Haitian Immigration : Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries
From Saint Domingue to Louisiana
The Black Republic and Louisiana
Soldiers, Rebels, and Pirates
Afro-Creoles and Americans
From Revolution to Romanticism
The Haitian Influence on Religion
The Civil War
The Consequences of the Haitian Migration

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Federal forces occupied New Orleans in 1862, and black Creoles volunteered their services to the Union army. The newspaper L'Union - whose chief founders, Dr. Louis Charles Roudanez and his brother, Jean-Baptiste, were of Haitian ancestry - announced its agenda in the premier issue. The editors condemned slavery, blasted the Confederacy, and expressed solidarity with Haiti's revolutionary republicans.

An 1862 editorial written by a newly enlisted Union officer, Afro-Creole Romantic writer Henry Louis Rey, urged free men of color to join the U.S. Army and take up "the cause of the rights of man." Rey invoked the names of Jean-Baptiste Chavannes and Vincent Ogé. Their ill-fated 1790 revolt had paved the way for the Haitian Revolution:

CHAVANNE [sic] and OGÉ did not wait to be aroused and to be made ashamed; they hurried unto death; they became martyrs here on earth and received on high the reward due to generous hearts...hasten all; our blood only is demanded; who will hesitate?

The editors of L'Union described Rey and the Afro-Creole troops as the "worthy grandsons of the noble [Col. Joseph] Savary." The paper insisted that military service entitled them to the political equality that had been denied their ancestors who fought valiantly in the American Revolution and the War of 1812. Furthermore, its editors warned, the men had resolved to "protest against all politics which would tend to expatriate them."

When federal officials undermined their suffrage campaign, Afro-Creole leaders took their case to the highest level. In 1864 L'Union cofounder Jean-Baptiste Roudanez and E. Arnold Bertonneau, a former officer in the Union army, met with President Abraham Lincoln; they urged him to extend voting rights to all Louisianians of African descent.

In L'Union, and its successor, La Tribune, the Roudanez brothers and their allies foresaw the complete assimilation of African Americans into the nation's political and social life. During Reconstruction they called on the federal government to divide confiscated plantations into ten-acre plots, to be distributed to displaced black families. They insisted that the formely enslaved were "entitled by a paramount right to the possession of the soil they have so long cultivated."

The aggressive stance and republican idealism of La Tribune prompted the authors of Louisiana's 1868 state constitution to envision a social and political revolution. The new charter required state officials to swear that they recognized the civil and political equality of all men. Alone among Reconstruction constitutions, Louisiana explicitly required equal access to public accommodations and forbade segregation in public schools.

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The Consequences of the Haitian Migration >