Between 1651 and 1791, more than 800,000 slaves were brought from Africa to the French Caribbean colony of Saint Domingue, the New World's most prosperous outpost. They worked the sugar, cocoa, and other plantations under the strict, sometimes brutal, authority of French plantation owners. By 1789, the year of the French Revolution, slaves made up nearly 89 percent of the Saint Domingue population.
Inspired by the revolution and led by a freed slave, François-Dominique Toussaint Louverture, the enslaved population rose up against the ruling elite two years later. What started off as a civil war with black slaves fighting against white landowners eventually morphed into an international conflict with Spain supporting the rebels and England siding with the white plantation owners. By the early 1800s, the rebels had founded the independent nation of Haiti, only the second revolution in the New World to create permanent independence (the American Revolution was the first) and a key event in the history of African advancement in the hemisphere.