Haiti gained its independence on Jan. 1, 1804. The revolution of Haitian slaves began in 1791 in Saint-Domingue, which was a French colony at the time.
Because of conflicts arising from rigid social stratification, tensions rose in Haiti in the late 18th century. François-Dominique Toussaint Louverture, who was a former slave, took control of rebel forces as they began to fight for their freedom. Through political and military aptitude, he was able to gain control of Haiti and improved its economy and security. Though he was eventually forced to leave by Napolean Bonaparte's forces in 1802, Toussaint Louverture's lieutenant Jean-Jacques Dessalines was able to declare independence successfully for the Republic of Haiti in 1804.