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
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.
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.
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
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
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."
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.
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
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.
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
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
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."
as indicated above, Napoleon anticipated the material breach of the LPT.
And since the United
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.
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!
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?