Oh, Pat!

So Pat Robertson says that:

"Haitians freed themselves in the 1700's by making a pact with the Devil, who subsequently helped them defeat the French." And since then (due to the "pact"), have been cursed by one disaster after another."

Well here is the real history of the time period Reverend Pat is talking about.

In the late 18th century, Haiti's Black native population was almost entirely enslaved, though a few were free land-holders. The overwhelming majority of the island was in possession of France, followed by Great Britain, then Spain.

A former slave by the name of Toussaint L'ouverture, who up until 1793 considered himself a French Loyalist, joined the Spanish armed forces in Haiti, because he saw the Spaniards as being the group most likely to free ALL the Island's slaves.

By the end of the year, slavery in all the Spanish territories was abolished. And when Britain sent thousands of reinforcements to the island to protect their "business interests," Haitian emancipation was forcibly put down in every territory the troops took back. 

Choosing to hide and rethink his former strategy, L'ouverture was able to, in a few months, organize nearly all the islands 3,800,000 former slaves into a militia. Yes, he was uneducated and lacked an understanding of military strategy, but, as the saying goes, they had more on the line than the opposing forces.

L'ouverture started by routing the Spanish, his former allies, as he saw them as being willing to renegotiate the articles of emancipation, in an effort to keep a part of the Haiti in Spanish hands. 

The Spanish defeat was swift and thorough. Within 11 months the Spaniards would lose control of over 85% of their former holdings and spend the following 9 months buying time for rescue ships to pick up the remaining infantrymen, who were allowed to live in peace during their wait, as long they did not pick up arms again.

Next, in 1795, after subduing the Spanish battalions, L'ouverture and his army turned to fight the British. While the ultimate victory over the British army would come, officially, in 1798, the Haitians would need only 13 months to beat back the Brits to the ocean. There were few, if any, British fighting forces anywhere on the island, save a few coastal towns, after 1796.

In 1801, after the Spanish formally surrendered their remaining interests in the island, L'ouveture announced a new Constitution for Haiti. In summation the Constitution:

  1. Abolished Slavery
  2. Made Him Governor of the Haiti for the rest of his life

Yes, Pat. you read that correctly. Within the founding document of the newly-free Haiti, are articles making the State religion, CATHOLICISM! And TO THIS DAY, 80% of all Haitians consider themselves CATHOLIC.

No voodoo. No devil. No talismans. No blood rituals. 

They went to Sunday Mass, celebrated Easter and Christmas, built churches and sent to Rome for members of the clergy. And still do!

There was no "pact with the devil." However there was a "pact" with a young nation by the name of the United States of America. 

You see, Pat. One of the Founding Fathers had grown up in the Caribbean Islands. Alexander Hamilton had vivid memories of watching slaves beaten half to death, or crushed and burned in the sugar cane mills that worked around the clock to sate Europe's insatiable appetite for the sweet substance.

His horrific memories of those younger days translated, in 1799, to Hamilton supporting a Trade Agreement between the United States and Haiti. Hamilton, at the time, was the highest ranking economic figure in America, so his support was the difference. The agreement, Hamilton understood, was a crucial first step for a newly-formed country, as he had been part of the diplomatic effort to secure trade just 10 years prior for the brand new U.S. This, and a similar agreement with the British, proved to Haiti's dominant source in it's quest to become economically empowered.

Unfortunately, the Agreement between the countries would be nullified in 1801, with the ascension of a slave-owning member of the Southern Planter -Class, Thomas Jefferson, Hamilton's biggest political rival (at the time. Of course, in time Aaron Burr would come to define "political rivalry."), to the Presidency. The idea of Black self-governance was just too beyond the pale for my distant ancestor to be able to come to grips with.

In the end, Napoleon would mount a furious attack on the island in 1802, and his troops successfully captured L'ouveture. Though, instead of killing the Haitian leader and inflaming the passions of the island's 4 million plus inhabitants, Napoleon suffered him exile. 

This would prove disastrous, because with knowledge of L'ouveture being alive, there were frequent uprisings against the French troops and officials living in Haiti. 

With France already in terrible economic shape from the infamous Revolution which had ended only a few years before, and with brewing plans for war with Great Britain, Napoleon had few avenues available to him for the purpose of raising the funds needed to raise, outfit, train, ship and pay the number of troops necessary to secure Haiti from insurrection, properly. 

As a matter of fact, he had exactly one option in his pocket, so he reached for it.

Napoleon would, in the Autumn of 1802, instruct his Treasury Minister to raise funds by selling off their "useless" western holdings. The "western holdings" sale was finalized in the Spring of 1803.

History, correctly, never refers to it as the "western holdings" sale. Generally it is referred to as "The Louisiana Purchase," which more than doubled the size of the United States and abolished from our lands, the greatest foreign threat to our young nation, thus allowing the U.S. to grow in peace.

That is what I think of, Reverend Pat, when I think of Haiti.

So if you want to take your ball and go home because this particular poor country has not allowed your 'ministries" to make significant inroads with the population, that's fine. Just try not to call a country chockfull of fellow Christians, "heathens" on the way out.

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