Slavery is the "New Black" in Hollywood because of the new movies Lincoln and Django Unchained. Both movies say more about Hollywood than about slavery. The first movie presents slavery as a thing that white people debated (the absence of Frederick Douglas is inexcusable). The latter movie is just an excuse for a blood-splattered, blacksploitation movie (which probably makes it more honest on the subject of slavery).
However, when Danny Glover wanted to make an epic, historically accurate film about slaves overcoming seemingly insurmountable odds to achieve freedom, Hollywood wasn't interested.
"Producers said 'It's a nice project, a great project... where are the white heroes?'" he told the press during a stay in Paris this month for a seminar on film.Glover wanted to do a movie about Toussaint Louverture, one of the most interesting characters in history of one of the most important revolutions in history. Without a doubt, the Haitian Revolution was a far more important event to outlawing global slavery than anything accomplished in the United States.
"I couldn't get the money here, I couldn't get the money in Britain. I went to everybody. You wouldn't believe the number of producers based in Europe, and in the States, that I went to," he said.
"The first question you get, is 'Is it a black film?' All of them agree, it's not going to do good in Europe, it's not going to do good in Japan.
How Haitians helped shape America
In October 1779, over 500 free Haitian blacks fought against the British at the Siege of Savannah. They fought and died for the independence of the American colonies.
As it stands now, the monument features statues of two Haitian troops with rifles raised on either side of a fellow soldier who has fallen with a bullet wound to his chest.January 8, 1811, almost 32 years later, the largest slave revolt in American history occurred near New Orleans. Between 200 and 500 black slaves marched on New Orleans. It was brutally put down. 95 were killed or executed, and the leaders had their heads put on pikes (one leader, Deslondes, was mutilated and then burned alive).
The fourth statue, a drummer boy, depicts a young Henri Christophe, who served in Savannah as an adolescent and went on to become Haiti’s first president – and ultimately king – after it won independence.
The fear from the size of the slave revolt ended French settler opposition to American soldiers entering the new Louisiana Territory.
What does the 1811 German Coast Uprising have to do with Haiti? Many of the slaves involved in this uprising were brought there against their will by slaveowners fleeing the Haitian Revolution. In fact, the inspiration for this revolt can be traced directly back to Haiti.
the 1804 Haitian revolution victory inspired slaves around the colonies to rebel....About 20 years earlier the government of Haiti had outlawed slaves reading the Rights of Man under pain of death.
Copies of the French Declaration of the Rights of Man were found in slave quarters.
The United States never recognized the independence of Haiti until 1862.
What could have happened in those 32 years to change things so much? The answer to that question starts in the streets of Paris and ends on the burnt and bloodsoaked battlefields of Haiti.
Why the Haitian Revolution matters
There are three points you need to understand about the Haitain Revolution to fully appreciate it:
1) It was the only completely successful slave revolt in all of human history.
Think about that for a moment. Slavery had existed and slaves had been revolting for tens of thousands of years, long before the start of recorded history. During those tens of thousands of years people had also been dreaming of the day that slavery would be outlawed. They were considered utopian idealists.
Slavery had been around for so long it was considered part of the human condition, just like war and wealth inequality.
It was Haiti that proved all the skeptics wrong.
2) The slaves of Haiti overcame increadible odds.
To put their revolution into perspective, let's compare it to the American Revolution.
The population of the 13 Colonies in 1775 was 2,400,000.
The British army and German mercenaries in 1779 had around 60,000 men in arms in America, although that included Canada and Florida.
Around 25,000 colonists died directly from the war, for a ratio of 1 in 96.
6,000 French and Spanish allies also died in our cause.
The war lasted 8 years.
Haiti, OTOH, had a population of just 520,000 at the start of their revolution - 452,000 black slaves.
In 1802 Napoleon sent an armada of 43,000 soldiers to defeat the slaves - nearly the same size of army the British used against the entire American Colonies. 90% of those soldiers never returned to France.
Speaking of the British, the rebellious slaves defeated their army three years earlier. The British lost 80,000 men to battle and disease in Haiti, far more than they lost in the American Revolution.
The slaves also defeated a Spanish army.
And before that they defeated another French army.
No one knows how many Haitian slaves died in this revolt. However, estimates generally put the number between 150,000 and 200,000, for a ratio of 1 in 3.
Unlike the American colonists, the black slaves had no allies.
The war lasted 13 years.
3) The Haitian Revolution ended the global slave trade.
The Abolition Movement was making some progress before the Haitian Revolution, but its successes were limited to the gradual phasing out of slavery, freeing future children of slaves, in states such as Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, and outlawing any new slavery in the Northwest Territories.
Massachusetts outright abolition was an outlier.
Only the nations of Portugal and Russia had outlawed slavery before the start of Haiti's Revolution.
Within 4 years of the victory of Haiti's slaves in 1804, Britain, Denmark-Norway, and the United States had outlawed the global slave trade. A few years later Spain outright outlawed slavery except in its Caribbean colonies. Netherlands abolished the slave trade a few years after that.
This is not a coincidence. As shown by the 1811 German Coast Uprising, slaves defeating their masters can inspire other slaves to revolt. The only way to stop that from happening is not allowing the slaves to interact and transfer dangerous ideas.
Influenced by the slave revolts in most of its Caribbean colonies, and by the leftists who executed the King, France outlawed slavery in 1794. However, Napoleon reintroduced slavery in 1802. France didn't finally outlaw the slave trade until 1818.
This is the end of Part 1.