Early History: Jacmel was founded by the french in 1698 and no one really knows the exact origin of Jacmel’s name.It was a properous port by the close of the 18th century, when the town’s large mulatto population began demanding equality with the whites.Later on, Jacmel became an important battleground in the search of the Haitian Independence struggle, with the mulattoes under Andre Rigaud unitially siding with the colonists against the slave armies.
Middle history: Jacmel also played a role in the South American independence movement. Pétion hosted Simón Bolívar here in 1816 when the Venezuelan revolutionary leader was assembling his army, hospitality that Bolívar returned by abolishing slavery after liberating his country.
By the middle of the 19th century, Jacmel served as a major Caribbean loading point for steamships bound for Europe, and many European names can be found on the gravestones in the cemetery from this time. Jacmel was the first town in the Caribbean to have telephones and potable water, and when the cathedral was lit up on Christmas Eve 1895, Jacmel became the first town to have electric light. The town center was destroyed by a huge fire in 1896 and then rebuilt in the unique Creole architectural style that remains to this day.
Recent history: Port trade, however, began to dry up following WWII and the Duvalier era, leaving the annual Carnival the one time of year when Jacmel truly recreates its glory days.