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#3400: A pick me up. Something NICE about Haiti!!!

>From Bob Corbett:  As most of you have read, I've spent hours this weekend
cataloguing books and articles into my library.  Well, I found an utter
gem.  I had purchased some old newpapers and in the Niles' Weekly 
Register from Baltimore in 1823 -- yes, 1823, not 1923, I found a 
phenomenal piece.  Here is an American arguing for the U.S. to recognize 
Haiti some 39 years before Lincoln finally did it in 1862.  Also, along 
the way the author says some wonderful things about Haiti.

This is in contrast to so much of the history I read.  Often, in Haitian 
as well as foreign sources, one often reads that after the Revolution it was
one long down hill road to today.  This author takes a dramatically different
tact.  In the end the author lacks the full courage of the position, but 
comes very close.

It is LONG, but worth it.  It includes what seems like a longish detour 
into Jamaica, but it is to support the Haiti argument.  Heck, the
detour can't be 10 more minutes reading.  Just figure if it took me
6 hours to scan this fading, yellowing, crumbling old newspaper, you can
spare 15 or so minutes to read a piece that might pick up one's spirits.

I will have this mounted onto my web site within a few days.  It will be
in the history section under the post-revolutionary period.

Bob Corbett

Baltimore.  September 27, 1823

[Corbett notes:  The piece below is unsigned.  It is impossible to tell 
from context if it is the Register's editorial position, a staff member, 
guest author or member of the public in a letter.  It is worth noting 
that this is some 39 years before the United States finally recognized 
the independence of Haiti.]


It is strongly recommended by many, that the United Sties should 
officially acknowledge a fact which really exists, the independence of 
Hayti. Much may be said on both sides of the question; and, though, the 
general opinion is against the proceeding, some notice of this 
neighboring nation of people of color, cannot be uninteresting or 
unprofitable; for Hayti, very important just now, promises to have 
effects on the state of society in this part of the world, of great 
moment to the people of the United States and of the West Indies. 

One writer,, who assumes the possession of most respectable information, 
regards the population as amounting to a million. This must, I think, be 
a large exaggeration. The whole number of persons on the island, at the 
time of its greatest cultivation and commercial prosperity, (even when it 
employed 200,000 tons of shipping in the trade with France only, and 
exported, from the French part, about 170,000,000 lbs. of sugar, and 
80,000,000 1bs. coffee, with large quantities of cotton, indigo, etc.), 
did not exceed 575,000 souls. At that time,, to supply the waste of human 
life, 30,000 fresh negroes were annually imported from Africa, in about 
one hundred vessels; and the other trade with foreign places employed, 
about 60,000 tons of shipping more. But, when the revolution broke out, 
the whites, (say 31,000), and the mulatoes, (20,000) were massacreed 
(sic) or forced to fly, or killed in the troubles that followed, and so 
there remained only about 500,000 blacks. We have seen it repeatedly
stated, that this class of persons has not increased since that period; 
on the contrary, I believe it has been said, by authority in Hayti, that 
its number had declined; and if, when we call to recollection the many 
destructive insurrections and wars to which the island was subject until 
a late date, and the exterminating (sic) principles that were adopted by 
the contending chiefs, with the great destruction of life through the 
wantonness of tyranny in the late "king Henry" and his unfeeling and 
brutal adherents, we should suppose that the present population cannot 
amount to half a million in the whole island -- that which was the 
Spanish part being very scantily peopled. But this is a large and 
formidable stock to be acted upon -- and, under a mild and peaceable 
government, encouraging the arts and protecting property and domestic 
industry, it will be augmented with unprecedented rapidity, and acquire a 
power to maintain not only the independence of Hayti, but to dictate the 
law to neighboring places at will, or conquer them at discretion. 

This island, by the nature of the climate on its coasts, the fastnesses 
of its interior, the fertility of its soil and the amount of its 
spontaneous production of articles fitted for food, and, more than all, 
the number and character of its inhabitants, is, perhaps more able to 
maintain its own sovereignty than almost any other nation or state; and 
any one would much more readily insure the presidency of it to Boyer than 
the crown of France to Louis, though the latter, by virtue of that crown, 
claims the possession of this great and most valuable country. The best 
appointed, and perhaps the most numerous army that ever crossed the 
Atlantic, (under Napoleon's brother-in-law, Le Clere), attempted a 
subjugation of it -- but the blacks retired to the mountains and kept the 
French confined to the coast, and they died off "like rotten sheep," by 
thousands. Before this, the British attempted to reduce it -- the whole 
force employed was 15,000 choice troops; and, in about one year, almost 
without battle, they were reduced to 3,000 men fit for service. 
Hompesch's regiment of hussars was cut down from 1000 to 300 men in about 
two months, and every man of the 96th regiment died! and besides this 
pro. digital (sic) waste of life, the expedition directly cost not less 
than twenty millions of dollars. It effected nothing, nor could 100,000 
of the best trained troops in the world, supported by all the British 
navy, and supplied at the cost of hundreds of millions of money, reduce 
the island, if the people remained true to their own liberty and 
independence. They would only have to fly to the mountains, (which 
produce enough to subsist them), harass their enemy by small parties, and 
leave the rest to disease --unless they pleased to meet them in the 
field, which they might do with 70 or 80,000 well armed and disciplined 
men. The present regular force is between 40 and 50,000 excellent 
soldiers, naturalized to the climate; which, so fatal to the whites, is 
not particularly injurious to them, even when subjected to such exposures 
as would produce almost certain death to their enemies, within two or 
three days. A brief notice of the history of the Maroons, in Jamaica, may 
shew the nature of that defense which the blacks of Hayti might offer to 
an invading enemy, if the latter were powerful enough to compel them to 
abandon the roasts and the plains of the island -- and Hayti has every 
possible advantage for such a defense that Jamaica affords, the character 
of the country in both being the same, except that the soil of Hayti is 
the richest and most productive of roots, etc. used for food, of which 
resource source the inhabitants could not be deprived, vegetation being 
perpetual and exceedingly rapid. 

When Jamaica was taken from the Spaniards in 1655, the slaves, about 1500 
only in all, on the surrender of their masters, retreated to the 
mountains, and began to act for themselves like freemen. They soon 
acquired the name of Maroons, and were considerably reinforced by 
fugitive slaves, for they, at first, received such as fled to them. In 
less than 8 years, such had been the amount of their depredations, or, 
perhaps, correctly speaking the effects of the war which they carried on, 
that a full pardon, with 20 acres of land and freedom from all manner of 
servitude, were offered to each one who would surrender himself.  
They preferred their own independent way of living -- they checked the 
approach of the whites, and defeated party after party, force after 
force, attempting to subdue them. Various embassies were sent to them, 
but they refused to treat. By the year 1730, the colony had spent no less 
than 240,000l. for their suppression, and hundreds of lives had been 
lost. At this time, a great chief, named Cudjoe, appeared among them; he 
collected them more together, built a town on the top of the mountains, 
and two whole regiments were sent to reduce him; severe battles took 
place, and the blacks were defeated at length, and much dispersed. But 
they renewed the contest -- they secretly passed into the settlements, 
fired the cane-fields and outhouses, carried off slaves, and killed many 
of the whites. This desultory war was dreadful to the planters and the 
troops. Great efforts were made to end it: the church-wardens were 
required to furnish blood-hounds and packs of dogs, to hunt the negroes; 
and, in 1737, two hundred of the Mosquito Indians were induced to leave 
their country and assist in the destruction of the little band of 
Maroons, and they were of much service: yet, in 1738, the British were 
reduced to the necessity of making a treaty with them, assigning them 
land and securing it to their posterity, and the Maroons, on their part, 
agreed not to harbor runaway, slaves, or commit depredations. After 
sometime, this treaty ceased to produce much good to the whites, who were 
jealous of the blacks, and in continual dread of their power. The wild 
boars, land crabs, pigeons, fish and various vegetables, furnished them 
with abundance of provisions, and the wild pine supplied them with water 
-- their manner and habits were of the rudest and roughest character, 
more those of brutes than of men. In 1768 they assisted the whites in 
suppressing an insurrection of the slaves; but, in 1795, on account of 
the punishment of some of their members for felony, they took up arms 
again. The alarm was great -- troops were forwarded, and agents sent to 
them. They received the latter and under arms -- there were only 300 of 
them; but nothing effectual was done. All the horrors of St. Domingo were 
anticipated! Nearly 2000 regular troops, and the whole of the neighboring 
militia were prepared to act against them. Some fighting, attended with 
peculiarly savage circumstances, took place, many on both sides being 
killed: among the latter was the commander of the British troops, col. 
Sandford; but the Maroons, though compelled to retire by the force of 
numbers, were not subdued--they appeared again and again, burning, 
robbing and destroying; they carried off thirty negroes from one 
plantation loaded with spoil, and like our indians, slaughtered child-bed 
women and infants at the breast. They surprised col. Pitch, who succeeded 
Sandford, and killed him with several of his officers and men. Neither 
courage nor conduct could avail against them. Dogs were proposed to be 
introduced again; the entire strength of the colony was put forth, and 
the expense had amounted to 600,000l,  It was suggested that a treaty had 
best be made with them --it was, by many, opposed, as derogatory to the 
honor of the British throne. Forty Spanish hunters and one hundred 
blood-hounds had arrived from Cuba -- and some of the Maroons became 
desirous of peace. At length, another treaty was concluded, in December 
1795, in which it was stipulated that they should not be compelled to 
leave the island. The legislature of Jamaica, however, found some defect 
in the treaty, and declared it not binding! -- and end was, that they 
were forcibly sent off to Nova Scotia, in June 1796, at the cost of the 
colony. Now, this people, on account of whom the British had made such a 
vast expenditure of life and treasure, probably never amounted to more 
than two thousand persons of either sex and all ages, at any one time! In 
1791--four years before they made the last treaty their whole number was 
estimated at only 1400; and it may be easily believed that, if the 
British had respected the obligations of the treaty made with them as a 
free people, they would have preserved their independence until this day: 
and it requires no casuist to shew, that they were as justly entitled to 
it, and the possession of the whole island also, if they could obtain it 
by arms, as the British -- who, by arms, had subjected it. It is might 
that gives "legitimacy" to conquest. Alexander, "the deliverer," has his 
white slaves, and why might not king Cudjoe have white ones or black 
ones, if he could -- the Maroons being the nobility of Jamaica? 
"Corinthian pillars" of its society? the prop and stay of the throne?" 

These brief sketches, though familiar to some, will be new to others, and 
not useless to any, "What has been, may be." And the facts here stated 
are sufficient to shew, that Hayti cannot be reduced unless the people 
submit of their own free will, or are subdued by the treachery of 
invaders on whom      they may reply. But neither of these are probable 
things.  They are too numerous and powerful, and too well informed, to 
make a general submission, or suffer a deportation, like that of the 
Maroons. The country is destined to be peopled by blacks, 
until the "Ethiopian changes his skin" or "chaos comes again," and the 
island small be one no more. This is the truth, and we ought to look at 
it. To shut our own eyes against the light, will not lessen the light to 
others, preserve ourselves from their observation, or defeat their 

But to these essential facts must be added a consideration of the real 
condition of Hayti. The people have a regular and enlightened government 
of the in republican form -- more liberal, perhaps, in its operation 
than any now existing in Europe, those of Great Britain and Spain only 
accepted.  Colleges have been established, and common schools are 
multiplied. The superior branches of science and the most useful of the 
arts, are protected and encouraged. The public offices are filled by 
native citizens of talents and character -- they have their judges and 
courts, and other establishments, like ourselves, and the business of 
them is conducted with as much accuracy and promptitude as in those of 
other nations. They have a legislative assembly, and a full proportion 
of orators and statesmen; and they rather abound with military skill. 
They have regular arsenals and magazines, well supplied with all the 
implements of war, and a powerful regular army. The press is freer than 
in France, Russia, Austria or Prussia, and it is well conducted; and, in 
general, what may be called the present generation, that is, persons 
between 20 and 30 years of age, are as well informed and as highly 
accomplished, as those of the greater part of Europe. The president, 
Boyer, is an able general  and a profound statesman. If we regard the 
various difficulties that his predecessor, Petion, and himself have had 
to encounter, the peculiarity of the population over whom they had to 
preside, the internal wars, the location of Hayti, and the condition of 
the adjacent islands, we must grant to them uncommon displays of wisdom 
and energy, and a sense of moderation and justice that should put the 
rulers of the old world to shame. They have maintained the laws of 
nations and respected the rights of others, though they owe so little to 
those laws or to a respect for those rights by others. It would have 
been almost naturally supposed, that the Haytians -- just liberated from 
personal slavery, a state in which they were regarded as mere working 
machines, without thought or the right of thinking, must have sunk into 
all sorts of extravagance, and have made a common war on the oppressors 
of their color: but, happily, we may venture to say, for themselves and 
their neighbors, the massacre of the whites did not produce safety to 
the blacks -- they were divided into parties carrying on a cruel and 
desolating war, one with another. Personal security demanded an 
observance of public right; private danger brought forth talent; talent 
produced order, and common sense, impelled by the common necessity, 
raised up and established government. The person who lately handled a 
hoe, at the will of his master, wielded a sword and commanded thousands 
of his fellows, citizens and soldiers, and he who recently was not the 
chief even of the miserable hovel in which he lived, was called upon to 
preside over matters of the state! The volcano of the revolution and the 
terrible crucible of war, softened and purified their minds, and 
compelled them to reflect and calculate consequences. A spirit 
of inquiry was imposed by a sense of self preservation, and despised 
negroes have become men and women, who, unless for the reason of their 
color, would not be any where rejected on account of their manners; and 
religion, the great rule over the passions, is observed and respected by 
them as much as by others, who claim a much higher grade in the scale of 
civilization. I speak of things as they are. The fact is, that persons 
and property are more safe in Hayti than in many nations of white people. 
The classic ground of Italy is infested by bands of ferocious robbers, or 
over run with swarms of beggars and petty thieves. Hayti has but few of 
either of these. There is more, of either class, the city of Naples than 
in this republic of blacks -- more, perhaps, even in the "eternal city," 
Rome, though the residence of the Pope, the spiritual head of the most 
numerous church among Christians. 

Now let us suppose that president Boyer should imitate the example of the 
pretended sovereign of Hayti, Louis of France, or in regard to Spain, or 
the famous member of the "peace society of Massachusetts," in respect to 
Poland? If Louis had a right to carry war into Spain, because the people 
were free, surely Boyer may attack Cuba, Jamaica and Porto Rico, or 
either of them, because the mass of the people are slaves! To dispute the 
right of France, in the case just mentioned, would nearly cost a man his 
life in civilized Europe, so firmly fixed is the idea that right is 
established by the reason of the bayonet -- and so the right becomes 
manifest! Admit that Boyer, with 20,000 men, which he might readily 
transport across the narrow sea between him  and Jamaica, should land 
there, and, as the British did, on our southern coast, during the late 
war, call the slaves to insurrection, and protect them in the murder and 
robbery of their masters! what would be the "legitimate" consequence? 
Jamaica, some strong holds excepted, would be conquered in two or three 
days. No present means could possibly prevent it, and the power of Great 
Britain could not reduce the slaves to servitude again. -- Neither could 
Cuba or Porto Rico resist him Suppose even that he would only open his 
ports to pirates, and permit them to deposit their gains in Hayti -- who 
could prevent their success or punish the aggression? Thousands of bad 
men from all nations would dock round about him, and his power to do 
mischief would be doubled in a year.  What would be the amount that he 
might add to the catalogue of human miseries, if he should act just as 
France is doing to Spain -- arm the slave against his master, and have 
his "armies of the faith?" But Boyer has restrained the disposition to 
aggrandize himself or his nation. He captured the Spanish part of the 
island, it is true -- if ever an invasion was a right one, that was both 
necessary and just; but he preserved order, he emancipated the few slaves 
that there were in that quarter, but respected the persons and property 
of their late masters. There were no murders or assassinations, no 
robbers or plunderers --no soldiers of the faith, with a cross in one 
hand and a dagger in the other, prowling about to destroy -- no duke of 
Angouleme to patronize and pay them for killing their neighbors! --no 
purchasers of human scalps. Restraint, in some cases, may pass only for a 
negative virtue, but, in regard to Boyer, it is real and positive, and 
worthy of profound admiration and the highest praise. He is not ignorant 
of his means --but he prefers peace to war, the plough share to the 
sword, the internal repose of Hayti to her renown in arms. There is no 
king in Europe, with the power that he possesses, would use it with the 
same moderation and justice.** It is impossible that the whites of the 
West Indies, and others in the neighborhood of Hayti, should not regret 
the location of that island, and apprehend great changes in its 
government, for even fugitive slaves from other islands are not harbored 
here, -- but, as it cannot be driven from its foundations, let us hope 
that, with its advance in population, power and improvement, the present 
good dispositions of the people and their rulers may be continued. And 
that they may, the Haytians should be treated with all the respect that 
is due to their actual condition, as a free and independent people: but 
in the way of their acknowledgment there is a host of difficulties. 

** Occasional complaints are made against the government of Hayti, and 
sometimes, no doubt, with just cause. But truth is not always discerned 
or stated; the courts of Hayti may abound as much with "glorious 
uncertainty," or their acts be as much misrepresented as our own, and it 
is not often that any serious fault is found with the administration of 
the island.**

It is admitted, and it is certainly true, that our present trade with 
Hayti is of greater importance to us than our trade with France, herself. 
It employs much more of our tonnage, and is, every way, more beneficial 
to us: But shall we, by, acknowledging the independence of the island, 
involve ourselves in a war with France? Can it really benefit Hayti? -- 
will it not surely injure ourselves? The reason of things is against the 
proposition, and we regard it as inexpedient. But again, are we yet 
prepared to send and receive ministers to and from Hayti? Could the 
prejudices of some and the, perhaps just fears of others, be quieted? We 
think not  The time has not yet come for a surrender of our feelings 
about color, nor is it fitting at any time, that the public safety should 
be endangered. Hayti is, and will be, independent -- we cannot prevent it 
if we would, nor are we so disposed.  In looking into the vista, of 
futurity, great events may be anticipated -- but we, cannot wish to hurry 
them on. Our condition is unfortunate -- for personal security may forbid 
the doing of that which is right in itself, because it may be injurious 
in its operation, though innocent in its agent. We are on the horns of a 
dilemma, and how to get off, at some future period -- we leave to that 
period to determine as well as it can. We will not act for or against the 
existing fact, because of the extreme delicacy of its nature; but 
maintain good faith with all, and strictly observe all the rights of 
persons and things.