Lead: Originating in the ancient indigenous cultures of Africa and merged with many characteristics of Roman Catholicism in the early years of slavery, Vodou is practiced by many in Haiti and in the Haitian diaspora.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: One of the first places Christopher Columbus landed in the New World was the island he called Hispaniola. He enslaved the native Arawak population and set them to looking for gold, but the gold did not materialize, and the indigenous people soon died off due to disease and overwork. The island had potential, however, and after 1697 when Spain surrendered the western third to France in the Treaty of Rijswijk, the population and wealth of the colony began to expand. The newly designated Saint-Domingue became France’s richest outpost in the New World, shipping huge quantities of coffee, indigo, cotton and especially sugar. To work the plantations of the island, France imported thousands of slaves from west Africa, particularly Dahomey, now Benin, Togo and Ghana. By 1800 there were almost 600,000 slaves in Saint-Domingue.

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