From Saint-Domingue to Haiti: Vivre de nouveau ou vivre enfin

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Casmir, H. E. Jean, Ambassador of the Republic of Haiti to the United States, 1991-1997. Featured address: "From Saint-Domingue to Haiti: Vivre de nouveau ou vivre enfin." The Haitian Revolution: Viewed 200 Years After, an International Scholarly Conference. [[John Carter Brown Library[[, Providence, RI. June 17, 2004.


Following are rough notes of Ambassador Casmir's speech, taken by Stuart Maxwell on June 17, 2004.

Ambassador Casmir was introduced by Sidney Mintz, Johns Hopkins Univ. The ambassador's interest lies in the 19th century, and he is well known in that field. He will talk on Haiti's transition.

Ambassador Casmir:

  • The title of the talk is Haiti: To live again or to live at last? Haiti moved suddenly from external to internal organization.
  • Macandal refused to accept that he was a slave, so he moved around freely and fully armed. Similarly, when the revolution started, the slaves no longer accepted their status as slaves.
  • Around 1790, Africans made up 2/3 of the slave population.
  • A negro is a result of a full process of socialization. There were no negros in africa, only tribes.
  • France defined the blacks as blacks. At the declaration of Dessalines, we have the New Negro. Today, the word blanc is used to refer to any stranger, regardless of color.
  • Haiti was an exploitation colony until 1804, when it was a settlement colony.
  • Today settler = peasant = habitant
  • At the end of the 19th century, Haiti had had 35 years of peaceful rule. The peasants in the countryside ruled the first third of the 19th century These were the native army that fought the French. Up until the depression of that century, the production in the country was even higher than prior to 1804.
  • What Haiti lacked was a university which could capitalize on the indigenous development. There was no systematic capturing of knowledge. Haiti had no production of science. Haiti even only wanted to import French science.
  • Haiti also only relied on foreign boats for trade.
  • The tribal separation of the imported Africans made them "naked Africans" with no defense and no way to understand each other.
  • "God gave the land to them with the Indians on it" (Guatemalan saying)
  • Haiti was not a republic, and not the first free black republic.
  • There has always been a layer of elite in Haiti that has understood that Haiti needs to work with the outside world. There were two hands - the internal efforts and the external efforts. Most Haitians - espeically in the 19th centurey. were concerned with how to structure the personal life of its citizens.