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by Rasin Ganga

(Part 2 of 2)


“The fundamental question at hand is this: can we live freely, happily, and build a democratic society in the Caribbean without knowing its history? Those who are ignorant of history, those who refuse to seek understanding, are always more or less complicit with their oppressors. From oblivion to history, the transition seems obligatory for those who do not wish to perish in servitude, with the master’s collar around their neck. How can we not grasp the importance of reclaiming history, such a precious heritage, and fighting against the loss of memory? Breaking the chains of dependence requires a precise, clear understanding of the major periods of history: the slave trade, conquests, the system of slavery, resistance, colonialism, and assimilation.”


Haiti has long been considered a national haven for Afro descendants, refuge for survivors of slavery, and Mecca for the black diaspora. It remains an inspiring center for the emancipation of those directly and indirectly affected by the disastrous expansionism of the West. The failure of the Louverturian project has not dampened this aspiration, nor did the parricidal’s Pont Rouge deviation. The imaginary of the black diaspora preserves and nurtures, beyond appearances, a form of faith in the sacred nature of the land of Quisqueya, even Soulouque and his empire still made them dream of the coming of the “promised land.” Throughout the 19th century, what held a more practical, objective, and effective dimension for African Americans, as demonstrated by their more prosaic attempt at emigration to Haiti, contributes to the formation of the collective black imaginary. This imaginary finds its radiance center and sustenance in the overturning of the myth of white supremacy by the heroic feat of 1804. Throughout the ups and downs experienced by the African American community in the course of the 19th century – which included slavery for the vast majority and limited freedom without equality for a small minority, followed by freedom for the entire community after the Civil War but without the enjoyment of civil rights – an overall dynamic emerges, in which Haiti appears as a major element in shaping the identity of the African American community, despite the community’s almost constant ambivalence towards it. Even someone like Frederick Douglass could not completely escape this ambivalence.

When Napoleon was defeated, he handed over Louisiana to the Americans, signifying the collusion of European descendants in their endeavor to dominate the black world, despite inter-colonial contradictions. This gesture represents transatlantic racial solidarity to counter the emergence of black power in America. By handing over Louisiana, the French not only doubled the territory of the United States, but also propelled it towards its destiny as a major power, while dealing a fatal blow to Haiti.

The impact of the revolution led by Louverture on the entire Atlantic world is now well-documented and recognized. However, Toussaint’s project of a multiracial empire through the annexation of the vast territory known as the Great Louisiana, representing over a third of the current US territory, is less known. Today, such an endeavor would seem extravagant and unrealistic. At the time, the idea of the emergence of a “black empire” haunted the sleep of European generals and politicians, while it inspired the oppressed masses of the colonies, ready to answer the call of the black leader. Lordobart, the British Secretary of State for the Colonial and War Department of the Addington administration, demonstrated an understanding of the matter when he communicated his concerns to his counterparts in this regard. In a letter marked “Confidential and Private,” addressed to Major General Nugant, dated Downing Street, November 18, 1801, he wrote the following: “Regardless of the consequences of the restoration of the French government on the island of Saint-Domingue, it is undeniable that the potential danger of maintaining Toussaint’s power, or a Black Empire, should raise moral and well-founded concerns. It is inappropriate to have any obstacles in the way of achieving this objective. “

We are currently in a context of questioning white supremacy, which has sparked a strong backlash from those in power. It is within this framework that Napoleon’s haste to cede Louisiana to European descendants is situated.


In deporting the Black General to Fort de Joux, Napoleon only severed the tree trunc of black freedom, but he successfully uprooted the project of a multi-racial empire in America, which is truly the true manifest destiny of the New World, given the melting pot of peoples and cultures that have converged on this side of the Atlantic. As a result, the Haitian revolution was deprived of its essential dimension that the Black General sought to impart: the realization of the dream of freedom through the transcendence of the racial question. The integration of different ethnicities through a cultural blending at the highest level of expression. Instead of this entry into history through the back door, which was served by the colonial expansion of the West, the eruption of humanity in all the splendor of its rich diversities. Consequently, Hitler1 of the black race, deviating the Haitian project, sabotaged this immense humanistic. utopia.The independence of Haiti was inevitably going to lead to the American Civil War. The anachronism of the slave system was becoming too evident. Faced with three converging currents – economic (the Industrial Revolution), political, and moral (abolitionist and insurrectionist movements) – the institution of slavery eventually collapsed under the impetus of the victory in 1804. While Europe, in all its components, had learned the lesson, the New World could not lag behind without jeopardizing its role as a leader in the modern historical process. The fact that even the papacy and France recognized Haiti’s independence and decreed the abolition of slavery, while it continued to persist in America, was a serious anomaly contrary to everything that should have been, in this land of liberty. The realization of the conquest, through the genocide of the Native Americans and the slave trade, had already tainted the American project with a dual original sin. The perpetuation of racial slavery continued to hinder and distort it. Even to this day, in the midst of the decline of the West.

(Part 2 of 2)

1See ‘’La démence coloniale de Napoléon’

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