HomeUncategorizedLA POLITIQUE AMÉRICAINE DE BOYER, EXPRESSION FRELATÉE DE LA MISSION HISTORIQUE D’HAÏTI

LA POLITIQUE AMÉRICAINE DE BOYER, EXPRESSION FRELATÉE DE LA MISSION HISTORIQUE D’HAÏTI

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By Rasin Ganga

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(Partie 2 sur 2)

“Memory in service of the struggles

196 years ago, on July 2, 1822, Denmark Vesey, leader of a slave revolt, was hanged in South Carolina. Purchased in 1781 by Captain Joseph Vesey, he bought his freedom in 1799 after he won $1,500 in a lottery. However, his wife remained ensled.

He then established a branch of the African Methodist Church, where his sermons served as a powerful anti-slavery serum, calling on the faithful to resist. Gradually, he organized the conditions for a large-scale revolt scheduled to take place on July 14, 1822. The insurgents aimed to forcefully liberate hundreds of slaves and join Haiti, symbol of freedom for all racialized captive people. Weapons began to be stored and training in their use was put in place.

Betrayed, he is arrested with 130 of his comrades; 67 of them sentenced. He is hanged with 34 other insurgents and becomes a symbol of resistance against European colonialism.

During the Civil War, the black regiments that fought against the Confederate armies (186,097 black soldiers forming 163 military units) chose his name as rallying cry. A statue commemorating his memory has been in place in Charleston since 2014”.

Boyer’s diplomatic approach in response to the dual standard of the Monroe Doctrine.

One must highlight that this distinctly American influence on Haitian politics was evident during Monroe’s presidency in the United States. The Doctrine of Foreign Policy that Monroe was going to promote will find a more resolute adherence among   Haitians, as it is a mere avatar of Dessalines’ doctrine. Once again, the Western world will demonstrate its inability to fully uphold the principles it has developed, which reveal a certain detachment from its source of inspiration, not to mention a marked deficit of authenticity in understanding its purpose in the world. The burden of supremacist ideology and the institution of slavery have had a profound impact on the United States. The country’s claim to universality through the promotion of freedom is often at odds with these glaring contradictions, leading to choices that contradict its stated principles. The burden of supremacist ideology and the institution of slavery have had a profound impact on the United States. The country’s claim to universality through the promotion of freedom is often at odds with these glaring contradictions, leading to choices that contradict its stated principles. In order to effectively implement his Doctrine and respond favorably to the outstretched hand of the Haitians, thus preventing them from falling under the control of the Europeans, Monroe chose to prioritize the interests of slavery and the supremacist vision of the Western world system. The United States adopted a shamefully opportunistic attitude towards Haiti, denying its independence while acknowledging its separation from the “mother country” in order to pursue commercial interests. Even Quincy Adams, recognizing the importance of trade between the two countries, sent envoys to strengthen it, without granting them diplomatic status. The same policy adopted towards Dessalines, Christophe, and Pétion will continue. Not without occasionally provoking reactions on the Haitian side. Thus, Pétion, frustrated by the American refusal despite the considerable support provided to the United States during its second war of independence in 1812, had a law passed by the Senate revoking the customs advantages granted to the country, in favor of England. Christophe, on occasion, implemented retaliatory measures against American businessmen established in the country, in protest against the Americans’ failure to honor their commitments. He refused to negotiate with envoys who were not in possession of their diplomatic documents. It is in this continuity and based on these experiences that Boyer will undertake to attempt to obtain official recognition from the United States, in order to lift the country out of its international isolation.

The Haitian exception to the Monroe Doctrine: an external factor contributing to Boyer’s failure.

Monroe’s betrayal of Pan-Americanism, in contradiction to his own Doctrine, in line with Jefferson’s “Proslavery Diplomacy,” led Boyer into the arms of the former colonial power. Sometimes, coincidences of dates carry a symbolic weight that is more relevant than any elaborate explanatory framework. The year 1825 marks both the end of Monroe’s presidency and the year of Boyer’s capitulation to France’s indemnification demands, through the signing of Charles X’s ordinance. This action can be seen as a form of neo-colonial subordination by the second independent nation in the Americas, which was the only land of freedom throughout the 19th century. It was not until forty years later, when the slaveholding South was defeated, that the United States recognized Haiti’s independence. Despite six different administrations in the White House during Boyer’s presidency, no significant efforts were made to foster a more favorable attitude towards Haiti that could have given a Pan-Americanist context to the Monroe Doctrine. Although offering an alternative to the racial issue that has always haunted white America, the need for labor on the slave plantations of the South would inevitably limit the scope of Boyer’s immigration policy in favor of Afro descendants. Consequently, the effectiveness of his strategy to compel the United States authorities to recognize Haiti’s independence and break free from international isolation was compromised.

The diplomatic approach of Boyer in the face of the double standard of the Monroe Doctrine is noteworthy. 

It is significant to observe that this resolutely American anchoring of Haitian politics manifested during Monroe’s presidency in the United States. It is evident that the foreign policy doctrine promoted by Monroe found a more resolute adherence among the Haitians, as it is merely an avatar of Dessalines’ doctrine. Once again, the West demonstrates its incapacity to fully adhere to its own principles, revealing a certain distancing from its source of inspiration, not to mention a marked deficit of authenticity in understanding its raison d’être in the world. Carrying the burden of supremacist ideology and the accompanying institution of slavery, the US pretension to universality through the promotion of freedom clashes with these glaring contradictions, which always impose a choice that contradicts its claims. In order to effectively implement its doctrine in the most convincing manner and respond favorably to the outstretched hand of the Haitians, so as not to fall under the control of the Europeans, Monroe chose to prioritize the interests of slavery and the supremacist vision of the Western world system. The US adopted a shamefully opportunistic attitude, denying Haiti’s independence while acknowledging its detachment from the “mother country,” in order to profit from commercial affairs with it. Even Quincy Adams, recognizing the importance of trade between the two countries, sent envoys to strengthen it, while refraining from granting them diplomatic status. The same policy adopted towards Dessalines, Christophe, and Pétion continued, occasionally provoking reactions from the Haitian side. For instance, Pétion, exasperated by the American refusal despite the considerable support provided to the United States during its second war of independence in 1812, had a law passed by the Senate revoking the customs advantages granted to the US in favor of England. Christophe retaliated against American businessmen established in the country to protest against the non-compliance with commitments made by the Americans. He refused to negotiate with envoys who did not possess their diplomatic documents. It is in continuity and based on these experiences that Boyer will attempt to obtain official recognition from the United States in order to lift the country out of its international isolation.

Internal factors that contributed to the failure of the affranchi apartheid migration policy.

The affranchi mindset that pervaded the emancipated state significantly influenced its approach to migration concerning African Americans. Despite the professed good intentions, it is evident that the treatment they received was not free from prejudice. According to Thomas Madiou, one could presume a form of selection based on the same criteria of colonial hierarchy. In any case, it should not be expected that a different regime would have been reserved for them, apart from the one applied to the Haitian masses. It is highly likely that a selection based on appearance and/or social status was carried out in order to channel the new arrivals according to the prevailing hierarchy criteria in Haitian society, under the control of the mulatto wing of the ruling class. The overly broad notion of African Americans masks the social and/or ethnic differentiations that structure the relationship between the emancipated state and these migrants. It is not possible to adequately account for their perception and response to this experience without integrating this determining factor. An important factor to consider in the explanatory framework of any statistical study is the comparison between the disappointed individuals who had to return to the United States and the fewer number of individuals satisfied with their new situation. When Boyer proposed the emigration project, his intention was to evenly disperse a large number of emigrants throughout the entire island. However, instead of the expected one thousand emigrants arriving in Port-au-Prince, over four thousand actually arrived. This unexpected influx of people created a shortage of nearby and available government lands. Boyer had envisioned that the majority of Americans would accept his offer of agricultural land, whereby each person was entitled to three acres. However, considering the provisions of the rural code and the predatory structure of the economy in general, one may doubt the opportunities for social mobility that such a proposal represented. Even for the Southern migrants bound by servitude, this conversion to sharecropping did not truly constitute an enticing prospect, as already fled by the newly freed individuals in Haiti. The latter vehemently opposed the economic policies of the former emancipated individuals by establishing village communities in the mountains. However, the immigrants who arrived in Port-au-Prince declined to settle on these lands located thirty to forty miles away from the city, which was deemed too distant for many Americans who had envisioned a more seamless transition from urban to rural life. As Americans flocked to Port-au-Prince, the government-owned lands near the city were quickly depleted. Instead of living in isolation, many Americans chose to become sharecroppers. 

One may question to what extent Boyer’s strategy was a response to necessity rather than a deliberate political choice. Was he not seeking to reduce tension and opposition from the Senate towards his European option, marked by the visible presence of newly arrived French immigrants in the country? Especially at a time when the former metropolis did not hide its colonial ambitions. 

In other words, it can be said that this tactic was employed to balance a migration policy that was predominantly favorable to white individuals and deemed unpopular. Unlike Beaubrun Ardouin, historian Thomas Madiou criticized the treatment reserved for African Americans, denouncing the treatment they received from the Haitian administration. This included their enrollment in the army with a subordinate status, subject to the deplorable conditions endured by soldiers at that time. Considering that the overwhelming majority of migrants originated from the northern United States and were fleeing not only poverty but also discrimination, seeking not just employment but also social and symbolic recognition, it is easy to understand their disappointment in the distressing spectacle of the affranchi apartheid that prevailed under Boyer.

The immigration policy towards African Americans was taken up by Soulouque in 1848, and later by Geffrard. During the presidency of the former, a group of over 350 Louisianans were received in Haiti, outside of a defined political framework. Although there were rumors at the time of creating a Caribbean confederation with Haiti as its center, a black equivalent of the USA as envisioned by T. Louverture, this exacerbated Napoleon’s “colonial madness,” who swore to obstruct such an endeavor as a defender of white supremacy. In the 1850s-60s, history would offer another example of an attempt to reconnect Haiti with its mission towards the Afro-descendant diaspora. Unfortunately, our leaders appeared almost naked at this rendezvous. At that time, we had a certain Nicolas Geffrard as president, who was very concerned with signing concordats and organizing crusades against “African barbarism.”

The journey of African Americans in the United States ended in a similar manner as during the Boyer era. They returned to face their ordeal in the land of Jefferson. The deficit of national cohesion, manifested by the prevalence of internal conflicts, made the pursuit of such a policy illusory. Nevertheless, at least diplomatic or simply verbal solidarity with the emancipatory cause has persisted year after year, a principle that has not completely vanished from the Haitian political imagination. Despite recurring violations by leaders willing to do anything to cling to power, even in denial of the founding values of the nation.

CONCLUSION

It is evident that the dialectic of HAITI/USA relationship encapsulates the fundamental contradictions of the Western system of domination and represents one of those moments of blatant negation of international civility and the ideal space for the restriction of promoted values. As suggested by Rayford W. Logan1, we must always bear in mind that, “…the second country in this hemisphere to achieve its independence was discriminated against because its people were black, and our government long delayed recognition of Haitian independence while favoring other Latin American states.”2

Nevertheless, albeit in an altered form, we find in Boyer’s American policy, conducted during the first five years of his administration, traits of the Dessalines Doctrine:

Pan-Americanism is expressed through its resolute desire to form an alliance with the United States to counter the pressures from the former European colonial powers. In a similar vein, the policy of supporting liberation movements in Latin America continues.

– It was during their administration that the unity of the Island was achieved for the longest period (21 years) in the post-independence era.

– The decisive support provided to the Greek revolutionaries fighting for their emancipation from the Ottoman Empire reflects the Grand Principle of universal solidarity, transcending racial divides.

– Pan-Americanism is expressed through its resolute desire to form an alliance with the United States to counter the pressures from the former European colonial powers. In a similar vein, the policy of supporting liberation movements in Latin America continues.

– It was during their administration that the unity of the Island was achieved for the longest period (21 years) in the post-independence era.

– The decisive contribution to the Greek revolutionaries fighting for their emancipation from the Ottoman Empire reflects the Grand Principle of universal solidarity, transcending racial divides.

___________________

 Reviewed Work(s) : The Diplomatic Relations of the United States with Haiti, 1776-1891 by Rayford W. Logan Review by: Carl Ludwig Lokke Source: The American Historical Review, Vol. 47, No. 3 (Apr., 1942), pp. 625-626). 

 « …the second country in this hemisphere to win its independence, was discriminated against because its people were black, and that our government long deferred recognition of Haitian independence while granting the favor to other Latin- American states. » (Traduit en Français par nous)

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