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17409: Simidor: Haiti & Louisiana Purchase -- Long Island, NY

From: Daniel Simidor <karioka9@mail.arczip.com>


For Immediate Release

Between the global and the local:
How the Haitian Revolution Led to the Louisiana Purchase, 200 Years Ago.

Brooklyn, November 13, 2003.  The United States is celebrating the Bicentennial Anniversary of the Louisiana Purchase in 2003 with a brand new nickel – two pennies more than Jefferson paid to a disillusioned Napoleon per acre of land in this historic bargain!  Less than 800 miles away, Haiti is celebrating the bicentennial of its independence next year with a mix of confusion and despair.  At present, relations between the world richest and most powerful country and this hemisphere’s most impoverished nation are very lopsided, driven by dependency and the politics of refugee control.  Few people remember that trade between the Americas’ two oldest republics was once among equals, and that had the Haitians not fought Napoleon’s armies for their independence, the United States would have been reduced to a bitter war for control of New Orleans and access to the Mississippi river.

The Long Island University campus in Brooklyn is uniting with the local Haitian community to mark these two bicentennial anniversaries with a fitting tribute.  “It has been said that Jefferson bought the Louisiana territory for a song,” comments Haitian social advocate and LIU professor Nicole Falade.  “But not enough credit is given to the Haitian freedom-fighters who made it possible,” she adds.

Napoleon dispatched 40,000 of Europe’s best troops in the Fall of 1801 to put down the revolution in Haiti (then known as St. Domingue), and to reestablish slavery in what had been France’s wealthiest colony.  The Haitian leg of this expedition was to last a mere three weeks.  The troops were secretly instructed to sail next to New Orleans to establish French sovereignty over the newly acquired Louisiana territories. Jefferson, who called New Orleans “the one single spot, the possessor of which is our natural enemy,” knew what was coming.  But, as it happened, France’s powerful expedition was decimated by yellow fever and on the Haitian battlefields, and Napoleon was to abandon his dream of an American empire for other adventures abroad.

The two-part celebrations on the LIU Brooklyn campus will begin with an evening program on Dec. 1, 2003; in the Main Building at Luntey Commons,  from 5:00 to 8:00PM.  Haitian archivist Daniel Simidor will present an overview of the prosperous trade and the diplomatic relations between Governor-General Toussaint-Louverture in St. Domingue and John Adams’ Federalist government from 1797 to 1801.  The keynote presentation will also highlight some of the reasons why Jefferson abandoned the Haiti trade when common sense called for a common front with Toussaint against Napoleon’s ambitions.  Then will follow a lively performance of Haitian Jazz with Alix Ambroise and Eddy Bourjolly, and a reception open to the public.

The LIU bicentennial events are organized jointly by LIU’s Latin American and Caribbean Studies Committee, the Foreign Languages & Literature Department, the 2004 Haiti Initiative, and the Haitian Information and Documentation Center.  A two-day Black History Month salute to the Haitian Revolution, scheduled for Feb. 25-26, 2004, is still in the planning stage.

For more information, contact:
Dr. Patrice McSherry, LIU, (718) 488-1057;
2004 Haiti Initiative, initiative2004@yahoo.com;
Haitian Information and Documentation Center, (718) 284-0889.