocide of the white minority in Haiti is just as much an atrocity as the abuse and murder of the minority black that has gone on in the U.S. for centuries. His heroic struggle for freedom was marred by a needless and deplorable act of wickedness. It’s a shame that so many people, even today, feel the need to respond to racism with racism.

  • Odelle Keenan George June 24, 2019 - 9:14 pm Reply


    • Citizens united June 26, 2019 - 3:53 pm Reply

      Cal a oppressed People will not always turn the other cheek violent can beget violence.

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