Dessalines Birthday in Haiti in 2024

Dessalines Birthday in Haiti in 2024
Jean-Jacques Dessalines featured on the 250 Gourdes bank note marking the Bicentennial of Independence of Haiti.
  How long until Dessalines Birthday?
Dessalines Birthday
  Dates of Dessalines Birthday in Haiti
2025 Haiti Sat, Sep 20 National Holiday
2024 Haiti Fri, Sep 20 National Holiday
2023 Haiti Wed, Sep 20 National Holiday
2022 Haiti Tue, Sep 20 National Holiday
2021 Haiti Mon, Sep 20 National Holiday

Commemorates the birth of Jean-Jacques Dessalines, Haiti's first ruler, in 1758.

When is Dessalines Birthday?

Dessalines Birthday is a national holiday in Haiti observed on September 20th each year.

It commemorates the life of Jean-Jacques Dessalines on the anniversary of his birth in 1758.

In September 2021, the government of Haiti passed a law making September 20th, the birthdate of Emperor Jean Jaques Dessalines, a national holiday.

History of Dessalines Birthday

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. Napoleon sent troops to the colony to restore French authority and Louverture was captured in 1802 and died in a French jail in 1803.

Jean-Jacques Dessalines, a lieutenant to Louverture, then 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. Though it wasn't all good news for the former slaves, who either had to continue to work on the plantations or join his army.

It was also in 1804 that Dessalines showed the extent of his bloodthirst, massacring all the French people on the island, resulting in the deaths of up to 5,000 people.

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.

Despite his impressive achievements in driving his country to independence, if you were to travel back to Haiti in the 19th century, you might be surprised to find that Dessalines was a far from popular figure and that his reputation was that of a tyrant. It was only in the 20th century, that his legacy as an icon of nationalism and a founding father was developed. His rehabilitation was complete by 1903, when the national anthem of Haiti, "La Dessalinienne", was named in his honour. (The lyrics don't mention Dessalines.)

Jean-Jacques Duclos Dessalines was born on September 20th 1758, reportedly in Cornier. His enslaved father had adopted the surname from his owner Henri Duclos.

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