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A variety of internal and external pressures complicated government in Saint Domingue and Haiti.

The political realm was always lively in Saint Domingue. Befitting a colony with diverse populations, questions of citizenship, taxation, and law were not always easy to arbitrate. These questions only grew more difficult as the racial complexity of the colony deepened, and its wealth began to lead some planters to find French law restrictive. The outbreak of the French Revolution exacerbated latent tensions over all of these matters, and they were not resolved until Haiti declared its independence and created its own legislation. Even after achieving nationhood, Haiti found it difficult to enter into normal relations with other governments, because of racial prejudice, severe indemnities, and other international pressures.