Perceptions: The Temple University Undergraduate History Review Volume 1 Issue 1 May 2010
Kathryn A. Lopez Editor in Chief
Bradley Horst Editor
Adam MacKnight Editor
Sarah Neergaard Editor
Contents From the President
Cuban Proletarian Internationalism: A Question of Legality Under International Law Gordon R. Barnes
A Tethered Nation: A Comparison of the Russian and Austrian Oppressions of the Polish in the Partition Era Anna Berezowska
On the Eve of the Haitian Revolution: The Free Men of Color Struggle for Political Rights, 1789-1791 Donald Bermudez
Interventionism, Nationalism and Compromise: The Legacy of the Hughes Court C. Nicholas Menta
From the President Sarah Neergaard
To cap off TUHSSA's extremely successful first year, I am thrilled to both support and partake in the publication of Temple University's very first Undergraduate History Journal, Perceptions. When Kathryn Lopez, the Editor in Chief of Perceptions, came to me last fall with the idea to publish a journal of undergraduate work, I was hesitant at first as I wondered where we would get the resources necessary to accomplish such a task. Under her guidance, however, the journal blossomed with support from both the history department and fellow students. She received funding, promoted the publication throughout the College of Liberal Arts, collected submissions and hired an editorial board of which I was a part of. Together we selected the best papers from the submissions, and Kathryn edited them into perfection. The journal authors each presented their work at the very first history conference in April which turned out to be an incredible success. I would like to congratulate each of them on their talent and hard work which has certainly paid off. Please enjoy the final result!
With warm regards, Sarah Neergaard President of the Temple Undergraduate History and Social Sciences Association (TUHSSA) 2009-2010
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Cuban Proletarian Internationalism: A Question of Legality Under International Law Gordon R. Barnes
The Birth of Proletarian Internationalism Cuba, for much of its contemporary existence has been a pariah on the international stage. This is due to a myriad of factors. The purpose of this paper is to explore one of the international policies that has greatly contributed to the stigma suffered by Cuba in the contemporary epoch. This is of course the policy and ideology of proletarian internationalism, particularly, the military internationalist missions taken by Cuba and their subsequent legality under international law. Proletarian internationalism is a Marxist-Leninist ideology that promotes and facilitates an allegiance (be it a cultural exchange or material/physical aid) between various groups of workers and peasants struggling for a socialist society and/or combating colonial oppression, imperialist subjugation and social injustice. National boundaries are largely null and void where this is concerned as the perceived class alliances supercede those of the national or state alliance. In reference to the Cuban Revolution, two distinct formulations of internationalism have been undertaken at great lengths in recent history. They are medical and military in nature. This paper focuses on the military campaigns waged by Cuban volunteer combatants and their international comrades under the banner of proletarian internationalism. It is imperative to understand that this political and social ideology stresses collaboration with the international working class (as well as potential allies to the proletariat such as the peasantry or petty-bourgeoisie) in efforts to bring about a radical and revolutionary transformation of society. Cuba has been a fundamental
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propagator of this ideology in the modern era. Historically, The island has had a rich tradition of military internationalism with Cuban volunteers fighting in the Russian Revolution in 1917 as well as in the two World Wars. But proletarian internationalism was not adopted by the Cuban government as a foreign policy platform until the 1960's. With the victory of the 1959 Cuban Revolution led by Camilo Cienfuegos, Fidel Castro, his brother Raul, and Ernesto 'Che' Guevara (amongst others), that overthrew the U.S. backed regime of Fulgencio Batista, Cuba entered into a precarious international relations scenario. Pitted between the United States and its allies in NATO on one side and the U.S.S.R and the nations of the Warsaw Pact on the other, Cuba was entering into international politics at the apogee of the Cold War. Eventually relations between the United States and the revolutionary government of Cuba deteriorated as the Cuban revolutionaries expropriated land and property of the deposed ruling class and initiated an agrarian reform that emasculated U.S. business interests on the island. By 1962 after the failed invasion of U.S. backed mercenaries at Playa Giron (Bay of Pigs), the Cuban government had proclaimed a communist character and was effectively aligned with Soviet interests in the eyes of the U.S. and most Western governments (although they opted to join the Non-Aligned Movement) 1 . Along with this newfound socialist dogma came the development of a foreign policy rooted heavily in the philosophies of Karl Marx, Frederich Engels, and V.I. Lenin. The Cuban constitution went so far to include that the Cuban state will be guided "by the ideas of Jose Marti and the political and social ideas of Marx, Engels and Lenin". Chapter I Article 5 of the Cuban Constitution further affirms this ideological development of the Cuban state.2
See: Westad, Odd Arne. The Global Cold War. Cambridge University Press. Cambridge 2007. Communist Party of Cuba (PCC), Constitution of the Republic of Cuba. Editora Politica, Havana 2004:5.
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This is the framework under which the Cuban government would engage in various military conflicts around the globe, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America. From the mid 1960's until the early 1990's Cuba sent volunteer combatants and military advisors to a plethora of sovereign states including: Algeria, Angola, Bolivia, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Equatorial Guinea, Grenada, Guinea-Bissau, Israel, Libya, Mozambique, Nicaragua, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Tanzania, Vietnam and Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo, formerly known as the Congo). Under the auspices of the Cuban government hundreds of thousand Cuban troops entered these states sometimes with the support of the given government or at times at the behest of national liberation groups (or other political organizations vying for power).3 The quagmire of war transcended the relationships of the actors involved and would eventually prompt questions of legality on an international level. This paper examines three episodes in which proletarian internationalism was the catalyst for Cuban military involvement overseas. These cases are the Cuban involvements in the Congo, in Bolivia and Angola. They will be examined in regards to jus ad bellum laws (laws pertaining to justification of conflicts) and to a lesser extent jus in bello laws (laws pertaining to conduct once in conflicts). Angola will be the central focus of these cases as it was the longest military engagement (1975-1991) of the three and not clandestine in nature as was the case with the involvements in the Congo and Bolivia.
Cuba and International Law First and foremost, it should be recognized that Cuba is a signatory to the U.N. Charter. Article 2(4) of the U.N. Charter stipulates that "All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence 3
Dominguez, Jorge. Cuban Foreign Policy. Foreign Affairs, Vol. 57, No. 1, (Fall., 1978): 83-107.
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of any State, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations".4 Article 51 of the U.N. Charter states that: "Nothing in the Present Charter shall impair the inherent right of individual or collective self-defense if an armed attack occurs against a Member of the United Nations, until the Security Council has taken measures necessary to maintain international peace and security. Measures taken by Members in the exercise of this right of selfdefense shall be immediately reported to the Security Council..." 5 Marxist-Leninist political philosophy stresses that capitalism and the development of a genuine socialist society are in direct competition with one another and diametrically opposed. This philosophy coupled with the notion that socialism cannot exist in one nation state and be sufficient led to the burgeoning Cuban ideals of exporting revolution. Ernesto Guevara was one of the primary promulgators of this idea. It is imperative to understand that under the political philosophy that began to permeate Cuban society at this time the interests of the international proletariat superseded the interests, rights and laws of the ruling bourgeois within a given state (or internationally for that matter). So the question remains, were the Cuban military involvements in the Congo, Bolivia and Angola legal? Did the combatants involved act in accordance to international law at the time? Were there grounds for legal action against the Cuban government or individual soldiers? Cuba, while suspicious of the United Nations as a puppet organ of the United States and global capitalism, endeavored to validate its military missions consistent with and in spite of international law. For example, the Cuban delegation to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development in Geneva, Switzerland in 1964 argued that the United Nations Charter implicitly allowed for Cuban military internationalism as the Charter embodied the principles of
United Nations (U.N.), Charter of the United Nations and Statute of the International Court of Justice. United Nations, Department of Public Information, New York. 1987. Qtd. in: Murphy, Sean. Principles of International Law. Thomson West. St. Paul. 2006: 439. 5 S. Murphy, Principles of International Law: 441-2.
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self-determination and national autonomy. And because the U.N. Charter was being subverted and full sovereignty withheld from many peoples, the Cuban government saw fit to come to the aid of those who requested it.6 In addition to this, the Marxist-Leninist philosophies rooted in the triumph of the 1959 Revolution helped to further expound the notion that the international struggle of the toiling masses took precedent over any and all manifestations of bourgeois legality. At times Cuban governmental officials skirted around the question of the legality of given military involvements, at sometimes outright denying the existence of Cuban military personnel on the ground. In the end, the Cuban government utilized international law to advocate their campaign if it was within reason that the debate would be won. Generally, if the leadership of the Communist Party of Cuba thought that the legality of an operation was in question, the legal aspects were skirted or avoided. And if this was not possible, a moral and ethical argument was presented in lieu of a legal one. The presentation of a moral argument to avoid or supplement a legal one by the Cuban government is vastly different from modern American unilateralism, although on the surface they seem identical. The Cuban presentation of a moral argument was largely utilized
not to combat and defeat a legal position, but to raise
consciousness, in particular the class consciousness of the international working class and the historic duty of the toiling classes to overturn the capitalist mode of production and consequent social relations resulting from a capitalist economic structure. The moral and ethical arguments utilized by the Cuban state were not unilateral in nature as the very success of the Revolution was at times put in jeopardy due to the international missions undertaken by the Cubans. The most notable of which is of course the Cuban involvement in Angola which committed over 300,000 men and women, severely depleting Cuban manpower to defend the island against external aggression. It was the Cuban position that the letter of the law did not stipulate the spirit 6
Guevara, Ernesto. The Che Guevara Reader. Ocean Press. Melbourne. 2003: 321-37.
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of the law or the need to end injustice, exploitation and national exploitation. Therefore, unilateralism was never a position of the Cuban Communist Party, the moral and ethical arguments were adopted to ideologically link oppressed layers of the worlds workers and peasants via a viable Marxist-Leninist example.
The Congo Crisis Ernesto Guevara toured Africa soon after the triumph of the Cuban Revolution (1964). On his trip he met and expressed solidarity with various individuals and groups struggling for national liberation and/or to break free from neo-colonial subjugation. Traveling from Algeria to Tanzania, Guevara and his delegation met with many groups whom they developed an internationalist relationship with. Of these meetings, two would prove crucial to future Cuban military involvements on the African continent. Guevara met with Laurent-DĂŠsirĂŠ Kabila of the Simba Marxist Movement in the Congo and Agostinho Neto of the MPLA (Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola). The Congo gained independence from Belgium in 1960. By 1965 over one hundred Cuban volunteer combatants lead by Ernesto Guevara and Victor Dreke had clandestinely entered the country via Dar es Salaam in neighboring Tanzania. The purpose of the infiltration was three fold. The primary objective was to establish contact with Kabila, leader of the Simba Marxist movement and ally of the slain Patrice Lumumba (assassinated by CIA backed coup in 1961). The secondary objective was to begin to train the Congolese in guerilla tactics and foco theory. The tertiary goal was to ignite a revolutionary struggle that would overthrow the U.S. backed government that had been installed in the wake of Lumumba's assassination. The level of secrecy in the build up to the Congo mission was unparalleled. Cuban combatants traveled
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incognito in groups of three to five as civilians from Havana to Rome, to Prauge, to Dar es Salaam and eventually crossed Lake Tanganyika into the Congo. Despite the subversive and secretive tactics used to gain entrance into the Congo, the Cuban force did not break any jus in bello laws (during infiltration) seeing as they were not actually in combat, nor were they traveling with armaments. They all traveled with valid documents as well. 7 Cuba was, however, in partial violation of the Geneva Convention (Cuba is a signatory having ratified in 1954 without reservations), in particular Protocol I Articles 52(1) and 52(2). These articles state that: "Civilian objects shall not be the object of attack or of reprisals. Civilian objects are all objects which are not military objectives..." (Article 52(1)) and "Attacks shall be limited to military objectives. In so far as objects are concerned, military objectives are limited to those objects which by their nature, location, purpose or use make an effective contribution to military action and whose total or partial destruction, capture or neutralization, in the circumstances ruling at the time, offers a definitive military advantage." (Article 52(2)). 8 Aside from this deviation, the Cuban internationalist contingent did not violate jus in bello laws while in the Congo. Parenthetically, the Cubans engaged in combat in their Cuban military uniforms despite traveling to Africa disguised as civilians. The fundamental reason as to why international law was violated in this instance is due to the fact that Guevara and Dreke utilized guerilla tactics which inevitably struck at both military and non-military targets. The tactics used by the Cuban force were honed during the Cuban Revolution between 1956 and 1965 (after the 1959 victory of the Revolution, fighting against counter-revolutionary bands continued until their eradication and/or disbandment in 1965). The problem of their exportation is that they were legal under Protocol II 7
Dreke, Victor. From the Escambray to the Congo: In the Whirlwind of the Cuban Revolution. Pathfinder Press. London. 2002: 121-52. 8 United Nations (U.N.), Charter of the United Nations and Statute of the International Court of Justice. United Nations, Department of Public Information, New York. 1987. Qtd in: Murphy, Sean. Principles of International Law. Thomson West. St. Paul 2006: 462.
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of the Geneva Convention as it was an internal Cuban affair, but did not translate into an international context. Hence, the legality of the Congo mission could have been called into question. Cuba, had they been charged with any incongruence within international legal codes could have argued that Protocol I actually supported their mission in the Congo. Part of the Protocol I permits conflict against colonial domination in the exercise of the right to self determination. It does not state whether or not the combatants have to be from the given state stripped of the right to autonomy. Alas, the Cuban government posited no such argument. In regards to jus ad bellum laws, the Cuban government essentially argued that the previous United Nations intervention in the Congo was illegal. Based upon the BelgianCongolese General Treaty of Friendship, Assistance and Cooperation, only the Prime Minister could make an appeal for military intervention of Belgian and U.N. troops. At the time of Belgian and U.N. intervention Patrice Lumumba was Prime Minister and no such offer was extended to the Belgians.9 Lumumba did however request aid from the international body, but according to the treaty, he should have had power over the force while it was operating within the national borders of the Congo. This was not the case. With the eventual deployment of a U.N. peacekeeping force to quell the conflict of the internal political organizations in the Congo, Cuba was quick to condemn the action viewing it not as an "enforcement measure" (which would be legal under Chapter VII of the U.N. Charter) in which the state in question would have control of the forces within its borders. Cuban governmental officials rather took up the line that the U.N. peace keepers in conjunction with the Belgian troops were an intervening imperialist military force operating within the borders of a sovereign state. And according to U.N. Under-Secretary Ralph Bunche, the mission was to "pacify and administer", lending credence to the notion that
Franck, Thomas. United Nations Law in Africa: The Congo Operation as a Case Study. Duke University School of Law. Law and Contemporary Problems, Vol. 27, No. 4, African Law (Autumn, 1962): 633.
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the U.N. was biased in favor of the Belgian government (which was pro-U.S.) and largely apathetic to what the Congolese populace desired in terms of political institutions and functions. 10 A United Nations military action in regards to an affair which is fundamentally domestic is certainly ultra vires (beyond the given powers of the U.N. apparatus and Security Council).11 It would be myopic to propose otherwise. All of these political and legal debates were happening prior to direct military involvement by the Cuban volunteer force. At this point (circa. 1961) Cuba was nothing more than a concerned observer of the situation. In the build up to direct involvement in Congolese affairs, the Cuban government did a flip flop in which they no longer cited international law to suit their case. This is most likely due to the missions clandestine nature and/or the fact that one of the leaders, Guevara, had initiated the mobilization of forces (as opposed to the Cuban state) seeing a revolutionary opportunity within the heart of the African continent. Guevara had a disregard for international law once preparations for combat in the Congo were being made in 1964 and as a matter of fact he and the many leaders of the Cuban Revolution maintained this position well before the Cuban contingent became directly embroiled in Congolese affairs. In reference to the slain Lumumba, Guevara said "[He] was murdered by the imperialists, but he was also the victim of his own mistakes". This is in reference to Lumumba's trust in international law (which the U.N., Belgium and eventually the U.S. via the CIA would breach) and the United Nations. It is here that the tenants of proletarian internationalism are evident; a refusal to work within the confines of bourgeois politics, and a distrust of the U.N. with the notion that it is a puppet organization utilized by the capitalist class worldwide.12 The Cuban mission in the Congo eventually abated and its full cessation came with
Roberts, Dick. Revolution in the Congo. Pathfinder Press. New York. 1965: 6-7. T. Franck, United Nations Law in Africa: The Congo Operation as a Case Study: 644. 12 Gleijeses, Piero. Conflicting Missions: Havana, Washington and Africa 1959-1976. The University of North Carolina Press. London. 2002: 77. 11
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the withdrawal of all Cuban combatants after some seven months. In the end, the covert operations initiated by the Johnson administration in the United States coupled with the tactical fallacies of the Cuban column and the failure of Kabila to foment solidarity between the Congolese fighters and Cuban contingent led to a political and military debacle for the communist camp in the Congo. Legal action was not taken by either group of belligerents aside from argumentation within the confines of the United Nations.13 This is possibly due to the fact that both parties involved committed international crimes.
Into the Heart of South America From 1966 until 1968, Cuban combatants entered Bolivia to initiate an armed struggle against the U.S. backed regime. Approximately fifty Cuban troops (and a few other combatants from the U.S.S.R, France, Peru, Argentina and East Germany) entered Bolivia in a similar fashion to the way in which the Cuban fighters entered the Congo the previous year. Cuban documents pertaining to involvement in Bolivia have not yet been fully de-classified.14 There is a common idea circulated that the Cuban mission to Bolivia was in fact in contradiction with the wishes of the Cuban government. This notion is erroneous. Guevara and Harry Villegas, the leaders of the Cuban contingent, were operating with explicit orders from Havana, and had begun training Cuban volunteers months prior to the clandestine entry into Bolivia. The training was conducted by Guevara (and some other individuals in his column leadership) and Cuban military personnel in San Andres, Pinar del Rio in Western Cuba.15 The expressed goals of the volunteer revolutionary combatants, and the official line in Havana was that socialism was not
P. Gleijeses, Conflicting Missions: Havana, Washington and Africa 1959-1976: 124. See: Villegas, Harry. Pombo: un Hombre de la Guerilla del Che, Con Che Guevara en Bolivia, 1966-68. Editora Politica. Havana. 1996. 15 H. Villegas, Pombo: un Hombre de la Guerilla del Che, Con Che Guevara en Bolivia, 1966-68: 65. 14
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possible in one country and that Cuba being the only communist state in the hemisphere needed revolution if they were to survive and thrive as a viable communist society. Thus the idea of fomenting a peasant revolt and subsequent revolution in Bolivia that would eventually radicalize the continent of South America was borne. The legality of Cuban intervention in Bolivia is not as transparent as was the situation in the Congo. In the Congo, the Cubans had been invited by the Simba movement, where as in Bolivia, the Cubans were not invited, and actually asked to leave the country by the Communist Party of Bolivia. This was largely due to the political divergence between Havana and Moscow, the former following a traditional Marxist-Leninist line of march (hence the orthodox interpretation and subsequent implementation of proletarian internationalism) while the latter had been Stalinist since the conservatization of the Bolshevik Party in the mid 1920's. The majority of the Bolivian communist leadership were aligned with Moscow more so than Havana. The result being a lack of support from the Communist Party in Bolivia and a call the cadres from the Bolivian party within the Cuban combat force to desert by the leadership of the Bolivian CP leader Mario Monje. 16 Despite the disapproval of ideological peers in Bolivia, the Cubans initiated a military campaign none the less. Where the Cubans could argue that military involvement in the Congo was legal, they could do no such thing in Bolivia. Unlike the Congolese case, the Cubans were discouraged from coming, The United Nations had not sent troops to intervene in the domestic affairs of Bolivia and neither had any other state with the exception of Cuba. And no other party had committed an action that could be construed as illegal under international law. Thus the only pretexts that Cuba had for its involvement were moral and ethical. The Bolivian affair was essentially the antithesis to the Congolese situation. Cuban involvement was a clear violation of the United Nations Charter Article 2(3), Article 2(4) and 16
See: H. Villegas, Pombo: un Hombre de la Guerilla del Che, Con Che Guevara en Bolivia, 1966-68.
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Article 2(7). In terms of jus in bello laws, the Cubans did not engage non-military targets as they had in the Congo. This may or may not have been the intention of the column. The Cubans were situated in a rural area without any substantial amount of civilian targets that would have been of interest to a guerilla operation. The guerilla columns operated in various rural areas including El Espino, Rio Grande, Paliza, Los Ajos, Samaipata and El Filo to name a few. The logic in deploying the military units in rural and largely isolated areas was to facilitate and nourish relationships with the Bolivian peasantry (as opposed to the proletariat in La Paz or Sucre) as this class was and still does constitute the majority of Bolivian society.17 By 1967, Guevara had been captured and executed by the military of the Bolivian dictatorship. Soon afterwards the mission crumbled, as it was already faltering since its inception due to the lack of popular support from the Bolivian peasantry and Communist Party. In terms of jus ad bellum laws, the Cuban military mission, despite the small contingent was clearly an illegal action. Cuba directly interfered with the sovereignty of another state. No true legal justification was given by the Cuban government for this operation; it was only argued on a moral basis that the column was there in the interest of humanity and Latin American freedom from imperialism. While the Bolivian government could have certainly attempted to sue the Cuban government, they opted not to. Had the Bolivian government sought this route, it most likely would have failed as Cuba had not (and still has not) accepted the compulsory jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice.
See: H. Villegas, Pombo: un Hombre de la Guerilla del Che, Con Che Guevara en Bolivia, 1966-68.
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Cuba and the Angolan Odyssey Arguably, nowhere has Cuban proletarian internationalism been more successful or more imperative than in relation to the involvements in Angola between 1975 and the early 1990's. The apex of this internationalist foreign policy championed by the Cuban government was witnessed with the breaking of the siege of Cuito Cuanavale and the subsequent military and political victories that contributed monumentally to a sovereign Namibian state as well as the dismantlement of the South African Apartheid regime. The Cuban internationalist mission in Angola, coupled with the ongoing social, political, and military battles waged by people within South Africa and Namibia (and to a lesser extent the international campaign against the South African state) helped to signal the death knell of Apartheid. It is interesting to note, that while other so called socialist states, particularly the U.S.S.R., opted to advocate the MPLA's cause, no such internationalist tasks were taken up, this was the sole responsibility of the Cuban volunteer force in Angola.18 The 1974 Carnation Revolution was able to effectively overturn the authoritarian dictatorship in Portugal (the colonial power that controlled Angola). But the end of direct foreign domination was not necessarily guaranteed to the various Portuguese properties in Africa as a result of this movement. The states of Guinea-Bissau and Mozambique were quickly recognized as sovereign. The Angolan case, however, was not to be so as the former colony erupted in civil war. This was largely due to the vast wealth of resources in oil and diamonds. 19 While Mozambique experienced a civil war of its own, its geopolitical ramifications and consequent political relationships and legal statuses were not comparable to the Angolan case. (FRELIMO
Castro, Fidel, and Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Cuba's Internationalist Foreign Policy 1975-80. Pathfinder Press. New York. 1981: 113-4. 19 Hodges, Tony. Angola From Afro-Stalinism To Petro-Diamond Capitalism. Indiana University Press. Bloomington. 2001: 7-9.
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[Liberation Front of Mozambique] and RENAMO [Mozambican National Resistance] were drawn into a civil war, but without direct agitation from outside states, as was the case in Angola. RENAMO was formed by Rhodesian intelligence organizations as an anti-communist organization to combat the pseudo-socialistic program of FRELIMO. Despite this, Rhodesian military forces did not become directly involved in the Mozambican Civil War as the South African state did in the Angolan Civil War)20. When Angola gained formal independence from Portugal in November of 1975, the three factions that had been combating Portugal and struggling for national autonomy descended into chaos. The MPLA held the capital Luanda, as well as many other major urban centers, while the FNLA (National Front for the Liberation of Angola) and UNITA (National Union for the Total Independence of Angola) were scattered throughout the country. The international community quickly recognized a MPLA-FNLA-UNITA transitional government as prescribed by the Alvor Agreement. The agreement granted Angolan independence and set up a coalition government of the three primary national liberation groups that had fought Portuguese rule. Soon after, however, the transitional government succumbed to factionalism, an element that had been present throughout the armed struggle against the Portuguese. UNITA and the FNLA were aligned together in a coalition opposed to the MPLA. The MPLA was a quasi-socialistic party and despite the air of detente between the U.S.S.R. and the U.S., Angola was soon to play a major role in the Cold War.21 In regards to recognition of new governments, it is customary international law that a government effectively established within a national boundary and sanctioned by popular
See: Scott, James M. Deciding to Intervene: The Reagan Doctrine and American Foreign Policy. Duke University Press. Durham. 1996. 21 Gleijeses, Piero. Conflicting Missions: Havana, Washington and Africa 1959-1976. The University of North Carolina Press. London. 2002: 242.
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approval notwithstanding its revolutionary origin be regarded as representing the state. Under international law the structure, composition and functionality of a given government is an internal question of the state and foreign states are not entitled to interfere with the domestic politics of the given state. 22 The international community largely adhered to this customary international law. South Africa and Zaire (formerly the Congo), however, took the opportunity to become militarily involved in an Angolan state rife with social strife and political segmentation. The South African Apartheid regime opted for direct military involvement due to the MPLA support and military training of the ANC (African National Congress) within South Africa and SWAPO (South West African Peoples Organization) in the South African colony of Namibia. The perceived threat of communism on its border also played a role in the rationalization for bellicose actions. Zaire became involved due to the fact that the MPLA since the late 1960's had been using Zaire as a launch pad for attacks against the Portuguese colonial regime. Both South Africa and Zaire along with the United States and to a small extent China supported UNITA and/or the FNLA. The MPLA had allied itself with the U.S.S.R and Cuba. Back to the recognition of governments, which in the Angolan case was quite convoluted, it was also customary international law at the time that it would be sufficient for the party that receives embassies is in possession of sovereignty.23 The MPLA was the political party with diplomatic relations within the international community when the military forces of Zaire and South Africa invaded Angola in 1975. Soon afterwards, the Angolan government requested material aid from
Lauterpacht, H. Recognition of Governments I. Columbia Law Review Association, Inc. Columbia Law Review, Vol. 47, No. 6, (Nov., 1945): 819. 23 H. Lauterpacht , Recognition of Governments I: 827-28.
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the Cuban government. Cuba obliged and began to transport armaments, munitions and personnel to Angola.24 The fundamental difference between this instance of proletarian internationalism embodied by Cuba and the cases regarding the Congo and Bolivia is the fact that it was not a clandestine mission. Effectively, asymmetrical warfare was no longer on the Cubans agenda where Angola was concerned. For the first time Cuba engaged in conventional warfare in a large scale conflict. The Cuban government made various legal as well as moral arguments to support and validate the internationalist mission in Angola. First and foremost, the Cuban government cited the failure of the application of Resolution 1514 of the General Assembly of the United Nations (Declaration on the granting of independence to colonial countries and peoples). 25 Four of the seven declarations within the Resolution were clearly being infringed upon by the belligerents opposed to the Cuban and MPLA forces. The declarations are as follows, Declaration 1: "The subjection of peoples to alien subjugation, domination and exploitation constitutes a denial of fundamental human rights, is contrary to the Charter of the United Nations and is an impediment to the promotion of world peace and co-operation.", Declaration 2: "All peoples have the right to self-determination; by virtue of that right they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development.", Declaration 4: "All armed action or repressive measures of all kinds directed against dependent peoples shall cease in order to enable them to exercise peacefully and freely their right to complete independence, and the integrity of their national territory shall be respected" and Declaration 6: " Any attempt aimed at the partial or total disruption of the national unity and the territorial
Durch, William. The Cuban Military in Africa and the Middle East: Algeria to Angola. Center for Naval Analyses. Arlington. (September., 1977): 17-20. 25 Castro, Fidel, and Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Cuba's Internationalist Foreign Policy 1975-80. Pathfinder Press. New York. 1981: 225.
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integrity of a country is incompatible with the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations."26 Cuba argued that Angolan national autonomy and that their right to self determination was being infringed upon by outside forces. The objective in Angola, explicitly stated by Cuban general Moises Sio Wong, was to combat outside aggression and to not intentionally involve the Cuban state with the internal political differences of Angola.27 What is particularly interesting to observe in reference to this is the fact that the Cubans opted to not directly engage Angolan belligerents (UNITA and FNLA) and rather focused on the military contingents from Zaire and South Africa. 28 This was the crux of Cuba's theory regarding proletarian internationalism. Despite the truth behind the failure of international agreements to protect Angola, it could reasonably be argued that Cuba was in violation of Article 2(4) of the U.N. Charter as they were not acting in self defense (although the Cuban government's socialist ideology and interpretation of proletarian internationalism would allow them to argue that they were acting in self defense, as class alliances and relationships are paramount to national relationships) and did not seek authorization from the U.N. Security Council. But herein lays a contradiction. Article 51 of the U.N. Charter states that: "Nothing in the present Charter shall impair the inherent right of individual or collective self-defense if an armed attack occurs against a Member of the United Nations, until the Security Council has taken measures necessary to maintain international peace and security. Measures taken by Members in the exercise of this right of self-defense shall be immediately reported to the Security Council..." 29 The language of Article 51 certainly
United Nations Resolution 1514 (XV) 947th plenary meeting, 14 December 1960. See: Choy, Armando, Gustavo Chui and Moises Sio Wong. Our History is Still Being Written: The Story of Three Chinese-Cuban Generals in the Cuban Revolution. Pathfinder Press. New York. 2005. 28 Choy, Armando, Gustavo Chui and Moises Sio Wong, Our History is Still Being Written: The Story of Three Chinese-Cuban Generals in the Cuban Revolution: 92. 29 Murphy, Sean. Principles of International Law. Thomson West. St. Paul 2006: 441-2. 27
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legitimizes Cuban involvement in Angola, primarily the clause that collective self-defense is appropriate if an armed attack occurs against a United Nations member state. Based upon a close reading of Article 51 it is safe to say that Cuba adhered to international law formalities in this instance. The SADF (South African Defense Force) initiated large scale incursions into Angola in 1978 and the United Nations Security Council had yet to "take measures necessary to maintain international peace and security" as prescribed by Article 51 of the United Nations Charter. Cuba continued combat operations in Angola up until the U.N. took these measures in late 1978. The Security Council adopted three resolutions in regards to the conflict in Angola and the involvement of South Africa and Cuba in direct combat. U.N. Resolution 435 called for a cease-fire of all belligerents and a United Nations supervised election in South West Africa (Namibia) which was a colony of South Africa. It also established the United Nations Transition Assistance Group [UNTAG] which was created to oversee Namibian independence. U.N. Resolution 447 condemned South Africa and heavily criticized the Apartheid regime for using Namibia as a spring board for various military operations in Angola. Lastly, U.N. Resolution 454 called for a withdrawal of all SADF forces in Angola. The cease-fire imposed by the Security Council was short lived. When white rule ended in Rhodesia with the election of Robert Mugabe in 1980, South Africa was effectively surrounded by states headed by radical governments or having radical mass organizations (FRELIMO in Mozambique, SWAPO in Namibia, the ANC within South Africa, ZANU in Zimbabwe which had changed its name from Rhodesia, and the MPLA and Cubans in Angola) and initiated a policy of "total onslaught" primarily against elements in Namibia and Angola. Because the SADF violated the cease-fire, the Cuban internationalist force
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resumed hostilities. The legality of the resumption of the conflict on the Cuban end is hazy. None of the Resolutions called for a Cuban withdrawal, the only Resolution that affected Cuba was 435 in terms of the cessation of the conflict. Since South Africa reignited the conflict the Cuban mission was still legitimate and legal under Article 51 of the United Nations Charter. In response to the South Africa's continued military operations, the Security Council passed Resolution 546 which again demanded the withdrawal of SADF forces and the payment of reparations to the government of Angola. South Africa refused to leave Angola and began penetrating deeper and deeper into the country, establishing permanent military bases within Angolan borders. In 1984 the Lusaka Accords was signed between South Africa and Angola initiating another cease-fire. At this time the Cuban and Angolan governments discussed the withdrawal of Cuban troops as the war was apparently over with South Africa. The talks concluded with demands for South African withdrawal from Angola and implementation of Resolution 435 in exchange for a Cuban withdrawal from the conflict.30 In May of 1985, South Africa violated the Lusaka Accords and again initiated military operations in Angola. The Cuban withdrawal was stalled as for a third time Cuban internationalist volunteers fought alongside Angolan and Namibian combatants. The conflict raged on for another three years with the United States overtly funding and supplying UNITA and the SADF (and Zaire allowing them [SADF and UNITA] to utilize military bases within its borders). The MPLA and Cuban internationalists alongside newly deployed Soviet advisors continued to fight up until 1988.
In 1988, South African forces besieged the small but
strategically important town of Cuito Cuanavale in southern Angola for three months. At the request of the MPLA, Fidel Castro authorized an escalation of troop deployment in an effort to 30
Tvedten, Inge. Angola: Struggle for Peace and Reconstruction. Westview Press. Boulder 1997: 38-9. Also See: George, Edward. The Cuban Intervention in Angola, 1965-1991: From Che Guevara to Cuito Cuanavale. Frank Cass. London. 2005.
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break the siege. With Operation Maniobra XXXI Anniversario Cuba committed over 10,000 internationalists volunteer combatants to Cuito Cuanavale. 31 By December of that year, the SADF had been defeated at Cuito Cuanavale. This effectively forced the three primary belligerents to adopt diplomacy in lieu of violence. The Three Powers Accord, also known as the Tripartite Agreement was signed on December 22 1988. Cuba, Angola, and South Africa settled the various disputes that had been festering over the past decade. The Accord affirmed Resolution 435 was to be upheld, leading to an independent Namibian state. South Africa immediately withdrew all military forces from Angola. Angola and Cuba also entered into a bilateral agreement with a thirty month time frame for the removal of the internationalist combatant force (numbering 50,000 troops) and a redeployment of Cuban troops to the north of Angola. 32 By July 1 of 1991 all 50,000 had returned to Cuba. Throughout the sixteen year expedition, approximately 450,000 Cuban men and women volunteered as proletarian internationalist and fought in Angola. The Angolan civil war continued up until 2002. The Cuban military contingent seems to have adhered to jus ad bellum laws in regards to internationalist involvement in Angola. In regards to jus in bello laws the Cuban contingent appeared to have been on the straight and narrow. There was one instance, however, in which two Cuban soldiers raped and murdered an Angolan woman. This is a clear violation of Geneva Convention IV and the "obligations to treat all persons humanely; to protect them from acts of violence and physical suffering; not to take them hostage and not to pillage their property".33 Although the victim was an Angolan civilian, neither the MPLA nor UNITA opted to bring a
George, Edward. The Cuban Intervention in Angola, 1965-1991: From Che Guevara to Cuito Cuanavale. Frank Cass. London. 2005: 211-29. 32 Diaz-Briquets, Sergio. Cuban Internationalism in Sub-Saharan Africa. Duquesne University Press. Pittsburgh. 1989: 181-5. 33 Murphy, Sean. Principles of International Law. Thomson West. St. Paul. 2006; p. 460 Also See: Byers, Michael. War Law. Grove Press. New York. 2005.
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case against the two soldiers, possibly because both organizations were purportedly involved in widespread human rights abuses. In the event that the government of Angola wanted to bring the two Cubans to trial, it most likely would have stagnated and dissolved as Cuba has yet to accept the compulsory jurisdiction of the ICJ. In any event, the Cuban command in Angola ordered the two soldiers to be summarily executed. It is unclear if that action constitutes as a breach of international law. There were also two unconfirmed cases that would have been a clear violation of international law had Cuba committed the alleged infractions. First, there have been unsubstantiated reports that Cuban combatants were in Angola until the conclusion of the civil war in 2002. This assertion is highly unlikely though, as Cuba went through what is known as the Special Period in which the country's foreign trade and assistance was reduced by 80% with the collapse of the U.S.S.R and the socio-economic failure of the Eastern European bloc. Simply put, it would have been near impossible for Cuba to fund a continuing mission in Angola post 1991 due to the tumultuous economic situation at the time. Had these reports been accurate, there would be little maneuvering room to bring legal charges against the Cubans. They are not signatories to the 2002 statute creating the International Criminal Court in addition to not accepting the jurisdiction of the ICJ.34 Another, more plausible allegation against the Cuban contingent was that the internationalist force in Angola was being bought by the Angolan government to the tune of $700 Million USD annually (according to General Rafael del Pino, former Deputy Commander of the Cuban Air force who defected to the U.S. in 1987). The Cuban government asserts that
See: Choy, Armando, Gustavo Chui and Moises Sio Wong. Our History is Still Being Written: The Story of Three Chinese-Cuban Generals in the Cuban Revolution. Pathfinder Press. New York. 2005., Diaz-Briquets, Sergio. Cuban Internationalism in Sub-Saharan Africa. Duquesne University Press. Pittsburgh. 1989., and Coalition for the International Criminal Court, States Parties to the Rome Statute of the ICC. <http://www.iccnow.org.>. The Hague 2008.
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host countries only paid for food and shelter for the volunteer combatants. 35 If these accusations are accurate, it would not be fallacious to argue that the Cuban military campaigns in Angola were waged by mercenaries. And while not necessarily illegal, problems would arise for captured Cuban soldiers as to their status in relation to the Geneva Convention. Aside from this one instance, there have been no other allegations of Cuban military forces being hired or contracted by sovereign states. Such an act could have certainly been plausible, but is diametrically opposed to the tenants and philosophies of proletarian internationalism and not too likely to have occurred.
Synthesizing the Cuban Case Now back to the initial queries, were the Cuban military involvements in the Congo, Bolivia and Angola legal? Did the combatants involved act in accordance to international law at the time? Were there grounds for legal action against the Cuban government or individual soldiers? It is safe to argue that all of the missions definitively violated Article 2(4) of the U.N. Charter. We must also concede that the entire Bolivian mission was illegal under international law, both in regards to jus ad bellum and jus in bello. The Angolan mission certainly had the most legally sound validation and the mission to the Congo was most likely illegal despite the strong moral and ethical rationale behind the operation. It seems as though international law is applied ad hoc by given states as it suits their national interests, Cuba included (Cuba's "national interest" being the export of revolutionary socialism and Marxism-Leninism as well as supporting and expressing solidarity with the various national liberation movements combating capitalism, colonialism and neo-colonialism across the globe). The Cuban government may view 35
Diaz-Briquets, Sergio. Cuban Internationalism in Sub-Saharan Africa. Duquesne University Press. Pittsburgh. 1989: 31-2.
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international law as a tool of bourgeois domination, but they did not hesitate to utilize it in efforts to bolster and extol revolutionary struggles via proletarian internationalism.
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Bibliography Books Byers, Michael. War Law. Grove Press. New York. 2005. Castro, Fidel, and Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Cuba's Internationalist Foreign Policy 1975-80. Pathfinder Press. New York. 1981. Choy, Armando, Gustavo Chui and Moises Sio Wong. Our History is Still Being Written: The Story of Three Chinese-Cuban Generals in the Cuban Revolution. Pathfinder Press. New York. 2005. Diaz-Briquets, Sergio. Cuban Internationalism in Sub-Saharan Africa. Duquesne University Press. Pittsburgh. 1989. Dreke, Victor. From the Escambray to the Congo: In the Whirlwind of the Cuban Revolution. Pathfinder Press. London. 2002. George, Edward. The Cuban Intervention in Angola, 1965-1991: From Che Guevara to Cuito Cuanavale. Frank Cass. London. 2005. Gleijeses, Piero. Conflicting Missions: Havana, Washington and Africa 1959-1976. The University of North Carolina Press. London. 2002. Guevara, Ernesto. The Che Guevara Reader. Ocean Press. Melbourne. 2003. Hodges, Tony. Angola From Afro-Stalinism To Petro-Diamond Capitalism. Indiana University Press. Bloomington. 2001. Murphy, Sean. Principles of International Law. Thomson West. St. Paul. 2006. Roberts, Dick. Revolution in the Congo. Pathfinder Press. New York. 1965. Scott, James M. Deciding to Intervene: The Reagan Doctrine and American Foreign Policy. Duke University Press. Durham. 1996. Tvedten, Inge. Angola: Struggle for Peace and Reconstruction. Westview Press. Boulder 1997.
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Villegas, Harry. Pombo: un Hombre de la Guerilla del Che, Con Che Guevara en Bolivia, 196668. Editora Politica. Havana. 1996. Westad, Odd Arne. The Global Cold War. Cambridge University Press. Cambridge 2007.
Journal Articles Dominguez, Jorge. Cuban Foreign Policy. Foreign Affairs, Vol. 57, No. 1, (Fall., 1978). Franck, Thomas. United Nations Law in Africa: The Congo Operation as a Case Study. Duke University School of Law. Law and Contemporary Problems, Vol. 27, No. 4, African Law (Autumn, 1962). Lauterpacht, H. Recognition of Governments I. Columbia Law Review Association, Inc. Columbia Law Review, Vol. 47, No. 6, (Nov., 1945). Political Documents Coalition for the International Criminal Court, States Parties to the Rome Statute of the ICC. <http://www.iccnow.org.>. The Hague. 2008. Communist Party of Cuba (PCC), Constitution of the Republic of Cuba. Editora Politica, Havana 2004. Durch, William. The Cuban Military in Africa and the Middle East: Algeria to Angola. Center for Naval Analyses (United States Department of Defense). Arlington. (September., 1977). United Nations (U.N.), Charter of the United Nations and Statute of the International Court of Justice. United Nations, Department of Public Information, New York. 1987. United Nations Resolution 1514 (XV) 947th plenary meeting, 14 December 1960.
29 A Tethered Nation
A Tethered Nation: A Comparison of the Russian and Austrian Oppressions of the Polish in the Partition Era Anna Berezowska It was a warm day on July 27, 18611 in Warsaw. It is not clear what happened or how it occurred that the blood of five Polish individuals was spilled on the streets, but the concentration should be put on the city's reaction to the event. “The Varsavians, carrying their bodies through the streets, cursed the names of the murderers. As the sun beamed down on the city, the people marched through the streets carrying the bodies of the slain, cursing the name of the murderers. There were no carts riding through the streets. Only silence. House and apartment windows stained black, reflecting the state of grieving.”2 This scene was one reflecting the loss of five individuals of Polish nationality, no significant dignitaries or gentry, just ones of descent from the middle or even working class. This type of unification in Warsaw symbolized something more. It revealed how violated people had been by the power that controlled them. Yet, this scene only occurred under the control of the Russian Empire. The aggressive methods3 of Tsar Nicholas I to russify and oppress the Polish national identity and nationalism led Poles to conspire, be disloyal and to rebel against the Russian Empire; While the nonaggressive methods of tolerance and recognition of the Poles‟ ethnicity by Ferdinand I and the Habsburg Empire in Austrian Galicia, provided to reinforce the
Ostatnie lata dziejów powszechnych od 1846 r. do dni dzisiejszych (Lwów: Księgarnia Polska, 1881), 124-125. Ibid. 3 Norman Davies, God’s Playground: A History of Poland, Volume II: 1795 to The Present (New York: Columbia University Press, 1981), 320. 2
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nationalistic need of the people who had just lost their country, which then in turn helped prevent the Polish from revolting as much as they did under the Russian Empire. The Polish Partitions, which divided the former Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth amongst three empires, took place in three stages in the years 1773, 1793 and finally in 1795. Norman Davies, a Polish historian noted, “There is no other instance when [European countries] deliberately annihilated one of Europe‟s historic states in cold blood.”4 There had been many factors that contributed to the eventual cold blooded event, but they were mostly concentrated on the fact that the Polish parliament, the Sejm, had become weak, and both Prussian and Russian influence had spread into the politics and people with bribery and threats of violence. As a result of the three partitions, Poland was drawn off the map. The land and people, depending on their location, were now under the control of the Russian Empire, Habsburg Empire or under the Kingdom of Prussia. Each Empire had its own approach to the Poles and how much of their nationality it was going to respect and allow them to retain. The Russian Empire gained most of eastern Poland, as far as major cities such as Warsaw and the northern shores of the Baltic. The Austrian Empire had acquired a great deal of territory including Galicia, which became the center of the largest concentration of Poles that lived under the Austrian rule. Its land stretched “from the source of the Vistula River in the far west to the Zbruch ad Cheremosh rivers in the east and was bounded by the crests of the Carpathian Mountains in the south.”5 The entire Habsburg Empire was multiethnic and diverse. While on the other hand, Russia had control of mostly Slavic nations. Their approach to the freedom and individuality
Norman Davies, God‟s Playground: A History of Poland, Volume I: The Origins to 1795 (New York: Columbia University Press, 1981), 510. 5 Paul Robert Magosci, “Galicia: A European Land,” in Galicia: A Multicultured Land, edited by Christopher Hann and Paul Robert Magosci (Buffalo: University of Toronto Press, 2005), 3-4.
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In Tajne Dokumnety Rządu Rosyjskiego w Sprawach Polskich, a pro-Russian propaganda book by Aleksandr Konstantinovich Imeretinskiĭ, he provides the example of how much of a double standard stood in the 19th century regarding the term of russification. The 1899 book refuted the idea that Russia has been trying to russify Poland in any way. Yet, in the same book he wrote that teaching school children Polish in the Russian language was an incorrect strategy that lacked logic. He continued by explaining, “Learning Polish also occurs outside of the walls of school, its teachers lack professional training, people, who are not always loyal in regards to politics.”6 It is implied that by teaching Polish in schools by teachers loyal to the Empire would have helped prevent any outside influence of being instilled in the children. The influence they feared was the Polish nationalist movement that had been rising throughout the years of russified oppression. Imeretinskiĭ echoes this reality in his text, “In this way it is possible to avoid the necessity of [students] running away to...home teachers who often und ermin e th e foun dati ons o f a b uildi n g. ”7 Imeretinskiĭ continued by saying, “I dare with a feeling of deep conviction... that the rightful path of the Government, to unite Poland”8 with the Empire of Russia is to do it with the “slow, gradual, and prudent disposal of the board of the Polish Kingdom system...” Subtly, he wrote in his belief that the forcing of his own government‟s harsh “special”9 regulations that almost immediately revoked all things related to the Polish nationality, provoked the “separation” and distrust of the country. In one scenario, he advocated fighting fire with fire by using priests as a method of stopping Polish nationalist propaganda and replacing it with russification. He explains that a 6
Aleksandr Konstantinovich Imeretinskiĭ . Tajne Dokumenty Rzą du Rosyjskiego w Sprawach Polskich. (London, J.Kaniowski, 1899), 38. 7 Ibid. 8 Ibid, 28. 9 Ibid.
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priest outside of a school can cause far greater damage than a priest in school.”10 A priest removed as a school teacher allows him to be more in control of corrupting his parishioner‟s minds with his own nationalist ideology. But by having the priest remain in school, where he‟s sure to “sow his seed into the young, vulnerable hearts,”11 the Russian government would have had more control and power to inhibit the so called seed being sown into the young minds of the Polish. This russification of the Polish language was also observed by Thomas Masaryk, a Czech philosopher, as he was traveling through Poland and stopped at a train station in Warsaw. He described a scene where two railroad workers, employees of the government, were speaking French to one another. He explained that as government employees, they were not allowed to speak any Slavic language other than Russian. Vehemently having avoided the regulation they were only left with the choice to speak to one another in a completely foreign language.12 Masaryk personally did not believe that smaller entities such as the Kingdom of Poland could simply stand between two greater Empires, but he did expose Russia‟s hypocrisy in its policy of Pan-Slavism. However, “Russians in Poland in totality were not acting like brothers, but as conquerors...”13 This use of denying the Polish the right to learn and speak their own language became “a symbol of Polish awakening.”14 In a book of recollections of those who were born and lived under the partitions, Jan Kaliński remembered how his local school only offered to teach in Russian. His parents refused to let him lose his roots by having attended such a school, instead 10
Aleksandr Konstantinovich Imeretinskiĭ . Tajne Dokumenty Rzą du Rosyjskiego w Sprawach Polskich. (London, J.Kaniowski, 1899), 40. 11 Ibid. 12 Stanisław Wę dkiewicz and Stanisław Henryk Badeni , Przegląd współczesny (Warsaw: Spółka Wydawnicza Czasopism, 1903), 32-33. 13 Ibid. 14 Arthur P. Coleman, “Language as a Factor in Polish Nationalism,” in Slavonic and East European Review, 155172 (New York: Columbia University, 1934-1935), 162.
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they chose to homeschool him. His parents took turns teaching; his mother knew only how to read Polish so his father taught him the fundamentals in writing.15 He added, “And later I began practicing on my own as much as I could and as much as time permitted.”16 In having Kaliński explain that he had to practice the Polish language while in the country formerly known as the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, showed how repressed but more importantly how significant it was for many Poles to retain their roots, even if it meant not being loyal to their new ruler. Language is used to help people of a country identify with their own nationality and identity. The Russians having denied the Poles this basic right of nationality and having replaced it with their own language prompted the very distrust that Imeretinskiĭ had spoken of. The distrust comes with citizens not wanting to abide by the rules enforced and becoming disloyal as was seen in the uprisings. It seems a bit ironic to read what the Tsar of Russia had to say after violently crushing a Polish Uprising in 1831, Nicholas I named the Polish freedom fighters “agitators” who tried to “abuse the favors” and destroy “the very laws and liberties which his mighty arm had generously granted them.”17 “...People trembled at the sight of a Russian uniform,” wrote Józef Piłsudski, who first hand witnessed the gruesome treatment of Poles.18 He complained of the “barbaric tsarist rule”, which heavily censored Polish literature that did not necessarily have any revolutionary tone.19 In fact, he added, one book about the history of Poland was banned because it depicted Poles as better than Russians. Glancing back at the laws and liberties the tsar announced he had given the Poles, one would question how exactly gracious these laws and 15
Jan Kaliński, “Diary Number One,” in Dairies of Emigrants: United States of America, edited by Janina Dziembowska (Warsaw: Książka i Wiedza, 1977), 115. 16 Ibid. 17 Józef Hordynacki, History of the Late Polish Revolution and the Events of the Campaign, (Boston: Carter and Hendee, 1833), 424-428. 18 , Józef Piłsudski. “Polish Illegal Publications Under Russian Rule.” in Polish Civilization: Essays and Studies, edited by Mieczysław Giergielewicz (New York: New York University Press, 1979), 216. 19 Ibid, 217.
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liberties were. Poles were utterly stripped of political power. At a session of the Diet, “all public debates were prohibited...”20 It was odd if a Pole even got a chance to witness a Diet session considering the fact that the only admittance to one would by a ticket and they were exclusively distributed to Russian generals and their families.21 However, politics were not a sore topic in the towns of Austrian Galicia. In fact, politics grew to be feisty and informative for the citizens; notes updating the public about elections were sent out by the government itself.22 “We used to walk hand in hand, regardless of the state or religion,”23 read an advertisement support a Polish Jew, Dr. Jonatana Warschauera. Around the same time illegal Polish literature was being “hastily destroyed through fear whenever real or imaginary danger threatened...,”24 the Poles without any regulation or laws prohibiting or speaking of its illegality raised a monument dedicated to Tadeusz Kościuszko.25 Not only did the Galician government permit the Poles to build a monument to a man who led the revolt against the partitions in the 18th century, but on the bicentennial anniversary of the siege of Vienna by the Polish king Jan III Sobieski, “in Kraków a special parade was organized... the train prices were lowered by half price... a lot of people took advantage of this price and went on to Kraków.”26
Józef Hordynacki, History of the Late Polish Revolution and the Events of the Campaign, (Boston: Carter and Hendee, 1833), 6. 21 Ibid, 6-7. 22 Obwieszczenie c.k. Namiestnictwa we Lwowie o rozpisaniu wyborów uzupełniających do Rady Państwa z okręgu miasta Krakowa z dnia 3 III 1886 roku, Political Advertisement, From The Polish Archives Portal. <http://archiwa.polska.pl/katalog/skarb,Obwieszczenie_ck_Namiestnictwa_we_Lwowie_o_rozpisaniu_wyborow_uz upelniajacych_do_Rady_Panstwa_z_okregu_miasta_Krakowa_z_dnia_3_III_1886_roku,gid,246689,cid,3618.htm.> 23 Afisz przedwyborczy kandydata w wyborach do Sejmu Krajowego z 1877 roku, dr. Jonatana Warschauera, Political Advertisement, From The Polish Archives Portal. <http://archiwa.polska.pl/katalog/skarb,Afisz_przedwyborczy_kandydata_w_wyborach_do_Sejmu_Krajowego_z_1 187_roku_dr_Jonatana_Warschauera,gid,246530,cid,3618.htm>. 24 Józef Piłsudski. “Polish Illegal Publications Under Russian Rule.” in Polish Civilization: Essays and Studies, edited by Mieczysław Giergielewicz (New York: New York University Press, 1979), 217. 25 Wojciech Urbanek, “Diary Number Three,” in Dairies of Emigrants: United States of America, edited by Janina Dziembowska (Warsaw: Książka i Wiedza, 1977), 194. 26 Ibid, , 194-196.
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However, life under the Austrian Empire prospered for most Poles. In one specific instance, Jews were forced to accept either the Ruthenian or Polish language, and most times they chose the latter for the social mobility that came with it.27 There had been occasions of oppression, as was seen by Klemens Wenzel von Metternich‟s crack down on nationalistic movements and anti-Polish policies. However, Austria was “always liable to the moods of the Poles.”28 In desperation of trying to use the Poles against the Russian Empire, they gave in to most of the needs of the Poles. From the beginning, even the diplomacy practiced by the Habsburg Empire portrayed an impression of an Emperor with open arms, and set the stage for non-aggressive strategy for the Poles who fell under the control of the Austrian Empire. Following the Napoleonic Wars, Emperor Ferdinand began his subtle appeal to the Poles, “Emperor Napoleon is using your army only for himself and not for you; your wealth and your armies are becoming victims, not only for the good of a foreign sake, but also for the sake completely opposite...”29 of the Poles‟ goals. In fact, after the Polish Uprising in 1848, the Austrian government did not try as a consequence of an uprising in a neighboring country, to limit or crush the Poles and their sordid independence. Instead their policies shifted to recognize Ruthenians
But it was not out of the goodness of Ferdinand I‟s heart that he respected their culture and did not try to germanize them. “Austria lacked the dynamism and resources”31 due to their
Paul Robert Magosci, “Galicia: A European Land,” in Galicia: A Multicultured Land, edited by Christopher Hann and Paul Robert Magosci (Buffalo: University of Toronto Press, 2005), 8. 28 Alexander Bruce Boswell, Poland and the Poles (New York: Dodd, Mead and Co., 1919), 78. 29 Emperor Ferdinand I of Austria. Odezwa arcyksięcia Ferdynanda do obywateli Księstwa Warszawskiego z 14 IV 1809 roku oraz wiadomość o bitwie pod Raszynem. Letter. From The Polish Archives Portal. <http://archiwa.polska.pl/katalog/skarb,Odezwa_arcyksiecia_Ferdynanda_do_obywateli_Ksiestwa_Warszawskiego _z_14_IV_1809_roku_oraz_wiadomosc_o_bitwie_pod_Raszynem,gid,252583,cid,1116.htm.> (Accessed 11 December 2009) 30 Paul Robert Magosci, 14. 31 Norman Davies, God‟s Playground: A History of Poland, Volume I: The Origins to 1795 (New York: Columbia University Press, 1981), 510.
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involvement in the Seven Years War amongst other things. This position put up against the Russian Empire, shows how it was not an altruistic choice of the Austrians to be not aggressive in their policy towards Poles, but it was rather in their interests to seem good-willed. In recognizing and respecting, as they did in time, the Polish nationality; the Habsburgs could manifest the majority population located in the area of Galicia against the Russian Empire and control they held. While Russia was destroying everything that had represented the former Polish Kingdom which was nicknamed by Tsar Nicholas I as “the boil on the body of the Russian Empire,”32 the Habsburg Empire was hoping to ease the oppression of some Poles. Following the final partition, the Austrian Empire wanted to unite all of the classes by eliminating the infamous serfdom imposed by the Polish Gentry. The Empire had hopes of having this work for to their advantage, but instead it planted the “seed of mistrust.” 33 However, this mistrust presented itself because the Poles did not know what the Habsburg Empire had in store for them. After the few first decades of turmoil and intense distrust died down, the Poles‟ control in the Empire and the opportunities it presented grew. A couple elected representative Poles, who had won the majority in an election, stood and declared in the Diet, “we are standing by you and want to”34 as sign of their loyalty to the Diet after having seen improvements in the government in regards to the treatment of Poles. Józef Szujski who lived in the Partition under Austrian rule, compared the power that was given to Poles, even if they were conservative, to the Russian one by having said, “This lack of moderation...under the Polish Partition subjected to Russian rule...led to the unfortunate uprising
Norman Davies, God‟s Playground: A History of Poland, Volume II 1795 To The Present (New York: Columbia University Press, 1981), 314. 33 August Sokołowski, Dzieje Polski illustrowane (Vienna: M. Perles, 1905), 387. 34 Józef Szujski, Polacy i Rusini w Galicyi (Krakow: W.L. Anczyc, 1896), 83.
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in the year of 1863.”35 Szujski went on to mention how a Pole, Count Agenor Glouchowski, was elected at first to an administrative job but then managed to advance higher to become a representative
The Polish were taught in their native language not only in schools, but universities as well, which helped suffice for their nationalistic needs. In one instance, the Imperial Academy of Skills in Kraków became the “main source of scientific study for the Polish nation.”36 They also were awarded with having their own territorial limited sovereignty and “more individual freedoms.”37 This helped fuel them to live an ordinary life under unusual political circumstances, something the Poles were missing under the reign of the Russian Empire. In fact, Kazimierz Brodziński , a Polish philosopher, took note of the importance of Polish literature and life, “Polish literature is so intertwined with our history just as a plant is with the ground, remove it from its soil, it withers.”38 But the culture and history of the Poles under the partitions could be witnessed through their myths. In particular, there was a tale that was told for many generations to Polish children in the various partitions. It was the legend of Wanda, the Princess who refused to marry a German. The daughter of Krak, who had founded Kraków, she refused to marry a German prince for fear he would germanize her beloved country that she was to inherit. She stood upon the cold Vistula River and threw herself into it. Her action of preferring suicide to preserve her culture captivated Poles in the 19th century as it still has to this day. Her action, legend or not, stood as a symbol of the importance of the language and culture to the Poles in their fight for
Józef Szujski, Polacy i Rusini w Galicyi (Krakow: W.L. Anczyc, 1896), 83. Ibid, 84. 37 Ibid. 38 Kazimierz Brodziński and Józef Ignacy Kraszewski, Pisma Kazimirza Brodzińskiego (Poznań: Drukiem J.I. Kraszewskiego, 1872), Pg. 360. 36
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independence.39 Polish citizens who were under the Austrian Partition, proved to be more loyal to the Habsburg Empire than the Poles under the Russian Partition. The “rule with an iron hand,”40russification, isolation, and oppression led the people of Russian Poland to conspire against and eventually organize two different uprisings thirty years of one another. This suffocation of the Poles by oppressing their language, tradition and the spirit of the people”41 in turn began to kill the “essence of nation and fatherland;” Thus resulting in the nationalistic movement for freedom against an imperial power. The key in Austria‟s success with the Poles was its approach to the multiethnic nation, which then prevented Poles from conspiring and working against the government. This was shown especially when due to the uprising of the Poles in the Russian Empire in 1831, instead of being subject to even harsher mandates and regulations, the Poles grew in power in Galicia.
Albina I. Kruszewska and Marion M. Coleman, "THE WANDA THEME IN POLISH LITERATURE AND LIFE," in American Slavic & East European Review 6, no. 1: (1947) 19. 40 Patrice M. Dabrowski, “Russian-Polish Relations Revisted, Or the ABC‟s of „Treason‟ Under Tsarist Rule,” in Kritika, 177-199, (Cambridge: Harvard University, 2003), 182. 41 Jakob Rappaport, “The Evolution of Polish Nationalism,” in Contemporary Review, v. 152, 221-229 (Oxford: 1937), 221.
39 A Tethered Nation
Bibliography Afisz przedwyborczy kandydata w wyborach do Sejmu Krajowego z 1877 roku, dr. Jonatana Warschauera. Political Advertisement. From The Polish Archives Portal. <http://archiwa.polska.pl/katalog/skarb,Afisz_przedwyborczy_kandydata_w_wyborach_ do_Sejmu_Krajowego_z_1877_roku_dr_Jonatana_Warschauera,gid,246530,cid,3618.ht m>. Boswell, Alexander Bruce. Poland and the Poles. New York: Dodd, Mead and Co., 1919. (Accessed via Googlebooks) Brodziński, Kazimierz and Józef Ignacy Kraszewski. Pisma Kazimirza Brodzińskiego. Poznań: Drukiem J.I. Kraszewskiego, 1872. (Polish) (Accessed via Googlebooks) Coleman, Arthur P. “Language as a Factor in Polish Nationalism.” in Slavonic and East European Review, 155-172. New York: Columbia University, 1934-1935. (Accessed via the Periodicals Archive Online) Dabrowski, Patrice M.“Russian-Polish Relations Revisted, Or the ABC‟s of „Treason‟ Under Tsarist Rule.” in Kritika, 177-199. Cambridge: Harvard University, 2003. Davies, Norman. God‟s Playground: A History of Poland, Volume I: The Origins to 1795. New York: Columbia University Press, 1981. Davies, Norman. God‟s Playground: A History of Poland, Volume II: 1795 to The Present. New York: Columbia University Press, 1981. Emperor Ferdinand I of Austria. Odezwa arcyksięcia Ferdynanda do obywateli Księstwa Warszawskiego z 14 IV 1809 roku oraz wiadomość o bitwie pod Raszynem. Letter. From The Polish Archives Portal. <http://archiwa.polska.pl/katalog/skarb,Odezwa_arcyksiecia_Ferdynanda_do_obywateli_ Ksiestwa_Warszawskiego_z_14_IV_1809_roku_oraz_wiadomosc_o_bitwie_pod_Raszy nem,gid,252583,cid,1116.htm>. (Accessed 11 December 2009). Hordynacki, Józef. History of the Late Polish Revolution and the Events of the Campaign. Boston: Carter and Hendee, 1833. (Polish) (Accessed via Googlebooks) Imeretinskiĭ, Aleksandr Konstantinovich. Tajne Dokumenty Rządu Rosyjskiego w Sprawach Polskich. London: J.Kaniowski, 1899. (Polish) (Accessed via Googlebooks) Kaliński, Jan.“Diary Number One.” in Dairies of Emigrants: United States of America, edited by Janina Dziembowska, 115-123. Warsaw: Książka i Wiedza, 1977. Kruszewska, Albina I., and Marion M. Coleman. 1947. “THE WANDA THEME IN POLISH LITERATURE AND LIFE.” American Slavic & East European Review 6, no. 1: 19-35. Historical Abstracts, EBSCOhost (accessed 13 February 2010).
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Magosci, Paul Robert. “Galicia: A European Land.” in Galicia: A Multicultured Land, edited by Christopher Hann and Paul Robert Magosci, 3-12. Buffalo: University of Toronto Press, 2005. Morawski, Teodor. Dzieje narodu polskiego. Poznań: J.K. Żupański, 1875. (Polish) (Accessed via Googlebooks) Obwieszczenie c.k. Namiestnictwa we Lwowie o rozpisaniu wyborów uzupełniających do Rady Państwa z okręgu miasta Krakowa z dnia 3 III 1886 roku. Political Advertisement. From The Polish Archives Portal. <http://archiwa.polska.pl/katalog/skarb,Obwieszczenie_ck_Namiestnictwa_we_Lwowie_ o_rozpisaniu_wyborow_uzupelniajacych_do_Rady_Panstwa_z_okregu_miasta_Krakowa _z_dnia_3_III_1886_roku,gid,246689,cid,3618.htm>. Piłsudski, Józef. “Polish Illegal Publications Under Russian Rule.” in Polish Civilization: Essays and Studies, edited by Mieczysław Giergielewicz, 214-234. New York: New York University Press, 1979. Rappaport, Jakob.“The Evolution of Polish Nationalism.” in Contemporary Review, v. 152, 221229. Oxford: 1937. Sokołowski, August. Dzieje Polski illustrowane. Vienna: M. Perles, 1905. (Polish) (Accessed via Googlebooks) Szujski, Józef. Polacy i Rusini w Galicyi. Krakow: W.L. Anczyc, 1896. (Polish) (Accessed via Googlebooks) Urbanek, Wojciech. “Diary Number Three.” in Diaries of Emigrants: United States of America, edited by Janina Dziembowska, 194-203. Warsaw: Książka i Wiedza, 1977. (Polish) (Accessed via Googlebooks) Wędkiewicz, Stanisław and Stanisław Henryk Badeni. Przegląd współczesny. Warsaw: Spółka Wydawnicza Czasopism, 1903. (Polish) (Accessed via Googlebooks)
41 On the Eve of the Haitian Revolution
On the Eve of the Haitian Revolution: The Free Men of Color Struggle for Political Rights, 1789-1791 Donald Bermudez On the eve of the only successful slave rebellion in history, the freemen of SaintDomingue remained divided in 1791. The Free men of the colony were divided into three categories; the grand whites, petite whites, or freemen of color; the last consisted of any free man with any African ancestry, including those who were of full blood. During the years 1789-1791, the abolition of slavery was not a goal of any these groups. Saint-Domingue, a French colony, had an extremely prosperous agricultural economy, which produced the most sugar in the world; slavery was essential in order to keep the plantations running1. However, instead of creating an alliance around this mutual agreement, the whites refused to compromise with the freemen of color of Saint-Domingue when discussing the latterâ€žs political rights, or lack thereof. At times, the grand whites were at odds with the petite whites over the issue of citizenship and political rights, since the latter were poor and working class. Nevertheless, the whites came together to persistently refuse the freemen of color political rights, equal to their own. Grand whites believed that political rights for the freemen of color would weaken the institution of slavery and lead to its abolition; petite whites refused to consider themselves equal with men of African blood. Thus, by the time of the August, 1791 slave insurrection, the divide among the freemen was essentially caused by race. Free men of color only wanted political rights to participate in elections and the
Laurent Dubois and John D. Garrigus ed. Slave Revolution in the Caribbean , 1789-1804: A Brief History of Documents (Boston: Bedford/St. Martinâ€&#x;s, 2006), 11.
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formation of laws and some free men of color explicitly stated that they would protect slavery, proclaiming their desire to unite with the whites to protect that interest. During the 18th century, the whites of Saint-Domingue continually undermined and alienated the very men with whom they could have fought the 1791 slave insurrection. Free men of color accounted for nearly half of the approximate 50,000 free men on the island in 1789 2. They were also the people overwhelming responsible for the physical protection of the island; the militia and police units were made up of mostly freemen of color. Most importantly, free men of color were the vast majority of the members in the marechaussee, a police unit whose tasks were to repress potential slave revolts, and catch run-away slaves3. Thus an alliance between free men of color and the whites was absolutely essential in order to repress any slave revolt, especially one as coordinated and vehemently fought as the insurrection which started in late August, 1791. Had all the free men been united, the slave insurrection may have ended differently. But actual compromises between the whites and freemen of color were never made, and the fate of the island was sealed. And because the whites, from 1789-1791, made it clear that they would never consider the freemen of color their political equals, the most viable opportunity to prevent the island wide insurrection slipped away from them. Up until the second half of the 18th century men of color were able to assimilate into French colonyâ€&#x;s society, if they were freed from slavery. Racial prejudice was not prevalent, and social distinction was not always based on color, legally. In 1685, the French Monarchy produced the Code Noir to serve as the framework of the slave legal code for their colonies of
There were approximately 500,000 slaves in 1789. Laurent Dubois and John D. Garrigus ed. Slave Revolution in the Caribbean. 13-15. 3 Laurent Dubois. Avengers of the New World (Cambridge: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2004), 65-67.
43 On the Eve of the Haitian Revolution
the Caribbean 4 . Proclaimed in the document were several articles that served as laws and guidelines meant to structure their legal systems, especially dealing with slaves. Many of the articles within the code are of these four types: those dealing with slaves‟ assimilation, slaves‟ rights, the general treatment of slaves or the process of their manumission or legal emancipation 5. Articles one through six of the Code Noir dealt with the assimilation of the slaves into French culture. At this time in French history, cultural conformity was obviously important; in the first article of the Code Noir, it is proclaimed that all Jews are to be exiled from the island since they are “enemies of the Christian religion” 6 . Conformity was the law, and different religions were not tolerated. Article three clearly stated this notion, “We [the French Monarchy] forbid any public exercise of any religion other than the Catholic, Apostolic, and Roman Religion”7. Slaves, who either came from Africa or elsewhere in the Americas, were usually not Christian when they arrived in Saint Domingue; thus they would have to be converted once they were situated on the island. Articles two and six established how slaves would become Christians. All slaves were to be baptized and instructed in Catholicism. All people living on the island must recognize the significance of days like Sunday and other dates, i.e. holidays, which were part of Catholicism8. However, this article also served as protection for slaves; it stipulated that “all our subjects, whatever their status and condition” must observe these days, thus a slave owner could not have made his slaves work at any time during Sunday or a Catholic holiday. If a slave owner disobeyed this law, he was fined. If he repeated this offense, his slaves may have been taken away from him by the government9.
Laurent Dubois and John D. Garrigus ed. Slave Revolution in the Caribbean. 49. “The Code Noir,” In Slave Revolution in the Caribbean, ed. Laurent Dubois, 50-54. 6 Ibid, 50. 7 Ibid. 8 Ibid. 9 Ibid, 51. 5
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Articles twenty four, twenty five and twenty six also gave protection to slaves by legally guaranteeing them physical subsistence10. It was illegal for an owner to forfeit the obligation of providing slaves with food and water by giving the slaves a day during the week to work on their plot of land, presumably to farm and grow their own food11. Therefore, a slave did not have to worry about subsistence; it was to be provided for them by their owner. Each year owners would have to provide their slaves with clothes, or at least the cloth from which they could be mad. Lastly, a slave had a chance of legal recourse if he or she were not provided with items of subsistence. Article twenty six stipulated that a slave was to notify the royal attorney if their owner was not providing these items for them. Considering a slave probably could not read French, or ever have a chance to read the code, this was unlikely to have occurred. But the article also said that someone else could notify the royal attorney and if the information were true, the owner would be prosecuted for their “barbarous and inhumane treatment of their slaves”12. The Code Noir contained a number of articles which described the process in which slaves were to be manumitted and absorbed into the society with the free people of the island. Article fifty five gave the ability for owners of twenty years or older to free their slaves, without having to provide a reason to the government. This provided owners with the chance to free their slaves for any possible reason, since they did not need to justify the manumission to government. In the middle of their life they may found slavery to be inhumane, and freed their slaves without anyone„s interference. Article fifty six manumitted any slave who became a tutor to his owner‟s children, or if they were heir or executioner of the owner‟s estate or will at their time of death 13. This article is peculiar because a slave was unlikely to have been in any of the positions 10
“The Code Noir,” In Slave Revolution in the Caribbean, ed. Laurent Dubois, 52. Ibid, 53. 12 Ibid.. 13 Ibid. 11
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mentioned. Often the slaves were uneducated, especially in a European fashion; secondly, an owner probably would leave his estate to a relative, likely his child. In fact, article thirty one made it illegal for a slave to be a party in a civil law proceeding, thus they may not have been able to legally claim the estate in court14. And lastly, an uneducated slave may not have been capable of executing the stipulations in the owner‟s will, because of their lack of knowledge of the French legal system. Articles fifty six, fifty eight and fifty nine all pertain to former slaves, who became known as free men of color. These articles legally protected free men of color from persecution by means of legislation. First, manumission is the equivalent to being born on French land, and a slave will not need to go through any additional legal processes to claim their rights equal to those of the whites15. Moreover, they are not obliged to provide services or anything else for their former master, but they were to show respect to their former owner and their family16. Lastly, freed blacks were granted “the same rights, privileges and liberties enjoyed by persons born free,” as long as they were law abiding people17. This article legally guaranteed free men of color political rights equal to those of whites. But in the following century, these particular articles were progressively undermined and ignored in Saint-Domingue; whites would pass legislation in the colony that increasingly took away the rights of free men of color, which should have been legally protected within the Code Noir. Generally, free men of color did not come from Europe, their parents were inhabitants of the island and they were born there. The existence of so many free men of color was due to the
C.L.R James, “The Property,” in The Black Jacobins (New York: Vintage Books, 1963) “The Code Noir,” In Slave Revolution in the Caribbean, ed. Laurent Dubois, 53. 16 Ibid. 17 Ibid, 54. 15
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lack of white European women in Saint-Domingue in the first half of the 18th century18. Most socioeconomic classes and races of males on island sought women of color19. Overall, women were scarce in the colony; an exact number of female inhabitants is not known, but usually women did not migrate to the island alone, which meant they were probably brought by their husband. On the other hand, men regularly came to the island unmarried, which caused a gender imbalance20. During the first half of the 18th century the vast majority of the women on the island were black slaves21. White men often took black women as their lovers and wives; their children were known as mulattoes, a person with mixed European and African blood. Most of the freemen of color were mulattoes during the 18th century, not full blooded Africans or former slaves22. But, early on colonial officials were concerned about the mixing of races; in 1723 the intendant, the governing agent of the French Monarchy sent from Europe, wrote back to France asking for orphan girls to be sent to the island23. The girls would presumably get married to the white colonists. The government of Saint-Domingue discouraged whites from marrying black women
The Saint-Domingue government did not discourage sexual reproduction from white men and black women25. According to the Code Noir, the children produced by a slave and a white would have the same status as the mother26. In most cases, mulattoes were produced by a white
“The Code Noir,” In Slave Revolution in the Caribbean, ed. Laurent Dubois, 79. C.L.R James. The Black Jacobins, 37. 20 Julien Raimond. “Observations on the Origin and Progression of the White Colonists‟ Prejudice against Men of Color,” in Slave Revolution in the Caribbean, 79. 21 Ibid. 22 Ibid, 81-82. 23 Laurent Dubois. Avengers of the New World, 62. 24 C.L.R James. The Black Jacobins, 37. 25 Ibid. 26 French Monarchy “The Code Noir,” In Slave Revolution in the Caribbean, ed. Laurent Dubois, 51. 19
47 On the Eve of the Haitian Revolution
man and black woman. Therefore mulattoes could have been slaves. These children would follow their mother into slavery, which was beneficial for a society always in need of slaves. Others would be manumitted and allowed to join free society. In practice, not by law, until the 1750‟s, all mulattoes were free until the age of 24 and they were not persecuted. Owners often would not enslave the mulattoes early in their lives, in order to gain their favor 27. It can be assumed that often these mulattoes were given the more desired positions in the slave work system, such as a slave drive or overseer. Most plantations had a slave driver who acted as the agent of the owner in day to day activities. An overseer was higher in the chain of command than the driver; he did what his title suggested28. Generally, free men of color were allowed to go about their daily lives with the same freedom as the whites during the first half of the 18th century29. As Laurent Dubois clearly stated, “there was, in principle, no discrimination solely on basis of African descent or skin color. Although they probably experienced racial discrimination in their day to day lives, people of color] could buy land and slaves, live in any neighborhood...educate
school...and practice any profession” 30 . Free men of color were sometimes as wealthy and educated as their white counterparts. It was common for these men to be educated in the same European institution, serve in the French armies and essentially have the same credentials as their white counterparts31. But, these talents would be of little use to the free men of color; the whites created new laws to undermine their freedoms legally guaranteed by the Code Noir in 1685. In the face of mounting competition from the free men of color in the economic and social
C.L.R James. The Black Jacobins, 37. C.L.R James, “The Property,” in The Black Jacobins. 29 Julien Raimond. “Observations on the Origin and Progression of the White Colonists‟ Prejudice against Men of Color,” in Slave Revolution in the Caribbean, ed. by Laurent Dubois. 30 Laurent Dubois. Avengers of the New World, 61. 31 C.L.R James. The Black Jacobins, 38-40. 28
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spheres of the island, whites began to legally persecute the free men of color in the latter half of the 18th century32. Free men of color, some who even had three-fourths European blood, were legally treated as if they were second class citizens under the whites33. White colonists came to the islands often looking to make a fortune, and handicapping the competition, i.e. the freemen of color, was very beneficial to them34. In 1767 a ministerial directive declared that the “first stain” of slavery was passed down by blood, and freedom could not rid of its stigma. This meant that someone with any African blood was stained and considered at best, a second class citizen. And the whites in Saint Domingue made free men of color second class citizens, ones with less economic, political and social freedoms than they. In 1764 the government of Saint-Domingue made it illegal for any people of African descent to practice law and medicine, which included any occupation involved with surgery or pharmacy. Also, they were forbidden to hold public office or a position of divinity within the Catholic Church. Moreover, they were not allowed to join the French military or naval units stationed on the island. On top of all of these restrictions, during this time there was an unmistakable prejudice in the practice in the court of law as one scholar bluntly put it “in legal actions, the decision nearly always went against the [free man of color]”35. The whites of Saint-Domingue not only sought to discriminate against the free men of color and put them at a disadvantage, they wanted to separate themselves from them. One government decree in 1773 prohibited free men of color from taking the surname of their former owner 36 . From 1758-1791 a number of decrees were passed with the purpose of creating a
Laurent Dubois. Avengers of the New World, 64. Julien Raimond. “Observations on the Origin and Progression of the White Colonists‟ Prejudice against Men of Color,” in Slave Revolution in the Caribbean, ed. Laurent Dubois, 78-82. 34 Ibid. 35 C.L.R James. The Black Jacobins, 38. 36 Laurent Dubois. Avengers of the New World, 61. 33
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distinction between the free men of the island. The assimilation policies of the Code Noir were no longer followed; the free men of color were to be their own community separate from the whites. Free men of color were not allowed to carry sabers, swords, or purchase ammunition. They were forbidden from dressing in a European fashion or playing European games; they were even restricted from traveling to Europe. Lastly, in 1781 it was made illegal to call a free person of color by monsieur or madame. In fact, a free person of color was legally forbidden to eat at the same table as white person, even in their own home37. The point of the laws was obvious; free men of color were not to be considered French, and they would not be given the same rights as a French person, which, according to the government, meant being white. By the 1780‟s the freemen of color had suffered many years of harsh treatment by the Saint-Domingue whites. Fortunately for them an opportunity to abolish the system of privileges based on skin color was on the horizon. During the second half of the decade, in France, the monarchy was quickly losing control of their political power; the government was unable to reform the country‟s tax system to deal with the empire‟s financial woes. After unsuccessfully finding any solutions, the French King Louis XVI decided in 1788 to convene the Estates General for the following year, in an attempt to solve their problems. The Estates General had not been called together since 1614, thus the event provided a rare opportunity for the French people38. In July of 1788 the white planters of Saint-Domingue saw an opportunity to gain more economic autonomy. These planters owned plantations and sold their products via the Atlantic Ocean to France, Europe and the Americas. However, there were some laws inhibiting their trade and diminishing their profit, such as tariffs and quotas. The white absentee planters in Paris
C.L.R James. The Black Jacobins, 40-41. Jeremy D.Popkin. “The Origins of the French Revolution,” in A Short History of the French Revolution (Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Pearson, 2006) 38
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organized into what became known as the Colonial Committee,39 and began to write cahiers des doleances, lists of grievances, presented to the Estates General. Their grievances expressed a desire for more economic and political freedom; essentially they desired to become their own country. They desired French protection, but not necessarily their laws 40. Other Third Estate deputies, those not of the other two estates, the nobility or clergy, who shared interests with the planters also began to organize in late 1788 in order to protect the Caribbean-Atlantic trade system and slavery, the former being impossible without the latter. At first the elected deputies from Saint-Domingue had trouble joining the Estates General. But they were able to join the newly formed National Assembly due to their presence at the Tennis Court Oath of June 20, 1791, which affirmed their alliances to the other members of the rogue Third Estate when they made an oath to not disassemble until they made a new constitution for France and its empire. But some of the members of the assembly questioned the legitimacy of the deputies since the free men of color were not included in their selection. Many of these deputies were a part of the Amis des Noirs, the Friends of Blacks, who publicly advocated against slavery and the slave trade. Their aims were very more radical. But the Amis des Noirs did not desire to alienate the other deputies of the assembly, and opted to only advocate for the political rights of free men of color41. The white planters had the upper hand on the Amis des Noirs during the first month and a half of the National Assembly existence. They were absolutely determined to not allow the mulattoes equal rights. As the scholar C.L.R James eloquently stated:â€œRights for mulattoes today? It would be rights for slaves tomorrow. They fought the [freemen of color] question as the first 39
Absentee planters were whites who owned plantations in Saint-Domingue but often resided in France most of the year. This is not the same organization as the Colonial Committee created by the French National Assembly in March. Thomas O. Ott. The Haitian Revolution 1789-1804 (Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1973), 26-29. 40 Ibid, 29. 41 March Thomas O. Ott. The Haitian Revolution 1789-1804, â€œThe Road to Revolution 1789-1791.â€?
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outpost of their precious gangs of slavesâ€?42. For the grand whites, sustaining the racial hierarchy was essential to safeguard slavery from abolition. Granting mulatto rights would open the path on which any group could claim rights. Without slavery, the plantation economy of the island would drastically change, or probably collapse. And initially, the mostly bourgeois National Assembly did not take any action, and the colonial whitesâ€&#x; interests were safe. Assembly deputies did not place much importance on the issue at first, and the status quo was sustained. Also at this time, free men of color in Paris organized themselves in order to lobby the National Assembly deputies to support their cause. One hundred property owning free men of color, led by Saint-Domingue mulattoes Julien Raimond and Vincent Oge, organized into the Colons Americains 43. This organization was in close contact with the Amis des Noirs. The two needed a catalyst in order to create awareness and legitimacy for their mission; in late August, the National Assembly decreed the Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen 44. A few days prior to its first decree becoming law, white planters and those with mutual interests in Paris formed an organization commonly referred to as the Massiac Club, but also known as the Society of French Colonists45. The stage was set for the free men of color to verbally fight for their political rights. The Declaration of the Rights undoubtedly weakened the grand and petite whites position and ability to sustain such a hierarchy in Saint-Domingue. The decree explicitly denied the legitimacy of the racial hierarchy, the first article declared that â€œmen are born free and remain equal in rights. Social distinctions can be based only on public utility (italics are not in the
C.L.R James. The Black Jacobins, 75. Thomas O. Ott. The Haitian Revolution 1789-1804 29-30. 44 Jeremy D. Popkin. A Short History, 37. 45 Mitchell Bennett Garrett. The French Colonial Question 1789-1791 (New York: Negro Universities Press, 1970), 43
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original document)”46. Accordingly, free men of color could not be denied citizenship on the basis of skin color; only by other criteria like property, education and military service. Moreover, article six of the decree made it illegal for the whites to govern the island without the consultation of the free men of color because “law is the expression of the general will. All citizens have the right to take part personally....in its formation”47. In theory, the declaration gave free men of color political rights, and the ability to use them actively in Saint-Domingue. The white planters and their allies in Paris recognized how dangerous the decrees in the Declaration could be, since the decree theoretically gave political rights to all men. During early September, 1789 the Colons Americains opted to approach the whites in Paris, and seek a compromise. They sought to have the articles within in the declaration applied to them48. But the whites refused to compromise, and set out to stop the Americains‟ campaign before it could gain momentum. On September 18, Saint-Domingue deputies in the National Assembly wrote back to the island asking the government to not allow any free men of color to leave for Europe or return from the continent49. They did not want news about the Declaration and its contents to spread throughout the island. It was recognized that the abstract decrees could be applied in various ways; the decrees were theoretically applicable to slaves. The free men of color and their allies were also aware that the decrees were applicable to blacks and mulattoes; the following month they presented their case to the National Assembly in Paris. In the Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen the mulattoes found their opportunity to disassemble the racial hierarchy upheld by the Saint-Domingue whites. Since cooperation with the whites had not worked, the mulattoes decided to present their case directly to the French 46
Laura Mason and Tracey Rizzo ed. The French Revolution: A Document Collection. (New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1999), 101. 47 Laura Mason and Tracey Rizzo ed. The French Revolution: A Document Collection, 101. 48 Mitchell Bennett Garrett. The French Colonial Question 1789-1791 , 22. 49 Ibid., 23.
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National Assembly on October 22, 178950. In their address to the assembly the freemen of color attempted to portray how they, and free blacks, were qualified to be citizens51. “The citizens of color are clearly as qualified as the white planters to demand this representation,”52 the definition of representation articulated in the Declaration stated that the law was to be formed by the general consensus of the citizens. If the white planters were considered citizens, then so should the free men of color because the two groups shared many of the same qualities and characteristics. “Like them (white planters)” free blacks and mulattoes were property owners and farmers; they paid taxes and aided the state with resources; they fought in the military or militia and were “prepared to spill [blood] again for the defense of the fatherland”53. Free men of color were just as qualified to be citizens, if the white planters were. They asked the National Assembly to “act strictly on principle”, and not to base their decision on the color of their skin54. Also, the assembly should realize that these people were in fact citizens, and just happened to be mulattoes. “They [free men of color] ask for no favors,” the National Assembly was not being asked to do something new; free men of color simply wanted the assembly to uphold and enforce the laws which they passed 55. The address ended with an appeal for the assembly to grant the mulattoes rights because it was in the best interest of the colonies. Free men of color and whites needed to be united since “a state‟s good fortune consists in the peace and harmony of its constituent members”, i.e. those who were qualified to be
The Free Citizens of Color. “Address to the National Assembly, October 22, 1789” in Slave Revolution in the Caribbean, ed. by Laurent Dubois. 51 This address was by an anonymous free man of color. 52 The Free Citizens of Color. 53 Ibid. 54 Ibid 69. 55 Ibid, 70.
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citizens needed to be united56; peace and harmony within this group would not occur until free men of color were granted equal rights. The October 22nd address initially resulted in no concrete changes. The National Assembly was not willing to physically force Saint-Domingue whites to grant mulattoes political rights, i.e. they were not going to send French troops to take over the islands and form a government which would apply decrees in the Declaration to the free men of color 57. In the months following the address, the assembly continued to hear debates from both sides, but there would not be any more decrees passed pertaining to the issue until the following year, 1790. During those months, the debates in the assembly only restated the same points about their stances; the Amis des Noirs still believed that the free men of color were qualified as citizens and the Declaration should be applied to them, and those from the Massiac Club argued that if free men of color were granted full political rights, it would weaken the institution of slavery and lead to its abolition 58 . But on March 2, 1790 the Massiac club achieved a victory; the National Assembly decided to have a special assembly put together which would deal specifically with colonial matters, such as the free men of color issue. And fortunately for the whites, the twelve man assembly, known as the Colonial Committee did not consist of one member of the Amis des Noirs59. On March 8th the French National Assembly passed the decree drafted by the Colonial Committee pertaining to how elections would be conducted in the colonies60. The decree sent mixed messages to the colonies, and did not articulate exactly if free men of color would be considered citizens and given political rights. Article one gave Saint-Domingue the ability to 56
Ibid, 70. Thomas O. Ott. “The Road to Revolution, 1789-1791,” in The Haitian Revolution 1789-1804. 58 Mitchell Bennett Garrett. “Decision of the Mulatto Question” in The French Colonial Question 1789-1791. 59 Ibid. 60 Laurent Dubois and John D. Garrigus ed. Slave Revolution in the Caribbean, 70. 57
55 On the Eve of the Haitian Revolution
form its government and “to express its wishes regarding the constitution...and good fortunes of its inhabitants” as long as their laws conformed to the general principles followed in France61. The principles of the French government were articulated in the Declaration, which implied that free men of color were to be considered politically active citizens. Article two stated that the colony was to form a new government “freely elected and acknowledged by the citizens”62. But the decree did not explicitly state who citizens were, and the whites of Saint-Domingue assumed that they were to decide the definition of “citizen” themselves. Essentially the decree did not change the situation in Saint-Domingue, which benefited the whites because they could still deny mulattoes political rights. Free men of color could plea, as they had for years, that they were citizens; the whites could inspect the decrees and find no explicit evidence stating such a notion. On March 28th, the Assembly issued instructions to the colonies describing how the decree was to be applied in the colonies. Article four defined more specifically who was to be politically active, but the words colored, mulatto or black were not mentioned. It stated “all persons having attained twenty-five years of age and owning property, or resident in parish for two years and paying taxes will gather to form a parish assembly”63; the instructions meant that the freemen of color were to be included in election for a colonial assembly and the whites knew this; they would quickly act to stop the application of the instructions. The March 8th decree and its subsequent instructions turned out to be a bittersweet victory for the free men of color; the application of the laws in practice still needed to be achieved in Saint-Domingue. The whites decided that the instructions would not be followed. Moreover, they decided that all men of color could not find out about the March decree and 61
The French National Assembly. “Decree of March 8 and Instructions of March 28, 1790” in Slave Revolution in the Caribbean, ed. by Laurent Dubois. 70-72. 62 Ibi,. 70. 63 Ibid, 71.
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instructions; in April, 1790 the Saint-Domingue government started to monitor all mail from men of color entering and leaving the island 64 . During the summer of 1790, some of the most prominent free men of color began to realize that the whites were not going to compromise. A verbal war was not enough; the free men of color would attempt to wage a real war to claim their political rights. Prominent leader of the freemen of color, Vincent Oge, left Paris in July, 1790 on a mission to obtain money, guns and ammunition in order to fight such a war against the whites in Saint-Domingue. In order to obtain some of those resources, he stopped in London and then South Carolina before landing at Saint-Domingue on October 21, 1790. Oge‟s plot was already known around the island before he returned, and the whites knew of it. Once on the island, he quickly assembled an army of seven hundred men of color65. On the same day as his arrival at Saint-Domingue, Vincent Oge sent a letter to the Count de Peinier, a governing official on the island, in which he articulated his motives for taking up arms in resistance against the whites. Oge was furious that the March 8th decree and its instructions had not been made publicly available, and applied in the manner in which the French National Assembly decreed. This letter also contained information about the motives of the freemen of color and their plan. The count, like his predecessors since the 1685 Code Noir, ignored the decrees of the French government which legally granted free men of color rights; but Oge was ready to “see the execution of the [March 8th decree]” and to “rebut force with force”66. He was ready to go to take over the Saint-Domingue government by force of arms in order to obtain political rights for the freemen of color. The Count de Peinier denied Oge‟s claims and 64
Laurent Dubois. Avengers of the New World, 77. Thomas O. Ott. The Haitian Revolution 1789-1804, 36-37. 66 Vincent Oge. “Letters From the Uprising of Vincent Oge,” in Slave Revolution in the Carrbbean, ed. by Laurent Dubois, 76. 65
57 On the Eve of the Haitian Revolution
put together a white militia. It is important to note that Oge made it clear to the whites that he had no intentions of including the slaves in his campaign for political rights. His enemies had tried to discredit his campaign by saying he intended to free the slaves 67. The freemen of color and whites shared, a mutual interest in sustaining slavery, and members of both groups recognized that the two groups would have to unite in order to repress any possible slave insurrection68. While Oge and his band of men were fighting the white militia in the northern province of the island, the mulattoes in the west province were not revolting. On October 29th they sent a letter to Oge which expressed their gratitude for his effort; the letter also explained why they were not following his lead at that time69. They believed that the present circumstances were not favorable for a potential military coup. However, this did not mean they were not willing to fight; they would pursue their rights with the “last drop of [their] blood,” at another time70. For now, they thought it was best for Oge to use the documents from the National Assembly to take a legal course of action in the pursuit of their political rights first71. The free men of color, who sent Oge that letter on Oct, 29 were not being realistic. Free men of color had already tried for over a year to convince the whites to grant them political rights. But the whites consistently denied their appeals. Moreover, when the French National Assembly passed decrees which were specifically intended to grant the free men of color political rights, the whites ignored them and attempted to keep their contents a mystery to those on the island. The whites were not going to follow the laws or compromise on this issue; this was
Vincent Oge. “Letters From the Uprising of Vincent Oge,” in Slave Revolution in the Carrbbean, ed. by Laurent Dubois, 77. 68 Lauren Dubois. Avengers of the New World, 67-68. 69 “The Free-Coloreds of the West to Oge” in Slave Revolution in the Caribbean, 77. 70 Ibid. 71 Ibid.
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demonstrated by their actions on several occasions. From 1789-1791, the National Assembly had already passed three different laws which legally gave free men of color political rights; the Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen, the March 8th decree and the March 28th instructions about the decree. The mulattoes actually should have had political rights for over one hundred years by the time of the French Revolution, because free men of color were granted equal rights to those of Frenchmen in the 1685 Code Noir. But the whites in Saint-Domingue had been ignoring and undermining such legislation when it was beneficial for them in the 18th century. Vincent Oge and his forces were defeated quickly though, and he fled to Spanish Santo Domingo, which was the western half of the island on which Saint-Domingue was situated72. In either January or February of 1791 Oge was extradited by the Spanish, and brought back to Saint-Domingue73. He was executed along with some of his conspirators in March by the white military forces. But Oge‟s rebellion was not done in vain, news of his actions and subsequent execution reached France; he was portrayed as martyr, one who died because he had fought for justice, which raised awareness about the free men of color‟s oppression in Paris74. In France, the Amis des Noirs and the free men of color found more support for their cause among the National Assembly‟s deputies. Later in 1790 the National Assembly ordered troops to go to SaintDomingue to deal with the violent uprisings and unrest among the island‟s inhabitants75. The following May the assembly passed yet another set of laws for the colonies 76; it would be the last
Thomas O. Ott. The Haitian Revolution 1789-1804, 37. Ibid. 74 Ann Julia Cooper. Slavery and the French Revolutionaries 1788-1805. Translated by Frances Richardson Keller (Lewiston, New York: The Edwin Meller Press, 1988), 106. 75 Thomas O. Ott. The Haitian Revolution 1789-1804, 76 Laurent Dubois ed. Slave Revolution in the Caribbean, 84. 73
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decrees, pertaining to the colonies, issued by the National Assembly before the island wide slave insurrection. The first decree was issued on May 13, 1791. This decree safeguarded the mutual interests of the whites and free men of color; it became illegal for the French National Assembly to abolish slavery. The decree stated that the National Assembly could pass “no law on the status of [slaves] in the colonies except at the specific and unprompted request of the colonial assemblies (italics are not in the original document.)”77 The free men of color, and their allies in the National Assembly, wanted to clarify that they did not aim to abolish slavery; this law was intentionally issued first, before the May 15th decree, because the whites denied free men for the belief that such an action would lead to abolition. The May 15th decree reiterated the decree from two days prior, but also granted free men of color political rights for the fourth time in two years. It stated that French National Assembly would never make any laws pertaining to the “political status of people of color who were not born of free fathers and mothers” without request from the Saint-Domingue government78. In other words, the assembly would not abolish slavery, manumit slaves, or make any laws regarding to their political rights. Once again, the decree was intended to calm the fears of the whites who, more than anything else, did not want slavery abolished. However, they could no longer deny free men of color political rights, “future Colonial Assemblies will admit people of color born of free fathers and mothers if they otherwise have the required status”79. The decree of May, 15 did not affect all free men of color. Another decree issued on May 29, 1791 clarified the qualifications for political rights. This law pointed back to the decree of March 28, 1790. “The [French] National Assembly could not refuse to render this March 28 77
The French National Assembly. “Laws on the Colonies,” in Slave Revolution in the Caribbean, 84-85. Ibid, 84. 79 Ibid, 85. 78
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decree” which stated that all free persons who owned property (presumably land), or resided in Saint Domingue for two years while paying taxes could vote80. Once again, the assembly made laws which granted free men of color political rights which they theoretically had since the 1685. But the decrees were necessary because the whites had ignored and undermined those decrees, and they were not going to stop. News of the May decrees reached Saint-Domingue on July 1. The whites of the island panicked, and refused to obey the decree. They believed that the decree granted all free men of color political rights, while in reality it only affected a few hundred of them because of more stringent qualifications. And this was unacceptable to them; the whites began to seriously consider inviting the English to take over the island, which they assumed would sustain the status quo regarding rights for the free men of color and slavery81. The free men of color had waged a verbal struggle in Paris through the French National Assembly, and others more outraged and zealous, like Vincent Oge, had attempted to wage a literal war in Saint-Domingue. However, in reality, as Thomas Ott put it “two years of struggle, [1789-1791] had netted [the free men of color] nothing” 82 . The free men of color had been granted political rights by the National Assembly on four different occasions during those two years, but their situation on the island never changed; the whites never followed the stipulations of the decrees. But while the property owners of Saint-Domingue fought amongst each other, the slaves did not remain idle. Slaves had been holding meetings since October, 1789, slowly planning and coordinating the island wide insurrection that started on August 22, 1791, which marked the beginning of the Haitian Revolution83.
The French National Assembly. “Laws on the Colonies,” in Slave Revolution in the Caribbean, 85. Thomas O. Ott. The Haitian Revolution 1789-1804, 39. 82 Ibid. 83 C.L.R James. The Black Jacobins, 81-82. 81
61 On the Eve of the Haitian Revolution
After August 22, 1791 the whites had more to worry about than the free men of color; they lost complete control of Saint-Domingue. A few years later their worst fears became a reality, slavery was abolished in 1794. The Haitian Revolution was a long, bloody and complicated event. The wars on the island from 1791-1804 involved more than just the French; the Spanish and English empires became involved in the revolution, hoping to gain control of the extremely prosperous island. But none of these empires would commit enough men and resources to defeat the slaves, headed by Toussaint Lâ€&#x;Ouverture, a talented African military leader. The slaves were fighting for their freedom and even their lives, a war in which victory was a necessary option; the European empires only sought the island for economic gains. The freemen of Saint-Domingue were not ready to defeat the insurrection on their own, perhaps even if they were united. By that time the whites and freemen of color on island were not united, and on the brink of waging war against each other.84 The whites stubbornly refused to allow the free men of color to exercise their political rights, fearing the eventual abolition of slavery. In hindsight, granting them rights may have created unity amongst them, and they could have defeated the August insurrection; but this will never be known.
The secondary sources Avengers of the New World, The Black Jacobins and The Haitian Revolution all support these general outcomes of the revolution.
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Bibliography Cooper, Ann Julia. Slavery and the French Revolutionaries 1788-1805. Translated by Frances Richardson Keller. Lewiston, New York: The Edwin Meller Press, 1988. Dubois, Laurent. Avengers of the New World. Cambridge: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2004. D. Laurent, and John D. Garrigus ed. Slave Revolution in the Caribbean 1789-1804: A Brief History of Documents. Boston: Bedford/St. Martinâ€&#x;s, 2006. Garrett, Mitchell Bennett. The French Colonial Question 1789-1791. New York: Negro Universities Press, 1970. James, C.L.R. The Black Jacobins. New York: Vintage Books, 1963. Mason, Laura and Tracey Rizzo ed. The French Revolution: A Document Collection. New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1999. Popkin, Jeremy D. A Short History of the French Revolution. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Pearson, 2006. Ott, Thomas O. The Haitian Revolution 1789-1804. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1973.
63 Interventionism, Nationalism & Compromise
Interventionism, Nationalism and Compromise: The Legacy of the Hughes Court Craig Nicholas Menta The Roman Emperor Nero is conventionally regarded as one the most brutal and tyrannical leaders in all of human history. Responsible for countless executions including the deaths of his own family members—his mother and step-brother, specifically—Nero is not only one of the most legendary figures in that, at times, sordid history, he is also one of the most regrettable. So when Supreme Court Justice James C. McReynolds charged his colleagues‟ decisions in the 1935 Gold Clause cases to be “Nero at his worst,” it now sounds like more than a bit of a hyperbole 1 .
Regardless of their, at best, questionable accuracy, McReynoldss
unfortunate comments are best understood through a historical perspective. Under the leadership of Chief Justice Charles Evans Hughes from 1930-1941, the Supreme Court was caught at the center of not only intense legal uncertainties, but also the political pressures of the time. Spurred by the horrific effects of the Great Depression, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt attempted to restore economic stability with the passage of the New Deal, a series wide-reaching reforms that would profoundly alter the course of American economic policy. The question the Court would be ultimately forced to decide was whether or not Roosevelt actually had the constitutional power to enact such reforms, regardless of their practical benefit to the nation. These disputes over executive and legislative power, as well as political divides over government intervention into state economics, would quickly produce the 1
Peter C. Hoffer, William J. Hoffer, and N.E.H Hull, The Supreme Court: An Essential History (Lawrenceville: University of Kansas, 2007), 259.
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most sharply divided Court since the institution‟s inception in 1791. Given this ideological separation and the justices‟ unique place in shaping government policy during such a such trying era, it comes as no surprise that scholars have come to contest nearly every detail concerning the Hughes Court and its relationship to the New Deal; a question still debated to this day: did Hughes and his associates save democracy and capitalism, or open the door for future instances of unbridled state interventionism2? Personal political preferences aside, the Court was faced with the arduous task of considering the longstanding legal ramifications of their rulings, while simultaneously accounting for more immediate political necessities. These obvious difficulties aside, the Court still maintained its duty to reflect on the constitutional rights of disenfranchised minorities within a particularly racist cultural climate. Upon examination of the Court‟s decisions and the lasting impacts of those decisions, I contend that the Hughes Court, in guiding the United States through one of the most tumultuous periods in its history, directly advanced the emergence of political society as it stands today in relation to both specific legal questions and broader conceptions of the judiciary as a legitimate governing force. Inheriting the conservative legacy and accompanying precedents of the White and Taft Courts, the Hughes Court began in much the same manner in 1930. Spurred by the “Four Horseman”—James McReynolds, George Sutherland, Pierce Butler and Willis Van Devanter— the Court rarely deviated from its past rulings, especially on matters concerning government intervention into private economics.
McReynolds and his conservative allies treated the
overturning of precedents, both recent and longstanding, with intense skepticism, believing the national economic crisis “called for law to be even more inflexible so as to prevent the
Hoffer, Hoffer, and Hull, The Supreme Court: An Essential History, 252-254.
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Constitution from becoming an empty vessel3.” This reluctance to overturn past decisions was generated not only from their own personal beliefs, but also their active involvement in the outcome of the cases decided under the laissez-faire leaning Taft court.
Adkins v. Children‟s
Hospital, for example, was a 1923 case in which the majority opinion, penned by Sutherland and joined by McReynolds, Butler, Van Devanter and Justice Joseph McKenna, held that minimum wage laws—in this case, for women in the District of Columbia—violated the Due Process Clause of the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution by prohibiting the right of individuals to freely contract. Later, under Hughes, the Horseman would stand firm against the passage of FDR‟s New Deal, striking down the National Industrial Recovery Act and the Agricultural Adjustment Act in Schechter Poultry Corp. v. United States and United States v. Butler, respectively. Writing for the majority in Butler, Justice Owen Roberts issued a narrow view of Constitution‟s Necessary and Proper Clause, a provision of the Constitution granting Congress the power to enact whatever laws they deem “necessary and proper” for the benefit of the nation and the offered justification for many of the federal government‟s New Deal provisions. Discussing the contentious debate over the clause‟s meaning since the constitutional conventions, Roberts concluded that Congress lacked the authority to “invade the reserved rights of the states” and that the act and its accompanying taxes were “but means to an unconstitutional end 4.” The Court unanimously concluded a similarly limited interpretation of Congress‟ exercise of the Commerce Clause in Schechter. Roberts‟ role in the majority in both cases would later prove a
Hoffer, Hoffer, and Hull, 257. Cornell Law Legal Information Institute, “United States v. Butler,” Cornell University, <http://www.law.cornell.edu/supct/html/historics/USSC_CR_0297_0001_ZS.html>. 4
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point of great interest for Court historians given FDR‟s future plans for the uncooperative Justices. Despite unanimity in Schechter, the Court‟s free market decisions were often passed by slim margins. Frequently joined by Chief Justice Hughes, Justices Harlan Fiske Stone, Louis Brandeis and Benjamin Cardozo were alternately referred to as the “Three Musketeers” for their opposition to the “Horsemen” and sympathy for the expanding role of government. With seven almost always pitted against each other four-to-three, cases often hung on the decisions of Hughes and Roberts. Squarely in opposition to the Horseman‟s concerns over strict judicial restraint, Hughes viewed standing precedents as a “framework” rather than a “stone wall” in considering the influence of the past upon the realities of the present 5. In practical terms, this perspective allowed to write opinions in favor of the New Deal, despite the Court‟s previous insistence on the complete freedom of contract supposedly contained in the Fourteenth Amendment. Of particular interest, however, is Roberts. Often considered the “swing vote” on the court, siding at times with the liberal bloc and at others, as evidenced in Butler, with the conservatives, his activity on the Court before 1937 was considered largely inconsistent, owing in part to what was later characterized as a distinct “lack of conviction.” His wavering is best evidenced by two nearly identical cases in which his opinions seem explicitly contradictory. In the 1936 Morehead v. New York, the Supreme Court struck down the legality of a New York state minimum wage law in conjunction with its prior interpretation of the Due Process Clause and the freedom of contract. Roberts would vote against government regulation of wages. Separately, in 1934, only two years prior, Nebbia v. New York concluded the state of New York did have the right to regulate the price of milk in the interest of preserving the public good. 5
Hoffer, Hoffer, and Hull, 255.
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Delivering the majority opinion, Roberts wrote, “The Constitution does not secure to anyone the liberty to conduct business in such a fashion as to inflict injury upon the public at large or any substantial group of people.” To this point, and even after, judicial precedent had equated the regulation of wages and prices; Owens, however, had come down in contradiction of that interpretation in Nebbia and Morehead. It was becoming clear that as Roberts voted, so did the Court6. Following his landslide victory in 1936, the newly re-elected Roosevelt would turn his focus to the Supreme Court and their reluctance to accept the political and economic necessities of the Depression. During a private meeting shortly after his victory, FDR ordered his Attorney General Homer Stille Cummings to begin investigating statistics related to the behavior of federal judges as a result of growing old—average age of retirement, change in accomplished workload, altered political preferences and more7. A few months later, in early March of 1937, Roosevelt would unveil the Judicial Reorganization Bill, legislation providing for the expansion of the Court based on new appointments for every Justice over the age of seventy, up to the addition of six new members. Citing the Court‟s refusal to hear 87 percent of the 803 petitions filed by private litigants in 1938, the President contended that “the personnel of the [entire] federal judiciary,” not just the Supreme Court, “is insufficient to meet the business before them 8.” Ever the politician, the irony of FDR‟s arguing for the appeals of private litigants should not be lost. The reality of the situation, of which decrepitude as a result of aging was merely a façade, was that FDR had grown frustrated with the Court over their refusal to accept the majority of the New Deal. Up to this point, the reforms had been very specific to the nature of the Depression; 6
Hoffer, Hoffer, and Hull, 255. Peter Irons, A People’s History of the Supreme Court (New York: Penguin Books, 2006), 312. 8 Irons, A People’s History of the Supreme Court, 314. 7
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but, in his second term, Roosevelt sought to enact broader structural adjustments that would impact policy not just in the immediate wake of depression, but for decades to come. Sensing almost assured opposition from the conservative Justices and the unreliable Roberts, the Judicial Reorganization Bill was really meant to “pack the court” with New Deal supporters, so as to guarantee the constitutionality of the disputed reforms. Though a reorganization of the judiciary, especially one based on age considerations, was hardly a new idea, it was one Roosevelt had gleaned from a peculiar source. As Attorney General under Woodrow Wilson in 1914, Justice McReynolds had advocated a similar strategy for replacing justices over the age of seventy in an effort to “insure at all times the presence of a judge sufficiently active to discharge promptly and adequately all the duties of the Court 9 .” Not only had Roosevelt found a way around the stubborn horsemen, but he had borrowed the idea from their leader on the bench. Facing a backlash from both the court and the American public in the wake of his remarks on the inability of the elderly Justices to perform their tasks, Roosevelt opened up to the nation in one of his famous “Fireside Chats” on March 9th. “We have reached the point as a nation,” said the President, “where we must take action to save the Constitution from the Court, and the Court from itself10.” Just twenty days later, the Court would announce its decision in West Coast Hotel Co. v. Parrish, rendering the court-packing fight moot, though theoretically effective. To detail, West Coast was a minimum wage case originating in Washington State under almost exactly the same circumstances as the aforementioned Morehead and Adkins. But, unlike their opinions in those two cases, the Court decided that a minimum wage law was well within the constitutional authority of Washington State to regulate business and in no way conflicted
Irons., 313. Irons, 315.
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with the Due Process Clause. Issuing the opinion of the majority in a five to four vote, and effectively erasing decades of judicial precedent on matters of individual economic rights, Chief Justice Hughes wrote, “The Constitution does not speak of Freedom of Contract. It speaks of liberty and prohibits the deprivation of liberty without the due process of the law,” thus overturning the suddenly-incorrectly decided Adkins, Schechter and Morehead11. Citing specific reasons for the Court‟s decision to hear the case despite its already apparent ruling in Adkins, Hughes argued that the importance of the question, close division of the court in Adkins (five to four) and the supervening economic conditions since 1923 were enough to merit reevaluation and a consequent overturn12. The case also abolished the prior distinctions cited in Schechter between direct and indirect, interstate and intrastate commerce that had previously restricted the reach of Congress to regulate business. Unlike Adkins and Morehead, however, references to the unanimously decided Schechter were conspicuously absent from the opinion, a notable omission given Hughes‟ emphasis on the court‟s narrow separation in the Adkins ruling and a visible sign of the Court‟s burgeoning activism. The difference between the majority and dissent from Morehead to West Coast was Roberts, who had swung his vote to now uphold the legality of wage regulation. Termed the famous “switch in time that saved nine,” Roberts move from the conservative to the liberal faction of the bench not only ended the court-packing fight in the immediate, but aligned him in favor with New Deal legislation for the remainder of his term, putting a stop to all further considerations of Court tampering. After West Coast, not a single New Deal measure was struck down for the remainder of the Hughes Court; though commonly seen as a reaction to Roosevelt‟s plan, it is imperative to note that Robert‟s decision in West Coast came a full two months before
Hoffer, Hoffer, and Hull, The Supreme Court: An Essential History, 264. Irons, A People’s History of the Supreme Court, 317.
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the introduction of the Judicial Reorganization Bill.
While the exact circumstances of
Roosevelt‟s plan were unknown at the time of oral argument and upon the Court‟s decision, the overwhelming results of the election were, of course, known to Roberts, thus potentially changing his vote and future opinions13. Ultimately, the Hughes Court would transform the Due Process Clause from a negative restraint on state power to a positive force to promote the public interest, uncertain as that interest may be14. Though the Hughes Court will certainly always be tied to the New Deal and famous “switch in time,” its role in the battle for civil rights should not be forgotten. Despite the cultural norms of the time in which “separate but equal” still held legal water, the Supreme Court did indeed provide for the expansion of civil liberties amidst its better remembered decisions on economics. Protecting the rights of communists-sympathizers, the press and disadvantaged African-American defendants in legal proceedings, the Hughes Court was far from silent on issues concerning political liberty. A recurring theme in the cases to be discussed is the idea of incorporation. The incorporation of Constitution‟s Bill of Rights to state law has been a rather difficult process in some respects and speaks to a maintained reluctance of the states to cede power to the federal government.
Despite great national respect for the values of the
Constitution, state law frequently flouts even the most well-known principles of the document. In such cases, and as Hughes and his associates did often, it is the Supreme Court‟s responsibility to impress the supremacy of these constitutional guarantees on state legislatures. To address the above categories in order, Stromberg v. California found a 1919 California State statute banning the display of red flags unconstitutional given its violation the Fourteenth Amendment.
California, in an attempt to quell communist dissent, viewed the
Hoffer, Hoffer, and Hull, The Supreme Court: An Essential History, 264. Irons, A People’s History of the Supreme Court, 317.
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breaking of this law as a direct act of sedition, consequently enforcing all applicable punishments. The Court, on the other hand, in a seven-to-two vote, ruled that California had violated the Fourteenth Amendment‟s guarantee of “liberty,” because the “due process clause” guarantees of life, liberty, and property include the First Amendment‟s right to free speech. One of the first decisions protecting symbolic speech, the court successfully incorporated First Amendment provisions under the authority of the Fourteenth Amendment, consequently restricting the ability of state legislatures to circumvent federal law. In yet another victory for the Reds, DeJonge v. Oregon (1937) upheld the right of communist party members and/or sympathizers to peaceably congregate in accordance with the freedom of assembly, again extending due process to include the Bill of Rights.
Despite the state of Oregon‟s attempts to classify such meetings in
congruence with its laws on criminal syndicalism, the unanimous majority issued the following: “While the States are entitled to protect themselves from the abuse of the privileges of our institutions through an attempted substitution of force and violence in the place of peaceful political action in order to effect revolutionary changes in government, none of our decisions go to the length of sustaining such a curtailment of the right of free speech and assembly as the Oregon statute demands in its present application,” sentiments clearly and equally applicable to Stromberg15. The Court would go on to protect the First Amendment by extension of the Fourteenth in matters regarding the American press, as well. In both Near v. Minnesota and Grosjean v. American Press Co., the Supreme Court saved the press—specifically, newspapers—from what it deemed “an unfair burden of restraint” as related to the preservation of democracy and the public‟s right to information. Lifting restrictive laws on alleged malice and slander in Near, the 15
Findlaw: Cases and Codes, “DeJonge v. Oregon, <http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/scripts/getcase.pl?navby=CASE&court=US&vol=299&page=353>.
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Court defended the press‟ right to report as it saw fit for the education of its readership. “Liberty of the press, historically considered and taken up by the federal constitution, has meant, principally, although not exclusively, immunity from previous restraints or censorship 16 .” Separately, Grosjean struck down a Louisiana tax on papers with a circulation of twentythousand issues or more. Again unanimous, the tax was ruled contrary to the fundamental principles of the freedom of the press and an infringement of the equal protection of all newspapers from state discrimination. On the subject of race-relations, Hughes and company would hand down two important rulings, beginning to chip away at both “separate but equal” and Jim Crow. First, in the 1932 Norris v. Alabama (and again in ‟33 in a similar appeal called Nixon), the Supreme Court was faced with the infamous Scottsboro Boys trial. After an absolute sham of a legal proceeding, the state of Alabama found nine African-American young men guilty in the rape of two white girls, despite the defendant‟s lack of counsel and the victims‟ acknowledged perjury. The court in a seven-to-two opinion, throwing aside whatever racist sentiment it may have harbored except for McReynolds and Butler, established that competent and fair counsel must be provided in all state capital cases moving forward and remanded the case back to Alabama for a retrial. Unfortunately, the case was marred by the same racist measures as before and would be put up for appeal, yet again. In spite of the court‟s broad rulings on the rights of criminal defendants, Alabama continued on in much the same way it had, realizing the inability of the judiciary to enforce its decisions. In a case with a happier ending, six years later Missouri v. Canada (1938) would land a serious blow to doctrine of “separate but equal” by insisting that states admit African-American students to white institutions of higher education in the event there exist no black alternative. 16
Hoffer, Hoffer, and Hull, The Supreme Court: An Essential History, 270.
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The Court was not entirely benevolent on matters of civil rights, however. The famed Jehovah‟s Witness decision Minersville School District v. Gobitis ruled in favor of school district‟s ability to discipline students who refused to salute the American Flag during the Pledge of Allegiance out of religious abstention. Though the Court did make strides in the expansion of civil liberties, it, like any other institution, was no less a victim of its own time and circumstances. Concordantly, the legacy of the Hughes Court should be considered somewhat mixed in light of impact of its rulings. On matters of civil rights, the Court‟s decisions were often ignored by the states in a direct show of defiance and a reluctance to cede authority or change social prejudices. On the other hand, rulings on matters of commerce were carried out swiftly, forever altering the course of government intervention in American economics.
From a modern
perspective, the passage of the New Deal not only increased the size of the government to the overarching bureaucracy it is today, but Roosevelt‟s pseudo-Keynesianism is also still quite popular, as evidenced by President Obama‟s hundreds of billions of dollars of “fiscal stimulus” and plans to extend more equal social benefits to all Americans. Rulings on the freedom of the press are no less applicable given the ability of major media outlets to uncover a number of federal scandals during both the Clinton and, later, Bush administrations. Though the court‟s decisions were not always necessarily in line with modern America‟s emphasis on personal liberty—Gobitis, for example—the Hughes Court unquestionably played a direct role in shaping our current social values and legal precedents. This Court‟s ultimate legacy, however, is not to be found in individual cases or upon considerations on narrow issues; instead, the Court should be best remembered for its involvement in protecting American judicial credibility. Robert‟s permanent switch to the liberal
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end of the bench speaks to something larger than just the passage of the New Deal. Indeed, it speaks to a greater respect for the institution of American democracy than for specific political ideology. Concessions in the interest of national stability over personal preference remain at the heart of American political life. The highly controversial Bush v. Gore case in December of 2000 provides the perfect example. Arguably robbed of a fair election, Democratic candidate Al Gore conceded the Office of the President to George W. Bush out of respect for both that office and the authority of the Supreme Court.
Regardless of the in many ways “intellectually
dishonest” decision of the Court, the nation peacefully accepted Bush without any uprising. It is here that we find an interesting relationship between the American public and the federal judiciary. Studying the impact of Bush v. Gore on American attitudes toward the High Court, political scientist Herbert Kritzer ultimately concludes that while approval for the Court‟s decision was greatly polarized based on political affiliation after Bush, the general public actually knows very little about the Court itself 17. This apparent ignorance notwithstanding, Americans are generally hostile to the idea of tampering with the court. It seems curious then that there should this sort of blind acceptance for an institution largely invisible to most of the population. In his 1995 book Lies My Teacher Told Me, controversial author and noted historian James Loewen asserts that although the subject of American civics is not expressly taught in elementary and high schools, there is quite a large amount of nationalist fervor coupled with the learning of United States history. Labeling high school history courses “Iconoclasm I and II,” Loewen believes that Americans are taught to accept institutions like the Supreme Court on the basis of their alleged virtue. As opposed to questioning the authority of an ever-expanding
Herbert Kritzer, “The Impact of Bush v. Gore on Public Perceptions and Knowledge of the Supreme Court.” Judicature 85.1 (2001). Blackboard. Temple University, 32-38.
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branch of government not explicitly detailed in the Constitution, Loewen contends that Americans are made to believe that the county‟s institutions have always existed in the manner they do today, and, as such, should not be tampered with given the interest of upholding the state‟s founding principles. In this way, the Constitution and its protectors—the Justices—are treated as part of a secular religion for Americans, one predicated on respect for and pride in our founding values. Whatever the root cause of an otherwise unexplained American affinity for the Court, it remains clear that despite controversial decisions with overwhelming disagreement from huge swaths of the population—Roe v. Wade, Brown v. Board, Bush v. Gore—the Supreme Court has existed at least since the court-packing fight as an untouchable source of American constitutional legitimacy. In summation, the role of the Hughes Court has shaped not only modern American views on specific issues—the right to fair trial, freedom of the press, economic intervention, and free speech—but also our conceptions about the authority of the Supreme Court as an institution. FDR‟s relationship with the Court evidences both popular support for and the judicial realization of the institution‟s importance toward preserving American democracy. The Hughes Court did not merely expand the rights of the federal government and fade away; rather, it forever changed the face of American nationalism and its respect for the constitutional existence and power of the Court as an independent actor.
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Bibliography “DeJonge v. Oregon.” 20 Nov. 2009. <http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/scripts/getcase.pl?navby=CASE&court=US &vol=299&page=353>. Hoffer, Peter C., William J. Hoffer, and N.E.H. Hull. The Supreme Court: An Essential History. Lawrenceville: University of Kansas, 2007. Irons, Peter. A People‟s History of the Supreme Court. Revised ed. Penguin Books: New York, 2006. Kritzer, Herbert. "The impact of Bush v. Gore on public perceptions and knowledge of the Supreme Court." Judicature 85.1 (2001): 32-38. 13 Nov. 2009. Loewen, James. Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything your American history textbook got wrong. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1996. "United States v. Butler." 20 Nov. 2009. <http://www.law.cornell.edu/supct/html/historics/USSC_CR_0297_0001_ZS.html>.
The editing staff of Perceptions would like to thank their wonderful advisor, Dr. Arthur Schmidt as well as the entire faculty and staff of the History Department especially Dr. William Hitchcock and Dr. Jay Lockenour.
In addition, we would like to thank the advisors of these four outstanding papers, Dr. Mark Pollack, Dr. Jay Lockenour, Dr. Barbara Day-Hickman and Dr. David Adamany for their support of student work.
Finally, we would like to thank all students who submitted their work for consideration. It was a pleasure to read such exceptional material from talented young historians.