Check out this guest post by Robert Taber, a doctoral candidate in Carribbean History at the University of Florida, at the 538 blog. It offers some nuance and background to the conversation about Pat Robertson's claim that Haiti made a "pact with the devil." The opening paragraphs of Tabor's post:
Contrary to most people’s reactions to Pat Robertson’s remarks on Wednesday, his reference to Haiti’s “pact with the devil” did not appear out of thin air. As Matt Yglesias has pointed out this was a reference to the Bois Caiman ceremony at the beginning of the Haitian Revolution in 1791. This is not strictly a mangling of history on Robertson’s part. His comments come straight out of a blend of theology and history that, at the grassroots, pervades Haiti’s political discourse. Labeling the event at Bois Caiman a satanic pact touches on the most potent part of a vibrant oral tradition, a national myth that attempts to explain Haiti’s relationship with God and the world.
The French Revolution had been going on for two years when slave leaders gathered in the Caiman woods outside of what’s today Cap Haitien. The fighting between and within the white elite and the free mulatto population presented an excellent opportunity for general revolt. Most of the slaves present worked as overseers or coachmen for their respective masters, giving them freedom of movement and the right to carry swords. Dutty Boukman, a slave originally from Jamaica, and a priestess of disputed identity led a Voudou ceremony where they allegedly charged the gathered slaves “to throw away the image of the god of the whites who thirsts for our tears and listen to the voice of liberty that speaks in the hearts of all of us.” They then made an oath of secrecy and revenge, sealing it by drinking the blood of a sacrificed pig, a ceremony possibly West African in origin. This event bears a similar relationship to the Haitian Revolution as the Boston Tea Party does to the American Revolution—a critical event that helped galvanize the founding generation and forms a centerpoint for revolutionary legend today.