Friday, January 15, 2010

The real devil in Haitian history

In the previous post I quoted Pat Robinson's crazy remark about Haiti, and the Haitian ambassador's smart response.    CB commented:
Well it doesn't matter what the Hatians did for America they still made a deal with the devil.
Actually, CB has a point.  It turns out there was a "devil" -- several devils in fact.   There was also a "deal."  In a post (h/t Joseph) that surveys two centuries of Haitian history, Violet unmasks the devils and the deal.

After 1791, when Haiti became the second independent nation in the Americas,
[US Treasury Secretary Alexander] Hamilton helped draft the Haitian constitution -- but . . .  [President Thomas] Jefferson reneged on Adams’s deal with [Haitian revolutionary leader] Toussaint L’Ouverture, cut off trade and contact, and offered Napoleon help in putting down the revolt. We can’t possibly have a black republic down in the Caribbean, he wrote. What will our slaves think? They might get ideas!

So Haiti was isolated: no diplomatic recognition, official embargoes on trade. “You don’t really exist,” said the French. And the Americans. And the British. And the Spanish. The economy foundered. Then the Bourbons started making noises about re-conquering the island. Finally, in 1825, the Haitians signed a deal with France: recognize us diplomatically, call off the gunboats, and in return we will reimburse you for the loss of us as your slaves. The price? One hundred and fifty million francs.

Haiti spent the next 122 years paying off that indemnity.  The final installment was in 1947. . . .
See the end of the next post for a recommendation about where to donate for Haitian earthquake relief.  See  here for a list of those who have live-blogged the disaster.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you thank you thank you for posting on your site! God bless you and continue your great work.


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