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Huron or Wyandot Mythology and Cosmogonic Myths

July 27, 2014 in Native American History

After having written of the New Madrid earthquake of 1811, Tecumseh, and the Native American prophecies, it comes to my mind that many people are not aware of the multitude of native peoples’ oral history histories when it comes to cosmogonic  theories or creation myths.  It should also not surprise anyone that virtually all indigenous peoples had a vast knowledge of basic astronomy, yet apparently it does.  The studies and explanations of the origin of the universe, the solar system, and the earth moon system, have been handed down for generations in indigenous tribes on the American continent.  Their native education in such matters began in early childhood.   This fact alone should make Native American prophecies a little less mysterious.

It is well known that Tecumseh had an unusual education, mingled with white settlers, and traveled extensively.  Certainly he owed some of his education due to the tutelage from Rebecca Galloway.  It’s also been speculated that he must have had access to an almanac, which could be true in relationship to his prophecies of both the Great Earthquake of 1811 and the Great Comet of 1812.  However, what’s not been talked about, is the role of  Native American oral traditions and native knowledge of the natural world played in his prophecies.  Tecumseh, the great leader of the Shawnee and the Tecumseh Confederacy, was not the only native leader who possessed great knowledge on such matters.  The average white colonists and invaders, however, often didn’t possess the same education.   Yet, even with shared knowledge of history, the versions of reality are tested in the telling of the same stories by different peoples.  White settlers did not appreciate what they did not understand or ever heard.  Their history and the history of native peoples merged at times, but there is a great divide in  viewpoint of history and the temptation of revisionist views.  Since recording history is akin to walking a tight rope over Niagara Falls, we’ve failed to bridge the gap of accepting alternative history of other cultures and understanding those differences.

As a direct descendant of Catherine Annennontak, daughter of Jeanne Otrihoandit and Nicolas Arendanki, all of which were Ouendat (aka Ouendanke, Huron, Wendake, or Wyandot), my family owes much to a certain Jesuit missionary priest and those who followed him, who faithfully recorded the history of the Huron/Wendake people starting in 1637.  Father Paul Ragueneau, Society of Jesus, preserved both the oral history and many of the myths of the Huron Wendake tribes.  Of great interest to this eventual Superior of the Huron mission in Quebec, were the beliefs, myths, and cosmogonic myths of his mission charges.  He had been sent to Huron country in 1637.  He arrived during very troubled times of epidemics, violence, horrific hardships, famine, wars, martyrdom, emigration and eventual resettlement of the Hurons.  Back then, likeTecumseh, their elders, shamans, and chiefs learned first hand of their cosmogonic and etiological myths and passed them on.  Only the priest and other lay people around him, took the trouble and had the ability to record many of them.

Father Paul Ragueneau was charged with the conversion to Catholicism of what the French viewed as savage peoples living in ignorance.  In his writings, he quite readily acknowledged his respect for his converted flock and their heritage and his awe of their oral traditions and myths.  Along with other Jesuit priests and laymen that would come after him, they would come to understand that traditional native people stories needed to be protected, recorded, and understood.  He personally took great offense to some missionaries and settlers mixing too much in indian affairs.  He mastered their language. He masterminded their escape and survival from the Iroquois, as they and the French escaped from St. Joseph’s Island to Quebec.  In his recording of Huron traditions, he noted how some of the Huron disapproved of the French stories on the same subject of the creation of earth.  Intolerance for another’s view point often went both ways.

Huron oral tradition bundle of straw used as an aid in storytelling.

Huron oral tradition bundle of straw used as an aid in storytelling.

 

“The elders of the country were assembled this winter for the election of the very celebrated Captain.  They were accustomed, on such occasions, to relate the stories which they have learned regarding their ancestors, even those most remote – so that the young people, who were present and hear them, may preserve the memory thereof, and relate them in their turn when they shall have become old.  They do this in order thus to transmit to posterity the history and the annals of the country – striving, by this means, to supply the lack of writing and of books, which they have not. They offer to the person from whom they desire to hear something, a little bundle of straws, a foot long, which serves them as counters for calculating the numbers, and for aiding the memory of those present – distributing in various lots of these same straws, according to the diversity of the things they relate.”

“The turn having come to a Christian old man, to tell what he knew, he begins to narrate the creation of the world, of the Angels, of the Demons, of Heaven and Earth, with a most sagacious reservation, which kept all those present in a state of expectancy; for he was far along in the matter, and still had not yet given the name of the one who had made this great masterpiece.  When he came to name him, and to say that God, whom the Christians adores, was the Creator of the world, the eldest Captain of those present seizes the straws from his hands, imposes silence upon him, and tells him that he does wrong to relate the stories of the French, and not those of the Hurons.  But he says, he is going to relate the pure truth, and how it has happened that the earth, which was submerged in the waters, has been pushed out of them by a certain tortoise of prodigious size, which sustains it and which serves it for support – without which the weight of the earth would again engulf it in the waters, and would cause in this world below a general desolation of all the human race.” — Father Paul Ragueneau, Society of Jesus.

THE ORIGIN OF THE PLEIADES

The origins of the Pleiades as told in Wyandot myth.

The origins of the Pleiades as told in Wyandot myth.

Here’s a look at one Huron/Wendake cosmological beliefs that revolves around the star cluster, Pleiades, found within the constellation of Taurus.  This cluster is among the nearest star clusters to Earth and one of the most obvious to the naked eye in the night sky.  The celestial entity has several meanings in different cultures and traditions.  The Sioux, Blackfoot, Cheyenne, Hopi, Lakota, Nez Perce, Onondaga, Shasta, and the Cherokee all have quite different stories to tell than the Huron. Similarly,  Homer, in the Iliad and Odyssey had his own story about Pleiades.  Even, the Greeks made them the Seven Sisters who descended from Atlas and Pleione.   Clearly, the pleiades are popular cosmogonic myths with mankind. The Hurons believed the constellation consisted of only six stars.  This is the story Chief Nicolas Arendanki of the Bear Clan likely knew:

The Singing Maidens

“The Sun and his wife, the Moon, had many children.  Among these were six little girls, the daughters of a single birth.  They were beautiful, kind, gentle, and loving children.  They were great favorites in all the heavens for they loved to go about and do good.  In addition to their other accomplishments, they were the sweetest singers and the more tireless and graceful dancers in all the sky-land.  They were called the Singing Maidens.

These sweet singers often looked down to this world.  They had compassion on the Wyandots when game was scarce, when the corn was blasted, when famine threatened.  One day they said to their father, the Sun:

“Let us go down to visit the Wyandots on the Great Island.  We wish to sing and dance in that land.”

The Sun said in reply, to his daughters, the Singing Maidens:

“I forbid your going down to the Great Island to sing for man.  Remain in your own house.  Be content with the heavens.”

But when the Sun was gone to give light and heat to the Great Island, these Children of the Light, the Singing Maidens, went abroad.  They looked down on the Great Island.

They saw the Wyandot villages almost concealed by the beautiful woods on the banks of the lake.  The glittering waves rolled in upon the pebble-strewn beach.  The blue waters reflected the autumn-colored woods.  The gulls, geese, and swans floated at rest on the bosom of the lake, or soared lazily aloft.  The great crane waded and fished among the water-lilies.  Little children ran from the village down to the beaten shores.  They were merry on the yellow sands.  They swam and splashed in the brilliant waters.  Mermaids were not more lovely than these simple children of the forest playing upon the shores of the lovely lake on the Great Island.  This enchanting scene moved the Singing Maidens to ecstasy.  They cried out:

“Here is a more beautiful land than can be found in the sky.  Why should we be restrained from visiting it?  Let us now go down and dance with those happy children, and sing among the beautiful trees on the shore of the bright lake.”

Then the Singing Maidens came down to the shining sands on the lakeshore.  they sang for the happy children and danced upon rippling waters.  The children were charmed with the Maidens.  They clapped their hands.  They sang for joy.  They ran and danced along the wooded banks.

The music of the Maidens and the sounds of the merry making children floated through the great trees to the Wyandot villages.  The people stood entranced.  They said to each other:  “What music is this?  We have not heard before so lovely a song.  Let us see who visits our children.”  And they went to towards the lake shore.

When they saw the Singing Maidens, the Black Cloud of the Little Turtle overshadowed the land.  The voice of Heh-noh, the Grandfather of the Wyandots, rolled over the lake in thunder tones.  It was the Keeper of the Heavens come to carry up the truant Singing Maidens.

The Sun was very angry with his daughters for their disobedience.  He said to them:

“I will give you a place so far away that you can never again visit the Great Island.”

Then he placed them in a distant circuit so far away in the land of the sky that their bright and shining faces can scarcely be seen.  They look with love down to the land of man, where once they sang on the billowy lake and danced with happy children on the shining shore.

And the Indian mother says yet to her child in the calm and silent twilight, “Be quiet and sit here at my feet.  Soon we shall hear the Singing Maidens as they dance among the leaves of the trees.”

Huron

Mary McKee, (Ta re ma) Huron/Wendake story teller of the Bear Clan (b. 1838)

Thinking upon that story, it seems that a likely connection in the myths of one this Huron tribe is that their children and subsequent generations, grew up remembering the stories while looking about and observing all that the earth and the universe had to offer them.  One can’t help but wonder, if this natural connection is what’s often missing from the accounts of invading peoples who failed to incorporate a wonderment and appreciation for the earth and stars above them?  Shawnee Tecumseh knew it.  Father Ragueneau understood it.  Have the elders of our modern world failed to teach our own children the stories that would keep them looking far beyond the myths of their childhood, and endeavor to be both life long stewards of earth and seekers of the science of the universe?

 

 

 

 

The Red Stick Creeks and the Great Earthquakes of 1811 and 1812

July 16, 2014 in Native American History

Without exception every historical event has a backstory and several other backstories within it.  That’s certainly true with many of the Native American stories that often fail to get told from their perspective.  This is the story of the Red Creek Red Stick tribe decision making process when they joined in the War of 1812 and the role certain natural phenomena that played a backstory in their history.

Hidden Backstory

On the eve of the War of 1812, white settlers were increasingly encroaching upon Native American lands as they cut and cleared trees and built villages.  Capitalizing on the deep resentment many tribes felt in regards to this, the British had already given Shawnee leader, Chief Tecumseh, guns and ammo to fight the Americans in an effort to get the various tribes to join on their side.  Tecumseh and his brother Prophet Tenskawatawa went a step further and traveled from tribe to tribe trying to unite all Indians into a confederation to fight against the white settlers.

There were sixteen main tribes of native peoples that would become involved in one form or another as the conflict escalated into war.  The main tribes were:  Ojiibwa (Chippewa), Ottawas, Sioux (Santee Sioux), Menominee, Winnebago, Shawnee, Potawatomi, Creeks (Muscogee Creeks, Red Sticks, White Sticks), Seminoles, Choctaw, Cherokee, Chickasaw, Salk (Osakawak) and the Fox (Meskawakie).  Not all of these tribes wanted war. Some pushed for peace, such as Chickasaws and the White Sticks.  However, the Red Sticks for example, wanted to fight the white settlers.  Soon native peoples were also fighting each other; Choctaw Chief Pushmataha led his people against the Red Sticks; the Cherokee and White Sticks joined with the white settlers; and the whole situation spiraled into one big messy war.

Prophecies About Earthquakes and Comets

Chief Tecumseh

Chief Tecumseh

It’s claimed that in 1811, as Chief Tecumseh and his brother contacted other tribes in their efforts to raise a mighty defensive army to do battle against the white settlers trying to take their land, that Tecumseh told the Red Stick Creeks in particular:

“Brothers, the Great Spirit is angry with our enemies.  He speaks in thunder, and the earth swallows up villages, and drinks up the Mississippi.  The great waters cover the lowlands.  Their corn cannot grow.  The Great Spirit will sweep those who escape to the hills from the earth with his terrible breath.”

“Your blood is white!  You do not believe the Great Spirit has sent me.  You shall know.  I leave Tuckabatchee directly, and shall go straight to Detroit.  When I arrive there, I will stamp on the ground with my foot and shake down every house in Tuckabatchee.”

The tribal location of Tuckabatchee was on the Tallapossa River in what is today Alabama.  His audience were the Creek leaders, and his message didn’t go over well at the time. The leader of the Upper Creeks (Red Sticks) was Big Warrior, and he refused to pledge his people into the confederation of native peoples Tecumseh was assembling.   It was Big Warrior that he accused of having white blood.

Great Earthquake of 1811

Imagine his skeptical audience’s surprise when on December 16, 1811, exactly when he arrived in Detroit, that the first of two a strong earthquakes shook the ground. Actually, these two earthquakes that hit the same day were so intense, that they are still considered the most powerful earthquakes to hit the Eastern United States in history.  It’s believed the first quake hit at 2:15 a.m. at an estimated strength of 7.2 to 8.1.  Six hours later a second quake of equal force hit the same area again.  These were no ordinary earthquakes.  The epicenter was around what is today New Madrid, Missouri.  They were thought to be felt strongly across 130,000 square miles and moderately for a total of nearly 3 million miles.   The earthquakes were felt as far away as the White House, and it’s said that church bells in Boston rang on their own.  These earthquakes actually altered the landscape so severely, that the Mississippi River momentarily reversed its direction.  It is also believed that over two thousand aftershocks occurred in the months following, five of which were 8.0 or greater in strength.

Massacre at Fort Mims August 1813

Of course, the Red Sticks thought that this was Tecumseh’s signal to start war.  How could they think otherwise?  Such were the calls to action that were based on prophetic insight when the events predicted came true.  His prophecy was a signal to the Red Sticks and other tribes to unite in resisting the European white intruders intent on claiming their lands.

Native People and Prophecy

 It is well known among Native American tribes that the wisdom of ages is passed down from generation to generation.   I don’t think that any of us can definitely prove that there isn’t an ancient science for predicting the future from collective memory of the distant past that was handed down from generations ago.  One can only speculate that Tecumseh knew which natural signs to look for, and there were plenty of natural occurrences during this time period for Tecumseh to draw from.  Native peoples heavily relied upon stories to explain the natural world and its phenomena.  Had he been taught from childhood what to look for? Or had there been a large number of mild or moderate tremors in the region that tipped him off?

Also, it’s no secret that animals and insects do seem to be able to sense such events.  It has scientifically been recorded that catfish behave strangely right before earthquakes.  Chickens have been known to stop laying eggs.  Dogs and cats bark and whine for no apparent reason and other animals show signs of stress before such events.  Are they just simply feeling the “foreshocks” that predict an earthquake?  Could it be that since native peoples are more in tune with nature that Tecumseh was more in tune with what happening in a world that white people did not understand when it came to earthquakes?

The Great Comet of 1812

1812 Comet

How much of an influence of Tecumseh’s prophecy had to do with other unusual phenomena of the time remains unknown.  The Great Comet of 1812 (which was seen for over 260 nights) was so large that it has been estimated to have been over a million miles across, almost fifty percent larger than our own sun.  Since the comet was becoming more visible during the New Madrid earthquakes in December of 1811, arriving almost in conjunction with a fiery comet rushing across the horizon, it must have also struck fear into many native peoples hearts.  After all, wasn’t the comet all part of Chief Tecumseh’s  prophetic prediction of a great fire coming across the sky?

Here too, the ability to predict the future was a part of many Native American tribes, and the Shawnee culture and religion did acknowledge that many of the leaders and medicine men of such tribes could predict the future based on their extensive traditional lore.  Shawnee cosmology dictated that catastrophic things happen when people do not follow the warnings and laws of their given Deities.  Certainly the sanctity of ancestral lands and the obligation to protect them from invaders were in fact, simply common sense to a certain degree.

Muskogee Creeks (Red Sticks) shared very similar belief systems and alliances with the Shawnee.  Both were among the “Five Civilized Tribes.”  When it came to the Red Stick Creeks and the others who joined in the Native American confederation in the War of 1812, it really didn’t matter whether or not Chief Tecumseh and his Prophet brother could actually predict the future — all that was important was that they believed he had been right.  The Great Spirits did indeed seem angry.  Belief in something is sometimes all the power a leader needs to motivate his soldiers in action.

Surprisingly, Tecumseh, although angered when they first refused to join in, needed them as much as they needed his guidance.  The Red Sticks had a long history of being fierce warriors who trained since birth for war.  When Tecumseh lost his life shortly after, the decisions made by those Native American leaders who remained in the war spelled the beginning of the end for America’s native peoples and their way of life.  It also would prove to be the complete loss all their native lands to the invading white settlers and rulers.

 

Governor Joseph Alston’s Record in the War of 1812

July 13, 2014 in American History, general history

 

Joseph Alston was born in 1779 to a wealthy family in South Carolina. He attended the College of New Jersey, which was later renamed Princeton, but he never graduated. He studied law and was admitted to the bar, but he never practiced. He was a planter by trade and one of the wealthiest men in South Carolina.

Joseph Alston also had political ambitions. In furtherance of same, he married Theodosia Burr, the daughter of Aaron Burr in 1801. He was a member of the Democratic-Republican party, the same one that Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr belonged to. The marriage to Theodosia Burr took place on the eve of the resolution of the complicated election that would catapult Jefferson to the presidency and made Aaron Burr vice president. It was during a period of time when Burr’s fortune was on the rise, and prior to the duel with Hamilton and the the falling out with Jefferson that eventually snuffed out Burr’s career prematurely

The marriage to Theodosia, together with his status as a wealthy landowner and businessman, enabled Alston to win elective office. He served in the South Carolina House of Representatives from November 20, 1805 to December 10, 1812. He was a speaker of the house from 1809 to 1812, and he was chosen to be Governor of South Carolina beginning December 1 of 1812.

Joseph Alston’s wealth came primarily from rice plantations, and the labor on which his business depended was by and large slave labor. Because of the warm weather and  the humidity, and because  the rice paddies harbored many mosquitoes, malaria was a disease to contend with. At the time, the causes of malaria were not known, but successful planters knew that the best laborers — and the ones most likely to survive the swamps —  were those imported from the Senegambia region in West Africa where they were already likely to have survived a childhood bout of malaria. For males between the ages of fourteen and eighteen they paid,  in today’s money , between $11,000 and $23,000. With such an investment on the line, they wanted slaves who were likely to survive the difficult conditions.

While on average two in three West African children fell victim to malaria and died, those who survived to the age of fourteen were immune to the disease. On the other hand, the white population of South Carolina did not undergo the serious trials of their black counterparts and largely avoided exposure to malaria by going up into the mountains or leaving on some other vacation during the summer months. When Aaron Burr first gave his consent to the marriage of his daughter to Joseph Alston, the plan was that she would spend her summers up North with her father. But Burr fell on hard times, went into exile, and had only just returned to New York a ruined man in 1812.

In June of 1812, the Alstons were not able to go elsewhere to avoid exposure to malaria. War had just been declared against Great Britain. Joseph Alston had duties in the state militia. He had to stay where he was, and so did his wife, and  their ten year old son, Aaron Burr Alston,  was exposed to and died of malaria.  Alston’s grieving wife, Theodosia, boarded the Patriot on December 31, 1812 for a trip to New York to see her father and disappeared into the mists of time. But Alston’s troubles were only just beginning.

When he tried to muster the militia to prepare for war, he encountered unexpected resistance. The problem was not that the men refused to serve against the British. The enemy they most feared was malaria. Many  openly disobeyed orders, refused to serve, and when the Governor attempted to have the ringleaders tried for desertion, the court found in favor of the accused. A contemporary account of the court’s reasoning can be found in John Belton O’Neal’s Biographcal Sketches of Bench and Bar:

I knew Mr. Stark well, and had much to do with him as Solicitor; and I have no hesitation in saying, that the objection, which was urged against him, that he was ” too severe” was altogether untrue. He was a firm, just man, in the discharge of his duty; but there was no one who sooner yielded to the just claims of mercy than he did. In 1814, Mr. Stark and myself defended Colonel Starling Tucker, before the Court Martial ordered to try him, on charges preferred against him by the Commander-in-chief, Governor Allston, in relation to the service of the first class of the militia, ordered into service from the brigade, then ranked as the second, now the tenth. (Biographical Sketched of Bench and Bar, p. 68)

.The chief reason that was given in mitigation of harsh sentence was that the men required to serve were  “unaccustomed to the climate.”

 Immediately after the regiment encamped, a council of all the officers of the line assembled, to consult as to what should be done, as to the detailed order to throw up the tête du pont, and they unanimously advised that it should be disobeyed; and everyone from the highest to the lowest so pledged themselves. This was not only disobedience, but mutiny, and might have been visited by serious consequences; but there was a great palliation in the excited state of the men’s minds, and their belief that the duty to be done under a stern disciplinarian, and would probably be at the sacrifice of many lives, who were unaccustomed to the climate.  (James Holdridge, John Belton O’Neal, sources.)

That South Carolina freemen were unaccustomed to the climate of South Carolina, though many had been born and bred there, whereas the imported slaves on the plantations in the area were accustomed to the climate, is one of the many ironies of the situation.

Alston was so incensed at having his orders countermanded and the courts siding with the deserters, that he decided to disband the militia altogether and sent everyone home. However, when a British force landed on St. Helena Island,  and the coast of South Carolina was all undefended, he was forced to reverse himself. He returned to the state legislature and asked for and  was granted greater war powers for mustering the state militia. But the British could not have been more immune to malaria than the Americans, so they do not appear to have stayed on St. Helena Island for long. There appears to be no record of an engagement with the enemy there.

Although the cause of malaria and effective treatments for it were not known at the time, the South Carolina planters and other free whites in peacetime found ways to protect themselves and reduce  their children’s exposure to the disease, while  the slaves on their plantations could not. This resulted in higher infant mortality among the slaves, but  those who survived to adulthood had  genetic immunity that they could even pass on to their children, while a whole generation of military age free men did not. Yet the slaves could not serve in the military unless they were first freed, and the freemen could not serve effectively without exposing themselves to the deadly disease.

As for Joseph Alston, his service as governor ended on December 1, 1814. He was not well for the remainder of his life, possibly suffering himself from symptoms of malaria.  He died on September 19, 1816. Today he is remembered chiefly for the fact that he had once been married to Theodosia Burr.

  References

The African Slave Trade and South Carolina

African-American Heritage and Ethnography

Biographical Sketches of Bench and Bar — online

James Holdridge

John Belton O’Neal, Biographical Sketches of the Bar and Bench of South Carolina, II:69-73

Malaria

Members of the 19th General Assembly — South Carolina

South Carolina Governor Joseph Alston

Starling Tucker

Yellow Fever: Napoleon’s Most Formidable Opponent

July 8, 2014 in American History, Caribbean History, general history, Louisiana History, Nautical History

By Pam Keyes

LeClerc

In mid-1802, French general Victor-Emmanuel LeClerc took up his pen to write back to his superior and sighed in the dripping, humid heat of Port-au-Prince. His brother-in-law, Napoleon, thought it would be an easy mission to quash the latest slave uprising on the island of Haiti and French-controlled colony St. Domingue. After all, he had sent 20,000 seasoned French troops to supplement the St. Domingue garrison and assist LeClerc in ending the terror on French planters and colonists caused by marauding black slaves and maroons hiding in the mountains around Port-au-Prince and elsewhere in the country. LeClerc himself had believed they would have the rebellion ended in a few months, but there was one factor they had failed to take into account, an infinitesimally small enemy that would kill more Frenchmen than all of the black rebels could ever have slain: the dreaded virus of yellow fever.

From 1802-1803, yellow fever at St. Domingue ravaged almost 50,000 French soldiers due to their lack of immunity to the disease, plus the medical ignorance of their doctors in ways to successfully treat a fever. The ports of St. Domingue, particularly the main one at Port-au-Prince, were surrounded by quagmires and swamps, prime breeding grounds for mosquitoes during hot and humid times of spring and summer. After being bitten by an Aedes aegypti mosquito carrying yellow fever, the victim would get either a mild or a severe form of the disease a week later. Symptoms included headaches, fever, muscle cramps, nausea, a black vomit, and in the worst cases, delirium, coma and death. At one point in early summer 1802, the men were dying at the rate of as many as 50 a day. LeClerc himself fell victim to the disease late in 1802. Children under 18 usually got the mild disease, and once they had had it, were immune for life, so the French planters’ children on the island were mostly safe, as were the natives of the island, and most of the slaves, who had acquired immunity in Africa. Safe also were older residents of the island who had had the mild form in their youths.

French fighting renegade slaves in Snake Gully area of St. Domingue in 1802

French fighting renegade slaves in Snake Gully area of St. Domingue in 1802

Some 20,000 additional French reinforcements were sent to supplement the surviving troops in late 1802, and LeClerc was replaced by General Rochambeau. By November, 1803, Rochambeau retreated to France with only 3,000 survivors. Almost twice as many French troops were felled by yellow fever on the island of Haiti than were slain in the Battle of Waterloo years later.

Napoleon reacted decisively to the slave insurrection victory due to the epidemic sickness of the French troops. He had met his match in a disease he couldn’t conquer, so he abandoned all ideas about expanding the empire into the Louisiana Territory of the US, and offered it for sale to the Americans for $15 million. The purchase agreement was signed in late 1803, doubling the US in size with a penstroke. Haiti declared its independence in 1804, becoming the first independent nation in Latin America.

Old map of Haiti

Old map of Haiti

In the end, the US benefitted greatly from the land, port of New Orleans and Mississippi River waterways additions; the French lost a major sugar-producing colony plus the chance for expansionism; and the slaves of St. Domingue (with the leadership of Toussaint L’Ouverture and Dessalines) accomplished the only successful slave revolt, all due to a microscopic virus that physicians could not properly treat nor understand at that point in history.

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