How Haiti Saved the United States

Part 3: The Haitian Legacy

So how did all this affect the United States? Well, 1803 is the year that the U.S. and France agreed on the Louisiana Purchase. While all of the Haitian struggles were taking place, France was also fighting against England and other European powers in the Napoleonic Wars.

Napoleon dreamed of a widespread French Empire. This included Haiti and other territories in North America, including Louisiana. He had even, at one time, considered attacking the United States itself.

But by 1803, with the European wars not going the way he had hoped, he needed money. So when American representatives came calling, he agreed to give up Louisiana (all of it) for a big chunk of money.

The loss of Haiti contributed to the protection of America in three ways:

  • It convinced Napoleon to abandon his dream of an American Empire.
  • It made him desperate for money, making him sell the Louisiana Territory and abandon all claims to it (and any future plans of invading America).
  • It gave hope to enemies of France everywhere. For a certain time, at the beginning of the Napoleonic Wars, France's Grand Army of the Republic seemed unbeatable. But England and other countries slowly turned the tide. The seemingly small victory of a half million slaves over the feared French soldiers in Haiti was an example of just how vulnerable French power really was to a determined, spirited freedom fighting force.

Without either Louisiana or Haiti as a jumping-off point, France would never again have the opportunity to attack the United States. And for this, America has to thank Toussaint L'Overture and his determined fellow rebels, many of whom gave their lives in the name of freedom. Many former slaves lived to see their dream come true. Partly because of their efforts, many Americans did, too.

First page > The Young United States > Page 1, 2, 3

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