1761-1826, 1895, 1954
After colonizing Hispaniola, Spain decided in the late seventeenth century to transfer the western third of the island to the French, who called it Saint Domingue. During an 18th-century economic boom, the colony became France's most prosperous Caribbean possession. In 1791, tensions led to a large slave rebellion, the first of several conflicts that eventually led to Haitian independence. Discord continued after the abolition of slavery in 1794, and by the late 1790s Toussaint L'Ouverture, with his formidable army, had control of areas throughout the colony. L'Ouverture and his troops held off Napoleon's subsequent attempts to restore French control over the island, and on January 1, 1804, the country, now re-named Haiti, became independent. Haiti's 19th century was marked by political turbulence, including the Haitian occupation of Santo Domingo (now the Dominican Republic) from 1822-1844 and a quick succession of political leaders, who were often overthrown or assassinated.