By Neenah Payne
We take the size of the US for granted, that it was somehow foreordained that it would stretch from the Atlantic to the Pacific Oceans. We sing, “This land is your land, this land is my land – from California to the New York Island.”
However, America may have been limited to the East Coast – or even ceased to exist in the 19th century had it not been for the Haitian Revolution. When Jean Jacques Dessalines led the Haitian Revolution (1791-1804), he defeated Napoleon – said to be “the world’s greatest general”. At the same time, Dessalines – the head of a tiny slave island – defeated England and Spain! These were the world’s three great maritime superpowers at the time. The US had just barely won the war against Britain!
Thomas Jefferson was the third President of the US from 1801-1809. Because the Haitian Revolution bankrupted France, Napoleon had to abandon his plan to fight tiny America and sold his vast lands to President Jefferson in the Louisiana Purchase. That immediately almost doubled the size of America – adding six states and parts of eight others. It also gave the US access to the Oregon Territory and later Alaska (protecting the US from Russia). It also allowed the US to later steal one third of Mexico for the Southwest in the war with Mexico.
So, without Jean Jacques Dessalines, the US would not be a land “from sea to shining sea”. It may have even been conquered by Napoleon. It would have certainly been defeated had Spain and England joined the fight as they did against Haiti. So, the US owes its present size (and possibly its existence today) to the courage of Dessalines and the people of tiny Haiti – the only slaves to win their freedom.
Clearly, Jean-Jacques Dessalines is the world’s greatest general – at least since Hannibal in the Second Punic War against Rome. While the famous slave revolt in Rome by Spartacus failed, it was celebrated in the 1960 film Spartacus starring Kirk Douglas! Hollywood celebrated a failed slave rebellion thousands of years ago in Europe, but ignores a spectacularly successful one that saved America. Why is that?
The DVD 1804: The Hidden History of Haiti by Tariq Nasheed is an Amazon Choice with 5 stars and 971 reviews. It is a must-see.
America pays little or no attention to Haiti today – and almost all of it is negative. The US owes a great debt to the courage of the Haitian people and their skillful leadership. Yet, America always looks down on Haiti as a backward nation that can’t govern itself. “How the Clinton Foundation Got Rich off Poor Haitians” shows that Bill and Hillary Clinton stole millions of dollars entrusted to them for the recovery of Haiti after the 2010 earthquake.
Actor Danny Glover wanted to make a film about the Haitian Revolution, but got no support from Hollywood. The reason given was that the story does not include White heroes!! The success of the Black Panther film shows how short-sighted that was. However, perhaps that worked out for the best because Glover was going to feature Toussaint L’Ouverture (a Francophile who was imprisoned by France and died in jail) rather than Jean Jacques Dessalines. Danny Glover’s Toussaint L’Ouverture Film That Never Was, But Could Still Be & Other Films on the Haitian Revolutionary.
Imagine America today if it were just on the East Coast, if Haiti had not won the revolution and Jefferson had not made the Louisiana Purchase, perhaps his greatest achievement as President. Even if the US had not been conquered by France, Spain, or England, it would not be the nation it is today. It would not have the resources, the wealth, the security, or the power we take so much for granted now. It would not be a world superpower.
Perhaps it is time now for America to recognize its debt to Haiti whose skill and courage allowed this country to continue to exist and to expand from the New York Island to California.
Napoleon’s Attitude Toward Haiti
“We’ve Never Forgiven Haiti for Being Black” points out:
American public policy surrounding Haiti still contributes to ongoing misery there today—including conditions that have erupted in protests in recent weeks. Thomas Jefferson encouraged Napoleon Bonaparte to take back French control of the island. Napoleon’s sights were set on establishing French power in New Orleans, but he was compelled to recapture Saint Domingue too. While New Orleans was a business matter to the French despot, Saint Domingue was also a personal one, built on thwarting black self-determination.
However, Napoleon was defeated.
Ultimately, Napoleon abandoned his campaign for a French empire in the region, and ceded the Louisiana Territory, including New Orleans, to the United States. Jefferson offered $10 million for New Orleans in 1800; Napoleon sold all of Louisiana for $15 million in 1803.
The Louisiana Purchase allowed Jefferson to get 827 square miles for $15 million.
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The article says:
Under Jean Jacques Dessalines, the country’s 1805 Constitution reaffirmed the abolition of slavery and erased color distinctions—all citizens of the nation were identified as black in the eyes of the law. Nothing signified this more symbolically than Dessalines ripping the white from the French flag to create a new one for Haiti. But Haitians were caught between a rock and a hard place. The western powers colluded to never allow Haiti to rebuild, burdening it with war reparations or a threat of perpetual war. Haiti would never receive the opportunity to build its society using the riches of the land that western empires would continue to exploit.
Successive U.S. governments denied Haiti’s place as the first true democracy of the western hemisphere; acknowledging the Haitian independence would mean facing its own failure to live up to its own declaration that all men and women are created equal. Acknowledging Haiti would have been a blow to racial capitalism and an admission that whiteness was not supreme over blackness. The U.S. did not recognize the sovereignty of the nation until 1862.
Louisiana Purchase Expanded Slavery
The book Slavery and the Making of America by James Oliver Horton and Lois E. Horton is a companion to the PBS Series which is now available as a DVD and the four episodes are free on Amazon Prime. The Amazon description says:
The history of slavery is central to understanding the history of the United States. Readers will discover a wide ranging and sharply nuanced look at American slavery, from the first Africans brought to British colonies in the early seventeenth century to the end of Reconstruction.
The book explains that the Haitian Revolution gave America the rare opportunity to immediately double the size of the nation – which led to a huge expansion of slavery. It adds:
Like most American slaveholders, Jefferson feared the existence of the independent black nation of Haiti in the West Indies…Despite his stated belief in revolutionary struggles for liberty, his administration.… refused to recognize the new nation. Jefferson signed a trade embargo against Haiti in February 1806 at the request of the French.
The Louisiana Purchase provided eastern planters with new opportunities to make their fortunes in cotton production. Large and small planters moved thousands of slaves southwestward into the new territory….During the first two decades of the nineteenth century, cotton increased from representing slightly more than 7 percent of American exported goods to being the single most valuable export of the entire nation.
The Louisiana Purchase was one of history’s greatest bargains, a chance for the United States to buy what promised to be one of France’s largest and wealthiest territories and eliminate a European threat in the process. But the purchase was also fueled by a slave revolt in Haiti—and tragically, it ended up expanding slavery in the United States.
It would have seemed unthinkable for France to cede any of its colonial territory before 1791…. France was in shock, and Napoleon began to realize that his dream of a French empire in the Americas might be doomed. He’d planned to send troops to Louisiana to take over the colony, which he had received from the Spanish through a secret treaty in 1800, in the hopes of using the territory as a trade venue for the commodities produced in Haiti. But if Haiti was under the control of the slaves, his plan was for naught.
Lewis and Clark Expedition: Westward Expansion
In Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power, Jon Meacham says about Jefferson:
He believed Indians a noble race. At his core, though, Jefferson shared the prevailing views of white landowners that Indian lands were destined to belong to whites, and the Indians themselves should be inculcated in the ways of whites.
Jefferson selected Meriwether Lewis to lead an exploration of the new Louisiana Territory. The book adds:
Jefferson thought of America as an “empire of liberty.’ Now he would have a keener, more detailed grasp of the continent that stretched far beyond the nation’s existing borders – and a chance at claiming that sprawling West.
Jefferson saw the lands as “vacant.”
The video Lewis & Clark Encounter with the Teton Sioux says that as the expedition traveled West, although Lewis and Clark told each of the Indian tribes they met that their land now belonged to the United States, the encounters were friendly because they promised that the tribes would not be interfered with! Lewis and Clark told the tribes they now had a Great Father in the East and to be friendly to all who traveled in their territory under his flag. They gave out metals with Jefferson on one side and two hands shaking on the other and presents. They would fire off guns and canons to impress the tribes with the power of the United States.
However, because the Teton Sioux (Lakota), the most powerful force in the region, weren’t so gullible, there was a tense standoff and Clarke formed a negative opinion of the Sioux.
Lewis and Clark Trail: Native Homelands
The video Native Homelands Along the Lewis and Clark Trail shows the Native American perspective on the Lewis and Clark Expedition and “westward expansion”. It points out:
If your only view of the “discovery” of the American West is through the lens of the Lewis and Clark expedition, you’re missing out on many thousands of years of human history. Native Americans have a very different perspective on the Lewis and Clark expedition. In this film, Native Americans from several western tribes speak intimately about the history of North America, their own role in it, and how the Lewis and Clark expedition was not the “beginning” of the history of the American West.
It explains that the Europeans would never have survived without the help of the Indian peoples. Yet, American history only records the courage and triumphs of Whites.
The map at https://www.trailtribes.org/ shows the route Lewis and Clark took and the Indian peoples they met.
Lewis and Clark Opened the Floodgates
The Suppressed History of America: The Murder of Meriwether Lewis and the Mysterious Discoveries of the Lewis and Clark Expedition questions the official version of history. The Amazon description says:
Examining the shadows and cracks between America’s official version of history, Xaviant Haze and Paul Schrag propose that the America of old taught in schools is not the America that was discovered by Lewis and Clark and other early explorers. Investigating the discoveries of Spanish conquistadors and Olmec stories of contact with European-like natives, the authors uncover evidence of explorers from Europe and Asia prior to Columbus, sophisticated ancient civilizations in North America and the Caribbean…the authors reveal how Lewis and Clark’s finds infuriated powerful interests in Washington – including the Smithsonian Institution – culminating in the murder of Meriwether Lewis.
The book states:
In early 1804 Meriwether Lewis attended the ceremony in which the Upper Louisiana Territory was transferred to the United States. In the most awesome real estate deal in history, the United States took control of a vast territory covering 828,000 square miles encompassing present-day Arkansas, Missouri, Iowa, Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, parts of Minnesota west of the Mississippi River, most of North Dakota, nearly all of South Dakota, northeastern New Mexico, portions of Montana, Wyoming, and Colorado east of the Continental Divide, and Louisiana west of the Mississippi River and parts of the Canadian provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan.
It points out:
The Corps of Discovery returned to St. Louis on September 23, 1806, to a roaring celebration. The whole town welcomed Lewis and Clark with a monumental heroes’ reception….Dubbed national heroes, the men of the expedition were paid well, and each was given 320 acres of land for his efforts. Some of the men got married and farmed, while others returned to the frontier to trade fur and dig gold….William Clark was given a high position in the government…The only member of the expedition who was not rewarded fairly was William Clark’s slave, York. Despite his help and commitment to the expedition, William Clark denied York his freedom.
Today we can appreciate the far-reaching magnitude of Lewis and Clark’s journey to the West….Lewis and Clark opened the floodgates, and after the discovery of gold, the hordes were unleashed. The prairies turned into farms, the buffalo were hunted to extinction, the Native Americans were killed, and the survivors were rounded up and placed on reservations. The white man’s diseases would eventually decimate the population of the Mandan, Arikaras, and Hidatsa, the hospitable tribes whose friendliness and helpfulness were so crucial to Lewis and Clark and the Corps of Discovery….The West they traveled would never be the same.”
The book explains:
After resting and recuperating in St. Louis for several months, Lewis departed for Washington in the winter of 1807….Upon his arrival Lewis was greeted again with a hero’s welcome in Washington, D.C., and Philadelphia. He became the toast of the town and enjoyed his celebrity status. Returning to the familiarity of the White House, Lewis was also welcomed into the home of President Jefferson, where conversations about the expedition and Lewis’s personal thoughts and opinions on the discoveries were shared in great detail….
Lewis obtained extra money and land grants for his men, and he was appointed governor of the extensive Louisiana Territory. His experience as a military officer and the popularity he received after the expedition made him a natural for the position. As Lewis prepared his journals for publication he undoubtedly looked forward to his upcoming duties as governor, a job that would further develop his experience for what at the time seemed to point to his eventual calling: the presidency.
Rush to Montana’s Gold in the Black Hills
The video The Bozeman Trail: A Rush to Montana’s Gold says:
The Bozeman Trail was an offshoot of the Oregon Trail, a shortcut to the newly discovered gold fields of Montana Territory. Cutting through the heart of Indian country. It became a flash point for a clash of cultures that would explode into warfare, destruction and tragedy.
The Sioux are now among the poorest peoples in North America. Yet, the 2011 video Why the Sioux Are Refusing $1.3 Billion explains: “Members of the Great Sioux Nation could pocket a large sum set aside by the government for taking the resource-rich Black Hills away from the tribes in 1877. But leaders say the sacred land was never, and still isn’t, for sale.
The 2019 article “De Blasio open to talks on transfer of Black Hills to Sioux tribe” says:
Democratic presidential candidate Bill de Blasio says he would bring tribal and federal leaders together to “determine a path forward” on returning the Black Hills to its historic occupants, the Lakota Sioux tribal nations. “The history referred to around the Black Hills must be answered it can’t be ignored,” Mr. de Blasio said Tuesday at an American Indian presidential forum here. “And the only way to do that is to have leaders of your community with leaders of the federal government to determine a path forward.“
The New York City mayor referred to his serving as a city government liaison to American Indians under Mayor David Dinkins in the early 1990s. He said he did not know the “exact path” to transferring back to the tribes ownership of the Black Hills — a mountainous region in western South Dakota and eastern Wyoming. In 1980, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the federal government unlawfully took control of the resource-rich region from the Sioux Indian Nation. The Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, home of the Oglala Sioux Tribe, lies about 90 miles easy of the Black Hills.
Jefferson and Native Americans
Native America, Discovered and Conquered: Thomas Jefferson, Lewis & Clark and Manifest Destiny is by Robert J. Miller.
The Amazon description says:
Native America, Discovered and Conquered takes a fresh look at American history through the lens of the Doctrine of Discovery—the legal basis that Europeans and Americans used to lay claim to the land of the indigenous peoples they “discovered.” Robert J. Miller illustrates how the American colonies used the Doctrine of Discovery against the Indian nations from 1606 forward. Thomas Jefferson used the doctrine to exert American authority in the Louisiana Territory, to win the Pacific Northwest from European rivals, and to “conquer” the Indian nations. In the broader sense, these efforts began with the Founding Fathers and with Thomas Jefferson’s Corps of Discovery, and eventually the Doctrine of Discovery became part of American law, as it still is today.
Miller shows how Manifest Destiny grew directly out of the legal elements and policies of the Doctrine of Discovery and how Native peoples, whose rights stood in the way of this destiny, were “discovered” and then “conquered.” Miller’s analysis of the principles of discovery brings a new perspective and valuable insights to the study of Jefferson, Lewis and Clark, the Louisiana Purchase, the Pacific Northwest, American expansionism, and U.S. Indian policy.
Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power by Jon Meacham points out Jefferson envisioned an America that would extend across the whole continent. He sent his Secretary of State Meriwether Lewis (who hired William Clarke) to explore the new Louisiana Territory. While Jefferson admired Indians and learned some Indian languages, he felt they should become farmers. However, even the five tribes who adopted White ways were force marched in the Trail of Tears out of South Carolina westward into “Indian Territory”. While Jefferson did not live to see that, he was the architect of Indian Removal.
Jefferson’s Policy of Indian Removal
The Suppressed History of America: The Murder of Meriwether Lewis and the Mysterious Discoveries of the Lewis and Clark Expedition discusses Jefferson’s policies toward the Indian nations from pages 25-29. It says:
While Lewis and Clark were gathering information about the native peoples and exploring potential trade routes west, Jefferson was developing a plan to get the natives out of the way – in what would become a government policy known as Indian Removal..
It discusses the three components of Jefferson’s plan: 1) encouraging natives to adopt agricultural practices to reduce their territorial hunting areas. 2) get Indians dependent on trade and use that as leverage against Indians resistance to selling their land 3) establishing government trading posts near Indian settlements so Indians could spend themselves into debt which would be forgiven in exchange for tribal lands appropriated by the US government.
Many tribes, including members of the Choctaw, Creek, and Cherokee adopted European culture – building schools and churches and creating government structures like those of the US. However, these were among the tribes force marched from their homes during Indian Removal!
The book says, “Although Jefferson had been a vocal proponent of natives’ nobility, intelligence, and equality for decades, his philosophical perspectives were seemingly trumped by his political ambitions and pervasive Eurocentric myopia.” It points out that it was Jefferson’s intent to use the “Louisiana Territory” as the dumping grounds for the Indian natives driven from the East Coast. He appointed Lewis as governor of the territory because of his knowledge of Indian cultures.
Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power says of Jefferson: “Though he would not live to see The Trail of Tears of the 1830s, Jefferson was amonag the architects of Indian removal.” The video The History Of The Trail Of Tears: African-Americans Are The Real American Indians shows that at the beginning of the 1830s, nearly 125,000 Native Americans lived on 25 million acres of land in Georgia, Tennessee, Alabama, North Carolina, and Florida. From May 16, 1836 to June 1, 1839.
President Andrew Jackson ordered Indian Removal and force marched the peoples of five Indian nations (Cherokee, Creek, Chickasaw, Choctaw, and Seminole) among others from the Southeast 800 miles to “Indian Territory” west of the Mississippi (Oklahoma). This is known now as the Trail of Tears. The trip took about three months and 25-30% died en route. It passed through North Carolina, Georgia, Kentucky, Missouri, Alabama, Arkansas, Illinois, and Tennessee to Oklahoma.
Murder of Meriwether Lewis
Just three years after his triumphant return from the expedition, Meriwether Lewis, governor of the Louisiana Territory, was dead at age 35! The book The Suppressed History of America: The Murder of Meriwether Lewis and the Mysterious Discoveries of the Lewis and Clark Expedition speculates that Jefferson may have been responsible or the murder of his friend whom he commissioned to explore the “vacant lands” of the West.
“The Olmec Riddles” is the first chapter of the book. Lewis and Clarke’s discovery of the Olmecs, the advanced Black civilization that was the mother culture of the Americas, would make it clear why Jefferson might kill to suppress that information! Would Jefferson suppress evidence of the superiority of Blacks and/or the early African presence in the Americas – and would perhaps even be willing to kill a friend to hide such evidence?
If Africans were in the Americas thousands of years before Europeans, that would not only dismantle “White Supremacy” but also the “Doctrine of Discovery” on which the concept of “Manifest Destiny” is based. That would invalidate the claims of Europeans – and their descendants – to the Americas!
Dr. Ivan Van Sertima, who taught Afro-American Studies at Rutgers University, was the author of the book about the Olmecs: They Came Before Columbus: The African Presence in Ancient America. In the video ‘Olmecs’ They Came Before Columbus – Dr Ivan Van Sertima, Part 1, Dr. Van Sertima explains that the Mexico of the Olmecs included parts of Colorado, Texas, and California – all the way up to Canada. In Part 2 and Part 3, Dr. Van Sertima explains that the Olmecs were the mother civilization of all the cultures of the Americas – and that their origin was Egypt. In Part 4, Dr. Van Sertima says there is a deliberate effort to hide the evidence.
Dr. Van Sertima pointed out, “We first came to this continent not as slaves, but as masters”.
Also read: Thomas Jefferson, Founding Father of Indian Removal by Mark Hirsch, Smithsonian.
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