France state

Haiti’s forgotten history shows why we need ethnic studies


For the publisher: Howard French’s opinion piece examining the historical relationship between the United States and Haiti was most interesting.

What was particularly noteworthy to me was the fact that I was unaware of much of this history – the struggle of the enslaved Haitians for independence from the great colonial powers, and the history behind the purchase of Louisiana, leading to an expansion of cotton cultivation and slavery in the United States.

While the recent harsh treatment of Haitian refugees by the US Border Patrol was a counterpoint to the author’s historical perspective, I am struck by the importance for students to learn and understand this history. Opponents of ethnic studies, are you listening?

Michael Sanders, Rossmoor

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For the publisher: French twists history when it involves an almost one-to-one correspondence between the successful Haitian slave revolution and Napoleon’s decision in 1803 to sell the territory of Louisiana to the United States.

It is true that other colonial powers in Europe joined forces with France in the hope of overthrowing the Haitian revolution. Haitians fought successfully for 12 years to preserve their country and their freedom from slavery.

Ironically, France was in a somewhat analogous position to that of Haiti. European monarchies were even more eager to erase the precedent of the overthrow of the French monarchy than they were to undo the precedent of a successful slave rebellion.

The nascent French Republic was in an almost continuous state of war with the European powers, and the end of the republic by Napoleon by declaring himself emperor did not calm his enemies, who always fought to restore the hereditary French monarchy.

It is true that France’s loss of Haiti was a grueling and costly military defeat, but the main reason for Napoleon’s willingness to sell Louisiana territory was his desperate need for funds to defend France against its European neighbors. .

Cyril Barnert, Los Angeles