The debt the U.S. owes to Haiti: The Louisiana Purchase

Every Texas school kid learns that the Louisiana Purchase in 1803 created one of the great turning points in American history.  Parts or all of 15 different states came out of the land acquired from Napoleon in that deal.  Lewis and Clark’s Corps of Discovery spent more than two years mapping the newly-acquired territory, and didn’t really scratch the surface of the riches to be found.

Why was Napoleon so willing to deal Louisiana, so cheaply?

What else happened in 1803?  Haiti’s slaves rose up and cast off French rule. Haiti had been the jewel of France’s overseas colonies.   Napoleon became convinced that holding and ruling North American territories could be more pain and trouble than it was worth

So, along came John Jay to secure navigation rights in the territory . . .

CBS Sunday Morning featured a good story on the event, and on Haiti, on January 17.  You can read the transcript here.

4 Responses to The debt the U.S. owes to Haiti: The Louisiana Purchase

  1. Nick Kelsier says:

    Since I’m pretty sure that Hattip has no idea what “strawman” argument means, I’ll define it for him. God knows he could use some actual education after all.

    A straw man argument is an informal fallacy based on misrepresentation of an opponent’s position.[1] To “attack a straw man” is to create the illusion of having refuted a proposition by substituting a superficially similar proposition (the “straw man”), and refuting it, without ever having actually refuted the original position.

    In actuality, Hattip, it is you that is creating the straw man. You are claiming that Ed is saying that the United States owes some kind of payment to Haiti for us being able to buy the Louisiana purchase. He wasn’t saying that. What he was saying was that we owe Haiti some gratitude in the same way, for example, that we owe the French for coming to our aid during the Revolutionary war.

    Haiti was France’s jewel in the carribbean colonies. When they lost that they realized that holding onto the land they ultimately sold us would be impossible because what their slaves did in Haiti is exactly what their slaves elsewhere would do. And Napoleon was already in wars with pretty much the entirety of Europe. That is historical fact, nimrod.

    But tell me, Hattip, since you claim to be such a moral and intelligent person..what kind of moral or intelligent person doesn’t help those who are suffering from a tragedy that has killed hundreds of thousands and injured countless more?

    Your side of the political fence likes to claim that the United States is the best and most moral country on the planet. And yet it is your side bitching about actually following those words up with action.


  2. Ed Darrell says:

    Please go read the story at the CBS website. I’m not advocating anything here, just noting a chapter of history.

    To operate the plantations over the next century, the French would import hundreds of thousands of slaves from Africa, many of whom were literally worked to death. But in 1789, word of revolution in France made its way to its Carribean colony.

    That, Lightfoot said, ignited the slaves to revolt, and the French could not put that rebellion down. Slaves outnumbered the colonists 10 to 1.

    Their rebellion would lead to independence for Haiti.

    It would also alter the course of a young country called the United States. At the time, the U.S. was looking to buy the French-controlled port of New Orleans. But Napoleon surprised the Americans by offering a much bigger land deal . . . land the French emperor no longer wanted, after losing his most profitable colony in Haiti.

    “Once that’s lost, France says, ‘Well, you can have the whole of the Louisiana territory, not just New Orleans,'” said Lightfoot.

    The Louisiana Purchase would double the size of the United States.

    “So the American Midwest as we know it would not really exist without the Haitian revolution pushing France to give up on its design for empire in the Western hemisphere,” said Lightfoot.

    Haiti became the only nation to gain independence by a slave-led rebellion. Its new flag was derived from the French tricolor, which was turned on its side – and the white stripe symbolically stripped off.


  3. ligne says:

    i’m not sure that “straw-man argument” means what you think it does, hattip.


  4. hattip says:

    This does not mean we “owe” something to Haiti.

    Another bizarre formulation out of you. as is the notion that Haiti was chiefly the cause. There is a whole luster of financial needs. Another straw man aurgement out of you. You are full of them.


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