Within 100 years of each other, the United States and many Latin American countries, including Haiti, declared independence from their colonial powers. All of these revolutions involved major political change and the ones in Latin America also involved social and economic changes. The United States was better prepared for independence than the Latin American countries that followed it because it had more political experience and less racial tensions than the Latin American countries.
In many Latin American countries, there was great racial tension prior to their revolution and it made independence more difficult. In Haiti, in 1789, approximately 90 percent of the population was enslaved and half of the free population was non-white. For Haiti, abolishing slavery was the main reason for seeking independence and in doing so Haiti received major social change along with political change. Since Haiti’s entire economy depended on free slave labor, Haiti also had to undergo economical change after the revolution. All of these changes are much harder to handle than just the political changes that the United States underwent so it was much harder for Haiti to be prepared for independence than it was for the United States. Not only were there major changes that needed to happen when Haiti achieved independence, the colored and white populations did not get along well. In a primary source about the slave rebellions it is written that “the carnage that the slaves wreaked in northern settlements, such as Acul, Limbé, Flaville, and Le Normand, revealed the simmering fury of an oppressed people.” Years of oppression under slavery made the slaves hate the whites and seek revenge. The white population was no better and “reprisals against nonwhites were swift and every bit as brutal as the atrocities committed by the slaves.” All of this fighting is a clear sign that the slaves and whites did not get along and it is even harder to fight a revolution and create a new country when the inhabitants hate each other and will not work together. In the United States, none of these problems existed. The slave population always remained the minority throughout the United States. Also, neither slavery or racial questions were ever at issue between Britain and America at the time of the Revolution.” At the time of the revolution, people did not even consider abolishing slavery or giving rights to colored people. Because of this, it did not play a role in the revolution and provided one less complication. In the United States pursuit of independence, the people were united and only focused on political change while it was much harder in Latin America, especially Haiti, because of the racial division and larger goals of revolution.
The United States also had more political experience than the Latin American countries. In Latin America, the colonies had little say over their own government. Most important offices in the governing of the colonies were located in Spain and occupied by people who had never been to the colonies. Also, political office could only be held by Pennisulares. The government in Spain “regulated trade, appointed officials, made laws, and determined who should be allowed to emigrate.” The colonists and natives had very little say in making laws. In the 13 colonies, the people were able to participate in the government. The colonists were able to be elected to the colonial assembly which made the laws of the colony. While the assembly was under the control of the governor and had little actual power, it gave the colonists some experience in running a government and “North Americans had developed largely autonomous economics and policies.” This experience made it much easier for the colonists to set up their own government after they achieved independence. The colonists were already doing the day to day job of the government and making most of the decisions so the transition was much less drastic than in Latin America where the people had barely had any involvement in or experience with the government. The United States was better prepared for independence than Latin America because it knew how to run a government.