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a829: RE: a803: Uncle Tom saint - not Haitian? Dreyfuss replies(fwd)
From: Joel Dreyfuss <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Pierre Toussaint may not have been a Haitian in a legal sense,
because as a slave in both Saint-Domingue and the US he was considered
property. But while Max Manigat is technically correct, what about
Toussaint's cultural Haitian-ness? Born and bred a slave in Haiti, he
had the same cultural experience as millions of others who would one day
be Haitians including many of our Revolutionary leaders. His world view
was shaped very much by his experience in Saint-Domingue.
The irony in his story is that he remained a slave longer than
his brethren because he was taken to New York by his mistress. He ended
up working as a hairdresser to the rich and supported his owner's family
until she freed him -- much later than she should have.
While he was undoubtedly far too docile for our modern tastes,
we have to remember that not all slaves were firebrands. Toussaint was
deeply religious and efforts to canonize him are for his many good
works, not because he was a docile slave. He did much of his charity
after he was freed and he is credited with raising a lot of the money
for the construction of Old Saint Patrick's Cathedral in lower Manhattan
--predecessor to the one on Fifth Avenue.