A History of Haiti Through The Eyes of a Horse
Note - the "title card" is a screenshot from an old Commodore Amiga CDTV game called "The Town With No Name". It wasn't very good. This AAR, on the other hand, and along with all the others that I may create - my goal is for it to be as good as possible.
I decided, for my first attempts at a Victoria II AAR, to try something unconventional and short. Compared to my last AAR (Nostalgia Freaks, for modded EU3), here's what you can expect from this one:
- More serious in tone - probably more history book elements than Nostalgia Freaks had, even in its beginning.
- More realistic (no sci-fi shenanigans here!)
- A relatively short game. When the horse dies, the story is over.
- Varying amounts of roleplay. My willingness to play in a manner reminiscent of a real person during this period varies with time.
- Plenty of historical divergence. Most of what I know about Haiti is from its revolution during the Napoleonic wars, and I learned a few things about that by reading "You Are All Free" by Jeremy Popkin.
If anyone asks, this is a mini-AAR. I chose Haiti because it began with the letter H, and I didn't feel like trying my hand at one of the "H" grade German minors. A game with Hesse-Kassel, for instance might've been over faster than I could say "Mostly circus animals, some filler", or at the very least turned into a glorified NGF/Germany game. I am playing with HoD 3.03, so with any luck things should be quite stable, and the world I play in should develop in interesting, yet plausible ways.
Table of Contents
Episode 1 is this post.
This AAR is now complete!
"You can spread the revolution, but you can't put it on bread."
It was October 12th, 1834. In a quiet, unassuming little stable just outside Port au Prince, a human was in the process of helping a mare extract a foal from its body. The foal, if were coherent enough to form an opinion, might've expressed discontent with this - after all, the birth process involved a great deal of pressure, and oddly shaped, dark appendages grasping at the foal, and suddenly light and dirt and that wasn't so bad, was it?
"Well, that's over with. What should we call this little guy?" said a voice that the horse couldn't quite comprehend, more due to the fact it was a horse than its infancy. The question would have to wait, as the foal's mother whinnied in desperation and pain.
"Its name can wait. First, you need to take care of the afterbirth."
The foal was beginning to comprehend that he might be a separate being from his mother, as the same hands that had torn him from the womb were now lifting him and carrying him to a bucket of water.
"I think it's only fair that I name you after the greatest city in the world," said this apparent caretaker, whom the foal was assuming to be its father.
"Paris?" responded the other voice.
"No! I'm not naming anything after that cesspool of 'constitutional' monarchism! The horse's name shall be Dominic."
It would be accurate (if not particularly helpful) to say that Dominic was born into a situation of political turmoil. So far, Jean-Pierre Boyer had not done very much to make Haiti a viable nation. Its economy was based almost entirely on tobacco cultivation - not particularly skilled tobacco cultivation at that. Slavery had been abolished, but the citizens it had freed were in about the same situation they had been prior to such. Meanwhile, the free blacks complained about their loss of prestige and their degraded state - similar to that of former slaves.
Naturally, since Dominic was a horse, he was not very good at comprehending this. After his birth, he and his mother were bought by a clergyman and relocated to a plantation on the northwestern section of Hispanola. Since the clergy in Haiti were not given much respect or money (revolutionary fallout), Dominic would eventually start plowing fields on his farm, which the reverend desperately hoped would only be a secondary source of income for his family. Until then, his life consisted mostly of trotting around, occasionally eating hay once he'd been weaned, and occasionally getting a 'lesson' from his owner.
"You know, if the government were to lower the tariffs, we'd be able to afford more food!" the reverend told Dominic one day.
Dominic didn't (couldn't) care, just as long as there was hay to munch on. To be fair, he had a hard time following the reverend's ideas, given his complete lack of human language fluency. At this point, he considered his mother a better influence, as she occasionally offered him such pearls of wisdom as "Neigh" and "Snort". Good advice to live by.
Dominic belonged to an evangelically oriented Spaniard named Eduard Cabello. When not preaching, Eduard served as his congregation's conduit of European liberalism; in addition, he occasionally wrote stern letters to the government under assumed identities. In recent years, he had managed to convince Boyer that allowing the citizens to take a greater role in Haiti's politics might not've been a bad idea in general. Boyer had responded by enfranchising the richest landowners in his country - a role that Cabello was in absolutely no position to achieve.
As it was, it was not until early 1837 that Dominic was strong enough to do productive work. Perhaps if he'd been given more food and exercise, he would've come online earlier, but in Haiti, nobody could really rely on such luck. Once Dominic began plowing fields, though, Eduard was able to improve his farm's productivity slightly, and improving his financial situation.
If anything, Haiti was at least not affected by foreign wars - if anyone had taken an interest in Haiti's (still fairly unproductive) plantations, they would've crumpled almost instantly, tractors would have been introduced, and Dominic would've been glue faster than he could blink.
One day, someone threw a rock through the only window in Eduardo's house. Dominic was, as usual, performing basic field work, and the noise briefly startled him, causing him to tear off like he was possessed and ruin several lines worth of plowing before he calmed down.
The reverend ended up shouting obscenities at his horse for a few minutes, although he eventually ended up wandering off to look for a replacement windowpane.
Unfortunately, Haiti was suffering from a significant glass shortage. (Make that a significant everything shortage. Haiti only produces tobacco and whatever the few artisans can scrounge up at the beginning of the game.
When Dominic went to his mother again, all she could offer him was a dejected "Neigh", which didn't help much.
On October 14th, 1838, Eduardo entertained some American visitors who shared stories of their country's prosperity, making sure to carefully gloss over the issue of slavery. Eduardo zeroed in on their discussion of steam powered carriages that could move under their own power.
Haiti, being as rugged as it was, could benefit substantially from anything that reduced travel times, according to his visitors. Meanwhile, Dominic stared blankly in a corner, completely unable to comprehend that one day, he might become obsolete. Given the inefficiency of the Haitian government, as well as its severe paucity of capital, it was unlikely that this railroad project would pay off any time soon.
Dominic thought his first chance to sire offspring had come in 1839, when he saw a mare with a particularly seductive mane lazily strolling down the road. Unfortunately, she ignored him, but he hoped it was under the pressure of her driver's whip. Little did he know that this was an American tourist, who had come with intent to scout out the land for business opportunities and maybe buy a few cigars. Because of this life remained rather equine at best, with little chance for improvement in the coming years - at best, he was representative of Haiti as a whole.
Since Dominic was a horse, he did not know that president Boyer had undertaken a substantial project in order to expand the bureaucracy of Haiti, a project that was already increasing the economic viability of the nation ever so slightly. Luckily, Dominic's owner approved, which meant the occasional break and more food.
"If everything goes to plan, I should be able to migrate to the USA within a year!" Eduard told his horse, who continued to walk forwards towards the local market.
In fact, Eduard got lucky and suffered no major misfortunes, so on March 11th, 1841, Dominic woke up to a strange, corpulent, well dressed man whacking him with a riding crop.
"Get up, horse. I am your new owner," he said. When Dominic was slightly slow to respond to this, the stranger whacked him a few times; Dominic had half a mind to kick him in response. Unfortunately, the stranger was too savvy for him, and had already positioned himself off to his side. At this, the stranger whistled and brought over a more plainly dressed servant.
"You see this, Mr. Penn? I wish to travel in style, so I have obtained for myself a steed," explained the first stranger to the second. The second didn't respond, but merely affixed unidentifiable objects to Dominic's back. Before the horse could really comprehend what was going on, a sudden pressure on its back, and an inexplicable urge to move forwards...
It took Dominic at least an hour to wonder what his mother would think.
"Look, Mr. Penn! This is going to be the source of our powers!" said Dominic's rider at one point, demonstrating the location of a sign to his servant.
"Are you sure we want to put it there? The land is awfully hilly, " Mr. Penn responded.
"We'll flatten it out if such becomes necessary."
It would be a long time before Dominic ever saw the land that would become the "1st Cap Haitien Construction Firm" again.
This is looking to be something of a quiet, industrialization oriented game. I'm gradually getting sucked into the sphere of the USA, which will probably utterly destroy my tariff walls, but potentially allow me to operate factories capable of buying their inputs, at the very least.