Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Louisiana Purchase Treaty: Napoleon's Justifiable Revenge

The Louisiana Purchase Treaty, the ramifications.

For all those who are interested in the history of the Creoles of the Unites States and particularly how Creolism developed in the state of Louisiana, it is imperative to understand how the Louisiana Purchase Treaty came into effect and under what circumstances. The LPT is often said to be a turning point in the history of the Louisiana State and its integration into the United States of America. However, not much attention was given to the people of that state at the time the treaty in that process. A people with a unique history and culture different from the rest of the United States: The Creoles of Louisiana, which was made up of Free people of Colour (gens de couleurs libres) as well as black of African and Haitian origins. No compensation, consideration or respect were given to the right and freedom of these people to continue to enjoy their unique culture, instead followed a period of outright discrimination which caused many Creoles to flee to other parts of the States, to France and even to Mexico as Mary Gehman found out in her research. To understand fully the ramifications of the Louisiana Purchase Treaty, I urge you to read carefully and critically the following article by Gilbert E Martin.

Louis G delamare

The Louisiana Purchase Treaty

Napoleon’s Justifiable Revenge on the U.S.A

Narrated by

Gilbert E. Martin

It was no secret that Napoleon Bonaparte desired to have a French empire in America. But his ego coupled with his envy of Toussaint L’Ouverture destroyed his dream, and cost France her most profitable colony, and the Louisiana Territory to boot. On April 27, 1803, nine months after his abduction, Toussaint died in a dungeon in the Alps. At that time, two Americans, R. R. Livingston and James Monroe, were in Paris pestering Napoleon to give his final approval of sale of the vast Louisiana Territory. The wily Napoleon, however, was down but not out. He knew that the Americans had supplied the black revolutionaries in St. Domingue (now Haiti), with supplies and ammunition to help break the French power in the Western Hemisphere. Furthermore, the two Americans had mentioned to Napoleon that he didn’t have much choice because, as they put it, the United States was powerful enough to take the territory by force.

With Toussaint’s death on his mind, and pressure coming from Livingston and Monroe, revenge took control of his thoughts, which prompted the great Napoleon Bonaparte to devise his very own Trojan horse. Playing upon American greed, bigotry and ignorance of human innate Intelligence, this man took 70 simple words and concocted what I believe to be one of the most impregnable articles ever to be found in any document pertaining to the rights of a nation of people with lineage to Africa. After toying with the Americans who were extremely anxious to get the treaty signed, Napoleon finally gave his approval. The American representatives hurried their signatures on the document and were off to the United States to brag about closing the biggest real estate deal in history (908,380 square miles) for only $15 million. Nobody bothered to simply pay a little attention to the conditions under which the sale was made. Those conditions can be found in Article III of the LPT, which is the Trojan horse mentioned above. Article III clearly reads as follows:

The inhabitants of the ceded territory shall be incorporated in the Union of the United States, and admitted as soon as possible, according to the principles of the Federal Constitution, to the enjoyment of all the rights, advantages, and immunities, of citizens of the United States; and in the meantime, they shall be maintained and protected in the free enjoyment of their liberty, property, and the religion which they profess.

On page 254 of a document entitled The Treaty between the United States of America and the French Republic, there’s an indication of a footnote behind Article III. At the bottom of the page it reads, "Said to have been drawn by Napoleon himself." I located that document in the main Public Library in New Orleans.

Assuming that every educated person in the civilized world has some knowledge of the black man’s plight in the Southern parts of the United States, it can readily be seen that Article III was not an American design. Also, everybody knows that blacks did not benefit from Article III as Napoleon intended. Approximately forty thousand Frenchmen with lineage to Africa were among the "inhabitants" of the "ceded territory." By knowingly depriving us and our posterity of the stipulated benefits, mentioned above, the United States clearly committed a material breach of the LPT. Consequently, we suffered much devastation of our culture, and irreparable damages to the growth and development of our nation.

However, to fully appreciate and understand the ramifications of the breaching of the Louisiana Purchase Treaty, and in order to attempt to assess the consequential damages inflicted upon both, our French Creole nation and the United States as well, we need a bit of history. So, we shall begin in St. Domingue (now Haiti) in 1791. From there we shall proceed to Louisiana 1803. In August of that year, prior to the slave uprising, St. Domingue was the richest colony in the Western Hemisphere. Our colony did more business with Europe than all of the thirteen newly formed United States combined. The population of our colony consisted of 32,000 rich white planters, 30,000 rich Mulatto planters (of all shades and colors), and 500,000 thousand slaves, of which the Mulattos held 125,000.

The slaves revolted in August of 1791. Consequently, thousands of our people emigrated to the Louisiana Territory, and settled in and around the city of New Orleans. This was twelve years before Napoleon sold the territory to the Americans. At that time, however, the territory was then a Spanish colony under Spanish government. Grace King described our emigration, which began in 1791, in her 1895 book, New Orleans: The Place and the People. King wrote: "Besides the white and slave immigration from the West Indian Islands, there was a large influx of free gens de couleur into the city, a class of population whose increase by immigration had been sternly legislated against. Flying, however, with the whites from massacre and ruin, humanitarian sentiments induced the authorities to open the city gates to them, and they entered by thousands. Like the white emigres, they brought in the customs and manners of a softer climate, a more luxurious society, and a different civilization…they represented a distinct variety, a variety which their numbers made important, and for a time decisive in its influence on the home of their adoption."

Now, from the above quotation we find that three classes of people fled the turmoil in the West Indies. There hasn’t been any other time in the history of mankind, when whites, thousands of free people of color and African slaves fled en masse from a catastrophic situation. Literally speaking, they were all together in the same boats. Furthermore, prior to the revolution, we had already experienced more than one hundred years of black slavery and black freedom coexisting. As an effort to ameliorate racial conditions in the French colonies, in 1685, Louis XIV promulgated the very first equal rights edict ever written that included people of African lineage. It was called the Code Noir, or the Black Code. The king proclaimed that all free and freed Mulattos and Africans were to be regarded as free citizens of France. That code was written 106 years before the Haitian Revolution of 1791.

Now, at this point, we can take the liberty of using a little common sense. We can assure ourselves that when the Black Code was written, it was not written for a population of free little black or mixed blood babies. There had to be adults to warrant such concern. So, with that in mind, I am saying that black freedom and black slavery coexisted in St. Domingue for at least one hundred and twenty-five years before the Haitian Revolution, and twelve additional years longer, in Louisiana, before the signing of the Louisiana Purchase Treaty. And afterwards, that coexistence lasted for another 62 years until slaves were freed in America. When it all adds up, we have approximately 200 years of black freedom and black slavery coexisting. All of this is important in order to understand the differences in attitudes between the Creoles of Southern Louisiana, those of Northern Louisiana, and African Americans. With so many rich and cultured Creoles (Mulattos and Africans) then it was virtually impossible for the slaves (Mulattos and Africans) to develop an inferiority complex. Even, if black and/or Mulatto slave owners were cruel, as some have asserted, at least they were black or Mulatto, and had their known ancestry rooted in Africa and/or in slavery. Now, with that backdrop we return our attention to Napoleon’s Justifiable Revenge on the United States of America — the LPT.

On top of all of the above, in May of 1791, three months before the Haitian Revolution, news reached St. Domingue that the National Convention in Paris had decreed Mulattos must be allowed to represent themselves by participating in the colony’s government. Moreover, French Creoles from Haiti, Martinique, and Guadeloupe, had served with distinction in Napoleon’s racially integrated armies, in every category from buck privates all the way up to the highest official positions. Therefore, it would be absolutely ludicrous to even hint that Napoleon was the least bit unaware of what the Americans would encounter when making contact with the nonwhites already planted in the ceded territory. Our people, from the highest in society down to the lowly slaves, possessed educational power, moral strength, and more than enough tenacity to endure and resist American racism. Yes! Napoleon knew perfectly well what he was doing when he carefully crafted Article III of the LPT.

Now, enter the Americans. On December 20, 1803, William C. C. Claiborne, Louisiana’s first governor and General James Wilkinson arrived in the colony to take possession of Louisiana for the United States. That was eight months after the treaty was signed. Still the U. S. had not prepared its citizens to accept and comply with Article III of the LPT. In fact, by Claiborne’s first letter to Thomas Jefferson, president of the U. S., one could easily conclude that the Americans had absolutely no intention to comply. I see Claiborne’s letter as evidence that the United States intended to defraud. In his letter, Claiborne said to Jefferson; "My principal difficulty arises from two large companies of people of color, who are attached to the service, and were esteemed a very serviceable corps under the Spaniards. On this particular corps I have reflected with much anxiety." ‘To keep them, said Claiborne, would offend the Union and particularly the rest of the South…’ "outrage the feelings of a part of the Union;" ‘not to recommission the colored troops,’ he said, "would disgust" ‘the Negroes, and’ "be productive to future mischief; while to disband them would be to raise an armed enemy in the heart of the country, and to disarm them would savor too strongly of that desperate system of government which seldom succeeds."

Apparently, as indicated above, Napoleon anticipated the material breach of the LPT. And since the United States committed the material breach, it has forfeited every bit of the limited jurisdiction it would have had over our nation. And legally speaking, according to America’s own law, the United States does not legally own as much as a shovel full of the 908,380 square miles of land that composed the original Louisiana Territory. There you have it as I see it. You have before you, Napoleon's Justifiable Revenge on the United States of America.

Our treaty has seniority over all treaties made with the Indians, excepting those made in the 13 original states before the LPT. However, on this issue, the French Creoles of Louisiana are still asleep. Shame! Shame! Shame!

There's a very simple question here. Is Gilbert E. Martin right or is he wrong? Or, did the United States breach the Louisiana Purchase Treaty, yes or no. I don't believe that the United States Government will ever raise the issue and volunteer the answer to either of those simple questions. Do you?


Plan de la Nouvelle Orleans
Plan de la Nouvelle Orléans

N. Boone

Gift of Samuel Wilson, Jr

This early plan of New Orleans shows the city only four blocks deep. Note how few buildings appear on this map.

Contact among Louisiana's most numerous inhabitants--whites, Indians, and Africans--was a three-way exchange. No one racial or ethnic group dominated during much of the colonial period. Native Americans made up the largest segment of Louisiana's population in the 1700s and shared food, medicines, material goods, and building and recreational practices with colonists.

Africans were also a powerful cultural force in Louisiana, mainly because they were introduced in large numbers during short time periods and came mostly from one region in West Africa and thus related more easily to one another.

Through trade and gift-giving, Native Americans acquired a taste for such European items as sophisticated weapons, liquor, cloth, glass beads, and other trinkets. Europeans used their access to the supply of these goods to increase Native American dependency on them.

While a French colony, Louisiana was governed alternately by the crown and by several chartered proprietors, who contracted with the crown for administration of the colony and a trade monopoly in exchange for settlers and slaves to supply the colony with goods. Antoine Crozat was Louisiana's first proprietor of Louisiana from 1712 until 1717, when he resigned and the crown turned the colony over to John Law, who created the corporation called the Company of the Indies in 1719 to govern Louisiana. Beset by failed crops, Indian wars, slave insurrections, and financial disaster, the Company of the Indies returned the colony back to the crown of France, who administered it until 1763, when it turned Louisiana over to Spain.

Louisiana was a Roman Catholic colony with a close relationship between church and state, priests, and politicians. In general, the church and state worked together to preserve the prevailing order. The French and Spanish kings paid the salaries of the clergy and selected bishops. The Jesuits in particular served as frontier diplomats and expanded France's empire in North America by bringing Christianity to the Indians. The Capuchin and Ursuline orders were also active in administering to the needs of Louisiana colonists.

Ursuline Convent
Ursuline Convent

c. 1900
Gift of Edgar Stern, Jr.

The Ursuline Convent, initially completed in 1734 and reconstructed in 1745, is believed to be the oldest surviving French structure in the lower Mississippi Valley. The Ursulines, Capuchins, and Jesuits all owned plantations and slaves, in addition to their property in New Orleans.

Although most settlers in Louisiana were of the Catholic faith, a few were Protestants or Sephardic Jews. Royal policy in France and Spain prohibited non-Catholics from living in the colonies, but especially in frontier regions like Louisiana, enforcement was scarce. At times Protestants were even encouraged to settle in Louisiana.

Early Louisiana's most active churchgoers were African Americans. Although in 1800 about an equal number of blacks and whites lived in New Orleans, twice as many blacks were baptized in St. Louis Cathedral, the main church in colonial Louisiana, which still stands on Jackson Square in New Orleans, next to the Cabildo. Many Africans and creoles (American-born) continued to practice their African religious rituals covertly or merged them with Catholic beliefs.

All trade conducted with the colony was supposed to take place with the mother country, thereby keeping profits within the imperial system. This practice did not work well in Louisiana at first, however, because Louisiana had too few desirable products to export and too few people to exploit what natural resources existed. Toward the end of the colonial period, an export-directed economy finally succeeded for Louisiana, and the colony benefited from the exportation of such crops as cotton, sugar, tobacco, indigo, and rice and from natural resources, like timber, furs, hides, and fish.

Louisianians used earnings from the export of cash crops and natural resources to purchase imported slaves and merchandise, primarily manufactured goods and foods they did not produce themselves, such as textiles, furniture, and household furnishings. For most of the colonial period wholesale merchants imported goods and slaves first from France and later from Spain. Smuggling goods from European and American ships became prevalent and remained so, even when trade restrictions in the colony were lifted.

New Orleans quickly became the hub of a new regional trade network, with goods flowing into the city along the surrounding waterways to be sold in the many shops and market stalls throughout the city. Louisianians also began to manufacture goods and provide services that could not legally or even illegally be obtained from other countries and colonies. During this period, most manufacturing involved the processing of crops and natural resources and the production of articles needed in the home: furniture, leather goods, clothing, utensils, and iron implements. In 1795 about half of New Orleans carpenters, joiners, shoemakers, silversmiths, gunsmiths, and seamstresses were free blacks.

Glapion Armoire

Celestin Glapion

c. 1790

Glapion was a free man of color and furniture-maker in colonial New Orleans.

Even though the people who inhabited colonial Louisiana--whites, blacks, and Indians--commonly mingled and shared social values and recreational practices, many also planned or participated in several military actions, either as instigators or defenders. In response to the invasion of settlers and slaves who disrupted traditional native lifestyles, some Louisiana Indians waged war. One of the most deadly was the Natchez Massacre and War (1729-1731), during which Natchez warriors attacked a French settlement, killing hundreds of white colonists and capturing nearly 300 black slaves. In retaliation, the French governor sent white and black troops and Choctaw warriors allied with the French to attack Natchez settlements, virtually exterminating the entire Natchez society.


c. 1725

Blunderbusses were very popular weapons in the early eighteenth century and were certainly used in the Natchez War.

Indians and Africans occasionally worked together to oppose white rule, such as in the Bambara Conspiracy of 1731, when a plan to kill hundreds of white colonists was discovered, resulting in the execution of nine African slaves. White society itself was often divided, especially in 1768 when French merchants and officials and German farmers rebelled against the newly instituted Spanish government. Six rebel leaders were executed by firing squad on the grounds of what is today the Old U.S. Mint, another historic landmark now owned by the Louisiana State Museum.

Louisiana whites, blacks and Indians took up arms against the British during the American Revolution and fought or conspired on behalf of both sides in the French Revolution and in the only successful slave revolt in the Americas in Saint-Domingue (now Haiti)


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