Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Polish Haitians

I was surprised to learn about Polish Haitians.  The topic came up at the last meeting of the Polish interest group of the Indian River Genealogical Society. The story of Poles in Haiti is a complex combination of fact and the myths that have grown around the facts. 

In the late 18th century, Haiti provided most of the coffee and sugar enjoyed in Napoleon’s Europe –supplied by slave labor.  The final years of the 1790’s saw a slave uprising and the eventual independence of the island with its own Constitution.  But Napoleon was determined to return the island to its previous circumstance as a subject of France.  To this end, he sent 40,000 troops to Haiti; 4,000 of which were Polish soldiers.  

Zena’s 2011 Black History Month blog includes a very clear and concise description of the struggle and the eventual destiny of many of the Poles who originally arrived to fight for France.

My own research doesn’t go back that far yet; but I suppose that it is possible that I have very distant cousins in Haiti.




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