Thursday, January 01, 2009

Bring on 2009!

Whoopee! Happy New Year's everyone. It's a very big day in Haiti, as January 1 is also their independence day. In 1804 on this date, the bloody, more-than-10-years-long Haitian Revolution finally came to an end, with the former slaves defeating Napoleon's finest. Haiti became the world's first and only country established through a slave rebellion.

Here's an interesting and important way that the Haitian war for independence affected American history. As Napoleon and France went down in defeat to the Haitians, the Emperor decided to sell the Louisiana Territory to the United States for $15 million dollars, or less than three cents an acre. The Louisiana Purchase, which now comprises 13 states, doubled the size of the United States.

With the loss of Haiti, called the Pearl of the Antilles for its rich agricultural output, as a French territory, Napoleon lost one of France's cash cows. Some thought that Napoleon had designs on North America, but the difficulty he had in Haiti forced him to forfeit these plans and sell the Louisiana Territory.

So the United States owes Haiti. We repaid them by not recognizing Haiti for more than 50 years, as we didn't want our own slaves getting any ideas about revolutions.

Fast forwarding to today:with four hurricanes and their resulting damage, skyrocketing food costs, widespread malnutrition and even starvation, more kidnappings, etc. etc., 2008 was not one of Haiti's better years. I guess that's true for the rest of the world too, Obama's election notwithstanding.

And on a personal level, I'm glad to see 2008 come to an end.

Let's work to make 2009 a better year for Haiti and all of us.

No comments: